Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FLORIDA SPACErePORT: A chronicle of development in the space industry

report for August 31, 2011

Destination: Moon or Asteroid?

Part I: Operational Considerations by Paul Spudis

  • they do not have significant gravity fields of their own, so missions to them do not “land” 

  • Although there are several thousand NEOs, few of them are possible destinations for human missions.

  • On a NEO mission, a broken system must be both fixable and fixed by the crew.

  • Astronauts in low Earth orbit are largely protected from radiation because they orbit beneath the van Allen radiation belts, which protect life on the Earth. On the Moon, we can use regolith to shield crew but for now, such mass is not available to astronauts traveling in deep space.

  • Is it worth it? [comment: asteroid trip] That will be the subject of my next post. 


I do not favor a trip to an asteroid first.  To the moon first, I say.  Instead of flags and footprints, we should settle it.  If this can't be done on the moon, where can it be done at all?

Thinking big

In previous posts, I discussed how to make a lunar colony self supporting. After all, it makes little sense to spend a lot of money just to subsidize an uneconomical activity. We do that pretty well already right here on the ground.

So, just exactly what can a lunar colony produce for the Earth?

It struck me that a big energy project could be built on the moon and beam the energy back to Earth. Yes, I've discussed this before. I ruled it out, now I am thinking it over again.  It occurred to me that the basic infrastructure would enable additional infrastructure to be built, which could earn an income.

I think I ruled it out previously because energy is only worth about 40 bucks per megawatt hour, at wholesale rates. So, let's see. If a gigawatt plant running continuously, should be able to produce 40,000 dollars in income per hour. That's 350 million dollars of output per year. If it lasted 30 years, it would generate 10,512,000,000 ( 10.5 billion) in revenues. If one plant could be built thusly, it would need to be considerably less than this cost in order for it to be profitable.

A lunar water cracking facility was priced at 88 billion or so.  It would not appear to be profitable, if the projects were comparable in complexity and cost.  But, let me forge ahead anyway.  Note: All of this is speculative, as I don't have the details of an actual design.

Could you build such a structure on the moon? It would be large, I would think. For such a project would require a large workforce and a considerable amount of material being put into position in order to bring this facility into being.

You would need to supply the fuel from the moon. You probably want to build it out of materials readily at hand on the lunar surface. This would require mining facilities. It would be a complex undertaking. Impossible? Perhaps.

Now, if you were to build some supporting infrastructure first, this may be a bit more feasible.  I covered that in a previous post.

You do not need water for a LFTR.  It is an inherently safe design and may not need much in the way of operational costs to run it.

How big would a LFTR design need to be?  Hard to say.  From the link above, it would take 1 ton of thorium per year to run it.  That means 30 tons of thorium need to be mined and processed on the moon.  Thirty tons sounds like a lot, but is only slightly less than twice what the lunar landers weighed on the launch pad during the Apollo era.

It would not require heavy shielding nor containment facilities, as it would not be under pressure.  So, the construction should be simpler than with a uranium fueled reactor.  If it would be possible to make it as simple as possible, it would help matters a lot.  Don't know if it needs to be covered, because I don't know if the salts would evaporate in the lunar vacuum.  If it does evaporate, then it will have to be fully enclosed.  That would make it more complex.

It is an ambitious project, but if you are going to do something, why not think big and go all the way?

Ethical oil

Low Cost Hydrogen from Electrochemical Reforming

This reminds me of what I posted earlier about methanol to hydrogen using electrolysis.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ISS at risk?

NASA assessing procedures to leave space station vacant which brings increased risk of space station loss

To lose the ISS after spending all that money would be a colossal failure. It just goes to show that you can't trust the government to always get it right, regardless of how much some true believers want to believe in it.

Would this work on a flying rocket?

World's first polyurethane blade reinforced with carbon nanotubes is lighter and stronger and eight times tougher

The article on NextBigFuture is about using these for windmills, but could there be another application for them? It is stronger than carbon fiber.

In a comparison of reinforcing materials, the researchers found carbon nanotubes are lighter per unit of volume than carbon fiber and aluminum and had more than 5 times the tensile strength of carbon fiber and more than 60 times that of aluminum.

Just when I thought that the flying rocket idea was impractical.

'Suitcase' Nuclear Reactors to Power Mars Colonies

Discovery News

  • "The reactor itself may be about 1 feet wide by 2 feet high, about the size of a carry-on suitcase. There are no cooling towers. A fission power system is a compact, reliable, safe system that may be critical to the establishment of outposts or habitats on other planets. Fission power technology can be applied on Earth's Moon, on Mars, or wherever NASA sees the need for continuous power."

  • First Mars Astronauts May Grow Their Own Food 

  • fission reactors would be desirable because they deliver more energy. And although solar arrays will undoubtedly have a role to play, fission reactors will be the premier energy source for the immediate future.

  • A fission power system on the Moon could generate 40 kilowatts or more of electric power, approximately the same amount of energy needed to power eight houses on Earth."

  • the biggest hurdle facing space fission power won't be the viability of its technology, but the bad press nuclear power receives, on Earth and in space.

Yes, nukes get bad press, but why do people pay attention to the media?  Why not ignore these bozos?

What comes after the Shuttle?

big think

Nothing big from NASA, but other players may step up and do some big stuff.

Space Tethers and Space Elevators, Revisited

Let us now return to the book by van Pelt.  From page 171
According to Pearson, an already existing fiber material called M5 would be sufficiently strong to build a lunar space elevator [ comment: Moonstalk].  His calculations show that a cable with a lifting capacity of 200 kg (440 lbs) would have a mass of only 6800 kg (15000 lbs).
 The spool of cable would be large, however.  It could be a problem with its size- you have to fit it in a cargo area that would be compatible with an available launch configuration.  Since you need 38,000 miles or so of cable, the spool will be large.

The cable would be deployed from L1 until it reaches the surface.  From there, it would be anchored down and further strengthened so that it can carry heavier payloads.    With a lifting capacity of only 200 kg, this would indicate a need for heavier payloads.   It may take multiple cables for that purpose, if that is the idea.  It doesn't appear that passengers will be able to use the Moonstalks.  They may be very useful in delivering cargo cheaply and efficiently, however.

A couple of Moonstalks, on each of L1 and L2 Lagrange points, would simplify transit between the surface and into space.

In order to colonize the moon, there will need to be some economic reason for its existence.  In other words, how do you make money from this enterprise?  If income isn't feasible, then how might you save money?

One thing is clear:  getting stuff from the lunar surface and back into low Earth orbit should be cheaper than getting it from the ground into LEO.  A Moonstalk would make it even more affordable.

One possibility would be solar panels which could be assembled and put into GEO.  Once there, it can generate electricity and beam it back toward the ground.  The panels can be manufactured on the lunar surface and sent up piece by piece to a station at the L1 Lagrange point.

Or, power could be supplied to spacecraft traversing Cis Lunar space.  This would defray expenses in traveling from the Earth and back.

If operating costs were to be diminished enough, small amounts of goods transported from the lunar surface could make the entire enterprise self sufficient.

What goods, though?  Some have suggested using lunar water as a fuel supply.  This could make a mission to Mars much cheaper.  The fuel could be transported from the poles to the Moonstalk, and from there onward to the Lagrange point.  It would fuel the spacecraft at that point for its journey to Mars.

Furthermore, lunar water could be useful in growing food.  Not only food to sustain a crew on the moon, but food for Mars missions.  A substantial portion of food supplies from the moon could save a lot of money for Mars missions.

