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Alien Day 2018

In case you aren’t aware, today is the third annual Alien Day. Started in 2016 to mark the 30th Anniversary of the movie Aliens, it continues to grow, and for huge fans like myself, it always leaves a little stirring in my chest. At least, I hope that’s all that feeling is…

The Alien franchise/community has a lot on tap for today:

Audible’s audiobook audio drama adaptation of the novel, Alien: Sea of Sorrowsstarring John Chancer, Stockard Channing, Walles Hamonde and Laurel Lefkow.

Amazon’s Alexa-based Offworld Colony Simulator, a turn-based survival game.

Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens: Dust to Dust a new series.

Fright-Rags has released a Xenomorph mini-mask limited to just 426 units, as well as a retro Alien T-shirt and pins.

Geek Fuel released several Alien pins.

And not to be forgotten, the Alien: Descent attraction opened to the public in Orange County, California. As I’m a Texas boy, it may be some time before I get to try that ride, but you know I’d love to make that combat drop.


In a more serious vein, the storyline behind the Alien franchise is important to me, not just as entertainment, but because there is a cautionary tale built into it that I find to be very credible. Much has been made of the idea that if a species has developed an interstellar presence, they can only have done so if they had left avarice and violence behind. For the most part, the possibility of malevolent alien, spacefaring life has been relegated to popular entertainment, ranging from the sinister, a la Alien, to the campy, such as Mars Attacks! or kids’ films with comical, bumbling invaders. I find that to be startlingly naïve.

My thought is that we live in a universe where resources are always allocated locally, and life will fight over those resources to survive when cooperation won’t get what all parties feel that they need. That is the basis of all war, ultimately. You may have competing ideologies that provide intellectual packages in this resource battle, but when you break it down, that’s what remains. We’re going to find that to be universal as we head farther and farther out into the cosmos. As such, other beings out there are going to run on the same basic algorithm. Where trade of some sort will not suffice, domination will be attempted. For some species, domination will come first, and things like the Xenomorphs will exist to do essentially nothing but clear the field of competing interests. We are developing those sorts of things now with our own robotic systems in battle, clearing minefields, defusing Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), drone strikes, and the beginning deployment of battle robots. If we can think up and use such things, how difficult would it be for a mature race to develop a cadre of biomechanical soldiers to project force?

I don’t point these things out to be a doomer, but more to bring some realism into how we view our own fledgling steps off-planet. We need to keep our minds on survival in exploring and exploiting space, but always remain mindful that we will someday fight over it, and that we’re likely to find others that have been fighting over it much longer than we have. I suppose we may run into some variation of the “Age of Aquarius” Space Brothers, but I doubt it. What we do find will probably want to give us a hug, though.



Here is something that I stumbled across, working late one night at the day job

Alien: Remastered – YouTube

For those of you who do not know me in meatworld, I am a massive Alien universe fan. Huge geek about it, really. There is something about the matter-of-fact, workaday way they present the overall environment in which the characters struggle with the villains of the story. A lot of the tech is worn but usable, not necessarily some smooth, gleaming spectacle of modernism. The texture of the universe in the movies is one of a realism, where living and working in space is what they do, and the Alien scourge is a realty thrust upon them as a true and horrific surprise. The storylines aren’t about the technology, it’s just there to show the future tense of humanity. The frontier still has lions, tigers, and bears out there.

Of course, this is all backed up by soundtracks of various and creepy types, as the original posted above. Well, I say original. Actually, the videos linked above are, as described, remasters by a very talented sound engineer and artist, Álvaro G. Plata. I’ve listened to this composition a number of times on YouTube directly, and eventually contacted him directly to purchase an electronic copy of the music files he produced. He was happy to oblige!

For more information on the history of this project of his, see the link below.!/2014/04/remastered-alien-1979-original.html

In my opinion, the Alien universe is one of the most gritty and realistic expectations of what the future may hold, and how pedestrian it will eventually be to live and work in space.

Small Space Growing Big – NSRC 2017

In two weeks, the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers ConferenceNext-Generation Suborbital Researcher Conference (NSRC) for this year will kick off in Bloomfield, Colorado. It is a central meeting and discussion forum for educators and researchers working to explore the suborbital realm, and with a focus on reusable vehicles to pursue that exploration. There are a number of companies beginning to break into the reusable market, both suborbital and beyond, and they’ll have exhibit space to explain themselves at the conference.

A lot of these newcomers are promoting variants of air-breathing/rocket-propelled first stage systems carrying second and sometimes third stages to orbital destinations, such as Exodus Aerospace. They have a rather novel combined lifting body outer mold line (OML)* that comprises a two-stage delivery vehicle. It should be instructive to see how the CEO of Exodus, David Luther, fares with the questions and comments he’ll receive during the week.

