Category Archives: lagrange points

The Lagrangian Games

The Sun-Earth Lagrangian points 4 and 5 is located at a great distance from our planet. Though the associated travel time, about several weeks to a few months depending on the type of rockets used, is not prohibitive for the export of minerals to or the immigration from the blue planet; this will be a problem for short-term visitors.

It is therefore unlikely that sportsmen from Lagrangian space settlements will compete in terrestrial competitions or terrestrial sportsmen in Lagrangian ones. Hence it would be better for the Lagrangian community to organize its own sport events.

Some people consider the “Olympic” Games to be highest stage in the world of sport. This is illustrated by the fact that many sport organization are actively campaigning to have their sport included at the “Olympics”. Therefore we might consider to create a comparable alternative multi-sport events for the best Lagrangian sportsmen, which we will call the Lagrangian Games.

But unlike the “Olympic” Games, we propose to held the Lagrangian Games at a permanent location, preferable in a neutral space habitat specially build for this purpose. One of the major criticisms of the “Olympics” are the costs of building the required infrastructure every four (two) years, while most facilities will never be used again afterwards. By choosing a permanent location the same facilities can be used in multiple Lagrangian Games.

A second benefit of a permanent host is in the elimination of the bidding process. The bidding is a major source of corruption within the International “Olympic” Committee, since countries will be tempted to bribe IOC members.

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The Humanist Republic of Mordan

Imagine a continent with many sovereign nations, but one of those countries is frequently referred to with the name of that continent, to much annoyance of the inhabitants of the other countries. Even if that particular country is the most populous on that continent, has the largest armed forces, the largest economy; that country covers only a fraction of the entire continent, and yet the name of the continent has become synonymous with that one country.

Of course, this causes a lot of confusion. After all when does the continent’s name refer to that particular country (or its citizens) and when to the entire continent (and its inhabitants)? A rational reaction would be to avoid such confusion in the first place by not naming a country after the continent, unless it covers the entire continent.

Lagrangia means land of Lagrange. It is a poetic reference to the Lagrange points, a popular destination in space colonization literature. But what is so special about Lagrange points? Joseph-Louis Lagrange discovered, after a thorough analysis of Newtonian physics, that in each system in which an object orbits another; there are five points where the gravity and inertial forces of these objects would cancel each other. The main consequence of these Lagrange points is that an object which is located at such a point, will remain there.

Later analysis demonstrated that the fourth and fifth Lagrange points were even more special. Bodies that are in close proximity of either Lagrange point 4 or 5, will orbit those points. And they will stay there. These properties make the L4 and L5 points interesting for stationing space settlements.

Because L4/L5 cover large  areas, we could compare them with continents. Multiple space settlements could be located there, and hence multiple nations. It is in no way necessary that all space settlements will form a political union. Ideological differences among space settlements might prevent such union.

On a practical note, things are even more complicated. Not only there multiple Lagrange points, but there also more sets of Lagrange points. There are Lagrange points in the Earth-Moon system, in the Sun-Earth system, the Sun-Mars system, the Sun-Jupiter, the Saturn-Titan system. And so on. In fact the Solar System is covered with Lagrange points.

Consequently, using Lagrangia as a reference to the Lagrange points, is quite broad. Maybe too broad. After all to which (set of) Lagrange point(s) are you referring to? And since there are many Lagrange points, where many different Space nations can be located, calling one of those nations Lagrangia, will only cause confusion.

It would be best if no space nation would ever use the name Lagrangia for itself. And contrary to what the title of this site might suggest, we have never intended to call the state we want to found Republic of Lagrangia, which is only the working name of our organization. Instead we intend to name the state we want to found at either SEL-4 or SEL-5, the Humanist Republic of Mordan.

From now on we will use the name Mordan more consistently as the reference to the state we want to establish. However, this does not change anything to our commitment to secularism, (classic) liberalism, humanism and (classic) republicanism.

3D Printed organs: future or fantasy?

The Guardian has published an interesting article about using 3D printers for creating human organs. The idea is quite simple: if you have the required tissue types, the 3D printer is able to print the organ you want. Organs are three-dimensional structures, and because they are standardized, their structure could be stored in a computer file.

Combined with the ongoing developments in stem cell research, this technology might make organ donation obsolete by 2050. This is great news for space colonists, at least if they would need an organ transplant in outer space. If an organ needs to be sent from Earth, it would take months before it arrives at a space settlement in the Earth-Sun’s Lagrange points or in the Asteroid belt. Even if the organ would survive the transport, it might arrive too late for the patient.

See also

3D-Printing, a key technology for humanizing space

Manifesto part 3

3D-printing and space colonization

Manifesto part 2

Why Lagrange point colonization

When most people think about space colonization, they think about colonies on the Moon or Mars. Some people conflate the concept of space colonization with faster-than-light travel (which is impossible), and think about conquering other stellar systems. This is NOT what Republic of Lagrangia is about. We are aimed at colonizing free space by using space habitats. A space habitat is simply a large space station able to house a large number of people, most designs rely on centrifugation for generating artificial gravity.

The great advantage of space habitats is that we can locate them anywhere we wish. They can be relocated if necessary, if for example we live in the close neighbourhood of a hostile space colony (or a hostile Earth), we can move away from them. Another possibility is avoiding collision with meteorites. This is impossible if you are living on the Moon or Mars, technically speaking it is possible to move these objects, but it take you an immense amount of energy to make even a slight displacement and due to their masses almost any significant displacement will have unintended consequences for other bodies in the Solar System (Earth in particular).

