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.
- Analysis of US 2100 Energy Needs and Sustainable Energy Sources (2016)
- Becoming Spacefaring: America’s Path Forward in Space (2015)
- The American Energy Security Crisis Solution—Space Solar Power (2014)
- The End of Easy Energy and What to Do About It (2008)
- Spacefaring white papers:
- America Needs to Become Spacefaring (5 pages, standard size, landscape)
- Near-Future American Space Infrastructure Possibilities (2 pages, tabloid size, landscape)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Assured Space Access (30 Meg; 2 minutes; video is in the public domain)
- In-space Servicing (55 Meg; 2 minutes; video is in the public domain)
- Space Mobility (93 Meg; 4 minutes; video is in the public domain)
- Space Habitat in Spacedock Fly-Around (60 Meg; video is in the public domain)
- Rotating Space Habitat (13 Meg; video is in the pubic domain)
- Spacefaring Institute YouTube channel videos
- Spacefaring Institute’s 2016 Energy & Environmental Security Series
- Understanding GEO Space Solar Power (6 minute video)
- 3 Minutes on the Rising CO2 Level (3 minute video)
- Understanding the CO2 Issue (13 minute video)
- Understanding America’s Energy Security Challenge (13 minute video)
- Understanding Why Nuclear Power Cannot Replace Fossil Fuels (With an intro to space solar power and future American spacefaring capabilities) (15 minute video)
- 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)
- Energy & Environmental Security Series Technical Addendum (7 minute video)
- A peek at what America’s exciting spacefaring future can be! (3 minute video)
- Space Solar Power (14 minute video)
- USA must lead the transition to space-based energy (2 minute video)
- Spacefaring Institute’s 2016 Energy & Environmental Security Series
- Papers and articles:
- Some commentary about the National Space Council’s inaugural meeting (Part 2) (The Space Review, October 23, 2017)
- Some commentary about the National Space Council’s inaugural meeting (Part 1) (The Space Review, October 16, 2017)
- Transcript of the October 5, 2017 meeting of the National Space Council (SpacefaringAmerica.net blog post)
- Forming an American Spacefaring Advisory Group to the National Space Council (The Space Review, September 11, 2017)
- In support of forming a US Space Corps now! (The Space Review, July 10, 2017)
- An engineer’s view of what low-cost, reusable, commercial passenger space transportation means (The Space Review, January 23, 2017)
- Should NASA build spacefaring logistics infrastructure? (The Space Review, January 9, 2017)
- A Trump Administration path to advance commercial space solar power (The Space Review, December 12, 2016)
- 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.
- Petitioning the US to take the lead in space solar power (The Space Review, May 31, 2016)
- Federal legislation to jumpstart space solar power (The Space Review, April 4, 2016)
- US terrestrial non-fossil fuel energy vs. space solar power (The Space Review, March 14, 2016)
- US fossil fuel energy insecurity and space solar power (The Space Review, March 7, 2016)
- The Paris climate agreement and space solar power (The Space Review, February 29, 2106)
- 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.
- Becoming Spacefaring: America’s Path Forward in Space (Journal of Space Philosophy, Fall, 2015) (Alternate 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.
- The American Energy Security Crisis Solution—Space Solar Power (Journal of Space Philosophy, Spring, 2014) (Alternate PDF)
This is an earlier version of the above paper with substantial quantitative discussion of America’s fossil fuel energy security crisis.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Assessing the practicality of scramjet-powered, single-stage aerospaceplanes (The Space Review, 31 Mar 2008)
- 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
- What to tell the next president about realizing America’s potential in space (The Space Review, 4 Feb 2008)
- Aerospaceplanes and space solar power (The Space Review, 3 Dec 2007)
- Becoming a true spacefaring America (The Space Review, 4 Sep 2007) Also available here.
- 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.
- Technically-achievable, Near-term Space Logistics (a longer version of the Aerospace America article below)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Achieving Mastery of Space Operations by Transforming Space Logistics (Submitted version of article for the International Society of Logistics magazine Logistics Spectrum, August 2005)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- NSSO summer 2007 Space-Based Solar Power Study
- 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.
- Space-Based Solar Power Logistics Summary (what became Appendix D in the report)
- Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure Phase 1
- Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure Phase 2
- Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure Phase 3
- Aerospaceplane Generation 1
- Aerospaceplane Generation 1 Cost Estimate
- Aerospaceplane Generation 1.5
- Aerospaceplane Generation 1.5 Cost Estimate
- Shuttle-derived Spacelifter
- Space Construction Station
- Space Logistics Base
- Space Logistics Base Assembly
- Miscellaneous technical information from other public sources:
- 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.
- Space Transportation System Main Engine
This is a second historical technical description prepared by the Historic American Engineering Record.
- Space Transportation System Stack Assembly