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The Aerospace Perspective

December 18, 2010 1 comment

As a Systems Engineer working in the space industry, specifically with the United States Space Shuttle Program, I approach the Venus Project from a unique perspective. I have decided to use this first article as a chance to introduce myself to you, so that when I post articles in the future, you have an idea about the man behind the writing. I’ll also include information on a technical project I’m personally working on that you might be interested in.

For all intents and purposes, I am a technology, space and astrophysics geek, formally educated in Aerospace Engineering Technology and soon to be pursuing an advanced degree in either astrophysics or systems engineering, depending on what happens for me after the Space Shuttle Program ends.

I recently published a book about how vital space exploration and development is to mankind, called Turning Point, where the book is my funding source to travel and do public speaking on the topic (and also the Venus Project where possible). If the subject interests you, my book can be found here and can be internationally shipped.

I’ve been on WebTV (Fox News), various web and standard radio shows, and have given several speeches on the subject to various groups. Additionally, I manage a blog where I discuss space advocacy, recent space news articles of importance, and my thoughts about how the Venus Project can positively affect not just the world, but our travels beyond it.

Some of you may be aware of the video I made called “Awakening”. If not, it can be found here on my Youtube Channel:

I have also made a few other videos, like “Population to Convince” and my lecture to the Houston Humanist group. “Our Technical Reality” is more in tune with showcasing the science and technology standpoint.

As you can see, I am passionate about the success of the Venus Project, and my scientific and technical background allows me to bring more data, facts and science to the table, which in combination with my ability to do public speaking will hopefully allow me to address and spread the vision of the Venus Project to many people. And while many of us in the movement run on emotion and passion, I do to, that does not always work for convincing people of the necessity of our vision. So I hope that with my technical background, I can help bring others to the point where they see this new direction as possible, real and vital.

It is my passion for space and what it can provide humanity that causes me to embrace the Venus Project as I do, for in my eyes it is the RBE that will catapult us from a species that mainly tinkers on the edge of our atmosphere into a serious space faring civilization, where the benefits can and do directly affect the people living on this glorious blue marble. The visions of the Venus Project would not be possible were it not for the advances in technology that are directly or indirectly attributable to space exploration, manned or robotic. It is the challenges of space that afford us the opportunity to think outside the box, or more specifically, off the Earth. Many of the challenges of space simply cannot be duplicated on Earth, and it is those challenges that drive innovation, like advanced recycling and reusability technologies, far more than any ludicrous notion that profit and money are the motivators.

For example, one of the biggest things we discuss is sustainability, not just of our energy systems, but of every product we make. Planned obsolesence, or at least the basic notion that products are made on the cheap so they fetch the most profit, is something that cannot go on, else our natural resources will be obliterated in just a few generations and humanity will suffer as a result. But let’s focus on something I am personally working on, an automated hydroponic farm facility.

This is a pretty straight forward concept and completely realistic in every manner. The sad part is that it’s just not being done. Instead of aid relief non-profits gathering money to buy food, thereby fattening the wallets of the food industry, they should be building sustainable food production systems for impoverished people so that we never have to worry about their food supply again! Alas, our current system doesn’t exactly want that, but we (The Venus Project) do, so this is something we should be trying to work on a global level. World hunger, solved by The Venus Project. I like the sound of that, not for selfish reasons, but because it’s the right thing to do, so why shouldn’t we be the ones doing it? So what would this system be made of?

  1. Solar/Wind hybrid powered facility with substantial battery systems such that any climate condition throughout the year would not reduce the energy level of the facility below tolerance operating conditions.
  2. Hermetically sealed building, with an atmosphere pressure and concentrations of Nitrogen and Oxygen set to the Paleozoic era, when plants thrived on the Earth as never before. It requires one to pass through a “clean room” before even being able to enter the growth facility, including wearing a “bunny suit” the likes of which is required for those who work in space industry clean rooms for satellites and space hardware.
  3. Use the Omega Garden system, which I’ve already researched to be the best system that takes up the smallest footprint, but also delivers the most robust and strongest yields without using one drop of “plant altering” chemicals or pesticides. It’s kind of difficult to have pests in a hermetically sealed building.
  4. Robotic planting and harvesting arms strategically placed in the facility.
  5. Delivery system: Basically a “Farmers Market” waist level train that brings the harvest to an adjacent building where the public can get the food right off the train carts. After a few days, whatever isn’t taken is returned and converted into mulch that can be used for outdoor facilities. Nothing is wasted.
  6. Externally facing monitors in the building showing the interior of the facility, because the facility itself has no windows. Cameras in the facility can show the public what’s going on inside, to satisfy curiousity more than anything else, but also good for public awareness. Also, monitors would show the harvest cycle, what’s coming up next and when.
  7. Each facility would grow 12 of the most healthy and popular vegetables, enough to feed 1,000 people per crop. After plenty of research, there is a good consensus on what those are: Spinach, Green Peas, Red Leaf Lettuce, Garlic, Onions, Carrots, Brocolli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Red Peppers and Green Peppers.

Currently I am researching cost and systems, as well as designing the informal blueprint of the facility in an Engineering CAD program. All of my information will be released as an official report for all chapters to access freely. You might have different companies, different prices for materials, and need a different design layout based on that, but the report will give you a great starting point.

I am not a know-it-all, but I do a vast amount of self study and research on the topics of science (including social sciences), space and technology (viable technology, not the latest video game or phone widget). I look forward to bringing this knowledge to the movement and to the project. Remember, you personally don’t have to convince the world. We are all working together, neighbor by neighbor, community by community. Those of us with the option of a larger platform should most definitely utilize it, but don’t let us detract you from the most vital aspect of any movement…your community is part of the world, get out in it and start talking!

Douglas Mallette
Space Shuttle Systems Engineer, Space Advocacy Speaker, Author: Turning Point
Houston, TX

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