Saturday, April 20, 2019
Here are some notes from the last presentations at Space Access 2019
John R Bucknell on Turbo Rockets - A Paradigm Shift for Space Access
Reviewed some of the challenges with rockets: expensive to build, costly, reusable makes more complex,
Turbo Rocket - single stage to orbit, air breathing, has a rocket fan blade, would be cheaper
Like to use it to develop cheaper power which drives universal prosperity. Wants to get below $25 per Megawatt hour.
James Benford on Ultrahigh Acceleration Neutral Particle Beam-Driven Sails
A magsail was proposed to be used to decelerate into a solar system
Magsail need to operate around 4 Kelvin. Now instead of decelerating into a solar system, could create a neutral particle beam to drive the magsail
Thirty years they had BEAR (Beam Experiment Aboard Rocket) to test this basic concept, the experiment was successful
Reviewed the physics of a mass beam to drive a magsail. Looking at getting to other stars. One proposal is to have guiding rings along the way to keep the pellets focused.
There is a Breakthrough Junior Challenge - child 12 to 18 makes a short film about a big idea in science or math, win a $250,000 scholarship
Trying to figure out where is everyone and have several projects.
There is a Breakthrough Listen - use two of the largest telescopes, collecting two petabytes a day
Breakthrough Watch - looking for exoplanets within 15 light years
Breakthrough Starshot - plan to build a small silicon chip, use lasers to push chips to other stars. Do need to be careful about NOT hitting stuff in orbit around earth. The trip will be 20 years, take pictures for about 12 to 24 hours, and take years to send the pictures back. Don’t really know how to send the images back. There is a big problem with interstellar dust - don’t know what it is, single atoms, bits of dust, small rocks???
Panel: Extremely High-Velocity Propulsion Concepts
A Space 2.0 Business Simulator, open source, crowd funded
Founded 20 years ago, flown 14 flights. They showed some flights.
OreSat - Oregon’s First Satellite, a CubeSat, high school students can connect and see pictures as Cube Sat goes over Oregon.
Pete Worden, Breakthrough Prize Foundation Chairman, on What We Might Do With A StarShot Capability
Notes of the Space Access 2019 Saturday morning presentations:
Henry Spencer - From Reusable Rocket Ships to Solar-System Express
The outer solar system is much harder to get to than the inner solar system. The planets are much, much farther away and will take much longer to get to. Can’t do this with chemical rockets. Advanced nuclear options probably the best answer for self contained space craft. They have problems with radiation and heat. Solar sails might work for moving freight around the inner solar system. Beaming or shooting pellets may work. Would develop a huge infrastructure.
Jess Sponable - Project History & Management Lessons From DC-X, X-40, and XS-1
To have access to the solar system need reusable rockets, reusable launders. The US Air Force has long been interested in hypersonic vehicles. Jess reviewed the history of various projects.
- There is a bias for horizontal takeoff, that is how planes operate.
- Likes vertical takeoff and landing. Few benefits: Incremental flight test, powered landing, few facilities, minimum real estate, flexible about envelops.
- Past programs were over-spec’d requirements and used relatively primitive technologies.
- Lower risk of two stage makes it nearer term and lower cost
- Management rules - had ten rules:
- 1: agree to clearly defined program objectives advanced
- 2: single manager under one agency
- 3: small government & contractor program offices
- 4: build competitive hardware, no paper
- 5: focus on key demonstrations, not everything
- 6: streamlined documentation & reviews
- 7: contractor integrates & test prototype
- 8: develop minimum realistic funding profiles
- 9: track cost/schedule in near real time
- 10: mutual trust essential
- Lessons from DC-X
- Fast track, rapid prototyping can be done by the government, but it is not easy
- Rocket planes can be turned around rapidly with “aircraft-like” flight costs
- a dozen other lessons
Jeff Greason - A New Class Of Drive Using The Dynamic Pressure (Q) Of Passage Through The Interplanetary Or Interstellar Plasma To Expel Reaction Mass At High Velocity
There are limits to chemical rockets
Around ten years ago Jeff was on a project reviewing NASA projects. Jeff become interested in Plasma Magnet & E-sail, have a current, the thrust power is 1,000,000 greater than the excitation power. May get going fast, like hundreds of kilometers a second, but how do you stop?
