All posts by Robert Smith

Will you be at the ISDC?

From last week’s members only SSI eUpdate:

This year, the National Space Society, one of the largest Space Advocacy organizations on our planet, will be featuring two awards of direct interest to Space Studies Institute Associates:

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Blue Origin and Founder and CEO of will receive the Gerard K. O’Neill Award for Space Settlement and Professor Freeman Dyson, a dear man with credits to Science and Humanity – and SSI – far too numerous to name, will be receiving the Heinlein Award.

A very exciting fact that isn’t yet on the NSS pages is that Space Studies Institute Co-Founder Tasha O’Neill will be doing the presentations to Mr. Bezos and Professor Dyson.

Everyone involved in Space knows that the NSS knows how to put on a show and the ISDC is always THE place to meet old friends and make new Space relationships.

We encourage you to look at your calendar and set aside May 24th-27th 2018 for this year’s once in a lifetime event.

Read the press release on this year’s Gerard K. O’Neill Award here:

And on Professor Dyson’s Heinlein Award here:

Freeman Dyson and The High Frontier
Freeman Dyson and The High Frontier

Ok, let’s list the Professor’s credits:

And let him encourage you to enjoy some summer reading:

Congratulations Team SSI! NIAC Phase II


SSI Exotic Propulsion Initiative News from SSI President Gary C Hudson:

The Space Studies Institute is proud to announce that the SSI NIAC Team has been selected for a Phase 2 grant for continuing support of the research and development of Mach Effect Gravitational Assist (MEGA) Drive project.

The NIAC Team, Professor Heidi Fearn (CalState University Fullerton), Dr. José Rodal, Dr. Marshall Eubanks, Mr. Paul March, and Emeritus Professor James F. Woodward (Principal Investigator) have been dedicated to advancing the understanding and implementation of this technology that has, truly, civilization-changing potential. We are very happy for this funding that will be a boost to the project over the next two years.

For more information on the Phase 2 award, see the official NASA NIAC Press release at:

And our Phase 2 proposal at:

And if all of this is new to you, see the SSI Project page at: which gives full background, links to the 38 videos of the Advanced Propulsion Workshops and NIAC presentations, a free 330+ page pdf of the 2016 Workshop and a direct link to SSI SA Jim Woodward’s book “Making Starships and Stargates: The Science of Interstellar Transport and Absurdly Benign Wormholes”

Making Starships and Stargates by Dr. James Woodward
Making Starships and Stargates by Dr. James Woodward

Many thanks to the entire SSI NIAC Team and the many supporters who have selflessly pitched in with contributions over the years. Great job everyone… again!

– Gary C Hudson
President, Space Studies Institute

SSI SA Joe Strout brainstorms SSI G-Lab

image: Bigelow Aerospace
image: Bigelow Aerospace

In the SSI Yahoo Group High Frontier simulation/game creator and SSI Senior Associate Joe Strout just posted this fascinating idea for a different approach to the SSI G-Lab.  It uses a free-flying Bigelow B330 for savings on the outer craft and a different sort of centrifuge system.

“I’ve been thinking for a while how to scale down the G-Lab concept into its most economical form.  think I’ve got it:

It’s basically a (custom-built) model train, running around the wall of a BA-330 module.  Picture something like a G-scale (garden scale) train or slightly larger; each car is about 30cm long, and both track and cars are curved slightly to match the curvature of the wall (er, floor). It’s a *long* train, going all the way around the 19.6 m track; if the cars are about 30 cm long, then there are 65 of them including the engine(s).

The cars themselves are basically flatbeds, with a large indentation in which a mouse cage can rest (with weak magnets to hold it in place under microgravity).  The mouse cage can be easily lifted off or replaced.

The engine and the cars both pick up power from the track; the cars also pass this on to the cage, where it can run little WiFi cam in each one.

In its simplest implementation, that’s pretty much it.  We’d probably actually run two identical tracks, in opposite directions, and hooked up to the same speed controller, so as to avoid imparting any spin to the station.  Researchers would simply slow the trains to a stop when they need to freshen the cages or study the mice.

However, that might be more downtime than we want (it could take hours to work through all those cages).  So here’s a possible enhancement: attached to the central pillar is an inverted track (like a roller coaster), with a small crane.  This is basically a motorized winch with a claw or strong electromagnet on the end, that fits a corresponding attachment point on the top of each cage..

This would be under computer control, so the researcher would tell the computer, “pick up cage 17,” and it would spin up the crane to match the track speed, position the crane head over cage 17, and lower the claw/electromagnet.  Having grabbed the cage, it would then reel it in, and then slow to a stop next to the researcher, who would measure the mice, clean/replace the cage, etc.  When done, the researcher attaches the cage back to the crane, says “place on car 17,” and the crane reverses the process, matching speed/position and then lowering the cage into position.

All this seems very cheap and low-risk to me; decades of model trains have amply demonstrated most of the technology involved.  It also doesn’t take too much room on the station, block the researcher’s passage from one end of the station to the other, etc.  The whole thing comes as a kit, assembled by the researchers the first day, and put through its paces before they put the mice inside.  When our BA-330 lease is up, the researchers simply take it back apart and pack it back into the boxes it came in.

We might even be able to get a company like Lionel to produce any custom track parts or engine required, for the cool publicity it would bring them.

What do you all think?

- Joe”

Thanks Joe, it is an intriguing idea!

For more on the reasons a G-Lab is so very important, just check the recent news stories on the effects of microgravity on the Kelly Twin experiment and look to this page on