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Space Exploration

We *are* going to Mars, so why are we denying it?

We *are* going to Mars, so why are we denying it?

Ever since the retirement of the Shuttle and the completion of Station assembly, the most current question in the Space world has been “what’s next?“. The obvious answer in everybody’s mind seems to be “Mars“. Yet, Space organisations around the world, policy makers, and even scientists and astronauts, are going out of their way to offer reasons why Mars, while not excluded, should not be the next step. They go to great lengths to explain why Mars is not the obvious answer.

The reasons offered are logical and well founded in science, economics and politics, yet totally contradictory to actual practice. The same institutions and individuals advocating against Mars are ever more vigorously preparing for taking humans to the Red Planet.

The numbers speak for themselves: Since 1960, there have been seven flyby attempts and seven successful flyby missions; eleven orbit attempts and eight successful orbit missions; seven landing attempts and eight successful landings on Mars, and one on its moon Phovos. During this time, four man-made rovers have walked the surface of Mars.

No other planetary body is being looked at, measured and poked, as much as Mars is.

On this day, Mars is being orbited by three spacecraft, while an equal number of rovers are at work on its surface, all actively researching current and past conditions on the planet and resources available:

The 2001 Mars Odyssey – Artist’s impression
Credit: NASA


The 2001 Mars Odyssey has been mapping minerals and chemical elements, identifying pockets of buried water ice, measuring the surface temperature, determining radiation levels in low-Mars orbit, and supporting ongoing exploration performed by the rovers on the ground.

Spirit & Opportunity – Artist’s impression
Credit: NASA





The Spirit and Opportunity rovers have trekked for miles across the Martian surface, conducting field geology and making atmospheric observations, and have found evidence of ancient Martian environments where intermittently wet and habitable conditions existed.

Mars Express – Artist’s Impression
Credit: ESA



The Mars Express has been orbiting Mars since 2003. Its main objective is to search for sub-surface water and perform a series of remote-sensing observations designed to shed new light on the Martian atmosphere, the planet’s structure, geology and composition.


The MRO on a polar orbit – Artist’s impression
Credit: NASA



The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is seeking out the history of water on Mars, while also testing a new telecommunications system that serves as the first link in an “interplanetary Internet” between the Earth and the Solar System.

Curiosity self-portrait
Credit: NASA




The Curiosity rover, a full-blown laboratory, is analyzing samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks of Mars, to detect chemical building blocks of life (e.g., forms of carbon) on Mars and assess what the Martian environment was like in the past.



Only two weeks ago, India launched it’s first mission to orbit Mars, the Mars Orbiter Mission and, as these lines are being written, NASA is preparing to launch the MAVEN spacecraft which will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind in an effort to acquire insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and its habitability.

And there’s still more to come.

Elements of the ExoMars program 2016-2018
Credit: ESA

ESA, in partnership with Roscosmos, has now embarked on an ambitious long-term robotic exploration programme, called ExoMars. An ESA-led orbiter – the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter – capable of tracing methane in the Martian atmosphere, will be launched in 2016, followed by the Agency’s flagship ExoMars rover, in 2018. ExoMars will have the ability to drill up to 2 metres beneath the Martian surface searching for chemical evidence that might have been preserved from solar radiation.

Also in the near future, NASA’s InSight mission will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior. By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars, detecting the fingerprints of the processes of terrestrial planet formation, as well as measuring the planet’s “vital signs”: Its “pulse” (seismology), “temperature” (heat flow probe), and “reflexes” (precision tracking).

Clearly, mankind has been going, and is still going to Mars! The scientific objectives  of all the above missions may vary in their specifics, yet they all seem to be pointing to the same general goal: sustainability of life on Mars. “Life as we know it”, that is.

At the same time, back on Earth and in orbit,  numerous experiments are being performed researching and advancing human ability to withstand long duration space flight from a physiological and psychological perspective. Mars spacesuits are being built and tested. And desert or arctic locations are being used to simulate the inhospitable environment of the Martian surface.

