Spacefaring/energy resources


The above illustrations are of an integrated spacefaring logistics infrastructure utilizing technologies available today. There is no science fiction in this illustration. This is what the United States is missing in terms of commercial human spacefaring capabilities that could be operational today.

The following is a compendium of papers, articles, presentations, and videos I have written and co-written on the topic of spacefaring logistics and sustainable energy security. The American public has been woefully misinformed about the true capabilities of the American aerospace industry with respect to human commercial spacefaring operations. Today, our human spacefaring capabilities are virtually nonexistent not because of a lack of technological capability but because of poor political and national space policy decisions made since the end of the Apollo program some forty years ago. While it is easy to point fingers, the real failure has been with the professional aerospace engineering community in not speaking forcefully and boldly to the public about what can be done and what needs to be done in transforming America into a true commercial human spacefaring nation capable of routine and space operations throughout the Earth-Moon system. I have decided to take it upon myself so that a least one voice is striving to inform the public about what can be done and what needs to be done. The technical papers written from 2004–2008 aimed at identifying technological approaches to establishing a commercial human spacefaring enterprise using available technologies.

The primary driver of the American human spacefaring enterprise for the rest of this century will be building and operating an immense new space-based sustainable energy industry and the enabling spacefaring logistics capabilities. Most of the pro-commercial space community has not yet adopted this point of view. Instead, they focus on manned missions to Mars or suborbital commercial adventure space travel. In doing so, they ignore the need for America to become energy secure with space-based sustainable power before terrestrial fossil fuel supplies become unaffordable. Much of my writings in recent years have been focused on this topic.

The starting point in reading the following is to understand America’s energy insecurity with respect to its substantial dependence on fossil fuels. The following four papers discuss this issue quantitatively.

  1. Spacefaring white papers:
    1. America Needs to Become Spacefaring (5 pages, standard size, landscape)
    2. Near-Future American Space Infrastructure Possibilities (2 pages, tabloid size, landscape)
    3. America’s Energy Future is at Risk without Space Solar Power (2 pages, standard size, portrait) (Specific copyright permissions and restrictions are listed on this document – posting to another site is not permitted without prior written permission of J. M. Snead.) This requires Adobe Reader Version 8 or higher to view.
    4. The End of Easy Energy and What to Do About It (126 pages, standard size, portrait) (Specific copyright permissions and restrictions are listed on this document – posting on another site is not permitted without prior written permission of J. M. Snead.) This requires Adobe Reader Version 8 or higher to view.
  2. Spacefaring videos (Select with right button to designate a location to save the file) (Elements of these videos are incorporated into the Intro to future American spacefaring capabilities listed below.) These files have been updated to the MP4 video format.
    1. Assured Space Access (30 Meg; 2 minutes; video is in the public domain)
    2. In-space Servicing (55 Meg; 2 minutes; video is in the public domain)
    3. Space Mobility (93 Meg; 4 minutes; video is in the public domain)
    4. Space Habitat in Spacedock Fly-Around (60 Meg; video is in the public domain)
    5. Rotating Space Habitat  (13 Meg; video is in the pubic domain)
  3. Spacefaring Institute YouTube channel videos
    1. Spacefaring Institute’s 2016 Energy & Environmental Security Series
      1. Understanding GEO Space Solar Power (6 minute video)
      2. 3 Minutes on the Rising CO2 Level (3 minute video)
      3. Understanding the CO2 Issue (13 minute video)
      4. Understanding America’s Energy Security Challenge (13 minute video)
      5. Understanding Why Nuclear Power Cannot Replace Fossil Fuels (With an intro to space solar power and future American spacefaring capabilities) (15 minute video)
      6. Understanding Why Wind and Ground Solar Energy Cannot Replace Fossil Fuels (With an intro to space solar power and future American spacefaring capabilities) (15 minute video)
      7. Energy & Environmental Security Series Technical Addendum (7 minute video)
    2. A peek at what America’s exciting spacefaring future can be! (3 minute video)
    3. Space Solar Power (14 minute video)
    4. USA must lead the transition to space-based energy (2 minute video)
  4. Papers and articles:
    1. Why airworthiness certification is necessary for commercial human spaceflight (The Space Review, August 27, 2018)
    2. Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure Planning (20180821 update)
      Abstract: The human settlement of space will involve the design, fabrication, testing, deployment, operation, replenishment, maintenance, repair, and disposal of a wide spectrum of spacefaring logistics operations. These will include reusable, aircraft-like space access systems, expendable and reusable traditional launch vehicles, Earth-orbiting space bases, space tugs and ferries, interplanetary spaceships, surface and orbiting bases on the Moon and Mars, extraterrestrial space and surface mobility systems, and space colonies throughout the central solar system. This paper discusses the importance of carefully and systematically undertaking the systems engineering planning of the basic logistics infrastructure for the first phase of humanity’s spaceward expansion. Further, this paper proposes an initial spacefaring logistics infrastructure planning requirement, derived functional requirements, functional elements, and functional interfaces that may serve as a starting point for further analysis and refinement.
