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Help Wanted

Posted by: rpspeck - Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:44 am
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Help Wanted 

Are you ready to start a small business to support Space Flight?
Yes 35%  35%  [ 6 ]
Possibly 29%  29%  [ 5 ]
No 35%  35%  [ 6 ]
Total votes : 17

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Post Help Wanted   Posted on: Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:44 am
This is not "Help Wanted" in terms of a job opening, for we don't have the funds to expand.

This is "Help Wanted" in terms of small business opportunities for entrepreneurial companies which will support expanding private spaceflight. They reflect sophisticated products which every space faring company will need and should not have to develop for themselves. We need them, and time spent exploring possible sources has slowed our manned flight efforts.

The products I will add to this list will not require large capitalization to develop or produce – home business production is possible. Yet high quality is essential - lives will depend on this, as they do now with SCUBA gear and High Altitude Mountaineering gear. The perfection of these products will take time. The most successful producers will be those who start now: the market will materialize before they are really ready for it.

It should come as no surprise that the producers of quality spaceflight gear will have a chance to personally “flight test” their products without paying for spaceflight tickets. If you want to be personally involved in spaceflight, and even profit from it, this is your chance.

The first two of many items for this list:

1. PRESSURE SUITS
These will be sewn form Gore-Tex ™ (as are the present shuttle suits) or from coated nylon. The present, production “Gamow Bag”, is possibly an adequate pressure vessel for an orbital habitat, but it is too bulky for a pilot or passenger suit. The pressure stresses are lower in a fitted body suit. Considerable air leakage can be tolerated with an open circuit breathing system, which has only a modest penalty in space. It is possible that a “chest banded” “partial pressure” suit will be adequate for suborbital emergencies, used with a positive pressure respirator. This is actually a form of “counter pressure suit”, and usually includes “g suit” pressurization of the lower body (and chest – the “chest banding”). Please note that 3 pounds per square inch of Oxygen is sufficient, and the suit need not handle more pressure. This does presume that users will pre breath oxygen for more than an hour before launch.

The sewn suit body is usually integrated with a machined helmet attachment ring, although molded composites could be much lighter.

Pressure suits, like the Gamow Bag, can be adapted from high altitude mountaineering equipment, from SCUBA diving “dry suits”, from military flight suits or developed as new designs.

Every spaceflight company will need to buy suits before they can credibly claim to be preparing for a launch. Photos of a museum piece won’t be sufficient. Surplus Russian suits, as purchased by Armadillo Aerospace, are expensive, of questionable quality and sized to fit only small pilots.

Early spaceflight participants will probably insist on buying and training in their own suit (as participants do with mountaineering equipment before Everest) since their life may depend on it. This preparation, and souvenir, are part of what their $200,000 is buying.

SpaceShipOne did not use pressure suits. Rutan borrowed pressure suits from Edwards Air Base for his high altitude record flight in Proteus. Since virtually the same pressure hull was used on Proteus, White Knight, and SpaceShipOne he gambled that a hull crack or failure would not occur during the short flight. It is likely that the pressure suit did not permit bail out from the small cockpit, and the team decided to cover the more likely risk.

It is less likely that passenger flight without pressure suits will occur in a spacecraft, than that the FAA will end the requirement that every airline passenger be supplied with – and instructed about – an Oxygen mask. Depressurization in space guarantees a quicker death than at 35,000 ft. And yes, a spacecraft does experience serious aerodynamic and thermal loads during the vacuum portion of suborbital flight. Minor flight anomalies can make these stresses unexpectedly large. Unless a team has arranged to borrow pressure suits from Edwards, provision for this “detail” is a measure of weather the team is even starting cabin configuration and system tests.


Note that the experience of wearing a pressure suit in vacuum is one that attendees will pay for at a “Space Convention”. This experience will be a giant step (emotionally) toward space for those who participate.


