Lunar Cryonics

I accidentally started a Twitter conversation with Sandy Mazza as a result of this nice piece on markets being enabled by lower-cost launch, including space burial. I noted to her that it made no sense for the California Department of Public Health to be regulating it, and then mentioned that they shouldn’t have anything to do with cryonics, either. In the course of the discussion, I dug up an old piece I wrote for Cryonics Magazine back in 1990 (ctrl-F “Simberg” to find it). Given that things are finally looking promising for reducing cost of access to space in general, and likely the moon as well, I decided I’d resurrect it here. Note that I’ve been talking about the need for markets to drive down launch costs for three decades. Note also that it’s somewhat dated, in terms of its discussion of the NASP and American Rocket.


The Frozen Frontier

We cannot currently afford to do what many of us would like to do in space. Now that I’ve gotten your attention (with what I hope is almost as enticing a statement to many cryonicists as the headline SEX DURING SUSPENSION in great big 48-point, what publishers refer to as “secondcoming,” type would be) I will explain what I mean and why it is relevant to readers of this periodical.

First of all, many cryonicists are interested in exploring and living in space because they are interested in eventually experiencing all that the universe has to offer, and most (like 99.999999 . . .%) of the universe lies beyond this tiny planet where we happen to have evolved. Also, with the population problem which indefinite lifetimes will inevitably engender, space offers a safety valve for the excess population and a fertile environment for the growth of new societies and economies.

However, space enthusiasts, many of whom are cryonicists, have a problem. The current cost of launching stuff (people, cargo, whatever) to orbit is too high to make many nifty space activities (solar power satellites, tourist resort hotels complete with zero-gee you know what, asteroid mines, space colonies) financially feasible. The primary reason for this is the current low launch rates, as determined by government payload requirements. Many studies in recent years, most of which I have played a principal role in, have determined that one of the key reasons that launch costs are so high is that the amount of traffic is too low. Any launch system represents a significant fixed cost per year to maintain and operate it, and if it is not flown very often, the proportional cost per flight of this fixed cost, which must be charged to each launch, is very high.

In other words, we do not have a technology barrier — we have a market barrier. The Space Transportation Architecture Study, performed for the Air Force and NASA in 1986 and 1987 by Rockwell International Corporation, Martin Marietta Corporation, Boeing Aircraft Company, and General Dynamics, showed that even the Space Shuttle could reduce the cost of launch to low Earth orbit significantly if it could be flown at a high (100 per year plus) flight rate. An entirely new launch system with modern technology, flown at an equally high or higher launch rate, could dramatically reduce costs, perhaps down to the region of one to two hundred dollars per pound. All we need is sufficient launch demand to require high rates, and an intelligently designed launch system, and the costs will come down. Now, you ask, besides the general reasons already stated, why should cryonicists, particularly those who are not

space buffs, care?

The answer is very simple.

Cryonicists need space.

And spacers need cryonics.

You see, cryonicists also have a problem (at least one). Assuming that one is comfortable with the current technical credibility of the concept, the biggest concern a cryonicist should have is a societal one. To wit, will society allow Alcor and other cryonics organizations to keep me from thawing out?

There are two issues here. One is purely financial. While the cost of liquid nitrogen is low (roughly equivalent to milk, even at current artificially high rates, as determined by price props from the Department of Agriculture), because of the usage rate, it is not zero. Thus, it is not inconceivable that your friendly neighborhood cryonics group may run into a budget squeeze down the road (due to legal battles or fines or inflation or other statist harassment) that prevents them from topping you off, converting you from a nice crisp corpsicle to a not-so-reanimatable slushie.

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