Branson is team planetary mining and this space shuttle is not about allowing the rich a fantasy ride it is part of the galactic vision of empire. The global 99% are watching and especially US citizens as all wealth assets build empire globally that will be exclusive to a global 1% and their 2%---and now watching as all US public wealth is poured into what is a specious goal of planetary colonization.
The ethics and morals of sending humans to a CERES ---literally a rock in darkness to mine minerals because the global 1% are EXCESSIVELY CONSUMING AND PRODUCING IN NAKED CAPITALISM-----CERES the size of Texas would be a great fit for that 5% and their 1%.
The mechanics of first building a platform for planetary mining and then building intra-planetary and inter-planetary networks while Earth's citizens are left facing a Climate Change with no REAL preparations for 99% of global citizens HAS NO ETHICS OR MORALS---NO RULE OF LAW---NO GOD'S NATURAL LAW---who supports CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA---NOW TRUMP? That 5% to the 1% across all population groups---especially those pesky 5% of Catholics, Protestants, Jewish, Muslim, Hindi that should be out in front protecting the 99% of global citizens and not part of global war and societal instability in the name of personal wealth of a few.
Sir Richard Branson is determined to get Virgin Galactic off the ground, but can he succeed?
June 1, 20168:52am
More than a decade after Virgin Galactic’s launch, the dream lives on. Picture: Lefteris Pitarakis
THE space ship has been rebuilt with a savvy new design, and hundreds of passengers are booked in for the flight.
Those wealthy enough to afford the $346,356 ($US250,000) fare are reportedly so eager to boast about the experience on social media, they’ve asked if the ship will have Wi-Fi.
But will Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson’s space travel experiment be a roaring success, or a one-way ticket to oblivion?
It’s a question that must weigh heavily on the entrepreneur’s mind as testing begins on the updated prototype of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo — hoped to finally get off the ground next year, more than a decade after the project began.
Testing is underway on Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity, a.k.a. SpaceShipTwo.Source:Supplied
Branson’s incredible goal of making commercial space travel a reality has suffered some disastrous setbacks.
On October 31, 2014, what looked like a promising test flight ended in tragedy when the VSS Enterprise crashed, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury.
“It’s the most awful feeling,” Branson said during a talk at the World Business Forum in Sydney on Thursday.
But, he said, the team of engineers working on the project was determined to keep going after learning that a pilot error, rather than a mechanical defect, was to blame.
Michael Alsbury was killed while co-piloting the test flight. Picture: Scaled CompositesSource:Supplied
Wreckage was scattered across the Mojave Desert. Picture: Ringo H.W. ChiuSource:AP
Father-of-two Alsbury, 39, was an experienced test pilot, and investigators were baffled by his decision to prematurely unlock the Virgin Galactic craft’s movable tail section, causing it to break apart in midair.
Alsbury’s widow Michelle Saling told the press at the time: “I have lost the love of my life. I am living in hell right now.”
Co-pilot Peter Siebold, 43, survived with relatively minor injuries after managing to activate his parachute.
“I went straight to Mojave Desert, where the accident had taken place, which I think anybody who’s running a company must do if there’s an incident,” Branson told the packed Event Centre at The Star.
“Fortunately, we found out that same day what had happened, that it wasn’t a technical fault or something wrong with the rocket or the space ship; it had been a test pilot error.
“So, I was able to talk to the engineers, talk to all the wonderful inventors there, and say ‘this was nothing to do with you, it’s not your fault and, if you want, I’ll continue to support the venture and, I think with one voice, they said they wanted to continue.”
Branson is pictured with Mike Alsbury (left) and pilot Mark Forger. Picture: Virgin GalacticSource:Supplied
Branson said what followed was “the biggest hug in history”, with 600 manly blokes embracing before promptly returning to work.
Messages from supporters buoyed him as the media pumped out speculation about a midair engine explosion that had never taken place, and Time Magazine published a blistering editorial titled Enough with Amateur-Hour Space Flight.
“The prime minister of Iceland’s wife rang me up on the day of the accident to say ‘I’d like to buy a ticket’, so we had people making gestures like that,” he said.
Virgin Galactic’s high profile supporters include physicist Stephen Hawking, who hopes to be one of its first passengers, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and Hollywood star Harrison Ford — who posed for pictures in the cockpit at VSS Unity’s launch in February.
Of the 700 “astronauts” booked in for an eventual trip into space, only about 20 pulled out after the 2014 crash.
Wealthy adventurers who have put down six-figure deposits for the ultimate joy ride have reportedly asked if they can bring along music, cameras — or, even better, smartphones hooked into Wi-Fi, so they can tweet pictures of themselves during the flight.
In a lengthy Vanity Fair article on the project, journalist William Langewiesche described such people as “woefully unprepared for this rocket-ship ride”.
Sir Richard Branson refuses to give up his dream of commercial space travel. Picture: Frederic J BrownSource:AFP
He may appear philosophical about it now, but eight months before the crash Branson was quoted saying that while a government-owned company could “just about get away with losing 3 per cent of your clients” — a reference to NASA’s statistical record — “for a private company you can’t really lose anybody.”
At the time, he was referring to passengers, but there’s no doubt that Alsbury’s death took a heavy toll.
After the crash, reports circulated about passengers getting cold feet, with The Sunday Times quoting one person who was getting nervous about their six-figure deposit.
“I think it will fly, but I am not sure whether it will get me into space as I was promised,” the customer said.
A HIGH-RISK PROFESSION
“I think everybody knows the risks that they were taking,” Branson said on Thursday, referring to the 2014 crash.
“If you look at the history of test pilots, it’s a frighteningly short life that test pilots have. [They] are there to find that one thing that could possibly go wrong ... There are some things which you can’t test on the ground, you have to actually test them in the air.”
He cited the fatal 2011 test flight of the award-winning G650 private jet that killed four seasoned Gulfstream employees.
“It was very tough, but the important thing was to hold yourself together, and going to the memorial service, pay respects to the family, and then move forward,” Branson said.
“And I think Mike Alsbury, who lost his life, would not have expected us to have done differently.”
Dangers aside, Branson still plans to board to inaugural passenger flight, he confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday.
The billionaire has previously said that he would bring his children with him, though it is unclear whether this remains the case now that three grandchildren are in the mix.
Granddaughter Eva Deia marked her first birthday in February by smashing a bottle of milk over the new space ship, VSS Unity, in a mock champagne christening.
Asked this week whether he’d be taking passengers into space soon, Branson responded: “I very much hope so, otherwise I would have miscalculated very badly, indeed.”
He reiterated that the 2014 crash “was not a technical issue, it was a pilot issue, and we can make sure that that doesn’t happen again ... The fundamental craft that we’ve built, we feel very comfortable with.
“Over the next few months, our test pilots will be putting it through its paces, taking it into space, and once they finish doing that, and the authorities feel that it’s worthy of a certificate, then I’ll be going up, we’ll start taking people into space.”
The American people have lived through these very controversial times with our Air Force and NASA pushing the limits of flight technology not only in what can be done but especially how fast development is done. Several decades of AIR FORCE flight pilots we are told ordered to be those test pilots-----or in this article the question of NASA manned space shuttle -----the caution of waiting and doing unmanned space testing and development before heading to manned operations are DELIBERATELY BEING SIDELINED BY NAKED CAPITALISM and privatization. So, what will we see in the devolution of danger and test flights in the haste to get to planetary minerals?
We can expect pragmatic nihilists to threaten, purchase, use psychological manipulations to address what are normal and healthy feelings of fear----and the human reaction to pragmatic nihilist ambitions.
REMEMBER, CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA NOW TRUMP ARE TIED TO LEO STRAUSS WITH GLOBAL WALL STREET NEO-LIBERALISM AND NEO-CONSERVATISM-----POLITICAL NIHILISM.
'Moral nihilism, also known as ethical nihilism, is the meta-ethical view that morality does not exist as something inherent to objective reality; therefore no action is necessarily preferable to any other. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is not inherently right or wrong'.
'Political nihilism, a branch of nihilism, follows the characteristic nihilist's rejection of non-rationalized or non-proven assertions; in this case the necessity of the most fundamental social and political structures, such as government, family, and law. An influential analysis of political nihilism is presented by Leo Strauss'.
The US has plenty of air force families with a long history of court battles in pursuing justice for wrongful death of a pilot in just such circumstances=====pushed into too dangerous situations in the name of ONE-UPMANSHIP.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield: How Do You Deal With Fear?
By Chris Hadfield on Wed, 19 Feb 2014
In this excerpt from An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, astronaut Chris Hadfield writes about overcoming his fear of heights to become the first Canadian to command the International Space Station (or to walk in space at all).
In addition to his illustrious career as an astronaut, Chris is well known as the astronaut who sang David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the ISS in an endearing viral video.
How do you deal with fear?
It’s one of the questions I’m asked most often. When people think about space exploration, they don’t just picture Neil Armstrong stepping off the ladder of the Lunar Module and onto the Moon. They also remember the smoke plume etched in the sky after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch, and the startling, fiery bursts of light as Columbia disintegrated on re-entry, raining down metal and human remains. These spectacularly violent images of space flight have been engraved on public consciousness as deeply as the joyfully triumphant ones.
Naturally then, when people try to imagine what it feels like to sit in a rocket with the engines roaring and firing, they assume it must be terrifying. And it would be terrifying if you were plucked off the street, hustled into a rocket ship and told you were launching in four minutes – and oh, by the way, one wrong move and you’ll kill yourself and everybody else. But I’m not terrified, because I’ve been trained, for years, by multiple teams of experts who have helped me to think through how to handle just about every conceivable situation that could occur between launch and landing. Like all astronauts, I’ve taken part in so many highly realistic simulations of space flight that when the engines are finally roaring and firing for real, my main emotion is not fear. It’s relief. At last.
In my experience, fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts. If you’re not sure what to be alarmed about, everything is alarming.
In my experience, fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen.I know exactly how that feels, because I’m afraid of heights. When I stand over the edge of a cliff or look over the railing of a balcony in a high-rise, my stomach starts tumbling, my palms sweat and my legs don’t want to move even though the rising panic in my body insists that I get back to safety. Right now. That physical response doesn’t bother me, though. I think everyone should be afraid of heights. Like fearing pythons and angry bulls, it’s a sensible self-preservation instinct. But I recognize it seems incongruous for a pilot/astronaut to be afraid of heights. How can I possibly do my job when just being up high triggers primal fear?
The answer is that I’ve learned how to push past fear. Growing up on the farm, my brothers and sisters and I used to go out to our barn, where the grain corn was stored, and climb up to the rafters, then jump down into the corn, just to feel the way the dried kernels suddenly rushed up around our feet and legs, like deep, loose, rounded gravel. So long as we landed feet-first and balanced, we would come to a smooth stop. As we gained confidence, we leapt from higher and higher rafters, until we were jumping from two or three stories up, daring each other, daring ourselves. My fear was there always, strongly, but I wasn’t immobilized by it. I always managed to make myself jump. I think I was able to do it because of the gradual buildup in terms of height, the progressive sense of confidence rooted in actual experience and the simple fact that practice made me more skilled.
But my fear of heights didn’t go away. When I was a teenager, my dad used to take me flying in his biplane. In the summertime it was warm enough to take the canopy off and fly open cockpit, with nothing at all between us and the sky – or the ground, when my dad flew upside-down and did aerobatics. Initially, suspended headfirst, thousands of feet above the ground, restrained from falling only by a seatbelt, I was paralyzed by terror. My hands and arms reflexively braced against the sides of the cockpit, as if holding on would hold me in. Every muscle in my body was tensed, vibrating, and there was a rushing feeling, almost like a noise, going up and down the back of my skull.
Yet I didn’t fall out of the plane. The seat belt attached in five places and kept me pinioned, rock-solid, in my seat. My eyes told me that nothing was keeping me from plummeting to my death, but with experience, I started to be able to override that sensation with reason: I was actually just fine, I wasn’t going to fall out of the plane. Eventually the fear that I might faded.
People tend to think astronauts have the courage of a superhero – or maybe the emotional range of a robot. But in order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge.I’m still scared to stand on the edge of a cliff. But in airplanes and spaceships, while I know I’m up high, I’m also sure I can’t fall. The wings and structure and engines and speed all succeed in keeping me up, just as the surface of the Earth holds me up when I’m on the ground. Knowledge and experience have made it possible for me to be relatively comfortable with heights, whether I’m flying a biplane or doing a spacewalk or jumping into a mountain of corn. In each case, I fully understand the challenge, the physics, the mechanics, and I know from personal experience that I’m not helpless. I do have some control.
People tend to think astronauts have the courage of a superhero – or maybe the emotional range of a robot. But in order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge. Sure, you might feel a little nervous or stressed or hyper-alert. But what you won’t feel is terrified.
The US has a long history of military and NASA coverups in these kinds of operations. Branson's Galactic shuttle just had its first test crash being assigned as PILOT ERROR. We don't want to sensationalize what we know are a large number of deaths in these development programs---we do want to emphasize the rational of these kinds of developments and the haste taken as regards REAL NATIONAL DEFENSE vs GLOBAL 1% PROFITEERING.
WE THE PEOPLE will not hear of the casualties of these galactic research and development programs---it will all be PROPRIETARY with a captured national media staffed with propagandists and not journalists wanting to hold power accountable.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT NATIONAL DEFENSE OF SOVEREIGNTY ----IT IS IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL----AND THERE WILL BE FORCED PARTICIPATION IF THIS MOVING FORWARD PROGRESSES. ECONOMIC PROGRESSIVES ARE THE OPPOSITE OF LEFT SOCIAL PROGRESSIVES.
The US has plenty of air force families with a long history of court battles in pursuing justice for wrongful death of a pilot in just such circumstances=====pushed into too dangerous situations in the name of ONE-UPMANSHIP.
This is what privatizing the most dangerous of employments does----naked capitalism will rush to MOVE FORWARD it will not take human rights and dignity as a top motive in development.
Dead F-22 Pilot's Family Vindicated by Stunning Crash Report
- By Lee Ferran
Courtesy Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
Pilot's Family Demands Truth
The family of a dead F-22 Raptor fighter pilot said they have been vindicated by a damning Pentagon report that says the Air Force did not have the evidence to blame the pilot for the crash that took his life.
Jennifer Haney, sister of the late Capt. Jeff Haney and family spokesperson, told ABC News she was "very happy about the [Pentagon Inspector General] pointing out some of the discrepancies that we saw all along" in the Air Force's account of the November 2010 crash that killed her brother.
"In the end, I really hope Jeff's name will be cleared," she said. "I never have believed he was to blame."
The Haney crash was the centerpiece of an ABC News' "Nightline" investigation that aired May 2, 2012. Haney was killed during a routine training mission in Alaska shortly after his plane malfunctioned and his oxygen system shut down completely.
