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Monthly archive October, 2009

Can You Imagine #1

Can You Imagine?  One day in the future you receive a call from your grandson, Steven (he prefers Flash from the science fiction adventure comic strip “Flash Gordon”)…. You can tell from his voice
he is excited and ask how he is. Steven or rather “Flash” is finally getting his shot at space. He tells you about being hired by a new Space Enterprise called O.J.M. short for Orbital Junk Management. He will be a Navigator on a new type of spacecraft, a “Sweeper” you’ve been hearing about from your ISA (International Space Agency) coworkers (the new version of the old NASA). Flash’s basic responsibilities will be “Charting” a course through all the space junk so common from NEO to geostationary orbit. But what he is really excited about is the ships’ primary mission, of collecting the debris from 90 years rocket
launches. He tells you they will fill up the ships’ hold and
periodically, depending on the mass of the junk, push the trash into a
controlled re-entry. He will do all the planning for each dump to make
sure it lands, (what doesn’t burn up anyway) in an “Off-Limits” spot in
the South Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles from civilians and the legacy
oceanic shipping lanes.

Flash is such a
dreamer but reminds you of the excitement when NASA, Roscosmos, ESA and
JAXA were the big players. Back then you could launch and stay on-orbit for long periods of time (relatively speaking) with only a few maneuvers to avoid space junk. And now Flash will be chasing it, my how things change. Those were the days, you remember fondly, smiling. You congratulate him for his persistence back in his school days fighting to master the math of orbital mechanics. It sure paid off, now he will make a tremendous difference in the safety of all space workers and tourists. It’s not a glamorous job but considering that time on-orbit has become far more hazardous than launch or re-entry (even during the STS days), it needs to be done. Pity the fool who calls Flash a garbage man, he’ll give that sod-buster an education he won’t soon forget (verbally of course, unless he’s really pushed)

Retirement is around the corner and starting to look pretty appealing. You could sure use the time to better keep up with your investments. Who would have thought that someday, the years of innovation and inspiration by the worlds’ space programs would end up making the old oil companies look small? Even though you’re doing OK financially, insiders know some really “Out-of-This-World” businesses are in the works. And after all, why not profit from the new “Space Age” economy that is finally cranking up. Flash tells you he has to run, “got a rocket to catch”….

Can You Imagine?

Mobile-friendly space sites and applications: an unexplored world?

Many space tweeps use smartphones or mobile devices to keep in touch via Twitter with fellow enthusiasts, or get the latest news on their favorite missions. I explained here, for example, how to view NASA TV images with a mobile phone. Given the iPhone success and increased mobile use of popular sites such as Facebook , this trend is not limited to space tweeps. Yet there are very few mobile-friendly sites or smartphone applications devoted to space.

As an Android user, I check what’s up with Google Sky Map. iPhone friends get basic mission status information with MissionClock. We can all get space news from SpaceRef Mobile. But, apparently, that’s about it. There are just a handful of space applications or mobile optimized sites. Mobile web
browsers are actually good enough to display reasonably well some desktop sites like Heavens Above or the JPL Space Simulator (a sample image generated with JPL Space simulator on my Android phone and posted to Twitpic via Twitter).

Still, the mobile space world is still mostly empty — no pun intended. As far as I know, no space agency provides a mobile version of its main site. These may be among the reasons why The Launch Pad, the Google Lunar X PRIZE blog, posted a call for ideas for a space-related smartphone application.

What is your experience? As a space geek, can you share links to your favorite smartphone applications or mobile-optimized sites? You are encouraged to leave comments. I’d like this post to collect additional information from space tweeps.