Tag Archives: US Representatives

Factual Basis for Ahbee’s Universe

6 Nov

As a reader of science fiction, I enjoy authors whose stories are set in a believable universe. I don’t blame them, of course, if they get certain things about the future wrong, as long as their predictions are realistic or based on known science at the time. For example, Larry Niven’s Neutron Star or Ringworld are not less engaging because he writes of characters using outdated technology (data tapes). It’s actually somewhat comforting to a newbie writer; if one of the greats can get a detail wrong and still write some of the best science fiction of the century, I should quit OCDing about all the details in my stories.

Still, that doesn’t excuse me from doing my research. Here are some of the events that have happened in space exploration in the past three years that I am using to guess how we colonize our solar system in the next hundred years.

  1. In an article on July 31, 2010, Elon Musk said, “I’m planning to retire to Mars.” He founded SpaceX to do just that. You can read the full article at
  2. In 2010, SpaceX, though the best funded and furthest along, was not alone. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, had founded Blue Origin in 2000. John Carmack (the man behind Doom and Quake) founded Armadillo Aerospace. Richard Branson was starting Virgin Galactic. Jeff Greason had started XCOR Aerospace. Steve Bennett owned  Starchaser. Private industry was beginning to sail in waters previously controlled mainly by governments.
  3. Also in 2010, NASA made Commercial Crew Development awards to stimulate the private sector, encouraging them to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities.
  4. In 2011, a number of companies began making noises about space missions and mining asteroids. The United States retired its space shuttles and contracted out its astronaut and supply runs to the International Space Station (ISS) to private contractors.
  5. On May 31, 2012, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule returned to Earth successfully after its first commercial flight to the ISS.
  6. On July 16, 2012, SpaceX received its first science mission from NASA, launching a NOAA spacecraft.
  7. On August 1, 2012, Eric Anderson announced the formation of Planetary Resources, Inc., to mine asteroids. He laid out his business plan and named some (but not all) of his co-investors: Google bosses Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Titanic director James Cameron, and Ross Perot, Jr., (son of the former presidential candidate).  [In Captain Tsuvecki’s backstory, she gets her start on Planetary Resources’ refueling stations.]
  8. In 2013, all of SpaceX’s missions can be considered a success. In fact, they have six Dragon rockets in various stages of construction.  Check out their Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/SpaceX
  9. The icing on the cake, as far as my story line goes, is the 2013 Congress’s current refusal to give NASA any 2014 funding for asteroid retrieval science. Since Congress has not actually passed a budget, that decision isn’t final, but I think some sly person linked climate warming science with asteroid retrieval science in the minds of the US Representatives. That’s what the articles I’ve read suggest, anyway.

So, I predict that Earth governments will not be the ones to colonize our solar system; private industry will do it.

That may be a good thing. Mining asteroids in space or on the moon will hopefully mean we can stop hazardous, environmentally damaging mining operations on Earth.

While asteroid mining and space exploration can be mostly automated, and while automation may be cheaper than human-staffed missions, I think some people underestimate the human psyche’s need to explore: ” to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Those words have resonated with audiences for three generations now, and I find it inconceivable that human beings will settle for exploring our solar system by remote control. Some of us will actually go there.