Monday, April 30, 2007

NASA Rejects Lunar Partnership With Russia

Despite having previously pioneered the journey to the final frontier, Russia it seems is unable to complete that journey towards the moon. They were previously looking towards NASA to help them out, although NASA is showing little interest in partnering with their former rivals.

(International Herald Tribune) The chief of Russia's space agency said that the United States has rejected a proposal by Moscow to explore the moon jointly, a Russian news agency reported. [...]

But Roscosmos chief Anatoly Perminov was quoted by the Interfax news agency Sunday as saying that the United States had rebuffed the offer.

"We are ready to cooperate but for some reasons the United States has announced that it will carry out the program itself," he was quoted as saying.

Despite the fact that NASA is expressing interest in partnering with England for a lunar visitation, they may be reluctant to pursue a partnership with Russia for political reasons. Russia has not been very friendly towards freedom of speech lately, although NASA could simply be rebuffing the Russians due to a potential lack of talent.

Update (5/1): NASA is claiming that it did not rebuff Russia's offer (as there was no official offer of help) while conspiracy theories are developing on why NASA is avoiding Russia (Hat Tip: NASA Watch)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Venus: An Interplanetary Garbage Dump?

For thousands of years, Venus has captured the attention of humanity across our slightly larger world. Whether it was through spiritual religion, science fiction stories or modern observation, Venus has had its fair share in the celestial spotlight, only to be out shined in modern times by Mars, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn.

But Venus may again regain its spot light in our solar system, although not as a potential colony world full of happy residents. With surface temperatures approaching 482 degrees Celsius (or 900 degrees Fahrenheit), an atmospheric pressure 92 times greater than that of Earths and sulfuric acid covering this boiling world, Venus could easily serve as an interplanetary garbage dump for the inner solar system.

Although humanity could ultimately attempt to recycle everything in space (and should at least try), it may be worth casting some items such as nuclear waste, biological virus (via mad scientists), chemical weapons and other deadly unmentionables into the sulfuric abyss for the safety of humanity. These products may not be worth risking human life over to salvage, and Venus would provide the perfect spot to cast them away from our presence.

Asteroid colonies may also benefit from a planetary dumping ground. Unlike their larger terrestrial friends like Earth, the Moon and Mars, future asteroid colonies would be limited in the amount of space they could conserve for general garbage.

With humans producing several pounds of trash per day (in some cases), colonists will need a better alternative to removing their trash aside from burying it (which can be expensive), burning it (which may not be recommended) or simply banishing it into space.

Providing an interplanetary dumping ground on Venus for these colonies may be an alternative solution, as it would help keep our cosmos clean of space junk, as well as keep the cost of mining these space rocks down.

Venus could also serve as a location where scientists could conduct fairly dangerous experiments without the results affecting a future home world for humanity. Scientists could orbit the sulfuric world in orbital space stations, and if their experiments turned up unpleasant results, they could simply cast the dangerous contents onto Venian soil to face the wrath of the planet.

Venus, unlike most of the other terrestrial worlds that orbit Sol, will probably never become an attractive home for humanity. With the conditions on the surface unsuitable for carbon and mechanical life, it is unlikely that scientist would find any lifeforms living on the surface, or at least life as we know it.

Despite the hostile environment, Venus may be able to serve humanity by hosting some of our most hostile (and least enjoyable) creations. By storing our garbage and other dangerous substances on the planet, we may be able to free up space on Earth (and in the future Mars, the Moon and Mercury) for future generations.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Google And NASA To Send A Satellite To Mars?

It looks like the search engine king and NASA are in discussions of exploring the red planet together. Although these are nothing more than conversations at best, doing so may be in both organizations best interests, if not humanities.

(Red Orbit) Among the companies with technical partnerships with NASA is search-engine operator Google. Google declined to send a representative to the event, but according to Terry Fong, a NASA group leader, the two organizations are busy on several projects and have even discussed the possibility of a satellite venture that Fong described as "really far" off. [...]

