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Commercial Space

Thoughts on the future of Mars colonization via situ fabrication

Many projects are working on Three-D printing and in situ resource utilitization.  Maybe I don’t read enough, but the discussion and popularization seems to have not surpassed some obscurity on the central “what if we had this technology” from the perspective of fundamentals like the periodic table.

So, what if we had a technology that could produce arbitrary mechanical and electrical components and assemblies on scales ranging from nanometers to kilometers?  My own thoughts on the subject are described at Ultralight Spaceflight Fabrication.  Primary power is solar, secondary power is wind and perhaps geothermal.  Land a fabricator on Mars, and execute a program linked from Earth.  Land many fabricators on Mars and execute a more complex fabrication program.

From a picometer toolkit of mechanical, electronic, photonic and spintronic combinations of the elements found in the surface and atmosphere — a self sustaining village could be built in a few months.

This future technology builds a cubic meter of a rough mechanical regions in a couple seconds, or a cubic nanometer of logic, emitters or collectors.

The First International Space Exploration Symposium in Japan

I will be attending a two day symposium organized by JAXA in Tokyo. The theme is Space Exploration for Humanity and the Future. It will open Tuesday October 30 at 1300, Japan time. The complete program can be found at the following address:


I will try to cover the event live on Twitter with pictures. Even if it proves difficult (power supply problems, etc.) I will write about it here later in the week.

As you can see, the philosophical aspects of space exploration will be discussed but also its future. With the attendance of top executives from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Mitsubishi HI, SpaceX among others, we can expect some interesting talks about the commercial aspects of space exploration.

I also intend to make use of the event to contact persons interested in starting a SpaceUp or Space Tweetup events in Japan in the near future.
Anyone interested can contact me through my Twitter account @ScienceInSpace
I am looking forward to having an active exchange with my fellow Spacetweeps from all around the world.

Philippe Valdois


The #NewSpaceTweetup is back!

The #NewSpaceTweetup, part of the NewSpace 2012 Conference, will be Friday, July 27th, from 8-10 pm at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara.

It is a social event open to the space-loving  public and conference attendees. Come join us to geek out about commercial space and build LEGOS! Cosmically good music will be provided by In Space Media. There will also be goodies from Yuri’s Night, SpaceUp, Space Travelers Emporium and the Silicon Valley Space Center. If you’d like to donate something, bring a space display or provide a space activity, please email marimikel.charrier@spacefrontier.org.

This event is free (donations welcome). More details will be posted soon. Follow @NewSpaceTweetup for the latest updates!

Judges Needed!

I was recently contacted by someone looking to find some volunteer judges for the Nano-Sat Launch Challenge, which is being run by Space Florida. One or more judges will be assigned to oversee rules compliance for each competing team. Approximately 10 volunteers are needed, and they will be reimbursed for expenses, including travel, but that’s all. To qualify, a volunteer should have some aerospace knowledge or  experience and should be able to read and interpret the challenge rules. Exact timeframes are based on when each team decides to launch. If you are unable to travel to the launch site when the time comes, another judge from the pool will be assigned, so there is flexibility. If you are interested, tweet at @flyingjenny to let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the volunteer coordinator.


TheSpaceport.us – It’s the other side of space!

Space, Astronomy, Science, NASA

It's the other side of space!

Hello Space Fans!

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce all of you to TheSpaceport.us. We are a Space/Astronomy/Everything forum site with some really great members. We talk about everything from technology and space to politics and aviation. We discuss upcoming and current space missions including those in the private sector. We have some very educated individuals that add a lot of great knowledge and debate to the site. Along with some great aviation history buffs and former military members who actually worked with and on the aircraft!

We are always looking for some new and exciting members to share our love for technology and all things space! We are a good bunch of people that love to make new friends and discuss our passions for science and technology. Come visit us and start talking about the other side of space at TheSpaceport.us!

Keep looking up!

@mtclemente (Delphinus on TheSpaceport)

Space 2.0

CopenhagenSuborbitalsTriggered by the Space 2.0 LinkedIn group I wrote this blog post, investigating what 2.0 means in space exploration. It is interesting to see the 2.0-hype spread over all aspects of society these days. It is being used for anything slightly futuristic, regardless whether it is really something new. And with the widespread of the term 2.0, newer developments are now slated 3.0 or even higher. So what is ‘Space 2.0’ really?


Powering the Future: Inside the Ad Astra Rocket Company

In an old shoe distribution center just down the road from Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, rocket scientists are developing the engines that may one day propel giant landers to search for life on Europa or hurtle the first human missions to across the void to Mars.  Once part of NASA’s long-term technology development program, the Ad Astra Rocket Company is now a private space propulsion lab headed by former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz.  On a recent trip to Houston I was privileged to be able to tour the lab and see where the future is being built.

