30 March 2009

Space Renaissance

From: http://www.spacerenaissance.org/
Space Renaissance Initiative – Press Release
Press conference 2009 March 31st - 16.00
British Interplanetary Society - 27/29 South Lambeth Road - London, UK

The Space Renaissance Initiative (SRI) will present a proposal to ignite a space economic revolution on 2009 March 31st, before the G20 summit.
The proposal is a simple priority-driven agenda: to develop low-cost civilian space transportation, orbital and sub-orbital space tourism, lunar industrialization, space-based solar power, and the use of near-Earth asteroids to build space infrastructures. These include research and industrial settlements on the Moon; orbital stations, resources utilization, space hotels, service facilities and space debris collection.
This is not speculation. All of these goals can be achieved within the first half of this century. By the second half of this century, based on the experience gained in near-Earth space, Mars and the Martian moons will be settled with the long-term goal of terraforming the red planet.
In order to help the development of the civilian space industry, we recommend governments should provide incentives in the form of tax abatements and financial help for companies working in the space industry; new investment funds for space tourism and the space industry; and special programs geared towards universities and other educational systems. These policies also extend to private organizations, individuals, space agencies, and financial institutions.
Governments can invest public money toward the new space economy through space agencies (primarily devoted to science and exploration), more commercially oriented agencies (to be chartered), and private enterprise, for the industrialization of the Moon-Earth region.
With a current population of almost seven billion people, human growth on planet Earth is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Problems stem from a shortage of raw materials and lack of inexpensive and accessible energy. This dearth of resources, which results in continuous global economic recessions, could cause our civilization to implode to one billion within the end of this century, with increasing risk of humanity falling back to pre-technological ages.
The only fundamental solution to assure continued growth of civilization is to open the high frontier and start surveying the resources of the solar system. Space contains unimaginable amounts of unexploited resources on the Moon, asteroids and other planets. Establishing a foothold off-Earth would also protect humanity from planet-wide catastrophes....
In the paper itself, it they say:
We are in the second act of the "Crisis of Closed-World Ideologies", which has been developing throughout the 20th Century. This is a crisis that has seen the reaching of limits, and the failure of both collectivist and traditional free-market or neo-liberal ideologies that are based upon economy, politics, and community being limited to a closed-world, earthbound view of life.
There are now almost 7 billion humans making massive demands on planet Earth and all bounds of sustainability are being broken. In short, we cannot go on, with any scheme, short-term or long-term, with any ideology or pact, that does not extend our industry, our economy, our security, our inhabitation, beyond the bounds of this planet. What is remarkable and also should be a breath of relief, is that the means to do so are totally within our grasp and arguably more economical, more affordable, more acceptable (to both leaders of nations and to mass populations), than could be imagined even a few years ago.
We urgently need to open our frontiers and move to a wider vision of what is our world and our economy, accessing geo-lunar system resources and energy, using space today for our earthly security and for the defense of the planet itself, and employing space as the unifying bond itself that will enable G20 and other nations to pull together out of this current crisis. In short, we need a new "Open World Philosophy" that is not in words and ideas alone but in the practice of building, living, using vehicles, habitations, power stations, and factories that are merely a few miles above our heads.
The alternative is totally unacceptable and totally inevitable, the implosion and collapse of our civilization, an act that would amount to self-inflicted global terrorism. But this alternative is thankfully avoidable, and at a “price” and “risk” far lower than more traditional measures that many have been considering.
The Space Renaissance Initiative (SRI) is one group that has emerged with a synergy of practical ideas and steps for your direct consideration. We have papers, plans, and people, and minds that have taken on directly the challenge of today’s economic, security, and social crises. We request the opportunity, in the course of this important and indeed critical G20 Summit, to present what SRI believes will match well with that you are seeking in the manner of solutions that can be implemented today and tomorrow to address our world’s most pressing problems.
There are encouraging signs, pointing the way out of such confinement: in 2004, Scaled Composites proved that low-cost space travel for industry and consumer use is feasible. Both China and India have had the Moon in their sights, and several long-standing European Union space programs have begun to be launched into operation. Remarkably, we have several economies with high rates of unemployment and deep problems with credit and financing for business ventures that are aptly poised for design, testing, manufacturing, and use of near-earth and low-orbit facilities that will generate revenue in short order, with low risk. Governmental financial aids, should be given not only to obsolete industrial segments, but to the most promising industrial revolution of our age. These include the development of low cost Earth-Orbit civilian passengers and cargo transport systems, space-based solar power, industrialization of the Moon,
protection against asteroid collisions, use of near Earth asteroids resources to build the space infrastructure, and consumer-based sub-orbital travel.
This is Economy and this is Revitalization on a planetary yet very pragmatic and bottom-line scale! Any closed-world strategy can only be a short respite that will result in tragedy, as the 1930’s Depression ended with World War II. Today, it is far too likely that our Crisis will end with a cascade of system and infrastructure collapses, augmented and followed by global warfare including the use of weapons of mass destruction; such is our likely fate if we do not reach outside our world to obtain new resources, new energy, and new lifestyles.
If a nation is defined by shared ideals and commitments among its people, then we as G20 and as Earth also can share in a special union that enhances and does not diminish our individuality, our national integrities. We can speak of being unified through a true “Space Renaissance” that preserves national interests while strengthening our collective ability to survive and sustain our civilization and our planet.
We respectfully ask, therefore, to you, the Representatives attending this G20 Summit, to receive our recommendations, and to enable a Space Renaissance Initiative representative to submit our proposals to you during the course of this Summit or as soon as such meetings may be scheduled.

