Exotic Propulsion Update

Emeritus Professor Jim Woodward and Professor Heidi Fearn
Emeritus Professor Jim Woodward and Professor Heidi Fearn, photo by Charles Platt

It’s time for a brief update on our Exotic Propulsion Initiative.

As you know, for a few years now SSI has supported the efforts of the Woodward-Fearn Lab at CalState Fullerton’s Physics Department. We’ve helped fund two interns (one in 2014 and one this year) and we also provide minor support for equipment and supplies. Progress is nevertheless slow since adequate funding has been a challenge, but we want to take this opportunity to thank all the donors to date, who have contributed over $23,000 so far.

Most particularly, we’d like to acknowledge the fund-raising efforts of Henri Heinonen who provided the Exotic Propulsion Initiative with more than $5,000 via his Bitcoin Utopia campaign!

All of these generous contributions have contributed to four recent papers:

Theory of a Mach Effect Thruster I

Theory of a Mach Effect Thruster II

New Theoretical Results for the Mach Effect Thruster

Mach’s principle, Action at a Distance and Cosmology
H. Fearn, Journal of Modern Physics, 2015, 6, 260-272

(In which Professor Fearn refutes Hawking!)

On the technical side of things, the Woodward Lab is working on experiments relating to the explanation of thrust for devices like ME Thrusters and EMdrive (being studied at NASA Johnson Space Flight Center’s Eagleworks lab). Results should be publishable in a few months. And responding to what are termed “over unity” arguments against propellant propulsion devices of all types, Professor Woodward has written this monograph:

Over-Unity Argument & Mach Effect Thrusters

Please enjoy.

Gerard K. O’Neill on NASA

It is common at conferences and meetings to hear folks casually mention that, unlike other established entities, The Space Studies Institute is not a political organization.

That isn’t exactly the full truth.

A key difference between SSI and some of the other Space related organizations is that we are not a lobbying group, but as Robert Heinlein wrote in Podkayne of Mars: “Politics is just a name for the way we get things done… without fighting.”

Because The Space Studies Institute was founded to be an active participant in the getting of things done the workings of politics always have been acknowledged, occassionally have been acted upon quietly, and sometimes have been taken on openly as parts of the whole of our activities.

Back in 1991, Gerard K. O’Neill found it important to speak openly and very clearly about a governmental situation related to the Humanization of Space. That speech was printed in the proceedings of the 10th SSI/AIAA Space Manufacturing Conference at Princeton (Space Manufacturing volume 8, Energy and Materials from Space) and because its *Point* is just as relevant right at this moment in time as it was when it was written, we wanted to offer it to you.

Here’s the thing though, because of another current project we already had the equipment set up and so decided to present this in a form that you can take with you and “read” while accomplishing other things in your busy life. Please use the link below to download an mp3 audio file of this short O’Neill speech for playing on your smartphone, tablet or computer.

This is NOT the voice of Professor O’Neill. I truly wish that it was, but we don’t have a recording of his presentation so we did our best with a “reading.” It is our hope that the read does justice to the message and that those who knew Gerry personally take no offense to any parts where the voicing strays from his unique style. I plead guilty to being deeply affected by the message, and the way that I spoke it comes from the heart with sincere respect.

Click here for mp3 audio file (19mb).  To avoid your browser being helpful and playing the file directly, Windows users can right-click and Mac users can control-click this link to choose a “Save As…” download option.


For reasons that will become obvious soon, I have been re-reading, and re-reading… and re-reading the SSI Kindle Edition of The High Frontier over the past few weeks.  Honestly, since it had been a while, I have been literally amazed at some my own incomplete memories of the major points of the book.

If you haven’t pulled out your copy in a while, maybe take a few minutes to take a fresh look yourself.

“It is essential to maintain a positive vision of the future, from which to draw our goals, the motivation to pursue them, and the compulsion to meet the complex human challenges we will face along the way”

-Kathy Sullivan, Astronaut.
From her preface to The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill


SpaceShipTwo. Sincerest condolences and heartfelt wishes

The Space Studies Institute wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the family and colleagues of today’s lost SpaceShipTwo pilot, and extend our best wishes for a speedy and full recovery of the other pilot.

This is a sad and difficult moment in the human quest for the freedom to travel and live beyond the cradle of Earth.

Each test, each flight, whether perfectly completed or suffering any loss, is a required step in a very important journey. Every person who puts his or her life on the line for this goal is a hero and those who sacrifice the most will not be forgotten.

We hope that those who are struggling to come to terms with today’s loss will take time to appreciate and respect the courage and absolute dedication that these pilots put into making their worthy ambitions a reality for all of humanity. We owe them a great debt and, in their names, we must continue the work of making space accessible to everyone.


November 3rd update:   The names of the pilots have been officially released.  Peter Siebold remains hospitalized at this time.  Friends of Michael Alsbury have organized a funding page to assist his family ( http://www.gofundme.com/MikeAlsbury ).

Technology for Human Space Settlement