December 04, 2016

Moon Express targets trips to the moon at $10,000 per person by 2026 and will use rocket with 3D printed parts

Naveen Jain, founder of Moon Express, sees moon exploration as part of a larger, ten-year vision that could span anywhere from research facilities for needed Mars-bound technologies to honeymoon destinations. That, and he’s eyeing SpaceX as a natural launch partner in reaching for those goals.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Jain expressed his reason for getting involved in private space exploration as one we are familiar hearing from Elon Musk: Multi-planetary habitation as a backup plan for the survival of the human race. With such a compatible perspective, Elon Musk and SpaceX certainly would seem to have many reasons to work with Moon Express in the future. Jain also expressed his willingness to work with Elon.

If all goes well in the space tourism economy, tourists will be able to book a flight to the moon within the next decade and stay in a hotel in orbit above Earth while watching cargo ship shuttle up from our planet’s surface, Jain told

Authorized for 2017 first rover mission and plans for lowering costs

In mid-2016, the U.S. Government authorized Moon Express to travel beyond Earth’s orbit and land on the Moon in 2017. This breakthrough U.S. policy decision provides authorization to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon’s surface, beginning a new era of ongoing commercial lunar exploration and discovery, unlocking the immense potential of the Moon’s valuable resources. Moon Express received the green light for pursuing its 2017 lunar mission following in depth consultations with the FAA, the White House, the State Department, NASA and other federal agencies.

With a launch date goal for 2017, Moon Express plans to send a rover to the moon’s surface to begin surveying its surface for the best locations for further operations to mine iron ore, water, rare Earth minerals, metals, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and helium-3. Jain believes that because the challenges presented by moon exploration are similar to those presented by Mars – challenges such as high radiation and vast temperature differences – SpaceX and Moon Express have plenty of reasons to work together.

Moon Express founder Naveen Jain plans to be selling lunar flights for $10,000 per seat in 2026, a feat made possible by the increased affordability of space travel technology.

The first rocket Moon Express will use next year during their historic private mission to the lunar surface, the company’s MX-1 lander perched atop a Rocket Lab Electron booster, will cost about $5 million.

After that, however, Jain expects the price to drop dramatically with the same spacecraft budgeted to run $2 million within five years, and within a decade seats on lunar flights will be available for about $10,000.

Moon Express will compete for the Google Lunar XPrize with their 2017 lunar mission. The contest is a $20 million race to be the first team to put a robotic lander on the moon and drive 1,640 feet while beaming HD video back to Earth; second place is worth $5 million and another $5 million is awarded for achieving various goals.

Rocket Lab Launcher

Rocket Lab's Rutherford engine is comprised of primarily all 3D-printed components, uses a batter-powered, electric turbopump to drive its propulsion and is capable of 4,600 pounds of thrust.

The Rutherford engine will power propulsion for both stages of Rocket Lab's Electron rocket, a 20-meter rocket created out of carbon composites. The lightweight rocket is capable of delivering 100kg payloads to a 500km Sun-synchronous orbit or 400kg payloads to lower Earth orbits, according to the company's founder, Peter Beck. The company's ambitious goal is to begin a schedule next year that would involve launching up to 100 payloads a year from its launch facility in New Zealand, at a price of just $4.9 million per launch.

Rocket Lab uses the Rutherford engine. It is an oxygen/kerosene pump fed engine specifically designed in-house for Election using an entirely new propulsion cycle. Its unique high-performance electric propellant pumps reduce mass and replace hardware with software.

They have a carbon composite rocket body.

US Electric car sales now over 1% of total US car sales

US electric car sales were 1.1% of total US cars sales in November, 2016

The Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 are coming in the next year — as well as significantly updated versions of the Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, Volkswagen e-Golf, Toyota Prius Plug-in/Prime, and Ford Focus Electric, as well as other completely new models like the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV, Smart ForFour Electric, and Hyundai Ioniq Electric — there may not be many more months where EVs are under 1% of the overall market.

It was a total of about 14000 electric car sales in the month.

In 2018, if the Tesla Model 3 can hit 360,000 annual car sales (30,000 per month), then overall electric car sales could be 60,000 per month. This would then be 4% of total US car sales.

The 2018 level could be at the best level that diesel cars have had in terms of market share and unit sales. 489,000 diesel cars were sold in 2014. This was about the peak because of the diesel emissions scandals.

China's $4 trillion OBOR will span 65 countries with 70% of the world's population

China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative is at the center of Asia's infrastructure buildout. Geographically, OBOR could span 65 countries responsible for roughly 70 percent of the world’s population. Economically, it could include Chinese investments approaching $4 trillion.

Asia's infrastructure market is growing by 8 percent annually over the next decade, rising to nearly 60 percent of the global total. All told, the region’s infrastructure needs are estimated to exceed $1 trillion annually.

Behind these big numbers are some big questions. To begin with, how is this mega-initiative manifesting itself on the ground? Are new projects economically viable? Looking further ahead, how might these new connections reshape flows of goods, people, data and ideas? What new economic and political realities might emerge?

There are also early signs of progress on the ground. As of mid-year, 39 railways between China and Europe were operational. Last month, a cargo train completed the first trip from China to Afghanistan.

Russian officials have welcomed China’s efforts in their backyard, even suggesting OBOR could be linked with the Eurasian Economic Union. Additionally, Russia aims to increase connectivity with Azerbaijan, Iran, and India through the North-South Transport Corridor. The route could cut transit costs by 30 percent and time by 40 percent from today’s 40-day maritime journey. It will take a major step forward in the coming months, when Iran and Azerbaijan’s railways are connected for the first time.

Asia is also connecting internally, especially in South and Southeast Asia. Though primarily focused on increasing connectivity within its own borders, India is working to strengthen links with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy aims to give India’s landlocked northeast region better access to its southern ports. It also revives the Trilateral Highway, an ambitious plan to connect India, Myanmar, and Thailand by road. Despite delays, India announced last month that it will extend the project to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, countries with more connections to global flows of trade, finance, people, and data grow by up to 40 percent more than less-connected countries. By continuing to drive demand, a more connected and integrated Asia would also benefit the rest of the world.

A study looks at two OBOR projects: Khorgos Gateway on the Kazakh-Chinese border and the Padma Bridge in Bangladesh. The goal is not to pass judgment on OBOR’s overall prospects, which could take years to assess and even longer to fully unfold. But it begins to lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive investigation. In particular, both cases illustrate the significant economic potential of today’s projects as well as the considerable barriers they’ll need to overcome.

The Khorgos Gateway was empty but is now a key part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. This area is now home to a massive industrial zone and logistics center called Khorgos Gateway. It’s equipped with customs and immigration facilities, cranes for switching containers between different railroad gauges, and dormitories for thousands of workers.

Some have said this spot could become a “New Dubai” if rail transport between Asia and Europe takes off in the coming years. By 2020, they estimate economic activity here will have increased 20-fold, supporting 50,000 jobs. For context, that’s roughly 40 percent of the surrounding district’s current population.

But success of these new overland routes is far from assured. Compared to sea freight, rail cuts the travel time between Asia and Europe in half. However, it’s also 2-5 times more expensive, which is one reason why 90 percent of today’s international trade travels by sea. To be sure, paying more for faster service makes sense for some products. In some cases, the additional transportation cost can be offset by lower inventory costs.

At least three challenges suggest maritime shipping could remain dominant. First, the shipping industry is overcapacity, compelling shipping companies to slash costs and even merge. Second, artic sea lanes are becoming more accessible. Finally, there are trade imbalances between Europe and China that make it difficult to sustain rail operations, underscored by the fact that a significant portion of rail containers return to China empty.