A more ambitious possibility is manufacturing stuff for use in space.  Let's say you could build rocket engines and launch them from the lunar surface.  Or build them piece by piece, send them up the Moonstalk, and assemble them at a Lagrange point.  Together with being supplied by lunar fuel, a lot of the cost of the Martian expedition could be taken care of by the lunar colony itself.

Update:  11/21/2011

In reference to the need for an anchor in space of over 6000 tons, the following source is cited.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Building a more efficient nuclear fission reactor

Building a more efficient nuclear fission reactor

One of the commenters on this post said that LFTRs are safer. To me, it doesn't matter so much as the fact that, at the moment, we seem to be stymied on actually doing what is necessary to make this country self sufficient in energy. Whatever it takes, I say.

The Elements of a Space Exploration Infrastructure, revisited
One element in the last post was the Moonstalk, which would extend from the lunar surface to the Lagrange points L1 and L2.   Since that last post,  I have learned about LFTRs, which could supply power from the lunar surface up to L1 and back down again toward the surface.  This would enable a base to operate anywhere on the surface on the moon even while it is in the lunar night, which lasts two weeks.

How?  There would be a LFTR at the polar region, which would beam microwave energy toward L1.  The L1 base would then convert that into electricity and back into microwave energy to beam back down to the surface.  The surface base would then collect the energy and use it.

The L1 base could also beam energy to geostationary bases which could do the same toward the Earth, but not toward the surface, but towards collectors on VASIMR powered craft.  These craft could go to L1 or to other Lagrange points in order to supply them or to crew them.

Meanwhile, back at the lunar base, which is being powered from the L1 base, will be building a Moonstalk infrastructure from the surface up toward L1.  Eventually, the two will be linked, so as to enable a crew and cargo easy access from the surface to L1 and indirectly, back to Earth.

Transportation from L1 to the pole regions could be accomplished either by linking up to the L1 station, or by using Space Cannons to launch cargo back and forth.

To start, you would need a base on L1.

From L1, you would travel back and forth to the pole region selected and build a Moonbase there.

You would begin to exploit the materials available there to support the Moonbase and to build a LFTR on the moon.  Once the LFTR is built, begin building a microwave transmitter for the Moonbase and a receiver and transmitter for the L1 station.

After this is accomplished you will need one more receiver for the ground where you will begin building a Moonstalk.

You will also need transmitter/receivers for the geostationary units orbiting the Earth.  These will be used to supply energy for the VASIMRs, which will be bringing supplies and crew back and forth between the Earth and L1.

Prior to that, you will be using conventional rocketry.

Once the VASIMRs are going, propellant needs will be vastly reduced.  VASIMR missions could also bring materials from the Earth, which will serve as an anchor for the Moonstalk.  Also, materials can be brought up from the lunar surface as well.  Once the Moonstalk is built, the final piece is to connect all the pieces together with the Space Cannon.

Once all this is in place, you can start building your second Moonstalk at L2, on the back side of the moon.

You could also build a nuclear thermal powered rocket which would never land on any planetary surface.  It could dock at L2 only, so as to always be away from the Earth, and never pose any radiation hazard towards Earth.

L2 is the gateway to the solar system.  Once you have L2 constructed and the nuclear thermal rocket constructed, plus all the other materials in place, you will need only incidental support from the Earth.  The moon could supply most of its own needs, plus it could begin to support the outward push to the planets.

Put a bug in your tank

Bug turns newspaper into fuel

That title was a turn of phrase obtained from an old Exxon commercial. I mean to tell you, it is indeed an old commercial. That's where the Exxon tiger came from, I think. The slogan went "Put a tiger in your tank."

Here's the commercial on YouTube

"Esso" mean Standard Oil, JD Rockefeller's old company. If memory serves, there was some other critter known as a bee, which was associated with the company. It was the "Esso bee". Very cute.

Project Apollo

This is most, if not all, of President Kennedy's Moon Speech before Congress in 1961.

Moon Challenge

I put it up here because I want to draw attention to part of what he said in reference to the Project Rover.

Project Rover

There has been opposition to nuclear thermal rockets launching from the Earth. But what if you launched it from the moon instead? You could obtain plenty of thorium for a LFTR type reactor that would supply the energy necessary for propulsion to far off regions of space, such as Mars.

There is a known location near the lunar north pole which may be combined with the water which may also be obtained, which would greatly diminish the amount of matter necessary to be lifted off the Earth's surface for such a journey.

A thorium powered rocket may even be able to launch directly from the lunar surface. It may be able to land as well. Should that be the case, it would not be necessary to have it land anywhere on Earth, or involve the Earth's biosphere at all. That should relieve opposition to the proposition to the use of nuclear thermal rockets.

Reusable Rockets, Part 5, I think

That's amusing.  I don't even know how many of these posts I have.  No matter.  This is just for kicks.  Not like I am actually going to make money off this, you know.

Anyway, the last post, ( I think), I mentioned that you could use inflatable wings.  But what if you don't want to do that, or if it is impractical?  Now that could be a problem, because the Falcon 9 doesn't have enough capacity to add a lot of hardware.  Hardware weighs a lot and that is penalized very heavily when you are talking about getting to space.  So, that leads me to the next brainstorm.  Yuk, yuk.

You see, SpaceX has come out with the idea of the Falcon 9 Heavy.   So, the idea came to me, why not use its capacity for lift as capacity for all this needed hardware that will make it reusable and that quick turnaround?  You may want to save some fuel too, for maneuvering back toward the launch site.

But, you may protest, wouldn't this mean that you could carry less into orbit?  But of course it would.  On the other hand, with a fast turnaround, you could make the trip more often.  With a reusable and refittable flying rocket, you could have a goal of launching every week for each rocket.  If you had a fleet of these, you could conceivably launch every day!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Universe is a big place

FuturePundit: Travel Between Stars?

A lot of doubt being expressed there. I agree that it would make no sense to go the stars when there are so many reasons not to go right now.

Hey, I got some news. There are people out there who would just as soon forget about going anywhere at all, much less the stars.

I agree that space enthusiasts are getting ahead of themselves. But to go to the opposite extreme?

We could use a sensible space policy for some modest goals that we could reasonably be expected to make. As of now, we aren't going anywhere, anytime soon.

Behind the Black: Capturing an asteroid into Earth orbit

by Robert Zimmerman

“a two kilometer-size metallic [near Earth object], for example, may contain rich metals and materials worth more than 25 trillion dollars.”

This might even pay for our massive debt.  But we have bigger problems on the ground.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Moon Express Gets Thumbs-Up from NASA for Developing New Lunar Landing Technology


  •  The Moon Express Mini-Radar System promises to radically reduce the cost and mass of the company's commercial lunar landing system.

  • Radar systems have also been historically very expensive in terms of dollars, mass and energy.

  • For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Regarding belief

by john6912, Cold Fusion Now

  • a new movie coming out soon on the cold fusion scene called ‘the Believers,’  [ comment: Uh, oh.  I smell some bashing ahead ( with regards to the movie). 

  • "I see there as being two different ways of looking at belief. “Belief that,” and “belief in“." [ comment: A worthwhile distinction, but will anybody think about it that deeply?]

  • "Philip K. Dick said that, “reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”" [ comment: Dick provided the ideas that went into the blockbuster movies Blade Runner and Total Recall.]

For me, it is a matter of "believe that" as opposed to "believe in" when it comes to "cold fusion".  I believe that something is there, but I don't necessarily believe in it.

