Daily Archives: March 11th, 2008

Whither rocket science…?

Rocket technology has changed little since Nazi Germany perfected it in the 1940s. Somehow though, it remains the propulsion method of choice for the ‘mainstream’ space program. Witness Project Constellation, America’s return to the Moon effort. It reuses many of Project Apollo’s tech, only with a small amount of refinement:

Clark Hawk, director of the Propulsion Research Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) has seen most of the advances that have taken place in rocket propulsion. He has spent 50 years conducting research in the field.

“Chemical propulsion will be with us for the foreseeable future as the means to escape the Earth’s gravity,” said Dr. Hawk, who worked with the Air Force Propulsion Laboratory at Edwards Air Force base, before joining UAHuntsville nearly 20 years ago.

“Large forces are required for periods of several minutes to accomplish this and chemical systems do this well and relatively cheaply,” he said.

Forgive me if I’m not impressed. (Read more here…)

Private industry is going to play a larger role in space travel from now on. This is a good thing in my view since if it’s going to be a true capitalistic competition, it can’t help but improve rocket and other space tech because companies will always seek an edge against their compeditors. Tourism is going to play a significant role here:

“In the twenty-first century, space tourism could represent the most significant development experienced by the tourism industry,” says Prof. Fred DeMicco, ARAMARK Chair in UD’s Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program.

“With the Earth under attack from a myriad of environmental impacts, including climate change concerns and pollution, outer space is the next viable frontier to explore and make longtime plans for,” he notes. “While there are global policies to be determined relating to private ventures in space, the technology to make space travel safer and cheaper is moving forward.”

I know I probably won’t be able to afford to go along for a ride, but who knows?

Maybe one of my children or grandchildren will get rich or land a lucrative government job and foot the bill for their honorable ancestor! (Read more here…)

SpaceX, a company owned by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk is set to launch its’ Falcon One reusable rocket commercially, despite the set-backs it has had. But Musk is confident that the technology is sound and that money is to be had, especially where government contracts are concerned:

SpaceX will demonstrate its ability to perform responsive mission integration for three separate candidate ORS payloads. The actual flight payload will be determined by the ORS Office at or before the SpaceX Flight Readiness Review for the Falcon 1 Flight 003 (F1-003) vehicle, which typically occurs two weeks before launch.

“In purchasing this flight, the Department of Defense’s ORS Office has given SpaceX a tremendous endorsement,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. “We look forward to demonstrating our ability to be a key ORS enabler with rapid and responsive call-up, integration and launch.”

Musk is also planning on snapping up the manned crew transportation market when the shuttle is retired in 2010. But like the Falcon One, his Falcon Nine rocket is having problems with the design. Since Musk plans on getting in on the ground floor of doing ultra-cheap launches into low earth orbit, I think his company will iron out bugs faster than a government bureaucracy would. (Read more here…)

The U.S. government has stolen enough of the American taxpayer’s money for the past fifty plus years to properly fund the mainstream space program to where we should be well beyond chemical rocket tech and scrounging to find fuel for outer solar system explorations. Of course, we all know where the money went to (Groom Lake anyone?).

So if anything is going to get done, it’ll be by Musk and his ilk.

Until they’re bought by the same folks that bring us the National Security State anyways!