Of course, each of these factors could change in the future. For example, as Asian incomes rise, demand for European exports could increase. For the foreseeable future, however, each presents a significant challenge to the viability of new Asia-Europe overland routes.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has raised $30 million in capital and $77 million in commitments and land rights

Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) are the two main companies working on Elon Musk's vision of the Hyperloop.

Both have set eyes on similar markets - the US, Emirates, Northern and Eastern Europe - to try and launch a first prototype of the innovation. Both are working on a magnetic levitation system that could allow the new means of transportation to reach speeds up to 760 mph (1220 Km/h).

Hyperloop One so far raised much more money in venture capital ($160 million), while HTT has been focusing more on a crowdsourced approach, with high-level contributors volunteering their time in exchange for stock options.

HTT has raised a $30 million equity investment from EdgeWater Investments, plus an additional $29 million of commitments and in-kind investment from companies such as Carbures Europe, Atkins, Leybold GmbH and others. To that, the company claims, you should add $26 million in man-hours and services, and $22 million in land rights, bringing the total to more than $100 million in "investments".

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc. (HTT) was founded in November, 2013, birthed of JumpStartFund—a unique crowdfunding and crowdsourcing incubator platform that uses collective knowledge and assets to make ideas like Hyperloop™ a reality. HTT is a collaborative organization built within the egalitarian ecosystem of a company that values every one of its contributors—both individual and entity. Collaborations with groups such as Atkins, Leybold Corporation, and Deutsche Bahn have resulted in tremendous advancement of the Hyperloop™ transportation system, setting stage for commitment to an installation in Quay Valley, California.

HTT has an exclusive agreement with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for use their passive magnetic levitation system as the core of low-cost, safety-conscious construction and design in the Hyperloop™. The company is partnered with more than 600 professional team members who provide the company with engineering, physics, legal, human resources, media relations, logistics, and construction talent to fuel a company that is uniquely collaborative and talent-laden.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies envisions national and international networks of lines connecting major metropolitan regions in point-to-point service. Initially, HTT is focused on building a functional five-mile test track in Quay Valley, California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

HTT has reached an agreement with Slovakia to serve as a hub in developing an Hyperloop™ line connecting Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.

HTT is also researching an east-west line between Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia’s two largest cities, on opposite ends of the country, 250 miles apart. The estimated 25-minute trip by Hyperloop™ is more than 10 times faster than the current trip of 4.5 hours by car.

The Hyperloop enables construction and operation costs that are significantly lower than any other mass transport system. Thanks to the pylons, it can be built over land already in use for public transportation, such as in the medians of freeways minimizing footprint.

HTT (Hyperloop Transportation Technologies) and Deutsche Bahn launched a collaborative venture in July 2016 to create an “Innovation Train” that uses technologies being developed by HTT for the Hyperloop. Deutsche Bahn will finance implementations of the project, which will launch the first week of August on a production schedule that is expected to have the trains passenger-ready by the beginning of 2017.

December 03, 2016

Another Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 Trailer and other trailers

Russia developing Improved engines, weapons and bombs for the T-50 PAK-FA for F-22 competitive performance

Russia’s United Engine Corporation (UEC) has started ground testing a next-generation engine for the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter according to a statement by the company.

The PAK-FA—which is under development—is currently powered by a pair of 33,000-pound thrust class Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans. However, the AL-41F1—a version of which is also installed on the Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E—is not powerful enough to meet the requirements for the PAK-FA. Ultimately, the AL-41F is a highly modified derivative of the original Sukhoi Su-27’s AL-31F powerplant.

While the new engine—often referred to as the izdeliye 30—is being designed by the Lyul'ka design bureau under the leadership of general designer-director Eugene Marchukova, it is being tested at the Lytkarinsky Machine-Building Plant. It’s only with the addition of the second stage engine that the PAK-FA will meet the requirements of both the Russian and Indian air forces.

The designers expect to start testing the new engine on fighter jets in 2018, and for the motor to be fully integrated in 2020.

