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Space

Wherever we may rove

Published October 9, 2022

Wherever we may rove

We live in a world of reduce, reuse, recycle, and that can be difficult even when you’re talking about quite small household objects. It gets even harder when you start thinking about very niche, very complex robots built for a specific purpose. Of course my eye was attracted to this story, about a potential Mars rover that’s ’looking for a new job.’ The headline is obviously leaning in to the idea that we humanise robots a bit too much but the story behind the title is still intriguing.

The inside line

Published October 5, 2022

The inside line

I wrote recently about the new The Line building revealed as a concept design based in Saudi Arabia. Whilst I was busy marvelling at the structure’s size and scope, I hadn’t considered two additional reasons why buildings like this might be the future. I did touch upon the fact that you’d be hard pushed to convince people to live in the Saudi Arabia desert if they’re just rocking up to inhabit a suburban two-bed, but that this insular-style building might be more of a draw.

Mission managers managing the mission

Published August 30, 2022

Mission managers managing the mission

I don’t know if this has always been the case, but I’m loving how much information Nasa is providing about the Artemis I mission. I know they’ve always had to be very open as a government organisation, and I’ve always been quite grateful for the free pictures, videos, podcasts and other media they have offered up, but there’s so much more to discover as well. Unfortunately, the launch that was due to take place on Monday had to be scrubbed due to a problem with the temperatures in the rocket’s engines.

To the moon and back

Published August 19, 2022

To the moon and back

I’m a fan of the moon. Weird thing to say, I know, but I love that big grey rock up there just minding its own business and inspiring astronauts all over the world to want to step on it. I’ve been ignoring space travel news (other than the fictional For All Mankind style stuff) for a good few years and I guess it feels like an odd time to be getting back into it again, what with the planet we’re actually on burning up quicker and quicker every day - who are we to sink billions in the atmosphere between here and our nearest orbital neighbour?

Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz

Published September 26, 2021

Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz

What a fabulous memoir this is. Gene Kranz talks of his early days but the bulk of the book is a play by play of every NASA mission he was involved with, from the very early days of Gemini, the tragedy of the first Apollo mission, and the success of returning Apollo 13 to earth. Through it all, Kranz is happy to admit where the teams did things right or wrong, and has that clear scientific analysis of each adventure. Occasionally, it’s a little too technical and I lost a sense of exactly what was going on, but you soon get pulled right back in when the drama and bravery of these incredible missions hits you.

Reach for the stars

Published May 22, 2021

Reach for the stars

I am completely in love with the show For All Mankind. The sheer audacity of the whole thing is wonderful. It’s out there but also somehow grounded in reality. If you’ve not seen it, or read my thoughts on Series 1, the premise is an alternative history where Russia landed on the moon before the US, and everything that follows from that. I read a review of the show that explained how anything that tries to exploit the butterfly effect - small things creating exponential changes - is bound to start slow but gradually pick up speed.

Podcast of the Month - 13 Minutes to the Moon

Published September 27, 2020

Podcast of the Month - 13 Minutes to the Moon

If you’re any kind of space nut you’ll have heard of this podcast already - it’s been around for two series now and is an outstanding piece of production that drags you right into the heart of space missions and doesn’t let you go until they’re over. 13 Minutes to the Moon is a BBC podcast that started with the story of Apollo 11, and specifically centred on that descent from the Apollo craft to the lunar surface.

SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System

Published September 27, 2016

SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System

This video is so gorgeous. Watch it full screen if you can. What’s incredible is that we could very well be living through the moments that will be detailed in future history textbooks, when that billionaire changed the face of space travel as we know it. Incredible. There’s a live stream with more info starting soon.

A fuel depot in space

Published August 12, 2016

A fuel depot in space

I recently stumbled across an old note I made, after listening to an episode of Inside Science from the BBC. It’s a fantastic space quote about setting up lunar fuel depots, discussing the prospect of solving the problem whereby you need to take off from Earth with all the fuel to get where you’re going. If you can break that barrier, more remote areas of space become possible. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

That huge orbiting laboratory

Published December 14, 2015

That huge orbiting laboratory

It’s a big responsibility and an honor to work in that huge orbiting laboratory. Figuring out how to support life in the hostile environment of space has resulted in thousands of down-to-earth spin-offs, from temperature-regulating underwear to heart pumps that rely on Shuttle fuel-pump technology. The concrete benefits and by-products of the science we do in space have touched fields from agriculture to medicine to robotics. Data gathered on the Shuttle and ISS help power Google Maps; experiments with different dietary and exercise protocols have revealed how to ward off, permanently, one debilitating type of osteoporosis; the robotic machinery now used inside the parts of nuclear power plants that are too hazardous for humans is a direct descendent of Canadarm: the list goes on and on.