2 VACUUM TEST CHAMBER
A “telephone booth” sized chamber, with a heavy, lift off polycarbonate cover, will suffice. It can hold a reasonable approximation of a pilot’s seat, provides good entry and exit and medical monitoring of the occupant. The evacuated volume can be less than 10 cubic feet, so that the vacuum pumps can be modest sized (5-10 CFM). This will allow both testing and training with all kinds of pressure suits. In theory, high altitude chambers already exist, for pilot training etc, but I don’t know what the accessibility or cost is. An experimental program may be frowned on by their owners in any case. The compact version described could be mounted in a trailer, and used at the “Space Convention”, and elsewhere. The medical and training issues are significant, but until these are resolved in practice, there will be no spaceflight passengers.


I am surprised that people think that passenger spaceflight is about to begin when these fundamentals have not been addressed, and invest in companies which have taken no steps to provide for them.


Continuing with “Space Convention” ideas: I applaud Peter Diamandis’ accomplishments with “zero G” flight. However the price, while appropriate for what is offered, is steep. I suggest a “Taste of Zero G” priced more like the classic barnstormer’s ride. (Perhaps $200 as an inflation equivalent) For seated passengers, a small aerobatic plane could provide a shorter experience of zero G, far beyond amusement park offerings. This would require a certified aerobatic plane WITH ZERO “G” OIL AND FUEL SYSTEMS.

The same plane could substitute for a centrifuge and introduce passengers to acceleration forces likely to be experienced in spaceflight. These experiences again would make participants feel a lot more like budding astronauts, and whet their taste for more.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:38 pm
OK, so far two or three people would be willing to invest time into a business which might earn them a chance to personally participate in spaceflight. (Aviation has long lived on enthusiasts willing to work cheap and trade labor for flying time.)

Do I conclude that almost all would-be astronauts are rich? (7000 reservations at $200,000 each)

Next invitation: Movies often now run $300 Million or more budget. Then there are the really big entertainment events, like the one named after the mountain (a three ring circus done two better).

I would like a professional estimate of what could be raised for ;

“Mission to Mars: REALITY!” (A multiyear documentary series)

Being somewhat a realist, I know that more will be spent on promotion alone, than on the technology and trip costs. I estimate that if 25% of funding is spent on technology, the producers will be crying, but not committing suicide.

I believe the economic threshold for a private, human Mars landing expedition will be crossed next year, with a technology budget under $100 Million. Could this project be sold as an entertainment project?

Similar estimates for “Footsteps on the Moon” a new effort. And

“Johnny goes to Orbit” (in a “homebuilt rocket) Adapt titles and concepts as necessary.

How much entertainment money could be raised for private orbital, lunar landing and Mars landing efforts?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 10, 2005 1:25 am
I'm an architect, not an entertainment industry professional, but I do have a few obseravations on the subject. Basically, the industry doesn't remotely care about content, it cares about format. The biggest step is in introducing a new format, and the industry is extremely conservative in this respect. Take the modern "reality TV" concept, for example. The concept had been thrown around for decades in (typically distopian) speculative fiction; it wasn't until some radical studio executive greenlighted "survivor" that the doors got thrown wide open. Now that the format has proven itself, it is easy to produce a "reality TV" show, and it doesn't much matter whether the content consists of boxing or slug-eating or business management or wife-swapping or cosmonaut training. I have no doubt that "Destination Mir" would have gone full-speed ahead if it hadn't been for the loss of Mir and then Columbia, and I also have no doubt that as long as it brought in sufficient revenue, the studio executives in charge of financing it wouldn't have honestly cared that it had anything to do with space.

Unfortunately, the established "reality TV" format (of individuals competing against one another) doesn't lend itself to, say, getting to Mars -- while the "docu-tainment" format, as you describe, does. But my impression is that this format hasn't yet proven itself in the eyes of the industry. James Cameron -- one of very few people in the industry who has the resources and the reputation to do almost anything he wants, precident be damned -- has been trying to single-handedly develop this format over the last few years, with such efforts as Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep. He has some very specific designs on space, by the way, which is probably why he's doing these films, as cheaper proof-of-concepts for the format. Alas, they don't seem to have proven the concept, as they have only made $22 million and $3.2 million respectively (although the latter is still in its run).