We move by pushing on things - reviewed fundamentals, built a quadrant of energy and mass of internal & external, came up with an idea of “Drag-Powered Reaction: q-Drive” Harness externally-supplied energy to move internally-supplied reaction mass. The solar wind speed is about 450 km/s. Start at earth, use solar wind to get up to maybe 155 km/s outward, no mass spent, then switch Plasma Magnet to “windmilll” propelling reaction mass forward, can get to Neptune in a year and Mars in about a month
Jeff is still exploring and understanding the idea.
Directed energy launch approaches - quadrant of Microwave / laser vs. continuous wave / pulsed, reviewed the basics of directing power, power excites the propellant
The government is spending $170 Million a week
Reviewed his efforts from 2002 to 2014. He showed a couples videos of test launches.
Believes could do a project for around $1 million.
Reviewed the history of anti-matter, coming up with the idea, how to make them, how they might work, various ways might use
Notes from Friday evening of Space Access 2019
Space Studies Institute has been focused on a lot of space issues. They have a good idea on how to make a processing plant on the moon for producing aluminum. They have done a lot of research into mass drivers. You could use a mass driver in an asteroid.
When Gary took over as president at SSI he asked what weren’t they doing that they should be doing. They started looking at how do humans do in a fraction of a G? They would like to create a gravity biology lab.
Reviewed Gerard O’Neill’s early work.
SSI is launch a new initiative: The Space Settlement Enterprise.
They want to look at the new technology and see what makes sense.
SSI is having a conference September 9th and 10th, up in Seattle.
Monday will focus on location, extraterrestrial resources and transportation. Tuesday will explore logistics and economic viability. The event is $340 with meals.
How To Save Civilization And Make A Little Money
Reviewed Jerry Pournelle’s life.
In Korean War, at West Point, at Washington University, in Boeing, wrote documentation on missiles, became an expert on missiles, went into writing, some involvement in politics and involved in space. A bunch of fun stories about Jerry were shared.
Friday, April 19, 2019
Notes on the Friday afternoon session of Space Access 2019:
Panel: Cislunar Transport Ecosystems
Everyone agreed reusability is key. Might start the fuel infrastructure by building a fuel depot for small satellites. Some people want the “satellites” to go some place farther away. It would be good to have standard interfaces for transferring the fuel.
They want to partner with other companies. Ball Corporation had $11 billion in sales last year. Ball Aerospace had $1 billion in sales. Ball Aerospace is based in Boulder, Colorado. They are into instruments and sensors. They have software to help process the incredible amount of data being generated.
They have been focused on developing some tools to help with getting into space. They have three products for the Cube sat market. He went into the details of the products. He is planning to to have an in orbit fueling option for the products. They are hiring.
Providing rocket testing services. They like MON25 as a fuel. They are using additive manufacturing. They have developed two engines - DS45 and DS450, 45 Newtons and 450 Newtons.
Chuck Lauer on The Michigan Space Initiative: A Multi-Site Spaceport Licensing Plan For Launching To Polar Orbit Over Lake Huron and Lake Superior
There is an effort to development technology in Michigan, looking at building up the space industry in Michigan.
There is a large Military Airspace presence in Huron, so few commercial flight, so fairly open,
Jon Goff - Altius Space Machines - Updates On Altius Satellite Servicing, Cooperative Servicing Interfaces, and Cryogenic Propellant Depots
Two main goals for the future:
- Satellite servicing - something like 20,000 satellites will be launched in the next seven or so years. Altius is looking to help companies take care of their satellites. Have a number of products and developing more.
- Propellant Depots - Reviewed some of the benefits. Sometimes there is extra fuel leftover when a rocket boasts to orbit. Might be cheaper than placing an order for a tank of fuel to be delivered via SpaceX.
Looking to be part of a Shared economy in space, like Uber or AirBNB. OrbitBeyond build spacecrafts. Done lots of simulations of landing on the moon.
Jeff Greason on Electric Sky: A Long-Range Wireless Power Transmission System Enabling Orbital Launch Vehicles, With Terrestrial Commercial Applications
The price per pound has dropped dramatically in the last four years and there hasn’t been a huge increase in commercial space business. What can we do to improve the situation.