According to Fong, Google and NASA will begin in five weeks to unveil technology that will bring NASA data, such as atmospheric observations and sea temperatures, to the satellite navigation service Google Earth. The two organizations are working as well on a disaster-response project that will place real-time disaster data on Google Earth. That data could include the plume of a wild fire, the condition of a damaged bridge, or even the position of monitoring aircraft.

"At some point in time, they might become involved in missions" in space, said Fong, referring to the satellite venture.

Google is already partnering with NASA regarding its application program, Google Earth and their are rumors on a Martian collaboration as well.

If Google were able to actually finance a mission towards the red planet one could easily see them incorporating that information within a future Google Mars. Ironically while the search engine king's competitors worry about conquering cyberspace on Earth, Google seems to be expanding its empire to other worlds.

Video: NASA Wants Another Giant Leap

(Hat Tip: NASA Watch)

It looks like NASA's marketing department is get slightly better at creating video's in order to communicate its message. Instead of attempting to rationalize the nation on the reasons why we need to go back (whether it be because of potential resources, science, or an "insurance policy" against extinction) they simply sum it up in one word--exploration.

Note: For those interested in seeing a higher quality version of this video, click here. (requires Quick Time)

India Seeks Military Free Space Exploration

It looks like India is reversing an earlier decision regarding weaponizing the heavens above us and is instead pursuing an exploration of the cosmos free from military influence.

( Implying that Chinese anti-satellite missile tests had no influence on India's space programme, President A P J Abdul Kalam has made it clear that New Delhi's space ambitions had no military interest.

"Indian space programme has no military interest," he said during a question-answer session at the International Space University here last night.

"It has been built to be locally relevant when globally challenging and its foundation is the quest of India and other space faring nations to use the collective wisdom of the humanity to solve the socio-economic problems of our society," he said.

Although this is a noble stance, India may have to reverse course on this decision once the moon begins to buzz with human activity. Despite our best wishes, humanity has never been known to ever visit a land without military escorts (during or after) and the Moon will probably be no exception.

India is currently seeking to expand its influence as an upcoming space power, as evidenced by its first successful rocket launch not too long ago. If any nation were to lead the way towards peaceful exploration, India would be the one to do it as it has yet to commit the cosmic sin of shattering a satellite in ones atmosphere.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another Earth Spotted?

(Image Credit: ESO, via

Note: Nothing to do with our own solar system, but it is interesting nonetheless.

It looks like scientists may have spotted the first planet outside of our solar system that is potentially habitable for life.

( An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today.

Liquid water is a key ingredient for life as we know it. The new found planet is located at the "Goldilocks" distance—not too close and not too far from its star to keep water on its surface from freezing or vaporizing away. [...]

The new planet is about 50 percent bigger than Earth and about five times more massive. The new "super-Earth" is called Gliese 581 C, after its star, Gliese 581, a diminutive red dwarf star located 20.5 light-years away that is about one-third as massive as the Sun.

This is the first terrestrial world discovered outside of our solar system that orbits within the habitable zone of a star. Although the planet orbits a short distance around its star (about 13 Earth days), life forms could easily survive on this world due to the dimness (or rather lack of heat) from the red dwarf sun.

Scientists are probably going to take a second look at this, and it will be interesting to see whether or not we will be able to locate features upon this world in the future.

Note: I've just alerted Paul over at Centauri Dreams, who should have an interesting analysis regarding this discovery.

Update (4/25): Paul has posted his analysis here with a video over here. Exciting stuff!

NASA Wants England To Join Lunar Adventure

With NASA focused on returning humanity back to the moon, other nations, such as England seem to have placed their priority in robotic missions. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, probably one of the most vocal voices for human space flight, is proposing that the United Kingdom should join the Americans on lunar soil by sending one of their own.

(Skymania News) But NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has made it clear to Skymania News that he wants Brits to join American astronauts in walking on the Moon and helping set up lunar bases.