After investigating the incident for more than a year, the Air Force released a crash report in December 2011 that said that while Haney likely suffered a "sense similar to suffocation" before he died, he was still to blame for the crash because he was too distracted to fly the plane properly. Perhaps he was struggling to activate the manual emergency oxygen back-up system, the service said.
In the "Nightline" report, Jennifer Haney said in an exclusive interview that by blaming her brother rather than the $420 million plane, the Air Force showed it was more interested in protecting its $79 billion F-22 program than its airmen.
"To them, Jeff was a number, it feels like sometimes. But those jets are worth a lot of money," she said then.
The new Pentagon IG report, the result of the first major crash investigation review conducted by the IG's office since the mid-1990s and published Monday, says that the Air Force's conclusions are at times contradictory, incomplete or "not supported by the facts."
In response, the Air Force said it convened its own special task force to review its investigation, and the task force found the original conclusions were adequately supported.
"Now they will bicker back and forth, so we will have to wait and see what happens and what changes, if any, are made to the [Air Force] report," Jennifer Haney said Tuesday.
The F-22 Raptor is America's single most expensive fighter jet at an estimated $420 million each -- in all a $79 billion-and-counting program that represents part of the Air Force's costly foray into fifth-generation stealth fighters. The jets, which have yet to be sent on a combat mission, for years were plagued with a mysterious oxygen-related problem in which on rare occasions its pilots would report experiencing the symptoms of oxygen deprivation in mid-flight. The Air Force believes it has solved that problem.
Air Force Blames Pilot 'By Clear and Convincing Evidence'
On Nov. 16, 2010 Haney had just completed a routine training exercise when a malfunction in the plane shut down his oxygen system. Capt. Haney never made a distress call but took his plane into a dive and, a little over a minute later, crashed into the winter wilderness at faster than the speed of sound.
In an Accident Investigation Board (AIB) report, the Air Force never found the original cause of the malfunction, but in a Statement of Opinion concluded "by clear and convincing evidence, the cause of the mishap was the MP's [mishap pilot's] failure to recognize and initiate a timely dive recovery due to channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan, and unrecognized spatial disorientation."
In an exclusive interview with ABC News in May 2012, Jennifer Haney said she immediately called the Air Force's conclusion into question and believed that, in addition to the original unknown malfunction's role, it seemed obvious her brother had blacked out while trying to save himself. Therefore, she said, he could not have been responsible for the crash.
"I don't agree with [the Air Force]. I think there was a lot more going on inside that cockpit," Jennifer said. "A cover-up? I don't know. But there's something... I'd like to think it's easier to blame Jeff. He's not here to defend himself."
Pierre Sprey, an early fighter jet designer and vocal critic of the F-22, said the Air Force's original report on Haney's crash was twisted to shield the aircraft from blame.
"From front to back, they're warping every fact you see in that thing, to make sure they will call it pilot error and not to blame [F-22 manufacturer] Lockheed [Martin] or not to blame the Air Force or the airplane," Sprey told ABC News in May. "Here you have a superb pilot and an airplane that wasn't designed to take care of him. And now they're blaming it on him and he shouldn't have died in the first place… The priorities are hardware first, people second."
In the course of its investigation, ABC News obtained an Air Force-made computer simulation of Haney's crash that shows that in the middle of Haney's oxygen-deprived dive, he doesn't appear to move the controls for approximately 15 seconds. Jennifer said that mysterious long pause in the middle of an emergency, along with the lack of a radio call, is evidence that her brother wasn't awake for at least part of the dive. Steve Ganyard, an ABC News consultant and former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot, said that after watching the computer simulation, he too believes Haney was unconscious at least part of the time.
"I think that [the Air Force's] conclusions are debatable at the very least... I just cannot believe that this pilot, as good as he is, knowing that the airplane is in an extreme position, is still conscious," Ganyard said.
Now, the Pentagon Inspector General's office says it agrees.
"It is unclear how sudden incapacitation or unconsciousness was determined to be a non-contributory factor by the AIB [Air Force Accident Investigation Board], or why levels of partial incapacitation or impairment were not considered," the IG report says.
Haney did appear to try to pull out of his dive three seconds before impact -- one second too late to save himself. The Air Force has said that was evidence he was not incapacitated and only disoriented before his death.
The question of Haney's consciousness is listed by the IG as one of five "deficiencies" in the AIB report, others including the uncertainty over the status of Haney's oxygen mask and his possible attempt to turn on an emergency oxygen system.
"The AIB report lacked detailed analysis of several areas," the IG report said.
After the Air Force was informed of the Inspector General's conclusions, the service said it convened a separate task force to review the AIB report. The task force found that while some portions of the AIB could have been written more clearly, the service stands by its original accounting of the cause of the crash.
"That group of experts validated the AIB's conclusions," an Air Force spokesperson told ABC News.
The spokesperson said the service is currently rewriting its crash report to clarify certain points raised by the Inspector General's report.
Last August the plane's primary manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, along with other defense contractors involved in the plane's production, settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Haney's widow, Anna. The suit had contended that the companies knowingly provided the Air Force with a "defective" aircraft and that Capt. Jeff Haney was a casualty of that decision. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
When the Space Shuttle exploded killing American heroes risking life for exciting scientific development there was a collective feeling of HUMAN COMPASSION and time was taken to reassess goals and operations leading to a move toward unmanned space travel until safety seemed routine. Bush came to office at the height of this national feeling so stopped manned flights---Obama came to office and said----WHO THE HECK CARES SHOW ME THE MONEY-----
Our national leaders in science have a right to their own views---Sally Ride backed the privatization of NASA and this planetary mining agenda while some astronauts did not. Physicists are the same----some push for SCIENCE AT ANY COSTS FOR SCIENCE SAKE-----some have infused morals and ethics into their pursuits of scientific discovery.
WE THE PEOPLE are a 95% of global citizens who have that social conscience----the current 5% to the 1% are sociopaths tied to naked capitalism with no ties to morals, ethics, Rule of Law, God's Natural Law. It is vital that we get GLOBAL WALL STREET POLS AND PLAYERS OUT OF OUR US GOVERNMENT.
American Woman Who Shattered Space Ceiling
By DENISE GRADYJULY 23, 2012
Sally Ride communicating with ground controllers during the six-day space mission of the Challenger in 1983. Credit NASA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died on Monday at her home in San Diego. She was 61.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, her company, Sally Ride Science, announced on its Web site.
Dr. Ride, a physicist who was accepted into the space program in 1978 after she answered a newspaper ad for astronauts, flew on the shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983, and on a second mission in 1984. At 32, she was also the youngest American in space.
She later became the only person to sit on both panels investigating the catastrophic shuttle accidents that killed all astronauts on board — the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Columbia crash in 2003.
Dr. Ride was finishing studies at Stanford University — she had degrees in physics and astrophysics (and also English) — and looking for a job when she saw NASA’s advertisement. She looked at the qualifications and said, “I’m one of those people,” she told The New York Times in 1982.
She applied, and made the cut.
“The women’s movement had already paved the way, I think, for my coming,” she said.
By the time she began studying laser physics at Stanford, women had already broken through into the physics department, once a boys’ club. And when she applied to the space program, NASA had already made a commitment to admit women.
But there were still rough spots. Speaking to reporters before the first shuttle flight, Dr. Ride — chosen in part because she was known for keeping her cool under stress — politely endured a barrage of questions focused on her sex: Would spaceflight affect her reproductive organs? Did she plan to have children? Would she wear a bra or makeup in space? Did she cry on the job? How would she deal with menstruation in space?