“In addition to the engine, a radar station also needs to be modified, and engineers need to remove the last deficiencies in the airframe concept, which, among all the aircraft flying today, is the most modern in the world,” said the analyst.

The powerplant is expected to deliver 24,054lbs dry thrust and 39,566lbs of afterburning thrust. With the new engine installed, the PAK-FA should be able to offer kinematic performance comparable to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor—cruising without afterburner at speeds exceeding Mach 1.5 with a maximum speed greater than Mach 2.0 at altitudes of around 60,000ft

New PAKFA fighter weapons - 30-mm cannon

The firing unit consists of one of the lightest cannon in its class, the 9-A1-4071K, which is designed to destroy armored vehicles or armored enemy targets. During one flight, the pilot can shoot 150 rounds from the 30-mm cannon.

Research suggests blackhole or wormhole tidal forces would not spaghettify the body

Some researchers believe a singularity can be removed from a black hole (have no event horizon) and this would be a wormhole.

They modelled observers (objects like a chair, a scientist, and a spacecraft ) as an aggregation of points connected by physical or chemical interactions that hold everything together as the object travels along a geodesic line. A geodesic line is simply the path in spacetime that a free-falling object follows.

“Each particle of the observer follows a geodesic line determined by the gravitational field,” says Rubiera-Garcia. “Each geodesic feels a slightly different gravitational force, but the interactions among the constituents of the body could nonetheless sustain the body.”

Research suggests tidal forces would not spaghettify the body

A tidal force is a difference in the strength of gravity between two points. The gravitational field of the moon produces a tidal force across the diameter of Earth, which causes the Earth to deform. It also raises tides of several meters in the solid Earth, and
larger tides in the liquid oceans.

If the tidal force is stronger than a body's cohesiveness, the body will be disrupted. The minimum distance that a satellite comes to a planet before it is shattered this way is called its Roche Distance. The artistic image to the left shows what tidal disruption could be like for an unlucky moon.

A human falling into a black hole will also experience tidal forces. In most cases these will be lethal. The difference in acceleration between the head and feet could be many thousands of Earth Gravities. A person would literally be pulled apart. Some physicists have termed this process spaghettification

New work suggests body can stay together

The impact of curvature divergences on physical observers in a black hole space–time, which, nonetheless, is geodesically complete is investigated. This space–time is an exact solution of certain extensions of general relativity coupled to Maxwell's electrodynamics and, roughly speaking, consists of two Reissner–Nordström (or Schwarzschild or Minkowski) geometries connected by a spherical wormhole near the center. We find that, despite the existence of infinite tidal forces, causal contact is never lost among the elements making up the observer. This suggests that curvature divergences may not be as pathological as traditionally thought.

Accurate IMF forecasts for nominal GDP and PPP GDP for next few years

The IMF predictions for nominal GDP and PPP were inaccurate in the early 2000s, because of adjustments that shifted purchasing power parity and currency fluctuations.

Currency is still fluctuating as the Chinese yuan has weakened enough to eliminate projected nominal GDP gains in 2016.

IMF nominal GDP projections

Purchasing power parity had a large adjustment a few years ago because the 2005 PPP study did not properly look at or weight the rural areas of China and India and other developing countries. This meant that purchasing power was a lot higher in developing countries.

Their could still be some adjustments in how GDP is accounted and purchasing power corrections but it seems that any adjustments will be a lot smaller.

In purchasing power parity GDP China will be at 120% of the US economy in 2017 and the IMF is projecting that China will gain about 5% each year. IMF projects China would be at 140% of the US economy in 2021.

China is at 60% of the US economy in nominal GDP terms (currency exchange basis). Currency moves will shift the GDP ratios around more than PPP.

India will be at 40% of the GDP of the USA and will gain about 5.5 percentage points on the US. IMF projects India to be at 62% of the US PPP GDP in 2021.

Japan is at 21% of the US economy PPP GDP wise and sliding to 15.8%
Germany is at 17.6% and UK and France are at 12%. Each of the european countries will grow less than the USA.

