Tuesday, September 28, 2010

EARTHSHIP I - Part III - Maiden Voyage

It is March of 2040 and Earthship I is in its final test and validation phase at its LEO assembly and test space station. A great deal has happened on Earth. much of it good news. Here are some highlights:

  • The ISO is a reality and has actually evolved from an expansion of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). It continues to maintain it's main office in Vienna, Austria. There are 31 countries as members with Australia, Canada, China, India, Israel, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, and the United States as the key member nations.
  • Russia, China, India and Japan have been major contributors in the design and development process including robotics and propulsion systems. Russia perfected a nuclear powered plasma system that operates similar to the VASIMR concept and delivers up to a sustained thrust of 75km/s for each engine.
  • South Africa shares operations management responsibility with Australia and Brazil for the five Space Elevators strategically located around the equator.  Each of the units provide intermediate stops in LEO and then continue to their prime geosynchronous anchor space stations 110,000 miles above the Earth. Space Resorts International has begun construction of its first space resort at the Space Elevator anchor point above the Caribbean Sea.
  • The United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Space Agency (ESA) share the responsibilities for mission management, staffing and systems operations and maintenance of Earthship I. This same sub-group within the ISO are also the key member nations that oversee all deep space research programs carried out by the ISO.
  • The United States (NASA) and Russia (ROSCOSMO) are responsible for the complete assembly and testing as well as crew training for Earthship I.
  • For the five-year term beginning in 2040, NASA, ESA, and JAXA provide the executive committee leadership for the ISO. They will be relieving ROSCOSMO, the UK and China who just completed their five-year term.
  • The Russell Schweickart Center for NEO Detection and Deterrence is currently staffed by the Canadian Space Agency and ESA. They provide operations and mission control for the detection and interception systems that are launched from geosynchronous stations strategically placed around the planet. Detection is provided primarily by NEOSat which operates in an heliocentric orbit that parallels that of the planet Venus. At this writing, this center has detected and successfully deflected five (5) very large asteroids that were predicted to impact planet Earth.
The crew for Earthship I's maiden flight have been selected with the commander being a senior NASA astronaut. Other crew members (5) are astronauts from Canada, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Two of that crew are female astronauts. They will take Earthship I to the Moon and back as its first fully operational spaceflight. The anticipated travel time from LEO will be approximately 2 hours and 27 minutes. This is a bit longer than if the spacecraft were to operate at full power, however, for the maiden flight a more moderate propulsion choice is planned.

Earthship I will spend one week touring the Moon and the mission will include the deployment of a lander vehicle that will visit China's Moon base. It is planned that two Chinese scientist-astronauts will return on the lander to board Earthship I for the voyage back to Earthship I's LEO base. These astronauts will then be met by a Chinese shuttle spacecraft that will take them back to their Earth base in China.

Yes, as you have seen, the entire mission profile for Earthship I and the International Space Organization is fully international. In the case of China and its Moon base, this was established by China prior to the fully formed ISO and the newer international programs for space exploration. By the end of 2045 China's Moon base will become an ISO Moon base and will be staffed by astronauts from many of the member nations.

Right now all of this Earthship I narrative is just an expression of expectations in the development of an international space organization and the full development of Earthship I and the Space Elevator programs. With its success the ISO and Earthship I are vital major advances in global space exploration unity. This will grow and strengthen and as it does, humankind will move closer to that day when future generations will go well beyond the confines of our solar system.  When they do, they will then carry forward the dreams and ambitions of space enthusiasts and scientists that began at the instant that early humans looked upward in wonder and excitement.

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