Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Would You Want To Live On Saturn's Titan?

Of all the worlds that have danced around the Sol star, none of them have, or will ever rival our home world Earth. Unparalleled in beauty, the view from a thousand miles away is enough to take one's heart away.

With a world requiring little, if any technology for human habitation, why would any one consider moving towards a moon shrouded in clouds that is over a billion kilometers from the Sun?

Unlike many of the lunar and planetary spheres that float around our Sun star, Saturn's Titan is blessed with an atmosphere that allows humans to walk upon its presence without the need of a standard vacuum suit.

Although early pioneers will need to be well equipped with a "warm suit," such technology may be easier to construct than clothing oneself with material that can withstand zero atmosphere.

Titan's atmosphere is approximately 1.5 times that of Earth. Although the denser air pressure may make walking on Titan feel as if you were at the bottom of a swimming pool, the "heavy" air does have some advantages.

Residents upon this orange world would easily be able to transport themselves around the planet with a pair of "artificial wings," something that would make Leonardo De Vinci proud to hear. This could lead towards Titan being crowned as the solar capital for air sports (such as sky diving, surfing, etc.) and might even lead towards a futuristic "aerial Olympics."

Despite the fact that Titan's clouds block out most (if not all) of the sky, those gifted in the arts may also find Titan's "burnt orange" horizon a welcoming backdrop compared to the pinkish sky on Mars or the blue sky on Earth. Astronomers aside, living within the orange skyline may become a solar attraction, setting the world apart from rivals within the star system.

But if residents are not attracted by either the view of living on a foreign moon or the aerial sports, they will be inspired by the tunes created by the musicians living there. With Titan's denser atmosphere, residents will be able to enjoy a richer symphony of music that will rival--if not surpass--the sounds heard on Earth (provided they can create and play them in the frigid temperatures).

(Video: What music would sound like on Earth, Titan, and Venus. Credits: Edward Willett)

Despite the fact that it will be Titan's methane lakes and scattered ice rocks that will finance and enable future inhabitants upon Saturn's favorite moon, respectively, its artistic beauty and unique environment may keep the masses from moving off world.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

SpaceDev To Host The Internet On The Moon?

Although there are many companies out there attempting to return humanity towards the heavens that surround us, it seems as if one company called SpaceDev, Inc. is attempting to not only get us there, but also enable us to browse the world lunar wide web.

(Space Fellowship) SpaceDev (OTCBB: SPDV) announced today that it has been awarded a contract to develop a prototype lunar lander vehicle for the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA). Since 2003, SpaceDev has performed four design and feasibility studies addressing various aspects of the ILO. The ILO will be a spacecraft to conduct optical and radio astronomy from the surface of the Moon, and potentially engage in commercial activities involving not only astronomy, but also photography, communications, and internet hosting. The prototype will achieve smooth landings via precision-controlled throttling of its hybrid rocket motors.

(Note: Emphasis is of the editor)

While some may wonder why a company would attempt to enable internet browsing upon the lunar surface, one only has to look at how the world wide web has changed out planet in order to understand.

The internet has fostered a communication system unparalleled within our human history. By expanding that power off world scientists, engineers, and even future lunar businesses would be able to quickly acquire the necessary information in order to run their laboratories, warehouse's and offices.

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (17th Edition)

(Image: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, via

The 17th Carnival of Space was hosted on the Planetary Society Blog, which only a handful of individuals participated in.

A few interesting posts included:

  • Louise RioFrio of A Babe in the Universe discusses (with video) about Pulsar's in the Galactic Halo (with some interesting discussion in the comment section).

  • Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams talks about using dark matter for faster than light travel (a dream of every Trekie).

  • Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology gives his spin on the next 50 years of the future space economy and the technologies that will bring us there.

  • The mysterious author of Space Files informs everyone about the Russia's plans of landing on the Martian moon of Phobos, with a video (in Russian) to explain it all.

Thursday's Carnival will be hosted over at Out of the Cradle, a quote that should be familiar with those who are familiar with Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Note: This week I should be able to finally submit a post to the Carnival, and if you would like to join the fun (instead of waiting on the sidelines) then simply read these instructions in order to join the fun.

Martian Rovers Survive Red Planets Wrath

(Hat Tip: Space Pragmatism)

Not too long ago NASA's rovers Spirit and Opportunity found themselves fighting to survive a global dust storm on the red, barren planet.

It was unknown whether or not the rovers would persevere through the storm, but after facing the worst from father Mars, it seems as if the rovers may yet continue to roll on after all.