By 2029 or 2032, China should be double the economy of the USA in PPP GDP.

At some point it seems likely that the yuan will strengthen again versus the US dollar. The US dollar is currently very strong against all currencies.

IMF PPP GDP projections for 2020 and 2021

Offtopic - Tiger Woods is back and contending

December 02, 2016

Cannae will try to prove propellentless propulsion in space in 2017 and has ambitious space probe designs with 33 years of constant acceleration to reach 3% of lightspeed

NASA peer reviewed paper showed that they had tested the propellentless EMdrive propulsion on a highly sensitive device in a vacuum and detected 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt of propulsion.

Many remain unconvinced.

Despite having a setup that has been pretty much operating for years, how many data points are in the paper? Eighteen. Now, if this were a really time-consuming experiment, I wouldn't let that bother me. Hell, some synchrotron experiments have only a single data point. But this is clearly not a time-limited experiment.

The microwave was pulsed for about 40 seconds, and an entire data run seems to take about 200 seconds. Allowing five minutes between measurements, it should have been possible to record 12 data points for the same settings every hour. Indeed, although the researchers have numerous variables at their hands to change between experiments, they only play with one. In previous papers, they played with two, but still this limited exploration and limited data is really disheartening.

Then there's the error analysis: the authors estimate many measurement uncertainties so that each thrust measurement has an uncertainty of about ten percent. That sounds brilliant, right? Except the authors ignore the main uncertainties. In one experiment at 60 Watts of microwave power, the authors measure thrust of 128 microNewtons, while all three data points for 80 Watts of microwave power have thrusts of less than 120 microNewtons. Indeed, the thrust at 60 Watts for all data overlaps pretty much perfectly for all data taken at 80 Watts. They can only claim a slope by turning the power down to 40 Watts, where they do consistently measure less thrust.

The Cannae drive is also propellentless like the EMdrive but is a different design. They will test their system orbit in a cubesat in 2017

Cannae is not using an EmDrive thruster in their upcoming launch. Cannae is using it’s own proprietary thruster technology which requires no on-board propellant to generate thrust. In addition, this project is being done as a private venture. Cannae is only working with our private commercial partners on the upcoming mission.

Theseus Space is going to be launching a demo cubesat (probably in 2017) which will use Cannae thruster technology to maintain an orbit below a 150 mile altitude. This cubesat will maintain its extreme LEO altitude for a minimum duration of 6 months. The primary mission objective is to demonstrate our thruster technology on orbit. Secondary objectives for this mission include orbital altitude and inclination changes performed by the Cannae-thruster technology.

Cannae’s thruster technology is capable of generating thrust from a few uN up through several newton thrust levels and higher levels. The Cannae thruster technology is particularly useful for small satellite missions due to low power, mass and volume requirements. Our thruster configuration for the cubesat mission with Theseus is anticipated to require less than 1.5 U volume and will use less than 10 watts of power to perform station keeping thrusting.

Once demonstrated on orbit, Theseus will offer their thruster platforms to the satellite marketplace

Cannae is commercializing proprietary propulsion technology requiring no on-board propellant to generate thrust.

The core of their technology uses the Lorentz Force imbalances created by their thrusters to create propulsion. Cannae has demonstrated 2 separate prototypes of a superconducting thruster which requires no dielectric material to generate thrust.

Inventor, Guido Fetta, delivered a paper on superconducting prototype demonstration at the 2014 AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference. Cannae has since improved upon the initial design and has demonstrated improved thrust and performance of their superconducting prototype at their Pennsylvania test facility.

Cannae is also commercializing a thruster that does not require superconducting operation in order to generate thrust. This thruster also requires no on-board propellant to generate a Lorentz Force imbalance. Cannae has demonstrated prototypes of this new thruster technology at our Pennsylvania test facility.

