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Subject: Your thoughts on a renewed Australian Space Program
fall out    7/16/2008 2:04:57 AM
Was recently reading an old article from last year in theaustralian; (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22527985-30417,00.html) In it it details a renewed push for an Australian Space program; part of it was a plan to be the first nation on earth to send a probe into the sun as well as another sat to study the upper atmosphere of Earth. The cost; $100m over 10 years; I honestly cannot see any reason why this plan should not go ahead, Australia is one of only 2 countries in the top 25 economies of the world to not have a space program (other country is Mexico), $10m a year from a federal budget that ran a surplus of around $20bn this year surely would not break the budget and wouldn't piss short sighted voters off too much. We were the 4th country in the world to launch a satellite into space, we have the know how, one of the best launch sites in Woomera and it comes at a time where America is losing their grip in Space at a fast rate of knots with several countries aiming for a manned lunar mission and/or lunar base by 2020 (there will be a 5 year gap between the retirement of the Shuttles and the introduction of the Orion rockets where America will not have their own delivery system to space). What about trying to turn Woomera (or maybe another site?) into the region's premier launching site where we could encourage and sway other Asian nations possibly like Japan, South Korean and India to launch some of their space based assets from an Australian launching pad which could also help to generate revenue to pay for our own program and possibly please some voters with the prestige and maybe even a tourist site to watch the launches (not sure who could be f'kd going to Woomera but!!). This International involvement could also help to improve our relations with these countries and give us more clout on the global stage. I dont' believe we should let this opportunity to slip through to the keeper, Space is booming, there is talk of mining the moon for helium 3 (as well as other minerals on the moon and elsewhere). The world's combined expenditure on space from national govts is currently around $32bn p.a with NASA holding about half that however most countries budgets are in the small bn's or hundred's of mn's such as Belgium's $230mn p.a. It would not take that much out of the budget surplus to provide Australia with a Space program between 500mn and 1bn p.a which would put us around 8th to 10th biggest spenders in Space and provide Australia with not only the benefits across the board in Australia's science community but also with an independent Satellite network for both civilian and military purposes. Also, we have the world's two biggest miners that in the future could possibly be involved in mining certain parts of Space. Anyway, I would love to hear back from anyone and everyone on here as to their thoughts and opinion. As you can see, I would love nothing more ('cept for Australia to become a republic ;)) for Australia to begin their space program. Cheers, FO :)
 
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Enterpriser       7/26/2008 7:55:05 AM

I can confirm that there are aliens, I actually work with one.


You too?!?!?!
 
Got mate who says he's married to one!
 
Brett.
 
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Hugo    Space Solar   7/27/2008 11:14:16 AM

Read the below and I thought it was interesting.  Still, I think that given that Australia already is a strong owner of sunlight (and from what I hear not a strong adopter of solar) there probably wouldn't be a great deal of political will even given the benefits of transmitting solar energy from beyond earth's atmosphere.
 
 

AS we face $4.50 a gallon gas, we also know that alternative energy sources — coal, oil shale, ethanol, wind and ground-based solar — are either of limited potential, very expensive, require huge energy storage systems or harm the environment. There is, however, one potential future energy source that is environmentally friendly, has essentially unlimited potential and can be cost competitive with any renewable source: space solar power.

Science fiction? Actually, no — the technology already exists. A space solar power system would involve building large solar energy collectors in orbit around the Earth. These panels would collect far more energy than land-based units, which are hampered by weather, low angles of the sun in northern climes and, of course, the darkness of night.

Once collected, the solar energy would be safely beamed to Earth via wireless radio transmission, where it would be received by antennas near cities and other places where large amounts of power are used. The received energy would then be converted to electric power for distribution over the existing grid. Government scientists have projected that the cost of electric power generation from such a system could be as low as 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is within the range of what consumers pay now.

In terms of cost effectiveness, the two stumbling blocks for space solar power have been the expense of launching the collectors and the efficiency of their solar cells. Fortunately, the recent development of thinner, lighter and much higher efficiency solar cells promises to make sending them into space less expensive and return of energy much greater.