    3. An alternative proposal for a revolution in hypersonics and space (Parts 1 and 2) (The Space Review, July 16 & 23, 2018)
    4. Some commentary about the National Space Council’s inaugural meeting (Part 2) (The Space Review, October 23, 2017)
    5. Some commentary about the National Space Council’s inaugural meeting (Part 1) (The Space Review, October 16, 2017)
    6. Transcript of the October 5, 2017 meeting of the National Space Council (SpacefaringAmerica.net blog post)
    7. Forming an American Spacefaring Advisory Group to the National Space Council (The Space Review, September 11, 2017)
    8. In support of forming a US Space Corps now! (The Space Review, July 10, 2017)
    9. An engineer’s view of what low-cost, reusable, commercial passenger space transportation means (The Space Review, January 23, 2017)
    10. Should NASA build spacefaring logistics infrastructure? (The Space Review, January 9, 2017)
    11. A Trump Administration path to advance commercial space solar power (The Space Review, December 12, 2016)
    12. Analysis of Using Nuclear, Wind, and Ground Solar Energy to Meet US 2100 Per Capita Energy Needs (Slide show) Spacefaring Institute 2016
      Abstract: This analysis was done, drawing upon the results of the Analysis of US 2100 Energy Needs and Sustainable Energy Sources, (below) to support several videos prepared for the Spacefaring Institute YouTube channel. In this analysis, the per capita dispatched electricity and fuel needs of Americans in 2100 are identified. Using these values, the amount of nuclear, wind, and ground solar-generated electricity required to meet these needs are determined. This information is used to estimate the number of nuclear power plants and the land area of wind farms and ground solar farms needed to meet US energy needs in 2100 per 100 million Americans served.
    13. Petitioning the US to take the lead in space solar power (The Space Review, May 31, 2016)
    14. Federal legislation to jumpstart space solar power (The Space Review, April 4, 2016)
    15. US terrestrial non-fossil fuel energy vs. space solar power (The Space Review, March 14, 2016)
    16. US fossil fuel energy insecurity and space solar power (The Space Review, March 7, 2016)
    17. The Paris climate agreement and space solar power (The Space Review, February 29, 2106)
    18. Analysis of US 2100 Energy Needs and Sustainable Energy Sources, Spacefaring Institute LLC, 2016
      Abstract: Environmental and energy security threats will bring an end to the general use of fossil fuels in the United States this century. To replace fossil fuels, the United States will need to build an immense sustainable energy capability. Nuclear fission energy, wind energy, and ground solar energy are the three primary terrestrial alternatives while space solar power is the primary space-based sustainable energy alternative. None of the three terrestrial energy alternatives provide a practical replacement for fossil fuels. Space-based sustainable energy, including space solar power, provides a practical alternative. US immigration policy will substantially influence the life of the remaining US fossil fuel endowment and the cost of building the replacement energy sources. Version 2 adds an updated projection of the size of the US population in 2100.
