The latest NASA report on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
Here is the NASA JPL preview of the night sky for October:
Johannes Jönsson pointed me to his video of the lunar eclipse earlier this week:
SpaceVR is a startup company developing
the world’s first virtual reality platform allowing users to #BeAnAstronaut and experience space firsthand from any mobile, desktop or virtual reality device. Through the use of 3D, 360-degree cameras, SpaceVR technology feeds livestream footage from the International Space Station’s (ISS) Cupola observatory module back to Earth so consumers can experience space travel in immersive 3D virtual reality.
The company is currently in a crowd-funding campaign that has reached just over $70k towards a $100k goal and they have 7 days remaining: SpaceVR: Step into Space by SpaceVR — Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter funds would cover the costs for
flight certification, launch costs, and 2D 16K resolution footage that will be physically down-massed (returned from space) to Earth 2x per year.
Here is a video describing the project:
The goal is to use the Virtual Reality system to bring the space experience to many more people than those who have actually flown in space;
Being in space and looking down at the earth, astronauts are hit with an astounding reality: our planet is a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. It’s a phenomenon known as the Overview Effect.
Space is the final frontier, and everybody should have a chance to be a part of exploring it and, in turn, being influenced by it—to experience the Overview Effect. There’s a lot of excitement about exploring space by the people, for the people, and we can’t do it without you. Together we can make the universe accessible to everyone, inspire the next generation of explorers and get people excited about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) fields.
The more supporters we have, the more cool virtual reality experiences we’ll be able to capture in space. And when we get there, you won’t just be a bystander to history; you’ll feel like an active participant, standing side by side with the astronauts. We will all be explorers together.
Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson enjoyed the Cupola module in person:
I wrote here back in August about the New Worlds 2015 conference sponsored by the New Worlds Institute to be held in Austin, Texas, October 16 & 17. Below is the latest info from the conference and includes the agenda of talks, panels, performances, etc.:
Launching the Future
What will the first settlers need in order to actually live long, and prosper? What technologies, businesses, and cultural support systems will be required to allow these brave explorers to thrive on the new frontier? New Worlds 2015 and Lift Off! Concert will address these questions and more as the inaugural event in a series of social gatherings and conferences meant to engage the public, business world, and the scientific community in a constructive dialogue about not just how we get there, but how we stay.
Students: $15/day (with 2 day pass)
Professionals: $100/day (with 2 day pass)
*Includes complimentary access to the Lift Off! concert
Hosted by the New Worlds Institute, the two-day event will feature academic sessions with the world’s foremost experts in space medicine, space solar power, life extension, legislative policy, and the emerging space economy.
The New Worlds 2015 and Lift Off! Concert will be held at the Palmer Events Center on October 16-17 in Austin, TX.
“New Worlds 2015 is an experiment. Our goal is to plant the seeds of a new and dynamic space culture that will begin to grow in the years ahead so those who will build the first human space colonies can be prepared when the ships are ready. It may sound crazy, just as 20 years before the Mayflower going across the ocean to start a new community in that New World sounded crazy. But it will also be incredibly fun.”
— Rick Tumlinson
October 16, 2015
*Speakers subject to change
9:30 am — Opening Keynote: ‘I Am An Astronaut’
10:00 am — S.T.A.R. Talk: ‘The ISS, The First Step To The Frontier’
10:20 am — Session: ‘How To Settle The Moon’
12:00 pm — S.T.A.R. Talk: ‘Island Hopping to Mars’
12:30 pm — Lunch Keynote: ‘The Sun Machine’
1:30 pm —TBA
1:50 pm — Session: ‘How to Farm In Space’
2:40 pm — S.T.A.R. Talk: ‘Space Medicine’
3:00 pm — Break
3:20 pm — Session: ‘How To Settle Free Space’
4:40 pm — Student Awards: ‘The Next Generation’
5:30 pm — S.T.A.R. Talk: ‘Designing Space in Space’
6:00 pm — Closing Talk
8:00 pm — LIFT OFF! CONCERT
In celebration of our quest toward preparing a vibrant spacefaring culture through STEAM SPACE Education, the LIFT OFF! benefit concert (tickets here) will be an exploration of sight and sound with a collection of some of the best masters of the flip-side, as we journey through a soundscape of Experimental, Dubstep, Glitch, Downtempo, and Electronic performances by:
Using modified dual Tesla Coils to play musical notes through frequency modulation (watch: 2010 semi-final performance on America’s Got Talent), their visual wizardry combines additional homemade, high-tech instruments, guitar, bass, automated musical machines, live performers, a Faraday suit, and wielding electricity through the air, just how Nikola would’ve wanted.
