71 comments to The Planetary Society and LightSail Inspire Public Engagement in Space Exploration

  • blueoyster57

    Bill Nye the ‘Science Lie’…….Selfie to space portal……..yikes……..

  • Gary Church

    Bill Nye is no climate change denier and this has made him a target of scorn and derision by that crowd. The same is true of several celebrity scientists including Michio Kaku who I mentioned on a blog a couple months ago (from which I have since been banned…twice) and then witnessed an outpouring of hateful comments that was astounding. It is a sad commentary on 21st century society that such a queer mix of anti-science corporatists and Ayn Rand libertarians have come to infest space forums and subsequently warp and contaminate public discourse.

    • Gary Church

      Since I keep being accused of commenting “off-topic” it might help to stop that by explaining the connections between climate change and the title. Advocating for a future in space is on the Planetary Society website- and so is reference to the LightSail and the public. What does this have to do with climate change? Everything.

      The only solution to ending greenhouse gas production is by beaming down the energy to run civilization from outer space. There is one other way- kill off most of the human race and go back to herding goats- and that would engage the public in an undesirable way. The most famous proponent of space solar power was Gerard K. O’Neill in the 70’s and he proposed using lunar resources to build the several million tons of space solar power satellites necessary. What does this have to do with the LightSail? Everything.

      While using a natural fusion reactor (the sun) to push a sail around may work on a scale of a few pounds and is interesting, the practical applications are few. Using a artificial fusion device (an H-bomb) to push a sail (Johndale Solem calls it a “Spinnaker”) a battleship could be lifted off the surface of the Moon- or thousands of tons of solar power components at a time. Bill Nye is also mentioned in the article and he is a well known climate change activist.

      • “The only solution to ending greenhouse gas production is by beaming down the energy to run civilization from outer space.”

        The ONLY solution? How about Earth-based solar, renewable biomass, wind power, tidal power, nuclear, hydro-electric or geothermal, just to name a few? As much as I admire the work of Gerard O’Neill, it would seem that there are other proven solutions for addressing greenhouse gas production that have a lower risk and are more readily at hand than one based on largely undeveloped technology requiring an astronomical (no pun intended) investment in an off-world infrastructure over the period of many decades.

        • Gary Church

          “How about Earth-based solar, renewable biomass, wind power, tidal power, nuclear, hydro-electric or geothermal, just to name a few?”

          Commercial nuclear energy died with Fukushima. Biomass is just burning something besides fossils. It takes energy and carbon to fabricate solar, wind, tidal, hydro, and whatever else you want to name to replace fossil fuels- and this immense industrial project to lower carbon quickly becomes self-defeating as more and more of the world seeks a western standard quality of life and the energy required climbs. One example being the electric car which is marketed as “clean” but in reality is far from it. The standard tactic to market such solutions is referred to by energy experts as “green-washing.”

          It would “seem” there are other solutions but there are not. As much as you claim to admire the work of Gerard K. O’Neill, that you do not support his vision is clear and it is disingenuous of you to claim that you do.

          • I appreciate the thoughtful response on this topic (despite your continued insistence to employ an irrationally narrow definition of the concept of “support” that is not shared by most other English speakers). Your counterargument gives me cause to reconsider the topic.

            Still, I do have to wonder about the hidden climate impacts of beamed solar energy like that proposed by O’Neill. What is the environmental impact of all the hardware that must be built and launched into space to get the self-sustaining, off-world infrastructure established to build solar power satellites (never mind city-size space colonies)? What will be the environmental impact of establishing and maintaining the ground-based infrastructure associated with dozens (or hundreds?) square-kilometer class power receiving stations space-based solar power will require? Most of the work I have seen on this subject were just top-level studies that are now on the order of four decades old (i.e. predating our appreciation of a lot of environmental concepts like “carbon footprint”). I am wondering if there are more up-to-date studies by experts in the field that address these questions.

          • I’ve given some thought to your comment and have the following thoughts:

            “Biomass is just burning something besides fossils.”

            The point of biomass is that it has zero net CO2 production. in the simplest form, a crop is grown that takes up CO2 out of the atmosphere. The crop is then burned to produce energy and returns CO2 back into the atmosphere which is then taken up by the crop and the cycle starts over again. Properly designed with the right crop as well as harvesting and energy extraction techniques, the system has a net zero CO2 production and a net positive energy production.

