Monday, March 25, 2013

Space For Sale?

After given US Congressional approval, are historic Apollo mission memorabilia really worth the money? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Unlike the Soviet era cosmonaut space memorabilia that had been on the auction block as far back as 1992, the US Congress has just given the green light on the sale of historically significant Apollo mission memorabilia. The items reached the New York auction house Bonhams back in Monday, March 18, 2013 and they truly represent a treasure trove of America’s glory days of manned space exploration during the late 1960s and the early 1970s. 

The most famed item on auction is the “Space Magna Carta” a 1975 printed certificate marking the symbolic end of the space race between the United States and the then Soviet Union that was valued at 100,000 US dollars that supposedly set on paper the end of the American and Soviet space exploration rivalry when the Soviet era Soyuz capsule docked with an American Apollo spacecraft. And also, two sheets of the Apollo 11 manual on how to get back to Earth from the Moon is also expected to go for 90,000 US dollars. 

The now iconic checklist of the Apollo 13 emergency procedure annotated by astronaut Jim Lovell was also offered. And one of the esoteric items offered was an uneaten “space meal” potato soup packet brought on the Apollo 13 mission. If you have the requisite money, there are also space suit gloves and other Apollo era related memorabilia – and most of them could cost, for starters, as much as a high-end sports car or as much as a million US dollars for more iconic items offered. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One Small Step For Multi-Millionaire: One Giant Leap For Mankind?

With multi-millionaire and first ever space tourist Dennis Tito’s slated private fundraising to send a trained couple for a round-trip to Mars represent a one giant leap for all of us? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The planned endeavor is expected to cost by as much as 1 billion US dollars using current rocket technology and is slated to be given the go ahead by the year 2018, such challenges aside it hasn’t yet discouraged American multi-millionaire and pioneering space tourist Dennis Tito to establish a private fundraising campaign to send a trained middle-aged male and female couple on a 500 day round trip to Mars. Though the planned mission saves by as much as 19 billion US dollars by merely orbiting Mars instead of landing on the red planet’s surface, it does still exposes the prospective couple’s to still largely unknown risks of a long-duration spaceflight – namely, solar radiation exposure since the mission involves venturing away from the Earth’s protective magnetic field and the detrimental health effects of long-term weightlessness. This is why the prospective couple that will be chosen for the mission should be a little over past their child-bearing ages to minimize the risks of bearing genetically mutated children due to exposure to unfiltered solar and cosmic radiation. 

The 2018 date was not just chosen arbitrarily, it is one of the few “auspicious” years in a century where Mars gets closest to the Earth – about as close as 36 million miles. And such rare planetary alignment allows the spacecraft to use the gravity of Mars to whip it back to Earth at 25,000 miles per hour, thus saving the cost of precious rocket fuel to be used in the overall mission. 

Dennis Tito’s “altruism” behind such complex and pricey endeavor is to inspire the current generation of schoolchildren to be more enthusiastic about math and science subjects that are indispensible in the aerospace industry and space exploration. Sadly, since the Bush era “War on Terror”, the math and science knowledge of America had been mostly applied in the militarization of the aerospace industry – i.e. unmanned military drones. With Tito’s privately funded space exploration initiative, the math and science knowledge of the United States will now be used for more peaceful means, 

Dennis Tito first gained fame in the field of space exploration when he used his own money – a little over 20 million US dollars – to allow him to went into a 2-week “working vacation” on the International Space Station a few years ago. Thus making him the first ever space tourist who used his own money.