Since 2012, we at Take Back the Sky have been leading a grassroots effort to convince SpaceX to name the first of its manned space capsules after Serenity, the fictional spaceship from Joss Whedon’s science-fiction television series Firefly and feature film Serenity. Despite the fact that we’ve devoted a lot of space as of late (yes, the pun is intended) to covering the many launches that SpaceX has completed so far this year, we still think it’s important that we not lose sight of our raison d’être. To that end, here are ten good reasons why we believe the first manned SpaceX Dragon should be named Serenity…
Ni hao, travelers! Jeff here, back from a lengthy, profession-induced hiatus, on the air once more. We’ve discussed at length here and in person at cons how real-life voyages out into the black have been inspired by the art of science-fiction. Recent events, however, have opened my eyes to a subtle phenomenon in sci-fi that’s been going on in plain sight, yet has gone unnoticed. Continue Reading
On Wednesday, SpaceX announced via its social media presence that the company is sending its first mission to the red planet as soon as 2018. They intend to land an unmanned Dragon spacecraft on the surface of Mars as a demonstration and to “inform [our] overall Mars architecture.”
Happy New Year, ladies and menfolk!
2015 was quite a ride. NASA announced the crew that will fly its Commercial Crew missions, SpaceX bounced back from a resupply mission to the ISS that got a little too “interesting” and successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket, and the Crew Dragon was given the green light to break atmo for the first time in 2017. And on the pop culture side of the ‘verse, The Martian made readers and moviegoers want to “science the sh*t” out of things, and a brand new Star Wars film broke both the internet and the box office, which means a whole new generation of young people is now dreaming of one day traveling to a galaxy far, far away.
Almost a year ago to the day, we laid out a plan for how we were going to go for hard-burn in our efforts to convince SpaceX to name their first Crew Dragon Serenity. Now that year is behind us, and it’s worth taking a brief look back at the year that was to see what soared like a leaf on the wind… and what fell out of the sky like it had a Capissan 38 engine!
This past weekend, The Martian debuted in theaters to much fanfare, and the Cliff’s Notes version of this is: it’s not undeserved. The film adaptation of Andy Weir’s runaway bestselling novel tells the harrowing tale of one man’s endurance, ingenuity and determination to survive as a lone astronaut accidentally left for dead on the surface of Mars. With limited food and supplies and no way to reach Earth, astronaut Mark Watney must make equipment meant to last only 30 days keep him alive for over a year until the next crew can reach him, using only his wits. It’s a tale of survival against impossible odds, like Apollo 13— or, for that matter, the Firefly episode “Out of Gas.” Coincidentally, one of the NASA managers tasked with coordinating the interplanetary rescue effort is played by Chewitel Ejiofor, better known to fans of Serenity as The Operative.
The film itself has been pretty well hyped by 21st-Century FOX and eagerly awaited by the novel’s many fans. The good news is, it essentially lived up to said hype. Being an avid reader myself, comparisons to the book are inevitable. In this case, though, we have one of the rare instances where a film adaptation may not necessarily improve on its source material, but does an excellent job of bringing it to life and telling it in a way that novels often can’t.
Ni hao, travellers! With the recent announcement that NASA has found evidence that water still flows on the red planet, and with the highly anticipated film The Martian hitting theaters in the United States, what better occasion can you ask for for the return of The Science of Firefly?
Today, we will indeed be looking towards Mars as a prototype for the very colonization and terraforming techniques that we’re told occurred on many planets and moons in Firefly‘s ‘verse to create the setting for the show and its follow-up film, Serenity.
For those of you just joining us, Take Back the Sky is a campaign by fans of the cult hit sci-fi show Firefly to write letters and sign petitions to SpaceX to name their first manned spacecraft– called the Dragon— after Serenity, the ship featured in the show. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has come to be known for being outspoken about his intent for the Dragon to be the key trailblazer, a 21st-century Mayflower, in a larger movement to found a permanent, independent colony. Scientists, futurists, politicians, and all manner of talking heads can’t “offer comment” loud or long enough– some saying it’s a brilliant plan, others naysaying and decrying the dangers involved (which don’t affect them, if you think about it. Just sayin’…).
In this installment of The Science of Firefly, we’ll tackle the ultimate question: Is it possible? Could human beings found a permanent settlement on another world within our lifetimes and eventually transform it to become like Earth, just like many a science-fiction novel or film? Or does the required technology and knowledge to achieve such a thing still elude us?
It’s a pretty tall order any way you look at it. The good news is, we can say that the short answer is “yes.” Here at Take Back the Sky, however, we refuse to leave matters like that, so you’ll also be getting the somewhat longer answer. To treat it properly, though, I propose we break the timeline down into three phases:
- How do we permanently settle another planet– like Mars– without needing re-supply from Earth?
- Won’t it cost too much?
- Isn’t it dangerous?
- How do we transition from “extreme campout” to a place you might actually want to live in?
- How do you terraform a planet? How long would it take?