All posts by Robert Smith

Solar Power Satellites. SSI at ISU

In 1987 Space Studies Institute Senior Associates Peter Diamandis, Todd Hawley and Bob Richards founded The International Space University. The ISU was envisioned to start as a floating yearly program bringing together the brightest and most Space-passionate students from around the world for a multidicipinary lab and lecture series based on the format of the SSI Space Manufacturing Conferences.[1]  It accomplished that goal and then some.

The first ISU, a nine week session held in 1988 at MIT, was bannered The International Lunar Intiative Design Project. According to Todd Hawley’s ASCE Space88 presentation, the ILI ISU hosted ‘over a hundred graduate students from a dozen countries (including The Soviet Union and China, which at the time was a very big deal), plus 12 faculty directors, 16 faculty advisors and many visiting lecturers.’

The Space Studies Institute’s direct official focus at that first session was Space Manufacturing and Resources in relation to the Lunar topic. SSI members including Dr. O’Neill, Gordon Woodcock, Peter Glaser, Bill Brown, Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Walker and Andrew Cutler were on hand for that specific set of discussions and others. [2]

Would you like to sit in on one of the sessions? After you get a bit of background, hit full-screen on a new video from the Space Studies Institute YouTube Channel.

This video is the 1988 ISU Solar Power Satellite Roundtable, recorded during its transmission by Northeastern University. The question-and-answer hour puts you in the room with Dr. Peter Glaser (Arthur D. Little, Inc., the inventor of Solar Power Satellites), Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill (Princeton University physicist, co-founder and first President of The Space Studies Institute), William Brown (head of Raytheon Magnetron tube department, inventor of the Amplitron Cross Field Amplifier, first to show long distance wireless power beaming) and Makoto Nagatomo (Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, Tokyo [now JAXA]).

This is a meeting of the Masters… And…

It is not a museum piece of a future that humans have lost.

It is a valuable piece of research material on a set of technologies that study after study, decade after decade, conclude to be viable and important to no less than the fate of this planet.

Now, that last statement may sound off-putting and even rather ‘lunie’, but let’s remember the facts. Big things are not automatically silly things. Big, game-changing things are often hard to do and difficult for the uninitiated to quickly grasp from a handful of soundbites, but they are often found to be worth time and investment by people who take it upon themselves to learn about them.

SPS is one of the core reasons for all of those pretty giant space colony pictures that are linked so closely to SSI.

Folks sometimes get sidetracked by the upside-down view of houses in paintings and movies like Interstellar, they walk out of theaters thinking that large habitats are all about escapist fantasy. But The High Frontier Concept is not some Hollywood global evacuation story. And it definitely is not about creating useless ‘Matt Damon Elysiums’ for elites to look down on billions of poor souls condemned to a used-up planet’s surface.

The High Frontier Concept is about using the virtually unlimited and currently unconsidered Resources and Energy of Space to help all people have the option of better lives wherever they choose to live.

Yes, The High Frontier Concept is also about turning a profit, a profit to be re-invested in other profitable Space-Based manufacturing projects.

We think this SPS Roundtable is fascinating – and enjoyable – on many levels, and we hope you can make the time to listen closely to the entire video.

So why is SPS not happening? With all the NASA and Department of Energy and Boeing (and, and, and) studies concluding that it is a clear winner, why has it not left the gate? The knee-jerk rote answer (that some say is designed to simply stop more questions) is: “Launch Costs.” Truthfully though, the on-going problems, even post-Elon, of costs to lift masses from Earth are another handled aspect of the High Frontier Concept. We’ll be addressing that aspect with new pages over time, but if you listen closely to the video and poke around ssi.org a bit you just might be able to figure it out for yourself.

 

[find out more about the current thinking and work being done to bring Solar Power down to Earth by reading SSI Senior Advisor Dr. John Mankins’ book “The Case for Space Solar Power.” To order, click the link on the “SSI Bookshelf” Amazon widget at the upper right of ssi.org pages.]

Happiest of Holidays, Best for the New year.

