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tobearchived after 6 years

Posted on Monday, September 17, 2012


After exactly 6 years (first post) its time to archive this blog. I've had a great time keeping a trail of my online journeys over these past 6 years and it served me well in my worldly travels, but its time for a new itinerary. I will keep the content up for the Google but I won't be posting here anymore. If you're interested in staying connected, follow me on Twitter @tobedetermined until I find a new home to share my current and future travels.

President Obama's Acceptance Speech from a San Francisco Bar

Posted on Wednesday, November 5, 2008





10 Bucks Well Spend

Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Following on from yesterday's syndication of Tim O'Reilly's keynote at the NY Web2.0, I just finished watching the documentary he has been pointing out on several of his keynotes: A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash. Buy it on itunes from their website and have a peak into the future of post cheap oil society. Quite informative...

Tim O'Reilly's Call to Action

Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And it ain't throwing sheeps. From last week's Web 2.0 Expo in New York entitled "Web Meets World".

(via) Extended Credo

Posted on Monday, September 1, 2008

Update: A post over at O'Reilly Radar by Nat Torkington reminds me of another quote I've used in the earlier days of this blog. It's a (famous) quote from William Gibson: The future is here, its just not evenly distributed yet. In his post, Nat refers to another quote from Gibson that brings the overarching point home:

One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real. In the future, that will become literally impossible. The distinction between cyberspace and that which isn't cyberspace is going to be unimaginable. When I wrote Neuromancer in 1984, cyberspace already existed for some people, but they didn't spend all their time there. So cyberspace was there, and we were here. Now cyberspace is here for a lot of us, and there has become any state of relative nonconnectivity. There is where they don't have Wi-Fi.

Having a 3-day weekend does have its benefits (like in: having an extra evening behind your computer?). Think I just stumbled upon something like an extended credo for this blog (beyond A blog about outer space, cyberspace, their common future and all that is leading up to it... ). I started gathering some quotes that resonated with me over the years and ended up with this list (read from top to bottom, in that order): Extended Credo

I am sure there are more out there that would fit this list, so if you have any suggestions pls let me know.

On Rocks and Clouds

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'd like to see a comparison between EGS (see embedded video) and Space-based Solar Power. I bet drilling is still cheaper than launching. Meanwhile, Gartner predicts Cloud Computing (Nicolas Carr's book inspired many people), and ESA's new Director Di Pippo of the new HSF Directorate (Human SpaceFlight) looks ahead in the August edition of ESA's magazine 'ESA Bulletin'. And ESA's education office turns 10.

Summer 2008

Posted on Friday, August 1, 2008


Back from a week of Internetless holiday on the island of Korcula (above photo was at Koln airport just before we were told we could board the plane ;-). Catching up here are a few relevant tidbits:

  • The Economist's commentary on NASA's 50th anniversary provides a sharp dissection of NASA's past, present and future. Its the most sensible story on space and NASA I've read in a long while. As always, the comments are worth reading too, if only to see how space proponents bring their arguments into gear to downplay the article's 'hammer on the nail' analysis
  • Sanfran article of the week about twitter, relationships, and the bay area working spirit
  • Missed OSCON, but here's a 37min intro and Tim Oreilly's comments
  • A great discovery: this TED video by kevin kelly. I especially like his McLuhan Reversal analogy. Have to watch it again.

The Stone Age Didn't End Because of a Shortage of Stones

Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bruce Sterling comments inline on this passionate call by Al Gore for the US to become carbon fuel independent in 10 years.

Time to put some solar panels on my roof here in Palo Alto. Or wait, wasn't I first gonna spend 2 weeks flying around Europe for my holiday, buy the iPhone and upgrade my car (from what I hear SUV's come cheap these days).

Could this be the "Moonrace" of the 21st century?

We need you. And we need you now. We're committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership. On July 16, 1969, the United States of America was finally ready to meet President Kennedy's challenge of landing Americans on the moon. I will never forget standing beside my father a few miles from the launch site, waiting for the giant Saturn 5 rocket to lift Apollo 11 into the sky. I was a young man, 21 years old, who had graduated from college a month before and was enlisting in the United States Army three weeks later.

