Geospatial World reports that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which keeps a record of  satellites orbiting Earth, says there were 6,542 satellites in orbit around our planet. Of those, 3,372 satellites are active and 3,170 are inactive—as of January 1, 2021. SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit, Firefly Aerospace, etc. have been busy since that date launching more satellites. In fact, as of June 30, SpaceX had made twenty additional launches this year. The company provides a “ride-share” program in which it propels rockets into space on behalf of customers that want satellites in orbit; the satellites are delivered to orbit by SpaceX, which then returns its rockets to the ground.

I explored Earth-orbiting satellites as a follow-up to a story I read online yesterday that described the unsuccessful launch of a Firefly Aerospace rocket. The launch was  the company’s first attempt to reach Earth orbit with a rocket carrying a commercial payload of satellites.

Space “travel” has been in the news lately because certain multi-billionaires have famously spent enormous sums of money to take what amounts to space tourism excursions. Some people are up in arms about those expensive vacations, arguing that the money would be better spent on humanitarian efforts here on Earth. While I agree that space tourism is wasteful and decadent, I gladly would take the trip if the opportunity presented itself. But more importantly, I think space exploration is vital. We learn so much simply by sending rockets into orbit. Even the unsuccessful launches and the launches carrying egotists and adventurers can give us important data about our planet, space, and the “glue” that keeps the universe from expanding out of control into oblivion. Or something like that.


If the world wishes to treat me fairly this morning, I will go get a haircut shortly. I plan to arrive at the barber shop just about the time they open so I will be among the first customers. Then, I will come home, pick up my IC, and we will go to Home Plate for a haircutting celebratory breakfast. The remainder of the day will be spent, in bits and pieces, getting things organized. That is, putting things away—things from the merger of two households. This merger continues to drum into me the fact that I own too much “stuff.” Almost everyone does. At least everyone I know in this country built on the premise that “more” is better. This place designed physically and philosophically to follow the mantra “money and things it can buy equate in direct proportion to happiness.” Of course, we know that’s not true. But we continue to behave as if it were. Money and things, especially things attached to sentimental memories, rule our lives. We do not control our lives; we response to monetary and sentimental commands, urging us on to collect more stuff that we believe will give us ultimate and absolute fulfilment. Well, that may be a stretch. But not much.


Time to dress, pee, and flee. Off to the haircuttery for a change of image and, perhaps, a corresponding change of personality. We shall see. We always do.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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