Monthly Archives: December, 2007

Hopes for the coming year

I realize many bloggers and writers are currently expressing their wishes for the new year, most of whom are more articulate and experienced than I am. I can’t resist running my visual “mouth” despite those facts. My message is a work in progress and a constantly evolving creature. In spite of being a relative new-comer to the communication media, I believe that my brand of insanity has survived the past year largely intact (with some changes). So with great optimism (or restrained pessimism) I’m going to list the possible changes and ideas I might experiment with this New Year:

  1. Another format change. One of my original goals when I was persuaded to start this venture was to eventually start an e-zine. That is still a goal. The market for e-zines has grown exponentially this decade, but the attrition rate is high. Finding a subject format that is personally satisfying with a target audience is proving to be very difficult. As most of my readers know, I started out with a political focus tinged with tinfoil hat conspiracy theories. Now my focus is more Fortean, questioning both orthodox science and religion. Politics is usually dealt with once weekly, but I treat “left” and “right” as I do science and religion. The old paradigms no longer exist. But as I have noticed, alot of the blogosphere still cling blindly to the old way. I am reminded of one of my old college professor’s messages; “The only people who like change are babies with messy diapers.”
  2. Enforcement of the “keep it clean” rule. For the most part, discourse here has been adult with logical arguments for and against a certain topic. But a few times things have gotten out of hand when it came to religion and science and partisan politics. I don’t have trouble with trolls here, but the fights were between individuals I consider friends. I try not to be a “censor” because I accuse the government of that. But these fights go off topic and get personal. I will no longer tolerate it. Most of my readers and commenters have their own blogs. If anyone feels the need to call someone stupid, blind, foolish, backward or whatever epithet comes to mind, take it to your own blog if you have one, or to the person’s blog if they have one. If nobody has a blog, email insults to each other. Any arguments that get off topic or insulting will be removed. If it doesn’t stop when I ask, I will ban the individual(s) for a period of five days. The one warning is the only warning. If I get accused of censorship, so be it. I don’t ask for much, but this will be enforced.
  3. Original writing. I might try my hand at writing fiction after a hiatus of thirty years. Be forewarned on this too, it will likely be science-fiction and Star Trek fan fiction at that. I will try to make it readable. Also I’m looking for anyone who wants to post any science-fiction stories they might have. Of course this is on a voluntary basis. I will also ask for established authors to post here. This works toward my goal of taking the blog to e-zine level possibly.
  4. Advertising banners. Possible experiment. I’m not schooled in this aspect of Internet enterprise. Any suggestions?
  5. Ideas. Any ideas that are within the stated goals here will be given due consideration as impartially as I can.
  6. Changes. Any of the above are subject to change by the site owner, me. Due to my chronic medical conditions, anything could happen, even fatally. So if there’s any postings that have a long interval, like over a month without word from me, it’s likely I don’t exist in this dimension anymore. Other than that, shit happens!

Those are my hopes and rules guys. Let’s continue to fight the good fight and make a difference using this blogosphere tool. A paradigm shift is coming, I feel it!

ūüėé

Jay P. Hailey’s Star Trek: The Et Tu

Captain Hailey and his crew discover a wrecked Romulan ship on the other side of the Galaxy.

Why were the Romulans there? How did they get here? Did they arrive there the same way the Harrier did?

And how did the Romulans know French?

Remember, flames or blames go to Jay P. Hailey on his website or here: jayphailey@hotmail.com

Episode 08: The Et-Tu

(Stardate 45223)

By

Jay P. Hailey

And

Dennnis Washburn

The Romulan ship drifted in front of us, silently. I was sweating and trying not to show it.

“Any changes?” I asked

“No, Captain.” Harksain Varupuchu said. I could tell he thought I was being impatient.

“How about inside the ship?” I asked.

Stephanie Anderson, my Chief of Security was monitoring tricorders that we had turned on and beamed into the derelict ship.

“Nothing, Captain. There are no life forms above fungus and algae level.”

What an old Romulan Warbird was doing out here at all was a mystery to begin with. She was empty her crew was gone. There were no bodies and no clues.

Spaat, our Vulcan Helmsman had translated her name, written on the hull. It was a complicated concept. She was named for the emotion you feel when you find that you have been betrayed and all your plans undone, by your best friend, who has been compelled by his honor. In Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, Caesar has this emotion when he turns to find even Brutus has stabbed him. So we called the Warbird Et-Tu.

