Category Archives: Wagons Ho!

Apollo 11 and Self-Awareness

I just figured out something about myself, courtesy of this post by Aesop at the Raconteur Report:

Happy Peak of Western Civilization Day

I’m not going to expound endlessly on this, as Aesop says it so well, but I realized that the reason I’ve hung on so tenaciously to my work in the space industry is tied in very closely with my personal views on society. Whether or not I am a member of this world, I am an American, and a Western construct. The height of Western accomplishment absolutely is the Moon landing.

I don’t mean “Murica is Number One” sort of jingoism (though I guess I don’t NOT mean it, either) but a deeper heritage of exploration that a lot of civilization have failed to embrace. Either they never had that urge, or they didn’t take it as far in the past, or they are only really moving on it now. There is one more possibility, of course, they followed the call, but abandoned it, indeed somehow shrunk from it for various reasons. That’s what concerns me, and drives me. The Western world has been in a holding pattern and seems to be losing ground the past few decades, navel gazing, or maybe trying to convince itself via globalization that following the herd is somehow safer and smarter. We’ve been moving on that abandonment track for too long.

This manifests itself in how the Western human space exploration and exploitation has stalled. We’re risk-phobic, afraid of what failure “looks like” as a media matter and loss of funding. We use our space programs as a geopolitical tool instead of a leadership program. Between those two problems, we end up moving too slow and too timidly, trying to achieve perfection and also not piss anybody off. When the rest of the world looks to the West for leadership, they end up pissed off at us anyway because we are so concerned with avoiding failure by also avoiding accomplishment.

I work to bring back the idea that risk is not a dirty word, and risk to cement humanity off-planet is required, as it’s always been required to breach a frontier. As a Western man, I want to reclaim that heritage in space, because we need new peaks in the history of our civilization, and we are still capable of making the climb.

Space Nation Update

Well, I downloaded their app for their perception of astronaut training, as a beta tester. I appreciate their intent with trying to combine entertainment, education, and social interaction, but as with most beta releases, there’s some technical issues that they’ll need to overcome.

Right now, I was able to access the initial activities, but since the first week I’ve been getting daily messages that there are new daily missions and when I click on the weekly adventure, and it tells me that I’ve completed the daily mission. Of course, I haven’t done so… And this morning it now locks up when I try this.

I’ll be a dutiful beta tester and let them know my woes.

Marching Towards Warp Drive

There is interesting news afoot in particle physics. It seems that some researchers from the University of Rochester have created quasi-particles known as polaritons at room temperature, and these little beauties exhibit behavior of objects of negative mass.

The original Alcubierre Warp Drive theory involved the use of negative energy to achieve a transit method outside of normal spacetime. Of course, Professor Alcubierre’s original estimate of magnitude was unreasonably huge, but the theory has stood up well. What’s been encouraging over the years is work by a number of other physicists to bring that magnitude down to imaginable levels. What’s been even more difficult to grapple has been the negative energy aspect, but with this new work, we now have what looks like negative mass. Given Einstein’s famous equation:

E = mc²

Where E is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light, a mass of a negative magnitude should convert to negative energy. That’s a major puzzle piece.

For more, see:

Physicists Say They’ve Created a Device That Generates ‘Negative Mass’

 

Kindred Spirits – Space Nation

Kindred Spirits – Space Nation

I ran across a new organization out there, Space Nation, who has the noble goal of creating the largest space discovery community on the planet. Their belief statement reads thus:

We believe that Astronaut skills are life skills. Using a range of space experiences to connect everyday life to space, and space to everyday life, we’re motivating and enabling discovery of space skills for 21st Century Space Travelers.

We believe that expansion to space is a key moment in human evolution that brings new perspectives, unity and tangible benefits to humanity, the Earth and worlds we have yet to discover.”

To those of us on the Outbound journey, this sounds incredibly familiar.

Frankly, it’s exciting to peruse their website, and see the sorts of things they’re delving into. In particular, they are working on what they call the Space Nation Astronaut Program (SNAP). This program kicks off in February of 2018, including a new smartphone app that guides the program participants as they work their way forward, culminating in a possible free flight into space for the top performer! This is a bit if genius where they offer free training towards an astronaut skillset and way of thinking, under the concept that astronaut qualities are excellent qualities for life in general. As per the Outbound motto, “We Live and Work In Space”, Space Nation’s philosophy aligns so very well with our own.

I’ve signed up for their “Space Station Orbit” newsletter and also for the SNAP, and I have to say, I am excited to see what begins to develop two months from now.

The Weird, Ugly Side of Space Politics

Keith Cowing at NASAWatch seems offended by this image:

Lockheed Martin Orion Spacecraft in Martian Orbit

#JourneyToMars Facebook hype from @LockheedMartin As if Orion with only a service module will be in Mars orbit

Here’s a bit of SpaceX concept art that is essentially the same as the CowingSnark is concerned about:

Dragon entering the Martian Atmosphere - Elon Musk Instagram Concept Art

It’s rather GOOD concept art, and I can see why Elon Musk published it on Instagram. Can we NOT poke at concept art? That seems incredibly picky, perhaps even petty.

NINE SIGMA IN-SITU STUDY DISPATCH 2 – Table 1 First Analysis

I took a look at the data presented in Table 1 of NineSigma’s proposal information, and compared the Moon and Martian materials to Earth values. There are a few first thoughts:

1. As it might be expected, just a straight comparison like this shows that the lunar material composition holds the greatest parity with Earth. While not a part of this study, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that there is a sizeable number of lunar geologists that theorize that the Moon is a chunk of material that was once part of Earth.

2. Silicon Dioxide is by far the primary compound at all three locations.

3. Despite similarities with terrestrial soils, lunar samplings show a distinct lack of Sulfate and Chlorine.

The points above generate some paths to follow:

1. What terrestrial structural materials can be most easily replicated, and which correlate better with the Moon vs. Mars?

2. Is there a particular structural material and/or process that significantly involves Silicon Dioxide or related compounds?

3. What limitations does the poverty of lunar Sulfate and Chlorine enforce?

So, I’ll now look at those questions.

Nine Sigma In-Situ Study Dispatch 1

I find Table 1 of the Nine Sigma In-Situ Competition to be very interesting. It’s a simple summary chart of various soil/rock material distributions for Earth, Moon, and Mars, as defined by percentage mass.

I think that’ll be my first line of attack. Let’s see what is common enough between the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial and pick some building materials.

I’ll post the chart itself later,as I’m on my phone at the moment.

Mars Underground and Grumpy

In my continued theme of interesting YouTube wanderings, I’ve run across this video:

The Mars Underground

It describes the history of the Mars Society and the Mars Direct mission. Again, I wouldn’t recommend this unless I really enjoyed watching it, which I did. However, I have come to the definite conclusion that Robert Zubrin is one bitter guy. I hope he can find a way to shed his attitude, and stow the chip on his shoulder somewhere far from his reach. I think he is really a (frustrated) genius, and would move with more freedom and be better regarded without his acerbic tone.

For Diehard Space Geeks

This is a really great bunch of film history of the original astronauts from Mercury through Apollo. The restoration of these candid shots is wonderful, and for those of us who like to see space nostalgia walking and talking, it’s quite a sight. And yes, the background audio is not linked to the video, it’s a media presentation of what I understand was the third group of astronaut selectees. Enjoy!

The Lost Archives: NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Missions

« Older Entries