23 March 2009

Will Obama pursue space-based solar power?

Could power beamed to Earth from space solve our energy problems? Advocates of space-based solar power may find a receptive ear in the Obama administration.
The space-based solar power (SBSP) concept involves using geosynchronous satellites to collect solar energy and beam it down to Earth, most likely in the form of microwaves (this graphic shows how the idea might work).
The key advantage over Earth-based solar power is that such satellites would enjoy nearly continuous sunshine. A major challenge for Earth-based solar power is that it is so inconstant - it isn't available at night or when skies are cloudy. You could solve this problem by storing energy for later use, but it's difficult to do this in a cost-effective way, and something people are still researching.
The major disadvantage for SBSP is that it's so costly to launch stuff into space. But advocates of the idea point to new launch vehicles being developed, like SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which could bring down the cost of access to space, and make SBSP more attractive.
Advocates for SBSP are hoping to secure some support for developing the technology from the Obama administration, given the incoming president's pledge to make developing alternative energy sources a top priority. They have posted a white paper on the topic on the transition website, change.gov.
One thing that surely helps their cause is that one of Obama's transition team members for NASA is George Whitesides, who has been a vocal advocate for SBSP. Whitesides is currently on leave from his post as executive director of the National Space Society, where he helped push for SBSP research.
On the downside, earlier this month NASA cancelled early work on a proposed SBSP demonstration project, which apparently could have involved putting a demonstration device on the International Space Station.
But it sounds like the decision owes more to a tight budget at NASA than anything else, and I see no reason why the project couldn't be revived if the next administration takes an interest in SBSP. So I wouldn't count out SBSP just yet.
On the other hand, I'm sure SBSP will be competing with lots of other alternative-energy ideas seeking research dollars. And even though Whitesides has a record of strong advocacy for SBSP, this doesn't guarantee that the Obama administration will go for it. There are more highly placed people who will undoubtedly get a bigger say in this, like energy secretary nominee Steven Chu, who hasn't said much publicly about SBSP.
I think it's fair to say that this could be a crucial moment for SBSP, however, so it's definitely something to watch over the next few months.
What do you think? Is SBSP the way to go, or is some other alternative-energy source a better bet?
David Shiga, physical sciences reporter (Illustration: Mafic Studios)

