Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Record Of Accomplishment Living In Space.

Those who wish humans were spreading through the heliosphere faster than we are have lamented NASA's drive into the cul de sac of lower Earth orbit since the demise of Apollo. Billions and billions of dollars have been spent on flying the outdated Space Shuttle to what many believe is a boondoggle in the sky, the International Space Station. Yet the following tidbit of fact from a newsletter out of MIT suggests that the ISS may not have been a complete waste.
"Humans have now been living in space continuously for 5 years! On November 2nd, 2000, Bill Shepherd, Sergei Krikalev, and Yuri Gidzenko took up residence in the International Space Station – and ever since that first expedition, the station has been constantly inhabited. In total, 12 crews have lived and worked in the ISS over the course of the past 5 years, and the station has hosted 97 visitors from 10 countries. Reflecting on this anniversary, Shepherd expressed the hope that knowledge gained onboard will lead to human exploration far beyond low Earth orbit."
(MIT's Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program website here.)

If humans are going to successfully spread into the universe and make a home of it, we are going to need practice living and working in space. For all of the space station's faults, the ISS has provided a home for humans in space. Not the first, there were the Salyuts, Skylab and Mir before the ISS. In fact, humans have lived in lower Earth orbit nearly continuously since 1986 thanks to the Russians.

The Soviet Union launched Mir in March of 1986, and from then until 1999 it was always occupied except for two brief periods: 7 months from July 1986 to February 1987, and May 1989 until September 1989. From September 1989 until August 1999 it was always occupied. Mir's final residents lived there from briefly from April to June 2000. Four months later, the ISS opened its doors to its first residents.

If we count Mir, since March 1986 humans have lived in lower Earth orbit for 212 out of 235 months. That's a mere 23 months in which humans have not lived in space in the past 19 years. That's a pretty good record of accomplishment. Thanks, Ivan! (See this site, here, for more on the history of Russia's accomplishments in space.)



How Much Is That Bloggie In The Window?

On a lark we decided to calculate the financial value of this blog. At this "business opportunities" site we found through (here) we entered our site's URL in the handy calculator provided there and got the answer we expected. Tales of the Heliosphere is worth nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. Or to be precise, $0.00. Presumably that sum is the same in any currency.

Blogging is a hobby and we seek no financial reward for it. At least not yet. If we wanted money for it we'd put as much time into it as we put into our job, which, for the record, in case our boss has found this site, is a lot. Hours and hours of time is spent on our job, which pays us handsomely, and for which we are grateful. As are our cats, our friends, our family, our creditors, and all the contractors being paid to upgrade our home this year.

If we ever leave our job, which we hope does not happen anytime soon. (For the record, in case our boss -- well, you know.) We have no intention of quitting the day job and there is no reason why we should be told to leave involuntarily. (For the record. Just in case our boss has found this site. You know. Just in case. And please note, boss. This post is written on a Sunday. Granted, it's on an office computer because we've got something due tomorrow. For the record, we'll get right on that.)

So why blog? For personal satisfaction, mostly. Readers are nice and we love them. We also love those who link to our site and we try our best to reciprocate. But the biggest thrill from blogging is finding an idea or coming up with one, researching it, thinking about it, writing it up, and then seeing it in print. It satisfies a creative urge that otherwise might not be fulfilled. There's a certain feeling of accomplishment that comes from pushing that "Publish Post" button.

The trick of course is to have something worth saying that adds value to the discussion of an issue or to a reader's knowledge. That's the hard part of doing a worthwhile blog. All we can say to that is, "we're workin' on it, okay!"


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Three Cheers For China's Shutdown Of Lunar Embassy.

China has done the right thing and shut down the so-called Lunar Embassy's company in China. (Story here.) The Lunar Embassy purports to sell property on the moon and other planets under a specious legal theory that it owns the other planets. They don't. No jurisdiction in the United States has yet shut down the Lunar Embassy's activities here. Too bad. As we've written before the Lunar Embassy's bogus claims turn the notion of private property rights in space into a joke and discredit those who seriously advocate opening space to private enterprise. The sooner some enterprising prosecutor in the United States looks into the Lunar Embassy the better.


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Friday, November 04, 2005

A Lunar China By 2017?

According to this Reuter's story (here) China plans to send astronauts to the moon "around 2017." Coincidentally just one year before the United States plans to send their own astronauts back. Will Cold War reduxers have their 21st Century space race?


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