Si requiritis futurum nostrum, spectate astra!


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable

one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore

all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

G. B. Shaw



A few days ago I’ve contacted Ralph L. McNutt Jr., MESSENGER Project Scientist, to give him knowledge about the launch and leitmotiv of BEYOND THE CRADLE.

And obviously to ask him for his help in this enterprise in what it would be possible.

Although a window remained open for a future participation, probably around the time of the 3rd Mercury flyby coming up on 29 Sep of this year, there were some gifts, having in consideration this blog’s nature, provided by Dr. McNutt.


As Nicholas Previsich latest chronicle generated some thoughts I think that this is a good occasion to publish the information Ralph McNutt e-mailed me.

The objective? To fuel the debate with different perspectives and concrete planning, which is vital the establishment of a solid ground when discussing a theme that, for its extraordinary nature, has the risk of slipping into spurious speculation.

Please read the following not as the arrival itself to an objective but as a possible path towards our future as a spacefaring species.




First – The Vision


Space travel is multitiered, but the primary challenge is propulsion. Associated costs continue to stall significant advances for both manned and unmanned missions. While there continues to be a hope that commercialization will lead to lower launch costs, markets for deep space remain elusive. Hence, initial

development beyond Earth orbit will likely remain government sponsored. Against this backdrop, we consider the linkage of scientific goals, current efforts, expectations, current technical capabilities, and requirements for the detailed exploration of the solar system and consolidation of off-Earth outposts. Over the next century, distances of 50 astronomical units could be reached by human crews, but only if resources are brought

to bear by international consortia.

 Full PDF here.




Second – The Architecture


All solar system objects are, in principle, targets for human in situ exploration. ARGOSY (ARchitecture for Going to the

Outer solar SYstem) addresses anew the problem of human exploration to the outer planets. The ARGOSY architecture approach is scalable in size and power so that increasingly distant destinations—the systems of Jupiter, Saturn,

Uranus, and Neptune—can be reached with the same crew size and time requirements.

To enable such missions, achievable technologies with appropriate margins must be used to construct a viable technical approach at the systems level. ARGOSY thus takes the step past Mars in addressing the most difficult part of the Vision for Space Exploration: To extend human presence across the solar system.


Full PDF here.


Enjoy the reading and don’t hesitate on giving us your feedback, BEYOND THE CRADLE wants you to bring your thoughts to light!


Oh…and if you were attempting to decipher the meaning of this post’s title don’t go no further…


If you seek our future, look to the stars!




    • Nick
    • February 28th, 2009

    Favorite quote from the ARGOSY architecture article:

    “One very important note: if we keep waiting for propulsion
    “breakthroughs” that will increase speed and
    lower cost, we will always be waiting.”

    Considered within the context of the world geopolitical & economic situation as well as other relevant technologies such as electronics minaturization, this is a very revealing observation. Existing booster capabilities are right now regarded as limiting factors, and therefore most space systems engineering is focused on optimizing payload functionality within the constraints of currently available booster performance. This is of course patently prudent and desirable in that it fosters innovation and technological development in terms of reliability engineering and minaturization, but it also removes any major impetus to develop new classes of heavy-lift launchers since commercial (key word) demand is not as strong as it otherwise might have been.

    Market demands & philosophies aside, it is a fact that the commercial launch industry is by far the primary driver in space technology development today, and the vast majority of that effort is focused on telecommunications. In this view, probably the only way to encourage heavy-lift booster development in the near term would be to find a compelling rationale for a large human presence in LEO.

    Perhaps it’s time to consider NEO mining more seriously. World metal prices have been, until recently, rising rapidly, and doubtless will resume doing so after the global economic downturn subsides. If a small (200-500m average diameter) high-metal NEO could be feasibly moved into LEO and processed in situ, this might provide ample
    justification for a substantial and sustained human presence, and therefore generate a need for long-term heavy boost capability.

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