Monday, December 13, 2010

Only 6% of Scientist Identify Themselves as Republicans?



Einstein and Oppenheimer: two notoriously liberal scientist

This has to be the most astonishing statistic I've ever encountered! A Pew Research Poll last year found that only 6% of Scientist on average identify themselves as Republicans while 55% of scientist identified themselves and Democrats and 32% of scientist identified themselves as Independents.


Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media


Does Science Need More Republicans?


Only Six Percent Of Scientists Are Republicans: Pew Poll

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Paleoprimatology & Human Evolution

Since 1999, Paleoprimatology and Human Evolution has been a forum for the scientific discussion of paleoanthropology, paleoprimatology, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, stone age archaeology, human origins, primate biology, and primate evolution.

If you're interested in discussing practically all aspects of human and primate biology and evolution then you can join this interesting group at:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/paleoanthropology/

Marcel F. Williams

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So Much for International Cooperation in Space


Earth and space science missions developed and implemented by federal agencies in collaboration typically result in additional complexity and cost and increased risks from divided responsibilities and accountability, says a new report from the National Research Council. Federal agencies should not partner in conducting space and earth science missions unless there is a compelling reason to do so and clear criteria are met in advance.

"A common misperception among policymakers and individual agencies is that collaboration on these missions will save money or somehow boost capabilities," said D. James Baker, director of the global carbon measurement program at the William J. Clinton Foundation and co-chair of the committee that wrote the report. "However, multiagency partnerships generally have just the opposite effect and drive up overall mission costs because of schedule delays, added levels of management, and redundant administrative processes."


Earth and Space Science Missions Have Fewer Risks if Conducted by a Single Government Agency

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chevy Volt Named Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year


“We expected a science experiment, but this is a moon shot. The Volt delivers on the promise of the vehicle concept as originally outlined by GM, combining the smooth, silent, efficient, low-emissions capability of an electric motor with the range and flexibility of an internal combustion engine. It is a fully functional, no-compromise compact automobile that offers consumers real benefits in terms of lower running costs.” Motor Trend: January 2011

http://gm-volt.com/2010/11/16/chevrolet-volt-named-motor-trend-2011-car-of-the-year/

Monday, November 15, 2010

Energy, Environment, and the US Military

The following are excerpts from a speech by Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington D.C. last October 13, 2010:

"Recently, I traveled to Tucson and the very first question I fielded during a town hall meeting was not related to our policies in Iraq or Afghanistan or other topics you might expect but related to their interconnection – to the interconnection between energy, security and our global future.

And at the University of Arizona, the very next place I visited later that day, an engineer named Vincent Polowski (sp) shared with me that he believed the number-one national security challenge in the 21st century would be climate change. Vincent is not alone in his concerns. And we are in fact seeing evidence of climate change’s potential impacts on our security.

Near the polar cap, waterways are opening that we couldn’t have imagined it a few years ago – opening trade routes, presenting both opportunity and vulnerability and rewriting the geopolitical map of the world. And it’s not just the people of Arizona who are thinking about these things. Americans around the country are starting to connect the dots between energy, security and our future.

My friend and columnist Tom Friedman has spoken eloquently about – of the growing need and awareness to rethink our views on energy and minimize our dependence on overseas energy sources that fuel regimes that do not always share our interests and values while not further damaging a world that is already becoming overheated, over polluted and overstretched.

We in the Defense Department have a role to play here. Not solely because we should – should be good stewards of our environment and our scarce resources but also because there is a strategic imperative for us to reduce risk, improve efficiencies and preserve our freedom of action wherever we can....


"Quite simply, like most of America, my shipmates and I operated under a “burn it if you’ve got it” mentality. We were providing supporting fire off the coast of Vietnam and when we needed fuel we got it. A few years later, in fact, the very first ship I commanded, the USS Noxubee, was a gasoline tanker dedicated to keeping fuel flowing throughout our fleet.

Now, I do not want to imply that we were deliberately wasteful or reckless. We just held a very conventional view that fuel was cheap, easy and available, without ever really connecting it to any broader geopolitical implications. Clearly, that is not the world we’re living in today.

Many of us here this morning are acutely aware of the cost and challenge in terms of both blood and treasure of providing energy to our forces in Afghanistan today. And recent headlines of NATO fuel convoys being attacked only serve to remind us of these vulnerabilities. DOD is using 300,000 barrels of oil every day. The energy use per soldier creeps up every year. And our number-one import into Afghanistan is fossil fuel.

Yet there is no doubt we are making some progress. Secretary Mabus, who will speak towards the end of this session, is leading the Navy on an ambitious path to cut the nontactical petroleum by 50 percent by 2015 and sail great, green fleets by 2016..."

