The past week has been tumultuous. First was my personal life that was almost turned upside down due to a misdiagnosis of my wife’s health condition. That was a Monday. Tuesday was the mid-term elections with the unfortunate political outcomes that I feared would happen, the loss of the Senate to the crazy Republicans as well as a further entrenchment of those same types of Republicans throughout the South, especially in Florida.
The week before that there was the explosion of Orbital Sciences Cygnus Orb-3 just seconds after liftoff on 28 October, followed two days later by the in-flight breakup of the Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2 on 31 October. It was the SS2 loss with the loss of one of its two pilots that caused the greatest personal hurt. No, I didn’t know either of the two pilots, but I had a lot of personal hope tied up in SS2. My hopes and dreams went up every time it did. When it crashed the only way I could have felt any worse is if I was personally involved.
All of that finally reached through to me and made me mad.
A Little Personal History
When I was a kid growing up I lived through the 1960s, watching every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flight. I knew every astronaut’s name and statistics the way other kids knew every major league baseball player. I new statistics on every rocket that flew, every capsule that carried astronauts. I even followed the X-15 flights because they looked so totally cool. And I had the models, from Revell and Monogram and AMT. And I have some of them still, sitting on a shelf, waiting for the day in retirement when I might pull them down and finish them.
The Monogram Apollo CSM plastic model, very dusty and still wrapped in cellophane.
As I was growing up through elementary and then high school (Georgia had no middle school), I dreamed of being a space “constructor,” a guy living and building structures in space, from orbital space stations to bases on the Moon and Mars. I figured I’d spend the rest of my life building the future. Unfortunately for me it didn’t turn out that way. Apollo stopped at 17 instead of going on to 20. What was left was used for a joint Soyuz/Apollo flight in LEO and Skylab. The rest of the Apollo capsules were used on Saturn 1Bs to send three manned crews to Skylab. All the rest of the funding went into the Shuttle, a design that was fatally stripped down to a bare minimum by Richard Nixon before he resigned from office over Watergate. By the time I graduated from high school and headed off to college there was essentially nothing left. All the really big dreams were dead, mine with them. I finished college, became a typical American citizen spending money, getting married, buying a house, and raising a family. I didn’t try to fight for the future; it was too hard. What little was left of the manned space program limped along, doing little more than going around the Earth for an awfully long time for an awful lot of money with very, very few humans to experience it.
And Then The World Got Weird
9/11 was the spark that set alight all the bad things that had been gathering in our country with regards to rights-violating all-pervasive surveillance, weaponizing the Internet to do it. We didn’t know how bad until Edward Snowden disclosed how bad a little over a year ago. Since that time the idea of NSA, as FBI and other three-letter government organizations, have been hovering up information from everywhere and holding it in various databases that they all tap into depending on whatever whim strikes them. That goes hand-in-glove with the overcriminalization of nearly everything in this country, led by the Department of (In)Justice.
What You Can’t Do Anymore
When things got crazy like this in the past (and I’m looking back at the 19th century and earlier) you had the possibility of just pulling up stakes and going somewhere else in the world. It was one of the great motivators for moving first to this country as a colonist, then later further and further west, until we hit the Pacific.
But you can’t do that anymore. About the best you can do right now is to move to Berlin in the hope you can stop the constant NSA surveillance. The problem with that is that is so narrowly focused; the over-surveillance is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems you want to get away from. Further, Berlin is just one city, with limited size, and it won’t stay a haven from surveillance forever. If someone moves there that the great surveillance state wants to spy on then they will, no matter what. There needs to be a better solution.
Rolling Your Own Solution
Since we can’t go out to another frontier on Earth, we have to go up. Or we wind up dying, either quickly by trying to fight against the forces of evil, or slowly from the inside out by just giving up. Personally I prefer a third solution, one that involves extending space flight to the point that mere mortals can achieve not only the ability to move away from the Earth, but to other places in our solar system, starting with the Moon and then Mars and then, who knows where?
That’s why I want to build my own personal space ship, or at the very least, design one that others can help me build. And that’s what that little diagram at the top of the post is all about. That little sketch, if you will, of a system-of-systems approach to an all-in-one space craft, a single stage to orbit space craft that can rise above the Earth and return to it without throw-away staging or other wasteful practices.
I’ll start using that digital sketch to talk about what I need in future posts. And these posts will start coming at a fairly rapid pace. I’ve been withdrawn these past few months, not writing or photographing or doing anything creative. I’ve been withdrawn and letting the world’s bullies push me into a corner. I’ve decided to come out of the corner. I’ve decided to get to work on my ultimate personal solution. One way or another I’m going to find a way to leave this country, and this Earth, and I hope I can help a lot of others leave with me.