(JPL/NASA News Release) After six weeks of hunkering down during raging dust storms that limited solar power, both of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have resumed driving. [...]

"Weather and power conditions continue to improve, although very slowly for both rovers," said John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif, project manager for the rovers. With the improved energy supplies, both rovers are back on schedule to communicate daily. Opportunity had previously been conserving energy by going three or four days between communications.

Despite the fact that this is definitely great news to hear for NASA, the fact that the rovers were able to survive the red planet's fury gives humanity hope that they can one day survive upon the brutal crimson landscape.

Scientists are already learning a lot about Martian weather, and hopefully that data can be applied to future Martians (of the human kind) who will one day call this desert world home.

Radiation Proof Space Camera's?

(Image: Radiation hardened camera's could help locate oceans on Europa. Credit: NASA via MSNBC)

Carbon based life forms are not the only ones to fear deadly radiation. Apparently, our cybernetic friends loathe the energetic particles just as much, although they lack the will of HAL to do anything about it.

Previously whenever scientists sent camera's into the radiation depths of the Jovian giant Jupiter, by degrading the circuits over time. A new invention however may enable these cameras to withstand the fury of Jupiter's radiation tantrums.

(MSNBC) The technology driving the new detector is a capturing system that immediately converts electromagnetic signals into digital information, pixel by pixel. The method bypasses the standard pathway traveled by analog signals from sensors to the point where the signal is converted to digital data.

High-energy radioactive particles in space degrade these circuits, or pathways, over time and add to noise in the data by making pixels appear artificially bright. [...]

"Our detector converts the analog signal to a digital number within the pixel," Figer told LiveScience. "Radiation does not have time to affect the signal. And once the data is digitized it's essentially impossible to pick up noise."

This technology should help aid future colonists, especially if they consider establishing outposts on Europa or colonizing Ganymede.

This also might aid scientists in observing the turbulent weather that dominates the Sol star's largest planet within its system.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Video: Can SpaceX Build A Reliable Rocket Ship?

(Image: The first flight-ready Merlin engine on display at the DARPATech event in Anaheim CA, August 2007, before shipment to Texas for qualification testing. Credit: SpaceX)

While many rocket companies within the NewSpace arena focus on thrust for power or cheaper prices, it looks as if SpaceX, led by Elon Musk is seeking to build a world class, reliable rocket ship.

(SpaceX Press Release) More than anything else, the Falcon 9 design is absolutely focused on reliability. This is one of the few launch vehicles in the world designed to the higher safety and reliability standards required for manned spaceflight. Before carrying astronauts to the International Space Station, the Falcon 9 will undergo an intense NASA safety review and will be required to have far higher structural safety margins and ability to tolerate sub-system failure than are needed simply to launch satellites.

A significant advantage of the Falcon 9 is the ability to lose any engine on the first stage and still safely complete the mission, much as a Boeing 747 can lose an engine and still be ok. Like jet engines, each of our Falcon 9 Merlin engines is wrapped in a Nomex and Kevlar flak jacket, so that even a worst case fire or explosion is contained and cannot affect other engines or the stage itself. In the event of an engine failure, it just means that the first stage will fire for a little longer than would otherwise be the case.

Only time will tell whether or not SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will raise the standard within the industry. If the Falcon 9 is successful, SpaceX will probably find itself in the unique position of having too many customers desiring to launch their cargo aboard their rockets.

(Video: Merlin 1C engine firing on the vertical test stand. The blast extends dozens of feet and is ducted out to the side in a long trench. Credit: SpaceX)

Russia And Europe To Team Up For Manned Mars, Moon Mission

With the United States determined to maintain its place in the cosmos, it seems that Russia has struck a unique partnership with Europe that may enable both of them to secure their place among the heavens.

(RIA Novosti) The Russian and European space agencies will develop a manned transport spaceship for flights to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars, the head of the Russian agency said Tuesday.

"We agreed today with Jean-Jacques Dordain, the head of the European Space Agency, to form a working group to deal with developing a piloted transport system to fly to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars," Anatoly Perminov said after talks with Dordain on the sidelines of the MAKS-2007 air show in Zhukovsky, near Moscow.

While a partnership between the two may strike some as strange, both Russia and Europe could potentially benefit from relying on each others strengths. Russia currently lacks the funds for a lunar landing while Europe lacks the expertise.

Russia previously was attempting to partner with NASA for a lunar mission, although NASA was not too thrilled with that idea and seems to have chosen England instead.

