The View from Chaos Manor June 25, 2011

The View from Chaos Manor

June 25, 2011

 

 

 

THE NEW VIEW

 

This is a production experiment: that is, due to the imminent closure of my wonderful old ISP that Brian and Greg ran and which they were able to tweak with customizations and accommodations to my crazy style, we can’t go on as we have been. Microsoft hasn’t supported FrontPage, which as far as I am concerned worked just fine for what I was doing. Apparently I can’t go on using it with a new ISP without the tweaks that Brian and Greg did for me. All this is being handled by friends and advisors, and after some discussion we’ve chosen WordPress. I’ve done some experiments using a dummy site. This is the first “production” post. It’s as plain as it can be. I’ll start playing about with added features, graphics, customized lines, and other conventions as time goes by; first step is to get the darned thing up and running.

 

I compose all these in Word. I am then to use Word to “publish” this through commands built in to Word 2007. I expect to upgrade to Word 2010 fairly soon, but for the moment this will have to do. Each post becomes a separate file and log entry, as opposed to the old FrontPage system in which each week became a file that was updated, sometimes several times a day. I am not sure how that works here: I much prefer to be able to go in and make corrections, add notes, perhaps add links, note objecti0ns or corrections, and such like as I have been doing. It’s my intention to make as few changes in your reading experiences as possible, and what changes are made should be improvements. I suspect that won’t happen the way I expect, but we will see.

 

I’d be happier about the adventure if I could just shake off whatever seems to be afflicting me this week, but that’s another story. Meanwhile it’s a new adventure. I know I have been way behind the times in modern blogging technology despite the fact that I can make a fair claim to being the first blogger. I didn’t call it that because I still think the term is ugly, but I certainly was among the first to have an open daybook and log.

 

For the few people who have wandered in to here and have no idea of what you have found, the old Home Page for Chaos Manor sort of tells that story. I am not dead sure how we link these two places, since only one can be called www.jerrypournelle.com and someone other than me long ago grabbed www.chaosmanor.com and hasn’t let go. We’ll work something out.

 

 

That was an attempt to insert a break line. It’s not one I’ll choose. Back in the early days of this daybook I used different line images for different kinds of breaks, but that became tedious. I then went to a line of equal signs, but Word like to turn those in to a full line, and I am not sure how WordPress will display them. Probably nothing for it but to try and see.

= = = = == = = =

 

 

 

Satellite Solar Power Reconsidered

 

One of the results of my Space-X visit is the discovery that Elon Musk has concluded that even if the costs of putting solar power collectors into space were met, the operating costs of solar power satellites would make the entire thing uneconomical. This is completely contrary to the conclusions reached in the original studies conducted by Boeing, the NASA SSPS project study, and the consultants working with General Graham’s High Frontier.

 

I do not know what studies Musk relies on for this conclusion. A quick on-line search on SSPS operating costs reveals this, which isn’t anything I would rely on, so I assume there are more data I haven’t seen. I do know that when we did the Boeing study one of the tests was transmission of power through atmosphere using Goldstone as the transmitter to a rectenna; the efficiency of the operation, that is, the ratio of usable power out of the rectenna to the input power at Goldstone was about 90%. This was in the early days of collimation, and we may have assumed some improvements in focus – obviously the beam tested was horizontal across the desert, rather than vertical, but the point was to measure atmospheric effects and the distances chosen were to simulate the atmosphere – but the tests were done and the measurements made. There were also some tests of focus and steering. Clearly you can’t steer a power beam by mechanical movements of the transmitting antenna. Anything that uses reaction mass is prohibitively expensive. SSPS designs used electronic means of collimation (focus) and steering, and indeed the energy for the collimator comes from energy received on Earth, then retransmitted to the satellite: the point being that if the power beam walks off the rectenna, the collimator loses power and the beam disperses. That, at least, was one of the designs we worked on.

 

All this was long ago, and I don’t recall all the details; but the conclusions were agreed to by some pretty high powered people, and the operations costs of the power system were carefully considered. This was one of my areas of, if not expertise, then at least competence, and I didn’t find any absurd assumptions in the models we use.

 

Thus it was a bit disappointing to find that one of the successful space entrepreneurs doesn’t believe SSPS is economically feasible. I wasn’t given the reasoning or access to the study numbers, so I’ll have to rethink all of this on my own. I think he’s wrong. I know we worked hard not to omit significant operations costs in the models we did at Boeing, and there were some pretty good Operations Research people involved in the NASA SSPS study and conference, and of course Arthur D. Little did some serious OR studies of the SSPS concept.

 

 

This will have to do for the first day’s ‘production’ view. Now to do a production Mail.

 

It is after midnight. I have made a few additions to see if they come up properly. This has been a reasonable day’s work. Suggestions for layout changes, decorations, and other improvements are now open. Mail and View will be the primary pages but I do hope to create some reports and specials too.

And good night. The lines aren’t working. I was told that there were ways to insert lines, but I haven’t found them yet, Ah well. Not a bad beginning I hope

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