Life Imitates Art: EuroSpace Edition

This has some striking relevance to certain events at the beginning of Ghosts of Tharsis: Astronauts in Europe ask for their own independent crew spacecraft

In fact, Ivanka has a thought along these lines, just before…very bad things happen:

“While Europe is still at the forefront of many space endeavors, such as Earth observation, navigation, and space science, it is lagging in the increasingly strategic domains of space transportation and exploration,” the manifesto states. “Europe’s Gross Domestic Product is comparable to that of the United States’, but its joint investment in space exploration does not reach even one tenth of NASA’s.”

Russia has the Soyuz crew vehicle, China has the Shenzhou spacecraft, and NASA has SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Moreover, within a few years, the US space agency should add the Orion spacecraft and Boeing’s Starliner capsule to its fleet of human spaceflight vehicles. India also seeks to develop and demonstrate a crewed transportation system to low Earth orbit within the next two years.

So where does that leave Europe?

She’s not any happier about being part of an also-ran team than these manifesto-writers are. In her case, though, it’s because all that money that could be lavished on a European space program is being frittered away on corruption.

Helluva Ride

I had the same reaction to this that I had when LM started putting cameras on the Shuttle External Tanks: “Why haven’t they been doing this cool thing all along?”

The departure of the heatshield was especially fun, as it’s exactly how I imagined the corresponding event in the prologue to “In the Shadow of Ares” (minus the unfortunate burn-through, obviously).

The rover’s first 360 pano is also out:

Note the similarity…
Day 14
Day 14
Mars on Earth

This Ares is Not Part of Constellation

A common question about In the Shadow of Ares concerns whether the “Ares” of the title is connected to the NASA Constellation program. It isn’t. In fact, our use of the name precedes it’s adoption by NASA for it’s now-mostly-cancelled rocket family by at least two years.

In the backstory, the Ares Project is a series of joint US-Russian exploration missions to Mars, based on the “Mars Direct” plan developed by Robert Zubrin. Beginning in early 2025, a series of six missions were planned, of which five were ultimately carried out:

  • Ares I: first manned landing on Mars, described in the scene aboard the Penelope;
  • Ares II: explored the area where Port Lowell is located at the time of the story;
  • Ares III: the hab Odysseus disappears immediately after landing, leading to a short program hiatus;
  • Ares IV: resumed the Ares program with an ambitious 6-astronaut effort to demonstrate settlement construction techniques (one result of which is the Jacobsen homestead);
  • Ares V: the final exploration mission before commercial settlement began, during which Amber Jacobsen is accidentally conceived and born.

In our case, Ares is (like Apollo) the name of the program rather than a particular piece of hardware.