Energy Policy and the Future of Space Solar Power

The Age of Oil is ending where it began in Pennsylvania as G20 leaders agree to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.  Since U.S. subsidises fossil fuels 2.5 times more than renewables. While the effect of phasing out fossil fuel subsides may take a decade or more to have noticeable effect.  It does start to tip the playing field in favor of space solar power.   It is really hard for the new kid to compete against the huge established players when the established players are subsidized.

In Cassandras of Climate By PAUL KRUGMAN in The New York Times, makes a point which illuminates why it is so hard to get space solar power taken seriousl.

the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don’t.

Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It’s also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.

Hopefully soon our leaders will begin to actually fund space solar power development.   Considering that research into wood has received more money than space solar power, any criticism of space solar power as being too expensive or that launch costs are too high is premature.   Space solar power is now at the technological development level of Hero of Alexandria’s steam engine.   Space solar power is a seed kept dry without dirt or light.   We will never know if it can become a competitive power source until it gets a reasonable level of development funding.

Space solar power is getting much more interest lately. The Space Solar Power Face Book Fan Page now has over 800 members.  Here are two new books in which Space Solar Power is discussed.

Turning Point by Douglas Mallette

and

Energy Crisis: Solution From Space by Ralph Nansen

Water on the Moon- the article

A Whiff of Water Found on the Moon

By Richard A. Kerr
Science

Yes, the moon is a “wetter” place than the Apollo astronauts ever could have imagined, but don’t break out the beach gear just yet. Although three independent groups today announced the detection of water on the lunar surface, their find is at most a part per 1000 water in the outermost millimeter or two of still very dry lunar rock.

NASA INSTRUMENTS REVEAL WATER MOLECULES ON LUNAR SURFACE

Sept. 24, 2009

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-9011
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

RELEASE: 09-222

NASA INSTRUMENTS REVEAL WATER MOLECULES ON LUNAR SURFACE

WASHINGTON — NASA scientists have discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the moon. Instruments aboard three separate spacecraft revealed water molecules in amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small. Hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, also was found in the lunar soil. The findings were published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science.

NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, instrument reported the observations. M3 was carried into space on Oct. 22, 2008, aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Data from the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, or VIMS, on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and the High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on NASA’s EPOXI spacecraft contributed to confirmation of the finding. The spacecraft imaging spectrometers made it possible to map lunar water more effectively than ever before.

The confirmation of elevated water molecules and hydroxyl at these concentrations in the moon’s polar regions raises new questions about its origin and effect on the mineralogy of the moon. Answers to these questions will be studied and debated for years to come.

“Water ice on the moon has been something of a holy grail for lunar scientists for a very long time,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This surprising finding has come about through the ingenuity, perseverance and international cooperation between NASA and the India Space Research Organization.”

From its perch in lunar orbit, M3’s state-of-the-art spectrometer measured light reflecting off the moon’s surface at infrared wavelengths, splitting the spectral colors of the lunar surface into small enough bits to reveal a new level of detail in surface composition. When the M3 science team analyzed data from the instrument, they found the wavelengths of light being absorbed were consistent with the absorption patterns for water molecules and hydroxyl.

“For silicate bodies, such features are typically attributed to water and hydroxyl-bearing materials,” said Carle Pieters, M3’s principal investigator from Brown University. “When we say ‘water on the moon,’ we are not talking about lakes, oceans or even puddles. Water on the moon means molecules of water and hydroxyl that interact with molecules of rock and dust specifically in the top millimeters of the moon’s surface. ”

The M3 team found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the moon’s surface, but the water signature appeared stronger at the moon’s higher latitudes. Water molecules and hydroxyl previously were suspected in data from a Cassini flyby of the moon in 1999, but the findings were not published until now.

“The data from Cassini’s VIMS instrument and M3 closely agree,” said Roger Clark, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist in Denver and member of both the VIMS and M3 teams. “We see both water and hydroxyl. While the abundances are not precisely known, as much as 1,000 water molecule parts-per-million could be in the lunar soil. To put that into perspective, if you harvested one ton of the top layer of the moon’s surface, you could get as much as 32 ounces of water.”

For additional confirmation, scientists turned to the EPOXI mission while it was flying past the moon in June 2009 on its way to a November 2010 encounter with comet Hartley 2. The spacecraft not only confirmed the VIMS and M3 findings, but also expanded on them.

“With our extended spectral range and views over the north pole, we were able to explore the distribution of both water and hydroxyl as a function of temperature, latitude, composition, and time of day,” said Jessica Sunshine of the University of Maryland. Sunshine is EPOXI’s deputy principal investigator and a scientist on the M3 team. “Our analysis unequivocally confirms the presence of these molecules on the moon’s surface and reveals that the entire surface appears to be hydrated during at least some portion of the lunar day.”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the M3 instrument, Cassini mission and EPOXI spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Indian Space Research Organization built, launched and operated the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.

