ORBITAL MANEUVERS has been updated with a bold new cover illustration and revised information in the Author’s Notes section on the latest efforts to identify and defend against Near-Earth Asteroid threats.

New OM Book CoverPlease note that the story has not changed, just the Author’s Notes section at the end of the book.  This section includes links to the latest efforts to identify Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and our efforts to defend against a pending impact.  If interested, you can read this updated section of the book as it exists on the website on the Asteroids page.

The website also has an updated front page reflecting the new book cover and I’m intending on revising the site to be more compatible with the current mobile technology as time permits.

Stay tuned for more to come!  Thanks for the support!

Till next time,

RC Davison

B612 Foundation: Searching for the Asteroid Threat


The B612 Foundation is an organization founded by Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Shuttle astronaut Ed Lu to identify asteroids that may be a threat to our planet Earth and develop the technology to prevent an impact. Pronounced: B – 6 – 12, the foundation is named after the planet in the story, THE LITTLE PRINCE, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

In ORBITAL MANEUVERS, the asteroid that impacts Earth was a rogue, passing through our solar system and escaping detection by the underfunded systems which were in place to find such objects. Part of the reason for writing the book was to bring to people’s attention the reality that we are not seeing everything that is out there and the consequences of that can be devastating to all life on this planet.

Meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia. Credit: Nasha Gazeta newspaper

We had a close call on February 15, 2013. While we were watching asteroid 2012 DA14, a 150 foot (45 meter) hunk of rock fly by the Earth, a smaller asteroid (about 60 feet or 20 meters) blazed through the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia. Fortunately it only injured about 1200 people and caused about $33 million in damages—it could have been a lot worse! What if it exploded at a lower altitude or impacted in a city…or was bigger?

The B612 Foundation looked at data that the military collected from 2000 to 2013 while monitoring for nuclear explosions and found 26 events that ranged in magnitude from 1 to 600 kilotons of TNT. These were not nuclear events but asteroids detonating in the atmosphere around the globe. The atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima at the end of World War II was 15 kilotons…the event over Chelyabinsk was about 600 kilotons. The most significant data gathered from this study is that asteroids large enough to destroy a city enter Earth’s atmosphere at a rate 3 to 10 times higher than were previously thought. The impact from a city-killer asteroid potentially can happen every 100 years. It could happen in 99 years; it could happen in the next minute.

This should be unsettling to anyone reading this. And, even more unsettling is the fact that we have technologies that we can use to prevent these impacts—as long as we have enough advanced warning—but this is not being aggressively pursued by the major governments on this planet. There are organizations like B612 with their Sentinel Mission to find and track asteroids and the Planetary Society’s Laser Bees, which will deflect threatening asteroids.

Check out the video and the B612 Foundation and the Planetary Society’s website for more information. If the major governments of the world aren’t interested in addressing this problem seriously, we can at least provide grassroots support to those groups that are taking on this responsibility.

Till next time,

RC Davison

Wallpapers: Images From Other Places and Times

I’ve added a new page to the ORBITAL MANEUVERS website – Wallpapers: Images From Other Places and Times.

Click to go to wallpaper page.

Tree of Life – Based on the movie, “The Fountain” – Click to go to wallpaper page.

I’ve posted some images that I’ve been working on over the last few years and will add more as they mature. Clicking on the thumbs will bring up the full size image, which you are welcome to download if so inclined. Note that the images are large, typically 1920 x 1080.

As usual, comments are always welcome. Enjoy!

Till next time,

RC Davison


Asteroid Flyby and Pricing Change on ORBITAL MANEUVERS

This coming Friday, February 15, 2013, we will have a flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14. This asteroid is about 45 meters (150 feet) in diameter and is most notable in that it will pass within the orbits of our geosynchronous satellites, which typically orbit about 22,000 miles (about 35,000 km). It will skim past the Earth at an altitude of about 17,000 miles (27,000 km), so there are no concerns about an impact, but it could (very unlikely!) take out a satellite on its way through our neighborhood.

