The James Webb telescope, the single greatest technological and astronomical achievement of human endeavour is ready to receive. It is 600,000 miles from Earth.
One of the biggest challenges was to unfurl the sun shield, a fragile membrane that is the size of a tennis court.
It worked and the James Webb telescope is ready for action. The main idea is that it will be able to look back in time as it catches light from the earliest events of the Universe.
It is, by any measure, a truly awesome achievement.
While we applaud and wait for more, and aliens watching us think ‘hmm, they are almost there,’ closer to Earth the discussions are a little more mundane.
Haircuts and sex in space.
The trouble with space is that the things we take for granted in our normal, earthbound lives are actually much more difficult in zero gravity.
On Earth, hair falls to the floor and is swept up. In space it hangs around and gets into your face, clothes and rather importantly the systems of whatever spaceship you happen to be on. The solution, for the moment, seems to be clippers with a pump attached.
Sex has similar issues in space and it is probably wise to let others describe the very real issues that will need to be addressed if humans are going to be spending significant amounts of time in space.
The achievement of the James Webb telescope and the issues of getting a haircut in space may seems world apart but to reach the stars we need to figure out a lot of details in order to avoid that awkward moment as you catapult around Mars heading for interstellar space when you say ‘damn, we forgot the….’
As we look up, look back in time and learn how to cut our hair and have sex in space we should remember that there are a host of other issues to address.
We live in the most fragile of environments. We are in a race against time, to save our planet, learn how to divert comets and asteroids and survive in a future that is full of unknowns.
There is a theory that says the first aliens we encounter will almost certainly be AI based robots (and perhaps the James Webb telescope will spot them as they approach) but maybe we should emulate that theory and send robots first.