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Longboats to Selenarctos


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To: Selenarctos Space Agency

From: Adler Bjare, The Norse Space Agency

- The Norse Kingdom

Subject: Lunar Freight

Greetings, I am writing this correspondence to request a meeting with a representative of the Selenarctan space program to discuss the purchase or funding of the construction of two freighter class space vessels.

 

Accommodation would be, of course provided as well as free travel around the city and an audience with his Majesty should you accept the invitation.

 

Sincerely

Adler Bjare

Minister of Science

The Norse Space agency

 

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[b]Encrypted Reply to the Norse Space Agency:[/b]

 

The Selenarctos Space Program would be happy to meet with the Norse Space Agency. Deputy Director Lizandro Meza will be dispatched to open a dialogue and hear to your proposal.

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When Deputy Director Lizandro Meza arrived in Copenhagen, he would be driven to his accommodation which was a hotel in the Kings district of Copenhagen, within view of the port and the Kings enclosure. After a twenty four hour rest period to stave off any jetlag, Meza would be taken to the Ministry of Science for his meeting with Adler Bjare.

 

OOC:Skip to meeting

 

IC:

 

Adler Bjare was a man in his early sixties, quite slight in stature and moved with a limp, an injury sustained in his service with the German army in Alsace Lorraine in the war against the French Empire. Glasses adorned his face and he had a slight paunch in the stomach.

 

Using his stick to push himself up out of the chair, Adler brandished his hand.

 

"Welcome to Copenhagen Director Meza, I just your flight was comfortable and your stay in the city last night a restful one." he said before sitting down again.

 

"I must say, I am mighty pleased that Selenarctos responded with such enthusiasm, the Chinese essentially told me to bugger off in much less polite terms I can tell you Director."

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The deputy director's stature was rounding as he entered middle age, but overall the years had not been too harsh on him. A good bed and a strong cup of tea to put things in order before he arrived never hurt either, and Lizandro accepted the handshake warmly. "Thank you Mr. Bjare, the accomodations were more than sufficient. And the flight, well, it was long: no is denying that."

He accepted a seat opposite of Adler as they settled down to business. "I'm sorry the Chinese treated you rudely; their leadership can be quite petty at times. But it shall work out in the end, to the better of us and you, I hope. You inquired about Selenarctos' freight vessels, so please humor me as I provide a little background. As you may know, though it was almost forty years ago now and well before I joined the Selenarctos Space Program, Selenarctos sent a pair of manned spacecraft to Mars. To launch and supply the expedition Selenarctos built two long ranged spacecraft called, uncreatively, the Mars Rocket I and Mars Rocket II. The mission was a remarkable success, and we maintained our base of operations on Mars for a full decade before decomissioning the base and safetly returning the crew to Earth.

"Around eighteen years later Selenarctos purchased an Island III habitat in lunar orbit from the Corporate Republic of Ceylon, today known as Freeside. Needing a way to keep Freeside stocked with provisions that could not be grown or built on board, President Diokno approved construction of Selenarctos' Orbital Launch Loop (one of only three countries to own one and two to build one to build one). Though overshadowed by the greater economic boom that the expenditure and industrial development of the construction effort created, the greatly reduced cost to reach Low Earth Orbit provides a tremendous benefit to the Selenarctos Space Program.

"With the launch loop though, we still needed a way to get from LEO to lunar orbit. To fill this logistical hole, the Selenarctos Space Program brought out the tried-and-true Mars Rocket design once again. The large fuel tanks that allowed the ship to reach Mars were pulled out and replaced by cargo bays or pressurized areas to transport passengers, and the Mars Rocket became the Kaptan class Orbital Relay Vessel. Using our launch loop to boost parts into space, we built eight Kaptan vessels that continue to supply Freeside and support our mission beyond LEO today.

"I brought many of the technical details about the Kaptan class vessels with me today that I can gladly give to your staff. If you think that the Kaptan will meet your needs we can enter into a construction partnership, or if the Kaptan class is lacking somewhere then Selenarctos is more than willing to collaborate on the design of new ships as well. Our facilities and expert staff are open to whatever partnership you propose."