You can read the rest of Admiral Michael Mullen's speech at:

http://www.jcs.mil/speech.aspx?ID=1472

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The TVA Could be the First to Have Mini-Nuclear Power Plants


TVA could take lead for 'mini nuke' plants

Chattanooga Times Free Press
Thursday, November 11, 2010
By:
Dave Flessner

The Tennessee Valley Authority is first in line to test a new type of modular nuclear plant that designers boast will be smaller, cheaper and safer than existing reactors.

TVA officials said Wednesday they have taken the first step toward gaining regulatory approval to build up to six new mini-nuclear reactors on the site of the abandoned Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Oak Ridge. In a four-page letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, TVA Vice President Jack Bailey said the federal utility "is evaluating the feasibility" of erecting two of the new Babcock & Wilcox-designed "mPower reactors" by 2020.

Each of the new reactors would produce 125 megawatts of electricity -- about 10 percent as much as conventional reactors at TVA's other plants -- and could be built in controlled factory conditions to cut production costs and ensure construction quality.

"The mPower design makes substantial use of modular construction technology which enables major portions of the plant to be fabricated in controlled manufacturing environments and shipped to the site via rail and trucks," Bailey said.

If approved by the TVA board and regulators, TVA would be the first utility to build the new reactor design.

But critics question why TVA is pursuing a new plant design that is yet to be certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"We are highly skeptical that these modular designs are going to deliver as promised," said Stephen Smith, executive director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "There is a whole set of issues that are likely to be raised about these plants so TVA, the NRC and the contractors should expect a real fight."

Smith said he is encouraged that TVA opted to pursue regulatory approval for any mPower units built in Oak Ridge under the NRC's older, two-step licensing process. Rather than the single combined-operating license process being used for other new plants, TVA will seek a construction permit to build the new units and a separate licensing permit once the units are completed.

TVA spokesman Terry Johnson said the utility is using the two-step licensing approach to allow more flexibility for TVA and the manufacturers of the mPower reactor to change the way the plant is designed and built over the next decade. Under the single combined operating license, the NRC must pre-approve the design and construction method for any new plant before any building work begins.

Johnson said the Oak Ridge site was deemed appropriate for a nuclear plant in the 1970s when the U.S. Department of Energy planned to build a breeder reactor on the Clinch River site. The nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which helped develop the first atomic reactors in the post World War II "atoms for peace" program, could help support and use the power from at least one of the new reactors, Johnson said. TVA has set a goal of generating at least half of its power from noncarbon sources and the Oak Ridge lab has set a goal of being carbon-free in its own energy consumption by 2020.

Rick Bonsall, vice president of business development for Babcock & Wilcox, said the proposed TVA plant in Oak Ridge will be the launch site for the new mPower reactor. But he said B&W and its alliance partner, Bechtel Engineering Corp., are talking with several utilities also interested in using the new modular design reactors.

Although the design of the mPower reactor is still under regulatory review, Bonsall said it uses many of the technologies of existing pressured water reactors and the reactors will be small enough to be built underground to add extra containment.

"Any time you can do a lot of work in a factory environment, you have a lot more control on schedule and costs," he said.

TVA and B&W declined to release any early cost estimates for the new reactors, but Johnson said any units "will be competitive in price" with other power options available for the future.

The new reactor could be build as soon as 2020 as a follow-up to TVA's Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor scheduled for completion in 2012 and the Bellefonte Unit 1 reactor scheduled for possible completion as soon as 2018.

TVA could take lead for 'mini nuke' plants

mPower Small Nuclear Reactor Conference

Monday, November 8, 2010

NASA's Next Heavy Lift Vehicle?


NASA Selects Companies For Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle Studies


WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected 13 companies for negotiations leading to potential contract awards to conduct systems analysis and trade studies for evaluating heavy-lift launch vehicle system concepts, propulsion technologies, and affordability.

The selected companies are:

Aerojet General Corp., Rancho Cordova, Calif.
Analytical Mechanics Associates, Huntsville, Ala.
Andrews Space, Tukwila, Wash.
Alliant Techsystems, Huntsville, Ala.
The Boeing Co., Huntsville, Ala.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
Orbital Sciences Corp., Chandler, Ariz.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, Calif.
Science Applications International Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, Calif.
United Launch Alliance, Centennial, Colo.
United Space Alliance, Huntsville, Ala.

The awards total approximately $7.5 million with a maximum individual contract award of $625,000. Each company will provide a final report to help lay the groundwork for the transportation system that could launch humans to multiple destinations, including asteroids, Lagrange points, the moon and Mars.

"These trade studies will provide a look at innovative launch vehicle concepts, propulsion technologies, and processes that should make human exploration missions more affordable," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "If we are to travel beyond low-Earth orbit, industry's collaboration is essential to reduce the cost associated with our future exploration goals and approaches and make the heavy-lift vehicle affordable to build and fly."

The studies will include heritage systems from shuttle and Ares, as well as alternative architectures and identify propulsion technology gaps including main propulsion elements, propellant tanks and rocket health management systems. The reports will include assessments of various heavy-lift launch vehicle and in-space vehicle that use different propulsion combinations. The companies will examine how these combinations can be employed to meet multiple mission objectives.

NASA will use the recommendations to evaluate heavy-lift launch vehicle concepts and propulsion technologies for affordability that will be required to enable robust and sustainable future exploration missions.

References:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/nov/HQ_10-292_Heavy_Lift.html

http://www.nasa.gov

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TerraPower's New Website


TerraPower has a new website promoting the development of its future Traveling Wave Reactor which in theory could utilize spent fuel, depleted uranium, and thorium to produce nuclear energy for commercial use.

Using the Traveling Wave Reactor, TerraPower hopes to develop nuclear reactors that never have to be refueled and are capable of utilizing the world's depleted uranium stockpile which would be able to produce hundreds of trillions of dollars of electricity for utilities and for synfuel production. With a US depleted uranium stockpile of nearly 500,000 tonnes, the US has enough depleted uranium to pay off its national debt (approximately $14 trillion) several times over.

The new TerraPower website is located at:

http://www.terrapower.com/home.aspx

Watch these interesting videos to learn more about the potential of the Traveling Wave Reactor.

Traveling Wave Nuclear Power Videos

Fueling Our Nuclear Future

Marcel F. Williams

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Chinese Lunar Scientist's Views on the Future of the Moon

"Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot remain in the cradle forever." , Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935)


Global Times reporter Yu Jincui interviewed Ouyang Ziyuan (Ouyang), a senior consultant at China's lunar exploration program:

"Strictly speaking, China is a developing country. Some people argue that rather than explore the moon, we should concentrate on dealing with problems on Earth. It is understandable.

However, from a broader development perspective, we should not only be engaged in lunar exploration, but also step up our pace.

The lunar exploration program covers many high-tech fields. It is very scientifically demanding, which stimulates the technological upgrades and innovations.

Lunar exploration is a threshold for exploring deep space and remote space, and it could provide the basic experience for eventually exploring other planets. There are unimaginable abundant natural resources on the moon, such as rare earths, or uranium and titanium ores. The titanium ore reserve on the moon is the same size as the whole of China.

Although we are not able to exploit these resources due to the extremely high cost and technological limitations, as scientists, we have the responsibility to prove the existence of these resources and inform the people.

The moon has a very huge energy reserve. Japanese scientists recently came up with a design idea that if humanity could build a moon belt for solar power generation and transmitting energy back to the earth, human energy needs could be permanently satisfied.

Since the 1990s, a total of nine lunar probes have been launched into space, two from China (including the newly launched Chang'e-2 satellite), three from the US, one from Europe, two from Japan, and one from India.

The world is witnessing the climax of the second round of lunar exploration. All the countries involved are expecting to discover more comprehensive and concrete knowledge about the moon.

If China doesn't explore the moon, we will have no say in international lunar exploration and can't safeguard our proper rights and interests.

The contribution of the Apollo project of the US is amazing. According to one calculation, the input-output ratio is 1:14. It drove the development of high-tech worldwide and made the US a leader in the high-tech field for almost 20 years.

China's lunar exploration program is nowhere near as big as Apollo project in size, but it could also make great contributions in promoting technological improvements, scientific progress and talents cultivation.

China should not stay in the cradle of the Earth forever. The Chinese people should make contributions to the human development in the field of space exploration."

Reference:

China has no desire for new space race

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is it Time for a New Political Party in America?



Third Party Rising

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

A friend in the U.S. military sent me an e-mail last week with a quote from the historian Lewis Mumford’s book, “The Condition of Man,” about the development of civilization. Mumford was describing Rome’s decline: “Everyone aimed at security: no one accepted responsibility. What was plainly lacking, long before the barbarian invasions had done their work, long before economic dislocations became serious, was an inner go. Rome’s life was now an imitation of life: a mere holding on. Security was the watchword — as if life knew any other stability than through constant change, or any form of security except through a constant willingness to take risks.”

It was one of those history passages that echo so loudly in the present that it sends a shiver down my spine — way, way too close for comfort.

