18 January 2011

Why is planetary defense important:

Secure World's Rationale:

Rocky Exoplanet Discovered!

a huge step closer. Called Kepler-10b, it's just 40% larger than Earth — the smallest planet yet found outside our solar system. Not only that: unlike the vast majority of the 500-odd exoplanets found to date, and unlike Jupiter and Neptune, Kepler-10b isn't just a huge ball of gas or ice. Like Earth, it's made of rock. "This is a historic discovery," said Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley,

Mining the Moon

Mining the Moon for Water:
Excerpt from FULL STORY at:

The moon has water, and lots of it. Permanently shadowed craters at both poles have likely been trapping and accumulating water ice for billions of years, recent research has shown.  
These concentrated stores are a precious resource that could revolutionize space travel, some scientists and entrepreneurs have argued. Lunar ice can be mined, split into its component hydrogen and oxygen and transformed into rocket fuel, which could then be sold to spacecraft from orbiting "gas stations."  Such an arrangement could spur a wave of space travel and exploration, the argument goes, since spaceships wouldn't have to lug all the fuel they need from Earth.  One firm that wants to make this happen is Shackleton Energy Co. SEC is serious; it plans to launch robotic scouting missions to the lunar poles within four years, and hopes to be selling propellant in orbit by the end of the decade.
...Our analysis shows it is about 15 times cheaper to launch any mass from the moon to LEO than from the Earth.  Lower-cost propellants in space will transform access to and invigorate operations in space. Importantly, our business model indicates this can be realistically done within the decade. Launch providers will now be able to use smaller, cheaper launch vehicles that do not carry excess fuel. They can now get that extra fuel from our orbiting "gas stations." What is very encouraging is that current space treaties and law permit commercial operations on the moon, so the opportunity is wide open to anyone.
...Initially, a crew of 6-12 operators will be trained and deployed to the LEO stations to fine-tune all required operations. When risk reduction and training is complete, an initial crew of 6-8 will descend to the lunar surface mining area and set up camp....Initially, the lunar operating base will be relatively small to accommodate about 6-8 crew for 24/7 operations. The startup crew may have to spend a year on the moon. Operations crews will subsequently be staged at 6-month intervals for normal operations, but we will have frequent transit flights back and forth to LEO/moon for resupply, contingency and medical issues.  We will employ maximum use of inflatable structures for the habitat and modular high-power nuclear power supplies for all power operations (heating and electricity). The operations concept calls for human-tended robots to do most of the mining, transportation and processing functions with minimal EVAs [extra-vehicular activity]. The base camp will be expanded incrementally to accommodate increased operations as fuel demand increases. We envision providing at least four very large fuel transfers per year to LEO....Preliminary estimates are about $25 billion to reach the point of positive ROI following initial operations in LEO...With a global surface area of over 35 million square kilometers [13.5 million square miles], with proven reserves of over a billion tonnes of water ice, and with the likelihood that initial surface resource processing will be done in relatively small, localized crater areas, it is unlikely that lunar return and resource harvesting will even be detectable to other lunar explorers, scientists or users...To put this in a more practical perspective, the lunar north pole water alone (from LRO radar signature) is enough to launch one shuttle equivalent per day for over 2,300 years. But this is, literally, only the tip of the "iceberg."If the LCROSS data are correct and the ice zone extends as far as the area between each of the poles to a circle at 80 degrees latitude, there is likely to be enough ice on the moon to launch, again at one-per-day, an equivalent shuttle launch for 250 million years.  The moon is a large body with lots of room and lots of resources. There is space enough for everybody on the moon for whatever purposes they envision.

09 January 2011

Low Carbon Energy Conference in China to Feature Space Solar Power


A "Superscale Conference" this October:
October 24:
Track 7-1-49 : Solar Power Satellite (SPS) Technologies toward Space Power Supply
Track 7-1-50 : Microwave Power Devices and Power Transmission for SPS
Track 7-1-17: Extraterrestrial to Terrestrial Applications Oct. 21, 2011 (Friday)

NASA HLV to be used for Space Solar Power Demo?

From: http://powerfromspace.blogspot.com/2010/12/pwsp-20-nasa-hlv-to-be-used-for-space.html
(See http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/07/sd-hlv-early-sps-demonstration-risk-assessment/ for more)
"Such a mission would likely provide an opportunity for the HLV to stretch its legs on an opening operational mission, as soon as 2016, focusing on the delivery of a 30 metric ton demonstrator in Geostationary orbit (GEO)."
 “Figure 6-1  shows the operational scenario that proceeds from this initial orbit that maximizes the Solar Power Satellite mass delivered to geosynchronous orbit. The Earth Departure Stage is used not only to attain low-Earth orbit (HLV suborbital staging), but also to attain the 5,900 km circular orbit with two additional propulsion burns of the J-2X engine,” the presentation noted.

“The purposes of the demonstration would be to: 

a) Demonstrate the deployment and operations of a prototype SPS at GEO. 
b) Validate the cost and operational utility of the HLV to support large payload deployment to GEO. 
c) Test a Hall-effect thruster upper stage for operations to GEO and cis-lunar space.
d) Validate the SSP received energy density and power conversion efficiency estimates. 
e) Demonstrate useful amount of power delivery to a test rectenna system on the ground.”'

Final NASA PD Advisory Council Report

The Planetary Defense Blog reports the final report of the NASA Ad-hoc Planetary Defense Advisory Council is Released:

Here are a few interesting excerpts:
NASA has discovered at least 87% of the large asteroids whose impacts could pose a global threat to our civilization

1.1. Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). NASA should name an officer, responsible directly to the NASA Administrator, to coordinate the necessary expertise and internal resources to establish a credible capability to detect any NEO impact threat, as well as plan and test measures adequate to mitigate such a threat. The PDCO officer should have the authority to:
1) Plan and submit budget inputs for a distinct and comprehensive Planetary Defense Program of related research, development, and implementation projects and activities.
2) Disburse approved budgets to appropriate mission directorates and directly to selected projects for implementation of incremental PD activities and capabilities.
3) Coordinate and oversee all activities by mission directorates, centers, and agency projects for PD related capabilities.
4) Plan, coordinate, and implement agency interfaces with other U.S. government agencies and departments for PD-related activities, as well as lead agency interaction with other space agencies and international partners. The PDCO should represent NASA in all interagency and international venues when PD-related issues are discussed.
5) Plan, coordinate, and implement all PD-related public awareness activities and campaigns. Implement procedures to approve any agency public information release related to any NEO impact threat or agency activities to mitigate such a threat. (See Recommendation 5.)
The PDCO should be assigned a small staff to accomplish the duties above, and assisted by
personnel matrixed from the appropriate agency mission support offices.

The Task Force finds that
the Planetary Defense program plan is likely to require an annual budget of approximately $250 million to $300 million per year during the next decade to meet the mandated 140-meter search goal;
The Planetary Defense Blog also has a nice update of books on the subject: