Dreamers of a Better Future, Unite!

March 13 2008 / by GuestBlogger / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 16 Hot

By Athena Andreadis

This piece was originally posted here on the blog Starship Reckless.

Views of space travel have grown increasingly pessimistic in the last decade. This is not surprising: SETI still has received no unambiguous requests for more Chuck Berry from its listening posts, NASA is busy re-inventing flywheels and citizens even of first-world countries feel beleaguered in a world that seems increasingly hostile to any but the extraordinarily privileged. Always a weathervane of the present, speculative fiction has been gazing more and more inwardly – either to a hazy gold-tinted past (fantasy, both literally and metaphorically) or to a smoggy rust-colored earthbound future (cyberpunk).

The philosophically inclined are slightly more optimistic. Transhumanists, the new utopians, extol the pleasures of a future when our bodies, particularly our brains/minds, will be optimized (or at least not mind that they’re not optimized) by a combination of bioengineering, neurocognitive manipulation, nanotech and AI. Most transhumanists, especially those with a socially progressive agenda, are as decisively earthbound as cyberpunk authors. They consider space exploration a misguided waste of resources, a potentially dangerous distraction from here-and-now problems – ecological collapse, inequality and poverty, incurable diseases among which transhumanists routinely count aging, not to mention variants of gray goo.

And yet, despite the uncoolness of space exploration, despite NASA’s disastrous holding pattern, there are those of us who still stubbornly dream of going to the stars.

(cont.)

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Space tourism - from lofty dreams to commercial reality

July 01 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 14 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Space tourism has come a long way in a short time. The idea was just a dream in the 1990s, but recently, tourists have shelled out mega-bucks for a glimpse of the wild blue yonder.

Though only the rich can afford space travel today, experts predict prices will drop with new systems under development. Later this year, Virgin Galactic’s returnable Space-Ship-Two hopes to provide orbital round-trips for $200,000, and one-day, take vacationers to the moon.

By 2030, the Space Elevator, a revolutionary system under development now would climb up a nanotech-ribbon extending 62,000 miles from Earth to space and could transport passengers into the wild blue yonder for as low as $20,000 initially, then prices could drop to the $2,000-per-person range when multiple elevators become available.

As more people become space travelers, they will need a place to stay. Budget Suites of America owner Robert Bigelow has launched the first phase of a human-rated habitat module dubbed Sundancer, to an altitude of 250 nautical miles at an orbital inclination of 40 degrees. Once Sundancer is in position and verified safe, Bigelow will add more sections creating a full-scale lodging/industrial complex as early as the middle of next decade.

Satellite Industry Association President Richard Dalbello says, “Once hotel companies start to build and operate orbital accommodations, they will be endlessly improving them and competing to build more exotic facilities”. We will see hotels that provide normal gravity for rooms, bars, and restaurants; and gravity-free areas for recreation and sports activities. (cont.)

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New hyperspace engine could roundtrip Mars in 5 hours

August 29 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 10 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

“Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Mars Inter-Dimensional Express. In a few moments, our spacecraft will transfer into a parallel dimension where we will achieve greater than light-speed travel. As we get underway, be sure to glance out your window and watch the solar system flash by at dizzying speeds, truly, the most breathtaking views you will ever observe. Our expected arrival at Branson Colony is noon Martian time.”

This scenario may sound like fantasy, but physicists, encouraged by recent interest in the work of German scientist Burkhard Heim, believe his hyperspace propulsion idea could become a proven concept over the next two decades. Heim’s theory adds two forces to Einstein’s four-dimensional space-time: one, a repulsive anti-gravity force similar to dark energy that appears to expand the universe; the other force would accelerate spacecraft without using any fuel.

If the Heim idea works, it will radically change space travel. Forget spending six months or more crammed in a rocket on the way to Mars, a round trip on the hyperdrive could take as little as five hours. Worries about astronauts’ muscles wasting away will disappear. What’s more, the device will put travel to the stars within reach for the first time.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awards prizes for the best papers presented each year. Last year’s winner went to a paper authored by physicist Jochem Hauser, calling for experimental tests of Heim’s theory. “This hyperdrive motor,” Hauser said, “would propel a craft through another dimension at enormous speeds. It could reach a star eleven light years away in just eighty days.”

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Space Tourism to Help the Earth by Quantifying Climate Change

October 09 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: 2008   Rating: 8 Hot

I wrote about the unveiling of White Knight Two back in July, and no, it is not yet ferrying billionaires to sub-orbital six minute vacations. But it has just become useful (rather than enviable) to the rest of us.

