Saturday, November 17, 2012

1MW Solar Powered Laser Made in Uzbekistan

1MW Solar Powered Laser Made in Uzbekistan

Coaster, No. 12

Coaster, No. 12

SLS Rocket

SLS Rocket

Space program spinning its wheels

Space program spinning its wheels

Coaster, No. 13

Coaster, No. 13

Coaster No. 14, A potential mission-Asteroid Mining

Coaster No. 14, A potential mission-Asteroid Mining

Can people hibernate?

Can people hibernate?

Propulsive Fluid Accumulator revisited ( LOXLEO)

Propulsive Fluid Accumulator revisited ( LOXLEO)

Miscellaneous Space Notes

Miscellaneous Space Notes

Ammonia powered cars revisited

Ammonia powered cars revisited

Extracting Water From the Moon With Basic Home Appliances

Extracting Water From the Moon With Basic Home Appliances

Coaster 15, Making aluminum mirrors on the moon

Coaster 15, Making aluminum mirrors on the moon

Lunar ground transportation

Lunar ground transportation

Britain on mission to tap Moon water

Britain on mission to tap Moon water

Why the Moon could have a lot of water

Why the Moon could have a lot of water

Harvesting atmospheric gases

Harvesting atmospheric gases

Jeff Bezos' Secretive Spaceship Project Tests Rocket Escape System

Jeff Bezos' Secretive Spaceship Project Tests Rocket Escape System

Obama and Space

Obama and Space

Cold Fusion News

Cold Fusion News

Coaster no. 16, thrust estimates based on Shuttle performance

Coaster no. 16, thrust estimates based on Shuttle performance

Big Idea: Bring Back the "Cold Fusion" Dream

Big Idea: Bring Back the "Cold Fusion" Dream

Large-Scale Algae Biofuels Currently Unsustainable, New Report Concludes - ScienceInsider

Large-Scale Algae Biofuels Currently Unsustainable, New Report Concludes - ScienceInsider

What the hay?

What the hay?

Plasma Jet Electric Thrusters for Spacecraft

Plasma Jet Electric Thrusters for Spacecraft

Coaster No. 17, avoid the focal point

Coaster No. 17, avoid the focal point

What the hay, Part II

What the hay, Part II

BP Plant Cancellation Darkens Cellulosic Ethanol’s Future

BP Plant Cancellation Darkens Cellulosic Ethanol’s Future

Coaster 18, Don't reflect concentrated sunlight

Coaster 18, Don't reflect concentrated sunlight

Putting it together into a comprehensive plan

Putting it together into a comprehensive plan

Automakers take fresh look at hydrogen fuel cells

Automakers take fresh look at hydrogen fuel cells

Canada,South Africa : Ballard and Anglo American Platinum Developing Fuel Cell Home Generator For African Market [TendersInfo (India)]

Canada,South Africa : Ballard and Anglo American Platinum Developing Fuel Cell Home Generator For African Market [TendersInfo (India)]

Renault - Quickdrop / Battery switch

Renault - Quickdrop / Battery switch

Flight of 10 story tall Grasshopper rocket

Flight of 10 story tall Grasshopper rocket

Ammonia As A Fuel

Ammonia As A Fuel

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

SpaceX developing SuperDraco engine for surface landings

SpaceX developing SuperDraco engine for surface landings

Revisiting multi-megawatt microwave space launch system

Revisiting multi-megawatt microwave space launch system

A launch pad located on the moon

A launch pad located on the moon

Using gyrotrons for harvesting oil from shale

Using gyrotrons for harvesting oil from shale

Microwave beam facility at EML-1

Microwave beam facility at EML-1

ITER gyrotrons push technology to the limit

ITER gyrotrons push technology to the limit

To solve the world's problems, just build your own world as you like

To solve the world's problems, just build your own world as you like

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Coaster No. 11

Coaster No. 11

Coaster series: Experimenting with mirrors--- reflecting light

Coaster series: Experimenting with mirrors--- reflecting light

( Concentrated ) Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part IX: Miscellaneous design notes

( Concentrated ) Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part IX: Miscellaneous design notes

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part VIII

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part VIII

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part VII

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part VII

LOXLEO revisited

LOXLEO revisited

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part VI

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part VI

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part V: Nautilus -X The Movie

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part V: Nautilus -X The Movie

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part IV

Solar Thermal Rocket Series Part IV

Solar Thermal Rocket Series

Solar Thermal Rocket Series

Stirling Energy Systems, Dish-Engine Solar Maker, Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Stirling Energy Systems, Dish-Engine Solar Maker, Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Jem Melts Rock Using Sunshine

Jem Melts Rock Using Sunshine

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Next Big Future: Self-inflating Adaptable Membrane for Space based ...

Next Big Future: Self-inflating Adaptable Membrane for Space based ...: Last month, a team of science and engineering students at Strathclyde University developed an innovative ‘space web’ experiment which was c...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Advanced Concepts: LENR, Anti-Matter, and New Physics of the Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space conference

Cold Fusion Now h/t Next Big Future

quote ( Ruby Carat of CFN)

On Friday, March 23 I attended Session 462 Advanced Concepts: LENR, Anti-Matter, and New Physics of the Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space conference, one day after speaking with George H. Miley who would be presenting A Game-Changing Power Source for Spacecraft at the session.

Sounds exciting.  Especially the BECNF ( Bose Einsten Condensates) stuff by Y E Kim.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What if?

One of the problems with space travel is the need for matter where there is little and the need for energy, which exists in abundance, but not in a convenient form.

Obviously, you don't want to carry matter with you which imposes a mass penalty during the escape from the deep gravity well of the Earth.  So, the trick is to get the matter you need up there and use it over and over again.

Moreover, the propulsion necessary for travel will have to come from an energy source of some kind and a matter source for reaction mass.  Since the matter you need is scarce- since it is after all, outer space- which is empty, you will need a way to get matter for propulsion without having to go deep into a gravity well.

So, here is the proposition:  Make a solar panel large enough to provide energy for propulsion and it will also be powerful enough to recycle matter an endless number of times.

Such a large panel require a large structure, and there may be a way to accommodate that.

If you are going to be in space, you will need some type of artificial gravity.  In order to have an artificial gravity of 1g, it will entail a structure that is 1000 meters in diameter.  Such a structure could provide also for a large solar panel to be installed on top of it.  Once spun up, it will provide the gravity, plus all the energy that you can possibly use and then some.

The sun provides about 1300 watts per square meter.  Given the size of the structure, the amount of electricity that could be generated would be about 1 gigawatt at 30% percent efficiency.  One gigawatt is more than enough electricity to power a VASIMR towards Mars on a fast trajectory.

Solar panels need not weigh that much, thus the mass of the panels would not be too prohibitive.  Matter might be obtained from asteroids and an occasional foray onto the Moon or Mars.  Perhaps a LOXLEO design could be implemented which could be powered from the solar panels from Earth orbit and collect gases from the upper atmosphere.

Getting the structure up into space could be the bigger challenge, since it is not clear at this time how that may be done.  If it is to be done at all, it must be modular in design and be lifted and constructed piecewise until the structure is complete.  It should be obvious that this would require a lot of launches and missions.

Therefore, a cost effective way of getting out of the deep gravity well of the Earth must be found first.

This may be possible if a launch system like Stratolaunch is successful.  If not Stratolaunch, some other way may be found.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Limitless Potential of the E-Cat: An Interview with Andrea Rossi

Some of the questions we asked Mr. Rossi take a look at:

• Why it took so long for him to go public with his discovery.
• How the E-Cat will produce energy costing $10/megawatt hour.
• When he will release more detailed information on the E-Cat.
• Why he believes international media coverage of the E-Cat has been so muted.
• His feelings towards critics and the scientific community.
• His manufacturing and distribution goals.
• How the E-cat will help reduce mankind’s dependency on fossil fuels.
• + Many more details on the e-cat, LENR and Rossi himself.

