The Road to Deep Space

In the science fiction novels or scenarios we usually get the picture of an established future. Somehow we got out there and we’re doing something interesting. The background of how we leave our cradle is normally left out or limited to some milestone (i.e. the discovery of a better engine or such). It’s a kind of fast forward to the future that works well in the speculative fiction, but let out the most difficult part of our collective future.

As of 2018, we have a lot of great projects ongoing. Two different unmanned missions will approach asteroids for collect samples, a number of probes are moving around the Solar System, new launch systems are deploying and the next big step, Mars, is in the making. This is great stuff, with tons of new data coming up and a whole lot of good science. Plus, we have a bigger number of players, both in the private and in the public sector, ready to compete in the market and to push for more opportunities in the years to come.

Continue reading

Advertisements

An Open Letter To Science Fiction Writers

Dear All,

Have I told you lately how much I love your works? No? Well, this is a good time as any to tell you so. I’m reading good science fiction and enjoying some good TV show, thanks to your efforts. Thank you, straight from the heart.

Now, can we speak about a couple of serious problems?

Continue reading

Deep Space Capitalism, here we come!

Sometimes, you have to love capitalism. I’m serious, this post is not a joke. For decades, science fiction fan and space enthusiasts like me dreamed about the first steps in the new space race, the colonization of our Solar System. A big part of this dream is related to the transformation of the asteroids in useful minerals sources, not to mention the chance to use some of them as bases in the Asteroid Belt.

There’s a beautiful site, aptly named Asterank (link here), where the available data about known asteroids are compiled and offered for public use. What amazes me the most is the purposed classification of the asteroids, something that speaks volumes about our possible future. “Most cost effective” or “Most valuable” may appear as bizarre right now, but are nonetheless an effective way to look at our rocky neighbors.

An example? The asteroid Bennu (that will be reached by the OSIRIS-REX mission for a sample-return mission) is listed at 669.96 million USD value for an estimated profit of 185 million USD. Not bad at all. Want more? The asteroid Ryugu, actually in the crosshairs of the Hayabusa2 mission for another sample-return mission, is listed at 82.76 billion USD  for an estimated profit of 30.07 billion USD. That’s much better! For many asteroids and other celestial bodies, there are not enough data so it will be pointless to estimate values. Others are too little or too far to be of any commercial interest.

Is there Capitalism in deep space? Not today. Not even tomorrow. It’s still something I hope to see in my lifetime.

The Human factor in Space

It looks like humankind is getting ready to start its long-delayed expansion in our Solar system. There are ongoing plans for establishing some kind of Moon-based station, for flights in cislunar space and finally, for a manned mission to Mars. There are also efforts to extend the life of the ISS, not to mention the proposed construction of a Chinese space station in the next few years.

Continue reading

Writing science fiction – free tools for the trade

science_fiction_quarterly_195505

One of the biggest challenges for a writer who wants to write science fiction is to be up-to-date with the most recent developments of real world science, not to mention the constant upgrade of the speculations about the nature of our universe. We all know that a science fiction novel (or whatever format) is not an essay about some peculiar field of science. We also know that without enough scientific (or para-scientific) elements in the story we’re not writing science fiction but some kind of fantasy (that’s not a problem, of course, but we’re talking about sci-fi right now).

Continue reading

Travel in Space – approaching a Solar system

classic spaceship

In the science fiction genre, spacefaring is a common trait. We see every kind of spaceships going thru and forth a wide variety of worlds, usually using two kinds of propulsion systems: one for travelling between systems (FTL or dimensional) and another for travelling inside the destination system (sub C velocities).

But what happens when a spaceship approach a Solar system?

Continue reading

The Moonbase that never was

1999d

I’m enjoying a family rerun of the first season of Space:1999, a show that never fails to amaze me. While my nine-year-old son is accepting this show at face value (this is part of his formation as a sci-fi fan, he’s already a whovian – this is also parenting done right), me and my wife remember our impressions from the bottom part of the seventies (in Italy the show was aired in 1977 or in 1978, I believe).

Continue reading