Closer to the Future

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It’s been an interesting few weeks for those of us who want to see humanity take that next step toward colonising our solar system and beyond.

In 2015, a team led by Michael Gillon from the University of Liege in Belgium, detected three Earth-sized planets orbiting the dwarf star.  That in and of itself was a win for astronomy, but the story of Trappist-1 didn’t end there.  On the 22nd of February this year, astronomers announced four additional exoplanets in orbit of the star – three of which were in the star’s habitable zone.  To top that off, scientists suggested that all seven, conceivably, could be habitable because it was possible they had liquid water somewhere on their surface.

Could the Trappist system be a future home for humanity?

As our technology continues to advance, it’s possible, but would we want to because the planets aren’t the most hospitable.  All of them are very close together, which means the gravitational interactions are quite prominent.  The planets are most likely tidally locked (one side of each planet permanently faces the star) and there would almost certainly be staggering differences between the temperatures on the light and dark sides of each world.  Each planet is also each exposed to very strong x-rays and UV, FUV (far ultraviolet) and EUV (extreme ultraviolet) radiation.

If we were to explore this system at some point in the future, it would no doubt be an exciting and fascinating voyage but would we find life and would we then attempt to establish a colony on one of the worlds?  It’s unlikely, unless future observations present us with additional information that makes the expense of such an exhibition worthwhile.

The next question we need to consider is, could life evolve in such harsh conditions, and could it be sentient?

For more information on the discovery, visit NASA here.

Not long after this news excited news outlets and scientists all around the world, many of those same outlets began reminding us of recent promises made by certain space capable powers that there would be a moonbase on our satellite soon.

The European Space Agency has wanted a moon base for a while, first announcing their interest in May of 2015.  Why?  It’s the logical successor to the International Space Station, says Johann-Dietrich Wörner, the Director General of the ESA.  For more information, visit this link here.  A year after securing the top job, Johann-Dietrich next proposed we go one step further and create a village on the moon.

China has been talking about creating a base on the dark side of the moon, and the Japanese have been looking to Luna with moon bases on their minds too.

NASA, arguably the most famous and prolific space agency in the world, has been talking about creating a base for a very long time, and in January of this year teamed up with Bigelow Aerospace to announce they will be working with the business on a number of space-based missions.  Sadly, none of them are a moonbase.  Bigelow, a private aerospace company, will be going that alone.

For more information, visit Space Industry News here, and Bigelow Aerospace‘s official site here.

What everyone involved in the race to the moon agrees on, is that we can establish a moonbase before 2050 – and launch a mission to Mars before then too.

I don’t know why there is suddenly so much interest in the moon, except perhaps for the financial benefits of being able to establish tourism and mining facilities there, but I’m glad multiple agencies and at least one private business is finally giving the idea serious consideration.


We’ve had the capability for some time, and now it’s exciting to see all of this talk about taking to the stars again to do something other than launch another communications satellite.

The cost in prohibitive, but the benefits far outweigh the expense.  As Earth continues to suffer under the weight of a growing population it can no longer easily support, one possible solution is allowing people to colonise the moon and Mars.

Now all we have to do is wonder who will get to the moon first, and whether or not our prediction (in our Space 2049 fan script) of a multinational and private business collaboration establishing a joint moonbase, is on the money.

In an alternate timeline somewhere, Commander Koenig and Doctor Russell are smiling!

Space 2049 Page Break

Believing in a Better Future

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Space: 1999 took a somewhat jaded look at the future on Earth, while at the same time focusing on our ability to survive and build something better as the survivors of an horrific accident clung to hope against a backdrop of mystery, struggle and the implied terror of being lost in deep space.

The Alphans were at the mercy of nature, unable to control the trajectory of their accidental gigantic spaceship (the moon) – but able to control the way they lived and maintained a focus on the possibility of something better.

It’s a message as relevant to today as it was to the often times tumultuous 1970s.

Space: 1999 taught me that while we can’t always control the bigger things in life, we can control the ways in which we react to them and, through our choices, make a gradual impact on what might initially appear to be something we cannot effect.

It’s a message we might want to consider as we make the transition from one year to the next, particularly as we look back on 2016 – a year that has brought us great challenges, and as close to a guarantee of an uncertain global future as we’ve had, at least since the days of the Cold War.

What a year.

In my day job, I’m a Counsellor and a Community Development specialist.  I’ve built an accidental career around working with the survivors of trauma with a primary focus on young people and professionals in the industry, and in turning what are purportedly community spaces into more inclusive places for people who are often (accidentally?) excluded or feel excluded or not catered to – young people, refugees, and unexpectedly these last two years, people from what we in Australia call the QUILTBAG community (Queer/Unisex/Intersex/Lesbian/Trans/Bisexual/Asexual and Gay) – particularly Trans and Non-Binary individuals.

I’ve been doing this work for two decades, starting it in my early twenties.  Back then, it felt like we had a real chance at solving the world’s problems (which was, I now know, naive).  Now, in my fourth decade, life has “reality checked” me and more often than not I’m seeing more inequality than ever before, and more turmoil and uncertainty.

I don’t know a way to fix that, but I’m still dedicated to doing my own small part.

Because of my day job, I’m a big fan of reflection.

At the end of every year, particularly since hitting my 40s, I lock myself away from the world and deep dive into the experiences I’ve had over the previous 360ish days.  This process is my way of staying grounded, of planning my way forward into a new year, and it’s my way of avoiding vicarious trauma and eventual “burn out” (in my industry, the average ‘life expectancy’ of a professional is 2.5 to five years).

Part of that process is remembering what’s inspired me.

Over the years, I’ve made no secret of the fact that the reason I do the work I do is because I was inspired to do it by my love of science fiction.

Recently, in a supervision session (which is where professional allied-health workers review their performance at regular intervals with someone older, more experienced, and better qualified than them), I was asked by my supervisor how I got into the industry and why I thought I was still surviving it.  I was at a career impasse.  I’d reached the top and had no idea what to do with the rest of my life, and my supervisor felt looking back would help me see my way through and forward into the future.

I reflected to her that from a young age I’d been inspired to try and reach an ideal – one that had been shaped by Star Trek, and influenced by the actions, bravery and compassion of characters in shows like Space: 1999, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica (the original) and Star Wars.

She gave me a look that clearly indicated she thought I might be losing my grip.

Maybe I’ve been losing it for years, but I can’t deny how much my inexplicable love for science fiction has influenced my life – both personally and professionally.

Deanna Troi inspired my trek into Counselling, as did Doctor Helena Russell, Doctor Leonard McCoy, and Ambassador Delenn.  Only one of those characters was a counsellor, but the rest dabbled in it or offered carefully thought out counsel to those around them.

Spock, Princess Leia Organa, Captain Apollo, G’Kar, Commander John Koenig, Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Captain Benjamin Sisko and Captain Kathryn Janeway encouraged me to act with integrity and courage.  Doctor Beverly Crusher, Doctor Stephen Franklin, Maya, Kes, Commander Adama, and Vir Cotto inspired me to keep compassion and consequence at the centre of my decision making, and the futures of hope displayed in each of these series – hope they’d find a home in Space: 1999, hope they’d find Earth in Battlestar Galactica, hope they’d maintain peace in Babylon 5 and then eventually the hope they’d overcome a corrupt government, the promise of a selfless future in Star Trek, the hope that good would always triumph over evil in Star Wars, shaped everything about me.

These things still shape me today.

Remembering those inspirations, despite the surprise another professional expressed regarding the source material, I was reminded that we still have a long way to go and we’re only going to get there if some of us keep dreaming of a better future, and if most of us allow ourselves to continue to be inspired by visionaries who focus on that future or on our better qualities as human beings.

The future – at least a future that’s worth living in – is created by people who dare to dream and then act on those dreams.  It’s created by people who allow themselves to be inspired, rather than mired down by fear and those who peddle in it.

