Category Archives: Space Exploration

In the Stars, The Long Awaited Age of Reason

Subscribe to EIW This article appears in the April 28, 2016 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

In the Stars, the Long Awaited Age of Reason

There, in the stars, lies the long awaited Age of Reason, when our species sheds at last the cultural residue of the beast.
         —Lyndon LaRouche

[Print version of this article]

April 24—In less than three weeks, the most critical international conference in the period since World War II—the Beijing Belt and Road summit—will convene. On May 14 and 15, the leaders and heads of state of 28 nations will gather, joined by representatives of 110 countries, industry leaders, business leaders, and others. It has already been announced that Russia’s President Putin will be the first guest of honor at the conference.

During the last three years, an invitation has been repeatedly extended to the United States to take up the offer of Chinese President Xi Jinping for win-win cooperation, to join in the great economic development perspective of the Belt and Road, for the benefit of all nations involved. This offer was first made to former President Obama in 2014, but was summarily rejected by the British-run Wall Street stooge who was then occupying the White House. Obama chose geopolitical confrontation over working with China and other nations for the good of mankind.

Now a new opportunity has presented itself. President Trump has expressed serious interest in, and has already taken initial steps toward developing a friendly working relationship with China, as was demonstrated in his recent discussions with President Xi at Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Again, the offer of “win-win” peaceful cooperation has been put forth, this time to President Trump. The opportunity now before the United States is very real. Were America to seize this opportunity, the murderous banking and financial looting policies of London and Wall Street might be replaced with a future of expanded economic opportunity, peace, and scientific progress. Those are the implications of accepting China’s offer to join in a commitment to the common aims of mankind through win-win cooperation. If President Trump were to announce his intention to attend the Belt and Road conference in May, this alone would be a singular action that could well shift the entire global picture.

Not least in importance, greater collaboration with the nations of the Belt and Road will give great impetus and greatly enhanced potential for joint efforts in science, particularly cooperative work toward the exploration and development of space. With full U.S. participation, a leap for all of mankind in space exploration becomes immediately and rapidly possible.

The Optimism of Space

On Monday, April 24, President Trump spoke with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). He was joined in the Oval Office by his daughter Ivanka and astronaut Kate Rubins, and together they spoke with NASA ISS Commander Peggy Whitson and Col. Jack Fischer. The dialogue between the ISS astronauts and the President was broadcast live into hundreds of classrooms and space facilities around the United States, and was streamed and viewed worldwide as well.

The President honored Commander Whitson for her achievements as the first female commander of the ISS and for having spent more time in space than any other American astronaut. Their discussion touched on several topics, including a report from Whitson on the need to understand how microgravity works in space and how it effects the human body. She also reported that ISS astronauts are studying the problems of long-duration space missions, and the technological advances that will be required. More than 200 scientific experiments are currently underway aboard the space station.

Col. Fischer stressed the critical importance of international cooperation in space exploration. He talked about his trip to the ISS aboard the Soyuz with his Russian counterpart, veteran Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin. Col. Fischer said, “The international space station is, by far, the best example of international cooperation and what we can do when we work together, in the history of humanity.”

Both American astronauts were explicit about the optimism and inspiration that participation in this mission has given them. This was demonstrated most beautifully by Col. Fischer, when he said, “I would say to all the students that are watching, the time to get excited is now. If you aren’t studying science and math, you might want to think about that, because our future in the stars starts now, and you can be a part of that, if, like Dr. Whitson, you can find that passion and work really hard. And we’re going to find a permanent foothold in the stars for humanity if you do that.”

The Role of the Visionary

On March 25, the Schiller Institute held an extraordinary conference in Munich, Germany, to honor the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great space pioneer Krafft Ehricke. Under the banner of “Krafft Ehricke’s Vision for the Future of Mankind,” Ehricke’s prime thesis that there are no limitations to the progress of mankind in the Universe was celebrated and discussed. As if a divine hand had intervened, on the very day of that conference, President Trump gave his truly inspiring national address, in which he declared, after signing the NASA Authorization Act, “With this legislation, we renew our national commitment to NASA’s mission of exploration and discovery. And we continue a tradition that is as old as mankind. We look to the heavens with wonder and curiosity.”

