Category Archives: Future space

Proposals, speculation, etc regarding the future of space and humanity’s place in it.

“Frozen Orbit” – A new space novel by Patrick Chiles

Patrick Chiles has released the new novel, Frozen Orbit:

The Beginning of Life Awaits at the End of the Solar System

Frozen Orbit by Patrick Chiles

When a tiny space probe hurtled past Pluto in 2015, no one could know that its most amazing discovery would remain hidden for years. Only when a long-lost Soyuz is destroyed in the skies above Siberia does the truth begin to emerge.

About to embark on NASA’s first expedition to the outer planets, the crew of the spacecraft Magellan learns someone else has beaten them by a few decades: a top-secret Soviet project codenamed Arkangel. It was a mission that began before most of them were even born, and the Kremlin believes it drove their most trusted crew mad.

During their long race to the Kuiper Belt, astronauts Jack Templeton and Traci Keene unwind a decades-old mystery buried in the pages of a dead cosmonaut’s journal. Challenging their own beliefs about the nature of humanity, they will soon confront the question of existence itself.

Check out also Patrick’s other novels, Farside and Perigee.

[ Update: Some comments from Patrick about the new book: What Were You Thinking? – The Chiles Files.]

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Frozen Orbit

Note: The Amazon links here result in commissions for HobbySpace if click-throughs lead to purchases.

2019 NIAC Symposium presentations

Check out the presentations on leading edge space technologies given this week at the 2019 NIAC Symposium via the videos on Livestream. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program provides modest amounts of funding to projects that are too close to (or too over) the leading edge for the usual SBIR type of research grants.

Here is the symposium’s agenda (pdf):

Below is a video of this morning’s session with the following speakers:

  • Phase I Fellow Joel Sercel, Lunar-Polar Propellant Mining Outpost (LPMO): Affordable Exploration and Industrialization, TransAstra Corporation
  • 2019 Phase I Fellow John Slough, Crosscutting High Apogee Refueling Orbital Navigator (CHARON) for Active Debris Removal, MSNW LLC
  • 2019 Phase I Fellow George Sowers, Thermal Mining of Ices on Cold Solar System Bodies, Colorado School of Mines
  • 2019 Phase I Fellow Robert Staehle, Low-Cost SmallSats to Explore to Our Solar System’s Boundaries, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Moon Rush: The New Space Race

Xplore and Arch Mission Foundation to fly knowledge archives to space destinations

An announcement from the Arch Mission Foundation and Xplore:

Xplore and the Arch Mission Foundation partner to fly Arch™ Libraries
to the Moon, Mars, Venus and Asteroids
Arch™ Libraries will fly on Xplore missions beginning in 2021
to cislunar and interplanetary destinations.

June 11, 2019, Seattle, WA – Xplore and the Arch Mission Foundation today announced that Xplore spacecraft will host specially designed Arch Libraries on its planned missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus and Near-Earth Asteroids starting in 2021.

“Our civilization’s knowledge is precious. Helping distribute Arch™ Libraries in space is an important way to secure this valuable data. The Xplore team is proud to host the Lunar Library™ payload on our missions,”

said Jeff Rich, CEO of Xplore.

“These archives provide a personal connection to space,” said Jeff Rich. As an Arch Strategic Advisor, Mr. Rich’s image was etched into nickel and included on the Arch™ Lunar Library in 2019. “It is humbling to know my image is likely intact on the Moon’s surface. Soon we will enable everyone to bring their life into space as millions of individuals can include photos and stories in the Arch™ Libraries.”

[ Nova Spivack, Co-founder and CEO of the Arch Mission Foundation, said,]

“We are thrilled to work with Xplore, and join their mission to expand human knowledge through scientific space explorations,” […] “Partnering with Xplore enables us to continue expanding our Lunar Library™, and establish new Arch Libraries throughout our solar system as part of our Billion Year Archive. We are thankful to generous partners like Xplore who believe in our mission and are willing to help us achieve it.”

The Billion Year Archive™ is a solar system-wide collection of Arch Libraries that can preserve, connect, and share humanity’s knowledge for billions of years, and serve as a backup of planet Earth. Xplore and the Arch Mission Foundation are enabling new demonstration missions that expand the Billion Year Archive™ throughout the solar system. Together they will develop technologies that ensure the Arch Library’s 30 million pages of contents are detectable and functioning after extended time periods in deep space.

Sketch of an Xplore XCRAFT.

About Xplore: Xplore is a privately-funded commercial space company focused on the scientific exploration of our solar system. The mission of Xplore is to expand human knowledge beyond Earth via continuous commercial Xpedition™ missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus, and Near-Earth Asteroids. Xplore has been building its strategy, team and spacecraft since 2017 and is planning missions beginning in 2021.

Xplore provides hosted payload Xpedition™ services for scientific instruments, branding, technology demonstrations, tributes, memorials, art and custom payloads, opening up interplanetary space to national space agencies, researchers, companies, non-profit organizations and individuals. Visit:

About The Arch Mission Foundation: Co-founded by Nova Spivack and Nick Slavin, the Arch Mission Foundation is a non-profit organization that maintains a backup of planet Earth, designed to continuously preserve and disseminate humanity’s most important knowledge across time and space. Visit:

“Nanofiche can also store up to 2,000 analog pages of text at 150 dpi, per square centimeter. For example a 20 x 20 mm nickel Nanofiche sheet can hold up to 8,000 pages of text rendered at 150 dpi. At this resolution, a letter size page of Nanofiche would hold up to 1.2 million analog images and pages of text!” – Arch Mission


Note that one archive of the Arch Lunar Library™ made it to the Moon this year, hopefully in one piece: The Lunar Library: Genesis — Arch Mission Foundation

The Arch Lunar Library™ represents the first in a series of lunar archives from the Arch Mission Foundation, designed to preserve the records of our civilization for up to billions of years. It is installed in the SpaceIL “Beresheet” lunar lander, which crashed on the Moon in April of 2019.

