Real Estate prices in parts of New Zealand are reaching atmospheric highs after authorities announced that the risk of Asteroid 1997 XF11 hitting Earth close to New York State on 28 October 2028 has been raised to 1100:1. Earlier indications were that this asteroid estimated to be between 1.3 and 2.8 km in diameter would pass at about 2.4 times the distance of the moon. Calculations have now established that it will pass between the moon’s orbit and could possibly impact.
Whilst 1100:1 are still pretty good odds, the damage would be catastrophic and not limited to lives lost as the impact could be the equivalent of a million megatons of TNT. This could easily impact on climate change and consequently crops and many other aspects of climate change. Whilst the President has urged people to not panic and carry on as normal, the test project ‘Don Quixote‘ between the European Space Agency and NASA failed in spectacular fashion, leaving many people racing to new lives in New Zealand and Australia, ‘just in case’.
In Auckland, developers have been building a new city called New Hope, on the West Coast between Hamilton and Auckland and properties are selling at lightning pace. Existing properties all over New Zealand and areas in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia have increased by 800% since the announcement and are showing no signs of touching down. There has also been significant construction movement around the new US military base north of Darwin Australia which now houses over 15,000 US Marines. No public announcements have been made around this expansion or the reasons behind it.
Many Kiwis have sold their properties taking advantage of the increase in property values, but others are saying they can’t even afford to rent in their own country and this is stirring up heated sentiments. The Prime Minister has pointed out the new job opportunities and that there is plenty of undeveloped land in New Zealand. She pointed out that the important issues are not around land prices but in beefing up agriculture and utility resources to allow New Zealand to be to some degree self-sufficient should petrol and other imported resources become scarce should the strike actually occur.
President (Hilary) Clinton has announced that the USA is going to collaborate on the creation of a permanent moon base together with China and Virgin Galactic. This base will support further exploration of the moon and provide a stepping stone to explore Mars and other planets.
“Our plan, together with our partners is to create a base which will be both scientific and commercial. This is a 10 year plan which has parallels to that of President Kennedy so many years ago, to put man on the moon before we even knew how to achieve that.” said President Clinton. “Now of course we know exactly what we need to do and how to do it and are in a position to achieve this new dream well within this time. So many discoveries and inventions resulted from the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. We anticipate a new renaissance of technology, bio-engineering and hi-tech industries which will help the USA and its partners grow out of the fiscal slumps of the last 5 years.”
She went on to say, “This initiative will create thousands of new jobs for both the USA and our partner China as new industries that can benefit from low gravity are developed. Additional funding will come from commercial activities of companies such as Virgin Galactic who are going to build a lunar hotel and resort, the rights to do this come with an agreement to provide a percentage of space on their craft as payload for the base development. They have also won the rights to ship finished goods back to China from the lunar factories.”
Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson, said that he was delighted to be involved in this initiative which will help him realize a lifetime dream to have his own space port and space tourism business. “Some people said I was just a dreamer. I say that if you don’t dream big, you won’t achieve big results.” Virgin Galactic has already pre-sold over 1,000 room nights in their first hotel before the ground has even been broken.
These have been some of the most exciting times in space exploration. Since the US Government mothballed the shuttle program and the Discovery was sent to its final home at the Smithsonian, the space program has accelerated at an amazing pace.
Just when you thought it was over, Nek Minute it goes crazy, with over 30 entries into the Google Lunar X Prize, the first 3 landing craft have actually landed safely on the moon’s surface. The $30 million prize reminds me of something out of Jules Verne’s 80 Days around the World. Even more so the great race to find new exciting lands and conquer the world in the days of Christopher Colombus.
The $30 million itself won’t go far and its more about credibility and the potential mineral and metal mining of asteroids and whatever else they find is much more exciting.
It was little surprise to see the team from Moon Express amongst the first to arrive, as they were able to hire the entire Mars Rover team when their NASA funding was cut.
So what comes next? I guess there will be some interesting debates over mining rights and we will start to see little settlements develop over the next decade as entrepid explorers and wealthy entrepreneurs look for metals, minerals and potentially water that could help them sustain prolonged or indefinate stays on the moon.
Meanwhile Virgin Galactic hasn’t wasted any time and have contracts with a numberr of the entrants to help them get building materials to the moon for the first commercial hotel on the planet. Virgin Spaceship Four has now made dozens of tourist flights out of the atmosphere and is showing wealthy and healthy citizens the first views of their investments into the space hospitality and tourism industry. When it comes to tickets, money seems to be no object for the wealthy who are all desperate to be able to say they were amongst the first. What a shame my grandfather isn’t still around. He won a raffle many years ago giving him a ticket on KLM‘s first commercial flight (which he achieved) and the first commercial passenger carrying space flight, but no one knows what happened to the ticket.