HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »
HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »

DailyDirt: Flying Through Space With The Greatest Of Ease

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Space travel isn't exactly a routine thing just yet. In the 70s, some people thought we'd have shuttles going up to space on a regular schedule, but that didn't exactly happen. Rockets haven't gotten all that much cheaper or more reliable, but presumably they will someday if we continue to build them and improve upon them. Or maybe we'll figure out a completely different way to escape Earth's gravity with a space elevator or rail-gun system to launch vehicles at extremely high speeds. Check out a few of the links below if you think human space exploration isn't a complete waste of time. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

Filed Under: bas lansdorp, elon musk, mars colony, mars one, space, space elevator, space exploration
Companies: thoth technology


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 5:28pm

    Disregarding the fact that this design wouldn't actually reach space...

    If it could be built, it would still have an import function:

    The ideal rocket nozzle shape at sea level is different from the ideal rocket nozzle shape up in the thin upper atmosphere. A big reason why rockets to orbit use multiple stages is to swap in more efficient nozzles for the upper atmosphere. Which usually means throwing away entire engines and stages.

    Launch from 12 miles up, and you could probably do it with one stage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 7:06am

      Re:

      Another big reason is the weight of the now empty container in which the spent fuel was contained - is causing inefficiency.

      Great strides have been made wrt the nozzle issue.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 5:42pm

    Carbon Nanotube Fiber

    Rice University developed a method for spinning cabon nanotubes of whatever properties they desire. They created thread that both conducts electricity pound for pound 100 times better than copper wires. It also has a tensile strength so high that we are probably going to have to redefine a number of charts. If you made pneumatic and hydraulic cables out of it, you could pump liquids up to orbit. They could also be deployed by pumping them up from the ground.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 6:43pm

    Makes more sense to colonize the moon, or orbit for that matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 11:09pm

      Re:

      Colonization means having children. You want their bones to develop normally. The problem is that in micro-gravity we LOSE calcium from our bones.

      We don't know the minimum amount of gravity needed. The Centrifuge Accommodations Module would have done research on this, but its launch to ISS was cancelled in 2005. It's sitting in a parking lot.

      Still, it's safe to say that you want gravity as close to earth-normal as possible to promote the kids' bone growth. With Mars's gravity being twice that of the moon, its the clear winner.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 7:13pm

    Consider the following...

    The launch loop is also a potential stepping point towards space elevators.

    My powers of engineering are too inadequate to determine which is better, or if one is a suitable precursor to the other.

    But man, SPACE!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 3:41am

    The problem with missions to Mars

    ...according to drunken rocket scientists in the Pasadena area, continues to be that pesky problem with creating a lighter, smaller equivalent of eleven feet of concrete to prevent the energy of coronal mass ejections baking our astronauts until they're a crispy golden brown.

    We still don't have a solution for that, but on Earth it's our magnetic field that stops CMEs from cooking the surface by turning them into a pretty light show in the north.

    Of lesser concern (but concern still) is the light show caused by cosmic rays hitting the eyelids keeping astronauts awake at sleeptime.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 10:54am

      Re: The problem with missions to Mars

      It's called a "cave" and was used by man for thousands of years. Funny that man will go back to being a "caveman" on Mars.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 11:17am

        Re: Re: The problem with missions to Mars

        Um...

        Assuming we time the trip so it will take the shortest amount of time, our astronauts will have to spend nine months in space.

        That's the part we haven't figured out.

        I'm sure Martian caves will be useful, but not for getting our colonists there.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 12:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: The problem with missions to Mars

          No, that's easy, too. Long term flights will use tiles of high-temp superconductors for shielding. Current "high" temps may be too low for use on Earth (outside a lab), but are plenty high enough for space use if you also block direct exposure to the sun. So your Mars craft will have a light aluminum mirror over top a tile patchwork of HTSC angled to be between the sun and the craft. Easy peasy.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 2:03pm

            CMEs

            If you're thinking of creating a magnetic mirror, I'd be curious how much power it takes to repel high-energy (X-class-plus) solar flares, and if that's affordable by a Mars-bound shuttle. Even with the Earth's magnetic field, CMEs smack around our low-orbit satellites and even cause power outages on the ground. So I think they can pack a solid punch.

