Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fact catching up -- one can hope -- to (my) fiction

"US space technology startup Orion Span has unveiled Aurora Station, a luxury space hotel it says will be hosting tourists in low-Earth orbit by 2022."

Aurora's audacious business plan unavoidably brings to mind The Space Place: the orbital pleasure palace ("playground of petrocrats, kleptocrats, and the other superrich") that plays such a central role in my near-future, near-space technothriller Energized.

The artifact so prominently featured on the nearby book cover (this art is from the original edition -- the newer cover of the recently reissued novel appears below) is a solar-power satellite, not the aforementioned orbital resort. But hey, an SPS -- in this instance being two miles square, massing over two million pounds, and delivering 24/7 a gigawatt of power -- is something to behold!

That said, this post is about space hotels. So: what was "my" realization of the concept? Here's how one of Energized's characters experienced The Space Place on final approach:

Outside his window: a pearl onion (pierced by a white toothpick) with an equatorial bulge. The pearl became a great bubble. The "toothpick" ends were docking stations, one projecting from each pole. The bulge resolved into two concentric doughnuts, the outer one spinning. Sun-tracking solar panels hung far enough from the hotel not to impede guests’ views.

Closer still, more detail emerged. The struts that connected the solar panels to the main body of the hotel. Clinging to the bubble, two arcs of much tinier bubbles: emergency escape pods. Where too-bright sunlight would otherwise have streamed inside, the bubble material had been polarized, and from this angle was opaque. Elsewhere within the bubble, hints of interior structure. 


Scattered specks -- people in spacesuits -- zipped about the hotel. The sphere's diameter was about forty times their height! The people jetted to one pole of the hotel as the shuttle coasted toward the other.

En route to The Space Place
And then there are the zero-gee amenities inside The Space Place. Not to mention the opportunity to join the Thousands Mile High Club ;-)

I guess it's again time to scavenge beneath the sofa cushions for contributions to the space-excursion fund. (From Aurora.com: "Pricing starts at $9.5 million.") You may be doing the same -- but it'd be much more affordable to check out my version of an orbital tourist destination ...

Monday, February 4, 2019

Crypto *what*?

This is supposed to be money? A store of value?

I've commented -- okay, ranted -- about the (IMO) insanity of so-called cryptocurrencies, most recently in the post Already a wacky year. Now, in breaking news, comes this:

"After founder’s sudden death, cryptocurrency exchange can’t access $190 million in holdings." A snippet:

After the founder of Canada’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, died unexpectedly, about 115,000 clients have been unable to retrieve $190 million in holdings — because the owner was the only one who knew the password to access them, the company said.

The United States has stable currency (about 2% inflation at the moment; Canada's inflation rate is a smidge higher at about 2.5%). I'm happy to continue using dollars. Even if Steve Mnuchin loses his passwords.