Patents by Inventor Philip J. Wahl

Philip J. Wahl has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Publication number: 20230279776
    Abstract: Systems and apparatus are disclosed for mining the permafrost at the landing sites using radiant gas dynamic mining procedures. The systems can comprise a rover vehicle with an integrated large area dome for cryotrapping gases released from the surface and multi-wavelength radiant heating systems to provide adjustable heating as a function of depth. Various antenna arrays and configurations are disclosed, some of which can cooperate for a specific aiming or targeting effect.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 26, 2023
    Publication date: September 7, 2023
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, Philip J. Wahl, Craig E. Peterson, James G. Small
  • Publication number: 20230249848
    Abstract: Solar collectors can provide power for electricity, thermal propulsion, and material processing (e.g., mining asteroids). In one aspect, a rocket propulsion system is configured to produce thrust for a spacecraft and includes: one or more optical elements configured to receive solar energy. The optical elements include: a first window configured to allow energy to enter the rocket propulsion system and form a concentrated energy beam, and a second window positioned to allow the concentrated energy beam to pass to the heat exchanger. The second window is spaced away from the first window to form a pressurized plenum chamber therebetween. The system further includes: a heat exchanger configured to receive the energy and use it to heat and pressurize a propulsion gas, and a rocket nozzle configured to expel the pressurized propulsion gas.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 17, 2023
    Publication date: August 10, 2023
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, James G. Small, Philip J. Wahl
  • Patent number: 11702857
    Abstract: Pneumatically supported towers for low gravity applications are disclosed herein. In one aspect, an inflatable tower for use in vacuum environments can have a membrane configured to support a load when inflated with an inflation gas to a pressures less than 100,000 pascals and greater than 0.01 pascal. The inflation gas can be chosen to have a sufficiently low boiling temperature at the inflation pressure of the membrane that the gas will not condense to a liquid or solid within a defined range of temperatures in which the tower is designed to operate. The membrane can be configured to be packaged for transport in deflated condition and rolled onto cylinders from which the membrane can be later unfurled and inflated as part of the tower inflation process. The membrane can be further configured to progressively inflate beginning at a bottom or lowest level of the membrane during the tower inflation process.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 12, 2022
    Date of Patent: July 18, 2023
    Assignee: Trans Astronautica Corporation
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, James G. Small, Philip J. Wahl, Craig E. Peterson
  • Publication number: 20230130545
    Abstract: Omnivorous solar thermal thrusters and adjustable cooling structures are disclosed. In one aspect, a solar thermal rocket engine includes a solar thermal thruster configured to receive solar energy and one or more propellants, and heat the one or more propellants using the solar energy to generate thrust. The solar thermal thruster is further configured to use a plurality of different propellant types, either singly or in combination simultaneously. The solar thermal thruster is further configured to use the one or more propellants in both liquid and gaseous states. Related structures can include valves and variable-geometry cooling channels in thermal contact with a thruster wall.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 18, 2022
    Publication date: April 27, 2023
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, Philip J. Wahl, Conrad T. Jensen, James G. Small, Benjamin G. Workinger, Samuel Daugherty-Saunders
  • Patent number: 11608196
    Abstract: Solar collectors can provide power for electricity, thermal propulsion, and material processing (e.g., mining asteroids). In one aspect, an apparatus for collecting solar energy and simultaneously protecting against damage from a resulting energy beam includes a solar energy collection system including at least one concentrator and a target configured to use, store, or convert the solar energy, the collection system configured to cause solar energy to focus on the target, at least one sensor configured to detect misalignment of the concentrator by determining that some or all of the collected solar energy is offset from the target, and a safety system configured to redirect the energy or interpose a safety structure for shielding other non-target systems from receiving too much solar energy from the collection system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 22, 2021
    Date of Patent: March 21, 2023
    Assignee: Trans Astronautica Corporation
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, James G. Small, Philip J. Wahl
  • Patent number: 11566521
    Abstract: Systems and apparatus are disclosed for mining the permafrost at the landing sites using radiant gas dynamic mining procedures. The systems can comprise a rover vehicle with an integrated large area dome for cryotrapping gases released from the surface and multi-wavelength radiant heating systems to provide adjustable heating as a function of depth. Various antenna arrays and configurations are disclosed, some of which can cooperate for a specific aiming or targeting effect.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 21, 2021
    Date of Patent: January 31, 2023
    Assignee: Trans Astronautica Corporation
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, Philip J. Wahl, Craig E. Peterson, James G. Small
  • Publication number: 20220290635