The CBS News reporter Diane Sawyer asked her to demonstrate a newly installed privacy curtain around the shuttle’s toilet. On “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson joked that the shuttle flight would be delayed because Dr. Ride had to find a purse to match her shoes.
At a NASA news conference, Dr. Ride said: “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.”
The Soviets had already sent two women into space. When one came aboard a space station, a male cosmonaut welcomed her by saying the kitchen and an apron were all ready for her.
In her early days at NASA, Dr. Ride trained in parachute jumping, water survival, weightlessness and the huge G-forces of a rocket launch. She learned to fly a jet plane. She also switched from physics to engineering and helped in the development of a robotic arm for the space shuttle. The Challenger commander, Robert L. Crippen, chose her for the 1983 mission in part because of her expertise with the device. She was part of a crew of five that spent about six days in space, during which she used the arm to deploy and retrieve a satellite.
At Cape Canaveral, many in the crowd of 250,000 that watched the launching wore T-shirts that said, “Ride, Sally Ride” — from the lyrics of the song “Mustang Sally.”
The next day, Gloria Steinem, editor of Ms. magazine at the time, said, “Millions of little girls are going to sit by their television sets and see they can be astronauts, heroes, explorers and scientists.”
When the shuttle landed, Dr. Ride told reporters, “I’m sure it was the most fun that I’ll ever have in my life.”
Her next mission, in 1984, lasted about eight days. She was on the roster for another shuttle flight before the Challenger blew up on Jan. 28, 1986, 73 seconds after taking off from Cape Canaveral. But the program was immediately suspended, and she retired the next year.
As a member of the panel appointed by President Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident, Ms. Ride gained a reputation for asking tough questions. The panel learned from testimony and other evidence that there had been signs of trouble on earlier Challenger flights, but that they had been dismissed as not critical. Dr. Ride told a colleague it was difficult not to be angered by the findings.
One witness was Roger Boisjoly, an engineer who had worked for the company that made the shuttle’s rocket boosters and who had been shunned by colleagues for revealing that he had warned his bosses and NASA that the boosters’ seals, called O-rings, could fail in cold weather. The Challenger had taken off on a cold morning.
After his testimony, Dr. Ride, who was known to be reserved and reticent, publicly hugged him. She was the only panelist to offer him support. Mr. Boisjoly, who died in January, said her gesture had helped sustain him during a troubled time.
In 2003, after sitting on a shuttle-disaster panel for the second time, Dr. Ride said in an interview with The Times that part of the problem at NASA was that people had forgotten some of the lessons learned from the Challenger accident. The panel had months earlier expressed its conviction that the disintegration of the shuttle Columbia over Texas was triggered when a chunk of foam insulation fell off the external fuel tank and gashed the leading edge of the wing.
This is why WE THE PEOPLE must guard and build local media outlets to education on public policy. Here is a term FLAT EARTH being discussed in our media world tied to young adults---in this case RAPPERS. Both Physicist TYSON and SHAQ as well as the RAPPER BOB know what this term FLAT EARTH MEANS-----they are all team ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE FLAT EARTH.
When a Rapper uses a term meaning ONE WORLD and supports that existence he is team THOMAS FRIEDMAN. Friedman is the top global Wall Street neo-liberal from Clinton era telling the world it is humanitarian to pay global factory workers $1 a day and build a global human capital distribution system to do the same to global labor citizens because it gives them money to send home to families left unemployed, without ancient land rights for family farms that fed, housed, and provided stability for centuries to global communities. Remember, the US and global Wall Street promote removing people from their land in order to create instability and food scarcity forcing them to seek work for $1 a day.
COMING SOON TO US AS THIS ECONOMIC CRASH AT THE SAME TIME ALL SOCIAL SAFETY NET PROGRAMS WERE DISMANTLED BY OBAMA NOW TRUMP.
Please watch as our national media not working under a strong public fairness doctrine and how it portrays concerns like PLANETARY MINING. Tyson finds CERES one of the most interesting of new asteroid planets and he supports manned missions to MARS. A popular RAPPER supporting FLAT EARTH moves his fans to think this is COOL. We are getting that same BILL CLINTON PLAYING THE SAX routine here.
'Shaq believes Earth is flat and gives hilarious reason why'
The World Is Flat
by Thomas Friedman
488pp, Allen Lane £19.95
In her introduction to Graham Greene's The Quiet American, Zadie Smith says of Alden Pyle, the American of the title: "His worldly innocence is a kind of fundamentalism." She goes on: "Reading the novel again reinforced my fear of all the Pyles around the world. They do not mean to hurt us, but they do."
Greene has Pyle travelling with books such as The Role of the West and The Challenge to Democracy. A modern-day Greene could substitute the works of the real-life Thomas Friedman - a contemporary quiet American. Like Pyle, Friedman is "impregnably armed by his good intentions and his ignorance". In The World Is Flat Friedman has produced an epyllion to the glories of globalisation with only three flaws: the writing style is prolix, the author is monumentally self-obsessed, and its content has the depth of a puddle.
Business Insider.com likes Tyson's promotion of CERES.
It is inevitable that with today's capture by CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA global Wall Street pols that appointments to all kinds of public venues will promote GALACTIC COLONIZING AND MINING from our astronauts to our planetarium and STAR TALK media stars.
Please educate and be aware of promotion that will walk WE THE PEOPLE right into this 21 century planetary empire-building economy.
OUR PLANET EARTH IS UNDER ASSAULT BY THESE SAME GLOBAL 1% FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONE INDUSTRIALISTS KILLING PLANET EARTH ---KILLING IT'S INHABITABLE CAPABILITIES----ALL WHILE SPENDING TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN COLONIZING SPACE.
Everyone is free to agree or disagree with these goals but global 99% need GOOD INFORMATION ABOUT GOALS AND CONSEQUENCES.
Neil deGrasse Tyson reveals the most underrated planet (and it's not Pluto)
- Jul. 1, 2015, 9:22 AM
We all know Neil deGrasse Tyson's stance on Pluto and its status as a planet. But what does the world renowned astrophysicist consider to be the most underrated planet?
As a scientist having lived through BIOSPHERE 2 in the Clinton era 1990s----so we knew then of these goals to fly to MARS for planetary mining----I lived this event that almost everyone tied to scientific method understood failed with lots of efforts to hide the fact that humans did not adjust well to these kinds of living conditions.
Psychological strains even in this earth facsimile were a huge problem thinking what that would look like stranded alone on a planet simply a bare rock. Whether they want to admit or not----BIOSPHERE 2 was a failure to boost support for colonization of planets or asteroids. That won't matter to global 1% and their pols---they will MAKE IT WORK
Having a scientific research colony with routine space shuttle flights rotating people in and out as with the SPACE STATION would be one thing ----we know the goal is mining it has been #1 in research and development and we are nowhere close to showing people can withstand these conditions----after all STAR TREK IS FICTION.
THIS ARTICLE IS LONG BUT PLEASE GLANCE THROUGH TO SEE THE RESULTS OF COLONIAL PLANETARY LIVING MODEL RESEARCH THAT COULD NOT PRODUCE SUCCESS.