Much of the progress has come in the private sector. Companies like Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences, working in conjunction with NASA?s public-private Commercial Orbital Transportation Services initiative, have been developing the capacity for very low cost launchings to the International Space Station. This same technology could be adapted to sending up a solar power satellite system.

Still, because building the first operational space solar power system will be very costly, a practical first step would be to conduct a test using the International Space Station as a ?construction shack? to house the astronauts and equipment. The station?s existing solar panels could be used for the demonstration project, and its robotic manipulator arms could assemble the large transmitting antenna. While the station?s location in orbit would permit only intermittent transmission of power back to Earth, a successful test would serve as what scientists call ?proof of concept.?

Over the past 15 years, Americans have invested more than $100 billion, directly and indirectly, on the space station and supporting shuttle flights. With an energy crisis deepening, it?s time to begin to develop a huge return on that investment. (And for those who worry that science would lose out to economics, there?s no reason that work on space solar power couldn?t go hand in hand with work toward a manned mission to Mars, advanced propulsion systems and other priorities of the space station.)

In fact, in a time of some skepticism about the utility of our space program, NASA should realize that the American public would be inspired by our astronauts working in space to meet critical energy needs here on Earth.

O. Glenn Smith is a former manager of science and applications experiments for the International Space Station at NASA?s Johnson Space Center.

 
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fall out       7/30/2008 9:04:47 PM




Read the below and I thought it was interesting.  Still, I think that given that Australia already is a strong owner of sunlight (and from what I hear not a strong adopter of solar) there probably wouldn't be a great deal of political will even given the benefits of transmitting solar energy from beyond earth's atmosphere.

 

 


AS we face $4.50 a gallon gas, we also know
that alternative energy sources — coal, oil shale, ethanol, wind and ground-based
solar — are either of limited potential, very expensive, require huge
energy storage systems or harm the environment. There is, however, one
potential future energy source that is environmentally friendly, has essentially
unlimited potential and can be cost competitive with any renewable source:
space solar power.


Science fiction? Actually, no — the technology
already exists. A space solar power system would involve building large
solar energy collectors in orbit around the Earth. These panels would collect
far more energy than land-based units, which are hampered by weather, low
angles of the sun in northern climes and, of course, the darkness of night.


Once collected, the solar energy would be
safely beamed to Earth via wireless radio transmission, where it would
be received by antennas near cities and other places where large amounts
of power are used. The received energy would then be converted to electric
power for distribution over the existing grid. Government scientists have
projected that the cost of electric power generation from such a system
could be as low as 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is within the
range of what consumers pay now.


In terms of cost effectiveness, the two
stumbling blocks for space solar power have been the expense of launching
the collectors and the efficiency of their solar cells. Fortunately, the
recent development of thinner, lighter and much higher efficiency solar
cells promises to make sending them into space less expensive and return
of energy much greater.


Much of the progress has come in the private
sector. Companies like Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences,
working in conjunction with NASA?s public-private Commercial Orbital Transportation
Services initiative, have been developing the capacity for very low cost
launchings to the International Space Station. This same technology could
be adapted to sending up a solar power satellite system.


Still, because building the first operational
space solar power system will be very costly, a practical first step would
be to conduct a test using the International Space Station as a ?construction
shack? to house the astronauts and equipment. The station?s existing
solar panels could be used for the demonstration project, and its robotic
manipulator arms could assemble the large transmitting antenna. While the
station?s location in orbit would permit only intermittent transmission
of power back to Earth, a successful test would serve as what scientists
call ?proof of concept.?


Over the past 15 years, Americans have invested
more than $100 billion, directly and indirectly, on the space station and
supporting shuttle flights. With an energy crisis deepening, it?s time
to begin to develop a huge return on that investment. (And for those who
worry that science would lose out to economics, there?s no reason that
work on space solar power couldn?t go hand in hand with work toward a
manned mission to Mars, advanced propulsion systems and other priorities
of the space station.)


In fact, in a time of some skepticism about
the utility of our space program, NASA should realize that the American
public would be inspired by our astronauts working in space to meet critical
energy needs here on Earth.


O. Glenn Smith is a former manager of
science and applications experiments for the Intern

 
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