Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Falcon Heavy: Hard Work Pays Off

I watched the Falcon Heavy launch yesterday with bated breath, half-expecting an accident on launch of the type they jokingly call a 'rapid unscheduled disassembly event'. But it went almost like clockwork.

If you missed it and want to watch this historic moment, here's a link.

My personal favourite moment: the 2 Falcon 9 boosters touch down noncholantly after their few minutes of glory

If you watched the whole thing, did you see the shots from a camera mounted just outside the viewing area of SpaceX's Mission Control room? See the large crowd of excitable SpaceX fans? Well I'm pretty sure that most of them were actually off-duty SpaceX employees. The Mission Control and most of the fabrication facilities (as far as I know, which isn't far) are in Hawthorne, California. Can you imagine having worked your knuckles off for months, labouring long hours in a workshop or lab, testing hundreds of components, striving to measure up to Elon Musk's almost fanatical standards... and then, finally, watching on a screen as your handiwork roared off the pad and into the sky?

No wonder they were cheering so loudly. I imagine they were incredibly relieved that the huge new rocket didn't explode or fail in some other way. I imagine they went home feeling like they had contributed something meaningful to the world, that they were making history.

That's a great way to live - a life of meaning, getting involved in something larger and more significant than yourself. But you don't have to work for SpaceX to get that buzz - the opportunities are all around us.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018


Here are the short pieces following the launch of SSI's first Mars mission. The point of view swaps between the four characters involved.

Monday, 15 January 2018


Briefly, here's part of the new short story, again from Marco's point of view. And it's only a few weeks until launch.

It's called: Doubt

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Coming soon.... ?

Just in case anyone thinks that I've given up on this blog, I can announce that sometime in the next couple of weeks I hope to post another portion of the New World Rising story. So watch this space ;)

Meanwhile, you could go over to the SpaceX site and see how quickly fact is catching up with fiction. The intrepid rocket engineers are hoping to carry out the first test launch of a Falcon Heavy rocket, along with all the complications that come with strapping three Falcon 9 cores together. That is a lot of thrust happening. Will the FH make it to orbit? Will the 3 cores fly back to Earth to be reused? And what was the idea of launching a red Tesla Roadster into deep space?

Here's a link where the webcast should eventually appear: 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Mars Science Foundation site

Here's a well-produced website that explores one model of settling Mars, with videos and slick graphics.

Edit... since first posting this I've tried out some of the simulations on this site. Be prepared for a difficult ride: the control doesn't seem to work well, making it hard to complete some tasks. Also don't expect total realism... they are using an image of a SpaceX Falcon 9 or Grasshopper rocket for the Mars landing simulation, for example. But oh well, it's free. No complaints!

Friday, 25 August 2017

New crew members!

Annika and Marco are new to the number one SSI Mars crew. Here are two short pieces introducing them. 

As Marco remarks, "If – no, when – a crisis hits, what keeps us calm and pulling together?" What will it take for these four very different people to become a close-knit team who can thrive together on a distant planet?

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

New Episode Rising...

There's now a short story called 'Ice And Fire' describing the first humans landing on Mars.

Find it here: Ice And Fire

Saturday, 29 April 2017

New World Rising

Now the short story on Mars exploration has become a series, which I've called 'New World Rising' for the time being. Find it here:

... and yes, any '70s music fans out there, I am aware that I've ripped off the title from an ELO song. I used to own a copy of the album. But I'm pretty sure Jeff Lynne won't notice.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

New Mars Forums

Recently I've been busy reading and contributing on a large bunch of forums around the theme of travelling to and colonising Mars. They are under the umbrella of the Mars Society and some of them have threads and posts from knowledgeable people, experts in their fields. Others are crowded with enthusiasts (like me, I suppose) with lots of bright ideas. It's simple to register and get started.

New Mars Forums

What I wonder, though, is whether all that threading and debating will lead anywhere. Quite possibly the first settlements will be built on Mars within the next 20 or 30 years, and who are the decision-makers and leaders who will make it happen? Certainly you'd expect some members of the Mars Society to be involved, but there are many other parties with their eyes on Mars:

First of all, companies owned by billionaires, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. And Mars One, if it can get funding.

The space agencies of nations such as 
- Europe
- Russia
- China
- India
- Dubai

Multinational corporations might get interested if there's profit to be made.

The United Nations could get involved if it thinks it needs to regulate and control the process.

My hope is that the idealism of ordinary people should not get sidelined. A forum such as the Mars Society could be a way for many 'little people' to get together and do something magnificent, like ensuring that Mars is free from Earth's domination from the start.