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Posts tagged “International Space Station

The World in Review

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: 1999We are Mankind. We came from planet Earth, and we built this base, called Alpha, to learn more about space.”


My Country, ‘Tis of Fault?

When I was driving home this weekend after finishing my work on the film Noah, I was reflecting on the tremendous drive, determination and ambition filmmakers Anthony and Jimmy Deveney (twin brothers) were putting into directing and producing their first feature film. For any of us that have been in business for ourselves, we know it takes steadfast determination and focus to lift a project from idea to reality. It is not for the faint at heart especially when our own capital is at risk.

Yet when I arrived home Sunday night and checked the news, Congress was still set to default with the future of the United States because they couldn’t make a decision on the debt ceiling. A spending situation they created entirely themselves over the last few decades – a situation that impacts every person and corporation, not only in this country but well beyond its shores. In all honesty, if entrepreneurs operated companies the way Congress operates the government of the United States, they wouldn’t have a business.

Consider entrepreneur and PayPal founder Elon Musk. Launching SpaceX in 2002, his company has secured a contract worth over $1.6 billion with NASA to resupply the International Space Station along with other space development contracts. When NASA had to come out and say, “we are going to pay our bills” it speaks volumes to where we are today as a nation. With the retirement of the space shuttle and the ramping up of commercial space partners like SpaceX, NASA is in “pre-production” with the next phase of the space program. There is no way SpaceX could continue its partnership with NASA (and the United States) on an IOU. No matter what your entrepreneurial station is economically; banks, shareholders and creditors expect entrepreneurs to pay their bills, we expect the United States to pay theirs.

The film Noah represents so many aspects of this country. From its founding history rooted in slavery, to all that is possible when one person decides to make a difference. It is a film created by two brothers and brought to life by talent and crew who understand the story and its significance. But beyond the story of Noah itself, it is the product of the American dream to create, build and innovate.

So to turn a quote, “That’s what we are doing for our country. Now what is our country going to do for us?”

♦ ♦ ♦

P.S. The Deveney brothers have set up a Kickstarter campaign for Noah. As of this posting they have raised $755 of their $2,000 goal. This is a great film and one that must be seen. A contribution of only $100 gets you a producer credit.


Uniting America

On the eve of insolvency of the United States of America, the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis on July 21 brought to a close a thirty year program of tremendous progress in science, space exploration and international cooperation. It also reminded me of what America is capable of when it sets its collective mind to accomplish something great. Sadly, my country has lost its greatness in a sea of politics.

A Rasmussen Report poll said that 50% of respondents thought the space shuttle was worth it with a CNN poll reporting that over 50% thought it was bad for America to end the space shuttle program. America is at the precipice. Does our nation continue to lead? Or are we going to be led?

One doesn’t have to be a political scientist to know that China is now in the economic driver’s seat. Their ownership of $1 trillion plus of our bonds is surely going to hold court in the debt ceiling issues of the United States, and they are most certainly going to eventually be “left seat” in manned space exploration. I strongly predict that the United States will be reaching out to China to service the International Space Station because, mark my word; some myopic politician will botch the deal with Russia to continue servicing the ISS while NASA is in the Apollo/space shuttle valley of the 1970s.

As the United States “reset” their relationship with Russia, our government must “reset” the way it operates constitutionally. The time has come. I’m not advocating a change to a dictatorship, but you’d have to be living under a rock not to realize that Washington, DC is in perpetual “special interest” gridlock. There simply has to be a better way.

It’s time for the words United and States to stand together again so that we can all take another “giant leap.”


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.

 


Space Place

Since First World: Covenant went live on Amazon, I’ve been rolling out the press release and tracking the results. I was very pleased to see a nice listing on Locus Online this morning. Locus is a fantastic science-fiction/fantasy magazine (both their print and online versions).

A few years ago when the short film version of First World had its premier in India at the First Ever National Discussion on Science Fiction, Locus mentioned the project back then. When developing something new (especially science fiction), every news item and mention helps to get the word out.  On that note, I’m developing a page for The Ashton Times that links to some of the press the project has had since its inception. (Inception, now there was a great original science fiction movie!)

As for the space exploration front, I have to say I’m feeling a bit sad when I see these pictures of the space shuttle Endeavour at the International Space Station. We know there is only one more space shuttle mission left and then that program will be retired. But what a program it has been…over 30 years!

The advancements in science, space exploration and knowledge of our universe have increased on so many levels over the lifetime of the space shuttle program. I wish the Congress of the United States would stop complaining about the cost of the space program. It’s about the net result to human knowledge which always translates to more jobs in space and right here on Earth.

Thankfully, we now have a vibrant commercial space program in active operation with companies like Space X, Virgin Galactic and Bigelow Aerospace.  Someday these new companies and  government space agencies will unite together to form…dare I say it…a federation? But for now they each need to prove their respective place in space.  Honestly, what I’m the most excited about is the Skylon spaceplane.  Once you’ve seen the shuttle land…well…you get the point.

For those of you that have the Nook (or the Nook applications), First World: Covenant has been “processing” for the last 48 hours. I’ll tweet when it’s live.


The first pre-launch post of The Ashton Times – to Endeavour

This morning at 8:56 a.m. EDT, we witnessed the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour for a 17 day mission and visit to the International Space Station.  And before the final mission of Endeavour is over, I will be announcing a new endeavor of my own–a series of ebooks tied to my First World story.

While the space shuttle Endeavour is a product of fact to First World‘s fiction, they do share one word in common – science.  In the not so distant past, a space vehicle such as Endeavour was nothing more than science fiction.  It took less than fifty years to turn fiction to fact.

Godspeed to the crew of Endeavour.  May their mission be a success and the return back home to Earth a safe one.