A unusually interesting answer:
Andrea Rossi: Yes, of course I questioned my discovery. It was hard to believe that I had finally produced a working example of LENR. I paid Sergio Focardi, the physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Bologna, to try and convince me that I was wrong, and relieve me of my obsession with LENR. In the end I ended up convincing him, and he decided to work with me in developing the E-Cat machine. [emphasis added]

Cold Fusion Now: Rossi E-cat a Bargain compared to Nuclear

March 12, 2012 / Brad Arnold  h/t  pesn

Rossi made the following comment on his blog:

Dear Dr Joseph Fine:
- In a 45 MW plant, if Siemens gives us 30% of efficiency, the COP is not 6, is infinite: the energy to drive the resistances will be made by the E-Cat: if we make 45 thermal MWh/h, 15 electric MWh/h will be made, of which 7.5 will be consumed by the plant, 7.5 will be sold, together with30 thermal MWh/h.
- The price of a 45 MW plant will be in the order of 30 millions.
- the price of the energy made by our industrial plants will be made by the owners and by the market.
Warm Regards,

30 Minutes with Andrea Rossi

Uploaded by ColdFusionNow on Mar 11, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Space X from 60 Minutes

h/t Next Big Future


Musk seems deeply disappointed that his heroes from the Apollo Era, Neil Armstrong and others, were not supportive of his efforts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Inexpensive Solution for Quickly Launching Military Satellites Into Space

Sounds a lot like Quicklaunch. Quicklaunch uses a gas gun, which is the difference. In principle, the object that is supposed to reach orbit has to pass through the lower atmosphere at a very high velocity. That's the problem.

John Hunter of Quicklaunch believes he has the answer.  The author doesn't mention that problem, so he may not have a solution.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson: The Case for Space

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson: The Case for Space

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reaction Engines Ltd : News Update - February 2012

Reaction Engines Ltd : News Update - February 2012  h/t Next Big Future

Skylon news.

It is a pretty interesting concept, in particular, the dual mode engines can work in air breathing mode and standard rocket mode. This could be quite interesting for other designs, such as the one that Elon Musk wants to develop for his reusable rockets. Musk doesn't like air breathers, but those don't have to be air breathers on the way up, just on the way down.

Nuclear Thermal Rockets

As alluded to in a previous post, I spent some time listening to Steven Howe yesterday on the Space Show's mp3 archived file.

Based upon what I've learned about the Thorium fuel cycle, I'd say U233 fuel rods for nuclear thermal is just too impractical.

But maybe that is not a show stopper.  You can still use the Thorium fuel cycle off world.  Perhaps not for interplanetary missions.  Perhaps.  For that, you need the good old fashioned Uranium fuel cycle and U235.   This can be imported or exported from Earth depending upon your point of view.

However, the idea of using the Thorium fuel cycle for interplanetary missions doesn't die easily for me.  It would really be a big deal if you could make that work.  But how?

The problem, as I understand it now, is the impurities in the U233- which is U232, and it is very radioactive. You really can't get around that very easily, or at all.

Or can you?

Now, what if you just pay the mass penalty and deal with that radioactivity with lots and lots of shielding?  You'd still have problems, but the shielding would take care of the gamma rays ( I think).  The problem then becomes the mass penalty, but in a shallow gravity well, such as with the moon or Mars, perhaps this can be handled.  One additional point- you don't want to use the nuclear rocket to take off or land.  It would be parked at EML2 in the Earth Moon system, or at Phobos or Deimos in Mars orbit.  Conventional rockets, maybe even U235 rockets, would get you off the surface.  Once in orbit, the U233 fueled nuclear rocket would take over.  Of course, this would be on a different vehicle.

The idea is to minimize the amount of mass that has to be lifted off the Earth.  Secondly, to use a concentrated source of power for thrust for your rockets.  This will further minimize the amount of mass needed, and reduce the mass penalty.

Overall, you'd like a system that requires a minimum of launches from Earth, with most of the mass for propulsion and life support being provided off world.  The Earth would supply complex manufactured goods, rare materials not found off world, plus people.

Howe's tungsten fuel rods may make nuclear thermal more acceptable as a means of getting to orbit.  But that is a whole new ballgame.  But isn't that the whole point?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spark plasma sintering

This term was made by Steven Howe on the Space Show, with respect to tungsten fuel rods in a nuclear thermal rocket engine.

I googled it and found this video. Don't know what it all means.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

China Takes Lead in Race for Clean Nuclear Power

“President Obama talked about a Sputnik-type call to action in his SOTU address,” wrote Charles Hart, a a retired semiconductor researcher and frequent commenter on the Energy From Thorium discussion forum. “I think this qualifies.”


Well, it has been a year and what has this administration done?

Another look at the Thorium REMIX 2011

I went nuts with this yesterday afternoon.  I made a bunch of screen shots and organized them according to topic. I did this because the material just gets to be too much at one sitting.  This is probably too technical a discussion for most people to stick with for the entire 2 hours.  Even though I'm vitally interested in it, it is still a challenge for me to spend so much time on it.

Basically, I divided the screen shots into 3 categories
  1. Waste: the screenshots start at 1:10:30 and (for the most part) at 1:15.  I took 17 of these.
  2. Proliferation: only 3 of these, 2 at 30 minute in, and one near the end
  3. Inertia:  13 of these spread out over the 2 hour video.  This inertia exists both in the public and private sectors.  
There's no reason not to do LFTRs.  But that has been the case since the Kennedy Administration.  Actually, the Kennedy Administration seems to have favored development of this technology.

This video should be part of a study course- which illustrates to anyone interested -how things can go badly wrong.  After watching this, the main thing to take away is this:  just because it hasn't been developed already doesn't mean it was a bad idea.

An historical example: I saw on Instapundit today a story about how aluminum may have been available much sooner if a Roman Emperor had allowed it.  Think about that one for awhile.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Environmental OK for laser enrichment plant



There are no major environmental reasons why a uranium enrichment facility based on laser technology should not be constructed by Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) in Wilmington, North Carolina, the US nuclear regulator has concluded. 

A bit of speculation here:  could this be used for U233 as well?  This post will serve as a reminder to look into the problems with U233 and whether or not its handling issues can be solved.  If so, that would make setting up a Thorium cycle reactor which would breed U233 off world-- on Mars and the moon.  The significance of this is that it would end the necessity of launch fuel from Earth.


After spending some time looking into this, it appears that making U233 from Thorium and using it in fuel rods is a difficult, if not totally impractical idea.  But that is right up my alley.  lol

I got some interesting links out of it, though.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Are the Explorers

Uploaded by ReelNASA on Feb 29, 2012

A benefit of the Thorium fuel cycle

This may not be a new idea, but the significance was enough to discuss briefly.  I thought that you would want to be able to handle Uranium 233 from the breeding of Thorium 232, want to be able to make fuel rods for a nuclear thermal engine for a rocket on the moon and Mars.

This is as opposed to using a LFTR design for energy production on the ground.  Wouldn't want to use a LFTR in space because it is liquid, and that may be a problem in space.  However, handling U 233, which is a product of a LFTR on the ground, is a bit of a challenge, as I understand.  But, if you could do this off world, a significant benefit could result.


You would not need to get fuel from the earth anymore.  If you can do this off world, you will be able to eliminate the necessity to lift fuel from off the Earth.   Without having to lift all this fuel from the Earth would make interplanetary space travel much easier than otherwise.

