Misc: Rockets and Relativity + Orbitmuse’s space entrepreneurial network and technology platform + New Worlds 2018

Some items of interest found recently in my email box:

** Rockets and Relativity | Adventures in Physics and the Cosmos by Jeff Palmer

Over the past few years, with the aim of sharing my lifelong enthusiasm for Space Science with other people young and old, I have developed a series of Excel spreadsheets that explore many of the core ideas in Astronautics. Using Newton’s laws of motion and gravity and employing only basic mathematics they demonstrate that the flight of a Rocket attempting to achieve orbit around a chosen planet at a target height can be realistically modelled in a spreadsheet.

The Rocket’s ascent trajectory and any resulting circular or elliptical orbit are calculated based on the spreadsheet user’s input parameters for the space mission. The parameters determine the configuration of a two stage Rocket, specify the characteristics of a planet, and define the guidance instructions that the Rocket must follow.

I have also developed a spreadsheet that explores the concepts in Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity in some depth. The main concepts in the theory are illustrated using a series of worked examples, where again only basic mathematics is involved.

If this is of any interest to you, please visit my website www.rocketsandrelativity.co.uk to see details about my two books which feature the spreadsheets and explain their design. The spreadsheets are available for free download from the site to enable readers to “fly” their own orbital missions, and to experiment with the ideas in Special Relativity.

I am in the process of developing a rather more ambitious spreadsheet that models the soft landing of a Spacecraft from orbit around an airless planet using only Rocket thrust. This is the subject of my third book which I plan to publish in 2019.

In addition, I have developed a range of supporting PowerPoint slides and animations for use in presentations and demonstrations.

“ROCKETS ORBITS AND NEWTON” – Astronautics topics covered in the book:

  • Newton’s laws of motion and gravity
  • Mass, weight, inertia and weightlessness
  • Factors in the design of a high performance Rocket
  • Circular motion and the conditions required for a circular orbit
  • Guiding Rockets by vectoring their thrust
  • Comparing the performance of a single and a two stage Rocket
  • Modelling a two stage Rocket’s flight to orbit
  • Modelling elliptical orbits

 “LIGHT NEEDS TIME” – Special Relativity topics covered in the book:

  • Spacetime diagrams
  • Moving clocks and rulers
  • Loss of simultaneity
  • Summing relative speeds
  • Momentum and Energy
  • High speed space missions

** Community Development PartnershipOrbitmuse Inc. and NewSpace Chicago

Orbitmuse Inc. and NewSpace Chicago are pleased to announce a ground breaking Community Development Partnership to bring the Space and Aerospace entrepreneurial communities in the Midwest to the forefront of the New Space Race. The partnership aims to promote Orbitmuse’s Habitat strategic partnership location within mHUB Chicago and inspire growth in start-up interest in the Chicagoland business community.

Orbitmuse Inc. is the global Space and Aerospace entrepreneurial network and technology platform providing the essential tools and education to fund, build, and launch your Space, Aerospace, UAV, or Defense venture. Orbitmuse’s product offerings include Habitat, co-working and innovation facilities with dynamic state-of-the-art prototyping labs and startup resources; Boost, a specialized crowdfunding platform designed to promote and fund your projects; and Masters, the one-of-a-kind learning platform to bring your business and technologies to life.

NewSpace Chicago (“NSC”) is the premier Midwest community of professionals and investors driving commercialization and development of Space. NSC is promoting Chicago as a Center of Excellence for new commercial Space, Space-related, and Space-scalable ventures. NSC sponsors monthly network events and other programs supporting Space entrepreneurship in Chicago. With deep roots in the startup and technology communities, NSC provides a strong local presence for Orbitmuse to accelerate its growth in the Midwest. Building on the organic momentum of NSC’s community of nearly 400 members, this partnership provides exciting new opportunities for mentorship, investment, and active participation in Orbitmuse’s ecosystem by the Chicago community.

Together, the partnership aligns our core missions and will help our communities succeed with greater insight and resources. Members at Orbitmuse’s Habitat location within mHUB will have access to Orbitmuse’s global space entrepreneurship network and mHUB’s unparalleled coworking and innovation facility, with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment and resources, including a fully equipped 3D Printer Lab, Cold Metals Lab, Electronics Lab, Hot Metals Lab, Laser Cutting Lab, and Plastics Lab.

** New Worlds 2018 – Nov. 9-10, Austin, Texas

Join an exclusive group of the world’s leading space science, business, engineering, and policy leaders as we plan the first colonies on the Moon, Mars, and in Free Space.

Interactive Discussions: Meet the leaders of space settlement and space commerce during interactive panel discussions on topics such as Commercial Lunar Missions, Farmers in the Sky, Who Owns the Moon?, Sex in Space, and more. For details on the New Worlds discussion topics, click here.

Sharks in Space: In this “Shark Tank” style competition, six space companies will present their investor pitch to a judging panel of top space investors who will decide who takes home the big check. The audience choice winner will take home a cash prize as well! For more information on the competition, or to submit an entry click here.

For more details on the complete New Worlds agenda, confirmed speakers, and other conference events and activities, please visit us online at NewWorlds2018.space.


Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: The First Manned Mission to Another World


SpaceMissions – a 3D Solar System & Space Missions Simulator

Adrian Wenz at Binary Space informs me that SpaceMissions™ is now available in the Microsoft Store. SpaceMissions™ is

a 3D Solar System & Space Missions Simulator supporting most Earth-centric spacecraft as well as some selected interplanetary missions (like MSL, Rosetta, OSIRIS-REx and more): Travel through our Solar System, visit planets, comets, asteroids and watch critical maneuvers of interstellar probes at any time from any desired perspective.

Adrian tells me that the program will be further improved in a “step by step by adding more space missions (e.g. Insight), features and by removing any detected bugs”.

Here is a clip showing some of the features of the program (which was referred to as SpaceTraveller during its development):


Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto

Videos: IAC 2018 presentations

Some of the presentations at the most recent International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2018) have been posted on Youtube. Here is a sampling:

** Reusability: The Key to Reliability and Affordability – Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX

[ Oct.29.2018: For some reason, this video was removed from the IAC 2018 video play list. Hopefully, this is temporary. In the meantime, these two videos made by a person in the audience show Koenigsmann’s talk. The audio and video quality are actually pretty good.


** URBAN: Conceiving a Lunar Base Using 3D Printing Technologies

** The Next Generation Plenary – Small Sats – Involving Everyone through Their Applications

** Commercial Platforms on the International Space Station – New Low Cost Opportunities for Commercial and Institutional Missions


The High Frontier: An Easier Way


Sci-Tech: Volocopter to demo electric vertical take-off and landing air taxis in Singapore in 2019

I’ve posted here many times over the years about vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles, particularly those derived from electric multi-rotor drone style technologies. There are dozens of companies developing such vehicles for personal and commercial transport services. Volocopter is one such company in Germany whose VTOL vehicle designs clearly follow the drone approach and is nearing commercial takeoff. They just announced an agreement with the government o fSingapore to begin demonstration tests in 2019 of air taxi services:

Volocopter to Test its Electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) Air Taxis in Singapore

Bruchsal/Paris/Singapore, October 2018 – Volocopter, the pioneer in urban air mobility, announced today during Autonomy – the Summit of Urban Mobility in Paris, that they will perform a next set of inner urban flight tests in Singapore. The series of test that are scheduled to take place in the second half of 2019 are supported by the Ministry of Transport (MOT), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), and Economic Development Board (EDB).

These flight tests are designed to validate and verify the ability of Volocopter’s eVTOL vehicles to operate in Singapore’s urban environment and will culminate in public demo flights. Volocopter and CAAS will work together to establish the scope of the flight trials and ensure that the necessary requirements are met before flight tests are allowed to commence. In addition to the flight tests, Volocopter will be setting up a product design and engineering team in Singapore to support its expansion plans. They are also looking for real-estate developers, mobility providers and businesses ready to join their quest to enable air taxis in Singapore.

Volocopters are emission-free, electrically powered aircraft that take off and land vertically. They resemble a helicopter in looks, but are based on drone technology and can fly two people for just short of 30 km. The Volocopter is designed specifically for inner city missions. It features an extremely stable flight allowing it to maneuver micro turbulences around skyscrapers, thus offering a smooth ride for passengers. It is so quiet that at a flight height of 100 m, it cannot be heard over the typical background noise of a city.

“There is potential for air taxis, or eVTOLs, to transform mobility and logistics in urban cities. Volocopter is at the forefront of such new and innovative technology in the aviation industry. CAAS is pleased to work together with Volocopter to study the technical capabilities and develop appropriate operational guidelines to facilitate such trials in Singapore,”

said Mr. Ho Yuen Sang, Director (Aviation Industry), CAAS.

Mr. Tan Kong Hwee, Executive Director EDB Singapore said, “Volocopter’s decision to set up a local product design and engineering team in Singapore is a testament to Singapore’s aerospace engineering talent, as well as our prime position for industry players. We are excited to welcome Volocopter to Singapore and look forward to our future partnerships.”

“We are getting ready to start implementing the first fixed routes in cities,” says Florian Reuter CEO of Volocopter. “Singapore is a logical partner: The city is a true pioneer in technology and city development. We are confident this is another exciting step to make air taxi services a reality.”

Volocopter holds a preliminary permit to fly from the German authorities since 2016 and is cooperating with the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) to receive a full commercial license. They fly regularly in Germany and have performed numerous public flights.

First manned flight with Alexander Zosel in March 2016.

In September 2017 Volocopter performed a public unmanned test flight in Dubai, where they partnered with the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai in their endeavor to implement air taxis into the public transportation mix.

You can find high-res images here >>

About Volocopter: Volocopter is the global leader in the development of electrical vertical take-off and landing multicopters (eVTOL) as autonomous air taxis to fly people safely to their destination. The technical platform is extremely flexible and permits piloted, remote controlled, and fully autonomous flight. In addition, the unique design offers unprecedented degrees of safety based on the high level of redundancy in all critical components. As early as 2011 the company earned its entry into the history of aviation through the manned flight of the world’s first purely electrical multicopter. Since then the young enterprise has set new milestones: In 2016 Volocopter was granted provisional licensing for a two-seater Volocopter by the German aviation authorities and in 2017 the aviation start-up showcased the first ever autonomous flight of an air taxi in cooperation with RTA Dubai. In the meantime, the founders Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel have gathered a team of experienced managers like CEO Florian Reuter, CTO Jan-Hendrik and CFO Rene Griemens. This paved the way for the further expansion of the company. Daimler and Intel are among the investors in the company.

Website: volocopter.com      |       YouTube: youtube.com/volocopter