He recently told me: "The invitation absolutely is there for the UK to join us in those journeys. I hope that that level of participation would go so far as to include astronauts. If it does, then of course we will participate in training them."

The United Kingdom has been rather slow about considering human spaceflight, which probably has to do more with their budget than their desire (as sending robots is definitely cheaper than flesh and blood).

But if England desires to receive its fare share of the Universe's resources, then they will need to commit human bodies towards space flight, as robots can only do much.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Video: Out Of This World Advertising

(Via New West)

New Mexico, home to Spaceport America is using some extraterrestrial fun to get its point across about it being home to "space culture."

There is a second video over here.

Related: New Mexico appoints Spaceport Authority (via Jack Kennedy of spaceports)

Update: Be sure to visit their official tourism site. Is it me, or is New Mexico taking this whole space thing a little too seriously? ;-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Portable Magnetic Shields For Future Colonists

(Image Credit: Lucas Films, Star Wars)

(Hat Tip: Space Elevator Reference)

Humanities greatest hurdle towards colonizing our solar system ironically comes the very objects our terrestrial worlds orbit. Whether it be from the Sun itself, or a Jovian parent, radiation can severely limit our ability to populate the Sol star system.

Now it seems that some researchers are attempting to remove this stumbling block, by seeking out ways to create artificial magnetic fields for not only star ships, but space colonies as well.

(SpaceRef) On the surface of the Earth we are protected from radiation by the thick layers of the atmosphere. And the terrestrial magnetic field extends far into space, acting as a natural 'force field' to further protect our planet and deflecting the worst of the energetic particles from the Sun by creating a 'plasma barrier'.

Now scientists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire plan to mimic nature. They will build a miniature magnetosphere in a laboratory to see if a deflector shield can be used to protect humans living on space craft and in bases on the Moon or Mars.

In order to work, an artificial mini-magnetosphere on a space craft will need to utilise many cutting edge technologies, such as superconductors and the magnetic confinement techniques used in nuclear fusion.

Creating such a field will enable our species to actually live above the lunar and Martian surface, avoiding the deadly radition that bathes our star system. Although this technology is still in its development, it spells out much promise for our race, as it would enable us to build settlements based on nearby research and resources, instead of "radiation havens."

Some day we may even be able to create artificial magnetic fields around worlds where such fields are lacking, enabling us to not only live upon these worlds, but raise up children (and animals) upon them too.

Note: These fields, coupled with Ballutes could make the space elevator a whole lot more attractive towards humans.

Update (4/24): It looks like scientists are developing cloaking devices too.

Students Seeking Lunar Solar Power

If our current generation does not have enough desire to colonize the moon, the upcoming one seems to have the ambition to conquer it.

In the Milwaukee School of Engineering, several students decided to brake from the norm of Earthly projects (such as Baja racers), and instead pursue constructing items beyond the heavens themselves.

(Red Orbit) The students have designed a device that would sit atop a tower some 300 feet above the moon's south pole, collecting energy from the sun to drive a turbine, while sending the excess energy out into cold space. [...]

"When you tell people about it, their eyes light up. We're not designing a bridge or a doorknob," said Kyle Momenee, who traveled with the other engineering students on this year's team to Huntsville, Ala., to discuss the project with engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. "Anyplace we go in space, we're going to need some source of power."

With temperatures plummeting hundreds of degrees below zero, heat and power become critical factors for any future space colony intent on surviving off world. Although the sun provides solar energy without fail upon the moons surface, it is only available to half the world in two (earth) week rotations--unless you live in the polar regions.

This "solar antenna" could enable colonies near the polar regions to maintain levels of power, even under lunar shadow. Hopefully NASA considers adding this feature to any future space colony, as people may become very upset if their solar home turns off because of lack of energy.

