'We are all interested in the future, because that is where you and I will be spending the rest of our lives.'
-- Criswell, Plan 9 from Outerspace

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." -- R. Buckminster Fuller

Sun Tornado

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Solar Flares, Space WeatherInstitutions: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

Cleaning Space Junk

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: SatellitesInstitutions: Swiss Space Center

The Swiss are building a satellite dedicated to collecting junk orbiting the earth. The satellite will push junk, and itself, into the atmosphere for disposal. Currently it is expected to launch between 2015 and 2017.

Space Industry Market Index

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Private Space TravelInstitutions: NewSpace GlobalFree Tagging: NSG Index

A quote from the NewSpace Global home page,

"NewSpace Global is an information services provider that brings timely, accurate and critical information regarding the commercial space sector (i.e., "NewSpace") to the financial industry so that our clients can make more informed business decisions. "

I imagine that there are other such indexes, however, I have not heard of them.

Today the NSG Index lists UP Aerospace and Masten Space Systems as the biggest gainers in their index.

Refueling Satellites

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: SatellitesInstitutions: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., Orbital Express, DARPA
Orbiting Refueling Satellite : source MDA

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. is a Canadian company that is trying to get involved with the business of re-fueling satellites. According to the article, they have not quite shored together their business case. They say that there is enough private interest, but not enough government commitment.

Back in 2007 feasibility of this technology was tested by DARPA and Orbital Express. While the mission had some issues, they were able to refuel a satellite successfully.

List of Space Conferences

Features: Current EventsPeople: Chuck BlackFree Tagging: conferences

A gentleman named Chuck Black has gone through impressive effort to catalog the upcoming space conferences. It's a list worth remembering.

Moon Express : Mining the Moon

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Space Mining, Private Space TravelInstitutions: Moon ExpressMaterials: helium-3People: Naveen Jain
Moon Express Lander: From Moon Express

Naveen Jain's startup, Moon Express, is a contestant in Google's Lunar X-Prize competition. They made the news recently with a little writeup in Fortune. It's a short little, 'imagine the possibilities piece' which some may find interesting. In the article Jain talks briefly about his aspirations for Moon Express. The chief points of interest for me are mining the moon for Helium-3 or precious metals such as platinum. There is also a little bit about storing your DNA on the moon for $50, which is a neat, albeit cheeky, idea.

Depending on how the Helium-3 is deposited on the moon, mining this material may be a much bigger challenge than Jain wants to undertake. If the deposits are uniform across the surface, they are likely to be very low density deposits. This means that lots and lots of lunar soil would need to be mined to generate small supplies of Helium-3. I don't remember the exact numbers and estimations for these deposits.

Mining precious metals seems like a better bet. The article specifically mentions platinum. If I were mining the moon I would be checking the market prices and lunar distribution of rare-earth minerals, too.

A Nation of Places Worth Caring About

Features: Current EventsInstitutions: Ted TalksPeople: James Howard KunstlerFree Tagging: architecture, urban planning

In this delightful TED talk, James Kunstler lays out a strong argument against the urban and suburban planning of post World War II America. He goes on to make a few recommendations for improving the use of urban space in America. Improvements which, he says, are necessary in the face of current global uncertainties.

This is a great presentation, a must watch.

Visible Light Cloaking with Carbon-Nanotube Sheets

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: PhysicsInstitutions: University of Texas DallasMaterials: nanotubesPeople: Ali Aliev

A sheet of carbon nanotubes is heated to produce the mirage like effect seen in the video. This work is being done by Ali Aliev of the University of Texas. I wonder what, exactly, is meant by 'sheets of carbon nanotubes'. Is it 'strands', or actual sheets. Incidentally someone has made 3ft by 6ft (~1m x 3m) sheets from carbon nanotubes.

Quantum Trapping and Levitation

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Super Conductors, Physics

Eyes turn to Fermi Lab

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Theoretical PhysicsInstitutions: Fermi Lab, CERNFree Tagging: Neutrinos

Following the announcement of apparently faster than light neutrinos from CERN, eyes have turned towards one of the two labs in the world which can recreate the neutrino experiment, Fermi Lab outside of Chicago. It turns out that they are about to shut down the resident atom smasher, the Tevatron.

Space X Developing Reusable Rocket

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Private Space TravelInstitutions: Space X

A rocket costs about $50 million. The fuel for a single launch costs about $200,000. A great way to save money is to keep the rocket after each launch. People realized this a while ago. The space shuttle was an attempt to move in the direction of reusable space craft. Now Space X is making some noise on the reusable craft scene. They recently announced that they will start attempting to develop a reusable launch platform.

Their announcement comes complete with an animation that is impressive for it's technological vision and the quality of animation itself.

49 years ago: Kennedy at Rice University

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Popular Perception of Space TravelInstitutions: Rice UniversityPeople: John F. Kennedy

Forty-nine years ago, on Sept 12, 1962, John F. Kennedy spoke at Rice University giving us the bold words, 'We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things; not because they are easy, but because they are hard.'

In this same speech he also said, '‎This country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward.'

This is the full speech, take 17 minutes of your day to be inspired.

DRACO Flexible Anti-Viral Drug

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: BiologyInstitutions: MITFree Tagging: anti-viral
DRACO treatment of Rhinovirus and Dengue hemorrhagic fever

From MIT's Lincoln Laboratory comes a new drug called DRACO (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers). Apparently DRACO is able to successfully treat 'nearly any viral infection'. This is accomplished because DRACO targets cells which have a type of RNA (double stranded RNA, dsRNA) which is only found in cells infected with a virus.

To date this anti-viral drug has been tested to be successful against 15 different types of viruses.

Neil deGrasse Tyson NASA's Budget and Dreams of the Future

Features: Current EventsCritical Path Innovation: Popular Perception of Space TravelInstitutions: NASAPeople: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Space Based Solar Power vs. Nuclear

Artists Rendering of SBSP installation

Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) has been a dream of science fiction fans for decades. The idea goes back at least to 1941 when Issac Asimov described a SBSP system in the book Reason1. The first related patent was awarded to Dr. Peter Glaser in 1973 for microwave transmission of power2. During the 1970's the L5 society and others championed the cause of SBSP with seductive images of toroidal geosynchronous colonies providing enough electricity for the entire planet. In 2007 the National Security Space Office (NSSO) published a report which investigated the architectural feasibility of SBSP. They concluded that there was a need for both national energy security and battlefield preparedness, and that work on demonstrating key technologies should proceed immediately.

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