The Alna Space Program presents some of the results from my spaceflight engineering hobby. For many years, I've been interested in methods of reaching space that either do not involve rockets, or assist in rocket flight. Most of the concepts have already been described in some form, but my interest is in pursuing the detailed calculations and simulations needed to flesh out the engineering. As such, I'm only interested in concepts with some degree of near-term feasibility. Exotic propulsion schemes that involve poorly defined physics or unattainable materials are not germane to this site.
The ultimate goal of non-rocket propulsion is to reduce the cost of transporting material into space. One reason that spaceflight is so expensive is that chemical rockets are at the edge of their performance capabilities when accelerating to orbital velocities. The result is that payloads are a tiny fraction of the initial rocket mass, and the whole rocket has to be extremely weight efficient. The non-rocket methods have the potential for dramatically increasing payload fraction. This should reduce the cost enough that serious space industry and large projects could be pursued.
The research pages will appear as I work on various topics. This approach means that the thought process and sequence will be nonlinear. I have some overall plan, but the presented work may have a lot of holes at any given time. For a more organized overview of concepts, I've included a biography page. The joy of being retired and independent is that I can jump around topics as I please.
Another aspect of this hobby is the use of Mathematica by Wolfram Research for my calculations and derivations. The detailed web pages have been generated directly from Mathematica. I also intend to share all of the notebooks and packages so that anyone can play along. It would be great if the work can generate some feedback, and therefore a forum has been included.
For now, questions, comments, and suggestions can be left at the accompanying blog. I use the blog to describe recent additions, and plans for future studies.
The title "Alna Space Program" is simply a bit of ironic humor. Alna is a tiny town along Midcoast Maine. When I arrived a couple of years ago, I was telling a local person about my interest in space. They laughed and said would be great to have an Alna Space Program. So here it is.
- August 4, 2012. Added study Stress Waves After Payload Release for a Uniform Stress Rotovator.
- July 7, 2012. Added study On the Possibility of Using Whip-Action to Accelerate a Space Launch Vehicle.
- June 27, 2012. Dynamic Structures page added. Page includes a new study, "Stability of Earth Circling Ring".
- June 26, 2012. Added a software package for dynamic analysis of flexible structures using a chain model. See links for Chain Dynamic Model on Resources page.
- May 26, 2012. Added study "Notes on support cables for extreme towers"
- May 7, 2012. Added study "Mass of Extremely Tall Truss Towers"
The studies presented on this site were performed using Mathematica by Wolfram, Inc. The written documentation is also in the form of Mathematica notebooks. One of my secondary goals is to experiment with using Mathematica to document my work, and to make the calculation functions and programs available to other interested researchers and hobbyist. The summary documents are available in three formats; a conventional static HTML page, PDF format, and the Mathematica computable document format (CDF). The advantage of the CDF format is that it allows for interactive content. For example, much use is made of the "Manipulate" feature of Mathematica. In order to view the CDF format, you need to install the free CDF reader available from Wolfram. For compatible systems and browsers, the CDF file may open inside of the browser. See the Wolfram Site for the list of compatible browsers. Otherwise, right-click the files to download and open separately in either the reader or Mathematica. Typically, the summary document is based on more detailed calculation notebooks that are also available as *.nb files. These can only viewed using the CDF reader, but the files can only be modified from within the standard Mathematica software. Some familiarity with Mathematica syntax and operation is assumed in the notebooks, but not in the CDF files.
Copyright and License
The software and reports use the Creative Commons License, meaning that you are free to copy, and change. I request that credit be given. As you might expect with free software, use at your own risk. Hopefully, no one will fly into space without further error checking. Feedback is requested, and changes may be made to the source documents without notice.
Alna Space Program by Gerald Flanagan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.