All Things Space
If you are interested in Outer Space, Space Exploration and Rocket Engineering, you have come to the right place. On this website you will find information on different types of rocket propulsion, space resources, space engineering, and building interstellar colonies! Check back frequently for updates and improvements.
This website describes what it takes to colonize and conquer space from a realistic point of view. The attached pdf document on building a Starship is available for you to read or download. If you want to see what it takes to build a Starship in the 21st century well this is the book for you!!! I have been working on this sporadically over the last couple of years and I welcome comments and feedback. I tried to keep it relatively simple but thorough- but it is a draft so there will be some errors or mistakes. I have also posted a shorter paper on building a Space Occulus- or a large solar shade that would offset the forecasted global warming in the 21st century. This paper is posted on the Features and Topics page.
If you have any questions or think I have made an error, you have something you want clarified or just a suggestion e-mail me or use the attached Contact Form. I will be updating these documents with new and expanded information, as well as adding new space engineering articles periodically. Enjoy- hopefully you will find them interesting!!!
FEATURES and TOPICS
Below I will be uploading engineering analysis for building various space structures and terraforming
Global Temperature Rise Mitigation with a Solar Occulus
NEW! Would a Solar Occulus be a Practical Solution to Control Global Warming?
Article- Building a Starship
Below is a short article describing some of the primary design decisions for building a starship
Luna Terraforming and the Steel Moon
Coming Soon! New Article describing what it would take to successfully terraform the Moon
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your text and edit me.
Chapter 1- The Solar System and Beyond
The distances in space are unimaginably vast. If the sun were reduced to the size of a marble, the nearest star would be about 370 kilometers (230 miles) away! Furthermore, space is close to a perfect vacuum. One cubic centimeter of our atmosphere at sea level could be stretched out 264 light years to achieve the density found in interstellar space.
Despite this low density of interstellar space, the amount of material that is accumulated in the stars, planets, minor planets, moons and such is truly staggering. The sun converts 600 million tons of hydrogen into helium and energy every second, and is expected to continue to do so for the next five billion years or so. An asteroid only 2km or so in diameter would have as much mass as all the water in Lake Superior. There are an estimated 200,000 asteroids larger than 3km in diameter in our solar system. The Kuiper Belt and Oort clouds that exists in the outer solar system have hundreds of times greater mass than the asteroids.
Finally we look at what stars might have habitable planets as well as what make a planet habitable.
Chapter 2- Orbits
What are the characteristics of an orbit? How do you calculate orbital and escape velocities? There are four different types of orbits that you can have including circular, elliptical, parabolic and hyperbolic. A Hohmann Transfer Orbit is a frequent orbital maneuver used to raise a satellite to a higher orbit and keep it there. We also discuss how gravitational slingshot's and the Oberth Powered Maneuver using either a planet or the sun are done.
Chapter 3- Rockets and the Rocket Equation
We look at how rockets work and how to calculate rocket performance using the rocket equation. We look at the advantages of staging as well as the factors that influence rocket performance including drag, atmospheric pressure and gravity loss. We look at nozzle design and how rockets can be tailored for their required mission.
Chapter 4- Surviving in Space- History and Economics
A brief overview of the history of rockets is given. We look at the current economics of the space industry and take a closer look at historical and current launch cost trends. We look at the available natural resources that are present in space. While there are tremendous resources in space the prevalence of these resources depends on many factors. In general, the inner solar system, including planets and asteroids, are rich in minerals. As you get further out into the solar system, Jupiter and beyond, you have access to more volatiles like Nitrogen and water. Their are eight items that people need to survive in space. Five of the items- air, food, water, insulation and power are needed to survive for short periods of time. To live for a prolonged period of time in space you need three items that are normally found naturally on earth- gravity, meteoroid protection and cosmic ray protection. These eight items are discussed. Artificial gravity as well as the requirement and difficulty of providing cosmic ray protection is discussed in detail.
Chapter 5- Saturn V and Skylab
The Saturn V is still the largest rocket ever launched from Earth. It massed nearly 3000mt on launch and could put about 140mt into orbit. What would happen if we lifted this rocket, fully loaded into space and launched it as a Starship? We use the Rocket Equation, as well as the technology of both the Apollo and Skylab program to see what the performance would be if used as a starship. We look at the power requirements for a small starship, and how both Solar and Fuel Cell power work and can be used.
