September 14, 2015
By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large
M u s k y S m e l l
There is a slew of news stories this week about Space X – and not all of them are roses and lollipops. Let’s begin with the good stuff.
Dragon capsule interior
Space X, the private sector company that NASA expects will come up with a new manned transport system to replace the space shuttle (Boeing is in the running as well), has just revealed photos of the interior of it’s “Dragon” space capsule. This fire-breathing hybrid rocket holds seven astronauts and is expected to blast off to the space station – a job now overburdening the Soviet Soyuz craft – by 2016. The décor, I would say, is a minimalist theme – and it looks quite cramped considering seven people in bulky suits would be rubbing elbows. However, low-Earth orbit is achievable quickly, thank the stars.
But apparently, Space X won’t allow even the most stringent accommodations for the 26 residents of a south Texas beach hamlet called Boca Chica. It was there that Space X CEO Elon Musk decided to build his rocket launch facility, and where he promised the inhabitants $15 million in “incentives” (no one seems to know what they are, exactly) and to put the town “on the map.”
Boca Chica Beach
So far, the only “perks” include Space X forcing residents to “register” with the county, and during launch window times (to occur once a month in 2016) requiring locals to wear identification badges throughout the 15-hour launch frames, restricting access everywhere and closing the town’s public beach. If someone happens to be buying groceries during the launch window, they have to remain in the Winn Dixie for 15 hours. … perhaps reading The Enquirer and scarfing Twinkies to bide the time.
Boca Chica resident Cheryl Thompson plans peaceful protest during Space Xs first launch.
Space X plans to enforce these rules with video surveillance and drones buzzing above the local beach. “It’s like Nazi Germany,” said resident Cheryl Thompson. Thompson, 55, settled in Boca Chica ten years ago in search of solitude and the quiet rustic beauty the beach village offered. She plans to hold a sit-in on the beach during the first launch to show civil disobedience against Space X.
Space X has already bought one home in Boca Chica, presumably for “public meetings.” And now, one Space X groupie has enquired about buying any other available house in the village for launch parties, where he wants to build a “tiki bar.” Residents fear their homes will be next under Space X “eminent domain.”
K e e p i n g U p W i t h t h e J o n e s e s
The same time Space X was flaunting the interior of its Dragon shuttle, Boeing entertained a grand opening of their new “Starliner” space taxi facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA wonks were on hand to praise Starliner as “the next spaceship destined to launch our astronauts,” in lieu of the defunct space shuttle. The Starliner should be good to go by mid-2017 to carry a crew of four to the ISS – if all goes well and IF Congress approves funding for it. Unlike Space X, Boeing depends on NASA (whose allowance is dependent on the hangover of any given congressional politician on any bad day) to help with the bills. One thing is for sure. The Starliner digs look a lot roomier than the Dragon Crew capsule. Pictured is just the upper half of Boeing’s space “cab.”
1 0 0 – W a t t I d e a
Boeing grew another feather on its space helmet when the first all-electric satellite reached its geostationary orbit this week – one month ahead of schedule. The ABS telecommunications sat is part of the SatMex fleet that was bought by Eutelsat. The fleet will provide services to the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East – essentially the entire world except Russia, Australia, and the Polar Regions.
Electric sats are not in favor because they take six months to reach their orbits, as they are not equipped with the conventional jet thrusters sported by competing propellant-fueled birds. But since ABS got to its destination earlier than expected, minds may change. Their advantage is that they weigh much less, cutting launch costs and allowing room for a double-sat blast-off. Space X’s Falcon rocket launched this one five months ago.
M o b y D i c k a n d o t h e r N A S A T a l e s
NASA’s Comet Hitchhiker
NASA is developing the idea of harpooning comets and grabbing free rides with the Comet Hitchhiker project. Now that the Rosetta spacecraft successfully did just that earlier this year, hopefully we will see more of this concept manifested.
But with the good must be mentioned the lousy. This week NASA’s specialized satellite, SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive), stopped communicating only two months after it hit orbit and started sending info about how soil water depletion, carbon, and energy cycles are linked to improve weather forecasts and crop-yield predictions, among other things. Since the spacecraft would obviously galvanize earth scientists’ predictions and declared causes of accelerated global warming (it’s humans, believe me), Republican politicians are thrilled it went kaputnik. [Look at anything but the Earth — any planetary system will do, let’s say Jupiter’s moons … [See The Weekly Revolution, August 31, “It’s a Small World After All.”]) Unfortunately, NASA says they fear the SMAP has had it.
