The Sea Dragon: The Biggest Rocket that Never Was

Surprisingly the Saturn V isn't the biggest rocket that was designed.

That title belongs to the Sea Dragon:

In my browsing of YouTube and watching video game rockets explode a fellow by the name of Scott Manley briefly mentioned a real rocket design that had the sort of thrust the overly complicated design he had pulled to get her had. So I did a little poking around and this thing is freaking awesome.

Video of a lecture that sheds more light on the matter:

The engine bell could hold the entire first stage of the Saturn V. It could put a million pounds into orbit. This thing would have been made out of six inch steel plate and stand 500 feet tall and the tarring (thing that dictates how wide cargo can be) diameter was 25 yards. Currently the biggest tarring we have is maybe 25 feet.

As the guy in the video points out you could shave a billion or possibly more off the James Web telescope by axing all the intricate unfolding mechanisms for it to deploy and build it out of welded steel. Sure the weight would go up, but this thing could launch a million pounds so who cares? Build it out of welded freaking steel, it'll survive just fine and still save you a billion or more.

Current cost per pound is $10 000
This thing's cost per pound? In 1960s dollars it was $600

Using the inflation calculator found here:

The sea dragon's cost per pound is roughly $4 000

Only a little under half current costs and this guy is talking about sending steel up? Costs far less even if it's going to be heavier because the above mentioned ability to launch it in it's orbital configuration instead of having to have it do this open like a flower business. Then there's the fact since we can afford, weight wise, to use steel rather than having to use billet aluminum we save on manufacturing. On top of all that because we can afford to go Big we don't have to miniaturize all the electronics, which saves cost and makes them more durable to the whole 'in space full of radiation and wild temperature swings' thing.

Best part? This thing's basically a submarine hull that uses kerosene, liquid oxygen, and is, at least mostly, reusable. Stage drops away. Parachutes deploy. Thing's got six inches of steel for it's walls instead of thin aluminum. Are there problems associated with the design? Undoubtedly.

However let's be honest here. We need to Go Big. Space is a good project to inspire a generation. Fifties? Sixties? That's the era ARPAnet, the predecessor to the internet, was designed in. We went to the deepest part of the ocean in that era. Kids grew up wanting to do Science. It was when America was the undisputed greatest nation on earth.

Sure Civil Rights issues were s big gargantuan problem and we're still struggling there far more than I'd like, but we need to inspire people to try doing better. Right now the young people of this country are distrustful, resentful, and see everywhere how the world is falling apart. Pack it up sonny. The world is shit. Get used to getting stepped on.

Things like this though? Forget having to send up twenty different shuttle missions to build the international space stations. This thing could put up the massive rotating space station from 2001 Space Odyssey in three. It could not only send us to the moon but it could send an entire moonbase up in one. Forget something the size of a few phone booths for crew to survive in. Send up something the size of a house.

Gets even better. Currently Space X is working on the crew configuration for their dragon capsule. It's supposed to be able to hold six people. So even if the Sea Dragon would have to be a strictly unmanned craft due to launch forces (oh did I forget to mention it would be launched from underwater? Ya no more expensive launch facilities) you can send over twice the people Apollo could carry up to meet with whatever this thing flings into orbit and them get your science on.

This is how we design things in America folks. We just gotta convince the government to get their heads out of the sand and give them the resources to do it.

NeoCities Responds to my Request for Gopher Support

A few months back, right around the time NeoCities Upgraded their UI I'd emailed them about the idea of adding support for Gopher.

What is Gopher:

I finally got a response today. On the one hand 'what took them so long.' However on the other 'small team having to constantly keep up with the wider world, they are constantly slammed.'


Hey, Kyle here (from Neocities).

I may be one of the remaining few people on the internet that has used Gopher before. I used it a long time ago when I was really young (12)?

There was this Mac Classic at my middle school that was sortof abandoned in the corner of a commons area. I was told that they didn't use it for anything anymore, and I could pretty much do anything I wanted with it. So the idea of having my own computer to play around with was pretty exciting, so I started experimenting with what I could do with it.

I really wanted to get it online, so I found a weird old 2400bps modem designed for it (well, it was designed for a newer Mac but it had the same interface) and plugged it in. To my amazement, it actually worked. It was slow, but it worked. So I had it dial in to the ISP I used at home.