As we enter a period in our history that is being defined by events and often frightening challenges like Brexit, ISIL, astonishing political change in the United States, disappointing political fracturing in Australia, threats to Democracy and effective, non-totalitarian Socialism throughout Europe, the ever present issues of homophobia, transphobia and racism around the world, and the effects of Global Warming, it’s more incumbent than ever on those of us who prefer hope over fear to keep doing what we’re doing and pushing back by choosing to focus on the positive.

There’s a school of thought that suggests we create our future through the things we focus on – at both the micro (personal) and macro (national or global) level.  There’s not a great deal of evidence to support this, though some scientists have made interesting steps forward in attempting to quantify it.  I’m choosing to believe in that theory and focus on what is extraordinary about humanity, rather than what’s disappointing about us.

I get that people are frightened of terrorism, of Donald Trump, of global warming and of the fact too many of us are literally two pay checks away from poverty or homelessness.  I get these things, and share these thoughts, but hunkering down in fear won’t solve the issues we’re facing.  If anything, they’ll exacerbate them.

2017, at least in my view, is the year we turn the tables and make a commitment to hope again.  These things, historically, are cyclical.  In my life time alone we’ve seen the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the mapping of our DNA, realistic plans to head to Mars, Gay marriage in some countries, and we’ve seen a number of women assume the ultimate positions of power in their respective countries despite the fact most of them only obtained the right to vote last century – and in some countries, shockingly, in the latter half of that century.

In a short space of time we’ve taken great strides forward, and we still can – with a little reorientation.  Some people, born in the first quarter of the last century, saw the austerity and fear of the depression, replaced with the excess of the 30s, the terror of the 40s, the boom of the 50s, the free love movement of the 60s, the Cold War and multiple other wars of the 70s and 80s as well as the crazy “greed is good” excess of the 80s and 90s, the fall of the World Trade Centre towers, the mining boom, and more recently all of those other things I’ve already mentioned that have led our collective psyche to a dark place.  Soon, hopefully, we’ll return to happier times and bounce back from the brink we sometimes feel like we’re at right now.

As we move forward into a new year, hopefully some of us (or most of us) will play our own individual roles in creating a brighter future and heralding in a happier time.

Television often reflects where we’re at as a people, and television fare these last few years has definitely been bleak.

With the upcoming release of Star Trek: Discovery, and their pledge to bring back a focus on hope and humans as positive change makers to television, maybe a change is coming?

As a one-time fan of The Walking Dead who got over it after a time because of how depressing it was, it’s interesting to hear a lot of people are now turning from the show because of how bleak and hopeless it is.  It’s happening to a lesser degree with other big, often depressing television shows, so maybe – as a people – we’re ready for something different and we’re tired of seeing human beings in a bad light, and our future as hopeless.

As we prepare to welcome in a new year, here’s to overcoming and rising above the fears caused by global terrorism, here’s to an end to homophobia, transphobia and all of those other ‘obias’ and ‘isms’, and here’s to embracing a future among the stars where there are moonbases and Mars outposts and a humanity focused on enhancing the species rather than destroying or victimising it.

And, here’s to a TV Network or production company being brave enough to rebirth Space: 1999!  I still believe, as a show, it has a unique ability to show us an incredibly positive and amazing near future.

Happy New Year, everyone.  Let’s do our own small part to build a better, brighter future that’s worth living in.

As you go through your own end of year process, whether it results in resolutions or not, I hope you find wisdom, joy, and the courage we all need to be positive change makers.

Space 2049 Page Break

It’s Time for a New Look at Space: 1999

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It’s obvious I’m a fan of Space: 1999, so I’ll happily declare there is a bias present in this article.  To me, the show had a lot going for it – compelling characters, amazing sets, decent (for the time) special effects, and a tone of mystery and hope set against a subtle backdrop of disillusionment and mistrust (two feelings that permeated the 1970s, and coincidentally the twenty-teens).

The series was cancelled before its time despite its popularity, with the sad reality being it kind of killed itself with a lot of retooling between seasons that didn’t sit well with its fans.  Space: 1999 is probably the best example of how not to “fix” a television show if you want that show to survive.  Though season two gave us Maya and Tony, it took from us compelling storylines and a handful of fan favourite characters like Paul and Victor.

