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IEEE Presents: Beyond Rocket Science - Advanced Propulsion Systems, An Overview

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IEEE Presents Beyond Rocket Science - Advanced Propulsion Systems, An Overview
by Don V Black, PhD

How do we get to the stars in less than a lifetime? Or the planets in less than a month? Or just off the Earth for less than $2,000,000 per person? How can we make space travel commercially viable? You must RSVP vie IEEE-OCCS's Eventbrite Link, here ( (not with MEETUP).

Date: August 27, 2012 (the 4th Monday of the month)
Topic: Beyond Rocket Science - Advanced Propulsion Systems, an Overview.
Speaker: Dr. Don V Black
Time: 6:00PM Social Hour and Networking.
6:30PM Sit down for Dinner.
7:00PM Presentation

Cost: Free for Presentation Only (networking, no-host bar, but no dinner)
$30 Dinner (member of IEEE, AIAA, Sigma Xi)
$20 Dinner (student or unemployed IEEE Member)
$40 Dinner (non-member, general public)
$40 Dinner price at the door with no RSVP (unless SOLD-OUT)

RSVP online - prepay or pay at door (
RSVP required for dinner. Please RSVP if you plan to show up only for the presentation Questions to Event Coordinator Fred Lawler at fredlawler (at)

We have been using the same method to fight gravity and to propel ourselves into space as was devised by the Chinese nearly 800 years ago. Maybe it is time to consider alternative more efficacious approaches. There are many novel ideas for advanced propulsion systems. 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.

There are two major classes of problems for the future of space travel, as I see it.

1) Escape from this Gravity Well.

We can consider the escape from Earth, the Earth-Moon System, the Solar System, and ultimately this Local Group. We are currently spending $10,000 -$18,000 per pound to launch a human into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). That is about $2M per adult passenger. Still a bit pricey for extra-terrestrial colonists.

2) Reasonable Transit Times to other Celestial Bodies.

Contemporary Relativity provides us a minimum transit time to the next star of more than four years (4.37 ly). This is unacceptable for commercial human transport.

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.


Don V Black studied Aerospace Engineering at NC State University and Physics at UCI. He has worked in the Aerospace Industry for most of a quarter of a century. He is Director of R&D for Digital ChoreoGraphics, providing research & development services for Fortune 500 Companies such as Ford Aeronutronic, Rockwell Aerospace, and Jet Propulsion Laboratories. 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 an academic member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Asronautics.

Don V 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. Since he built a toy flight simulator at 12 and his first computer at 14, Dr. Black understands the importance of children being allowed to pursue their arcane interests early. Don is a private pilot, an amateur musician, a member of APS, Sigma Xi, the UCSD&UCI SoCal Philosophy of Physics Group, and is conducting research for his new work on the Engineering of Spacetime.


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