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Great New Space Mining Book! June 3, 2015

Posted by Mark Flavin in General, Space Policy, Space Ventures.
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New Space Mining Book

New Space Mining Book

Now I wish I would have paid more attention in chemistry & geology class. This new book by Dr. John Lewis is amazing. Most “popular” non-fiction is written by English majors who research a topic and never do it justice. Asteroid Mining 101 is so refreshing because it is written by someone who knows what he is talking about. Dr. Lewis has long been involved in concepts for tapping the riches of space.  With an academic background in space science and cosmochemistry (I had no idea that field even existed) he is eminently qualified to author a book on asteroid mining.

What I like about this book is that he clearly identifies the candidate asteroids by orbit, makeup and frequency they pass close to earth. This is a real science based book that is thorough and rigorous in the analysis of the subject. It covers the fascinating use of meteorites that have landed in various places and time on earth in categorizing the potential enormous wealth available for any particular type of asteroid since meteors are just chips off of asteroids.

Asteroid Mining 101 is true to its title with generous coverage of the actual mining process, what we can expect for mineral extraction, how it could be done and how it would be delivered for use back on earth. Overall this is a fascinating, if not technical, look at the practical aspects on mining asteroids in Near Earth Orbit (NEA). It is of interest that Dr. Lewis is Chief Scientist at Deep Space Industries, a real life space mining company, so he is not just a dreamer professor with nothing practical to bring to the table. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of a possible future for space that has tremendous implications back here on earth.

Deflector Shield to Maximum! May 21, 2015

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Radiation in Space, Image credit: J.W.Wilson

Radiation in Space, Image credit: J.W.Wilson

Star Trek was way ahead of its time. Someone was always messing with the shields because the crew was at risk. The reality of space is that it is not only a hard vacuum, but it has some very nasty particles (ionizing radiation) zipping around that our bodies do not deal with well. Any crew traveling through such a field of particle is at risk as well. NASA has yet to come to grips with addressing this potential life threatening events that can randomly occur during a journey through space. Low earth orbit (LEO) affords some level of protection due to the effects of the powerful magnetic field that envelopes the earth that deflects particles away, but only up to a certain level. Even the ISS, which is in LEO has a “safe room” for when the sun sends a bust of space weather heading toward earth. It is not widely known but the Apollo astronauts barely missed a major solar mass coronal ejection (MCE) in the months between the Apollo 16 & 17 missions. Had they been in space, or on the moon at that time there could have been very serious consequences to the crew and spacecraft hardware by a shower of high energy particles and little or no shielding to protect them. Traveling to Mars or chasing an asteroid means a crew will be out of the influence of earths field and its protection. This exposes them to a MCEs, as well as very high energy galactic cosmic rays (see chart) with little shielding available that is light enough to transport into space.

Fortunately others have worked on a solution to shielding the astronauts on such a journey as well as a method to create artificial gravity so our crew will not be rubber legged after floating around for nine (yes that’s nine) months on the way to Mars. The protection scheme is two fold. For radiation protection a group of physicists and engineers have come up with a novel solution, based partly on work done in high energy physics for the attempt to create a fusion reactor. The fusion people are using high intensity magnetic fields to steer & plasma (sun surface temperatures) away from the walls of the reactor so they wont melt. This same technology of superconducting magnets to create a powerful field is suggested for crew protection in deep space. That is because, while you can’t shield against these high energy particles with anything light enough, you can redirect them around the spacecraft & crew with a strong field. This is eloquently described in a paper with more math than my little head can handle, but the net result is it will work and within a reasonable power budget.

They also show is a concept of spinning the spacecraft to generate a artificial gravity for the crew. As a package this makes more sense that anything I have seen out of NASA for crew protection and well being. If I were going to Mars I would put my trust in this concept.

