A large group of people were invited to tour the Space Analog Mission for the Moon and Mars, abbreviated SAM, Inclusion 1 mission's analog facility at Biosphere 2. The above image was taken inside a large pressure controlling chamber of the facility, which is called "The Lung." This chamber and its steel device helps prevent the analog from building up too much pressure and breaking the walls.
By: Rachel Brooks, Communications Lead @Better Futures Media
A continuing theme of 2023’s Analog Astronaut Conference was inclusivity. The inclusivity of the Overview Effect, or the astronaut’s awe-inspired experience seeing the Earth from above, which Frank White describes in his famous book of the same name. Check the book out here.
As the modern Space Age kicks off, the heavens have become more accessible to passionate citizens and commercial enterprises. This was a central theme of the Analog Astronaut Conference, held at the Biosphere 2 research facility in Oracle, Arizona, within the Oro Valley, just north of Tucson.
Science Meets the Arts
Central to the theme of embracing The Overview Effect, poets, musicians, painters, fashion designers, and the like were all in equal company at the Analog Astronaut Conference.
See more about Dr. Proctor's mission in the Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission To Space movie on Netflix.
Dr. Sian “Leo” Proctor, who won her place on the Inspiration 4 civilian mission to low-earth orbit aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience capsule, was present and presented her spoken word poetry with Annu Music. Proctor and Annu Music have appeared at Burning Man and various other artistic expression outlets.
Find out more about Annu Music tours!
The Biosphere performance was Annu’s second tour appearance presenting Earth Glow. Earth Glow was inspired by Proctor’s experience in low-earth orbit, which she described as being “bathed in Earthlight.”
Visit Dr. Proctor's YouTube channel to hear more from her about her experiences in Space.
Proctor, who is a geologist, explained that the makeup of Earth’s geology causes it to put off a luminescence of its own, in a similar way to how the Moon reflects sunlight and produces its reflective glow.
Earthlight is like moonlight, however, it can only be experienced from Space looking down at the wonder and aurora of the planet humans call home.
Inclusion 1’s Mission Abode
Inclusion 1's Space Analog for the Moon and Mars mission, completed its first successful campaign to Biosphere 2’s analog astronaut chamber. In May, a group met at the Biosphere complex, located in Oro Valley, Arizona, to celebrate the success of the team which combined a diverse crew of analog astronauts to test the physical accessibility of Space mission design. Possibly the largest group ever to be in attendance was then escorted through the analog setup and was safely sealed inside the airlock to get perspective on what the experience of the crew was like in the days of the mission
Science on Display
The majority of the Analog conference programming was spent briefly engaging with phenomenal guests who presented their major feats of innovation in that area where biosciences and Space exploration meet. From astronauts to aquanauts, who are analog mission pioneers who spend days underwater in life-support habitats to study survival in close spaces, to voyagers of the Arctic, to pioneers of advanced agrotech, AAC2023 brought out the best-in-show.
You can see the whole AAC 2023 agenda here.
There’s too much for one article. That’s why Better Futures will be producing a series of articles following up on the many advanced feats on display at AAC2023. Stay tuned for more follow-ups, and Space innovation news.
Are you interested in starting a New Space age-focused podcast for your awesome project, but don’t know where to start? Better Futures is the media company of the commercial Space age. Produced by former NASA contractor and Lunar elevator pioneer Michael Laine, Better Futures is a podcast-as-a-service company. We build shows for a host of Space VIPS from the Apollo era, all while keeping our finger on the pulse of the Artemis age.
We would be honored to add your name to our list of guests and shows. Please reach out to our communications team through Rachel Brooks, at email@example.com.
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.
Better Future's employees and interns contribute to this blog.