Hopefully the nation that originally brought humanity to the cosmos is able to regain is "solar honor," as it would be embarrassing for future historians to refer to Russia as a "former space power."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Video: Mars Science Laboratory (NASA's Ultimate Rover)

Despite the fact that they already have two rovers roaming the surface of Mars, NASA is preparing to send yet another rover to scout out the red planet.

It's mission is to determine whether or not life can exist exist upon the Martian surface. Unlike its previous "brothers," this rover is equipped with a vast array of scientific tools, not to mention a very powerful laser.

(Video: An animation demonstrating how the new rover will enter, descend and land upon the Martian surface. Credit: JPL / NASA)

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Sweet 16)

Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology hosted last weeks Carnival of Space, which this author was (unfortunately) unable to participate in.

Nevertheless, there were several interesting posts featured, with a few controversial posts entering this space geek roundup, such as:

But the best post thus far was by Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams.

(Centauri Dreams) Flight International's story on this study reports that a nuclear interceptor could deflect a Near Earth Object (NEO) in the range of 100 to 500 meters if launched two years before impact. Larger NEOs might be deflected with a five year lead time. The idea here isn't to blast the asteroid into rubble, much of which would doubtless fall to Earth in any case, but to deflect it by a 'stand-off' detonation near the object. This could be handled in various ways depending on the sequence and the number of available warheads, and running the numbers shows it might just work.

A stand off blast toward an incoming asteroid could enable the human species to survive not only on Earth, but on both the Moon and Mars as well, as raining space rocks are fairly frequent upon those worlds, respectively.

If humanity can figure out more ways to deter these planetary killers from ever threatening our future home worlds, then colonizing our solar system will become a little less dangerous (at least for future generations).

Japan's Lunar Satellite To Launch In September

After a brief delay, it looks as if the samurai nation's lunar satellite will finally take its place among the heavens next month.

Scheduled for launch on September 13th, the SELENE orbiter could enlighten our species by providing detailed images of the lunar surface.

(International Herald Tribune) The SELENE project is the largest lunar mission since the U.S. Apollo program in terms of overall scope and ambition, outpacing the former Soviet Union's Luna program and NASA's Clementine and Lunar Prospector projects, Oshima said.

It involves placing the main satellite in orbit at an altitude of about 100 kilometers (60 miles) and deploying the two smaller satellites in polar orbits.

Mapping the moon would give the Japanese an edge over their American, European and Chinese neighbors by allowing them to locate the best landing sites, especially those suspected of harboring helium 3.

England To Seek Out Life On Mars Via Rover

(Image Credit: ESA via Skymania News)

It looks as if the British are about to invade the red planet but unleashing a smart rover to roam across the surface of Mars.

(Skymania News) A UK-built robot is set dramatically to speed up the search for life on Mars, European space scientists were being told today. The roving explorer, nicknamed Bridget, will be intelligent enough to decide for itself which martian rocks are best to investigate.

It will work three times faster than previous robots such as Nasa's rovers Spirit and Opportunity which are currently weathering the tail end of a huge dust storm on Mars.

Despite the fact that this rovers purpose is to locate microbes upon the crimson worlds surface, hopefully it will be able to analyze whether or not the Martian soil is actually hostile or fertile for future Earth life.

Hopefully this rover mission will inspire England to consider sending humans to the final frontier, lest they end up in receiving the "cosmic scraps" of what the universe has to offer them.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bigelow To Launch Human Habitable Space Station

(Image: Model of a future Bigelow space station, Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

With the recent success of both Genesis I and II, Bigelow Aerospace is quickly moving the human species from gazing at the stars to living among the heavens.

Faced with skyrocketing launch costs (due to massive inflation), Bigelow has decided to skip its "galactic phase," and instead launch a space station that may give way towards human habitation.

(Bigelow Aerospace) This dramatic rise in launch costs has forced us to rethink our strategy with Galaxy. Due to the fact that a high percentage of the systems Galaxy was meant to test can be effectively validated on a terrestrial basis, the technical value of launching the spacecraft — particularly after the successful launch of both Genesis I and II — is somewhat marginal. Therefore, we have decided to expedite our schedule yet again, and are now planning to move ahead directly with Bigelow Aerospace’s first human habitable spacecraft, the Sundancer.

We still intend to construct and test the Galaxy spacecraft and/or various parts of it in order to gain familiarity and experience with critical subsystems. However, by eliminating the launch of Galaxy, we believe that BA can move more expeditiously to our next step by focusing exclusively on the challenging and exciting task presented by the Sundancer program.