With respect to this blog, I believe that the mastery of energy will raise civilization to a higher level.  However, I don't believe in that either.  There's a subtle difference that is aptly described in the post as having somewhat a religious nature.  If I were to believe in that then, then utopia will be achieved if only energy can be mastered.  But there's a problem,  which is because human nature, being what it is, may produce an outcome that I don't anticipate.  This is always possible.  Therefore, I can't believe in it like it was something of a religion.


Morning Summary, 8/23

Good morning.

I had a bunch of thoughts rattling around my noggin this morning, but as soon as I start writing, they vanish into thin air. Well, not really. It just seems that way sometimes.

I made the usual rounds to catch up on the news, nothing much that's new in the news. There's a hurricane out in the Atlantic, or soon will be. As a matter of fact, here's a photo of it in space.

Hurricane #Irene #FromSpace as it passed though the Caribbean... on Twitpic

Which reminds me of a story about space, which I came across earlier in my peregrinations about the web. It seems that NASA wants to improve upon its technologies so that it can do space travel better. It would be even more helpful if they could actually get off the ground.

The solar sail idea is pretty good, but these things need to be BIG. That would be a neat trick if you can pull it off. Here's a suggestion, build the thing on the moon. Yeah, the moon. There's no atmosphere on the moon, so you could even launch it from the surface. A solar sail wouldn't weigh much, it can't weigh much, or it won't work. So, it won't need a lot of help getting off the lunar surface. So, there's another reason for going back to the moon.

The trip from the moon on your solar sail could be like your Crystal Ship,  which I wrote about yesterday.  The mention of it allows me to segue into one of the thoughts that was rattling about my noggin.  You see, that song is in my mind at the moment.  So, let me explore that a bit.  I wrote that the song was probably about his alter ego, which was his inebriated self.  In other words, the song could be about escapism.  In this case, it was about escapism through substance abuse.

The thought that rattled around my mind is that escapism is a common thing.  To get a little closer to home, this blog is about my own escapism.  To get away from the pain of the world as it is.   From the song:  "The day is bright and filled with pain, enclose me in your gentle rain."  The "crystal ship" could be a space ship, which could escape the world with all of its troubles.  There are a million ways to escape the world as it is, one of them is through substance abuse, another could be in traveling here and there.  Also from the song: "Oh tell me where, your freedom lies, the streets are fields that never die."

I must be escaping from the world which is filled with pain.  Hoping to find a way to the stars which has streets that never die and where my freedom lies.  Sounds crazy I'm sure.  But escapism is just another form of insanity.  Maybe the world makes maniacs out of us all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Carafano: America is forfeiting its place in space

via Washington Examiner
  • A satellite orbiting the Earth contains absolutely no critical parts made in the USA.

  • How has this happened? 

  • During the Cold War, Congress enacted the International Traffic in Arms Regulations Act...

  • enacted a sweeping set of new rules that served only to punish American companies that were playing by the rules.

  • Many of our universities, for example, have simply stopped teaching courses related to satellite technologies

  • it is past time to shed irrational regulations

  • The U.S. is on the verge of ceasing to be a space superpower. And most of the damage that has brought us to this point has been self-inflicted -- by our own excessive laws and regulations.

The fear of being prosecuted under this law seems pretty real to me.  Evidently, it is counter productive.

Who's to blame?  Who cares.  If it is broke, fix it.

The Oil Drum: Keeping Michele Bachmann Honest on Gas Prices

Yeah? What is the real point here, higher prices?
"In fact, those production increases are a function of high oil prices"
Looks like it.  What does Bachmann say?

"“What Barack Obama has done is lock up America’s eneregy reserves. We’re the No. 1 energy-resource-rich nation in the world. We have more oil in three Western states in the form of shale oil than all the oil in Saudi Arabia. That doesn’t include the Bakken oil field in North Dakota or the eastern Gulf region or the Atlantic or the Pacific or Anwar or the Arctic region,” she said.

“We also have a brand-new natural gas find in Pennsylvania with over a trillion cubic feet of natural gas. We also have 25 percent of all the coal in the world. We just aren’t accessing or utilizing our energy. Energy could be one of the most stable, accessible forms of resources for business in the United States. …And we would create millions of high-paying jobs instantly,” she said."

Hmm.  So, what is wrong with that?  Maybe she can't bring back $2 a gallon gas, but that isn't the point.  This dude (the author) is getting lost in the words,  not the spirit.  The spirit is one of free enterprise v the spirit of command economy.  Which side do you prefer to be on, sir?  Methinks you protest too much.

Tri-Alpha Energy - A Well-Confined Field-Reversed Configuration Plasma Formed by Dynamic Merging of Two Colliding Compact Toroids in C-2

via Next Big Future

I skimmed through the pdf.  It is way over my head, so I won't discuss it here.  It may help if the explanation was such that an ordinary Joe Blow like me can read it and understand it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Evening Wrap, 8/20

I want to return to the flyable rocket proposition, if I may.

The Shuttle system seemed to me to be an incomplete design. If the idea was resusability and rapid turnaround, then it failed. But there were a number of accomplishments. Being able to return the orbiter was one and the recovery of the solid rocket boosters (SRB) was another. A third possibility was to reuse the external tank while still in orbit, but this never materialized.

It failed because, even though the orbiter returned to the launch site, it wasn't a fast turnaround. The same was true of the SRBs. And no effort was made to return the external tank or reuse it in space at all. This all came up short, but why? Could the Shuttle and the SRBs be processed faster? Could there have been a way to use the external tanks? Or was it just a flawed design, which needed to be improved upon?

I think it was the latter. The Shuttle was called upon to do too many things in order to satisfy too many people. Its primary purpose was lost in all this and was shoved back into a lower level of priority. It had to please Congressional districts, who wanted a piece of the business. This led to a SRB design which required that SRB's be sent from Utah to Florida- not very convenient. It led to the Challenger disaster because of the segmented rocket boosters failed to seal off hot gases which led to the disaster. Another factor was the Shuttle's main engines were run greater than capacity, which caused greater turnaround time, as well. Furthermore, it was called upon to deliver a lot of cargo, which required a much bigger orbiter. Too many objectives had to be met- it needed to be simplified and less ambitious.

Now, we can ask, what if? What if the orbiter was smaller and used boosters made and serviced in Florida, near the launch site? What if its only mission was to deliver small amounts of cargo unmanned, or just a few astronauts? The orbiter weighed over 100 tons. Could this have been improved upon? Given that 95% of what launches is fuel and oxidizer, a much smaller shuttle would have made a much smaller launch system feasible. One half of the size of the shuttle would have halved the size of the external tanks and SRB's. Or, you could have kept the size of the launch system the same, while improving the reusability of the remaining part that wasn't reused- the external tank.

If you have added flight capability to the external tank, or protective heat shield with some thrusters and parachutes, then you may have save the external tanks. But then, where do you splash down? But if the tanks were smaller, might it have been possible to make them flyable? On the other hand, if the tanks were small enough, might they have fit on top of a plane and sent back to Florida?

In other words, could have system been devised which would allow all the pieces to be collected, serviced, and reused in a shorter time frame? It seems like a little more thought may have made that possible.

Well, that's all for now. Thanks for coming by and have a great evening.

EGO OUT: How does apply Prof. Piantelli the Rules of Galile...

EGO OUT: How does apply Prof. Piantelli the Rules of Galile...: Applications of Galileo’s Rules in TM-LENR (from Piantelli’s messages) His experimental facts gathered in 20+ years of work in the most or...