    19. Becoming Spacefaring: America’s Path Forward in Space (Journal of Space Philosophy, Fall, 2015) (PDF)
      Abstract: Fundamental to a nation’s national security is energy security. The United States is substantially energy insecure, and this energy insecurity is growing. A barrel of oil equivalent (BOE), representing the energy content of 42 US gallons of oil, is a convenient measure of energy resources, production, and consumption. In 2010, with a population of 309.3 million, the United States consumed 18 billion BOE of energy, with 85% coming from fossil fuels. By 2100, with a likely population of 617.5 million, the United States will need 31 billion BOE of energy. Fossil fuels cannot meet this demand. Hence, the United States must switch to sustainable energy. This will take decades and cost tens of trillions of dollars. The only practicable option is space-based solar and nuclear power, most likely from geostationary Earth orbit, and transmitted to ground receiving stations. To become energy secure with sustainable space-based power, the United States must begin a spacefaring industrial revolution and become a true, human, commercial spacefaring nation. A substantial, airline-like spacefaring infrastructure must be built throughout the Earth-Moon system to support this new and substantial space-based power industry. The presidential policy changes needed to pursue space-based power and the spacefaring industrial revolution are discussed.
    20. The American Energy Security Crisis Solution—Space Solar Power (Journal of Space Philosophy, Spring, 2014) (PDF)
      This is an earlier version of the above paper with substantial quantitative discussion of America’s fossil fuel energy security crisis.
    21. Political Feasibility and Space Solar Power Implementation (with Bob Krone; Journal of Space Philosophy, Spring, 2014)
      Abstract: We assert that because decisions for major U.S. Space programs are biased by politics, this political reality must be now factored into the emerging public debate on the vital need to adopt space solar power to replace fossil fuels this century. The purpose of this article is to link Bob Krone’s theory of political feasibility with Mike Snead’s research into the United States’ future energy alternatives. Bob Krone begins by providing readers the validated theory of the political feasibility phenomenon. Mike Snead follows with a discussion of why space solar power is needed and what public policy decisions are needed to undertake this effectively in the United States. We conclude with recommendations of immediate specific actions to take.
    22. The Vital Need for America to Develop Space Solar Power (The Space Review, 4 May 2009) A print version is available here. (Note this version has a couple of minor numeric corrections from the version published in the space review.) This requires Adobe Reader Version 8 or higher. (This paper is copyright (c) 2009 Spacefaring Institute LLC. See the cover page for permitted uses.)
    23. Assessing the practicality of scramjet-powered, single-stage aerospaceplanes (The Space Review, 31 Mar 2008)
    24. Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure: The Foundation of a Spacefaring America (AstroPolitics 6-1, March 2008)
      Abstract: The American spacefaring dream, which envisions average Americans being able to safely and routinely travel to and work in space, remains the American public’s benchmark for measuring progress in America’s human space enterprises. This article begins with a brief review of the ideas and developments that led up to the formation of the American spacefaring dream in the late 1950s. It continues with discussion of how building new logistics infrastructure capabilities has enabled America to lead the world in opening new physical and technological frontiers and why this provides a successful model for fulfilling the American spacefaring dream of opening the space frontier. The article concludes with the identification of specific planning objectives to guide the development, construction, and operation of an integrated American spacefaring logistics infrastructure
    25. What to tell the next president about realizing America’s potential in space (The Space Review, 4 Feb 2008)
    26. Aerospaceplanes and space solar power (The Space Review, 3 Dec 2007)
    27. Becoming a true spacefaring America (The Space Review, 4 Sep 2007) Also available here.
    28. Near-Future Space Logistics Vehicles (AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference, July 2007)
      Abstract: Key elements of the needed near-future, integrated, spacefaring logistics infrastructure are space-based, fully-reusable space logistics vehicles to provide transportation for passengers and cargo. This paper addresses the conceptual design of two such reusable spaceships using near-term technologies. The first is a space tug designed to support logistics operations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This space tug is sized to provide materiel handling, cargo transport, and passenger transport capabilities to support the construction and operation of orbiting logistics facilities and large spaceships. The second is a space ferry designed to transport cargo and passengers throughout the Earth-Moon system. This paper defines the assumptions and mission requirements used in the conceptual design of these two spaceships, summarizes the required Delta-V and maneuvering capabilities, assesses the technology maturity of the enabling technologies, summarizes the mass property estimates, provides illustrations of the conceptual designs, and provides examples of their use and integration into a near-future, integrated, spacefaring logistics infrastructure. The intent of this paper is to describe how current technologies can enable “aircraft-like” safe and routine transport of passengers and cargo within the Earth-Moon system.
