In November of 2013, I found myself the lone bidder of a Russian high altitude space suit on an auction website called RRauction. Since then, I’d been scheming how to best use the suit. I have been revisiting my childhood love for space and my obsession was growing stronger and stronger. It was only natural to use this suit to project the inner child in me, still dreaming about space. With that, I present to you: "A day in the life of Everyday Astronaut".
The Hieroglyph Project. Neal Stephenson: SF needs to stop mucking around with steampunk and dystopia, and start making decent roadmaps for a future where we all want to live. Previously
"The project was the brainchild of three good friends of mine. One was an astronaut, one was a communications genius who used to work with Walter Cronkite and the third was a highly respected scientist, and the one thing I won’t tell you about them is their names. You see, the three of them collectively cooked up one of the very best ideas I have ever heard, and they overcame all obstacles to make it come to pass. But then they messed up one tiny, inconsequential little detail. That turned the whole enterprise into a catastrophic confusion which gave great pleasure to some but cost others, including one of its principle intended beneficiaries of the idea, the Holland America cruise ship line, a ton of money." - Frederik Pohl [previously] [more inside]
Did you know that there's an art museum on the moon? A tiny, tiny one. The Moon Museum features works by Forrest "Frosty" Myers (the instigator), Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, David Novros, and John Chamberlain, inscribed on a little chip of silicon and surreptitiously transported to the moon's surface on the Apollo 12 mission. But of course there's a mystery, in this big of a secret: who is John F., the engineer at least partially responsible for smuggling the chip onboard the lunar lander? Related: other stuff people have left on the Moon (!)
Who will volunteer to be our new Space Messiah? In these selfish times, maybe a little good old-fashioned self-sacrifice in the name of space exploration is just what the doctor ordered to restore humanity's faith in scientific truth and reason. On the other hand, could this bold proposal somehow be connected to recent revelations about the potential influence of mind-controlling parasites on human culture, as discussed in this MeFi thread on toxoplasmosis? Could it be that these little red guys from the sky are actually martian invaders who've been the secret puppet masters behind the world's recent troubles all along, as they carry out their fiendishly clever plot to drive humanity to the brink of self-destruction just so we'll be desperate enough to willingly offer up one of our own in a gesture of symbolic heroism? Will our new astronaut saviour ultimately end up as nothing more than a quick snack for the unnameable horror that awaits on the surface of the red planet?
NASA today announced their plans for a return moon trip by 2018. No doubt this thread could go a million different ways, but what interests me the most about the plan is its simplicity. NASA may have learned its lesson from the overly ambitious and complex Shuttle program and appears to be aiming for much greater simplicity this time around. Part of the beauty of this plan is utilizing those parts of the Shuttle system which have been proven to work well: SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines) and SRBs (Solid Rocket Boosters). Propulsion is often the thorniest part of any space launch, and it seems like combining the known variables of those systems with Apollo-era design may just work. If we are re-focusing NASA on exploration, the 21st Century Lewis & Clarke, and the agency can execute, I'll be pretty excited about moving on to Mars.
5...4...3...2...1...Goodbye, Columbia "There is something noteworthy a rocket can do that the shuttle cannot. A rocket can be permitted to fail." Gregg Easterbrook's 1980 Washington Monthly cover story looks into the Columbia's beginnings, the hazards he saw in the shuttle, and its weaknesses compared to rockets.
Once you get into space, you check to see if any tiles are damaged. If enough are, you have a choice between Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is hope they can get a rescue shuttle up in time. Plan B is burn up coming back.[via Slate]
Planetquest is NASA's nifty new site where they'll be posting info on new planetary discoveries. It's a long shot, but hopefully this will lead to broader based public support for the space program.