Surveying the current practical and theoretical factors for and against space elevators (including partial elevators—skyhooks!).
I love the idea of cultivating a sixth sense for the location of Sagittarius A.
(I bet Matt would get a kick out of Charlotte’s magnet fingers too.)
A lovely visualisation of asteroids in our solar system.
An Orbital Ring System as an alternative to a space elevator.
Representing nothing short of the most ambitious project in the history of space exploration and exploitation, the Orbital Ring System is more or less what you would imagine it to be, a gargantuan metal ring high above the Earth, spanning the length of its 40,000 kilometer-long diameter.
Ever wondered what would happen if you threw a ball inside an orbital habitat? Well, wonder no more!
This orrery is really quite wonderful! Not only is it a great demonstration of what CSS can do, it’s a really accurate visualisation of the solar system.
Remember those offshore forts that would get taken over and repurposed as tax/data havens? Well, this is like that …but in space. Half design fiction, and half ponzi scheme, this will give those libertarian seasteaders a run for the money (in a made-up currency, of course).
Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures – Center for Science and the Imagination
A collection of short stories and essays speculating on humanity’s future in the solar system. The digital versions are free to download.
Art. In. Spaaaaaace!
Orbital Reflector is a sculpture constructed of a lightweight material similar to Mylar. It is housed in a small box-like infrastructure known as a CubeSat and launched into space aboard a rocket. Once in low Earth orbit at a distance of about 350 miles (575 kilometers) from Earth, the CubeSat opens and releases the sculpture, which self-inflates like a balloon. Sunlight reflects onto the sculpture making it visible from Earth with the naked eye — like a slowly moving artificial star as bright as a star in the Big Dipper.
A lovely interactive photo essay charting the results of what happens when evolution produces a life form that allows a planet to take selfies.
Luke just demoed this at Codebar. It’s a lovely audio/visualisation of the solar system—a sonic orrery that you can tweak and adjust.
A thoroughly impractical—but fun to imagine—alternative to a space elevator:
Analemma inverts the traditional diagram of an earth-based foundation, instead depending on a space-based supporting foundation from which the tower is suspended. This system is referred to as the Universal Orbital Support System (UOSS). By placing a large asteroid into orbit over earth, a high strength cable can be lowered towards the surface of earth from which a super tall tower can be suspended. Since this new tower typology is suspended in the air, it can be constructed anywhere in the world and transported to its final location.
The construction might sound like Clarke’s The Fountains Of Paradise, but I imagine life in the tower would be more like Ballard’s High Rise.
A gorgeous visualisation of satellites in Earth orbit. Click around to grasp the scale of the network.
Realistically, what happens when you detonate a large metallic satellite (about the the size of the second Death Star) in orbit around an inhabited world (like, say, the forest moon of Endor).
It isn’t pretty.
I’ve linked to this before, but with the death of Iain M Banks it’s worth re-reading this fascinating insight into The Culture, one of science fictions’s few realistic utopias.
The brief mention here of The Culture’s attitude to death is apt:
Philosophy, again; death is regarded as part of life, and nothing, including the universe, lasts forever. It is seen as bad manners to try and pretend that death is somehow not natural; instead death is seen as giving shape to life.
A gallery of all your standard space stations: the Stanford Torus, the Bernal Sphere and the O’Neill Cylinder.