Quite a long post, but worth reading.  He has more on his site, if you're interested.

Hot Air: Bad news from NASA: If we don’t reduce carbon emissions, the aliens might come and kill us; Update: Not a NASA report

The bad news is, they might not find them. The good news is, the resulting alien invasion will inspire the Keynesian orgy of Paul Krugman’s wettest dreams.

Krugman gets slammed pretty good there, ha ha.   Unfortunately, the incompetence is out there.  The story here is of that very thing.  It has gotten pretty darned bad.  At least NASA isn't that far gone, they have disavowed the report, but the perps are "affiliated" with NASA, nonetheless.  It is really sad that people could write such nonsense.  Even sadder still is that there's people who may believe it.

NDTV: Soon, India to have its own space shuttle

An engineering model of what scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) call the re-usable launch vehicle, is currently housed at a secure and secret facility in Kerala. Covered with special heat resistant tiles, soon it will roar skywards.
I saw this on the Free Republic website.  It got my attention due to my interest in the flyable rocket concept, which could be a way to make access to space affordable.

The Free Republic commenters said that this was a rip off of the Boeing X-37, which has flown a couple of times in recent years.  So, I started looking into the X-37.  It is launched by an Atlas V, so it is not a fully reusable system.  It also carries a payload onboad.  It's total launch weight is only 11,000 pounds, which makes it a small vehicle.  It does go to orbit and returns and lands like a plane.

The interesting thing to me is that it weighs 11,000 pounds and has these really short wings.  Not knowing any better, I'd say something similar might be done with a rocket casing itself, thereby making a first stage flyable. After all, it seems rather pointless to have only a part of the launch system reusable.  A Falcon 9 first stage should weigh no more than say an empty shuttle external tank, which came in at 50,000 pounds.  I don't know what the Falcon 9 weighs while empty, and counting only the weight of the first stage.

It would seem that outside of SpaceX, there doesn't appear to be much interest in making the entire launch system reusable.  But significant portions are already reusable.  Frankly, it looks to me like something could already be put together that would make all of the system reusable, but would it have fast turnaround times? That is basically the whole point.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Independent E-cat News: The Krivit Show

Looks like Krivit has a series of videos to look at. So, I will.

The first of the videos with Levi. It looks pretty plain vanilla to me. There's no confrontation nor accusations being made. It generally discusses Levi's background, how he came to know about the E-cat, and what his general impressions were about it.

The second video gets into more specifics, but nothing sticks out at me. Krivit is starting to ask specific questions, but they aren't challenging type questions, in my opinion.

The third video, Krivit asks Levi how he knew the E-cat was working on its own power. This seems a bit more challenging type question. Levi seems to be getting a little annoyed. I could almost swear that Krivit is on the verge of calling him a liar.

Krivit is now asking about steam and the quality of the steam. There seem to be some nitpicking type questions about reports and why they weren't available. A challenging type question regarding a lack of a scientific report while reporting it to the media. Levi says he lacked data. I see a bit of exasperation on Levi's face near the end of this video.

The final video. Appear to be discussing methodology. Looks to be back to plain vanilla discussion. There did appear to be an interruption toward the end and the interview ended somewhat abruptly.

General impression: Krivit seems to be demanding more scientific rigor than what Levi was willing or able to manage with this demonstration. The only thing that Krivit is establishing here is that it isn't a rigorously scientific demonstration which will be unassailable on all levels. If you take it any further than that on the basis of this interview, that would be going too far.

Levi doesn't come off looking badly here is basically what I'm saying.

Assorted Space Colonization videos

Here I have collected some videos obtained partly through my YouTube subscription to "fragomatik". The others came from skimming the extra links provided therefrom.

Island One - Settlements in Space (video) by thregar

Habitat (video)by fragomatik

Habitat Fly-thru by fragomatik

Arthur C. Clarke's Rama (video) by cobrabase

Morning Summary, 8/19

Good morning. There was a joke that comes to mind when I used that stock phrase. Sometimes, you would just say "morning". That's because things aren't so "good", you see.

Gold has skyrocketed almost 50 bucks an ounce this morning. Sure, it vindicates what I've been saying all along, but it isn't good to see. And the amazing thing to me is that these people who caused all this are still talking their Keynesianism game.

The definition of insanity has been said as the doing of the same things over and over again while expecting a different result. That fits these Keynesians to a tee.

They really believe that can manage everything and just paper over everything and it will just be fine. Nuts!

Our leftists want to be more like Europe. A fine example they are making about now. Europe is a mess. Why would any sane human being want to be more like Europe?

If you go on the leftist sites, they mock those on the right who question all their prized beliefs. They really believe in their own superiority, but look at the world that they've made! It is falling apart. Yet, they still believe in it. It would seem to me that they've lost all credibility. Why should anybody listen to them? I don't see why anyone does, to put it frankly. I know I haven't been for a long time now.

Where does it all lead? We are headed directly to a new situation, but, at the moment, the end result is too hard to see. One thing though, Keynesianism is deader than hell. These people who believe in it are dead men walking. It cannot stand, it will fall. How hard it falls is just a matter of how long the people continue to listen to them. The longer they get listened to, the harder the unavoidable fall will be.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Watch the SpaceX animation of Dragon cargo mission to the Space Station


Thorium near Lunar North Pole

"The red spots are small volcanoes made up of felsic rocks. We know from data returned by the DIVINER thermal imaging spectrometer on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that these landforms are rich in silica. From the Lunar Prospector gamma-ray data, we have determined that they are also enriched in the element thorium, a key indicator of chemically evolved rock types."

It wouldn't take much thorium to make a lot of energy.  Plus, it is near the North Pole, which makes it near a source of water.

These 8 Dragons, and those that follow, will lay the groundwo... on Twitpic

These 8 Dragons, and those that follow, will lay the groundwo... on Twitpic

One of these days, a Dragon just might land on the Moon. Then, it could take off again and splashdown. What a hoot that would be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Study of the Shuttle RTLS abort mode

Why? Well, it occurred to me that if the Shuttle was designed to do this, perhaps it isn't an impossible maneuver.

It was designed to do a RTLS abort after the SRB's discontinued firing, which is a little over 2 minutes into the flight.  Up to T plus 4 minutes, the maneuver was still possible.

The idea is to design a RTLS for the first stage of a reusable rocket.  The second stage continues with the payload to orbit.
 The trick in this proposed system is to have almost 95% of the entire mass at launch supported by this airframe.  On second thought: why?  You only need the structural support for the stack at launch.  On the return to launch site, your mass is going to be much less, meaning the wings only need to support less than 5% of the launch mass.  Therefore, the strongest part of the structure needs to resist gravity, which means straight down the middle.

On return, the wings can support the much lighter craft.  My original thought was to have the tanks in the wings, but that means more weight supported by the wings, which is a non starter.  That appears to be the stumbling block.  Perhaps the wings can support the engines?  The fuel would stay in the "fuselage".

Cold Fusion Now: New (?) Piantelli group patent

by Ivy Matt

"After taking the time to read through the hypothesis proposed in Piantelli’s 2008 patent application, however, I feel that the phrase “hydrogen adsorbed by orbital capture” is incorrect, because the adsorption is a process that happens before the orbital capture. Any corrections by those who speak Italian are welcome."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Airbus A350 and carbon fiber

The Airbus A350 is a family of long-range, wide-body jet airliners under development by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.  The A350 will be the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer. [emphasis added]  Wikipedia

Very interesting.  This isn't consistent with what I was thinking earlier today about using inflatable wings- but it may be a better idea.  Let's say you fashion a wing that doubles as a fuel tank.  The entire structure could be a flying gas can, but that is already what it is.

