The development of space exploration and a space-based economy is currently limited by the extreme cost of launching objects from the surface of the Earth into orbit. Conventional manufacturing facilities, needed to establish infrastructure and large-scale habitation, are extremely expensive to ship to any extra-terrestrial activity. Clearly there is a need for innovative, non-contact, flexible manufacturing technology, using extra-terrestrial resources, to enable the human exploration and development of space. ASI aims to provide this technology. ASI aims to lead the space-based manufacturing industry in the 21st century, drastically reducing the costs associated with space exploration, habitation and development. We use the development of ASI as a focal point for discussion to engage customers: those who are interested in participating in the space-based economy of the early 21st century.
The following section lays out the motivating factors for ASI. A brief introduction to the technology and opportunities of Acoustic Shaping is then presented. The second chapter presents the Strategic Plan and the organizational structure of ASI's team. The following chapters present reports and proposals from each of the Divisions. These are then tied into the Customer Engagement Plan and Outreach Plan for the current year, and to NASA's HEDS program for the long term. Detailed information including our technical papers can be found at the team's public website: http://www.ae.gatech.edu/research/windtunnel/nmb/nmbhome.html
Space-related business accounted for over $121B/yr in 1998 [Covault 1998a]. The International Space Station alone is expected to grow to an Earth-weight of over 1 million lbs. by 2004 [Air&Space 1999a]. Currently, all items are shipped from Earth, with space-based operations limited to assembly: this is obviously a major constraint in mission planning. Demand for Space-based construction is projected to be $20B/yr in 2005, rising to $500B/yr by 2020 as human space exploration progresses. ASI's role in this market is both as market enabler and as supplier: many of the facilities needed to build other facilities will themselves be built cheaply and efficiently in space by ASI.
By supporting space-based manufacturing, NASA will be paving the way for future endeavors by providing an economy within which they can operate, separate from the existing Earth-based economies. We, the creators, developers, researchers, and dreamers of ASI, believe that our technology, non-contact manufacturing through acoustic shaping, will enable NASA as well as the commercial market to delve deeper into space exploration and colonization than ever before imagined.
Examples of ASI-built products
In order to survive in the harsh environments of space and other planets, humans need a variety of special structures, including pressure vessels, shelters, and solar panels. Many of these are composed of simple shapes that are efficiently manufactured using ASIís acoustic shaping technology, such as: