If I’m going to wake up at 6am and drive two hours to a workshop, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to see something mind-blowing. Which explains why I visited the Citizen Astronaut and Space Hacker Workshop at Hacker Dojo, right across the street from NASA Ames Research Center. Iif there’s any place to see something so amazing that it makes me angry not to have seen it before, it should be here. The day kicked off with a believable plan for getting ordinary citizens into space. That sounds about right.
Frankly, it’s hard to figure out what to write about first, since there was such a wide range of stuff – from growing plants in space and micro-gravity microbiology, to Arduino-powered mini-labs and zero-g 3D printing. So here’s a few highlights from what the audience heard, with some favorite quotes:
Kicking off, Edward Wright talked about Citizens in Space. They’ve launched the High Altitude Astrobiology Challenge (which I mentioned before), where they’re offering up to $10,000 cash for the best space organism-collection project.
Manu Sharma from Infinity Aerospace spoke about open-sourcing space. He showed off ArduLab – a low-cost, open-source, Space Station certified science facility based on the Arduino MEGA. Judging by the audience reaction, he won the unofficial “shut up and take my money” award of the event. Favorite quotes: “I’m a maker, I love making things.” “80 percent of you have not flown hardware in space. I think that’s a problem.” There’s loads to say about Infinity Aerospace, you can find out the latest via @ardulab
Khaki Rodway from XCOR Aerospace showed us the LYNX spacecraft, and an anecdote about firing a rocket engine in a hotel ballroom in CA. About the heat-deflecting technology on the LYNX, “It’s not tiles, but it’s so secret even I don’t know what it is.”
Jim Keravala from Shackleton Energy Company spoke about saving the world through through sci-fi-sounding technologies like orbital solar power collection, moon resource mining, and “planetary protection” (which won my own personal Best Slide award for an animation of satellites pushing an asteroid away from a presumably relieved earth). Their promo video is of the stuff that leads men to war.
It sounds insane, until he explains how thoroughly they’ve prepared for this, at which point the ideas go from guy-on-the-sidewalk-crazy to eccentric-billionaire-crazy. And that’s the same as exciting. My favorite quote from his talk: “with a computer and Arduino technologies, one person has the power of 100 people 30 years ago.”
Jason Dunn gave a talk titled “Made in Space” about using 3D printers in space. Favorite quote, “I’d be much happier to see you guys do something that leads to a product, or advances this industry [than just a research paper], cause that’s what I’m excited about.”
There were many more speakers and much more information to get you started on your own space work.