Archive for the ‘NASA’ tag: Page 4

Jun 23, 2015

Is Photon Based Propulsion, the Future?

Posted by in categories: anti-gravity, defense, general relativity, gravity, innovation, particle physics, physics, quantum physics, science, space travel

I first met Dr. Young Bae, NIAC Fellow, at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored 2011, 100 Year Starship Study (100YSS) at Orlando, Fla. Many of us who were there had responded to the NASA/DARPA Tactical Technology Office’s RFP to set up an organization “… to develop a viable and sustainable non-governmental organization for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel viable …”

Yes, both DARPA and NASA are at some level interested in interstellar propulsion. Mine was one of approximately 35 (rumored number) teams from around the world vying for this DARPA grant, and Dr. Bae was with a competing team. I presented the paper “Non-Gaussian Photon Probability Distributions”, and Dr. Bae presented “A Sustainable Developmental Pathway of Photon Propulsion towards Interstellar Flight”. These were early days, the ground zero of interstellar propulsion, if you would.

Dr. Bae has been researching Photon Laser Thrust (PLT) for many years. A video of his latest experiment is available at the NASA website or on YouTube. This PLT uses light photons to move an object by colliding with (i.e. transferring momentum to) the object. The expectation is that this technology will eventually be used to propel space crafts. His most recent experiments demonstrate the horizontal movement of a 1-pound weight. This is impressive. I expect to see much more progress in the coming years.

At one level, Dr. Bae’s experiments are confirmation that Bill Nye’s Light Sail (which very unfortunately lost communications with Earth) will work.

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Jun 18, 2015

The Earth’s Evaporating Aquifers — By Robinson Meyer | The Atlantic

Posted by in category: water


“Many—if not most—of the Earth’s aquifers are in trouble. … That’s the finding of a group of NASA scientists, who published their study of global groundwater this week in the journal Water Resources Research. Water levels in 21 of the world’s 37 largest known aquifers, they report, are trending negative.”

Read more

Apr 24, 2015

To be a Space Faring Civilization

Posted by in categories: astronomy, cosmology, human trajectories, innovation, science, space, space travel, transportation

Until 2006 our Solar System consisted essentially of a star, planets, moons, and very much smaller bodies known as asteroids and comets. In 2006 the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Division III Working Committee addressed scientific issues and the Planet Definition Committee address cultural and social issues with regard to planet classifications. They introduced the “pluton” for bodies similar to planets but much smaller.

The IAU set down three rules to differentiate between planets and dwarf planets. First, the object must be in orbit around a star, while not being itself a star. Second, the object must be large enough (or more technically correct, massive enough) for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape. The shape of objects with mass above 5×1020 kg and diameter greater than 800 km would normally be determined by self-gravity, but all borderline cases would have to be established by observation.

Third, plutons or dwarf planets, are distinguished from classical planets in that they reside in orbits around the Sun that take longer than 200 years to complete (i.e. they orbit beyond Neptune). Plutons typically have orbits with a large orbital inclination and a large eccentricity (noncircular orbits). A planet should dominate its zone, either gravitationally, or in its size distribution. That is, the definition of “planet” should also include the requirement that it has cleared its orbital zone. Of course this third requirement automatically implies the second. Thus, one notes that planets and plutons are differentiated by the third requirement.

As we are soon to become a space faring civilization, we should rethink these cultural and social issues, differently, by subtraction or addition. By subtraction, if one breaks the other requirements? Comets and asteroids break the second requirement that the object must be large enough. Breaking the first requirement, which the IAU chose not address at the time, would have planet sized bodies not orbiting a star. From a socio-cultural perspective, one could suggest that these be named “darktons” (from dark + plutons). “Dark” because without orbiting a star, these objects would not be easily visible; “tons” because in deep space, without much matter, these bodies could not meet the third requirement of being able to dominate its zone.

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May 9, 2014

The Realistic Cost Of The Next Space Race

Posted by in categories: business, economics, engineering, finance, hardware, innovation, policy, space, space travel

Based on the Bloomberg TV program “The Next Space Race” and other reliable sources, I determine the realistic payload costs goals for the next generation of private space companies.

I review NASA’s Space Shuttle Program costs and compare these with SpaceX costs, and then extrapolate to Planetary Resources, Inc.‘s cost structure.

Three important conclusions are derived. And for those viewing this video at my blog postings, the link to the Excel Spreadsheet is here (.xlsx file).