I suspect that if you were to approach an industry executive to develop a humans-to-Mars docutainment project, the equation they would do in their heads would look something like this:

Code:
$M = ($G * (Em / Et) * (Ry / Rc)) / 4


Where M is how much money they'd give you, $G is the gross revenue from Ghosts of the Abyss, Em and Et are the relative excitement levels of Mars vs. the Titanic, and Ry and Rc are your reputation vs. James Cameron's reputation, respectively. So, if Mars were, say, 20 times more exciting than the Titanic, but you had only 1/10th the industry reputation of James Cameron, you'd get something like $11 million to play with. Even if you are James Cameron, you'd only get $110 million to play with, which in his mind is still probably not enough to do a Mars mission. (And keep in mind that studio executives will consider most mere mortals to have perhaps 1/1000th of Cameron's reputation, at best).

To sum it all up -- and my ideas seem to have gotten a lot firmer in the process of writing this post -- the methods of increasing the odds of doing something like this, in rough order from the possible to the impossible, would be to:

    1. Figure out a way to do a Mars mission (or somesuch) within the framework of some existing, proven, widely accepted and wildly profitable format.

    2. Create a more profitable demonstratiion of the "docutainment" format -- the subject hardly matters; it can be mountain climbing or stamp collecting or pretty much anything at all, as long as it is somehow clearly analogous to your Mars mission idea -- so that "$G" in the equation above can be replaced with a considerably bigger number.

    3. Demonstrate to James Cameron that he can actually do a Mars mission for $110 million.

    4. Burnish your own reputation so that it is much, much better than James Cameron's. (This would be the "impossible" end of the spectrum)


Hopefully this helps?

By the way, if your company ever needs a space-enthusiast architect, I'll gladly trade my services for some personal microgravity time. I've been working on space and space-related designs (such as terrestrial "space tourism" resorts) in my spare time for about 12 years.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 10, 2005 1:39 am
Thanks for the input. Line 3 is the only one I am capable of considering.
I doubt that Cameron reads this stuff, but if any one who does gets a chance, mention the idea to him, OK? ( I am serious about the numbers)


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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:46 am
I've met Cameron in the past, and may get the opportunity in the future. If so, I'll mention it to him. Contrary to popular opinion of the man, he actually listens very carefully to input from any quarter -- but does scrutinize it very thoroughly.

Barring a direct or indirect line of communication between you and him, if you can convince everyone else that it's possible to do Mars for $100 million, then sooner or later, word will get to the right people. Zubrin convinced us all that it was one order of magnitude cheaper than anybody had previously thought, thus sparking a huge amount of the new interest in space. Now you're arguing for two orders of magnitude more. If you can make the case convincingly, it will happen.

Best of luck!


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Post    Posted on: Fri Mar 11, 2005 6:36 pm
It seems to me that propulsion is the key area. Companies like http://www.xcor.com/ are our best hope right now. Nobody (except Bigelow) cares about what can be put in space because it is just too expensive to put it there.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Mar 11, 2005 11:27 pm
SpaceX, and Elon Musk may have already solved the propulsion problem: if, as I pray, they have developed a usable launch technology, with modest cost per pound reduction, and are seriously interested in finding customers and new markets for it. The later hopefully includes a willingness to fly low cost experiments as piggyback payloads. Few payloads exactly match the capability of a rocket, so that ballast is often flown, which could be replaced with experimental payloads. This, at best, would involve the entrepreneurial spirit that’s motivates Microchip and Analog Devices to send free samples to designers.

Less than an hour’s evaluation by a knowledgeable engineer could verify that an offered package meets specified quality and standardized mounting requirements. This is the kind of effort an applications engineer would make for a potential customer. Such a qualified payload has infinitesimal chance of disrupting a launch. This is quite different from Arianespace, which takes a more typically French approach and charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for the same service.

This would solve the “Chicken and Egg” problem, where entrepreneurial efforts are not funded because they have not been proven (in space), and won’t be tested in space until funded!