If Bigelow is able to launch a habitable space station, they will in effect break the bureaucratic glass ceiling by shattering the myth that only governments can create orbital outposts, let alone finance them.

Although Bigelow has not indicated whether they will consider placing a human within the space station, allowing a person to reside inside this inflatable home would signal a new era for NewSpace, if not for our species as a whole.

Related: Space Adventures Courting Bigelow Aerospace

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Galactic Suite Plans Space Hotels By 2012

Galactic Suite, a space firm located in Barcelona, Spain, is planning on creating space hotels by 2012, and populating these structures with space tourists from below.

(MSNBC) Galactic Suite's Barcelona-based architects say guests would pay $4 million each for a three-day stay aboard the orbital equivalent of a three-bedroom boutique hotel.

Before the flight, guests would get eight weeks of intensive training at a space camp on a tropical island, company director Xavier Claramunt told Reuters. Then the tourists would ride an private shuttle into orbit. Hotel guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and use Velcro suits to crawl around their pod rooms by sticking themselves to the walls like Spiderman. [...]

Claramunt, a former aerospace engineer, said the Galactic Suite concept began as a hobby. He told Reuters that a space enthusiast agreed to provide most of the $3 billion needed to build the hotel — but he declined to name the backer.

In order to help realize their vision, Galactic Suite has forged partnerships (or at least gained support) with several other space firms such as 4 Frontiers, Global Business Technologies and the Aerospace Research and Technology Centre.

They intend upon creating a "chain" of orbiting space hotels circling our planet, and it seems as if they have partnered with ADD+Xavier Claramunt to help construct their "molecule-look alike" space stations.

Europe's entrance into the field is welcome, although they may have to play catch up to Bigelow Aerospace which has successfully launched two space stations in orbit.

Note: Galactic Suite has also launched several weblogs to compliment their young company, although their main one appears to be Galactic Suite News.

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (15 Minuets Of Fame)

Thursdays Carnival of Space was hosted by Dr. Pamela Gay over at Star Stryder, which had various posts ranging from Earth to Mars (and back again).

Some interesting posts included:

  • Louise Riofrio (aka A Babe in the Universe) has a post (with video) on how NewSpace can potentially save NASA over 90 billion dollars on their lunar quest.

  • Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology informs everyone on how a ram accelerator (as well as a magnetic launch ring) could reduce the cost of space by $500/kg.

  • Bigelow Aerospace celebrates the fact that they are displaying ads alongside their orbital stations which potentially could be a great source of revenue for Bigelow.

  • Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams discusses why anti-matter will be the fuel of the future and how it can open up the outer solar system (if not beyond).

  • Stuart of Cumbrian Sky sums up why everything we do in space (and on Earth) is really about humanities search for new life.

  • Fraser of Universe Today gives an encouraging update regarding the Martian rovers.

But the best post thus far was by Phil (from Phil for Humanity) who may have discovered a solution for removing space junk from among the heavens.

(Phil for Humanity) Since it is not economically feasible for a spacecraft to pick up all the pieces of space junk, then I recommend a laser that could vaporize or redirect space debris back to Earth. This laser would probably be most easily installed on the International Space Station, since it will need a huge supply of power that I think the space station could be upgraded to provide. Since only large objects can be detected and redirected by the laser, this solution would be limited.

Create massive blobs of aerogel or lightweight surfaces with huge surface areas so that space debris would impact and be stuck to. Since these objects would be in a slow decaying orbit, this would in affect be a large vacuum cleaner removing potential dangerous materials from space. Furthermore, aerogel would be most cost effective to launch into orbit and burn up completely in Earth's atmosphere.

Instead of tossing trash away in space, like what was recently done onboard the International Space Station, use waste to create huge orbit junkyards surrounding the space station for additional shielding. These junkyards would additionally be storage locations for resources that future space missions could use if needed.

Note: Emphasis is from the author, Phil.

Although NASA (and the general space community) may not enjoy the idea of using additional space junk as a shield, using a laser to vaporize and/or redirect the orbits of these solar fragments may be much more appealing.

Coupled with a strong "sticky net" humanity may be able to clear the skies of these dangerous objects (of our own creation), lest we find ourselves unhappily stranded here on planet Earth.

(Image: Satellite destroying space junk. Credit: Space for Peace)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Version 14.0)

Fraser from Universe Today was able to host last weeks Carnival of space, which boasted an impressive list of ideas and concepts that would make even Mike Griffin of NASA proud (or at least mildly entertained).