            Still, a direction worth considering. Doing a lazy search, I found the Dartmouth publication considering high-temp superconductor shielding that suggests it's promising.

            Not sure I'd call it Easy peasy. Very little in space flight is Easy peasy.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              JoeCool (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:19pm

              Re: CMEs

              Easy compared to other issues, like keeping the crew sane after a year in close quarters. :)

              Actually, the one thing that really keeps a Mars mission from being reality, reactionless drive, looks like it might be closer than ever. Get one of those and you can just use a nuclear reactor to power both the drive and the SC shielding. At that point, fuel isn't an issue, so you can devote carrying capacity to stocks instead.

              Of course, instead of a nuclear reactor, you could maybe use a LARGE solar panel array. Since you're only going to Mars, solar power should still be good enough. Not like going to Neptune or Pluto. In fact, rather than a mirror in front of the HTSC shield, put the solar panels in front of it. Instead of blocking or reflecting that heat-generating light, put it to use powering the shield.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 12:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: The problem with missions to Mars

          ...our astronauts will have to spend nine months in space...

          ...given present propulsion technology. I've often wondered if there was a physical speed limit in the vacuum of space. Else why couldn't a mission have 2 extra engines and fuel tanks: use one to accelerate to the fastest possible speed to get there and the other to decelerate when you got there.

          (Then again I'm no rocket scientist!)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 1:47pm

            Shortening the trip through longer accelleration

            Sure. The more force you apply, the more fuel you'll need to reach the same velocity or cover the same distance. Human beings are squishy and can only handle so much force, or so many

            The most comfortable would be to accelerate at 1G for the first half of the trip and then decelerate at 1G for the second half, which also solves the too much time in zero-G problem. IANARS either but more so I'm lazy. It takes algebra to compute the duration of such a trip (still enough time for solar flares to be a risk) and integration to compute the fuel cost (the mass gets lighter as fuel is expended, so fuel-expended-over-time decreases with time).

            Right now, however, fuel in space is very dear, and requires multiples of that quantity to get it into space in the first place (hence our ambitions of space elevators and launch loops and such). It's actually the fuel problem and not the safety problem that prevents us from tossing our burned reactor cores into the sun.

            So our current mission programs have to balance fuel efficiency into the equation.

            If someone could hurry up and develop an Alcubierre drive, preferably one that doesn't rip apart the space-time continuum, we'd be most grateful.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 2:15pm

            Oh yeah, to answer your question...

            Provided you could accelerate a rock indefinitely (say through external means, such as via the LHC, the speed limit of vacuum is the speed of light, though things start getting wicky as you approach C. I'm pretty sure the mass-increase effect is detectable around 0.5 C but I am totally not a particle physicist and am guessing there.

            There's a lot of velocity between what we know and lightspeed. For instance, the space shuttle enters the atmosphere at 17,500 mph. Light speed is 671,000,000 mph. So we can accelerate a space ship a whole lot using our biggest rockets without noticing the shape of the manifold.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              JoeCool (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:24pm

              Re: Oh yeah, to answer your question...

              I minored in physics, and you can push it to .8 c before things get too weird for most folks. I don't think we have to worry about that in the near future. ;)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Guardian, 26 Aug 2015 @ 5:56am

    @6

    it would take about 10000 years to bake off a fraction of the atmosphere

    and when our magnetic shield goes in a few hundred years it does so for about 3K years

    and its done this many times in the past and life found a way...
    gold will help as will lead and thne you could prolly make a electro magnetic shield that falls behind the craft much like say a shield of sorts...this is do able for really long flights

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:18am

      Re: @6

      "and when our magnetic shield goes in a few hundred years"

      If you are referring to the potential for a magnetic pole flip, as has occurred several times in the past, then your prediction of a few hundred years is a bit presumptuous as the timing and duration is a topic of debate in the scientific community. Do the numbers you posted represent a consensus of knowledgeable researchers or simply a snippet from some dentist office magazine?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.