In front of me I have a Micro-Mark catalog, featuring a masterpiece in miniature modeling. This kind of craftsmanship, combined with affordable, miniature electronic systems and components, will make possible INDIVIDUAL development of the lightweight systems I suggest for orbital, Hubble repair, and Mars missions.

Of course they won’t be used, until they are DEMONSTRATED IN SPACE. One motivated launch provider can eliminate this impasse!

It is obvious that people have not yet begun to realize that modest efforts can make a big contribution to space-flight, some as simple as sewing, some using compact electronics, others with precision machining.

Yet, when we begin to treat orbital mass as if it were gold, since it costs as much, we can so minimize its use that today’s launch prices shrink in impact. Does anyone remember the international “Air Letter”? This clever piece of thin, pale blue paper folded into its own envelope, at one fourth the weight of typical stationary. This made air mail to Europe affordable in 1960. The alternative may have been to wait a decade for prices to fall!

We can wait, or we can think light, and go into space now!


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Post RE: Help Wanted - Pressurized Space Suits   Posted on: Sat Aug 20, 2005 3:13 am
After doing a quick lookup online for Gore-Tex suppliers, I've discovered that Gore-Tex will not sell to anyone but an "authorized" clothing manufacturer for "quality" purposes as well as something about specialized machinery for "factory seam taping". On the other hand, several competing manufacturers are much more open with selling their fabrics to the public.
<http://storm.cadcam.iupui.edu/drs/fabrics/goretex.html>

Addtionally, it doesn't seem to me that Gore-Tex would actually be capable of maintaining a 3 psi load against the vaccuum of space. I'm thinking that a specific air-tight layer is needed for pressurization while the Gore-Tex provides a comfort zone between the pressurization layer and the liner. For less expensive testing, I could use a swimming pool to initially verify the locking mechanisms, seals, and fabric design. Even NASA astronauts test their suits in a pool first.

Doing some more research, I discovered that modern fabric spacesuits are made with multiple layers:.restraint, air bladder, thermal, & comfort layers.

In addition, there are 4 types of spacesuits:
1) Flexible pressure suits use multiple layers of fabrics to produce an airtight suit that stays pressurized with air.
2) Hardshell suits use the shell to protect the pressurized air inside it.
3) Combination of 1 & 2 where the suit is half falbric / half hard.
4) Skintight suits aka mechanical counterpressure suits. These use tight fabric to maintain a constant pressure on the body counteracting the vaccuum of space. They usually only have air pressure in the helmet.

For further consideration, a space suit must also deal with:
1) Temperature extremes
2) Punctures
3) Radiation
4) Movement
5) Comfort
6) Tools
7) etc.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 20, 2005 11:01 pm
Thanks for the input. Apparently, Gore-Tex prohibits resale of their product to prevent its use in lower quality products. I have purchased some comparable material. My most recent use of these Teflon membranes is to allow extraction of dissolved gasses from liquid water. The standard Gore-Tex (and clones) will certainly hold back more than 3 psi of WATER pressure, while allowing dissolved gasses, and even water vapor to pass through the membrane. My operating unit uses a laboratory filter unit (slightly modified) with a similar Teflon membrane. It has rather slow gas transfer due to small active surface area, and a thick liquid boundary layer the gas has to diffuse through. I am looking forward to producing a better unit with my “ULTREX” Teflon film on nylon material. The film coated layer usually needs a mechanical back up structure. Such units to control dissolved gasses, and prevent bubble formation, are very important in “zero G” applications.

I read that the Shuttle pressure suits (for a time not used at all) where made of Gore-Tex. With reinforcement, it might work for a pressure suit, and be comfortable, provided that a high gas leak rate was tolerable (emergency use only). The swimming pool idea is a good one. I expect to use it both to simulate space use, and to verify that my system will also serve as a “lifesuit” in deep water landings.


