One of the ways we justify going to Mars is that Earth is pretty much on the road to ruin just now, courtesy of human endeavour. We need a new planet. The only problem is that human nature doesn’t change, so we’d probably end up wrecking Mars too, likely while fighting viciously over how to … More Humanity – the scourge of the galaxy
It is 49 years, this weekend, since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon. And it was an incredible achievement – not just for the United States, but for humanity as a whole. For the first time in the history of the world, we had left it – and stepped on another celestial … More Thoughts on the future of humanity, 49 years on from Apollo 11
Back in the 1950s the British rocket programme – revolving partly about their ‘Blue Steel’ missile – was in a bit of trouble. This Mach = 3 stand-off weapon was designed to arm Britain’s V-bombers but had a repute as the ‘public servant’ of missiles. You know, it didn’t work and couldn’t be fired. This … More I want some British MUSTARD with my rocket
Lately space science has made a slightly disturbing discovery. Space travel makes you go blind. Really. It’s a bit of a surprise, given that in other ways science has found solutions for most of the biomedical problems of free fall and, along the way, learned an awful lot about osteoporosis, which is a spinoff of … More Don’t space travel. You’ll go blind.
An asteroid was discovered last week by astronomers using the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1 telescope. It’s moving at a tremendous clip – and is on its way out of our solar system after whipping through on a trajectory that took it inside the orbit of Mercury. The Minor Planets Centre at Cambridge, Massachussets, has … More Did we just rendezvous with Rama?
Yesterday New Zealand launched a rocket from the only privately owned launch site in the world – just across the bay from my home town of Napier. And we joined an exclusive club of space-faring nations. The Electron booster and its Rutherford engines that did the job were invented and built here by a local … More New Zealand’s very own rocket – woohoo!
The other day I picked up an interesting snippet about the likely breakfast menu on NASA’s upcoming Orion spacecraft. Because the vehicle is weight- and volume-critical, there are going to be problems packing enough food in for the expected 28-30 day duration asteroid investigation missions. The same issue also applies to storing the – er … More Breakfast in space, on an asteroid, in a tin can
The idea of aliens arriving and promptly attacking us, Independence Day fashion, recently popped up again largely on the back of another Independence Day movie. But it’s also been offered as a warning by no less a person than Stephen Hawking. And when Hawking says something – well, it pays to listen. Is it true … More Would aliens attack us, Independence Day style?
Efforts are under way to crowd-source a message for putative future aliens, to be uploaded to the New Horizons probe after it completes its historic mission to Pluto and (possibly) another object in the Kuiper belt. New Horizons is the fifth object we’ve sent on a one-way journey out of the solar system, and the … More What would YOU say to aliens before the apocalypse hits us?
I checked the latest space news on Saturday with bated breath. NASA had a lot riding on this week’s Orion flight. In a climate of limited budgets and little real public enthusiasm, failure wasn’t an option. The problem is where Orion goes next. By Cold War standards ambitions are vague; a couple more test flights, fly … More Orion’s first flight is good news – but can NASA sell the space dream?