On September 30th, The International Astronautical Congress announced that Virgin Galactic was partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to measure greenhouse gasses in the upper atmosphere using White Night Two and Space Ship Two. Both crafts will be fitted with atmospheric sensors and will begin gathering data in test flights.

The planes are uniquely suited to help the NOAA for two reasons. The most obvious is that they will go much higher than conventional aircraft. Thus, they can monitor the hard to reach mesosphere and thermosphere. Information about these layers of the atmosphere is vital for scientist to create accurate climate change models. Also, the planes were designed with tubes that channel outside air to internal speed sensors. This feature was added in the design phase in anticipation of scientific work.

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Space 2108 - a brief glimpse at the next 100 years in space

April 02 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: Beyond   Rating: 7

By Dick Pelletier

“Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the three-hour Las Vegas-Mars Hyperspace Express. In a few moments we will leave Earth atmosphere and experience a quantum leap as we achieve greater than light-speed travel. Be sure to glance out your window during our hyper-speed mode and watch the stars flash by at dizzying speeds; truly one of the most breathtaking views in the galaxy. Expected arrival at Branson-Bigelow Spaceport is noon Martian time; we hope you enjoy your trip.”

The above scenario is fiction of course, but German scientist Burkhard Heim who developed this radical theory believes that hyperspace propulsion systems will become a proven concept within five years; and could be fully operational by the end of this century.

Heim’s theory adds two components to Einstein’s four-dimensional space-time; a repulsive anti-gravity force similar to dark energy that appears to expand the universe, and a bold idea that accelerates a spacecraft without using any fuel.

If Heim’s idea proves correct, it will radically change space travel. Forget spending six months holed up in a rocket on the way to Mars, a round trip on the hyper-drive could take as little as five hours. And for longer trips, adventurers could visit Alpha Centauri, 4 light years away, in as little as 30 days. Hyperspace propulsion could bring travel to the stars within reach for the first time.

(cont.)

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Poll: How many planets will someone born in the year 2000 visit?

March 05 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: Beyond   Rating: 4

Our last community poll results are in! The question we asked, “If you consider the first person who will reach the age of 200, in approximately what year was he or she born?” received a total of 165 votes (as of today, March 5). Receiving 41.21% of the votes, the number one answer was “1950-1979”. Make sure to check out the interesting comment thread that followed!

Today’s new poll is about planetary exploration. The question is: How many planets will a child born in the year 2000 visit in his or her lifetime?

We encourage everyone to explain their decision in the comment thread below!

GUIDELINES:
1) The person doesn’t literally have to step on the planet – as we know, planets can sometimes be very hot or very cold. They just have to somehow “land” on the planet for it to count.
2) The child is born and remains in the middle-class: your average Joe.
3) For the purposes of this poll we’ll be using the classical definition of planets (9 total) and not including moons or exoplanets.

How many planets will a child born in the year 2000 visit in his or her lifetime?

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Space Exploration and Colonization 2008 - 2040

August 07 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: Beyond   Rating: 4

The exploration and colonization of space have long been crucial and exciting aspects of how people envision future civilization. But how will our place in space take shape over the next few decades? Some clear patterns have emerged in near-term space predictions including rapidly expanding space tourism in the next two years, asteroid mining by 2020 and multiple nations with settlements on the moon by 2025. Take a look for yourself:

To view the multiple events in one year, click on the little plus icons at the bottom of the timeline. Many of the events include cool videos. Enjoy!

What do you think is the most exciting thing about the next 30 years of space exploration and colonization?

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The Future of Travel: Clones, Drunken Flying, and Porn

August 03 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 3

With all the technical terms frequently sprinkled about in most futures-related content, it’s a rare day when you come upon a futurist with a totally different and refreshing view on what might be in store for mankind. In this clip, The Hour TV show hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos (try saying in three times fast) interviews famed Canadian science fiction writer Robert Sawyer on his view of the future of travel. On top of his ideas that the elderly may soon retire in space due to safety hazards brought about by gravity (broken hips, arms, legs), I found his view on the future of travel in cities very interesting. Check it out.

The most refreshing thing about this interview is how realistic Robert Sawyer is about the future of travel. For instance, although he admits that cars could be built that could fly, the problem is that if you get into a fender-bender at 300 feet you’re pretty much toast. And as he points out rather comically, “A drunk driver in a flying car is worse than the worst terrorist with the damage he can do.” People already have a hard enough time with two-dimensional driving, imagine adding in a third.

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