Spider Mite Robots from the UK

UK company Spacebit is sending a spider-like rover to the moon
at slashgear.com

A really cool concept. Miniature walking rovers that can explore tiny spaces, a single test to the moon this year with plans for swarms (small ones) in the not too distant future. Tbe video animation from Spacebit is worth a couple of minutes.

Point to point sub orbital

Preparing for “Earth to Earth” space travel and a competition with supersonic airliners From NASASpaceFlight.Com an important and fun source on space activity all around the world not just NASA/US

So this seems crazy but in all honesty it has actually been a thing for a long time. It is mentioned in a lot of sixties/seventies SF not focused on space flight. It was seriously studied several times as a sort of replacement for parachute insertion of military force. And like most of those sorts of efforts there was a commercial concept to support the technology since the folks in the defense industry understood that military programs cannot support a robust industry on its own.

Just look at nuclear power, there was a reason that nuclear power stations evolved as the Navy came to realize they wanted nuclear ships. And there is a reason that small aircraft carriers and non nuclear submarines are anathema to certain parts of the Naval establishment. They know that if non nuclear CVs and SSs became common the industry required to support the nuclear fleet would become unaffordable.

https://thehighfrontier.blog/2016/03/20/straight-back-down-to-earth-a-history-of-the-vertical-takeoffvertical-landing-rocket-part-1/

People have already talked about the DoD buying Starships and using them as bombers / hypersonic weapons platforms. This is just turning the model above around.

Back in medieval times freighters and warships were the same thing, they just tacked on some fighting platforms and went at it with bows, crossbows, catapults, swords, etc. Even the Vikings probably started out as traders though always ready to ‘raise the black flag and slit a few throats’ if that looked like the right business strategy.

Anyway…sorry for the side commentary, it’s evening and I had a good dinner so I’m wandering a bit.

So, again anyway…if you look at it, a craft like the Starship, which has the performance as a single stage vehicle to haul 100 tons 10,000 miles in less than an hour has some attraction on its face….but in reality?

  • To my mind the most value dense time sensitive cargo is people but that’s years out at the least.
  • In the meantime are there cargos that are so time sensitive that something like a starship might make sense?
    • Couriered documents. Maybe
    • Mail. Does not seem like it.
    • Medical supplies only if the ship could land almost anywhere and take off again.
    • High value tech like chips? Maybe but 100 tons is overkill.
    • In fact most of the above are not 100 ton class cargos and frequency and flexibility of landing seem critical.

So dead on arrival? No there are customers who might pay for a a limited 100 ton capability. I think it would need to be anywhere in the world which is more than 10,000 miles but is probably within the capability of a modified Starship with more fuel and less cargo…or maybe an extended tank Starship could do 100 tons out to 18,000 miles (my wag of anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world.)

A somewhat smaller starship could do 10 tons 18,000 miles and probably land at just about any port or airfield as long as you can supply LOx and LNG, which is not that uncommon.

Go back to the start. If you burn a couple of hundred tons of LOx/LNG what is the cost? Does it make economic sense? Is it safe, is it going to be acceptable?

  • Economics:
    • LOx/LNG are in the same $/ton range as Jet fuel, you are burning a couple of times the fuel since you have to haul up the oxidizer with you and pay for that as well so say 4x the fuel bill.
    • The hull is in line with a modern airline.
    • If you can do a trip a day or so with support costs in the same range as a jet, it would appear to me that for the right cargo you could make it work.
  • Is it safe?
    • Well not right now but once the tech is wrung out ?? I think so.
    • the big difference is much higher energies than a jet.
    • But…your exposure time is a fraction of that of a jet over the same range. Accidents in mid flight are rare but generally lead to complete loss. Exposure time is probably the most important difference…advantage Point to Point
    • Ok so the major threat time is when you are near the ground around take off and landing, Those are shorter for the Point to Pointer.
    • And to me the difference in energy involved is immaterial…dead is dead and most of the time accidents of any magnitude in those phases are not survivable.
    • Accidents on the runway often have survivors but that is eliminated in the Point to Point case…up and down…no in between…
  • Acceptable?
    • Only time will tell, my guess is YES.
    • It will be a bit like the glamor days of the early airliners I would expect point to point for certain segments to be a real elite punch card
    • Especially as near earth space becomes an exotic but achievable location.

Exciting times indeed.

SpaceX and COVID 19 Relief

Sunrise at Boca Chica, SN9 on Launch Mount B being readied for the test campaign. Thanks to Mary and all the gang for keeping me sane.

So one of the things that has kept me a little bit sane this last 9 months is SpaceX, Starship, and 24 Falcon launches… All I have to say is WOW and thank you Elon!

I’m in the periphery of the electric car business and have been for over twenty years now. The only thing that made me a believer was Tesla.

I’ve been watching space since I sat in front of the telly as Armstrong stepped off the lunar lander. The first time I believed that the final frontier finally within grasp was watching SpaceX doggedly pursuing landing Falcon boosters.

I’ve been a big believer in sub surface transportation, in particular for cargo and rapid medium distance, since high school! And the first time I saw it really taken seriously was Elon’s Boring Company.

It is really hard to think of another great innovator who had such a broad impact in the world. Brunel maybe (Victorian England) Edison, Tesla, Marconi, the Wrights, Sikorsky, Johnson…they all did great things only Brunel had as broad as Elon Musk. Maybe some of the other engineer entrepreneurs of the 1850’s to 1950’s working in what would become industrial powerhouses might have been similar but a different time and public culture hid them…maybe it’s just that Elon’s working today and as a geek I gravitate to him and the search engines feed my observer bias.

