All content is by Stephen Ashworth, Oxford, UK,
unless attributed to a different signed author.
(1) Available in any colour so long as it’s black: the Model T of space
SKYLON is now on sale (well, the 1/250 scale model), and, like the Ford Model T that revolutionised motoring, it’s available in any colour – so long as you want black!
Support the British spaceplane industry by purchasing yours now from the British Interplanetary Society (scroll to bottom of the page).
I’m not an expert on the engineering, but Alan Bond has created a machine of beauty here. Skylon really looks the business: sleek and sharp-pointed and dangerous-looking, with a hint of Batman in the wings and those gigantic engines. Get out of the way, this thing’s in a hurry...
Meanwhile the pink ones with silver stars on them may take a while longer to come...
(2) A date for your diary: the UK Space Conference and the Sir Arthur Clarke awards
Dave Wright reminds me that nominations for the Sir Arthur Clarke awards are open until 13 May. Details on the UKSA website.
The UK Space Conference itself takes place on 4-5 July 2011, at its new venue in the University of Warwick. Confirmed speakers include Jonathan Amos (BBC), Alan Bond (Reaction Engines), Jean-Jacques Dordain (ESA), David Willetts MP (UK government), and many others. Full details here and here.
(3) David Baker at the BIS: slaying the Space Age myths
The British Interplanetary Society marked 12 April with a lecture by well-known space writer David Baker.
He tackled some of the popular myths from the early 1960s, following Yuri Gagarin’s first orbit of the Earth:
Baker noted what an important anniversary year 2011 is:
Note particularly that Soyuz achievement: 40 years of continuous operation without a fatal accident. And launching in conditions of wind and ice that would keep the Shuttle grounded. The West has a lot to learn from them, Baker said. Quite right.
Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the entire lecture is accessible here (click on “Yuri Gagarin Night Lecture” in panel on right of screen).
Many thanks to Alan Marlow for recording this and putting it online, together with other recent events.
(4) The BIS: getting involved online and by e-mail
The British Interplanetary Society now has an official Facebook group. Please get involved and join in these discussions!
The BIS website has had a major facelift. Do check it out and see if you like it!
Another new venture from the BIS is the monthly Odyssey Newsletter, sent out in PDF format as an e-mail attachment. To ask about it or to subscribe, please contact Mark Stewart.
(5) Cartoon of the month: can Spirit come home now?
Fantastic cartoon about the Spirit Mars rover here.
Thanks to Athena Andreadis for the link. Her blog posting about robots here: “The Souls in Our Machines”.