The Near Future of Space Travel

A general talking to members of the Dept of defence, FAA and NASA pointed out recently that  spacecraft launch capabilities require too much energy and are extremely costly but that the air force is continuing to look at more efficient space transportation concentrating on engine design and purchasing improvements.

A Future Rocket Perhaps

A Future Rocket Perhaps

He stated that it takes about 900 gigajoules of energy just to get into low Earth’s orbit altitude. That same amount of energy would take a car 17,000 miles or two thirds around the Earth. Energy needed to maintain auto rotation is even larger and then there is energy required to accelerate the booster and fuel mass.

Atlas 5 Launch

Atlas 5 Launch

Propulsion is said to be the most important of the technological breakthroughs needed to get better at space launches. Many of the engine designs currently in use are old and costly. No breakthroughs in rocket technology have been made for tens of years. The air force is working towards a design at the moment of a new upper stage engine that would be cheaper to manufacture. Also operating near red line limits on the engines is being investigated.

The Space Shuttle Booster Rockets at Launch

The Space Shuttle Booster Rockets at Launch

Cheaper boosters would also increase the efficiency at the moment. Most other parts are expected to be produced cheaper over the coming years. These types of cost savings will benefit not only the air force but other organisations such as the National reconnaissance office and NASA and commercial users. The general also stated that all the agencies would collaborate to reduce duplication of effort, increase standardisation and to eliminate outdated and unnecessary equipment. The most important thing with cooperation was stated to be space situational awareness.

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  1. Gershom says:

    Remember NACA (National Advisory Board on Aeronautics) and the Airforce back when they were running the X plane program? Did you know they had a plane that could reach low orbit but they panned it in favor of “upwards multistage propulsion”? Perhaps the Airforce would be wise to revisit the plane and actually build a real space plane based on it. A real space plane would allow the US to get into the business of orbital factories and even astroid mines in a big way. We need a commercial space station that would act as a “dry dock” for corporations that want to make a profit in space. Imagine being able to build ships in space and then launching them to different destinations. Such a dry dock could employ hundreds of welders that would live for months at a time at the Station and return to earth when their health requires it. Robots could even be programmed to weld and assemble ships at such a dry dock. The mining opportunities in space alone could equal billions in profits if done correctly. We don’t even need chemical propulsion either, just use Solar Sails. A Solar clipper could be the next standard in space travel, The ideas and possibilities are endless.

  2. Gershom says:

    Mining in space can be done entirely by robot. The Solar Clippers could be operated by robot and the mining could be done either by robots or by remote operators back at the Commercial Space Station. A long term goal should be getting at least 10,000 human full time residents on the Moon and Mars to act as a “balance” to the destructive forces of mass extiniction on earth. So, if anything happens to humans on earth, mankind will not become extinict, the earth could be resettled from the Moon and Mars. China has a strong program in place and she might have some of the same thoughts in mind so perhaps US and Russian companies can assist China in an effort to lay the groundwork for colonization. The elements for colonization have already been proposed but they need to be used: “Farm in a Can” A mutli-story cylinder hydroponics farm. “O’Neil Stations” these can be used as orbital factories and commercial dry docks. I also propose something very radical: That all nations on earth try to lay no claim on any human colony, that all the Space Stations and the Mars/Moon colonies be independent of Earth, they will govern their own affairs. In fact, it would be vital since a distant colony can’t wait for years on end to hear from a parent Government on Earth! In the off chance we ever run into humanoids or intelligent life, a Trading company should be the first to make contact, since an advanced civilization would desire metals and technology. The next stage would be this: establish trade links with all known intelligent races, thus making intersteller peace a real possibility and then science fleets could be built to probe the farthest reaches of the galaxy, never giving away the location of earth to our new partners. Robot trade fleets would be the answer to the problems encountered by Einstein’s theory. To recap: “Close in settlement. Trade with whoever is out there, honestly and with no false promises. Keep earth’s location a secret. Do everything by robot or remote operator.” and mankind’s future will be bright indeed, Consider it a road map to the future, if you will. If you like this road map, please pass it to your friends because we are stagnanting here on earth and we need a new future!

  3. Edgar Hubbard says:

    Always the same outdated approaches, I hope NASA engineers shift their paradigm from chemical rocket to fusion-powered plasma turbine soon.

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