Finally, institutions and industry are racing to develop the technical capabilities to launch us beyond LEO and into the Solar System. NASA next space vehicle, for example, is being built with the explicit parameter of being able to carry humans to Mars.

All the pieces of the puzzle are pointing in one direction: The commitment to put humans on Mars has already been made. The denial phase is over. Let’s move into acceptance.


Additional sources: NASA’s Mars Exploration ProgramThe Planetary SocietyWikipediaRussian Space Web 


Scott Carpenter – A tribute to a curious but ordinary superman

Scott Carpenter – A tribute to a curious but ordinary superman

“Conquering fear is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it can be done in a lot of different places.

– Scott Carpenter, May 1st 1925 – October 10, 2013-

Scott Carpenter, a curious but ordinary superman. Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Scott Carpenter, a curious but ordinary superman.
Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com


One of only two remaining Mercury Program Astronauts from the 60’s, Scott Carpenter, sadly passed beyond the veil on Thursday October 10th 2013 following a stroke in September. He was 88 years of age. Carpenter was one of the earliest pioneers in the infancy of the Space Age. He was the 2nd American to cross the threshold into orbital space on his MA-7 “Aurora 7” spaceflight and the 6th man overall.  He also held the unique distinction of being not only an astronaut but an aquanaut following his NASA career in the US Navy’s various Sea Lab projects.

For each last step, there is a first step. Born in Boulder, Colorado, USA on May 1st 1925, Malcolm Scott Carpenter was impressed by planes at the age of 5 when his father took him to his first airshow. His love of flight grew as he continued to build and fly model balsa wood plane kits as a boy. He gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Colorado, before entering flight school with the US Navy at Pensacola Florida and Corpus Christi Texas. After the Korean War where he flew aerial anti-submarine surveillance and patrols, Carpenter enrolled at Patuxent River’s Navy Test Pilot School in Maryland. Following this, he was assigned as an Air Intelligence Officer on the USS Hornet. During this time he received special orders to report to Washington DC for an unnamed meeting. That meeting led to his selection in Project Mercury on April 9, 1959, which was instituted as the newly formed NASA’s first step to catch up to the Soviets who had taken an early lead in the rapidly escalating Space Race.

What followed is fabled history. The exhaustive raft of testing of 110 candidates down to what are now known as the “Original Seven” and Carpenter formed part of that elite fraternity of Mercury Astronauts. Their every move was recorded and lauded by the public at large as the nascent American Space Program took its initial steps forward. Due to his communications and navigation experience Carpenter was back-up on his good friend John Glenn’s orbital flight. Upon launch, as Glenn cleared the tower, Carpenter’s words of “Godspeed John Glenn” were recorded and have echoed through the years of spaceflight history. Carpenter repeated this goodwill message when Glenn went into orbit again aboard the Shuttle in 1998.

The brotherhood of the Original Seven. Front row, from left, are Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald "Deke" K. Slayton, John Glenn Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter. Back row, from left, are Alan Shepard Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, and Gordon Cooper. Credit: Discovery News / CORBIS

The brotherhood of the Original Seven. Front row, from left, are Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald “Deke” K. Slayton, John Glenn Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter. Back row, from left, are Alan Shepard Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, and Gordon Cooper.
Credit: Discovery News / CORBIS

On May 24, 1962, Carpenter’s own flight dubbed “Aurora 7” launched and completed 3 orbits of the Earth. His mission; to prove a human could work in space. This was an important link in the chain of events which ultimately resulted in a manned landing on the moon just 7 short years later. For the first time he demonstrated humans could perform tasks, experiments, communications, navigation and eat solid food in space. Due to some technical faults, inadvertent errors during the mission, all of which Carpenter compensated for, Aurora 7 came home safely but overshot the target landing zone due to fuel mismanagement during the mission. He was found by rescuers almost 5 hours late, 1000 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral, coolly relaxing in the life raft alongside his spacecraft.  Ever the gentleman astronaut he even offered his rescuers food and water from his survival kit.

