NewSpace Panel | The High Ground: How Constellations and Big Data are Changing Industry

Berin Szoka – President, TechFreedom

Pavel Machalek – Co-Founder and CEO, SpaceKnow

Tiffany Crawford – President and Founder of Space Development Group of Silicon Valley ?

Chris Biddy – Founder and CEO, Aquila Space

Jason Lohn – Senior Engineer, Orbital Insight


Constellations refers to multiple satellites, usually small sats on orbit together, working together. The thought behind the term is that if you look up at night to see the sun reflect off of these satellites then you would see a constellation moving across the sky.

So, most applications seem to be in Earth observing. Small sats, like cubesats, are limited in power and so can transmit data back to the ground but cannot process data in-situ. So this brings up the issue of getting all that data back to the ground, uncompressed. There is talk of establishing a hub of sats whose sole purpose is to process data given to it from other constellations, then transmitting that data back to earth. Sounds neat.

At least one business model that was discussed solved the problem of Moore’s Law, which makes satellites outdated a very short time after their launch. With small sats and cheaper launches (which have been dropping) companies can design the sats with a three year lifetime after which they de-orbit naturally, and replace the old sats with newer ones sooner.

One last issue that was brought up here was debris. Apparently, tiny fragments are the biggest issue but is being ignored. This means that there are thousands of bullets flying around in orbit without anyone knowing where they are located. Good thing the U.S. military has improved body armor over the last decade.

NewSpace  Keynote Presentation  |  Escape Dynamics …. magic? 


Laetitia Garriott – Co-founder, President, and COO, Escape Dynamics


The technology that Escape Dynamics is developing has the potential to seriously push the cost of LEO launches.

Here’s the basics design: A winged body with a rocket cone on the back, short wings, and a shiny plate on the bottom. The plate is a heat exchanger which absorbs microwaves beamed from the surface of the planet. That powers the hydrogen fueled rocket engine all the way from launch to space. This is the key technology. The fuel load needed for launch is much less, there is no damage from a violent reaction such as a chemical rocket has. The plane takes off vertically just as other rockets, gets to LEO to release the payload, returns to orbit using the heat exchanger as the primary heat shield, the lands horizontally like a plane. Ideally, there is an inspection of the spacecraft then it can be ready for relaunch in a short time.

Some of my first thoughts: What happens to the payload with all those microwaves being beamed onto the craft? (faraday cage) Can this energy transfer tech be used for other uses such as powering electronics on a smaller scale? (probably) What technologies have been proven so far? YES

The microwave dishes will need to track the fast moving target (spacecraft). A small drone has been tracked successfully at lower power. This drone had a small LED on the bottom which was powered by the dish.

The biggest part of this puzzle is the heat exchange. This was tested and seems to have been successful as well.

My personal opinion is that this tech could prove to be extremely successful. I would bet on this if I could!

Performance of Metal-Coated Mirrors with Different Protective Dielectric Layers. Part 1: Experiment




Jason R. Stockton, Benjamin (Adam) Catching, and Dr. Anna Petrova-Mayor CSU Chico, Department of Physics Introduction: Metal-coated mirrors are commonly used in optical instruments. When light is reflected off a mirror, its polarization may change depending on (1) the coating (material, number and thickness of layers), (2) the angle of incidence, and (3) the orientation of the mirror (azimuth angle) with respect to the incident polarization. Understanding of these changes is of particular importance for polarization sensitive instruments. We performed a series of measurements and characterized 4 sets of mirrors with different coatings (off-the shelf and custom designed). Here we present the experimental results and analysis and outline the theoretical background that we will use next to model the observed phenomena. Experiment: Vertically polarized beam at 1543.7 nm is incident on the laboratory beam scanner. The beam is steered in azimuthal and vertical (elevation) direction via the rotation of the first and the second mirror, respectively. The state of polarization (SOP) of the beam for any pointing direction is measured with a polarimeter. The experimental data are compared in figures 1-2 and summarized in table 1. Theory: Metal-coated mirrors are of low cost compared to multi-layer dielectric mirrors and are thus the choice for large optics (e.g for telescopes or scanners). The metallic coating is deposited on a glass substrate and covered with a thin dielectric layer (such as SiO2) that protects the metal against oxidation and scratches. The biggest disadvantage of metallic coatings is that they absorb light and therefore their reflectivity is limited to 96%–98%. The reflectivity can be enhanced by the use of several layers of dielectric coatings. The principle of operation of multi-layer coatings is explained in Fig. 3. The amplitude reflection coefficients and the accumulated phases upon reflection are different for the s- and p-polarization ()and(). Therefore, the state of polarization (SOP) of the reflected beam may differ from the SOP of the incident beam. We call this effect depolarization caused by the mirror. To calculate the transformation of the SOP of the incident beam, we plan to use the matrix method from Mayor et al. The transformation matrix, its elements, and the related coefficients are defined below. Further work is required for the calculations/measurements of the amplitude coefficients and the phases. Conclusions and Outlook: The obtained data show that the aluminum mirrors depolarize less than the gold mirrors and the enhanced coatings depolarize less than the protected coatings. The orientation of the ellipses for all mirrors consistently follows the azimuth angle. The next task is to develop and apply the theoretical model for the mirrors and compare the theoretical with the experimental results. Furthermore, our group had tested a new method for compensation of the depolarization effects caused by the mirrors. We will extend the theoretical model to this case in order to explore other options. Reference: Mayor, S. D., S. M. Spuler, B. M. Morley, E. Loew, 2007: Polarization lidar at 1.54-microns and observations of plumes from aerosol generators. Opt. Eng., 46, 096201. Thanks: We want to thank Scott Gimbal, Michael Li, and Robert Blanton for helping with the data collection.