I’ve just spent a week in Silicon Valley, talking with technologists from Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco and SRI and can definitively report that this region has not lost its “inner go.” But in talks here and elsewhere I continue to be astounded by the level of disgust with Washington, D.C., and our two-party system — so much so that I am ready to hazard a prediction: Barring a transformation of the Democratic and Republican Parties, there is going to be a serious third party candidate in 2012, with a serious political movement behind him or her — one definitely big enough to impact the election’s outcome.......

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/opinion/03friedman.html

The 99ers

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NASA's Next Crew Launch Vehicle?

by Marcel F. Williams

As the
the President, Congress, NASA, and private industry weigh in on what NASA's next crew launch vehicles should be, here is a brief evaluation of the various viable options.

Shuttle derived core vehicle (SD-CV) with ACES 41 Service Module (SM) upper stage



ACES 41: Credit ULA (United Launch Alliance)

Launch Reliability: A two stage to orbit launch vehicle with engine out capability in both stages. Combined with a launch abort system for the CM (Command Module), this would be a safer manned launch vehicle than the Ares I and could be the safest manned launched vehicle ever developed.

Environmental Impact: carbon neutral liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel that's easy to derive from carbon neutral resources (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) via the electrolysis of water.

Commercial Viability: With a probable payload capacity of 30 tonnes plus, the this vehicle should be capable of easily delivering an Orion capsule, Boeings CST-100 capsule, or a Dream Chaser space plane easily into orbit plus at least 10 to 20 tonnes of liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuel to LEO orbiting fuel depots for manned beyond LEO missions within cis-Lunar space. Hydrogen and oxygen can also be used as backup electric power aboard a space station using fuel cells with water as a valuable by product. Oxygen, of course, could be used to supply air to a space station.


Shuttle derived core vehicle (SD-CV) with stretched hypergolic Service Module (SM) upper stage



Launch Reliability
: A two stage to orbit vehicle with no engine out capability in the upper hypergolic stage. This makes this an inherently less reliable two stage spacecraft than the SD-CV/ ACES 41 SM but still more reliable than an Ares I.

Environmental Impact: carbon neutral liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel that's easy to derive from carbon neutral resources (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) via the electrolysis of water.

Commercial Viability: Should be capable of delivering an Orion capsule, Boeings CST-100 capsule, or a Dream Chaser space plane into orbit.

Atlas V with ACES 41 Service Module (SM) upper stage


Atlas V and ACES 41 with command module (credit: United Launch Alliance)

Launch Reliability: A two stage to orbit launch vehicle with engine out capability only in the second stage.

Environmental Impact: First stage utilizes greenhouse gas polluting RP-1 (Refined Petroleum 1) fuel with liquid oxygen. However, the production of RP-1 rocket fuel from carbon neutral resources may be a possibility in the near future.

Commercial Viability: Should be able to lift an Orion capsule (without the SM) and a Boeing CST-100 into orbit. However, launching the much heavier Dream Chaser space plane with a rear positioned LAS (Launch Abort System) may require additional solid rocket boosters which would inherently lower the space vehicle's launch reliability relative to other vehicles.

Falcon 9


Launch Reliability: A two stage to orbit vehicle with engine out capability only in the first stage. The Falcon 9 should be inherently safer than the Ares 1.

Environmental impact: Both first and second stages utilizes greenhouse gas polluting RP-1 (Refined Petroleum 1) fuel with liquid oxygen which would make the Falcon 9 the least green of any crew launch vehicle. However, the production of RP-1 rocket fuel from carbon neutral resources may be a possibility in the near future.

Commercial Viability: The Falcon 9's high inherent launch safety should be attractive to customers for manned spaceflights. Space X argues that the Falcon 9 could be the cheapest manned launch vehicle ever developed.

Ares I

Launch Reliability: A two stage to orbit vehicle with no engine out capability in the solid rocket booster first stage and no engine out capability in the single engine LOX/LH2 second stage. So the Ares I would be inherently less safe than the SD-CV, Atlas V, and Falcon 9 launch vehicles.

Environmental Impact: Upper stage uses carbon neutral liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel that's easy to derive from carbon neutral resources (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) via the electrolysis of water. The CO2 produced from the polymers contained in the single solid rocket booster would be relatively tiny compared to the CO2 pollution that would be produced from vehicles such as the Atlas V and the Falcon 9.

Commercial Viability: It seems doubtful that private companies would be attracted to launching humans aboard a spacecraft with a liquid hydrogen/oxygen upper stage on top of a huge solid rocket booster.

