The story of a rocket company
and its struggles to develop a low cost reusable launch vehicle
will begin here tomorrow. Be sure to drop by every week to read
the latest installment of The
Rocket Company by Patrick J. G. Stiennon and Dave M.
Hoerr and with illustrations by Doug
and Hoerr are engineers with real-life experience with
rocket startup companies. Their fictional group of billionaire space
financiers will try to build a vehicle that will cause
the cost of space transportation to spiral rapidly downward as the
market for launch services expands. In this context, the authors
will explore the marketing, regulatory, and technical problems facing
any serious attempt to reduce the cost of space transportation.
The Sun continues
to rage while Congress
tries to decide how important it is. As I argued before,
space weather monitoring should be accepted as one of those essential
government functions just as is gathering atmospheric weather data.
Human spaceflight science...
I've mentioned several times that while I don't believe science
can justify the costs of the current human spaceflight program,
that doesn't mean there has not been excellent science accomplished
by people in space. The blanket condemnations of microgravity
experiments and other science carried out on the shuttle,
Mir anad ISS by opponents of human spaceflight are nothing but overstated
personal biases dressed up as rational analysis.
Good science has been done and there is plenty left to do as illustrated
by this statement from scientists with obvious credibility: Letter
from Nobel Laureate Samuel O.C. Ting, Roald Sagdeev, and Jack Sandweiss
to President Bush Regarding the International Space Station - SpaceRef
Space music retrospective...
I got a message from Simon James about a program
called Space Music - Things Seen in The Skies that he and
a partner developed for the on line music site totallyradio
The program included music and readings from an article written
by Ken Hollings for the July issue of The
Wire magazine about space music from the Space
Age Pop period. "It takes in everything from Dick
Hymans 'Moon Gas' to Project Comstock and the work of Joe Meek."
The program is available in the totallyradio
| archive (unfortunately a paid membership in the totallyradio
listeners' club is required.)
Solar storms... Another big
flare is impacting on the earth today: Spectacular
Flare Erupts on Sunn - NOAA - Oct.28.03. The astronauts on the
will move to the best shielded module and will not get doses much
above normal: Astronauts
aboard station retreat to escape solar storms' radiation: Russian
segment of outpost shields crew - Space.com - Oct.28.03
Astronaut Autograph Club announced...
Scholarship Foundation has created the Astronaut Autograph Club,
which will offer authenticated astronaut signatures. The proceeds
will go to the foundation's scholarship fund. More info available
Autograph Club announced - collectSPACE - Oct.28.03
Micro GPS locator... SciScoop
reports on a very
small GPS receiver from Motorola: Positional
Privacy Kaput - SciScoop - Oct.28.03
Opening screen shot of Frank Capra's last film - Rendezvous
in Space -
a short movie made for the New
York World's Fair in 1964.
Capra's space good-bye....
Capra, who made many famous movies such as Mr. Smith Goes
to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life, actually made
his last film about space. He wrote, produced, and directed the
short film (18.5min) for the Martin-Marietta Corporation and it
was shown shown at the Hall
of Science Pavillion during the World's
Fair in New York City from 1964 through 1965.
Dave Hammar bought one of the only three remaining copies of the
35mm film, which was in Cinema Scope, and he sent me the above info,
the screen capture of the opening title shot, and other details
about the film:
"It's a rather odd little featurette anyway, with Danny
Thomas conducting 'man in the street' interviews regarding space
travel with actors posing as average pedestrians, interspersed
with animated simulations of spacecraft and the situations they
and the astronauts would encounter.
One of the more unusual parts of the film (also referenced in
one of the newsgroup listings) are the ~2 minutes documenting
a spacecraft docking with a space station, during which the screen
goes completely black -- apparently during showings, the audience's
attention was redirected to the docking of two scale models --
which I don't have :) "
The film also featured Sigorney Weaver's uncle (Doodles), Sid Melton
and Charles Lane. The animated sequence has the voices of Jim Backus
and Mel Blanc.
As I told Dave, the pop culture response to space at the time can
now seem rather odd or naive. I was born in 1955 so don't remember
the immediate aftermath of Sputnik but I do recall much of the early
1960s and the Mercury launches. From the description of the movie,
it reminds me of the typical kind of thing about space that we would
see on a TV show aimed at kids or in the movies we would watch at
It's funny, though, how effective some of these educational productions
can be. I occasionally get a request from someone asking if I know
how to locate a particular space animation or documentary that he
or she saw as a kid and had made a big impact. I usually have no
idea how to find such things. I hope, at least, that some collector
like Dave has them safely stored in an archive somewhere.
