Sadly, Falcon 9 has recently failed to launch properly. I’m sure there will be an investigation into what went wrong, but speaking as an engineer, I’ve never liked liquid fuel rockets. Why? Because they need need more engineering to make sure they are safe. It kind of goes against the engineering principle of keeping things simple. That said, they would not go to all this engineering ‘complexity’ without gaining some performance advantages. After all, Falcon 9 has done 18 safe launches and even with this last one exploding mid-air nobody was hurt.
This comes on top of the SpaceShip2 last October.
Space travel is still a dangerous business. Respect to all involved: those who actually put themselves in more dangerous positions, and those who have to deal with the frustrations of things going wrong and do.
But given the dangers and the problems the space industry is currently suffering, I am surprised there are not more science fiction stories about very near term space travel. I still remember there was a whole heap of novels about Mars just before the Viking lander made it to the planet’s surface, all them speculating what they would find there.
Mars has an intrinsic radiation problem for us humans, so I’m surprised that there aren’t more novels about inhabiting one of the few radiation safe places in the Solar System – Callisto (one of the big four moons around Jupiter).
With two planned space missions to Europa (one by ESA, the other by NASA), I’m surprised that we haven’t heard more about what we could find there science fiction-wise.
And as for father out in the Solar System – there are some very fascinating places.. believe me… I’ve been writing about them. And I’m not talking about C.A.T.’s adventures here either. I’ve got some really wild places.
But getting these stories published? There is a distinct lack of interest by the publishing community. [And just to be clear, we are talking good polished stories, not first exploratory drafts etc.]
This is a chicken and egg situation. Without the imagination from the science fiction community to egg on the space industry, the politicians who control the purse strings will not be persuaded to do the exploration of the wider Solar System. This in turn means that the space industry will not inspire more science fictions tories.
Personally speaking… I have now got a story for each of the eight planets. Five of those (Mercury, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune) have been published. The Venus story, although accepted, looks likely that it will not be published. The Saturn story is currently doing the rounds. The most exciting and new in terms of things that could happen story belongs to Uranus. And this is the one that has had the consistent thumbs down by publishers. I know its length is problematic, but even so…
I feel very very sad that these exciting phenomena are not being put in front of the readership to give them a sense of wonder. And there are many more phenomena to be had.
Where do these ideas of what could be come from? Well they are all based on obscure scientific facts. They are real, all too real…
…and the space scientists would benefit from the insights from these stories if they were made available.