Category Archives: Concepts

Gliese 581g (Hámnù, Pedak, Gaustan, or Estivama)

I finished a big new map! You can purchase a print here. (Link to larger image) The world known to humankind as Zarmina (catalog identifier Gliese 581g) is a habitable planet orbiting a red dwarf star. It is tidally locked to … Continue reading

Posted in Art, Concepts, Fantasy, Geology, Maps, Science Fiction | 2 Comments

How to Get to Mars

NASA wants to go to Mars. Great! The approach, as the agency has been publicizing with fancy graphics like the one below, seems to consist of the following: Send astronaut Scott Kelly to the International Space Station for one year, … Continue reading

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Back to the Future

This week, NASA launched the Orion spacecraft on a test flight. I have a conflicted viewpoint about this event. To me, Orion is both exciting and deeply disappointing. On the one hand, Orion is NASA’s first entirely new spacecraft for … Continue reading

Posted in Concepts, NASA, Skepticism, Space | 1 Comment

Visionaries

The Space Review has a fantastic article that invaded my whole way of thinking this morning while I was trying to get into my groove for work. It casts the golden age of space exploration – the Space Race – … Continue reading

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…how about half an elevator?

If you’ve paid any attention to science fiction in any form, you’ve probably seen the concept of the space elevator. A super-strong tether or tower extends upward from the surface of the Earth, past geostationary orbit, and beyond; to get … Continue reading

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Ignition!

The National Ignition Facility – a humongoid stack of lasers all aimed at a tiny target to try and compress it until it fuses – announced today that they had “positive fuel gains,” meaning that fusion happened and that more energy came … Continue reading

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Jove’s Moon Shot

Here’s a bit of wild speculation for the weekend: Suppose there is intelligent life in the globe-spanning ocean on Europa. Given how small our space exploration budget is, and our generally declining investments in R&D, how likely is it that … Continue reading

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Orbiting magnetic balloons

I recently got the following question: Let’s say I have a 500kg balloon floating in the stratosphere at fixed altitude with solar cells collecting 10kw from the sun, then my computation shows that if this energy can be converted to … Continue reading

Posted in Concepts, Space | 9 Comments

Spacecraft Research is at it again

It’s been a little while since I checked in with the goings-on back at my Cornell research lab. Totally unsurprisingly, some very cool things are happening there! One is that the Sprite and KickSat project has gone all the way … Continue reading

Posted in Concepts, Graduate school, Research, Science Fiction, Space | 1 Comment

CubeSailing

Way back when I was looking at grad schools, I visited an MIT space propulsion lab where students and faculty were developing something called an electrospray thruster. This is a device consisting of a plate covered in tiny spikes, with … Continue reading

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