…the United States sent a man into space for the first time. Mr. Alan Shephard became America’s first Astronaut by riding a missile into the vacuum.
Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. With the shuttle retiring in June, this might be the first time in human history our species is decelerating. What gives humans? Check out the entire article here.
Check out this riveting animation of a flyby of Saturn. This wasn’t drawn or modeled, but created by stitching together thousands of actual photographs taken from Cassini. This is as close as you’re going to get to actually visiting the jewel of our solar system unless someone invents some new-fangled fantastic means of propulsion.
The Carina Nebula. Too perfect. Giving us all the finger.
Happy Birthday Carl Sagan. If we were friends on Facebook, I would send you a message today. It wouldn’t be a generic “Happy Birthday”, because you were not a generic man. Happy would-be 76th birthday to a great old hippy who did his best to unite the universe.
I’m amazed at how far ahead of my time I am. Like twelve hours ahead. Last night, I was watching season 2 of the wonderful History Channel series, The Universe. (Watching instantly off of Netflix on my brand spankin’ new 42 inch plasma is one life’s greatest pleasures.) In the eighth episode entitled Space Travel, Michio Kaku, only my favorite theoretical physicist and one of the most influential popularizes of science since Mr. Sagan himself, clearly states the reason why we are stuck in LEO. Why we haven’t gone back to Luna in nearly 40 years and why Mars is still science fiction.
“There’s a dirty four letter word. That is, ‘cost’. It costs about $10,000 to put a pound of anything into orbit. It would cost about 20 million dollars for you to take a weekend trip up to the space station. It would cost about a half billion for you to go to the Moon. And for you to go to Mars would probably cost tens of billions of dollars.”
This is nothing new. Dr. Kaku is not saying anything we didn’t know before. But watching The Universe last night got me thinking. Ehhh, that’s not that much. $500 million to get back to the Moon? I got this.
I have an idea! The room lit up with the eco-friendly florecsent light bulb now hovering above my head. Let’s crowdsource it. Sure it’s a lot for the government. They can’t go spending billions of dollars all willy nilly just because I think it’s cool and important. Though they really should. C’mon government.
I’m over-simplifying, but here’s what we’re gonna do. Have the government come up with a budget for getting back to the Moon. Then we’ll take pledges from rich dreamers, SF nerds, and really smart people. You don’t have to give me 2 million dollars. Just pledge it. If we reach our goal, then you give me 2 million dollars. Simple right. I walk into NASA with slicked back hair and a briefcase handcuffed to my wrist with $500 million in it and we go to the Moon. Cutting edge thinking!
This morning, 12 hours later, I happened upon the msnbc homepage and right there in the middle of the page is a link to a story called Billionaires Wanted for Starship Plan. They want to send multi-generational ships on a one-way journey to the stars. A little bit more ambitious than what I had in mind, but it’s the same idea. Get rich people to pay for it. The super wealthy are always concerned with legacy. This is definitely one way for your legacy to live on.
One of the many terrific uses for rockets…
So this is rather geeky, but I thought I’d share it anyway. It’s a little remix with a message using bites from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I realize they needed auto-tune to make this work, but it really seems offensive here, given the fact that Sagan had one of the greatest voices ever. If you haven’t seen Cosmos, you really should just go find some train tracks to lie on.
Well I’d been fearing Obama’s speech today for quite some time. Ever since word started to trickle out about the President’s plan for the US Space Program, I’d been a little skittish. It didn’t sound good. Today he was in Florida to give a speech outlining his plan for NASA in the coming decades.
I’m quite disappointed in what we got. Obama has canceled the program that would be the Space Shuttle’s replacement. Leaving the United States stranded on Earth without asking for help from Russia for the foreseeable future. That’s not what bothers me. Constellation was supposed to take us back to The Moon as well. And this was where we should have been going. We should be going back to The Moon. By stating that, “We’ve been there before” he’s completely missing the point. Going back to Luna meant setting up a permanent presence there. A presence that would produce incredible science and immeasurable resources for coming generations. All en route to Mars. Not just stopping by again to play in the sand.
Yes, he wants to send us to Mars. But first, he intends to send humans to an asteroid. A mission to an asteroid is worthless except for PR. Robots have worked extraordinarily well for this kind of exploration. We can have men on Mars in the same timeframe he is proposing, even while setting up shop on the Moon first. His plan is a misstep.
Doing a heavy lift rocket for 2015 is a good start, but that’s where it ends. The Constellation Program may have had issues, but I believe it’s aim was true. He should have gotten it back on track instead of killing it. Now we are left with not only starting from scratch, but headed off-course. Not good.
One thing that is encouraging is his support of privatization. If private companies are going to be building the launch vehicles for our space program, I hope those same companies have the wherewithal to sell these spaceships to other private business as well. If Barry is not going to take us to The Moon; then Virgin Galactic, Hilton, McDonald’s, and Starbucks will.
You’re one of my hero’s Carl Sagan, but a little musical diversity might have served you better here.