Near Space Review... Paul Verhage
of the Treasure
Valley Near Space Program has written a nice review of low cost
near space projects : The
poor man's space program by L. Paul Verhage - The Space Review -
Paul, in fact, is the guy who first suggested I create the Near
Space section here. I collected quite a bit of material
but though a lot of activity is going on in this area, I've just
not had the time to keep up as far as news articles are concerned.
(Not counting suborbital
RLV development.) I hope to improve on this in the coming
Space for developing countries...
Jeff Foust discusses what types of space technology and services
can best help developing countries develop:
Space technology and the developing world - The Space Review - Oct.27.03
Note: in my Sci-Tech area I have a page
on technology for developing countries that covers the
range from very simple practical devices all the way up to hi-tech
space systems like remote sensing.
Space business ups and downs...
Satellite radio is looking good: XM
Satellite Radio Tops One Million Subscribers - XM Radio - Oct.27.03.
I particularly like their graph showing that the time taken to reach
one million users has been the fastest of any consumer technology
except DVD players.
One of these days I will collect a bunch of links to tech reviews,
business articles, discussions at Slashdot, etc, that predicted
certain failure for satellite radio. Methodically examining the
strengths and weaknesses of a new technology and a business plan
based on it is fine but most people greet a new venture not with
rational analysis but with kneejerk derision. They do this because
it is fun and they expect to feel very keen and insightful when
it fails. But almost any new venture will fail for some reason
regardless of whether its a high tech space service or a local
restaurant. Life is tough and only a miniscule number of businesses
survive past five years. Bragging about having predicted a business
failure is like coming home from a day at the racetrack and boasting
about all the horses one successfully chose to lose.
On the other hand, some space businesses just can't seem to get
out of a deep rut. I recently included Globalstar
in a list of firms
that had survived bankruptcy. However, it looks like the takeover
by ICO has fallen
purchase of Globalstar could fall through - spacetoday.net - Oct.27.03.
I wonder if this might be due to problems with their constellation.
I read somewhere that more satellites have failed than they have
spares for and now there are periodic gaps in coverage in some areas.
Meanwhile, Iridium continues
to find new customers: Soyuz
Crew: 'Phone Home' - SpaceRef - Oct.28.03
News briefs ... The future
of government space exploration and development is undergoing a
review in the White House: Presidential
review on space policy heading to closure by Frank Sietzen - SpaceRef
- Oct.28.03 ...
Chris Hall knows a good name for a music group when he hears
the Controls for the Heart of the Sun - Spacecraft - Oct.27.03
2003 Space News
Sol reminder... Apparently
annoyed at getting dissed
by Congress, our star next door shot us a signal of its wrath this
week. A huge coronal mass ejection, or CME, was emitted by the Sun
on Wednesday and has now begun to affect electrical and communications
systems on earth.
Warnings from the the Space
Environment Center may have ameliorated the effects, especially
for satellites since operators can take preventive measures (such
as powering down non-essential instruments) to minimize the effects.
Perhaps this willl lead to a greater respect for the usefulness
of space weather
monitoring, especially when we have people in orbit.
Thankfully, this storm is not nearly as bad as this
one. NOAA has a rating
system for space weather events. The space
links section has more space
See the Space
Weather viewer in the Living
Space section for links to real time images and data
Entreprerneur launch... The
Association of Space Entrepreneurs debut event:
IASE Public Launch event will be held next Thursday, October
30th, 6pm-9pm, at Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology
(2214 Rock Hill Road, Herndon, VA).Please join us for networking,
refreshments, and a brief program!
The program will consist of a presentation on IASE and its goals.
We will also have two guest speakers share their own experiences
as "space entrepreneurs":
Special thanks to the support of our event sponsors: SpaceVest
& Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology. The cost for
this event is FREE, but we ask that you register at www.spaceentrepreneurs.org/events.html.
survivors ... Looks like the remote sensing company Orbimage
will emerge soon from Chapter 11 - Orbital
[Orbimage] comes full circle - Washington Business Journal - Oct.24.03.
