With President Obama’s National Space Policy out, there has been an explosion of idea’s, form the one I saw today about Giant butterfly nets, to giant gold balloons, about how to deal with our “space junk”, all those satellites and other things floating around our planet. Almost all the ideas are BIG and require great objects being lofted into space to clean things up. Sending things up from Earth to space is our greatest problem, so lets try and answer this one without giant rocket blasts :)
I think its time to take a slightly different approach. Identify what is up there, declare it “Salvage”, and let us Makers fire up a few Arduino to build our little orbital factory. We have 3D printers available, that used in conjunction with a few small robotics platforms would allow us to repurpose everything in near space for future use.
We have already paid the big money on everything in near space, that was the cost of ejecting it out of this great gravity well we call Earth. Now that its there, lets put it to better future use.
First we build a small tele-presence factory to produce space tugs, small tele-presence space robots we can then use to start salvaging material. Some of the most advanced technology and materials are orbiting our planet and could be repurposed as “Salvage”. Our first builds would be a second 3D factory and a few space tugs to set up our first permanent space platform at the L1 Lagrange point. As well, they would need to take with them the material to build a small capture net of a few kilometers across at LaGrange.
This capture net would then grab all the rest of the near earth salvage material as it is “thrown” at it by our orbital tugs. Give something a nudge in space and it just keeps on going, just like the energizer buddy :) Once the material is captured at L1, we start construction of our first Extraterrestrial Joe’s Gas n’ Go. This could be the first human designed, robot built construction/salvage yard/factory in space.
So to sum up, we use open source volunteers, using open source hardware and software to jump start extraterrestrial travel for the entire globe, perhaps managed by a small group out of the UN to make everything space legal for all the space lawyers to come.
Hoping we see this kind of future.
ps we piggyback open source IP networking of course for our kids use