The largest rocket ever made has lifted off in a historic debut. To some members of the greater public, it seemed a waste, as Starship’s first flight ended with an explosion. However, to those who eagerly anticipate the great strides of the Artemis age of Space exploration, the flight’s first effort was like baby steps, the first few efforts towards learning to leap and run.
“It’s not optimal, but not a complete failure,” SpaceX, as quoted by The Economist.
Significance of Starship
Starship was created with the express purpose of carrying cargo and people into Space. The anticipated outcome of Starship, eventually, is to be able to reuse rockets and send people to and in point-to-point Space travel, similar to how airlines operate on Earth.
Why This Launch Mattered
The first official launch of Starship has been hotly anticipated. Starship is a highly experimental Spacecraft. It is reportedly the “most powerful” rocket ever built, NBC wrote.
The Earth Benefits of Starship
Missions to Space contribute to improving life on Earth in many ways.
For example, innovators at the MIT New Space Age Conference (read our coverage of that event here) explained that there are some types of medicine that can only be manufactured in the zero-gravity conditions unique to Space.
NASA explains that Space’s benefits can be classified by “direct” or “indirect” contributions to life on Earth. The agency lists some of Space exploration’s benefits:
The Starship craft launched, but with some issues. Early in the launch, there was a hold on the start of the launch, but the reason was not expressly stated. Some of the engines were lost in the takeoff. Then, the rocket exploded mid-air. This the Company refers to as a “rapid unscheduled disassembling,” of the craft, KIRO 7 reported.
Good vs. Bad of Rocket Performance
Industry professionals state that one can typically tell how well a rocket is doing in the air by the exhaust it puts off. With Starship, the exhaust revealed that there were some problems, as engines failed or didn’t start. See more on that with the analysis by Ars Technica.
New attempts will need to be made to understand how to prevent the launch pad and the rocket from being destroyed during the launch. The launch pad was damaged during the launch, with pieces of concrete flying across the launch pad, reportedly hitting someone’s car, and making other damages.
Above: True-to-life scale models of droids from the Lucasfilm StarWars franchise pose with partygoers.
Yuri’s Night has traditionally been a vehicle of expression, and a thematic night club of sorts for “nerds,” according to guest speakers. True to fashion, fans of the pop culture of Space poured through the doors of the California Science Center at 6 pm local time on April 8.
Pop culture flare
With the meticulous detail of cinematic flare, the costumes featured every shade of silver, sparkle, and glowing orb. Star Wars, Star Trek, and many other favorites featured among the crowds.
The ceremony opened with a DJ in the registration hall, juggling a keyboard, sound equipment, and an electric guitar with ease.
A knowing look passed between the DJ and a party-goer dressed as Darth Vader. The DJ shifted his sound mix to the Darth Vader theme, and the two shared a fist bump. The moment highlighted a theme that runs as a filigree thread through the whole event. The spirit of Yuri’s Night enunciates the concept of creating a new Space kind, that isn’t just mankind or humankind, that isn’t one select body of scientists or academia but is open to all interested people with the ambition to embark upon Space exploration.
Dr. Jessica Watkins, a NASA astronaut representing the United States on the International Space Station, kicked off the night’s presentations with a highlight reel of her crew’s mission to the ISS from April to October 2022. Watkins was reportedly the first black woman to be on the International Space Station, an honor she received with pride at furthering the heritage of African-Americans in Space.
During the opening segment, Watkins explained how the small crew of her mission on the ISS Space station conducted research in Space. Watkins detailed how it was to live, work, and play on the ISS station, highlighting things such as her work in a combustion chamber, the process of testing materials, and body samples from the crew as they observed human Space flight’s impact on humans.
Watkins also gave insights into every day living, such as how the Space dinner table served the center of community, how the observation windows were the crew's favorite gathering place, games they developed on board, and as the precious nature of the care packages sent up by reusable rockets, which is the fact of another transition from historic missions. Care packages can now carry up fresh fruits, and in her highlight reel, Watkins showed a video of her crew floating citrus fruits in zero gravity.
Watkins explained that the recent missions to the International Space Station have made use of SpaceX Dragon, and SpaceX craft that can send things back down to Earth from the mission field. SpaceX assisting craft are able to re-enter the Earth without burning up, something that holds great promise for emerging Space innovation and commercialization ahead.
Civilian input highlighted
The concept of civilian input in International Space Station missions is a repeating theme. Erika Wagner of Blue Origin highlighted Blue Origin’s plans to replace the ISS as it ages with a design of Blue Origin’s making during her presentation at the New Space Age Conference at MIT Sloan Business School on March 17. (Read more about that event).
Engineers from Blue Origin, representatives of Club For the Future, and other independent innovators such as zero-gravity innovator G-Zero were in Yuri's Night L.A. attendance, and true to the spirit, sporting company uniforms and light saber props as they passed through the venue.