If we are to take up this challenge today, it is of paramount importance that every American fully grasp the critical importance of this effort on behalf of all mankind, for the necessary future of all. It must also be a shared commitment. All nations—all of humanity—must benefit from the cooperation among nations for the peaceful use and development of outer space. This is the ultimate win-win solution for all nations. It can be realized through crash programs, what Lyndon LaRouche has described as “the tight integration of the most advanced, most fundamental scientific research with the production and development of new technologies in a general way, such that there is no organizational separation between the most fundamental scientific research and production in general.”

The Time to Act Is Now

Many initiatives are already underway. On April 22, China celebrated its second annual national space day by carrying out the docking of the Tianzhou 1 supply ship with China’s Tianzhou 2 space lab, 240 miles above the Earth. Two days later—the same day that President Trump spoke with the ISS astronauts—China celebrated the anniversary of China’s first space satellite, launched on April 24, 1970.

Full participation by the United States in the upcoming Beijing Belt and Road Summit would have the immediate effect of advancing this progress dramatically. This is just what is needed. A new future beckons, one in which the legacy of war, zero growth, and cultural decay will become a memory. Bold action now will make the difference for future generations.

Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak speaks about Microsoft, space travel, innovations and more

Who doesn’t knows Steve Wozniak? Apple’s co-founder and tech wizard Wozniak is one of the most revered personalities of the Silicon Valley. Though he is not directly associated with Apple any more, he keeps inspiring the inventors with his words and presence at various events. This Friday, he will appear at the  upcoming Silicon Valley Comic Con event for the sake of enjoying  “the nerd side of things.” While speaking with Fortune, Wozniak discussed his views on a variety of subjects like his former company’s behavior, influence of money on the Silicon Valley and his introvert side.

In response to the question regarding the changing landscape of the Silicon Valley, Wozniak said that things have changed indeed. Businesses now, have no interest in making the world a better place, because they are being started by business people, and not engineers. These business people enter the Valley for  the sake of money making along with “a quick exit plan” like selling the business for quick money. When he began his career with Steve Jobs, all he thought was that once the company turns profitable, it stays with the owner forever.

He also said that he does not invest because he is not fond of  money. He believes that money could corrupt ones values. He also said that he has never longed for being into the “more than you could ever need” category.

Speaking on the success of software giants like Facebook, Wozniak said that Microsoft has always been a successful software entity therefore the success of  other software companies is not baffling anymore. Even Apple, which always believed in building hardware and software all together, is now building just the software part of self-driving cars.

Steve Wozniak also quoted Amazon’s and SpaceX’s dream of materializing commercial space travel by saying that all the breathtaking milestones, which completely changed the world, such as iPhone, Google or Facebook, have been the product of someones thought. SpaceX and Blue Origins are another such ideas emerging from the minds of individuals who are planning something “very risky.”

Steve Wozniak believes that space exploration comes down to engineering and scientific knowledge. Such ventures do require a lot of funding, but still, recalling the achievements of NASA with such a brief funding, the strides of such big private players(Musk and Bezos) does not surprise him anymore.

When he was asked whether Google Apple would become even bigger by the year 20175, he said he doesn’t know. He also mentioned that everyone should only do what they are best at. Apple is good at making products but this doesn’t mean it should try and build every single product in existence.

Talking about himself and his Twitter feed, Wozniak said that he has never been a pro in socializing, and doesn’t find himself fitting for social networks. Therefore, he skips Facebook and Twitter despite of having 5000 friends on Facebook. But he does prefer Foursquare for some reasons. Oh and he also mentioned having a street in San Jose after him. Sweet, right?

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Space Reading Challenge 2017

Space Reading Challenge 2017

A frequent request here on Cosmic Chicago are book recommendations to learn more about space. I read about 20-30 space related books a year, new and old, covering everything from spaceflight to astronomy to memoirs because it’s a subject I love. But given that the topic of space can be a lot to digest, recommending reads is a challenge when I need to name just one.