The temperature and micro-meteorite pitting of her hull showed that the Et-Tu had been abandoned for about fifty years.

I had a decision to make. The reason that the Warbird had been here, and why she had been abandoned might be important. They might be vital to our survival. We weren’t finding these reasons by remote control.

“I have a result.” Flagg said. I had called him to the Bridge to share whatever knowledge he had about Romulan operations with us.

He was searching through the Harrier’s archive. The Harrier, like all Starfleet starships carried as complete archive of all records and knowledge of the Federation. This knowledge was often a useful tool. If nothing else, when you became too bored you could read classic literature or history from the dozens of worlds in the Federation. There was more than a person could read in a lifetime there.

I found it weird and amusing that the Harrier carried data that no one aboard was classified to see. Just in case an Admiral or Ambassador was required by an emergency to use the Harrier as his flagship, Starfleet wanted everything he needed to know available.

Flagg was digging through Intelligence files, trying to find if our intelligence operations had acquired data on the Et-Tu.

“The Et-Tu, a Theta class Warbird, listed as missing in 2307, on a routine science mission.” Flagg reported.

I wanted to know what had happened to the Romulans. It might just save our lives. Who would I send? Who might get killed trying to find out?

I didn’t like that train of thought. Many Captains had picked up the habit of leading away teams. Now I thought I understood why. If I sent anyone over there I should go, too. It was only fair. We should face it together. After all, wasn’t it my responsibility? I knew I was going to hate sitting on the bridge and not knowing.

“Commander.” I said to Li’ira “Please take an away team to the Romulan ship. Take Ensigns Spaat and Bruce. They will try to gain access to the Et-Tu’s computer. Take Colonel Flagg and try to find out what happened to the crew.”

Li’ira listened carefully, until I got to the part about Flagg. She said “Aye, Sir,” dubiously, looking at Flagg,

I turned to Flagg. “Commander Li’ira will be in command of the away team, Colonel. Will you have a problem with that?”

Flagg responded with a faint, inscrutable smile “Not at all, Sir.”

-*-

The air on board the Et-Tu was hot and tasted stale. As the away team materialized, and noticed this, Ensign Bruce made a whooshing noise and said “Those Romulan sure liked it hot, didn’t they?”

“The temperature approximates the surface temperature of the Romulan Homeworld. Approximately ninety-three point five Fahrenheit degrees.” Spaat pointed out.

The Harrier’s crewmen looked around. They were in a corridor, long and straight. It was dark, only a few light sources dimly shining.

Flagg consulted his tricorder. “The Bridge should be forward. This way.” and started in that direction. The away team walked up the corridor towards the leading edge of the ship.

Li’ira suppressed a momentary irritation with Flagg. One of his talents as a spy was a certain lack of content to his body language. It was hard to tell what he was thinking. He seemed to randomly and arbitrarily act. Li’ira thought that if she was patient, lenient and observant, she might be able to get the man sent to brig for mutiny. The thought brought a small smile to her lips.

Soon the team reached a set of armored doors leading to the bridge. Flagg tried a button. The doors didn’t move. “They’re locked.” He said.

Li’ira looked to Spaat, who read the control panel and confirmed. “He is correct. The access to the bridge has been locked.” He looked at Flagg “I was not aware that you read Romulan, Sir.”

“Correct, Ensign.” Flagg said.

Li’ira resisted the urge to strangle Flagg and said “Ensign Bruce, can you defeat the lock?” Li’ira thought she might be able to. She knew that Flagg almost certainly could. She wanted to test Bruce’s talents for breaking and entering.

Bruce said “Yes, Sir.” and got to work on the lock. With quick, methodical steps he detached the face plate of the lock and peered intently at the locking mechanism. After a few moments study he pulled a tool out of his tool kit and gently violated a component of the lock.

The door to the bridge slid open, and a small, irritated beep sounded.

Flagg grinned wider “The test circuit? Where did you learn that?”

Bruce turned to the Colonel “In high school, Sir. In Chicago.”

After carefully checking the bridge, Li’ira set the two Ensigns to work on the computer.

Flagg activated the communications console. “Et-Tu to Harrier. This is Flagg, do you read?”