Biosphere 2: Why an Eccentric Ecological Experiment Still Matters 25 Years Later
By: Dana Fritz, Linda Leigh, Lisa Ruth Rand, Peder Anker and Shawn Rosenheim
Posted on: December 15, 2016Editor’s note: On September 26, 1991, eight people locked themselves inside an airtight three-acre greenhouse forty miles north of Tucson, Arizona, intending to prove they could survive and maintain a self-sustaining ecosystem of 3,800 plant and animals species for two years. The audacity of the project, which was privately funded to the tune of nearly $200 million, captured the nation’s imagination and made headlines around the world. But the experiment is now receding from collective memory and for many is remembered merely as the inspiration for the film spoof Bio-Dome, starring Pauly Shore (who himself is remembered less with each passing year). But the story of Biosphere 2 has much to teach us--about ecology, earth systems science, environmentalism, technological optimism, libertarianism, human psychology, and living in the Anthropocene.
Biosphere 2 deserves to be remembered for much more than the film spoof Bio-Dome, starring Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin (MGM, 1996).
To keep its memory fresh, historian of science Lisa Ruth Rand has invited reflections from five scholars, including Linda Leigh, who constructed several of Biosphere 2’s artificial ecosystems before herself becoming one of the first “biospherians.” First, NYU science studies scholar Peder Anker sketches the intellectual origins and interplanetary ambitions of the project. Later, Shawn Rosenheim of Williams College relays what he gleaned from directing the documentary “Biosphere 2.” University of Nebraska photography professor Dana Fritz tells of her time as artist-in-residence at Biosphere 2, and she shares photographs from her forthcoming collection, Terraria Gigantica: The World Under Glass. Finally, Rand offers her closing thoughts on this strange and wonderful story’s place in the history of postwar science and its meaning for our time.
The Closed World of Biosphere 2
In 1976 a series of scholars, including Ramón Margalef, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, and John and Nancy Todd signed a key consensus paper entitled “Ecological Considerations for Space Colonies,” which was published in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. In it they argued that “the question of space colonization should be explored,” though they thought one should build a closed ecosystem on Earth before trying to build one in space. After all, “if stable and productive closed ecosystems could not be made to function on Earth they certainly would not function in orbit,” and definitely not on the moon or on Mars. Their paper became the cornerstone of what is likely the most expensive ecological experiment ever, namely the Biosphere 2 project in Oracle, Arizona.
Biosphere 2 was designed to provide a model for how humans should live within Biosphere 1 (the Earth). It was to be a fully enclosed ecosystem. The idea grew from discussions at the Synergia Ranch, a commune near Santa Fe in New Mexico, which included the architect Phil Hawes and the oil-magnate Edward P. Bass as members. They were inspired by the University of Arizona’s Environmental Research Lab, which, since 1967, had been engineering a building that would integrate energy, water, and food into one ecosystem. Hawes, the building’s principal architect, based his drawings on his 1982 outline of “Architecture for Galactic Colonies.” It represented a continuation of his previous projects in New Mexico in the 1970s which focused on applying space ecosystem principles with circulation of energy and materials within a building. Bass, the investor, believed space technology would play a key role in the future in solving the world’s ecological and social problems. His aim was to develop ecological technology to benefit energy efficiency, recycling, waste processing, sewage management, microbial composting, and other emerging solutions to the environmental problems on Earth. The development and patenting of such technologies were to provide Bass with a solid profit.
Dorion Sagan and Lynn Margulis, Biospheres: From Earth to Space (Enslow, 1989).
The scientific rationale for Biosphere 2 was to prove that the ecological colonization of space was a viable idea. The ecologists Dorion Sagan and Lynn Margulis described the scientific aims in Biospheres from Earth to Space (1989). They encouraged the reader, saying, “Imagine for a moment you are building a large ship that will travel through space,” before plunging into a detailed analysis of how the science of ecology could enable people to “live in space indefinitely without the cost of importing supplies.” Scientifically it was a question of figuring out the “carrying capacity” of a closed ecosystem with respect to how large a crew of astronauts an artificial biosphere could support. “Successfully running a new biosphere would show people what it takes to make it in our beloved old one,” they argued, pointing to the relevance of such ecological research to “astronauts” making a living onboard “Spaceship Earth.” Moreover, “to settle Mars” with new populated biospheres could provide “protection in case of nuclear war” and “curb global population growth” on Earth. Thomas Paine particularly argued that “closed ecology systems can free us from Malthusian limitations by making the Solar System our extended home.”
The aim of the Biosphere 2 was also to build a shelter in which Bass and his friends could survive in co-evolution with thousands of other species in case the eco-crisis turned Biosphere 1 into a dead planet like Mars. Scientists and designers of Biosphere 2 fashioned themselves in the image of the Biblical Noah. They believed that “Glass Ark” could secure their personal survival while at the same time rescue some of the world’s biodiversity.
“Intensive Agricultural Sunset” by Dana Fritz.
Biosphere 2 was completed in 1991 and sealed, after eight “biospherians” dressed in space suits had marched through the airlock. They promised to stay there for two years. “The project’s participants say it can show how to colonize other planets or survive ecological catastrophe on this one,” a journalist reported from the widely publicized event. Soon rumors circulated about a smuggled bag of supplies to hungry biospherians, and fresh air being pumped into the building. With crew members suffering from lack of oxygen, a decision was made to pump more of it into the building, though it effectively ruined the value of the experiment since the building was supposed to be sealed. Nature did not easily conform to the space cabin concept, later reviews of the project claimed. It was apparently a relief to the crew when they—in space suits—marched out of the airlock in September 1993. Despite the trouble, the Biosphere 2 building became a model for ecological architecture and set the standard for a growing field.
The questionable result of the Biosphere 2 experiment led to a dramatic layoff of most of the staff in the spring of 1994. Bass thought “it was time for the project to start making a profit,” and would consequently gear the managerial focus towards ecotourism. Over half a million visitors had so far paid $12.95 each to learn about ecological colonization of Mars, and with the “biospherians” out of Biosphere 2, ecotourists could now rent rooms within the building and visit a restaurant to experience what ecological life on Mars soon would be like. This was much in line with the thinking of ecologists, who believed constructing ecological microcosms was a helpful way to educate people about ecology since it could provide pupils with a quick-to-learn overview of the complexity of nature’s economy.
Both Sides of the Glass: My Experiences Designing and Living Inside of Biosphere 2
Hugh Iltis, Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984. Photo by Glenn Trudell.
In my early undergraduate days, I was inspired by a University of Wisconsin-Madison botany professor, Dr. Hugh Iltis. Exuberant in his love of earth’s diversity, he painted a grim picture of a diminished-diversity earth with only robins and white-tailed deer remaining. Our class recited the Latin binomials of plants in unison, as mantras (“Liriodendron tulipifera, Liriodendron tulipifera, Liriodendron tulipifera”). We traveled to nearby patches of native tall-grass prairies and burned them, learning about nature’s “services” and how, in the absence of natural processes such as fire, we could take their place in an attempt to maintain ecosystem diversity. This set the scene for my use of a systems approach to understanding the earth.
Post-Iltis but before I joined the team at Biosphere 2, I worked as a field botanist locating endangered plant species’ habitats for recommendation as conservation sites. Working solo, I carried my banner to save the world and its magnificent diversity. I met a person involved in the early stages of the Biosphere 2 project and told him what I was doing. He made this life-changing comment to me: “You can’t do it by yourself.” Simple, but effective. I was soon part of the Biosphere 2 design team, attracted by their common vision to learn how the earth works as well as by their magnetic and intense passion to create a test-tube version of Earth. This was not just botany; it was a synergetic approach to cultures and their values, the atmosphere, and ecosystems.
“Curious Cactus” by Dana Fritz.
