The turnout for the May meeting was very good. I counted over twenty. They all enjoyed the video and had a good time before and after socializing. They clapped and laughed and was very engaged in what the seven people in the video was saying and doing. All in all, it was a fine meeting.
Commentary by Michael Mackowski
Part One – The Conference
I finally had the opportunity to attend the Space Access Conference, an event run by Henry Vanderbilt, a long-time space advocate from Phoenix. The conference’s focus is on “New Space” launch vehicle developers and the burgeoning suborbital market. I had been aware of this conference for some time, and despite that it is held in my home town, the conference content and my personal or business interests never overlapped sufficiently to motivate me to take time off work and attend. This year, things were quiet at work and I decided to see what it was all about.
The conference ran for three days (April 11-13) and I attended most of the first two. The nice thing about the program is that Henry limits it to a single thread so you don’t have to choose between parallel sessions. There was an interesting mix of speakers. Most were related to launch vehicles but there was also a good mix of astronomy (asteroids), history (DC-X), and far term concepts (space settlements).
The rocketry presentations were on varied levels. Some were from the more well-known companies like XCOR, while quite a few were folks doing this as a hobby or as students, some barely a step above high-powered hobbyist rocketry.
by Michael Mackowski
Outer space may literally be mostly empty space, but our solar system is full of large and small chunks of rocks. A few days ago, a couple of these rocks made a close pass to our home planet. One object, called asteroid DA14, was large enough to be detected about a year ago. It came within 17,200 miles of the Earth’s surface, within the ring of geostationary communications satellites we all rely on. There was enough information on this object to know in advance that it would come close, but miss us. Still, this asteroid was the closest large object to pass by the Earth that we saw ahead of time.
Meanwhile a smaller object, perhaps the size of a school bus, whizzed over Russia, and when it exploded several miles above the ground, the shock wave was strong enough to smash windows over a large area, injuring over a thousand people from flying glass. This object was too small to be detected in advance, at least with the technology we are using today.
We had a fun time at our Yuri’s Night party! It was an evening of entertainment, networking, and socializing, held in conjunction with the Space Access Conference at the InnPlace Hotel Phoenix North. The Phoenix AIAA sponsored a hotel suite and we hosted a very fine party which drew many local NSS, Moon Society, and AIAA members as well as Space Access attendees. Not to mention the Lindenwood College volleyball team. The trivia contest was a blast and we gave out a lot of goodies and posters and other neat space stuff.
See more photos here: http://yuriphx.net/photos/index.html
Thanks to all who attended and helped out!
In 2007, building upon knowledge gained under an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Innovative Naval Prototype contract, GA initiated development of the Blitzer™ system using internal funds to accomplish two major objectives:
- Demonstrate the technical maturity of tactically relevant railgun technologies in a proving-ground environment.
- Generate interest in the viability of smaller Electromagnetic (EM) gun systems for use in a broader set of missions, including integrated air and missile defense (IAMD)
GA accomplished both of these objectives by demonstrating the launcher and power system technologies to full design levels in 2009 during testing with non-aerodynamic rounds, followed by testing of aerodynamic rounds during the fall of 2010.
The tests demonstrated the integration and capabilities of a tactically relevant EM Railgun launcher, pulsed power system, and projectile. The projectiles were launched by Blitzer at Mach 5 with acceleration levels exceeding 60,000 gee, and exhibited repeatable sabot separation and stable flight.
Commentary by Mike Mackowski
From the classic days of space science fiction to the projections of large scale operations in space from the 1960s and 70s, utilization of space resources has always been envisioned as a major part of large scale space operations. Now in the early 21st Century we finally have at least two serious companies formed whose goal is to mine asteroids. Planetary Resources announced their plans in 2012 while this January we heard about Deep Space Industries. This is a very exciting prospect for any advocate of expanded human presence in space. Continue reading