More about Tate in Space
In my entry
below about the Tate in Space project, I should have
said more about the overall project than just the ETALAB entry.
Susan Collins, director of the Tate
in Space program, has informed me that the ETALAB
- Extra-Terrestrial Architecture Laboratory is just "one
of three architectural practices invited to propose models for
a new Tate in Space as part of the Tate in Space project."
"There is also now launched a competition open to everyone
to also submit propositions/models for the new Tate in space...[D]etails
can be found at http://www.tate.org.uk/space/spacearch.htm#4"
See the Tate
in Space website for full details about this serious attempt
to involve art and artists in the expansion of humanity into space.
Mars Art Show
The British artist Damien Hirst has provided a combination color
calibration and artwork for the Beagle
2 Mars lander:
Space Fable - How
The West Wasn't Won (NAFA) at Space Future
Transorbital Buys Launch Ticket
who I'm proud to say has been a long time advertiser at HobbySpace,
signed this week a $20 million launch contract with a Russian
firm to launch its spacecraft to the Moon in the fall of 2003.
This follows the company's
announcement in September that it had obtained the various
governmental licenses needed to export its spacecraft to Russian
for launch and to put a camera in space.
The spacecraft will carry a digital messages, tokens and other
items from the public. (See their catalog
for different options.) The spacecraft will also transmit high
definition TV of the lunar surface for several months and then
crash into the surface at the end of the mission.
Space Activist Progress
- Note that Transorbital is a spinoff from the Artemis
Project, from which the Moon
Society also emerged, that began several years ago as an on
line group devoted to developing ideas for the commercialization
of lunar development.
Like other space activist projects, Artemis has
not been taken seriously by many people and often ridiculed as
a talking society. However, as shown earlier by activists' success
in helping to get the Lunar
Prospector mission (see intro text) off the ground
and now by the progress of Transorbital, we see that determined
groups of space enthusiasts can, in fact, make things happen
Activism - Project
- Lunar Ventures
Space Tourism - Space Tokens
Space Politics or Participation?
The National Space
Society announced the selection of Brian Chase as the new
executive director - New
NSS Executive Director - SpaceRef - Nov.26.02.
Though his background is in Washington politics, I hope that
he makes participatory activities by members, as demonstrated
so successfully by the Mars
Society, a top priority for the organization and not just
to concentrate on influencing legislation and NASA policies. Space
More Space Radio - In addition
of space news and interviews like the new Planetary
Radio mentioned below, you can also find many webcasts of
space music. For example, I just got a notice about KNEW
Space Rock Cafe at MP3.com.
section lists a number of other space
Planetary Radio Stars
Now you can hear the latest news from our solar system on Planetary
Radio, a weekly radio and webcast sponsored by the Planetary
Society. Heard live every Monday at 5:30pm PST (2:30pm EST)
over the air in southern California at 88.9mhz FM and over the
Internet at KUCI. There is
also an archive
of previous shows.
Space Phones to the Rescue
Despite their heavy use in the 9/11 aftermath, satellite phones
are still not a standard component of emergency systems in the
US. However, Europe has begun to incorporated them into their
Primed for Quick Rescues [using Globalstar phones for emergency
communications] - Wired - Nov.25.02
Go to the Moon in Las Vegas - Check
out the elaborate website,
video and graphics for a proposed $5 billion resort and casino
with a space and Moon theme.
Sony Commercializes Space
If you have not seen it on TV, you can watch Sony's clever and
well-made commercial involving space
tourism on line at Sony
- be INSPIRED - What's Next.
Space Music Way Up There
Alan Boyle at MSNBC writes about Tena
Clark and her new song commissioned by NASA for the
of Flight : A
New Anthem for Flight [about Tena Clark's Way Up There song] -
Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log - Nov.21.02.
It will be recorded by Patti LaBelle but Clark gives
a very nice rendition of it herself : Tena
Clark singing her song Way Up There - (Windows Media Format)
More about NASA
commissioned music in Space
Note: I applaud NASA' s commissioning of space art
and music despite complaints by some who claim this is just PR
for the agency. However, I think space inspired arts developed
at the "grass roots" level deserves just as much attention.