Man-rated SD-HLV

Launch Reliability: Three boosters are required to reach orbit. And there is with no engine out capability in the two SRBs (solid rocket boosters). This makes the SD-HLV inherently less safe than the Ares I and a lot less reliable than both versions of the SD-CV.

Environmental Impact: Core booster uses carbon neutral liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel that's easy to derive from carbon neutral resources (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) via the electrolysis of water. The CO2 produced from the polymers contained in the two solid rocket boosters is relatively tiny compared to the CO2 that would be produced from vehicles such as the Atlas V and the Falcon 9.

Commercial Viability: Because of the unnecessary addition of two SRBs, this would be a much more expensive manned launch vehicle than the SD-CV, Atlas V, or a Falcon 9. However, these cost might be mitigated if the cargo shroud also carried valuable cargo such as multiple satellites, hydrogen and oxygen for space depots, and water and oxygen for space stations. With a minimal payload capacity of at least 65 tonnes, the SD-HLV should be able to carry crew plus at least 40 to 50 tonnes of cargo to orbit-- which is much more cargo than the Space Shuttle.

Sidemount Shuttle
Credit NASA
Launch Reliability: Three boosters are required to reach orbit with no engine out capability in the two solid rocket boosters (SRBs). This makes the SD-HLV statistically not as safe as the Ares I and a lot less safe than an SD-CV. The placement of the crew capsule and LAS (launch abort system) on the side of the external tank also makes the Sidemount less safe than the inline SD-HLV.

Environmental Impact: Core booster uses carbon neutral liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel that's easy to derive from carbon neutral resources (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) via the electrolysis of water. The CO2 produced from the polymers contained in the two solid rocket boosters is relatively tiny compared to the CO2 that would be produced from vehicles such as the Atlas V and the Falcon 9.

Commercial Viability: Because of the two SRBs, this would be a much more expensive manned launch vehicle than the SD-CV, Atlas V, or a Falcon 9. But like the SD-HLV, these cost might be mitigated if the cargo shroud also carried valuable cargo such as multiple satellites, hydrogen and oxygen for space depots, and water and oxygen for space stations.

Man-rated Delta IV Heavy


Launch Reliability: Three core stages and perhaps an upper stage would be required to transport humans to orbit. There would be no engine out capability in the three cores stages. This vehicle would be less inherently safe than the Ares I and only the LAS ( Launch Abort System) makes the Delta IV heavy inherently safer launch than the Space Shuttle.

Environmental impact: carbon neutral liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel in core stage and upper ACES 41 stage that's easy to derive from carbon neutral resources (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) via the electrolysis of water.

Commercial viability: Should be capable of delivering an Orion capsule, Boeing CST-100, or a Dream Chaser space plane into orbit plus 10 to 20 tonnes of liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuel to LEO orbiting fuel depots.

Space Shuttle

Launch Reliability: Three boosters are required to reach orbit with no engine out capability in the two solid rocket boosters (SRBs). No LAS (Launch Abort System). However, there has only been one fatal launch accident in the nearly 30 year launch history of the Space Shuttle with no fatal launch accidents in the last 24 years.

Environmental Impact: Core booster uses carbon neutral liquid hydrogen/oxygen fuel that's easy to derive from carbon neutral resources (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc.) via the electrolysis of water. The CO2 produced from the polymers contained in the two solid rocket boosters is relatively tiny compared to the CO2 that would be produced from vehicles such as the Atlas V and the Falcon 9.


Relative Safety Levels to Low Earth Orbit

Safety Level One: SD-CV with ACES 41 (SM) upper stage

Safety Level Two: Atlas V + ACES 41 SM upper stage; Falcon 9

Safety Level Three : Ares I

Safety Level Four: SD-HLV

Safety Level Five: Delta IV Heavy

Safety Level Six: Space Shuttle

Relative Greenhouse Gas Impact Levels

Zero CO2 pollution: SD-CV (both versions); Delta IV Heavy
Relatively Minor CO2 pollution: Space Shuttle, SD-HLV, Ares I, Sidemount Shuttle
Highest CO2 pollution: Falcon 9, Atlas V

Of the crew launch options presented above, the SD-CV with an ACES 41 upper stage would have the safest inherent crew launch architecture. The Atlas V, the Falcon 9, and Boeing's SD-CV with a stretched hypergolic SM (Service Module) would be the next most inherently reliable launch vehicles with configurations inherently more reliable than the Ares I. Because of the addition of a LAS (Launch Abort System) the SD-HLV, Sidemount Shuttle, and a man-rated Delta IV heavy would be inherently safer than the Space Shuttle but still less reliable in their architecture than the less complex Ares I.