21 March 2009

Russian Citadel to Nuke Asteroids & International Abstracts

Exerpts From: http://bmpost.com/2518.html
Even if we knew for two days, that the asteroid will fall to the ground, nothing had would do - confirms the worst fears of the head of the Center for Planetary Defense “(CDC) NGO them. SA Lavochkin Anatoly Zaitsev. - Besides, it is very difficult to determine the place of the fall of previously unknown objects....Two years ago, speaking at the Academic Readings on Space Zaicev reported: CDC proposes to deploy on the basis of Russian technologies train rapid response system, planetary defense, already known as “The Citadel”. It will consist of the spacecraft observing apparatus, scouts and interceptors. And together they can destroy the asteroids, or alter their trajectories....According to the calculations to run block in diameter and 100 meters will need to charge a few kilotons. For kilometer asteroid would need megatons. According to the scientist, the scouts and interceptors can be created on the base of the spacecraft “Phobos-soil”. And deliver them reasonable missile “Dnepr” and “Zenith”, which can be quickly prepared for launch. But to develop the entire system will take at least 5 years. In due course, financing.
In other International news, A.C. Charania at http://planetarydefense.blogspot.com/2009/03/abstracts-for-iaa-2009-planetary.html reports the Program and Abstracts are now available for the First International Planetary Defense Conference:

Ways to Save the Planet, Space-Solar Power

Another Short here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g52BV7Il_-0 Full Futures Channel Presentation here:http://www.thefutureschannel.com/dockets/realworld/space_based_solar_power/

Also Read Mike Snead's Excellent White Paper "The End of Easy Energy and What to Do about it" about the necessity of Space Solar Power: http://mikesnead.net/resources/spacefaring/white_paper_the_end_of_easy_energy_and_what_to_do_about_it.pdf

15 March 2009

Space Solar Hits College & High School Debates!

Wanna debate Space Solar Power to your local debate team? Looks like K-State is leading the Charge to prepare some of the interesting arguments:

Asteroid's Near Miss A Cosmic Close Call Heavenly Body Buzzes Earth; Comes Within 48,800 Miles

(AP) An asteroid about the size of one that blasted Siberia a century ago just buzzed the Earth. The asteroid named 2009 DD45 was about 48,800 miles from Earth when it zipped past early Monday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported. That is just twice as high as the orbits of some telecommunications satellites and about a fifth of the distance to the Moon. "This was pretty darn close," astronomer Timothy Spahr of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said Wednesday. But not as close as the tiny meteoroid 2004 FU162, which came within 4,000 miles in 2004. The space rock measured between 69 feet (21 meters) and 154 feet (47 meters) in diameter. The Planetary Society said that made it about the same size as the asteroid that exploded over Siberia in 1908 and leveled more than 800 square miles of forest. Scientists at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia spotted 2009 DD45 and began tracking it in late February when it was about 1 million miles away. Spahr said he knew within an hour of that discovery that it would pose no threat to Earth. Of the known space rocks, the next time an object will get closer to Earth will be in 2029 when an 885 foot asteroid called 99942 Apophis comes within 20,000 miles, said Donald Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Last year, the asteroid 2008 TC3 harmlessly burned up in Earth's atmosphere over Africa 19 hours after it was discovered. Astronomers gave a six-hour notice warning of that fiery plunge.


