You need to see what these adorable self-repairing space robots can do with diamonds and buckytubes! [PHOTOS]
Actual Title: Technical and Operational Assessment of Molecular Nanotechnology for Space Operations
This study assesses the performance of conventional technology and three levels of molecular nanotechnology (MNT) for space operations. The measures of effectiveness are technical performance parameters for five space transportation architectures, and the total logistics cost for an evaluation scenario with mining, market and factory locations on the Moon, Mars and asteroids. Improvements of 2 – 4 orders of magnitude are seen in chemical rockets, solar electric ion engines, solar sail accelerations (but not transit times), and in structural masses for planetary skyhooks and towers. Improvements in tether performance and logistics costs are nearer to 1 order of magnitude. Appendices suggest additional improvements may be possible in space mining, closed-environment life support, flexible operations, and with other space transportation architectures.
In order to assess logistics cost, this research extends the facility location problem from location theory to orbital space. This extension supports optimal siting of a single facility serving circular, coplanar orbits, locations in elliptic planetary and moon orbits, and heuristic siting of multiple facilities. It focuses on conventional rocket transportation, and on high performance rockets supplying at least 1 m/s2 acceleration and 500,000 m/s exhaust velocity. Mathematica implementations are provided in appendices. In order to assess lifetimes of systems that rely on self-repair, this research provides a simulation model, and a mathematical approach to solving metastable transient behavior of Markov
Simple MNT allows diamond and buckytube construction. The main benefits are in chemical rocket performance, solar panel specific power, solar electric ion engine performance, and skyhook and tower structural masses. Complex MNT allows very small machinery, permitting large increases in solar panel specific power, which enables solar electric ion engines that are high performance rockets, and thus reduces total logistics costs an order of magnitude. Most Advance MNT allows molecular manufacturing, which enables self-repair, provides at least marginal improvements in nearly every area, and greatly lowers manufacturing costs, providing an additional order of magnitude reduction in launch costs. The development of MNT would greatly enable space operations.