Come to think of it, you need someplace to hold the motors in place, but how did the Airbus manage that?   The Airbus design suggests that it could be done.

In case you are wondering, this post is about making a flying rocket.  It would launch vertical and land horizontal.  You could stack a second stage plus cargo on top of it.

Better Paths to a New Frontier

D Minus Zero

A detailed post, the outline:

  • Whats Next?

  •  Let us start with the current plan

  • The reality

  • Gutting Commercial

  • In Summary

  • The Better Paths...

  • Jeff Greason: A Settlement Strategy for NASA [comment: I've posted on this]

  • The importance of a strategy [ note: Greason's video ]

  • The ultimate goal for NASA

  • The strategy to achieve that goal

  • Robert Zubrin, and Mars Direct [ comment : is that a strategy or tactics? ]

  • Misconceptions of traveling to Mars, and Why Mars is Important

  • How Mars Direct Works

  • Gerard K. O'Neill: The High Frontier [ comment: recently posted on his book] 

  • My thoughts on the plans.

 If you can get a single stage to orbit, or if you can get launch costs down by way of reusable rockets and quick turnaround times, then space exploration and colonization will become feasible economically.  Until then, not much progress can be made.

Cold Fusion Now: Roy Virgilio on Piantelli, plus the 2008 Piantelli hypothesis

by Ivy Matt

Selected quotes:

  • Piantelli and Focardi share the same basic knowledge of the hydrogen-nickel technology, but at the time Focardi left Piantelli to follow after Rossi, his knowledge was not as extensive or as up-to-date as Piantelli’s. 

  • The Piantelli hypothesis is highly reminiscent of the known nuclear processes of electron capture and muon-catalyzed fusion. 

  • The H− ion consists of a proton with two electrons. [ comment: very curious phenomenon]

  • According to Piantelli’s hypothesis, under the right conditions a H− ion can replace an electron of a transition metal atom, just as a muon replaces an electron in muon-catalyzed fusion. Due to its relatively large mass, the H− ion continually falls to lower electron levels, causing the emission of X-rays and Auger electrons. As it has a net negative charge, there is no Coulomb repulsion to hinder its progress toward the transition metal nucleus. At the lowest level the H− ion is close enough to be captured by the nucleus. After capturing the H− ion, the unstable nucleus releases energy and eventually expels the anion in the form of a proton. [ emphasis added, comment:  Seems plausible, but I have not heard of a hydrogen atom with two electrons, this seems odd.   Here is hydride (H- ion) entry in Wikipedia]

There doesn't appear to be a shortage of theories which attempt to explain the phenomenon of "cold fusion".

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jodie Foster Helps Revive SETI Search for Aliens

by Clara Moskowitz, Senior Writer

Actually, this is not high priority with me, but it is with others. For instance, I don't get the connection with improving life on this planet even if we did find evidence of intelligent life out there. But I am not against it. It just isn't a priority with me.

Here is Jodie Foster's page on Setistars.

By the way, I noticed that Rhett and Link's video fits in nicely with this theme:

Production of steam comparison with E-cat (video)

He makes a claim at the end of this video that makes the E-cat look like a fake.

8 grams of thorium could replace gasoline in cars

Didn't I cover this already?  Yes, I did.

On thing I liked was this pic:
This shows how little Thorium we are talking about, which will be equivalent of 7500 gallons of gasoline.  Impressive, yes?

Another thing that got my attention was this:
The issues to overcome are the radioactivity and the mining of thorium to make this engine possible. 
No.  Thorium is plentiful.  Mining it is no problem at all.   Radioactivity is mild, as you can hold it in your hand, with no ill effects.

I am going to write more about SpaceX

Why? Because of all the people out there, I think that Elon Musk seems to have gotten it right.

He is dedicated to the proposition of making access to space affordable. I would compare him to Henry Ford. There are those who compare him to Steve Jobs, but I think Ford is a better comparison. Steve Jobs may have brought computers to more people, but his computers weren't the ones that got mass marketed on a grand scale. It was the IBM PC, and the subsequent PC clones that really did that.

Ford made the automobile affordable with the Model T. It may well be possible that, if he didn't do this, the automobile would still be a mere curiosity. They'd still be around, but they'd be too expensive for most people to own. Many people in the world still don't have an auto. It took someone like Henry Ford to bring the auto to the masses with an affordable car. The same kind of thing will have to happen with space. I think that Musk on the right track of doing that.

One thing that will be necessary for space affordability will be the re-usability issue. Musk is addressing that, and ultimately will be successful. I think that the problem is solvable. It may not be an easy problem, but it is a solvable one. Once that problem is solved, the main affordable issue will have been addressed.

This was attempted with the Shuttle, but it was a mixed success. The orbiter could be reused as well as the solid rocket boosters, but the external tank got discarded. The second problem was turnaround time. It simply took too long to get the Shuttle ready for the next flight. Other problems were safety issues, with the loss of two shuttles.

The bigger challenge with the Falcon could be in getting a really fast turnaround time. Simply recovering the spent stages isn't enough if it takes a long time to refurbish them for the next launch.

Curiosity unusual landing mars

Involves a hover and deployment by tether.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Aviation Week: SpaceX Plans To Be Top World Rocket Maker

By Guy Norris

  • passing the 1,500-employee mark for the first time at the start of August

  • The launch manifest lists 40 sold flights, including 33 Falcon 9s, plus five options.

  • The first Falcon Heavy flight is targeted for 2013.

  • Development of the more powerful, 140,000-lb.-thrust Merlin 1D, which will equip the Falcon 9 from the seventh flight onward, is now underway.

  • the company last year showed a concept for a 150,000-lb.-thrust liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine with an Isp of 470 sec.

Looks like SpaceX is just getting warmed up. It looks like they will be the number one rocket company in the near future, alright.

Watts Up With That: Further on Thorium

Guest post by David Archibald

Once the thorium reactor is adopted as the nuclear process of choice, we will be wondering why we bothered with anything else.

We "bothered" with the uranium because it was a lot easier to make bombs that way, as opposed to thorium.

SpaceX videos

I spent some time looking over the SpaceX website, which is a bit of an education. It shows how the rocket is put together and the various tests made prior to launch.

These were obtained from SpaceX website:

First Flight of the Dragon Spacecraft - Highlights

Commercial Crew Development (CCDEV)

Multiple Draco Test Firings

Dragon Spacecraft Separation Test

Falcon 9 Flight 1 Static Firing, Close

Falcon 9 Flight 1 Static Firing, Wide

Falcon 9 Flight 1 vertical

Falcon 9 flight hardware undergoing final integration in the hangar at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida. Components include: Dragon spacecraft qualification unit (l), second stage with Merlin Vacuum engine (ctr), first stage with nine Merlin 1C engines (r). Credit: SpaceX

Falcon 9 Flight 1 rollout


Got this one via Twitter link.   It is a test drop of the Dragon capsule from 14,000 feet.   It was a test of the parachute deployment and recovery of the capsule from the ocean.

U.S. Researcher Preparing Prototype Cars Powered by Heavy-Metal Thorium

by Keith Nuthall

  • A 250 MW unit weighing about 500 lbs. (227 kg) would be small and light enough to drop under the hood of a car, he says.

  • Natural thorium has little radioactivity, Stevens says. What isotopes there are could be blocked by aluminum foil, so the power unit’s 3-in. (7.6-cm) thick stainless-steel box should do the trick.