It joins several other space services companies that survived the
post-bubble recession in one form or the other. These include Orbcomm
(another Orbital Sciences
spinoff taken private), Starband,
Iridium (taken private), ICO,
(taken over by ICO).
Help predict earthquakes from space...
June on a Russian rocket, is a spinoff from a Stanford University
and is built according to the CubeSat
design. The satellite will investigate wheither "extremely
low frequency (ELF) magnetic field fluctuations may be a key indicator
that an earthquake is imminent." Such
signals were "detected 14 days prior to the 1989 Loma Prieta
earthquake by Dr. Tony Fraser-Smith of Stanford University, and
by other researchers for earthquakes in Russia, Japan, and China."
will carry out the initial research with the QuakeSat. If the approach
works, they will try to commercialize quake prediction services.
It is backed by the company Stellar
The project will combine both space and ground
based sensor information. They currently have about 30 sensors
of sensor locations) distributed along fault lines in California
as part of an educational program with high school students. The
site describes this outreach project and displays data from the
They are also looking for private individuals who will accept sensors
(at no cost) on their property: QuakeFinder's
Looking for a Few Good Sensor Locations - CSA - Oct.24.03.
2003 Space News
Space treasures... The recent
news that olivine, a transparent green-colored mineral, was spotted
on Mars - Gemstone
outcrops found on Mars - Ananova - Oct.23.03 & Green
mineral indicates red planet is dry - EurekaAlert - Oct.23.03
- reminds me of one of my favorite HobbySpace
hobbyhorses: creating jewelry, glassworks, and other decorative
objects in space.
As I discuss in the Space
Arts & Crafts and Space
Rocks sections, such products could form the basis of
the first genuine space industry that sells hard goods to earth.
I'm particularly optimistic that talented artisans in glass and
other materials could take advantage of microgravity
to produce exotic and beautiful effects in items of unique appeal
More the better if the materials for such products come from off-Earth
sources. With regard to jewelry, it could pay off for explorers
on the Moon and Mars to search for materials of esthetic appeal.
Even if a stone like olivine is common on Earth, if the Mars version
has an attractive coloration that readily identifies it as coming
from Mars, it quickly would become a very valuable material on Earth.
Of course, I don't claim such a business would pay for an entire
space enterprise, certainly not for Mars, but it would offer one
source of funds and one of the first real space based sources of
(I should note that Peter Kokh at Lunar
Reclamation Society has been pushing similar ideas for decades
with respect to Moon bases.)
Student access to big telescopes...
Every so often I like to mention the growing number of opportunities
available for students and amateur astronomers to use large optical
via the web. So-called robotic
telescopes allow non-professionals the chance to select
celestial targets and collect images with the instruments via the
Some of the scopes are solely for public use and others are primarily
for professionals but are shared with students. For example, this
article - Kubasaki
students put eye on the sky from across the globe - Stars &
Stripes - Oct.23.03 - describes how some students got access
to the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope in Apple Valley, California
via the NASA-GAVRT
Smashing space pen myth...
In a Slashdot
posting today came the news from Pedro
Duque's diary from space - ESA Portal - Oct.23.03 that plain
ol'ballpoint pens will work fine in space. Surface tension is strong
enough to pull the ink out of the reservoir since there is no gravity
to fight back.
The item also notes that the common story that NASA spent millions
in the 1960's to develop the pressure driven Space
Pen is in fact not true: Spacepen
Millions NOTspent by NASA to develop pen - Urban Legends Reference
Pages: Business (The Write Stuff). Paul Fisher developed it
on his own and then sold pens to NASA.
Tech News: Sonic muffling ...
A few years ago at a Space
Access Society meeting, Rand Simberg gave an interesting O.T.
presentation about development of techniques to reduce or eliminate
sonic booms from supersonic aircraft. He has now posted an overview
Concorde's Sonic Boomlet - TCS: Tech Central Station - Oct.24.03.
There have also been the recent
demonstration flights by Northrop that showed significant reduction
in sonic booms for a F-5E with a modified front end. Seems that
this area of research is speeding up (so to speak!) I'm maintaining
in the SciTech section.
2003 Space News
Know space art when you see it... This
article - Images
of Space Get Second Look - Wired - Oct.22.03 - reports on a
panel discussion at the American Museum of Natural History on the
topic of whether space images from robotic spacecraft can be considered
art. See the images at Planetary
Image Atlas and other
galleries and decide for yourself.
