Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rocket Scientists


It was a full moon last Friday, on Valentines Day



It got me thinking about the relationship between my love of rocks and space.


The moon is like a big rock revolving in space.



Funnily enough yesterday on my way up to Alta Sierra I saw two guys with bikes out standing by the side of the road, hitchhiking. I stopped to give them a lift. They threw their bikes in the back of the truck and explained they were planning to do 'Just Outstanding', a crazy mountain bike trail with a grueling 5000 foot descent, known to be one of the best mountain bike trails in the Southern Sierra. 

After we talked about dry stone walling and biking a bit, I discovered they were robotic engineers with Astrorobotic  www.astrobotic.com in Pittsburgh. They were taking a day off from where they are stationed this month, at Masten Space Systems (located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave California) where their team is test flying a landing sensor package complete with a brand new lunar landing software system on board. Its being flown over the desert by a loony thing called the Masten Xombie suborbital rocket. 

So these guys were real rocket scientists ! 

Astrobotic is one of 29 teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize -an award of up to $25 million for the first privately funded team to land on the moon and travel 500 meters, sending data and video to Earth.  


It turns out the moon is a hot destination these days.
The Chinese even landed a space module there recently, but they are apparently disqualified because they are not 'private', or even 'public' for that matter - just a 'republic'.



Anyway, after exchanging email addresses I dropped Fraser and Kevin off at the summit and descended to my own private rock robotics program, moving heavy stones in my space dolly and preparing them for lift off. 

I've started thinking about being the first man to 'wall' on the moon, too. 
Great idea? Maybe there's some Google prize money there as well !  It should be a lot easier than down here.  The moon has one sixth the gravity of earth. 

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