Search results for: NASA +budget

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Website Wants To Build The Enterprise In Real Life

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The future of space exploration is definitely in question these days. NASA is having its budget sliced down to the bone. Privately funded spaceflight is promising, but still has many hurdles yet to surmount. In spite of a state of affairs that could easily generate cynicism in many a space devotee, there’s at least one group who is meeting the challenge by dreaming big…some might say ridiculously so. The folks behind the aptly named BuildTheEnterprise.org, you see, want to build an honest-to-gosh, real-life version of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and they want to do it over the next 20 years.

Now, some of the more skeptical amongst us might point out some of the obvious obstacles to a working Enterprise: the lack of warp-drive technology, for instance, or most of the other technologies that allowed the Enterprise to boldly go where no one yadda yadda yadda. The BTE folks seem aware of that, and are instead proposing the Enterprise’s iconic design as a starting point, then equipping the theoretical vessel with existing, or at least hypothetically possible, tech. We might not have warp drive, for instance, but we might conceivably be able to build ion propulsion engines powered by nuclear reactors. We might not be able to create artificial gravity as snazzy as Star Trek, but we already know how to simulate gravity through rotation. They even have a first mission in mind for the Enterprise: finally putting some humans on Mars.

It’s all a bit pie-in-the-sky, of course, but it’s a fascinating thought experiment if nothing else. We will probably never see warp drive in our lifetimes, if at all (unless the Singularity has a few surprises for us), but there are space-exploration technologies just waiting to be developed further, lacking only the passion and funding to make it happen. BuildTheEnterprise still has a steep climb ahead of it when it comes to the funding, but you have to admire their passion. And hey, to paraphrase Doc Brown, if you’re going to build a space craft, why not do it with some style?

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Take A Trip With Phileas Fogg This Week in Science Fiction

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The Other Log of Phileas Fogg
by Philip José Farmer

If you’re not familiar with the “Wold Newton Universe” created by Philip Jose Farmer, here’s the gist: the Wold Newtonverse imagines a world where characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, and Doc Savage all exist in the same reality, with many of their extraordinary abilities traceable back to a radioactive meteorite that crashed in Wold Newton, Yorkshire, England, in 1795. The Other Log of Phileas Fogg is set in the Wold Newton Universe, and reimagines the 80-day journey of Jules Verne’s Fogg not as the result of a wager, but as a mission to hunt down Captain Nemo. Originally published in 1973, The Other Log is getting a snazzy new reprint courtesy of Titan Books, and I’d argue it’s even more timely now. While many people have never heard of the Wold Newton universe, the mash-up mentality has become ever more common in pop culture, from comics such as Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Warren Ellis’ Planetary, to popular TV series that have crossed over into each other over the years. Even the Avengers movie, while not quite the same thing, is an expression of the desire to smush things we like together to see what happens. Iron Man is awesome by himself, but he’s a lot more interesting when part of a shared universe where he must interact with people like Captain America and Thor. If you’ve never checked out Farmer’s work, why not dive in with Phileas Fogg and the Wold Newton Universe? (And then if you really want your mind blown, click over and read about the Tommy Westphall Theory.)

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Petition The White House To Fund Space Exploration

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If you’re a reader of this site odds are you already understand just why space exploration is so vitally important. Unfortunately, most of our politicians still don’t get it. So NASA remains underfunded and America’s plans to explore the solar system remain mostly on hold. So it’s up to us to make sure they understand just how much this matters. One way to do it might be by signing a petition.

Normally internet petitions are useless and meaningless, but they’re not quite such an empty endeavor when they’re posted on the White House’s official site. There the Obama administration has set up a way for citizens to petition the administration and get answers to the things they care about. If a petition gets enough signatures, the White House will respond. This petition asks the Whitehouse to double NASA’s annual budget and it needs roughly 18,000 more signatures before the Obama administration will respond.

Doubling NASA’s budget might sound like a tall order, but it’s not. Doubling NASA’s budget would only require the government to spend 1 penny for every dollar the government spends. Currently the US government only spends half a cent.

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Half A Million Bucks Could Get You Round-Trip To Mars

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With NASA getting its budget slashed and space exploration a low priority for every politician not promising a moon base should they be elected, it’s easy to wonder who, if anyone, will carry the torch into this new century. It may be that other countries surpass us in the field of space exploration. Or it may be that the race for the final frontier will be pushed forward by eccentric rich folks. Such as, for instance, the “rocket entrepreneur” who believes we could make a round-trip voyage to Mars for as little as half a million dollars.

The wide-eyed dreamer in question is PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, who has partnered with NASA to help design new vehicles to transport crew and cargo to the international space station. Musk told the BBC that his Mars claims are supported by recent technological breakthroughs that are making the ambitious trip to the red planet more realistic and financially feasible.

We will probably unveil the overall strategy later this year in a little more detail, but I’m quite confident that it could work and that ultimately we could offer a round trip to Mars that the average person could afford — let’s say the average person after they’ve made some savings.

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Voyager 1 Is About To Leave The Solar System

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The future of American space exploration may look more depressing than ever these days, between NASA budget cuts and a general disregard for science amongst chunks of the population. But the wonders are still out there, and amazing things are happening all the time if only we bother to pay attention. Case in point: Astronomy Now points out that the Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched by NASA back in 1977, is currently cruising along almost 11 billion miles from the Sun, on the threshold of entering the interstellar void. For the first time in history, a man-made object will leave our Solar System entirely. How cool is that?

Ironically, Voyager 1 completed its primary mission all the way back in 1980, sending back extensive photographs and data about Jupiter, Saturn, and their respective moons. With its last planetary close encounter behind it, Voyager has since been drifting ever further, headed for the outer edge of the Solar System. The craft is now on the edge of the heliosphere, the “bubble” surrounding the solar system created by charged particles emanating from the Sun. The latest data shows that Voyager has entered a “region of stagnation, where the stream of charged particles from the sun has slowed and the sun’s magnetic field has piled up.”

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Heads Up: You May Be Hit By A Falling Satellite This Weekend

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This weekend, if you’re out and about enjoying the fresh air of our rapidly fading summer season, there’s a chance that you may be hit by a piece of America’s failed space program.

NASA, or what’s left of it after the US government’s continued callous cuts of already fairly minimal exploration budgets, says a satellite they launched in 1991 is about to come back down to Earth. The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite or UARS has been losing altitude since 2005 and its reunion with Earth’s surface has been pretty much inevitable for awhile now. On Friday, the now irrelevant piece of 90s technology will collide with the ground.