Broadcast 2689 Michael Patterson

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Guest:  Michael Patterson; Topics: Advanced propulsion reality and research pls exotic propulsion ideas.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See

We welcomed Michael Patterson to the program to discuss his work on advanced propulsion, mainly electric propulsion (EP).  During the first segment of our 1 hour 52 minute show, Michael introduced us to a few challenging rules regarding advanced propulsion.  One such rule was that progress usually move at a glacial rate.  Another is that space propulsion and power are very expensive.  Cost is usually more of a stumbling block than technology and at times, policy.  In addition to talking extensively about EP throughout the program, we discussed nuclear propulsion and issues with it.  Again, as you will hear, cost controls.  We learned that the payoff for doing nuclear ma be suspect.  Don't miss all of what Michael had to say on this topic.  As for EP, Michael talked quite a bit about both ion thrusters and Hall thrusters, providing us with the advantages and capabilities of each.

Our guest had much to say about bringing this technology to commercial markets and several times cited the importance, the value, and the benefits to the commercial U.S. satellite industry by having EP placed on satellites.  Other topics in this segment included advanced propulsion for HSF using Mars as an example.  Solar electric propulsion was discussed along with improvements in the technology in recent years.  Power needs for spacecraft were discussed and contrasted with today's technical capabilities, plus what will be evolving in the near term. 

Later in this segment, Michael talked about Vasimir.  He had much to say about this technology so don't miss this discussion which bled over to the next segment.  One of the things he talked about was the inefficiency with Vasimir type propulsion. When asked in the next segment why bother with it then, he had a very powerful response as to why this type of R&D is valuable with a possible high end payoff.  Don't miss this Vasimir discussion.  Before the segment ended, we talked about advance propulsion in other national space agencies and space-fairing countries.  Our guest specifically addressed propulsion in China and Russia.

In the second segment, we talked about high powered EP and more on Vasimir.  Our guest also provided us with a due diligence method for recognizing more plausible projects.  He told us what to look for, to pay attention to efficiency rates, and to question if the physics and engineering is verifiable or out of the box and needing to be verified. 

Listeners kept asking about other more far out propulsion ideas such as FTL travel, Mach thrusters, Em drive, and more.  Michael said that he thought NASA should have a broad view perspective and portfolio but then he talked about costs and making investments in projects that need the physics and engineering to be validated as that is both risky and very costly.  Don't miss this important discussion. 

Other topics in this segment including Public Private Partnership for advanced propulsion development and the probability that SpaceX would develop advance propulsion on its own without government participation. 

Exotic propulsion, EM drive and more came up again.  Michael suggested checking to make sure the physics was validated and not based on assumptions to be validated.  Before the end of the program, our guest was asked to define what constituted an advanced TRL.

Michael Patterson offered us extensive closing and summary comments that are a must to hear.  Please post comments/questions in the comments section of this archived program on TSS blog.  You can reach Michael Patterson through NASA or me.




advanced space propulsion

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24 Apr 2016 Michael Patterson
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