Sunday, May 24, 2015

New WIRED Article -- And TEDx Portland Upcoming!

My small part of making space access cheaper is to demonstrate lower-cost and lower-weight pressure ('space') suits. The part my group, Pacific Spaceflight, plays is highlighted in a recent article at WIRED (photo credit below, Terry Manier) by local writer Julian Smith (no relation). This old suit looks comically large and baggy, we're revealing an new one at TEDx Portland on 30 May!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Space Colonization? Of Course

The better part of a generation ago, our broadest thinkers on the human future -- Clarke, Sagan and Asimov (see below)-- were all clear in their support of the necessity for human settlement of new worlds for long-term survival. A more navel-gazing period followed, cynically and unimaginatively suggesting that the idea would amount to no more than transporting old human problems elsewhere, or was simply impossible (history should demonstrate how ill-advised the term 'technically impossible' has been to date). Today we can see thousands of exoplanets and know there are millions more in our galaxy alone. Of course, someone will eventually want to go to them, and today the thinnest end of the wedge is statements of 'great fancy', like those below by Stephen Hawking:

Of course we must address problems here at home, but we should also think in the long term; that's why I work with Icarus Interstellar on cultural and genetic issues involved in long-term space settlement. A billion puzzle pieces must be assembled to make such futures real, and this is how we start...by starting!

You can hear more at my recent talk at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics or read about these ideas in my book, Emigrating Beyond Earth.

Below, Sagan weighs in:

Arthur C. Clarke in 1950:

There is no way back into the past; the choice, as Wells once said, is the universe—or nothing. Though men and civilizations may yearn for rest, for the dream of the lotus-eaters, that is a desire that merges imperceptibly into death. The challenge of the great spaces between the worlds is a stupendous one; but if we fail to meet it, the story of our race will be drawing to its close.

...and Isaac Asimov in 1974:

Unless we are willing to settle down into a world that is our prison, we must be ready to move beyond Earth. . . . People who view industrialization as a source of the Earth's troubles, its pollution, and the desecration of its surface, can only advocate that we give it up. This is something that we can't do; we have the tiger by the tail. We have 4.5 billion people on Earth. We can't support that many unless we're industrialized and technologically advanced. So, the idea is not to get rid of industrialization but to move it somewhere else. If we can move it a few thousand miles into space, we still have it, but not on Earth. Earth can then become a world of parks, farms, and wilderness without giving up the benefits of industrialization.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Coolant Garment Sketch

Detail and fuller view of our Mark I coolant garment; Mark II has been built, but not yet sketched. Also, X-4ray view of Mark I coolant garment under Mark I pressure garment, shows how things start to get complicated, and there is a lot to think about, once 'layers' are being stacked up!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Profile Story at Intel IQ, and Furious Work Pace for 30 May New Suit Unveil

Working quickly, but with care, to reveal a functional draft of our new suit concepts at TEDx Portland on 30 May! I have mastered the sewing machine at long last and am using a combination of machine and hand seaming.

Click here for a link to a profile story at Intel -- another story soon in WIRED-UK.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Underwater Tour of HMS Erebus

WOW! Tour by Parks Canada aquatic archaeologists of Sir Franklin's HMS Erebus, crushed by ice in the Northwest Passage about 1845.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New Pressure Garment Sketches

I've produced the following sketches of the Mark I, II and III suits built and operated so far: we'e already onto Mark IV, and V will follow rapidly. These sketches don't show the various under- and over-garments, e.g. coolant layer, communications & biomedical monitor cap, and protective flight coverall with parachute and so on, but those will come later.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Good Progress 2009-2015!

Can't believe I (well, with Angela's help) started with a build in late 2009 (video below)!

By 2012 the suit was well advanced, addressing visor defog, proper breathing regulators, attempts at C02 management and a draft coolant system, as seen below:

Now (2015 early) I've assembled a team and work continues apace--there are few nights when I don't put in a few hours after work (pic below) with two suits to reveal at TedX Portland on 30 May, and test flights late this year in our new balloon! More on that later; my more frequent updates are here.