Cannae has various deep space probes and space freighter designs if their in orbit tests work out

The deep space probe concept vehicle outlined in this section is used to propel a scientific instrument and communication payload with a mass of 2000 kgs to a 0.1 light year (LY) distance in a 15 year time frame. This vehicle uses existing superconductor and vehicle subsystem technology performance levels. No improvements to technological performance levels are required to build the vehicle described in this section.

There are 10 Cannae Drives included in the deep space probe design.

5 x 50 MHz Thruster cavities (continuously powered)

3 x 1 GHz Steering cavities (powered as needed)

2 x 1.5 GHz Roll-control cavities (powered as needed)

The 5 Cannae Drive thruster cavities provide continuous acceleration of 8.66 x 10^-3 m/s2 to the probe. This is equivalent to accelerating at 1/1132 G. The small acceleration is constantly applied in one direction throughout the life time of the probe, continually increasing the velocity of the probe with respect to the Earth reference frame. The total thrust developed by the 5 thruster cavities is 85.5 newtons.

The three medium sized Cannae Drive cavities provide steering for the probe. These cavities are intermittently powered to provide course corrections or for flight maneuvers.

The two small Cannae Drive cavities are used to modulate the roll rate of the space probe. These cavities are also used intermittently.

All of the Cannae Drives are fixed in position on the vehicle. This eliminates moving parts from the propulsion system, allowing for longevity of operation.

Deep space probe cavity design

The Cannae Drive cavities are manufactured of aluminum. Aluminum (or another appropriate alloy) is used to minimize the thruster system mass. A substrate layer is then coated on the inside of the cavity. A top coat of 400 nm YBCO layer is then deposited over the substrate layer.

The thrusting cavities are designed with asymmetric features in areas of high electric field and in areas of high magnetic field. The average effective differential in axially-directed radiation pressure is 15% over the entire cross section of each thruster cavity. The unbalanced force developed in the thruster cavity is directed through the axial center of the 5 thruster cavities.

The design maximum H-field on the top plate of the thruster cavity is 4000 A/m with nominal maximum operating H-field on the top plate of 3270 A/m. This relatively low field is used to prevent field emission in the areas of high E-field and to keep the ohmic losses in the regions of high H-field to a minimum.

The Cannae Drive deep-space probe is designed to measure the environment of the interstellar medium. To do this, the vehicle is launched to LEO on a standard launch vehicle. The diameter of the probe in launch configuration is 4.8 meters with a height of 10 meters. These dimensions allow the probe to fit into a standard 5-meter launch vehicle fairing.

Once the vehicle is in LEO, the thruster system is powered and the vehicle accelerates in the direction of its Earth orbit. This causes the probe to slowly spiral away from Earth until it eventually escapes into deep space. The probe continues to accelerate, increasing its velocity and overcoming the gravitational attraction of the Sun. The vehicle will reach escape velocity from the Sun without gravity assists in less than 2 months.

During the LEO-to-solar-escape-velocity phase of the mission, a light-weight radiation shield is deployed to shield the thruster section of the probe from Earth’s thermal radiation and from solar radiation. Once the vehicle flight path is directed away from the Sun, the radiation shield is ejected from the probe. The temporary shielding is not depicted in Figure 1.

The probe is designed to accelerate continuously throughout its operational life time. The mission duration is designed to be 15 years, with mission-life extensions probable. After 15 years of constant 8.65 x 10-3 m/s2 acceleration, the vehicle will reach a distance from Earth of 0.1 LY (approximately 600 billion miles). At 0.1 LY, the vehicle will be travelling at approximately 1.35 % the speed of light (c). At a 0.1 LY distance, it will require over 1 month to send or receive radio signals between the probe and Earth.

