Posts Tagged ‘space’

RIP Neil Armstrong

August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong died today. I was a little stunned when I read that, but he was 82 and had been having health problems. It is a little sobering to think that his historic footsteps on the Moon happened a lifetime ago, and there still are no plans for humanity to return. I think that the best legacy for Armstrong would have been a continuing American presence in deep space, but it was not to be.

 

We need to get back into the business of exploring the final frontier.

Google Space

April 20, 2012

I just saw this on The Drudge Report. This is the most exciting story I have read in quite a while.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and billionaire co-founder Larry Page have teamed up with “Avatar” director James Cameron and other investors to back an ambitious space exploration and natural resources venture, details of which will be unveiled next week.

The fledgling company, called Planetary Resources, will be unveiled at a Tuesday news conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, according to a press release issued this week.

Aside from naming some of the company’s high-profile backers, the press release disclosed tantalizingly few details, saying only that the company will combine the sectors of “space exploration and natural resources” in a venture that could add “trillions of dollars to the global GDP.” The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Planetary Resources will explore the feasibility of mining natural resources from asteroids, a decades-old concept.

“This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources,’” according to the press release.

Planetary Resource was co-founded by Eric Anderson, a former NASA Mars mission manager, and Peter Diamandis, the commercial space entrepreneur behind the X-Prize, a competition that offered $10 million to a group that launched a reusable manned spacecraft. Other notable investors include Charles Simonyi, a former top executive at Microsoft, and K. Ram Shriram, a Google director.

The venture will be the latest foray into the far-flung for Cameron, who dived last month in a mini-submarine to the deepest spot in the Mariana Trench. The plot of his 2009 science fiction blockbuster film, “Avatar,” concerned resource mining on alien planets.

It is long past time that the exploration and exploitation of space was opened up to private enterprise. Maybe someday I’ll get to take that vacation on the Moon after all.

Interstellar Travel

October 4, 2011

It has been forty years since man has walked on the moon and it is about time we head out into space again. Some say we should go back to the moon, and maybe set up bases. Others believe a trip to Mars is due. But traveling within our solar system is for stay-at-homes and wimps. We need to go to the stars.

Luckily for us DARPA, the same people who gave us the Internet, are already studying the matter. According to this article in Popular Mechanics, they have organized the 100 year Starship symposium to explore ways to reach the stars. This is no easy matter, of course. The 100 years refers to the amount of time they expect it will take to surmount the difficulties.

The problem of building a starship is so difficult that DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office director and manager for the project, David Neyland, figures it will take 100 years just to learn how to pull it off, hence the project’s name. But while traveling to the stars is a far-off goal, Neyland says that just working on the problem will allow the Department of Defense (of which DARPA is a part) to reap very practical benefits now. “We literally send millions—millions—of MREs, little packaged foodstuffs, to our troops in the field overseas. Is there a better way? Well, if you solve the problem for long-duration, long-distance spaceflight for food supplies, what could you do in terms of the Department of Defense for forward-operating locations?” Solving the problem of energy production on a starship that will have to remain powered up for a decades-long journey could similarly produce major benefits for the military.

Here’s a preview of the enormous problems facing the DARPA conference attendees who dream of interstellar travel. We’ll keep you updated on the wild proposals they come up with to overcome these challenges.

To start with, our rocket technology of the present doesn’t even begin to be effective in traveling such great distances.

It starts with propulsion—simply figuring out how to travel interstellar distances. Chemical rockets, the kind that got us to the moon, just won’t get us to the stars. “You need more fuel than exists mass in the known universe,” says physicist Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar. Alternatives such as nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, and even antimatter propulsion systems will be on the table here.

 

And of course, there is the difficulty of keeping the crew supplied and motivated for a journey which may take decades or centuries. Any starship we send out will have to be completely self-sufficient. If they break down, no one will be able to rescue them.

I am a little disappointed that star travel is not likely to occur in my lifetime. Perhaps, I should look into cryogenics, have my corpse frozen for later revival.

 

 

 

 

Apollo Moon Landing

July 20, 2011

It’s a good thing I check Instapundit everyday. I didn’t realize that today was the anniversary of the first moon landing until Glenn Reynolds reminded his readers. He put in a link to Apollo images from NASA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One giant leap.

There were indeed giants in those days. Lesser sons of great sires are we.

Some Anniversaries

April 12, 2011

I just saw that today is the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight. The first man in space. After 50 years, I kind of expected we would sending people to Pluto by now, and colonizing Mars. I must say the future is disappointing.

It is also the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ft. Sumter, which began the Civil War.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 340 other followers

%d bloggers like this: