Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs: 1955 - 2011

"I'm truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs' death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work. Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely. "
Bill Gates

"Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."

Mark Zuckerberg

"My condolences to Steve Jobs family and friends. We've lost a unique tech pioneer and auteur who knew how to make amazingly great products."

Paul Allen

"Steve Jobs was a visionary who changed the way we live, an innovator whose products brought joy to millions, a risktaker who wasn't afraid to challenge the status quo, and an entrepreneur who led one of the most creative companies of our time.

"His sage advice was respected by policymakers on both sides of the aisle. His courageous fight against cancer brought strength to many.

"I hope it is a comfort to those who loved him, especially his family, that so many grieve his loss and are praying for them at this sad time."

Nancy Pelosi

"Steve Jobs was a great California innovator who demonstrated what a totally independent and creative mind can accomplish. Few people have made such a powerful and elegant imprint on our lives. Anne and I wish to express our deepest sympathy to Steve's wife, Laurene, and their entire family."

Statement from California Gov. Edmund Brown

"Tonight, America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein, and whose ideas will shape the world for generations to come. Again and again over the last four decades, Steve Jobs saw the future and brought it to life long before most people could even see the horizon. And Steve's passionate belief in the power of technology to transform the way we live brought us more than smart phones and iPads: it brought knowledge and power that is reshaping the face of civilization. In New York City's government, everyone from street construction inspectors to NYPD detectives have harnessed Apple's products to do their jobs more efficiently and intuitively. Tonight our City - a city that has always had such respect and admiration for creative genius - joins with people around the planet in remembering a great man and keeping Laurene and the rest of the Jobs family in our thoughts and prayers."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

"Steve lived the California Dream every day of his life and he changed the world and inspired all of us. Thank You Steve"

Arnold Schwarzenegge

" I'm going to turn off my Apple computer, iPhone and iPad tonight at 8pm and honor Steve with a moment of digital silence. Will you join me?"

I'm so happy that I knew him and was so blessed by his friendship. He impacted all of our lives and changed the world."

My heart weeps for all who worked with Steve and who loved him, especially my friend Laurene and their children."

Former California first lady Maria Shriver

“Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs. Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.

By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Steve’s wife Laurene, his family, and all those who loved him.”

President Barack Obama

Steve Jobs was truly a giant of the 20th and 21st centuries whose positive vision of the future dramatically changed the world for the better. Thank you Steve Jobs!

Marcel F. Williams

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Passive Auxiliary Cooling System for Commercial Nuclear Power Plants

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute of South Korea on Thursday claimed that they have developed the first-- passive-- auxiliary feedwater system for automatically cooling a reactor core in the event of a total power black out from both the grid and from emergency power back up systems. If the system had been installed at a commercial nuclear power facility such as the facility at Fukushima, Japan, they claim that it would have been able to cool the power plant despite the total loss of electricity to the facility.

“We completed the first performance test on PASF. We can export this device that dramatically increases safety at nuclear plants,” said Baek Won-pil, head of the nuclear energy research division at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.


New device keeps nuclear plants safe amid blackout


Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poll Results: How to Use NASA's Future Space Launch System

Of the individual categories, establishing a polar lunar base was favored more than six to one over the Obama plan to visit an asteroid and nearly two to one over an Apollo style manned mission to Mars. While the-- all of the above-- category received the most votes, only 15% of those polled at the Daily Kos site said that NASA didn't need a new space launch system.

Marcel F. Williams

Developing New Crew Launch Vehicles for NASA (Daily Kos)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Deriving Economically Sustainable Crew Launch Vehicles from the SLS

by Marcel F. Williams

With the end of the Space Shuttle era
, there has been much focus on the emerging commercial crew industry in America with the hope that these vehicles will be ready to transport humans into orbit by the middle of the decade. However, by law, NASA's new SLS (Space Launch System) must also be capable of launching humans into orbit and beyond while also serving as a backup system for delivering crew and cargo to the ISS if such missions cannot be met by the private commercial crew companies.

It has generally been assumed that the crew launch vehicle derived from a shuttle space launch system (SLS) will simply be composed of an inline LOX/LH2 rocket coupled with two 4-segment or 5-segment solid rocket boosters (SRBs). Such a system would be capable of carrying a 20 tonne Orion-MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) to LEO plus perhaps an additional 40 to 50 tonnes of payload to orbit.

However, without an upper stage (US), such a crew launch vehicle would have very limited beyond LEO capabilities.

But with an upper stage, a crewed SLS should be capable of transporting the 20 tonne Orion plus an additional 10 to 20 tonnes of payload practically anywhere within cis-lunar space (the Lagrange points: L1, L2, L4, and L5 and lunar orbit). And as an unmanned vehicle, the SLS could eventually evolve into a system that could carry as much as 200 tonnes to LEO and 80 tonnes to L1 if it utilized up to four 5-segment SRBs plus and upper stage.

Right: crew launch vehicle with two 4-segment SRBs capable of transporting the Orion-MPCV to LEO ; left: crew launch vehicle with two 4-segment SRBs plus and upper stage (US) capable of transporting the Orion-MPCV anywhere within cis-lunar space

However, as a crew launch system could be much simpler, safer, and cheaper to operate if the SLS was launched without the SRBs. The only fatal crew launch accident ever to occur during the Space Shuttle era was due to a malfunction in the SRBs O-ring that allowed how gases and plumes to critically damage the adjacent cryogenically fueled external tank; the subsequent explosion destroyed the vessel and killed the crew. So in a new launch system, crew safety has to be a priority.

Shuttle derived LOX/LH2 core vehicle capable of launching a 20 tonne Orion-MPCV with a stretched SM with 8 to 9 tonnes of extra hypergolic fuel to LEO

A stretched shuttle derived LOX/LH2 without SRBs could send the Orion capsule to LEO by simply using the hypergolic fueled Service Module (SM) as an upper stage. An additional 8 to 9 tonnes of hypergolic fuel in a stretched SM with could transport 20 tonnes to LEO. Boeing Inc. has already conceived such a SLS derived crew launch vehicle without the SRBs.

Left: Cis-lunar crew launch vehicle, center: HLV cargo vehicle using two 4-segment SRBs, right: HLV cargo vehicle using three LOX/LH2 core vehicles

However, a stretched shuttle derived core vehicle with a large upper stage-- but still without SRBs-- could transport the 20 tonne Orion MPCV anywhere within cis-lunar space. If the upper stage is equipped with multiple RL-10 engines then the crew launch vehicle would have uber-safe engine-out capability in both first and second stages. This would allow NASA conduct simpler and safer manned cis-lunar missions to L1, L2, L4, L5, and lunar orbit almost immediately after the SLS becomes operational in 2016. And NASA is required by law to define near term manned missions for the SLS within cis-lunar space.

Orion-MPCV on cis-lunar mission to lunar orbit

Coupled with SRBs, the SLS would be the only vehicle capable of deploying the largest 65 tonne plus Bigelow space stations (BA-2100) to LEO or sending the smaller 25 tonne water shielded Bigelow space stations (BA 330) to the Lagrange points. While such Lagrange point space stations would still have too little shielding to provide astronauts with adequate protection against galactic radiation and especially potentially brain damaging heavy nuclei beyond a few weeks time, such stations would still contain enough water shielding to protect astronauts from the dangers of a major solar event.

As an orbital crew launch vehicle, the two stage LOX/LH2 vehicle might be capable of transporting the 20 tonne Orion plus 30 to 40 tonnes of payload to LEO. While this might seem like overkill, it should be remembered that transporting humans to an orbital space station requires more than just transporting the human body. Every human requires nearly one tonne of water, oxygen, and food per month in order to survive in space.

Once Americans return to the Moon again (which should still be NASA's priority, IMO), it has been suggested that a reusable LOX/LH2 lunar lander be developed that utilizes fuel mined from the lunar poles. Such a lunar transportation system would be able to transport humans and cargo from the lunar surface to L1 and back. This would greatly simplify and reduce the cost of sending humans to and from the lunar surface. And such a simpler and safer SLS combined with a reusable lunar shuttle might be very attractive to private commercial spaceflight companies seeking to expand the emerging space tourism industry all the way to the lunar surface.


1. Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles with Existing Propulsion Systems

2. NASA’s Space Launch System - an All-Liquid Alternative

3. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010

4. Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle

5. Orion Spacecraft

6. BA 330

7. Mission and Implementation of an Affordable Lunar Return

8. Conquering Cis-Lunar Space with Shuttle and ULA Derived Technologies

9. Boeing's New HLV Concept could be the DC-3 of Manned Rocket Boosters

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Future of Commercial Space Flight

The space effort itself while still in its infancy has already created a great number of new companies and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demand, investment and skilled personal. - John F. Kennedy

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Miss America on Evolution

But those who don't believe the human evolutionary theory should be taught in schools clearly indicates how far America has fallen in teaching our kids science

Monday, May 2, 2011

Evolution Made Bin Laden too:-)

In celebration of all things bright and beautiful and the eventual demise of religious fanaticism!