My First Poster

So a good portion of my life this semester (Spring 2014) was consumed with the assembly of my first poster with my student co-author Adam Catching, and our VERY patient advisor, Dr. Anna Petrova-Mayor. WOW, that was a lot of work. Walking down the halls of the physics department you will find these posters all over the walls. It is all research done by students and their faculty advisors. They are simple looking, just a few equations, some diagrams or photos, and a couple of paragraphs. I used to wonder what the big deal was about them. It isn’t like they were writing a paper. HAHAHA, I was fooled. I am sure writing a good scientific paper is more difficult, BUT, putting together a poster is no walk in the park either. At least not the first time you try it.
Why? Well, you work for months on a piece of research. Months. It takes time to figure out if your question is a valid one and if so, you can only hope that it is answerable within your allotted time frame. Here you get to play with theory for a while. What should happen? Then you have to figure out how best to go about answering your question with your restrictions… mainly, that means time, equipment, human work power, and money. Mostly, money. Stupid money. Once you have a plan, you need to develop your experimental protocols and methodology. Then, start building your setup. Once your setup is good to go (not as easy as that) you get to take data. Realize your data sucks and you need to fix/ adjust/ completely redo/ something, and take it again. Eventually, you get good data and you can compare your (hopefully) good theory to your good data and see what the difference is. Finally, it’s time to publish! YEA!
Back to putting that poster together….
Now you get to talk about all that stuff you learned and figured out…. except you have only have just a few equations, some diagrams or photos, and a couple of paragraphs to work with. WHAT!?! How the heck am I supposed to organize and summarize all that STUFF in a way that actually gets the point across in that limited space? Fresnel equations, wave theory, you call that hard? HA! Summarizing all that work… THAT is hard!
Ok, so I am complaining a little. I really had fun with it. And (not supposed to use “And” as the first word in a sentence…. I don’t care… I’m a rebel!) AND, I didn’t actually have to do a lot of that. See, I came into this research project after it was already started. It wasn’t exactly easy to catch up though. I did have to learn the theory and figure out what the heck that thing was on the fancy looking table and how it all worked. That was quite a bit of work and I admit, I took it slowly. Still, I ended up the first author on this poster somehow.
I must extend my thanks to Dr. Anna Petrova-Mayor for allowing me to be active in this research and also to Scott Gimbal for answering all my questions and patiently pointing out that I was trying to figure out stuff he already did. They call that reinventing the wheel I think. THANK YOU!

Why Mars?

Why Mars?
Let’s start with a larger issue. Life, as far as we know, has developed only upon this planet. This pale blue dot in a vast, black, radioactive, cold, and airless, wilderness. We may never know if there is other life out there. Because of this certainty (life exists here, intelligent life) and this uncertainty (life may exist only here), we have been given a mandate by the universe:
It is our responsibility to ensure the continuation of life in the universe.
So where do we start? We have hardly a toe hole compared to what we need. Our first real step in realizing our mandate is to become a multi-planet, space faring species.
That is where Mars comes in.
We know that eventually, the Earth will die. Quite likely it will be impacted by a large rock, killing most or all forms of life. Definitely, the Sun will expand and warm, cooking the surface of the Earth and eventually engulfing it.
We must begin to venture out into space and make it our home.
We will begin with Mars.
Our population is growing, and so is our demand that Mother Earth support us. Food, water, and other resources are limited. Population control would be impossible without a one world government. Something we will probably not see before demand is greater than supply, leading to famine, war, and general human suffering. We need a release valve.
We have Mars
Since leaving Africa, humanity has steadily spread across the globe. In search of freedom, riches, and what’s around the next bend, over the next mountain. As populations grow, as needs increase, there is a demand for expansion, to release the pressure a bit. While most people will be content to live in the relative safety and comfort of their well-controlled cities and agricultural systems, there are those who feel the need to go out into the wilderness, to explore, to take great risk to self and others for the sake of freedom, knowledge, and adventure. These are the ones who are at the forefront of humanity. They are the leading edge our expansion. Today, there are fewer and fewer real frontiers. The entire globe has been mapped and imaged by satellite. What is left? Where will we expand to next?
There is Mars.
It takes more than courage and strength. It takes more than a horse and gun. Today’s explorers are the best that humanity has to offer.
They will have Mars.
You will have Mars.

The first post…

What am I doing trying to write a blog!?! I can’t even keep up on my homework half the time! Nevertheless, here I am. What is this blog going to be about? The idea is to write science stuff. Yes, I said “stuff.” I am studying Applied Physics at the wonderful and wild California State University, Chico. I am also a family man. What was I thinking? So, I would like to post on here scientific reports of my own writing. Of course this is mostly going to be things like my lab reports or my attempt at an explanation of some principle I have recently learned, or maybe something I know quite well that I feel like talking about. I have one request for everyone, if you find an error…. TELL ME!!! Right there in the comments. Don’t be an ass about it but let’s do ensure correct information is posted.

Oh yea, Mars. There will definitely be posting about Mars and human exploration and settlement of space on here. That’s kinda my number one professional goal… to see people living beyond Earth’s orbit. Like on the Moon, or preferably, Mars.

What’s with the ADHD in the title? I have been diagnosed with it and it’s probably the reason I’m writing this instead of working on a lab report. My wife is going to yell at me for this but that’s OK. I love you babygirl!  I expect ADHD to be a part of this site as well as other aspects of my life as a full time student and family man. It’s going to be interesting…. if I ever post again! Ooh look… a squirrel!