David Hall Proposes New Technology Solution for Space Exploration

Washington (Velodyne Lidar PR) — David Hall is one of history’s rare technological visionaries with the imagination and technical wherewithal to recognize a problem, conceive a solution, and then build something that works. On December 6 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s event, LAUNCH: Industry Taking Off,

David Hall presented his world-changing solution to a longstanding problem: how to carry materials and people into space safely, reliably, and efficiently. The audience of industry, military, and policy representatives heard from Hall as well as keynote remarks from Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson; NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine; Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Michael Griffin; NOAA Deputy Administrator, Dr. Neil Jacobs; and Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

Hall’s proposal involves a propulsion system that utilizes magnets, thereby eliminating the vast amounts of fuel and materials consumed by the current rocket-based approach. Hall’s efficient launch system allows for the construction of substantial structures in space that would be easily accessible from Earth: places where people could live, work, and conduct scientific research. Such a project has more value for humanity than attempting to colonize Mars, according to Hall.

In 1983, Hall started his company, Velodyne, after inventing servo-driven audio equipment that opened a new world of sound experience. Then, through his participation in the DARPA Grand Challenge, in 2005 Hall created the central component for safe autonomous vehicles, a lidar sensor that could clearly see and measure the vehicle’s surroundings. When not engaged in his duties as the CEO of Velodyne Lidar, Hall continues to invent new technologies, including the Martini marine deck stabilization system that allows boats to travel through choppy waters more quickly and efficiently while greatly increasing passenger comfort.

As he has throughout his career as an inventor, Hall recognizes that the time is ripe for a new idea. “We now have new technologies that enable a paradigm shift in the enduring challenge of space exploration and colonization,” Hall explains. “You can either solve new problems with old technology, or you can solve old problems with new technology. When it comes to launching things into space it’s time for the latter approach.”

About Velodyne Lidar, Inc.

Velodyne provides the smartest, most powerful lidar solutions for autonomy and driver assistance. Founded in 1983 and headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Velodyne is known worldwide for its portfolio of breakthrough lidar sensor technologies. In 2005, Velodyne’s Founder and CEO, David Hall, invented real-time surround view lidar systems, revolutionizing perception and autonomy for automotive, new mobility, mapping, robotics, and security. Velodyne’s high-performance product line includes a broad range of sensing solutions, including the cost-effective VLP-16 Puck™, the versatile VLP-32 Ultra-Puck™, the perfect for L4-L5 autonomy VLS-128™, and the directional view Velarray™.

  • Michael Halpern

    There are several problems with this strategy, even if physically building it wasn’t one of them, 1 you are fixed to a specific inclination, 2 fuel is a very small part of the cost of launch, such infrastructure might eventually make sense, if we need to send up trainloads of stuff into orbit daily, but before that point, it isn’t very useful.

  • Jeff Smith

    And that’s a VERY short list of the problems with gun launch. But he’s free to try and convince some folks to invest…

  • Michael Halpern

    Yes but those are the ones that you can’t potentially engineer around, the others aren’t problems if you are talking K-1.25 civilization (megaprojects are merely uncommon but you only have a few large habitats around)

  • AdmBenson

    Dr. John Hunter’s Quicklaunch had a similar plan 10 years ago but never found investors.


  • duheagle

    A modern dress version of Impey Barbicane and the Baltimore Gun Club.

  • publiusr

    Neither Bull nor Truax get much love these days.

  • publiusr

    If you have the first thing being solar electric craft to move other lofted bits around–that helps with inclination changes. It just takes time.

    This is more of something to supply structures already there, still.

    I want a flyby asteroid rotorvator tether to yank huge objects skyward all in one go.

  • delphinus100

    ‘Acme Capacitors.’

    I have visions of Wile E. Coyote’s finger on the launch button…

  • Michael Halpern

    Time measured in several months, or longer depending on the inclination change

  • Smokey_the_Bear
  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I read about this carp back in the 80’s in Analog Sci Fi mag. If he can’t make a working prototype over 30+ years he wont do it today. Looks like the actions of a con-man or a attention hound.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Bull had some fans in Israel who took him seriously.

  • Mark

    It’s amazing that all these “new” solutions to make launching stuff into orbit cheaper always come with massive R&D and infrastructure investments. All for a very limited return.

  • therealdmt

    All hail John Hall! (Written by John Hall PR)

  • SamuelRoman13

    Wonder if the new magnetic carrier catapult could launch a rocket high enough and fast enough to be useful. 60,000lb 200mph maybe. Turn one up to the needed orbit angle and launch. 5-10Gs. Might save a lot fuel. Rockets burn a lot of fuel just to get going. Would it work Navy space people? Steam might be cheaper like on the old catapult.Trump says steam is better for ship catapult.

  • AdmBenson

    Yeah, they liked him so much they sent painters to his house.

  • AdmBenson

    If your specific inclination is equatorial, you maximize the amount of material launched. If the ultimate destination for that material is the moon or deep space, you wouldn’t care which part of the Earth is overflown or if the orbit is accessible from other launch sites. Gun launched payloads might be just the ticket to support human spaceflight to the moon, Mars and the asteroids with consumables like fuel and water.

  • Michael Halpern

    Not really because there 1 aren’t a lot of equatorial mountain ranges, 2 you want something that can be used in more ways, 3 Luna is at a pretty high inclination

  • Michael Halpern

    The biggest fallacy of non-rocket launch is that it relies on at least one of 2 assumptions 1 reusable rockets aren’t feasible or 2 that fuel is why rockets cost so much.

    You are adding the assumption that we would be sending a lot of raw material up. And you probably would avoid that. It may make sense if you were talking about an Earth that is taking active steps to becoming a K-2 civilization, i will grant you that, however before that point its VERY expensive limited utility infrastructure. You don’t build a super highway to get to a village of 100 people.

  • AdmBenson

    Regarding #2, I’d say that fuel on the ground is cheap, but fuel in LEO is not, even if a reusable rocket is used to place it there. Gun launch might have an advantage in per kg cost to orbit, but it’s hard to judge because nobody has ever built a complete system.

  • AdmBenson

    It’s true that equatorial mountain ranges are in short supply, even though they exist in South America, Africa and New Guinea. However. at least the Quicklaunch team was proposing gun launch from an ocean platform with the majority of the gun submerged.

    The inclination of the moon to the equator does pose a problem in the form of a tradeoff. Equatorial launch is optimal in terms of mass put into LEO, but suboptimal for going from LEO to the moon. However, this is less of a problem for a Zubrin style Moon Direct mission than an Apollo style LOR mission.

  • Michael Halpern

    You don’t need a lot of propellant mass once in orbit unless you are sending a crew somewhere and you don’t have a long term habitat to use as transport, in which case the extra infrastructure and it’s operating costs would be more expensive than using reusable rockets to get it there, especially if said rockets are general use or built on a general use architecture. You do not want highly specialized infrastructure unless the purpose is in high demand.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Guess it’s about time for the laser launch advocates to make a comeback with an updated version of their system.