Starting in 1985 as “Biome Design Manager” for the Biosphere 2 rainforest, savannah, and desert, I was able to apply all that I had learned from Iltis and others. The design and planning phases of Biosphere 2 were equally, if not more exciting, than living inside for two years and “making ’er go.” Generally, we humans take our ecosystems apart species by species; in Biosphere 2 we were putting them together species by species, soil by soil, microbe by microbe.
In an effort to put the pieces together, we contracted specialists in termites, ants, aquatic insects, galagos, reptiles and amphibians, rainforest plants, soils, desert plants, and many more. (We included Zea diploperennis--a species of teocinte, the mother of modern corn discovered by Iltis—in the species list for Biosphere 2 in Iltis’s honor.)
Working with multi-disciplinary teams was a challenge, since not all of our specialists had studied the larger context of the organisms that they studied. For instance, we initially wanted to include a species of bat as a pollinator of some of the plant species. Our bat specialist made a recommendation for a particular species of bat. One of those bats would nightly have needed to eat twenty two-centimeter-long night-flying moths, and would have had to had encounters with over a hundred per night in order to catch the twenty. Where would all of the moths come from? What would their larvae eat, and could we have enough and the correct habitat for the moths’ eggs? In addition, the air handlers, as designed, would have sucked the moths in and killed them. Engineers suggested a fine screen over the opening to the fans in order to give the moths a chance to survive the pull. That screen would increase the electricity needed to pull the air through, a budget increase that was not supported. Nix the bats. Nix the plants that needed bats for pollination.
“Post-Hurricane Rainforest” by Dana Fritz.
We built the Biosphere for 100 years of operation. Our intention was to start with much higher diversity than would be expected in an equivalent-sized system on earth. But how many individuals of each species would be needed for 100 years of survival, and what were their pollinators? Did we have enough plants to provide the oxygen we would need? I thought of myself through the two year closure as a gardener of the atmosphere, trying to maximize oxygen production and CO2 consumption by all of the systems. It was clear that our breath was intimately connected as part of those systems, and each day of my life I feel that connection. In fact, I still occasionally panic if I don’t see green, photosynthesizing plants, wondering where my oxygen is coming from. Oh, that’s right, we’re connected to the larger world out here. This is a large world, after all.
All of this is useful in thinking about how we live on earth. The Oracle Learning Community Garden that I have been envisioning with my friends and neighbors will include it all, no doubt. Can we make habitat for migrating birds, insects, and bats while maintaining diversity of species for feeding hungry people with plants that are appropriate to our region? Of course we can, and we will. Will people take pride in being gardeners of the atmosphere? Of course they will. Biosphere 2 is just down the road from us, and the stories and lessons live on.
The Inside Story
Twenty-five years after first closure, the significance of Biosphere 2 seems to me larger than ever. That wasn’t always the case. When I first visited the site in 2000, while co-teaching an American Studies course on desert utopias, I didn’t get it. Biosphere 2 seemed to me an enormous albatross, a futurist set from Silent Running beached on the high desert floor. Yes, it may have been the largest private science experiment in history, a pioneering attempt to study complex biological systems, but something was clearly missing from the story.
And then I met Tony Burgess. Tony, a botanist who had created Biosphere 2’s desert biome, was the last man standing from the original group of people behind the project, and he generously agreed to speak to my students. When Tony started talking, my sense of the world changed. Tony told stories about the origins of the Biosphere project in a San Francisco theater group, and their subsequent work with figures ranging from Soviet space biologists to Timothy Leary, in their quest to develop sealed biospheres with which to settle Mars. He told stories about handmade concrete boats they built and sailed around the world; about systematic experiments with hallucinogenics; about, finally, an attempt to redefine the human. Headed by a charismatic leader named John Allen, the group’s ambitions were as vast and weird as anything in Pynchon.
“Sonoran Deserts” by Dana Fritz.
After that, I couldn’t get Biosphere 2 out of my head. Over time I came to see that what had seemed to me merely quixotic--can humans build a desert in the desert?--was in fact a visionary question. Part of the point in building a self-sustaining world was to make the unimaginably rich interconnections of the actual Earth newly vivid. By aggressively using satellite uplinks, remote-controlled cameras, television, and the WELL, the biospherians managed to reach 600 million people. I was moved, and more than a little shamed, by the crazy ambition and tireless dedication of the project’s creators, many of whom had labored on it for a decade.
So I put aside my academic writing to make a documentary. The scale of Biosphere 2, I realized, was a dramatic resource. Because the process of climate change is by its nature diffuse, it’s hard to capture causality. There’s no direct way to see how an airplane flight to Los Angeles affects weather systems in the Arctic. Except, that is, in Biosphere 2, where the miniaturization enormously accelerated biological cycles, to the point where particular actions had visible and sometimes scary consequences. A water hose left running on a compost heap spiked CO2 levels throughout the atmosphere. The runaway growth of “crazy ants,” an invasive species, decimated insect populations, and killed off all the toads.
Life inside Biosphere 2 was inherently dramatic: while all eight crew members were dedicated to the same ultimate goals, each was responsible for individual biomes. Resources were limited, and deeply interconnected, which led to perpetual jostling over priorities. Need more plant growth to absorb the excess carbon dioxide? Make it rain more, even if that means killing off species and converting the desert into savannah. Each biospherian faced excruciating decisions about how much time to devote to science and how much to growing food; and about whether they, or John Allen, should ultimately direct the mission. The crew split into factions of four, increasing their sense of psychic isolation, even as they wrestled with the physical stress of chronic hunger and a living system that increasingly resisted attempts at control.
A year in, it was plain that everything was not going according to plan. Oxygen levels sank so low that closure of the project had to be breached to let in outside oxygen. Something like 30% of the species inside perished utterly. Battles broke out over whether the group should continue to take its marching orders from John Allen and the Science Advisory Committee on the outside, or run their own world according to their own consciences.
“Rowboat and Beach Window” by Dana Fritz.
Around the world, the press denounced Biosphere 2 as a fraud. This wasn’t true. The project designers were clear that what they built outside Tucson was only a first step toward the creation of self-sustaining biospheres. The plan was to run fifty sequential experiments, with new crews swapping out every two years. Though the oxygen problem was unforeseen, its causes were eventually understood (the side effects of curing massive amounts of architectural concrete). Even the extinction rate was no surprise: project scientists had predicted that up to 70% of species might perish. Allen, however, exacerbated problems by sticking rigidly to the script he had planned out for the duration, casting unwarranted suspicion on the project as a whole. Eventually, faced with growing dissension, Allen pushed some of the crew inside to falsify scientific data.
And so Biosphere 2 lost its credibility. Had John Allen shown more flexibility, both with the press and with members of the crew, he would likely have defused much of the mistrust that built up. Allen should have understood this. In addition to being an engineer and metallurgist, he was a playwright and theater director; he had, in fact, co-founded the Theater of All Possibilities, from which the Biosphere grew. For John, theater was less entertainment than it was a primary model for understanding human relations.
He told me:
People don’t like the idea of drama. That is, that the basis of everything is conflict. Confrontation. Struggle of opposites. Science may have knowledge, knowledge, knowledge, but drama is the reality that there is conflicts of will. Conflicts of intentionalities. And in fact, at some point we defined Biosphere 2, that the objective of that was to show the intentionalities of people toward the biosphere.
Tragically, John was not finally able to reconcile his wisdom as a dramatist with the demands of his ego. Although he built the theater, he couldn’t control the twists of the plot; his efforts to do so alienated him from many of the crew and much of the world’s press.
