Saturday, October 23, 2010

100-Year Spaceship Program

At a news conference held in San Francisco on Saturday, NASA Ames director Simon Worden talked about what his division was doing with funding from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Something he called the "Hundred Year Starship" project.

The project has been given $1 million dollars from DARPA and another $100,000 from NASA in the hopes of utilizing new propulsion ideas. One of which is familiar to Star Trek fans the world over: Electric propulsion.

Quoting Mr. Worden, “Anybody that watches the (Star Trek starship) Enterprise, you know you don’t see huge plumes of fire," he said. "Within a few years we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds.”

The Hundred Year Ship Project is now aimed at settling other worlds.

Mr. Worden is seeking out some billionaires the likes of which include Larry Page-Google founder, to help get the idea off the launch pad so to speak. Quoting again, "You don’t have to carry all the fuel," he said. "You use that energy from a laser or microwave power to heat a propellant; it gets you a pretty big factor of improvement. I think that’s one way of getting off the world.”

This news dovetails with a recent article published in the latest issue of Popular Science (November 2010), the cover article entitled "39 Days to Mars." It was an article that focus on former astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz and his Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) engine.

The VASIMR uses a electrical source such as a nuclear reactor or a solar generator to transform hydrogen gas into plasma. Powerful magnets then force the plasma out of the rocket engine up to 123,000 mph.

One can suppose that Mr. Worden was indeed referring to the VASIMR in his talks with Larry Page and at the news conference.

UPDATE (October 31, 2010): Found this interesting take on this subject here (

Ref. "NASA preps '100-year spaceship' program to boldly go where none have gone before" By Peter Farquhar. October 23, 2010. (
image is Star Trek USS Enterprise pulled off of the net from Paramount Pictures.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Use an Asteroid as a Space Station

President Obama says we should visit an asteroid instead of the Moon. Read what Ray Villard worte about on "Let's Build an Interplanetary Space Station." Link is in the Ref section as always, but I have included a few paragraphs as a preview below...

The Obama administration has directed NASA to send a manned mission to an asteroid by 2025. This is attractive because very little fuel is needed to land on an asteroid, and the journey is shorter than a trip to Mars.

There are over 1,000 NEAs to choose from. They've been popping up in the news almost weekly. Just this week a small townhouse-sized asteroid designated 2010 TD54 skimmed by us at an altitude just a few thousand miles above our geostationary communication satellites.

But rather than simply visiting a co-orbital asteroid and bringing back rock samples, the mission could be used as a step toward the ultimate goal of space colonization.

A carefully selected asteroid with the right density and strength could be hollowed out for an underground base to be established. This would provide a stable temperature, and shielding from micrometeorites and solar radiation. Solar power would be plentiful. This kind of engineering was talked about for a moon colony, but the freight costs to land people and equipment on an asteroid are much lower.

For the rest, please visit

Ref. "LET'S BUILD AN INTERPLANETARY SPACE STATION" by Ray Villard. October 14, 2010. (

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Big Apple UFO

A shiny object that appeared over Manhattan's West Side made the news today. Police and FAA claim it was nothing more than balloons. The object first appeared about 1:30pm in the afternoon. It appeared to be about 5,000 feet altitude.

For more information, read the orignal news article with the link info below.

Ref. NY Daily News. "Mystery shiny objects floating over Manhattan spark UFO frenzy" by BY Oren Yaniv, Rocco Parascandola and Lukas I. Alpert. October 13, 2010. (

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First Glide Flight of VSS Enterprise

October 10, 2010 over Mojave, California, Virigin Galactic tested its first commercial space craft in glide tests this date. VSS Enterprise (also known as SpaceShipTwo) was released from the White Knight carrier aircraft at an altitude of 45,000 feet. At the controls were Pete Siebold as pilot in command and Mike Alsbury as co-pilot.

For more details of this event, check out the actual news article. Pictures also came from this website.

1. (