28 March 2008

Carnival of Space #47 Plus Exciting Bonus Topics

The Martian Chronicles hosts the 47th Carnival of Space (via NextBigFuture). This look at why the inflatable Bigelow space station may be a big improvement over the ISS boondoggle is worth a look.
Bigelow's modules on the other hand, may not only be cheaper to launch into space, but may be safer as well, as its thick outer skin may be able to take "a greater punch" than its metallic rivals.

These inflatable modules may also more expendable than their more rigid cousins, as it would be much easier to replace a module or two (like a Pontoon bridge), than an entire section of a more traditional space station.____Much more at_ColonyWorlds
Brian Wang at NextBigFuture reports on fascinatingnew ways to increase the efficiency of heat and radioactives to electricity.
Materials that directly convert radiation into electricity could produce a new era of spacecraft and even Earth-based vehicles powered by high-powered nuclear batteries, say US researchers.

Electricity is usually made using nuclear power by heating steam to rotate turbines that generate electricity....US researchers say they have developed highly efficient materials that can convert the radiation, not heat, from nuclear materials and reactions into electricity.

Liviu Popa-Simil, former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear engineer and founder of private research and development company LAVM and Claudiu Muntele, of Alabama A&M University, US, say transforming the energy of radioactive particles into electricity is more effective.

The materials they are testing would extract up to 20 times more power from radioactive decay than thermoelectric materials, they calculate.___NewScientist__via__NextBigFuture
Getting 20 times the electricity from nuclear batteries also sounds good, using the direct radioactivity-to-electricity nanotube approach. One more advantage to nanotech.

Brian Westenhaus at NewEnergyandFuel presents a new way to produce bio-gasoline. This method would not depend upon the use of food to make fuel. As more food-free ways are developed to produce bio-energy, the cries of those who claim that bio-fuels take milk out of the mouths of babies are sounding shrillier (shrill + sillier) all the time.

Right. We all should have known the ISS would turn out to be a boondoggle after Al Gore personally involved himself in outsourcing large parts of it to Russia (the parts that don't work). Bigelow's approach is better thought out, and until automated construction methods using space materials are developed to build space stations and habitats, Bigelow's habitats are simply better.

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Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

"of a more traditional space station."

Why isn't anybody else's irony alarm going nuts?

Am I to only one here that attended meetings about the L5 Society?

Friday, 28 March, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Larry, can you enlarge on your comment a bit? Right now, the most traditional space station going is the ISS, so that is what the Bigelow habitat is being compared to.

I remember sitting in on talks by Gerard O'Neill and Eric Drexler talking about their ideas for mass drivers on the moon sending moon-mass to L4, L5 for building large-scale habitats.

Those ideas predated the "L5 Society". It doesn't do any good to think about the "best laid plans of mice and men" and how the government screwed the pooch.

Attention Earthlings: Your plans for colonizing the solar system have been set back at least 50 years, thanks to the idiots who have been running your governments.

Friday, 28 March, 2008  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

I was trying to shine a light on the word "traditional" as a differentiator among space stations, in the way we talk about a Victorian house.

Has not been that long since "space station" need be qualified as "science fiction" or "could actually happen".

Friday, 28 March, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for the clarification, Larry.

All I remember from the L5 Society days is how optimistic about space everyone was back then.

Friday, 28 March, 2008  

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