Ad Astra is developing the VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket).  They are developing a plasma rocket that shoots out super-hot exhausted that is controlled and directed by super-conducting magnets.  WOW.  The company is working with NASA to fly a full-scale prototype engine on the International Space Station in the next few years to refine their simulation models and confirm the output of the futuristic engine.

VASIMR diagram from Ad Astra

The building is unassuming to say the least.  It does not have a fancy glass and steel entryway, Tron-like glowing walls, or scenic views. Driving up, we were convinced we were in the wrong place. Inside the building, an open floor plan revealed a small reception area separated from a few modern work stations and a large conference room. The decor was sparse, a tasteful and eclectic mix of awards, spacecraft models, and signed Space Shuttle crew pictures from Chang-Diaz’s flights.


“Rocket Science” and a Successful Falcon 9 Launch

“Rocket Science” and a Successful Falcon 9 Launch

SpaceX added a very positive event to a line of problems and mishaps that occurred recently, from the failed Russian three-satellite launch to more delays in Discovery STS-133 launch, originally set for the end of October, now scheduled for Febuary.

All in all, these recent events show us that even after a space access system has been working for 30 years and more than 60 years after launching the first satellite, getting complex systems or people to space is still, as the saying goes, rocket science.

Read the rest on 


Congratulations SpaceX!

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Remember the story about the boy who repeatedly cried wolf when there was no wolf, so when there was actually a wolf no one believed him? Well, the more I listen to people who know a lot more than I do about NASA, prior manned space programs, space technology and yesteryear budgets, the more this story comes to mind, though between all the pros, cons and possible futures I can’t decide is who is the boy, who is the wolf and who are the towns’ people.

Read the rest on Spacepirations – 


A Look Ahead for NASA

After many years working directly with Congress in one capacity or another, I decided that I needed to see NASA from a new perspective. While I enjoyed my job, I don’t think I am the only person that found themselves perplexed by the FY 2011 budget request and the various modifications thereafter. I guess, I really just wanted to understand better how we got where we did so I could see the big picture.

One thing that WAS clear to me in the FY 2011 budget request was that we weren’t investing in technology development. Ok…NASA was doing some, but the kinds of technology that made baby steps, not giant leaps like the NASA my parents knew. I want to be a part of that excitement so I joined the Office of the Chief Technologist. I am putting great faith that this initiative is the start of something good for me and for NASA. I hope I’m right!

Why should NASA have a centralized technology focus? NASA’s new Space Technology program is a critical to NASA’s future. Numerous external studies and Congress have concluded that NASA’s missions have suffered from an under-investment in new technologies. We need to get back to the cutting edge and while the big programs at NASA try to invest in new technology, other programs often are so mission focused that it often falls off the table when budgets get tight.

That mission driven focus, while understandable, especially with how our budgets go, has left us with dreams bigger than what we can capably accomplish.

Seeking life in the solar system and Earth-like planets around other stars, forecasting major storms and natural disasters, and preparing NEO deflection techniques is not possible with today’s technologies and budget constraints. NASA must change the game such that human exploration into deep space (to an asteroid or Mars) is sustainable and affordable.  For example, using today’s technology, the equivalent of 12 ISS units of mass is required in low Earth orbit to initiate a single round trip Mars mission. Similarly, we do not know how to land masses larger than MSL (about the size of a small car) on the Mars surface. We need cutting-edge research, technology, and innovation to advance our Nation’s future.

By investing in Space Technology, we will enable a more vibrant future for all of us on Earth. Space technology has already greatly impacted the communications, biomedical, and transportation industries, improving life for all of us. A NASA focus on Space Technology will also produce technological solutions of benefit in health and wellness, energy, environment and national security.

The greatest risk to our Nation’s future leadership in space, and to our economic prosperity, is the continued under-investment in transforming technologies.  Establishing a robust Space  technology program at NASA will bridge the technology gap we suffer from today.

Will our our nation have the political invest in this vital technology? As usual, the ball is in the Congressional court right now. While I think they know the future savings is real and tangible, it’s hard to for them to look past the current budget environment. After the election, we will know more, but I am looking forward to seeing what our nation’s space future will hold.




While the debate goes on about what NASA should do and what it should let private companies do and use as a shelf product, I came up with the term to describe things NASA need to do by themselves rather than letting others – NASAssary 

Full details on Spacepirations – http://www.spacepirations.com/2010/10/nasassarry.html

So, is a heavy-lift NASAssary? How about propellant-depots?

Orbital Tourism Around the Corner? and more

OK, so I’ve been busy. I went to Israel, came back, released a line of security products at Webroot which got the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award, got laid off, been looking for a job, started getting pilot lessons, discovered it’s really expensive…

And finally I also wrote about all that and about the impending (if we take Boeing and Space Adventures at face value) orbital tourism in 5 short years.

So people, come on over to Spacepirations, read all about it and comment until you’re blue in the fingers.