Trajectory of 2012 DA14 (Image courtesy of NASA)

It is interesting, and a bit concerning to note that the object that exploded over Tunguska, Siberia in 1908 is estimated to be about 120 feet (36 m) in diameter! Here’s an excerpt from NASA’s site on the event:

It is estimated the asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere traveling at a speed of about 33,500 miles per hour. During its quick plunge, the 220-million-pound space rock heated the air surrounding it to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit. At 7:17 a.m. (local Siberia time), at a height of about 28,000 feet, the combination of pressure and heat caused the asteroid to fragment and annihilate itself, producing a fireball and releasing energy equivalent to about 185 Hiroshima bombs.”  NASA Science News

This leveled over 800 square miles (2072 sq km) of tundra! Imagine that destruction over a major metropolitan area today! Although small, relatively speaking, these objects are moving at very high velocities, which translates into very large amounts of energy that can be released when they explode or impact an object.

Fortunately for us, 2012 DA14’s orbit will cause it to just miss us, but it points out the potential for very catastrophic events to occur from objects that are relatively very small. It was by chance that we discovered it when we did, thanks to work by the Planetary Society.

Our surveillance of the asteroid threat has gotten better, but there is still need for improvement and more importantly, a plan of action to deal with an asteroid that will impact the Earth. This needs to be researched, tested and ready before we find that space rock with our name on it. There is work being done on this, but it is not at the level it should be.  We do not know when we might find a potentially lethal asteroid, and we don’t know how much time we will have to deal with it when it is discovered.  We need to be prepared.  The sooner the better!

Speaking of space rocks destined to impact Earth. The book, ORBITAL MANEUVERS discusses some of the consequences of a very large asteroid impacting the Earth and a stranded space shuttle crew’s attempt to survive the aftermath while in orbit. Part of the reason to write the book was to draw attention to this very real threat. To give more people the chance to read the book and get a sense of what is in store for us should a large impact occur, I’ve reduced the price on the book to $8.95 for the paper back, and $.99 for the electronic versions for Kindle and all other digital formats at Smashwords. It is also available on Apple’s ibooks.  Enjoy!

Keep looking up. You never know what you’re going to see!

Till next time,

RC Davison

Blackness in the Void

Welcome to the first posting at ORBITAL MANEUVERS new blog site!

I will be moving the posts from the old site shortly, but until then the original site is still available.  This move will allow more flexibility in the blog posts.  Now on to the good stuff!

Black as Coal

In the novel, ORBITAL MANEUVERS, the asteroid that impacts Earth escaped detection for of a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that it was composed of a material that was blacker than black — it reflected almost no light.  How black is that?

The scientific term used to quantify this blackness is albedo.  It is simply the ratio of the amount of incident light on an object to the amount of light reflected back.  For the Moon, it is on average about 12%.  Think about that the next night you are out and the full moon is shining above.  Only 12% of the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon.  Imagine what it would be like if it was 50% or higher!  Also, for another twist on this, consider that the average albedo of a paved, blacktop road surface is about 10%.  So, that bright orb in the night sky really isn’t any brighter than the road you may be driving or walking on!

Now let’s take a look at this new planet that was discovered by Kepler, TrES-2b, about 750 light-years distant in the constellation of Draco the Dragon.  Although this planet is extremely hot, about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius, it is extremely dark, with an albedo of slightly less than 1%.  Coal has an albedo of about 1%, which is a something most people can relate to and it’s pretty dark, but we’ve found asteroids in our Solar System that have an albedo of about .6%.  On the other end of the spectrum we have Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, which has an albedo of 99%.

Artist's impression of TrES-2b - Image courtesy of David A. Aguilar (CfA) Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

So, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the asteroid that impacts Earth in the novel is so dark that the surveillance systems in place at the time could have missed it.  It’s nice to know that we are more active today as far as monitoring asteroids in the Solar System than we were ten years ago when the novel was started.

What is TrES-2b made of?  We don’t know.  Add that to the list of things we need to learn about in this vast Universe we live in.  The wonders never cease!

Till next time,

RC Davison

Farewell, Atlantis

The end of the shuttle era came on Thursday, July 21 at 5:57:54 a.m. when Atlantis came to a full stop on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center.  The amazing image below is a fitting finish to an amazing program, regardless of any arguments about traveling to low Earth orbit versus going to the Moon or Mars.

Atlantis reentering the atmosphere taken from the International Space Station.  Image courtesy of NASA

Here’s a link to a larger image.

Some statistics for Atlantis:  It has traveled 125,935,769 miles while it orbited the Earth 4848 times and spent a total of 307 days in space.  It’s good to have all the shuttles back safely on the ground.

On a Orbital Maneuvers related note: I’ve put up a video promo for the book on YouTube.