(Image Credit: Red Orbit)

Wish Upon A Moon, Japanese Style

With the Chinese red dragon giving even NASA a run for their money, Japan is attempting to promote space culture among its own, seeking not only to regain its lost leadership in the eastern space race, but over take its rival of a billion people.

( Japan's space agency JAXA announced last week that the much-delayed SELENE probe will be launched in August aboard an H-2A rocket, the mainstay of Japan's space program. [...]

"This mission will involve observation of the whole moon, not just parts of it," said JAXA spokesman Satoki Kurokawa. "It is a very ambitious project."

The mission is a stepping stone in Japan's plan to more aggressively pursue space objectives — including a lunar landing and, possibly, manned missions in space. To raise public awareness, JAXA is conducting a "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign that allows people to send brief messages up with the orbiter.

Japan has not had as much success as their eastern brethren in regards to the space race. With problems ranging from Martian space probes going off course, to over delaying a lunar probe, the land of the rising sun does not appear too shiny lately regarding its space program.

Although one could site Japan's problems as being financial, technical, etc., their main issue here seems to be the fact that they are attempting to overtake China by pioneering "grandiose" missions without taking the necessary baby steps first.

China is already determined to revisit the moon, (hat tip: Space For Commerce) regardless whether the US, Russia, Japan or India beat them to it. If Japan desires to actually become a space power, then they need to discover national reasons for colonizing space apart from world activities, as that will inspire their people more than "keeping up with the Joneses."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is LiftPort Closing Shop?

For space elevator fans, this is very sad news indeed.

(Almost Girl) But today, roughly two hours before the panel, an obstacle was placed in Michael and Liftport’s path. Zealot that he is, even his belief and passion could not hold against this reality of finance. They lost their office space. The money ran out. And on Monday they will announce this fact.

I almost cried in sympathy as Michael described how this would impact not only Liftport but his personal life. He had no home, no place for his animals, no job, no source of income, and no place for his staff. A three million dollar building that held the hopes and dreams of more than just a few space crazies was taken away from a project that for better or worse is attempting to bring about a future I was weaned on. And a future I don't often get to remember in a day to day way and now perhaps will not see even in dreams anymore

No official word yet from LiftPort, although there seems to be hints of this over on their corporate blog.

Opinion: So what does a LiftPort's fate have to do with colonizing our solar system? For some, nothing (as rockets is their mode of travel) but for others it means a lot.

The largest hurdle with humanity colonizing our solar system can be boiled down to one word--cost. The cost of space is so high that only the wealthiest of the wealthy can afford to orbit our planet for a brief amount of time, let alone visit other worlds.

LiftPort's goal was to be the first company to construct a working space elevator, thus enabling humanity to not only construct solar powered satellites and rotating space stations, but also allow us to migrate the masses off world onto other worlds throughout our star system.

Although they are not the only company attempting to do this, LiftPort was one of the few companies who were willing to be "open and honest" about their situation, whether good or bad (a rare trait in the space industry).

Reducing the cost is a key factor in encouraging our population to live elsewhere, and the space elevator was one of the few technologies (along with maglev-rocket hybrids, magnetic sleds and nuclear propulsion) promising this.

If this is the end of our beloved space elevator company, then let it be known that these men and women dared to attempt the impossible, and were willing to stake their futures upon it. President Theodore Roosevelt sums it up the best by saying:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

God bless LiftPort, and I await the news of your fate.

(Image Credits:

Update: For some strange reason I'm receiving errors when I attempt to comment on LiftPort's post. Alas, I least I can still sing Lifter, Lifter, in the sky...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

US Pentagon Interested In Solar Powered Satellites

It looks like America's military forces are once again looking towards the heavens in order to fuel their needs.

(MSNBC) The Pentagon's National Security Space Office may begin a study in the near future on the possibility of using satellites to collect solar energy for use on Earth, according to Defense Department officials.

The officials said the study does not mean that the military plans to demonstrate or deploy a space-based solar power constellation. However, as the Pentagon looks at a variety of alternative energy sources, this could be one possible method of supplying energy to troops in bases or on the battlefield, they said. [...]