This should be able to reduce costs for deep space missions by a considerable amount, I would think.

One may get it all started by breeding some Plutonium for deep space travel as well.  You could use a small LFTR design for that as a research reactor.  That could get the ball rolling.  NASA needs the stuff for these types of projects, provided that funding could be gotten for it.  Also, Obama has indicated in his budget that he doesn't want these programs anymore.

It would take a change in administrations to bring this into being.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I support this project, please join me today!

Solve for X: Rob McGinnis on global water scarcity

h/t Next Big Future

Absolutely amazing.

Basically he uses a more saline solution to get the water ( from seawater) to go into it, but the more saline solution has salts in it that are more easily removed from the water in order to purify it.  The water is heated, but not to boiling point, which means less energy is necessary.  The salts are easily recovered and recycled.

If you have the time, it is worth watching this carefully.

Zubrin on Space Show

Very brief note about that show:

Zero growth, Malthusian philosophies antithetical to a space-faring civilization.  Obama destroys space program, is in sympathy with these harmful philosophies. Example: Ehrlich has been wrong about environmental alarmism.

US must push forward into space, or risk turning inward, which will enable these philosophies to take root.

Zubrin has a new book coming out soon, which details these ideas.

How scientists taught monkeys the concept of money. Not long after, the first prostitute monkey appeared

zme science h/t Instapundit

You may have thought things like currency or money are concepts known solely to man.

You mean that people may not be anything but smart apes?

Gov Moonbeam treatment of Newt Gingrich

I have to take exception to something that I heard on the Space Show, when Jeff Bell was guest on the program on Feb 20th.

Jeff Bell accused Gingrich of something he didn't say-- he didn't say lunar statehood as a proposal, to my understanding, it is just a process that may lead to a 51st state, not a proposal for a state when there's nobody up there-- Gingrich didn't say anything like admitting the moon as the 51st state.

The proposal was to create a Northwest Ordinance for space so that when enough colonists are up there, they can petition for statehood.  This does not commit the nation to building a colony, it just sets up a political framework so that if enough people did decide to do this, they can organize themselves into a state and join the Union.  What the heck is wrong with that?

Here's the speech in question on CSPAN

Northwest Ordinance for space, if enough colonists on moon, can apply for statehood

If you don't like Gingrich, fine. But this ridicule of a politician who champions space also harms the space program in subtle ways. Remember Governor Moonbeam? That would be Jerry Brown, the current governor of California. This moniker was attached to him for proposing an aggressive space policy. Now consider this: what if he had been elected President of the United States, and he made good on his proposals to lead the nation forward on space policy as opposed to the present course of going sideways or even backward? Wouldn't the space program and the country be better for it now? Or would it be worse?

I don't necessarily like Brown, but how could our space policy be much worse than it is now?

The person responsible for the moniker, Royko, felt regret for this later as this New York Times piece indicates:
But as any New Age Californian can tell you, such hate is probably cover for a deeper love. And so it was with Mr. Royko, who after many vicious gibes at Mr. Brown’s expense offered an outright apology to the governor, and spent years trying to erase the moniker.

In a 1991 column in The Chicago Tribune, he called the label, an “idiotic, damn-fool, meaningless, throw-away line,” and pleaded with people to stop using it.

“Enough of this ‘Moonbeam’ stuff,” Mr. Royko concluded. “I declare it null, void and deceased.”

Stop dumping on politicians who dare to propose bold ideas for space unless your intention is to destroy the space program. Those who do should be challenge to explain why they favor the end of the space program. Let them defend that position.

Be careful not to trash the space program while you are engage in a competitive political struggle.


More on Bell's appearance on the Space Show:
  1. He tends to take a Devil's Advocate role on Human Space Flight
  2. He doesn't get it.  He criticizes Elon Musk's new initiatives, but those new initiatives are consistent with Musk wants to achieve.  Therefore, he doesn't understand what Musk is actually doing.  Just as he didn't understand what Newt was saying in his speech.
  3. Doubts that space launch costs will be solved.  Says Musk's achievements aren't that significant.  He insists upon tearing down the champions, like Newt and Musk.
  4. How do you get the costs down unless you try?  If you say you can't do it because you can't do it, you are begging the question.
  5. Debate between Zubrin and Bell?
  6. He mentions the Agnew report in the late sixties.  Here's a writeup that mentions this.
  7. He says something like it takes a Saturn V to go to the moon.  Is this true?  If not a Saturn, then a lot of launches to assemble what it takes to go to the moon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Curious about the transition from Apollo to the Shuttle

With regards to the guest on the space show, a Mr.Muncy- my thoughts a) there exists heavy lift mindset, whose proponents believe that only a heavy lift rocket can enable significant missions b) he spoke of a frontier spirit as fragile, but necessary, or society will turn inward.

This made me curious about why the Shuttle program was adopted, as opposed to continuing with the Saturn rockets.  A nuclear capable Saturn could launch more than twice the payload of the conventional Saturn rocket.  Given that heavy lift mindset, it is curious to me why the Shuttle was adopted.

I am coming around to the opinion that heavy lift is only needed for specialized missions.  You need to get stuff up there and a big rocket is necessary for those missions that need specialized equipment.  However, it should not be used for all missions.  Smaller rockets can get people up there, as well as limited amount of supplies.  Basically, you get people and routine supplies up there frequently on smaller rockets, and use the big rockets to get big payloads that can't go on smaller rockets.

Could it be that the Shuttle had too many requirements?  Was the Shuttle the right way to go after Apollo?  What were the options?  What could have been different?  Are there any lessons to learn from this?

There are those who are against heavy lift as well.  But how do you get big stuff up there without it?  Constellation was cancelled along with the heavy lifter that was planned for it.  Now, the government is funding a new heavy lifter.  But it is not clear what the mission is for it.

The fragility is with respect to a poll that Dr. Space mentioned.  People seem to evenly divided on the purpose of the human space program.  Nearly half don't think there should be one, if that interpretation is correct.  More failures only compound the fragility.  People may consider it to be too dangerous and expensive.  This is a problem, because it could lead to the end of human space flight.

Having the government produce a heavy lift rocket is likely to fail.  There are already smaller rockets, but these are not man rated.  Clearly, the alternative of using smaller rockets with fuel depots can be considered in lieu of a heavy lifter.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Maslow Windows

A new concept to me.  This is a period of rapid change and progress.

These are said to happen about twice per century and we are due for one.  The last one was in the sixties with the Apollo project to the moon.  According to the theory, they have always happened-- but there really aren't that many data points over two hundred years.

If you consider all of the ideas that are percolating these days, such as:
  • SpaceX and Elon Musk's proposal to colonize Mars, and his ideas for reusable rockets
  • Gingrich talking about Moon bases by the end of the decade
  • Commercial space initiatives, ie Virgin Galactic, XCOR, amongst others
  • Quicklaunch, which is a large gas gun, which can put materials in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) cheaply
  • Stratolaunch, which is an air launched rocket that can reach LEO safely with quick turnaround
Not to mention other ideas, such as nuclear thermal rockets and LOXLEO.  So many of these ideas could be revolutionary, so a Maslow Window could open up, after all.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nuclear Rockets with James Dewar - Live Show 3.25

Uploaded by spacevidcast on Jul 31, 2010

I found this in connection with a Space Show broadcast with James Dewar as guest.  This was a fairly recent broadcast sometime this month.  I had to Google the name and that is how I came up with this video.  Dewar has a book, which Dr. Space mentioned, which was an aid in finding this video.