Till next time,

RC Davison

On Japan and Other Thoughts

I am still trying to comprehend the magnitude of the disaster that has afflicted Japan on the 11thof March. My thoughts are with all of those that are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and put them all back together again. It is at these times that all the trappings of modern society are worthless. One’s main concern is for family, friends, food and shelter.

     In an effort to help support the relief effort in Japan, I will donate all proceeds from sales of Orbital Maneuvers from now (March 26, 2011) until the summer solstice on June 21st .  The more books sold, the more I’ll be able to contribute.

I’m going to rant here. Be forewarned!

When I watched the images coming out of Japan after the disaster, I could not shake the feeling that we should be more prepared. We, us, everyone on this planet. World wide for 2011 we will spend over two trillion dollars on defense. Defense of our sovereign lands from those who wish to attack us.

We are missing the big picture here. What we can do to each other pales in comparison to what Mother Nature can throw at us. Look at what just happened in Japan. What about hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans and the Gulf coast. The earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004 and the earthquake in China in 2008. The list goes on. But, these are small events compared to some of the major events that have occurred in the past, from super-volcanoes erupting to asteroid impacts.

Maybe we should start thinking more along the line of joining forces. After all, it is 2011, the 21st century. Should we not be civilized by this point? We’ve had over 10,000 years of development and yet we are constantly focused on beating each other into submission. Be it for religious, political, ideological or territorial reasons.

I know I’m being too idealistic here, but we should stop pointing missiles and guns at each other and divert those funds to developing the technology that will allow us to survive these inevitable natural disasters. We’ve got a handle on how to build earthquake resistant buildings, but they are not earthquake-proof. More importantly, our infrastructure is very vulnerable to many types of natural disasters.

We know this stuff happens. It has happened in the past and will again in the future. Two trillion dollars will go a long way to developing technology to study the planet we live on and understand what triggers these events. If we can’t stop them, at least we should be able to predict them reliably, and design our homes, businesses, cities and nations to withstand their onslaught.

Orbital Maneuvers is about multiple asteroid impacts on the United States. This is not beyond the realm of probability. It was scary researching this for the book, because it does not take a very big object to create global devastation. And, if not global, local devastation, which still can have global consequences. A small asteroid hitting the ocean is going to create tsunamis that could make the one that just hit Japan look like ripples on a pond.

So, we have a choice. We can keep preying on each other, burning money and resources to build offensive and defensive systems, and ignore the fact that there is a force out there more powerful than anything we have in our arsenals, or we can realize that this is the only place we have to live, and if we are going to survive, we have to join forces in building a common defense for everyone.

All the weapons, gadgets, toys and technology won’t mean a thing if Mother Nature reaches out and slaps you down. Just ask the people in Japan…

Till next time,

RC Davison

A Couple of Website Updates


I just added a couple of new items to the website:

On the Home page you will find a link to an audio clip promo that was done for the book by Norm Sherman, who runs the Sci-Fi audio podcast site – Drabblecast.org.  Norm did a great job with the promo, as he does with the podcasts he produces for his site and others – check him out!

On the Space Station page, near the bottom you will find an image of the space station which is a link to a great animation of the assembly of the International Space Station on the USA TODAY website.  After the animation runs you have the ability to click on the names of each module on the right side to see more information and animations.

Lastly, for anyone that may have registered to get emails of new blog postings and have not been receiving them, please check the email address you entered, as I have gotten a number  notifications kicked back because of bad addresses.

Thanks for your support and enjoy!

Till next time,

RC Davison


Check out the audio promo for ORBITAL MANEUVERS at Drabblecast.org, a great Sci-Fi short story audio podcast site.  The host, Norm Sherman did a great job putting the promo together, along with the really neat feature short story (with adult themes), A Matter of Sizeby Robert Jeschonek.

If you’d like to give the book a try, the first 7 chapters are available at the ORBITAL MANEUVERS website.  If you want more, you can download the first half of the book in several different electronic formats free at Smashwords.com.

If you like Sci-Fi you will do yourself a big favor by checking out Drabblecast.org.  Norm puts on some really amazing short story productions by some very talented authors, with top-notch narration by Norm and other voice actors, music and special effects, it’s a very entertaining half hour.  His site won the  2010 Parsec Award for “Best Speculative Fiction Magazine” – a very well deserved honor.

Till next time,

RC Davison