For example, I was happy to be contacted a few months
ago by a woman working on the Centennial
of Flight website who asked me about a song from space enthusiast
Walker and her group ZIA. I recommended she also include
classic Witnesses’ Waltz by Leslie Fish. I heard later
that she had asked for the rights to post a copy of the version
sung by Kristoph Klover. The Sounds
of Aviation page has not yet opened so I don't know if these
space songs will be included in the final official list but I
sure hope they will be.
Space Art in Space
Tate in Space
- the famous Tate
Gallery in London has sponsored a project by two architects
to design a space based art gallery. Space
Art Gallery Pushes Boundaries of Imagination - Yahoo - Nov.20.02.
Using inflatable structures, the ETALAB
- Extra-Terrestrial Architecture Laboratory the form would
continuously vary and the windows would "expand and contract
like the lens of an eye to present the visual wonder of the universe."
The web site provides an interactive Flash program
to illustrate the exotically designed space-art-craft.
Mars is an educational program sponsored by JPL
in which K-12 students develop a simulated settlement on Mars.
While technical and scientific issues are certainly studied, the
students can also explore aspects of the arts in a Mars community
such as painting, music, and architecture.
See more about efforts to put art into space in
the section Art
More Mars Music...
I discussed earlier
the music making of some members of the Mars
Society during their stay at the Desert
Research Station last season. Astronomy.com now has an article
about them and their group - The Extremophiles : Music
on Mars: It wasn't all science at a simulated Mars base in Utah
last spring. - Astronomy.com - Nov.20.02. -
article and the one mentioned earler at Digizine
provide a couple of nice songs in MP3 format, including Mr.
Robinson - a tribute to author Kim Stanley Robinson and his
Stringing Us Along to Orbit...
More about efforts to move space elevators from sci-fi to reality
Elevator Upstarts Settle Down To Business - Space.com - Nov.20.02
Students Make Mission Patches...
A team of students at York University in Toronto created mission
patches that Canadian Space Agency astronaut Steve MacLean and
the other astronauts will wear on their uniforms during shuttle
flight STS-115/12A next May : York
U. students deliver patch designs for Space Shuttle mission -
York Univ. - Nov.11.02 - patch
Art section has more about the art
of mission patches.
mentioned here many times, continues to grow in popularity. The
GPS guided treasure hunts provide a puzzle to solve and an excuse
to get outdoors and have some fun. Now ham radio enthusiasts combine
both hobbies: Geocaching:
A GPS Receiver is a Radio Too! - ARRLWeb - Nov.12.02
A Regular Rocket Guy
Brian Walker has received enormous publicity for his plans to
ride a homebuilt hydrogen peroxide rocket to an altitude of 30
miles. He said that he plans first to test a scaled down version
of the rocket in 2003. After three successful unmanned flights,
he will take the rocket for a ride himself.
Assuming that this phase succeeds, he will then
proceed to a larger vehicle capable of reaching his target altitude.
Walker is a successful toy
inventor who is paying for the project out of his own pocket.
(On November 28th Walker will be on late night TV
Walker, Rocket Guy: Guest appearance on Conan O'Brien show - RocketGuy.com
Discussions about Walker on the various rocketry
and space forums usually deride him and his project in an unforgiving,
if not vicious, way. He has no prior experience in rocketry and
is doing most of the construction himself.
Walker came to the Space
Access Society meeting last April and, although I did
not meet him, my friends who did said he was actually quite reasonable
and very willing to listen to suggestions for his project.
My feeling is that he falls into the great American
tradition of daredevil stuntmaking as in, for example, Evel Knievel's
attempt to cross the Snake River Canyon on a rocket powered
"Sky-cycle". Although not nearly as flamboyant and flashy
as Knievel, Walker seems to sincerely want to make the flight
just to prove he can.
You can follow his progress via the Updates
page on his web site.
While most segments of commercial space are still
suffering through the aftereffects of the Iridium
phone constellation bankruptcies and the general telecommunications
recession, one area is actually looking up - satellite based vehicle
and cargo tracking systems.
