Space Shuttle Enterprise Anniversary


Thirty-six years ago this week, the first space shuttle came out.  It originally had a different name, Constitution.  But Star Trek’s popularity was starting to snowball at that point.  Just a few years later, we would have Star Wars out in theaters to long lines, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which I wish they had done better).

Fans did a letter writing campaign, and NASA changed the name to Enterprise.  The Star Trek cast came out for the roll-out ceremony.  Nichelle Nichols went on to recruit women and minorities for NASA.

The space shuttle itself would take off like a rocket and land like an airplane.  Needed a huge landing runway, though.

It was really a hopeful time with the launch of the Enterprise.  We thought we were going to go out into space like Star Trek.

Then NASA retired the shuttle program, and it felt like they said, “We give up.”

Yes, we still have the space stations, and the rover is on Mars.  But part of who we are is getting out and exploring.  Man has always done that, from venturing out of the village to see what else was beyond, to traveling the seas to see where they went.

We need the hope back.

Guest Panelist at Chessiecon


I’ve been to sci-fi cons for years, but now I’m a guest!  I’m going to be one of those writers on the panels.

The con is called Chessiecon and is in November.

Cave Rescue


The boys in Thailand are starting to come out of the underwater cave.  I remember watching the adventures of Sea Hunt with Mike Nelson, and this is nothing like it.  But it’s riveting to see how the rescuers are working it out.

The rescuers have decided to scuba dive the boys out.  The boys have no experience whatsoever with diving, and the cave is so dangerous experienced divers are having problems.  But they came up with an interesting idea using tethers to bring out the boys.  Click on this link and look for the fourth image down to see what the rescuers are doing.

Science Fiction Becomes Military Fact


Side view of the shuttle Endeavor
I took this in 2014 when I went to California.

There’s been rumors for a while that the White House was talking about creating a sixth military branch, called “Space Force.”  Now there’s an official announcement.

It’s happening!

I remember when the first shuttle was announced.  The Star Trek fans got together and wrote NASA to name it after the starship Enterprise.  And NASA did!

The Enterprise shuttle was a test shuttle and never went into space.  It probably got more play on all the Star Trek series that followed, and actually was in the opening credits of Enterprise.

But the invention of the shuttle was a major milestone.  They were intended to be reused.  The earlier rocket ships of the 1960s could only be used once.

But I was disappointed when the shuttle program was abandoned.  It just felt like everyone gave up and decided it wasn’t possible to do more than go out to a space station.  Some of the things we use on a daily basis are because we had to be inventive for zero G.

In the hands of the military, this is going to be very interesting  It looks like Air Force is going to have the command. I’m just hoping Army gets some space travel.  When I was writing Crying Planet, I put an Army colonel in charge of the space cruiser because all I’d ever seen was Navy on spaceships.  I wanted Army to have some adventures!   But when I was telling someone about the book, she told me, “Oh, no!  You can’t have Army in command.  They don’t have the skills.”  Immediate panic set in.  It was my book!  I wasn’t going to change something that I’d intended.  So I came up with a reason for this person to get command, and it reshaped the story in some interesting ways.

This is all very exciting though.  Where do you think they will travel to?  Hoo-ah!

Volcanoes are Cool…at Least From a Distance


Volcano erupting

Volcanoes are one of those things that are kind of cool.  At least as long as you’re not near them when they’re erupting.

They’ve been a staple of many TV shows, like on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s “And Five Were Left.”  Five men from World War II are stranded in a cave under a volcano that’s about to explode.  Lots of explosions, steam vents venting, and rocks falling.

And of course, the heroes escape as the volcano blows up.

The show had two other episodes with volcanoes, “Night of Terror” and “Fires of Death.”  Gilligan’s Island had a volcano episode, too.

Oh, and my personal favorite, Airwolf.  The helicopter got caught in the ash cloud of a massive eruption and had to set down.  It put them in the middle of corporate greed and corruption from a mining company.

Hawaii’s volcano has been erupting for at least a month now, making more of the island with lava.  The people there generally have a lot of warning, since it’s not the kind of volcano that blows its top like Mount St. Helens.

The scientists are busy studying the eruptions.  One of the fascinating things from the eruption is olivine being brought to the surface.  They’re green gems.  They’re the same gems that make up the Green Sand Beach, also on the Big Island.  This link has a close up of the green crystals.

The science of nature is pretty cool.

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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Crying Planet, the first book in my GALCOM series was accepted for a military science fiction bundle from Story Bundle.  It will be coming out on June 27.