    Abstract: Solar thermal and chemical hybrid rocket configurations for mining and other space applications are disclosed. One aspect is a rocket propulsion system configured to provide rocket thrust, including a solar absorber, a rocket nozzle, and a solar power collection system configured to collect solar energy from the sun, generate an energy beam from the collected sunlight, heat the solar absorber to transfer heat to one or more pressurized propulsive gases, and expel the heated pressurized propulsive gases through a rocket nozzle. A solar absorber can be formed from a granular collection or agglomeration of solids (e.g., of beads), which can be layered with more transparent layer(s) above and more absorbing layer(s) below to create a temperature profile in propellant(s) flowing through the absorber. A hybrid motor can provide an energy (e.g., solar) absorber for absorbing and transferring radiative energy as well as a combustion area.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 27, 2022
    Publication date: September 15, 2022
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, Philip J. Wahl, James G. Small
  • Publication number: 20220274721
    Abstract: Pneumatically supported towers for low gravity applications are disclosed herein. In one aspect, an inflatable tower for use in vacuum environments can have a membrane configured to support a load when inflated with an inflation gas to a pressures less than 100,000 pascals and greater than 0.01 pascal. The inflation gas can be chosen to have a sufficiently low boiling temperature at the inflation pressure of the membrane that the gas will not condense to a liquid or solid within a defined range of temperatures in which the tower is designed to operate. The membrane can be configured to be packaged for transport in deflated condition and rolled onto cylinders from which the membrane can be later unfurled and inflated as part of the tower inflation process. The membrane can be further configured to progressively inflate beginning at a bottom or lowest level of the membrane during the tower inflation process.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 12, 2022
    Publication date: September 1, 2022
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, James G. Small, Philip J. Wahl, Conrad T. Jensen, Craig Peterson
  • Patent number: 11391246
    Abstract: Omnivorous solar thermal thrusters and adjustable cooling structures are disclosed. In one aspect, a solar thermal rocket engine includes a solar thermal thruster configured to receive solar energy and one or more propellants, and heat the one or more propellants using the solar energy to generate thrust. The solar thermal thruster is further configured to use a plurality of different propellant types, either singly or in combination simultaneously. The solar thermal thruster is further configured to use the one or more propellants in both liquid and gaseous states. Related structures can include valves and variable-geometry cooling channels in thermal contact with a thruster wall.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 26, 2021
    Date of Patent: July 19, 2022
    Assignee: Trans Astronautica Corporation
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, Philip J. Wahl, Conrad T. Jensen, James G. Small, Benjamin G. Workinger, Samuel Daugherty-Saunders
  • Publication number: 20220089302
    Abstract: Solar collectors can provide power for electricity, thermal propulsion, and material processing (e.g., mining asteroids). In one aspect, a rocket propulsion system is configured to produce thrust for a spacecraft and includes: one or more optical elements configured to receive solar energy. The optical elements include: a first window configured to allow energy to enter the rocket propulsion system and form a concentrated energy beam, and a second window positioned to allow the concentrated energy beam to pass to the heat exchanger. The second window is spaced away from the first window to form a pressurized plenum chamber therebetween. The system further includes: a heat exchanger configured to receive the energy and use it to heat and pressurize a propulsion gas, and a rocket nozzle configured to expel the pressurized propulsion gas.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 7, 2021
    Publication date: March 24, 2022
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, James G. Small, Philip J. Wahl
  • Publication number: 20220024612
    Abstract: Solar collectors can provide power for electricity, thermal propulsion, and material processing (e.g., mining asteroids). In one aspect, an apparatus for collecting solar energy and simultaneously protecting against damage from a resulting energy beam includes a solar energy collection system including at least one concentrator and a target configured to use, store, or convert the solar energy, the collection system configured to cause solar energy to focus on the target, at least one sensor configured to detect misalignment of the concentrator by determining that some or all of the collected solar energy is offset from the target, and a safety system configured to redirect the energy or interpose a safety structure for shielding other non-target systems from receiving too much solar energy from the collection system.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 22, 2021
    Publication date: January 27, 2022
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, James G. Small, Philip J. Wahl
  • Publication number: 20210404419
    Abstract: Omnivorous solar thermal thrusters and adjustable cooling structures are disclosed. In one aspect, a solar thermal rocket engine includes a solar thermal thruster configured to receive solar energy and one or more propellants, and heat the one or more propellants using the solar energy to generate thrust. The solar thermal thruster is further configured to use a plurality of different propellant types, either singly or in combination simultaneously. The solar thermal thruster is further configured to use the one or more propellants in both liquid and gaseous states. Related structures can include valves and variable-geometry cooling channels in thermal contact with a thruster wall.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 26, 2021
    Publication date: December 30, 2021
    Inventors: Joel C. Sercel, Philip J. Wahl, Conrad T. Jensen, James G. Small, Benjamin G. Workinger, Samuel Daugherty-Saunders