EDITOR”S UPDATE – Way Out-of-Towner: Perhaps more importantly, the staff at Galactic Sandbox is thrilled to announce Writer-At-Large Kate Woods got a Mars InSight spacecraft “boarding pass” for a greatly needed and deserved extended vacation. (See The Weekly Revolution, September 7, “Not So Pleasant under Glass”). Bon Voyage, Kate! – Agnett Bonwit
T o n g u e – T i e d
Photo Flash: The Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have zoomed in on a new cluster of galaxies. Guess what they named it? It’s something that’s really easy to remember and say, and captures the essence of this find so eloquently: “SpARCS1049+56.”
I wish I were yanking your chain. But I’m not, sadly. WHO the HELL comes up with this idiocy??
At any rate, the new discovery suggests that massive galaxies lying at the core of galaxy clusters feed off the gas of nearby galaxies. Normally, stars found at galaxy centers are ancient and fossilized, say the star experts. But the centralized galaxy of “SpARCS1049+56” is a stellar nursery, churning out 860 baby stars a year. The roll-off-your tongue enunciated “SpARCS1049+56” cluster has 27 galaxy members, is located 9.8 billion light years away and resides in the Ursa Major constellation.
C e r e s M y s t e r y B u r n s B r i g h t e r
Ceres leaves the lights on for NASA
Speaking of Rosetta, the Dawn spacecraft has taken brand new pix of the original dwarf planet Ceres, residing in the Asteroid Belt. (Dawn reports back to its mother craft Rosetta, perched on a comet at the moment.) Once again, Dawn clapped eyes on those mysterious lights emanating from Occator Crater some 4 km deep from the surface of Ceres – this time in higher resolution.
In February, NASA explained that the “lights” UFO fanatics drooled about were merely ice refractions. But now scientists, those working for NASA included, say the spectrum numbers for reflections off ice do not match up with the math. In other words, the lights are not reflections from crater ice.
It caused the well regarded website Science Alert to write the subhead: “WTF is happening on Ceres?” As the truly obscene Fox News Corporation would say, “You decide!”
G l a m o u r S h o t s
Not to be outdone, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has beamed fresh close-ups of our solar system’s original ice queen, Pluto, taken during the probe’s planetary fly-by last July. Stay tuned for next week’s Revolution for details! In the meantime, join NASA in salavating over the latest images:
R i d e r o n t h e S t o r m
Beneficiaries of past Solar Maximum
And finally, this week a publication called Top Secret Writers gave us a feature on how space weather affects humans. We all know how the full moon affects the frontal lobe, according to some cops who know that city violence goes on the rise during those times of the month. According to The Huffington Post, a Norwegian study concluded that people born during the solar maximum, when the Sun is at its most belligerent, live shorter lives. Yeah, it has to be hogwash. Moreover, women born during solar maximums tend to be less fertile. Ahhh so! Now I know why I have no spawn and keep dressing up my Chi-wiener dogs!
Wave X bathes Earth in Good Vibrations
And now some space weather “expert” is claiming that we should be afraid, very afraid, of Wave X. Or have our arms and minds open in welcome. Simon Atkins says that Wave X is an “electromagnetic frequency” that is speeding at us from the center of the galaxy, and due to bathe us in psychic energy sometime this month. The specific mind living in the center of the Milky Way from where the psychic murmurings sprout is not explained. Nor does Atkins outright claim Wave X is a planet-killing gamma ray burst (and frankly, I don’t believe he knows what one is.)
Wave X will make all of us who are spiritually in tune with the “wave” become more psychic! Fabulous! I’d love to eavesdrop on my brother Oliver’s mind while he is computing how many minutes of his life he spent opening and closing doors. He does that sort of thing for fun, seriously. He’s a genius.
Atkins describes himself as “a climate economist, disaster risk forecaster, doctor of ‘bioelectromagnetics’ and natural health, a corporate strategist in planetary and solar threats on business continuity [Hey jobseekers! I hear that field is wide open!], a scientific truth advocate, and a spiritual pacifist.” I think his self-portrayal says it all. You decide! – (I have.)