Marilyn and I attended the first Inter Ivy Space Coalition Inter Ivy Space Coalition meeting at Yale University on April 6 and 7.
The meeting was attended by students with an interest in space from the Ivy League schools. Saturday consisted of talks by speakers from a wide range of organizations followed by an exhibition and a banquet. Jonathan Li of Yale was the driving force behind this excellent conference.
The Dean of Engineering of Yale opened the meeting talking about the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association. They have done a wide variety of space work including some very large rockets. One student later showed me the nozzle for their latest rocket.
Dr. Fuk Li of JPL, Director Mars Exploration Directorate, talked about Mars 2020. The mission with its very sophisticated rover, will look for indigenous life, study climate and geology and prepare for Exploration. One ambitious goal is to eventually return Mars samples. The challenge of the sample return is to not contaminate the Earth as in the movie The Andromeda Strain.
Prof. Alessandro Gomez of Yale gave a nice talk on electrospray thrusters. The thrusters will be very valuable for small satellite missions.
Suresh Kannan talked about Trustable Autonomous Aerospace Systems. He had great videos from Nvidia on autonomous car control systems and videos from Boston Dynamics showing their amazing robots.
Ellen Chang, co-founder of Lightspeed Innovations is a former U.S. Navy Intelligence Officer and a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School. She talked about the state of investment in space. She mentioned a couple of investments organizations, including IQT, which was started by the CIA! She said a key issue for space companies is that investors can’t wait 20 years for their return on investment.
I gave the next lecture presenting the latest results on our work on Direct Fusion Drive.
We’ve been able to reduce the mass of our RF and superconducting coil subsystems dramatically. We have completed the radiation heat transfer analysis of the reactor which shows that it isn’t a big problem. Conduction will provide the major heat loads.
Here is a recent shot in our experimental facility.
I included a teaser slide on our two stage to orbit vehicle that we are proposing to NASA and DARPA. It would be inexpensive enough for companies and universities to own their own launch vehicle. It is fully reusable and could be launched at any convenient airport. It can also shuttle around the world at subsonic speeds. It is about the size of a private jet.
Alden Richards, founder of Space Machine Advisors, gave a fun talk on the space business. He insured the PanAmSat launch on which I worked. He said that the key for space profitability is dual use,
Jason Aspiotis of Finsophy talked about sources of funding for space. These include global sovereign funds that countries like Kuwait and Norway maintain. He is a founder of SpaceVault online banking and SpaceXchange.
Dr. Jonathan Arenberg of Northrop-Grumman talked about the Chandra X-Ray telescope. He also talked about future missions for imaging exo-planets. Dr. Arenberg is second from the left on the linked page.
Ulisses Ortiz of Space for Humanity talked about his plan to make sub-orbital flights available to anyone. People selected would make a commitment to using the publicity for a good cause.
Kari Love of Soft Robotics gave a great talk on how to win contracts. She said you need to get to know people by going to conferences and responding to RFIs. She said you can make contacts by going to non-space events, like science fiction conventions. She recommended using professional illustrators for key graphics. Kari has a interesting background. She designed the Spiderman costume for the Broadway musical!
Dr. Lin Chambers Atmospheric Scientist at NASA/LaRC, gave the final talk of the day. Unfortunately, we were setting up our table for the networking fair so we missed her talk!
Princeton Satellite Systems had a table at the networking fair. The TV is showing a lunar landing simulation. We had a disassembled reaction wheel, a sun sensor, a navigation camera and a 3D printed model of our two stage to launch vehicle, Space Rapid Transit Mini.
We talked with many students. All of our discussions were interesting. I talked at length with an English major interested in space!
Scott Willoughby of Northrop-Grumman and Program Manager of the James Webb Space Telescope gave an overview of the program in the after dinner talk.
Here are the speakers and student organizers.
We look forward to next year’s meeting!