Space Day 2011 from here in Ephrata

From here in Ephrata, WA, USA, Space Day 2011 did not exist among locals, as far as I can tell, other than in my own peeks at the news online at times. I did see a graphic artist's rendition of a sort-of-winged shuttle replacement vehicle, to launch atop an Atlas, that looked interesting.

I note in the recent few weeks, I had, for an unknown reason, although now thinking it of interest to the LUF futurists group, dredged up a brief idea I had in the early 1980s, to make routine space access more energy efficient. The basic idea was to devise a means to store the momentum energy of incoming falling spacecraft, and then give it to rising spacecraft. That would reduce the energy that had to be safely eliminated by heat in the atmospheric re-entry, as well as enable rising spacecraft to go further up than possible with just its own rocket propelled energy.

In the past month or so, I put the idea out on a futurist-visionary yahoo group text message limited communication, and found two people responded, one ridiculing it and the other pounding away with numbers, more interested in doing delta-v calculations than I am, and his summary comments strived to say it was useless and a waste of time, each post reply, ignoring when I refuted his prior effort. So I had to shift from qualitative analysis into the left-brained quantitative analysis mode, reviving old struggles of a type I had avoided for awhile. And one thing did come up, quite an astonishing result actually.

I have some of those posts I made copied over in recent posts here. But more recent posts have pointed out that if an orbiting spring in the 110 km high circular orbit were to have ten times the mass of the outgoing spacecraft to give it an 180% boost in velocity relative to the velocity of the orbiting spring, the velocity would take the over 7842 m/s spring orbital velocity and boost it to some 14,116 m/s) Now my error was in thinking of just enough energy added to go into maybe a 200 or 400 km high orbit. But 14,116 m/s is lots more than the 11,178 m/s of Earth's escape velocity, and thus the minimally launched spacecraft is instead punted right out of the Earth's gravitational energy well.

Well, that is not looking useful for Virgin Galactic joyride passengers getting to an orbiting hotel in GEO with little added rocket boost, without modifications. But it does suggest something interesting for inanimate high-g tolerant payloads, such as storing the energy from raw materials sent down from Phobos or an asteroid, and using the energy to punt out supplies back up to them with little energy needed (some needed to make up for losses in the spring.)

The g-loads and length of the spring, and resistance to buckling, and tolerance to trajectory errors, are among things needing to be balanced in such a concept.

Meanwhile, it is back to the drawing board for the short boost into orbit version of the concept.

The member of the visionary ("LUF") group who is interacting with me, clearly only is providing the function of "devils advocate" and not providing ideas for solutions, but is skilled at finding possible weaknesses in fledgling concepts. I think he too was surprised at the conclusion that a velocity over escape velocity would be produced by bouncing off the momentum-storing orbiting spring. But he did not follow up with comments pointing out potential usefulness; just dropping it at the "won't work" stage.

Back in the early 1980's I had thought of the idea, but then did not continue on it, life is busy, no one then to tell it to anyway. And it did not get from ground to space, so was incomplete, and thus seemed not useful enough.

But now, exploring the concept shows potential. If it can store enough energy from a canister falling all the way from Mars or asteroid belt orbits, and use it later to hurl another canister back out to them, now that seems potentially useful to me.

So, even though this Space Day 2011 is seeing the last Space Shuttle flight headed home for its final safe landing, the potentials of space continue to be interesting with new potentials. Despite the shunning of my "KESTS to GEO" concepts, as if they did not exist, by the LUF futurists group.

It is a puzzling world to me, the world of people, that is. Probably I need to add "Motivational Analysis" to Qualitative Analysis and Quantitative Analysis, to integrate things useful enough for the world of mankind.

Perhaps the best I can do now is to endeavor to keep it interesting.

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