Tag Archives: AIAA

Upcoming lecture in Illinois

For those of my readers who happen to live in Illinois, I will be giving a lecture on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 6:00 pm in Urbana, Illinois to the University of Illinois at Urbana student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

My topic: Predicting the future of space travel, based on the past.


What shall the future of space exploration be like? Will the United States continue to dominate? Or will other nations move to the forefront and eclipse the present generation of American and Russian pioneers? Moreover, will the next travelers to other worlds go to the Moon or the asteroids? Or will they head straight to Mars, as some passionately advocate?

Predicting the precise chronology of these future events, ALL of which are inevitable, is certainly impossible. However, human history does repeat itself, and a close and objective look at history can give us a fairly good idea of what will happen in the future. This is especially important in the context of the federal government’s present budget problems and how they will influence future events.

In his lecture, Robert Zimmerman will outline a few examples of past exploration — both famous as well as obscure — and use these stories to show that the path we are on today is actually heading in a direction that few expected or predicted only a few years ago.

The actual location will be in the Talbot Laboratory, 104 S Wright St, Urbana, IL 61801.


Stay tuned for photo tour of Vandenberg

I am presently at Santa Barbara Airport waiting for my flight home to Tucson after spending the day at Vandenberg Air Force Base. After Steve and Jessica Tullino of the Vandenberg Section of the AIAA gave me a tour of the base, including a close look at one launchpad, I then was their speaker at their section’s luncheon meeting.

Anyway, I took a bunch of pictures and plan to post these sometime tonight or tomorrow. Stay tuned.


Private space is winning

Today I attended an space industry conference here in Orange County, California, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Unlike the Space Hackers conference which also occurred today and to which I was also invited, this was not a New Space get-together, but a standard aerospace event which included a lot of old time engineers from the big old-time companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Most of the talks today were engineering related. For example, one described in detail the engineering advantages of building ion engines and solar sails at the molecular level, nanotechnology to the max. Another talk, which I found astonishing and exciting, was an analysis of the orbital mechanics of getting to Mars. This analysis found that using constant acceleration as low as .01 G it would be possible to get to Mars in weeks, not years, and without the necessity of waiting for the perfect launch window. You could launch almost anytime. Though we don’t have engines that as yet can provide this much constant low acceleration, these numbers are not so high as to make it impossible. With some clever refinements, it might be possible to come up with propulsion systems capable of these constant Gs, and to do it in the near future. If so, it will open up the entire solar system to manned exploration very quickly. Not only will we be able to travel to the planets in a reasonable time, the constant Gs would overcome the medical problems caused by prolonged weightlessness.

It wasn’t these interesting engineering presentations that got my juices flowing however. Instead, it was presentation on public policy issues that completely surprised me and made me think the future of the American aerospace industry is really going in the right direction. This significant take-away was further reinforced by the audience’s reaction to my lecture in the evening.
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