The Nadis Warriors
Birthed in the hills outside of the musical mecca of Austin, The Nadis Warriors shed the restrictions of commonplace stage shows to create performance experiences unlike any other. Spreading the Message of Healing and Love Through Textures and Rhythms That Vibrate Your Soul.
Deep liquid-laser textures, seamlessly colliding with heavy and hard hitting percussion, Bogtrotter has completed his evolution into a venomous, technologically powered force to be reckoned with.
October 17, 2015
*Speakers subject to change
10:00 am — Intro Talk: ‘Space Economy’
10:20 am — Keynote: ‘Mining the Sky’
10:50 am — Session: ‘Crowdsourcing/funding Space Panel’
12:15 pm — S.T.A.R. Talk: ‘Economic History of Commercial Space Exploration’
12:30 pm — Lunch
1:30 pm — S.T.A.R. Talk: ‘Space Elevators’
1:50 pm — Session: ‘Infinite Canvas’
3:00 pm — Break
3:30 pm — Session: ‘Why Mars?’
5:20 pm — TBA
5:40 pm — Final Talk: ‘Gods and Rockets’
6:00 pm — Conference End
7:00 pm — Closing Offsite Cocktail
In a classroom right now are the innovators, scientists, artists, settlers and pioneers of new worlds. Where better to begin our future in space than with our children who will be the leading pioneers of this new human endeavor?
New Worlds 2015 will host a global ‘Cities in Space’ STEAM Competition focusing on the development of a sustainable settlement in Free Space, the Moon, or Mars, permitting the human race to survive and flourish into a long-term multigenerational spacefaring civilization. Colonies will be based upon a human population of 1,000 people where student teams will integrate engineering, science, architecture, and genuine innovation to create prototypes through video and 3D modeling.
Throughout the conference, competing students will have the opportunity to listen to speakers and connect with scientists, engineers, astronauts, NASA experts, and NewSpace leaders:
The members and associates of the New Worlds Institute are dedicated to opening the space frontier in our lifetime for everyone. In support of greater STEAM communication in our schools and leading education communities, students can — through critical investigation — identify and pose solutions applicable to real world problems by studying and developing situations of lunar, Martian and Free Space settlement.
Register now using the 20% discount code ‘NWSEPT15’ to reserve your spot
at the first space conference devoted toward the human settlement of space!
This time we go together.
This time we take it from no one.
This time we give it to everyone.
A missing spacecraft –
A missing spacecraft –
A cryptic message –
And a fearsome secret hidden in plain sight.
Five years after being stranded in Earth orbit, Ryan Hunter must travel even farther to find the man who saved his life.
Hunter and former astronaut Penny Stratton are launched headfirst into a threat beyond anything they ever imagined. Carrying an unconventional rescue team into a confrontation with space-age hijackers, they already know the stakes are incredibly high.
What they can’t know is that the fate of millions rests on their shoulders. And someone wants to keep it that way.
Because something big is coming…
Patrick tells me
Farside is still set in a world where commercial spaceflight has become mostly routine, but it’s a much bigger story [than the one in Perigee].
I’ve been told it feels like a mashup of Apollo 13 and Hunt for Red October.
Farside is now available in Kindle format.
An earlier post described the European Space Agency’s Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), which in 2020 will send a probe to the Didymos binary asteroid system. AIM will initially “perform high-resolution visual, thermal and radar mapping of the moon”, i.e. the smaller of the two asteroids, “to build detailed maps of its surface and interior structure”.
Two years later, NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft will reach Didymos and collide into the moon while observed by AIM. The goal is to measure the amount of deflection of the asteroid and record the effects of the collision on the surface structure of the asteroid. This joint mission is called the Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) study.
Here is a video about the AIM plan:
Lunar Mission One is a non-profit organization seeking to raise public funding for space science projects. Their primary space science goal is to put a robotic spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon in 2024 to investigate water and other resources there. A Kickstarter campaign in 2014 raised over $1M.
They have a number of public involvement initiatives programs underway. This week, for example, they opened the Footsteps on the Moon campaign in which you upload “a photo of your footprints, feet or shoes” that will be sent to the Moon on digital storage.
Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Lunar Missions Ltd, the company behind the global, inclusive, not-for- profit crowd-funded Lunar Mission One, have signed a deal to send the first digital storage payload to the Moon. The payload will support Lunar Mission One’s ‘Footsteps on the Moon’ campaign, launched earlier today, which invites millions of people to include their footsteps – in addition to images, video and music – in a digital archive of human life that will be placed on the moon during Astrobotic’s first lunar mission.
“The partnership with Lunar Mission One is an exciting opportunity for individuals to store memorable information on the surface of the Moon,” says John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. “This is the first step in creating an archive of human civilization beyond Earth orbit.”
David Iron, CEO of Lunar Missions Ltd and the founder of Lunar Mission One says, “It was an easy choice to partner with Astrobotic, a global leader in commercial lunar capability. This deal allows us to offer an exciting new way to connect our supporters to the Moon during the early phase of Lunar Mission One’s development. We look forward to unveiling those plans very soon.”
Lunar Mission One is the latest addition to Astrobotic’s mission one manifest, and will be the first payload to enable a digital archive on the Moon.
David Iron, the founder of Lunar Mission One, writes the organization and the Footsteps program: Lunar Mission One: “Let’s All Stand on the Moon Together” – David Iron/Huffington Post
Most people watching the Moon landings in 1969 thought they would never make it to the Moon… but it’s time for a re-think. The astronauts left their prints and the rest of us just dreamed, but Lunar Mission One now intends to make it possible with their Footsteps on the Moon project.
We have secured a digital payload on the Astrobotic Moon Lander, slated for a 2017 launch. On it, we want to take a vast collection of pictures of your footsteps, shoes, wheelchair tracks or however you leave your impression on the Earth, and place them on the Moon. And we will do that for nothing in the hopes that we can take images from every single country on Earth.
In digital form, your footsteps will rest on the Moon, like the iconic boot prints left by the first astronauts, almost 50 years ago.
Follow the latest LMO activities at Lunar Mission One (@LunarMissionOne) | Twitter.
In this brief video,
Doug Archer, Planetary Scientist at NASA Johnson Space Center, talks about perchlorate salts, a compound that absorbs water on Mars. Archer addresses how perchlorate can serve as a valuable resource for human exploration missions to Mars in the future.
The NASA briefing today about a “Mars Mystery” will present evidence for seasonal flows of liquid water, heavily salted with perchlorates that raise the boiling temperature, down the slopes of some hills on the Martian surface.
They do not see the water directly but instead see traces of the flows in streaks down the hills. Spectroscopic examination of the streaks finds they contain the perchlorate salts consistent with water flows.
Update: Here is a video of the briefing:
And here is NASA’s press release:
New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.
Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.
“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”
These downhill flows, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), often have been described as possibly related to liquid water. The new findings of hydrated salts on the slopes point to what that relationship may be to these dark features. The hydrated salts would lower the freezing point of a liquid brine, just as salt on roads here on Earth causes ice and snow to melt more rapidly. Scientists say it’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening
“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, lead author of a report on these findings published Sept. 28 by Nature Geoscience.
This animation simulates a fly-around look at one of the places on Mars where dark streaks advance down slopes during warm seasons, possibly involving liquid water. This site is within Hale Crater. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field.
Ojha first noticed these puzzling features as a University of Arizona undergraduate student in 2010, using images from the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). HiRISE observations now have documented RSL at dozens of sites on Mars. The new study pairs HiRISE observations with mineral mapping by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).
The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations, but only when the dark features were relatively wide. When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren’t as extensive, they detected no hydrated salt.
Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.
Perchlorates have previously been seen on Mars. NASA’s Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover both found them in the planet’s soil, and some scientists believe that the Viking missions in the 1970s measured signatures of these salts. However, this study of RSL detected perchlorates, now in hydrated form, in different areas than those explored by the landers. This also is the first time perchlorates have been identified from orbit.
MRO has been examining Mars since 2006 with its six science instruments.
“The ability of MRO to observe for multiple Mars years with a payload able to see the fine detail of these features has enabled findings such as these: first identifying the puzzling seasonal streaks and now making a big step towards explaining what they are,” said Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
For Ojha, the new findings are more proof that the mysterious lines he first saw darkening Martian slopes five years ago are, indeed, present-day water.
“When most people talk about water on Mars, they’re usually talking about ancient water or frozen water,” he said. “Now we know there’s more to the story. This is the first spectral detection that unambiguously supports our liquid water-formation hypotheses for RSL.”
The discovery is the latest of many breakthroughs by NASA’s Mars missions.
