Nano Would Make Space Cheaper
The last speaker before lunch is Thomas McKendree from Raytheon, who is "Assessing the Potential of Molecular Nanotechnology for Space Operations" (abstract here). He's discussing how nanotech could make space much more affordable, and started with this slide, which compares the present cost to put a kilogram of some payload into orbit (that's the set of green bars in the back) to the potential costs if nanotechnology is adopted (those are the rows of bars closer to the front). The cost, as you can see, drops further and further, the more thoroughly molecular nanotechnology is adopted.
He goes on to talk about solar sails, skyhooks and towers (kinds of space elevators), tethers, and settlements. A very interesting talk, actually, but he unfortunately had to rush through it.
UPDATE: When Mr. McKendree got a signal that he should finish his remarks, he didn't say, "I see I've got to hurry up." No, he said, "I have to accelerate." Only a space guy. I tell ya.
UPDATE: On the last day of the conference, Mr. McKendree agreed to say a few words on camera about nanotechnology and cheaper access to space -- sort of the "elevator speech" version of his talk. Click the picture below to watch his response in streaming Windows media:
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