Or, “You don’t know what you’re talking about Snarky Boy.” that came from this and this.
That may be, after all I’m not a rocket scientist. However, I do have some experience scaling things, and while I might not know the correct rocket terminology, I think I’m correct when I stipulate that chemical rockets will never lift enough mass off the Earth to allow a meaningful human presence in space.
The Saturn V, the biggest thing we’ve ever launched (just go with me here) weighed in at 6,699,000 lbs, or 3,350 tons, and managed to put a measly 100,000 lbs (50 tons) into lunar orbit.
So lets pretend we want to build a classic L5 space colony. How big does it have to be?
Well, I don’t know, but the Empire State Building weighs 365,000 tons and it’s only about a thousand feet tall. Some of the L5 colony designs are several miles long. But for the sake of argument, lets start small.
The Snarky L5 habitat will weigh 500,000 tons. I suspect that’s too small but you’ll see it doesn’t matter for the sake of this thought experiment.
The Saturn 5 could lift 50 tons into Lunar orbit. L5 is comparable to lunar orbit for our purposes so let’s start building Saturn Vs to launch material and start building the Snarky Space Colony.
We’ll need 10,000 Saturn Vs. (NASA only ever launched 12, so we might have a problem or two.)
If we launched one a day, we’d be done in 28 years. How likely is that?
Lets wave a magic wand and double the payload to L5.
That’s now 5,000 magical rockets.
Double it again. The rocket gods have blessed us with a magical chemical rocket drive that can put 200 tons of payload at L5. (I’ll leave it to the real rocket scientists to explain how unlikely that really is.)
That’s 2,500 super magical rockets.
For one colony.
Oh. Did you want more than one colony?
How about supplies and such?
Oh, you cry foul… That’s cheating to insist on L5. Build it closer, like in Low Earth Orbit.
OK, lets see, the Saturn V could put 130 tons into LEO. It doesn’t help much. The biggest step is getting the mass off Earth in the first place.
It’s just not going to happen with chemical rockets.
On the other hand, General Atomics figured they could launch a 400 meter diameter, 8,000,000 ton (Yes, that’s 8 million tons) payload at once. And not just to Earth Orbit, but anywhere you wanted it.