May 8, 2014

The Next Space Race

Posted by in categories: engineering, finance, innovation, physics, science, space, space travel

Yesterday’s program, The Next Space Race, on Bloomberg TV was an excellent introduction to the commercial aerospace companies, SpaceX, the Sierra Nevada Company (SNC), and Boeing. The following are important points, at the stated times, in the program:

0.33 mins: The cost of space travel has clipped our wings.
5:18 mins: How many people knew Google before they started?
7:40 mins: SpaceX costs, full compliment, 4x per year at $20 million per astronaut.
11:59 mins: Noisy rocket launch, notice also the length of the hot exhaust is several times the length of the rocket.
12:31 mins: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
12:37 mins: Noisy shuttle launch, notice also the length of the hot exhaust is several times the length of the rocket.
13:47 mins: OPF-3, at one time the largest building in the world at 129 million cubic feet.
16:04 mins: States are luring private companies to start up in their states.
16:32 mins: NASA should be spending its money on exploration and missions and not maintenance and operations.
17:12 mins: The fair market value of OPF-3 is about $13.5 million.
17:19 mins: Maintenance cost is $100,000 per month
17:47 mins: Why Florida?
18:55 mins: International Space Station (ISS) cost $60B and if including the Shuttle program, it cost $150B.
19:17 mins: The size of the commercial space launch business.
21:04 mins: Elon Musk has put $100 million of his own money into SpaceX.
21:23 mins: The goals of NASA and private space do not conflict.

1. Cost of ISS is $60B, total cost including the Shuttle program is $150B.

2. SpaceX cost is $20M per astronaut (for 7 astronauts) or a launch cost of $140 million per launch at $560 million per year for 4 launches per year.

Continue reading “The Next Space Race” »

Feb 23, 2013

Keeping Humans Safe in Space: Meet Robot Torsos Justin, Robonaut, SAR-400, & AILA

Posted by in categories: fun, human trajectories, robotics/AI, space

A Point too Far to Astronaut

It’s cold out there beyond the blue. Full of radiation. Low on breathable air. Vacuous.
Machines and organic creatures, keeping them functioning and/or alive — it’s hard.
Space to-do lists are full of dangerous, fantastically boring, and super-precise stuff.

We technological mammals assess thusly:
Robots. Robots should be doing this.

Enter Team Space Torso
As covered by IEEE a few days ago, the DLR (das German Aerospace Center) released a new video detailing the ins & outs of their tele-operational haptic feedback-capable Justin space robot. It’s a smooth system, and eventually ground-based or orbiting operators will just strap on what look like two extra arms, maybe some VR goggles, and go to work. Justin’s target missions are the risky, tedious, and very precise tasks best undertaken by something human-shaped, but preferably remote-controlled. He’s not a new robot, but Justin’s skillset is growing (video is down at the bottom there).

Now, Meet the Rest of the Gang:SPACE.TORSO.LINEUPS
NASA’s Robonaut2 (full coverage), the first and only humanoid robot in space, has of late been focusing on the ferociously mundane tasks of button pushing and knob turning, but hey, WHO’S IN SPACE, HUH? Then you’ve got Russia’s elusive SAR-400, which probably exists, but seems to hide behind… an iron curtain? Rounding out the team is another German, AILA. The nobody-knows-why-it’s-feminized AILA is another DLR-funded project from a university robotics and A.I. lab with a 53-syllable name that takes too long to type but there’s a link down below.

Continue reading “Keeping Humans Safe in Space: Meet Robot Torsos Justin, Robonaut, SAR-400, & AILA” »

Jan 1, 2013

Gravity Modification – What Went Wrong?

Posted by in categories: business, chemistry, defense, education, engineering, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space, transparency

Recently, I met Josh Hopkins of Lockheed’s Advanced Programs, AIAA Rocky Mountain Region’s First Annual Technical Symposium (RMATS), October 26, 2012. Josh was the keynote speaker at this RMATS. Here is his presentation. After his presentation we talked outside the conference hall. I told him about my book, and was surprised when he said that two groups had failed to reproduce Podkletnov’s work. I knew one group had but a second? As we parted we said we’d keep in touch. But you know how life is, it has the habit of getting in the way of exciting research, and we lost touch.

