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Flandro Planning ‘Down to Earth’ Lecture at Space Institute Oct. 20

While next month’s Quick-Goethert lecturer qualifies as a “rocket scientist,” he says his talk at The University of Tennessee Space Institute will be “down to Earth” and not aimed specifically at scientists.

“We know that there are clear-cut solutions to all of the difficulties we face in attempting to live together on this unique planet,” Gary A. Flandro says, and he is eager to discuss some of these with the general public, especially young people.

John E. Caruthers echoed this assessment as he invited the public to Gary A. Flandro’s free lecture at 4 p.m. Oct. 20 in UTSI’s auditorium.

“Gary is certainly a leading authority on the knotty issue of rocket motor combustion instability, but he does a remarkable job of cutting through technical jargon to explain highly complicated issues in a simple and exciting way,” continued Caruthers, associate vice president and chief operating officer of the Institute.

“The general public, young and old, will find his lecture to be stimulating, informative, and inspiring. I’d especially like to see members of high school science classes in the audience. Everyone is invited to the lecture as well as to the banquet that will follow. No reservations are required for the lecture, but persons who plan to attend the banquet are asked to make reservations no later than Oct. 10 by calling Dee Merriman, (931) 393-7213.

Flandro, who has held UTSI’s Boling Chair of Excellence in Space Propulsion since 1991, believes that a change from “merely exploring space to actually utilizing it can lead to the solution of many of our growth problems here on the earth.” To accomplish this, he says, “We must first identify new and more efficient pathways into space.”

He insists that “we must give up the notion that we are trapped in the Earth’s gravity well and its atmospheric mantle. We can no longer view this cradle of humanity as a closed system. Our very survival depends on harnessing the energy and resources that are available in abundance within our reach just outside the atmosphere and nearby on the moon.

“Were we to find ways to access it, these resources could readily provide the means to end all current troubles, wars, and international turmoil that are linked to our dependence on fossil fuels. Energy in the form of radiation from the sun can be harvested and converted to electricity outside the atmosphere – what we don’t yet have is a practical means for transferring this energy to the earth’s surface.”

Flandro also believes that the average person will be able to travel into space before long, and he promises to “explore a few of the myriad paths that show greatest promise” in his lecture, which he will give again in Germany next year.

The professor thinks private industry could be instrumental in building a more efficient pathway into space than the current approach of relying totally on the government. “Close scrutiny” of the government’s venture into space shows that “much of the money expended is used on endless studies and the design of systems that never fly,” he says, “which is very wasteful and frustrating.” By using good engineering, it “is possible for the common man to fly in space,” Flandro says, and he thinks that space travel will soon be a “recreational activity” as well as means for exploiting energy and other resources.

As a Cal-Tech graduate student, Flandro charted the “Grand Tour” of planets for Voyager, using his suggested application of “gravity assist” method, which made the tour possible.

Professor Ing. Wolfgang Alles, who holds the Chair of Flight Dynamics at The Technical University of Aachen, will represent that university for the lecture. The series was established in 1974 by the Aachen University and UTSI.