David Kirkpatrick

October 18, 2010

DARPA’s shooting for the stars

Literally.

From the link:

NASA Ames Director Simon “Pete” Worden revealed Saturday that NASA Ames has “just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,” with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA.

“You heard it here,” said Worden at “Long Conversation,” a Long Now Foundation event in San Francisco. “We also hope to inveigle some billionaires to form a Hundred Year Starship fund,” he added.

“The human space program is now really aimed at settling other worlds,” he explained. “Twenty years ago you had to whisper that in dark bars and get fired.” (Worden was in fact fired by President George W. Bush, he also revealed.)

But these ambitious projects will need whole new concepts for propulsion, Worden advised. “NASA needs to build a true starship, probably using electric propulsion, probably also using solar energy and nuclear energy.

Microwave thermal propulsion (Kevin Parker)

 

August 10, 2010

Hawking looks to space for mankind’s future

Filed under: et.al., Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:16 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net

Stephen Hawking’s Warning: Abandon Earth—Or Face Extinction

August 10, 2010 by Editor

“Our only chance of long term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space,” Stephen Hawking said in an interview Friday with Big Think. “We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space.”

It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.

“I see great dangers for the human race. There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The Cuban missile crisis in 1963 was one of these. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future. We shall need great care and judgment to negotiate them all successfully. But I’m an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space.

“If we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, we should make sure we survive and continue. But we are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history. Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth, are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill.  But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million.  That is why I’m in favor of manned, or should I say ‘personed,’ space flight.”

June 13, 2010

Japan deploys first solar sail in space

A long-time space travel concept becomes reality.

From the link:

Japan’s IKAROS has rolled out its solar sail, the first ever deployed in space. JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, achieved the feat by rotating the craft rapidly and spinning the sail out by centrifugal force. IKAROS is the world’s first solar-powered spacecraft.

Hit the link up there for more illustrations.

February 5, 2010

First they took the auto industry jobs …

… now they’re stealing childhood dreams.

Seriously though, the idea of highly functional humanoid robotics is a great idea for space travel. Of course Ellen Ripley might disagree.

Via KurzweilAI.net:

NASA, GM team up to build robotic astronauts
Computerworld, Feb. 4, 2010

NASA and General Motors (GM) are developing humanoid robots that can work side-by-side with humans to help astronauts during dangerous mission and to help GM build cars and automotive plants.

Robonaut 2, aka R2, is designed to be a “faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced” robot than Robonaut 1, using its hands to manipulate small parts, while also having exceptional strength.

Video
Read Original Article>>

January 25, 2010

The spacesuit, redesigned

In prep for a new lunar mission, NASA is redesigning the spacesuit.

From the link:

If NASA returns to the moon in 2020 as planned, astronauts will step out in a brand-new space suit. It will give them new mobility and flexibility on the lunar surface while still protecting them from its harsh environment. The suit will also be able to sustain life for up to 150 hours and will even be equipped with a computer that links directly back to Earth.

The new design will also let astronauts work outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and will be suitable for trips to Mars, as outlined in NASA’s program for exploration, called Constellation. “The current suits just cannot do everything we need them to do,” saysTerry Hill, the Constellation space suit engineering project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We have a completely new design, something that has never been done before.”

NASA has proposed a plug-in-play design, so that the same arms, legs, boots, and helmets can be used with different suit torsos. “It’s one reconfigurable suit that can do the job of three specialized suits,” says Hill. The space agency has awarded a $500 million, 6.5-year contract for the design and development of the Constellation space suit to Houston-based Oceaneering International, which primarily makes equipment for deep-sea exploration. Oceaneering has partnered with the Worcester, MA-based David Clark Company, which has been developing space suits for the U.S. space agency since the 1960s.

And, most importantly, the picture:

To infinity and beyond: David Clark Company, in partnership with Oceaneering International, is designing a new U.S. space suit for missions to the space station, moon, and Mars. It has interchangeable parts, so the arms, legs, boots, and helmet can be switched. The first configuration, shown here, is designed for launch, descent, and emergency activities, while the second design is meant for lunar exploration.

Credit: Brittany Sauser

December 23, 2009

Got space?

Via KurzweilAI.net — You’ll need a propulsion system to get around those cosmic distances.