Shielded Spacecraft - Image Credit: R.A. Bamford et al

Shielded Spacecraft – Image Credit: R.A. Bamford et al

Yeah, It’s Rocket Science May 19, 2015

Posted by Mark Flavin in General.
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ALICE Team Photo Credit: Purdue University

ALICE Team Photo Credit: Purdue University

If you add aluminum powder (cheap) and water (free) what do you get? Rocket fuel! That is what the team at Purdue University has been working on in a propulsion program called ALICE (Al – aluminum ICE – frozen water). It seams amazing until you think about the chemistry that is going on. The aluminum is being oxidized by the oxygen present in water which also liberates hydrogen, forming a very combustible low toxicity mixture. While this sounds too good to be true there are several reasons that may prevent you from stirring up a batch in your kitchen. The aluminum is in the form of nano-particles. These tiny pieces of the metal allow much more surface area for the oxidation to occur but are also very difficult to blend with water. What the researchers came up with is a recipe that involves small amounts of other chemicals (a water gelling agent) and HCL to control the PH and very careful blending in an inert gas environment. It is rocket fuel and it is possible to start spontaneous combustion with the oxygen in the air. After the blending and mixing the compound is frozen with a removable core, just like other solid rocket fuels.

To check the performance of the fuel the team ran a series of firings to characterize various batches. The best of the tests was and impulse of 251 N-s, not bad for water and aluminum. The formula was loaded into a test flight vehicle which is shown in the photo above being proudly held by the Purdue team, and test flown as a proof of concept. There is a good youtube video of the whole process including the rocket launch. Very impressive results.

Now why is this a big deal? In our solar system including our moon there is evidence of water and combined within the lunar regolith and in the make up of asteroids there is water and aluminum. This technology is meaningful in the broad context of using our solar system mineral and water assets to both expand and enrich our world. With an abundant source of fuel we can begin the process of using what is there and not have to haul huge amounts of fuel with us. It makes good sense and yeah, it’s rocket science.

Sleeping Away the Future May 15, 2015

Posted by Mark Flavin in General, Space Policy, The Solar System.
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Essay by Mark Flavin

Moon Image credit: NASA

Moon  –   Image credit: NASA

“I blame you for the moonlit sky
and the dream that died with the eagles’ flight.
I blame you for the moonlit nights when
I wonder why are the seas still dry?
Don’t blame this sleeping satellite.”

“Sleeping Satellite” written by John Robert Beck, Tasmin Archer and John Hughes.


When I originally heard this song which was sung so well by Tasmin Archer way back in ’92 I thought the lyrics were novel. Most pop songs sing about good, bad or ugly relationships yet here was a song with a clear, non-romantic message I could identify with. Now some forty-six years after the Eagle landed at Tranquility Base – that’s right forty-six years – I struggle with a culture that was so successful and amazing at landing and returning humans from the moon and then just walk away from something so profound. Are we that shallow? Are we so self-absorbed with making money, having “fun”, fighting wars – no sane person would ever fight – that something as big as departing the earth for another stellar object becomes trivial?

The state of American culture in the past almost fifty years since; “That’s one small step…” was uttered on the dry Sea of Tranquility is that it is still dry; we never went back. 21st century American has no purpose that transcends the daily grind of endless political argument and the death spiral of “can’t do” that seems to emanate from every crack. Wackos with an agenda for constraint and regression flourish while free thinking genius is punished with a wall of regulation and repression. We thrill at the pseudo-progress that allows us to “tweet” and “toot” on gadget phones that do nothing well, not even telephoning. So we sit in homes, at work, in a cafe, or (God forbid) in our moving cars, heads down punching our thumbs on an “i-something” device ignoring the real world, the universe and the people who inhabit it. The e-messiah of Cupertino has given us portable electronic pacifiers in their many forms so anyone anywhere can waste time burrowing deeper into self-absorption. Welcome to the quasi-modern era where advancement is measured in how our egos are titillated, not in measurable real progress.

What should a modern post-Apollo, post moon landing space era look like? After all it is not the sleeping satellites (our moons) fault; we are responsible for our destiny. There are several vital areas that have languished for decades waiting for leadership that does not seem to exist in the 21st century here and now in our country, or anywhere else on earth for that matter and they are as follows:

  • Innovative propulsion technology.
  • Making space craft livable and safe.
  • Space craft for beyond the low earth orbit (LEO) & the moon.
  • Enabling human exploration of our solar system.
  • Utilizing the near limitless riches of the asteroids.

Propulsion Technology – Since the 1950’s there has been zero progress on any propulsion technology beyond conventional liquid or solid rocket engines. Why is this so? Big aerospace has a vested interest in keeping their research and development to as little as possible while harvesting profit from technology developed for the early and now ancient missile programs. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) which should be called the United Leach Alliance is a monopoly consisting of Boeing Company and the Lockheed Martin Corporation has become the money sucker firmly attached like a parasite to government funded space launches. Based on the Atlas (December 1957 first launch) and the Titan (December 1958 first launch) rockets they have “evolved” the cryogenic chemical rocket for almost sixty years. Imagine your car with an engine and chassis from 1957. Would you be reaching for the stars, or driving on two lane highways desperately looking for the next gas station?

