Building the World

May 5, 2017
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Bloom in the Plume

Cassini found bloom in the plume. Image:: Enceladus, nasa. gov.

At a cocktail party, someone whispered while toasting the launch of the International Geophysical Year. News spread quickly that another launch had just occurred. Sputnik may have been the spike in the punch; Apollo soon countered. Fast forward to Comsat, the international space station, spacex, and beyond. Cassini spacecraft flew through of plume of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, finding evidence of hydrothermal processes that “favor the formation of methane from CO2 in the ocean of Enceladus.” How should the Outer Space Treaty reflect such new discoveries?

“Cassini finds molecular hydrogen in the Enceladus plume: Evidence for hydrothermal processes.” J. Hunter Waite, Christopher R. Glein, Rececca S. Perryman, et al. Science 14 Apr 2017. Vol. 356, Issue 6334, pp. 155-159. COI: 10.1126/science.aai8703. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6334/155.

Outer Space Treaty: http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/publications/STSPACE11E.pdf

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 22, 2017
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It’s Earth Day: Look Up!

Ra, Egyptian sun god. Artist: Jeff Dahl. Image: wikimedia commons.

Earth Day. Could the answer to our planet’s energy problems and resultant climate change be found by looking up? Every culture on earth has myths about the sun. For example, Egypt worshipped Ra, the sun god whose falcon head was crowned with a solar disk. In 1973, building upon the success of COMSAT and the Apollo Moon Landing, Peter Glaser was awarded the United States patent for solar power from space, via satellite. Honored in the spring, as the sky glows with a stronger light, Earth Day might call us to look up.

Thanks to Jacques Horvilleur, and Lucien Deschamps, and Sociéte de électricité et des électronique et des technologies de l’information et de la communication (SEE), Société des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France (ISF).

For solar power from space: http://archive.org/details/sps91powerfromsp00unse/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 7, 2017
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Of Course I Still Love You

Saturn V launches Apollo 11. Image: NASA, Marshall Image Exchange.

For the first time in history, a rocket has been reused successfully. SpaceX has been practicing round-trip rocketry for years: Falcon 9 launchers have flown to/fro 13 times, with 8 perfecting the touchdown. That meant 8 rockets sitting in inventory. But never had a launch rocket yet been reused. “It’s been 15 years to get to this point,” stated Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, who now prices reused rockets at a discount. Packaging and discounts are a sign of private industry in space, a step beyond NASA or ESA, the European Space Agency. But reuse means more than discount: Luxembourg’s SES used the occasion to launch a communications satellite, descendant of COMSAT, to convey an environmental message. SpaceX sent a message too: in the spirit of whimsy, Falcon 9 landed on a welcoming vessel – an autonomous ship – named: “Of Course I Still Love You.”

For video of the Falcon landing on “Of Course I Still Love You:”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqnQ1dHnUr0

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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November 25, 2016
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Island in the Sun

Rose Atoll, American Samoa. Image: NASA.gov.

4,000 miles + 600 people + cost of diesel delivery = innovation. T’au traded fossil fuels for renewable energy via solar collectors combined with storage batteries. Building a microgrid generating 1.4 megawatts of energy, powered by 60 Tesla power packs and 5,328 solar panels, American Samoan island T’au can supply residents and businesses with electricity. In case clouds shroud the island in the sun, battery power runs for three days. Islands in space, like satellites launched by Comsat, Nasa, and the International Space Station, rely upon solar energy. But oceanic islands formerly waited for boats to deliver diesel to power generators. T’au’s solar innovation, funded by contributors including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, and American Samoa Economic Development Authority, may set a new standard for renewable energy. Next? Tesla and partner Solar City hope to apply the model to Hawaiian island, Kaua’i.

Thanks to Jason W. Lusk for suggesting this post.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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July 20, 2016
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Moon: Property Rights

Lunar property rights? Image: wikimedia commons.

July 20, 1969: “A giant leap for mankind” as the first human set foot upon the moon in Nasa’s Apollo mission. Two years before, the Outer Space Treaty was signed with the provision that celestial bodies not be owned by any nation; at the time, only governments had enough resources for space exploration. Today, enterprises like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Planetary Resources, Inc. are commercializing the heavens. The Google Lunar X Prize stimulated interest in space resources. European Space Agency and Luna-Resurs plan to drill the lunar south pole where “water and other volatiles” might be discovered. China and Japan are readying moon forays. Martin Elvis of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Tony Milligan of King’s College London, and Alanna Krolikowski of Georg-August University Göttingen published, in Space Policy, a warning regarding the moon’s ‘Peaks of Eternal Light’ where a photovoltaic solar power installation could be positioned. In 2015, the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act clarified rights. Professor Matthew Weinzierl and Angela Acocella have written a Harvard Business School case, “Blue Origin, NASA, and New Space.” Could COMSAT provide a model for international cooperation? Before enterprises claim rights, how should the Outer Space Treaty be updated?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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March 2, 2016
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Beam me home, Scotty

Photo by Scott Kelly, taken during historic year aboard the International Space Station. Image: www.nasa.gov.

Astronaut Scott Kelly has returned to earth. Along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and Soyuz TMA-18M commander Sergey Volkov,  Kelly touched down in Kazakhstan, after completing a year in space on the International Space Station. He sent back some pictures. Kelly is a twin; brother Mark will serve as control in the experiment on the effects of long-term space residency, such as would be needed for missions to Mars. Another area of Mars preparation takes COMSAT to the next level; the interplanetary internet is currently in development by Nasa and partners.

