April 16, 2007

Possibly the last NIAC studies are being released

The most interesting study released from the March 2007 meeting is Devon Crowe of PSI corporation for making large space structures from bubbles that are made rigid using metals or UV curing

A single bubble can be 1 meter in earth gravity, 100 kilometer in low earth orbit or 1000 kilometers in deep space. Foams made of many bubbles could be far larger in size.

NOTE: the size of a 1000 kilometer bubble is nearly the size of Charon, the moon of Pluto. Charon is 1200 kilometers in diameter. Saturn's moon Tethys is 1050-1080 kilometers in diameter Ceres the largest object in the asteroid belt is 970 kilometers in diameter. A single tesselation foam (like in the picture) of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be about the size of Earth's moon. A Penrose tesselation like the one in the picture of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be in between the size of Neptune or Saturn. A Tesselation foam of 100 kilometer bubbles in earth orbit could form an object the size our existing moon or larger.

Metal can be evaporated to coat the inside of the bubble for reflective sails and telescopes.

The bubble system for making structures is compatible with the hypertelescope, New Worlds Imager and Maxim x-ray telescope and solar sails.

Large structures can make telescopes that are millions of times more powerful than the Hubble Space telescope and solar sails that are light weight and fast.

Extreme Expeditionary Architecture: Lightweight Lunar RVs that can be connected into a larger mobile base camp. Let 8 move around many miles and explore a lot of the moon. the two RV's could be deployed in one launch payload.

Two mobile rovers with inflated sections and built with composites can be 40% lighter and provide mobile base camps on the moon.

Hopefully NASA's Innovative Partnership program can pick up where the Nasa Institute for Advanced Concepts left off and continue this kind of innovative work.

Further reading on space propulsion and colonization on advancednano:

The prior article about Devon Crowe's space bubble concepts.

Prior article on the state of solar sails

Prior article on putting the brakes on laser mirror solar sails

Article on laser mirror solar sails for going to Mars

Article on laser mirror solar sails and photonic propulsion

Another way to deploy quite large solar sails is with magnetic inflation but the bubble system seems able to go larger.

Colonizing space going slower and closer

Colonizing space going lighter

Building new worlds become the greatest generation


Marco C Bernasconi said...

Eh eh. Not to detract from the excellent work at PSI, but Karl V Bentz introduced me to the space bubble concept, back in 1978, when I started working under him at Contraves. I did some (desk) research work, then we "scaled down" to concept to that of chemically-rigidized inflatable structures.

In the same time frame, Gilbert Moore (Thiokol & Utah State, IIRC) also proposed the idea.

But, actually, the idea was then at least a dozen years old: I have traced it back to the Astro Research Corp's pioneer, and to a 1965 NASA CR by Odus Burggraf!

I'm very glad to see the concept -- including the metallization --taking real shape. And even more, to see these clever guys also suggest lobed circular solar sails, an idea I've been advocating (at a more modest technological level) for some 15 years.

Way to go!