We have talked about mining the sky many times. The case for the materials involved is quite strong IFF you can find asteroids and process them. The easiest models bring smaller asteroids back to high earth orbit or to the Earth-Moon LaGrange points for teleoperated processing. About 60% of your average asteroid of the most common types is economically viable, especially for building out near-earth space infrastructure.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pIY_fmvFDhM#!Deep Space Industries believes the human race is ready to begin harvesting the resources of space both for their use in space and to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people of planet Earth.Deep Space Industries is a competitor to Planetary Resources which also is working towards space asteroid mining.Deep Space Industries plans to launch a fleet of prospecting spacecraft in 2015, then begin harvesting metals and water from near-Earth asteroids within a decade or so. Such work could make it possible to build and refuel spacecraft far above our planet's surface, thus helping our species get a foothold in the final frontier.Deep Space will inspect potential mining targets with 55-pound (25 kilograms) spacecraft it calls FireFlies, the first of which are targeted for launch in 2015.FireFlies will conduct asteroid reconnaissance on the cheap. They'll be made from low-cost "cubesat" components and will hitch a ride to space aboard rockets that also carry large communications satellites, Deep Space officials said.The FireFlies' work will pave the way for 70-pound (32 kg) spacecraft called DragonFlies, which will blast off beginning in 2016. DragonFlies will bring asteroid samples back to Earth during missions that last two to four years. Some samples will help the company determine mining targets, while others will probably be sold to researchers and collectors, officials said.
Caltech detailed study of mission to capture small asteroids (< 10 m) and return them to cislunar space. http://kiss.caltech.edu/study/asteroid/asteroid_final_report.pdfKeck Institute for Space Studieshttp://nextbigfuture.com/2012/12/nasa-asteroid-capture-study.htmlNote mission length of 2 to 6 years depending on asteroid mass at at estimated cost of about $2 billion each. Estimated CostsNASA insight/oversight 204 15% of prime contractor costsPhase A 68 5% of B/C/D costsSpacecraft 1359 Prime Contractor B/C/D cost plus fee (10% - less science payload)Launch Vehicle 288 Atlas 551Mission Ops/GDS 117 10 year mission plus set-upReserves 611 30% reservesTotal 2647The report also provides a conceptual design of a flight system with the capability to rendezvous with a NEA in deep space, perform in situ characterization of the object and subsequently capture it, de-spin it, and transport it to lunar orbit in a total flight time of 6 to 10 years. The transportation capability would be enabled by a ~40-kW solar electric propulsion system with a specific impulse of 3,000 s. Significantly, the entire flight system could be launched to low-Earth orbit on a single Atlas V-class launch vehicle. With an initial mass to low-Earth orbit (IMLEO) of 18,000 kg, the subsequent delivery of a 500-t asteroid to lunar orbit represents a mass amplification factor of about 28-to-1. That is, 28 times the mass launched to LEO would be delivered to high lunar orbit, where it would be energetically in a favorable location to support human exploration beyond cislunar space. Longer flight times, higher power SEP systems, or a target asteroid in a particularly favorable orbit could increase the mass amplification factor from 28-to-1 to 70-to-1 or greater. The NASA GRC COMPASS team estimated the full life-cycle cost of an asteroid capture and return mission at ~$2.6B.