If you haven’t yet watched the video of SSI President Gary Hudson’s “Gravity is a Massive Problem”, scroll down two posts right now and check it out.  We’ll wait here.

Great presentation, an important issue that SSI would like to keep rolling, but its future is up to you.  If you feel that developing G-Lab is an important project that is needed as part of the High Frontier Concept, then please make a tax-deductible contribution today. Any amount you can give can help a great deal.

And now, we would like to offer you some extra holiday me-time pleasure.  For free :-).

Do you like to read great books?

Imagine a book with contributors and characters including:

Gerard K. O’Neill, Dr. Freeman Dyson, Gregg Maryniak, Dr. Brian O’Leary, Eric Drexler, William C. Brown, Lee Snively, John Lewis, Dr. Henry Kolm, Brandt Goldsworthy, Dr. T. Stephen Cheston, Rick Tumlinson, Dr. James C. Fletcher, John Mankins, Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller, Dr. Peter Jankowitsch, Morris Hornik, Dr. Thomas O. Paine, James D. Burke, David C. Webb, David Odom, Frank White, Richard G. Woodbridge III, Dr. Yash Pal, Charlie Walker, George Gallop, Jr., Dr. Jerry Gray, Dr. Lee Valentine, Peter Diamandis, Dr. Ben Finney, James Vedda, Gordon Woodcock, Dr. Robert Waldron, Dr. Klaus Heiss, Dr. James E. Byassee, Dr. Frank Press, Robert Staehle, Dr. Peter Glaser, Gary “G.C.” Hudson … and tens, if not hundreds, of others.

Imagine a book that starts with the simple question “Is a planetary surface the right place for an expanding technological civilization?” and takes you on a tour through a history of the Engineering, the Sciences and the soul of the Space Community.

Topics move you through Space Colonization, Mass-Drivers, Large (very large) Space Manufacturing, Anthropology, Lunar Chemical processing, Space Solar Power and Power Beaming, Gravity effects on off-Earth human beings, Rocketry, Asteroids for profit and homesteading, Space Debris solutions, the many faces of NASA, Regolith simulant creation, Closed-loop life support, launches of satellites giving location information years before we all heard of GPS, off-Earth Composites, the creation of the International Space University and SEDS, meetings with and letters from Presidents (ones that some people even liked), Costs of doing Space Business, the origins of the conferences that Space-folk take for granted today, and on… and on…

This is a “book” decades in the making, and still being written.  A mix of down-to-Earth hard effort and inspiring Vision.

This “book” is:

The Archive of the Newsletters of The Space Studies Institute.

And it’s free.

For you.

Now.

It starts with a hand-typed letter on Princeton University Physics Department letterhead and, as of this posting, continues to all of the more “slick” issues of 1989.

More pages are being assembled, but the 50+ issues already waiting should keep you well occupied through the holidays.

To see the current “chapters” of this book that was built on and to support the foundation of The High Frontier Concept, click here.

But to get the very most out of this special resource, we invite you to start at the beginning and see it all unfold. Start with the July 7th 1974 “Newsletter on Space Colonization” by clicking right here.

 

To all of SSI’s Senior Associates and Members and old and new dear friends, the staff and board and trustees of The Space Studies Institute wishes the Happiest of Holidays and a powerful 2016.

We all donate our time and effort, but no projects can continue without continued contributions and membership of people who have run the numbers themselves and see the reality in the The High Frontier Concept.  It’s not just ‘giant space stations,’  it’s much bigger than that.

Thank you for your many years of continued support.

SSI G-Lab at Space Access 2015

SSI is proud to present Gary Hudson’s G-Lab presentation “Gravity is a Massive Problem” recorded live at Space Access May 2nd, 2015.

This presentation spurred a great deal of discussion at the conference and industry forum posts after the event and thanks to Henry Vanderbilt and the Space Access Society (space-access.org) we can now let everyone re-live Gary’s talk.

The subject is simple but the challenges are more complex than many engineers would like to deal with, and the video is facinating.  From NASA to JAXA to SpaceX, from slide rules to solutions, you’ll get a lot out of it.

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.