If you could beam the power to the vehicle then: 1) The energy is massless 2) the electricity costs is about half as much as fuel and 3) Electrical power is 2 to 3 times more efficient
Smaller frequencies are more expensive, larger frequencies are more cheap, but need much bigger area to beam from
Jeff introduced a new beam approach, the beam has a finite range, but does have a focus (Bessel & Airy beams) These are not plane waves
In 2011 had a beam which starts off small, spreads and then refocuses, had a picture of a real beam, only a couple centimeters. With Radio Frequencies think can reach out to to 125 km. With 915 MHz, looking at 740 km transmission
There are other markets for this technology, for example flying cars, looking at making a lot of money first and then use to get to space.
Momentus Space is a Silicon Valley startup
Launch vehicles are good at getting stuff in a standard orbit, Momentus wants to help with the rest of the journey. They are sort of like FedEx in space.
Henry Spencer - Transition from Missiles to Reusable Rockets Ships
A lot of people talk about reusable by are really looking at refurbishment
Frequently mentioned “Thrust into Space” by Hunter.
Talked about the value of having reusable rockets that are as reliable as airplanes. Initially a lot of stuff will be done in the inner solar system. Said would be good to assemble some vehicles in space, to put modules together.
He said there would be a place for tugs, to move deep space vehicles up the gravity well. People considered this idea back in the 1960s to start a ship on the way to Mars. It will be good to have fuel depots. The fuel depots will need to have an infrastructure.
The outer solar system will need different techniques.
Dan Rasky - NASA Ames Space Portal - Some Reentry Applications of Pica Heatshield and Related Topics
Some places Pica has been used: The Stardust Mission came in the fastest into Earth’s atmosphere, of any manmade device. The mission had been in space for seven years. The heat shield is on display in the Smithsonian. They also used Pica with the Curiosity Mars Entry in 2012. And they are using it on the Osiris-REx mission, to an asteroid. It will be returning in 2023. The Dragon Cargo Capsule in 2010 used the Pica heatshield.
Pica - Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator - had humble beginnings, didn’t have much funding.
Andrew Redd - Princeton Orbital Initiative - TigerSat: A Student-Built 3U Cubesat With High-Impulse Plasma Thruster
They use a novel modified Hall Thruster, with passive magnetic control
Trying to maneuver a cube satellite. Use magnets to orient with the earth’s magnetic field and thrusting as pass over the equator.
Key Infrastructure Attributes - Flexibility, Modularity, Redundancy, Affordability & Scalability. The current ISS space station is under utilized.
Expect a demand increase with low-cost LEO access, Bigelow has been awaiting, With more space stations could have an ambulance to take people from one station to another. We want a railroad system in orbit. Could combine modules in different ways for different missions. Looking at doing a crowdsourcing to get somethings going.
John Schilling will discuss Earth Orbit & Deep Space Payload Capabilities of Near-Term Launchers, Some Implications of Gateway And The Recent RFP For NASA's Cislunar Transport Parameters, and A Flexible Approach to Meeting Those Parameters
Reviewed the Falcon and Falcon Heavy, then the ULA Vulcan, Blue Origin New Glenn, Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES),
There were lots of numbers, physical dimensions,
Had a picture showing the delta-V from Earth to near-term missions. Then had several bar charts showing how the various rockets compared to each other for interesting missions.
Proposing on a polar elliptical orbit. They want a Lunar Lander, a space tug and a propellant tanker. Want to put 9 to 12 tons on lunar surface. Showed various options on how things might work. Might be able to use this to help send things to Mars. Want to bring propellant up from the moon.
Talked about various options for getting various payloads to space, NASA’s proposal, Lockhead, Moon Direct by Zubrin, SpaceX, CSDC Reusable Cislunar Transportation Architecture,
Thursday evening of Space Access 2019
He has a small team, 100% self funded. The central problem: need enough Delta V to get to orbit. He is building a Beal Otrag. (Similar to Beal aerospace’s rocket.) Trying to build a four inch tiny rocket. And then have plans to from which anyone can build the rocket for about $100,000.
Gave some details about how he builds rockets. He started trying to build 3D printed parts in 2007. His avionics will be around 50 grams. Looking for a GPS weighing less than 10 grams.
His goal is to bring pictures from space for next year’s Space Access.
Grant Bonin (Former CTO at Deep Space Industries) - Asteroid Mining Lessons from the Private Sector: What Worked, What Didn’t, and What’s Next
Many people talk about having big machines to harvest the asteroid. Deep Space Industries was looking at having small, smart machines to harvest big, dump construction materials. Looking at 150 kg to a metric ton rockets. DSI roadmap was:
2020s - to start with Low-coast Exploration
2030s - do prospecting and sample return
2040s - finally bring back bulk material and services.