Artist's impression of sunrise from the surface of Gliese 581c, an Earthlike planet in the habitable zone of its red dwarf star. CREDIT: Karen Wehrsteinhttp://www.space.com/15433-alien-life-red-dwarfs-habitable-planets.htmlhttp://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=26416A new estimate of the number of habitable planets orbiting the most common type of stars in our galaxy could have huge consequences for the search for life.According to a recent study, tens of billions of planets around red dwarfs are likely capable of containing liquid water, dramatically increasing the potential to find signs of life somewhere other than Earth.Red dwarfs are stars that are fainter, cooler and less massive than the sun. These stars, which typically also live longer than Class G stars like the sun, are thought to make up about 80 percent of the stars in the Milky Way, astronomers have said.Red dwarfs generally have not been considered viable candidates for hosting habitable planets. Since red dwarfs are small and dim, the habitable zone surrounding them — the region where an orbiting planet's surface water can remain liquid — is relatively close to them."The habitable zone would be very, very small. Consequently, the chances that you would actually find any planet at the right distance from the sun to be attractive to life was likely to be small, too," said Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, Calif. [The Strangest Alien Planets]But the study, based on data from the European Space Agency's HARPS spectrograph in Chile, used a sample of 102 red dwarfs to estimate that 41 percent of the dim stars might be hiding planets in their habitable zone."The number of habitats might increase by a factor of 8 or 10," Shostak told SPACE.com.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/02/ground-and-space-based-telescopes.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Extremely_Large_TelescopeDue to orbital geometries, the odds that a given planet transits its star so that we can see it are just 1 in 50, so there's a chance the nearest habitable world will not be one that surveys like Kepler can see. The odds are better that we can see a habitable planet transit within 100 light years of Earth. That's still near enough for planned observatories to check its atmosphere for gases produced by life on Earth, such as a large amount of oxygen.NASA is currently considering two planet-hunting telescopes that could help find such a nearby world: the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the Fast Infrared Exoplanet Spectroscopy Survey Explorer (FINESSE). One of these missions is expected to be selected this spring for launch in 2017.Even if neither space mission goes ahead, large telescopes on the ground should also be able to detect gases like oxygen in exoplanet atmospheres. IgnasSnellen of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and colleagues think that, once a habitable planet around a red dwarf is found, planned facilities such as the European Extremely Large Telescope could detect such gases in its atmosphere within three to four years."We could be in the business of studying the atmospheres of habitable worlds 10 years from now," says David Charbonneau, also of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. If NASA launches the missions the space telescopes and we get lucky with analysis of Kepler data to confirm exoplanets, then we could be studying the atmospheres by 2017 or 2020 with space or ground based systems.
http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=127396&CultureCode=enThe electric sail (ESAIL), invented by Dr. PekkaJanhunen at the Finnish Kumpula Space Centre in 2006, produces propulsion power for a spacecraft by utilizing the solar wind. The sail features electrically charged long and thin metal tethers that interact with the solar wind. Using ultrasonic welding, the Electronics Research Laboratory at the University of Helsinki successfully produced a 1 km long ESAIL tether. Four years ago, global experts in ultrasonic welding considered it impossible to weld together such thin wires. The produced tether proves that manufacturing full size ESAIL tethers is possible. The theoretically predicted electric sail force will be measured in space during 2013.An electric solar wind sail, a.k.a electric sail, consists of long, thin (25?50 micron) electrically conductive tethers manufactured from aluminium wires. A full-scale sail can include up to 100 tethers, each 20 kilometres long. In addition, the craft will contain a high-voltage source and an electron gun that creates a positive charge in the tethers. The electric field of the charged tethers will extend approximately 100 metres into the surrounding solar wind plasma. Charged particles from the solar wind crash into this field, creating an interaction that transfers momentum from thesolar wind to the spacecraft. Compared with other methods, such as ion engines, the electric sail produces a large amount of propulsion considering its mass and power requirement. Since the sail consumes no propellant, it has in principle an unlimited operating time.The electric sail is raising a lot of interest in space circles, but until now it has been unclear whether its most important parts, i.e. the long, thin metal tethers, can be produced.Solar Wind Electric Sail Test (SWEST)SWEST (Solar Wind Electric Sail Test) is a proposal to the EU whose purpose is to build a flight-ready 60 kg satellite which is able to measure the E-sail effect in the solar wind with four 1 km long tethers. The satellite is mainly built by the Alta space company in Italy.A single metal wire is not suitable as an ESAIL tether, as micrometeoroids present everywhere in space would soon cut it. Therefore the tether must be manufactured from several wires joined together every centimetre [Image 1]. In this way, micrometeoroids can cut individual wires without breaking the entire tether.The tether factory has so far produced ultrasonic welds for one kilometre of aluminium tetherThe Electronics Research Laboratory team started studying the production problem four years ago. At the time, the view of international experts in ultrasonic welding was that joining thin wires together was not possible. However, the one-kilometre-long tether produced now, featuring 90,000 ultrasonic welds, shows that the method works and that producing long electric sail tethers is possible.The wire is produced with a fully automated tether factory, a fine mechanical device under computer control, developed and constructed by the team itself. [Image 2]. The tether factory at the Kumpula Science Campus in Helsinki, Finland, was integrated into a modified commercial ultrasonic welding device. Ultrasonic welding is widely in the electronics industry, but normally it is used for joining a wire to a base.