I also found the uploader, which was a bonus.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Renewable Green Nuclear Energy: Here, Now

Renewable Green Nuclear Energy: Here, Now

Raising the level of civilization may be a pipe dream

After getting back into the world for the last few weeks, I realize the difficulty of the concept of raising the level of civilization. Progress doesn't come easy, and it is also not guaranteed to continue with the gains that have been made.

People are not that civilized. I see it every day.

Are people really just smart apes after all?

Civilization has outraced biology. Human beings may not be ready for the high tech living we now enjoy, nor for any further advances.

This is not in any way considering the Luddites as correct. I would prefer continued progress, but progress may not be easy against the headwinds that also exist.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Billionaire Sidney Kimmel to Donate $5.5 to Fund University of Missouri Cold Fusion Research

h/t Free Republic , E-cat Now! , E-Cat World


Rob Duncan, vice chancellor for research at the university, has been a leading proponent for trying to fully understand the phenomenon of cold fusion. He featured in the 2009 60 Minutes TV program in which he expressed surprise at evidence he examined in favor of cold fusion in experimental results he examined.
Here's the video of Duncan:


I think Duncan is an honest scientist. That implies something, which may offend some folks. I call 'em the way I see 'em.

Friday, February 10, 2012

MIT suggests new physical model for condensed matter

Free Republic

There's a link to a pdf, if you're interested.

From the comments, there's this excerpt:

Motivated by many observations of anomalies in condensed matter systems, we
consider a new fundamental Hamiltonian in which condensed matter and nuclear
systems are described initially on the same footing. Since it may be possible that
the lattice will respond to the mass change associated with a excited nuclear state, we
adopt a relativistic description throughout based on a many-particle Dirac formalism.
This approach has not been used in the past, perhaps due to the difficulty in separating
the center of mass and relative degrees of freedom of the nuclear system, or perhaps due
to an absence of applications for such a model. We recently found a way to separate
the center of mass and relative contributions to the Hamiltonian for the many-particle
Dirac model, which leads to somewhat different expressions for the kinematic mass,
Newton mass, and deBroglie mass of the many-particle Dirac composite. It is not clear
at this time whether such a difference is reflected in experiment. This separation allows
us to reduce the condensed matter and nuclear Hamiltonian into a more manageable
form. In the resulting model, there appears a new term in which nuclear transitions
are coupled to lattice vibrations.


It is quite abstract, alright.  Some people have trouble with abstract thoughts.

That's a bit of snark as in fighting fire with fire.  Comments were of the type that I've noticed recently in political discussions- they tend to ridicule ideas and topics for which they have little knowledge nor understanding.  This to make themselves appear feel better, I suppose.

My reaction is that a scientific explanation for cold fusion may be in condensed matter and quantum mechanics.

Too bad there isn't any honest attempt to understand the ideas, though.

It is only our future that is at stake.  What's the big deal?  /snark

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rossi Says E-Cat is Absolutely Safe — “There Will Never Be” Gamma Rays Emitted

E-Cat World  h/t E-Cat Weekly

  • Rossi has said that his Leonardo Corporation is in the process of seeking certification for from Underwriters Laboratories in the US and are in the process of submitting the E-Cat for safety testing.
  • “we have found traces of fusion because we have found 511 kev gamma rays at the output, which is the emission of a positron and an electron, and a positron is the product of a proton turning into a neutron, so we have some kind of fusion inside, but I do not think this is the main energy source.”

The issue of gamma rays is a difficult one to reconcile with theory.  It is one of the main reasons for skepticism of the device.  It will end up changing theories if the device works.

Incidentally, if he can show the 511 kev gamma rays, that would be a significant finding in itself.  How else do you get from nickel to copper, but by a beta decay?  If there's a beta decay, there must be some type of fusion.  The reason why this doesn't produce significant amounts of gamma radiation would be quite a puzzle to solve.

Nuclear thermal gaseous core reactor rockets

Intriguing concept.  A lot of the links have been broken.

I looked it up on the Wikipedia and found some interesting links
  1. Gaseous fission reactor
  2. Updated:  Nuclearspace message board

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Use of robotics in space

I made a comment on Transterrestrial Musings a couple days ago about using robotics as a precursor to human settlement.  The post was about Elon Musk's idea of settling Mars.  It was a short comment, but drew a few negative responses.

There seems to be doubt that robots can reach the level of sophistication needed.

My recollection could be fuzzy on the subject, but human level intelligence may not be all that far off.  As early as 2028, according to the earliest estimates.

In my opinion, human level intelligence wouldn't be necessary.  Just some specialized programming in order to prepare the way for humans.

The advantage in using machines lies in not having to keep them alive.  This means an easier task of getting them there.

Rovers have been successfully landed and operated on Mars.  The next step would be to automate a few tasks, such as propellant manufacture, shelter manufacture, and farming for food production.

Some tasks may be combined.  Such as growing something on Mars, like algae.  Algae can be made into biofuels.  Let's say you make some carbon based fuel and the algae will produce the oxygen and propellant.

It is not too much more complicated to grow food, if you can grow algae.

For shelter, you can begin with a means to produce plastics from microbes.

For a water source, Phobos might do.

You could scout Phobos for water, and then decide if it is possible to set up a mining operation there for the purpose obtaining water for life support and making plastics.  From there, you can start working your way towards the surface.  Robots and teleoperation could prepare the way.  If you can subsist on Phobos for months at a time, you could set up a base there so as to control the machines on the ground.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sorensen: Save U-233, explore space video

Selenian Boondocks

I didn't know that Sorensen blogged here.  Not very many posts, but very interesting.

This is a video I found there.

SpaceX Dragon's ultimate mission is Mars colonization h/t Transterrestrial Musings

  • Musk said that he wants to see 10,000 people living on Mars in the near future - preferably, millions of people.
  • private enterprise takes over space exploration in a manner not seen since the early days of the Hudson's Bay Company. Over half a dozen companies are working on sending tourists on suborbital pleasure flights while others are testing orbital hotels.
  • The Falcon 1 booster was built with an eye on the much larger Falcon 9, which was was built looking forward to a Falcon variant that will be larger and more powerful than NASA's famed Saturn V booster that sent the first men to the Moon. 
  • Musk hopes to achieve this is by taking proven rocket designs, simplifying them and streamlining them as much as possible in order to build them quickly and cheaply
  • Musk believes that the key to making spaceflight cheap is to make the flight components reliable and that means reusable
  • This program of reliability, reusability, reduced cost, mission endurance and an attitude of "why engineer when you can over-engineer?" certainly fits in with Musk's vision of opening up the Solar System to colonization. 
  • It also has eerie echoes of the Age of Exploration when Europeans set out on voyages of discovery in off the peg merchant and war ships
Note: all emphasis added were mine.


In the end, it won't be governments that do this.  Incentives for governments are to spend the most money possible, with no need make profits.  But private enterprise cannot exist in the midst of such inefficiency.

When it comes to space, as with most everything else, the "government is not the solution, it is the problem".

Another observation is that nothing like this can be undertaken without someone who has the vision and the courage to do it.  When a politician, like Gingrich proposes it, he will be mocked.  Thus, for politicians, such an ambition is greatly discouraged.  It may take a "Sputnik moment" to rouse the politicians into action- with one fear as the motivating factor being replaced by another.  Even then, the result will be like Apollo- a one time project that only becomes something of a circus that will entertain the public.

Read it all.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Japanese android eats fried rice

This is not very nice. See why in the video below:

Seriously, if you want to have robots doing the work in space, they are getting quite good. Here's an example below:

If a robot can be developed which can do things that require some intelligence and autonomy, and for doing things that are too inconvenient or dangerous to use people, why not? But this shouldn't preclude humans in space. It would be like all machines. It would help augment your capabilities and make those things that are too expensive and difficult- less so.

