It’s April 12th, “Yuri’s Night” when humankind comes together to celebrate our achievements in space…and to brainstorm about where we will go next. Of course at this precise moment we are having some temporary setbacks in space—but we’ll post about NASA’s space telescope trouble tomorrow. Today is about the glory and magnificence of space exploration. And there are plenty of news stories about that too. SpaceX has finally “stuck the landing” on one of its reusable rockets (and the past year’s drama of watching them nearly land on a raft and then blow up was pretty thrilling in its own right). A private firm is building an inflatable module for the International Space Station. NASA is moving forwards with its plans to build a space probe to touch the sun! And that is not to mention the many man robot probes running around the Solar System.
Solar Probe Plus (NASA)
However, today is also a day when we whisper our heart’s dearest wishes to the stars. The Economist has abandoned its fusty articles about central banking to lovingly describe a feasible interstellar space craft! Visionary engineers keep grinding ahead with plans for a space elevator (the brainchild of a different Yuri— Yuri Artsutanov). Tech billionaires are working on their asteroid mining project (at least on paper)… and NASA continues to talk of a Mars mission.
Yet all of this pales beside my near-future space vision—a plan which is as simple as it is breathtaking and incomprehensible. I want us to come together and hang a new society in the distant skies over Venus. At first it will be a crude plastic bouncy city, but, as we drop energy transfer cables down into the atmosphere and skyhooks down to harvest raw materials from the surface things should start to get more elaborate fast. We can make floating farms, forests, and oceans. All we need to do is get a plastics factory over to Venus and uh, solve the pesky problem of shielding our new society from deadly solar winds (a real problem on Venus, since it has no magnetosphere to speak of).
(Artwork by Don Dixon)
With this in mind, it is time to take a much closer look at Venus. So this is my Yuri’s Night resolution. We will be revisiting our sister planet at this site and reviewing everything we know about it. Since the first humans looked up in the morning sky and saw it as the brightest star up until now Venus has always been in our hearts—but these days we know some real and meaningful things about the morning star (wisdom which did not come easily). It’s time to review that information and find out more about our closest planetary neighbor. So hang on to your (heat resistant) helmets and get ready to visit this beautiful hellish sister world!