The late Neil Armstrong took in 2010 time to write an explanatory email about the complications of working on the Lunar surface (link >>>) with insufficiently tested equipment. He approaches the matter in a true engineering spirit. I had no idea they faced so many difficulties.
It seems that several US entrepreneurs are heading for space now (link >>>). A development that well may speed up the exploration of the nearer parts of the solar system. It reminds me of Jules Verne’s stories of adventurous Americans.
I have been writing a lot about Mars in the blog, mostly because there are a lot going on about the red planet in both science and fiction. However, somebody recently drew my attention to an article on ways of colonizing Venus by floating cities one or two centuries in the future. (Link >>>) I like the bold idea — and who can resist the vision of a Bespin appearing in our cosmic neighborhood?
“And little he knew of the things that ink may do, how it can mark a dead man’s thoughts for the wonder of later years, and tell of happenings that are gone clean away, and be a voice for us out of the dark of time, and save many a fragile thing from the pounding of heavy ages; or carry to us, over the rolling centuries, even a song from lips long dead on forgotten hills.”
— Lord Dunsany
Today Neil Armstrong, the first man to set his foot on the moon, passed away from old age. I was ten years old when the Eagle, crewed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on the moon on 20 July 1969. Armstrong and Aldrin became household names, heroes of science and technology. That was the social mood of those days: progress and development were unquestioned “beneficial” qualities and space exploration belonged to the realm of daring deeds.
Today, the social mood is quite different and space journeys has become non-events. The International Space Station has been continuously manned for years and few people keep track on individual astronauts. It is probably a good development, because it shows that space technology has become an integral part of our society.
Neil Armstrong was a banner carrier in those long gone days and because of that he became an icon, an all-American hero, perhaps one of the last old-style ones. But what he really excelled in was his craft: piloting strange craft, both in the air and on the moon. So may he rest in peace, while his memory lives. Per aspera ad astra.
Before legendary scientist Carl Sagan passed away in 1996, he recorded a message to those people who will colonize Mars sometime in the future. He explains several reasons for why humanity ought to settle on many worlds. Read his words here >>>
Deutsche Welle has produced a video with a CGI reconstruction of the Iron Curtain that divided Germany in two states 1949-89 (link to an English version >>>). Its ten minutes provide detailed studies of the vast manned barriers that the dictators in the East used to keep their citizens imprisoned.
An article about Project Corona, the first US spy satellite programme in the early years of the space age (link >>>). Its written from the perspective of the engineers and officers who designed and ran the devices.