EM Drives?http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/02/propellentless-emdrive-research.htmlThe latest EMDrive experiment paper (from China) describes their latest thruster and gives the test results in details, showing that with a couple of kilowatts of power they can produce 720 mN (about 72 grams) of thrust.It may not sound very much, less than three ounces, but in space a little thrust goes a long way. Boeing's advanced XIPS thruster, which fires out Xenon ions at high speed, generates less than a quarter as much thrust from twice as much power. It's used to maintain satellites in position, or move them to a slightly different orbit. Crucially, Xips weights about twenty kilos, more than an equivalent EmDrive, and the propellant for prolonged operation can weigh much more.Nextbigfuture covered the EMDrive work back in 2008 and 2009 The heart of the Emdrive is a resonant, tapered cavity filled with microwaves. According to Shawyer, a relativistic effect generates a net thrust, an effect confirmed by various Emdrives he has built as demonstrations. Critics say that any thrust from the drive must come from another source. Shawyer is adamant that the measured thrust is not caused by other factors.In 2008, professor Yang Juan of the College of Astronautics at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Xi’an was happy to confirm that they were building an Emdrive.Shawyer now estimates that the prototype superconducting thruster could be ready in 2016. He previously was talking about having such a system in about 2010.Superconducting EMDrive has not yet been builtThe EMdrive enables superconducting cavities to very efficiently create static thrust. Thrust is measured in "pounds of thrust" in the U.S. and in Newtons under the metric system (4.45 Newtons of thrust equals 1 pound of thrust). 300 pounds of thrust is 1335 Newtons of thrust. 6 kilowatts of input means that 222.5 N/kW. Apparently the 6.8 million Q device has 143 kg opf thrust from 6 kW input.Effect of increased Q for the EmdriveQ=50,000 (1st gen.) Static thrust=315 mN/kW Specific thrust at 3km/s=200mN/kWQ=6,800,000 (supercond) Static thrust=222 N/kW Specific thrust at ??km/s=??N/kWQ=5* 10**9 (supercond) Static thrust=31.5 kN/kW Specific thrust at 0.1km/s=8.8N/kWQ=10**11 (supercond) Static thrust=630 kN/kW Specific thrust at 0.1km/s=??N/kWSo, we can’t build the hypercool EM drive that could lift a ship into the sky – yet. But we do have working instances of the technology that can be used to give cheaper satellite station keeping and to propel small long term instrument payloads.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/02/experimental-null-test-of-mach-effect.htmlThe Mach Effect Thruster (MET) is a device which utilizes fluctuations in the rest masses of accelerating objects (capacitor stacks, in which internal energy changes take place) to produce a steady linear thrust. The theory has been given in detail elsewhere and references therein, so here we discuss only an experiment. We show how to obtain thrust using a heavy reaction mass at one end of our capacitor stack and a lighter end cap on the other. Then we show how this thrust can be eliminated by having two heavy masses at either end of the stack with a central mounting bracket. We show the same capacitor stack being used as a thruster and then eliminate the thrust by arranging equal brass masses on either end, so that essentially the capacitor stack is trying to push in both directions at once. This arrangement in theory would only allow for a small oscillation but no net thrust. We find the thrust does indeed disappear in the experiment, as predicted. The device (in thruster mode) could in principle be used for propulsion. Experimental apparatus based on a very sensitive thrust balance is briefly described. The experimental protocol employed to search for expected Mach effects is laid out, and the results of this experimental investigation are described.Suggestion from Advanced Space Propulsion Workshop in Huntsville Alabama for a null experiment. If we were to place identical brass masses on either side of our active PZT stack, then the mass fluctuations would result in pushes and pulls of equal magnitude and the device should just oscillate a little but show no average thrust. This appeared to be worth testing. It would show that we were able to eliminate any unwanted vibration, noise effects.