About two weeks ago, I remembered, that Josh had said that he would provide some information on the second group that had failed to reproduce Podkletnov’s work. I sent him an email, and was very pleased to hear back from him and that the group’s finding had been published under the title “Gravity Modification by High-Temperature Semiconductors”. The authors were C. Woods, S. Cooke, J. Helme & C. Caldwell. Their paper was published in the 37th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 8–11 July 2001, Salt Lake City, Utah. I bought a copy for the AIAA archives, and read it, reread it, and reread it.

Then I found a third team they published their lack of findings “Gravity Modification Experiments Using a Rotating Superconducting Disk and Radio Frequency Fields”. The authors were G. Hathaway, B. Cleveland and Y. Bao. Published in Physica C, 2003.

Both papers focused on attempting to build a correct superconducting disc. At least Wood et al said “the tests have not fulfilled the specified conditions for a gravity effect”. The single most difficult thing to do was to build a bilayered superconducting disc. Woods et al tried very hard to do so. Reading through Hathaway et all paper suggest that they too had similar difficulties. Photo shows a sample disc from Woods’ team. Observe the crack in the middle.

Continue reading “Gravity Modification – What Went Wrong?” »

Nov 20, 2012

Google’s 100,000 Stars & the Paradigmatic Disruption of Large-Scale Innovation Revisited

Posted by in categories: cosmology, general relativity, human trajectories, information science, physics, scientific freedom, space

The 100,000 Stars Google Chrome Galactic Visualization Experiment Thingy

So, Google has these things called Chrome Experiments, and they like, you know, do that. 100,000 Stars, their latest, simulates our immediate galactic zip code and provides detailed information on many of the massive nuclear fireballs nearby.

Zoom in & out of interactive galaxy, state, city, neighborhood, so to speak.

It’s humbling, beautiful, and awesome. Now, is 100, 000 Stars perfectly accurate and practical for anything other than having something pretty to look at and explore and educate and remind us of the enormity of our quaint little galaxy among the likely 170 billion others? Well, no — not really. But if you really feel the need to evaluate it that way, you are a unimaginative jerk and your life is without joy and awe and hope and wonder and you probably have irritable bowel syndrome. Deservedly.

The New Innovation Paradigm Kinda Revisited
Just about exactly one year ago technosnark cudgel was rapping about the changing innovation paradigm in large-scale technological development. There’s chastisement for Neil deGrasse Tyson and others who, paraphrasically (totally a word), have declared that private companies won’t take big risks, won’t do bold stuff, won’t push the boundaries of scientific exploration because of bottom lines and restrictive boards and such. But new business entities like Google, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, & Planetary Resources are kind of steadily proving this wrong.

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Nov 19, 2012

The Kline Directive: Technological Feasibility (2f)

Posted by in categories: general relativity, philosophy, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts, Legal Standing, Safety Awareness, Economic Viability, Theoretical-Empirical Relationships, and Technological Feasibility.

There is one last mistake in physics that needs to be addressed. This is the baking bread model. To quote from the NASA page,

“The expanding raisin bread model at left illustrates why this proportion law is important. If every portion of the bread expands by the same amount in a given interval of time, then the raisins would recede from each other with exactly a Hubble type expansion law. In a given time interval, a nearby raisin would move relatively little, but a distant raisin would move relatively farther — and the same behavior would be seen from any raisin in the loaf. In other words, the Hubble law is just what one would expect for a homogeneous expanding universe, as predicted by the Big Bang theory. Moreover no raisin, or galaxy, occupies a special place in this universe — unless you get too close to the edge of the loaf where the analogy breaks down.”

Notice the two qualifications the obvious one is “unless you get too close to the edge of the loaf where the analogy breaks down”. The second is that this description is only correct from the perspective of velocity. But there is a problem with this.

Continue reading “The Kline Directive: Technological Feasibility (2f)” »

Oct 20, 2012

The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 3)

Posted by in categories: cosmology, defense, education, engineering, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, space

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts:

1. Legal Standing. 2. Safety Awareness. 3. Economic Viability. 4. Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. 5. Technological Feasibility.

In Part 1, we learned that Einstein was phenomenally successful because his work was deeply meshed with the experimental evidence of the day. In Part 2, we learned that to be successful at developing new useful theories and discovering new fundamental properties of Nature that will bring forth new interstellar travel technologies, we need to avoid hypotheses that are not grounded in experimental data, as these are purely mathematical conjectures.

In my book on gravity modification I classified physics hypotheses and theories into 3 categories, as follows:

Continue reading “The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 3)” »

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