Just in the past couple of weeks the Washington
Post has reported on two startup companies in the DC area that
provide low cost tracking devices based on GPS location finding
The company SkyBitz
received $18 million in funding during a tough period for obtaining
venture capital - Investors
Put $18 Million Into SkyBitz - Wash Post - Nov.13.02. The
company offers a low cost, low power consumption Global
Locating System that can be used in shipping containers and
other such cargo systems that require low maintenance devices.
The company 10-20.com
offers a vehicle tracking system for both commercial and consumer
Wants to Track Its Customers' Every Move - Wash Post - Nov.18.02
Several other companies are pursuing similar markets
Tracking & Messaging). Orbcomm
managed to launch its own set of satellites but went into bankruptcy
before being taken private. Though typically lumped in with Iridium
and Globalstar, Orbcomm actually had high demand for its units
but technical problems slowed down installations and unrelated
financial problems of its backers led it into severe cash crisis.
Now as a private company it seems to have regained its momentum.
in fact, is now in a collaboration with AeroAstro
to provide a worldwide tracking system. AeroAstro
Successfully Tests the SENS Global Asset Tracking System Over
the Globalstar Satellite Constellation - Globalstar PR - July.29.02
Note that neither SkyBitz nor 10-20 indicate on
their web sites what LEO constellation they are using. They must
be using either Globalstar, Iridium or Skybitz but apparently
agreed not to publicize the arrangement.
The Leonid Radio Stars
This years Leonid meteor shower will peak on Tuesday,
November 19th. Leonid
Meteor Shower Has Begun! - Space.com - Nov.15.02. Even if
skys are cloudy you can detect them with your FM radio and even
on the TV. See details at Listen
to the Leonids - Space.com - Nov.14.02.
Otherwise, you can watch Leonid videos directly
on NASA TV : The
Leonids TV Show: NASA TV kicks off live coverage of the 2002 Leonid
meteor storm on Monday, Nov. 18th. - Science@NASA - Nov.16.02
Field Construction Zones
Using a grant from NASA
Institute of Advanced Concepts (NAIC), Narayanan Komerath
at the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed the concept
of using radio waves to assemble space dust into large structures.
The approach was inspired by techniques using sound
waves to manipulate small particles in a weightless environment.
Using a pulverized asteroid, for example, the technique could
build the framework of a large space habitiat. However, details
such as the power levels needed have not yet been worked out.
The Economist Supports Space for Everybody
Over the years the influential magazine The
Economist has editorialized against human spaceflight and
related projects like the ISS as a waste of money. (It's my favorite
In the current issue, for example, the article 2020
Vision: NASA does some fancy financial footwork to deal with a
budget crisis - Economist.com - Nov.14.02 comes down hard
on NASA's new long term plan for vehicle development (see the
News section for several recent entries about the plans).
Surprisingly, however, an editorial in the same
issue (unfortunately in the paid subscription area) actually comes
out in favor of human spaceflight, just not in the way NASA has
been doing it or justifying it:
"...The only good reason for NASA to be involved in
human space-flight is to lay the ground for opening space
up for everybody. It takes a vast leap of imagination to detect
this reason in NASA's present strategy. Fleeting visits to
the moon (or, one day, to Mars) would turn the agency into
little more than an elite travel agent. But for decades there
has been a huge pent-up demand for flights into space. Although
the private sector is finally making some progress towards
this, NASA should have been there years ago. What is still
needed is research and development on economical and safe
space transport for the public at large. Space, like the Wild
West, can be truly opened up only by the private sector. NASA's
central goal in human space flight should be to make that
possible..." - Too
farsighted: The dangers of too much vision - Economist - Nov.14.02
(paid subscription required)
I find it refreshing that a mainstream periodical now sees
spaceflight as a legitimate goal in itself and not just for
scientific missions. Many space advocates have long held the
view that NASA's approach actually detracted from the primary
goal of "opening space up for everybody" but nevertheless
supported NASA for fear that it would lose funding for the necessary
work it does in developing space technology.
Perhaps as these nuances of space advocacy become widely known
and understood, we will find more people starting to view human
spaceflight as more than just a NASA program.
