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Advanced Propulsion Systems - An Overview
by Don V Black, Ph.D.

IEEE Orange County Computer Society

Monday, August 27, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT)

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This is an exciting time. Our generation has footprints on the Moon and robots on other planets. The next generation will live there.  Come listen to real-world visions of the spacecraft and engines that will carry us there, as proposed by our scientists and engineers.

We will examine the recently declassified USAF proofs-of-concept for nuclear rockets that could carry us to the planets and beyond - to Mars and back in only four weeks, the outer planets and back in months, to Alpha Centauri in as little as 133 years.

There are many novel ideas for advanced propulsion systems besides nuclear rockets, that we can build now with today's technology. Among these are Ion & Plasm Thrusters, and Space Sails. Inaddition there are futuristic concepts that await technological breakthroughs in meta-materials such as launch megastructures; and those require further research in fundamental of physics, including reactionless drives, warp drives, and wormholes.

Some are proposed in Science Fiction, others are mere wishful thinking. But a surprising number are derived from sound principles of contemporary theoretical physics.  We will discuss here those that are 'popper falsifiable', but not yet falsified.

We will examine two classes of challenges for the future of space travel:

1) We are currently spending about $2M per adult passenger to send a person into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).  Can we reduce the gravity well escape cost per person to $100,000?  to $200?  Solutions have been designed that await the next generation of engineers to work out the detais.

2) Can we reduce Transit Times to other planets to a commercially viable duration? Is a goal of two weeks to Mars unreasonable?  Is interstellar travel in a lifetime possible?  Can we defy Special Relativity? Does General Relativity provide a loop hole?

In this presentation I will explore solutions offered by theoretical physicists that have not yet been proven impossible. I will then offer you a list of potential solutions to these two challenges as areas requiring further research.  Then, as they say, the minor engineering details of implementation will be left as an exercise for the student.


Dr. Don V Black, in his undergraduate years, studied Aerospace Engineering and later, Physics at UCI.  He has worked in the Aerospace Industry for most of a quarter of a century.  He is Dirctor of R&D for Digital ChoreoGraphics, providing research & development services for Fortune 500 Companies such as Ford Aeronutronic (Loral), Rockwell Aerospace (Boeing), and Jet Propulsion Laboratories (NASA). At the end of last century, Dr. Black took a sabbatical to earn his MS in the Information and Computer Sciences and his PhD in Electrical Engineering, both from UCI.

Dr. Black is a founding member of the Orange County Chapter of the IEEE Aerospace & Electronics Systems Society (AESS), and is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He also founded the IEEE Game Engineers Special Interest Group (GameSIG) to interest children and students in careers in science and engineering, and currently serves as Chairman of the Orange County Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society.

Don cherishes his misspent youth fabricating flight simulators, computers, CB radios, and model rockets, and wishes for every outlier child to be so blessed.  In addition to his committment to education and fostering innovation, Dr. Black is a private pilot, an amateur musician, a member of the American Physical Society (APS), Sigma Xi - The Scientific Research Society, the UCSD&UCI SoCal Philosophy of Physics Group, and is currently researching the state-of-the-art in Spacetime Engineering.

 DINNER: Beef Stroganoff

Tender strips of Beef and Mushrooms cooked in Sour Cream Sauce and served over noodles.  Served with Fresh Season Vegetables, warm rolls and butter, fresh brewed coffee, decaffeinated coffee, hot herbal tea and iced tea and chef’s choice of dessert. Full bar service available.

Have questions about Advanced Propulsion Systems - An Overview by Don V Black, Ph.D.? Contact IEEE Orange County Computer Society

When & Where

Doubletree Club Hotel
7 Hutton Centre Drive
Santa Ana, CA 92707

Monday, August 27, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT)

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Advanced Propulsion Systems - An Overview
by Don V Black, Ph.D.
Santa Ana, CA Events Conference

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