News, Weather, Mozart, Sports, Eurovision Love Ænema & Perverted Videogames from Vleeptron

NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

My Photo
Location: Great Boreal Deciduous Hardwood Forest, New England, United States

old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

12 April 2006

space exploration's next look

Click twice.

Okay, you can start getting used to the new shape of space exploration now. The Space Shuttle is wheezing to the end of its rather impressive career of schlepping human beings and heavy crap of all sorts into Earth Orbit, and bringing most of the humans back safely, and this somewhat ungainly jeep or deuce-and-a- utility truck is what's going to take its place for a decade or two or three after it launches sometime in the neighborhood of 2014.

Did you see it on Vleeptron first? Of course you did.

There's a rumor the first of these things will be christened the Altair. I know why. And you should too. Leave A Comment.

These are the machines the NASA-allied Earthers will be using for most of the rest of our lifetimes to heave shit and people and various other species out into space. The Russians still shoot people and things up with their vehicles, the French launch the Ariane payload rockets from French Guiana
in South America, the Chinese just sent a person into orbit I think, the Japanese are thinking about peopled space, and a private USA corporation, SpaceX, is pushing ahead with peopled space tourist taxis and buses.

The Space Shuttle can only go into low Earth orbit and return. The Crew Exploration Vehicle CEV will be able to fly to Earth orbit, or to fly to, orbit and land people on the Moon. NASA has announced plans to return to the Moon not long after the CEV is up and functioning. NASA seems also committed to a peopled Mars mission sometime after that.

It's not smooth, it's by no means universally popular anymore, it pushes forward in Fits and Starts, and over in the other county of Robotic Space Exploration, there are regular Slaughters of the Innocents -- huge, sudden, surprise budget slashes which kill the visionary experiments and the professional careers of a generation of our most brilliant and inspired space scientists, and impoverish our future volume of knowledge about our neighborhood in space. For budgetary purposes and necessary fiscal restraint, we choose to be much stupider about the universe than we had to be. We could get much smarter much quicker, and all with robots -- but we have better things to do with our money. (Cf. Iraq, maybe Iran now, too. And don't forget North Korea and Syria. We have better things to do with our money.)

But these are the Great Voyages. And we're taking them for the same reason Pacific Ocean people lashed pigs and fruit to rafts and set out on their Great Voyages until they'd peopled every island in the Pacific -- none of which they knew in advance was there. They had no magnetic compass. They read and smelled the surface of the ocean, they read the clouds, they had an intimacy with the stars, they followed birds.

The CEV is just getting off the drawing board, and although NASA is doing a few tricks to speed it into space, there's a predicted four-year window of incapability between the retirement of the last Shuttle and the launch of the first CEV. The Russians will almost certainly cover most of the gap for resupplying and re-crewing the Space Station.

I don't think the European Space Agency -- I wear its decal on my backpack -- wants to get into the peopled space business yet. They launch robots.


Blogger Abbas Halai said...

well it just so happens that Altair is one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

also i think the american's have hung out in the middle east long enough now and picked up a bit of arabic. in arabic, the word means "the flyer".

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

0kay okay i award you the pizza slice for the excellent Arabic lesson. In the discussion of Following The Drinking Gourd from the US to Canada

... Vleeptron has already noted that most of the pre-telescopic stars visible in the night sky still have Arabic names from the millennium when EuroScience was in a deep coma, but the Arab empire, from Spain to India, were Eurasia's stewards of scientific and mathematical knowledge.

Some years ago, responding to the annoying mob of screaming Trekkies, NASA named one of its early Space Shuttles "Enterprise." I don't think there's an equally annoying mob of screaming fans of "Forbidden Planet," which is my all-time fave SciFi movie, but the Forbidden Planet, with its extinct Krel supercivilization and the ghastly horrible Monster from the Id, was Altair-4, which I'm-a guessin was the 4th rock out from the Star Altair. So if the first CEV is named Altair, I suspect it's an homage to FP.

Canada gave the Shuttle that cool robot arm (I think you can always see the Maple Leaf on it when it removes satellites from the payload bay), so now you have to make something for the CEV.

It's my reading of the Colonial Period that the USA can hang around the Middle East all it wants, but the Language Lesson will be Us forcing Them to learn English rather than They teaching Arabic to Us. Did a lot of Brits come home from the Raj speaking Hindi and Urdu? That's just not how Colonialism works.

One of the itty-bitty embarrassments of our great War On Terror is that when the shit hit the fan, the US military and intelligence establishment employed about eleven people who spoke fluent Arabic, and it immediately fired six of them.

I would chop off two fingers if, before I die, I could read Alf Layla iwa Layla in the original. Settling for English translations is still the thrill of my reading life, but how wonderful it must be to listen to it and understand it in the original Arabic. It seems to have been written down in Cairo in the 13th century, and I'm convinced -- from the way it describes the nuances of personalities, family life, relationships -- that it was written by a woman, probably a rich man's daughter whom daddy pampered by giving her a private education.

Anonymous patfromouterspace said...

Isn't Altair in the Southern Hemisphere ? Anyway, since I couldn't find the lyrics to "Flying Saucer Boogie" here's some JA:
have you seen the saucers?
do you know the people out there
who aren't happy with the way that we care
for the Earth Mother.
have you seen the saucers.
Tranquility Base
there goes the neighborhood
american garbage dumped in space and no room left for brotherhood
have you seen our saucers?
see our lights in your western skies, California?
The rainbow skies
The government tells you another missle is flying
have you any idea why they're lying to you?
to your faces
did they tell you?
have you seen our saucers?
your mother needs you, now she's getting old
her face was pretty, but you let her go
have you seen our saucers?
star children on the back road to salvation
children of the forest, child of the woodstock nation
have a care for the needs of your planet
catch the dawn that once was there
first-born atomic generation
open the door, don't you know what it's for
come and join us on the other side of the sun


Post a Comment

<< Home