Today, it’s hard to find any researchers who think the project was scientifically transformational. Crucial lessons were learned about how to engineer large closed systems (the secret is in building “lungs” to manage changes in air pressure). And yes, the discovery that rising CO2 levels led to ocean acidification was made first in Biosphere 2. But that discovery was made independently a few years later, in the Earth’s actual oceans. Elon Musk notwithstanding, it’s unlikely our species will need permanent Martian biospheres anytime soon.
Both the failures and successes of Biosphere 2 are pertinent to our condition today. The project offered a kind of reality TV in the social dimensions of large-scale technologies. In fact, the idea for Big Brother, the series that spread reality TV globally, came to its creator John de Mol, from a weekend spent watching uplinks of Biosphere 2. For two years, John Allen’s project played like the ultimate version of Survivor, reminding viewers that the planet we live on is itself an island, from which no one can be voted off. No technological fix, however grand, can escape the social matrix in which it and we are embedded. As the project’s inside history reveals, we’re stuck with our contentious selves, wrestling to work together.
Terraria Gigantica: The World Under Glass
Visiting many of the great Victorian glasshouses to make photographs for a previous project, I began to wonder about a 21st century equivalent that collected plants from faraway places and invited the public to enjoy them. As I researched this subject in 2007, I discovered that these contemporary “glasshouses” were of an increasingly larger scale, utilizing advanced architectural and engineering technology in a race to claim the superlative of “largest,” if only until the next one was built. They also incorporated painting and sculpture to create a more immersive experience for visitors. As an artist, these places captivated me both visually and conceptually. They had many similarities including a focus on research and on educating and entertaining the public. However, each has a unique mission and character. These architectural and engineering marvels stand as working symbols of our current and complex relationship with the non-human world. I selected Biosphere 2, among others, because it was indeed the world’s largest vivarium at the time.
“Edge Trimmings” by Dana Fritz.
Biosphere 2’s 3.14 acre glass and metal-framed structure contains a tropical rain forest, mangrove wetlands, a fog desert, savannah grassland, and an ocean with a coral reef. Built around the same time as Omaha’s Lied Jungle, it was originally designed as an artificial closed ecological system that would support and maintain human life, but it was also to be a tourist attraction that generated revenue from visitors who would travel to the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains to see this architectural wonder and the people living inside it. No longer airtight, it is now owned by University of Arizona and repurposed toward understanding the natural and human-made environments of Earth. The current mission includes training interdisciplinary scientists, science education, and public outreach. I was surprised and fascinated when I learned about the original mission, but I was most interested in the variety of ecosystems its vivarium contained. As an artist-in-residence from 2008-2011, in intermittent visits, I stayed on the campus and enjoyed 24-hour access to the biomes. During this time, the University of Arizona was transforming the languishing facility and developing new experiments that could utilize the world’s largest laboratory. My focus was on the curious original landscape design of the biomes, especially where illusionism replicating the natural world had been designed into what was essentially a research facility.
“Shovel” by Dana Fritz.
While the technical and aesthetic demands of these varying missions informed the physical design of these spaces, the required juxtapositions of natural and artificial elements also generate unintentionally striking visual paradoxes. In these carefully constructed exhibits, I turned away from the crowds of visitors, looking for views where the illusion gives way. In these margins, these liminal spaces, the natural and the artificial sometimes meet, overlap, and bleed together, or they collide, resist, and contrast with one another. The visual richness of these small details leads to big questions about what it means to create and contain landscapes. They ask us to think about our interactions with and attitudes about the non-human world. They ask us to consider whether these spaces supplement or replace experiences outside. They ask us to reflect on the distinction between the natural and the artificial and to contemplate nature’s future.
The Glass Ark, and Other Fraught Analogies
Lisa Ruth Rand
On September 26, 1993, a crew of eight men and women wearing dark blue jump suits passed through an airlock and into the Arizona sunshine. They took deep breaths of air and acclimated to an atmosphere that had become foreign over the course of their two-year mission. A group of well-wishers—fewer in number than those who congregated in 1991 to seal them inside—gathered for a “reentry ceremony” to welcome the gaunt travelers back to Earth.
Although to all appearances this event seems to mark the return of astronauts, the crew had never left Earth, at least not in the most literal sense. They were “Bionauts,” and the imagery and rhetoric of spaceflight surrounding this so-called “reentry” was quite intentional. Human spaceflight had become one of several analogies inscribed upon Biosphere 2 by those who conceived, built, and managed it.
“Instruments” by Dana Fritz.
The above essays synthesize the strange past and present of Biosphere 2. Alternatingly celebrated as visionary and lambasted as fraudulent, the project undertook an unprecedented experiment with unconventional goals in full view of a skeptical public. Whether evidenced in the space suits worn by the biospherians during closure and reentry, or in invocations of the facility as a “second Spaceship Earth,” the trappings of spaceflight—a durably popular product of modern science—provided a broadly legible analogy for an otherwise peerless endeavor.
While the project had a scientific rational—to see whether humans could construct and survive inside self-sustaining, Earthlike structures—what it lacked was the trappings of modern science. The space-frame facility looks like a spaceship or a laboratory—places where Big Science takes place. However, Biosphere 2 did not possess other properties that had become hallmarks of Western scientific practice since the late 19th century, particularly in the Cold War world from which the Biosphere 2 project emerged. It lacked public funding; it lacked an open exchange of knowledge and peer review with a broader scientific community; it lacked affiliation with a research university or established industry; and, perhaps most importantly, the majority of its first inhabitants lacked credentialing—although one biospherian boasted an M.D., the rest of the original crew were self-taught generalists, rather than Ph.D. specialists. The entire project was funded by a single wealthy donor, Ed Bass, and the management led by John Allen were notoriously secretive about technical and administrative details.
Together, these attributes harken back to a different century, before Western science as we know it existed, when knowledge about the world grew from the practices of natural history. Ed Bass acted as a patron, a private benefactor whose monetary and cultural capital could confer prestige through association. John Allen represented what Roy Porter calls “the cult of the intuitive genius.” Like charismatic naturalists of an earlier era, Allen confidently generated the trust and expertise that modern scientists gain through credentialing, institutional affiliation, and disciplinary exchange.
In spite of, or perhaps because of these deficiencies in the cultural markings of late 20th-century scientific practice, Allen and his followers crafted a public image that employed three main analogies in an attempt to make the Biosphere 2 legible and legitimate to scientists and lay Americans alike. The analogies served as a method of what Thomas Gieryn has called cultural cartography. By allying a project that was as much about art as it was about science with established scientific, technological, and spiritual narratives, the creators of Biosphere 2 inscribed their unusual practices onto a cultural map of American science that would otherwise exclude them. However, when these analogies failed, they fueled perceptions of the project itself as a failure.
“Rainforest Back Room” by Dana Fritz.
In addition to the spaceflight analogy, public materials about the Biosphere 2 also described it as an ecological lab and a “glass ark.” The laboratory analogy bore out in photographs of biospherians wearing white lab coats working in white rooms among an assortment of volumetric flasks and specimen jars. The uncredentialed generalists took on technical titles that conferred epistemic authority. The glass ark analogy had aspects in common with space travel, but with a darker valence. Such an analogy appealed to American environmental and spiritual consciousness, suggesting that a species-stuffed, aesthetically compelling lifeboat might save the ecologically righteous from inevitable planetary collapse.