Thanks to Sheila M. Turney for photo suggestion.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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January 14, 2016
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Sunny Forecast?

“Sun mask of Apollo” by Johann Melchior Dinglinger. Source: Google Cultural institute, and wikimedia commons.

Solar technology continues to develop, and scientists are once again looking at the Sahara Desert for opportunities to generate, store, and distribute power. African visions are diverse, regarding Desertec (which some term green exploitation) and related initiatives that hold promise. Will other sunny desert areas of the world follow suit? Solar power is the preferred means of providing electricity in space, including celestial habitations such as the International Space Station. Will proposals for global solar power from space be developed in the vision of Glaser, holder of patent US3781647 A? Or might atomic energy developments, including ITER, create sun on earth with nuclear fusion? United Nations Climate Change conference, COP21, set standards for a balanced environment. What advances in energy are needed to build a better world?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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December 22, 2015
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Round Trip Success

SpaceX CRS-1 Falcon 9 illuminates NASA launch area 40 in 2012. Photo credit: Jim Grossmann, NASA. Image: wikimedia commons.

A turning point in human exploration has been achieved; SpaceX returned a rocket. Significance? Up until 21 December 2015, all trips to supply orbital cargo, including delivery trips to the International Space Station, were one-way for the stage one launch rocket. Launch rockets cost $54 million but only $200,000 is for fuel; there is significant economic and environmental benefit to reuse, especially if the launch vehicle can return to the original launch site, as a car might return to its home driveway. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, called the success, realized after a series of attempts, a “revolutionary moment.” An earlier game changer? Extra-vehicular activity, or EVA, enabling construction, repair and  building in space. Alexey Leonov was the first human to achieve EVA: for 12 minutes in March 1965. EVA advanced to over two hours during the 21 July 1969 Apollo moonwalk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. EVA missions have repaired and refined the Hubble telescope. Like EVA, round-trip rocketry has a history with milestones. Just days before orbital success, Blue Origin actually made history in the first successful launch rocket return, in a test flight on 23 November 2015. But SpaceX’s  21 December feat is different in two ways: orbital and very much not a test flight. SpaceX carried and successfully delivered Orbcomm’s constellation of 11 communications satellites into orbit, bringing forward the future opened by another game-changer: COMSAT. It might be noted that roundtrip rocketry appears to have been first achieved by private industry; Blue Origin LLC, by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com and SpaceX, Elon Musk, founder of PayPal and Tesla. Roundtrip rocketry marks a milestone; what new frontiers may now be open for business?

To watch the launch and landing: http://www.orbcomm.com/

Wall, Mike. “Wow! SpaceX Lands Orbital Rocket Successfully in Historic First.” Space.com 21 December 2015. http://www.space.com/31420-spacex-rocket-landing-success.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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October 5, 2015
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Sputnik: Traveling Companion to the Future

October 4, 1957 opened a new chapter in the human story; Sputnik began the space odyssey. Image: wikimedia commons.

On October 4, 1957, a new story began. It is the story of humankind venturing forth from our native planet: earth. The basketball-sized object launched from Tyuratam, Kazakhstan, led to future milestones in space exploration including the 1969 Apollo lunar landing and the success of COMSAT opening satellite communications. When the Soviet Union sent the first satellite into space, they called it Sputnik; in the wonderful richness of the language of Dostoevsky and Pushkin, the name foretold the future of human spaceflight. While the technical term for satellite, “sputnik” also means “traveling companion.”

For a gallery of Soviet space posters: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34281621

Laika, also called “Muttnik,” was the first earthling in space, and although her journey was tinged with sad tragedy, she was heralded by many honors including this postage stamp: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Posta_Romana_-_1959_-_Laika_120_B.jpg

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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September 28, 2015
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Watcher of the Skies

“Supermoon” photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA. Image: NASA and wikimedia commons.

“Then felt I like some watcher of the skies, when a new planet swims into his ken,” penned poet John Keats, in the era when Uranus was just discovered. September 27, 2015: a rosy supermoon heralded upward wonder. Since 1969, when Apollo’s Neil Armstrong set foot upon the moon, space has become increasingly accessible. The Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967 by the United States and 128 other countries including China and Russia, led to the establishment of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Treaty provisions assure space belongs to all, is free for exploration and use by all, and the Moon and other planets cannot be claimed by sovereign nations, despite Armstrong’s symbolic planting of a certain flag. The Outer Space Treaty decrees space must be ruled by peace and that no weapons may be launched in space, or in orbit. The parallel Liability Convention declares that space devices launched must be registered by the initiating state or nation, and become sovereign “territory.” But in this era of drones and satellites, ushered in by technological breakthroughs including COMSAT, there is a call for updating the Outer Space Treaty to reflect current issues including mining, science, debris, tourism, and space habitation. Will the vision of Unispace guide the new frontier?

For further reference:

Modesto Seara Vázquez, “Cosmic International Law,” Wayne State University Press, 1965. http://www.modestoseara.com/informacion/libros/CILaw.pdf

United Nations, Outer Space Treaty, 1967. http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/publications/STSPACE11E.pdf

Gerard K. O’Neill, “High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space,” Princeton University Press, 1976.

Roger Davidson, “Unispace for choir, piano, organ and percussion,” Society for Universal Sacred Music, 1982.

United Nations, “UNISPACE: A Context for International Cooperation and Competition, A Technical Memorandum,” March, 1983 (report following UNISPACE ’82)

To listen: “Selections of Music about the Moon” including works by Beethoven, Debussy, Dvořák” http://www.cmuse.org/moon-inspired-classical-music-pieces/

 

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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