As usual I have been lazy and haven't done much work on my Udacity courses. Instead I have been reading about beamed power launch systems, and ranting about it on moonmars.org and spacefellowship. Technically I was trying to get some input from others because I thought that beamed power might actually be the way to go for a "freespaceships" like organisation. /crowd done, extremely large open source space program/.
A couple of days ago thanks to the feeds on my network I stumbled upon Exosphere inc. The project is about designing an open source space shuttle.
Then while writing this blog entry, after mentioning Exosphere inc. and thanks to my borderline ADHD, I ended up writing to Exosphere inc. Then I came back here an hour later and found this post half done. To save time here is the mail I sent instead of me ranting about the same thing again:
my name is Balazs. I am an amateur space enthusiast seemingly on the same path as you have set for yourself, albeit lagging behind a couple of years. I have a basic blog /freespaceships.com/ where I rant and collect links to projects or groups such as Exosphereinc. My aim seems to be exactly like yours, a massively distributed and large scale crowd based open source space program. I am hoping to combine a large section of the current maker movement, with crowd funding and management, to collectively create something that could match government and private sector space programs. I dream that we eventually outperform them, but that would require a lot of work from a lot of people.
To cut to the chase, I was wondering if you were aware of Laser Motive, and Dr. Jordin T. Kare's Modular Laser Launch Architecture paper.
I believe the best chance for an open source design launch system that people, small companies, or smaller countries could finance to build would be this system. The biggest advantage of this system is that the vehicle itself is a lot smaller because it only needs to carry reaction mass, it doesn't need to store the energy for the launch on the craft itself. Less chance for nasty explosions, don't need large infrastructure to build or handle the vehicle, parts are smaller so can be manufactured in smaller workshops.
One major drawback is that the ground station is a multi billion dollar installation of a couple of thousand modules of lasers and optical systems that aim the lasers at the craft. In the study the modules are proposed to be around a shipping container in size, each beaming around 100 kW of power.
Another major drawback is the legal issues around working with high power lasers and aiming at the sky with them. So a fair amount of legal political and environmental hurdles need to be solved.
Although the large installation is a major investment, because the craft itself is a lot smaller, both it's mass production, and open source design and amateur assembly might be more feasible than either a Skylon type spaceplane, or any current rocket system we use to access space now. Many iterations of the craft could be designed built and tested by various small groups separately or as joint projects.
Also because the large laser power station is made of identical modules that aren't really large in size, their design, testing and mass production can be done with a reasonably small initial investment that potentially could be crowd funded and workload could be distributed among a large number of makerspaces, or interested small companies.
The launch station could be built by the joint effort of small nations, small businesses, and the crowd. Possibly several could be built around the globe in key locations to enable easy access for all continents.
Once the technology is demonstrated and the facilities are constructed the maintenance and upgrade would possibly be quite easy because it would only mean the switching out of the modules or parts of the modules, and all components could be easily mass produced. /some are already are/
Another advantage is that the these stations need to be in areas where there is a large number of days with clear skies and low humidity /for perfect launch opportunities/, and also as close to the equator as possible to maximise the deltaV gained from the Earth's rotation. These areas would also be ideal for solar power generation, and the two systems combined would make the ultimate cheap green access to space.
That is assuming that this system indeed is feasible with current or very near term technology.
I am unaware of how much of this technology has been patented, and whether Dr. Kare or Laser Motive would be interested in such a proposal. I have been planning to write them an e-mail and ask.
I thought I should share this idea because I recently talked to Blaze Sanders from Solarsystemexpress, and he offered both to help out with his team /some basic feasibility studies, business planning etc/, and suggested he might be able to contact some people from deep space industries as well.
If you are interested in teaming up, you can contact me through e-mail, or could come to moonmars.org where Blaze Sanders from Solarsystemexpress can be found as well. This is really only an amateur proposal. I am just throwing it at people interested in the same stuff I am trying to get some input or thoughts.
Thanks for your time.
Should have done more editing and should have organised my thoughts better, but I am too impatient and didn't want to spend more time on it. Same goes for this blog. I have to work tomorrow and today was pretty rainy and cold so I am extra tired.
At least the quality and quantity of lame on this blog I can guarantee.
Have a good night Internet, don't let the bed bots bite!