While space-based solar power may sound like a high-risk proposal, it is worth investing several million dollars in the near term to study the concept because of the potential high payoff, Kueter said.

Always seeking ways to stay independent and mobile, unlimited solar energy would benefit America's military forces as they could build more environmentally friendly fighting machines all the while reducing costs and dependence upon foreign energy.

Although the peaceful options for this technology are endless, it may need government backing in order for an idea like this to take itself off the ground, literally.

Radiation Test For Red Planet, Moon

With Europe gun-ho about testing whether or not humans can handle the isolation en route towards the red planet, another group in Utah is experimenting on drills training us to stay alive once we get there.

( "This is a unique mission, the first dedicated to emergency preparedness," says Schneider. "I wanted to develop the emergency at radiation protocols on this mission because it is one of the problems with Lunar and Mars manned exploration."

Schneider will monitor three hypothetical different radiation warning systems during the mission. One, located outside the habitat, is an immediate gauge of radiation in the area. Monitors in orbiting satellites will supply information on the direction of the solar storm, and information from the satellites orbiting the sun will provide the third set of information.

Although many industries are focused on technology that could eventually get us there, it will be research like this that ensures that we actually survive there. Despite the glamorous view of the solar system on the lunar surface (or for Martian fans a red planet sunset) humanity may be forced to spend a large portion of their time underground, only venturing out for scientific and industrial missions.

Training like this might become common place for future generations on both the Mars and the Moon. Unless of course we can construct some kind of artificial magnetic field around these worlds.

Russia To Moon: We Will "Industrialize" You

(Image Credit: Anatoly Zak /

The next decade or so will either spell a regeneration of Russian space technology or a historical note of missed opportunity. With the space shuttle about to retire in several years, Russia will be in the spot light of history, if they can get over their stage fright that is.

Either way, Russia is determined to regain its space honor and visit the moon for the first time. And their aim is not to simply copy their American "comrades," but to transform our lunar neighbor into something a bit more productive.

(Reuters) "It is time to think about industrial development of the moon. We are sometimes criticized for making such suggestions too early," Sevastianov was quoted as saying in an interview released on Wednesday.

But it is time to do this given the limits to natural reserves on Earth and the pace of civilization's progress. Nor can we dismiss the idea of outsourcing harmful industries into space." [...]

"We can start flying to the moon using the Soyuz ships and those technologies that we already have. As for industrial development, that will be with the new technologies that the Kliper system will give us."

Despite pioneering the final frontier publicly and privately (via Space Adventures) Russia realizes that its moment in history is approaching once again, and that a missed opportunity here could affect its place in solar history for the next century.

Russia's Kliper (view: interactive) could help breathe some life back into its space program, which has not had much success after the Americans beat them to the moon during the Apollo era. Hopefully our Russian friends can return not only to the heavens but visit the moon itself, as it would be fairly boring having only the Chinese to compete against.

Update (4/17): I was informed that the original image posted above was owned in fact by the Russian Space Web and not Luniversalis News.

I am in contact with the owners to see if I can still use this image in the post (with proper credits), although if they desire the image will be removed at their request. ~Darnell

Update (4/17): Anatoly Zak has graciously allowed me to use the image, with proper credit given (of course). Thanks Anatoly!

India Outsourcing Space Projects To Private Sector

Housing roughly a sixth of the worlds population, it would be silly to expect India to remain on the sidelines while its western and easter neighbors head off into the final frontier.

Although India probably lacks the engineering capital to take on rivals such as China, they may be able to match the red dragon by outsourcing their projects to the emerging space industry.

(Space Mart) India's space agency ISRO will step up outsourcing of works related to satellite and rocket building to the private sector, which in the long run could churn out overall systems as the organisation focuses on research and development. [...]

"Yes, in the last 10 years we have not added even a single person to ISRO... our programmes have multiplied by more than three-fold. That shows industrial participation has come to that extent", [Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman G Madhavan] Nair said.

