January 2010

From MIT World & thank you to Nicole Stark for bringing this video to our attention.

The future of space exploration is “the Moon, Mars, and beyond.” For the human scientist-astronaut, “the issue is one of location and locale,” according to Dava Newman.

The argument is no longer whether it’s man vs. robot; rather it’s how humans and robots will work together in missions throughout the solar system. Where exploration—getting out of a spacecraft and moving around—is the primary reason, humans will be sent. Otherwise, they may be tele operating a robot on a distant planet, carrying out experiments on an international space station, or working at Mission Control as experimenters and investigators. But humans will always be involved.

Nothing on Earth can truly mimic the environmental vagaries the astronauts will face on that distant planet or the challenges in getting there. Much of Newman’s work in astronaut performance focuses on creating the BioSuit that will provide the necessary mobility, protection, and life support. The space travel itself creates further physiological deconditioning effects such as bone loss and other ravages of extended weightlessness. Newman cites four significant show stoppers to future space travel: radiation/exposure, bone loss, psychological effects (“playing well together”) and immunology “because so little is known about what’s out there.”

Of additional interest to her audience were the issues of expense and time needed to get to a distant planet such as Mars and commercial applications here on Earth. Newman refers to NASA’s $400 billion price tag and points to a lower $20 billion cost if supported by both government and private monies but run by non-governmental organizations. Commercial space flight offers similar exciting opportunities as well as risks and dangers. Medical/pharmaceutical applications such as growing crystals in the weightlessness of space or studying locomotion that would assist people with cerebral palsy are currently being considered.

Collaboration with other nation’s will ultimately provide on-going program funding since the future of space travel is more about human space travel and less about an individual nation’s ability to build an entire program.

Dava Newman: Speaker Bio

Source: New Scientist

How about a nice sandwich and a glass of milk? As Charles Bourland, a retired NASA food scientist, and co-author Gregory Vogt explain in The Astronaut’s Cookbook, bread means crumbs, and in zero-g they become air pollution – not just messy, but inhaled into astronauts’ lungs. Tortillas, therefore, have largely replaced bread in space. Fresh milk is heavy and goes off quickly, so only the powdered stuff flies. Fresh fruit? Astronauts crave it, but ripening fruit is metabolically active, and gives off odours, so the entire craft smells. Some shuttle captains have said “no bananas on my flight”.

Bananas banned in space by NASA

(Source: SDSS)
All systems are go for the launch of SpaceUp, the world’s first public unconference devoted to space exploration and development, Feb. 27-28 at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Attendees already registered include entrepreneurs, engineers, educators and scientists from Masten Space Systems, The Scripps Reseach Institute, University of California San Diego ( UCSD ), London’s Kingston University and the Prelinger Archive, among others. Dozens of private space exploration advocates from throughout the world have also signed on. Organized by the non-profit San Diego Space Society, registration is $75 per person, with details available at SpaceUp.org. (1/22)

Source: Inc Magazine

Flag Suit's gloves

The ultimate travel accessory
Peter Homer has twice won NASA-sponsored contests for the design of a new space glove. In 2007, he won $200,000 for the gloves shown here. The finger joints are made of Dacron polyester fabric, rather than metal, as in traditional space gloves; the resulting gloves allow for easier hand movement yet are strong enough to confine a pressurized latex bladder, which is necessary to prevent the glove from ballooning in space. In November, Homer won $250,000 in another contest, for which he designed an added protective layer made of leather and Kevlar. After his first design win, Homer founded a company called Flagsuit, in Southwest Harbor, Maine. The company is designing the soft-goods components of suits for commercial space travel.

Well in Hand

The fabric gloves pictured here are suitable for use by commercial space travelers remaining inside a vehicle. An additional protective layer is required for space walks.

We recently linked to a presentation by Jeffrey Manber who recently contributed an op-ed regarding the brain drain of space professional with practical experience. Jeffrey is also our most recent addition to Faces of Space.

