Friday, May 30, 2008


The day after the Space Investment Summit, the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) began in Washington. Thursday morning saw a talk by Elon Musk of Paypal and SpaceX. He is youthful, filthy rich and optimistic about his chances for the COTS contract. Many private companies like Virgin and XCOR are represented here, competing to take passengers into suborbital and orbital flight. Like a Shuttle waltzing toward a Space Station, we are approaching the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY dream of commercial flight to orbit.

Above is a model of the Ares I and Orion, which would replace Shuttle as NASA's sole access to Space. The first stage solid rocket motor has 5 segments rather than the 4 in the Shuttle SRB. The J-2X engine powering the second stage is developed from the J-2 engine in the Saturn V. These are all new powerplants that will need expensive development and testing. The huge Ares V booster, bigger than Saturn V, will be even more expensive to develop.

Thursday afternoon representatives of the DIRECT launcher made a presentation. DIRECT would use 4-segment SRB's like those in Shuttle, and the RS-68 engine in the second stage. The engineers made a convincing case that DIRECT would make better use of existing hardware. Developing one launcher rather than two will save a huge amount of time and funds. If someday Ares V is cancelled by another administration, the US will be stuck back in LEO. DIRECT is a proposal that needs consideration.

In an unscheduled appearance during a panel on Space Solar Power, Colonel "Coyote" Smith announced the first demonstration SSP project. To get around FCC regulations, officially it will be a student project of students from Colorado Spring and Annapolis. Free power from the sky may finally become reality. We may soon see a new tech boom in Space.

ISDC is a truly exciting event with many fascinating people! Many men and a growing number of women here are all enthusiastic about Space. Daytime talks cover every subject from Earth to Mars and Beyond. Everyone is fascinated by the Spacesuit; it seems to symbolise a new human adventure.



Blogger nige said...

Very nice picture. You look fantastic in that spacesuit! Is it specifically designed for a female or is it stretchable? ;-)

BTW, is the experimental demonstration of SSP going to beam back solar power down to earth as microwave radiation? If it is just doing to unfold solar cells in space without beaming power back, then that will be little different from the use of solar cells in satellites ever since the early 1960s.

If they are going to beam microwaves down to earth, then it's going to be very interesting! The energy density in the beam will have to be high to allow an affordable receiver antenna to pick up the microwaves on the ground.

With such technology in space, it would be tempting to use it for law enforcement. E.g., suppose a criminal has a gun and needs to be peacefully disarmed by police. All they would need to do is to briefly target him with the microwave beam, which would make the gun red hot with strong induced electric currents (like a piece of metal in the microwave oven!), before it could injure the person to any extent! If the microwave beam could be remotely controlled with high speed from space, it could have the same effect on enemy ICBMs if the power density was high enough, causing them to heat up and melt out of shape so that they would lose their aerodynamic profile and go off target.

6:28 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thank, nige! The Spacesuit is adaptable for males and females, and looks very flattering. Coyote promises that his experiment will beam microwaves (low power) to an antenna on Earth. The wattage will be low, but it will demonstrate the practicality of SPS.

5:52 PM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

LOL! I can assure you that stretchable or not, the spacesuit is not going to look very flattering when I put it on.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

FWIW, the RS-68 is the American designed and built engine (Rocketdyne-Pratt & Whitney) used on the Delta IV. The Atlas V uses the Russian RD-180. RS-68 is a LOX/H2 engine, while the RD-180 is a LOX/kerosene engine.

4:20 AM  

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