The efforts of Space X and others are significant however, they only provide what the government wants; more chemical cryogenic rockets to deliver payloads to LEO or geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO). They have impacted the price to orbit but not significant enough to make it affordable to anyone but a government or a large corporation.

It is not that there are no alternatives, it’s just that the government, and large corporations are risk averse. Ideas bounce around academia like the ALICE program flown in a scale rocket at Purdue University that would create rocket fuel from nano-particles of aluminum (very cheap) and water (free) but these inventive and imaginative propulsion technologies languish because they are not conventional cryogenic liquid rockets.

Propulsion Technology Goal: Develop a propulsion technology that would reduce the current launch cost per pound of ~ $4K-$13K per pound for LEO to around one tenth of the average or <$100 per pound.

Impossible, the critics scream, but not so fast. It is all about smashing the paradigm that space flight needs to be expensive. Real engineers aren’t intimidated by a challenge, just read about the work done on the Apollo program. The challenge was to the moon and back in 10 years, they did it in 8. (Move away from that i-phone and put your thumbs down and your mind in gear.)

Serious consideration of making space livable and safe. – It is frustrating watching NASA pursue the same old path; micro gravity in LEO or zero g coasting on a long duration space mission. This “head in the sand” intransigence is completely irresponsible especially considering the current mission plan has a travel time of ~ 8 months to Mars. Really, 8 months floating in space, then 3 g descent onto the surface with 0.4g earth gravity. The rubber legged astronauts will not be in very good physiological shape for doing much exploring for a while once they get there.

Then there is the issue of radiation and its debilitating effects to the crew. No real plans to do anything serious to mitigate something as lethal as ionizing radiation after leaving the earths protective magnetic field other that a half-hearted study with mice – which was a real eye opener. Imagine getting to Mars and having seriously degraded your mental acuity right when you need clear thinking the most.

Space Habitat for Humans – A safe habitat that provides astronauts, visitors and travelers with a reasonable portion of earths gravity & equivalent radiation protection of LEO.

Just saying artificial gravity can send a NASA space bureaucrat into orbit. “too expensive”, “too difficult” , “too complex”, and so was going to the moon in 1961. As far as radiation protection, what person, other than a criminal, would send a volunteer crew on a mission they know would severely impact the crews health and reduce their mortality and quality of life upon return. We desperately need the technology developed that will put a space structure at one of the Lagrange points or elsewhere to confirm our ability to live in space for long periods or permanently without debilitating consequences. It is interesting to note the Mark Benson et al have a concept that addresses both of these concerns in a very comprehensive paper published through the AIAA (ref. document AIAA 2011-7138).

Space travel beyond the low earth orbit (LEO) & the moon. – We have been “Space Shuttled” or should it be “Space Scuttled” which limited our access to deep space from 1980 until the “space truck” was retired in 2011. All that wasted time ferrying back & forth to LEO. The enormous waste of a program that never should have been our sole access to space. Oh sure we have the ISS, (Ineffective Space Station) or I$$. Between those two programs the NASA budget was squandered for thirty years, billions of dollars that left us with no heavy lift capability once we abandoned the Saturn rocket. (It is an interesting footnote that there are two un-flown fully space qualified Saturn V launchers sitting as gate mascots at NASA facilities. We can’t even find the plans they were built with!) Now, finally NASA is working on a heavy lifter, the Space Launch System (SLS) that the congress forced a reticent NASA (kicking and fussing) to build. As a culture we can do much better that this.

Solar System Spacecraft for Humans – Develop a multi-mission manned space craft capable of operating for extended periods beyond the earth – moon system.

Not a glorified “Orion” capsule with kluged appendages and no artificial gravity. A real multi-mission system was eloquently described by Mark Holoman and Edward Henderson of NASA in the form of the Nautilus – X concept. This program concept brought together exquisitely clear thinking (for NASA) and defines a craft which could be used for solar system exploration. This type of craft would be greatly enhanced by advancements of in space propulsion technology like the functional Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) which would allow a major reduction in transit time within the solar system. We will have heavy lifter with the SLS, now let’s do something with it.