            As a “primitive” example, I grew up burning wood to keep my family’s home heated during the New England winter. Several acres of woods was enough to keep us self sufficient with an effect zero carbon footprint (at least for heating the house).

            “It takes energy and carbon to fabricate solar, wind, tidal, hydro, and whatever else you want to name to replace fossil fuels”

            Yes, it takes energy to create and erect the needed equipment but once it is in place, it requires little or no further input of energy to operate. Once the energy producing equipment lasts long enough to create more energy than was expended to fabricate it, it become a net positive energy producer.

            If you have some independent studies to recommend to show that this is not the case, I would be genuinely interested in reading them.

          • Figures once I posted my comment I found a source of info on net energy production for various energy sources:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_returned_on_energy_invested

            For renewable biomass sources, biodiesel creates 1.3 times more energy than it consumes to create as does ethanol from corn. Ethanol from sugarcane creates 5.0 times the energy.

            Other sources of renewable energy do increasingly better. Solar is in the 1.6 to 1.9 times range (depending on the type), solar cells create 6.8 times more energy than they consume to fabricate, wind creates 18.0 times more energy that it consumes to create the equipment and hydro is a whopping 100 times more energy. Like I said, unless you have some other information to present, it seems that space-based solar is NOT the only zero-carbon footprint alternative to fossil fuels. And as has been discussed elsewhere, space-based solar does have a potential negative environmental impact.

            • Just to throw this in the mix, the Wikipedia page about the life-cycle GHG and CO2-equivalent/kWh metrics,

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

              As one would guess, this whole discussion quickly gets pretty complicated with claims that some studies don’t have enough data spread or didn’t take into account mining costs of GHG, etc..

              I will also note that space solar power isn’t discussed. I can only assume that is because the chances of it becoming a power source are about the same as me becoming president. Alas, sleep peacefully tonight with no worries of that occurring as I promise not to run in 2016.

              • Yes, considering the unanswered questions about space-based power, the number of key enabling technologies that remain to be developed not to mention the brand new space-based infrastructure that would need to be established to make it happen, it is simply too-expensive and too-high risk to have any realistic chance of being part of our energy mix for many, many decades to come.

          • Tim Andrews

            “Biomass is just burning something besides fossils.”

            And there’s a big difference in that.

            Biomass extracts carbon from that atmosphere while it is growing, then releases it back to the atmosphere while it is burned.

            Fossil fuels take carbon that was sequestered from the atmosphere and stored in the earth’s crust and release it into the atmosphere.

        • Over 60% of petroleum is used for transportation, and space-based power will do nothing to help fill that void.

          As for electrical production, as you mention there are many sources, never mind that use of electricity hasn’t seen more the very slight growth over the decades because devices are being made ever more efficient.

          I once saw a series of charts from the IEA that showed if we could get to a hydrogen based transportation system generated by nukes, which currently have the lowest footprint from production of construction materials through making electricity, our nation’s carbon footprint would do as France’s–shrink. But I’ve read elsewhere that hydrogen just hasn’t closed the loop as a transportation fuel. I have no idea of the footprint for making batteries, whether Li-Ion or Al-Ion or others.

          • Gary Church

            “Over 60% of petroleum is used for transportation-”

            That would be where the electric non-battery transportation system would come in. Bumper car type powered systems are being tested, and elevated train systems are far more efficient than diesel trucks for long haul. This is one of the many arena’s where industry pays government to NOT regulate because it would upset the status quo. It is a matter of either penalizing fossil fuel systems into oblivion or legislating non-fossil fuel systems into existence, or a combination of both. But the Koch brothers will be offering a billion dollar war chest to the republican party candidate to try and insure nothing like that happens. And it is also of course the reason climate change denial is big business.

            The problem with the mythical hydrogen infrastructure is that hydrogen is difficult to store and when transported likes to exfiltrate and escape.

            I am in the unhappy situation of being a nuclear advocate for use in space and completely against it’s use for commercial power on Earth. Nuclear reactors should be very strictly controlled and safeguarded on Earth and used for producing fissionable material to send into space. Never for commercial power- as proven by North Korean and Pakistani bombs, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, etc.

            • Gary Church

              I would add that the only non-partisan source for a really good perspective on energy I have found is Ozzie Zehner. His book “Green Illusions” is hated equally by liberals and conservatives and sadly largely unknown simply because it tells the truth without much bias either. Of course the tiniest details are blown all out of proportion by both sides to try and disprove his conclusions. I do not know what his take on Space Solar Power is but I doubt he would be excited by it since he is not a space advocate. Like nuclear pulse propulsion, if you are acclimated to space solar power and come to understand the basic principles then it makes sense. Unfortunately space solar power advocates are their own worst enemies and don’t have much more credibility than space elevator nuts. The main reason for this lack of credibility is that almost all space solar power advocates reject going to the Moon to build the solar power satellites and insist on trying to prove it is feasible to launch the network of satellites from Earth. Of course there is no way this is possible- not any more than building a space elevator.

              Gerard K. O’Neill really was the prophet of space colonization who understood the problems and solutions in a unique way that nobody else has come close to.

          • Interesting, Jim, but even the use of hydrogen as a fuel could have a potential impact on the environment. While water vapor generated from the combustion of hydrogen is benign enough, I recall reading some time ago that the hydrogen that leaks into the atmosphere (and such leakage during production, transfer, fueling, etc. is inevitable) would quickly make its way into the stratosphere where it could react with the ozone layer potentially causing this vital protection to thin dangerously. It seems that there could be hidden problems with many of the solutions to greenhouse emissions associated with energy production and I wonder if Gary’s touted cure-all of space-based solar energy production might not have hidden problems as well.

            • Joe

              You are on the right track.

              Any real energy source is not going to be perfect (nothing human or human produced ever is). Virtually all will have advantages and disadvantages. Any serious selection process will have to take them into account and select the option(s) deemed to be best.

              Trouble is that selection process will always be subject to debate after the fact as well. Select ground based solar power and supporters of windmills will harp on its shortcomings and vice versa so on and so forth. Select a mix (the most likely outcome) and the situation will be more complex as the losers will form coalitions to attack the winners and the arguments will go on.

              I know that sounds cynical but I believe that is the way it is.

              By the way, the potential problems with Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) are not hidden. When the concept was being seriously evaluated by NASA in the 1970’s/1980’s there were attacks made on it because of the need for microwave transmission of the power to the ground. It was stated by its opponents that the public would be irradiated by the microwaves (and birds flying into the beams would be killed – literally cooked).

              I remember reading in the Congressional Record and exchange by an SBSP supporter saying that the density of the microwave beams would be to low to create such a danger. To which someone replied something like – “In dealing with the public you will find that a perceived danger is as powerful as a real danger. We will see to it that there is a perceived danger in the minds of the public.”

              • Joe, I was well aware of the microwave exposure issues. I was a physics major in the early 1980s when a lot of the details of space-based solar power were being formulated and tried to keep up with the technical literature as much as I could. But that work is now a third of a century and more old and our understanding of many environmental issues has evolved substantially since that time.

                As I asked Mr. Church further up in this thread, I wonder if there have been more recent environmental impact studies done for things that were not even considered back in the early 1980s. What is the environmental impact of all the hardware that must be built and launched into space to get the self-sustaining, off-world infrastructure established to build solar power satellites (never mind city-size space colonies)? For example, hundreds or even thousands of SLS-class launches with dirty solid rocket motors depositing hundreds of thousands of tons of particulates into the upper atmosphere must have some sort of impact. Of course switching from solid boosters to more environmentally friendly kerosene-based boosters is a touchy subject with Mr. Church… and don’t even mention the use of space elevators! So the options here are artificially limited if one wishes to avoid offending Mr. Church in some way. What will be the environmental impact of establishing and maintaining the ground-based infrastructure associated with dozens (or hundreds?) square-kilometer class power receiving stations space-based solar power will require? Such a huge construction project is bound to have some sort of impact.

                In the end, you can’t get something for nothing and I’d like to see some objective studies comparing all the alternatives including those of Mr. Church’s “prophet” who I admire but was hardly perfect.

