From: "Russell 'Ace' Hoffman" <>
Subject:High-tech firefighters' friend just a few launches away...

October 29th, 2006

Three years to the day after the deadly fires known collectively as
the Cedar Fire (the October 2003 event also included the Paradise and
Otay fires, which burned concurrently), along comes the Esperanza
Fire, which killed three firefighters before it was four hours
old.  A fourth firefighter died at the hospital later that day, while
a fifth now struggles with burns covering 90% of his body.  One
firefighter and more than a dozen "civilians" died in the Cedar
Fire.  Wildfires kill more firefighters in California than structural fires do.

$500,000 in reward money has been offered in the hopes of catching
the person(s) responsible for starting the Esperanza
Fire.  Investigators suspect arson.

The firefighters of California could be among the most-benefited
people if we launched a practical system of space-based mirrors into
near-earth orbit.  And the start-up costs wouldn't even be all that great.

Space-based mirrors are large, very light (made of mylar, for
example) parabolic mirrors in space, which reflect sunlight onto
specific broad areas on the ground.  They could be aimed at the scene
of fires so that the firefighters -- both those on the ground AND
those in the air -- could truly SEE at night.  (The reflected
sunlight would heat up the area a little, but then, so do the engines
of the fire trucks if you want to get that detailed -- and so does
the fire!  (Space weapons using parabolic lenses or mirrors are also
possible -- duh -- but this isn't a weapon.)

Most of the time, the mirrors could be used to light, for example,
San Diego's entire Gaslamp District (wouldn't that be poetic?).  They
could be used to light a baseball game and the surrounding parking
lots and restaurants.  True skylights.

But WHO is responsible for the fact that we do NOT have SPACE-BASED MIRRORS?

The folks at NASA will deny it's THEIR fault:  They will tell you
that, if only the taxpayers would just give them a few tens of
billions of dollars in additional funding, they will pour most of it
down a rat-hole (well, they might not mention that!) and with the
rest of it, they will, in 10 or 20 years, launch a prototype.  But a
private contractor could build a space-based mirror system that would
work TODAY, because technologically, it's not even that difficult
anymore.  And it can be launched on conventional rockets.  NASA can
get MOST of those up successfully already.  But to use it, the public
DOES have to approve of it, the government has to authorize it, and
some large corporation has to invest it in.

Currently, two counties in the whole country have equipment which
allows their firefighters to fly at night.  But even that
"state-of-the-art" equipment is a green-screen display with
relatively low resolution and clarity.  So normally, just when the
fire is usually the easiest to fight for several reasons, darkness
makes it too dangerous to fight the fire effectively.  Space-based
mirrors would change that dynamic completely and forever.

While San Diego's Mayor Saunders and others sign onto a proclamation
to support "green" energy, San Onofre poisons our land, sea, and air
because authorities didn't realize sooner that they COULD supply the
needs of the citizens with renewable energy.  And even now, they are
speciously NOT talking about San Onofre, but about "global warming,"
while some continue to claim that nuclear power might be a cure for
that (it isn't).

Space-based mirrors burn no fossil fuels except once on launch -- and
that, too could be done cleanly, with magnetic-levitation launch
platforms.  Other renewable-energy, high-tech wonders such as
off-shore wind and wave-energy systems remain unused because of
childish fears of the wrong dangers.

Non-renewable energy sources can always set their own price,
specifically to keep competing options OFF THE MARKET.  Oil companies
can lower the price of gasoline so low that it has an effect on the
elections every two or four years without blinking an eye -- the
billions lost will be recovered just a few months later.  Gas prices
are "down" so the economy, we assume, is "up."

But better solutions require more forward thinking.  They require
accounting for long-term damaging effects of each option, which the
market price of any particular energy source probably doesn't properly reflect.

Each day, a string of space-based mirrors in earth orbit could
provide much-needed evening light to various cities across the
country, as they chase down the setting sun.  By aiming them at
different cities one could avoid turning on the lights at night for
an extra hour or two.  Cities could contract with the mirror's
owners.  Even small cities all around the world could benefit.

Space-based mirrors would be particularly effective for California,
because east-to-west traveling mirrors could stay aimed at California
cities while they are crossing much of the mostly-uninhabited Pacific Ocean.

Mirrors in higher orbits could be used for longer periods of time
after sunset and before sunrise, and light could even be bounced
around from mirror to mirror.  Groups of mirrors in geostationary
orbits and near-geostationary orbits could also provide light for
specific blocks of specific cities all night long, if desired.  These
might be useful in, say, Las Vegas or Baghdad, to give just two
examples.  Large construction sites could also purchase mirrored
light during specific phases of the work, such as the concrete pour.

This is all within the realm of possibility today -- it could have
been done 20 years ago, although we can do it better (cheaper,
cleaner, more reliably) now.  It would save far more energy than it
would take to launch the satellites, and reduce environmental
degradation significantly by reducing the burning of fossil fuels and
splitting of uranium atoms.  It would also revitalize our high-tech
industries during the building phase of the project, which would
continue for decades no matter when we start.

It would benefit California AND the rest of the planet.  It would
prove America is capable of using space for something other than
war.  It could even provide a commercial incentive to keep the outer
space environment free from orbital space debris, which is a growing
and very serious environmental issue.

Mirrors in low earth orbit, if they are destroyed by space debris or
anything else, if they could not be recovered, would eventually fall
to earth and burn up.  This debris would not be significantly worse
for the environment than a typical house fire, if the mirrors are
properly designed.  Mirrors in higher orbits would have to be much
more carefully designed, but it should be noted that those areas are
already used for many things, so even "way up there," one should at
least ASK if this is a MORE PROPER use of space than, say, the 987th
television satellite.  Some orbital altitudes currently contain
DOZENS of used nuclear reactors and their effluent!  Space-based
mirrors would certainly be a much more proper, much more
cost-effective use of space, by any comparison to just about any
current use of the same altitude / area in space.

In addition to space-based mirrors, our firefighters could benefit
from smaller, more maneuverable pumping equipment, which is also
available but the budget isn't -- it never is.  They should have a
fleet of custom-designed water-tankers instead of one or two old,
ex-civilian and ex-military DC-10s, and equally old and awkward
helicopters, and really very few specially-designed, flyable water tankers.

At most fires there are more news helicopters than fire-fighting
helicopters on the scene!

If we spent our money more wisely, perhaps those four firefighters
would have been able to see what was happening around them, and
realized it was time to get out.

It's definitely time for America to take some really big steps to
relieve its energy problems, and the rest of the world's energy
problems, too.  If California builds off-shore energy solutions,
every country with a coastline will do the same, and probably will
want to buy the equipment from California.  If we build space-based
mirrors, others will use them, too.  It would be good for the
environment and good for the economy.

Time and time again, studies of various societies have shown that
when poverty is eliminated, when strife is lessened, when needs are
met, violence diminishes.  Globally, the lack of energy is the most
sure indicator of: Poverty, strife, need, etc..  Give people cheap,
clean energy, and everything else becomes possible, even peace.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA