BCM325 – Digital Artefact and Contextual Essay

My digital artefact: “The Future of Space Travel and Potential Lunar Bases”

 

Contextual Essay

The creation of my Digital Artefact began from an opportunity to study a subject of interest and to explore it at new lengths. Space, the solar system, stars and the greater galaxy and universe has always excited and inspired me. Growing up I had a fascination with star gazing and the stories behind the constellations. I also grew up watching a lot of science fiction as well as reading a number of novels of similar theme. In recent years I’ve also dabbled in astrophotography. As such, when given the opportunity of an avenue of study of my choice regarding humanity, technology and its future, my thoughts instantly turned towards this subject.

Upon initial investigation, the sheer amount of information and resources was overwhelming. Elon Musk’s company SpaceX had recently been featured in the media with the Falcon Heavy rocket launch ferrying a Tesla as well as the twin synchronised landing of the rockets. This avenue brought about a study of the big names in the newest space race, and what each of them aimed to do. Other companies such as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have been conducting their own research and plans for space, including space tourism. Space tourism itself is an entire branch of its own, however I continued my investigation in another direction.

Further research led me to the Google Lunar X-Prize, which I had previously no knowledge of it. It was this discovery that I believe inspired me into my narrowing of focus towards the moon. Although Mars seems like the big picture, the moon is much closer and it seemed odd that we hadn’t made much headway in that direction.

There is a range of popular culture that features the Moon, various Doctor Who episodes, The Expanse (2011-2017) novels from James S.A. Corey as well as older media like Jules Verne’s Around the Moon (1870) or Space 1999 (1975-1977) a television series that features humans storing nuclear waste on the moon. All of this moon based media requires a moon base however. After the Apollo missions, there was a number of Lunar Base designs, which over the years, slowly dwindled away. This led my research towards the question of why we don’t already have a Lunar Base?

This question became the foundation of my Digital Artefact. Looking towards academic sources allowed different perspectives upon space exploration I had previously been unaware of to become apparent. Clynes and Kline (1995, p.27) discussed the fragility of humans and the possibility of cyborgs in space as the solution to this problem.  An article that really struck my was Pyne’s ‘Seeking Newer Worlds’ (2006) which argued the point that exploration and civilisation are two very different things and that one does not necessarily led to the other. As such this fed into my research and Digital Artefact quite heavily as it was a logical perspective that confronts the reality of humanity.

Another interesting perspective is William Sims Bainbridge (2005) who has written previously on the Spaceflight revolution, but felt it necessary to revisit in order to discuss the importance of the public investment in such an endeavour. It can be argued that this sort of engagement with science and technology is what Elon Musk is attempting to do.

All of this research, even with a narrowed focus upon the moon, provided me with an abundance of content to discuss. In deciding what to do with my Digital Artefact, I needed efficient way to convey a lot of information in a succinct way. This led me to the decision of creating a podcast. Podcast are engaging, easy listening devices that can be used to talk about a subject in detail. Audio is the only medium which allows for the information to be communicated, to be the written word and not visual aids. The sheer amount of information I acquired for my podcast led to my first recording to be at eleven and a half minutes long. I had to revisit my draft script in order to cut away even more information without diverging from the key concepts. My finished podcast is still right at the maximum length, yet it would be very easy for it to go for another hour to fit in even more detail upon the topic.

My goal in making the Digital Artefact was to be able to communicate about a subject that I was truly interested in, as well as attempt to make it as engaging as possible. In reflection I believe I have achieved this, and it has been an interesting and enjoyable experience researching a subject of my choice and then creating a podcast, something I had not previously done. My only grievance with the finished product is that I had completed so much research and investigation and had so much to discuss and yet even with the medium of a podcast, I was still restricted by time. As such, as much as my Digital Artefact is my podcast, my blog posts and presentation on the topic also feed into this as a larger compilation of research. To get the most out of my Digital Artefact it would actually be more beneficial to read and experience the research behind it and the resources I provided there.

Throughout the subject of BCM325, ‘Future Cultures’, I’ve conducted an individual research project that led towards a podcast on The Future of Space Travel and Potential Lunar Bases as a Digital Artefact. The autonomous skill of self-propelled investigation as well as mediating my findings will be of advantage in my personal future.

Reference List

Bainbridge, William Sims 2005, “The Spaceflight Revolution Revisited,” Looking Backward, Looking Forward, edited by Stephen J. Garber. Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pp. 39-64.

Clynes, M & Kline, N 1995, ‘Cyborgs and space’, The Cyborg Handbook, pp.29-34.

Pyne, S 2006, ‘Seeking Newer Worlds: An Historical Context for Space Exploration’, Critical Issues in the History of Space Flight, pp.7-35.

 

Reference List for Podcast ‘The Future of Space Travel and Potential Lunar Bases’

Back to the Moon, Catalyst 2018, television program, Australian Broadcasting Company, Australia, February 13.

Bainbridge, W.S. 2005, ‘The Spaceflight Revolution Revisited’,  Looking Backward, Looking Forward, pp. 39-64.

Clynes, M & Kline, N 1995, ‘Cyborgs and space’, The Cyborg Handbook, pp.29-34.

Johnson, S & Leonard, R 1985, ‘Evolution of Concepts for Lunar Bases’ Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 47-56.

NASA’s Journey to Mars n.d., Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration, pamphlet, viewed 11 April 2018, <https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/journey-to-mars-next-steps-20151008_508.pdf&gt;.

Pyne, S 2006, ‘Seeking Newer Worlds: An Historical Context for Space Exploration’, Critical Issues in the History of Space Flight, pp.7-35.

 

Media Sources in order of Appearance

Neil Armstrong – One Small Step for Man

Epic Space Music Mix

Elon Musk – Updated Mars Plan

John Williams – Star Wars Theme

Frank Sinatra – Fly Me to the Moon

 

 

 

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