  • After World War II, a strategic decision was undertaken by industrialized nations to pursue uranium-driven energy instead, because its by-product – plutonium – could be weaponized. By contrast, it is almost impossible to make a bomb out of thorium.

  •  And amid widespread concerns about terrorism, would governments allow scores of nuclear sources to roam the freeways? Processed thorium can produce uranium 233 as a byproduct. Would governments allow charging an electric vehicle using radioactive material in private garages? “Nobody will allow that to happen,” Hashemi-Nezhad says. Hedrick thinks such concerns are overblown, stressing thorium’s by-products are very hard to turn into weapons-grade material, requiring an immense amount of work and energy.

Bring it on.

I got this off the Free Republic site right here.

The comments there are mostly negative.  Let's see, Democrats environmentalists groups would be opposed because of the radioactivity.  These guys on this website are supposed to be conservatives, so that's two major groups that seem to be against it.  Never mind that it may work.  Everybody is determined to prevent any solution to our problems, it seems.  No wonder we get a credit downgrade.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Morning Summary, 8/13

Good morning.

Yesterday, I did a few posts on SpaceX. I'd like to continue a bit with that here, and perhaps, if I think of it, a little more later on.

The interest in SpaceX dovetails a bit with the last book I read and discussed here this past week. It seems that Elon Musk wants to succeed where NASA failed.

Musk wants his Falcons to be fully re-usable, while the Shuttle was not. It so happens that I wrote a series of posts on re-using the external tank of the Shuttle, and it has occurred to me that this could be a principle that may come in handy, if Musk decides to use it.  Those in charge of policy during the Shuttle era decided not to employ the principle, you see.  That principle, in effect, would be in situ resourcing, with the spent second stage as a resource to be used, rather than discarded.

The Shuttle ET nearly reached orbital velocity.  That's what made the idea of re-using it a possibility.  I am assuming that the second stage of the Falcon nearly reaches orbital velocity.  Because if it does, this may be analogous to the Shuttle ET.  If not, it may not be practical.  If it is the same as the ET, it would take only a nudge to get it up to a stable orbit.  From there, you can find ways to employ the spent stage.  This would only be limited to one's imagination.

If it is not desirable to reuse the spent stage, then it will have to be brought back in such a way as to allow it to be reprocessed and used again for its original purpose.

I've thought about that too.  It would seem that there may be a way to do it if you could design a heat shield that could pop out when you need it for reentry.  You could accelerate it so that it could make one orbit around the Earth, then pop out the shield to keep it from burning up during reentry.  Parachutes could deploy when enough speed has been bled off.  Then splashdown, and recovery of the spent stage.

Or either way could be used, in case you don't want to leave it in space.  Since you are getting it up to orbit anyway, you could keep it there, or have the option to reenter and recover.

That's all on that subject.  I just received another book, which I could be reading today.  If it seems interesting enough to post about, I'll put up some posts on it.

Be good out there, and I'll be checking in later.


With respect to the book, Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing Space, wikipedia has an outline of the chapters here.  I'm currently on a chapter about skyhooks and tethers, which I wrote about earlier.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Terra Power Update

Advanced Reactor Gets Closer to Reality - Technology Review

Bill Gates gave a Ted talk on this, which is viewable here.

Krivit: Rossi’s Scientific Failure in Seven Steps (New Energy Times blog)

Rossi’s Scientific Failure in Seven Steps
Posted on August 7, 2011 by Steven B. Krivit

[This article is Copyleft 2011 New Energy Times. Permission is granted to reproduce this article as long as the article, this notice and the publication information are included in their entirety and no changes are made to this article.]

Andrea Rossi is the creator of a device he calls the Energy Catalyzer, or E-Cat. Together with Sergio Focardi, professor emeritus at the University of Bologna, and Giuseppe Levi, a professor in the university’s Department of Physics, the trio claimed a low-energy nuclear reaction device that produced extraordinarily large amounts of excess heat. In fact, Rossi had promoted the idea as a soon-to-be-available commercial device. The complete list of New Energy Times reports on this topic is here.

The Rossi group’s primary energy claim was based on its assertion that virtually all inlet water vaporized into steam. The group had two primary measurement methods from which to choose.

Method 1 was to perform condensing calorimetry to measure the heat output directly. The group made no such measurements. The characteristics of steam output observed in the June 14, 2011, and April 28, 2011, experiments were consistent with much lower levels of heat output than the group claimed.

Method 2, which the group attempted, was to confirm that no unvaporized water left the device. This method required the group to check two things. First, it needed to measure steam quality to confirm that no unvaporized water left in the form of tiny droplets. However, the group used a device that, according to the manufacturer, was not designed or suitable for measuring steam quality. That device was designed to measure only the humidity of air. The group also needed to check that liquid water did not flow out of the device and down the drain. It did not attempt to check this.

Thus, the group had no accurate measurements of the heat output or the quality of steam produced and therefore no experimental evidence on which to base its extraordinary energy claim.

The group ran one experiment below the boiling point of water; however, it did not write and does not intend to release a report on the results of that test.

Seven Steps

1. Rossi Group’s Extraordinary Claim About Energy Production
The Rossi group’s primary energy claim was based on its assertion that virtually all inlet water vaporized into steam.

2. Video Recordings of Steam Production
The characteristics of steam output observed in the June 14, 2011, and April 28, 2011, experiments are consistent with substantial amounts of unvaporized inlet water present in the output. This means that the experiments produced much lower levels of heat output than the group claimed.

3. Presence of Unvaporized Water in Device Output
-Water can leave as liquid by overflowing through the outlet hose.
-Water can leave as tiny droplets, thus lowering steam quality.

4. No Condensing Calorimetry to Measure Heat Directly (Method 1)
No condensing calorimetry measurements were performed to measure the heat output directly.

5. Claims of Steam Quality Measurements (Method 2)
The Rossi group claimed to have accurately measured steam quality. The chemist it used to perform these measurements did not use a detector that was designed for or capable of measuring steam quality. The group also needed to check that liquid water did not flow out of the device and down the drain. It did not attempt to check this, and thus any steam quality measurement was irrelevant.

6. Device Used to Attempt Steam Quality Measurement (Method 2)
- Question to manufacturer: “What is the capability of this device to measure steam quality?”
- Response from manufacturer: “None. It is not suited for steam quality measurement.”

7. Conclusion Without Sufficient Experimental Facts
Because a) the group did not perform condensing calorimetry, b) it used an unsuitable device to measure steam quality, c) it did not check that liquid water did not flow out of the device and down the drain, and d) it did not write a scientific report about its one experiment below the boiling point of water, it had no quantitative facts about the amount or quality of steam.

As a result, the group could not know the amount of energy production within an order of magnitude.

As with any scientific claim, the burden to provide convincing evidence rests with the claimant.

[Ed: This document was updated on Aug. 9, 2011 to improve the clarity of the two measurement methods.]
Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Finished O'Neill's book

The last chapter was in his words, speculative.  I won't comment upon it much.

Mostly, I was interested in the nuts and bolts of his ideas.  The "how-to" part. Basically, he was depending upon the Shuttle to perform according to its expectations, which it did not.  The rest of his ideas collapse after that.

In short, in order for his ideas to be put into practice, there needs to be at least, a much cheaper access to space than what exists now.

He didn't express much interest in nuclear power, believing that it won't be necessary.  It appears that it will, unless Elon Musk of SpaceX can figure out a way to make his rockets reusable.  In other words, Musk will need to succeed where the Shuttle failed.