A plan for human exploration of our solar system. – It’s out there, let’s go explore it, and I don’t mean with little robot “explorers”. The space program was hijacked by activist “scientists” with an agenda of proving life on earth was not unique by finding microbial life somewhere that is not earth. Who really cares? Finding microbes has never driven a culture to explore any new vista anywhere, yet for years we have heard the tribal chant of “find the water, find life”. This absurd unscientific premise has caused us to waste tens of billions on landers and orbiters desperately trying to find microbial life on Mars. There is no scientific data to support the premise that where there is non-teresterial water there is life. It is just like saying: “My fridge has beer therefore any fridge I find will have beer in it.” It is called a logical fallacy, but we trudge on decade after decade, spending wildly, hoping, praying that we will find microbial life somewhere, anywhere. It is much more sensible to send humans to explore and if they find life, great, but at least we will have the satisfaction of seeing humans kicking up a little red dust on Mars in the process. Human exploration is something it doesn’t take a microscope to see, and it inspires those of us who don’t get to space travel to not only dream a little but put tax dollars on something with which we can identify. Robots are fine for where we can’t go because of the environment, like Venus, but if it is a hard surface planet we can stand on or moon or asteroid send people, we can relate to that, support that, pay for that.

A National Mandate for Human Exploration of our Solar System. Just as Martin Luther started the Reformation by publishing his “95 Thesis” so there is a need to attack the orthodoxy of the space bureaucracy with a fresh viewpoint that upsets the status quo.

Year after year those who yearn for a plan of human exploration of space are frustrated with an unresponsive sluggish post Apollo agency who has lost their way with no leadership or concise action plan that spans the decades ahead. Their charter had become focused on self-absorbed programs of earth research, atmospheric research, physics research, technology research, systems research (do you see a trend) with no tangible goal. It has become one mega science project for people who have never worked a day outside of academia and who build their little silos in research of things, which to a large part, have nothing to do with aeronautics or space (the “AS” in NASA). Churning out reports, crunching numbers on super-computers, holding symposiums and trying to get kids interested in science. Why? So they can grow up and waste there lives doing meaningless research? It is enough! It is time to eliminate the bureaucrats, administrators and activist scientists, clean out the Luddites and make a sensible plan for humans to explore the solar system; all of it, not just low earth orbit.

Clearly defined plans for utilizing the near limitless riches of the asteroids. – It is unimaginable what wealth is present in the belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter and even closer in the host of near earth objects (NEO) that skirt our planets orbit. Nickel, cobalt and more valuable metals such as gold, platinum and rhodium enough to provide resources for a thriving earth for millennia. This is not something that is unobtainable but it is within current technology to explore and recover. Dr. John S. Lewis makes the case for why this is both feasible and necessary in the two books he has written on the subject. It is time we though about our future before our national competitors do.

The National Mandate of Mineral Recovery from NEO. – This is not science fiction, it is fact and it is the kind of thing that can make or break a nation’s future.

While the private sector has the desire to use the NEO resource to make money it is the charter of the national government to clear the way for this kind of enterprise. Just as the government facilitated the expansion of the railroads in the 19th century with generous grants of land so it is in the best interest of America to have a solid plan to help pave the way to extract minerals from space in the 21st century. Without such a plan we will be a spectator while other nations or federations move to capitalize on the new space wealth. There are few times in the history of a nation when it stands at a clearly defined cross roads. The American Civil War, The Industrial Revolution, World War II, The Space Race. In each instance to fail would have meant a future none of us would enjoy.

What is ahead for us individually and for our nation is clear. We have a reasonable expectation to succeed in whatever path our collective will chooses. History has shown us to be a nation of resourceful free thinkers. Self-doubt and self-absorption diffuse the energy of a powerful and capable country and allow us to settle for second place when the blue ribbon is there for the taking. Space is not just an imaginary place where science fiction happens it is a real resource for us to explore and thrill to its wonders and prosper in its riches. If we have the heart to wake up and chart a course we will flourish by purposeful actions or we can choose inaction and by default to sleep away the future.

“And when we shoot for the stars
What a giant step;
Have we got what it takes
To carry the weight of this concept
Or pass it by?
Like a shot in the dark
Miss the mark with a sense of adventure.”

Lyrics to “Sleeping Satellite” written by John Robert Beck, Tasmin Archer and John Hughes.

essay copyright by Mark Flavin 2015

I’m Back + Planetary Resources May 8, 2015

Posted by Mark Flavin in General, Space Ventures, Technology.
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ARKYD Spacecraft

ARKYD 3 Spacecraft Photo Credit: Planetary Resources


I took a long hiatus from my blog but I am back. Being distracted by running a business has kept me from what I love, space, but no longer! I will again begin to add content to share with other space enthusiasts.

Speaking of space Planetary Resources is very close to releasing there first prospecting telescope called Arkyd 3 from the ISS in July of this year. The instrument was lofted into orbit aboard the most resent SpaceX Dragon launch to the ISS. The mission of the Arkyd 3 is a technology demonstrator to proof the spacecraft and systems necessary to orbit other craft with the ultimate mission of identifying near earth objects (NEO) suitable for capture and mining.

Planetary Resources has a very ambitious goal of ultimately mining asteroids. They are taking a very measured approach to this by first identifying a list of candidate asteroids within reasonable range of earth. Once the database of objects is complete they will go to the next phase of mission planning along with their partners to begin actual mining. Their partners are heavyweights like Larry Page (Google), Eric Schmidt. (Google), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin everything), Ross Perot Jr. and a bunch of others that have the resources to move the venture from proof of concept to reality.

Keep you eye on this company. They have the potential to not just talk space but do space in a big way. It is what we have needed for a long, long time; entrepreneurs with vision that can literally reach for the stars.

Is a Mars mission “ludicrous” ? June 18, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in General, Space Policy.
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I recently read an interview by Chris Kraft, the engineer who established Mission Control for the Apollo program. He stated that sending humans to Mars was ludicrous which Mirriam-Webster defines as:  “amusing or laughable through obvious absurdity, incongruity, exaggeration, or eccentricity.” Mr. Kraft may know a lot about running a mission control organization during “the good old days”  but he appears clueless & out of touch about a real goal for a national space program.

What is so absurd about sending our astronauts to a hard surface planet in our solar system? What is laughable about real vision for a change instead of the hocus pocus NASA is doing as it disassembles human space flight program? This is all being done at the direction of a President & his political hacks who are sucking NASA’a budget dry to fund socialism. With an empty headed director like Bolden at the helm of NASA, a guy who thinks one of the principal goals of NASA is to “make Islamic nations feel good about their contribution to math & science.” (see interview) how will NASA ever do anything worthwhile? Now that kind of incongruous leadership & direction is ludicrous if I ever heard it! What could that possibly have to do with a space exploration?

With the kind of nonsense from non-leaders like Bolden, along with the out of touch old guard of the Apollo era we deserve to watch other nations visit Mars while we sit wasting time & our money on the ISS stuck forever in low earth orbit while buying each other lunch with food stamps. Ludicrous indeed, I think Mr. Kraft & all of us need to look around at the status quo and determine where absurd behavior is being manifested.  It certainly is not is in aiming at the inspiring, achievable goal of putting humans on Mars.

Private Space Station Possibilities May 30, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in Space Ventures, Technology.
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Image Credit: Bigelo Aerospace
BA-330 Space Module

It is refreshing to see all the activity in private launch services to allow more access to space beyond what NASA ever could or would. A recent announcement of a collaborative effort between SpaceX and Bigelo Aerospace has put a new twist to the possibilities of private space ventures. SpaceX has a huge lead over any of their competitors in developing a human rated launch system able to loft seven people into orbit & safely return them to earth. Now they are teaming up with Bigelo Aerospace, a company with no competitors in providing on orbit human habitats for any purpose.

It’s a sure bet that the price for such services; reaching low earth orbit, will be way beyond what I can afford but the trend is what is so exciting. For the first time in history someone other than a government is talking about a space station! How cool is that. Bigelows concept of a soft, inflatable structure for space habitation is unique. The BA 330 pictured is 330 cu. me. of usable space that is pressurized and has all the attitude control and module avionics to make it an autonomous space station. Even better is that the modules can be joined to make a much lager facility for research, space tourism or anything a customer can imagine.

Bigelow already has had  two test modules in orbit for several years gathering important data on long term exposure to the harsh environment of space. I can’t wait to see what these two innovative companies will do in concert to give us mortals the ability to become astronauts too.

