Blues in Space Predicted!

31 08 2011

There are a number of other space and spaceflight stories deserving of my attention, but I had to fast-track this one out.  Why the rush?  Frankly, I’m thrilled, for my previous prediction of blues in space has been proven true!

Astronaut Ron Garan and his blues guitar. (Credit: NASA)

In a fun “home video” piece, NASA Astronaut Ron Garan goes “missing,” and a search is made of the extensive International Space Station to find him.

Where is he holed up and why?  Well, upon hearing that the crew’s return home has been delayed due to the recent problems with Russia’s rocket launches, @Astro_Ron (as he is known on Twitter) retreated to the Soyuz spacecraft currently docked to the station, donned his shades, and began strumming up “The Space Station Blues,” an original(!).

In his own words:

“I wanted to do something light-hearted to let everyone know that we are all in this together, so I enlisted Mike Fossum to help me make a video poking a little fun at the situation.”

As far as I’m concerned, the advent of original blues on the space frontier marks this as a red letter day for space culture!  Way to go, Ron!

Now that I think of it, perhaps “The Space Station Blues” deserves a better treatment?  (Hmm…  I wonder if I could get the band back together for that one…)

So, as a 21st-Century Blues Brother in Space might say:

“It’s 190 miles to Earth, we’ve got a full crew, half a pack of supplies, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.  Hit it.”

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Jazz in Space

27 04 2011

In space, as they say, no one can hear you.  And that may be a problem. 

While many astronauts experience what is called the “overview effect,” that is, a sense of euphoric connectedness to the Earth and all of its inhabitants brought on by the vantage of seeing the planet in a truly native context… astronauts experience  ups and downs.

Space is a stressful environment – a roller-coaster of physical and mental human experience.

So, what can we do about it?  As the increased incidence of civilian spaceflight continues to rise, bringing with it people who have not spent a lifetime training to keep their anxieties and emotions under lock-and-key on command, perhaps it’s time to introduce traditional, cultural forms of self-expression to our newest frontier… and make sure we prioritize them.

Music as a creation is unique in that it is a way to simultaneously, dynamically express and capture the influences of a time, place, and culture.  It can evoke feelings and senses of home, alter moods, and give the analytical side of the brain a chance to recouperate.

If you asked me, (coming from an American perspective,) what we’re going to need is a little jazz blues in space. 

As arguably the paramount uniquely American cultural form of music, I think we should contribute it to, and exercise it in, the new environment… and I think all cultures who venture off-world should do the same with their cultural music.

Who knows?  Like has been the case in all other new environments before it, perhaps the interaction of different musical cultures in space will lead future astronauts to create something new.  Something that seems to… fit. 

I say getting an orbital combo together is a great place to start.





Year 2069 on the Moon: Fort Rille

23 10 2010

My ShiftBoston Moon Capital Competition entry. (Credit: Ben McGee)

Well, being that the Moon Ball is already past us and I my inbox hasn’t lit up, I imagine I didn’t win anything and it’s safe to submit my concept of “Fort Rille” to the world.   What is it, exactly?  It’s a concept for a future lunar settlement (year 2069, 100 years after Apollo 11,) that I entered in ShiftBoston’s Moon Capital Competition.

I don’t think the concept was far-out enough to please the judges, frankly.  (-And I have my suspicions that, not being a graphic designer, my artwork may have held me back as well…)  However, I do think this is exactly what our first settlements will look like.  Much like the Old West and turn-of-the-20th-Century exploration expeditions after which my concept was modeled, life will be rough, exciting, fulfilling, and a little dangerous.

Highlights include hybrid solar and betavoltaic battery power systems, Earth-telecommuter-controlled robots and roving lifeboats to help out, sunglasses to protect against high-intensity glare, and ubiquitous polymer-based duster-style jackets for weight, warmth, and radiation protection.

The contest designers wanted something a little less practical, I imagine.  I just couldn’t stop myself from creating what I think we’ll actually see in another 50 years.  (And yes, you might note that the “fort” isn’t military, and the more lunar-savvy amongst you might also object that while the settlement is called “rille,” it isn’t on a rille – it’s in a crater.  But that wasn’t the point.  I just thought the name captured the right feel of the place.)

Go ahead and take a look.  If you’d like, let me know what you think.

I may be projecting, but I imagine some pretty cool science and blues would (will?) come out of a place like this.  Which, of course, naturally go hand-in-hand.








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