The launch of Scott Carpenter on Aurora 7. Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

The launch of Scott Carpenter on Aurora 7.
Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Looking out for John Glenn's fireflies... Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Looking out for John Glenn’s fireflies…
Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Carpenter, awaiting recovery after splashdown. Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Carpenter, awaiting recovery after splashdown.
Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

As with many space explorers who are comfortable with the risk of space exploration, Carpenter had remarked that his mission realised a long held dream and that “This is something I would gladly give my life for.” In today’s modern world of Google Earth and armchair exploration, we should remember that back then it took a special kind of person to ride fire into the heavens to expand knowledge at risk of their own life. Unlike many of his Mercury astronaut peers who were recovered and debriefed after their space shots relatively quickly, Carpenter had time for introspection and reflection on the events and meaning of his experience on Aurora 7. Carpenter was also blessed with a curious and philosophical mind. Peering through the small periscope of Aurora 7 into the endless night outside, Carpenter remarked,

“From that view … you are a long way away. Everything you see gives you satisfaction of the expectation which involves curiosity. The most important driver in everything we did then was curiosity. Can we make machines do this? Can we put our bodies through this? It’s revelatory. Addictive. Beautiful beyond description. To have been in space is very satisfying of one’s curiosity. It’s instructive. It’s marvellous.”

At the time, some may have perceived those comments and qualities to be extraneous for a test pilot / astronaut, favouring engineering rigour and zero margin of error during those early missions.  Consequently, Carpenter never flew in space again. In later years his curiosity and philosophical mind have become more appreciated by his peers.

Following NASA, Carpenter’s curious mind to banish unknowns led him to meeting with the French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. He saw many parallels, between deep space and the deep ocean, with transferable skills, technologies and parallel experiences. But more personally for him, like with his Mercury flight, working beneath the waves to satisfy his curiosity would remove any “unreasoned fears”, just as he had done above the clouds on Aurora 7. As part of the Navy’s Sea Lab II experiment, Carpenter spent 30 days in spring 1965 on the ocean floor of La Jolla as an aquanaut, proving humans could survive in this environment.  At one point during his time under the waves, he even spoke by phone to the crew of Gemini 5 orbiting far overhead. Old Mercury Seven buddy Gordon Cooper was no doubt happy to hear him. His work on the ocean floor has yielded cross benefits for NASA too as Carpenter became the Navy/NASA liaison for underwater zero gravity training – or neutral buoyancy, which has become mandatory for NASA EVA astronaut training. For this work, Carpenter was awarded the Navy’s Legion of Merit medal.

Carpenter on top of SEA LAB II shortly before being lowered to the ocean floor where he stayed for a month. Credit: Discovery News / CORBIS

Carpenter on top of SEA LAB II shortly before being lowered to the ocean floor where he stayed for a month.
Credit: Discovery News / CORBIS

In his later years after retiring from the Navy, Carpenter had remained active on various projects utilising his aerospace and oceanic engineering expertise. From enhancing ocean resource usage, to consulting on underwater, diving and submersibles, and lecturing on the future of technology developments and impacts Scott Carpenter had continued to actively contribute to the quality of our lives here on Earth.  Not stopping there, he had also authored three books, one of which is his memoirs “For Spacious Skies” which he wrote with his daughter Kris Stoever. Carpenter remained a staunch advocate of manned spaceflight, and pushing our exploration to Mars.

“We need a goal other than the International Space Station. We need to get cracking on a manned flight to Mars, because that is going to capture the interest, support and imagination of people who pay for spaceflight…We need to go to Mars… Mars is interim, but for now that is a goal that NASA and the country and the planet can live with enthusiastically.”           