The next question is of course, where should we locate our space habitat? There are a lot of possible location, each of them has their benefits and disadvantages. Most people would think about placing space habitats in an orbit around the Earth. Main advantage is that they are close to Earth, therefore travel time is short (from a few hours to a few days). This location is historically defended by most space advocacy groups. The foremost problem with cislunar space colonies is that they suffer from regular eclipses. This problem can be reduced by placing space habitats farther away from Earth, but this also increase travel time. Another problem is the lack of resources in the Earth system.

An obvious, but misleading, objection is that there are resources on Earth and on the Moon. Why should you go to live in outer space if you need to import everything you need from Earth? True, during the first days of space colonization a lot of stuff need to be imported, but after some time space colonies will become more and more self-sufficient. And the Moon is rich in some resources, especially titanium, but is also poor in others (most importantly hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen are hard to find on the Moon). Secondly the Moon is massive enough to require a relative high escape velocity (compared with Near Earth Objects) and it cost more energy to reach the Moon than the Near Earth Objects.

An attractive location for positioning space colonies are the fifth and fourth Sun-Earth Lagrange points, which are in co-orbit with the Earth. Bodies placed in or around these points have a stable orbit. Further these points do not suffer from eclipses caused by the Earth, therefore we can rely on continuous operational Solar power. One problem is that it takes several months to reach them, but we have to realize that a few centuries ago it would take several months to cross the Atlantic. But this did not stop European countries from colonizing the Americas. Yes, the long travel time causes several challenges, but we believe that man can overcome this. Proper planning and design are a key to success.

Another advantage of the fourth and fifth Earth-Sun Lagrange points is the presence of so-called Trojan asteroids. Currently the existence one such an object is confirmed, it is reasonable to assume other Earth Trojans exists. As I will explain in the next section, asteroids are the treasures of the Solar System. Even if there no other Earth Trojans, or those which exists are of poor composition, then L4 and L5 can be used as a destination for relocated Near Earth Asteroids. Some space advocates argue in favor of capturing asteroids and to relocate them into an orbit around our planet. I do not believe this is a good idea, we can easily see the danger of this mission. Many people on this planet would consider this as an unacceptable risk.

The long travel time from Earth to the fourth and fifth Lagrange points has also benefits. If for some reason the communities of the Lagrange points got in conflict with terrestrial nations, they effectively protected from military aggression from the Earth. Any hostile missile has to transverse for months through space and can be detected remotely by proper equipment.

Why colonising the Sun-Earth Lagrange points?

This post was originally published on blogspot.com on June 6, 2012

In this post I will provide more clarity about our position that man should colonize the Lagrange points of the Earth-Sun system (in this post I simply use the term Lagrange point in order to refer to these).

In two earlier posts I discussed the arguments the colonization of the moon and Mars. Contrary to what most people tend to believe, many space colonization advocates do not support the colonization of these two particular objects. Why? First concern is gravity, in order to stay healthy people need gravity. And since we know that the Moon’s gravity is far too low, and that of Mars is also likely too low, it would be a better idea to use man-made structures, known as space habitats, which provide artificial gravity through rotation.

But gravity is not the only objection for the colonization of objects, one of the most important issues is natural resources. The Moon lacks many resources essential for life, especially hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. The Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs), however, are expected to posses nearly all elements we need to maintain a high-tech civilization and also easier to reach in terms of energy consumption (for a more detailed discussion see here).

Energy consumption and energy efficiency are very important issues. Since the Lagrange points require less energy to reach than the Moon, it also mean that it would require less fuel to launch a space craft. Less fuel, means less costs. This also implies that returning valuable resources to Earth, will out compete lunar mining activities. Therefore an asteroidal colony has a greater economic viability than a lunar colony in the long run.

Another concern is less technical, but probably more important, is politics. Since the Moon is generally considered to belong to all humans, setting up a lunar colony and mining operations is very likely to become subject of much controversy. Although it’s technically true that this whole common heritage of mankind bullshit, also applies to asteroids, but I expect that most people will not get any strong feelings about a bunch of mere rocks.

Although most NEAs are not located at the Lagrange points, they can easily be reached from there. Further some planetary scientists that so-called Earth trojans might exist, until now the existence of only one such object has been confirmed, see here for more. Some space advocates propose bring NEAs into earth orbit. I don’t believe this will be a good idea, due to the increased risks an asteroid impact, but it could be a nice idea to bring some valuable asteroids to the Lagrange points, if there are no usable Earth trojans.

Although the Lagrange points are easier to reach in terms of energy consumption, the distance between them and the earth is still huge and as a result travel time is in the order of months instead of days in case of the Moon. This both an advantage as a disadvantage, the latter no need an explanation, but the former does. In case of a conflict with one of the major terrestrial powers, a sovereign moon colony will be an easy prey for a military intervention, while Lagrange point colonies are able to detect such mission months in advance and thus they will be able to act accordingly. Particle beam weapons will made it possible to destroy a hostile space craft within hours after detection, without the need of launching an interception missile. So we can conclude that colonies based at the Lagrange points can more easily obtain and maintain their political independence than any lunar colony.