Videos and slides added from my Mars Society talks at Irvine, CA

Video of my talks at UC Irvine for the Mars Society are now available on YouTube.  The slides are in the description and in the comments thread on those YouTube links. 
For a list of all videos available, see the Videos and Other Content page. 

Risk Reduction Missions for Space Settlement


While the early stages of the NewSpace revolution are in place, what projects could be done to expand human activity into deep space as soon as possible, with minimal cost and risk?  This talk examines a few options that could be launched in the next few years. 

PDF of Presentation

Rapid Space Development and the NewSpace Technology Revolution

This presentation examines the nature of technology revolutions, and the nature of the next revolution in space technology.  It goes on to predict the nature of our expansion into the solar system, using principles from past technology revolutions. 

PDF of Presentation

Elon Musk on Reddit AMA

Elon Musk recently did a Reddit Q&A with members (Ask Me Anything).   This mostly focuses on details of the Mars vehicle update.  Here are some highlights.

Mars Settlement

  • The Mars city design from the video was mostly artistic (“I wouldn’t read too much into that illustration”.  There are no specific plans beyond propellant production, power, and life support.  He wants to enable other industries to go to Mars.
  • The landing sites need to be low altitude for maximum aerobraking.  Close to ice for propellant production and free of giant boulders.  Closer to equator is better for solar power.
  • SpaceX is building the ISRU (propellant production system) in house, and it’s pretty far along.
  • They plan to put communications satellites around Mars at some point.

Technical Details of the BFR and Spaceship

  • The vehicle would burn all the fuel in the main tanks getting to Mars (or the moon or Singapore or whatever).  It would then use the secondary tanks for landing.  In the case of Mars, it would turn the nose of the ship toward the sun and vent the outer tanks.  This would basically make the inner tanks super-cold for the trip.  (Editor note – it would also eliminate the possibility of spinning two spacecraft with a tether for artificial gravity).
    • They eventually will add a cryocooler (which would allow it to spin).
  • The newest Raptor engines being tested are actually sub-scale.  The final production version is being designed for reliability, not performance.
  • the small delta wing is to “balance out” the load on reentry, to keep the ship from entering engines-first.  It can also provide some pitch and yaw control during reentry.
  • The RCS system will be methane/oxygen and pressure fed.
  • Early versions of the tanker will be just a fully-loaded propellant tank ship with no payload.  Later versions will look “kinda weird”.
  • Heat shield tanks are mounted directly to the tank walls.
  • The development will start with a full-scale ship doing short hops of a few hundred kilometers up and across.  They don’t need the deep-space Raptor engines for that.
  • VERY INTERESTING – “Worth noting that BFS is capable of reaching orbit by itself with low payload, but having the BF Booster increases payload by more than an order of magnitude. Earth is the wrong planet for single stage to orbit. No problemo on Mars.”
    • Traditionally, methane doesn’t have the specific impulse to do single stage to orbit.
    • A BFS without the booster would be economical for domestic flights, in theory. They could also return themselves from interior destinations like Chicago to coastal launch facilities with the BFR stage.

Anyway, you can read it in detail if you like from the link above.  I simply gleaned what I could from the stream in the notes here.

Creating eBooks in Scrivener

Why an eBook?

Under the category of Entrepreneurship, writing books on whatever topics you can allow a small to medium stream of secondary income.  It can also help establish your reputation in a particular field, and give you a way to communicate your ideas to a larger audience.  

With the recent advent of eBooks such as Kindle and print on demand, it's become relatively trivial to crank something out.  This short article will simply link to YouTube and other web resources to walk you through the process.  

Creating an eBook in Scrivener for Kindle

Under the category of Entrepreneurship, writing books on whatever topics you can allow a small to medium stream of secondary income.  It can also help establish your reputation in a particular field, and give you a way to communicate your ideas to a larger audience.  

With the recent advent of eBooks such as Kindle and print on demand, it's become relatively trivial to crank something out.  This short article will simply link to YouTube and other web resources to walk you through the process.  

It is possible to publish a Kindle book directly from Word, but it's not recommended.  It is also possible to use a program called Vellum for the Macintosh, but that is $100-250 depending on the version.  Scrivener, while not perfect, is recommended.  At $40, it's a fairly trivial price.  There are versions for both Windows and Macintosh, and a limited version for iPad/iPhone.  Version 2 is current, and can create files for Kindle (.mobi) format.   It can also export to Word, PDF, and so on.  The current version has a few formatting limits, but most of these will be repaired in version 3, which should come out for the Macintosh in late 2017 and PC in 2018.

Before getting started, go to the Literature and Latte YouTube channel and get an introduction to Scrivener.  Decide from there if it's the right choice for you.  If you work on a Macintosh and have a higher budget, consider using Vellum instead.  (My Mac is currently not working, so I can't tell you if the reviews of this are accurate or not from experience.)

Scrivener is available for download at www.literatureandlatte.com.   You can install a license on up to five devices for PC with a PC license or five Macintosh systems, but you cannot mix the two.  The Mac version has a few extra features and is updated first in the development process.   Once your book is created, watch this video to see how to format the file for Kindle.  You can then watch this video to see how to upload it to Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you wish to then take your content and make a print book, you are actually better off doing it in Word.  You can export from Scrivener to Word format and then save that for upload as a print-on-demand book.  I have yet to do this but will post an update in a few weeks when I've completed one.