India seems to be taking a cue from Russia and America, except that they are taking this to the next level. By outsourcing needed projects to the emerging space (or industry, India will be benefiting its own economy and cementing its position within the nation.

This may also help them catch up to China who ironically sees the US, not India as its main rival. India has enormous potential as a future space power, and it may not be too long until we see colonies dotting the lunar surface next to Indian flags.

Related: Emerging Asia by Ted Semon and Emerging Asia by Gregory Benford (via Paul Gilster).

Our First Baby Step (Yuri Gagarin)

Over 40 years ago, a Russian cosmonaut by the name of Yuri Gagarin stepped into a space ship and sailed across the heavens. It was a time of immense tension on our planet, with half the world not knowing whether or not our species would survive the presumed war that would end life as we know it.

Yet, despite the difference of opinions among our fellow selves, humanity was able to take its first baby step off our planet and glimpse our world in a new perspective.

Today marks the day that we, as a species, took our first baby step towards exploring the heavens that surround us, and ultimately establishing a home among the worlds that dance around our home star Sol.

Despite the times that we live in, our species is once again reaching out to the stars, once again imagining ourselves dwelling upon red, white and dark soils, and once again realizing our that potential is not limited to our Earthen cradle.

So as you celebrate with others or simply by yourselves, rejoice in the fact that you are alive in these days, being able to witness the first fruits of species colonizing our solar system, and ultimately the entire galaxy around us.

"Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot remain in the cradle forever." ~Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Monday, April 09, 2007

Artificial Magnetic Fields For Artifical Worlds

(Image Credit: NASA)

Aside from war and disease, the biggest threat to our (future) space faring species is radiation. Whether it comes from the Sun, a Jovian parent, or from a distant black hole, radiation can easily determine which worlds will be ruled by humans and which ones will be roamed by our robotic friends.

Although many may point to underground colonies as a means to survive on these sterile worlds, such an idea may not attract the masses (as living underground does not provide a glamorous view of the universe). Worse, underground colonies may have a counter affect on us colonizing our solar system, with the vast majority of people opting to live on the home world than off world.

But what if we could construct gigantic magnetic devices enabling a planet or moon to be shielded by a magnetic field? Such a device would enable our species to not only colonize Jupiter's Europa and Saturn's E-ring moons (which are too radioactive for surface habitation, respectively) but also enable various plants and animals to thrive on the red planet.

Without such a device our species would be limited to colonizing Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Callisto, not to mention Saturn's Titan. Although radiation on Mars may be tolerable, it would probably not be the ideal place to terraform as any ecosystems exported there may suffer from the wrath of a solar flare.

Despite the fact that this technology would be centuries away, it may be reasonable to explore current ways of developing artificial magnetic fields, as it would enable us to not only conquer our own solar system, but those that orbit other stars.

(Image Credit: Windows to the Universe)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Will Bigelow Help Make Space Affordable?

Image Credit: Bigelow Aerospace, via MSNBC)

(Hat Tip: Hobby Space)

With news of billionaires launching themselves into space, many people with less than seven figures on their hands wonder when it will be their turn to visit beyond the skies.

Although the price range may eventually drop for the moderately wealthy, Bigelow seems to be offering a common sense approach which resembles more of mortgaging a house rather than paying for the entire lot up front in cash.

(Aviation Week) One reason commercial space has been so slow to evolve is because it has required so much up front money from customers for such high risk ventures. Bigelow wants to reverse that.

"We will have milestones that it will be incumbent upon Bigelow to successfully pass before money is transitioned from being refundable to non refundable he said. "A big part of the message we will be conveying at the Space Symposium is "Look! We are not going to charge you an arm and a leg for the services that we are providing," he said.

"We think this will make the use of our orbital services very conductive for moderately funded organizations.["]

One interesting aspect about Bigelow is that it is one of the few (if only) space companies out there that does not have to rely on the backing of a billionaire (or government funds) to finance its trip to the stars.