Looking back, Carpenter remarked that he and John Glenn bonded over common interests, mutual respect and being Air Force boys. Upon hearing of his great friend’s passing, the last remaining torchbearer of that age, Mercury astronaut John Glenn paid tribute with his friend’s simple words and remarked “Godspeed, Scott Carpenter.” Carpenter himself has said that he believes he is very fortunate to have lived life during a time when there were so many unknowns to be solved during this century. That had pleased him immensely as he was always a very curious person and he has had a lot of satisfied curiosity in his time.

Brothers in Arms; Carpenter (left) and John Glenn (right). Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Brothers in Arms; Carpenter (left) and John Glenn (right).
Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Meeting Scott Carpenter at Spacefest V in May 2013 in what turned out to be his twilight months, was a special privilege and for myself, the highest honour, to meet a member of the Original Seven. Meeting Scott himself, who truly understood the wider more nuanced experiences of manned spaceflight, the continuing importance of manned exploration and the questing nature of humanity, was even more special to me. The hallmark of his character, curiosity, still burned brightly in his alert eyes even though his health was visibly failing. I briefly asked him about what lessons he has taken with him on his explorations of the ocean and space into his life. Scott merely whispered, as if sharing a secret;

“Be led by your curiosity. And never forget the fun of learning and discovery. It can take you places you have never dreamed”.

Curiosity brought us here. Scott Carpenter and myself. Credit: Amjad P. Zaidi

Curiosity brought us here. Scott Carpenter and myself.
Credit: Amjad P. Zaidi

Words from a curious but ordinary superman that will stay with me forever. May fair winds be at your back Star Voyager for you have returned to the place where we all came from. You are stardust.  We thank you for your bravery, your discoveries, your humanity and your continuing inspiration.

Godspeed, Scott Carpenter.

Scott Carpenter and his children. His legacy. Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com

Scott Carpenter and his children. His legacy.
Credit: www.scottcarpenter.com









The First International Space Exploration Symposium in Japan

I will be attending a two day symposium organized by JAXA in Tokyo. The theme is Space Exploration for Humanity and the Future. It will open Tuesday October 30 at 1300, Japan time. The complete program can be found at the following address:


I will try to cover the event live on Twitter with pictures. Even if it proves difficult (power supply problems, etc.) I will write about it here later in the week.

As you can see, the philosophical aspects of space exploration will be discussed but also its future. With the attendance of top executives from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Mitsubishi HI, SpaceX among others, we can expect some interesting talks about the commercial aspects of space exploration.

I also intend to make use of the event to contact persons interested in starting a SpaceUp or Space Tweetup events in Japan in the near future.
Anyone interested can contact me through my Twitter account @ScienceInSpace
I am looking forward to having an active exchange with my fellow Spacetweeps from all around the world.

Philippe Valdois


Pictor Project 2012

About 9 months ago I asked for your help because I wanted to start an outreach project in my school, and thanks to a lot of support from a lot of tweeps I managed to start a great project that I called Pictor Project. Pictor is all about STEM outreach, we aim to show teenagers that science is more than a class you take, that it can be fun, and that we can do science regardless of our age.

Last year’s Pictor can be considered a success: 13 students (15 and 16 year-olds, admittedly not the easiest group to target) consistently attended the sessions enthusiastically, and we designed a human colony on Europa. The project even got attention at a national level with an article in the one of the most important newspapers in the country (you can see the original article in Spanish here: http://bit.ly/t6wAQW). At a school level it was considered successful enough that we were promised funding, it’s the first time ever that a student-ran project gets this sort of recognition. You can read about each session in our blog: pictorproject.wordpress.com. Now I’m planning a 2012 version of it.