Evolution Made Us All from Ben Hillman on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pusher Launch Abort System Tests for Boeing's Future Crew Capsule (CST-100)

A series of hot-fire test was successfully completed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in California for the pusher launch abort system designed for Boeing's future crew capsule, the CST-100.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Nuclear Fall Out from Japan

A radio interview with Dr. Kirk Smith, a professor of global environmental health at UC Berkeley, on the growing concerns over radiation exposure following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

KCBS: In Depth:
March 20, 2011

Inside an American Nuclear Power Plant

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Message from the NRC about American Nuclear Reactor Safety

U.S. Nuclear Plants are Designed for Severe Natural Hazards

"We’ve gotten some questions about how U.S. nuclear power plants would fare when faced with severe natural hazards. To answer: NRC’s rigorous safety regulations ensure that U.S. nuclear facilities are designed to withstand tsunamis, earthquakes and other hazards. In addition to those plants in recognized earthquake zones, the NRC has been working with several agencies to assess recent seismic research for the central and eastern part of the country. That work continues to indicate U.S. plants will remain safe.

For more information on U.S. nuclear power plants and earthquakes, read our backgrounder on the subject here:"

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director

Friday, March 4, 2011

NASA Adminstrator, Charlie Bolden, Testifies before Congress

You can watch the entire March 2, 2011 of NASA administrator Charlie Bolden's testimony before Congress at:

The most interesting comment, IMO, by Bolden was the following:

" would not take us until 2030 to go to the Moon. If we decided that we wanted to go to the Moon and put humans there, you know that potentially could be done by the end of this present decade..." Charlie Bolden March 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Expediting the Development and Lowering the Cost of NASA's New Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle

by Marcel F. Williams

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010, requires that NASA build a Space Launch System (SLS) whose core elements, without an upper stage, are initially capable of lifting 70 to 100 tons (63 to 90 metric tons) to low-Earth orbit no later than December 31, 2016.

In January, NASA surprised Congress by responding:

"The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 directs NASA to begin development of the SLS achieving operational capability for the core elements not later than December 31, 2016. While NASA will work as expeditiously as possible to meet the 2016 goal, NASA does not believe this goal is achievable based on a combination of the current funding profile estimate, traditional approaches to acquisition, and currently considered vehicle architectures. However, we are exploring more innovative procurement and development strategies to determine whether we can come closer to the December 31, 2016 goal."

NASA's SLS reference vehicle with 5 RS-25E LOX/LH2 engines, two 5-segment SRBs, and a LOX/LH2 upper stage.(Credit NASA)

NASA presented a reference heavy lift vehicle that consisted of a LOX/LH2 core stage with 5 RS-25 engines plus two 5-segment SRBs and a J-2X upper stage which they believe comes closest to complying with the Congressional mandates. While the 5-segment SRB and the J-2X upper stage is currently under development by NASA and its vendors, this reference vehicle actually greatly exceeds the minimum requirements mandated by Congress.

First of all, there is no need to immediately develop a 5-segment SRB. The 4-segment SRBs currently used by the Space Shuttle should allow the HLV to meet the minimum Congressional requirements. But we're still not talking about a substantial loss of lifting capacity for an HLV if the 5-segment SRBs are not immediately developed. For example, if the current 4-segment SRBs were replaced by 5-segment SRBs for the current Space Shuttle, they would only be able to add an additional 9 tonnes of payload capacity to LEO.

Secondly, a LOX/LH2 upper stage is also not necessary in order to reach the minimum lifting capability of 63 metric tons required by Congress. A stretched core LOX/LH2 vehicle with 5 RS-25E rocket engines and two 4-segment solid rocket engines should be able to lift more than 70 metric tons into low-Earth orbit.

Crew launch vehicle with 5 shuttle derived RS-25E engines along side of an unmanned heavy lift vehicle with 5 RS-25E engines plus two 4-segment SRBs.

So several billion dollars in SLS development cost could be saved by deferring funding for the upper stage and the 5-segment SRBs until the basic core vehicle mandated by Congress is operational.

Additionally, with 5 shuttle derived RS-25E engines, the core vehicle could also be utilized as a crew launch vehicle potentially capable of launching 20 to 35 tonnes into low-Earth orbit without in SRBs. Statistically, this should be a substantially safer vehicle than utilizing an HLV with SRBs for crew launches.

NASA further stated in January 2010:

"As noted earlier, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 directs NASA to begin development of the MPCV (Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle) with the goal of achieving full operational capability not later than December 31, 2016. While NASA will work expeditiously to meet the 2016 goal, NASA notes that, as with the SLS, a 2016 crewed first flight does not appear to be possible within projected FY 2011 and out year funding levels."

This time Lockheed Martin's Orion concept from the now defunct Constellation program was used as the reference vehicle: LAS (Launch Abort System), CM (Command Module) that can carry 2 to 4 passengers and land in the ocean, and a hypergolic fueled SM (Service Module).

