Tomas Saraceno will be at theThe Curve 11 May 2006 - 16 July 2006, Barbican Art Gallery, London. His long-term project draws on Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, and artistic disciplines in order to create a floating Utopia that would drift among the clouds to solve the world's exploding population problem.
A few decades ago, some architects had a similar vision of suspended or moving communities: Superstudio's City of the Hemispheres and Archigram's moving units, Seaside Bubbles and Yona Friedman's spatial cities. Friedman developed his principles shortly after the Second World War, a period in which acute housing shortage and urban rebuilding had to be addressed. The architect proposed huge structures, supported on columns, in which residents could build their own dwellings. He later developed manuals in the form of comic-books that enabled people to take decisions about the design of their own living environment (audio interview of the architect in french.)
Commercial space travel is becoming a reality, says Lin, and the public needs confidence that governments, scientists and astronauts are considering the consequences of exploring space.
For instance, we need a fair process for commercialising or claiming property in space to avoid the kind of "chaotic land-grab" that occurred with internet domain names. There are legal disputes already. Despite UN treaties declaring space as commonly-owned, he says lawsuits have been filed to lay claim to asteroids.
Lin says it is important to have a justifiable reason for exploring space. "Are reasons such as for adventure, wanderlust or 'backing up the biosphere' good enough to justify our exploration of space?"
Lin says issues such as polluting space, the proliferation of military technologies in space and the safety of space travellers should also be considered. "Have we learned enough about ourselves and our history to avoid the same mistakes as we have made on Earth?"
Finally, some critics suggest it may be better to spend money on alleviating poverty and hunger, providing access to clean and affordable water and energy, and addressing other issues including human rights violations.
In order to help alien visitors to land their UFO's safely in the Netherlands, Martin Riebeek in collaboration with the Dutch city of Houten (near Utrecht) have imagined to create an UFO landing pad on the roundabouts at the exit of the A27 highway.
On the eastern roundabout, a UFO platform will be built with light green reflecting, artificial coating. In the middle, a big red "U" (for UFO) has the role to greet alien cultures politely.
On the western roundabout, the light of the six meter high traffic tower will change its colour as soon as traffic on the highway has low intensity. Then the UFOs will know that they can start their landing. The intermediate 300 meters will be lit with blue lights on both sides of the road, much like the ones at airports.
Malaysia's National Space Agency is holding a conference to consider Muslim astronauts pray in space as the country prepares to send its first citizen into orbit.
Three of the four astronaut candidates selected so far are Muslims. Two will eventually be trained and sent into space by Russia.
Performing ablutions for Muslim prayers with water rationing in space and preparing food according to Islamic standards will be among issues discussed.
The astronaut will also visit the International Space Station, which circles the earth 16 times in 24 hours, so another thorny question is how to pray five times a day as required by Islam. Muslims also have to turn towards Mecca to pray and working out which direction that will be while hovering above the earth might be challenging.
Related: Prayer rug that indicates the direction it should be turned, and some London jail toilets face away from Mecca.
According to Pink Tentacle and NS Technology Blog, Robo-One which organises a remote-controlled robot combat event held in Tokyo every year plans to launch in space a mini-satellite carrying small humanoid robots in October 2010.
Tokyo will have 10-minute windows of communication with the satellite 4 times per day as it passes overhead. Battles will be conducted in the space surrounding the ROBO-ONE satellite during these 10-minute periods.
A 5-meter long safety line that connects each robot to the satellite will be outfitted with tension sensors that detect when the line is fully extended, determining that the robot is out of the ring.
Robot developers will have to consider new issues, such as how to deal with the strains of operating in a vacuum under extreme temperatures and high levels of radiation.
ROBO-ONE’s long-term plan is to hold competitions on the surface of the moon, which might not be possible until at least 2030.
Less fun but very Japanese:
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to use robots to explore the moon and planets in the solar system. The robots will be able to operate exploration vehicles and make decisions on their own to build a base on the moon. The exploration vehicles will be sent to the moon within 10 years, and the base completed within 20 years.
NASA plans to crash a space probe into the moon in 2009. The collision, so violent it will be visible on Earth through a telescope, should excavate a hole about a third the size of a football field and hurl a plume of debris into space.
The moon crash is a quest for ice, as water is the key ingredient for future human outposts on the moon.
After the crash, the mother ship that released the probe will fly through the plume and look for traces of water ice or vapor. The lunar spacecraft will target the south pole, releasing its SUV-sized impactor probe in January 2009 on a suicide plunge at about 5,600 miles per hour toward a frozen crater believed to contain hidden ice.
If ice is found, it could be melted and the water used to help make rocket fuel or oxygen.