From: http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2009/03/13/4055719.htm
[March 13, 2009]
(English IPS News Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) UNITED NATIONS, Mar. 12, 2009 (IPS/GIN) -- As the United Nations grapples with global problems from the economy to climate change, there is apparently a new threat looming over Earth: plummeting asteroids.
A small asteroid, estimated to be over 200 feet wide, zoomed past the planet last week, causing consternation among scientists and space watchers."The asteroid that missed the Earth would have had a destructive capacity of between 600 and 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs," said Walther Lichem, an Austrian diplomat and a member of the International Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation.
He said last week's asteroid, if it had crashed, would have totally destroyed 4,000 to 8,000 square miles of Earth's surface, with additional regional implications.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration defines asteroids as metallic, rocky bodies, without atmosphere, that orbit the sun but are too small to be classified as planets.The largest of the asteroids, Ceres, first discovered in 1801, is about 600 miles in diameter, while the smallest are the size of pebbles.The risk path of one of the identified asteroids -- dubbed Apophis -- is expected to run from Siberia, the Pacific, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia and Venezuela to the west coast of Africa.In a paper to the United Nations last September, the Association of Space Explorers and its International Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation said within the next 10 to 15 years, the world body will face decisions about whether, and how, to prevent a threatened asteroid impact."To counter a threat of global dimension, information-sharing and communications capabilities must be harnessed to identify and warn society of hazardous Near Earth Objects [NEOs]," it said.The study also said that to prevent an actual impact, an international decision-making program, including necessary institutional requirements, must be agreed upon and implemented within the framework of the United Nations."If the international community fails to adopt an effective, internationally mandated program, society will likely suffer the effects of some future cosmic disaster -- intensified by the knowledge that loss of life, economic devastation, and long-lasting societal disruption could have been prevented," it warned."[And] we cannot afford to shirk that responsibility," the report declared.In February, the report was submitted to the Scientific and Technical Sub Committee of the General Assembly's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), and will eventually be part of the U.N.-COPUOS report to the General Assembly at its 64th session in September.However, the focus of COPUOS is technical and does not include the profound security and legal issues of mitigation operations.A delegation from the Association of Space Explorers, which includes former astronauts and cosmonauts, met the president of the U.N. General Assembly, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, late last year to press their case.Lichem said the 192-member General Assembly has to address the issues involved, and launch an institutional development and capacity-building process.He said d'Escoto felt it appropriate that the General Assembly, i.e. the entire community of nations, be briefed of the challenges planetary defense is posing."It will also be meaningful if the Security Council initiates a process of introducing the planetary defense into its agenda even if concrete decision-making needs may arise only once every seven to 10 years," said Lichem, who is also an academic and a former Austrian ambassador and head of the Department for International Organizations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Lichem, who also authored a 30-page study on Asteroid Threat Mitigation -- Institutional and Legal Implications, said "the issue of considering the defense of our planet against impacts by Near Earth Objects reflects in many ways the New Global Agenda the international community is facing." Addressing the threat of asteroids is "almost incomprehensibly complex, requiring the essential input from the scientific and technical sectors of our societies, yet is at the same time in need of decision-making at political levels with the corresponding dimension of political responsibility," he added.Meanwhile, the Association of Space Explores has also posed a series of critical questions, including: Who will issue warnings to evacuate a predicted impact point? Based on what information? How will the public react if there are conflicting predictions? Who pays to deflect an asteroid? What does such a mission cost? A U.N. official said that COPUOS is expected to discuss the association's report during its meeting in June.Laying out the U.N. decision-making process, he said the General Assembly can take this up only after a specialized body discusses it.An expert in space law said that no one is responsible or liable if and when an asteroid crashes into Earth."Technically, it is a massive piece that comes down like the shuttle or a plane coming down. But debris in space keeps orbiting for years, with the danger of debris damaging other functional satellites also in orbit, including the space station," he explained.Needless to say, he added, "an asteroid could do damage on Earth or to other satellites, but it is almost an act of God and there is little we can do." He also said that over the last couple of years, the Association of Space Explorers has worked out a protocol and presented it to COPUOS for adoption.Last month, the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna called all member states and international organizations to fully implement measures to curb space debris following the collision of an inactive Russian satellite with an operational one from the United States."The prompt implementation of appropriate space debris mitigation measures is in humanity's common interest, particularly if we are to preserve the outer space environment for future generations," the director of UNOOSA, Mazlan Othman, told reporters.According to UNOOSA, the inactive Russian communications satellite Cosmos 2251 and the operational U.S. satellite Iridium 33 collided at an altitude of some 500 miles above Earth, creating a cloud of nearly 700 pieces of space debris.Space debris remains in orbit for a considerable length of time and poses a risk to spacecraft orbiting Earth, the U.N. body warned.