Another fitting guest to represent this Yuri’s Night that kicked off shortly following the announcement of Artemis age NASA Moon mission crew members was special guest speaker Dr. Sian Proctor, who was on a career panel with Dr. Watkins and Star Trek and Space Force (Netflix) actress Tawny Newsome.
“With great opportunity comes great responsibility,” said Dr. Proctor, explaining the road she took from geologist to astronaut. Proctor is the first black woman to pilot a Space flight. Proctor was selected to pilot the Inspiration 4, which was the first all-civilian mission to space. This civilian mission saw four crew members represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity, and prosperity.
Tawny Newsome, Start Trek actress and American musician, was floored by the advances the two women had made in Space exploration, but swore that the only Space travel she could do was the pretend Space travel she had played on T.V. To that end, she steered the conversation toward what limits the two history-making astronauts might add to their own career trajectory.
“What is one job you couldn’t do?” panel proctor Tawny Newsome asked.
For Watkins, it was the role of an actor, and for Proctor, it was the work of a politician. Yet, as they discussed the value of roles, the conversation moved to the hand-in-glove nature of Space exploration and the arts. Proctor explained the impact that Star Trek made on her growing up. Newsome's role as an actor was highlighted as a critical component of pop culture and inspiring endeavors of new and emerging Space exploration to press forward into what they do.
To that point, Watkins highlighted that the transition from the Old Space Age to the New Space Age is happening before our eyes:
“We continue to see the ramifications of science fiction becoming science non-fiction,” said Watkins.
To Watkin's point, science fiction is rapidly giving way to non-fiction and the world of Space kind is constantly changing.
As if symbolic of that fact, Yuri’s Night 2023 was a sweet send-off, at least for now, of the tradition of holding Yuri’s Night Los Angeles under the Endeavor Space Shuttle. Ever since 2013, Yuri’s Night party goers have danced the night away under the belly of the shuttle, but, as the California Science Center is under renovation, the shuttle will soon be moved, and the tradition must change.
Yuri’s Night Founder Loretta Whitesides took this in stride, choosing to host next year’s Yuri’s Night on the same day in Texas, during the total eclipse of the Sun over North America. The break from tradition added what seemed like an official transition from the pre-Artemis age of space exploration to the Artemis era and all the stories that were soon to come with it.
The evening’s consensus was clear. Space exploration is no more the dominion of a closeted few scientists. As ambassadors wrapped up the evening with a call to go forth boldly, the underlying theme was this: that the arts inspire endeavors of future Space ventures, and that every person has a place in the future narrative of humanity’s Space exploration.
In March, a buzz of activity surrounded AI and its useful applications. AI applies to many of the Space-based intelligence systems that are driving the emerging Space industry forward. As 1,200+ science founders created a petition to slow the spread of overwhelming AI development, science innovators discussed the purpose and policy of AI.
Due to their prominence in rocket systems, robotics, predictive maintenance, and other components of the Space innovation race, the challenges of AI are leading concerns of emerging Space industry innovators, such as Better Futures' parent company, LiftPort Group, which is the innovator of the Lunar elevator project.
Demand, Domination, and the Dominoes of AI Generation
Artificial intelligence now dominates innovation thinking. For everything on earth, corresponding systems are built for the near-heaven. All humans hoping to someday reach the far-flung corners of the Galaxy have some interaction with artificial intelligence systems. For, as innovation advances, these systems govern the hundreds of little decisions made in the final few seconds of a rocket launch
An Open Letter
The Future of Life Institute, a leader in artificial intelligence innovation, issued an “immediate pause” letter, calling on all AI developers to put the pause on “training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4” for at least 6 months. The petition received signatures from high-profile AI innovators and industry leaders including Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. A call for a pause followed the discovery of just how powerful OpenAI’s GPT4 is and will be.
The petition, which at the time of this report had 2,568 signatures, made a point to note that AI developments should not pause altogether, but that highly powered GPT-4 projects should be paused. The pause “should be public and verifiable and include all key actors,” The Future of Life Institute wrote. The pause would include “generative” AI, Fast Company reported. It would last with enough space for creators to understand if the projects add verifiable helpful value to human development and if they can be contained.
In March, the New Space Age week conference at MIT Sloan business school featured several panels of the brightest minds in the Space industry. A common thread running through their discussion was the prominent role that AI design now plays in all off-world innovation.
James Rebesco, the CEO of Striveworks,was present at the MIT Sloan New Space Age conference on March 17. He described that he was mildly “annoyed” by the concept of trusted AI. To Rebesco, AI is not so much about trust as it is about “operationalizing” AI. Rebesco and others on the panel explained that AI needs to be wrapped in policy to make it have the constraints and necessary protections to use in the real world.
For this process to work efficiently AI needs to “disappear” into innovation. The St. Patrick’s day MIT panel discussed processes and policies that will move forward this process of absorption. The challenge innovators face is defining the traceability of AI in the systems and auditing the AI throughout the process. The proposed concept makes AI as “boring” and untraceable as a HEX bolt in a rocket.
Better Future's employees and interns contribute to this blog.