Without success there, it may come down to fusion propulsion.  In that case, the high energy output of fusion may make single stage to orbit spacecraft possible.

Also, there is JP Aerospace and his airships.  People may ridicule that idea, but what if it is the only way?

Well, that's all for today.  Thanks for coming by, and have a great evening.

Chapters X,XI of O'Neill

Chapter 10:  This is partly a fictional account of how life may be like for somebody on board a colony.

Chapter 11:  This chapter is about homesteading the asteroids.  It is the most reminiscent of Mining The Sky in that regard, but it goes a bit further, with a comparison with pioneering days in the Old West.  To sum it up, there's a lot of room to grow out there, and there's a tendency amongst some to want to do it.

The next chapter will be the last.

O'Neill: Ch VIII,IX

Chapter eight discusses the nuts and bolts of the first colony.  It will require a base on the moon, and a mass driver.  It would have taken six years.  The cost figures calculated are based upon Shuttle estimates, which were not in the cards.  Therefore, it couldn't have been economical.  It would have required an extra heavy lift vehicle to be constructed. That didn't happen, and still hasn't happened.

Chapter nine discusses space solar power as an economic activity for the colony.  It was not to be, and for the same reason- which was launching costs.  Interestingly enough, O'Neill doesn't discuss how to solve this problem.  I think he assumed that the Shuttle would do that, but as we all know now, it didn't happen that way.

This chapter also discusses his ideas for a propulsion based up lunar dust as a reaction mass.  I can't say that I like that idea at all.

Oddly enough, he doesn't seem to making an economical case for building one of these things.  Even if his assumptions were correct, which they weren't, this doesn't make enough sense to me.

He does make a case for his colonies to perform science.  Would a government be willing to support such large colonies for primarily scientific reasons?

Self preservation of the species was also mentioned. If that is the goal, it can be done more cheaply.

Chapter VII, Risks and Dangers

I think this will be the last post dedicated to only one chapter.  I will consolidate the following chapters into one or more posts.

In this chapter, he compares the risk to a colony to the risk of driving an automobile in the US.  It compares favorably, he says.  The risks to the colony are from micrometeors and possible terrorist attacks.

Risks can be minimized, he says.

Chapter VI, New Earth

A quote that summarizes this chapter:
Much of this chapter has been devoted to the less serious side of space colonization; not questions of economics and production, but of amusement and diversion.

He claims that any sport can be done better in space than on Earth.  He also claims to have made a skeptic into a believer.  How?  It appears that he convinced his skeptic that sex is better in space than on Earth.  Tee hee.

Solar wind + lunar oxygen = water

The moon is loaded with oxygen.  The sun, for its part unleases nearly 7 billion tons per hour of mass in the form of solar wind.

A few calculations:

The surface area of the sun:
2,009,600,000,000 square miles ( approx)
or 2 trillion square miles

Now, the solar wind is emitted at the rate of 7 billion tons per hour (approx), or 14 trillion pounds per hour.
Or 7 pounds per square mile per hour

The surface area of the moon ( approx.  for what it is worth) is 12,560,000 square miles

Thus a trap 1 square mile on the moon can trap upwards of 7 pounds of hydrogen per hour, assuming it is all hydrogen. Combine the oxygen obtained from the moon and the solar wind collected when it hits the trap you set on the lunar surface, and you can make water with it.

What do you think of that?

Chapter V: Islands in Space

In this chapter, O'Neill introduces his Island Three concept.

One can see why this hasn't been accomplished, even though O'Neill believed it could have been done already. Evidently, he was figuring that the Space Shuttle would be more successful than what it was.  For the sheer amount of matter that would have to be lifted into space, this idea seems immensely fanciful.

The actual living conditions and the economics of the place itself, once having gotten it there, seem reasonably practical.  It is the "getting there" part that gives the trouble.

Interesting that he doesn't require anything in the way of new energy sources, like fusion.  Not even fission power is mentioned.  It is all solar.  But the trouble with this is that you have to get it up there.  There has to be a way to get it up there.

Chapter IV: New Habitats For Humanity

Of course, title of this chapter is an attention grabber. Did O'Neill coin this term, or did someone borrow it from him?  The author is silent on this subject, it seems, so I googled it and found it on the wikipedia.  There doesn't appear to be anything there either that answers the question, but I didn't read it all.

At any rate, O'Neill continues to discuss the advantages of space over terrestrial living.  As of yet, I don't see any nuts and bolts methods for getting his colony into place, but little pieces here and there suggest themselves.  For instance, he says that to get stuff off the moon would cost only 3 dollars a pound.  That is in seventies dollars, but if you adjust for inflation, it is still going to be cheap, relatively speaking.

As mentioned earlier, the information here is out of date.  This was before water was found on the moon, and the other two elements that he referred to as being hard to find- nitrogen and carbon- may yet be found in abundance in permanently shaded craters on the moon.  Hence, we may find everything we need for life support on the moon.

He does mention that parabolic mirrors might be possible in order to focus sunlight on a small point.  This is intriguing to me, if it can be done in such a way as to produce significant amounts of power, it may be beamed back towards the surface as a power source.  The power source could be for spacecraft, or for living on the surface.

An economic basis for lunar colonization begins to take shape.  As a way station outward from Earth that can support itself and finance the continuation of the outward expansion.

He finishes the chapter with a discussion of Tsiokovsky.  He was looking to see if anyone had already written along the lines he was thinking, and so there was this Russian who did.

The High Frontier, Chapter III

I thought that I had read only the first chapter when I wrote that last post.  It actually covered two chapters.

The third chapter is titled "The Planetary Hangup".  O'Neill begins to list the shortfalls of colonizing other planetary bodies.  The lack of atmosphere of the moon and Mars, the extraordinary heat of Venus, their common deep gravity wells, and the lack of territory.

He lists the advantages of space: easy transit, unlimited energy source from the sun, and practically unlimited living space and resources.

Note: I am interested in the nuts and bolts on his proposal on how to do this.  He is getting there.

Morning Summary, 8/11

Good morning.

You know, each day is different.  Maybe not so much for you, but for me.  I wake up, and it seems that something is dominating my thoughts, and it is different every day.  What is it this time?  Nothing!  I look around the usual places on the net, and I find nothing that I want to write about.  Nothing inspires me.

So, I won't be writing much until this changes.  One thing that did happen is one of my books arrived.  It is about O'Neill colonies in space.  If I find anything there I like, I may post about it.

Be good out there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 E. coli metabolism reversed for speedy production of fuels, chemicals

Rice University engineering researchers Ramon Gonzalez (left) and Clementina Dellomonaco reversed one of the most efficient of all metabolic pathways -- the beta oxidation cycle -- to engineer bacteria that make biofuels at a breakneck pace.

  • Gonzalez's laboratory is in a race with hundreds of labs around the world to find green methods for producing chemicals like butanol

  • "We call these 'drop-in' fuels and chemicals, because their structure and properties are very similar, sometimes identical, to petroleum-based products," he said.

  • In the Nature study, Gonzalez's team reversed the beta oxidation cycle by selectively manipulating about a dozen genes in the bacteria Escherichia coli.

 I saw this story referenced by Rand Simberg's blog.   I don't like to be negative, but has anybody considered what might happen if this gets into the environment?  I mean, this stuff gets inside living organisms, it could be all she wrote.  Bad stuff.

CBS: Scientists: Potential Mars water find a "big deal"

  • "Scientists not involved with the project agree that the discovery could be big." 