“This is Harrier, we read you. Go ahead.” I said

“Away team status good. Ensigns Spaat and Bruce are beginning their work with the computer.”

“Colonel, do you have the ability to set up a datalink to the Harrier?” Li’ira asked him.

“Yes, Commander.” Flagg’s voice was smooth and professional.

“Please do that. Do you have the ability to link our comm-badges through the Et-Tu’s internal communications system?”

“Yes, Commander.”

“Then let’s do that, too.”

On the Bridge of the Harrier I could see the datalink come to life on Tillean’s panel. My own access was fairly high, and so I had continued searching for old Romulan access codes. I had found a couple of administrative codes that seemed like they might work. I sent them to Spaat and Bruce along the datalink.

Spaat, at the Warbird’s science station entered the codes, and the Federation starship Harrier became a Romulan space station as far as the Et-Tu was concerned. Using a suggestion from Ensign Bruce, Spaat declared the crew of the Harrier administrative personnel. The irritating beep stopped, as the Et-Tu realized that the strangers on her bridge were actually maintenance crews from the space station.

Satisfied that work on the computers was going well, Li’ira turned to Flagg and said “Shall we?” With a gesture to the door way.

Flagg nodded jauntily and they left the bridge to explore the rest of the ship.

Read the rest here: The Et-Tu

Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, J-Rods, Tall Grays, Short Grays and Nordics; The Other Side of the Fermi Paradox?

Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, UAFs, UFOs, USOs and other alphabet soup acronyms when been in our language lexicon for almost a century. Of course these didn’t become popular until after WWII, especially after Roswell, the birth place of the modern UFO movement that almost equals Bethlahem in relation to Christianity.

Many stories, fables, conspiracy theories, lies, disinformation and disclosures have been spewed forth for over sixty years by various individuals. Most of these have proved to be outright frauds and charlatans. Some have the appearance of credibility, but after further examination, their stories fall apart. But most of these have a few memes in common:

  1. There is a massive underground system composed of bases and compounds. These facilities contain labs, work shops for reverse engineering and secure “rooms” for the “Extraterrestrial Biological Entities” or EBEs for short.
  2. In relation to number one, these bases were constructed toward the end of the Truman Administration under the auspices of the “Majestic Twelve” document supposedly signed by “The Buck stops Here” guy himself.
  3. As the Eisenhower Administration took power, the remains and the one survivor of the Roswell crash along with saucer remains was taken to these facilities. Using the lone survivor, communication was established with it’s “government”.
  4. A meeting between Eisenhower and “three ET races” at a desert sight in the South western U.S. took place in 1954. Here things get fuzzy. The number of the ET races number from three to seven. Sometimes a “reptilian” race gets included. I noticed there seems to be a consistent theme here; the races are all humanoid and at least three types of humanoid are always mentioned:
  5. Tall “Nordic” types with large eyes. I’m assuming by Nordic they mean some derivative of Caucasian people.
  6. Tall “Grays”. The classic kidnappers.
  7. Short “grays”. Thought to be the kidnapper’s assistants.

A treaty signed between these¬†“aliens” and Eisenhower was called the ‘T-9’, or TAU-9. The nine being items that the entities could or could not do.¬†One of which of course was the number of people allowed to be kidnapped for biological sampling.

So what were we, or rather the nascent military-industrial-congressional-complex to get in return? Advanced military, or technology that could be adapted for military use of course. According to some people, our superior stealth and bullet-proofing technology can be attributed to retro-engineering “alien” technology.

So where is all of this information¬†coming from? Surely if the U.S. government, and other world governments have been in contact with “EBEs”, there must be some kind of paper trail. Plus there’s been the bevy of sightings and abductions over the years.

Doesn’t this fly in the face of the Fermi Paradox that “where is everybody” if we’re already in contact with “aliens”?

Mainstream scientific community experts and skeptics scoff at all of the “evidence” that is given to prove that aliens are already here and dealing with us. And they are right to do so in my view. Given the common denominators between all of the “eyewitness” testimonies and the heavily redacted Freedom of Information Act paperwork that’s been released, one can only conclude that the evidence is circumstantial at best, disinformation at worse. And it’s a known fact that the CIA loved to spread disinformation concerning “black” projects at Groom Lake, aka Area 51.

I forgot to mention¬†about Project Looking Glass and Star Gate technology. These stand out from the standard antigravity and Tesla technologies because they aren’t mentioned quite as much, but are integral to the “alien” story.