By using tele-operation and semi-autonomous robots, you can save the expense of having to provide life support on a constant basis or as large a basis- in space. A smaller contingent of humans can supervise the machines and do plenty of work.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thorium Energy Alliance

A short update on that post recently, which has some actionable material in it, just in case you wanted to, you know, DO SOMETHING.

Well, one thing that can be done is actually follow up on what was in that video. There is an organization, called the Thorium Energy Alliance, which looks like a non profit corporation.  As of this moment, my knowledge of this is limited, but I am looking it up.


Some screenshots of highlights of the video

Weinberg with President Kennedy.  Weinberg invented Light Water Reactor and Thorium Molten Salt Reactor
Weinberg and Seaborg favored Thorium Molten Salt Reactors

So, what happened to the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor? It was so promising, yet it wasn't adopted. To put it succinctly, and it may be seen as unfairly, the Nixon Administration killed it. The administration at that time wanted to go in another direction. That direction led to a dead end. The Thorium Molten Salt Reactor was forgotten about until recently.

Wireless power that is 97 percent efficient could revolutionize highway transportation

Highway recharging may be too ambitious, but this idea could find a useful application for parked vehicles.

A couple more intriguing videos which I found via Next Big Future:
21st Century Job: Asteroid Miner
A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors

Friday, February 3, 2012

Andrea Rossi about E-Cat prices and warranties

Money back guarantee! h/t

Money talks, BS walks.

Near space Armadillo Stiga rocket launch to 140,000 feet super wide angle

News Archive h/t Transterrestrial Musings

First time I've seen one of these.  Interesting how you can hear the sound, but as you get at the end of the ascent, it gets real quiet.  As it comes back down, you can hear the wind again.

It's is called a stig rocket, which is shown being tested here.  It is rather small.  It can only carry small payloads.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What went wrong?

It may be too early to do this post, as the primary has not been held yet.  Conventional wisdom has it that Romney will win in Florida.  Doing a post mortem on a campaign that isn't dead yet has some risks, not only for the "patient", but the "coroner".

It may not be too early to mention what has gone wrong so far.

Gingrich gave an excellent and reasonable speech on space policy last week.  But it is being caricatured as a bit of "zaniness" that is supposed to be typical of Newt.  The cover of National Review had Newt caricatured as "Marvin the Martian", which did nothing to endear me towards that publication.  To top it all off, Romney has added injury to insult with a dishonest debate answer about excessive costs.  For this, he is considered to have won- by somebody or something.  Yet, if true, it was a hollow victory by an undeserving victor over a worthy opponent.

For one may rightly ask, if a presidential candidate can't make a serious speech about a serious subject, during a time of angst about the future, when can he?  If there was a time for a speech like this, this was it.  If there was a place for a speech like this, it was Florida.  It decidedly wasn't the wrong time, nor the wrong place, nor flawed subject matter.  It all fit perfectly, as far as I can tell, into what everyone needed to hear.  But it wasn't totally and irrefutably perfect in all ways to all people.

Thus it is said to have been rejected, if the polls are any indication.

As for the specific proposals, they are not perfect perhaps.  But what is?  Isn't the process supposed to iron out deficiencies?  Should perfection be the enemy of the good?  Evidently the polls and the gods say so.  It may be hard, politically to put a base on the moon, we are told, and for that reason the speech isn't perfect.  If the speech isn't perfect, why, it must be worthless.  If the speech is worthless, the speaker is a horrible candidate.  World without end.

One can believe that the "fix is in", but that doesn't mean everybody has to fall into line.  That doesn't mean everybody has to give up their own judgment.  But if you believe the polls, it is imperative that you fall into line.  You must.  If you don't, the evil Obama will win.  Why?  Why the gods say so.  You must not question the gods.

Technically it is said to be feasible.  Economically it is said to be feasible, but hard.  But politically it is too hard.  Whatever happened to "yes we can"?  It has morphed into "you'd better not".  If you ask, "why not?", you are told that it can't be done.  If you challenge the assumptions behind the denial, you are ignored.  You are crazy.  You are deluded.  But why?  Because somebody or something says so?

It is true that space is hard, but it is not true that space is impossible.  It is true that politics of space may be hard, but it has also been shown not to be impossible.  Economics does not have to be a problem- flexibility isn't impossible either.  It is only impossible if you believe it to be so.  A shift in priorities and the use of best practices can bring in the project under budget and on time.  It only takes the will to do it, and maybe that is the explanation for everything.

If there's no will, there can be no way.

If Gingrich made a mistake, maybe it is because he thought too highly of us.  Or do we think too highly of polls?  If we let polls do our thinking for us, Gingrich may have been mistaken after all.

What are the near and long term advantages of a Permanent Moon Base?

It is a new beachhead for the initiation of space industrialization.


Judging from the comments to the post, there's a lot of doubt out there as to the value of the proposition.  However, this is often true with respect to anything new and innovative.  Clearly, there is a need for something to inspire us all, but the naysayers and doomsters will never be the ones to do that.  If people throughout history had been listening to them all along, we would all still be living in trees and caves.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

E-Cat Weekly -- January 26, 2012

  • Defkalion offers testing of cold fusion reactors
  • Rossi told Ny Teknik that "the work of the University of Bologna has already started with meetings together with National Instruments to prepare the whole system analysis."
  • University of Bologna Terminates Relationship With Rossi  by Steven Krivit.   Krivit and Rossi do not see eye to eye, as the saying goes.  The death of the E-cat has been greatly exaggerated.  The work at Bologna continues.
The argument against Rossi is an ad hominem type attack.  It reminds me of a political campaign, which is probably not too much different in principle.   The "incumbents" have something to lose, so they attack a newcomer as a fraud.  The attacks work all too often.  If one wants to prevail, one has to be able to demonstrate the falsity of the attacks.

    Why Constellation failed and why Romney is not the answer

    Why Constellation failed and why Romney is not the answer

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Everybody has won and all must have prizes

    The Once and Future Moon

    No American human spaceflight flight systems exist and their development is dependent on the advent of a demand that has not yet materialized. Meanwhile, we comfort ourselves with fantasies about human missions to Mars. I appreciate and applaud Gingrich’s enthusiasm for space, a visionary attitude sorely lacking in most politicians. He needs to think carefully about how to incentivize the development of space and about the critical national needs served by our civil space program. Prizes seem attractive because of their historical role in stimulating a nascent aviation industry. But significant differences between aviation and spaceflight and our primitive level of development of the latter suggest that what worked before may not work now.


    Too negative!  The use of prizes has worked before the advent of aviation.  Prizes incentivized technological advancement as long ago as the period shortly after the Age of Discovery.  The Marine Chronometer was invented as a result of a prize set up by the Longitude Act.  Thus, it has a longer history than Spudis suggests.

    The use of the Alice in Wonderland metaphor was a bit too much.

    Not every prize will be successful, but you may need only one, or a few.

    Perhaps Spudis is cautioning the over reliance upon the private sector in order to advance the progress of human space flight.  I think there's room enough for both.  The trouble with NASA is that it is too risk averse and it is a government program.  Governments don't have enough of an incentive to economize.

    That's how you get mammoth rockets and mammoth budget deficits.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    No Space Settlement Goal

    In the early sixties, President Kennedy made a definite goal with a deadline. That goal, in retrospect, was quite modest. At the time, it may have seemed rather bold, but it is actually pretty modest to only go for a visit and then come right back.