Our objective this year will be to learn about exobiology, Mars, and robotic exploration missions. For this purpose we will plan an unmanned mission to search for life on Mars, in order to accomplish this we will have to learn about the topics previously mentioned which we will do through our own research and videoconferences with experts on these fields. Now, I’m currently for these experts. I would greatly appreciate it if you would help me find them. Here’s a basic outline of what I have planned for this year:

  • During the year we will have 15 sessions with 8 different subjects, for most of these subjects we will have one session with a video conference and another one for our own research.*Subjects:
    1. What happened in space in 2011 (introductory session)
    2. -Mars throughout history / -Why is Mars so important in the search of life?
    3. -What does life need to exist? / -Why is it so hard to find? / -Water. Why does it matter?
    4. -What kinds of life could exists? (civilizations to bacteria) / – SETI / -Hunt for exoplanets
    5. -How about our Solar System? Where could we find life here?
    6. -How we look for signals of life from our planet?
    7. -Unmanned missions what do they do?
    8. -Robots in Mars / -Putting our own mission together

    *All of this is a rough plan: we are open to suggestions, and since we have to work around our school calendar there may be more or less sessions than planed, also last year’s project showed us that some subjects will need more time to be discussed and some less, so we will change parts of this program to fit our needs. However, these changes shouldn’t affect our conference schedule.

So if you think you, or someone you know could be able to help out with the project in any way, specially if it’s as a speaker, please contact me! You can comment here, find me on twitter as @Montsecor or email proyectopictor [at] gmail [dot] com! Please help me bring space to my peers and hopefully get some more future scientists!

520 Days of Dreams and Hope

520 Days of Dreams and Hope

The Russian Phobos-Grunt mission may not have been the success everyone had hoped, but the dream of Mars exploration is far from fading. On November 26, 2011, the world witnessed the spectacular launch of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, including the new Curiosity rover, aiming to uncover the secrets of Mars and hopefully gather evidence of life on the Red Planet. It won’t be long before a shiny-new powerful rocket carries the first people on the Marsian surface!

But before a mission putting humans on Mars can even begin to get planned, we need to understand and master the difficulties inherent in such a long and unprecedented trip into the Solar System.

The Mars500 experiment, concluded on November 4, 2011, promises to deliver interesting results on the physiological and psychological effects that prolonged isolation has on the human body. During the experiment six ‘marsonauts’ (three Russian, two European and one Chinese) were sealed in an isolation chamber, in Moscow, Russia, for 520 days, i.e. for the duration of a trip to Mars and back. Mars500 simulated almost every aspect of such interplanetary travel, including time-lagged communications and a Mars landing.

To celebrate the successful conclusion of the mission, ESA organized the #Mars500Tweetup, on December 6, 2011 in Rome, during which 20 SpaceTweeps got to meet the two ESA members of the Mars500 crew, Romain Charles (@Romain_CHARLES) and Diego Urbina (@diegou).

Credit: ESA

Not resembling to the least the little green men you would normally expect ;-) , Diego and Romain stood among us, tall and proud, looking happy and content – although admittedly a bit pale (…nothing a long and well deserved vacation on a sunny white beach can’t fix!).

Credit: @mgilbir

They talked to us about their lives ‘on board’ the modules, their training for this mission and the experiments performed during the ‘trip’. But, also, about everyday trivia of this amazing experience, like celebrating Christmas, New Year and Halloween, entertaining their monotony with music and art, as well as the secret recipe for Marsian Balls and Mars Pizza. Their eyes lit up when they described the docking and landing simulation on the Marsian surface, almost as you would expect if they had actually been there. We listened (..and religiously tweeted) as Romain and Diego took us on trip of dreams and hope into to the future of human spaceflight.

Undeniably, this mission was not a fun one to go through; it was hard and tedious and, probably, unbearable at times. As Diego told me on the eve of the Mars500tweetup, “it was in mid-August, on the completion of 438 days in isolation, when we received a message from cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, congratulating us braking his record for the longest time ever spent apart from the natural world, that I actually realized that we were doing something truly special”.  And he repeated during the Mars500tweetup: “being part of something greater than yourself is an amazing motivation.

Credit: ESA

The results of the scientific experiments will be released in the months to come. But, one result was already abundantly evident to me: Without having ever met them before, you could undoubtedly tell that, if the Mars500 mission has accomplished one thing, that’s to alter the crew’s perspective on life. In Diego’s own words, as documented in his Mars500 Mission Diary: “….this was not a journey into the cosmos, but a journey to know ourselves and our minds, to realize how important respect and communication are …, how fundamental are the links to the real world, thin and fragile as they may be…”. “We somehow ended up feeling a little bit more human than normal, by having been taken ‘away from humanity’”. “Forget about the things you don’t have and squeeze all the juice out of the things that you DO…!

Thank you Sukhrob, Alexey, Alexandr, Wang, Romain and Diego for giving up 1.5 years of your lives for the advancement of space exploration.


Check out the entire story of the Mars500 mission here.

Celebrate St. Patty’s Day at the American Museum of Natural History – follow MESSENGER Spacecraft as it begins to orbit Mercury

MESSENGER Orbital Insertion of the Innermost Planet, Mercury

After flying nearly 5 billion miles over 6 years from Earth, the MESSENEGER spacecraft is scheduled to begin orbiting Mercury on March 17, becoming the first spacecraft to do so if successful. To date, MESSENGER’s three flybys of the innermost planet have yielded invaluable insights about Mercury, the smallest, densest, and least explored of the terrestrial planets.

The event will feature a live feed from MESSENGER operations center at Johns Hopkins University with Sean Solomon, director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution and principal investigator of the MESSENGER mission, and Museum scientists, who will discuss the mission, including the importance of understanding Mercury’s high-density composition. The Museum’s Digital Universe Atlas will be used to illustrate the path that MESSENGER traveled before entering Mercury’s orbit on the AstroBulletin screen.

The fate of the spacecraft—which will begin its rocket burn at 8:50 pm—won’t be known until after 10 pm.

WHEN: Thursday, March 17, from 8:30 to 10:15 pm Wine and beer will be available for purchase from the Starlight Café.

WHERE: Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe, Fredrick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space. Enter at 81st Street.


Thank you to Ellen Evaristo of the American Museum of Natural History for the tip!

Your Favorite Space/Sci/Tech Applications!

How many folks have asked the question, “What are the best mobile Apps?”

Smartphones, tablets, notebooks of all kinds- so much power, so many choices.

This is your chance to help build a list of the best.

Please comment with the name of the application, platform or device it runs on, a description of what it does and any information you think would help a new user.

Look forward to hearing from EVERYONE!


30 Years of SEDS, Even More for Other Space Groups

So I posted some info about a contest we’re doing a little while ago, but I just wanted to officially wish a happy birthday to Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and explain who we are.

SEDS is a group that was started back in 1980 by Peter Diamandis, Bob Richards, and Todd Hawley, students at various universities.  Since 1980 the group has pushed for more exploration and development in outer space and has had many yearly conferences for students to meet and openly conspire about the future of space.  The group was there at the first Space Shuttle launches (Peter went as media actually) and will be there at the last launches.  We’re always looking to unite all students in the United States and around the world so we can rally together to find the best reasons and ways to explore the cosmos.

If you want to know the full story of all the space groups, I advise checking out “Reaching for the High Frontier“, a book about space groups.

Please click on the title of this post to view our latest newsletter if you are interested in what we are doing today in 2010!

Sputnik – The Launch of Space

Sputnik 1 was launched 53 years ago, on October 4th, 1957. In many ways, it can be seen as the launch of the space age. Being the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth, it started the space race which led to Buzz and Neil landing on the moon in 1969 and contributed to the demise of Communism.

Most of the people writing nowadays about space weren’t alive yet in 1957, myself included. As such, we cannot fully grasp the feelings that swept through the United States of America knowing a USSR made object was flying invisible and uninterrupted above its skies. However, from the events which proceeded it is obvious, to put it mildly, that it was a very big deal.

