It’s Not Just the Oceans that Need a Cleanup

Garbage. It’s a familiar, man-made problem. On land and in the oceans. But it’s not just the land and the oceans that need a cleanup. Garbage is an orbital problem. A Growing Problem Accompanying the September 12, 2009 NASA Image of the Day (above) was a statement. “Approximately 19,000 manmade objects larger than 10 centimeters orbit the Earth.” By 2013 NASA reported more than 500,000 pieces of space junk were being tracked. According to National Geographic, as of January 2019, more than 128 million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in or approximately the  diameter of AAA battery), about 900,000 pieces of debris 1–10 cm (up to the length of a regular crayon or the diameter of drink coaster) and around 34,000 of pieces larger than 10 cm were estimated to be in orbit around the Earth. This amounts to close to 6,000 tons of materials in low Earth orbit. It’s expensive to remove space debris from orbit. And there are no international space laws that require space agencies to clean up debris in LEO. So LEO is the world’s largest junk yard. Houston. We’ve got a space junk problem. Who Tracks Orbiting Garbage? In cooperation with NASA, the Space Surveillance Network a group […]

Would You Like to be a Space Tourist?

There is getting away from it all and soon there will be opportunities for getting 240 miles above it all. That’s right. Soon you can be a space tourist. The First Orbital Vacation SpaceX says tourists will ride its rockets late this year or early next. SpaceX is the corporation behind the first successful commercial launch to the International Space Station. They are working with the space tourism company, Space Adventures. For an undisclosed price, up to four tourists will ride the Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft to orbit the earth three times at about 250 miles up. On the Space Adventures website they also offer a flight to within a few hundred kilometers of the moon, a visit to the ISS, and a spacewalk. Cool, huh? Private Citizens in Space Seven private citizens have had adventures in space with the help of Space Adventures. Each of them spent more than 20 million each and a lot of time training before their flights. American Dennis Tito blasted off from Kazakhstan on April 28, 2001, and spent nearly 8 days on the Russian space station.  English/South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth flew Soyuz Flight TM-34 on April 25, 2002. Gregory […]

Beyond the Imagination of the Earthbound

Did you watch Launch America? This weekend’s successful launch and docking of the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon is the culmination of a lot of dreams-come-true. We’ve got a long way to go before commercial space travel will be available to everyone. But we will get there. What we will discover in space travel and exploration is beyond the imagination of the Earthbound. We cannot predict the new forces, powers, and discoveries that will be disclosed to us when we reach the other planets and set up new laboratories in space. They are as much beyond our vision today as fire or electricity would be beyond the imagination of a fish. –Arthur C. Clarke, “Space and the Spirit of Man” Or is it? Imagination Kindled The first known story about flying in space may have been the Hindu epic Ramayana (5th to 4th century BC). But most likely humans have dreamed of space travel since they first saw the moon and stars. There was a lot of dreaming before Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin launched into space on April 12, 1961. To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit. –Stephen Hawking And even more dreaming […]