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Are we seeing the convergence of a century of space science and science fiction before our eyes? Will Musk and SpaceX make 2001 Space Odyssey a reality? (Photo Credit: NASA, Apple, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Illustration – Judy Schmidt)

Are we seeing the convergence of a century of space science and science fiction before our eyes? Will Musk and SpaceX make 2001 Space Odyssey a reality? (Photo Credit: NASA, Apple, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Illustration – Judy Schmidt)

In Kubrick’s and Clark’s 2001 Space Odyssey, there was no question of “Boots or Bots”[ref]. The monolith had been left for humanity as a mileage and direction marker on Route 66 to the stars. So we went to Jupiter and Dave Bowman overcame a sentient machine, shut it down and went forth to discover the greatest story yet to be told.

But here we are in 2015, with humans not having gone beyond low Earth orbit for 43 years. However, Elon Musk — born three years after the great science fiction movie and one year before the last Apollo mission to the Moon — has set his goals and is achieving milestones to lift humans beyond the bonds of Earth’s gravity and take us to the first stop in the final frontier – Mars – the destination of the SpaceX odyssey.

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How Are Planets Formed?

This artist's conception shows a newly formed star surrounded by a swirling protoplanetary disk of dust and gas. Credit: University of Copenhagen/Lars Buchhave

This artist’s conception shows a newly formed star surrounded by a swirling protoplanetary disk of dust and gas. Credit: University of Copenhagen/Lars Buchhave

How did the Solar System’s planets come to be? The leading theory is something known as the “protoplanet hypothesis”, which essentially says that very small objects stuck to each other and grew bigger and bigger — big enough to even form the gas giants, such as Jupiter.

But how the heck did that happen? More details below.

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Boeing and SpaceX are building private spaceships to resume launching US astronauts from US soil to the International Space Station in 2017. Credit: NASA

Boeing and SpaceX are building private spaceships to resume launching US astronauts from US soil to the International Space Station in 2017. Credit: NASA

After a hiatus of six long years, US astronauts will finally launch to space in a revolutionary new pair of private crew capsules under development by Boeing and SpaceX, starting in 2017, that will end our sole source reliance on the Russians for launching our astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). [click to continue…]

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A triple crater in Elysium Planitia on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

A triple crater in Elysium Planitia on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

At first glance, you many not guess that this feature on Mars is an impact crater. The reason it looks so unusual is that it likely is a triple impact crater, formed when three asteroids struck all at once in the Elysium Planitia region.

Why do planetary scientists think the three craters did not form independently at different times? [click to continue…]

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How to Fight for the “Fight for Space” Documentary

Can documentary films actually change the way people think about a topic? Films like “The Thin Blue Line,” “The Triumph of Will,” and “Harlan County USA” are definitely documentaries that swayed both local public opinion and world views on specific topics. Film producer Paul Hildebrandt is hoping his upcoming documentary film “Fight for Space” will not only help sway public opinion and inform people about space exploration but also help policymakers better understand NASA.

“This is a unique space documentary, as it covers the space program from a policy perspective,” Hildebrandt said, “looking at the detailed reasons why the NASA budget has been cut over the years, why certain decisions were made, and what the future of our human space flight effort looks like.”
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