Space highlights of 2015 – ‘Small’ Space

Here’s the second of five short posts that count down to ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s blast off to the International Space Station on 15 December. The five posts double up as my Space highlights for 2015…

(#4) ‘Small’ Space

Space is often discussed in big picture terms of the grandest scale – planets, galaxies, the visible universe. Yet space, like science, is often about baby steps: minor adjustments and painstakingly slow progress at the human scale or smaller still. Consider the many developmental stages that have led to tech achievements like satellites, space-based telescopes or the Soyuz craft that transports people up to the International Space Station.

This year some tiny spacecraft have made the news as they may just prove to be hugely significant – perhaps someday saving the planet. You can quickly see what I mean if you glance through the article -linked in the graphic below- whereby small scale craft will be sent to impact an asteroid moon in 2022 so as to provide data and learning about the potential of deflecting any (bigger) asteroids en route to hit Earth…


P.s. How ‘small Space’ relates to my debut novel…

The first book establishes protagonist Feng’s mission to mine asteroids. Discussion covers the small spacecraft that Feng wants to land on suitable asteroids, which will prospect for precious metals. These small scale, versatile craft were inspired by the unusual lifespan and metamorphosis of the Cicada insect as Feng explains…

Excerpt from Monkey Steals Plum (part one of The Feng Trilogy)

Feng took a sip of his tea. He looked towards the cicada in his insect house.

‘Cicada emerge from the earth and they climb high up in nearby trees. From this vantage point they wait out the night. They use those few hours for metamorphosis.’

Isabelle cast her gaze over the insect house.

‘They emerge from exo-skeletal suits to show flimsy white wings that must harden for flight at dawn.’

‘Oh. It is quite magical.’

‘Voila, as you say. But it is very real.’

Isabelle was nodding approval through a quizzical smile when Duan returned to set down a fresh pot of chrysanthemum tea. Feng took a sip. Isabelle was unsure if Feng was being frank, or cryptic, or if his meaning was warped by his diction.

‘I started looking at cicada as a model for my biggest ever project. Their survival depends on large numbers, to avoid predators. I put this to my engineers. To design landing craft that will contain a large number of drone-like devices that could fly and crawl over asteroids …’




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