Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shoot Week Day 3

Preparing gas and other supplies for a test flight, and Ben Wilson in the Kazbek trainer for its first pressurization; the suit held pressure well, Ben was able to manipulate the controls, and was not uncomfortable. More tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shoot Week Day 2

Urrgh! Incredible sensations today, I was rotated on a gliding table, with an extremely bright light and a light-absorbing ultra-black background. Wheeling around for the camera I saw only the sun-like light blazing away and the complete blackness beyond, and bits of dust floating and twirling, winking like stars. With the gas flowing in the suit I had a sensation of actually being separated from open space by just a few millimeters of polycarbonate and polyurethane-impregnated nylon. Unbelievable! Thankfully my team also getting some of their time on camera as well. Tomorrow, shooting interviews starting 7:30am.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shoot Week Day 1

Whew! Wrapped up day one of shooting all this week on a short about the suit -- it's great to work with a professional and international film crew. They have fascinating equipment, I hope I can learn about it here and there this week.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Millimeter of Wire by Millimeter of Wire

Work for SpaceX pushed to 1st week of August, so this week was spent preparing the Portable Life Support System for next week's pressure suit tests in refrigeration chamber, underwater, and in a flight to 25k feet in a KingAir twin engine or perhaps a special chopper -- being sorted out. All to be shot by a big team from Vice media, it'll be a hectic week and it is all prepared for by one millimeter of wire by another millimeter of wire set correctly to shuttle electrons where we need them. We also move gases and fluids, and have monitors to show that they move to the correct places in the assembly to sustain human life.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Space Week

Next week it looks like I'll be in LA to work with SpaceX space suit designers, helping them with some basic construction issues and issues of integrating the suit to the new Dragon capsule (interior seen above). I'll also be doing a teleconference with senior NASA people RE long-term plans RE space settlements, particularly on Mars. This is a teleconference arranged by NASA and U. Texas-Austin. The audio of my presentation and grilling will be available online a few weeks later. An intense week coming up!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Three Ages to the Stars - And Step By Step

Was the Renaissance built in a day? It was real, it happened, but historians all recognize that nobody can identify its precise 'beginning'. Many such 'transformations' are fuzzy in nature, but just as a star cluster (above, M92) is fuzzy, it is also real. And so how do you make reality of something as fuzzy as a vision of human exploration of the universe beyond our home planet? By pieces, tiny puzzle pieces, like the accumulation of scientific knowledge, or the maturation of an artist.

My bits of the puzzle are in trying to innovate in the realm of pressure garments for space exploration, currently arranging some consulting work for SpaceX, and in writing about 'humans-in-space' for the general public.

Below, a snippet from an item soon to appear in the Swedish cultural journal Glänta.

Three Ages to the Stars

(c) 2014 by Cameron M. Smith

The Western intellectual tradition has a long history of dividing time into threes, with beginnings, middles and endings. This approach has its uses, and could be very helpful in imagining and planning for interstellar voyages. For example, we can be sure that both biologically and culturally, the first migrants from Earth will have close connections with Earth—even as they speed away from it—and will have little to do with the ultimate destination, an exoplanet some generations ‘away’ in the future. Biologically and culturally, these early migrants will be Earth-centric and Earth-conditioned. Midway, however, populations and the general culture will be separated from its origin on Earth as well as from the destination, so that culturally and psychologically they might be quite unique in the human experience; they will have no planet, for instance. Towards the end, though, as the starship closes in on the target exoplanet, people will think again about life on planets, and may even resurrect cultural histories of the settlement of different regions of the Earth, such as the high Arctic, many thousands of years ago. These settlers will be genetically several generations separate from Earth, but culturally recycling some of our earliest methods of exploration and adaptation. The fate of these settlers will be conditioned by their biological and cultural adaptability, as it is for all living things exposed to new environments.

The prospect of interstellar voyaging to spread and preserve humanity and civilization is too great a leap for some to make; they call it ‘pie in the sky’, ‘irresponsible dreaming’, ‘escapism’ and plenty else. My anthropological perspective suggests these are all pessimistic critiques from people lacking in creativity or foresight—or even the hindsight that reveals the ruins and lessons of all the ancient civilizations. I am thrilled to be working with Icarus Interstellar to slowly assemble the puzzle pieces required to provide the breathtaking option of long-term space settlement for humanity over the next 100 years.

Friday, July 4, 2014

2014 Work To Date

2014 building progress; master suit test control panel, Kazbek - Soyuz position seat mockup for design coordination with Copenhagen Suborbitals Tycho capsule and 'Skeletor' Portable Life Support System for 2104 Flight Test to 25k feet. Not to mention the suit itself, which has to integrate with all the gas, electrics, comms and fluid systems.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

2014 Test Flight Testbed Schematic

Change of plan, will go to 25k this summer in a fixed-wing aircraft rather than balloon. Highly simplified schematic below, coordinating with aircrews etc, and too busy to type more :)