Space: 1999 wouldn’t work today as an exact and completely faithful reboot, because we’re 17 years past the titular date of 1999, and we also know more about our moon, our solar system and the near galaxy than we did then.  Not to mention the fact scientists are pretty certain that the moon being ripped from Earth orbit would destroy it and our own planet!  But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss this show and it’s underlying premise.  The characters, the (then) future forward but still focused in reality design aesthetic, the message of hope and exploration, and the crew of Alpha’s fight to survive against overwhelming odds (like we are today with climate change, global terrorism, changing political sensibilities, growing poverty, rising unemployment etc) are as relevant to today’s world as they were 40 plus years ago – and perhaps resonate with more potency now than they did back in the 70s.

With the renewed focus on exploring our solar system and the recent focus on space tourism, asteroid mining and setting up colonies on both the moon and Mars, Space: 1999 is more relevant today than it was in the 1970s when it was first released.

No other science fiction property can so eloquently show us the near future as authentically – if the series is retooled effectively and respectfully.

To clarify that point, shows like The Expanse and the new Star Trek: Discovery (due for release in May next year) do and will focus on the issues I mentioned above, but neither do (or will do) it from a timeframe close to right now.  Though Space: 1999 got a lot wrong (we don’t have a moonbase, we’re not dumping nuclear waste on the moon, and we haven’t received mysterious signals from nearby exoplanets), it did do its best to predict what the near future would look like 24 years into the future (and a lot of people still think the set design and ship designs stack up today, with the Eagle Transporter still spoken of as one of the most realistic space ships ever designed).

For a show like Space: 1999 that has maintained a strong and loyal fan base for 40 years, there are dangers in rebirthing or rebooting it.  There can also be benefits – a lot of them.  No one can forget the trepidation and then remarkable love many of us felt for the Battlestar Galactica reboot.  Ronald D. Moore kept the premise intact, giving more thought and background to the Cylons than the legendary Glen A. Larson had back in the late ’70s, and he kept many of the characters the same – controversially changing some (Starbuck becomes a woman, as does Boomer, and Athena is no longer Adama’s daughter, but a Cylon) and adding in new characters to flesh out that ‘world’.

Someone seeking to bring Space: 1999 back could go that route, but there are other approaches that would be equally as successful.

One alternate is the one I ascribe to here on this site, with the budding fan script I’ve been writing.

Space 2049‘s premise attempts to remain completely loyal to the original idea of Space: 1999, but instead of destructively blasting our moon out of Earth’s orbit, which, as mentioned above would be pretty apocalyptic for all of us down on the planet as well as the people on Alpha, it blasts a second moon – an asteroid that was captured by Earth’s gravity – out of Earth’s orbit and sends that second moon on a trip through our solar system toward an anomaly transmitting radio signals toward Earth from Jupiter orbit.

Most of the characters are the same, with one or two added in to reflect the role business will play in space colonisation, and with one or two secondary characters having their races and genders changed to better reflect a diverse settlement.  Overall the premise is identical and follows the thematic tone of the first season of Space: 1999.

As a devoted fan, that to me, makes sense.

While there is only the remotest of chances our homeworld will capture an asteroid and make it a second moon, it is entirely possible according to the research I’ve done.  It’s certainly more possible and less catastrophic than our moon getting ejected from orbit.

For the record, I looked at a space station being blasted out of orbit, but after two weeks of exhaustive research discovered there was NO WAY an artificial construct could survive that sort of catastrophe intact.

A few years back, Jace Hall of V (the reboot) fame attempted to bring Space: 1999 back as Space 2099, but that very quietly fell apart about two years ago.

From what I can find online, Space 2099 was going to honour the original in theme, but not necessarily in any other way.

I was a fan of this attempt at a reboot, but admit I would have been disappointed if too much had changed, and would have been really upset if Koenig, Russell and Maya hadn’t featured in it.

The pre-production efforts of the team behind Space 2099 didn’t reveal much to the wider public, though they did actively communicate with us all for a while at the forum on their website, but despite inviting the fans in we don’t know a lot about the show.  What we do know is that the reboot is no more.