“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”
There are eight co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, including Mary Beth Wilhelm at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and Georgia Tech; CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; and HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Others are at Georgia Tech, the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique in Nantes, France.
The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it.
For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: www.nasa.gov/mro
SPECIAL TIME: 1. Monday, Sept. 28, 2015: 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CDT): This program is a special Open Lines show. I will discuss my upcoming medical leave from the show, the progress we are making with the new website and archives, plus take all your questions and comments on space and STEM matters. Calling the show is much better than sending emails. Calls will receive priority over emails.
2. Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome ALEXANDRA ABRAMS, the new communications officer for the Space Frontier Foundation. Ms. Abrams will be sharing guidelines, tools, and tips for better PR and communication regarding space matters.
3. Friday, Oct. 2, 2015; 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT): No show as am doing post surgery recovery.
4. Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): No show as am doing post surgery recovery.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
Dante Lauretta is a professor at the University of Arizona and the Principal Investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission to return a sample of an asteroid back to earth. (Hear his recent interview SpaceGeeks Ep. 13: Dante’s Paradiso – SpaceNews.com .) He has developed a space themed board game called Xtronaut: Xtronaut: The game of solar system exploration – DC Newsroom
Rocket Science for Everyone!
Capturing the real-world thrill and challenges of planetary exploration, Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration gives 2 – 4 players ages 7 and up the chance to develop space missions and explore the solar system. The game is based on real planetary missions and rocket science. It also contains elements of politics and strategy that are inspired by the real-life situations that space missions face.
The crowd-funding campaign for it has exceeded its $15k goal by $6k with two weeks remaining: Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration by Dante Lauretta – Xtronaut Enterprises — Kickstarter.
And this video tells more about the game play:
NASA sponsored the NASA 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge in which entrant teams develop 3D printing systems and techniques for building habitats on Mars. Thirty finalists were chosen in August. See descriptions of each team’s concept at Design Competition Finalists.
JUST ANNCD: Team ICE HOUSE @s_e_arch winners of the $25k Grand Prize @3DPChallenge @NASAPrize @make #WMF2015 http://t.co/B39XlrDBvD
Check out their informative website.
A Mars team approaches their Ice House habitat. Credits Ice House Team.
Cross-section of the ice structure built with an additive printing system
around the lander module. Credits Ice House Team.
“Where the ice shell thins, large ETFE inflatable windows filled with
radiation shielding gas further expand the perceived volume and frame
views into the landscape. Together, these features enable both collective
and private opportunities to contemplate the vista of the
extraordinary Martian terrain.” Credits Ice House Team.
I’ve always like the idea of ice structures on the Moon and Mars since ice is both translucent, which adds light and color to one’s living environment, and an excellent radiation shielding material. With substantial water resources now believed to be available at the lunar poles, similar structures as the Ice House could be built on the Moon as well.
There will be a lunar eclipse tonight that will particularly unusual. The Moon will be at the closest approach (perigee) of its orbit to earth when it can be as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than when the Moon is at its farthest distance (apogee) from earth. NASA TV to Provide Live Feed of Sunday’s Supermoon Eclipse – NASA
This video gives a brief description of this eclipse of a Supermoon:
Sunday’s supermoon eclipse will last 1 hour and 11 minutes, and will be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific. Weather permitting, you can see the supermoon after nightfall, and the eclipse will cast it into shadow beginning at 8:11 p.m. EDT. The total eclipse starts at 10:11 p.m. EDT, peaking at 10:47 p.m. EDT.
More on times and visibility at September 27 / September 28, 2015 — Total Lunar Eclipse – Where and when to see.
If you cannot go outside and see the eclipse directly, views of it will be available online:
Here’s a tutorial on lunar eclipses:
NASA is holding a press briefing on Monday to announce that a “Mars Mystery” has been “solved”. (See NASA statement below.) Here are some articles speculating as to what the announcement is about:
Here is NASA’s posting:
NASA will detail a major science finding from the agency’s ongoing exploration of Mars during a news briefing at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, Sept. 28 at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
News conference participants will be:
A brief question-and-answer session will take place during the event with reporters on site and by phone. Members of the public also can ask questions during the briefing using #AskNASA.
To participate in the briefing by phone, reporters must email their name, media affiliation and telephone number to Steve Cole at email@example.com by 9 a.m. EDT on Monday.