Here are some of the players and other items of special notice:

  1. Dr. Dan Burisch/Crain.¬†Very possibly a disinformation agent. Supposedly abducted at age nine in front of his grandfather and turned into a genius by a mental transferance from a dying boy. Makes very extravagent claims¬†of personally knowing a short gray, or “J-Rod” as the creature is named. Sources say his credibility is crap.
  2. Dr. Steven Greer.¬†Founded the Disclosure Project in 1993.¬†Also claims to be a “contactee”.¬†¬†Among his other claims is that SETI has actually confirmed “many” radio signals from other civilizations, but is now being jammed by the NSA, NRO or other government agencies colluding in a cover-up. Another person suffering in the credibility area.
  3. Dr. Michael Salla.  Founder of Exopolitics and the Exopolitics Institute. Probably for the obvious reasons, credibility challenged also.
  4. Bob Lazar.  Probably best known of the above. Worked at Area 51 and spilled the beans about reto-engineering UFO tech. Any guesses about his credibility?

There are more of course, but these guys I studied more. All of the commonalities are linked to them in some way and all could be NSA disinformation agents. Or they could be giving their own interpretation of what they saw supposedly.

Personally, I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth.¬†Not until Klaatu lands on the White House lawn and gives his ultimatum or the technological singularity/rapture happens.

And I doubt either are likely to happen.

Also see:

Project Camelot, Jacques Vallee (more on him later), Stargate Links, Disclosure Project, MJ-12                           

Flash: Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

From Yahoo! News :

Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday by an attacker who shot her after a campaign rally and then blew himself up. Her death stoked new chaos across the nuclear-armed nation, an important U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

At least 20 others were also killed in the attack on the rally for Jan. 8 parliamentary elections where the 54-year-old former prime minister had just spoken.

Her supporters erupted in anger and grief after her killing, attacking police and burning tires and election campaign posters in several cities. At the hospital where she died, some smashed glass and wailed, chanting slogans against President Pervez Musharraf. One person was killed in the violent aftermath of the assassination.

Musharraf blamed Islamic extremists for Bhutto’s death and said he would redouble his efforts to fight them.

“This is the work of those terrorists with whom we are engaged in war,” he said in a nationally televised speech. “I have been saying that the nation faces the greatest threats from these terrorists. … We will not rest until we eliminate these terrorists and root them out.”

I don’t usually post political news during the week, I generally save that commentary for Sunday. But I felt this merited a post because this is a¬†point in human history that doesn’t look well at all. Bhutto must’ve known that she was a marked person the moment she stepped foot back into Pakistan. Her enemies surely must’ve sent threats of all kinds. But she carried on anyway, knowing that at any moment her life would be snuffed out as it surely was. Her belief in democracy for Muslim nations and equality for women in these places were her cause, faith and strength. It’ll be a long time before another takes up her cause. I hope I’m wrong.

Did Bu$hco’s sock puppet Musharraf have a hand in this, in order to stall the forth-coming elections? His power is already on shaky ground and the Muslim version of Christian Dominionism¬†is breathing down the back of his neck. As of this moment, the U.S.A. is sending troops to help shore up his power¬†and to secure the warlord provinces. Not to mention we’ve been staging wargames to help secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

I hate to say that this was inevitable, but it sure didn’t look like a wise idea for Bhutto to enter the country after all of this time in exile. As I mentioned earlier, she must’ve known she was on borrowed time.

That takes a special kind of courage to put one’s life on the line for the sake of an ideal for one’s country. Especially if half the population hates you.

We had that at one time. In 1776.

Original article

On Transhumanism and The Fermi Paradox

As I wander the blogosphere, lurking, occasionally commenting and most of all, learning, I have discovered that I haven’t written much about one of the topics I perceived to be important to me at the time; Transhumanism.