Looking at the very few promo images that made it into the public domain, all I – all any of us – can do is guess.  My guess is we would have had a Moonbase Alpha, but there would have been no object blasted out of Earth’s orbit.  I believe they would have used Alpha as a jump point for a ship tasked with exploring beyond our solar system.

Regardless of what anyone might do with a reboot, it really is time for another look at Space: 1999.  Despite the rubbish monster of the week show it turned into in its second season, it was originally an intelligent, philosophical, meaningful show that would be successful right now in the current television landscape.

Even with a controversial new President due to take power in the United States in January, and a very unstable global community with issues like Brexit and ISIL featuring in world headlines on a daily basis, it seems clear that NASA and other interests will continue to push toward the moon and Mars.

As our climate continues to change, as our planet’s population continues to exceed our homeworlds’ ability to support humanity, and as our earthly resources continue to diminish, we’ll be forced more and more to focus on space as a solution to our growing global problems.

Has there ever been a better time for a show like Space: 1999 to shine?

A show that looks ahead a few years and poses realistic solutions to growing world problems could be really important, and that postulation could all still happen against an allegorical background of space adventure and fun.

Hopefully someone in TV production land is thinking the same thing.

It’s time for a new look at this old gem.

I wish I knew what derailed Jace’s vision, but more than that I hope someone sees value in a show of this kind and gives Space: 1999 a new life that the fans can love and a new TV audience can celebrate.

Space 1999 Page Break

Asgardia

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This is one of the more surprising announcements I’ve heard in a long time.

On the 12th of October in Paris, the leaders of something called the Asgardia Project discussed their proposed ‘space nation’, called Asgardia, and announced it was accepting applications for citizenship.

The leaders of the project say they aim to launch Asgardia‘s first satellite in 2017 and say they hope to eventually have a space station in low orbit where the people of this ‘nation state’ could live.  Not all people identifying as Asgardians would live on Asgardia, some would stay on Earth but identify as being citizens of that nation – just as some of us live in other countries, but identify as being a citizen of our country of birth.

According to the project’s website, which you can visit here, Asgardia has been named for Asgard, the home of the Norse Gods.

I haven’t been able to work out why, but perhaps some intensive research into Nordic folk lore might present a rationale.

On the project’s “concept” page, the leaders of this proposed nation state say that Asgardia will “…demonstrate to scientists throughout the world that independent, private and unrestricted research is possible.”

That sounds both exciting and slightly ominous.  Sometimes, research is restricted for very good reasons.

Asgardia intends to be a democracy that encourages its citizenry to develop space technologies.

The project founder and its team leader is Doctor Igor Ashurbeyli, a Russian businessman and scientist from Azerbaijan.  He was the CEO of SPA Almaz from 2000 to 2011 and was also the Chairman of the Board of Socium Holding.  Dr Ashurbeyli has a PhD in Engineering with a specialisation in Computer Science, according to Wikipedia.

Asgardia is not yet an official nation state as recognised by the United Nations, and the project leaders believe they will need tens of thousands of ‘citizens’ before they can formally apply for recognition.

Each citizen who wishes to apply to become a part of Asgardia needs to be able to meet the UN requirements for multiple citizenship’s, and has to be willing to be part of a democracy that has, as its goals, service to humanity and “peace in space”.

It’s a fascinating proposal, and according to the website, if I’m reading it right, they’ve had 446,996 applications to date from countries all around the world including China, the United States, Turkey, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy, India, the Russian Federation, Iran and Australia.  Their 446,996 applications for citizenry, according to their website, makes them the 168th largest ‘nation’ on Earth, just below Cape Verde and just above Malta (at the time of writing this article).

In the hour I spent researching Asgardia, I saw their numbers increase by a couple of hundred, so the word is definitely out there.

If you’d like to learn more about this initiative, Asgardia‘s official website is here, their facebook page is here or you can do a Google search and check out one of the many articles that have been written up about this audacious and ambitious idea.

