When Galileo shattered Heaven’s perfection, he may have unlocked the door to Humanity’s prosperity. Governments are now joined by private companies in a renewed race to prospect - and profit from - lunar resources.
Credit: Thomas Lucas & Dave Brody
Archive for September, 2009
Now that the station is nearly complete, this might be an optimal time to open space to entrepreneurs. Many companies claim they possess the capacity to transport humans and payloads into space; the review committee found their reports convincing enough to suggest that these space entrepreneurs could take over the transport of astronauts and supplies to the space station after the shuttle program ends.
Now, a team of British engineers have designed a real-life spacecraft to save the world from destruction. Their invention, called a “gravity tractor”, would be deployed when an orbiting rock is detected on a collision course with Earth.
Tell the government about space solar power.
Program: Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)
Release Date: August 31, 2009
Deadline for Responses: September 25, 2009, 5:00PM EST
Submission Method: Responses are to be submitted as email attachments sent to
Objective: The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) seeks public and stakeholder input on 1) programmatic areas well suited for support by ARPA-E and 2) specific scientific and technological opportunities to overcome key technological roadblocks to the development of widely market deployable transformational technologies relevant to the ARPA-E mission. The information collected through this process will assist ARPA-E in developing potential programs and funding opportunities.
Japan Plans $21 Billion Solar Space Post to Power 294,000 Homes by Ariel Schwartz in Inhabitat.
The concept of space-based solar power was introduced way back in 1968, but it’s only recently that the world has latched on to the idea. Japan is definitely getting in on the action with its latest spacey plan - a $21 billion solar-powered generator in the heavens to produce one gigawatt of energy, or enough to power 294,000 homes.
Mitsubishi, IHI to Join $21 Bln Space Solar Project (Update1) By Shigeru Sato and Yuji Okada
Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) – Mitsubishi Electric Corp.and IHI Corp. will join a 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) Japanese project intending to build a giant solar-power generator in space within three decades and beam electricity to earth.
Surrendering Outer Space-America yields the high ground - By Alan W. Dowd in Policy Review published by the Hoover Institution.
What if, in the midst of the epic contest to explore and colonize the New World, Britain — the greatest seafaring power of its day — had to mothball its naval fleet and rely on other countries to transport British men and material across the oceans?
This much we know: With British subjects, ideas, and goods tethered to a little island off the coast of Europe, Britain and the world would be very different today.
Something not too dissimilar is about to happen in the heavens, as the United States prepares to retire its fleet of space shuttles. For almost 30 years, the venerable, if imperfect, space plane has been America’s workhorse in space, carrying astronauts, scientific experiments, and satellites into orbit, painstakingly building the International Space Station, and just as important, reviving America’s self-confidence and reinforcing America’s image as a pioneering nation. But by 2010, with the fleet grounded due to budget, age, and safety concerns, America will have no way of delivering its own astronauts into space. The hiatus could last almost 5 years.
America and the world — and space — could be very different by then.
I’ve recently finished a paper on space settlement called “Paths to Space Settlement.” Here’s the abstract:
A number of ﬁrms are developing commercial sub-orbital launch vehicles to carry tourists into space. Let’s assume they attract many customers and become proﬁtable. The next, much more diﬃcult, step is to develop orbital tourist vehicles and space hotels to go with them. These hotels will require maids, cooks, waiters, concierges and so forth, some of which may decide to stay, becoming the ﬁrst permanent residents in space. At some point a bright entrepreneur may notice the large numbers of wealthy elderly people in wheel chairs willing to pay well to get out of them. Add good medical facilities to an orbital hotel and those people could be living in the ﬁrst zero-g retirement home.
In the meantime, we could choose to solve, once and for all, our energy and global warming problems by developing space solar power, i.e., putting up enormous satellites to gather energy in space and beam it to Earth with no atmospheric emissions at all. To supply a substantial fraction of civilization’s 15 tw energy habit would require huge numbers of launches, not to mention developing the ability to build extremely large structures in orbit, and eventually tapping the moon and asteroids for materials to avoid the environmental cost of mining, manufacturing, and launch from Earth.
The best asteroids to mine would be known if Earth’s people realize we are in a cosmic shooting gallery and build telescopes to ﬁnd the thousands of deadly asteroids crossing Earth’s orbit. Most of these won’t hit us for millions of years, but there could be one heading our way at any time. Exploiting these Near Earth Ob jects (NEOs) could be made even easier if we take the eminently sensible step of changing the path of a few completely non dangerous NEOs, just for practice in case one is found to be heading our way without much time to develop deﬂection techniques.
If we do all this, each step of which is justiﬁed in it’s own right, we’ll have excellent launch, small orbital living facilities, the ability to build large objects in orbit, and access to extra-terrestrial materials – most of what we need to realize Gerard O’Neill’s space settlement vision. At that point, expect some extremely wealthy religious fanatics to build themselves a small orbital habitat so they don’t have to live with any ’unbelievers.’ Since the ﬁrst space settlement is by far the hardest to build, from there on it’s just a matter of time until we have an orbital civilization with trillions of inhabitants.
These are paths to space settlement.
By Al Globus