I usually provide three books in response to every request- a beginner’s guide that is comprehensive but won’t intimidate anyone, something slightly more serious and thorough to be used as a reference, and then a book that either deals with a personal aspect of a subject or is a fictional narrative.

This first space reading challenge, hopefully this becomes an annual thing, will help you understand more about the numerous aspects of space and space travel. Throughout the year, every book in the challenge will be accompanied by additional coverage that highlights interesting aspects of each book, including: interviews, photo tours, movies, destination guides, and citizen science suggestions.

‘Go, Flight!: The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control‘ by Rick Houston (2015)

The Blurb: “The flight controllers, each supported by a staff of specialists, were the most visible part of the operation, running the missions, talking to the heavens, troubleshooting issues on board, and, ultimately, attempting to bring everyone safely back home. None of NASA’s storied accomplishments would have been possible without these people. Interviews with dozens of individuals who worked in the historic third-floor mission control room bring the compelling stories to life.”

‘Totality: Eclipses of the Sun’ by Mark Littmann, Fred Espenak, Ken Willcox (2009)

The Blurb: “A total eclipse of the Sun is the most awesome sight in the heavens. Totality takes you to eclipses of the past, present, and future, and lets you see–and feel–why people travel to the ends of the Earth to observe them. An absolutely indispensable resource for anyone who plans to observe an eclipse.”

‘Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe’ by Mike Massimino (2016)

The Blurb: “Taking us through the surreal wonder and beauty of his first spacewalk, the tragedy of losing friends in the Columbia shuttle accident, and the development of his enduring love for the Hubble Telescope—which he and his fellow astronauts were tasked with saving on his final mission—Massimino has written an ode to never giving up and the power of teamwork to make anything possible.”

‘Chasing Hubble’s Shadow: The Search for Galaxies at the Edge of Time’ by Jeff Kanipe (2006)

The Blurb: Chasing Hubble’s Shadows is an account of the continuing efforts of astronomers to probe the outermost limits of the observable universe.

‘Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space’ by Carl Sagan (1997)

The Blurb: “Future generations will look back on our epoch as the time when the human race finally broke into a radically new frontier–space. In Pale Blue Dot Sagan traces the spellbinding history of our launch into the cosmos and assesses the future that looms before us as we move out into our own solar system and on to distant galaxies beyond. The exploration and eventual settlement of other worlds is neither a fantasy nor luxury, insists Sagan, but rather a necessary condition for the survival of the human race.”

‘Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13’ by James Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger (1994)

The Blurb: “In April 1970, during the glory days of the Apollo space program, NASA sent Navy Captain Jim Lovell and two other astronauts on America’s fifth mission to the moon. Only fifty-five hours into the flight of Apollo 13, disaster struck: a mysterious explosion rocked the ship, and soon its oxygen and power began draining away. Commander Lovell and his crew watched in alarm as the cockpit grew darker, the air grew thinner, and the instruments winked out one by one. The full story of the moon shot that almost ended in catastrophe has never been told, but now Lovell and coauthor Jeffrey Kluger bring it to vivd life.”

Astronomer explores idea of alien life

By Shanna O’Mara

Astronomer Derrick Pitts spoke about the possibility of extraterrestrial life and the future of space exploration during his presentation on April 14 as part of the Science Friday series.

Aliens could exist, an expert said.

Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, delved into the possibility of life on other planets during his presentation on April 14. The “New Race for Space” lecture was part of the Science Fridays series, which has brought experts in the fields of chemistry, astrophysics, biology and earth sciences to Rider this semester.

“[The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)] is still doing incredible things,” Pitts said in response to the notion that space exploration ended with the 1969 moon landing.

Astronomers and engineers have been working on exploring the surface of Mars and analyzing the view of Earth from space.

Pitts, a Philadelphia resident, said he can see the International Space Station orbiting the earth four to seven times a day while in the city. The satellite live streams images of the surface of the earth at all hours of the day.