01-MarsOrbit_3.jpg
Mars Rocket I in Earth orbit

02-Mars-1.jpg
Mars Rocket I near Mars

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"Well Director I had better fill you in. At the moment, we are conducting two or three launches a year to construct our modular lunar base, the most recent launch included preliminary equipment to undergo exploratory excavation to develop a lunar mine, which would, in turn as you well know, provide the Kingdom with certain materials not or rarely found on earth."

 

"Our present fleet just is not large enough to sustain the operations of lunar excavations and lunar settlement in tandem, so in the words of Roy Scheider, we are gonna need a bigger boat"

 

"I am authorized to purchase two freighters. However, I am also authorized to invest in the development of a new class of freighter. Depending on what is discussed today will decide the issue. For instance, could the Kaptan make an earth bound landing, or would it require smaller missions to unload the cargo in orbit before bringing it to the surface? But if it could make an earth bound landing, could it do it in northern Europe?" blurted Adler before he regained his composure.

 

"Apologies, I get very excited when I talk of these things" he said quietly.

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“No, the Kaptan vessels are solely orbit-to-orbit: they can’t land on Earth or the moon with a reasonable expectation of taking off again. We don’t bring as much down from orbit as we move up to orbit these days and the majority of Freeside are permanent residents. When we do need to preform crew rotations or bring down patients who require ground-side medical attention though, we maintain a few of our own Karman shuttles to meet out needs. The Karman shuttle takes off horizontally from a runway using conventional air breathing engines until the air becomes too thin, then it switches over to rocket engines to reach LEO and until the return trip when it returns to conventional engines for landing. This is a highly efficient way to move personnel to and from orbit and they should preform just fine even this far north, but their cargo capacity is rather low to use for the transportation of raw materials. Depending on what you want to bring back from your mines on the moon there are several options I could think of right away. For high-value but heavy cargoes, a larger purpose-built shuttle craft designed to reach LEO empty and land full might be economical. If you hope to return high-volumes of low-value goods, we could consider aerobraking where the outside of the cargo is coated with scrap stone that burns off in atmosphere followed by a parachute or rocket assisted deceleration and a splashdown in a body of water or soft ground— the latter is best reserved for raw materials rather than people or processed goods, of course. And lastly, a space elevator offers a safe and reliable way to transport people and goods between the ground and Geosynchronous orbit and back again with the astronomical price tag you might expect. Still, a space elevator can become something of a national symbol—Tianxia being the only nation that has one.”

Htv-3x-scramjet-plane.jpg
Karman Shuttle

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"A space elevator may be a national symbol, but I do not believe it would work being built so far north, although if your technical engineers would make it happen I could potentially find more investment from European partners, but that is a long shot if I am honest. What about a launch loop using mass driver technology?"

 

"We could purchase two of the Kaptan vessels and then several of the Karman shuttles retrofitted for freight and use the shuttles as a god between, but would that be too inefficient do you think?"

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"No, a space elevator must be built on the equator--though the base can be on land or floating on water--and the efficiency of a launch loop like Selenarctos' declines dramatically the further away from the equator it is built; I am not sure if one would work at all this far north but even if it could a launch loop is limited to placing objects into LEO and you still requires another means of bring the ore or goods you wish to mine from the moon back. Depending on the location of your lunar mine, a launch loop or linear accelerator might be a very efficient way to move goods from the surface of the moon to orbit when you consider the moon's lower gravity.

"The combination of Kaptan freighters and Karman shuttles is a cost efficient to move crew and light machinery from earth to lunar orbit. As I touched upon though, the Karman isn't designed to haul much cargo back from orbit. Modified solely for the task it can probably land a few tonnes of goods; if these goods are highly refined platinum, gold, or similarly valuable substances then the Karman shuttle could be economical, but a shuttle craft specifically designed to haul freight back from space would be better. It wouldn't be as cheap as using a shuttle that already exists of course, but I believe Selenarctos engineers are up to the design challenge. Even with the best shuttle however, you will never turn a profit hauling cheap goods like steel or aluminum back from the moon with a shuttlecraft."

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Adler frowned for a moment as he contemplated the conversation, his very age was now his enemy, having failing to keep up to date with the latest technology, he was at a severe disadvantage for this conversation.

 

"So what would you suggest to me for an efficient, clean mining operation to return materials back to the Earths surface? Because the only option I can think of apart from previously discussed, is designing a set of spacecraft for freight and delivery, and have them operate out of Selenarctos, with any raw materials being shipped to us to be processed."