He talked about how DSI was acquired.
What went wrong: Incompatible with institutional venture capital, had 14 co-founders, lost identity
What went right: company still has enduring product-market fit, curated a world-class spacecraft team, major international regulatory victories, raised the awareness of space resources, strong acquirer with a clear vision for the future of company
Key lessons: The difference between being too early and being wrong? Nothing, product-market fit is the most important thing, treat your first round as the last you’ll ever raise, vision matter, integrity matter
Panel discussion - Space Startup Party Fouls: Common Startup Errors & How to Avoid Them
Companies which try to work people 100 hours a week
Just throwing a couple engineers to solve a problem without really studying the effort, need and requirements
Don’t yank engineers off a project for a fund raising PR event
If don’t like your customers, don’t tell them
When low on money taking customers which pull you off focus
Integrity matters - matters how approach investors, employees,
Not having a clear plan or vision
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Thursday afternoon of Space Access 2019:
The development team created three engines in three months through rapid prototypes. They are licensed to launch out of Spaceport America. He talked about some launches they did and showed lots of pictures. They carried some Edu cube satellite for payload. They were able to relaunch the rocket with very little modifications. He showed a video of the second launch. (The video will be posted on their channel soon.)
Italy is offering them a sweet deal to launch from Italy and help develop an aerospace program there. Italy wants them to help train aerospace engineers in Italy.
FFA just proposed some revised launch regulations.
The regulations have lots of good information on things to consider when doing a launch. It is worth reviewing to learn from and make sure they aren’t setting things up to stop you from working. He showed diagrams on the flow of things to do. Depending on where the rocket is launched from and what the satellite will do there are various government organizations you have to file paperwork with and get permission from.
Key questions the government wants answered:
- Expected Casualty/Maximum Probable Loss?
- What can possible go wrong?
- Launch range discussions?
Good to think about these as doing design, can save a ton of money
Look for ways to do lots of launches, over time things will get safer
Showed some pictures of their rocket. Showed how their rocket can carry payload. Manufacturing is in Tuscon, Arizona. Mission control is in Huntington Beach, CA. They also have an office in San Jose, California.
Vector was one of three accepted for the DARPA Launch Challenge.
The challenge to launch from a location specified just a couple weeks before the launch.
Offering 50 kg launched for $1.5 million.
They are sizing the factory in Arizona to do more than 100 flights a year.
Where do you get the money? If you are not a billionaire then you may have to ask for money, but will lose some equity in the company. Or can try to raise money from a government contest, like the DARPA Launch Challenge, 55 applied, only 3 were picked and they might not be successful.
Another challenge - we often try to do everything ourselves.
How do we deal with these challenges?
To address the money issue - do a lean start, iterate, build a simple functional piece, get it working, then slowly add to.
New Frontier Aerospace is trying to bootstrap, looking at getting a military contractor delivering 50 kg payload 7 miles away.
Look at buying stuff when it exists, rather than building yet another rocket engine, rocket engines are becoming commodity.
Expect over the next few years there will be a winnowing of small satellite launchers, and it will be brutal, only a few of the existing 129 companies will be around in a couple years.
Launcher is based in Brooklyn. Focused on having the best performance. Their roadmap is first building the engine. Planning to put 773 kg into 200 km orbit, and 400 kg at 500 km. Founded in March of 2017. Plan to develop and test their engine over the next four years. They are focused now on small sat launcher class. They are 3D printing the engine. He shared a number of pictures and videos about the engine they are building.
Jim Skyped in from Virginia. He had Writing Rocketry Rules 101:
- Launch/reentry regulations in 14 CFR Chapter II (Pat 400)
- In 2000s, FAA conformed ELV rules to Range handbook
- In 2006, FAA wrote completely different rules for RLVs (as directory by CSLAA2004)
- So we have detailed prescriptive burdensome rules for ELVs
- And performance-based rules for RLVs (more generals)
- Note: Reusable Falcon 9 is licensed as an expendable
The Air Force has changed their procedures over the last 30 years, but regulations drafted 20 years ago are largely in place
- In January 2017 the industry told the FAA/AST they needed to fix their outdates space launch.reentry regulations. They were told it would take about 7 years.
