Saturday, December 31, 2005

It Was a Very Good Year

I wanted to write about some exciting recent Orbiter developments, especially the rapid progress of Francis Drake's and Simcosmos' add-ons for NASA's CEV, LSAM, CLV, and other components of the Vision for Space Exploration (lots of details, downloads, and pix in this long post). I was also thinking of writing up a summary of my December blog entries, an idea borrowed from Anthony Kendall, but it's almost time to pick up the Chinese food and settle in for a low-key New Year's Eve with the family. So I'll just wrap up the month with a few words - tomorrow's another year, after all.

Although special interests and hobbies have come and gone for me, space is something that has been in my thoughts and dreams literally since childhood, and 2005 has been a great year for space and for my personal interest in it. In March I discovered Orbiter, the freeware space flight simulator that continues to amaze me almost daily. Over the summer I wrote a 136 page tutorial book about it, and I started a personal campaign to use Orbiter as a tool for science education and to raise interest in space exploration. I also wrote an article about Orbiter for The Space Review. I started this blog in October, and through Orbiter, the Orbiter forums, and the blog, I have met (at least on line) a number of amazing people and made some new friends who share some of my interests and concerns. The resulting dialog has been fascinating and has taught me a lot about more than just space.

And of course the background for all this is that things are moving again for real space flight. The Shuttle returned to flight in July, and NASA fleshed out its plans for returning to the Moon and eventually to Mars. Although I'm impatient with the schedule, I'm still supportive and excited that it's happening. I'm also excited to see the many developments in private ventures for space, as well as active space programs in other countries. As I wrote early in this blog, let a thousand space programs bloom. Whether any particular project or venture will succeed as planned or not, I don't know - but some will succeed. For the first time in many years, the idea that we will become a spacefaring civilization seems like it is moving beyond science fiction. As Carl Sagan pointed out, this is an amazing time to be alive. It's the dawn of a new age.

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