• Solar Power Beaming Demonstration Unit Makes Debut

    06-14-2008. Our Solar Power Beaming Demonstration was finished in time to make its debut at the International Space Development Conference in Washington DC on Saturday, May 31st.

    Photos from the conference:


    Assembled Unit - Paul Blase, who put the unit together, stands at the side


    Society Leaders in front of the unit, left to right: Director of Project Development and Board Candidate David Dunlop , Board Candidate Fred Hills, President Peter Kokh, Treasurer Dana Carson


    Society President Peter Kokh congratulates USAF Lt. Col Peter Garretson on his original design that was the inspiration for our unit

    The idea was to create a working demonstration of how Solar power Satellites would work, with the aim of boosting public support for this initiative. Solar Power Satellites have been receiving renewed interest since the release of the National Space Security Office report [http://www.moonsociety.org/reports/space_solar_alliance.html] on October 10, 2007. We could not have tackled this project without the expertise of two persons: Vice-president Charles F. Radley, and Board Chairman R. Scotty Gammenthaler. The Board has given them full support including needed funds, to carry this project through to completion.

    The enthused response from ISDC attendees was very gratifying, and earned us several new memberships.

    We are now working to find ways to help other organizations replicate our working model based on our parts list, list of parts sources, blueprints, and procedures for building and testing the working parts - the transmitter and rectifier - and the procedures for getting these approved by the FCC so that they can be operated in public.

    Leadership Council member James Rogers has produced a trifold brochure on the project
    http://www.moonsociety.org/projects/spb-demo/spb-brochure.pdf

  • Reauthorizing the Vision for Space Exploration

    Link: http://www.moonsociety.org/reports/reauthorizing_VSE.html

    On May 7, 2008, George Whitesides, Executive Director of our affiliate organization, The National Space Society, read a prepared comprehensive and in depth presentation on the future goals of the American Space Program before Congress.

    His audience was a US Senate Subcommittee - the Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics, and Related Sciences Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which was having a special hearing on the subject.

    As we all know, or should know, none of the three remaining candidates for the Presidency of the United States shares our vision in more than part. The VSE, originally dubbed "Moon, Mars, and Beyond" is a vision in jeopardy.

    It is a problem because neither of the candidates, or their science advisor teams, has made space a top level priority, though all three proclaim strong support for the Space Program.

    The problem is twofold.

    On the one hand, partially because of the current war, partly because of the state of the economy which is not as strong and vigorous as it was four years ago, Congress and the Administration are facing a dire need to cut expenditures.

    On the other hand, this constant squabble over diminishing slices of a diminishing pie, pits those who should be allies in opposing positions. In our case, that means robotic planetary exploration and manned space programs.

    The hard facts are that different programs which should be funded separately are mischievously put into competition by the committees and subcommittees under which they are funded.

    Not only has it long been a mischievous tactic to pit NASA against HUD etc.,, it is mischievous to pit robotic exploration against manned space programs.

    Is there a way out? We think so, but it would be a hard sell.

    Divide NASA programs into two parts, robotic space exploration and manned space programs, under two different agencies, not one. Currently, even if Congress supports funding for both programs, the NASA Administrator has the power to pick and choose, for example, cutting planned robotic exploration so that the Moon program can continue, or vice versa.

    One thing many space advocates have been pushing for more than two decades is to make NASA a customer for space transportation services, not a provider. If we did that, the Constellation-Orion-Ares programs would be canceled, to the great advantage of commercial COTS type programs to create incentives for the Commercial Launch Services Industry to provide superior vehicles at lower launch costs. Competition alone can reduce outrageous space transportation costs.

    Then, even as NASA put out a call for proposals for providing crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station for the period between the mothballing of the remaining Space Shuttle fleet and the debut of service to the space station by commercial providers, the Agency could put out a call for moon base design, construction, and build out services to be provided commercially, and then, looking at the proposals, pick the best two for initial funding.

    No matter how highly we regard NASA on the basis of past achievements, the very way NASA works escalates costs and makes all space programs much more expensive than they would have to be. One of those cost factors is satisfying Congress and the population at large on safety. Both Congress and the American people at large are becoming increasingly risk averse in a way that betrays the pioneering frontier spirit of our ancestors. This development is not something of which to be proud. Commercial contractors can be more realistic. There has hardly been a major skyscraper or major bridge built without fatalities.

    We cannot continue to keep the space program hostage to the feint of heart. The timid who believe it is a God-given right of every person to die of old age must not be allowed to constrain the hopes and aspirations of our nation. Most of our leaders know that, of course, and that gives us hope that Space will not fall victim to those who would cease all this progress stuff, a problem addressed in the classic 1936 science fiction film, "The Shape of Things to Come."

    In the long haul, the only way we can assure our vision for Space, is to free it from the veto power of those for whom it is not a top level priority, that is, American taxpayers, NASA, for all its tremendous accomplishments, remains a socialized space program.