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"Launching from Selenarctos would be only marginally more efficient. My advise would be to locate high-value materials: gold, platinum, scarce rare earth metals, etc., and refine them on the moon. Transportation is the most expensive part of extra-terresterial mining so you want to only ship high coin-per-kilogram cargoes. Thus common metals like iron and alunimun are poor choices becaus they are cheaply available in high quantities on the Earth already.

"The Karman Shuttle or a new shuttle could both be operated out of northern Europe. The Karman Shuttle is designed to carry a heavy load into LEO and a lighter load, usually just the crew, back to Earth though. When transporting mined goods though, you want to carry a light load or no cargo at all up to orbit and bring a heavy load back down. By designing a custom shuttlecraft we can optimize the design for return-to-earth cargo capacity and increase fuel efficiency."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"I won't deny Selenarctos would benefit from the program, but an orbit to ground cargo transport is not a role that the Selenarctos Space Program needs a new ship for right now. May I counter-propose an 80-20 split where the Norse Kingdom owns the rights for future shuttle production?"

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"That sounds reasonable to me, and now the big question remains. Where will these craft be built? I won't mash words, we have one factory complex capable of producing such an advanced craft, but it is under construction. Sections of the completed complex produce our Lunar facilities and it won't reach 100% efficiency for production for another few years. i mean hell, its not like we are in a rush, by the time the mine is completed and starts churning out resources the factory will be long completed. but the design and production process of the shuttle could take years".

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"You're entirely correct: although we can repurpose engine and flight control technology from the Karman shuttle, there is still a lot of work to be done. Off the top of my head I would expect two years of design and testing at the earliest before we could begin to build the final model. We can assemble the shuttles in the Norse Kingdom if your factory will be ready by then. I must point out that it would cheaper to assemble them in Selenarctos, but I will leave the choice with you. The electronics must be fabricated in Selenarctos, as well as the exterior polymer coating and any other advanced materials required for construction-- with the least possible disrespect intdended, I don't believe the Norse industry will develop the high tech industry to produce those components for some time yet. We can probably outsource portions of the body, crew compartment if you want a manned shuttle, and propulsion system to benefit Norse industry. But again, at an increased cost."

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"You're entirely correct: although we can repurpose engine and flight control technology from the Karman shuttle, there is still a lot of work to be done. Off the top of my head I would expect two years of design and testing at the earliest before we could begin to build the final model. We can assemble the shuttles in the Norse Kingdom if your factory will be ready by then. I must point out that it would cheaper to assemble them in Selenarctos, but I will leave the choice with you. The electronics must be fabricated in Selenarctos, as well as the exterior polymer coating and any other advanced materials required for construction-- with the least possible disrespect intdended, I don't believe the Norse industry will develop the high tech industry to produce those components for some time yet. We can probably outsource portions of the body, crew compartment if you want a manned shuttle, and propulsion system to benefit Norse industry. But again, at an increased cost."

"Well, as you correctly pointed out, Norse high tech industry, whilst is moving at a rapid pace of advancement, is not yet at such a stage for a project of this scale, so I will happily delegate such tasks to Selenarctan specialists. Safety is the highest concern and without a 100% guarantee, I couldn't with a good conscience allow such a project to take place by Norsemen. However, I do insist that teams of Norse engineers and specialists assist within Selenarctos so that they gain 'on the job', experience and can walk away at the end of it all with the knowledge of how to do this domestically in the future."

 

"How much would Selenarctos need in terms of finances to pull this off?"

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"I'm sure we can accommodate educating Norse engineers as we go along; your personnel need to be able to maintain and operate the shuttle, after all.

"Off the top of my head, I'd say on the order of ten billion coins to develop the heavy transport shuttle. Production costs depend on how many you wish to build, but probably around a billion coins per shuttle for five and decreasing units after that. The Karman shuttles can be built for around five hundred million each, but the Kaptan relay vessels are considerably more expensive at two billion each because they must be launched in pieces on the Orbital Launch Loop and assembled in orbit."

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"My staff will supply ensure you have all of the necessary paperwork. As for the visiting scientists and engineers, we can begin processing visa requests as soon as we have their names. If there is nothing else?

"It was a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Bjare, I hope this endeaver turns out to be a fruitful one."

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