Friday, October 19, 2018


Launching Tonight: Bepi-Colombo Planetary Probe


Tonight at the Kourou spaceport in Guyane (French South America) the European Space Agency in association with JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, launched an Ariane 5 rocket carrying the Bepi-Colombo probe, the first interplanetary vehicle devoted uniquely to the planet Mercury.  Passing vehicles have previously flown by the world nearest to the sun, but this one is specially designed for the grueling environment of Mercury, which varies from over 400F to nearly minus 300F on the dark side.  Long thought to be  tidally locked, Mercury does rotate, with boiling metal pools turning into ice fields. This makes the possibility of a habitable "twilight zone" between the two extremes virtually impossible.  However, I remember as a child reading a comic book where space travelers had colonized this narrow ring around the planet and dealt with its unbelievable extremes.  It was one of my first impressions of science fiction and remains fixed in my imagination.  Let's hope for more astounding revelations from this adventurous mission.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Why Americans Ignore Space Science


     This morning I was interested to find several references in foreign news services to the docking of Japan Space Agency's Kounotori 7 space freighter with the International Space Station.  I had heard nothing about it.  I consulted CBS, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe.  Not a word.

     Such ignorance illustrates the reason why most Americans are woefully ill-informed of developments in space.  As with the Olympics, American media simply ignore any international item that does not directly concern our narrow national concerns, especially military ones.  The media in this country pay scant attention to science in general.  Whereas quality information services such as Deutsche Welle and BBC have whole sections devoted to timely reporting on science, American media frequently have none, or at most a tiny "faits divers" department that reprints out-of-date notices.  In Germany, even small local papers have a well-documented department devoted to scientific matters.  Germans, for instance, are likely to know that the current mission commander on the ISS is a German astronaut.  However, even when American media rarely mention this important person, they usually forget to specify that he is not an American.

     The science ignorance is not astounding, considering that American enterprises seldom require or even encourage scientific knowledge among their personnel.  University majors in "broadcast journalism" generally avoid science, concentrating more on the details of makeup, camera angles and fashionable dressing to the exclusion of such "hard" subjects.   US journals, dependent on sound bites, distributed official news releases, and snippets from our single wire news source, systematically avoid in-depth reporting of any kind -- and complicated explanations of matters scientific altogether.

     Unfortunately, the majority of my countrymen would dismiss my interest in Kounotori 7's success as worthless attention to a minor, routine little space delivery.  Yet it is precisely the accurate accomplishment of "routine" activity that makes space exploration possible.  The fact that such activity is increasingly international is important.  Deutsche Welle recently discussed the revelation that there are now 70 space-faring nations, whose cooperation is vital to increasing human knowledge.  Kounotori contains, among other things, an experimental mini re-rentry vehicle that may open a plethora of options for space operations.  Hayabusa 2's current activities on the asteroid Ryugu may be even more far reaching.

     Those in the worldwide sci fi community need to maintain open investigation of the best international news services in order to keep abreast of the rapidly changing developments that affect our reading, writing, and curiosity.  Unless there is a rapid and fundamental turnaround in the way American media operates (and this is unlikely), such a global viewpoint must inform our imagination into this increasingly old century and the ones that will follow.

Saturday, September 29, 2018








BRICS countries are really coming in on the blog

But so far there is one exception

Where are our friends from South Africa?

Come and enjoy our sci fi fest

Friday, September 21, 2018


Happy to Have New Viewers from Japan Today

Especially with the Exciting Achievements of JAXA up on asteroid Ryugu

There's a Lot to be Proud of!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Welcome to new visitors from Bulgaria, Chile, and Argentina!  Follow the blog to stay informed about new posts as they are added.

Saturday, September 15, 2018




Witajcie Polskich Przyjaciol!


Great to have new readers in Poland, the homeland of the fantastic science fiction pioneer, Stanislaw Lem.  Please let us know of any new books about space travel and other themes that are new in your part of the world.

Saturday, September 8, 2018




Wow, Aussies are really weighing in!  50% as many viewers as here in the USA and helping to push our worldwide viewership above the US level!