Why Are We Going to the Moon, Again? Oh Right, to Make It a “Gas Station for Outer Space”

Outer Space Gas Station

Space travel is back on the United States’ radar in a big way, with the Trump Administration declaring in October 2017 that it wants the U.S. to be a leader in the space industry. This includes going to the Moon and being the first country to send astronauts to Mars.

Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box about the country’s future commercial space projects, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said our future successes largely depend on what we accomplish by going to the Moon, such as turning it into a refueling station by establishing a lunar colony.

The Race for a Moon Base: Who Will Build the First Lunar Colony?
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“I think a lot depends upon how successful we are in turning the Moon into a kind of gas station for outer space,” Ross told CNBC. “The plan is to break down the ice [found on the Moon] into hydrogen and oxygen, [and] use those as the fuel propellant.”

Ross foresees a scenario in which rockets are launched from Earth with the intent of going to the Moon first, rather than traveling directly to, say, Mars or deep space. Once at the Moon, the rocket would refuel and take off once again for another planet or asteroid. This subsequent launch would require less thrust since the Moon’s gravitational force is much lower than the Earth’s.

Privatizing the ISS

Beyond turning the Moon into a pit stop, the Trump Administration’s plans for space also include turning the International Space Station over to private companies. The ISS requires billions of dollars to maintain, but if it’s no longer the responsibility of the U.S. government, that money could potentially be used to fund future space projects.

That said, if private companies were to acquire the ISS and use it to launch their own rockets and satellites, Ross explains a set of “rules to the road” would need to be established.

“There need to be means for policing, if you will, the debris in space,” he said to CNBC. “That’s one of the big problems. And as more and more launches occur, more and more satellites reach the end of their life, that’s going to be a problem we have to deal with.”

The newly revived National Space Council (NSC), of which Ross is a member, recently held it’s second public meeting in February to discuss several reforms, including better licensing for spacecraft, consolidating offices, and developing recommendations to control export. Currently, commercial spacecraft that land in another country is considered an export, and the fees associated with this policy have quickly become a big complaint from space companies.

Guidance from the NSC is critical if the U.S. wants to ensure that organizations like NASA and companies like SpaceX can pave the way to the stars. Through the council, new policies can be put in place to guarantee they have everything they need.

The post Why Are We Going to the Moon, Again? Oh Right, to Make It a “Gas Station for Outer Space” appeared first on Futurism.


Review: MacBook users should consider the IOGear USB-C Compact Docking Station, MacBook Pro owners need not apply

Article Image

The IOGear USB-C Compact Docking Station with Power Delivery Pass-Thru is a port-replacement peripheral for USB 3.1 type C gear, but isn’t ideal for Apple’s entire portable line.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

First look: IOGear USB-C Compact Docking Station returns legacy ports to MacBook, MacBook Pro in a portable package

Article Image

The IOGear USB-C Compact Docking Station with Power Delivery Pass-Thru is a port-replacement peripheral for USB 3.1 type C gear — but isn’t perfect for 4K.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

The Trump administration aims to privatize the International Space Station: report

In January, The Verge reported that the Trump administration was preparing to end US support for the International Space Station by 2025, prompting outcry from Congressional officials. The Washington Post says that it has viewed an internal NASA document that outlines the agency’s intentions to privatize the station after funding ends in 2024.

According to the Post, the document says that the decision to defund the station doesn’t mean that it will be de-orbited in 2025, but says handing over control to a private company to continue operations is an option. The document goes on to say that the space agency will focus on expanding its commercial partnerships in the coming years to prepare for an eventual handover, and says that the White…

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The Verge – All Posts

Chirp and EDF Energy team up on power station connectivity project

Chirp and EDF Energy team up on power station connectivity project

Tech start-up Chirp and utility EDF Energy have been awarded a £100,000 Innovate UK grant to explore data-over-sound in radio-frequency restricted environments.

Data-over-sound start-up Chirp is partnering with utility company EDF Energy on a project that aims to bring connectivity to areas of power stations that have typically been ‘dead zones’ in industrial IoT terms. 

The project will take place at EDF’s Heysham 1 nuclear power station in Lancashire, UK and has been awarded £100,000 by public-sector innovation agency, Innovate UK. Together, the two companies will use Chirp’s technology, which takes data and encodes it into unique audio streams to provide connectivity in radio-frequency restricted environments.

“WiFi and mobile communications are common in most workplaces, but not on our stations,” explained Dave Stanley, a project manager in EDF Energy’s Innovation Delivery Team. “So having a way of getting regular and reliable data from remote instruments in radio-restricted areas will be useful for our engineers.”

Read more: Start-up of the month: Chirp – turning data into sound to reach network ‘notspots’

Chirping away

Any device with a speaker can transmit a ‘chirp’ and most devices with a microphone can decode it. In the Chirp/EDF project, signals from remote and inaccessible checkpoints on the power station will be transmitted to computer networks as ‘chirps’, enabling workers to monitor instruments from offices and relieving them of the burden of frequent in-person inspections.

This is the second phase of a two-part engagement between Chirp and EDF Energy. The first phase saw the two explore the possibilities of using data-over-sound in nuclear power plants, starting in November 2016 and continuing over the first half of 2017. From this work, a successful proof of concept was delivered to take readings from a gauge.

“The first phase of our engagement with EDF Energy was a resounding success. We were set a serious challenge, to use data-over-sound in a very difficult environment and it passed with flying colours,” said Dr Dan Jones, chief science officer at Chirp.

Phase two, meanwhile, began at the Heysham 1 power plant in October 2017.

Coming soon: Our Internet of Energy event will be taking place in Berlin, Germany on 6 & 7 March 2018. Attendees will hear how companies in this sector are harnessing the power of IoT to transform distributed energy resources. 

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