Monday, June 23, 2014

Project Overview

A new 'one sheet' establishing the mission and progress of Pacific Spaceflight. A lot of juggling right now, many plans being assembled for film crew and flight test crew for this summer!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Grades turned in, time to think and work alone. A dozen new ideas to implement. Lots of new developments at Pacific Spaceflight and some consultation with SpaceX coming up, as well as this summer's test fight! But for the next 30 hours I still have time to myself and can test some whacky ideas!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Consent To Risk

BBC Future item regarding my recent works - professional and popular - regarding humans on interstellar voyages. The exoplanets are now known to be legion; of course we will try to reach one! Here the interviewer was most interested in the moral question that I identified--from long experience--as that of 'consent to risk' RE birthing new generations into interstellar craft conditions.I believe it's morally acceptable, and explain why in this article.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cold Chamber!

We found a refrigeration chamber in WA state where the team can run a 1-hour test of the suit at -20F on a weekend PM. Perfect -- large sliding door to bring in the test platform and pilot's seat. Also, photo of a recent testbed for pressure-testing new seam seals. Works fine, my home-sealed seams maintain the same pressures as manufactured seams!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TED Talk Brussels Winter 2014

I'll do a TED talk in Brussels this Winter, thanks in part to nomination by my buddy Beligian explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke -- below a recap of his recent kayak circumnavigation of Lake Titicaca, with Amazon-Basin--cross-trekker Gadiel Sánchez Rivera:

The theme for the talk is "The Territory and the Map".

Thanks for the introduction, L-P!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Early Settlement of the Congo Basin

Draft of a Figure for the forthcoming Atlas of Human Prehistory. The literature on this area is widespread and somewhat difficult to master! Fascinating stuff, though, in the genes and archaeology. Also, a draft on the Tibetan Plateau.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Worth a thought:

"To make something new, to transcend, one must have an honest relationship with what is: history, context, form, tradition, oneself. Dishonesty is the biggest obstacle to making original, great art. Dishonesty undermines a work’s internal integrity — the only standard by which a work can succeed. If the work becomes a vehicle for one’s ego, personal or political agenda, self-image, desire for fame, adulation, fortune — human as these inclinations may be — the work will be limited accordingly. Even a desire to affirm human dignity and elevate the human spirit can be corrupted by dishonesty in the form of sentimentality."

-- Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll ( article titled "David Foster Wallace Was Right: Irony Is Ruining Our Culture")

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pre-Test Pressure Test!

Pre-test pressure test! Ensuring all's AOK for tomorrow pm's pressurized balloon flight sim -- Ben Wilson will be in the suit on one side of Willamette R, one km away from us on the other side with radio, giving him commands and getting his information as though he were flying the balloon. This is to start getting us used to being physically and mentally cut off from the balloon pilot, ensure good comms etc. To add spice and difficulty it will be done in darkness.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Settlement of the Congo Basin

For the forthcoming Atlas of Human Prehistory, the most interesting maps to research and make are those for areas about which I know the least. 'Settlement of the Congo Basin' is taking a lot of time to research and illustrate, but it is really fascinating material, using archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence. Just starting on the diagram, lots of plant and animal life to include!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Early Settlement of North America -- and a Dropped Altimeter!

Worked on the draft of Early Settlement of North America for the Atlas of Human Prehistory. Then at home put in a few hours with Ben Wilson, tightening up 'Skeletor', the modular framework for this summer's test flight to 25,000 feet. I dropped our main altimeter the other day, now it reads gobbeldygook at ground level :( The bright side is that I now have a fun paperweight. Backup altimeter is OK, but still need to replace this one.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Two Impressions

At SpaceX one of my interviewers had been the launch pad manager at XXXXX Air Force Base for some years before he was scooped up by Elon Musk. A tiny man, an engineer who looked like a missile himself, buzz-cut with tiny, razor-sharp spectacles of impossibly perfect transparency, he fairly gripped the edge of the table, quivering with tension, as he asked me about technical details of my space suit. At the end of his computer-like interrogation he let go of the table, or softened his grip at least, and then from his mouth came the most astounding words. "You know all of this is for establishing a new branch of civilization on Mars, right? You know that, don't you? Tesla supports SpaceX. The SpaceX defense contracts exist to keep SpaceX alive, because only the Pentagon has any money. You know that, right? We exist to settle Mars."

This was the complete opposite experience from one I had last year, talking about space colonization at the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum. There, after my talk about why I think this is an important endeavor, one of the audience, an attactive young woman with dreadlocks came to tell me that "What you have talked about tonight could work. It will happen if you try it. But the stars," she said, "and I speak for the stars -- I am from the stars -- they say, 'don't do it, you're not ready'".

It was an arresting moment and it felt as though I were in a science fiction movie. I still think about that.

What a fascinating pair!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Topanga Canyon

After my grilling by engineers at SpaceX I spent a glorious day crashing around in the wild oak canyon terrain of Topanga Canyon with my buddy John Haslett. We found the stone foundation remains of a Scotsman's 1830's house, his name carved into the stone; 'Dunbar McBride'. Rappelled down a cliff to look inside a cave, lots of guano there, scrambled up and out completely exhausted as the sun set. Comprehensive poison oak from my ankles to knees still furiously itches, some on my scalp as well. Well worth it! Fun to sketch with pen for a change rather than be on the computer.