In the full blog post I drew parallels with the first Wright brothers flight in 1903, discussed satellites in our daily lives and CubeSats. I also supplied some useful links regarding this historic day.

Read the full blog post here: http://www.spacepirations.com/2010/10/sputnik-launch-of-space.html

P.S. You can still add entries to my Poll regarding the Discovery launch at http://www.spacepirations.com/2010/09/next-space-shuttle-launch-informal-poll.html. Thanks!

SEDS Creates Video Ad Contest for Students

I wanted to let the students in the community know that Students for the Exploration and Development of Space has created a competition aimed at getting students interested in space exploration and helping students find out what SEDS is all about.

The contest site is hosted at http://seds.org/video-ad-contest/

Each 2-5 minute entry will be judged by our panel of judges with the finalist videos to be judged by some of our friends in the space industry like William Pomerantz of The X Prize Foundation, William Watson of the Space Frontier Foundation and Gary Barnhard of the National Space Society.

We will also post all of the entries to our Youtube channel for the world to see!

The grand prize includes $200 cash, Membership to National Space Society, Free Admission to ISDC 2011, and a SEDS shirt from the SEDS store at seds.spreadshirt.com.

We have a whole gallery of images that contestants can use on our website and we’re working on providing more video and audio content on the contest site for use in contest videos.

UKSA – The United Kingdom Space Agency

It has been a few months now since we heard the news that the United Kingdom will get its very own, and long overdue, space agency. Now, on April 1st 2010 the agency will officially come into being, and in a conference in London more details of the agency were released for the first time, such as the name and logo. I personally really like the  logo; I think it’s nice and modern, and I’m looking forward to the day I can get it on a T-Shirt! It has a nice feel to it, and is well designed in my opinion-putting a nice spin on the Union Jack.

The name of the agency, UKSA, The United Kingdom Space Agency, is not the most imaginative of names, but it’s simple and easy to remember. Really it comes down to the quality of the agency over the sound of its name. (Although, this is far better than the BNSC, British National Space Centre.) I think it is a good name, it could have been something far worse than UKSA

Regardless of how flashy the logo is or how cool the name is, the UKSA isn’t being made to look good, fortunately government have realised that it’s about time we introduce a better way of managing money that is to be put into the space sector, and also so that it is done in the most cost effective way, and also making it easier for deals to be made with other agencies such as NASA and ESA.

Fore more information, here is the BBC news report.

I have always dreamed of the UK always having its own proper space agency, and now On April 1st 2010, the UKSA will be officially launched, and the dream will come true. What are your views on the new information about UKSA, I would love to hear them.

For any space tweeps in the UK, or anyone else who is interested, you can now show your support with a Twibbon! I have purposely put it on the opposite side from the Space Tweep Society’s Meco.

Can We Reach The Moon By The Year 2000?

Has everyone heard about the POPSCI archives by now ?  Popular Science put ALL their publications from the past 137 years online, free of charge!  I’ve read hundreds of wonderful articles, all the way back to 1872, and blogged about I thought were historically interesting…

Popular Science 1958

So far, my favorite was printed in May of 1958, just as the space race was really heating up!  Dr. Israel Monroe Levitt (1908-2004) wrote a fascinating account of how America might plan and execute the monumental lunar landing… by the year 2000.  Wow, we beat that by 31 years! It’s a real eye-opener to see what the bright minds of the mid-20th century thought of potential space exploration.

“Manned flight cannot be initiated in the immediate future.  A tremendous volume of preliminary work must be completed first.  Before we can think of landing on the moon, it will be necessary to establish a manned space station circling the Earth as a base of operations.”

Yeah, not so much.

Read more at the Popular Science archives or at Pillow Astronaut, where I’ve highlighted numerous space articles throughout various eras.