IAC 2015 has concluded. This article summarises what happened between the second and the last day.The technical session on Innovative Concepts and Technologies was part of the 13th IAA symposium on visions and strategies for the future. What drew me to this session was content related to 3D printing, asteroid mining and settlements on Titan. Nikolai Oreshkin’s paper concerned with 3D Printing and 3D Scanning, with the tagline, “The Digital Teleportation Revolution”. Some of the potential applications of 3D scanners in human space exploration were in medical analysis and quality control of manufactured parts. One major problem for the proliferation of 3D scanners in space is temperature fluctuations affecting scanning and calibration. Artec have created a solution with an internal temperature control mechanism to solve this. Alena Probst’s paper on mission concepts for asteroid mining outlined high level mass, power budgets, and re-usable modules. She described scenarios of operation in deep space, 1AU to 5AU, accessed using hohman-transfer impulsive maneuvers in 0.1AU steps. Abbishek G’s paper on space settlement on Titan discussed the similarities between Titan’s atmosphere and Earth’s atmosphere. After our Sun enters its red giant phase in a few million years, the temperature will raise from 90K to 300K.
Plenary 4: ISS as the Gateway for Humankinds Future in Space and on Earth gave perspectives from stakeholders using the ISS. The participants demonstrated that the ISS is very open for use for a wide range of activities. The activities of the panelists include:
- Jean-Domninque Coste – ISS systems integrator, enabling ISS as a platform for everyone
- Julia Stalder – Rapidscat, observes water patterns for use in disaster prevention
- Jason Dunn – Made In Space, manufacturing in space
- Norah Patten – IComp, using the ISS as an outreach platform for Ireland
- Luis Zea – University of Colorado, investigating antibacterial resistance
I submitted the question, “Are Made in Space looking into developing 3D Printed stepper motors, solar panels and EM drives” to Jason Dunn, Founder of Made in Space. He answered that Made in Space are looking into developing many technologies, believe that there will come a time when everything is manufactured on-orbit. The philosophy at Made in Space is that we need to learn to live off the land.
An interesting technology concept at a booth was an US-Israeli collaboration between Lockheed Martin and STEMRAD – a smart passive radiation shielding wearable device for astronauts. It solves the problem of radiation damage to astronauts in deep space missions by focusing on protecting areas of the body with that produce stem cells, such as the lungs, ovaries, breast and bone marrow. Interestingly, the traditional Earth radiation shielding materials such as lead are unsuitable for space application and new solutions are required for deep space.
The technical session on Moon Exploration – Part 2 was part of the space exploration symposium. What drew me to this session was content discussing water presence on the Moon, and ideas shared from many national projects. David Korsmeyer discussed the repertoire of NASA knowledge of water deposits yielding from many past and present missions. Considering that the Moon is a secondary goal to NASA’s primary goal of Mars exploration, there is an impressive amount of landers, orbiters ongoing and planned. The upcoming Lunar Flashlight and Resource Prospector missions are expected to shed some light onto how to mine the Moon for resources. John Walker detailed the progress of Tohoku University towards the Google Lunar X prize, they are aiming to meet prize money objectives as well as their own science objectives. They have an interest in the lava tubes on the Moon and intend to explore them with rappelling robots. Piergiovanni Magnani discussed Lunar icy soil sampling, and Selex ES approach of using a roto-hammer drill. It offers the benefit of requiring less force than a hammering action, and the optimal head size is 29mm.
In the press conference with Johann Woerner, the current ESA Director-General, responded to questions generally concerned with his Moon Village proposal, direction and challenges of ESA. He believes that in the post-ISS future, many of his requirements of internationalisation, fundamental research, frequent Earth orbit access and an international exploration program are met by the Moon Village. However he reiterated that he is not fanatically committed to the idea and is open to suggestions, quoting Voltaire “The perfect idea is the enemy of the good idea”. The vision of his Moon Village will be be populated by mining, tourism, government, universities, private players all operating from a common base. He believes that ESA’s role is to put society and citizens in decision process and to not foresee the future, but enable it. His vision for future space exploration is full international collaboration with the Chinese being included. He outlined that while NASA has a larger budget than ESA, he is not looking for more money – rather he is looking for more ideas. A problem for ESA is the large wave of retirement incoming to ESA, which creates problems in knowledge management.