“I love playing the geography game,” Pitts said as he watched the feed and pointed out major cities in the United States and Canada, each one centered in a cluster of lights shining through the darkness of the night.

Another recent achievement is the evaluation of the soil on Mars.

Curiosity, the rover that has been exploring Mars since 2012, scratched the surface of the planet and found frost just two inches deep, according to Pitts.

“It is amazing to think that, at one point in time, Mars had flowing water on it and possibly had the ingredients for life on that planet,” said senior biology major Brian Kuklinski.

While much research is to be done outside of Earth’s atmosphere, the funding to do so has been inadequate, Pitts said.

He said that Congress allocates approximately $19 billion for NASA, just 0.4 percent of the total annual federal budget. Other areas, such as national defense, receive hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

“I’m all for supporting the defense of our country,” Pitts said. “But if everyone in this room gave just two cents out of their paycheck to NASA, incredible things would happen.”

Kuklinski said he believes in the significance of NASA’s work.

“NASA isn’t allowed to solicit for donations, but I think people would be willing to give some money if they could,” he said. “Curiosity is just one example of the great successes NASA has had, and to cut funding would impede future discoveries.”

Private investors, such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk, may hold the key to the future of space exploration. He founded SpaceX, a flight company offering private trips around the moon.

“Wealthy people like Elon Musk will make space travel an opportunity for even the normal civilian and not just astronauts,” Kuklinski said. “That’s really cool to think about.”

Electromagnetic Railgun In Space Exploration; Not So Sci-fi After All

(Photo : Wall Street Journal/YouTube) Since the idea was first proposed in 1974 by Princeton University professor Gerard O’Neill, electromagnetic railgun is rapidly expanding use concepts other than military. Current proposals include the deployment of railgun in space exploration.

The electromagnetic railgun is not an object of science fiction after all since the United States Navy fires a projectile using the technology. While the idea of using the electromagnetic railgun in warfare is tempting, it appears that the technology was proposed for scientific purposes instead. While it is not feasible to catapult astronauts with 6 times faster than sound, for now, the technology could be deployed for tossing objects from the space to earth, vice versa.

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According to Space, the electromagnetic railgun peaked at Mach 6, which means six times the speed of sound. If astronauts can station at the moon and mine resources, the said speed is just a fraction “slower” than the escape velocity. Theoretically, nonmagnetic payloads from the moon could be tossed to earth.

It is exciting to consider the deployment of the electromagnetic railgun in the moon’s surface. Astronauts can mine ore chunks from the cosmic body. Thereafter, the electromagnetic railgun can toss the material into space. Next, these raw materials can be utilized to build space colonies. This idea was first proposed in 1974 by Princeton University professor Gerard O’Neill. When he died in 1992, the idea petered out until recently.

However, the electromagnetic railgun is still far from being capable of launching or propelling objects of larger mass like moon ores. The experiment only worked with small projectiles for now. Anything that is larger will require a complicated thermal management and a huge amount of electricity to reach hypervelocity. Wired explained that electromagnetic railgun uses electricity instead of the traditional chemical propellants.

Another issue is the size of the electromagnetic railgun needed to successfully launch a space vehicle. Based on current prototypes, a 160-meter long mass driver is needed. This means a lot of resources and a significant amount of power. Only by then will the electromagnetic railgun breach the 5,300 miles per hour requirement for the escape velocity at the moon.

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Group knocks Trump by holding 'first protest in space'

The Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN) launched a “protest in space” against President Trump this week in solidarity with the upcoming March for Science, by sending a weather balloon to space with a printed-out anti-Trump tweet attached to it.

ASAN launched six months ago to focus on on funding and carrying out space exploration programs, according to its website

On Wednesday, the group shared a video of it’s “first protest in space,” against Trump and inspired by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who said, “From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a b—h.”

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The group’s message used Mitchell’s words and was addressed to Trump from 90,000 feet in the stratosphere. 

ASAN shared more about its “protest” on Twitter. 

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