I will never forget the inspiration of those minutes. The power and the vibration of the giant rocket's engines shook my entire body. As I watched the rocket rise, slowly at first and then with great speed, the sound was deafening. We craned our necks to follow its path until we were looking straight up into the air. And then four days later, I watched along with hundreds of millions of others around the world as Neil Armstrong took one small step to the surface of the moon and changed the history of the human race.

We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history. Our entire civilization depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.


Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wading through +2k unread posts in my list of RSS feeds (Bruce Sterling's Beyond the Beyond).



Its You They're After

Posted on Saturday, July 12, 2008

The best analysis on Google's Lively I've read sofar comes from RealityPrime: Its not so much about giving people a nice virtual world to play with, its providing a new interface to harvest new and previously untapped user behaviour. Which reminds me of an excellent article I was send the other day on the near future of advertising, a must-read.

Some views to enjoy (until I get back to posting regularly)

Posted on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Its busy times here at Ames...



A.C. Clarke died today

Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2008

...(bbc news)

update: Google's Chief Evangelist Vint Cerf also says goodbye to Clarke in this post. It includes a nice video of Clarke recorded end of last year.

Time to get on the bus

Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Ok, so its time to give a brief update on my (physical) whereabouts. Since last thursday I moved from Amsterdam to Mountain View, Silicon Valley to work with Chris Kemp and his collegues over at NASA Ames starting next monday March 3rd. Weehoo! Finally, a long held dream is coming true, taking part in the upcoming merger of outer space and cyberspace, right at the heart of where all things space are happening. Couldn't be better!
As for this blog, looks like I will be using it from now on to give you a personal insight in my personal and professional experiences here in the Valley. Sofar, these include a great arrival and first few days enjoying the Bay Area rainy season (yes, it can rain here...), a visit to the Vertical Motion Simulator on NASA Ames premises last friday (for photos have a look at this flickr album), my first NASA vrimibo with Ames director Pete Worden, Chris Kemp and several of my upcoming collegues (vrimibo is short for 'vrijdag middag borrel', Dutch for the traditional friday afternoon drink), a first counter-clockwise drive around the Bay Area, and writing off the first item on my wishlist of things-to-do-when-I-get-to-the-Bay-Area: attending a Long Now seminar in San Francisco (on which more in a follow-up post).


YES2 sets the world record straight

Posted on Friday, November 9, 2007


After 6 weeks of analysing the data, its official: YES2 deployed the longest structure in space ever. More at the YES2 blog...a lot more.


Waiting for Fotino

Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007


A group of Polish/Russian engineers were installed on the Kazach steppe in anticipation of the Fotino capsule landing. Unfortunately, it never came...

Space Roulette

Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The YES2 mission is still ongoing...surprisingly! Turns out the tether deployed only 8.5 km of the intended 30 km, resulting in a much lower delta-V decrease than anticipated and leaving the capsule circling the Earth instead of landing within a couple of hours after ejection. The team is currently assessing the orbital parameters, providing a first estimate of the capsule remaining in orbit for at least 4-11 days more before re-entering into the atmosphere. And even better, they have at this time no clue where the capsule is going to land. Even if its technically considered a non-nominal situation, the extended mission and uncertainties of where it is going to land make it even more exciting. I have informed whether they are taking bets on the eventual landing site but sofar no reaction ;). Read more details at this mission summary.

YES2 mission ongoing

Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2007


YES2 has deployed safely and the team currently awaiting a signal from the capsule which has supposedly landed somewhere in Kazachstan. Read the full up-to-the-minute story on the YES2 blog.

YES2 almost ready for deployment

Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007


The YES2 mission is almost ready to go. If the temperature lords permit, tomorrow, Tuesday 25th September, the Fotino capsule will be ejected from the Foton spacecraft and with the use of a 30-km tether swung back to the Earth to a targeted landing point somewhere on the steppes of Kazachstan. Follow the news as it seeps in from Moskow Mission Control TsUP at the YES2 mission blog.

