Now, these two links were shared with me by Mr. S.R., and when I read them, I had to do a bit of a doubletake. For one thing, I read the second link below first, and then I read the first link below after reading the second one. Thus, when I read the second link, I thought, "So what, just another alleged 'insider' saying the usual sensational things without much specific (in fact, with no specific) detail." Except, in the case of this insider, Wayne Hale, he really is, or rather, was an "insider," having worked for NASA in a variety of positions, many of them having to do with propulsion systems. Then I read the second link, and one or two things made me realize why Mr. S.R. had sent them together. As you read these, bear in mind the statements allegedly made by Mr. Ben Rich, late head of the Lockheed-Martin Skunk works, to the effect that we had "found an error in the equations," and that "now we can take ET home." Recall, as well, the arguments of Dr. Harold "Sonny" White, that warp drive might be just barely within the feasibility of human achievement, and recall DARPA's own "100 year goal" to have the USA "warp capable" in a century, for it would seem that DARPA's space ambitions might be another example of "full spectrum dominance."
Among the first article's list of wild and weird DARPA space projects, the two that really caught my eye were these:
- Optical Aperture Self-assembly in Space, or OASIS, which calls for constructing large optical apertures from smaller, modular components that have self-organized in orbit.
- Robotic Servicing of Geostationary Satellites, which builds on nearly a decade’s worth of agency work to establish a robotics operation in geosynchronous orbit to perform servicing tasks.
Self-assembling "optical apertures" of a large nature? What are we talking about here? Optical apertures for large space-based telescopes? And why would DARPA be interested in those? Perhaps as long-range detection and warning systems? (It is, after all, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Or are these large optical apertures for enormous directed energy weapons? In either case, the ability to "self assemble" such things would be a clear boon.
Quadriplegic woman flies F-35 with nothing but her thoughts
"Scheuermann—who is quadriplegic because of an hereditary genetic disease—was recruited by DARPA for its robotics programs. Scientists and doctors implanted electrodes in the left motor cortex of her brain in 2012 to allow her to control a robotic arm, which she did successfully. But she's not using the robotic arms to control the joystick in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II simulator used for the tests. She is controlling the plane with "nothing but her thoughts," according to Prabhakar, pure neural signaling:
"Instead of thinking about controlling a joystick, which is what our ace pilots do when they're driving this thing, Jan's thinking about controlling the airplane directly. For someone who's never flown—she's not a pilot in real life—she's flying that simulator directly from her neural signaling."
In other words, DARPA has demonstrated the capability to control and fly and airplane, and a complicated military one at that, solely through thought, no human motor-mechanical skills needed. Would such a capability be useful for building "self-assemblining large optical apertures from smaller, modular components that have self-organized in orbit"? Answer: indubitably.
So in the context of (1) remote-control and assembly of large modular space components (for large optical apertures, remember), (2) one hundred year stated goals of warp-capability, (3) weird statements from a former late head of Lockheed-Martin's skunk works about errors in the equations, and so on, we now come to these statements from Mr. Hale:
"While I’d like to blog about what my clients are doing, well, you will just have to wait for them to tell you themselves; I’m not authorized
"But what I can tell you is that it’s amazing. There are so many organizations working on so many aspects of space flight: new vehicles, new engines, new capabilities. Whew. I don’t know if they are all going to make it but I’m sure at least some of them will. There is a renaissance coming in space travel. Some of it is from the government, yes, but a lot of it is not. Some of it is coming from garage shop inventors and some of it is coming from the biggest industrial corporations, and a lot of it is coming from folks in between. Much of the really interesting advances won’t be the big jobs programs that the politicians like. If you are a politician and want to help the space program – you can send money, but better to open doors to private industry, remove barriers, reduce red tape. Now that made me sound like I read the Wall Street Journal too much. Lest you think I’ve gone over to the ‘anything goes’ camp, I will quickly say that there is a very real place for the government to make sure that adequate safety precautions are followed. Not exactly like what is done for airliners, but something more fitted to this new, higher risk, higher energy field.
"Anyway, I’ve got to say it’s been a great ride: all those years working on the forefront of the big government space programs, and now helping all the industry geniuses break through to the future.
"Just stand by.
"You will be amazed."(All emphases added.)
A renaissance in space travel, compared to the "dark ages" of the 1940s to the close of the shuttle era? Garage shop inventors? A need for government safety regulations in this "new, higher risk, higher energy field?" I don't know about you, but it does not sound like Mr. Hale is talking exclusively about rockets... In fact, I don't know about you, but it sounds to me as if we're being gently prepared, over the past few weeks, with all the strange space news, for some heavy duty changes in our culture, science, and society over the next several years.
See you on the flip side.