To Prague

Nothing to write about this weekend—Australian Dave (i.e., Dai-eeve), Jo, and Jorge are heading to the Czech Republic this weekend to do... whatever there is to do there. I've heard good things, and I'll report back with pictures. All I know is that it's not part of the Eurozone, so I get to pick up another form of currency: the Koruny—approximately 1 US dollar equals 22 of those.

Medical evacuation on Mars, err, Canada

Upstairs, the ISU summer session Life Sciences department is remotely participating in a simulated extravehicular activity (EVA) medical evacuation, i.e., someone's fallen and they can't get up on fake Mars in northern Canada. Down here on the "first floor"—this would be the second floor back home, but I'm trying to convert my brain, and don't get me started about my inability to convert to Celsius accurately—we're talking about space policy in Luxembourg in the Policy and Law department. Shoot me.

Does anyone want to place odds on which is more likely during their lifetime—the Cubs winning the World Series or people walking on and returning from Mars? Trust me: your best bet is that the Cubs are not better than anything, no matter what the bet is...

Dnepr launch failure destroys 14 CubeSats

Unfortunately, even the world's most reliable launch vehicles have to fail sometime. That was the case yesterday in Kazakhstan—the Dnepr rocket carrying a Belarussian remote sensing satellite, three microsatellites, and 14 CubeSats crashed shortly after launch. CubeSats are simple little satellites that fit in a 10cm cube. Because they're small, they're low cost ways for universities to participate in space programs—costing roughly as much as a new car—and they fit as secondary payloads on larger launches, in this case, the remote sensing satellite. I was paying attention to this launch because University of Illinois was launching their first satellite, ION1 on that mission. Better luck next time with ION2...

Here are the participating CubeSats...

Trains in India

Scratching down ideas...

  • Mumbai to Bagalkot—BCT to UBL (Hubli), UBL to BGK
  • Bagalkot to Vellore—BGK to VLR
  • Vellore to Pondicherry—VLR to PDY
  • Pondicherry to Allahabad—PDY to ALD
  • Allahabad to New Delhi or Calcutta (depending on which flight to the US is cheaper)—PDY to NDLS/HWH

This looks like the probable order of cities I'll visit, and the train connections that I'll use—any suggestions, guys?

Links to use:

Unedited 'On the Road' coming out soon

The edited-out versions of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, direct from the scroll, are coming out soon. Awesome. Though I expect it to be largely gibberish—it wasn't just edited out because it was controversial, but because it was likely unintelligible from the editor's point of view—it's exciting to think of reading the book in its full form. Just before leaving for Florida in June, I read Desolation Angels, and earlier in the spring I read Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954.

Now, On the Road is one of my favorite books, like every other book, far behind Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and slightly behind Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey (or slightly ahead, depending on my mood). I have read it about five times, and the last impression I have of it is that you first get swept up in the fast-moving free-wheeling roaming-about feeling of the book, partly because of the prose style, partly because of the content—one mimics the other. But in approximately the second half of the book, I get a different feeling—irresponsibility, lack of character, uselessness. I still get the talk about "knowing time" and the freedom of moving about, exploring the idea of God and people in different quarters of the US, but Desolation Angels brought a new view to that. In the second half of that book, you can feel Jack's tiredness with the Beat "movement" and the flitting about, acting intellectual, acting as if there's more than there is, just acting different instead of being—a sort of critique on the movement that he helped to start.

Anyway, more on this later, perhaps. Why is this in a blog called "Road Trip to Space?" First, because I prefer this type of literature to astronaut biographies, and it is my blog, dammit. Second, because I'm writing a piece where I simply take out the word "Beat" and replace it with "Space," i.e., thinking about the Space Generation as an insider-outsider, much as Jack did with Ginsberg and Co., the drivers of the Beat Generation.