For additional information and images from the instruments, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/moonmars

For more information about the Chandrayaan-1 mission, visit:

http://isro.gov.in/Chandrayaan/htmls/home.htm

For more information about the EPOXI mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/epoxi

For more information about the Cassini mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/cassini

NSS Seattle Chapter makes MSNBC

William Maness, chief executive officer of Everett, Wash.-based PowerSat Corp spoke to the NSS Seattle Chapter on Sunday September 13th.

MAKING SPACE POWER PAY Posted: Friday, September 18, 2009 by Alan Boyle on MSNBC Cosmic Log

Maness told a small gathering at a National Space Society meeting in Seattle this week that the pitch for space solar power has been directed too often at space enthusiasts who don’t have a financial stake in the issue, rather than energy utility executives who do.

“This is one of the reasons why this concept has taken so long to start to catch on,” he said.

Maness favors a more market-centered approach to the issue, and there are signs that the approach is taking hold. But other signs show why the challenge facing Maness and his colleagues in the space-power business is so daunting.

Garver – Tight Budgets Ahead

NASA Officials Warn of Tight Budgets Ahead By Amy Klamper in Space News

“Budgets were tight when I was here in the 90s, but they’re even tighter today,” said Garver, who served as associate administrator of NASA policy and plans under the administration of President Bill Clinton. “Our budget has to compete with not only other scientific programs but all government service. To earn our trust from taxpayers we have to help create a better future through programs aligned with both the short-term and long-term national interest.”

Wanted SE Florida NSS Memebers Interested in Forming New Chapter

Brendan Philip is looking for other National Space Society Members in South East Florida so they can form a NSS Chapter. Space fans who are not members can join the NSS to become chapter founding members. Any SE Florida members or space fans, please contact Brendan Philip so we can start an NSS Chapter. (brendanphilip@gmail.com)

Griffin – The Issue is Money

Augustine appears before Congress about space review
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD in Space Flight Now

“The issue is money. That issue renders moot all other debate as to what other destinations we might pursue, whether they’re the moon, near Earth asteroids, Mars or any debate about how we might get there. On the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, this is a sobering thought. … I hope I’m not the only one who finds it shameful we’re in this position.” -Mike Griffin

National Space Society Position on Human Spaceflight Committee Report

The National Space Society has just released a position statement on the Human Spaceflight Committee’s Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee Summary Report.

In part, the NSS position is that it:

  • agrees with the Commission that NASA needs and deserves at least $3 Billion more per year in order to accomplish the planned missions. NSS further asserts that NASA should receive this level of funding, as NASA has stimulated the economy like no other agency, stimulated American youth to seek higher education, shored up America’s edge in technology, enhanced our defense, and established American prestige around the world.
  • supports the development of a family of cargo and crew transportation options to Low Earth Orbit and beyond.
  • agrees that ISS should be extended

For complete details please read the full NSS Statement on the Summary Report of the Review of U.S. Space Flight Plans Committee

Ad Astra,
Jim Plaxco, NSS Director

Human Spaceflight Committee Summary Report Released

The Human Spaceflight Committee, chaired by Norman Augustine, has just released their Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee Summary Report which will be followed by a final report to be issued at a future date. A copy of the report is available from the NSS Space Policy Library.

The first sentence of the report is not encouraging: “The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources.” Of particular interest is section 3: FUTURE DESTINATIONS FOR EXPLORATION.

NSS would be interested in knowing your thoughts on the content of the report. Please download the PDF Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee Summary Report, give it a read and post your comments here.

For additional info, see the NPR news story Panel Tells Obama Moon Return Is A No-Go

Ad Astra, Jim Plaxco, NSS Director

Ad Astra magazine ONLINE (a special, limited, one-time “engagement”)!

The National Space Society is proud of its award-winning magazine, Ad Astra (“to the Stars”).  Ad Astra features the latest news and commentary about space exploration, development, and settlement, with stunning full color photographs.

As a way to show its appreciation to its loyal members for their continued support, as well as to “spread the word” to the greater community about the benefits of membership in the Society, NSS (for a limited time only) is making one full issue of Ad Astra available online to its members, as well as to anyone who registers on its website.  (Such registration is free and without obligation.)  Please follow the link below to review the full Spring 2009 issue:

www.nss.org/adastra

NSS hopes that its members and registered users will enjoy this special, limited, one-time opportunity, and will also provide it with their feedback as to this online version of Ad Astra.