For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and to view the news briefing, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For more information about NASA’s journey to Mars: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/journeytomars
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). Pluto’s surface sports a remarkable range of subtle colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds. Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story that scientists have only just begun to decode. The image resolves details and colors on scales as small as 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers). The viewer is encouraged to zoom in on the full resolution image on a larger screen to fully appreciate the complexity of Pluto’s surface features. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
For the full details, see the
Space news items include:
* Debut of Long March 6 Rocket
* Debut of Long March 11 Rocket
* Rokot Launch
* Orbital ATK to supply boosters for Vulcan Rocket
* Super Moon Eclipse
* Upgraded Falcon 9 static fire test
TMRO Live is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to http://www.patreon.com/tmro for information, goals and reward levels. Don’t forget to check out our Space Pod campaign as well over at http://www.patreon.com/spacepod
The HobbySpace Space Radio section has lots of information and web resources about home reception of satellite signals, especially for obtaining images from low earth orbit weather satellites. The price for such DIY systems was modest and now has gotten even cheaper.
Previously, one needed a wide-band radio tuner, which might cost a couple of hundred dollars, a simple antenna, a PC with a sound card, and some free software for turning the satellite data into images. Now with the arrival of Software Defined Radio programs, one can obtain a cheap “dongle”, i.e. a small device with a built-in tuner that plugs into a PC’s USB port for interfacing satellites signals to the PC.
Jason Davis of the Planetary Society gives a nice tutorial on building a system with about $50 in components (not counting a PC) that can be used for receiving weather sat images as well as data from a future LightSail mission: How to Download Weather Satellite Images from Space – The Planetary Society.
For additional info, Davis points to Receiving Weather Satellite Images for £8 – Matt Gray.
See also the RTL-SDR, a very cheap software defined radio that uses a DVB-T TV tuner dongle”.
A sample image from Jason Davis showing much of N. America
as received by his home ground station from the NOAA 19 satellite.
Here’s this week’s Space to Ground report on activities related to the Int. Space Station:
Don’t miss the world premiere of O Columbia, a new chamber opera that celebrates the wonder of exploration and reflects upon the necessary risks of discovering new frontiers. Inspired by interviews with Houston–based NASA astronauts, scientists, and engineers, O Columbia traces a history of dreamers and explorers–from Sir Walter Raleigh journeying to the New World, to a Houston teenager experiencing communion, and later, heartbreak, with a Columbia space shuttle astronaut, to future astronauts venturing to the far reaches of the solar system-in an ode to America’s pioneering spirit.
Created by and featuring a constellation of rising operatic talents, O Columbia comes to life in an inventive and surprising production in an unexpected venue–just across the street from the Wortham Theater Center. Space is limited, so purchase your tickets early!
Join us at the lobby bar before each performance to meet and mingle with members of the creative team-and stay after the performance for a talkback with the artists. The Revention Music Center invites you to bring your refreshments into the theater during the performance.
“O Columbia captures the intrinsic need to explore and discover that humans have felt since the beginning of time, as well as the sense of wonder that led so many of us to pursue careers in space exploration. It’s exciting to see our story portrayed in this important context and to see how deeply it resonated with the HGO team through our interviews with them.” – David Rose, Shuttle Program Engineer
The opera was created by composer Gregory Spears with librettist Royce Vavrek, and stage director Kevin Newbury. Here is a Q&A (pdf) with the creative team.
… what began with a focus on the 2003 space shuttle Columbia tragedy became a broader meditation on America’s history of exploration, loss, and perseverance. The Columbia astronauts’ story is set at the center of a long tradition extending back to the days of sailing ships and moving forward into the unknown future. Our hope is that the piece will be both an elegy for the Columbia crew and a reflection about the heavens as a frontier to be explored at all costs.
More about the work and the reaction to the debut:
Update: A Wall Street Journal reviewer was very positive about the work: ‘O Columbia’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’ Reviews – WSJ –
Exploration, risk and loss are elegantly balanced in the opera’s first two sections. In the first, Becca conjures up Sir Walter Raleigh and the lost colony of Roanoke; in the second, she communicates with an astronaut on the Columbia and then watches in horror as the disaster unfolds. Mr. Spears works this contrast between excitement and elegy through rhythmic variation and texture, switching from contrapuntal energy into homophonic keening. The “loss” sections—as when the ensemble repeats the words “Washed away” in the Raleigh section and Becca’s aching cry of “Columbia, do you read me?” in the second part—are piercingly moving. The third section, which imagines space travel centuries in the future and introduces Lady Columbia as the personification of exploration, pushes the optimistic conclusion hard, but the writing remains strong and compelling, especially the interweaving vocal lines of the two principal women.