    A more ambitious goal would have been settlement. Not having been to the moon before, at that time, and not knowing what could be found when we got there, prudence dictated a more modest goal than settlement. There was an opportunity for more, however.

    With a nuclear powered upper stage to the Saturn V rocket, more ambitious missions could have been supported, but the window of opportunity closed when the Apollo program ended. Instead of building upon the success of Apollo, the Shuttle program was adopted instead. Subsequently, the government decided not to develop the Shuttle to its full potential, which left the human space program stuck in a low Earth orbit limbo.

    Now the Shuttle program has ended after 30 years and the question is asked: what's next? Constellation was canceled, so there will be no return to Mars any time soon. A visit to an asteroid is proposed, but that could change if a new president is elected this coming fall.

    Speaker Gingrich has mentioned a speech about space, so at least somebody in this race is thinking about the subject. Given the most recent developments, would the president be motivated towards a more ambitious approach when it comes to space? Not so much as a Sputnik this time: more like a vision of opportunity beckoning and the boldness to go for it. How much more would it take to get something definite on the agenda, such as a relatively bold JFK type goal with a definite timetable?

    There needs to be definite goals and definite timetables. If those don't exist, it is all too easy to drift along. Constellation was a step in the right direction, but the timetable was too long, as it spanned several administrations. One decade seems makeable, if the Apollo experience is any indication. Why not divide the goal into makeable parts and then work towards that goal in a gradual way, one administration at a time? The Augustine commission suggested that goals should not be destinations, but capabilities. If capabilities are parceled out one administration at a time, the ultimate goal of settling space could easily fall within reach of one administration.  At that time, the actual goal could be set with a reasonable chance of achieving it.

    If there's no capability to get to a destination, such as Mars, it must be developed. But development takes time. By the time the next president's tenure is over, that capability may still not exist. Clearly, a road map needs to be developed which would set milestones for each step along the way towards the ultimate goal, with political achievable sub goals.

    Jeff Greason gave a talk on the subject in the past year or so. He compared our situation to World War II. That is, the goal, to win that war, was obvious, so the strategy to achieve that goal has to be decided upon.  One strategy at that time was called island hopping.  It wasn't a direct assault upon Japan all at one time with one giant armada to take on the Japanese in one decisive battle.  No, it was broken down into smaller parts- one island at a time.  Fast forward to the present- we don't seem to know what we want from space. Currently, not only do we not have an explicit goal with respect to space, but there's isn't exactly a strategy either. Either it is only exploration, or it should be more ambitious, such as space settlement. Obviously, I think the latter.

    We should first decide upon what we want from space, then strategize it by breaking the task up into smaller parts.  This approach allows for setbacks along the way, but it gives the flexibility of a long term reasonable chance of success.

    Clearly, the means to achieve settlement of Mars does not yet exist. To develop those means will take several new technologies. What kind of technologies?  One idea is fuel depots, which can save mass that has to lifted off the ground.  It is this additional mass which is so expensive and what makes space travel inaccessible at this time. Refueling can enable resuability with respect to space vehicles, which was partially achieved with the shuttle program.  It would seem that the next administration could focus upon fuel depots as the next enabling technology.

    Hopefully, fuel depots won't take as long as the shuttle did.  Thirty years from now, fuel depots should be only one of many enabling technologies that have been developed along the way towards the goal of space settlement.  But to reach that goal, you have to get started.  We seemed to be stuck in a mode where that decision keeps getting deferred. If the ultimate goal is to be settlement, then next sub goal should be fuel depots.

    It was once asked, if it isn't settlement, what the hell are we doing up there?  It needs to be decided upon one way or another.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Motherboard TV: The Thorium Dream

    The Thorium Dream (Trailer)

    Uploaded by MotherboardTV on Jul 13, 2011

    Robert Hargraves - Aim High! @ TEAC3

    Uploaded by gordonmcdowell on Jul 24, 2011


    This is a great sales job for thorium cycle nuclear reactors. Particularly at the end of the presentation. interviews Andrea Rossi in Bologna  h/t

    excerpts and comments
    • not more than a couple years until electricity can be produced from e-cats, he says.  [comment: Electricity would be a significant milestone]
    • Rossi says it will work as easily as installing software on your computer-- [comment: user friendly]
    • not an alternative ( energy system) but an integrative system-- save fossil fuels for other purposes [comment: It appears that Rossi is not claiming a solution for carbon emissions.]  
    If you can get electricity out of an E-cat, and provided that it was a significant amount, this can open up some very interesting possibilities for space applications, in my opinion.  Such as the LOXLEO concept that I've been writing about.  The amount of power would have to be significant, though.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    LOXLEO, Part VII

    To be strictly accurate, there are 3 different systems ( I know of) that propose to harvest atmospheric gases at the edge of space, to wit:
    1. PROFAC (Propulsion Fluid Accumulator) by Demetriades
    2. LOXLEO ( Liquid Oxygen Low Earth Orbit) by Klinkmann et al
    3. PHARO  ( Propellant Harvesting of Atmospheric Resources in Orbit) by Jones, et. al
    They all appeared to me to do the same thing, so I referred to them all as LOXLEO.  Thus the correction.

    Demetriades' concept was first proposed during the Apollo Era.  LOXLEO and PHARO have been recent attempts to revive the idea.

    The PROFAC concept relies on nuclear power, which wasn't in disfavor at the time.  The most recent versions attempt to work around the nuclear issue.  What distinguishes LOXLEO from PHARO is that PHARO proposes to use beamed energy.  LOXLEO is uncertain about its proposed energy source, as it could be beamed energy or a dynamic tether setup.

    The PHARO concept is a comprehensive analysis of proposed system to implement gas harvesting.  The study claims that there are no other ways to provide energy besides beamed energy.  The energy requirements are such that all others ( besides nuclear ) aren't power dense enough to do the job.  This would rule out the idea of using hydrogen fuel cells combined with a VASIMR, however fuel cells were not explicitly mentioned.  VASIMR wasn't ruled out either, but MHD propulsion system appears to be preferred instead.

    The conclusion is as follows:
    Implementation of propellant harvesting
    has the potential to dramatically reduce the
    launch mass for a multi-mission Mars
    architecture. Additionally, introducing such
    a technology can reduce the life cycle cost
    of the campaign. Although such an
    architecture does lead to a reliability penalty
    relative to a DRA 5 Derived, non-harvesting
    concept, this penalty could be mitigated by
    further improvements in technology. This
    study shows the potential of atmospheric
    propellant harvesting as an enabling technology
    for future humans-to-Mars missions.

    The term DRA 5 Derived is most likely referring to the now canceled Constellation program.

    I like the proposition.  It is better than using the same old technology that has been in place for over 50 years.  Any experimental technology will have additional risks as it is being perfected, but the risk would be worth the gain.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    E-Cat Weekly January 19

    This story caught my eye:
    Oz skeptic offers prize if Rossi’s E-cat works

    •  Australian entrepreneur, philanthropist, skeptic, aviator and eccentric Dick Smith has offered $AU200,000 for proof that the Andrea Rossi “energy catalyzer” actually works.
    • As a general rule, physicists would say that the production of an atom as heavy as copper is the kind of reaction that’s best done if you happen to have a supernova handy. The low-energy claims made for the E-Cat are the main source of skepticism about Rossi’s claims.
    • Smith has a record of being careful with his prizemoney: as patron of the Australian Skeptics, he is also joint backer of an unclaimed prize for anyone who can demonstrate paranormal abilities
    • Since the Herald won't say it, The Register will: do not invest any money in E-cat until someone can reproduce the experiment and explain the mechanism by which the fusion takes place, to the satisfaction of the scientific journals. Or until Smith signs a cheque for his $AU200k.