- In Mary 2017 - FAA started meeting with CSF informally to discuss rules
Jim asked people to give feedback on some proposed changes
Search for “Streamlined launch and reentry”
Request an extension - took a year to write, only fair to allow more than 60 days to review the changes
Ask they make the rules performance based - the industry is changing fast, better to set goals, rather than dictate how to do a particular activity
A panel discussion - NewSpace meets MilSpace
The new Space Force is being split off from the Air Force. The Air Force is sad to lose control of the money. Appears the Space Force will not be doing much R&D. Believe the Space Force will need to work with the other arm services. The Space Force could have a budget of about half of what the Air Force has. In The next war will be fought with space ships
I have really enjoyed attending the Space Access conference over the years. My father, my son and I are attending this years conference, which is in Fremont. I'll be posting summaries of the various speakers. My impression is that the number of people attending the conference is higher than in previous years!
Henry Vanderbilt introduced Space Access with a little bit of looking back over the progress over the last thirty years. Talked a bit about why we are here. Quoted Jerry Pournelle from 30 years ago in talking about space - “We are the forward planning committee for the human race.”
Going to share some of the lessons learned of small satellite launch business
Talked about helping a Japanese business get a cube satellite launched, a lot of work and money
They estimated 5 cube sats a year, in first year the company was involved in launching 60!
Rockets are like planes and cars, they are built around the engine. First evaluation, have they fired their rocket for the duration of the flight. Second is how often can they launch the rocket?
Expecting a bunch of new rockets to be developed
Seeing more money coming to the space, awhile back there were about 600 registered space businesses, now up to 2600, seeing a lot of interest from China, talked about China’s hyper copycat culture
To be a real space company you need: 1) Date 2) Time 3) Terms
There are 129 rocket startups they know of, a lot of it is the same
Has been around the low $20,000 per kilogram
Nanoracks’ most popular item is an a test tube rack, they have had high school students use their product who are now at college, and looking to have the same people develop businesses using their products.
SpaceX is about to launch about a week! They need to fill their rockets. It used to be that it was hard to find space, but expecting that soon there will be rocket companies which trying to fill their rockets.
SpaceX will be a dominate provider, latest numbers they will be charging $2,700 per kilogram
Currently there is no standards for cube satellites
Have had some cube satellites stay up for two years, shooting for three years
Currently developing an Alpha vehicle, shooting for a low price point
Their CEO was at SpaceX, Blue Origin and Galactic Space
Listed the people on their advisory board
Seeing a huge demand and growth in small sat business
Their Alpha is targeted for 1000 kilograms LEO and 600 kg for SEO
Had a list of competitors, 8 others, Firefly hoping do a launch this year
They are located in Texas, north of Austin, their launch site is 30 minutes away from their manufacturing, so can integrate quickly
NASA selected them to help with effort to get to the moon
Plan to build 8 rockets a year at Texas site, plan to build up to 24 rockets a year
Involved in investing in space
Looking at the Ecosystem of space, looking for help in finding opportunities
Grant Bonin of Rocket Lab
Grant is new to the company
First slide said: “Frequent, reliable launch is here.”
History of company, founded in 2006, founded with $288 million, have launched 24 satellites, 450 engineers
Launch complex 1 is in New Zealand - only private launch site
building a second launch site in Wallops Island, Virginia
Rutherford engineer - 3-D printed
First launch was May 2017, had 25th launch a few weeks ago (for Darpa), have another one ready for another launch
If had a bigger vehicle couldn’t fly as often, want to fly often so can spread overhead across many flights, looking at 170 kg payload
Plan to launch at least once a month to once every two weeks by end of the year
Flometrics is an engineering services company, design products for other people
1 in 300 launches have trouble because of Turbopumps - seem to be unreliable
Want to make a reliable, durable pump, lighter pump
Relativity Space a venture back company
Raised about $55 Million
They are building a 3D Printed launch vehicle
Relativity Space is trying to disrupt the manufacturing process of rockets
Looking at 10x faster production time, 100x few parts, simple supply chain
They are developing Intelligent Factory Robots, if what to make a change it is fairly easy, they don’t need new manufacturing tools or buildings
And developing new material alloys
Working on a fully 3D printed engine, so it lives in the computer, and they can iterate quickly
The whole manufacturing space is undergoing some major changes, and the Space Industry is in major flux, Relative Space is trying to ride both waves
The company grew from 10 people a couple years ago, to 83 now
There are no plans to build for other companies right now