Hybrid Chemical-Nuclear Convergent Shock Wave High Gain Magnetized Target Fusionhttp://vixra.org/pdf/1106.0009v1.pdfhttp://nextbigfuture.com/2012/12/winterbergs-micro-chemical-fusion.htmlWinterberg's work in nuclear rocket propulsion earned him the 1979 Hermann Oberth Gold Medal of the Wernher von Braun International Space Flight Foundation. Winterberg is well respected for his work in the fields of nuclear fusion and plasma physics, and Edward Teller has been quoted as saying that he had "perhaps not received the attention he deserves" for his work on fusion.Nextbigfuture has recently written briefly about a recent Winterberg paper - Hybrid Chemical-Nuclear Convergent Shock Wave High Gain Magnetized Target FusionWinterberg describes how to use a chemical explosive to boost the a nuclear fusion reaction that generates 1000 times the energy of the chemical explosive. Winterberg describes a 30 cm sphere (1 foot sphere) of high explosive that would generate a 25 ton hybrid chemical - nuclear fusion pulse. The 14 MeV DT fusion reaction neutrons are slowed down in its dense combustion products, raising the temperature in it to 100000 K. At this temperature the kinetic energy of the expanding fire ball can be converted at a high (almost 100%) efficiency directly into electric energy by an MHD Faraday generator. In this way most of the 80% neutron energy can be converted into electric energy, about three times more than in magnetic (ITER) or inertial (ICF) DT fusion concepts.Currently we use high explosive, nuclear fission- nuclear fusion system for nuclear fusion bombs (Teller-Ulam bombs). The Winterberg system would remove the nuclear fission component which produces all of the fallout. The micro-chemical fusion system would have almost no fallout. It would enable nuclear pulse propulsion systems with almost clean pulses.
This is one of the highest-resolution images ever taken of the solar corona, or outer atmosphere. It was captured by NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, in the ultraviolet wavelength of 19.3 nanometers. Hi-C showed that the sun is dynamic, with magnetic fields constantly warping, twisting, and colliding in bursts of energy. Added together, those energy bursts can boost the temperature of the corona to 7 million degrees Fahrenheit when the sun is particularly active. Credit: NASARead more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-space-instrument-big-piece-solar.html#jCpThe Sun's visible surface, or photosphere, is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As you move outward from it, you pass through a tenuous layer of hot, ionized gas or plasma called the corona. The corona is familiar to anyone who has seen a total solar eclipse, since it glimmers ghostly white around the hidden Sun. But how can the solar atmosphere get hotter, rather than colder, the farther you go from the Sun's surface? This mystery has puzzled solar astronomers for decades. A suborbital rocket mission that launched in July 2012 has just provided a major piece of the puzzle. The High-resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, revealed one of the mechanisms that pumps energy into the corona, heating it to temperatures up to 7 million degrees F. The secret is a complex process known as magnetic reconnection. "This is the first time we've had images at high enough resolution to directly observe magnetic reconnection," explained Smithsonian astronomer Leon Golub (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). "We can see details in the corona five times finer than any other instrument."Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-space-instrument-big-piece-solar.html#jCpThe images from Hi-C showed interweaved magnetic fields that were braided just like hair. When those braids relax and straighten, they release energy. Hi-C witnessed one such event during its flight. It also detected an area where magnetic field lines crossed in an X, then straightened out as the fields reconnected. Minutes later, that spot erupted with a mini solar flare. Hi-C showed that the Sun is dynamic, with magnetic fields constantly warping, twisting, and colliding in bursts of energy. Added together, those energy bursts can boost the temperature of the corona to 7 million degrees F when the Sun is particularly active.
