I am very interested in space development, and large scale human space settlements. This ranges from launch technology (SSTO using chemical, beamed and electromagnetic railgun propulsion), space based propulsion (especially using antimatter and other exotic propulsion systems), microspacecraft, through to the use of nanotechnology for terraforming space habitats and planets.

Space Commercialisation

I think the future lies through rapid commercialisation of space through space tourism, space power generation and mineral extraction from planetary bodies. The hot air that clueless people talk in the UK about Remote Sensing and telecommunications, demonstrates the complete lack of vision, since the profits of these, whilst reasonable, will pale into insignificance when the real space commercialisation gets underway.

A space book which is extremely long term in its vision (well for the UK at least), is Space for Enterprise, by C. Stott (published by the Adam Smith Institute - hardly the Institute you would have thought capable of thinking of the long term prospects of Space development) - if you can track it down, it's worth a read. I think starting with small schemes, and then building up to manned operations is the key. It is not impossible for small organisations and companies to mount planetary missions using microspacecraft. The expensive bit is just the launch costs.

Once we get there though, I think space needs to be a tax-free zone. The thought of setting an off-planet bank up on an asteroid is extremely tempting !


I must admit to being partial to asteroids though. An affliction made only worse by reading The Millennial Project ! I am very keen on the idea of seeding asteroids that provide potential habitats with miniature ground stations, conducting extensive mineralogical surveys from orbiting spacecraft, and mounting manned asteroid missions at the earliest opportunity. We should be setting up ore refining facilities on candidate asteroids, as soon as manned bases are established. Any excavated ground can then be used to expand the manned facilities.

Esoteric Stuff

Quantum Fluctuations of the vacuum`s where the action's at though. If we want to get anywhere in the Solar System fast, then antimatter propulsion is great, if you want to go further, then we need something more along the lines of the Alcubierre Warp Drive or extraction of zero point energy (aka Quantum Fluctuations of the Vacuum). Can this be achieved ? I don`t know, but I want in on the action, ....hence the fact I am working on it, by examining vacuum energy extraction through the use of the Casimir pinch effect in plasmas.

The PhD falls into the master plan here. My rationale being, if I can look at magnetohydrodynamics in the context of astrophysics for my PhD, then it can also be applied to magnetohydrodynamics for vacuum energy extraction, and for antimatter propulsion systems !


Another area of great interest is magnetohydrodynamic propulsion in atmospheres. The possibilities offered by this could be significant. Early concepts for internal magnetohydrodynamic fanjet powered spaceplanes were developed in the 1960's. Magnetohydrodynamic propulsion is currently difficult becuase of the large amount of power needed to make it work. However, if quantum vacuum fluctuations could be harnessed, then the power issue would be trivial. Even without power sources such as this, there is still the possibility of beamed power, with the vehicle receiving its power in the form of a laser beam, or as a microwave beam. Work on this method has been carried out in the U.S. by Professor Leik Myrabo at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and by Professor Yuri Raizer in Moscow, Russia.

Although I`ve written about a dozen or so papers on the above subjects, I keep getting sidetracked from submitting them ! Anyway, instead of just helping aid deforestation by writing reams and reams of papers, I would rather do something constructive about developing space, hence my involvement in MARS, to keep my hand in on the practical engineering side, and my great interest in The First Millennial Foundation and their space colonisation plan, The Millenial Project, as well as being a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society (I've been in the BIS since the early 1980's), a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a member of UK-SEDS (ex UK-SEDS committee member, and wrote much of their original web site).

Some ideas on possible space concepts are included for your amusement....

Richard's online bio Web based contact form Current projects Digital Themes Educational background Personal Details Research Activities Rocketry related activities - mainly amateur and high power rocketry Space interests

(c) 1999 Richard Osborne, London.