Engage the x drive: Ten ways to traverse deep space
New Scientist Space, Dec. 21, 2009

Ion thrusters, magnetoplasma rockets, and fusion rockets are among the proposed new technologies for instellar travel.
Read Original Article>>

December 8, 2009

Nanotech in space

Well, theoretically in space in the form of improving ion-propulsion systems. In reality if interstellar, or even travel within the solar system beyond Mars, has any hope feasibility, it’s going to require a major breakthrough in getting from point A (ostensibly Earth) and point B. It’ll be interesting to see where emerging science like nanotech will take us. We’re already seeing actual medical, electronics and other uses for nanotechnology. I do a lot of nanotech blogging because the field is so exciting and still harbors untold potential.

From the first link:

Ion-propulsion systems have propelled a handful of Earth-orbiting and interplanetary spacecraft over the past 50 years. Now researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology are developing more efficient ion thrusters that use carbon nanotubes for a vital component

Ion propulsion works by accelerating electrically charged, or ionized, particles to propel a spacecraft. One of the most common ion engines, known as a “Hall Effect” thruster, ionizes gas using electrons trapped in a magnetic field. The resulting ions are then accelerated using the potential maintained between an anode and a cathode. But some of the emitted electrons must also be used to neutralize the ions in the plume emitted from the spacecraft, to prevent the spacecraft from becoming electrically charged. Existing Hall Effect thrusters must use about 10 percent of the spacecraft’s xenon gas propellant to create the electrons needed to both run the engine and neutralize the ion beam.

The Georgia Tech researchers created a field emission cathode for the thruster using carbon nanotubes. In this type of cathode, electrons are emitted after they tunnel through a potential barrier. The carbon nanotube design is especially efficient because nanotubes are incredibly strong and electrically conductive. “By using carbon nanotubes, we can get all the electrons we need without using any propellant,” says Mitchell Walker, principal investigator of the project and an assistant professor in the High-Power Electric Propulsion Laboratory at Georgia Tech. This means that 10 percent more of the ion thruster’s propellant is available for the actual mission, extending a spacecraft’s lifetime.


Efficient emitters: A micrograph of square arrays of carbon nanotubes on a one centimeter by one centimeter silicon wafer. The arrays are designed for use in an experimental cathode.
Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

October 8, 2009

More rocket propulsion news

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:57 am

Big day for rocket propulsion and space travel.

The release:

October 7, 2009

New aluminum-water rocket propellant promising for future space missions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. –

Rocket launch team
Download photo
caption below

Researchers are developing a new type of rocket propellant made of a frozen mixture of water and “nanoscale aluminum” powder that is more environmentally friendly than conventional propellants and could be manufactured on the moon, Mars and other water-bearing bodies.The aluminum-ice, or ALICE, propellant might be used to launch rockets into orbit and for long-distance space missions and also to generate hydrogen for fuel cells, said Steven Son, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

Purdue is working with NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Pennsylvania State University to develop ALICE, which was used earlier this year to launch a 9-foot-tall rocket. The vehicle reached an altitude of 1,300 feet over Purdue’s Scholer farms, about 10 miles from campus.

“It’s a proof of concept,” Son said. “It could be improved and turned into a practical propellant. Theoretically, it also could be manufactured in distant places like the moon or Mars instead of being transported at high cost.”

Findings from spacecraft indicate the presence of water on Mars and the moon, and water  also may exist on asteroids, other moons and bodies in space, said Son, who also has a courtesy appointment as an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

The tiny size of the aluminum particles, which have a diameter of about 80 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, is key to the propellant’s performance. The nanoparticles combust more rapidly than larger particles and enable better control over the reaction and the rocket’s thrust, said Timothée Pourpoint, a research assistant professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“It is considered a green propellant, producing essentially hydrogen gas and aluminum oxide,” Pourpoint said. “In contrast, each space shuttle flight consumes about 773 tons of the oxidizer ammonium perchlorate in the solid booster rockets. About 230 tons of hydrochloric acid immediately appears in the exhaust from such flights.”

ALICE provides thrust through a chemical reaction between water and aluminum. As the aluminum ignites, water molecules provide oxygen and hydrogen to fuel the combustion until all of the powder is burned.

“ALICE might one day replace some liquid or solid propellants, and, when perfected, might have a higher performance than conventional propellants,” Pourpoint said. “It’s also extremely safe while frozen because it is difficult to accidentally ignite.”

The research is helping to train a new generation of engineers to work in academia, industry, for NASA and the military, Son said. More than a dozen undergraduate and graduate students have worked on the project.

