1994 to 2004
By David Smitherman
Introduction. Several projects at NASA had a more creative goal to inspire others to dream of the possible futures we were working toward. Here are a few that I helped create.
New Space Industries. In 1998 we held a workshop in Washington DC on the space industries that might be viable with the new reusable launch vehicles under development at that time. Many of the industries identified in that workshop are probably feasible now that SpaceX is operating a reusable fleet. This image of a space business park with an in-space transfer vehicle and an aerospace plane was created by Pat Rawlings with my direction on the design. The space business park includes inflatable solar concentrator arrays, an inflatable sphere for 0-gravity activities, a spine with numerous docked rooms that double as escape pods for earth entry in an emergency, and two rotating toroids also with attached rooms designed to rotate at different rates to simulate either lunar or Mars gravity.
Space Elevators. In 1999 we held a workshop in Huntsville AL on the technologies and construction issues for development of space elevators. The materials strength needed for this design has yet to be developed as thought achievable in the 1990s. The image was created by Pat Rawlings with my direction on the design.
Space Elevator Schematics. The original Space Elevator document created from the workshop materials, NASA/CP–2000–210429, contained this foldout page that is not available in the PDF versions I have seen. It is a drawing I put together to show the scale of all the various space elevator and launch tower configurations depicted in the document.
Development of Space: A Path to the Stars. This is a 2003 version of a timeline I created depicting actual space launch history beginning in 1957 through 2002, planned launches for the next decade through 2012, the flight paths of all our probes into the future, and the possibilities of future exploration and development in space out to 2200.
I began this work in 1994 in the planning office while assisting with the plans for what became the International Space Station program. Over the next ten years I updated it during the holidays at the end of each year. The timeline is about 10 feet long when printed and was displayed in the Center directors office for several years at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.