Transhumanism in the strict meaning of the term is; “an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human mental and physical abilities and aptitudes, and ameliorate what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as stupidity, suffering, disease, aging and involuntary death“, according to Wikipedia. Transhumanism has also been considered an extension of humanism, the inference being that Plato and Socrates would have approved of technology as one means of improving the human condition. And thirdly, transhumanism in many circles is believed to be a necessary step toward becoming¬†posthuman, the pinnacle of human evolution. Often posthumanism and the Technological Singularity are linked together in many discussions.¬†

My undesirable aspects of the human condition¬†at the time was suffering two heart attacks, debilitating heart disease and¬†involuntary death.¬†It didn’t look good for the ol’ Dadster. Fortunately for me, medical science relating to heart disease has improved to the point in the past thirty years, bypassing clogged or dead blood vessels around the heart is a routine procedure. I was in and out of the hospital in four days. The surgery is still invasive and recovery can be painful, but rehab helped and I was back to work in four months. I can safely say that I qualify for the transhuman club, in fact I consider myself just that.

“But how does that relate to the Fermi Paradox?” you’re probably asking yourself. “Old Dad2059 has finally been sucked up into the tinfoil rubber-room!”

Well, I’ll tell ya.

The Fermi Paradox has been referred to as the “Great Silence“, meaning that in all of the searches for alien civilization radio signals, there’s none to be had. Zero. Ziltch. Nada. At least none that SETI can confirm anyway. Except for the Wow! signal, nothing else has come close yet.

Becoming post-human and¬†corresponding Singularity that enables it might not necessarily be strictly a “human” development, but one that is a natural process for intelligent technological societies. According to George Dvorsky of Sentient Developments, civilizations approaching a technological singularity find a way to “localize” themselves and create their own “universe” to expand or “upload” into:

Why leave the local system when everything can be accomplished at home? Localized existence may hold promise for all the aspirations that an advanced intelligence could conceivably conjure.Specifically, advanced intelligences may engage in computational megaprojects and live virtual reality existences. It would be an existential phase transitioning into virtual space such that interstellar colonization would never emerge as a feasible option or experiment.

“Why leave home”, he says. Why should any rational being endanger themselves by being exposed to cosmic rays, zero gravity and other smelly, canned¬†(beings of your choice)¬†on a mission to apparent suicide? Not when you can create your own world utilizing the immense petabyte/teraflop/googleplex power of a Matrioshka Brain?

George makes a very powerful argument supporting this idea and it makes sense in alot¬†in ways. In fact, you see seeds of that very thing happening now with the advent of Second Life¬†and various computer games with excellent graphics that allow the user to escape into a world of their own choosing. Soon, virtual reality can become indistinguishable from “real” reality. Could this also be contributing to growing apathy among the general population, and not only the youth, about how the nation, or world at large is being run? Isn’t having the world your own way better than struggling with a Universe that doesn’t give a shit about your existance?

Is this the fate of intelligent beings after a Singularity? Escapist Diasporas on a massive scale?

I for one sure don’t know. And this is only one discussion about the Fermi Paradox.

Could we all be emigrants to a Universe where our post-human abilities exceed the gods?

And how many of us “transhumans” are going to be there?

To steal Pogo’s phrase (and abuse it somewhat), “We has met the aliens and they is us”.

George’s Posts on the Fermi Paradox

Also see Nick Bostrum: Are you living in a computer simulation?

Tent Cities and Future Slums of the 21st Century

From reuters.com:

¬†Homeless activist Jane Mercer (R-in group of three people) visits “tent city”, a terminus for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California December 19, 2007. The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, and is still growing as the region has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis. While no current residents claim to be victims of foreclosure, all agree that “tent city” is a symptom of the wider economic downturn.¬†

This is only the start folks. There will be many, many other tent cities springing up all over the country. Before long, they will become visible slums close to the large cities like Los Angeles. Not to worry though, FEMA and their fearless leader Skeletor will be called in to clean out these tent slums and fill up those Halliburton Camps everyone knows they “don’t” have.

We can take some solace in this, as the dollar plunges more and more houses are foreclosed and abandoned, we can burn the worthless dollars in the fireplaces of the houses we’re squatting in! As long as Skeletor doesn’t come a-knockin’!

Also, anyone notice that the New Orleans City Council are displacing more poor people and tearing down the public housing?

Welcome to the era between the Fall of the American Federal Empire and the formation of the North American Union.

Tent City Slide Presentation

Flash and Friends

Who can resist the cheesy 1980 version of Flash Gordon?

Especially with Queen providing the sound track and those classic Freddy Mercury vocals!