    29. Technically-achievable, Near-term Space Logistics (a longer version of the Aerospace America article below)
    30. A Space Logistics Infrastructure for the Near Term (AIAA Aerospace America, October 2006)
      This is a short version of the July 2004 technical paper Architecting Rapid Growth in Space Logistics Capabilities.
    31. Achieving Near-Term, Aircraft-like Reusable Space Access (AIAA Space 2006)
      Abstract: Before the United States can practically expand its human space operations, the ability to transport passengers and cargo to low Earth orbit with aircraft-like safety and operability must be established. Contrary to popular belief, the critical technologies and system engineering principles and practices necessary to develop and deploy near-term, fully-reusable space access systems exist today. This paper describes how the design and operational heritage of aircraft, particularly military aircraft, can be used to develop the systems integrity processes that will guide the development and operation of reusable space access systems intended for the safe, routine, and frequent transport of passengers and cargo. This paper continues with a general description of special considerations that should be explored in defining the conceptual design of a near-term, aircraft-like, reusable space access system. The paper concludes with a brief introduction to the conceptual design of a near-term reusable space access system responsive to the system integrity considerations addressed in this paper.
    32. Cost Estimates of Near-Term, Fully-Reusable Space Access Systems (AIAA Space 2006)
      The Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center have completed in-house and contracted conceptual design analyses of near-term, two-stage, vertical takeoff and horizontal landing, fully-reusable space access systems to transport passengers and cargo to and from low Earth orbit. These efforts have identified closed vehicle designs using mature technologies. These designs and related estimates for ground support requirements have been used to prepare rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimates for the development, production, and recurring operational costs of these systems. The costing methodology in Koelle’s Handbook of Cost Engineering for Space Transportation Systems has been used to estimate the development and production costs. A separate methodology, based on estimates of the direct support labor requirements, has been used to prepare an estimate of the recurring costs. This paper summarizes the conceptual reusable space access system design results, describes the application of Koelle’s costing methodology, reports the ROM cost estimates, and compares these costs against prevailing space access costs. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of an infrastructure-style funding approach to develop and acquire these near-term, fully-reusable space access systems.
    33. Achieving Mastery of Space Operations by Transforming Space Logistics (Submitted version of article for the International Society of Logistics magazine Logistics Spectrum, August 2005)
    34. Architecting Rapid Growth in Space Logistics Capabilities (AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference, July 2004)
      Abstract: This paper describes how the United States can develop, deploy, and operate an integrated, commercial-based, space logistics infrastructure to undertake its transition into a true spacefaring nation. The paper first addresses historical examples and the benefits arising from building new logistics infrastructure. It relates this experience to the advantages that building an integrated space logistics infrastructure would have on human space operations and the growth of other Government and commercial space enterprises. The paper continues with a description of an example space logistics architecture and its logistics functions that would provide basic spacefaring capabilities. The paper then describes example systems, comprising this architecture, which would provide safe and routine access to and from space for passengers and cargo, mobility within the Earth-Moon system for passengers and cargo, and in-space logistical facilities and services. Special attention is given to achieving near-term reusable space access. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the commercial space logistics services and suppliers could be established and organized through a new federal space logistics corporation that would contract for commercial logistical services for Government space operations while also supporting commercial space operations.
    35. The Astral Highway: A National Space Infrastructure. Space 2000: The 7th International Conference/Exposition on Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Business in Space; American Society of Civil Engineers. Albuquerque, New Mexico, Feb. 27 – Mar 2, 2000.
      Abstract:This paper discusses the need for a national space transportation and in-space logistical support infrastructure. It proposes that this space infrastructure be built through a partnership of the Government and private industry. A scenario and schedule for developing this infrastructure and suggested technical approaches for building its primary elements are described.
