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“He Has Walled Me In”: New Short Story

He Has Walled Me In - Cover ImageTired of waiting for the sequel to In the Shadow of Ares? Wondering when or if we’ll ever be done with it? (We will, still working on it.) Well, here’s a little something to tide you over: “He Has Walled Me In”

Leon Toa sets out on what for any other Martian settler would be a routine drive to Port Lowell. When unseen forces interrupt his trip, he must uncover the truth about his past before what’s left of his future runs out.

To give a bit more detail, our protagonist’s trip is as much a business necessity as it is a personal one, meant to rebuild his self-confidence after he survives a disabling illness.  A static discharge damages his rover en route, and he is lured into a life-threatening mystery he must think his way out of.

The story takes place in the Ares Project universe at the time of In the Shadow of Ares, and was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s “Within the Walls of Eryx” (no spoilers – the two are quite different). At 15,000 words it’s a fairly long short story, so you get your money’s worth at $1.50.

Space Base in New Zealand Picked to Start Private Trips to Orbit

Space Base in New Zealand Picked to Start Private Trips to Orbit

I find it interesting that this idea – small launch vehicles for small payloads to LEO – has kept coming up over the past fifteen years but hasn’t yet worked out. This was the idea behind DARPA’s FALCON(US) and SpaceX’s Falcon 1 back in 2002-4 – the former petering out and the latter being canceled in favor of an EELV-class rocket which had a better business case.

But it still keeps turning up. Two years ago, DARPA had the ALASA program (which apparently is still running, in tandem with the smaller-scale SALVO project). Now this, and I seem to recall another private company planning drop-launches a la ALASA. With the emergence and popularity of cubesats, there is probably more of a market to exploit with inexpensive small launch vehicles than there was ten years ago — in hindsight, it seems the small launch vehicle idea was just a bit ahead of its time back then.


Colonize Mars? Not Until I Sate My Envy and Hate

D.N. Lee is at it again: Colonize Mars? Not until we learn some lessons here on Earth

What bothers me in this sort of discussion is that the very people who we want to go to space to escape are the ones who are going to do their damnedest to stop us from escaping them. People like D.N. Lee are small-minded solipsists who interpret everything through the prism of their own prejudices and grievances, and would rather see the stagnation of human civilization if not its sudden extinction than give up trying to sate their insatiable, misanthropic envy.

You’d think that as awful as we space-settlement advocates are, they’d be glad to be rid of us, and to have us leave to them the whole world to do with as they wish. But I guess it would be asking too much of their limited capacity for objective reasoning to expect them to forgo the indulgence in immediate hate-gratification in favor of a greater long-term gain (indeed, a win-win for everyone involved).

Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

I always thought these things were a bit silly looking, like a Bradley GT made with an Airstream trailer. Yet an interesting foundation, had he worked to evolve the design further.

Turns out that, like a number of his wilder architectural ideas, form took precedence over function and a whole lot of evolution would have been needed to make it work out.

A Harrowing Test Drive of Buckminster Fuller’s 1933 Dymaxion Car: Art That’s Scary to Ride

NASA May Have Accidentally Created a Warp Field

Interesting, if true: NASA May Have Accidentally Created a Warp Field:

Which brings us to today’s warp field buzz. Posts on, a website devoted to the engineering side of space news, say that NASA has a tool to measure variances in the path-time of light. When lasers were fired through the EmDrive’s resonance chamber, it measured significant variances and, more importantly, found that some of the beams appeared to travel faster than the speed of light. If that’s true, it would mean that the EmDrive is producing a warp field or bubble.

The suggestion is that whatever is behind the EM thruster, it may be producing warp-bubble-like conditions – in effect, two lines of research intersecting unexpectedly.

Surprisingly, He Wasn’t Using ProE/Creo

I don’t agree with using a firearm in this manner. I’m not saying I don’t fully understand it, mind you, but that there are safer ways to take out your frustrations on electronic equipment. “Fed Up” Colorado Man, 38, Busted For Killing His Computer In Cold Blood.


What Do You Get When You Cross IRVE With a Shuttle-Era P/A Module?

ULA’s Vulcan recovery concept:

ULA CEO Outlines BE-4 Engine Reuse Economic Case

It amounts to severing the engines from the stage, post-separation, and bringing them down via IRVE-derived inflatable heatshields.

An interesting method, but AvWeek’s description makes it sound a bit crude compared to going all the way to a single P/A-module-like unit. It may be that the decelerator required to bring down an object of that size and mass becomes impractical given the space and mass available to stow it on the launch vehicle. Or it could simply be the investment required makes the idea impractical (though it’s not necessarily that you’d be designing two vehicles, but rather a single vehicle that flies in two different configurations with a set of structural droptanks).

It’s nice to see the effects serious competition is having on the older players in the space industry.


But not quite. Falcon landing

Worlds better than the first try, though. It’s like watching the landing from the last DC-X flight – everything’s going great until a leg goes bad and the thing tips over.

It’s a pity (for entertainment value) that the video cuts off just as the stage explodes.

The State of Commercial Space

Not bad: Forget Musk’s Mars: Billionaires Branson, Allen Seek Earth Orbit – Bloomberg Business.

More Ingredients for Life Identified on Mars

Interesting: More Ingredients for Life Identified on Mars.