The SD-CV and the Delta IV heavy would have the least environmental impact as far as global warming is concerned while the JP-1 fueled Atlas V (first stage) and Falcon 9 (first and second stages) would have the most deleterious greenhouse effect on the environment. While the global environmental impact of manned space launches (less than a dozen per year) is currently meager compared to other manned transportation systems, the emergence of space tourism could dramatically increase the number of manned space launches to hundreds or even thousands by mid-century as the high demand for manned spaceflights begins to dramatically reduce the cost of rocket engines and space vehicles in general. And this doesn't include the the growing demand for commercial and military satellites and space solar power satellites. Therefore, NASA needs to join the US military in helping to develop aerospace fuels that are derived from carbon neutral resources in order to mitigate the environmental impact of global warming from government and private commercial launched space vehicles.


Links and References



Monday, August 30, 2010

The Thorium Alternative



Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal

Check out the interesting article in the Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Netflix is Now Playing on an iPhone or iPod Touch Near You!




The Jetsons would be proud!

Netflix announced today that subscribers can now watch streaming movies and television programs via Wi-Fi or 3G over their iPhones or iPods (iPod touch) by simply downloading a free app from Netflix. Ipad users with Netflix subscriptions have already been enjoying streaming movies and television programs for months. Now iPhone and iPod touch users can do the same.

Its remarkable to think that Americans now have the ability to watch or listen to any baseball game over their cellular phones or portable video devices practically anywhere they have access to a Wi-Fi signal. And now, Americans can watch videos on demand from YouTube and now Netflix practically anywhere there is a Wi-Fi signal. Welcome to the 21st century!

Netflix now available on your iPhone and iPod touch

Netflix raises curtain on iPhone instant streaming

Netflix Reviewed: The iPad's First "Killer App?"

Marcel F. Williams

Monday, August 16, 2010

Half of British Wind Farms Don't Have Enough Wind

More than half of Britain's wind farms have been built where there is not enough wind

By Fiona Macrae

"Europe's biggest windfarm, Whitelee, near Glasgow, boasts 140 turbines which last year ran at less than 25 per cent of capacity"

It's not exactly rocket science – when building a wind farm, look for a site that is, well, quite windy. But more than half of Britain’s wind farms are operating at less than 25 per cent capacity.

In England, the figure rises to 70 per cent of onshore developments, research shows. Europe's biggest windfarm, Whitelee, near Glasgow, boasts 140 turbines which last year ran at less than 25 per cent of capacity

Experts say that over-generous subsidies mean hundreds of turbines are going up on sites that are simply not breezy enough....

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1303688/More-half-Britains-wind-farms-built-wind.html

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

mPower Small Nuclear Reactor Conference



Check out our favorite Nuke (Rod Adams) at last month's conference and the new videos and illustrations for the mPower small nuclear reactors at the Babcock and Wilcox site:

http://www.babcock.com/products/modular_nuclear/generation_mpower.html

Six mPower reactor units (750 MWe)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Conquering Cis-Lunar Space with Shuttle and ULA Derived Technologies

by Marcel F. Williams
Congress has now made it clear that they want the immediate development of a heavy lift vehicle and a crew exploratory vehicle capable of beyond LEO missions and as a back up transport to the ISS. They have also made it clear that they want NASA to utilize technologies derived from both the Space Shuttle and Ares I/V programs since billions of tax payer money has already been invested in these technologies.

Some, however, have argued that utilizing a heavy lift vehicle as a crew transport to LEO violates the philosophy of improving safety by not combining crew transport with cargo transport. This was part of the driving philosophy of former NASA director, Griffin, when he decided to advocate the development of the Ares I as an ultra-safe crew transport vehicle and the Ares V as a mega-heavy lift cargo vehicle.

Recently, NASA has been promoting a philosophy of developing new transport systems that can be utilized not only by NASA but also potentially by the military space program and by private commercial space programs. The advantage of such a philosophy is that increased demand for common transport systems or components could reduce cost for everyone that utilizes such vehicles or components.

The deployment of space depots has been argued as another means for reducing the cost of space travel beyond LEO. And the development of reusable space craft that utilize in situ resources on the Moon or the asteroids has also been proposed as a way to reduce the cost of space travel.

But is there a way that NASA could cheaply incorporate all of these ideas? I believe the answer is yes!

The first step is to develop a simple shuttle derived core vehicle similar to that proposed by Boeing. The Boeing shuttle derived core vehicle could be utilized to transport humans into orbit without using solid rocket boosters (SRBs). But with SRBs, the Boeing core vehicle could be used as a heavy lift vehicle.