                • Joe

                  “I wonder if there have been more recent environmental impact studies done for things that were not even considered back in the early 1980s.”

                  Andrew,

                  An interesting question.

                  Unfortunately the answer is I do not know for sure.

                  Since the early proposals were shot down partially due to the environmental concerns of the period, I doubt it.

                  NASA has not, but perhaps some other government agency (DARPA?) or maybe a private organization. If so, I am not familiar with them.

                  Sorry I can not be of more help.

                  • It was not necessarily a question directed towards you, Joe. I was hoping that maybe another poster or a more enthusiastic supporter like Mr. Church might have more recent information but I do not hold out much hope that he does or would share it since he tend to not like to answer questions (although to his credit, he did provide me with a thought provoking response further up in this thread).

                • Joe

                  Just thought of something about the NASA Study that you may know, but is not discussed here.

                  The SSP concept was originated by Peter Glaser and in his original concept the entire mass was to be launched from Earth. That is the concept NASA evaluated and was debated in Congress before being dismissed.

                  In collage I got to read a NASA briefing book on the launch requirements. It was lengthy and very detailed, including environmental impacts of the launches. That would be to the environmental standards of the times of course and the assumed vehicle was a fully reusable TSTO with Hydrogen/Oxygen engines on the Orbiter and Kerosene/Oxygen to be used on the fly back first stage. The Orbiter dwarfed the actual Shuttle. Do not remember the payload size, but it was huge. They intended it to fly at least 100times/year. They were an ambitious group.

                  Anyway, that would be the concept upon which any total environmental impact assessment would have been made even then, not the Lunar Materials Based scenario.

                • Joe

                  This is dredging up a lot of old memories from collage (kind of fun).

                  O’Neill’s concepts of how to approach the subject continued to evolve. He eventually settled on building a small moon base and “construction shack” first and using them to bootstrap (from Lunar Materials) into the bigger facilities needed to work on the SSPs.

                  I do not think these papers are available on-line but the concept was similar to this one from 2011.

                  http://www.spudislunarresources.com/Bibliography/p/102.pdf

                  No environmental impact statement, but it will give an idea of scale in terms of boosters and launches from Earth. They use the Shuttle Side Mount Configuration (which was still a possibility at that time), but it can be considered equivalent of the Block I SLS.

                  • LOL! I’ve been rummaging through “the stacks” of my own personal library on this topic (oddly enough while watching episodes of ST:DS9 on Netflix). First things I found was a chapter on “Space Cities” by Kenneth Gatland in his “Encyclopedia of Space Technology” 1st Ed. from 1981 and the paperback “Colonies in Space” by T.A. Heppenheimer from 1977. I know I have a lot more material relating to NASA Ames studies on space cities from c1976 buried in my archives and I recall an article by my favorite author, Isaac Asimov, about a visit to a future space city that appeared in Nat. Geo. I think for the bicentennial (I hope I kept that issue when I divested myself of a lot of old magazines prior to a move a couple of years back). After a bit of reading, I might have the makings for an interesting article on space city concepts for publication in my blog or elsewhere. Like you say, kind of fun 🙂

                    • Joe

                      “I know I have a lot more material relating to NASA Ames studies on space cities from c1976 buried in my archives…”

                      If I remember correctly the 1976 study is of particular interest(at least to me) because (among other things) it introduced the Chrystal Palace Habitat design which bridges the gap between Dandridge Cole’s Macro-Life Concept, Ehricke’s Androcell and O’Neill’s habitat designs.

                      Did I mention this was dredging up old memories and was fun.

  • blueoyster57

    Bill Nye is a complete phony……he has an engineering degree and this makes him think he is an expert on the climate( weather to us ‘deniers”). As for the vile Michio Kaku……it figures a pinhead like you Church would love this clown. Kaku, who led a group of environmental wackos trying to stop the most successful space mission ever……Cassini to Saturn. I was watching a program on Saturn earlier and this bottom feeder Kaku has commenting about Cassini…….the nerve of this vile liberal wacko………

    • Gary Church

      I am getting so good at picking the deniers out it is scary. Kaku was not happy about the 70 pounds of plutonium flying on the Titan launcher. I considered it worth the risk but he and many others did not.

