(featured image, Seasonal Streaks, Mars HiRISE, NASA/JPL/U.Arizona via Astronomy Picture of the Day)

Sometimes it really does feel like we’re living in the future.

As a kid, growing up, I remember reading Astronomy magazine back in the late 70s and early 80s. The eggheads at NASA and the JPL (mad hearts!) had our future all mapped-out for us. Mars by 2030 was a frequent refrain. 2040 for sure.

Well, by crikey, it looks like we just might get there in time for my 60th birthday.

Elon Musk and his band of marauding rocket scientists unveiled an audacious plan for a Big Fucking Rocket (that is the actual name – BFR) that looks to be the largest heavy lifter since the Apollo program’s Saturn V. They tested a new rocket engine this week called The Raptor (my hopes of a Battlestar Galactica heavy fighter are renewed) and unveiled the largest carbon fuel can ever. It sounds like they’re really doing this thing.

I haven’t read all of the release or even watched the video yet. Just scatter scanned through a bunch of news releases after I got back from the Home Depot when this whole thing got announced. But it sounds to me like this is going to be the biggest advance in Earth Orbit vehicles since the moon rockets. That is no small thing. We might finally be getting somewhere close to the $500/kg of material to orbit pipe-dream we’ve been shooting for ever since we started firing metal into space. That brings with it all kinds of amazing possibilities. Like rapid space station construction. And heavier comm, weather and science satellites. And vehicles… And people.

These rockets are intended to be reusable too. One of the impressive plans for the so-called interplanetary missions was a fuel relay. Launch your vehicle to orbit. Wait for a few passes for the next stage to get sent up from Earth and now you’ve got your fuel and supply package to take you to Mars. It’s elegant. No need to assemble your ship in space, we can boost you there from the ground.

I hope they can make this work by 2018 like they’re planning. There’s a ton more in there to unpack still.

As if that weren’t enough. Hubble spotted what appeared to be jets bursting out of Europa. This lends credence to the idea that there’s a liquid ocean under the ice, and it may be closer to the surface than originally thought. Whatever the case, it’s an active little ball of ice orbiting our biggest gas giant. And now we have a rocket and transport that can bring us there.

And in sad robot news, today marks the end of life of the Rosetta spacecraft. It’s been in orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for two years, surveying and studying the dirty snowball. Sure, Philae had a bit of bad luck, but overall, there was a bunch of good science that came out of that mission. And now they’re crashing it into the comet. Helluva way to go, really. I hope they gave it some champagne and a cigarette first.

Closer to home, I’ve been working on [WORKING TITLE] Book 3 again. The first of a two-parter and realistically, it’s looking like an early 2017 release. I was hoping to hit the holidays, but with two months to go, that feels aggressive considering I’ve only got about half of the writing done. I’ve got some other stuff hopefully making it out before the end of the year though, so that’ll have to hold you.

Aaaand, I’ve got a new newsletter sign-up on the sidebar over there. I am working on a schedule and an initial post for that. I’m thinking once per month containing progress reports and some inside scoops. Ideally, there will be some freebies to be given away too, so sign up, watch for it coming out in the next week or two. I’m sure I’ll send out another blast when it’s ready to go with a bigger push.