Chapter 6- Saturn VI and SpaceX Starship- 2040's
We consider the SpaceX Starship and look at its performance as a real starship. Then we look at building a dedicated starship which we call Saturn VI which would use current technology and a single stage with the goal of launching a mission in the 2040's. We look at generating power with Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs) powered by Plutonium or Americium. We discuss the limitations of an RTG and the implications of radioactive decay half-life. We also look at how to use a Gravitational Slingshot maneuver around Jupiter to get higher performance.
Chapter 7- Saturn VII- 2050's
We look at building a more capable starship called the Saturn VII by using more advanced technologies that could be available by the 2050's. We look at Nuclear Thermal engines, and Electrical Engines like Ion and Plasma thrusters. We consider more advanced power supplies including Sterling Generators. Finally we consider a two stage rocket with a Nuclear Engine for the first stage, and an Ion Engine for the second stage.
Chapter 8- Saturn VIII- 2060's
We push the technology levels on Nuclear thermal and Electric Thrusters and look at different technologies for generating large amounts of power and consider using Fission reactors that are improvements over the KRUSTY nuclear power program. We also look at aggressive sundiving powered maneuvers to gain additional performance. Would a starship be able to approach within 10 or even 3 solar radii of the sun? If so, what would be the conditions. We look at the solar atmospheric conditions at these distances, and calculate the temperatures a starship would be exposed to. We discuss several options for a sun shield to protect our starship structure and fuel tank.
Chapter 9- Saturn IX- 2070's
Using the technology from Chapter 8, we add in the capability to beam power (via Laser) to the spacecraft so that we do not need to carry the large mass of a reactor. We look at the weight of a high performance, monochromatic solar array and how powerful a laser would need to be to beam power to our spacecraft.
We then look at Solar Sailing, its problems and promise. We also consider beaming power to propel the Solar Sail. We discuss the need to have very strong but lightweight material to make solar sailing work. We calculate the performance of various solar sails with different lightness numbers and the power requirements of beaming power to propel the sail.
We consider mass drivers, and the Singer proposal whereby pellets launched from the solar system impact on our ship thus providing thrust.
Finally we look at higher power but lighter weight fission reactors.
Chapter 10- Saturn X- 2080's
Since our mission times are on the order of 10,000 years we start to consider larger Spacecraft that could hold a crew and also decelerate at our target star.
With the requirement for deceleration we look at large electric thrust starship. We then consider an alternative technology for thrust- a mass driver.
We consider a modified version of the Singer proposal which launched high velocity pellets from within the solar system. In our version we look to capture these pellets (which we will now call packets) and use this for reaction mass for a mass driver. In addition these packets would be use to provision and expand our mass for building out or starship. We call this capability Packet Supplied starship.
Chapter 11- Designing and Building
With the requirement for deceleration we compare electric thruster vs mass drivers to see which would have a higher performance. We come to the conclusion that for small starships, the electric thrusters are better, but for largers starships a mass driver is superior.
We also look more closely at how a packet supplied mission would work.
We look at the requirement for a Mega Mass Driver (MMD) which would launch the packets from within our solar system to our ship. We also look at a Solar Sail resupply and compare the benefits and issues vs the MMD.
Chapter 12- Saturn C- 2090's
With our new mission profile of reaction mass and supplies being provided by a MMD, we calculate how large our ship will need to be to serve as a crewed colony ship. We determine that the minimum crew size for a 10000 year mission is 1000. We then look at the required habitat size to house a crew of this size. After an analysis we determine that our ship habitation module should be two counterrotating tori of 402meters in diameter with a hull diameter of 15m. We look at the various components of our ship including power, mass driver and cosmic ray protection to determine mass. Cosmic Ray protection drives a majority of our starship mass (about 2/3rds) and it would be very difficult to accelerate a ship with full cosmic ray protection. This leads us to the decision that the first few generations will have a compromised cosmic ray protection until we can accumulate additional material during our packet resupply.
