Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Olympic Torch in Space: A Prelude to Space Olympics?

With the Olympic Torch for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in a six-hour sprint to the International Space Station, is this just a prelude for an eventual “Space Olympics”? 

By: Ringo Bones

After blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, together with NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata of Japan will be carrying the Olympic Torch slated for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics up to the low-Earth orbit of the International Space Station for a first-ever space-walk with the Olympic Torch in a literally out-of-this world venue. Even though the Olympic Torch will be tethered for safety reasons to whomever be carrying it for an EVA (extra-vehicular activity – i.e. space-walk) this Saturday, it would be the first time ever in the history of the Olympic Games that the torch has taken an “out-of-this –world-route” en route to its venue for the opening ceremonies of the next year’s Winter Olympic Games. But will it also signal for a first ever “Space Olympics”? 

Imagine new legitimate Olympic events like “Weightless Rhythmic Gymnastics” of “Weightless Wrestling” or any other Olympic games performed in the weightless environment of low Earth orbit like that of the International Space Station. Would the launching of the Olympic torch for a space-walk eventually inspire the beginnings of the “Space Olympiad”? 

India’s Mission to Mars: The Sino-Indian Space Race to Mars?

With an ambition to be full-fledged space faring nation with a space program that only costs 1 billion US dollars a year, is India’s latest mission to Mars a blatant attempt to beat Mainland China to the red planet? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Critics and detractors might be pointing to the fact that for a country that can even hardly lift a significant portion of its citizens living less than 3 US dollars a day and mired in poverty shouldn’t be involving themselves in space exploration, but India’s latest mission to Mars is set to prove the detractors of its fledging space program wrong – as the recent interview with Kopillil Radhakrishnan, head of India’s Space Research Organization aims to prove that India’s poverty related problems can be solved with the science learned from the country’s ongoing endeavor. With a long term goal to solve the country’s chronic food, potable water and other vital resource shortage via its latest space exploration and related science and technology endeavors, India is indeed taking whatever advantage to be a both a technologically advanced nation and one that is capable of meeting the vital needs of its own citizens. 

At a budget of 1 billion US dollars a year – India spends around 1/60th a year less than NASA spends annually in space exploration. And the 74-million US dollar (4.5 billion rupee) Mangalyaan (Mars craft in Hindi) spacecraft costs about one-tenth of a typical Mars bound spacecraft that NASA has been sending to the red planet since the late 1990s. If all goes to plan, India’s Mars probe should be orbiting around the red planet by September 2014 – making India the fourth space faring nation / conglomerate to send a space-probe to the Mars – i.e. The United States, Russia (former Soviet Union) and the European Union. Even though Mainland China had been sending manned craft to orbit for about a decade now, the Beijing government seems to have no plans at the moment to send a space-probe to Mars. Could an Indian astronaut beat the People’s Republic of China in the Sino-Indian Space Race to Mars?