From there, I found some 3.5 disks that had random internet software on it, and installed them. One of those programs was a Gopher application, so I plugged it in, and connected to some Gopher servers being run by the University of Minnesota (the Gopher protocol was invented there).

It was kindof neat, but even then, using Gopher was kindof anachronistic.

Neocities is trying very hard to not be a nostalgia machine. We want to express that we believe making your own web site is not nostalgia, but the future of the web, and that improvements to browser technology has made this possible.

So putting in Gopher support would be fun, and I would love to do it, but we're very time crunched right now, so we need to focus on the features and improvements that matters to most people. You can get an idea of how busy our schedule is here, we've got a lot of ground to cover:

So unfortunately, we won't be able to support Gopher on Neocities.

My recommendation would be to make a site that is designed for use with Gopher. If you think that Gopher should be re-introduced to a modern audience, be the change. That's exactly what Neocities is trying to do with making sites. There's no reason you can't do the same for Gopher. :-)


Not the response I wanted to hear. However it is one that clearly articulates what and why. I respect that and really hope people five them a shot.

Speaking of if you want to make your own site from scratch they will give you twenty (20) megabytes of space. Is that a lot of space? Not if you load down with flash, sound, etc. However for text and images with links to YouTube, lastfm, and other sites all managed by CSS you can get a lot prettier than things were in the 90s.

All from a company that believes in net neutrality and will try standing up for your right to have your say. So give them a shot:

My Thoughts about the Raspberry Pi 2

Amazing all the things people come up with when they can get a computer they can afford to be a bit reckless with. Well that is going on the idea you can get a raspberry pi 2 since they seem to have been out of stock almost as soon as they were announced.

$35 for something that isn't too far removed from a decently specced cellphone's computer and with a large community of tinkerers and people with far too much time on their hands. Sure u have to provide your own cables, case, and monitor, but it hooks up to a modern TV with HDMI, an old TV with component cables, and if the thin won't boot just put a new SD card in, or worst case, buy another one.

Ditto for when the next iteration rolls 'round two years from now. Unhook everything, pop new thing in, go about your way.

I like the concept of these little things, and judging by all the 'me too' barebone boards out there, it seems there's a market.

Of course the first raspberry pi was less powerful and judging by YouTube reviews was a bit too pokey to be used as a general computer. Didn't stop people from tinkering and finding plenty of uses (including acting as a controller for beer brewing.) But with this iteration, it seems like you could actually get heavy lifting done.

Pretty sure there's limits and restrictions going on, since at its heart the thing has more in common with your cellphone than desktop, but still.

It makes me happy whenever new uses get found for the little thing.

Tennessee Suing the FCC over allowing Municipal Broadband

TL;DR: IThink This Is Stupid.

Things like this make me unhappy. The Ban on Municipal broadband/internet providers was stupid and removing that ban let's communities go 'you will either give us better service or we will take our money and do it ourselves.'

Capitalism unfettered leads to monopolies, and monopolies unopposed have historically gone the route of least service possible because their customers have no options.

Competition is inherently a good thing, and communities naturally will want to not mess up if they're going their own way.

So please, I don't want people to think it's useless to speak out. Call your representatives. You will get either an automated message or some underpaid intern. Be polite. Be on point, and tell them that you support the FCCs decision to allow municipal broadband.

Who knows, they may well not care. Thing is they just might if we're loud enough. I don't care if you like the people in office, because I don't. I just want people to spread the word and make calls.

The internet is nearly as essential for modern business as electricity and water. We cannot afford to continue being behind the likes of Romania and Estonia in terms of internet connectivity and speed.

On Writing

I've had to put up with over a decade of silence on my writing, not just from friends and family but also publishers and proofreaders. People telling me that it isn't any good would be different. That would mean people actually looked. It's the silence that hurts worst since months of work and the world at large just moves on.

This isn't me saying people should pick these things up if it's not something you care for. I m simply stating what is. Yet even with all that I'm still willing to step back in.

You have to be a little crazy to do this, or in my case a lot crazy. There's some kind of statistic I'd seen years back stating you have to write and sell three or four books a year to make what amounts to minimum wage. One of my favorite authors, Cory Doctrow for those curious, does talks and lectures and for him the books are more to get new people to know who he is. Same thing with a lot of other well known writers really.

So I am under no illusions at writing the next great american novel or getting rich off of this. It's hard and discouraging, but it's something I do. Don't ask why, I can't give a good answer, but I do. It's just incredibly slow going.