“It’s unusual for students to get this kind of advanced and thorough training – to go from a basic-science concept all the way to a flying vehicle that is ground tested and launched,” he said. “This is the whole spectrum.”

Research findings were detailed in technical papers presented this summer during a conference of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The papers will be published next year in the conference proceedings.

Leading work at Penn State are mechanical engineering professor Richard Yetter and assistant professor Grant Risha.

The Purdue portion of the research is based at the university’s Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, where researchers created a special test cell and control room to test the rocket. The rocket’s launching site was located on a facility maintained by Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Having a launching site near campus greatly facilitated this project,” Pourpoint said.

Other researchers previously have used aluminum particles in propellants, but those propellants usually also contained larger, micron-size particles, whereas the new fuel contained pure nanoparticles.

Manufacturers over the past decade have learned how to make higher-quality nano-aluminum particles than was possible in the past. The fuel needs to be frozen for two reasons: It must be solid to remain intact while subjected to the forces of the launch and also to ensure that it does not slowly react before it is used.

Initially a paste, the fuel is packed into a cylindrical mold with a metal rod running through the center. After it’s frozen, the rod is removed, leaving a cavity running the length of the solid fuel cylinder. A small rocket engine above the fuel is ignited, sending hot gasses into the center hole, causing the ALICE fuel to ignite uniformly.

“This is essentially the same basic procedure used in the space shuttle’s two solid-fuel rocket boosters,” Son said. “An electric match ignites a small motor, which then ignites a bigger motor.”

Future work will focus on perfecting the fuel and also may explore the possibility of creating a gelled fuel using the nanoparticles. Such a gel would behave like a liquid fuel, making it possible to vary the rate at which the fuel is pumped into the combustion chamber to throttle the motor up and down and increase the vehicle’s distance.

A gelled fuel also could be mixed with materials containing larger amounts of hydrogen and then used to run hydrogen fuel cells in addition to rocket motors, Son said.

PHOTO CAPTION:
Purdue is working with NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Pennsylvania State University to develop a new type of rocket propellant made of a frozen mixture of water and “nanoscale aluminum” powder. The propellant, called ALICE, is more environmentally friendly and could be manufactured on the moon, Mars and other water-bearing bodies. Holding a rocket launched earlier this year using the propellant, from left, are: mechanical engineering undergraduate student Cody Dezelan, mechanical engineering graduate student Tyler Wood, mechanical engineering professor Steven Son, aeronautics and astronautics graduate student Mark Pfeil, mechanical engineering doctoral student Travis Sippel, aeronautics and astronautics research assistant professor Timothée Pourpoint, and postdoctoral researcher John Tsohas. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

A publication-quality photo is available athttp://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2009/son-rocket.jpg

Two theories on space propulsion

Interesting stuff with impact on the idea of space travel of any serious length beyond the moon.

First up is Technology Review’s physics arXiv blog — hyperdrive propulsion:

In 1924, the influential German mathematician David Hilbert published a paper called “The Foundations of Physics” in which he outlined an extraordinary side effect of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Hilbert was studying the interaction between a relativistic particle moving towards or away from a stationary mass. His conclusion was that if the relativistic particle had a velocity greater than about half the speed of light, a stationary mass should repel it. At least, that’s how it would appear to a distant inertial observer.

And here’s the real fun part. Enter, Large Hadron Collider:

It turns out that when it is up and running, the LHC will accelerate particles to the kind of energies that generate this repulsive force. Felber’s idea is to set up a test mass next to the beam line and measure the forces on it as the particles whizz past.

The repulsive force the Felber predicts will be tiny but could be detected using resonant test mass. And since the experiment wouldn’t interfere with the LHC’s main business of colliding particles, it could be run in conjunction with it.

While the huge energy of the LHC make it first choice for such an experiment, Felber says the effect could also be seen at Fermilab’s Tevatron, albeit with a signal strength that would be three orders of magnitude smaller.

Next up is plasma rocket propulsion, via KurzweilAI.net:

Plasma Rocket Could Travel to Mars in 39 Days

PhysOrg.com, Oct. 6, 2009

A 10- to 20-megawatt plasma rocket could propel humanmissions to Mars in just 39 days, whereas conventional rockets would take six months or more, according to Ad Astra Rocket Company.


(Ad Astra Rocket Company)

The company’s VASIMR technology uses radio waves to heat gases such as hydrogen, argon, and neon, creating hot plasma. Magnetic fields force the charged plasma out the back of the engine, producing thrust in the opposite direction. Due to the high velocity that this methodachieves, less fuel is required than in conventional engines. In addition, no physical electrodes are in contact with the plasma, prolonging the engine‘s lifetime and enabling a higher power density than in other designs.