The Echo AMSAT... At the recent
AMSAT-NA annual meeting it was announced that the AMSAT OSCAR-E
spacecraft, referred to as the "Echo
Project", will get a ride to space on March 31, 2004 via a Russian
Dnepr LV rocket: OSCAR
Echo to Launch in March - ARRLWeb - Oct.22.03.
After several years focusing on the large AO-40
project (in collaboration with AMSAT-DL
and many other AMSAT and university groups), the Echo will be
a return for AMSAT-NA
to the more traditional small satellite approach. This spacecraft
will follow the Microsat design first developed in 1990 but now
with many improvements (see this pdf
The basic system will be built by the small company SpaceQuest,
which is led by two AMSAT members. Other specialized components
will be contributed by various AMSAT groups.
Support AMSAT... Help to keep
and student satellite development in business by taking
in AMSAT-NA or one of the other
AMSAT organizations around the world. It will be one of the
most cost-effective contributions you can possibly make to space
ISS ham developments... The
also mentions that the ISS
ham system is getting an upgrade. The Phase 2 ISS ham
system will have higher power (25W instead of 5W) and additional
transmission modes and antennas. Note that the current residents
on the station are all hams: Five
Hams Now Aboard International Space Station -ARRLWeb - Oct.21.03
2003 Space News
News briefs ... Jeff Foust
looks at the possibilities for the Shenzhou to visit the ISS: China,
Shenzhou, and the ISS - The Space Review - Oct.20.03. As a reader
pointed out, the Chinese manned space program is very militarized:
Historic Chinese Shenzhou Manned Flight Also Has Military Objectives
- Aviation Week - Oct.20.03 ...
... Select your favorite snapshot
of our favorite star: SOHO's
Greatest Hits: Vote for Your Favorite Sun Image - Space.com - Oct.21.03
... I want my electric sports
car - The
World's Fastest Electric Car - Forbes.com - Oct.21.03 - to be
made with titanium - Alchemy
of a Supermetal -- Serendipity delivers a process that may cut the
cost of a high-tech material - Scientific American - Oct.03.
2003 Space News
The Heinlein Effect... I've
recently heard some space enthusiasts comment on how Robert
Heinlein's books inspired their interest in space. They
certainly had a big impact on me. Now John Carmack says Heinlein
helped to launch Armadillo
new carrot: the Heinlein Prize - Frontier Files Online - Comments
by John Carmack - Oct.7.03
News briefs... Sven Grahn maps
flight of Shenzhou-5 and indicates events of interest during
...Sven is also a long time
space radio hobbyist and he just posted a recording he made of an
transmission from Michael Foale while in the Soyuz capsule that
took off from Baikonur on Saturday morning for the ISS.
2003 Space News
Space hams map effects of ion engine...
The Russian rocketry research agency Central
Research Institute for Machine Building (TsNIIMASH) is organizing
plasma experiment "Shadow" onboard International Space Station
(ISS) and they invite the participation of radio amateurs and students.
As explained here
and illustrated in this graphic,
the goal is to study the effects of ions emitted from a electric
thruster aboard the ISS. By organizing a large group of radio receivers
on the ground, the project can map out the shadowing caused by the
interference of the ions with the radio beacon from the station.
Electric ion thrusters are a very promising technology that offers
very efficient propulsion. This study will "help designers
of future electrically propelled spacecrafts to minimize the hazard
of communication disruption by ET plasma plumes."
More info at the Kevin
Forbes' ET Shadow Project page.
Novel sci-fi music... Check
out sine fiction,
a project in which participates create a musical composition or
soundtrack around the theme of a famous science fiction novel. (via
Space art map... The Copernica
Art Database offers an unusual graphical navigation to NASA
space art. See the NASA
- Multimedia for several interactive galleries of space art
News briefs... More hams in
Two-Ham ISS Crew Set to Head into Space October 18 - ARRLWeb - Oct.17.03
... Space.com explains that
though Yang Liwei didn't happen to see the Great Wall, it is in
fact visible by the unaided eye from low earth orbit: China's
Astronaut Didn't Find Great Wall of China, Myth Grows - Space.com
- Oct.17.03 ...
... Michael Mealling of Rocketforge
interviews the founder of the International
Association of Space Entrepreneurs (IASE) at Interview
with Guillermo Sohnlein, founder of IASE - RocketForge - Oct.17.03
... More about Buzz's Moon watch mentioned earlier:
Watch Resurfaces In Court: Astronaut, Smithsonian, Collector Claim
Rights To Lost Timepiece - Washingtonpost.com - Oct.17.03...