Falling behind….NaNoWriMo 2012 | Day 14

Catching the Watcher:

I need to catch some time with the keyboard … I have the basic story line in my head, need to get it out. But too many distractions, like work, life, Thanksgiving, construction delays, daughters wedding … Yeehaa …

  • Words Written Today 1,655
  • Target Word Count 50,000 Target Average Words Per Day 1,667
  • Current Day 14
  • Total Words Written 23,426
  • Your Average Per Day 1,673
  • Words Remaining 26,574
  • Days Remaining 17
  • At This Rate I might Finish On November 29, 2012
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,564

Catching the Watcher | NaNoWriMo 2012 | Day 11

Onwards and upwards into the black!

  • Target Word Count 50,000 Target Average Words Per Day 1,667
  • Words Written Today 2,701
  • Total Words Written 21,771
  • Current Day 11
  • Average Per Day 1,979
  • Words Remaining 28,229
  • Days Remaining 20
  • At This Rate I Will Finish On November 25, 2012
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,412

So someone might ask what is the world like in the 2060’s and how do I know? To which I reply I obviously cannot know, look at what the smart futurists in 1960 thought the world would be like in the 21st century…for example 2001 (still the best(only) ‘hard’ sci fi movie ever.)

Turn the question around, what was the world like in 1960, transistor just invented, first men in space.  But those who were adults in the think of it had grown up during an incredible step change in technology over twenty years and they expected it to continue.. Of course many of the technologies that had gone through that step change had pretty much peaked out (the 737 flew first time only a few years later, the B52 was in service.) But technology they thought was peaking (computers, radios, etc) were really only on the ramp towards immense changes. Then if you look twenty years on 1980 and twenty years on again 2000, you get some idea of the ramps of change in tech and society. You also get the randomization of events in the real world; tsunami’s, revolutions, wars, demagogues, political movements, etc.

What I try to do is pick the tech, economic social and political ramps looking at 10,15,20 year slices and wrap that all up and come up with a history that makes some sense of the background of the story I am telling.  It’s not perfect and I do not expect any of my predictions to come true, but its fun and interesting to think about.

Additive Manufacturing in Space- Two favorites in One!!!

3D / Additive Manufacture in Space! Two favorites in one!

And its an SBIR…Small Business Innovative Research, program, how cool is that on top?  The SBIR program is a personal favorite of mine.  It basically provides entrepreneurs and engineers with ideas with funds to develop a concept and put together a prototype then helps them either commercialize it or work with a big company to bring to the market or to NASA, USAF, Navy, Army, DoE, DoT, DHS etc.  When done right which NASA, the Navy and to some extent the AirForce and Army have done this can provide fantastic bang for the buck.  Its only downside is that it can be seen as a substitute for bigger development programs and it’s not.  SBIR works for initial concepts, for components, basic materials, small-scale projects (App scale maybe) but it’s not enough bucks to do anything major.  The only program that does something similar on a larger scale is DARPA, which is also a world leading organization in this area.

On Thursday, NASA announced the selection of 39 proposals for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards. ……  Made in Space, a Silicon Valley company working on 3-D manufacturing in space.
Made in Space, Inc.
Moffett Field, CA

PROPOSAL TITLE: ISS Additive Manufacturing Facility for On-Demand Fabrication in Space
SUBTOPIC TITLE: ISS Utilization
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) Begin: 6 End: 8
TECHNICAL ABSTRACT
Made in Space has completed a preliminary design review of the Additive Manufacturing Facility. During the first half of Phase 1, the design went through conceptual development, simulation testing, cost analysis, and comparison testing of which off-the-shelf parts can be used. The deliverables for Phase I include a written report detailing evidence of demonstrated technology (TRL 5) in the laboratory and will outline in detail the path taken toward hardware demonstration for Phase II (TRL 6). The preliminary design is ready to be manufactured as an engineering test unit in Phase II. A feasibility study was created to demonstrate what could be fabricated for the inside of the ISS (parts and spares) and for the outside (possible satellites). It is anticipated that many of the sample uses that the AMF will make possible on-orbit have not yet been envisioned.

Catching the Watcher | NaNoWriMo 2012 | Day 10

So Progress continues and today was a good one. Space battles always get the blood flowing. Anyway here are the stats for the day:

  • Words Written Today 3,275
  • Target Word Count 50,000 Target Average Words Per Day 1,667
  • Current Day 10
  • Total Words Written 19,070
  • Average Per Day 1,907
  • Words Remaining 30,930
  • Days Remaining 21
  • At This Rate I Will Finish On November 26, 2012
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,473

I am setting the story in the 2060’s after a half century of banal and horrific events. A smallish nuclear war, the collapse of the old Middle East and the rise of a new Caliphate, but that’s all (important) background to the story. I try to focus on characters, on the story of their lives as it interacts with great events and how those things interact with their environment, which in many ways is much more fantastical than any fantasy.

Catching the Watcher | NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 9

  • Target Word Count 50,000 Target Average Words Per Day 1,667
  • Words Written Today 2,737
  • Total Words Written 15,795
  • Current Day 9
  • Average Per Day 1,755
  • Words Remaining 34,205
  • Days Remaining 22
  • At This Rate I Will Finish On November 28, 2012
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time 1,555

Ah sweet progress, not much yesterday (its rolled into today’s count.) I should have gotten more done today but I kept on hitting blocks and getting the urge to get up and go do something else. Hopefully I can get another good stint tomorrow and Sunday, fortunately for NaNoWriMo progress and very unfortunately for my real life the work I am having done on my house is taking longer than expected, this time the coating for the new cork flooring needs to harden for 72 hours before I can start moving furniture in so another damned weekend down the drain!