Monday, April 23, 2012

H.O.P.E. for the Future

Where am I?

If it's Monday, I must be on Titan.

[It's a play on an old joke about the jet age, but some of you might get the connection. *grin*]

A recent question list from an editor about the premise of The Outer Planets made me realize that what might be generally accepted in space opera may not so easily pass muster in Near Future SFR, where we actually examine the logistics and the reasons to explore space in our near future.

Space Opera SFR
Question: Why go there?  
Answer: Because we can.

Near Future SFR
Question: Why go there...when the expense, peril, time required, and the potential for disaster are all considerable?
Answer: Because we can...establish future colonies, further scientific advancement, and harvest valuable resources.

It seems the closer to now the story takes place, the more questions it raises, where if a story is set---say, a thousand years in the future--there's less concern about how artificial gravity is generated, what sort of propulsion the ship uses to travels such enormous distances, or why mankind would even want to go there.

Okay, let's talk about that!

While doing research for The Outer Planets, I found an exciting reference site. [ *claps hands with glee* ] Just gotta share...


What is HOPE? It's a NASA initiative that stands for Human Outer Planets Exploration, and proposes a six-person manned mission to the Jovian moon of Callisto. Three crew members would be deployed to the surface for 30 days to establish a re-usable research base for surface studies that might also include the exploration of Europa (one of Jupiter's ocean moons) via a tele-operated submarine probe. Mission duration: Five years.

Why Callisto? The largest of Jupiter's moons--about the size of planet Mercury--is shielded from the lion's share of radiation in the Jovian system and so may be the safest place to plant carbon units (people!) for a brief time to conduct research.

How challenging is this mission?  To draw a quote from the site:

It's like...
Herding cats
in a room full of smoke and mirrors
where the floor is covered with apples and oranges.

Hmm, a bit like the Columbus voyage then, que no?

I was delighted by this general audience HOPE overview of the project. The time frame for HOPE is 2045+. My fictional mission takes place just slightly earlier in 2039-2045. Jupiter and Saturn will be in close proximity in the fall of 2042 which is the reason I chose this time frame.

With the current climate of our space program, is HOPE dead? Although many of our future space projects have been scrapped, it doesn't appear the HOPE Project has expired. Though the majority of info sites date to 2006-07, I found active references to HOPE as recently as 2011.

Ship Design

Another fun product of my research is this site on interstellar ship design called Realistic Designs.  It includes a look at a very popular ship from fiction, the visually-stunning transport vessel from the movie Avatar.  From front engine design to proton sails to attached Valkyries space-to-ground shuttle, the Venture Star is an amazing ship. I found the site so awe-inspiring, I added the link to our Ship Design reference list on the side bar.

Take a few minutes to browse the site and you may pick up all sorts of interesting factoids to inspire your imagination.

And speaking of space, let me share this photo my spouse just took yesterday of the piggy-backed space shuttle Discovery sitting on the tarmac at Dulles. He knows I love this stuff! (The 747 with the Discovery is in the middle of the photo above the wing.)

The arrival of Discovery in Washington, D.C., including the flyover of the mall, is being met with contrasting feelings of awe and loss, with NASAs future in question as outlined in this article.

Mission Success

So much going on! The pace is energizing and head-spinning at the same time. 

Here's a recap/update:

1.  Pippa Jay's debut novel, KEIR, will be released within the next two weeks, on May 7th, and we're all excited by this first-ever novel launch by a Lounger. You can tune in to Pippa's blog tour here. The early reviews are starting to come in, and KEIR currently has a five-star rating on Goodreads! (Cover photo at right.)

2.  There's more excitement to come as Sharon's GHOST PLANET release date just got moved up more than a month to October 30th--and it also just went live for pre-order on Amazon! (We'll do a big promo later, once the cover art is included.) Sharon now has a brand new shiny author page, and you're cordially invited to stop by and "like" the novel, the author page and/or add a comment for Sharon. Here's what Linnea Sinclair had to say about Ghost Planet:
"Fisher's GHOST PLANET grabs you right from the start and doesn't let go. An entrancing, ADDICTING read, it keeps you on the edge of your seat with a fresh and fascinating take on the human-alien problem, while at the same time seduces you with a poignant love story. It's a psychological thriller, a science fiction adventure, and endearing romance all rolled up in one. Highly recommended!"
3.  Donna and I are planning to attend the RWA National Conference in Anaheim as co-Golden Heart finalists (she's a double!) and trying to keep up with our current Golden Heart class on a private Yahoo loop, who are proving to be a talkative (or should that be 'type-ative'?) and diverse group of seriously cool writers. 

Donna and I are scheduled to join forces for a special post about SFR on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog (the prolific 2009 Golden Heart finalist) on June 25th. 

4.  Here at Spacefreighters Lounge, we're watching the blog's 50,000 hit landmark approaching at FTL speed and trying to brainstorm what sort of celebration we should have. It'll be here before we know it!

So we're doing the blog equivalent of bouncing off the virtual walls here! Can you tell? 

Enjoy your week. :)

~~~ * ~~~

1 comment:

  1. Love those info sites! I think I posted one in my last Mission Journal that makes near future predictions based on current trends in tech, politics, economy etc. Maybe we should do a page with those links?
    As for bouncing off the virtual walls - heck, yes! A supernova sized YAY for us all! :)


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