... A good summary of the ISS
situation and possible fixes: Saving
the station: The International Space Station is a case where a half
a loaf isn't better than none - IEEE Spectrum - Oct.17.03...
... More Shenzhou flights in
the next few years: Manned
Chinese Space Flight Seen As First In Series - Aviation Now - Oct.16.03...
... The Society
of Amateur Scientists has begun as program called LabRats
in which young people work with mentors on science projects.
2003 Space News
Shenzhou inspires new hobbyspacers ...
From the articles and TV programs about the Shenzhou flight that
I have seen, the flight of the Shenzhou seems to be having a big
affect on the Chinese and their interest in space. Though it may
not be as frenzied as in the US during the Mercury days, the enthusiasm
there for space exploration looks quite authentic and widespread.
If nothing else, as with US space fans like me from the 60s generation,
a lot of young Chinese will grow up thinking of spaceflight as the
coolest, most exciting adventure possible.
The flight should result in an expansion of interest in space related
hobbies around the world. For example, some lucky skywatchers got
to see the first Chinese manned spacecraft pass overhead: Morning
Star, Right on Time, From the Far Side of the World - NY Times -
Oct.15.03. Space stamp collectors will certainly want these
commemorative issues: China
issues 10 million stamp sets to commemorate first manned space flight
- Spacedaily - Oct.16.03.
We should hear soon if any space radio hams picked up communications
from the mission. Models, and maybe software simulators, of the
Shenzhou 5 and Long March CZ-2 F should be available before long.
2003 Space News
China in space with big plans...
Looks like China wants to advanced quickly into space development:
outlines space exploration goals as Shenzhou nears liftoff: Nation
predicts space tourism, Mars landing - Florida Today - Oct.14.03
site has info on the flight paths of the Shenzhou. See also Heavens
Above, and other sites listed in the Watching
News briefs ... Scientific
American has an interesting article about a method to move an asteroid
away from an impact with earth. The article is not online but you
can get a summary here: Mission
Possible: Asteroid Tugboat Backed for Trial Run - Space.com - Oct.14.03
... Always a surprise to see
a pro-human spaceflight article or editorial in the NY Times: Fly
Me to the Moon - NY Times - Oct.14.03
2003 Space News
Space out of time piece ...
Check out this odd story about Buzz Aldrin's watch that he wore
during Apollo 11: First
watch on moon, or a giant leap?: Timepiece found on beach spurs
legal fight - SignOnSanDiego.com - Oct.12.03
Space art in glass & fabric...
Via Chris Hall's Spacecraft blog I found a couple of space
art related items.Washington National Cathedral had a “Space
Window” , formally called the "Scientists and Technicians
Window", to commemorate "America’s exploration of space
and man’s first steps on the moon". It includes a "7.18-gram
basalt lunar rock from the Sea of Tranquility" embedded in
the beautiful stained glass display.
And this article - Quilt
Tracks Space Shuttle History Through Mission Patches - theledger.com
(Lakeland Fla.) - Oct.12.03 - reports on a quilt made from over
2003 Space News
Watching Chinese spaceships...
When the taikonaut flight takesoff, check the tracking sites, such
as Heavens Above,
listed in the Watching
Satellites section to find if the ship will be visible
from your location. Space
amateurs preparing to track China's first manned space flight -
Spacedaily - Oct.11.03
a long time space
radio enthusiast and top manager at the Swedish
Space Corporation, has posted some interesting stories and pictures
about his trips to the Chinese spaceport to see the launch of some
Mars down under... The Mars
Society of Australia is making progress on its MarsOZ
analogue research station: Mini-Mars
in the Outback - The Sunday Mail - Oct.12.03. It will join the
two operating stations: Mars
Desert Research Station in Utah and the Flashline
station on Devon Island plus the Euro-MARS
base under construction in Iceland.
Space moguls to be... I came
across this organization - International
Association of Space Entreprenuers - via RocketForge.
The IASE just launched
and looks like it could be a useful networking site for those interested
in new space business.
Space is falling... Never know
when a meterorite might drop in:
2003 Space News
SETI@home software transition...
project will soon convert to the Berkeley
Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) software framework.
