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Archive for June, 2011

I Need Mach 4 Now!

The Paris Air Show is known as the worlds largest and for good reason. Not only is it the oldest, but it acts as a grand exhibit hall to the latest and greatest in aviation. This year, however, the talk was all about the ZEHST – The Zero Emission Hyper Sonic Transport.

Since the Concorde last flew about eight years ago, the commercial aviation market has stayed subsonic. While it might be nice to fly in the luxury of the A380, it saddens me that there’s no longer a choice if you want to fly supersonic.

EADS, the parent company of Airbus, introduced the ZEHST concept. The idea is that it will be able to fly at Mach 4 with over 100 passengers at over 100,000 feet and make the journey from New York to Tokyo in only 2.5 hours.

There’s no question that the ambition is an impressive one. But will it ever fly? From what I’ve read, EADS claims it could have a working model by 2020 and be in the market by 2050. I wish we could go back to the heady days of Apollo and Concorde when we decided to just do something great. The science and engineering are there so to quote Nike “Just do it!”

So I was over at my favorite web site Space.com this morning and saw that NASA has recovered some missing Moon dust that was scheduled to be auctioned last month.

As the article states, the United States government classifies lunar samples as national treasures and well it should. Aside from the fact that these objects are from another world, they were brought back to this one by man for all of mankind to study and learn from. I for one believe it should be illegal for anyone to try to sell lunar objects.

Finally, for those of you that don’t subscribe to my email newsletter or missed it on Facebook or Twitter, last month yours truly was cast in a short science fiction film called Approved by Durjaya. The film “centers around a dystopian society in which there are strict rules enforced by a higher authority and each citizen is assigned to a group that determines their job and subsequently their life.” I play one of the two protagonists. The film is scheduled for release in December.

In closing, I’m also running a promotion for First World: Covenant. For those of you that purchased the ebook, I am offering a FREE autographed cover of Covenant that would be suitable for framing. Details can be found in my latest email newsletter.


In Gravity We Trust

In the First World universe the primary method of transportation by the Lunarians is the Arctran (Anti-gravity Robotic Command Transport Rapid Aeronautic Navigation). Styled like the retired Concorde, with the length of a 747 and in “Boeing Silver,” an Arctran’s primary function is to act as transportation between Central’s four Earth bases and the domed installation on the Moon, Lunaria. Of course no fictional story would be complete without putting the Arctrans to the test of combat, something they were never designed to do – well, maybe they’ve had some modifications along the way.

Anti-gravity propulsion is certainly nothing new in science fiction. One of my favorite movies that used anti-gravity as a plot device was The First Men in the Moon (1964). The one thing that I love about science fiction from the 1950s and 60s is that they try to explain the science behind the science fiction. In The First Men in the Moon, a scientist by the name of Joseph Cavor invents Cavorite – a gravity blocking substance with the properties of Helium. When this substance is applied to an object it defies the laws of gravity and propels itself. In the film, Cavor uses Cavorite painted blinds on his spacecraft (a sphere) to navigate. Imagine if it was that simple

In the real world, the last seventy years has seen a variety of research into the harnessing of anti-gravity technologies. During the Third Reich, Die Glocke was allegedly some sort of “Bell” that resisted gravity with electromagnetic propulsion. The only proof of whatever did actually exist is a test rig.

For years it has been speculated and reported that Boeing has been working on anti-gravity propulsion with the code name GRASP – Gravity Research for Advanced Space Propulsion. When we consider that the black technology computers used during the Apollo space program are now household technology, I think we can safely speculate that there are propulsion systems being tested that the public has yet to witness.

Next weekend I’ll be at the Rhode Island Air Show, maybe I’ll arrange for an Arctran to make an appearance. Better still, maybe our military would like to surprise us with something new.


Now Voyager…For Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

When I was visiting Space.com this morning, I was reminded of the opening paragraph of Covenant. One can only wonder if a civilization in the Camelopardalis constellation will intercept Voyager 1 when it reaches that part of space in the next forty thousand years. Even more interesting, where will our civilization on Earth be in that time?

I frankly don’t subscribe to the doomsday theorists on how and when life on this planet will end. As we all know, life on Earth has evolved, been destroyed and re-evolved again over millions of years. When we stop to think that dinosaurs walked this Earth tens of millions of years ago, I think we can safely say that life on this planet will always exist in some form.

But that does not mean that we shouldn’t take responsibility for our time in the here and now. Believe me if the dinosaurs could have deflected an asteroid to avoid their extinction they would have. Not only do we have the technology to deflect an asteroid, but the very real capability of taking care of this planet environmentally and its people.

Someday, I truly believe, that the Golden records on the Voyager spacecraft will be played by another space faring civilization. Imagine their excitement to realize that they are not alone in the universe.

But there was a time in contemporary memory where life on this planet nearly extinguished itself.

When I was touring the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum last week I was well aware of the event but hadn’t actually seen the newscasts – The Cuban Missile Crisis.

During the height of the Cold War the Soviet Union’s installation of nuclear weapons in Cuba nearly ignited Earth into a war that would have ended all wars.  Thankfully, the Soviet Union blinked and we are still here today to talk about it. As one student said in the theatre, “My God, we almost killed ourselves.” That student was a high school senior. History doesn’t have to repeat itself in the present if we know the past.

It has recently been publicized that President Kennedy had a lot of misgivings about committing the United States to the herculean ambition of putting man on the Moon. Sure it was motivated by the Sputnik moment, sure it was motivated by beating the Soviet Union to the Moon, but Kennedy was a realist and knew full well that the United States had a lot of pressing domestic issues that needed to be addressed from both a humanitarian and cost point of view. But this is what made his presidency so legendary, to think in the here and now and the tomorrows yet to come.

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” — President Kennedy before a Joint Session of Congress, 25 May 1961


It’s Time To Partner With China

China’s ambitious space program and military development seemed to have caught some countries, including the United States, by surprise. Why, I don’t know. I wasn’t surprised at all to read that President Obama would be interested in partnering with China on a manned mission to Mars. Frankly, I don’t see one nation (never mind a commercial space company) pulling it off in the economic climate of the early 21st century. From a technology point of view, NASA could certainly put man on Mars. But the International Space Station proved that partnering is the way to go. It just makes sense from a cost sharing and technology point of view.

It is indeed unfortunate that China is absent from the International Space Station (although, I read that they wanted to be involved). This lack of participation has only solidified their resolve to build their own space station called Tiangong-1. To quote a NASA official in the article it’s a “potent political symbol.” I respectively disagree on that point. It’s time to put politics aside and look at the greater good. Trust me, if China develops an economical launch system the international commercial contracts will fast come their way.

When I was developing First World, my research revealed some mentions that China was hoping to achieve a manned mission to the Moon by 2020. In looking to apply some plausibility to the First World story, I theorized that China could possibly accomplish this goal by 2018 if they were motivated to accelerate their efforts if their sovereignty was threatened. That threat being their discovery, during the Beijing Olympics, that a unified covert military insurgency was operating in most of the world’s military organizations.

As I begin to write Synedrion this weekend, the sequel to Covenant, readers will be introduced to President Robert Anderson who discovers, not only the classified missions of the Apollo space program, but the fact that a large part of this military insurgency lies within United States Armed Services – a realization that propels cooperation between China and the United States on a global and off-world scale.

Finally, we welcome home the space shuttle Endeavour after a fantastic mission to the International Space Station. And back to the science fiction front, I’m really looking forward to X-MEN: First Class this weekend.