Source: Aviation Week

If we are indeed on the cusp of the second era of space commercialization, we enter lacking the most critical component of them all: entrepreneurs, researchers and engineers with practical experience. This seems to me to be the biggest challenge towards assuring we can compete to regain U.S. leadership in space.  Jeffrey Manber

Veteran space journalist  Leonard David recently was given a tour of Bigelow Aerospace’s Las Vegas facility/HQ. B.A’s founder, Robert Bigelow is a successful real estate entrepreneur who founded Budget Suits of America. Bigelow has personally invested an estimated $180 million of his own money on this effort to build the first private  space station that could be leased to companies, countries, and individuals. He might also be earning the title of first private contractor real estate contractor in space.

Rendering of Bigelow Aerospace's space station complex

For those of you who doubt the legitamcy of his efforts, take a look at the pics below taken from his test module currently in orbit and watch the video interview with Mr. Bigelow.

The mission of Bigelow Aerospace “is to build the buildings…to be occupied by geniuses that can do really interesting things in those buildings…and these buildings just happen to be in space,” Bigelow explained. “We want to facilitate what the dreams of people are, whether they are national dreams or corporate ambitions”(Robert Bigelow, Founder of Bigelow Aerospace).

Full interview from Space.com available here.

Bigelow Aerospace's test module in orbit

Bigelow Test module in orbit

Dear Mr. Cameron,

Around 10 years ago, rumors were running rampant that you were going to go to space for a film project. Although that project did not come to fruition, it appears your interests in space have not waned by your activity on NASA’s advisory council, your address to the first Space Exploration Conference, and various interviews. You gave me  the sense that you understand not just that you are a space enthusiast but you understand the importance of  how space relates to us here on Earth and for our future.

Could humanity’s progression into space be one of the greatest stories ever told?

Only by seeing the passion of those who practice space exploration can the average person feel the sense of participation and excitement. There are six billion of us here on the ground who are not going to get to go and a handful of us who will. Those who go become the avatars for the rest — the eyes and ears, the hearts and spirits for the rest of humanity (James Cameron, from an address February 3, 2005, first Space Exploration Conference, Orlando, Florida).

Not only do we need the avatars who will be our eyes and ears but we also need angels. I mean the type who fly in and commit their personal capital to risky business endeavors. Many times angels reason to invest goes well beyond monetary returns. Angels face the risk of losing all their money or having their ownership interests diluted. However, I guess you  would have significant leverage on that  and  other negotiating points.

There are several New Space launch related companies who have proven track records, but are in need of  investment capital. Most venture capitalists will not invest in space at this point because the investment requirements are perceived as too large and risky.  Also, they  typically expect exits in 3-7 years which almost no space related company can promise.  The space industry (minus  government contractors and the satellite sector) doesn’t have this prior history for investors to consider in their due diligence.

You’ve made movies in some of the most extreme locations on the planet, created  innovative technology for your story telling platforms, conquered the film industry in terms of dollars ($1.668 Billion). Why not at least consider the possibility of investing in space even if your current schedule does not allow you to focus on filming a project in space?

For the the price of a new Gulfstream G 150, you could probably seed several existing space ventures that are doing  the demanding engineering work necessary. The space companies  that succeed could could be  game-changers for the emerging industry. Game changers include a decreased reliance on government funded  space agencies, expanded opportunities for non-professional astronauts to visit space,  and accelerated growth of science oriented research in space with the decreased cost to take people & payloads there.

You conquered the world, now we need you to conquer space.

Movie TrailersMovies Blog

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Meets Award-Winning Director James Cameron at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. Photo credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Jeff Foust of the New Space Journal reports on potential space related jobs that will be needed in the emerging space industry. Over the next few years, you are probably going to see companies like XCOR Aerospace, Virgin Galactic,and Space X, ramp up their operations. Could you imagine yourself working in the space industry. According to recent British report by Fast Future Research, the industry will also need tour guides and designers. I could easily imagine many other positions that will be needed for a robust commercial space industry. Let’s assume you are not a rocket scientist. What unique genius do you possess that might integrate or be of benefit to the space industry? As much as the space industry needs the techies, we will also need the marketing magicians, financial wizards, and ___________ (that could be people like YOU).