Interesting roundups included:

  • Stuart from Cumbrian Sky discusses the passion behind humanities quest towards the stars.
  • Phil on Phil for Humanity breaks down the robots vs humans debate, with a surprise ending.
  • Louise on A Babe in the Universe highlights an inexpensive way for placing telescopes on the moon (hopefully NASA will check that one out).
  • Jon Goff of Selenian Boondocks enlightens everyone that the moon may be more interesting than we previously thought.
  • Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology informs everyone how the Liberty Ship could lift more cargo into space.

But the best post by far of this carnival belongs to the mysterious author of Space files, who highlights how NASA is seeking ways to pull oxygen from lunar dust.

(Space files) Eric Cardiff - who is leading a group at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center that is searching for ways of providing oxygen for human Mars and Moon missions - says that we simply have to evaporate the soil. Cardiff is working on a technology that can heat the soil to a high enough temperature for it to release the oxygen bound in it. Every oxide has such a temperature, at which it simply disintegrates into its constituents. This technique is called vacuum pyrolysis (where pyro stand for "fire" that is used to decompose ("lysis") the stuff. A lot of reasons suggest that pyrolysis is the best method: it doesn't need materials that have to be brought there from Earth, or any sort of strange or expensive stuff. Lunar dust collected in place have to be heated and that's it, there's your valuable oxygen.

Although getting into space is half the battle, remain their alive (and healthy) sums up the "entire war." If NASA and other private groups can find innovative ways of extracting oxygen from lunar soil, humanity will not only have all the oxygen that they will need for space, but an interesting propellant for fuel as well.

Future colonists could then easily market their lunar oxygen to other outposts throughout the solar system, exchanging it for Martian water or precious metals from the asteroid belt.

If humanity is unable to convert lunar soil into oxygen, then Earth's nearest neighbor may house only a few thousand brave souls at its max. But if NASA is able to convert this white regolith into breathable air, then tens of millions of individuals may learn to call our moon, home.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Jupiter's Callisto: Gateway To The Gas Giants

If scientists are unable to develop faster than light or wormhole technology by the 22nd Century, humanity may find themselves using gravitational assistance in order to travel throughout our solar system.

But in order to reach these distant gas giants alive (or at least moderately healthy), humanity may need a way station to resupply on food, supplies and oxygen.

Since the Jovian king (aka Jupiter) has been frequently used to fling satellites across the gulf of space, establishing a colony inside its domain may be the next logical step for conquering the outer solar system--with Callisto being the key.

Callisto orbits its Jovian parent at a distance of almost 2 million kilometers. Unlike its bigger brother Ganymede, Callisto lacks a well defined magnetic field, having to instead rely upon "daddy Jupiter" for protection.

Orbiting well beyond the wrath of Jupiter's radiation belts, Callisto lies in a relatively quiet radio zone. With its surface lacking some of the more "interesting" features such as volcano's and enormous mountain ranges, this tranquil world provide a stable (and safe) habitat for future colonists. Callistian residents would also be in the position to settle Ganymede, as well as establish scientific outposts upon the ice world Europa.

Callisto also harbors water and CO2 ice upon its surface, which would enable future colonies to not only grow food and create fuel for not only themselves, but also for way faring space travelers. This would allow future explorers to easily replenish their supplies, and then use Jupiter's gravity to slingshot towards other planetary systems.

Having a similar scenario as Mars, Callisto's location in the solar system would enable this lunar world to establish itself as an interplanetary pit stop, ensuring a vital economy based mainly on trade instead of vital resources.

Conquering this heavily cratered moon would provide yet another stepping stone for humanity, allowing our species to slowly (but surely) spread our population throughout our "tiny" star system.

Phoenix Mission Seeks Out Life On Mars

(Image: Phoenix lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: NASA)

With the successful launch of NASA's Phoenix "rover," scientists will finally be able to discover just how fertile Martian soil is for life (both future and current).

(The Planetary Society) "Today's launch is the first step in the long journey to the surface of Mars. We certainly are excited about launching, but we still are concerned about our actual landing, the most difficult step of this mission," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson. [...]

Phoenix will be the first mission to touch water-ice on Mars. Its robotic arm will dig to an icy layer believed to lie just beneath the surface. The spacecraft instruments will study the history of the water in the ice, monitor weather of the polar region, and investigate whether the subsurface environment in the far-northern plains of Mars has ever been favorable for sustaining microbial life.