    Our number one legislative initiatives should be to continue in the fine tradition established by space enthusiasts in recent times to dissolve unnecessary roadblocks for commercial space enterprises. We have made progress, we need to make more.

    An incentive program on the order of a national X-prize program, might be established to give extra incentives to the commercial sector.

    And we should start creating incentives for power production companies (fossil fuel, and electrical power both) to develop space-based solutions and sources.

    National support for Space Tourism initiatives would also help.

    Now that would be the American Way!

    Do read George Whitesdies comprehensive presentation! The Moon Society lauds and supports this statement, and we have posted it, a 78k pdf file, on our website at:
    http://www.moonsociety.org/publications/papers/GW-ReauthorizingVSE.pdf

    We must all realize that just as NASA invests in redundancy to avoid systems failures, it is in our best interests to invest in redundancy at a higher level, so that if NASA fails, whether on its own or for lack of support in Congress and in the Administration, that our future in space will not fail with it.

    Putting all ones eggs in one basket has never been a good idea. Too many of us, I fear, have put all our vision eggs in the basket of NASA. We owe it to ourselves to invest in alternative options. We cannot and must not let the veto power of the public to decide the fate of our goals and aspirations. This is not an anti-NASA statement, it is an anti-one-basket-only statement.

    Peter Kokh, President, The Moon Society.

  • FCC denies license for 1 W demo

    FEDERAL COMMUNlCATlONS COMMISSlON
    Experimental Licensing Branch
    445 12th Street, S.W., Room 7A-321
    Washington, D.C. 20554

    May 07,2008

    Attn: Robert S Gammenthaler
    Moon Society, Inc
    P.O. Box: PO Box 940825
    Plano,
    TX 75094

    DISMISSED-WITHOUT PREJUDICE

    Dear Robert S Gammenthaler,
    This refers to application, File No. 0219-EX-ST-2008, for an experimental authorization.
    You are advised that the Commission is unable to grant your application for the facilities requested. There are possible harmful interferences to mobile satellite space-to-earth licensees.
    Responses to this correspondence must contain the Reference number : 6379

    Sincerely,

    Chief
    Experimental Licensing Branch

  • Growing Plants on the Moon

    A cool article Thursday April 17th titled Plants thrive on Moon rock diet. In short the scientists took crushed anorthosite a type of rock similar to rock on lunar surface and planted marigolds in it. The marigolds didn't do very well in the plain anorthosite. But in the anorthosite that they added bacteria to, the marigolds grew very well. Apparently the bacteria extracted minerals from the anorthosite such as phosphate that the plants were able to use.

    As a proof of concept this is great news, especially in light of Peter's In Focus article in the Moon Miner's Manifesto about breaking the umbilical cord. Being able to build a habitat that is as free as possible from the need of major resupply missions from Earth is a must for long-term outposts on the Moon and Mars. Remember microbes are our friends, even Earth would be an unpleasant place to try and survive with them.

    Extending this research would be a good space enthusiasts project. Grinding up various kinds of rock and figuring out what minimally needs to be added to make the 'soil' plant friendly.

    -Tom Greenwalt

  • Remembering Arthur C. Clarke

    Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_C._Clarke

    I grew up in the 1950s as an avid reader of science fiction. Right from the beginning, I took such a liking to stories by Arthur C. Clarke that I bought everything he put out.

    Unlike many others, who fantasized about things impossible, Clarke always wrote with his slide rule in hand (prehistoric prototype of the calculator for all you young'uns out there who missed the good old days.) Everything he wrote had that tangible touch of realism.

    While occasionally he reached out beyond the solar system and toyed with the unknown and sometimes the mystical, it was his solar system fiction that made the deepest impression on me.

    Many think of Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as the classic of lunar science fiction. But I enjoyed Clarke's "Earthlight" and "A Fall of Moondust" much more. Plus I disliked many of the recurrent themes in Heinlein's writings. It is Clarke's Moon novels, including 2001, that inspired me to try to get the feel of what it would be like, really, to be working, living, playing on the Moon. Moon Miners' Manifesto owes much to the inspiration I got from reading him.

    Space Elevator fans will find his Fountains of Paradise a must read. Fans of O'Neill type space settlements will find themselves in heaven, reading his "Rendezvous with Rama," about an ancient space settlement that wanders into the solar system from somewhere far beyond. The sequels are good too, but as often the case, it is the first of the series that is a classic.

    Clarke also wrote stories about Earth and if you are a fan of whales, "Deep Range" is a must read.

    It was easy for me to keep track of Clarke's age. We were both December born, exactly 20 years apart.

    I never met him, but I do remember listening him talk to us fans at a science fiction convention in Milwaukee in the mid to late 1980s.

    As someone who inspired my love of the Moon, Mars too, and of course, Europa, I owe him much. We all do. May he reach the stars before us and light the way!

    Peter Kokh, March 19, 2008

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