July 30, 2010

Radiation Shielding

Imagine being to shield with relatively small electromagnets a spacecraft's inhabitants from the powerful solar wind radiation beyond Earth's magnetosphere. And imagine finding areas on the Moon and Mars which have natural radiation shielding.

Solving radiation hazards would open up the entire solar system to safe human travel.

Take a read and see how science has again taken the "fiction" out of science fiction:

In brief:
  • Scientists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK have demonstrated how small magnets can deflect charged particles similar to the solar wind. This puts into practical reach the ability to shield astronauts on the long voyages to Mars, asteroids and the outer planets.
  • Regions on both the Moon and Mars have been found with small naturally-occurring magnetospheres, allowing for inhabitation with less or perhaps even no radiation shielding.
Video showing areas on Mars with natural shielding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9AIMeunxvg
Discovery of area on the Moon with some shielding: http://news.discovery.com/space/moon-magnetic-field.html

One less issue Congress need worry about, let's go!

Watch RAL's 29 second video for an excellent animation and demonstration.

July 25, 2010

Please Join The Distinguished Scientists Project

To Distinguished Scientists in all fields:

Consider the incredible progress of mankind over the past several centuries. Technology, medicine, you name it; it has been the dedicated scientist behind so much of our progress.

The opinions of scientists are highly regarded by the public and by Congress. By lending your name to saving the manned space program, you will be making a valuable contribution to the cause which can continue to benefit all of humanity.

You are invited to join the list of Distinguished Scientists in support of saving and expanding the manned space program. Email your contact information (will not posted, only for confirmation); a brief CV or bio--or better yet, a link to it online; and a brief statement in support of any or all of the following:
  • Saving the Space Shuttles until private replacements are ready.
  • Building the existing Constellation system or an improved heavy-lift/lander/crew capsule system.
  • A bold manned space program to go to the Moon, Mars and an asteroid in this decade or as soon as is possible.
More detailed papers and analyses are invited as well. Additionally, you are invited to ask your colleagues to add their voices; please send them this invitation to join the Distinguished Scientists Project.

You may also wish to call or write your members of Congress and members of key Congressional committees, as well as candidates for Congress; offer to testify before Congress; write a letter to the editor of newspapers; write articles for scientific publications, post messages on scientific and other websites and blogs; be a caller or guest on talk shows; and in any other way use your influence to help save the manned space program.

This is a completely non-partisan project which benefits every American and indeed all humanity.

A separate page or series of pages will be added to this website containing the names, titles (for identification only) and brief statements of all Distinguished Scientists. The list will also be sent to Congress, and may be featured in public service advertisements on television, internet or newspapers.

Thank you very much for your service to humanity and for lending your name to saving the space program in this time of need.

Send to: info@SaveMannedSpace.com

Spinoffs: One of many benefits of the space program

Beyond national security issues, beyond the value of having a positive national goal, beyond job creation and attracting technological investments; benefits of the space program include the development of so many products we use daily--and too often and take for granted. Space is an investment in our future, and the investments we made in going to the Moon helped establish the USA as the technological leader in the world.

A bold and reinvigorated space program can again bring us great advances in technology/clean energy/environmental sciences, well-paid jobs as well as to keep tech investments from fleeing the USA to those countries who are eager to seize our lead.

Here are some spinoffs which NASA considered most important in 2000.
NASA Spinoff Chart (click for larger size)

July 23, 2010

Just Add Air: the Solution to Moon and Mars Visit/Colony/Spacecraft Logistics

How are we going to actually build structures large enough for long visits (weeks or months) or colonies on the Moon, and for more than a year on Mars? Many people will imagine the logistical difficulties in hauling huge and heavy structures such vast distances. The need to shelter people against radiation and meteoroid impacts may seem insurmountable (think thick and heavy metal walls).

Mr Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace has of course been developing inflatable modules for exactly this sort of purpose. Those who have been following his plans to build a private space station using inflatable modules will also understand the possibilities of using similar inflatable structures on the Moon and Mars. Relatively lightweight and small, these will be easier to transport. He's had a test module on orbit undergoing long term tests. By the time we are ready to develop equipment for deep space missions, the inflatables will have had a few years on orbit to thoroughly prove the concept.

You won't even need to transport inflation air to Mars, just bring a compressor. Solar ovens will eventually be able to cook out oxygen and other gasses on the moon.

A couple inflatable modules could also be used as the core of a Martian spacecraft. Several modules launched separately and connected and outfitted at the space station could, along with a rocket module and the lander, comprise the majority of a Mars spacecraft. For the long journey each way, the inflatable modules would offer greater living and storage space than may be easily launched using metal modules. Such a Mars spacecraft could be parked at the space station between missions, and be re-supplied with fuel and consumables. A similar design could also be used as a regular shuttle to the Moon, offering great space for supplies and people. Certain plastics offer greater radiation shielding than metal, as does water--water tanks can surround crew compartments.

Referring back to my earlier post on using Lunar and Mars caves, inflatable structures could be set up in such caves for unbeatable long-term radiation and impact shielding. The caves maintain a fairly constant temperature, therefore dramatically reducing heating and cooling needs.

Don't think that 'long term' logistics aren't also valuable for relatively short visits. Landing such modules will allow repeated short visits to be well-equipped and more productive, in the same way that the base camps at Mount Everest offer a permanent support base for mountain climbers. The modules could be landed robotically on Mars in advance of the arrival of the crew.

Inflatables indeed are a advance in size, weight and shielding.