  •   MIT scientist Christopher Carr, who is building an instrument that could detect DNA and RNA on Mars, if they exist 

  • "Yeah it's a big deal," said Robert Zubrin, president and founder of the Mars Society. "The idea that there's liquid water on Mars today at the surface means that there could be life on Mars today at the surface." (FAQ: What the Possibility of Water on Mars Means)

Well, it is all fine and good, but why, outside of science, would anybody go there?  There has to be an economic motivation, or its Apollo all over again.

Independent E-cat News: Andrea Rossi – The Trillion Dollar Man

Yesterday we got a hint of the backroom turmoil behind the brief comments we read on Rossi’s blog and elsewhere.

Some folks like the drama. I'd just as soon get the thing demonstrated in the most unambiguous way possible. The rest of this stuff holds little interest for me. So, why link it? To make that point, I guess.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wang: John Slough fusion space propulsion

Via Next Big Future

Just spent the last hour and a half slogging through this series of posts on this space propulsion system.  It is new to me.  Chalk it up to yet another fusion strategy that is out there. There are two others of the hot fusion type which are not what you would call conventional.  Also, this one does not appear to be aneutronic, meaning that it will be radioactive to at least some extent.

Also, it doesn't appear to have the goal of being net energy, which means it needs an external power source. This could be solar or nuclear.  Yes, nuclear.

The Department of Defense and NASA has funded this one.  It also appears that Brian Wang seems to think well of it, but not everybody is happy.  That shouldn't be a surprise.  If there is one thing that you can count on, for anything new, there are going to be skeptics and critics.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Science: Earth's Dirty Secret: Our Magnetic Field Traps Antimatter

by Jason Mick (Blog) 
  The respectively bountiful supply in orbit could be, in theory, harvested at a sustainable rate. The harvested particles could be used for a variety of purposes.  

Here's another post about the antimatter story, which I wrote about earlier today.   A point I neglected to mention was that it isn't necessarily about mining antimatter.  It seems somewhat akin to "farming" it.  You see, it isn't making it, as in a particle accelerator.  Rather, it is using cosmic rays to make them and then trap them before they can escape.

Independent E-cat News: Divorce said to be not scientific, but financial

Daniele Passerini, on his 22passi blog, has received a response from Professor Stremmenos (Defkalion Board Member, physicist and conduit to the Greek government) following the Defkalion/Rossi split. For me, the important points are his continued confidence in the technology and confirmation of eCat tests that were largely self-sustained. There is little chance that a physicist working closely on such a device would mistake this observation. He also agrees with Andrea Rossi that the dissagreement is largely financial.

Even so, a picture slowly emerges and with luck we will soon be able to put the pieces together to construct a narrative that makes sense.

As far as I know, the show goes on.

Draper Laboratory: Extraction of Antiparticles Concentrated in Planetary Magnetic Fields

Instapundit has a link to the antimatter story that NBF covered last week.  This reminds me that I wanted to post something else about it.

So, I pulled up the pdf that the BBC story references.  Here is a pic I copied from the file, an antimatter collector.

Ultimately, these natural fluxes can be concentrated and the antiparticles trapped
for use in space propulsion and/or other innovative applications.

bullet notes
  • high energy galactic cosmic rays (GCR) bombard the upper atmosphere of
    planets and material in the interstellar medium to naturally generate antiparticles through pair production

  • There are four fundamental processes that can cause antiprotons to be concentrated in or around planetary magnetic fields. They are:

  1. Cosmic Ray Albedo Antineutron Decay (CRANbarD)

  2.  Direct pair production and trapping of antiprotons in the exosphere

  3. Transient GCR focusing

  4. Artificial augmentation

  • A natural antiproton radiation belt can be generated in a manner analogous to the traditional Van Allen radiation belts which surround the Earth.

  • The magnetic field of the planet forms a bottle to stably hold the protons and electrons from the decay process.

  • At radiation belt altitudes, this loss rate is extremely slow enabling a large supply of generated antiprotons to be built up relative to the source flux.

  • Based on this and the subtraction of the solar proton contribution, the antiproton content of the Earth’s magnetosphere from this effect is estimated to be between 0.15 and 15 nanograms.

  • A 100 kWe generator would produce approximately 10 micrograms per year. Scaling this to a 1 GWe power source would enable nearly 100 milligrams of antiprotons to be produced per year. This level of antiproton generation is sufficient to enable the first interstellar missions to nearby stars. 

Inasmuch as I suggested using an energy beam to power a spacecraft, such as VASIMR, there is another possible use for this antimatter- as an energy source employed in a like manner.

Why?  Well, antimatter is dangerous.  It would be better to not carry it onboard a spacecraft for a long period of time.  Things go wrong.  Why not use it, then, as a concentrated power source to move a spacecraft that way, instead of inducing explosions and so forth?

Also, how do you get 1 GWe into space?  You could beam the power up from the moon, then use that power to capture the antimatter, which will amplify the power enormously.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Interesting site

    I found this website in connection with a bit of googling on the subject of mineral composition of the moon.

    Here's a table of elements derived from lunar samples brought back by the Russian and American space missions.

    What is on the moon, you asked?  Not exactly cheese.  (Numeric measurements are parts per million)

    Cold Fusion Now: Response from the Secretary of Energy

    Cold Fusion Now recently sent a second letter to the Department of Energy requesting remedy to the lack of funding for LENR research.

    Key quote from the response letter
    “However, it is clear the topic of low energy nuclear reactions remains highly speculative and that the purported mechanism has not yet been validated by the physics community as a reality.”

    Well, it all goes back to the unambiguous test that I referred to.  There is a way to test a "black box", such as what Rossi has.  He doesn't have to give up his secrets.  There's a way, so the question is, will he do it?  It's all up to Rossi to prove what he has.  It is not up to anybody to believe in it.

    Independent E-cat News: Defkalion Rossi Divorce

    A recent rumour has been doing the rounds implying that the agreement between Andrea Rossi and Defkalion has been terminated. This has now been confirmed by AR on his blog.

    From the blog
    License and Technology Transfer Agreement between the two companies has been recently terminated 

    Rossi's response to what comes next:
    Andrea Rossi
    August 7th, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Dear Sterling:
    I prefer that the reasons will be cleared by a judge by a verdict. Facts, not chatters, as usual with me. Our attorneys have filed a suit.
    I confirm that our 1 MW plant will be put in operation in the USA, after an agreement we made last week with one of the most important entities of the USA; the tests will be made by the highest level scientists you can think of. I cannot give the names, until after the test. To the test will attend the highest level scientific journalists I know.
    Thank you for your kind attention,

    The show is not off, according to Rossi.  The demo scheduled for October will take place in the USA.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Space Business Blog: Interview: Alan Wasser & Space Property Rights Tex...

    Space Business Blog: Interview: Alan Wasser & Space Property Rights Tex...: "The National Space Society posted last week about a new Law School text book that includes a chapter on space property rights written by Al..."

    There was an interesting link here to a poll about space colonization, and what would be the top 3 reasons for doing it.  The pic below are the results right after I voted.

    My votes were 1,5, and 6


    This video is worth putting up again. I thought of it in connection with this post. You need a goal, then a strategy to achieve that goal. That's is what Greason is talking about here. The above mentions are reason for people to be on the moon. (Because they have property there)  You need a business case for people going the moon.  Having property does that. (maybe)


    Here is a screen  shot of Greason's goals and strategy - his settlement paradigm.