]

AC/DC – TNT – 1978

Judas Priest – Green Manalishi – 2006 VH1 Rock Honors

Nuclear Power In Space

Nuclear power for spaceflight has been a bugaboo in the American space program for decades. I believe it was the SALT II Treaty of 1967 that banned the use of nuclear weapons in the upper atmosphere and low earth orbit. Since then, the nuclear incidents of Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986) have driven home the need for nuclear safety in the areas of energy production and the environment. But as far as space exploration is concerned, especially in the U.S., things have gotten out of hand.

The recent proclamations of China, Russia, India, and yes, America to return to explore the Moon, Mars and the rest of the Solar System using human beings have offered up the old questions of human durability and travel times between planets. Various propulsion methods have been suggested and designed. But guess what the good ol’ U.S. decided to use for it’s return to the Moon. That’s right, chemical rockets. With subtle improvements of course, like using cheaper fuels like kerosene or methane. The only differences being the way that the chemicals are stored, like better cryogenic systems, meaning the stuff is stored colder. Wow, big deal! Colder cheaper fuel with the oxydizer, liquid oxygen, gets you the same horsepower as the liquid hydrogen, which is more expensive to produce. Impressed yet?

According to Yury Zaitsev of the Russian newspaper RIA Novosti, nuclear power will eventually power future Russian flights:

Estimates made by researchers over recent years show that nuclear power, if used in long-distance space voyages, will save considerable funds and shorten interplanetary journeys. In a Mars mission a nuclear-powered engine would cut flight time almost by two thirds, compared with a jet engine using ordinary chemical fuel. The rim of the solar system could be reached within three, rather than 10, years. Nuclear plants can be used not only as sources of electric power, but also as sources of heat to support life and productive activities at bases beyond Earth.

Russia and the United States have laid a good groundwork for progress in this field. But Russia leads in such key factors as maximum hydrogen temperature and specific thrust impulse. In fact, it is the only country in the world that has a hands-on technology for building space-based nuclear reactor plants.

The U.S. only once tested a nuclear reactor like the Soviet Topaz unit. It was in 1965. The reactor lasted 43 days, although the satellite on which it was installed is still in orbit as part of space junk. Russia has launched about 40 spacecraft with nuclear plants aboard. Most of them were used for spying purposes and, once activated, stayed in low near-Earth orbits for several months on end.

These small nuclear power units are safer and more reliable than the old 1960s designs that were previously proposed. Reduced travel times to the planets are more cost effective when using small, modern nuclear power cells. I realize radiation is always in back of people’s minds, especially Americans, almost to the point of pathology I think.¬†We want cheap energy to run our toys and lifestyle, which means burning fossil fuels and polluting the air. But then¬†we complain (or ignore it as official government policy) to the rest of the world that there’s global warming, give Al Gore a Nobel Prize and tell Third World countries they can’t burn oil or coal to fuel their rising economies! What’s up with that? A bit more than a “little” hypocracy I’d say! It must be because we know what nuclear radiation does to people. Hiroshima, Nagasoki anyone? Add guilt to that also.

Time has passed for that crap now. While solar power satellites in orbit beaming down energy to solar energy plantations are great, they would only supply 10-20% of our needs. Modern compact nuclear power cells using helium-3 as fuel are outstanding stop-gap powerplants for both space travel and here on Earth. Until we can figure out that pesky hydrogen fusion issue anyway.

And remember you nay-sayers, if Americans won’t/don’t do it, for sure China, Russia and India will.¬†Think about that when you’re peddling your bike-powered electric generator to charge up your cell-phone!

Space Daily article

Mainstream Space News

The following are some links to mainstream space news.

You get to look at public consumption space media for once, no weirdness today, that’s for later! ūüėé

For the first time in 40 years of space activities, a silent revolution is taking place at the European launch site in Kourou. Jules Vernes, the first human-rated spacecraft to be launched from Europe’s Spaceport, is being prepared for launch. The 48 m3 pressurised module of the largest, most complex automated spacecraft ever developed in Europe has been inspected and closed, fulfilling the most stringent rules of human spaceflight.

The ESA is finally getting into the human-rated spacecraft business, probably hoping to get into some of that post-space shuttle action.

Final Preparations For First Human Rated Spacecraft

Russia plans to deploy an orbiting base for manned and unmanned missions to the Moon and Mars after 2020, the head of the space agency said on Tuesday. “After 2020, Russia plans to create and put into orbit a near-Earth experimental manned complex to ensure transport operations to the Moon and Mars,” Anatoly Perminov said.