Read Original Article>>

September 10, 2009

Reporting on the International Space Station

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:51 am

News from NASA hot from this morning’s inbox:

NASA Publishes Report About International Space Station Science

HOUSTON, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Advances in the fight against food poisoning, new methods for delivering medicine to cancer cells, and better materials for future spacecraft are among the results published in a NASA report detailing scientific research accomplishments made aboard the International Space Station during its first eight years.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

The report includes more than 100 science experiments ranging from bone studies to materials’ research.

“This report represents a record of science accomplishments during assembly and summarizes peer-reviewed publications to date,” said Julie Robinson, program scientist for the station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “As we enter the final year of station assembly, this report highlights the capabilities and opportunities for space station research after assembly is complete.”

One of the most compelling results reported is the confirmation that the ability of common germs to cause disease increases during spaceflight, but that changing the growth environment of the bacteria can control this virulence. The Effect of Spaceflight on Microbial Gene Expression and Virulence experiment identified increased virulence of space-flown Salmonella typhimurium, a leading cause of food poisoning. New research on subsequent station missions will target development of a vaccine for this widespread malady.

Another experiment produced a potential medical advance, demonstrating a new and powerful method for delivering drugs to targets in the human body. Microgravity research on the station was vital to development of miniature, liquid-filled balloons the size of blood cells that can deliver medicine directly to cancer cells. The research was conducted for the Microencapsulation Electrostatic Processing System experiment.

One of the most prolific series of investigations aboard the station tests how spacecraft materials withstand the harsh space environment. The results of the Materials International Space Station Experiment already have been used to develop solar cells for future commercial station cargo ships. This experiment has significantly reduced the time needed to develop new satellite systems, such as solar cells and insulation materials, and paved the way for materials to be used in new NASA spacecraft such as the Orion crew capsule.

The report compiles experiment results collected from the first 15 station missions, or expeditions, from 2000 to 2008. Results of some of the summarized investigations are complete. Preliminary results are available from other continuing investigations.

NASA’s research activities on the station span several scientific areas, including exploration technology development; microgravity research in the physical and biological sciences; human physiology research; Earth science and education.

The report details 22 different technology demonstrations; 33 physical science experiments; 27 biological experiments; 32 experiments focused on the human body; Earth observations and educational activities. In addition to science important to long-duration human spaceflights, most findings also offer new understanding of methods or applications relevant to life on Earth.

In 2008, station laboratory space and research facilities tripled with the addition of the European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s three Kibo scientific modules, adding to the capabilities already provided in NASA’s Destiny Laboratory. In 2009, the number of crew members increased from three to six, greatly increasing crew time available for research.

The stage is set for increased station scientific return when assembly and outfitting of the research facility is completed in 2010 and its full potential as a national and international laboratory is realized. Engineers and scientists from around the world are working together to refine operational relationships and build on experiences to ensure maximum use of the expanded capabilities.

The International Space Station Program Scientist Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center published the report. A link to the full NASA Technical Publication, which provides an archival record of U.S.-sponsored research through Expedition 15, is available at:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20090029998_200903090 7.pdf

For more information about the space station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

July 27, 2009

Nanotech and NASA

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:59 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — Two of my favorites blogging topics together in one post …

NASA Nanotechnology in particular Buckypaper
Next Big Future, July 25, 2009

NASA has a lot of nanotechnology research for which they are looking for business partners for commercial development.

For example, carbon nanotube=based membranes known as buckypaper may be used as filter media for analytical mission instruments or implantable device support for astronaut health monitoring.

 
Read Original Article>>

March 28, 2009

Discovery lands

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:45 pm

The release from this afternoon:

NASA’S Shuttle Discovery Glides Home After Successful Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Space shuttle Discovery and its crew landed at 3:14 p.m. EDT Saturday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing a 13-day journey of more than 5.3 million miles.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO )

The STS-119 flight delivered the space station’s fourth and final set of solar array wings, completing the station’s truss, or backbone. The additional electricity provided by the arrays will fully power science experiments and help support station operations.

During three spacewalks, astronauts installed the S6 truss segment to the starboard, or right, side of the station and accomplished important tasks to prepare the station for future upgrades and additions later this year.

The flight also replaced a failed unit for a system that converts urine to potable water. Samples from the station’s Water Recovery System will be analyzed. It’s expected to take about a month for the analysis to be completed and the water to be cleared for the station crew to drink.