However, Boeing is also privately developing a CM that they believe can be ready to take passengers into orbit by 2015. Boeing's CST-100 is being designed to carry up to 7 individuals to orbit with a capability of landing of both water and land. The CST-100 is also being designed to fly on top of a variety of launch vehicles: Atlas, Delta, and Falcon 9. Like the Orion, the CST-100 could also be reused up to 10 times. So the CST-100 could be a faster and cheaper option for NASA to help fund and develop since Boeing is already committing its own finances to the venture. And since the CST-100 could be used by a variety of private companies, manufacturing cost for the CST-100 might fall significantly.

Beoing's CST-100 Command Module (Credit Boeing)

The ULA (the United Launch Alliance) is currently contemplating developing a new upper stage for its Atlas and Delta vehicles that could serve as a SM (Service Module) for NASA's Multipurpose Crew Vehicle. The ULA's ACES 41 LOX/LH2 concept could be an alternative to hypergolic fueled SM with substantial advantages for LEO and beyond LEO missions.

First, an equivalently fueled ACES 41 SM would be significantly lighter than a hypergolic fueled SM. And a fully fueled ACES 41 SM would have increased payload capability over a hypergolic SM.

Secondly, the ULA intends to design the ACES 41 to be compatible with space depots. Since a fully fueled ACES 41 would have a delta V capability of at least 5600 meters per sec, it would be capable of traveling from LEO to lunar orbit and the Earth-Moon and Earth-Sun Lagrange points and return to Earth through aerobraking.

Beyond LEO missions for the MPCV can be conducted without an EDS (Earth Departure Stage) by utilizing the heavy lift vehicle to place an ACES derived fuel depot. A crew launcher could then place the MPCV with its ACES-41 SM into orbit where it would dock with the fuel depot to add additional LOX and LH2. And then it could proceed with its mission to the Lagrange points or to lunar orbit and back to Earth. A single HLV launch of a 70 tonne fuel depot several MPCV voyages within cis-lunar space since the SM is likely to carry at least 10 to 20 tonnes of residual LOX and LH2 fuel.

Boeing's CST-100 Command Module combined with the ULA's ACES-41 Service Module. Replacing the hypergolic fueled SM with an ACES-41 SM could allow the age of space depots to begin this decade. The CST-100 uses a hypergolic pusher abort system, no tractor LAS is required. (Credit Boeing and ULA)

Again, since the ULA intends to fund the ACES 41 for its own use, NASA could help to fund its development for the MPCV which would be mutually beneficial for NASA and the ULA and the US military which uses the ULA to deploy satellites for the US military.

So in order for NASA to expedite the development of its SLS and MPCV in order to have in fully operational before the end of 2016 it needs to:

1. Stop funding the immediate development of the 5-segment SRBs for the SLS and instead use existing 4-segment booster technology

2. Stop funding the development of a LOX/LH2 upper stage

3. Help Boeing develop the CST-100 CM with substantially more money that its receiving from NASA's commercial crew initiative.

4. Help the ULA develop the ACES-41 CM

Once the core SLS vehicle or vehicles are fully operational, then NASA can start fully funding the EDS upper stage, the 5-segment SRBs, and maybe even a reusable single stage lunar lander. This will allow us to conquer cis-lunar space for both public and commercial benefit while also greatly enhancing our ability to go on to Mars.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

70 Successful Space Launches in 2010

There were 70 successful space launches from Earth last year with 4 failures. Russia lead the way with 30 successful launches and just one failure. That failed launched caused Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev to fire two space officials: Russian space agency (Roscosmos) deputy head Viktor Remishevsky and Vyacheslav Filin, Vice President of the state controlled RKK Energia. The botched December 5 launch of a Proton-M booster rocket failed to reach its initial orbit causing three high-tech GLONASS-M navigation satellites to be dumped near the Hawaiian Islands.

China and the US were second in successful launches in 2010 with 15 successful launches each. But there was a decline in space launches from US soil last year over 2009 when the US launched 24 rockets successfully with just one failure. China, however, has increased its rate of rocket launches dramatically over 2009 when they only launched 6 rockets that successfully place objects into orbit.

Successful Space Launches in 2010

Russia - 30

United States - 15

Europe/Arianespace - 6

China - 15

Japan - 2

India - 1

Israel - 1

Successful Space Launches in 2009

Russia - 32

United States - 24

Europe/Arianespace - 7

China - 6

Japan - 3

India - 2

Iran - 1

Links and References

Roscosmos Officials Fired Over Failed GLONASS Launch

Who Conducted the Most Launches in 2010?

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