Asgardia is both exciting, and frightening.  Frightening because I’ve watched too many sci-fi films where these sorts of things go awry, and exciting because we are already an extremely over-populated planet, and I firmly believe our future is both here on Earth, in orbit, and in space.

If the Doctor and his leadership team really do have the best intentions at heart, I wish them the very best in their endeavours.

Either way, at some point, we as a planet and the United Nations as an entity, are going to have to consider the reality of human beings living and being born in space, and the question of citizenship (among many other things) will come up.

It will be interesting to see if the UN and the rest of the world takes Asgardia seriously once they apply for recognition as an independent nation state.

If they do, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

This really is an exciting and sometimes strange century to be living in.

Space 2049 Page Break

United Nations Space Mission

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On the 27th of September, the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs and Sierra Nevada Corporation announced details about the first ever UN dedicated space mission at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The mission will give developing countries the opportunity to propose and fly microgravity payloads for an extended duration in orbit.

Though the mission gives developing countries a chance to participate in a mission they would not otherwise be able to take part in, the mission also gives all Member States the chance to propose payloads for the mission.

The historic mission will take place on board the Sierra Nevada Corporation spacecraft Dream Chaser.

Simonetta Di Pippo, the Director of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) said, at the official announcement, “One of UNOOSA’s core responsibilities is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space.  I am proud to say that one of the ways UNOOSA will achieve this, in cooperation with our partner Sierra Nevada Corporation, is by dedicating an entire microgravity mission to United Nations Member States, many of which do not have the infrastructure or financial backing to have a standalone space programme.”

Funding for the mission will come from a variety of sources, with the countries chosen to participate paying a pro-rated portion of the mission cost based on the payload to be taken into orbit, and based on the Member State’s ability to pay.

The Sierra Nevada Corporation‘s Dream Chaser is the only reusable, lifting-body, multi-mission-spacecraft capable of landing at commercial airports or space ports in the world, which means the ship can land at any Member State supplying a payload for the mission.

The announcement is an exciting move that takes us one step closer to the future postulated in Space: 1999.

For more information, read the UN official announcement here.

The mission is still a little while away, and as more information comes to light we’ll report it here.

For more information on the Sierra Nevada Corporation, visit their official site here where you can also find more details on the spacecraft that will take the first steps to opening up space exploration for all UN Member States.

Space 2049 Page Break

Proxima B

Artists Visualisation of Proxima B in Orbit of Proxima Centauri

It’s been an exciting week for the scientific community.

On the 24th of August, scientists announced the discovery of our nearest exoplanet, Proxima B.  The planet was detected by observers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

What’s so special about a new exoplanet?  Well, there are a couple of exciting things about this one: Proxima B is only 4.2 light years away, AND, it’s in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri.

Habitable zone?

Also known as the Goldilocks zone, the habitable zone is that space between a planet and its star where the temperature is ‘just right’, so right that there is the very real possibility stable liquid water could have formed on the surface of that world.

While both Proxima B and our very own Earth are within the habitable zones of their respective stars (ours is Sol, and Proxima B’s is Proxima Centauri), the similarities seem to end there.

Proxima B is 1.3 times larger than our planet, which means it is most likely tidally locked (one side always faces the sun), and due to it’s size is probably a very rocky world.

Could it sustain life?  Or already be sustaining life?  Does it have water?

No one can answer those questions just yet, but something Space 2049 reported on a few months ago might be able to in the not too distant future.

Breakthrough Starshot

Breakthrough Initiatives, with their Breakthrough Starshot project, may send some of their solar sail powered nanocraft to the Proxima system when they launch the amazing devices on a voyage of discovery to the Alpha Centauri system in about a decade.

While the Breakthrough Initiatives team continues to explore the possibility of diverting some of their nanocraft to Proxima, numerous observatories around the world will continue to give the Proxima star system the focus it deserves as we seek to learn more about this new world.

Will humans be able to visit Proxima B any time soon?  Using current technology… no.  It would take about 70,000 years for a manned spacecraft or even a conventional unmanned probe to make that journey.

If Breakthrough Starshot is able to launch its fleet of nanocraft as anticipated, the journey could be made in decades, but putting humans on Proxima B anytime soon is slightly beyond our reach.  For now.

