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Fiction Science Club

Get a way-out reality check on dreams of leaving Earth

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wants to have millions of people living and working in space — that’s why he founded his Blue Origin space venture more than two decades ago. But what if living in space turns out to be like holing up in an Amazon warehouse?

“The reality of going to another planet in our current environment, I think … the best analogy is an Amazon fulfillment center,” Taylor Genovese, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, says in “Last Exit: Space,” a new documentary about space settlement narrated by famed filmmaker Werner Herzog.

“You won’t be able to actually see where you are,” Genovese explains. “You’re going to be inside of a factory, and you’re not going to experience what you think you’re going to be experiencing — that is, the kind of awe of being on another planet and experiencing being off Earth. No, you’re going to be working inside of a cubicle.”

That’s a perspective you won’t often hear in the wave of space documentaries flowing through streaming-video outlets, including “Countdown” and “Return to Space” on Netflix, and “Secrets of the Universe” on Curiosity Stream.

But Rudolph Herzog — Werner’s son and the director of “Last Exit: Space,” now playing on Discovery+ — wasn’t that interested in doing a conventional documentary about the final frontier.

“I just like the edgy, quirky stories,” the younger Herzog, who’s built up his own portfolio of film projects, explains in the latest episode of the Fiction Science podcast. “I think everybody knows about Elon Musk, and everybody knows what Jeff Bezos is up to. … I just wanted to show the incredible lengths people will go to, to live this dream of going to space.”

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GeekWire

Space settlers just might dig a moon of Mars

Jim Logan's plan for Deimos
Jim Logan, a former NASA flight surgeon who is the co-founder of the Space Enterprise Institute, lays out his plan for putting a space settlement inside the Martian moon Deimos. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

The smaller of Mars’ two moons, Deimos, was named after the Greek god of terror — but the way former NASA flight surgeon Jim Logan sees it, Deimos could be a comfort zone for space settlers.

“The Mars-facing side of Deimos is probably the most valuable real estate in the solar system,” Logan, co-founder of the Space Enterprise Institute, said today at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

Logan laid out his case for Deimos during a conference on space settlement, presented this week by the Space Studies Institute to highlight the late Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill’s vision for humanity’s expansion into the solar system.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

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GeekWire

Space settlement vision updated after 50 years

Von Braun Rotating Space Station illustration
The Gateway Foundation’s Von Braun Rotating Space Station would take advantage of a ring structure to create artificial gravity. (Gateway Foundation Illustration)

Fifty years ago, a Princeton physicist named Gerard O’Neill asked his students to help him come up with a plan for setting up settlements in space.

Just a few years later, O’Neill published the resulting vision for freestanding space colonies as a book titled “The High Frontier” — a book that helped inspire Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ vision of having millions of people living and working in space.

Now the keepers of the “High Frontier” flame at the California-based Space Studies Institute are revisiting O’Neill’s original vision, with an eye toward updating it for the 21st century.

“The fact is, a lot has changed in the last half-century,” Edward Wright, a senior researcher at the Space Studies Institute, said today at the start of a two-day conference presented by the institute at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

Get the full story on GeekWire.