    36. A Proposed Implementation Strategy for Building a Shared Space Infrastructure (AIAA-98-5178)
      Abstract: This paper describes an achievable and affordable approach for building a shared space infrastructure. This infrastructure will benefit all three space sectors—commercial, civil and national defense—by providing new and enhanced shared capabilities that will improve the safety, reliability and affordability of their robotic and human space operations. The proposed Phase 1A (2000-2017) infrastructure will be comprised of commercial Reusable Launch Vehicles; a Shuttle-derived, unmanned, heavy-lift launch system; four low Earth orbit (LEO) spaceports; spaceport-based interorbit transports capable of reaching geosynchronous orbit; and, an in-space logistics support capability. During Phase 1B (2018-2025), the infrastructure expands the size of the LEO spaceports to accommodate specialized user needs, adds new Earth-to-orbit low cost launch systems for durable cargo, adds upgraded interorbit transports to provide support lunar and deep space exploration, and adds first-generation interplanetary spaceships to extend routine transportation to lunar orbit. This space infrastructure will also be capable of supporting a manned Mars exploration program and robotic probes to near-Earth asteroids and comets. This paper focuses on a strategy for building and financing this shared space infrastructure. Specifically, it describes an acquisition strategy for Phase 1A that effectively uses current space technology and infrastructure capabilities to reduce programmatic risk and enables achieving an initial operational capability in 2012. Further, it describes an approach for financing the fabrication and operation of the Phase 1A infrastructure and covering necessary transportation transition costs using funds already budgeted for in the present government spacelift budget.
    37. Space Infrastructure Planning. Space 96: The 5th International Conference/Exposition on Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Business in Space; American Society of Civil Engineers. Albuquerque, New Mexico, June1-6, 1996.
      Abstract: The human settlement of space will involve the design, fabrication, testing, deployment, operation, replenishment, maintenance, repair, and disposal of a wide spectrum of space operations and transportation systems. These will include reusable launch vehicles, orbiting space stations, space tugs, interplanetary transports, and planetary bases. This paper discusses the importance of carefully and systematically undertaking the systems engineering planning of the basic infrastructure for the first phase of this settlement. Further, this paper proposes a basic space infrastructure planning requirement, derived functional requirements, functional elements and functional interfaces that may serve as a starting point for further analysis and refinement.
    38. Building Large Space Bases in Low Earth Orbit. Space 96: The 5th International Conference/Exposition on Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Business in Space; American Society of Civil Engineers. Albuquerque, New Mexico, June1-6, 1996.
      Abstract: Opening the space frontier to human settlement and enterprise requires that a basic infrastructure be developed that will provide the necessary services to support these human activities. One of the first steps in establishing this basic infrastructure is to build large space bases in low earth orbit that will serve as the terminus for the reusable launch vehicles or planetary shuttles now under development. This paper discusses a proposed approach for building such large space bases using the current Space Shuttle’s technology base.
    39. Space Base 1: Building a Large Space Station Using External Tank Technologies (Princeton/AIAA/SSI Conference, May 15-18, 1991)
      Abstract: This paper proposes a unique, near-term, moderate-cost approach for building a large, multi-use space station in low Earth orbit through the utilization of Space Shuttle External Tank technologies. This large space station, called Space Base 1, is designed for crew sizes starting at 25 with provisions for expansion to about 170. It has sizeable research laboratories, variable gravity processing and training facilities (simultaneously from zero to Mars g-levels), recreational and physical fitness facilities, individual crew quarters, agricultural facilities, and a partially-closed life support system. Space Base 1 is constructed from specially fabricated versions of the External Tank which are launched into orbit via an unmanned version of the Space Shuttle transportation system similar to NASA’s proposed Shuttle C. By using this approach, only eight launches of this unmanned system are required to plance the station’s modules and equipment into orbit for an initial crew size of 25. Four regular manned Space Shuttle missions are required to transport the construction crews and initial operation crew to the station. Space Base 1 would be suitable as the low Earth orbit development, training, and logistics base to support the proposed Space Exploration Initiative’s manned Lunar and Mars exploration programs. Its large physical size with facilities for a large crew make it suitable to support a rebust program of exploration and the expansion of manned activities in Earth orbit.
