Yesterday at 10:02 a.m. EST, NASA successfully launched the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity. The car size Curiosity rover will travel 354 million miles through space before reaching the Red Planet next August.
In addition to its sheer size, Curiosity is an engineering marvel. Equipped with a laser to identify the building blocks of life, the 1 ton rover sports 10 scientific experiments including the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). Imagine a scientist on Earth being able to see color pictures as small as 12.5 microns of Martian rocks and soil.
I was watching Curiosity’s launch online with a friend of mine in Canada. As we both worked together on a Star Trek fan film, it’s safe to say we have a passion for space exploration. When he commented on how it’s unfortunate that more people don’t get excited about these launches, it just reminded me of how most just don’t understand the space program and the great benefits it has bestowed on all of us on Earth. I’m not sure if it’s a deliberate ignorance because it’s too much to comprehend or just an unwillingness to want to know and more importantly learn.
I have sadly heard people say that all this “space money” should go to health care. Really? I want to say to these naysayers do you have any idea the advances in medical science that came out of the Apollo space program alone? CAT scanners, kidney dialysis, advances in computing and cardiovascular conditioning that improved physical therapy used in sports and medical rehabilitation centers. Believe me it’s a long list, but you get the point.
And let us not forget the countless jobs and industries that the space program supports and creates. As President Kennedy said during his famed speech at Rice University in 1962, “We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.” And it was President Reagan who echoed the benefits of space exploration, “Our progress in space, taking giant steps for all mankind, is a tribute to American teamwork and excellence. Our finest minds in government, industry and academia have all pulled together. And we can be proud to say: We are first; we are the best; and we are so because we’re free.”
Although they may have had other motivations at the time, one has to wonder if Leif Erickson, Christopher Columbus, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark knew what their explorations would yield for the futures of tomorrow. But one thing has to be certain – they must have all had a “curiosity” for unknown discoveries.
And that’s our challenge, “We’re still pioneers.”
I was delighted to discover Jonathan Cullen’s review of First World: Covenant over at The Future Fire. When I read phrases such as “Its basis is audacious and inventive” and “The protagonist…Kathleen Gould, is absolutely memorable and interesting,” it’s very satisfying as a writer to know that you’ve created something of interest for a reviewer – the all important ingredient for marketing a book.
I agree with Mr. Cullen’s analysis that sometimes the mix of points of view in the same scene can be frustrating. As I write Synedrion, these are important notes I take into consideration as clarification of story is key. First World, in particular, is laden with a variety of characters that are critical to moving the story forward.
It’s curious, Kathleen Gould, the protagonist in Covenant, was just a minor player in the original First World story (she only had about a dozen lines in the script). As some of you know, I wrote Covenant a couple of years ago as a web series and established Gould as a new major player along with the monolithic Bank of Shinar International at One World Trade Center. In Synedrion, Gould takes drastic steps to separate herself from the ever monitoring Central (their computer system). The sequel to Covenant is still on target for a late fall 2011 release.
Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago how I created First World. It all originated out of an idea I had for a scene in which these great “Concorde” style ships just appeared over the beach in Ogunquit, Maine (in the short film the location was Cape Cod) and my further thought that there is no better observation of Earth than from the Moon.
When I read on Space.com this morning that the International Space Station might be getting a name and at one point it was called Alpha, I couldn’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite science fiction TV shows Space: 1999. Starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, the show is set in year 1999 when the Moon, and the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha (built in the crater Plato), are blasted out of Earth orbit when the nuclear waste dumps explode sending them on a journey through the universe.
NASA named the first space shuttle Enterprise after the starship U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek. I vote the consortium of countries name the International Space Station after Moonbase Alpha. It even looks good in print – ISS Alpha.
To quote Professor Victor Bergman from Space: 1999 “We are Mankind. We came from planet Earth, and we built this base, called Alpha, to learn more about space.”