Space Elevator Survivabililty - Space Debris Threat
The OCA will be holding an event to discuss an important topic within the space arena. Dr. Peter Swan is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Space Elevator Consortium and has co-authored a booklet that addresses the topic. The approach is to assess the threat of space debris to a space elevator over time with the latest information of densities from NASA. The approach for calculations of the probability of collision from debris with the space elevator has been utilized for years for space debris collisions, and is now leverated to show the probabilities of impact. In addition, the lecture will set the stage with a general discussion of the space elevator [history, theory, current approach, estimated near term activities], address the space debris threat and mitigation approaches that should be initiated in the near future. The agenda is:
Background on Space Elevator,
Description of Modern Day Space Elevator,
Description of the Threat,
PoC calculations and results,
Peter A. Swan
Dr. Peter Swan, an AIAA and TBIS Fellow and member of the International Academy of Astronautics, has over 42 years of experience in both government and commercial space systems. He is a former faculty member at the US Air Force Academy. He has spent 8 years building space systems for the Air Force; and, then ten years working the Iridium system for Motorola as the spacecraft bus lead. Dr. Swan was a partner of Teaching Science and Technology, Inc. and has taught over 6,100 professional students in space systems and space systems engineering. He is a past member of both the AF Scientific Advisory Board and the Army Science Board. He is the Vice President and BoD Member of the International Space Elevator Consortium. He earned his doctorate at the University of California (UCLA) and continues working on his dissertation topic, Space Tethers and Space Elevators [co author of Space Elevator Systems Architecture and Space Elevator Survivability Space Debris Mitigation]. His hobbies are golf and SCUBA diving. He is also co-author of Global Mobile Satellite Systems and Impact of Space Activities upon Society.
I am a firm believer in the Space Elevator as its dramatic cost reductions change the way we will look at space. The current and historic approach of launching satellites has become more refined, but is still described as "Building rockets ... always on the edge of chaos." This approach has two serious handicaps: only a small fraction of launch mass on the pad gets to orbit; and, the fuel and structures are all consumed. These handicaps lead to large inefficiencies and tremendous costs. One goal of the space elevator is to take advantage of a routine transportation mode. The parallel to a toll bridge is evident - you pay for permanent infrastructure. This leverage should lead to $100 (US dollar) per kilogram to orbit, and eventually, to $8 per kilogram. George Whitesides (of the NSS) stated ... "Until you build an infrastructure, you are not serious." The space elevator is designed to be THE space access infrastructure to orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond. To understand why a space elevator is needed, three components of the discussion must be present:
The human spirit needs no restrictions: Once the Apollo 8 Earthrise picture from lunar orbit was broadcast, the world was sensitized to our limitations and the realization that we were on a fragile planet. We must soar beyond our boundaries and expand into the solar system.
The realization that chemical rockets cannot get us beyond Low Earth Orbit efficiently: The tyranny of the rocket equation must be broken to enable commercial expansion into space.
The recognition that the "Space Option" will enable solutions to Earth's current limitations: By lowering the price to orbit and ensuring an infrastructure that does not throw away 94 % of its mass every time it launches, expansion can be real. Three important missions will take advantage of the creation of an inexpensive and reliable access to space: solar power satellites, exploration of the solar system, and planetary protection.
"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by Jim Benet