      Let’s see…complete phony, pinhead, clown, wackos, bottom feeder, vile liberal wacko. That about covers it. You love insulting people don’t you? Like I said, a sad commentary on 21st century society that such a queer mix of anti-science corporatists and Ayn Rand libertarians have come to infest space forums.

      Global warming will be a big campaign issue, possibly THE campaign issue and this is the maybe-never-again opportunity to finally make space a major political issue as the only solution by way of Space Solar Power. It could be the beginning of a second space age if Gerard K. O’Neill’s vision is resurrected.

      So I find it ironic that “environmental wackos trying to stop the most successful space mission ever” are now the best hope for reviving space exploration.

      • Gary Church

        I would add the way to fly the ultimate hazardous material (plutonium) is on a human-rated spacecraft with a powerful escape system and using survivable packaging. The SLS is perfect for transporting fissionable material directly outside the magnetosphere. I would bet the “environmental wackos” would be all for it if it meant an end to greenhouse gas production on planet Earth. You better believe it.

      • Joe

        Hi Gary,

        So, you have ferreted out another Climate Change Denier.

        Tell us in a world run by Gary Church, what would the legal penalty be for committing that particular thought crime?

        At least we can take solace in the fact that we will be in rather famous company (according to the New York Times:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/13/opinion/obamas-catastrophic-climate-change-denial.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=1

        Notice the title of the editorial – Obama’s Catastrophic Climate-Change Denial.

        Additionally Greenpeace has now determined that the fastest growing cause of Anthropogenic Climate Change is use of the Internet:

        http://www.wired.com/2015/05/binge-watching-making-planet-warmer/

        Something obviously has to be done immediately and you can not expect the Climate Change Deniers to do it (they are all too busy kicking puppies off a cliff).

        So it is up to True Believers, like yourself, to lead by example.

        Show the courage of your convictions Gary, stop using the Internet to save the planet.

        • Gary Church

          Thanks for showing your true colors Joe. Now there is no doubt.

          • Joe

            My “true colors” whatever you think that means notwithstanding Gary, what about it.

            According to Greenpeace given the density of your posting, you could single handedly be responsible for the deaths of 1,000’s of small furry animals with big brown eyes.

            What about your true colors?

            • Gary Church

              Talk to Andrew about my climate change colors Joe. He knows what you are now also.

              • Joe

                Really I did not know Andrew (or anyone else for that matter – except you of course) had called me out for “my true colors” or what “I am”.

                Did that happen in this posting section?
                Could you please point out where this is?

                Would be easy if you have that information.

                In fact it seems to be you and Andrew that are having the rather vociferous difference of opinion beginning below at your post time marked – May 23, 2015 at 8:35 pm. See how easy it is to provide back up information when you have it.

                In the mean time what is your impression of the New York Times Editorial Page calling out President Obama for what you would call his true colors?

                • Joe

                  I did not ask you about what Obama may have said, I asked about what the New York Times sais about Obama:

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/13/opinion/obamas-catastrophic-climate-change-denial.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=1

                  Notice the title of the editorial – Obama’s Catastrophic Climate-Change Denial.

                  The point is that for some in the environmental movement no one can be pure enough. It is not enough to get rid of the infidels, the heretics must be removed as well.

                  Thanks for reinforcing the point.

                  • Gary Church

                    Your anti-environmental bias is your problem, not mine. Did not look at the link. Buh-bye.

                  • Good points Joe. Whenever the purists ascend and the perfect becomes the enemy of the good, bad times.

                    • Joe

                      Thanks Jim,

                      As much as I detest President Obama’s space policy, I can not help but sympathize with his situation (and those of other Democrats) trying to appease elements of the environmental left.

                      He makes that speech at the Coast Guard Academy stating that the chief military threat facing the country is Climate Change (not ISIS taking over the Middle East a piece at a time or Iranian/North Korean Nuclear Weapons)and still gets called a Climate Change Denier on the editorial pages of the New York Times.

                      I suspect the writers at the satirical website the Onion are going quietly nuts. It is hard to do satire when it is difficult to distinguish from “real” news.

      • Gary's Drinking Game

        Gary compliments himself on his own self described genius! Drink!