Mars in six weeks. May 18, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in Technology.
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Image Credit – NASA
Fusion Rocket Engine

The Redstone Arsenal located in Huntsville Alabama is preparing for an important test this summer that could pave the way for a usable fusion rocket engine using the Z-pinch concept. The energy density for such a rocket is enormous but the propellant mass is measured in pounds of fuel instead of the huge tank loads that a liquid rocket would consume. The essence of a fusion rocket is similar to the process which drives our sun only instead of hydrogen fused to helium it would be hydrogen and lithium performing the fusion reaction. The result is a burst of pure energy which would drive a spacecraft as a series of fusion pulsed detonations.

A profile of a flight to Mars with such an engine would consist of a thrust phase up to a very high velocity, then coasting flight followed by a braking thrust to a safe speed for entry into the Martian atmosphere. Total time for the trip 6 to 8 weeks instead of six months or more using a chemical rocket. This reduction in travel time is  essential to the crews health and well being upon arrival at Mars.

What Redstone will be doing is a test using some very powerful banks of capacitors to energize the fusion cycle. They will gather data and determine if the concept is viable, and if so the process of scaling it up to a workable engine can begin. This type of engine is for use in space since the mass required to boost a spacecraft into orbit is too great to overcome. It advantage is long duration high impulse with low fuel consumption. If proven a workable concept this engine has uses in manned exploration, asteroid mining, deep space probes or any spacecraft needing high velocity to reach distant objects.

Let’s hope the fusion engine has a future on the Mars Express passenger liners of tomorrow.

Anti Matter Engine Anyone? May 17, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in Technology.
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Image Credit: CERN

I know this sounds too Star Trek to be real but actually anti matter propulsion has been considered for a number of years by credible agencies. The latest is the European agency CERN, you know the guys with the huge super collider (Large Hadron Collider). They have turned some of their high powered particle physics simulation tools loose on the problem and have come up with a very interesting result. They believe, based on the simulations, that an anti matter rocket engine could be extremely efficient, more so that anyone has previously thought possible. This is using only the technologies available today.

The secret to achieving high particle velocity, which in turn yields high thrust is the magnetic containment of the particle stream. A Cornell University team using CERN’s simulation tool called GEANT4 believe exhaust particle speeds reaching 70% of the speed of light are possible. This velocity is not possible in conventional combustion cycle rockets used today and could enable future space craft to achieve much higher speed thereby reducing the travel time to destinations both inside &  outside our solar system.

Everything has limits and so it is with anti mater propulsion. The limiting factor is the availability of anti matter. Today it is limited to singular atoms produced in the lab but with a focused effort larger quantities could be created or captured from a recently discovered ring of anti protons which surround Earth.

Who knows, maybe Scottie could cobble up a little anti matter impulse engine to go along with his transparent aluminum and away we go!

100 Year Starship Project May 14, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in Space Policy, Space Ventures.
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Image Credit: 100yss.org

Image Credit: 100yss.org

It is rare to find an organization dedicated to anything beyond the lifetime of the average person but the 100 Year Starship™ Initiative  (100YSS) is just such a group. Their purpose is simple; plan for a human crewed space ship capable of traveling through interstellar space to a destination outside our solar system. While their purpose can be simply stated there is nothing simple about the goal.

Traveling beyond our solar system is a daunting challenge considering the distances involved, and the technology currently available. It is interesting that their website points out that H.G. Wells book “First Men on the Moon” was published just sixty eight years before we set foot on our closest satellite; an unthinkable goal in 1901. The group is trying to galvanize industry, government and the rest of us to get on board & support the effort.

To continue their efforts 100YSS plans a series of symposiums to gather a group and discuss the issues involved in interstellar space. They plan to hold the next discussion in Houston Texas September 13-16. They achieved a milestone with a grant from DARPA of $500 million. In addition to this hey have recently recruited Mae Jemison, a former Space Shuttle astronaut to head the organization.

It is very impressive that such a bold initiative is gathering momentum in this current era of slash and burn budget cuts. They hope to lay the groundwork for the next human space adventure by establishing a firm footing inclusive the vast number of necessary disciplines to ultimately make the project happen. It is so refreshing to hear of a people who dare to dream way beyond putting around in low earth orbit. I appreciate their enthusiasm so let’s set coordinates to Alpha Centari and, what do what else; engage!