Recently in Space Category

Some lovely images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko coming in from Rosetta. Just image what they will be like when the probe drops down to 10km, and when Philae lands. Just makes you want to put the whole thing in a space sim or even my Port2Jump and set a Traveller adventure there.

The misleadingly titled "The Global Exploration Roadmap" is a nice report from the
International Space Exploration Coordination Group - a group that includes NASA, ESA and other national space agencies looking at the two possible paths to Mars, one via the Moon and one via the Near Earth Asteroids. Each route is well described, and the following graphics summarise each option:

Moon Next

Asteroid Next

Whilst emotionally I suppose I'm a Moon Firster (or even a Zubrin style Mars Firster) the NEAR case is well argued and in cash constrained times could be attractive - although its lack of real pazzazz may mean its actually a lot harder to fund. Another way of looking at it is that just as NASA is surrendering orbital space to the commercial operators perhaps it should leave cislunar space and Moonbases to them too.

Lovely set of pics of the old Buran launch site, now rusting and overgrown. Even interior pics of the cockpit.


Just been playing with the export/import feature of Hippo and managed to get the Apollo LEM I did for our Tranquility Base build out of SL and into my Virtual Mars build on OpenSim. Very nice. Next step must be to make a 9 sim version of the Tranquility Base build, complete with the overlays and then maybe make it available as an OAR file.

Nice article about the need to spend some SETI time looking for AI signals and hang-outs, rather than focussing solely on the activities and locations of biological life-forms. Personally I still think that "first contact" is likely to be with a dormant/dead AI controlled Von Neuman type probe in orbit around a gas giant or a NEAR type orbit.

Hubble Advent Calendar

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Nice summary by New Scientist of the Augustine report and what NASA's priority should be. The scores work out as:

  • 1: Status Quo: -15
  • 2: ISS and Minimum Moon: -5
  • 3: Moon but no ISS: -1
  • 4: Moon and ISS: 4 - 5
  • 5: Deep Space (Moon, asteroids, Mars): 7 - 9

Full scoring (PDF)

Augustine Commission Summary Report

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The Augustine Commission has released its summary report on the future of US manned spaceflight. The key points appear to be:

  • Finish Space Shuttle ops as planned in 2011
  • Extend IISS to 2020
  • Abandon Ares 1 and probably Ares V to develop a new Ares V Lite mid-range booster
  • Hand man to LEO operations over to private contractors
  • Shift the emphasis from Moon then Mars to "flexibility", which may include both, plus L5, near earth asteroids and even Phobos and Deimos, but no dates

Looking to commercial contractors to do the lift to orbit is a nice step - but:

  • The assumption still appears to be that the contractors will use rockets, and not any form of re-usable system (a super Spaceship 1)
  • Although there is some talk of in-orbit refueling for lunar/mars injection, it appears to be discounted in favour of the single lift approach
  • Although Orion (the new crew capsule - a big Apollo CM) is seen as possibly too big and in need of a trim (everything is "lite" in this report), there still appears to be an acceptance of the "apollo" model rather than going for a spacecraft that only travels orbit to orbit and never has to re-enter

Be interesting to see what extra detail/decisions there are in the final version.

I've started work on a pet Futurology project called Five by Five - five themes over the next five half-centuries.

As a first element I've just updated my future timeline - mainly focussed on space exploration and AI development. Other issues like poverty. the environment and politics will be added as part of the larger project.

BTW the wiki that the timeline on is one of the reasons there are less posts to the blog - the wiki is a better tool for some of the writing I'm doing at the moment - and easier to use from the iPhone!

Milky Way Transit Authority

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Not bad, but could have been done better - and anyway haven't they decided that the Milky Way is a barred spiral now.

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