    • At least Bill Nye has a better science background than most of the climate change deniers that grace our media (including the vast majority of our elected officials) and his views do generally reflect the consensus of the overwhelming majority of the experts in the field. But this is besides the point: what does this off topic attack have to do with The Planetary Society’s Lightsail project or the fine work they have done over the last three decades in promoting public engagement in space (i.e. the topic of this article)???

      Regards,
      Andrew LePage – Atmospheric remote sensing scientist & charter member of The Planetary Society

      • Joe

        “But this is besides the point: what does this off topic attack have to do with The Planetary Society’s Lightsail project or the fine work they have done over the last three decades in promoting public engagement in space (i.e. the topic of this article)???”

        Good point.

        We are certainly not going to settle the Climate Change debate on this Website nor should we (in my opinion) try.

        The subject is sadly likely to come up again however, so could we agree to one point of semantics.

        Use of the term denier to describe someone who disagrees with you on an issue (any issue) is a gimmick intended to conflate them with Holocaust Denial (a genuinely despicable thing).

        You may vehemently disagree with any one that does not believe that Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is as big an issue as you do; but the Holocaust has nothing to do with it.

        I understand why politicians use these sorts of tricks, they are politicians and that is what they do – Try to win arguments by seizing the “rhetorical high ground”, then they do not have to debate the merits.

        • “We are certainly not going to settle the Climate Change debate on this Website nor should we (in my opinion) try.”

          On this point I am in 100% agreement! This is an inappropriate forum to debate the subject and there is no realistic hope of really changing anyone’s mind never mind resolving the issue here. I’m glad that is settled! 😉

          Now, to get back on topic… kudos to the Planetary Society in its latest effort promote planetary exploration! With luck, solar sail technology will be developed to the point so that it can be added to the mix of propulsion technologies available to help expand the exploration of the solar system. Still, it needs to be remembered that this could take time. It took a third of a century from the first space-based demonstration of ion propulsion technology in 1964 until it started to be used operationally (and now being used for the successful Dawn mission).

          • Joe

            I agree with all of that 100%.

            For that very reason I hate to ask this question, but what about the use of the term denier to describe anyone who may disagree with you about Climate Change (or any other issue)?

            As long as Gary or others of similar disposition are around, you know it will come up again.

            • I am only addressing this because you specifically asked, so…. last I checked, the definition of “denier” is a person who denies. It is not a term specially reserved only for those who deny the Holocaust and trying to equate the despicablity of Holocaust deniers with deniers of other sorts is simply ridiculous, in my opinion. Maybe you find the use of the term to be a gimmick, I do not and think that getting wrapped up about the acceptable use of a word that has been part of the English language for centuries is a distraction from the real issue.

              As far as I am concerned, that’s enough said about this off-topic… er… topic 🙂

              • Joe

                “trying to equate the despicablity of Holocaust deniers with deniers of other sorts is simply ridiculous, in my opinion.”

                That’ll do. Case closed.

        • Jim Hillhouse

          Boy, I wish we could solve Climate Change here. Imagine the publicity! Oh well…to dream…

          Like you guys, I’d love to see the thread be more LightSail centric.

          • Gary Church

            If I had not commented there would probably be one comment on this thread. I purposely did not comment on the SpaceX article to make this point. Shall I start the party there Jim? Or maybe I should just go away since the Gary drinking game and other insulting comments are not being deleted. I can take a hint.

          • Jim, quite some time ago I added “climate change” to my list of topics I try to avoid discussing in forums like this and elsewhere (along with politics, religion, the proper use of the subjunctive mood and, recently, “Deflate Gate”). People are usually already firmly entrenched in their beliefs on all of these matters and there are no factual or logical arguments that will change their minds… and trying to do so just makes enemies.

            Unfortunately it seems that the second half of my comment above from May 23, 2015 at 6:32 pm where I attempt to draw a historical comparison between the development of ion propulsion and light sail is just about the only attempt at an “on topic” response. This is too bad considering the huge potential impact of this technology for certainly types of interplanetary missions especially when employed on the new class of miniaturized (i.e. <1 to 100 kg mass range) spacecraft.