STS-119 spacewalkers were unable to deploy a jammed external cargo carrier on the Port 3 truss segment. It was tied safely in place. Because the issue is not yet understood, Mission Control cancelled the installation of a similar payload attachment system on the starboard side. Engineers are evaluating the problem and will address it during a future spacewalk.

On March 24, the 10 shuttle and station crew members gathered in the station’s Harmony module and spoke to President Barack Obama, members of Congress and school children from the Washington, D.C. area. From the White House’s Roosevelt Room, the president and his guests congratulated the crew on the mission and asked about a range of topics including sleeping in weightlessness to the station’s travelling speed.

Lee Archambault commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, John Phillips and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata remained aboard the station, replacing Flight Engineer Sandra Magnus, who returned to Earth on Discovery after more than four months on the station.

Acaba and Arnold are former science teachers who are now fully-trained NASA astronauts. They made their first journey into orbit and conducted critical spacewalking tasks on this flight. STS-119 was the 125th space shuttle mission, the 36th flight for Discovery and the 28th shuttle visit to the station.

With Discovery and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of STS-125, targeted for May 12. Atlantis’ mission will return the space shuttle to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope for one last visit before the shuttle fleet retires in 2010. Over 11 days and five spacewalks, Atlantis’ crew will upgrade the telescope, preparing it for at least another five years of research.

  For information about the space station, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/station

  For more about the STS-119 mission and the upcoming STS-125 flight, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA
   

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

March 26, 2009

Orion goes to the Mall

Fresh from the inbox:

NASA Brings Orion Spacecraft to National Mall for Public Viewing

WASHINGTON, March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA will showcase the next generation of spacecraft that will return humans to the moon in a day-long public event March 30 on the National Mall in Washington. The full-size mockup of the Orion crew exploration vehicle will be parked on the Mall between 4th and 7th Streets, SW, in front of the National Air and Space Museum. Reporters are invited to attend a briefing by the vehicle at 10 a.m. EDT.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO )

The spacecraft mockup is on its way from water testing at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division in Bethesda to open water testing in the Atlantic off the coast of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The goal of the operation, dubbed the Post-landing Orion Recovery Test, or PORT, is to determine what kind of motions the astronaut crew can expect after landing, as well as conditions outside for the recovery team.

NASA engineers and personnel will be available all day at the National Mall event to answer questions about the Orion crew module and the Constellation program.

Orion is targeted to begin carrying humans to the International Space Station in 2015 and to the moon in 2020. Along with the Ares I and Ares V rockets and the Altair lunar lander, it is part of the Constellation Program that is developing the country’s next capability for human exploration of the moon and further destinations in the solar system.

  For more information about the Orion crew capsule, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/orion

  For information about the Constellation Program, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/constellation

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA
   

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

September 29, 2008

SpaceX reaches orbit

A milestone in private space travel.

From the link:

It was the fourth attempt by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to launch its two-stage Falcon 1 rocket into orbit.

“Fourth time’s a charm,” said Elon Musk, the multimillionaire who started up SpaceX after making his fortune as the co-founder of PayPal Inc., the electronic payment system.

The rocket carried a 364-pound dummy payload designed and built by SpaceX for the launch.

“This really means a lot,” Musk told a crowd of whooping employees. “There’s only a handful of countries on Earth that have done this. It’s usually a country thing, not a company thing. We did it.”

Musk pledged to continue getting rockets into orbit, saying the company has resolved design issues that plagued previous attempts.

Last month, SpaceX lost three government satellites and human ashes including the remains of astronaut Gordon Cooper and “Star Trek” actor James Doohan after its third rocket was lost en route to space. The company blamed a timing error for the failure that caused the rocket’s first stage to bump into the second stage after separation.

August 25, 2008

Flat-panel nanotech ion thrusters

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:10 pm

From KurzweilAI.net — this is a really cool innovation. Spacecraft ion thrusters as flat-panels mounted on the side of spacecraft. All created by nanotechnology.

Flat-panel ion thrusters
New Scientist news service, Aug. 22, 2008

University of Michigan researchers propose that tiny “nano thrusters” could be made into flat sheets mounted on the side of spacecraft.

Nanoparticles just tens of nanometers across are ionized by electrodes in a chamber. Those charged ions are accelerated by the electric field and ejected from a vent, producing thrust.

 
Read Original Article>>