    I wonder if the author ever really thought about this very deeply.  It isn't about letting someone else do your thinking for you.  This could be easy money if Rossi's device works.  But who gets the money?

    Smith isn't being as careful his money as this article suggests.  It looks to me like he's decided that Rossi's E-cat is some kook device being pushed by kook.  I suppose that is possible, but it is also possible that Rossi is on to something.

    Conventional wisdom is easy because you don't have to think.

    LOXLEO, Part VI

    Need I say a speculative post?

    I reviewed the source document for all of this speculation on this subject.  Please do not judge it by what I say, although I may be an ignoramus in many technical details, I think the proposition is sound.  If Wehner von Braun liked it, it must not have been too bad.

    So, why didn't it get adopted?  In order to answer that, one only has to look at a pattern of events that has taken hold of this country in the last 40 or so years.   Let's list promising technologies that have been, for want of a better term, suppressed

    1. The Saturn V rocket was a proven technology that was scrapped after it achieved the goal of landing a man on the moon and returning safely to earth.  The technology was proven, but it was deemed a waste of money by a government that proceeded to spend even more in order to accomplish less.
    2. Along with the Apollo program, a nuclear upper stage was developed for the Saturn, which was also scrapped.  The big fear was that a successful demonstration of the technology, which was already deemed spaceworthy, would lock the government into a Mars expedition.  But with the money already spent in these last 40 years, we could have gone to Mars already without having to spend anything extra than what has already been spent.
    3. Most likely, the nuclear Saturn upper stage would have gotten into trouble anyway because of fears of nuclear energy.  Yet, a cleaner and safer brand of nuclear energy- based upon the thorium fuel cycle- was ignored.  The technology was sound, but the leadership, in all of its wisdom, decided upon another course.  The thorium fuel cycle proponents were asked to abandon the project.  With nobody to champion the technology, it was soon forgotten about until recently.
    4. Cold fusion has been suppressed and is still being suppressed.  There are those who think that this is pathological science, but with the track record just mentioned above, how can anyone be so sure that the government- and those who are supporting the suppression of this technology- are right?
    5. But cold fusion is only another method of fusion aside from hot fusion.  By the way, there are more ways than just one to achieve hot fusion, but the government only interested in pursuing one way, which is known as "ITER".   ITER is Latin for "the way".  If ITER is the only way, it is definitely the most expensive way.  The other ways to hot fusion are a lot cheaper and are being done on a much smaller scale.  Nobody has been successful yet, but the odds for the smaller scaled projects to succeed appear to be just as good, or better than ITER.
    6.  The Alaska pipeline was stalled for many years until it was built.  New attempts to further develop the North Slope oil fields have been suppressed supposedly because of environmental concerns, but the horror stories predicted for the Alaska pipeline were been greatly exaggerated.   History is being repeated by the current administration, which has now blocked the XL pipeline.
    7. Although oil may pollute, the world seems to adjust to it.  If it were only oil.  Energy supplies exist which could last for centuries, but these are being blocked as well.  The excuse is global warming, which may or may not be related to fossil fuel use, and may or may not be happening.  But if it is happening, it isn't going to happen for decades.  Yet the fossil fuel suppression and its effects are happening now.
    8. Energy projects, such as solar and wind are being pursued, but at best, they can only supply a small fraction of the energy that is going to be needed.  This is an optimistic scenario.  The more pessimisstic scenario will see very little contribution to the energy mix from these technologies.  They are too diffuse and require too much land and resources to exploit.  They are pipe dreams that are supposed to substitute for real solutions, which keep getting suppressed.
    9. Environmentalists want to tear down dams, even though there are no replacements at hand for the water nor the energy that the dams supply.
    So, when one asks the question- If it was so good, why isn't it being done?-  just supply this bit of Keystone Cop history as the answer.  The problem isn't the technology, the problem is the government suppresses any technology that might work.  I wanted to vent on the subject of the stupidity and incompetence of the government so as to disabuse anyone of the notion that the government knows best about these things.  If we are lucky, they'll just stay out of the way.

    Now that I've managed to get off the subject a bit, let's get back on track.  The latest post is about some adjustments in my speculations.

    Instead of using the nitrogen for other tasks, perhaps it can be used in the VASIMR itself.  It can be used as a coolant and as a propellant.

    The oxygen can still be used in the fuel cells for the collection of water while producing electricity for the VASIMR, which is supplying the thrust needed to stay in orbit.  This means that a hydrogen supply needs to be taken along in order to make the water.  Since there's no need for any other propellant but the nitrogen for thrust, there's no need any other storage tanks.

    After reading the document again, I  am not sure why so much energy is needed.  The thrust needed does not take that much energy.  Perhaps the collection of the gases take up a lot of energy, but if you are not compressing and liquifying it for storage, you don't need so much energy.

    Part of the requirement appears to be for human needs, but this could be made into a robotic mission.


    A pic from the source document-- not really, but it is a pdf that closely follows it

    Also, here's a link to the inventor who created the idea in the beginning, Sterge Demetriades.  As for my next post on this subject, I'm going to read a pdf file on the PHARO concept, which is similar to this.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Burt Rutan interview

    Popular Mechanics H/T Transterrestrial Musings

    To allow public access to orbit, we would need breakthroughs that would lower the cost by a lot more than an order of magnitude and increase safety by a factor of 100 as compared to every launch system used since the first manned space flight. I think airborne launch will be a significant part of the safety solution. Breakthroughs to do the rest of the job are unknown.


    Just my opinion, and two cents here, but the problem may be that too much is expected from a single launch system.  If the Stratolaunch, or Birdzilla as some call it, can solve the safety problem, then some other technology can solve the other problems.

    Spacex will most likely attempt to make Birdzilla launch platform fully reusable, which will help with the cost problem.

    As for the rest of a comprehensive solution,  you can look at other systems to help with costs from LEO on outward.  For example, Quicklaunch can get materials into space cheaply.  If feasible, a LOXLEO system can skim atmospheric gases from LEO and use it to power spacecraft after achieving orbit, while reducing costs still further.  By combining these two systems, you could leverage a small payload of hydrogen from Quicklaunch into much more by using a LOXLEO system.  Once you have the water in orbit, you can then split it into hydrogen and oxygen.  This could support missions to cis Lunar space where the moon can be further exploited into a base for interplanetary exploration and development.  Thus, not all of the requirements needed will come from one system, but a series of systems.

    LOXLEO, Part V

    As usual, this will be a speculative post.

    The last post explored the possibility of using the nitrogen to make nitric acid.  But what if this is not practical?

    If such be the case, what could be done with the nitrogen besides just dumping it?

    It so happens that there are themalization issues with the VASIMR design, which is to be used as propulsion in this design.  Lets say that the nitrogen could be used to cool down the engine and then expelled under pressure for additional thrust.  This would be the simplest solution, and it may not be impractical to boot.

    Assuming that is successful, what next?

    Perhaps this is getting ahead of the game too much.  Let's go back to how we get the nitrogen separated from the oxygen in the first place.  

    The truth is, the use of the atmospheric gases at sea level, which include nearly 20% oxygen, would be sufficient to run the hydrogen fuel cells.  This will make the electricity for the VASIMR while giving water as a product.

    The resultant gases remaining should be significantly higher in nitrogen.  It is already nearly 80% nitrogen to begin with.  After using the oxygen for the fuel cells, it should be even higher than that in concentration.

    Couldn't you just burn some hydrogen directly in this atmosphere and thereby remove the rest of the oxygen?  If so, the remainder should be close to zero percent oxygen, which then could be routed toward VASIMR and used to cool it down, and then expelled as exhaust.

