If The Nukes Start Flying…

...a goodly number of us dreamers are going to ruefully reflect that it was entirely possible for humanity to establish off-planet settlements following the Apollo program. Settlements that likely could have been self-sustaining by now because in the alternate reality where humankind put as much effort and resources and brains as possible behind establishing populations... Continue Reading →

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Lightsail Probes: Not Just For Seeking Out New Life

So, yesterday on Twitter I got to thinking about laser-launched lightsail nanoprobes: https://twitter.com/Tao23/status/890591962973208577 https://twitter.com/Tao23/status/890593221902053378 Currently, the big idea is to launch teeny-tiny lightsail probes at neighboring stars to get a look around -- current thought is that technology as it is now could handle boosting some 1 gram probes attached to 20 meter lightsails up... Continue Reading →

SciFi News Network 2291: Job Hunting

SFNN> Classified> Off-Earth > Outer System> Kuiper> Pluto> Jobs> Technical> Supervisory HYDROPONICS AND RECREATIONAL GENERALIST (HRG) Salary Band 8(b) This is a position with the Eurasian University Cooperative (EUC), Facilities Maintenance Division. Successful applicants must pass a comprehensive full-record Onboard DNA-ROM Codex (ODNARC) examination. Felonies of any nature and offenses of any level of or... Continue Reading →

Those Gram-Scale Lightsails Hawking Is Talking About? In For A Penny, In For A Pound

https://twitter.com/Tao23/status/720861285848485888 https://twitter.com/OKCliberal/status/720851587468427264 There's been a lot of talk about the Stephen Hawking-backed "Starshot" project to propel a tiny, perhaps 20-gram laser-propelled lightsail to Alpha Centauri to beam back some up-close snapshots in the name of science. Seems to me the major expenses are in building the lasers needed to launch them, and in developing the... Continue Reading →

What is the cost of space exploration?

RocketLaunch

If I remember correctly, Heinlein once wrote of space program critics that it’s raining soup up there, and the critics are complaining about the high price of bowls.

A thirst for exploring and investigating our solar system (and maybe, one day, beyond) translates to costs now. Yes, most things that pay off in the long run do. When a young student moves on to university, you can either criticize the cost at the moment, or send him or her knowing that, educated, college graduates contribute more to both their own wellbeing and to society in general.

Lots of people like to count the cost now, as you said, and talk about what could be done with space exploration money in other arenas at the moment.

Honestly, though. What we do now can easily lead, if we sustain and expand our space exploration efforts, to things like asteroid mining, orbital solar power collection, and humans living in large numbers in multiple locations so that if another dinosaur-killer asteroid comes around, or if a megavolcano caldera like the Yellowstone region blows, humanity’s eggs are not all in one basket.

And you’re right, if we do not foster and advance the cause of pure-science space missions now, we won’t have these opportunities later. It is far too easy to imagine scenarios that end with a slowly-declining humanity maundering around on this single rock we live on for another few hundred years and devolving into the stone age, never to look to the stars again.

That’s not the future I want for my childrens’ childrens’ children. And I know we CAN achieve a future in which humanity inhabits the whole of the solar system, which holds resources capable of sustaining TRILLIONS of human beings.

It really is raining soup — resources and room to live — up there. It behooves us to study the art of making bowls with a will!

Science in our lives


If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


In centuries past, comets were considered the supernatural bringer of bad news, usually associated with political unrest, or the death of a king. On 12 November 2014, after spending a decade travelling through the emptiness of space, the fridge sized ‘Philae’ touched down, marking humanity’s first contact with the surface of a comet, symbolic of a revolution in human understanding.

Comet 67P/C-G, a 4.6 billion year old icy space rock, is a left-over building block from a time when the Planets in our Solar System were still forming. Unlike Planets, comets have no weather and remain chemically unchanged, so studying them gives scientists valuable data in the quest to improve…

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