For comparison, the Voyager 1 probe is currently travelling at 17.06 km/s. The Cannae-Drive-propelled, deep-space probe increases by the Voyager speed of 17.06 km/s every 23.1 days. Accelerating at design level, the Cannae-Drive-deep-space probe passes the Voyager distance from Earth (120 AU) within 2.0 years of probe launch. The Voyager required almost 35 years to reach this distance. Voyager 1 continues to increase its distance from Earth and will reach a distance of 0.1 LY in a total travel time of 1780 years. The Cannae Drive probe requires 15 years from launch to travel 0.1 LY and the thruster system uses less than 100 watts RF power to do so.

For additional comparison, a propellant-based probe designed to accelerate a 2000 kg payload to a velocity of 1.35% c (the speed of the Cannae Drive probe when it passes 0.1 LY) would require a minimum of 1.8 x 1021 kgs of propellant. This calculation assumes a propellant specific impulse of 10,000 seconds with zero structural, propellant tank and power system mass (final vehicle mass is 2000 kgs). Assuming the propellant has a specific gravity of 1, this amount of propellant could cover the entire surface area of the Earth to a height of over 2 miles. If power and structural mass estimates for the propellant-based probe are included in the propellant-requirement calculation, the situation gets much worse.

The Cannae Drive probe reaches a distance from Earth of 0.1 LY in 15 years. Because of the simplicity of design and lack of moving parts, it is anticipated that the vehicle will continue to accelerate and will continue to transmit data back to Earth. The Voyager and Pioneer deep-space probes have demonstrated that multi-decade missions are achievable. The RTG’s of the Cannae Drive probe are designed to deliver the power required to generate up to 100 watts of RF power to the thruster cavities. As RTG power levels drop below end-of-life design levels, RF power to the cavities will also drop below the 73 watt design level. As long as phase-locked power is sent to the thruster cavities, the probe will continue to accelerate. The acceleration of the probe is directly proportional to the RF power sent into the cavities. Given the proven longevity of RTGs in space applications, the Cannae Drive probe could continue to accelerate and send back data on the interstellar medium for decades.

After 33 years of constant 8.66 x 10-3 m/s2 acceleration, the Cannae Drive probe will have crossed a distance of 0.5 LY from Earth while attaining a speed of approximately 3% of c.

For deep-space applications, a Cannae Drive probe outperforms propellant-driven systems by orders of magnitude. Travel times and vehicle velocities that are impossible for propellant based systems are achievable with a Cannae Drive system. The Cannae Drive technology allows new deep-space missions that have previously existed only in science fiction.

They have space freighter design hat is based on the reactionless thrust of the Cannae Drive. This freighter is a satellite that is launched to LEO on a standard 5 meter fairing launch vehicle. Once in orbit, the freighter is used to raise the orbits of other satellites that are already in a LEO orbit. The value of the freighter is that significant reductions in launch costs are achieved. Satellites that are destined for orbits higher than LEO require only the launch costs associated with the LEO launch. For larger GEO satellites, the launch cost savings can amount to greater than $200 million per satellite.

Mass: 10,000 KGS
Solar power required: 4000 Watts
LENGTH: 10 Meters

Water can freeze at 105 to 151 degrees celsius inside of carbon nanotubes and can enable ice wires for conducting protons

A team at MIT has found a completely unexpected set of changes: Inside the tiniest of spaces — in carbon nanotubes whose inner dimensions are not much bigger than a few water molecules — water can freeze solid even at high temperatures that would normally set it boiling.

The discovery illustrates how even very familiar materials can drastically change their behavior when trapped inside structures measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. And the finding might lead to new applications — such as, essentially, ice-filled wires — that take advantage of the unique electrical and thermal properties of ice while remaining stable at room temperature.

“If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can actually distort its phase behavior,” Strano says, referring to how and when the substance changes between solid, liquid, and gas phases. Such effects were expected, but the enormous magnitude of the change, and its direction (raising rather than lowering the freezing point), were a complete surprise: In one of the team’s tests, the water solidified at a temperature of 105 C or more. (The exact temperature is hard to determine, but 105 C was considered the minimum value in this test; the actual temperature could have been as high as 151 C.)

