NTB: Any commercial applications?
Dr. Gendreau: Well, for example, hypersonic vehicles. If there was hypersonic transport between here and Tokyo - I’m not sure about the blackout period there - there’s a potential that you could do a com link with a hypersonic vehicle that you couldn’t do with radio. That’s sort of speculative, but it’s possible.
NTB: What about the Black Hole Imager? What’s the current status of that project and will you continue to be involved with it?
Dr. Gendreau: That’s a thing that’s way out in the future - 30 or 40 years away. So we’re going to continue to get the technology going along for it. Using X-com as motivation for developing some of the key technology, i.e. pointing an optic very precisely, making the optics big and cheap and diffraction-limited, and putting all the infrastructure in place for making that thing happen, you basically have a lot of the key components for a Black Hole Imager in the future.
One reason for pushing for x-ray communication is a way to fund the technology development, which is kind of disappearing from NASA science right now. It’s a way to naturally connect with the vision for space exploration, thinking about ways to do communications over long distances.