Space Technology

Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann

Annals of The New York Academy of Sciences, volume 140, Planetology and Space Mission Planning, Page 314, Dec 16, 1966

The Technology Section is concerned with the question: “What is most needed, and what will be used in the exploration of space?” The greatest need facing the would-be explorers of space at this time is for propulsion; therefore, the bulk of the section has been devoted to propulsion. The first paper describes various Saturn System configurations. Some of these will be available in the immediate future for the manned expeditions to the surface of the Moon. Subsequent papers are concerned with more advanced forms of propulsion, some of which will certainly be developed to make possible exploration of all parts of the Solar System and Interstellar Space beyond.

This section was the most easily organized and the one in which the most persons from various universities, corporations, and governmental agencies wished to participate with invited papers. This is indeed a sign of the times. Propulsion is needed, and this is what is being worked on. In recognition of propulsion needs, groups are working on a whole spectrum of devices ranging from the magnificent Saturn System to Fusion Devices which hold hope for cheap electricity as well as interstellar expeditions. When the availability of propulsion makes space exploration as routinely common as Antarctic expeditions, we may expect a deluge of papers concerning other bodies of the Solar System and the interplanetary medium, which will compare with the “deluge” concerning the upper atmosphere currently inundating geophysical journals. The scientists can “get at” the upper atmosphere; they cannot as yet. secure much information from other planets.

The importance of communications, and the possibility of exploiting space resources is recognized by one paper devoted to each of these topics. Man is considered as a capital investment with many sub-systems; and his dental sub­system is considered in a suggestive paper which may be viewed as an abstrac­tion of the logic that should be followed in maintaining and repairing men in space. The first exploitation of space resources was of the solar photon flux by solar cells; the paper considering the possibility of using solar furnaces on the surface of the Moon offers much more than mere energy conversion.

These are only a few examples from the wide range of topics that flocked under the heading of technology.

The statement on Nuclear Propulsion for The New York Academy of Science’s Conference on Planetology and Space Mission Planning by Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Admin­istration’s Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Alabama, vividly indicates the swift pace at which space technology grows. The Saturn System is just going into service; but even as it becomes operational, vast extension of its capability has become easily possible. This expansion could be through the incorporation of an upper, solid-core, nuclear stage.