Advanced Space System Concepts and Technologies: 2010-2030+

Ivan Bekey
ISBN 1-884989-12-8
293p., illus.

(out of print)

This book presents an imaginative view of what space could well become in the next several decades if new technologies that have already been identified are developed and demonstrated, and bold new innovative applications using these technologies are undertaken. To make that case, the book discusses the future environment for space activities and why this environment will be very different from the predominant conditions of the past and present. It identifies a dozen critical technologies with the potential for making orders-of-magnitude reductions in spacecraft and launch vehicle weight and cost, and orders-of-magnitude increases in their performance. It then uses these technologies to identify and synthesize a large number of space-application concepts, addressing both established as well as unconventional missions and functions that have revolutionary potential. The aim of this book is to show what is possible.

The emphasis in the book is not on incremental improvement but rather on what has been called “disruptive innovation”—that is, the generation of capability so great, or with cost so low, or both, that revolutionary change occurs. In industry, if ignored, this kind of innovation can be disruptive; if adopted, it can make successful new entities. While this change is disruptive in that it challenges or threatens current activities and dogma, rapid and great advances in both the private and public sectors generally require such innovation and stem principally from such drastic measures.

Ivan Bekey has been a practicing engineer for 48 years, during which time he strived to understand what could be done in the present, looked ahead to exciting future space applications, and then worked hard to advance the technologies required to attain their realization. He worked at The Aerospace Corporation during the 1960s and much of the 1970s and then at NASA Headquarters in the 1980s until the late 1990s. His responsibilities in various advanced technology and systems as well as interaction with others working in these areas exposed him to numerous ideas, proposals, and concepts. These, in turn, influenced many of his own ideas and concepts, which ranged from the unconventional yet near term and modest that required minimal development to large, ambitious, visionary, and breakthrough concepts representing huge commitments that probably could not be realized for decades.

Read the first chapter