The Largest Structure in Universe Discovered --Quasar Group 4 Billion Light-Years Wide Challenges Current CosmologyThe largest known structure in the universe has been discovered by an international team of astronomers. The large quasar group (LQG -a portion shown above)) is so large that it would take a vehicle traveling at the speed of light some 4 billion years to cross it. Quasars are the nuclei of galaxies from the early days of the universe that undergo brief periods of extremely high brightness that make them visible across huge distances. These periods are 'brief' in astrophysics terms but actually last 10-100 million years. Since 1982 it has been known that quasars tend to group together in clumps or 'structures' of surprisingly large sizes, forming large quasar groups or LQGs.The LQG also challenges the Cosmological Principle, the assumption that the universe, when viewed at a sufficiently large scale, looks the same no matter where you are observing it from. The modern theory of cosmology is based on the work of Albert Einstein, and depends on the assumption of the Cosmological Principle. The Principle is assumed but has never been demonstrated observationally 'beyond reasonable doubt'.Whole clusters of galaxies can be 2-3 Mpc across but LQGs can be 200 Mpc or more across. Based on the Cosmological Principle and the modern theory of cosmology, calculations suggest that astrophysicists should not be able to find a structure larger than 370 Mpc. Clowes' newly discovered LQG however has a typical dimension of 500 Mpc. But because it is elongated, its longest dimension is 1200 Mpc (or 4 billion light years) - some 1600 times larger than the distance from the Milky Way to Andromeda.The team publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.The Daily Galaxy via Royal Astronomical Societyhttp://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/01/the-largest-structure-universe-discovered-quasar-group-4-billion-light-years-wide-challenges-current.html
http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/index.php Bigelow Aerospace's historic first commercial space station will open up extraordinary opportunities for countries across the globe. Nations such as Japan, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sweden could secure the future of their human spaceflight programs and dramatically increase the size of their astronaut corps. Smaller countries with no human spaceflight experience such as Singapore or the United Arab Emirates could take their first bold steps into space in a rapid and affordable fashion. 8% lower cost ($36.75 million instead of 40 million) for astronauts but able to stay up to 9 times longer (60 days instead of 7 days)Astronaut Flights: For countries, companies, or even visiting individuals that wish to utilize SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, Bigelow Aerospace will be able to transport an astronaut to the Alpha Station for only $26.25 million. Using Boeing's CST-100 capsule and the Atlas V rocket, astronauts can be launched to the Alpha Station for $36.75 million per seat. In stark contrast to the short stays of a week or so aboard the ISS that we have seen wealthy individuals pay as much as $40 million for, astronauts visiting the Bigelow station will enjoy 10 - 60 days in orbit. During this time, visiting astronauts will be granted access to the Alpha Station's shared research facilities. Examples of available equipment include a centrifuge, glove-box, microscope, furnace, and freezer. Also, potential clients should note that as opposed to the ISS, where astronauts dedicate the lion's share of their time to supporting station operations and maintenance, astronauts aboard the Alpha Station will be able to focus exclusively on their own experiments and activities, ensuring that both nations and companies can gain full value from their investment in a human spaceflight program. ---- NASA contract -----The international space station is getting a new, inflatable room that resembles a giant spare tire, NASA announced Wednesday.Slated to launch in mid-2015, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, will fly to space deflated before being puffed into a 13-by-10-foot cylinder.Rather than providing new living space for astronauts, the module will test whether inflatable habitats have a future as orbiting laboratories, lunar outposts or living quarters for deep-space missions.And it’s arriving at a bargain price for space hardware. NASA is paying Bigelow Aerospace of Nevada $17.8 million for the module.http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/international-space-station-to-receive-inflatable-module/2013/01/16/8a102712-5ffc-11e2-9940-6fc488f3fecd_story.htmlSome bargain, eh? Inflatables offer two advantages over traditional aluminum-can-like modules. They weigh less per cubic foot of living space, making them cheaper to launch, and they can balloon to diameters far too wide to fit on current rocketshttp://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/international-space-station-to-receive-inflatable-module/2013/01/16/8a102712-5ffc-11e2-9940-6fc488f3fecd_story.html
Space News 02.10.2013
Asteroid Mining• 10 m platinum asteroid - $670 billion• 10% 10m nickel asteroid - $8.1 million• Metallic asteroids have far richer metal, including precious metal veins than on earth• Majority of asteroids of varieties with bound water (air, hydration, shielding, fuel)• Smallest known M asteroid has metallic content worth > $30 trillion.• Side industries of earth sensing from space – Cheap plentiful telescopes – Also decrease risk of being surprised by a planetary impact.
Planets everywhere• One in six stars have earth sized planets – Billions more roam interstellar space• Over 100 billion planets in galaxy• Red dwarf stars have small planets in habital zone – Some within ~10 light years of earth• Ground and space based telescopes can characterized exo-planet atmosphere by 2020