Water’s behavior changes inside the tiny carbon nanotubes — structures the shape of a soda straw, made entirely of carbon atoms but only a few nanometers in diameter — depends crucially on the exact diameter of the tubes. “These are really the smallest pipes you could think of,” Strano says. In the experiments, the nanotubes were left open at both ends, with reservoirs of water at each opening.

Even the difference between nanotubes 1.05 nanometers and 1.06 nanometers across made a difference of tens of degrees in the apparent freezing point, the researchers found. Such extreme differences were completely unexpected. “All bets are off when you get really small,” Strano says. “It’s really an unexplored space.”

Strano and his team used highly sensitive imaging systems, using a technique called vibrational spectroscopy, that could track the movement of water inside the nanotubes, thus making its behavior subject to detailed measurement for the first time.

The team can detect not only the presence of water in the tube, but also its phase, he says: “We can tell if it’s vapor or liquid, and we can tell if it’s in a stiff phase.” While the water definitely goes into a solid phase, the team avoids calling it “ice” because that term implies a certain kind of crystalline structure, which they haven’t yet been able to show conclusively exists in these confined spaces. “It’s not necessarily ice, but it’s an ice-like phase,” Strano says.

Because this solid water doesn’t melt until well above the normal boiling point of water, it should remain perfectly stable indefinitely under room-temperature conditions. That makes it potentially a useful material for a variety of possible applications, he says. For example, it should be possible to make “ice wires” that would be among the best carriers known for protons, because water conducts protons at least 10 times more readily than typical conductive materials. “This gives us very stable water wires, at room temperature,” he says.

Evidence of filling and phase transition of water inside carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

Nature Nanotechnology - Observation of extreme phase transition temperatures of water confined inside isolated carbon nanotubes

Carnival of Space 486

The Carnival of Space 486 is up at Stylish Stem

Cassini spacecraft prepares for incredible ‘Ring-Grazing Orbits’ at Saturn

Cassini will be flying just past the edge of Saturn’s main rings. These close passes by the rings are called “Ring-Grazing Orbits,” during which Cassini will come within 90,000 kilometres (56,000 miles) of Saturn itself. Cassini will also use the gravitational pull of Titan to help do this, by passing close to the large moon. Titan’s gravity can affect the spacecraft’s direction and speed as it moves in closer to Saturn.

Universe Today - Japanese Company Plans Artificial Meteor Shower

A company named Sky Canvas plans to launch a colorful artificial meteor shower barrage via micro-satellite.

In the ‘strange but true department’ and a plan that would make any super-villain envious, a Japanese start-up plans to shoot meteoroids at the Earth to create the first orchestrated artificial meteor shower.

Europe will have to raise military capabilities - how much happens will be seen over the next few years

The members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) pledged in 2014 to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic products by 2024

During the campaign, President elect Trump indicated that he would only support NATO only if NATO countries met their commitments.

Mr. Trump raised alarm during the election campaign when he questioned whether the United States would automatically defend NATO allies if they were attacked. Mr. Trump said American support would depend on the willingness of those countries to pay their fair share for military protection.

He has also called NATO “obsolete” and said that the alliance was failing to fight terrorism.

Those allies not willing to pay for American military protection, he warned, could receive a stark message: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”

There have been calls for Europe to offset its dependence on American defense have been intensifying since Mr. Trump’s election. In an interview with Reuters this week, Roderich Kiesewetter, a spokesman on foreign policy for Ms. Merkel’s conservative bloc in the German Parliament, said that Europe needed to think about developing its own nuclear deterrent strategy, given the possibility of a retrenchment under Mr. Trump.

Mr. Kiesewetter said that Germany, the largest economy in the 28-member European Union, could play a central role in urging nuclear powers like Britain and France to take over from the United States in providing nuclear security guarantees for the rest of the region.

The UK meets its 2% commitment. The UK defense minister is trying to use the election of Trump to get more movement from other countries to raise their military capabilities.

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