If you’d like to read more about this discovery, visit space.com here.

If you’d like to read more about the Breakthrough Starshot project, visit Breakthrough Initiatives here.

Even with nanocraft zooming off to visit Proxima B in a decade or less, it will be some time before we know anything much about that world beyond what we can observe here on Earth.  Despite that, this news is remarkable, and to have discovered a world like Proxima B so close to our own makes you wonder… just what else will science reveal to us about our closest neighbours in the coming years?

Space 2049 Page Break

The Quest for Artificial Gravity

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One of the holy grail’s for space travel is the creation of artificial gravity.

Why?  Because of the potential deleterious effects of space travel on the human body.

A great deal of energy has gone into researching the effects of micro-gravity on human beings, with a considerable amount of that research happening on the International Space Station in recent months.  That research is still ongoing, but what it’s shown us, to date, is that there are negative impacts on our musculature and possibly our internal organs.

Microgravity?  What’s microgravity?

Good question.  Gravity, as you hopefully know, is the force that governs motion throughout the universe, and it’s that ‘thing’ that holds us to the surface of our planet.  Gravity also keeps the moon in orbit around the Earth, and our beautiful planet in orbit around the sun.

There’s a popular perception that gravity doesn’t exist in space, however that’s not entirely true.  Gravity is still a force to be reckoned with once you pass through the Earth’s Thermosphere and Exosphere.  It’s the Earth’s gravity that holds the ISS, any space craft we launch to zoom around our planet, and our satellites in orbit (along with some help from the OMS – Orbital Manouvering System and RCS – Reaction Control System engines that help to correct for orbital instabilities).  To reach a point in space where the Earth’s gravitational affect is zero, you would have to travel quite a way… and then even further to be free of the sun’s gravitational field (3.7 BILLION kilometers).  Even then, you would not be free of gravity completely and would have to contend with the gravity field of the Milky Way galaxy.

So, because some degree of gravity is almost everywhere, the more correct term is microgravity, not zero-gravity.

Currently, we have no artificial gravity on any space craft or station, and the brave souls who go into space float around in microgravity.  We have the ability to create artificial gravity right now, it’s just prohibitively expensive.

Seriously?

Yup.

Sadly, not the sort of artificial gravity you see on Babylon 5Star TrekSpace: 1999 or most other scifi productions.

In most popular science fiction movies and TV shows, artificial gravity is shown as a given and is this sort of pseudo magical thing that has no clear basis in science – and this is mostly to save on special effects and time, because filming actors in simulated microgravity would be prohibitively expensive.

To the credit of Space: 1999Star Trek and Babylon 5 and some other television series’, the creative staff do make an attempt to explain why their characters can walk around a spaceship or a space station without floating all over the place, but those explanations are often based on alien intervention or way out science that’s nothing more than barely sensible technobabble.  Babylon 5 came the closest with the titular station spinning to create centrifugal force, as did some of the Earth Forces ships.  2001: A Space Odyssey and Elesium also used centrifugal force for Space Station V and the Elysium station and did their absolute best to be scientifically accurate.

In Space: 1999 artificial gravity is used on Alpha and inside the Eagle Transporters, and the concept is introduced by Professor Bergman in the episode “Black Sun”.  Bergman describes eight towers that essentially create an artificial gravity field around Alpha… but that field, for reasons no one knows, only exists inside Alpha and disappears when the station crew leave the base but are still in range of the field.

In Star Trek artificial gravity is generated by a series of devices that don’t require something as expensive and essentially unwieldy as centrifugal or centripetal force.

To create artificial gravity right now, with the technology we have available, would suck up ten or so years worth of the world’s aluminium, and the cost of launching the various parts into space to create a rotating space station big enough would be exorbitant.

If you’re interested in learning more, Real Engineering has a wonderful explanation on their YouTube channel.  They get all the info out in a far more measured and accurate way than I could ever hope to.

The video isn’t very long, and if you’re interested in the future of space exploration it’s a fascinating watch.

Check it out here.

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