ISDC2008 Wrap-up

I enjoyed attending this year’s ISDC conference, but I must say that I was faintly disappointed by it.  The attendance was not huge.  I don’t know what the official numbers are, but I would be very surprised if there were more than 500 people in attendance – somehow I expected more because ISDC is supposed to be the ‘big’ Space conference.  The second thing I was disappointed in was the heavy emphasis on SPS (Solar Power Satellites).  As I’ve written before, I think that anyone who believes that SPS will EVER generate a significant portion of earth’s power needs just hasn’t run the numbers.  Almost all of the SPS presentations I attended never addressed that issue.  Now I didn’t attend all of the SPS presentations so perhaps there were some I missed which tried to inject a dose of reality into this discussion, but somehow I don’t think so.  Ben Shelef, in one of the final presentations, did say just that and no one contradicted him.  I don’t think anyone can.

The military was there as an enthusiastic fan of SPS.  For them, perhaps, and for other applications which require high-availability and (relatively) low amounts of power (and where cost is not a factor), SPS (via lasers, not microwaves) can make some sense.  But for you and me, powering our computers and electric cars and refrigerators?  NFW…

I know that the National Space Society (NSS) has made SPS one of their signature issues.  At the conference, I was able to meet Bert Murray (head of the NSS Space Elevator team) and I am going to try and start a dialog with NSS about this issue (using Bert as a conduit).  Perhaps they can prove me wrong.  I would certainly love it if they did, but I’m not holding my breath…

Just a couple of pictures to wrap things up then – the first one, above, is, from left to right, Brian Turner of the Kansas City Space Pirates, Lt. Col. Peter Damphousse of the United States Air Force and Jim Dempsey.  Lt. Col Damphousse was part of several panels/presentations about SPS.

The second picture is of the Meteor Crater Exhibit, put together by Ben Shelef (pictured) of the Spaceward Association, broken down and packed into it’s shipping container.  It seemed like an appropriate “end” photo…

Next up is the 2008 Space Elevator Conference (July 18th-20th).  Only 45 more days…

(As always, click on the thumbnails for a larger version of the picture)

One thought on “ISDC2008 Wrap-up

  1. Markus Klettner


    Thanks for your informative reporting on ISDC!

    Don’t be disappointed about the SPS focus! I believe that SPS are a strong argument to push the space elevator! Is the logical sequence not like this: develop super strong CNT tethers – build the Space Elevator – install SPS to power the Earth and space elevators? 🙂



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