I have been “Whelmed” for several months (struggling to keep from being Overwhelmed !) and have posted very little. Since much has happened, I will try to catch up with update installments. Our NASA work went very well, and we are optimistic about the prospects for Phase 2 Funding! We not only demonstrated that we could accomplish the desired “Automated Celestial Navigation” on Mars and Earth's Moon, we were able to expand the applications for use on asteroids, on Mars' moons and other applications. We were also able to expand the system's utility to provide high quality records of all exploration activities and findings using the same basic hardware. We did find, and work around, a number of “Undocumented Features” of the commercial components we were using (and will probably continue to use) and had several pleasant surprises when expected problems didn't materialize, and component performance exceeded expectations. Both of these are typical in a development effort, with the former guaranteeing that the “Work Plan” and “Schedule” are edited early and often! In the context of this Forum, we are very pleased with our “Star Tracking” results, and in particular with those using a commercial 1 gram video camera. There is no question that we will be able to use these for precise navigation in ultralight lunar and interplanetary spacecraft! With all of the necessary hardware and analytic electronics, our system will probably be under 10 grams mass, a small part of a 1 to 3 kilogram “NanoCraft”, bound for aerocapture at Mars, or preparing for a Moon Landing! Our work on the PQ-Satellite cluster is also going well, with the mass of important systems shrinking as we progress. I confess to thoughts of not just the present 2 inch cube (120 gram mass), but of what we could fit into a One Inch Cube (15 gram mass)! A working satellite of that size is definitely feasible. On the other hand, we are also forcing some very sophisticated demonstration systems into the 2 inch cube. I am very optimistic about entrepreneurial space work, including human expeditions! It is easy to get discouraged about short term news, but I can see how much progress has been made since 2001, when I proclaimed “The Road to Space is OPEN!” (Open, but not Easy.) I had good reason (with supporting documentation) to make that claim in my 2001 “Bubonicon” presentation, and progress since only reinforces that conclusion. On the other hand, funding remains difficult to raise. Thus it is important to continue to focus on the smallest, lightest systems possible to accomplish a goal in space. Launch cost , per pound to orbit, will remain high, But: With serious mass minimization, even Human Interplanetary Expeditions are now affordable! .
Team Blog Posts
September 23, 2010
Closer to Spaceflight - Radio Licensing Complete for PQ-Gemini Satellite Cluster - to test Lunar Sample Return Systems!
August 13, 2010
August 7, 2010