Currently it is believed that the Lunar Library survived the crash of Beresheet and is intact on the Moon according to our team of scientific advisors based on imagery data provided by NASA’s LRO.

The Lunar Library contains a 30 million page archive of human history and civilization, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods.

Another archive is on a Tesla that travels between Mars and Earth.


The Case for Space:
How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up
a Future of Limitless Possibility

Spaceflight roundup – Jan.2.2019

A sampling of items about the state of space development in the past year and in the coming year(s):

** Bob Zimmerman reviews the global rocket launch pace in 2018 and discusses the outlook for the new year: The 2018 global launch race plus predictions for 2019 | Behind The Black.

The most significant achievement in 2018 is clearly China’s rise as a space power. That nation had predicted it would complete 40 launches in 2018. That prediction turned out to be largely accurate. China completed 38 successful rocket launches, almost doubling its previous yearly launch record. It also fixed the issues with their biggest rocket, the Long March 5, laying the groundwork for the launch of their own space station. In addition, they launched Chang’e-4 to the Moon, aimed at being the first spacecraft to land softly on the Moon’s far side. While this is not their first lunar lander/rover, it likely initiates a much more aggressive and fast-paced planetary program for the coming years.

** Indian has set a goal of putting three astronauts into orbit by 2022: India is Going to be Sending Three People to Space in Three Years – Universe Today

During a cabinet-level meeting that took place on Friday, Dec. 25th, the government of India announced that the Indian Space Research Organization‘s (ISRO) first crewed mission to space will consist of a three-astronaut team being sent to orbit. The government also announced that they had a approved a budget of $1.4 billion to fund the development of the requisite technology and infrastructure for the program.

The decisions to send astronauts to space was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15th, during India’s Independence Day celebrations. At that time, Modi directed the ISRO to conduct a crewed mission to orbit by 2022, which would coincide with the 75th anniversary of India gaining its independence.

More about the Indian human spaceflight program:

** Tim “The Everyday Astronaut” Dodd reviews the space highlights of 2018:

** A review of the past year at 2018 Cosmic Wrapup – Orbit 11.50 – TMRO

** Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society, “takes us on a tour of the spacecraft currently exploring from within our solar system. All planets and spacecraft locations are shown at their location for January 1st, 2019.”

** Virgin Orbit, one of many companies around the world developing small rockets to orbit small satellites,  highlights developments in 2018 that will lead to their first orbital flights in 2019:

** Writer Michael Belfiore‘s TEDx talk addresses the question, “Why Space Matters?”



Telescopes and Binoculars at Amazon</p

Frontier space settlements in equatorial orbit

Gigantic in-space habitats proposed by the late Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill as sites for permanent settlements have inspired many space enthusiasts over the years. Jeff Bezos, for example, plans to spend a big chunk of his Amazon holdings to try to make it possible for millions of people one day to live off-earth and for heavy industry to be moved into space to reduce environmental stress on the Earth.

“A Human Community in Space – Island One is sized for supporting a population of 10,000 in a state of relative independence.” Credits: Space Studies Institute

For most people, however, there is always an obvious sense of incredulity about how such giant structures far from earth can come to be. How do we get from here to there:

The huge structures would rotate to provide 1g artificial gravity along the inside. The outer shell of material would provide shielding from solar flares and cosmic rays.

Studies of the O’Neill habitats in the 1970s assumed that the Space Shuttles would drastically lower the cost of getting people and cargo to space. The Moon would also provide the bulk of the material for the habitats, which would reside in deep space at points where the gravitational pulls of the Earth and Moon are balanced and objects reside there indefinitely.

The Shuttles, however, failed to lower space transport costs. Today, we are finally seeing viable reusable, fast turnaround vehicles coming on line from SpaceX and Blue Origin. These will provide major reductions in transport cost. However, they still won’t enable O’Neill habitats on their own.

Most every city on earth started from a small structure or two and expanded over time. Something like that will have to happen for in-space settlements to become feasible. NASA Ames engineer Al Globus has been working on one such approach involving rotating habitats of modest size in low earth orbit.  A collection of technical papers by Globus and his collaborators can be found here.

Globus and Tom Marotta have now written the book – The High Frontier: An Easier Way – for a general audience. Globus says the book describes

how new scientific discoveries, new advances in launch technology, and new social trends are making space settlement much, much easier to contemplate.

The High Frontier: An Easier Way by Tom Marotta and AL Globus

The two key discoveries relate to radiation shielding and rotation adaptation. Specifically, it turns out that equatorial low earth orbit is a very low radiation environment (by space standards) so people there will need very little dedicated radiation shielding, perhaps none at all. This reduces settlement mass by one to two orders of magnitude.

Secondly, an extensive literature search suggests that people can adapt to rotation much faster than commonly thought. By spinning fast, the minimum size settlement is about an order of magnitude smaller than previous designs.

When taken together, along with advances in the launch industry, these developments mean that free space settlements can be built much closer, simpler, and cheaper than previously thought. Perhaps cheap enough to sell condos in space at a profit. We detail these findings and more in a fast-paced, fun book full of interesting anecdotes about space-related personalities.

Perhaps Bezos or other space mogul will take up the challenge of making such settlements happen sooner rather than later.

The book is available in both e-book format and paperback as well at Amazon.

See also: