Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Amazing Interstellar Travel Method

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has revealed an amazing method of interstellar travel first proposed in 1998 by Dr. Robert Metzger, physicist and SF writer. Dr. Metzger dubbed his scheme the take it with you plan. You must read the article to get all the gory details, but to summarize: you use the sun as an engine using advanced third-law-of-motion techniques to scoot the star along. Naturally, the sun will drag along the rest of the solar system with him. So instead of deciding whether to take your lucky ball cap or your teddy bear on your life's journey, you take everything.

Some details of this solar scooter technology are still in the making. Warning: there is some arithmetic in the article.

As if that were not enough for one post, Dr. Metzger also gives some news you can use about fusion, strange sightings, fuel-less orbital boost, turb0-evolution and table-top black holes.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NASA's Ares I-X Launch Success

From NASA's blog: NASA's Ares I-X test rocket lifted off at 11:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a two-minute powered flight. The flight test lasted about six minutes from its launch from the newly modified Launch Pad 39B until splashdown of the rocket's booster stage nearly 150 miles downrange.

Now, Flash Fiction Online readers and writers are naturally skeptical, especially after a reader's anonymous tip led to the moon landing controversy, which NASA had to defend. However, Yours Truly personally viewed the launch from about 30 miles south of the Cape. I can attest that the Ares I-X flight had substantial vertical and eastward vectors. As a Fair Witness, I can say it left from somewhere (Titusville, Florida area), but I cannot confirm that it arrived anywhere, as that leg of the flight was beyond unenhanced human vision from my viewing location.

However, I haven't taken our meds in a while and we are very, very confused. Ohh, shiny!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Astronauts: Houston, Commercial Spaceflight Is No Problem

A baker's dozen of astronauts have penned....no, these guys and gals are the ultimate earlier adopters. (Refueling.)

A baker's dozen of astronauts have texted an endorsement of commercial participation in spaceflight. This statement was aimed directly at NASA. These astronauts feel that NASA's strength is in exploration. Now that near-space access is slightly less than rocket science, the astronauts feel that the commercial sector is more suited to making it commonplace.

The paper cited Sally Ride's statement as capturing their thoughts concisely:

"We would like to be able to get NASA out of the business of getting people to low Earth orbit."

The astronauts participating in the statement were: Buzz Aldrin, Ken Bowersox, Jake Garn, Robert Gibson, Hank Hartsfield, John Herrington, Byron Lichtenberg, John Lounge, Rick Searfoss, Norman Thagard, Kathryn Thornton, Jim Voss and Charles Walker.

Here is The Wall Street Journal's article on the astronaut's endorsement of commercial spaceflight.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Space vs. Earth Chess Match

A great drama is nearing a conclusion: the Space vs. Earth chess match. The honor of Earth is on the line. A terrible day it would be if Earth--who invented the game somewhere during the imperial quakes of the early middle ages--should lose to spacemen. Here's the situation: the International Space Station was invaded by an expatriate Earthling chess player, Greg Chamitoff, who has wrangled a chess game of honor with Earthling elementary school children. Earth's honor rests on children's shoulders because of this diabolical match. The only saving grace is that the children may select four candidate moves and let all of Earth vote on which to use. I pray Earth is using all of her supercomputers, networked together, to select the best of the four children's moves. (I'm not certain, but I think the ISS has only a Commodore 64 at its disposal.)

The spaceman's goons at NASA and the U.S. Chess federation set up this match. Here is NASA's announcement of the Earth vs. Space chess match. Here is the U.S. Chess Federation's reporting of the current tactical situation in the game. Here are the moves of the game. Yours Truly has some hope for Earth. She is up two pawns and it seems that her queen rook pawn's threat of promotion to a queen will force the spaceman's king away from defending his pawns from an overwhelming force of Earth's pawns.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Space News

There has been quite a bit of space news lately because of yesterday's 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. Here is an eclectic collection of related stories:

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Current and Near-Future Space Travel

This panorama of current and near-future space travel, provided by The Independent (UK), gives a view of the current upcoming endeavors and tensions of space travel, including lunar visits and to "infinity and beyond," to quote a certain cartoon character. The players are the U.S. and her partners, Russia and her partners, the Chinese, and commercial concerns such as Virgin Galactic. In some cases, such as the International Space Station, participants in the new space race are contestants and partners at the same time.

China is the new player, with an independent intention to land on the moon at about the same time that the U.S. intends to return there. Of course there are budget concerns.

However, space travel is not pretty. When did you ever see Captain Kirk excuse himself from the bridge for personal plumbing issues? "You have the bridge, Mr. Spock. I haffa go potty....Emergency! Scottie to the potty...Scottie to the potty...it's broken." In the now-crowded International Space Station, the poor near-spacemen and near-spacewomen are suffering such a catastrophe, with no convenience store or McD in a nearby orbit. (Were you aware that the ISS has a orbiting pay-potty?)

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

First Hi-Res LRO Photos of Lunar Landing Sites

NASA has released the first of the hi-resolution photos of the lunar landing sites, from the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter), showing artifacts of Apollo missions there. On these first photos, evidence of the artifacts is mainly through bright objects with long shadows of lunar modules Eagle, Falcon, Orion, Challenger and Antares, and areas of human footpaths. The Flat Earth Society will not be impressed. Later photos will have three times the resolution, so details will be more apparent and The Flat Earth Society will be three times less unimpressed.

The primary LRO mission is to identify future landing sites.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

International Space Station (ISS) Visible to Many

Starting yesterday (you're welcome), the International Space Station (ISS), will be quite visible all over the world for a while. It has a 90-minute orbit, so it may be visible several times per day. Because of its continuing construction over the years, it has become quite large...the largest spacecraft in existence*.

NASA has some general information on these ISS viewing events, here. That article refers to Space.com's satellite spotting guide, which gives some guidance on when and where to look in your area. You may also find local news coverage in your area on this topic.

*Except for certain alien craft in Area 51...we can't talk about it. Americans can see the alien craft by going to Nevada and presenting a valid public library card or Disney Pass and telling who won "the series" in 1951.

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