Virgle: The Adventure of Many Lifetimes

VirgleLooks like the mega corps of Virgin and Google have decided to reach higher than anyone has ever thought possible. They have she their goal on a journey to the red planet Mars

(from the PR page)

"Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Virgin Group today announced the launch of Virgle Inc., a jointly owned and operated venture dedicated to the establishment of a human settlement on Mars.

"Some people are calling Virgle an ‘interplanetary Noah’s Ark,’" said Virgin Group President and Founder Sir Richard Branson, who conceived the new venture. "I’m one of them. It’s a potentially remarkable business, but more than that, it’s a glorious adventure. For me, Virgle evokes the spirit of explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo, who set sail looking for the New World. I do hope we’ll be a bit more efficient about actually finding it, though." 
The Virgle 100 Year Plan’s milestones will include Virgle Pioneer selection (2008-2010), the first manned journey to Mars (2016), a Virgle Inc. initial public offering to capitalize on the first manned journey to Mars (2016), the founding of the first permanent Martian municipality, Virgle City (2050), and the achievement of a truly
self-sustaining Martian civilization with a population exceeding 100,000 (2108).Open source Planet
"Virgle is the ultimate application of a principle we’ve always believed at Google: that you can do well by doing good,” said Google co-founder Larry Page, who plans to share leadership of the new Martian civilization with Branson and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
"We feel that ensuring the survival of the human race by helping it colonize a new planet is both a moral good in and of itself and also the most likely method of ensuring the survival of our best – okay, fine, only — base of web search volume and advertising inventory,” Page added. “So, you know, it’s, like, win-win."
The original contingent of Virgle Pioneers will be selected by numerous criteria, including an online questionnaire, video submission, personal accomplishments, expertise in scientific, artistic, sociological and/or political fields of endeavor, and inadequate Google and Virgin personal performance reviews."

This is trurlly a banner day for the human race!
And if you want to stay a little closer to the cradle of mankind, you could opt for a position on the Google Copernicus Lunar Center.

Virgle: The Adventure of Many Lifetimes

(I love days like these)

Atomic Rocket – Mini-Mag Orion

Mini-Mag OrionOh cool, Mars in six months? Nice…

Andrews Space & Technology (AS&T) introduced an innovative propulsion system that could significantly shorten round trips from Earth to Mars (from two years to only six months!) and enable our spaceships to reach Jupiter after one year of space traveling. The system, which may dramatically affect interplanetary space travel is called the Miniature Magnetic Orion (Mini-Mag Orion for short), and is an optimization of the 1958 Orion interplanetary propulsion concept.

[via slashdot ]
Mini-Mag Orion Will Reach for the Stars

Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE

Google sponsors Lunar X Prize to create a space race for a new generation
Ripped from the headlines of today…

The X PRIZE Foundation and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million prize purse. Private companies from around the world will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth.

Well this is just cool, a $30 million dollar (US) prize may not sound like all that much when your talking about going to the moon but the money isn’t what is at stake here. Charles Lindbergh didn’t set out to win the Orteig prize (Started in 1919 by a wealthy hotel owner, it offered $25,000 for the first allied aviator(s) to fly non-stop from New York NY to Paris France vice-versa) just for the cash. I’m sure the money was part of the incentive, but the achievement of winning was it’s own reward. When Lindbergh finished his 30 plus hour flight his accomplishment ushered in a new age for aviation. I can see
No one has eve said that space travel is easy. It may possibly be the single hardest task to accomplish in the world. It’s full of risks, high costs, the potential for catastrophic disaster is high. But the long term rewards are fantastic. The knowledge gained by undertaking such a task could benefit mankind for years to come. If your one of those people that think that thing like the exploration of space and a contest to get robots to the moon is just a waste of time and money I’d like you to give a long hard look at what your reading this on. If it’s a computer, and I bet I’m right, then you yourself have already reaped the rewards of technology that was pioneered for space exploration. No matter how you slice it, setting a mark and offering people a chance to excel breeds innovation and advancements that the entire world benefits from.

[via CNN Money]

Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space Race for a New Generation

So You Wanna Build A Rocket?

Atomic Rocketships of the Space Patrol, or So You Wanna Build A Rocket?If I’m asked what kind of book I like to read my answer is science fiction. And the style that I prefer is usually called ‘hard scifi‘. That would be stories that deal with the technological details and loads of information about far fetched star drives, energy beams, and what not. Needless to say I love reading about all the made up details that are in these stories. No wonder my top three favorite authors are Larry Niven, Robert A. Heinlein, and William Gibson. I happened across the ‘Atomic Rocket’ page today and just had to post about it.

"Another annoying fact is that realistic spacecraft propulsion systems are incredibly weak. They will take forever to push the ship to anywhere farther than, say, Luna. So SF authors try to jazz things up by postulating more powerful propulsion systems. Alas, they then run full tilt into Jon’s Law for SF authors.
Jon’s Law for SF authors is closely related to Niven’s Kzinti Lesson. It states: "Any interesting space drive is a weapon of mass destruction. It only matters how long you want to wait for maximum damage." It goes on to say: "Interesting is equal to ‘whatever keeps the readers from getting bored’".
As an example, a spacecraft with an ion drive capable of doing a meager 0.0001g of acceleration may be scientifically realistic and the exhaust is relatively harmless. However, to most of the audience it will not be interesting. "Nine months just to travel to Mars? How boring!"
The author, not wanting his book sales to go flat, hastily re-fits the hero’s spacecraft with a fusion drive. The good news is that the ship can make it to Mars in twelve days flat. The bad news is that the ship’s exhaust is putting out enough terawatts of energy to cut another ship in two, or make the spaceport look like it was hit by a tactical nuclear weapon."

How cool is that? The page is for ‘science fiction authors who wanted a little scientific accuracy’ but the heck with that, I’m going to read this from ‘cover to cover’.

[via retro thing, boingboing]
Atomic Rocketships of the Space Patrol

If you want to read a few book by my favorite masters of scifi, go on over to Amazon and flex the credit chip.

The Mote in God\'s Eye Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein Burning Chrome

The Pro-Nuclear Space Movement

Nuclear Space - The pro-nuclear space movementWhen you take a look at it, the quickest and most efficient way to ‘get out of the well’ and go into space is by using a rocket that has real power. Sure, the Saturn V took man to the moon but it took days to get there and was done on the barest of economy. But what if you could launch a rocket that had so much power that your ship could built like a submarine and not like a flimsy soda can? Six months to Mars? Nope, more like two weeks. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it, true science fiction. Well at one time this very idea was being worked on by some of the smartest scientists in the US. It was called ‘Project Orion‘ and the craft was to use small nuclear explosions to propel the craft into space. It’s unfortunate that the project was canceled before its time. There is still a good argument for nuclear power in space. Nuclear power in the form of radioisotope thermoelectric generators have been powering space probes and satellites for years. In fact, the two Voyager probes are still sending back data 30 years after being launched. You cant to that with regular batteries and if you tried to do that with solar cells they themselves would have to be thousands of times larger than the craft they service in order to collect enough light to make electricity. But even if you can keep the lights on you still wont get your craft there much faster than you do now. Unless you use the mighty power of the atom to give it a kick in the pants. That is exactly what the guys at Nuclear Space would like everyone to know. And before you say ‘but you will fill space with radioactivity!’ just remember that space is full of it to begin with. The site is chock full of the latest news on the state of nuclear space power and sports an active users forum. Go have a look and feel free to ask them any questions you might have about going to the stars via the power of the atom.

NuclearSpace: The Pro-Nuclear Space Movement