I think the Economist's stand also reflects the aftermath of
the flights of Tito and Shuttleworth, which brought legitimacy
to the notion of space
tourism. Various surveys since then show great enthusiasm
among a significant plurality of the public in personal spaceflight
and indicate the basis of a real industry.
Perhaps eventually, even NASA will start to see vehicle development
in a bigger context than simply as a means to carry out the
occasional crew transfer for the ISS.
Russian Space TV Game Show On Course
Apparently the Russian TV gameshow project that
plans to send a contest winner to the International Space Station
has officially gotten off the ground.Channel One has paid its
first $2M installment for the seat on a Soyuz flight next October.
First announced a month ago, see Russia
TV Network Announces Space Tourism Contest - Space.com - Oct.9.02,
the game show will follow a "Survivor" style format
in which contestants will be gradually eliminated during cosmonaut
training. Sources report, in fact, that the producer of the Survivor
series, Mark Burnett, is involved with the Russian program.
More about the various space tourist game show projects
Note that since Soyuz
flights occur every April and October, a seat remains open for
the April 2003 flight. While Lance Bass still thinks he has a
shot at raising the money to go, several other candidates
have a better chance. The late collapse of the recent deal resulted
in insufficient time to prepare another paying passenger for the
flight, thus depriving the Russian space agency of desperately
needed funds. They probably will require full payment far in advance
before they will consider Lance again.
Space News Briefs...
- A couple of interesting webcasts will occur this week. On Thursday
scientists working with the Mars
Odyssey spacecraft, which began orbiting Mars last October,
will report on their latest findings and take questions from students
and educators over the web. See the webcast
of the presentation on November 14, 2002 at 9:00 a.m. - 10:00
a.m. PST (12:00 -1:00pm EST)
You can watch the first launch of Boeing's new Delta
IV over the webcast
on Saturday starting at 4:45 pm EST. Like the recent Shuttle
and Atlas V launches, it will include a camera mounted on
the rocket looking backwards:
Humor - Top
Ten Things Never Before Said In Space - Late Show Top Ten Archive:
November 11, 2002
Red Planet Habitat Rocks
The next group of Mars-on-Earth explorers will soon begin their
stay in the Mars
Desert Research Station to initate the second season, which
will last from November 2002 to May 2003. Several teams will each
spend a few weeks at the habitat.[Mars
Desert Research Station to Resume Operations - Mars Society Bulletin
Check out the fascinating article Digi
001 Goes to Mars! - Digizine - Nov.2002 - (magazine
cover) about music making by last years occupants of the desert
Speaking of music from strange places, Dr.
Demento will soon release a collection of humorous space music
from Outer Space - (Amazon commission link).
website provides an extensive interactive Flash presentation of
a habitat on Mars. The site grew out of the Mars
If you are looking for a good place to land on Mars be sure to
try the Mars
Exploration Program Landing Sites (MarsoWeb). This NASA tool
comes with vast resources of Mars surface imagery and sensor data
and is used by the Mars
Rover teams to decide where to send their next missions.
If you want to explore Mars virtually, try the amazing visualization
tools at Mars3D.
Be warned that most of the downloads are large but the views are
well worth the effort.
More Mars imagery and VR in the Space
Life & Multi-media
Wireless Camera for Rocketry
- Wireless "look back" video isn't just for big
rockets anymore. Check out the RKT25
- Rocket System at WirelessVideoCameras,
which makes specializes in video systems for hobbyists. The Wireless
Airborne Rocket Video section gives some cool clips from launches
of rockets with the system. More
Rocketry Screensaver - real
rocket nuts will need this Rocket
Screensaver from Big Kid Productions.
Tube Takes Off - RLV News
begins flying its largest rocket powered vehicle yet.
Space News Briefs...
Webcast of Night Engine Tests -
NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi will webcast a test firing
of a Shuttle engine this Friday at 6 p.m. EST. To see the after
dark test, log onto www.ssc.nasa.gov
beginning at 5:30 p.m. and click on the scrolling link at the
Shuttle Main Engine Night Test Firing at Stennis to be Shown Live
on Internet - NASA Stennis PR - Nov.6.02 . Spacecasts
Portrait of a Young Space Station
- NASA commissions artist to paint the ISS: Painting
a Still Life That Moves at 17,000 M.P.H. - NY Times - Oct.31.02
(free reg required) . Space
demo flight - Oct.26,2002
(click on image for large version).