July 22, 2010

From Deep Space to Deep Water Drilling

Here's my letter to the editor in today's Washington Times detailing an incredible error of omission by both the Administration and BP--by not planning to drain the well (pump it out and sell it), they are creating a potential time bomb which could seep oil and natural gas for centuries, or if the "bottom-kill" plug deteriorates over the decades and centuries, it could again flood the Gulf. Please use your influence and contacts to help get this corrected.


Drain Oil Well to Ensure no Future Leakage

Washington Times 9:34 a.m., Thursday, July 22, 2010

The possibility that the capped Deepwater Horizon well may be leaking at points kilometers from the wellhead calls for the only guaranteed and permanent solution ("BP, feds at odds over cap on well," Nation, Monday).

We need to use the current wellhead apparatus or the first relief well not to plug the well, but to put the well into standard oil and gas production. This will immediately relieve the 9,000 pounds per square inch of pressure causing the seepage, and by eventually draining the reservoir, there will not be leakage or a blowout now, in a decade or even in a thousand years. Guaranteed.

The presence of the second relief well and properly following best-practices drilling procedures will insure against another blowout, and BP can sell the resulting oil to help pay for the cleanup.

The current plan to use the relief well to inject a "bottom kill" plug may not work if there are fissures in the bedrock, which might be a cause of the current leaks, and the plug itself could fail at some later decade or century in various ways, including earthquake damage.

Drain the well, don't seal it.
Art Harman

July 20, 2010

The 41st Anniversary of the Moon Landing!

Watch the historic landing and first step on the moon on this, the 41st anniversary! Then resolve to keep the dream alive for the future and call/write Congress to go to the Moon, Mars and an asteroid in this decade!

U.S. National Security, the Space Station, and Scrapping the Space Shuttles

Unremarked in the news are the national security dangers in giving Russia an absolute monopoly on US crew launches to the space station (ISS) after the space shuttle program is scrapped and until the time private launch systems are available.

After the final space shuttle mission, the US will be completely dependent upon Russian launches to the station, opening up the US to potential extortion by an increasingly aggressive Russia to demand concessions in US foreign, economic, trade and defense policies to continue providing launches.

Russia has already taken advantage of their upcoming monopoly by doubling the price for launches. This is international cooperation?

Troubling signs: Russia's initial reaction to the discovery of the 10 Russian spies in the US was to blame us for discovering their spies, not apologizing for spying on us. Also, Russia cut off natural gas to Europe in a dispute with the Ukraine: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7826142.stm

Who would rule out any possibility of Russian 'leverage?' Suppose there is a foreign policy crisis, a war, or Russia invades a former USSR republic--what price in US policy might Moscow extract to keep launching our crew, or to even allow US crews to ever use the station again?

Should relations in a crisis or war become bad enough, might Russia declare ownership of the ISS, knowing they control all possible U.S. access? One clue may be in their agressive actions at the North Pole:
Finally, the incident on July 2, 2010 where an unmanned Russian Progress cargo ship completely missed the space station (later it was brought under control and docked) shows technical risks which could endanger the space station.
Indeed it was a Russian Progress which crashed into the Russian Mir space station in 1997, almost causing it's destruction. The circumstances then were unusual, but illustrative of the potential for damage; for the July 2 Progress could have crashed into the ISS as easily as missing it entirely. The linked account of the 1997 incident is fascinating reading; showing the "right stuff" of astronaut Foale in computing how to stabilize the spinning station, and the entire crew in saving the station by fast action:

There are many ways the US and its ISS partner Russia can and should cooperate in space and with ISS, however it is unwise for the United States to rely entirely upon Russian launches for a period of years.

Keeping the space shuttles in continued service (not just adding one or two final missions) until American replacements are ready is essential for our national security.

One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind

41 years ago today, men from the planet Earth set foot on the surface of the moon, stating "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Truly the greatest accomplishment of mankind. Today, the president is determined to kill the dream and end American manned space exploration; scrapping the space shuttles and the Constellation rockets which would take us to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The Bear Stearns bailout cost about $30 billion. A year in Iraq and Afghanistan costs about $130 billion. Let's show where our priorities should be; let's launch a bright, exciting future for all Americans--and rebuild our economy as a result!

Let's put NASA back on track and make all Americans proud!

July 19, 2010

Senate Actions

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has included in its appropriations bill one last flight for Atlantis in 2011 and a "back to the drawing board" approach to Constellation; requiring a new heavy lift system to be ready by 2016--about the same development time as the Saturn V.


Left for later is what to do with the heavy lift rockets come 2016, and we should also work to adopt and fund a true timetable to go to the Moon, Mars and an asteroid. The administration's vague plans won't get us there.

Call, fax, email and write Congress today to save manned space exploration! 202-224-3121 http://www.house.gov/ -- http://www.senate.gov/

Ice and Caves Make Moon and Mars Visits & Colonies More Practical

Members of Congress who may be sceptical about the ability to support long-term colonies on the Moon and Mars should be pleased to learn of recent discoveries regarding water ice and caves.

Water ice has been found at craters at the lunar north pole, which opens up the possibility of creating a nearly self-sustaining colony which can create rocket fuel, and agricultural and drinking water with great ease.
"Tons of ice found on the moon:"

Ice in Martian
Even more important, given the far greater distance to Mars, are discoveries in recent years of vast quantities of water ice.

Caves on both the Moon and Mars, spotted by openings called "skylights" where lava tubes broke open to the surface offer three incredible bonanzas if colonies are located inside such caves: Shielding from radiation; shielding from meteoroid/micrometeoroid impacts; and like on Earth, such caves will be at a fairly constant, average temperature which will greatly reduce heating and cooling needs.
Lunar Caves:
Mars Caves:

These are truly exciting discoveries, for they will make long-term visits or colonies far easier and less expensive--and even more interesting!