habitable space stations

NASA just gave out several contracts to companies like Bigelow Aerospace and Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc. to develop next generation technologies for space exploration.

Specifically these contracts are for new forms of habitation modules (basically space stations that are attached to your spaceship) and new forms of advanced propulsion, specifically electric propulsion.

This is a very good sign. In order to get to Mars safely and reliably, we need this technology.

One of the new habitation modules by Bigelow will actually be launching a habitation module soon to become a new section of the International Space Station. It’s essentially an inflatable space station in its own right with the capability of locking to hatches on things like the ISS, the Orion crew capsule and even other hab modules.

Approaching habitation technology from the direction of inflatable modules will vastly improve on things like the cost, number and size of space stations we can put into orbit.

NASA mentioned attaching one of these to the Orion and using it as a home for astronauts in a mission to the Moon (in orbit). They’re most likely referring to the asteroid redirect mission which will see NASA put an asteroid in Lunar orbit and then see NASA astronauts land on said asteroid.

Like I said, this is promising to see. Money is finally being dished out to the right people to develop the necessary technology most likely to give NASA Mars-mission capability.

A Beginner’s Guide to Saving the World

Summary: One day, Barry arrives home from work to see a complete stranger in a lab coat frying chicken on his stove. “Um, hi,” she says, slipping two pieces onto a plate. “My place just blew up, so I hope you don’t mind if I crash here for a bit… Would you like some chicken?” In which Barry teams up with the stranger who breaks into his home in order to save the world. Apocalypse AU

Rating: T

Prompt: Day 3: Apocalypse (hope it’s not too late for this!)

Notes: Hey guys, so sorry I’ve been MIA! It’s been busy at work since I’ve had to work weekends now, and I’ve been blocked for awhile so the sudden inspiration that came with this was very welcome. The line “My place just blew up, can I crash here for a bit” is from the site Figment. Forgive me for any scientific inaccuracies. This is a light-hearted take on the apocalypse, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.


One day, Barry arrives home from work to see a complete stranger frying chicken on his stove.

Through the half-open door, he catches a glimpse of messy, curly brown hair pulled into a loose bun—definitely a woman, then—and a flash of white from the lab coat she’s wearing. Even if her back is facing him, he’s certain that he doesn’t know anyone whose back resembles this particular back. And besides, he thinks grimly, most of the people he knew died years ago in the second Impera outbreak.

For a moment, he considers that maybe it’s a hallucination brought about by exhaustion. It’s been a terribly long day. He’d just returned to what was left of his lab at the CCPD to dissect a few fresh dead bodies afflicted with the virus, hoping to find something—yes, he’s probably the only one who hasn’t given up on finding a cure—but despite his best efforts, he still hasn’t stumbled on anything he could work with. He wonders if the constant frustration, the stench of dead bodies, the fire from the mass graves, and the people dying around him have finally taken a toll on his sanity.

But then again, he wonders whether hallucinations could reproduce the mouth-watering aroma of fried chicken so accurately. It’s been so long since he’d taken a whiff of one—it must have been a year or so ago, when governments all over the world recalled all meat products for fear that the virus came from animals—so naturally, Barry rather missed eating meat. He’s also rather sick of beetroots, which he hadn’t even heard of before the government declared it safe, and which he’d been eating for all his meals for the past week. He reckons he’s eaten more vegetables in the past year or so than he ever will in a normal, pre-Impera lifetime.

In any case, he has to make a decision about this very realistic hallucination, who has now begun humming what sounds like “Summer Lovin’”, but it’s so off-key that he can’t say for sure.

He cautiously pushes the door to his kitchen open and clears his throat.

The girl startles and twists around to face him, blinking up at him with big, brown eyes.

“Um, hi,” she says, slipping two pieces of chicken onto a plate. She nervously dries her hands on her—his—apron. “My place just blew up, so I hope you don’t mind if I crash here for a bit… Would you like some chicken? It’s a bit of a long story, so I took the liberty of preparing real food as courtesy…”

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     On May 24, 2014, I visited the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal. Needless to say, this property is home to amazing historical events. I was able to capture a small portion of that in this photoset. I’ll explain each photograph, one by one. 

     First photo: Rocket Park is home to several Wernher von Braun creations. The largest of which is the Saturn I. 

     Second Photo: More of Rocket Park. These rockets, from left to right, are the Jupiter C, (which used to have a mockup of the Explorer 1 nosecone, but was recently blown off in a storm), Redstone IRBM, V-2 Missile, (this particular one manufactured in Germany), and a Hermes A-1.

     Third Photo: A Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster displayed in Propulsion Park, in front of the Propulsion Research & Development Laboratory. Various components of this booster were used on over 30 shuttle flights, including Hubble service missions and STS-1, the first shuttle flight.

     Fourth Photo: The S1C Test Stand, finished in 1964 was used for static testing of the first stage of the Saturn V rocket. 

     Fifth Photo: The Dynamic Test Stand was built to simulate the vibration forces of launch. The first Saturn V rocket, SA-500D, which I covered in a previous post (click here to view), was tested extensively in this stand, along with Space Shuttle Enterprise. Before Enterprise was tested, the Pathfinder Orbiter, the structural fit test article, was used to test clearances in the test stand. Pathfinder was covered in a previous post (click here to view).

     Sixth Photo: The International Space Station Habitation Module, which is a flightworthy section that never flew. The Habitation module housed facilities to eat, shower and sleep, as well as toilet and medical facilities. The module was cancelled after the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.

     Seventh & Eighth Photos: As the sign reads, this is the International Space Station Payload Operations Center. The responsibility of operating the International Space Station is split between two control rooms. One in Huston, and this one. Huston drives the spacecraft. This control room oversees scientific experiments.

     Ninth Photo: An International Space Station simulator, mainly used by ISS ground crews to solve problems, then relay problem solving steps to the operational crew.

     Another notable site on the Marshall Space Flight Center property is the historic Redstone Test Stand, which was covered in a previous post (click here to view).