Your career 62Miles up ahead

Some of the first jobs that the emerging suborbital space industry might need according to the report by Fast Future Research.

  • Space pilots
  • Space Tour guides
  • Space architects

Space pilots, tour guides and architects With companies already promising space tourism, we will need space pilots and tour guides, as well as architects to design where they will live and work. Current projects at SICSA (University of Houston) include a greenhouse on Mars, lunar outposts and space exploration vehicles. Want to know more? Take a look at the story and career information about becoming a space pilot at www.futuremorph.org/my_future_finder/viewitem.cfm?cit_id=4308. (Fast Future Research, Science: So what? So Everything).

Possible Emergence as a Profession: 2015 A Day in the Life
Initial developments in space tourism will involve two to three hour sub-orbital flights. This will gradually develop into longer trips – possibly extending to flights lasting several days or weeks for a visit to an orbiting space station or a distant planet. On the day of each flight, pilots will undergo rigorous health and psychological checks to ensure they are fit to travel. The next stage will be an exhaustive visual and automated programme of technical and security checks with the engineering team. The passenger manifold will be discussed in detail with the entire in-flight crew to understand exactly who is on board. Space flight is likely to remain the domain of the very wealthy for some time to come – everyone will believe himself or herself to be a VIP!

The flight itself will be handled largely by autopilot for most of the journey but the pilot and co-pilot will need to be fully in command throughout the trip. Flight rosters will typically involve extensive rest periods during and after each trip. Even days off will include regular physical and mental strength exercises to ensure the pilot is able to deal with the stresses of frequent space travel.

SICSA currently offers the only Masters of Science in Space Architecture. SICSA explains that Space Architects, like their earthbound counterparts, must address ?the total built environment, not just its component elements and systems.? Hence designing solutions for space involves ?a broad understanding of the issues and requirements that impact overall planning and design success. Important considerations include: influences of unique conditions of the space environment upon construction processes and material options; physiological, psychological, and sociological impacts of isolation and stress; and human factors design issues associated with human adaptation and performance in weightless and partial-gravity habitats.?20 A space architect‘s customers could include governments, private developers, manufacturers and, in time, firms such as banks, hotel groups and retailers.

Space tour guides will draw on cosmology, astronomy, space science, geography, history and geology to help passengers get the most out of their journey. While the factual side of the tour is important, space guides also need to be excellent storytellers and imaginers to help inspire their charges and encourage them to experience the true awe of space travel. Regular tour guides will need to undergo a similar level of physical and mental preparation and testing as pilots before each trip.

(The shape of jobs to come, Possible New Careers Emerging from Advances in Science and Technology (2010 – 2030), Final Report January 2010, Rohit Talwar, Tim Hancock, Fast Future Research).

Special Thanks to Aaron Ross of PebbleStorm for his work on helping people find their unique genius.

Sir  Richard Branson and National Geographic are teaming up to create a 4 part  reality tv series on Virgin Galactic.The series is reported to launch this spring. We wonder if there might be room for a spinoff ‘ pimp my spacecraft?’

Meanwhile, down under in Australia, a group called the StarWalker Show is attempting to launch a competition style reality tv show that would send the winner to space. From the looks of the site, is undetermined if the group has distribution or adequate funding to bolster their claims.  if you don’t see yourself having the money necessary to book a suborbital flight in the next few years it might be worth entering a shot at entering. What’s the worse or perhaps best  thing that could happen to you; become a reality tv star. Good luck!

The following video is a presentation by Jeffrey Manber giving some intriguing background and insight on last days of the Mir space station, private space enterprise, and the  government customer. This video gives some food for thought to the ones who believe that NASA must have sole control over U.S. space activities.

Take aways

  • MIR was a squandered opportunity.
  • NASA is afraid of competition.
  • US government could be a buyer for space related businesses.

Documentary trailer for Orphans of Apollo about a group of entrepreneurs who wanted to lease the Mir.

Next Page »