*Aerospace Education Moment: For those who do not know what an “OML” is, this term refers to the overall outer shape of an aircraft or spacecraft. It is useful in the design and analysis of such machines to tightly control that OML, to serve such things as aerodynamic studies and to constrain subsystems within and around the vehicle by a boundary that remains fixed.

The Quality of Go

I’ve been mulling over the question for many years, and over the past few I’ve nibbled at the edges of finding answers for myself. For the moment, I’m not going to go into those answers.

What I’d like to know from my readers and my fellow posters on the fora on which I post, is why would you good people like to go to space? Really, the question comes in several parts:

  • Why Should Humanity Go Into Space?
  • How Should We Go?
  • What Do We Do There?
  • How Far Should We Go?
  • What Is Needed to Go?

In other words, what makes the Go To Space, well… Go?
For those of you that have a specific aversion to going at all, I’m not willing to engage that sentiment. Stay to monitor the conversation, and learn what you can, but don’t expect accommodation for views that counter the questions posed above. Consider it an assumption that the human race must go into the void and fill it with exploration and exploitation. Outbound is happening.

Kaizen Update #1

In reference to my post about embarking on a personal Kaizen, I’d say that I’m doing okay. The general advice is to improve something every day, even if it’s only a small percentage better. So far, so good. I have made progress in a number of things I had been stalled on, so I’ll just keep going.

Hey! An Area of Investigation for Outbound

One of the dual-purpose areas of interest for us is the blending of space development with terrestrial benefits. Not ancillary spinoffs, but really conscious efforts to make space technology directly applicable to earthly needs and desires.

NASA has offered a prize challenge here

Challenge I

for coming up with ways to use Martian materials for either textile production or for building structures. Outbound is particularly interested in building efficient and technologically advanced living and working buildings, so this is a pretty good fit. I think we’ll take a closer look at this challenge and work to submit a proposal.

Ares vs. Luna – Should the Siblings Fight?

I am a very long-time supporter and member of the Moon Society, from way back in the 1990’s, and feel pretty strongly about the need to establish a beachhead on the Moon. There are a number of reasons for this.

It’s stable.

From an orbital consideration, it is an extremely well-known commodity. Many nations have now landed something on the moon, orbited it, or used it as a means of sling-shotting to some other place in the Solar system. We know how to get there, and how to maneuver around it. There is something to be said for consistency. Geologically, it is nearly silent, and between industry and science, the nearly lab-like conditions and vast tableaus have a great deal of value.

It isn’t new.

I know, this doesn’t sound like a great selling point, but hear me out. With the Apollo missions, the Moon has been characterized enough in a few surface locations to build upon, if one takes a more cautious exploration strategy. For all of those detractors of the “flag-n-footprints” nature of the Apollo program, what better way to make lemonade than to actually derive a better and longer-lasting program of habitation based on what we’ve already learned?

It’s geopolitically valuable.

Humans will be humans, and sometimes they will fight. Maybe an economic war, or maybe a hot war, but nations are going to be at opposition of some level at all times in human history. Get used to it. As such, what value can be made of the Moon will initially belong to who lives there first. And I mean lives there, not explore or take a vacation there. Some nation, someday, will claim the place. Functionally, it provides a low-g jumping off point for other places. Militarily, it is the ultimate high ground in the Earth-Moon system. Woe is it to those who lose that race to a belligerent foe.

Of course, in the logic of zero-sum mathematics, there are a lot of people who think that in a finite field of funds, going to the Moon is stale and wasteful compared to Mars. If that is the logic in play, then Mars is also a bad place to go, because Asteroids have a very good chance of repaying the development costs and then eclipsing them in short order. Much shorter than Mars.

But really, the division between the two is a matter of apples-and-oranges, and does nothing but cause feuds between the proponents of the two destinations. As far as I am concerned, if the Triad is the road to the rest of the Solar system, colonizing the Moon is the maturing of the Terrestrial system. Certain circles are taking umbridge that NASA is doing quiet study on going back there, but personally, I think it’s great. I think it’s appropriate. However, Mars missions push us towards technology that we need to go anywhere else nearby, say the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, or even farther afield. Why throw such activity out in a fit of Lunachauvinism, either?

NASA is supposed to look to the future, and it is kind of unrealistic to think that planning for Moon missions would be ignored. Lunar activity doesn’t become any more or less impractical because political winds blow in another direction. Going to Mars is something else we need, too, so we can spread ourselves out and protect the species, and to foster freedom.

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