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become less expensive. It makes sense therefore to preserve generality in opening the nonterrestrial resources. By the time we have broken chrough the limits to growth, it will be clearer how first to exploit the breakthrough
In the past 3 years there has been great progress in the scientific and engineering studies of the high frontier concept, and that progress is well documented, in proceedings of conferences published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in publications of the Edison Electric Institute, and in a disarmingly slim volume with the technical articles from a 1976 NASA study. These articles have gone through the entire process of scientific peer review. Last summer, a study more than four times as large as this one was completed, and its results, in 16 peer-reviewed technical articles, will shortly be published by NASA.
To show you how much has been accomplished with very little, here are a few pictures of one special device that may be a key to reaching the high frontier within the limitations of the Shuttle. The device is a new type of electric motor called the mass-driver. First is a schematic of the mass driver. It takes in electric power, accelerates any sort of mass to a high speed, and then expells it [slide 1).
That mass if expelled in space provides a reaction force just like a rocket. If located on the lunar surface the machine could accelerate materials from the surface of the moon to free space.
A first working model has already been built by a group of student volunteers under the direction of Dr. Henry Kolm (slide 2].
The machine was demonstrated at several location, one of them the final briefing at our 1977 NASA-Ames study [slide 3].
The tests were entirely successful, and the model accelerated a pound of mass from zero to 85 miles per hour over a 6-foot length in onetenth of a second. A mass-driver reaction engine could be carried into orbit in sections, by the Shuttle, to an orbital workbench of a kind already studied by NASA-Johnson Space Center (slide 4].
With your permission, I would like to take 30 seconds to show you the operation of that model. You will have to watch carefully, and after the countdown occurs, don't blink your eye, because the acceleration takes less than a tenth of a second.
[Film demonstration.) The reaction engine could be assembled as shown next [slide 5].
It could lift over 700 tons of accumulated Shuttle payloads to lunar orbit, using powdered external tanks from the Shuttle to provide the push. Unless we use them, those tanks will otherwise be allowed to burn up in the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean, an unpardonable waste. Less than 2 years' worth of Shuttle payloads, lifted to lunar orbit by the mass-driver, would give us all the equipment needed for a lunar base, and all the propellant to soft-land it on the lunar surface [slide 6].