Despite having the financial support of its founder, Robert T. Bigelow, Bigelow Aerospace has actually made a profit launching Genesis I (and soon Genesis II), enough to sustain this company without the help from its wealthy CEO.

(Aviation Week) "Up to this point we have spent about $90 million, but the good part is that its all been from cash flow, that's from net Bigelow Aerospace income.

"We have not been eating off one of our legs at a time to survive. We haven't been spending capital. In that regard, we are unique among the small wannabe aerospace companies.

Although Bigelow is presenting a cost efficient way of returning to the cosmos, their space stations seem more geared towards servicing large corporations and governments, rather than civilians. With an expectation of 800 clients over the next decade, Bigelow may not look too appealing as an active force in colonizing our solar system.

However, they may provide a unique business model for companies such as Virgin Galactic, Benson Space, LiftPort, Space Adventures and others to follow, as financing a trip to space may be much easier than paying "an arm and a leg."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Another Space Cold War Developing?

Whether we like it or not, "weaponizing" space will become apart of our future. China's ASAT test (whether intentional or not) seems to have given the green light for both the United States and Russia to seriously consider arming the heavens above us, provoking a future arms race well into the next century.

Russia (it seems) is already in the process of expanding its "space forces" role in securing its access to the cosmos, while the US Air force is debating on whether to arm every satellite or simply establish a ballistic missile network. All of this would be simply humorous if it were not for the simple fact that both nations are now starting to snipe at each other (pun not intended).

(MSNBC) Russian space experts are wondering whether the United States used an anti-satellite weapon last month to kill a small Russian research satellite, the Novosti news agency reported Wednesday. [...]

"There's no way this is a credible story," U.S. Navy Capt. James Graybeal, spokesman for the U.S. Strategic Command, told "We've checked with everybody, we have talked to everyone."

It is doubtful that the US would intentionally destroy a commercial satellite, as that would be an excellent way of starting a war. Although the real reason probably lies on which company built the satellite, the fact that both nations are more geared towards "star wars" than "star trek," does not exactly help out the situation.

Hopefully some sort of space alliance can be forged between the two, as the last thing our planet needs is a war above the heavens, as well as below it.

(Image Credit: Space 4 Peace)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

New Mexico Voters Narrowly Approve Of Spaceport

After a fierce debate, with politicians vocally supporting or opposing the tax enabling the construction of Spaceport America by Virgin Galactic, it seems that New Mexico may secure its place solar history after all.

With 8,781 voters (or 50.6%) in favor of the tax enabling the spaceport to exist (with 8577 opposed), New Mexico will probably become a destination for not only space tourists in general, but perhaps the emerging space industry as well.

Final results can be viewed over here.

New Mexico's actions will probably establish a precedent for future spaceports in America, and is perhaps a sign that a new space culture is emerging in our society.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

83 Colony Worlds Orbit Our Star?

(Hat Tip: Cosmic Variance)

Many space geeks (I included) seem to be excited about an image by KOKOGIAK displaying the 88 largest bodies in our solar system (of which 83 are "terrestrial" or have a surface we can actually land upon).

After searching online on these various worlds, many with an abundance of ice water upon them (a good sign), it became apparent that many of these worlds would not become favorable homes (for raising kids) due to either radiation, distance or lack of appeal.

Currently there seem to be four worlds that show some promise of becoming future homes which are:

  • Mars (which has tolerable levels of radiation)
  • Ganymede (which has a magnetic field)
  • Callisto (which is not within Jupiter's radiation belts)
  • Titan (atmosphere plus Saturn's magnetic field may protect it)

Unless artificial magnetic fields can be created upon other worlds, they may only attract corporate industries and scientists, but not the huge populations necessary in order to establish our species as a "space faring civilization."

Hopefully I'll get some more time to post about these four worlds, as they hold much promise for our race four or five generations from now.