Although both Spirit and Opportunity have provided our species with glorious images of the red planet, Phoenix will indicate whether or not Martian soil is toxic towards terrestrial life (particularly humans).

Even if Phoenix is unable to discover any microbes upon the red soil, its analysis could determine whether or not humans will be able to raise crop (and hopefully cattle) upon Mars, or whether we have to simply skip the crimson planet for other worlds.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Video: New Way For Landing Humans On Asteroids

Although our species has barely mastered the concept of landing humans upon terrestrial worlds, we have yet to demonstrate the ability to land on rocky ones.

Despite the fact that humans could always send robots to the surface of these space rocks, our governments may be more comfortable sending humans to perform this dangerous job.

But before people can dream about mining asteroids, we are going to need to figure out how to land on them first--a problem that NASA and DigitalSpace may have already solved.

(Video: A unique approach for sending humans to safely land on asteroids. Credits: DigitalSpace)

(USA Today) For starters, gravity is almost non-existent on an asteroid, which can be as small as only a few hundred feet across or as big as tens of miles in diameter. And because asteroids have rocky, sometimes crumbly surfaces, DigitalSpace's proposed spacecraft includes a system that would anchor it like a boat in a harbor. The design includes a ring of airbags with sensors to detect the stability of the ground. Once a landing is deemed secure, barbed tethers would deploy to latch the craft onto the surface of the NEO. Like car airbags, the ship's airbags would compress against an asteroid's surface.

"On an asteroid, it's a different environment that requires a whole new way to land a spacecraft," said Bruce Damer, president and CEO of DigitalSpace. "It's like insects being blown around by the wind; they have all this technology to hold onto your arm."

If humanity can master the art of landing upon these floating space rocks, then we will be able to not only mine these asteroids for precious metals, but perhaps turn lunar asteroids into space stations.

Although space tourism, helium-3 and solar powered satellites have the potential of jump starting our efforts off world, asteroid mining could finance our species efforts towards conquering our solar system (and hopefully beyond).

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Lucky 13)

LiftPort hosted last weeks Carnival of Space, which had several interesting highlights ranging from space elevator poetry to updates about our friends on Mars.

Other interesting posts included:

  • Brian Wang of Advanced Nanotechnology has highlights about improving hypersonic skyhooks.

  • Alfa King reminds us why July 20th is an important date to remember.

  • Louise RioFrio on A Babe in the Universe goes a step further by not only highlighting July 20th as the day we set foot on the moon, but has some cool images of her new spacesuit. (note: a better shot can be seen over here)

  • Jon Goff of Selenian Boondocks explains why Northrop Grumman's assimilation of Scaled Composites is a good thing.

Tomorrow's space carnival will be hosted on Universe Today, although if one wants to submit any posts to the carnival then they need to visit this site for details.

Video: Can SpaceDev Teach NASA New Tricks?

(Hat Tip: A Babe In The Universe)

With NASA determined to land humans upon the Moon by 2020, our civilization once again seems to be embracing the idea of people living among the heavens.

But at a cost of $100 billion, some skeptics are wondering whether or not our species can afford to establish cities upon other worlds, let alone lunar bases.

SpaceDev however thinks that the $100 billion price tag is too high, and seems to have a plan to pull off a lunar mission at under a tenth of the cost (with some estimates around $3 billion).

Video: SpaceDev demo of how NewSpace can reach the lunar surface through various partnerships with other space firms).

India's Former President: Space Can Solve Energy Crisis

Unfortunately for our planet, human civilization is generally powered by death. Most of our energy comes from fossil fuels, which despite their "immediate blessing" are limited in supply, despite the future increase in demand.

India's former President, Dr. Abdul Kalem laid out perhaps the greatest argument for humanity to explore our solar system, which should appeal to the true believers as well as to the skeptics.

(Technology Review) Kalam said that India understands that global civilization will deplete earthly fossil fuels in the 21st century. Hence, he said, a "space industrial revolution" will be necessary to exploit the high frontier's resources. Kalam predicted that India will construct giant solar collectors in orbit and on the moon, and will mine helium-3--an incredibly rare fuel on Earth, but one whose unique atomic structure makes power generation from nuclear fusion potentially feasible--from the lunar surface.

Unless humanity can come up with a new energy source that can replace our dependence upon fossil fuels, then our species may witness the climax of our civilization as it exits the "golden age."

Although space can not ultimately save us from ourselves, it can provide us with more options to enhance our planet, and ultimately every world that orbits our parent star.