The lab analogy might have served the project more successfully had other attributes of the modern lab such as free exchange of information and knowledge production borne out, but the closed information world of the Biosphere 2 disconnected the facility from its broader scientific milieu. The ark analogy, too, proved problematic for its authors. In addition to the threatened lives of the New Age Noahs through oxygen deprivation, around 40% of the original 3,800 species went extinct during the first mission. To make things worse, cockroaches and crazy ants, endemic to Arizona but invasive to the Biosphere 2, filled vacated insect niches and added a hellish, post-apocalyptic veneer to the intended Ark. These mass extinctions would be an acceptable experimental outcome had the Biosphere 2 functioned as a modern laboratory. As a lifeboat for Earth’s species, including humans, Biosphere 2 suggested that humans could be in trouble in a post-Earth future.
While the essays above touch on John Allen’s legacy, Ed Bass remained more visibly attached to the Biosphere 2 and, from the first moments of controversy, has sought to rebrand the Biosphere as a legitimate scientific facility. After spending nearly $200 million of his personal fortune on the Biosphere, Bass (with an assist from his CEO Steve Bannon) kicked out the new crew of biospherians, led by John Allen, halfway through the second mission in 1994. From that point onward Bass’s top priority seems to have been to rehabilitate the reputation of his failed investment through affiliation with large research universities.
The sun sets on Biosphere 2 and the Sonoran Desert. Photo by Dana Fritz.
After trying to find a permanent buyer for sixteen years and flirting with private housing developers, Bass donated the Biosphere 2 to the University of Arizona in 2011. Bass gave an additional $20 million earmarked for a new large-scale ecology project to be built inside the former agricultural biome. However, the Landscape Evolution Observatory that resulted has had trouble producing high-level results and securing public money. In spite of its ostensibly legitimating affiliation with a research university, the search for scientific credibility for Biosphere 2 continues a quarter century after multiple failed analogies rendered the project a dramatic, spectacular failure in popular memory.
Twenty-five years after the first crew sealed themselves into the tiny planetary microcosm built upon a strange mix of eco-utopian optimism, apocalyptic pessimism, and extraterrestrial futurism, we face a murkier-than-ever forecast of Biosphere 1’s future. Steve Bannon, who played an instrumental role in the rebranding of Biosphere 2 between its two missions, and helped broker a lease with Columbia University, has rebranded himself as a climate change denier, alt-right icon, and right-hand man to President-elect Donald Trump. In the midst of a private aerospace boom in which the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos imagine a pristine multi-planet future for humanity--or at least for those who can afford the ticket to Mars—the question of whether we ought to preserve the planet as it is or learn to stop worrying and love the Anthropocene seems more urgent—and problematic—than ever.
'In this week’s Q&A on the ABC, the American cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson gushed about the prospects of mining in space, and the benefits that might afford humanity'.
Here is that TYSON waxing poetic over planetary and asteroid mining and how it will be good for humanity!
Don't believe costs of operations and installation estimates----these figures are as low as the PUBLIC WORKS BIG DIG IN BOSTON-----TYSON says JOBS, JOBS, JOBS----for bed and a meal!
Space mining is closer than you think, and the prospects are great
August 6, 2015 4.09pm EDT
Many of the bodies in our solar system’s contain precious resources that could be used here or in space. NASA
In this week’s Q&A on the ABC, the American cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson gushed about the prospects of mining in space, and the benefits that might afford humanity.
How about mining an asteroid for natural resources? […] There are more natural resources on asteroids than have ever been mined in the history of the Earth. So in 100 years […] all wars over limited resources are over because we have access to the unlimited resources of our back yard and that new back yard is our solar system.
Is this really plausible? What can we mine in space? And will it really deliver world peace, or just another realm for competition and conflict? Perhaps a look at the immediate past and near future may help us answer some of these questions.
In the two years since I first wrote about off-earth mining, a number of things have changed, and at least one relates to “world peace”.
One asteroid mining company, Planetary Resources, launched its first spacecraft from the International Space Station. This was the company’s second attempt after an earlier one was incinerated in the failed Antares launch.
Another asteroid miner, Deep Space Industries (DSI), won two NASA grants. One was to investigate creating propellant from asteroid material, and the other to create an asteroid regolith simulant, so equipment can be tested on Earth. That followed the award to DSI of a contract to help develop BitSat, which transmits Bitcoin transactions.
We, at the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research at UNSW, along with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also won funding to investigate mining water to support NASA’s planned Mars colony.
In the US, the ASTEROIDS Act (yes that’s an acronym) was thankfully renamed the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act before it passed Congress. It tries to deal with the gaps in the Outer Space Treaty relating to ownership of space resources. It states that “any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law.”
A UNSW study has shown, for a particular iron-rich asteroid, given the existence of a market and other assumptions, the return on investment is 85 years if the ore is returned to Earth, but five years if used in space.
Not so costly
Despite all this activity, sceptics remain unconvinced about the prospects for space mining for reasons such as expense and time.
Mining in space will certainly be expensive. The total budget of the project to send Curiosity to Mars and operate it for 14 years was US$2.5 billion.
But mining on Earth is also expensive. In 2014, Rio Tinto reduced its exploration budget from US$948 million in 2013 to US$747 million. A single study can cost over US$650 million.
The corresponding figures for BHP Billiton are US$1,047 million in 2013 down to US$716 million. That’s the sort of money these companies are already spending, trying to find new terrestrial deposits. So, the absolute scale of an investment in space mining is not beyond existing mining companies.
Space mining is a staple of science fiction, but it’s rapidly becoming a reality. Ryan Somma, CC BY
Things are similar in terms of time frames. Mining operations last for decades. So neither the costs nor the time-frames are prohibitive. As we see, the asteroid mining companies are already getting into space. It’s happening, and it’s being funded.
So, where are the immediate problems? For one thing, the study that told us to use the iron ore in space rather than return it to Earth assumed a market in space.
For high-value commodities, like rare earth minerals or platinum group metals, there may be a case for return to Earth, but certainly, the “common” resources that could be mined in space are best used there.
The common argument is that it costs about US$20,000 per kilogram to launch to deep space from Earth, so if you can produce that kilogram in space for less than $20,000, you’re ahead.
In fact, SpaceX publishes its launch costs on its website. Currently, for its Falcon 9, that figure is about US$12,600. But a market does not exist at present, and may need an artificial demand to kick it off (e.g. someone like NASA could contract for a delivery of water on-orbit).
This dilemma was recently debated at SpaceUp Australia. Without that kick-start, early demand for water may come from space tourism, but the most likely place for this type of economy to kick off is probably satellite refuelling. Water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen, which can be used to fuel satellites.
World peace or wild west?
In terms of world peace, there are a number of problems with the US Space Act (variously discussed here, here, here, and here), including that the law is not necessarily consistent with existing treaties, is likely to be ignored by other countries, and is unenforceable.
A bus could drive through the existing treaties and not touch the sides, so there is a lack of uncertainty about what can and can’t be done, or enforced. My own view on this is that it will be the wild west out there until the slow processes of the law finally catch up with reality off the ground.
As far as world peace goes, I think things in space will get worse before they get better (space piracy, anyone?). But once order is established, there is every possibility that deGrasse Tyson is right, perhaps in less than 100 years.
The world leaders on all of these contentious topics, as well as representatives from the off-earth mining companies will be meeting to debate these issues at the second Off-Earth Mining Forum, to be held in Sydney in November.
To maximise interaction between space experts and mining experts, the event has been co-located with the third Future Mining Conference. Members of the public are welcome to attend and get a sense of whether deGrasse Tyson might be right.