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 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.
“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.”Tweet this
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.”