      • Gary Church

        “- what does this off topic attack have to do with The Planetary Society’s Lightsail project or the fine work they have done over the last three decades in promoting public engagement in space (i.e. the topic of this article)???”

        As a “Atmospheric remote sensing scientist & charter member of The Planetary Society” you might want to ask Bill Nye what climate change has to do with it. He can explain it to you Andrew. But since “sensing the atmosphere” from space does not seem like it is connecting with you- then maybe it is something else you are unhappy about. It is obvious what that something might be.

        What this “off topic attack” has to do with is you and Joe trying to make me go away. And Jim Hillhouse knows it, the staff know it, and the other readers know it. There are several descriptive words for what you are displaying but I cannot use them without getting banned.

        • Gary, in case you hadn’t noticed, my comment from 2:37 pm today was not directed towards you but “blueoyster57” and his off-topic attack on Bill Nye at 5:09 am. I have no idea what you are going on about but that neither surprises nor concerns me 🙂

          • Gary Church

            “As a “Atmospheric remote sensing scientist & charter member of The Planetary Society” you might want to ask Bill Nye what climate change has to do with it. He can explain it to you Andrew.”

            Bending over backwards to avoid the issue will not make it go away. Anymore than incessantly harassing me will make me go away. Now you know what I am going on about. Notice a pattern?

            • I’m not avoiding anything, Gary. My comment was directed towards “blueoyster57”, not you. Sorry to disappoint you. If you do not believe me, try this:

              Here is the original comment of “blueoyster57”

              blueoyster57
              May 23, 2015 at 5:09 am · Reply

              Bill Nye is a complete phony……he has an engineering degree and this makes him think he is an expert on the climate( weather to us ‘deniers”). As for the vile Michio Kaku……it figures a pinhead like you Church would love this clown. Kaku, who led a group of environmental wackos trying to stop the most successful space mission ever……Cassini to Saturn. I was watching a program on Saturn earlier and this bottom feeder Kaku has commenting about Cassini…….the nerve of this vile liberal wacko………

              And here is my response:

              Andrew LePage
              May 23, 2015 at 2:37 pm · Reply

              At least Bill Nye has a better science background than most of the climate change deniers that grace our media (including the vast majority of our elected officials) and his views do generally reflect the consensus of the overwhelming majority of the experts in the field. But this is besides the point: what does this off topic attack have to do with The Planetary Society’s Lightsail project or the fine work they have done over the last three decades in promoting public engagement in space (i.e. the topic of this article)???

              Regards,
              Andrew LePage – Atmospheric remote sensing scientist & charter member of The Planetary Society

              • Gary Church

                “As long as Gary or others of similar disposition are around, you know it will come up again.”

                I started this entire thread defending Bill Nye and taking a stand on climate change.

                You know it will come up again Andrew.

                That some people qualify everything with negatives like- “At least Bill Nye-” and keep trying to find “amicable accommodations” is why I make those my-way-or-the-highway comments you seem to dislike so much. You might consider stop waffling and stop naysaying all my comments.

                “-explaining my point of view that we can learn and reach some sort of amicable accommodation” is not what this is about. Since you consider “all my claims logically suspect” does that include climate change?

                • ROFL!!! You are simply hilarious! I have explained myself but you feel free to continue.

                  • Gary Church

                    Sure, someone that cred-boasts about being a scientist and member of an organizations dedicated to advancing science- yet will not commit to supporting a critical issue. Instead they brag about laughing and rolling around on the floor. It’s not even funny.

                    • Just as a reminder, the title of this article is “LightSail and The Planetary Society Inspire Public Engagement in Space Exploration”.

                    • Gary Church

                      Space is the key to solving what may well become the key political issue of the next presidential election- climate change.

                    • The title of the article is “LightSail and The Planetary Society Inspire Public Engagement in Space Exploration”. I will leave the off-topic commenting to the experts.

                    • Gary Church

                      Then do so and stop trying to shut other people down from commenting.

                    • Seems to me you are the one guilty of trying to shut me down, not the other way around. I am merely stating that the original attack against Bill Nye is off-topic (not to mention much of the “hilarity” that has ensued). As you are so fond of reminding me (and others), this is not my web site and I therefore have no power to stop anyone from posting anything… neither do you, for that matter. That’s the moderators’ job. If you have a problem with that arrangement, please feel free to lodge a complaint with the moderators.

                    • Gary Church

                      I have complained to the chief editor about you and “Joe” several times already. He has given me strict guidelines to follow in my replies. I will be banned if I violate them. It is his site and I am grateful to him for allowing me to continue to express my views. None of that changes what you are obviously doing or makes it right.

  • blueoyster57

    All you need to know about Church was revealed by himself…….he is tired of being banned……that says it all……..and the fact that he and his merry little band of Climate change terrorists worship Al Gore.

  • John hare

    Missed the mele here when out of town. To me, the tiny payloads on light sails will be a large part of NEO prospecting by multiple players when the tech matures. Affordable and versatile for extended look see is ideal for exploitation.

    • Absolutely! As I have mentioned elsewhere, light sail technology would be ideal for planetary missions especially with small payloads in the <1 to 100 kg range – exactly the type of probe for multi-NEO rendezvous missions, for example

      • John hare

        I saw that somewhere up thread and good point. A second interest is in diverting potentially dangerous ones, which could start with transponder on as many as possible, which solar sail delivery would facilitate. One of the techniques of diversion is to have a city buster diverted into the path of a dinokiller. I’ve blogged a few techniques that all require accurate orbit calculation.

    • Joe

      Interesting point.

  • Tracy the Troll

    For what its worth Japan’s MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) has massive plans for SSP to completely replace the entire fossil fuel/nuclear production in Japan that is expected to be cash flow positive with the launch of the first Satellite…They are just waiting for launch costs to come down as they need 1500 launches to complete the system…The expectation is that provided reusability is achieved by SpaceX and others this could happen sooner rather than later…

  • blueoyster57

    Well, well…..looks like the Solar Sail has failed due the incompetence of Nye and the Planetary Society……now waiting for Bill Nye the ‘Science Lie’ to blame the failure on Global warming……….

    • Talia Landman

      LightSail has not failed. There was a glitch in the software and it had nothing to do with Bill Nye, his competence, or his team. I suggest you read the latest blog posted by The Planetary Society so you can have a better understanding of the issue. (The link is posted below this comment).
      The manufacturer of the avionics board corrected the glitch in later versions of the software but LightSail’s version didn’t include the update. The team received notice last Friday that the spacecraft may crash if not corrected in time but LightSail went silent before they could make the fix.

      LightSail is currently in a “frozen” state and we are anxiously waiting for it to reboot, however, this may take some time. The teams at Cal Poly and Georgia Tech are hard at work sending signals to the spacecraft and hoping to receive something back. This may take a while but it is not hopeless.

      Space isn’t an easy industry. What Bill Nye and The Planetary Society are doing is very ambitious and exciting. If LightSail B works in 2016, then we will start seeing CubeSats with experiments heading to space at a relatively low expense. Students will be able to have their experiments “sail” throughout the solar system via a propulsion method that relies solely on the sun. This is a game-changer for the industry and a wonderful way to get the public excited about space.

      Everyone is open to their own opinion and more than welcome to share it. I felt compelled to reply to your comment because stating that LightSail has failed is giving people the wrong information.

      Here is the link to the information regarding the current state of LightSail by Jason Davis with The Planetary Society: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2015/20150526-software-glitch-pauses-ls-test.html

  • blueoyster57

    Other websites are reporting this……’ the spacecraft fell silent due to a software problem overlooked during ground testing. The problem has been known for sometime and the manufacturer of the avionics board provided an update to the flight software avoiding this particular issue’. Bill Nye is the president of the P.S. The buck stops with him. Is the P.S. run by global warming alarmists like Nye? A extremely poor choice for a leader.

    • Talia Landman

      I understand Nye is the CEO of The Planetary Society but he is not the manufacturer of the software. Despite what other sites have reported, I only pay attention to the source itself which is The Planetary Society and the LightSail blog. The spacecraft falling silent doesn’t imply that it has failed. Nye’s stance on global warming has nothing to do with this.

  • […] spoke of his vision when Nye was a student of his at Cornell University. As it was described in a previous AmericaSpace article, Nye was greatly influenced by his astronomy professor and became a member of The Planetary Society […]