Missions

Voyager in Perspective

September 30, 2013

Joseph Green worked for 37 years in the American space program, retiring from NASA as Deputy Chief of the Education Office at Kennedy Space Center. His specialty was preparing NASA fact sheets, brochures and other semi-technical publications for the general public, explaining complex scientific and engineering concepts in layman’s language. Joe is the author of […]

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August 25, 2012: Interstellar at Last

September 16, 2013

Tracking Voyager 1 outbound for the past decade has been at times anti-climactic. Had the spacecraft reached interstellar space or hadn’t it, and how exactly would we know? The announcement last week that the milestone has been reached will forever mark August 25, 2012 as the date when a human-built object, still returning data, made […]

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Project Persephone

September 6, 2013

Rachel Armstrong’s presentation at Starship Congress so impressed me that I was quick to ask her to offer it here. I’m delighted to say that it will be only the first of what will become regular appearances in these pages. Much could be said about this visionary thinker, but here are some basics: Dr. Armstrong […]

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The Angle on Pluto

May 29, 2013

The progress of New Horizons through the outer Solar System has me thinking back to Voyager’s great encounters. In 1986, when Voyager 2 whisked past Uranus, I was about to head off for a weekend of intensive work as a flight instructor — a client we had contracted with had a large number of pilots […]

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Voyager: Looking Backward and Forward

March 21, 2013

The Voyager spacecraft have run into their share of problems as they move toward true interstellar space, but on the whole their continued operations have been a testament to what well designed equipment can do. Voyager 2’s camera platform locked for a time not long after the Saturn flyby but controllers were able to restore […]

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Life Aboard the Worldship

March 13, 2013

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky is the first person I know of to talk about worldships and their ramifications, which he did in an essay originally published in 1928. “The Future of Earth and Mankind” was the rocket pioneer’s take on the need for enormous ships that could reach the stars in journeys taking thousands of years. The […]

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Space Habitats and Nearby Resources

March 12, 2013

If humans go out into the Solar System and beyond drawing on the resources they find along the way, they don’t necessarily have to do it on worldships of the kind we talked about yesterday. But it’s a reasonable assumption that creating large space habitats would make engineering projects in deep space easier to implement, […]

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Mars Flyby: Daring to Venture

February 28, 2013

Existential risks, as discussed here yesterday, seem to be all around us, from the dangers of large impactors to technologies running out of control and super-volcanoes that can cripple our civilization. We humans tend to defer thinking on large-scale risks while tightly focusing on personal risk. Even the recent events near Chelyabinsk, while highlighting the […]

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A New Horizons Update

January 21, 2013

I for one am astounded at the fact that it has been seven years since the launch of New Horizons. The craft, now more than halfway between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, lifted off on January 19, 2006. I remember my frustration at having hundreds of cable channels on my television and not being […]

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Dynamics of an Interstellar Probe

January 3, 2013

Yesterday’s look at radiation and its effects on humans in space asked whether any Fermi implications were to be found in the work described at the University of Rochester. One answer is that expansion into the cosmos does not need to be biological, for biological beings can build robotic explorers equipped with enough artificial intelligence […]

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