JBIS vol. 64 No.6/7

June July JBIS CoverThe Journal of the British Interplanetary Society has always prided itself on being an open venue for pioneering new fields. In this issue, John Cain, attempts to do just that by defining the subject of Astronautical Hygiene as a new discipline to protect the health of astronauts working in space. As human missions attempt to venture even further afield to the outer planets and beyond, this may become an important component to assuring long term human survival.

In this issue we also have two more NETS-2011 papers. The first is from Michael Eades, Justin Flanders, Niko McMurray and colleagues, exploring the potential use of a space molten reactor concept for nuclear electric propulsion and surface power. This technology may have several benefits including the possibility for a flexible mission architecture. Next we have a welcome paper from a team in Brazil, the lead authors being Lamartine Guimarães, Giannino Camillo and Guilherme Placco. They examine the possibility of developing a reliable heat, power and/or propulsion system based on nuclear energy. Although the work is not currently aligned with a specific mission, this work in progress review makes for interesting reading and bodes well for future research. The final NETS-2011 paper of this issue is by Maxwell Briggs, discussing the implementation of a Sage-Based Stirling model for use in a fission power system technology demonstration unit. This technology has potential applications to eventual crewed missions to the red planet Mars.

Takuto Ishimatsu, Jeffrey Hoffman and Olivier De Weck, then discuss rapid interplanetary trajectory analysis using so called ‘delta-V’ maps. Their use of a convenient tool for visualising ballistic interplanetary trajectories to create exhaustive ‘delta-V’ contour plots is innovative and may be of value to mission planners with applications to future missions to the nearby planets.

Whilst some authors are looking at the possibility of nuclear propulsion, others are looking at more exotic possibilities. Richard Obousy and Aram Saharian take a look at the potential for using the Casimir effect in conjunction with the assumed extra dimensions of space, as proposed by higher dimensional field theories, as a means for deriving spacecraft propulsion. If such an engine could ever be built, it could potentially make space travel much more affordable, and less massive.

We next have a paper from Andreas Hein and his co-authors Andreas Tziolas and Richard Osborne. These are all members of the Project Icarus Study Group. In this paper, first presented at the 61st International Astronautical Congress in 2010, they discuss long-term sustainability of an interstellar exploration program by developing stakeholder scenarios and considering the technological maturity issues. This work is important in the context of developing specific mission architectures as well as justifying the motivations for such ambitious missions into the deepest reaches of outer space.

In the final paper of this issue, John Mathews examines the question of extraterrestrial intelligence. In particular the author discusses one possibility for why the searches to date have turned up negative. He proposes the adoption of a new paradigm in the context of self-replicating robotic probes.

The Editorial team would like to wish the readers a happy new year.

Chris Toomer, Editor and Kelvin F Long, Assistant Editor

 

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