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I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...

Posted by: TerraMrs - Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:11 pm
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I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say... 
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Post I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:11 pm
I got to meet John Powell on Sunday, and let me tell you he's just as interesting in person as you would expect. We had a nice conversation about space travel, the airship to orbit program, and the history of JPA. But there was one very exciting piece of information he told me and I want to share. And that is, within the next 3-6 months we should look forward to a test flight of the Tandem airship, which I believe they will be using to assemble DSS eventually.

He also mentioned some crazy stuff about a 900 isp electric/chemical engine on the orbital ascender, and batteries made from tritium deposited within photovoltaic silicon.

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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:57 am
It would be interesting to have an interview with John, so great job there :) We need more visionaries like him. Did he mention the costs or if the funding was taken care of as well?

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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:45 am
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He also mentioned some crazy stuff about a 900 isp electric/chemical engine on the orbital ascender

Was it called 'Symphony' by any chance? I don't know how he plans on spiking the efficiency enoigh; most of the energy would be coming from the electricity.

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and batteries made from tritium deposited within photovoltaic silicon.

That would be the Betavoltaic array he plans on using. Works like a Photovoltaic array, but uses Beta radiation from Tritium instead.


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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:34 pm
yea I haven't read Floating to Space yet... but as to "efficiency" of the engine - a 900 isp electric engine is not intended to be efficient. think of it instead as the most efficient chemical engine instead. he refused to give me an order of magnitude on the power but it's got to be in the 10s or 100s of kW. can't be any larger cause you can't power that with batteries (even super nuclear batteries), can't be any smaller cause then 900isp at that power won't be enough thrust.

but as to financing, JP isn't taking investments from ANY outside investors. all revenue is generated by the company's activities. for example, the 175 foot ascender was built on the air force dollar (just made them agree it wouldn't be used as a weapons' platform). so in that regard, the financing IS taken care of.

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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:33 am
Why are they so unwilling to take investments?

I got the impression from Floating to Space that they plan a manned DSS flight before a manned Ascender flight. WTF? A manned Ascender is the basic component of the system, and could be used for tourism to nearpace, generating more revenue to fund the DSS.


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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:03 pm
Because they want 100% ownership, that one is easy.

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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:13 pm
Terraformer, I don't think the Ascender alone will be able to compete against rocket boosted flight + few minutes of weightlessness(Virgin Galactic). However, if JP develops both the Ascender and the DSS at the same time, he'll be able to offer a suborbital trip WITH a spectacular destination.

I wonder what the price of a trip to the DSS will compare to a rocket boosted suborbital hop?

My impression was that the real moneymaker would be the DSS, until the orbital airship starts flying.


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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:58 pm
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Terraformer, I don't think the Ascender alone will be able to compete against rocket boosted flight + few minutes of weightlessness(Virgin Galactic). However, if JP develops both the Ascender and the DSS at the same time, he'll be able to offer a suborbital trip WITH a spectacular destination.

It depends on how much the Ascender flight costs. If it costs the same as a SS2 flight, then of course it's not competitive. But if it costs in the neighburhood of $1000, it would probably have a business case.


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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:47 am
if it costs in the neighborhood of $50,000 i think it would have a business case. especially if you can stay up there for an hour or so. and DEFINITELY if you can jump out :-D

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Post Re: I finally meet John Powell and what he has to say...   Posted on: Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:39 pm
If it can lift 1 tonne of payload, then it would have to have costs of under $200k per flight to make a profit at that cost. It would probably have a higher payload and lower operating costs, so...

I don't think JP has a viable business model for getting the system ready before the end of this century. However, a viable model does exist. He's just ignored it. :roll:


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