Boeing, however, advocates using four of the cheaper RS-68B engines for their crew launch vehicle concept while using the more fuel efficient RS-25E (disposable SSME) for the heavy lift vehicle. Man-rating the RS-68 rocket engines will probably increase the cost of these engines while making the RS-25 expendable will probably reduce their cost. Using the same engines in both the crew launch and the heavy lift vehicle will increase demand, further reducing production cost. So I advocate using the RS-25E in both the crew launch vehicle and the heavy lift vehicle.

Boeing also proposed using a stretched hypergolic fueled SM (Service Module), requiring an extra 8 to 9 metric tons of fuel in order for the crew launch vehicle to transport a 20 metric ton capsule and crew to LEO. The United Launch Alliance (ULA), however, has proposed using an ACES 41 as a LOX/LH2 fueled Service Module. Utilizing an ACES 41 SM with a shuttle derived crew launch booster which I'll call the SD-CV (shuttle derived core vehicle) could potentially lift more than 30 metric tons to LEO. Since the ULA plans to use the ACES 41 as a common upper stage for both the Atlas and the Delta IV, the high production demand for the ACES 41 by NASA and the ULA should help to reduce cost for the ACES 41.


SD-CV (Shuttle Derived Core Vehicle) and ULA's ACES 41 (credit ULA) concept used as a Service Module for an Orion capsule.

Boeing's heavy lift vehicle concept with an EDS could lift up to 120 metric tons to LEO while the crew vehicle could lift more than 30 metric tons to LEO (150 metric tons in combination). That's enough capacity to launch nearly 60 metric tons of payload to trans lunar injection or to the Earth-Lunar L1 Lagrange point.


The SD-HLV with an Altair lunar landing vehicle and the SD-CV with a Command Module (CM) and an ACES 41 Service Module (SM).

An SD-CV crew vehicle with the ability to launch over 30 metric tons into orbit would also give it approximately the same capabilities as the current space shuttle with the exception of not being able to return large payloads back to Earth. But the SD-CV should be substantially cheaper to operate than the shuttle since it does not require SRBs. The SD-CV could also be one of the safest manned launch vehicles ever developed since it would only have two stages, with each stage having multiple engines capable of supplementing a failed engine in both stages. Being hydrogen fueled would also make it potentially the greenest manned space vehicle ever developed. While a manned launched SD-HLV would still be safer than a space shuttle launch, the SD-CV should be equally as safe as a man rated Atlas V-401 and a substantially safer vehicle than an SD-HLV, Delta IV heavy, or a Falcon 9 (the two stage Falcon 9 only has one engine for the upper stage so a single engine failure in the upper stage would terminate the mission).

Any space capsule chosen by NASA for the Orion CEV (Crew Exploratory Vehicle) should be able to be used by NASA and private industry on top of an ACES 41 which could be used by an Atlas V or a Delta IV heavy. Again, the higher the demand for a particular crew capsule, the lower the capsule's production cost will be.

An SD-HLV lunar mission would launch an Altair into Earth orbit for a rendezvous with a CM-SM-ACES 41, or it could use the Altair to transport unmanned payloads (lunar base modules, vehicles, oxygen factories, etc.) weighing more than 10 metric tons to the lunar surface.

Because of its large payload capacity, some might question the private commercial viability of the SD-CV as a crew launcher against much smaller potentially manned rated launch vehicles like the Atlas 5 and the Falcon 9. However, if a payload carrier is placed between the command module and the service module, the shuttle derived crew carrier could also transport and additional 20 metric tons of cargo to LEO. While the space shuttle is banned from carrying commercial loads into orbit, a private commercial company would have no such restrictions!

SD-CV could be launched into to orbit for a rendezvous with the Altair for a lunar mission or it could be used to transports crew and cargo to the ISS or to private commercial space stations.

There are two principal options for the EDS (Earth Departure Stage) for the unmanned heavy lift vehicle: one that uses a single JX-2 engine and one that uses multiple RL 10 engines. Since the ACES 41 in this concept and the Altair lunar lander would also use RL-10 engines, using RL-10s in the EDS, Service Module, and Altair lunar lander would obviously increase the demand for the RL-10 which should reduce the production cost for the engine.


After the Orion-CM-SM-ACES 41 docks with the Altair and EDS (Earth Departure Stage), the EDS provides most of the delta-v for transferring the Altair and the Orion to the L1 Lagrange point.

The SM-ACES 41 provides the rest of the delta-v requirements for reaching L1 in addition to the delta-v for returning passengers to Earth. Limiting the Orion CM-SM-ACES 41 to L1 would substantially reduce the delta-v requirements for a lunar mission.