    40. Changes in the General Specification for Aircraft Structures: Air Force Guide Specification 87221A. U.S. Air Force Aircraft Structural Integrity Conference, San Antonio, Texas, December 11-13, 1990.
      Abstract: This paper discusses the significant changes incorporated into the revision of the Air Force’s Structures Mil-Prime Specification – AFGS-87221A.
    41. The X-30 Structural Integrity Program: The Challenges Ahead (Air Force Aircraft Structural Integrity Program Conference, 1988)
      Abstract: Some major issues are discussed that need to be addressed in the structural integrity program for the X-30 (NASP) vehicle. The primary emphasis in this paper is a method that may prove attractive for qualifying the structure for flight. A probabilistic approach is described that will enable the structural engineer to determine the risk of structural failure from the loading environment imposed on a hypersonic vehicle. The basis for the method is a time domain analysis where the loads from all significant sources are calculated and then a Monte Carlo technique is used to determine their probability distribution function. The probability distribution for strength is then determined based on an examination of the failure modes for each critical location. The combination of these distributions can then be used to determine the probability of failure.
  5. Presentations:
    1. Space Abundance for Humankind’s Needs. (23 charts with speaker notes; PDF format.) This is the breif presentation given at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference, St. Louis, MO, 2017. (Copyright (c) 2017 Spacefaring Instittue LLC.)
    2. Energy, SSP, and Jumpstarting America’s Spacefaring Future (52 charts; 6 Meg; PDF format) This is the presentation given at the National Space Society International Space Development Conference 2009 in Orlando, FL. Speaker notes are included. (Copyright (c) 2009 Spacefaring Institute LLC. See title page notes for permitted uses.)
    3. Becoming Spacefaring Overview (36 charts) (Copyright (c) 2009 Spacefaring Institute LLC. Specific copyright permissions and restrictions are listed on the cover page – posting on another web site is not permitted without prior written permission of the Spacefaring Institute LLC.) This requires Adobe Reader Version 8 or higher to view.
  6. Images:
    1. NASA solar power satellite concept (2048 x 1593)
    2. Spacefaring logistics infrastructure concepts (3000 x 2103)
    3. Spacefaring America desktop background image (2880 x 1800)
  7. NSSO summer 2007 Space-Based Solar Power Study
  8. NSSO summer 2007 Space-Based Solar Power spacefaring logistics fact sheets. These fact sheets provide top-level details on many elements of the integrated spacefaring logistics infrastructure discussed in my papers and articles.
    1. Space-Based Solar Power Logistics Summary (what became Appendix D in the report)
    2. Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure Phase 1
    3. Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure Phase 2
    4. Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure Phase 3
    5. Aerospaceplane Generation 1
    6. Aerospaceplane Generation 1 Cost Estimate
    7. Aerospaceplane Generation 1.5
    8. Aerospaceplane Generation 1.5 Cost Estimate
    9. Shuttle-derived Spacelifter
    10. Space Construction Station
    11. Space Logistics Base
    12. Space Logistics Base Assembly
  9. Miscellaneous technical information from other public sources:
    1. Space Transportation System Stack Assembly
      This is an excellent historical technical description of the NASA Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) prepared as an Historic American Engineering Record by the Space Transportation System Recording Project, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. It is comprised of 28 pages of technical drawings describing all aspects of the system design and its operation.
    2. Space Transportation System Main Engine
      This is a second historical technical description prepared by the Historic American Engineering Record.
    3. Effect of Aircraft Failures on USAF Structural Requirements by Dr. John Lincoln. ICAS 2000 Congress.
      Abstract: Structural failures in both commercial and military aircraft have been the primary factor that has changed rules and specifications that engineers use for design. In many cases, the failures have identified threats to structural integrity that were not previously identified by the certification authorities. Commercial failures have influenced the military specifications and the military failures have influenced the commercial aircraft rules. The experience derived from the individual failures is used to describe the lessons learned and to illustrate the evolution of structural criteria that the United States Air Force (USAF) uses for procurement of new aircraft.
    4. Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, January 11, 2001.