By Golly, It Really Flies -
check out the impressive Skycar flight photo on Moller's
News page. The image shows the vehicle flying clearly out
of ground effect and only attached to a data/safety cable, no
tether. The long awaited personal flying car is starting to prove
its mettle. A second prototype, now under construction, will use
new, more powerful engines and allow the vehicle to meet all the
design performance goals that include the capability to land safely
if one engine fails.
Airframe Parachute Backup in Action
- the Skycar includes lots of safety
redundancy but if all else fails, the ultimate backup comes
with ballistically deployed parachutes. This is not as radical
as it might sound. The Cirrus
Design general aviation builder offers rocket launched parachutes
with its SR20 and SR22 planes.
Airframe parachutes have been controversal among pilots who say
that the presence of parachutes could take the pressure off a
pilot and this in turn could lead to mistakes that cause an accident.
Also, there was a lot of debate about whether the systems would
work in a real life situation.
However, for Lionel Morrison there is no debate. He "was
the pilot of N1223S, the first certified aircraft in aviation
history to use an emergency parachute system to lower both him
and his plane to the ground due to an inflight emergency".
Read about his first-of-a-kind emergency landing in the article
SR22 CAPS Deployment: Part 1 - AeroNews - Oct.8.02 * Part
Electric Plane Update - the
first fully electric powered plane could begin flights within
months. The E-Plane
will initially use lithium-ion batteries to achieve a 100 mile
range and later switch to a fuel cell to reach 250 miles. The
project uses a lot of donated equipment and the labors of a many
students and volunteers. See the October
Update for a summary of recent progress.
BTW: One of the test pilots is former astronaut Robert
Micro-UAV Breaks Endurance Record
- micro-UAV's have become a hot R&D area and could offer unique
capabilities for both military (e.g. battlefield surveillance)
and civilian (e.g. searching for survivors inside an earthquake
damaged building) applications. However, they present a number
of challenging practical problems with regard to efficient propulsion
and obtaining sufficient power for flights of useful duration.
Larger image available with the DARPA
News Release - Oct.22.02
The Defense research organization DARPA has recently announced
that a micro-UAV (see above image) built by Aerovironment
and funded by DARPA managed to fly for an hour and 47 minutes.
This is "more than three times the previous micro air vehicle
endurance record of 30 minutes set two years ago." The breakthrough
came by combining the battery and wing into a single structure
"that supplies electrical energy for propulsion while carrying
mechanical and aerodynamic wing loads."
See the press release Micro
air vehicle sets endurance flight record - DARPA PR - Oct.18.02
(pdf 82kb) for more details.
Mars Student Astronauts -
Society recently announced the Mars
Student Astronaut contest in which winners of an essay contest
will participate directly in analysis of data from the Mars
Exploration Rovers that will land on Mars in early 2004.
It is "open to young people worldwide. To enter the essay
contest, students must be born between September 1, 1986 and September
1, 1990. For complete contest rules and registration information,
go to www.redrovergoestomars.org."
Name the Mars Rovers Contest -
the Society, in collaboration with Lego and NASA, is also sponsoring
a contest www.nametherovers.org
(not yet active) to give names to the two rovers:
your name to Mars - don't forget to add your name
to the DVD disks that will travel to Mars on the rovers. Deadline
is November 15th.
Mars on your wall - the Mars
Global Surveyor continues to churn out thousands of specatacular
and beautiful images
of the red planet. You can now purchase high quality photograhic
prints of Mars Global Surveyor's Mars Orbiter Camera images at
Mars Orbital Camera Shop, run by Malin
Space Science Systems - the contractor for the camera.
Meeting in Huntsville - RLV News
RLVs and Conjectures - RLV News
Tube to Launch Soon - RLV News
Sub-orbital RLV Project - RLV News
vs Good Enough in Large Quantities - RLV News