Chapter 13- Phase 1-3: The First 13 Years
We embark on our first 13 years of our mission and look at how Phase 1-3 would be accomplished. We begin with four large vessels launched from earth (Alpha through Delta) each with a crew of 250 which would rendezvous with an appropriate water and mineral rich asteroid. Using raw materials from the asteroid the crew would assemble a starship, its power supply and mass driver. The asteroid would have its orbital velocity slowed down by rocket engines so that it goes into an elliptical orbit with a close solar approach. We compare Nuclear Thermal (NERVA+) with LH/LOX Engines and determine that the NERVA+ engines are superior because of the vastly smaller amount of hydrogen that would be needed to divert an asteroid. The starship makes a close approach to the sun (3-10 radi) and perform a powered maneuver. At the end of the maneuver we dispose of our sun shield, Nuclear engines, and LH tanks. At this point our starship will be 200,000mt.
Chapter 14- Phase 4/5: Years 14-721
We look at mission years 14-721 which include Phase 4 Acceleration and Phase 5 construction and build out during the initial cruise. We look at methods of recovering packets for our accelerating and build out phase. We calculate the acceleration phase will last 73 years. After this we look at building out our cosmic ray protection and our Whipple Sheild for impact protection. We look at the amount of resources needed to replace materials lost or not able to be recovered. We look at recycling and the replacement quantity needed of each element. We determine that over 99% of our supplies we will need is water (mainly for the hydrogen and oxygen), Ammonia (mainly for the Nitrogen) and Uranium for power.
Chapter 15- Phase 6-8: Years 722-10,000
We look at life onboard our starship during the cruise and deceleration phase. The crew will need to be able to fabricate and replace elements of the ship that wear out. We identify the need to make sheet metal, a foundry, pipe manufacturing, machine parts, Rubber and composite fabrication, lighting (LED), Computer components and electronics, complicated machine and robot repair as well as farming and food production. We discuss the human factors of living in a torus for 10000 years including what people can do to keep busy, how population will be maintained and what sorts of mental health issues might arise. We discuss the deceleration phase and the impact this will have on the cosmic ray protection. We discuss arrival at the target star and review the capabilities of our landing craft.
Chapter 16- Back in Our Solar System
We look at all the scientific and industrial capabilities of what needs to be done within our solar system to be able to launch and support our starship. We review the need for telescopes powerful enough so that a target star can be selected and then discuss needed improvements to fission and fusion reactors to be able to build our MMD and starship.
The solar system is rich in materials but we will have to develop an extensive mining and material processing capabilities to be able to launch such an ambitious mission. In particular, finding enough Uranium that can be separated out may be extremely difficult. Metals and Volatiles should be able to be found in sufficient quantities usually within an asteroid or Kuiper belt object.
We discuss building and manufacturing technology and identify that we will need to develop welding capabilities, fabrications of various materials and foundries, making of glass, silicon, ceramics, plastics, concrete, electronics and clothing's and textiles.
We look at the materials and power required for our MMD. The MMD will require such high-power levels that we will need to consider storing asteroid rotational energy for perhaps 14 years to have enough power to launch our packets.
Finally we develop a detailed materials list of the raw materials required for our starship and our MMD to include the packets that will be launched to support our starship acceleration and build out.
Chapter 17- Future Technologies and Speculation
We consider more speculative technologies that if developed can assist in making the starship mission simpler to execute or provide greater performance. We look at power and propulsion technologies including lightweight fission reactors. We look at improved nuclear thermal engines including liquid and gaseous fission reactors and the Nuclear Salt Water Rocket. We look at the potential of fusion rockets and extremely light weight high performance solar sails. We look at technologies considered for Project Orion and Daedalus. We look at the ultimate chemical rocket that uses Metallic Hydrogen. We look at momentum transfer and spin arm technologies. We then look at the photon and antimatter rocket. We look at artifical wombs and human suspended animation.
Finally we look at all these technologies, what their status of development is, how they can be improved, and how they can be used to improve our starship performance.
Chapter 18- Conclusions
While technologically possible now, building and launching a starship would be immensely difficult. We need a tremendous amount of nuclear power requiring large amounts of Uranium or Thorium which would require a large space mining industry. The engineering structures and industry required would be massive. In the case of our starship, we have a mass driver almost 50km long, and a peak mass weight of 4million tons. Our Solar System MMD would likely be about 450km long and would weigh many times more mass. We would have to modify a large asteroid for power storage to supply the energy needed for our MMD.
Even though the current industry and the voyage would be very challenging we review reasons why star colonization should still be a worthy goal.
We review the Fermi Paradox and why we have not yet encountered any aliens. Finally, we look at the risk of a civilization stagnating or self-destructing.