BOINC is a general purpose distributed computing system that offers
higher security, easier updates, and other
advantages over the current programs. See the BOINC_Transition
Plan - seti@home for an overview of the change and Q&A for
Points to go... Participants
in the Degree
Confluence Project love to travel and see new places located
at abstract and arbitrary mathematical points. Using their GPS navigators,
they seek out those particular points on the earth where whole degree
lines of lattitude and longitude intersect. They compete to see
who can visit the most such points. A
unique picture of the world, in 16,146 frames - BBC - Oct.6.03.
See the GPS
section for more global positioning recreation.
2003 Space News
Mars station volunteers ...
The Mars Society
wants volunteers to crew the Mars
Desert Research Station in Utah this winter and for the station
on Devon Island next summer: Volunteers
Needed for Mars Desert and Flashline Station Mars Society Crews
- Martian Soil - Oct.6.03
China space... For the latest
on the Chinese manned space mission expected to launch next week,
check the various sites linked on the space
news page. Jeff Foust's spacetoday.net
will be an especially good place to find links to articles. Other
related links of interest:
2003 Space News
Reward vs. investment... The
Prize Trust (mentioned hear on Oct.1
will award $500k to someone who makes a particularly significant
contribution to space commercialization. Jeff Foust comments in
his article An
alternative to the Heinlein Prize - The Space Review - Oct.6.03
about whether this really will help to advance the goals of space
commercialization since the reward comes after the accomplishment.
Perhaps it would be better to use the money to help those trying
to build a space business with a grant in the early stages when
they really need it and might be the spark that makes it happen.
Educational jackpot... Via
Jones web log I came across some excellent tutorials developed
Goebel in several areas of space and science including
2003 Space News
Save Rocketry Right Now!...
This November the Discovery
Channel will broadcast a three hour program about hobby rocketry.
It focuses particularly on the high power rocketry event LDRS,
which the Tripoli
Rocketry Association holds each year.
Frank Uroda of Public
Missiles has begun a campaign to raise money for a 15 second
commercial to run during the showing of this program. The spots
will promote rocketry and urge people to take up the hobby:
"This is the one chance rocketry has to re-energize its
ranks. It’s our best chance to gain the empathy of the public
towards rocketry. Therefore we have taken it upon ourselves to
organize a drive to put together a fifteen second advertisement
to run concurrently with each showing. The ad will give enthused
and hyped viewers a web site to help them discover rocketry. The
site will be better designed to market rocketry, to enthuse and
motivate new people to enjoy the thrill of rocketry. It will act
as a mother site or hub to find links to vendors and discover
the diverse world of rocketry.
"Rocketry has benefited our society for over 40 years and
has been responsible for influencing untold numbers to go into
highly technical fields, to become scientists and engineers. Schools
and universities use rockets to teach and inspire. Few things
are more ideal in inspiring the teaching of physics, math and
"It may soon end. Our vendors, organizations and infrastructure
are in bad shape. Membership is falling. Even schools and universities
are going to thwarted by the difficulties imposed by unnecessary
zealous regulations. Vendors are going belly up and people are
losing heart (and courage) while misguided bureaucrats thump their
chests thinking they’ve done society a favor...." continue
The proposal seems to have struck a chord among those in the rocketry
community. If you would like to help, then
a Donation Now!
More info at
2003 Space News
Capitol staff stupidity...
While I expect high visibility issues in Congress to move out of
rational debate and into partisan numbing dumbness, I like to believe
that when they deal with low visibility, basic infrastructure items,
the right thing usually gets done. The members of Congress have
lots of staff to do the research and to know the nitty-gritty details
of what is involved in technical programs that are little known
to the general public.
Yet my faith in their competence is shaken when I read an article
Environment Center Funding in Jeopardy - ARRLWeb - Oct.3.03
Satellites (both civilian and military), the electric power grid,
and other systems can be seriously affected by solar flares and
other space weather
conditions. Preventive measures can be taken to protect these systems
if warnings arrive in time. Yet some doofus on somebody's staff
no doubt sent out a memo claiming that the Space
Environment Center would be an easy kill. Perhaps it is intended
to go into one of those (government paid) junkmail newsletters that
Congresspersons send out to constituents to report on the great
things they've done recently. I can just see the headline in one
bragging on how the representative led the fight to kill another
of those crazy money-wasting government programs, this time dealing
with weather in space nonsense. Might get a vote or two, if that
much, but it leaves the country shortchanged.