Plenary 7: The Moon – A Continent and a Gateway for our Future, gave perspectives from ESA, NASA, Roscosmos and a representative for young professionals. The biggest revelation for me was in the introductory video that asserted the abundance of water on the Moon created by proton’s deposited from the solar wind reacting with lunar dust. The ideal location looks to be the south pole, as it experiences less significant temperature fluctuations than elsewhere on the planet and has significant water concentration. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA, outlined the long investment NASA has made in lunar exploration, and discussed the recent tech demonstration of a laser communications system, capable of 600 Mbits per second. NASA have a key interest in lunar volatiles, which will be explored in the Resource Prospector mission, with the intended goal of using volatiles for Mars exploration. Oleg Gorshov, Roscosmos, outlined the post-ISS direction to develop Russian habitable prototypes as part of lunar orbital infrastructure. Roscosmos are also developing a new crewed spaceship, 2021 touted as the first unmanned test. He stated the Russian position as being fully open to international co-operation. Peter Batenburg, Young Lunar Explorers Representative, outlined that younger people desire to use ISRU, open access to the Moon and suggests an engagement initiative where participants could perform their thesis or drive a rover on the Moon. Jan Woerner, ESA, explained his Moon Village proposal as not a ultimate goal but a part of a journey on ISS-Moon-Mars-Beyond. He also discussed the idea generating ESTEC trainee Moon Village jam session.
In the meantime, the Polish team has participated to several other sessions and conducted business meetings. The highlight at the Polish booth happened on Wednesday in the evening, when a small reception was held. Although invitations were sent only one day earlier, this reception gathered more than 50 people from around the World. This event allowed also to have more informal discussions about potential cooperation with Polish companies. Some people asked about the hammer to be used during the NASA’s InSight lander mission, whereas others asked about space applications and the newly created Polish Space Agency. Just after that small reception, a Young Professionals + Space Generation + International Space University (ISU) reception was held. During that event, Buzz Aldrin was named the new ISU chancellor.
On Thursday in the morning there was a session on 50 years of spacewalks, to which several notable astronauts have participated. Unfortunately, Alexy Leonov was unable to participate, but Sunita Williams, Soichi Noguchi, Christer Fuglesang and Buzz Aldrin have shared their experiences of spacewalking. This session ended with expression of hope that soon a new type of spacesuit will have to be developed – that one for gravity environment, such as Martian surface.
Thursday evening finished with a dinner hosted by Mexico’s city of Guadalajara. This city will organise IAC next year. This dinner had an interesting artistic performance, which joined Mexican culture and history with the space sector. It is interesting to note that Mexican space sector, generally not very well known in Europe, on its own is composed of 300 active companies. No doubt, Mexico deserves to organise IAC.
On Friday morning dr Michal Moroz presented the results from our project to ESA and the European Investment Bank in Jordan. The session was popular among the astronautical community and Michal asked to several questions. The presentation might lead to our more dedicated activities in the Middle East region.
The final accent of IAC 2015 was a selection of 2018 edition. The city of Bremen in Germany won this edition, which means that the IAC will return to Europe after six years. It is important to note that Bremen has been promoting itself for some time, organising a bigger exhibition and a number of events. Nevertheless, some other competing cities had their chances as well.
This year’s International Astronautical Congress was held at a very tense time in Jerusalem. Throughout a week, several attacks have happened and one of them was as close as 200 meters from the congress’ building. Fortunately, noone from IAC’s attendants was hurt, but security was much tighter than usually and some people have resigned from their travel to Israel.
This article was prepared by Jack Scott-Reeve and Krzysztof Kanawka.