The single stage Altar vehicle would transport up to three metric tonnes of payload (crew transport module, cargo, and crew) from L1 to the lunar surface and back to L1. L1 departure for the Altair vehicle enhances the ability of the lunar lander to conveniently land at practically any point on the lunar surface.

The Altair lunar landing vehicle was originally proposed to have a LOX/LH2 descent stage and a hypergolic fueled ascent stage. However, there is no reason why a lunar landing vehicle can't be a single stage vehicle by simply using the descent stage to land and lift a small crew module weighing about 3 metric tons with four passengers and payload. This would mean that NASA would only have to develop one lunar vehicle instead of two, substantially reducing development cost. Plus the Altair descent stage would use an RL-10 engine which would further reduce the cost of the RL-10 engine used by both NASA and the ULA.


A single stage Altair vehicle with a crew transport module would be much cheaper to develop than the two stage Altair concept that uses both a LOX/LH2 descent stage and a hypergolic fueled ascent stage. For long term missions to a lunar base facility, a simple light weight aluminum sun shade could be used to cover and shield the vehicle from direct sunlight on the lunar surface in order to reduce hydrogen and oxygen fuel boil-off.

Any Moon base program that involves the production of oxygen and even hydrogen from lunar resources would have a dramatic effect on reducing the cost of space travel within cis-lunar space. Without the need for a vehicle to carry oxygen and hydrogen fuel to the lunar surface for its eventual return to orbit, manned missions to a lunar base could carry several metric tons of additional cargo plus additional passengers to the lunar surface instead of just a few hundred kilograms with crew as currently envisioned by the Constellation program. Lunar oxygen and hydrogen could also allow an Altair to be used as a reusable manned vehicle operating from the lunar surface to lunar orbit or from the lunar surface to L1.


A reusable single stage Altair crew transport vehicle could be fueled with oxygen and hydrogen from an L1 space depot for transporting passenger to the Moon and with in situ oxygen and hydrogen from the lunar surface for returning passengers to L1 requiring a much smaller vehicle that simply uses shorter cryogenic 0xygen and hydrogen fuel tanks.

A stretched Altair vehicle, using longer hydrogen and oxygen fuel tanks, combined with an ACES 41 tanker could be used to supply an L1 depot with oxygen and hydrogen produced on the lunar surface. Such a tanker could also be used to supply lunar bases not located near the poles with hydrogen.

So some day a paying tourist or a lunar lotto winner aboard a Falcon 9, Atlas V, Delta IV heavy, or a SD-CV could simply fly into orbit and dock with another ACES 41 (originally fueled with lunar oxygen and hydrogen at an L1 space depot) to travel to L1. At the Lagrange point, passengers would dock with an L1 fueled reusable Altair vehicle which would transport them to the Moon where they could perhaps stay at an appropriately mass shielded a Bigelow lunar hotel. The same lunar vehicle could be refueled with lunar oxygen and hydrogen for the tourist's return to L1 where they would dock with a CM-SM-ACES 41 equipped with an aerobreaking hypercone that would take them back to Earth orbit. There they would dock with a space capsule or Dreamchaser space plane that would finally return them to the Earth. That might be a very interesting vacation perhaps 15 or 20 years from now!

References and Links

1. Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles with Existing Propulsion Systems (Boeing Phantom Works)

2. Ambitious Ares Test Flight Proposed for HLV Demonstration

3. NASA Heavy Lift and Propulsion Trade Study

4. Completed SD HLV assessment highlights low-cost post-shuttle solution

5. ULA: Upper Stage Evolution

6. A Commercially Based Lunar Architecture

7. National Launch System

8. DIRECT

9. Boeing's New HLV Concept could be the DC-3 of Manned Rocket Boosters

10. No time for NASA complacency on crew safety

11. All of a Sudden, Everyone Wants to Be a Rocket Scientist

12. PWR Offers Shuttle Engine Alternative

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Destination Moon

glennwsmith said... Very nice, Marcel. This is one of the most beautifully put together, forward-looking, and yet also understated videos which I've yet seen from a major space agency -- and it just goes to show that there's a lot of good material out there if you know where to find it.

Regards,
G. W. (Glenn) Smith

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Stena Germanica RoPax ferry is the first commercial marine vessel to run on Methanol.It is the largest ferry in the Nordic region and second biggest Ro-Pax ferry in the world.For this overall project cost comes to nearly $25.5m.It measures 240m long and 29m wide and lane metres of 3,907m.It is going to accommodate 300 cars and 1,300 passengers and freight capacity of 46,353t.

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