Since relations have turned a little “frosty” with Russia this past year, it looks like they don’t trust Western nations to do the upkeep on the ISS, (which seems to be on a termination schedule too). So they’re going to send up their own work platform. If anyone can pull this off with the intent on sending people to Mars, it’s the Russians.

Russia To Launch Space Base

And lastly Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams poses this question; “…I‚Äôve been thinking about cosmic killers, the kind of extinction events that could destroy an entire ecosphere and any civilization living within it. It‚Äôs a natural enough thought given our speculations about life elsewhere in the universe. Just how hostile a place is the Milky Way? We‚Äôre beginning to learn that planets are abundant around stars in our region of the disk, with the encouraging expectation that habitats for evolving lifeforms must be widespread. But maybe there are natural caps other than technological suicide that could end a civilization‚Äôs dreams?…” Good question. Gamma Ray Bursts are considered one of the most devastating and destructive events in the Universe, usually linked to super-nova activity.

But lately astronomers and astrophysicists have been discovering that an amazing amount of GRBs do not have an accompanying super-nova. What’s up with that?

Gamma Rays and Civilizations

Will the United States fund future space projects?

From associatedcontent.com :

Sometime in the fall of 2010 the space shuttle will launch on its last mission. In the early Spring of 2015, barring unforeseen delays, the Orion space craft will become operational, available to take crews and supplies to the International Space Station. This constitutes a gap of four and a half years during which the United States will not be able to fly its own astronauts into space. That worries folks at NASA, members of Congress, and others concerned with the course of the US civil space program.

For four and a half years it looks like the United States will be dependent on other countries, primarily Russia, to fly American astronauts to the International Space Station. Because of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to make his country a power to be reckoned with again, relations between the United States and Russia have become rather frosty. For almost half a decade, Russia could cut off America’s access to space at a whim.

Even though space supporters in Washington recognize this as an intolerable state of affairs, they have so far been able to do little about it. A bipartisan effort by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican from Texas, and Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, to add a billion dollars to NASA’s budget to help narrow the four and a half year gap passed the Senate. However the effort appears likely to fail in conference with the House. In any case, the Bush Administration is taking a very dim view of adding money to any budget, even of an agency it favors, without offsets elsewhere.

Another effort, led by Rep. Dave Weldon, a Republican from Florida, would keep the shuttle orbiter fleet flying until the Orion is ready. On the surface this seems to be a mad idea. It takes about three billion dollars a year to keep the shuttle fleet operational. If the Congress cannot find the money to bring Orion closer to reality, how can it be expected to come up with six times the amount to keep the shuttle fleet flying? If Congress takes the money out of the Orion program, then the Orion is delayed, perhaps indefinitely, defeating the purpose of the exercise.

I can see this scenario happening very easily. It happened right after the Moon landing in 1969 (some people still dispute that). The hue and cry was “We can better spend the money here on Earth” and “There are poor people who need the money” and etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Well, the U.S. space program has been under-funded for over thirty years and I pose this question to the nay-sayers of space exploration, “Did the money get spent on the poor?”, “Did the money get better spent on the Earth?”, and “Can you guess where the money went?”

Well folks, I’m waiting for a logical answer.

If those of you that have the where-with-all and honesty to speak up and say, “Er, the military-industrial-congressional-complex?”, give yourselves a pat on the back and a cigar!

All we have to show for the past thirty years are alot of weapons of mass destruction, a federal deficit ten miles deep and a whole bunch of folk pissed off at us.

Now I can’t prove if American support for the space program didn’t waver during the 1970s we’d have colonies on the Moon or Mars, or solar energy satellites in orbit around the planet supplying our energy needs instead of fossil fuels. But I can say one thing for certain, we would have alot more return for the investment of our tax money than we do now. How much return are we getting for our tax money right now by supplying warm bodies to the meat-grinder in the Middle East at the moment? I bet investing in NASA during the 1970s when we had the chance looks pretty good in hind-sight, doesn’t it people?

The article talks about the funding gap between the closure of the shuttle project and Project Orion. The author pins the hope of American space flight in the hands of private enterprise.

I believe entrepreneurs will step up to the plate and answer the call. There’s money to be made out there and there’s plenty of people smart enough to figure out how to accomplish it.

The future of mankind depends on it.

Original article