Don’t worry, Dr. Evil hasn’t taken over SpaceX (although some do compare Elon Musk to a James Bond supervillain). Space reports that the pause in Starlink satellite launches since June is not because of some bumbling villain’s irrational order, but because new satellites will now have laser communication devices between them. By talking amongst themselves, Starlink won’t need to rely on ground bases as much to connect satellites to the internet. If a satellite can’t reach a ground station directly, it can beam data by laser to another satellite that can, keeping the entire network connected. We’re living in the future.
The creator of Star Trek was born on August 19, 1921. Today would be his 100th birthday. Though he never went to space himself, he created a universe that would inspire many who actually did. In fact, in the 1970s NASA recruited Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, to recruit new astronauts, particularly women and people of color.
Science fiction became science fact when the first Space Shuttle was named Enterprise after a massive letter writing campaign convinced NASA to do it. The cast of the original series, as well as Roddenberry himself, were on hand at the public unveiling, featured as today’s NASA Image of the Day. Although Enterprise also never flew into space, it was an extremely important proof of the Space Shuttle concept, particularly its ability to land like an airplane. (Later, the Space Shuttle Enterprise would appear on a display on the Starship Enterprise of previous ships of that name in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. How meta is that?)
The Perseid meteor shower is peaking right now, so go outside tonight and look up to see them. While you’re at it, consider what would happen if a 200-foot diameter meteor exploded three to six miles above the ground. That’s exactly what happened in a (fortunately) uninhabited part of Russia on June 30, 1908. Real Life Lore ponders how such an event would affect the world of 2021.
The explosion was as powerful as 3–30 megatons of TNT. For comparison, the Castle Bravo explosion, the most powerful known US nuclear test, was 15 megatons. If such a meteorite struck the same area again today, the result would be surprisingly similar. It’s still uninhabited, and while it would still flatten 80 million trees, it would have little additional effect. If such a meteorite struck New York City, however, civilization as we know it would be permanently changed.