Hawaii state officials are seriously considering applying to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a spaceport licence. According to local media, Hawaii has been approached by four space tourism companies wanting to launch their spaceplanes from the Pacific islands. I’m assuming that includes Rocketship Global (as their promo video was being used in the report), XCOR (as their Lynx would be more than capable of using existing runways) and possibly Virgin Galactic? Richard Branson is making moves to launch passengers through the Aurora Borealis from the Swedish town of Kiruna, why not launch passengers from a tropical location too? Makes perfect sense.
At first, I was a little sceptical about this possibility, after all who really wants spaceplanes blasting into suborbital space from one of the most beautiful locations on the planet? I’ve visited Maui and Oahu, and I would hate to see any (more) damage done to the place. However, these commercial spaceplanes aren’t exactly huge polluters (no more than your average airliner that lands at Honolulu International in any case) and the launches would be a great source of revenue for the islands in the form of taxes (as will be the case in New Mexico) and tourism. And then there’s the possibility of accessing Hawaii via suborbital flightpaths from California and Japan. Flight-time from Hawaii to mainland US will be slashed from five hours to 90 minutes. If that means I can leave my house and be on Waikiki in about two hours… who am I to stand in the way of progress?
Unfortunately a lot of misplaced hope and optimism is placed on commercial spaceflight, so we’ll have to see how the Hawaii Spaceport idea develops before we go getting too excited…
If you are familiar with Twitter, you will have come across search tags (words with the hash character in front, i.e. “#searchterm”). So today I decided to create #physics140 where any Twitter user can submit an everyday example of physics.
@MDBenson: Cat with wet paws jumps on handbasin for a drink, slips and falls off with a crash and a lot of spitting. Friction Fail #physics140
@astroengine: Turns out that putting ur coffee mug ontop of a subwoofer during NTrance “Set You Free” vibrates said mug onto the floor. #physics140
It’s a big day for Astroengine Live! My radio show is now available as an iTunes podcast! I’d like to say that there was some tough competition and my show won through on its scientific merits and entertainment value… but I’d be lying. I submitted the Astroengine Live podcast feed to iTunes, and they listed it. Oh well, I think it’s cool nonetheless, at least now my listeners can tune in whenever they like in all their iPod (iTunes only supports Apple products, right?).
Assuming you have iTunes installed on your computer, simply start up the program and type “astroengine” into the search box in the iTunes Store. You’ll then find Astroengine Live in the search results (either listed with an episode number or prefixed with “Black Vault Radio Network”). Ironically, a vastly more popular astrology podcast appears in the search results too (I had a private giggle about that). Don’t mistaken Astroengine with astrology! Be warned, they just aren’t the same…
Apologies for having to run an old Astroengine Live recording today, unfortunately I’m currently in a hotel with a patchy Internet connection… Next week’s episode will therefore be excellent2!
It’s been one of those bad blogging days. Usually, I’d start the day rifling through the day’s space news on the mainstream to work out what has been going on in the world. If some exciting stuff has been going on, my notebook will be filled with scribble, usually priming me for an afternoon of writing for the Universe Today or Astroengine. Usually. Today, although I got up bright and early, my writing ability took a U-turn much like the abysmal LA winter weather (grey and soggy). Writer’s block.
Bloggers writers block is especially frustrating as there is no end to the cool stuff going on in space (and even if there isn’t, I can usually unearth something not-so-cool and make it cool by doing a bit of research), but for some reason my brain wouldn’t budge. Not a bit. Plus I’m co-writing a book (but I’m not saying about what… yet), so it was a double-whammy bad writing day.
Often when writing about space, I like to listen to music. Unfortunately, my brain is terrible at multitasking, so any music with vocals slows me down. However, trance music doesn’t seem to hurt my thinking-typing skills (probably due to minimal vocal tracks), so on go the headphones as I get lost in a mix of space and sound.
If you are a listener of my radio show Astroengine Live, you may be forgiven in thinking that it is based more on the music selection than my opinions on the current state of manned space flight! So I’ve decided to pair up trance and space to compile my favourite space-based tracks of all time (mainly trance and electro, but with some surprises thrown in).
I’m quickly realising that the Super Bowl ad break is as eagerly awaited as the match itself. I’ve lived in the US for 3 Super Bowls, and each time there’s the buzz, “I wonder what the[insert company here]ad will be this year?” It’s funny, I’ve only watched one Super Bowl (in my first year) and I was astonished that there were more ad breaks than (American) football. (Which is no bad thing, I’m not a huge fan of the sport, give me football–soccer–any day.)
From Carolyn’s well-crafted peek into the space blogosphere, here’s a tiny fraction of articles that caused a derailment to my plans for getting any work done this afternoon (plus my first reaction, in a word):
I’ve just worked out why my research proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) failed to get funded last year.
I thought it was the returned critique: “inadequate consideration of outreach activities” that was the main reason for the failure (isn’t saying: “that’s the Sun,” whilst pointing to the sky, enough “outreach”?), or perhaps it was my criticism of research councils for not funding enough solar missions (fair point)… I’m not sure.
But it might have been a crap proposal that skimmed the desks of the NSF and filed under “LOL”, or “FAIL”.
After a year of getting used to the idea that I might not get back into solar research again, today I’ve seen what must have happened. My proposal landed on the NSF proposals desk during the 20% of the time the NSF staff member was taking an unauthorized break (i.e. surfing for porn).
For today’s Astroengine Live, I’ll be talking about anything and everything. There will be the obligatory stop-over at the Carnival of Space and a peek at one (or possibly two) podcasts from the 365 Days of Astronomy and then… who knows?
In fact, it would be great if I could get some opinions about last week’s launch of the top secret US spy satellite (or, at least, that’s what we think it is). So check out “Why Are Clandestine Space Launches So Sexy?” and share your views. Do you find it a little frightening that such activities are being carried out in space? Do you think the secrecy adds to the thrill of wanting to find out more? Or do you think the government should be more transparent with things of this nature? As always, send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment at the bottom of this post.
Have any articles or stories you want to contribute? Have an opinion on anything in the world of space? Email me on email@example.com and I’ll be sure to give it a mention. Eventually, I hope to have telephone call-ins, but for now, email will do.