Good science ... While I would
never justify $500M shuttle flights on the basis of the science
carried out on them (except perhaps for Hubble repair and maintenance
missions), that does not mean that good, solid, peer-reviewed science
does not come from human spaceflight. As Keith Cowing at NASA
Watch points out with regard to a baseless accusation in an
editorial by someone who should know better, in the following databases
you can find lists of peer-reviewed publications dealing with research
in space, such as that done by the ISS crews, or in support of human
See also the sections here on Microgravity
Research and on Humans
2003 Space News
Then just don't go! I used
to get bent out of shape when I read something like Bruce Sterling's
of human spaceflight (via Chris
Hall's Spacecraft Weblog.) Now I'm surprised how little it bothers
me. As I argue here
human spaceflight will happen without the need to convince every
single person in the world that it's a great idea. As the cost of
space transportation comes down, those who choose to go will go,
and those who aren't interested won't.
As far as the deleterious health effects that Sterling cites, even
with today's meagre efforts to combat them, as Chris points out,
they are hardly showstoppers to long duration flights and have no
impact at all on short space tourist flights. Eventually spacecraft
will use rotation to produce artificial gravity, which should eliminate
the microgravity effects entirely. (Also, there will be other ways
than gravity to trick the body into doing the right thing like this
system.) Adding extra shielding will reduce radiation to earth
background levels. And so forth.
Meteorite riches ... Find a
rock from Mars and you can make some good money: Millions
of pennies from heaven: Meteorite may bring out-of-world payday
- Times Picayune - Oct.2.03
Launch an itty-bitty payload...
The next high altitude Pongsat
Mission by JP
Aerospace will occur on October 25th. Students and amateurs
Enquiring minds want to know...
If you do any sort of amateur science
activities, you should participate in this Amateur
Science Survey at the University of Tennessee. They want to
"determine where and how amateur scientists are finding data
relevant to their scientific interest. This data can then be used
by librarians and others to improve services to amateur scientists."
2003 Space News
Planetary Society Mars activities...
The Planetary Society
is organizing various public events and projects around the theme
of the Mars
missions that will reach the planet early next year:
2003 Space News
Sci-fi tech database... This
site - Technovelgy
: where science meets fiction: science fiction novels, movies and
writers - offers a systematic listing of technology concepts
found in sci-fi publications. (See other sci-fi
tech links in Solar
Have Space Suit? Win Money...
Hoping to encourage space development as Robert
Heinlein envisioned in his many books, the Heinlein
Prize Trust (mentioned here earlier)
will award $500,000
"as frequently as annually to one or more individuals who
have achieved practical accomplishments in the field of commercial
space activities. The Trustees emphasize that the award is for
effort by an individual - not corporate or government sponsored
activities - and that the Heinlein Prize is intended to be world-wide
Prize: Focuses on Space Commercialization - Heinlein Prize - Sept
Also, check out the Heinlein
Hall sent me a link to the HeinleinBlog,
which is run by Bill
GPS tidbits... GPS isn't perfect
according to this article : GPS
Users Still Lost in the Woods - Wired News - Sept.30.03 but
good enough for Coca-Cola to track you down: GPS
will pinpoint Coke prize winners - IndyStar - Sept.28.03.
The Joy of Launch... A rocket
launch remains an impressive event as reported by this report: My
first launch by Michele Thaller - Christian Science Monitor - Sept.30.03.
Get info on watching KSC
launches in the Spaceports
section. And listen to this rocket
launch hymn to get into the spirit of the thing.
Learning from MIT... MIT announced
some time ago that they would start to put most of their teaching
materials on line for free access. You can now find the materials
at MIT OpenCourseWare
for hundreds of MIT courses including some space related ones: Hands-On
Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets * Physics.
Tech: Massive neural net simulation...
This project aims to simulate the cerebral cortex at the neuron
level: CCortex - Artificial
Development. Most neural
networks simulations, which are used commonly in pattern recognition
applications, employ non-biological neuron models with continuous
activation outputs. This one, however, will simulate the spiking
outputs as in real neurons: Artificial
Development to Build World's Biggest Spiking Neural Network: CCortex
will Rank Among the worlds fastest Computers - AD News - Sept.12.03
(Links to on
line NNW sims.)
to September 2003 articles in archive