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Post SCUM MASTERS WANTED!!   Posted on: Sat Aug 20, 2005 11:17 pm
I am still looking for people willing and able to grow Algae (which I tend to think of as “Pond Scum”) in a hydroponic system. This promises to be of MASSIVE importance for MARS, MOON, NEA (Near Earth Asteroid) mining, and all other deep space missions. The articles I have indicate that as little as four square feet of collected sunlight can supply all of the food, Oxygen and CO2 removal needs of one man, indefinitely. This is HUGE for space development, if demonstrated to be reliable.

I know that people are boosting CO2 levels in aquarium tanks to facilitate marine growth, and related hobbies. Anyone with a “green thumb”, and some knowledge should be able to do this work in a corner of the family room. I might be able to provide some help with hardware, but I am unwilling to add this work to my personal list of priorities.

Any volunteers? Who wants to be the pioneer of extraterrestrial farming?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 25, 2005 1:54 am
I was thinking about volunteering in the Space Algae department, but I'd like to have more information about the experiments you have in mind. I have this image of "removal needs" floating in an aquarium tank.

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Post Algae in Laboratory Tests   Posted on: Thu Aug 25, 2005 9:17 pm
I am delighted to get a response to this topic! I have not mapped out a development plan in detail, as I wasn’t prepared to begin this effort without a lot of help. The basic idea – relevant for “zero “g”” – would be to work with algae in sunlit plastic tubes. Small pumps would circulate the nutrient solution (with dissolved nitrate - chemical fertilizer - and necessary minerals). In classic photosynthetic efficiency studies “Chlorella was the preferred species.” I have one reference noting 39% photosynthetic energy efficiency for monochromatic light, and another which seems to imply 20% efficiency with normal sunlight. The later paper indicates that this energy efficiency was obtained only with attenuated sunlight, due to the photosynthetic saturation effects in full sunlight.

I don’t know if Chlorella will thrive dispersed in solution, or whether it grows better if anchored to a substrate. Both arrangements have advantages and disadvantages for the culture hardware. A first step would be to demonstrate a thriving culture with an “open loop” supply of nutrients. Later steps would involve solution recycling (and harvesting) presumably with closed loop control of CO2 level, O2 level, nutrients, PH and temperature. I have the subsystems to monitor and control these variables running and will be able to supply them for the system. I will also be able supply calibrated equipment to document the optical input energy and spectrum.

The primary goal is to confirm that efficient photosynthetic energy conversion is achievable in a practical system. A secondary goal – using data from the first demonstration – will be to assemble a “credible” prototype system usable in a spacecraft.

(It will also be necessary (before testing as food) to ascertain that the toxins produced by some blue-green algae are not present in these cultures.)

Please also note that even NASA offers small EDUCATIONAL GRANTS for space related work (by hypothetical “students”). This work on your part could qualify for such funding from a number of sources.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 25, 2005 10:18 pm
I own a small company that designs and manufactures high technology specialty power supplies used in aircraft (mil stuff). Although I am very busy with work right now, I'm very interested in exploring areas that I can get involved with in the privatized space industry. I'm going out to the X-Prize cup to see if I can do a bit of networking toward that goal.

Speaking of vacuum chambers, I happen to have a 27 cubic foot (36” square) environmental test chamber here. It won't do space level vacuum, but it will go to 70,000 ft altitude on a good day. It will also go -54 to +90 degrees C. While it's too short to fit a full suit, I'd be willing to perform testing on samples if provided.

I'm a space enthusiast just like everyone here, and I may be able to provide some help and even expertise in certain areas. My question is where do I get started. Reading this board seemed like a good place to develop relationships that may in the long run benefit us both.

In case you're interested, our site address is www.FiveStarAssoc.com

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Last edited by scottp on Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 26, 2005 3:19 am
hey! welcome to the forum! it's always great having people who can actually contribute involved. we have some fairly significant industry presence here (armadillo, jpaerospace, etc) so hopefully you'll find what you need to get started.

btw, your link doesn't work for me.... it says the site is under construction or some such thing.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:51 pm
Thanks,
I fixed the link above. My typing mistake.

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