Showing posts with label Space Station. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space Station. Show all posts

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Should we build the Enterprise

There is an idea, a concept that we should build a ship based around the star ship Enterprise, and that we should use that ship to explore our solar system. To me, there is no question that we must leave this Earth and explore. It is in our nature to wander what is around the next corner or over the next hill, we have been to all parts of this world and the time is now, to move on.

"Space is not the final frontier - it is our next frontier"

I think the idea of building a ship based around the most well know Starship, the Enterprise is a great idea, it is what piqued my interest into reading more about it at I was expecting it to be a vague idea, but the person has put a fair bit of thought and research into this proposal. BTE Dan, is not suggesting that we build it right now, what he is suggesting that a feasibility study be undertaken to determine if it is indeed possible, with the current levels of technology that we have available to us today.

Build the Enterprise explanation diagram
The 2020 Model of the Star Ship Enterprise Source 

At first I thought the idea of basing a modern star ship on TV series from 1966 was stupid, and then I realized that the reason I was reading the article was because of the name Enterprise and the association with Star Trek. I then realized that the man on the street isn't interested in thrust from rocket engines, or toilet systems of space ships, they need an idea that they can get behind, this may be that idea.

The American government over 40 years ago, with what could now be considered primitive computer power was able to launch a vehicle from earth, land on the moon and return safely, considering how far we have come with computing power and other technologies, we are ready to begin on a ship of this scale, it won't be easy, but nothing great comes easy.

I know this ship will never be built, or at least not that I will ever see. But I am excited by what is happening in the civilian space industry, and am hopeful that the idea of the Build the Enterprise will start more discussion and will get us one step closer to moving into space.


Virgin Galactic Enterprise coming in to landManned flight to 100 km for a few minutes of weightless and then back to earth. Backed by Billionaire Richard Branson. The first commercial space flight is expected to start this year, the first passengers will be Richard, and two of his children. Each trip will cost about USD $200,000 or you can buy all 5 available seats and take your mates for a million dollars.

This will be the first space tourism company and currently has over 500 people paid up and booked ready to go to space. Interestingly this craft will not be approved to fly by the government and passengers will fly under informed consent, basically this means they sign a bit of paper that says this is a risky venture and I understand the risk, and that  I am still willing to take this risk. This will not be like flying in an aircraft.


Space X Falcon 9 LaunchBacked by Billionaire Elon Musk, of Tesla Car Company. Has 50 launches planned with over 4 Billion dollars in contracts from NASA and other space agencies. Their Falcon 9 recently launched and re-supplied the International Space Station in orbit.

This is the commercial aspect of space travel, moving large loads of commercial equipment and supplies from the Earth to close orbit, similar to the private railways in America over one hundred years ago. Most (maybe all) of the SPACE X rockets are unmanned.

Copenhagen Suborbitals

Copenhagen Suborbitals sea based trial launch
Non profit, open source private space company run by Kristian vonBengtson to demonstrate that it can be done without the massive costs of other companies. This company is funded by donations from people like you and I.

I am probably most excited by this group as its open source, being done on a very limited budget of probably a few million where as the other two have budgets of Billions of dollars. I think any radical new space technologies are likely to come from here rather then the evolutionary nature of the other two, as they have the budgets to do things they way they are known of no, rather than having to come up with radical new break through solutions.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

International Space Station over Australia and New Zealand

See the International Space Station (ISS) fly over Australia and New Zealand. 

Source: Chris Hadfield
There are many good viewing opportunities of the International Space Station this week for people in Australia and New Zealand.  Below is a list of links that take you to the end of this article where there is a list of several major cities in Australia and New Zealand listing times and where to look in the sky to see the Space station. 

The image to the right is of a Sunrise as viewed from the space station, the astronauts would see several of these per day.

We have included the following locations


Since my first Space Station post many people have asked me how can they work out when they can see it for their location, there are several ways to do this I have listed a few here 
  1.  This is a NASA site that lets you see when the ISS and other satellites are flying overhead, you can enter GPS coordinates or your city name, and this site will show you when the next several over passes are happening. This site also will show you when about 400 other satellites are passing over head as well. 
  2. This is an email alert service from NASA and will email you for your location whenever the ISS is going to over pass your area. 
  3. There are many small apps that you can get for iOS, Android, Windows and many other phones / tablets that will show you what is in the sky above you. Many of these will also include alarms that will warn you as the ISS or other satellites are about to pass.
  4. Stare at the sky, until you see the third brightest object move overhead ;) although this sounds silly, its not really, this was meant to encourage people to look up at the stars. If you do it often enough you will eventually notice the ISS.
For the last few weeks I have been following Chris Hadfield on Google+ and his amazing photos that he takes from the space station, and the geek in me thought it was pretty cool to watch a twitter conversation between Captain Kirk and Chris Hadfield.

Take a walk outside, look up at the stars, wonder what is out there, show the kids and explain to them that there are 6 men living up there inside a Space Station, a space station that is a combined effort of many planets of Earth. Hopefully this will encourage them to become curious and want to learn more about the stars, space and what can be done out there.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

See the International Space Station pass over Brisbane to tonight.

Click here for an updated overpass times 22 January 2013

At the moment there are six men, who are working and living in an artificial environment 370 km above the earth, travelling at nearly 8 km per second (28,000 km per hour) and tonight as it does every few weeks it will pass over our heads. This is the International Space Station.

At 8:10 pm for about 6 minutes it will be visible, over Brisbane, Queensland as small bright dot crossing over the sky. It will appear from the NW and will disappear to the SE, it will reach a maximum height of 76'. I have been monitoring the ISS for a few months now, and this is the highest and hence longest duration overpass I have seen,

Image courtesy of
From my experience last time, you won't be able to spot it until it is about 10 or 15 degrees above the horizon and will be pretty easy to spot. It's appears a lot brighter than the background stars and is noticeably moving across the sky. The space station is the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the moon.

I will be in Graceville park (with dogs) which is a good location to see it from as it is a large space so the horizon is very low. If anyone wants to come along feel free to come over and say hello.

Here is a link to the NASA site about how to see the Space Station, and you can sign up here to be notified of when it is flying over your location.

I think that this is something fantastic to show the kids as it may spark their imagination about space, and get them thinking about science. And since it is school holidays they can stay up a bit later if young.