    As stated before, the basic idea here is to avoid using so much energy in order to collect oxygen.  The edge of space will still have some oxygen that can be collected as well as the other atmospheric gases.  The thought occurs though, is this: was the original design for collecting the oxygen energy intensive by necessity?  Or was the assumption that nuclear power would be available and that would be able to supply the energy required for the collection of atmospheric oxygen?

    If nuclear power isn't available, there has to be a different approach.  Is there an approach to collect the gases which doesn't require a great deal of energy expenditure?  To answer that question could take you all of the way back to the drawing board.

    Here's a brief thought on that.  In order to initially collect the gases, could it not be funneled into a smaller space, which will have the effect of creating higher pressures?  After all, this should be our goal- to build up from a near vacuum to a usable atmospheric pressure.  This proposition would entail a funnel type device that narrows down to the size that is, let say 1 millionth the size of the opening.  The ratio as such could be enough to pressurize the gas so that we can use it for our purposes.

    The downside of this approach could be amount of drag induced upon the spacecraft.  If the drag is not too much, and could be handled by the VASIMR, we are in business.  Another possibility is heat.  At orbital speeds, the velocity of the gas will be considerable.  As it compresses, it will have to slow down.  As it does that, it is likely to get hot.  Cooling systems will have to be devised to handle that outcome.

    That may not be an insurmountable problem.  Just route the liquid hydrogen around the funnel and it will cool it down, as is done in modern rocket engines.  This will have to be done anyway, as hydrogen needs to be brought out of cryogenic storage for use in fuel cells.

    Type III Dyson Sphere of Highly Advanced Civilizations Around a Super Massive Black Hole

    Type III Dyson Sphere of Highly Advanced Civilizations Around a Super Massive Black Hole

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    LOXLEO, Part IV

    Speculation alert, as usual on this topic.

    Part of the concept involves the collection of nitrogen, which is a vital element for life support in space. The atmosphere is nearly 80% nitrogen, and it is there, so you may as well use it. The trick is to get around the energy problem. In order to collect the gas, you need to compress it and cool it down considerably. This takes a lot of energy.

    Rather than use a lot of energy to cool down gases, perhaps it would be better to minimize that. By using a hydrogen fuel cell, you can still collect oxygen from the atmosphere, and then use it to make electricity and water. That means you have to crack it later, but you still have the oxygen in a form that is easily stored while making energy- as opposed to consuming it.

    Can you not apply that principle to using the nitrogen, which is also present in the atmosphere? If you can't use it, you have to dump it, which is a waste. Why not find a way to make this useful as a propellant as well while not having to put it into a form which consumes so much energy?

    The nuclear powered version of this concept uses the nitrogen, but nuclear power in space is a problem.

    Making energy from the oxygen in the atmosphere is definitely not a new concept. Airplanes do it. The only question here is if there's enough oxygen that can be collected -so as to generate enough thrust for overcoming drag- which is the same principle that applies to airplanes.

    Is nitrogen worthwhile as a propellant? Yes it is. But how to make nitrogen based propellants in LEO? Let look at the proposition, shall we? Let see if there's a way to use nitrogen- by collecting the nitrogen and the oxygen in LEO, and then combining them somehow for power, or for thrust.

    If a nitrogen fuel cell were possible, you could make the electricity as a hydrogen fuel cell does, and keep the oxidized nitrogen on board for processing later. If it could be converted to something more easily stored to liquid form than pure nitrogen, that would be helpful with the energy problem. (It would be easier to store it as a liquid than as a gas.) Nitrogen fuel cells may not be possible, so far as I know.

    But there are a couple processes that could lead you to a form of nitrogen that could work, at least theoretically. The hard part may be in making these processes fit on-board a spacecraft. Provided that you could do that, then store the nitrogen via nitric acid solution in water. The Ostwald and Haber processes are what I had in mind.

    The biggest trick of all is to do all of this in real time as the spacecraft is skimming the gases at the edge of the atmosphere. You have to be able to get more gases into storage than what you are using them for in making energy, while at the same time not having to dump much matter overboard. That means the conversion to nitrates are sufficiently exothermic to help support the conversion.

    The hydrogen fuel cell accomplishes this by producing electricity as well as water. The two processes mentioned in the previous paragraph will utilize the nitrogen from the atmosphere in order to make the water into an nitric acid solution. Those processes are exothermic, but are they sufficiently so? Another problem is the hardware- is it too complex and is it too massive?

    Assuming those questions can be answered, you're in business. Once the tank is full, the acid can be offloaded in higher orbit, where it can be processed further into rocket fuels.

    The entire system could do this over and over again so as to create a steady stream of product. It would need to have two components launched from the ground-- the machines that do the processing and the hydrogen. The machines could be launched once. The hydrogen will have to be launched at a rate sufficient to support the entire operation. Given that hydrogen is the lightest element, it will be advantageous in offsetting the mass penalty in spaceflight.

    The mass penalty is a major stumbling block in making space more accessible. Given the mass savings, the cost of getting fuel into orbit could be reduced by perhaps as much as 1 order of magnitude from the oxygen alone.


    Earlier versions of the LOXLEO thread included the use of a VASIMR as the propulsion engine.  If additional energy is needed for the above mentioned chemical reactions, perhaps the thermal management issue of the VASIMR can be turned into a resource.  A heat exchanger can move the heat from the VASIMR- where it may be a problem- to the reaction chambers, where it may come in handy.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    20120114 Live interview with Andrea Rossi

    h/t Next Big Future

    • The Smart Scarecrow Show  hosts the interview
    • Sterling Allan of does the honors
    • Introduction of Andrea Rossi
    • History of the E-cat
    • Short intro to the E-cat 
    • Mentions gamma rays-- is turned into heat.  First time I heard of this, but not that I was looking for it.
    • Safe operation-- automatic shutoff feature
    • Track record of long term operation
    • Just heating with E-cat, not electricity yet
    • Insignificant amount of material necessary for "fuel" due to it being a nuclear process
    • Make tests every day, he says.  Certification process with UL.  Production will be in Florida USA
    • Wants to push prices down to $500 ( for small E-cat?)
    • Concerns about reverse engineering-- low prices will defend against this
    • Size of device, 10 kw unit, 5% of price for comparable system
    • Catalysts-- essential to operation  Comment: this may be why the ash is inconsistent with expectations
    • Frequency used?  Rossi declines to comment on this.  Oriental martial arts comparison? maybe jiu jitsu principle use the energy of the opponent to your advantage
    • operating temperature, higher temperatures can cause problems
    • don't give fish, but teach how to fish
    • UL stamp is final stamp before distributing to customer
    • No time to lose, he says
    • 1 million home ecat plans--- details, looks like a pc in dimensions, compatible with any heater in world
    • refuel every 6 months, turning on and off and being controlled by thermostat.  Will heat water, but not like a central heating system--- language problem not clear
    • E-cat used to preheat the water for electricity production-- Ecat not hot enough, but can do this much
    • Refueling paradigm.  180 operational days as opposed, fuel charge is proportional to actual use, turn ecat off and no fuel is consumed
    • indicator shows when it needs to be recharged, fuel cartridges exchanged, and used ones recycled
    • cartridge only $10, plus installation charges if necessary
    • logistical issues are being worked on
    • says big surprise that need no hydrogen canisters-- picograms of hydrogen, 10 gms last 6 months
    I will interrupt after 1 hour.  The rest may be of little interest to me.  The key point is the production of gamma rays and the claim that gamma rays are the cause of the production of heat.  Is this plausible?