YES2 in orbit update

Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Foton is making its rounds around the Earth with YES2 switched off. Apparently the Russians don't have active attitude control on the Foton platform so they are reluctant to switch on YES2 for a check out of the temperature profile because it might be too hot or too cold (...don't ask me about the logical behind this reasoning...;). The first time the team will find out whether or not their baby is still alive in orbit is next week Tuesday when the final sequence starts. Untill then, don't let go of those crossed fingers!

YES2 launch: sketchy videos from ESTEC

Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007

New head of the education office Francesco Emma gives a brief introduction about YES2 project:

The actual launch "no countdown, just press the button" style:

YES2 in orbit

Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007


YES2 had a flawless ride to Low Earth Orbit today lifting off from Baikonur Space Center at 13:00 CET sharp (more at ESA's webportal). Back here at ESTEC, a pretty large crowd gathered to witness the launch via a live satellite link. The weird thing with these Russian launches is that they don't have a countdown, so while an ESA official was filling the silence with everybody awaiting the launch, suddenly the rocket engines lit up, the tower cleared away, and the rocket lifted off from the launch pad with a big roar. In less than 3 minutes, the cameras couldn't see the rocket anymore and the only news of a succesful orbit insertion came some 9 minutes after lift-off when a voice over a barely hearable telephone line from TsUP, Moskow Mission control, gave the good news of an all-nominal mission....that was it! Somewhat of an anti climax. But alas, the real YES2 mission will anyway not start before September 24th when the command is issued to release the Fotino capsule from Foton and the 30-km tether will swing the capsule to a targeted landingsite on the Kazach steppe. I hear there is a 'silence' policy over at ESA in terms of covering the actual YES2 mission as it unfolds (after all, it could go wrong...duh!?), so I'll try to give you some updates here and there although its probably gonna be sparse because I am not in the direct loop anymore and I have some other priorities to take care of. The YES2 team will be over at TsUP at the moment supreme so there is always the YES2 blog. Btw, did any of you try to watch the event online? Did it work? I got a message saying the live stream was down before it even started (what's the phrase again '...its no rocket science...!?'). Ps, video of the launch I captured at ESTEC is coming. I am presently in a restaurant in Leiden with a very(!) asynchronous connection (upload very tight), so will do this over the weekend.




YES2 ready for launch (oh, and Foton-M3 too ;)

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tomorrow (friday 14th) is the big day: YES2 will be launched from Kazachstan onboard a Soyuz rocket. I'll be heading out to ESTEC here in the Netherlands to be part of the official ESA videocast of the launch (too bad I didn't make it out to Kazachstan). Word from Erik@Delta-Utec has it that the launch will also be available through the Internet @ this link. If you really want to get into the spirit, before launch time (around lunch time 13:00 CET, see schedule here) have a look at this splendid YES2-Baikonur photo album by Fabio de Pascale, one of two YES2 engineers on site at the Baikonur space center to witness the launch in person (see here for more good prep images, like the ones below). [below Image Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja 2007]







YES2 Launch Getting Closer

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007



More at the YES2 blog and ESA's YES2 website.

The Future is Progress, Not a Destination

Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2007

Just got word from my collegue Erik van der Heide over at Delta-Utec that the video of the Foton-M1 launch failure (oct 2002) has been uploaded to Youtube (see below). Don't you just love web2.0 ;) Lets hope Foton-M3 carrying YES2 to orbit has a better faith a month from now.

YES2 integrated

Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2007


YES2 is awaiting launch after successful integration on Foton-M3. Great work guys!

YES2 Given Green Light For Launch

Posted on Monday, June 25, 2007


More at ESA.

Light posting ahead

Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2007

Haven't been very active on this blog lately, which is mainly due to my full focus on the development of my UGO project, making me less susceptible to reading my section of the blogosphere on all the news coming out on a daily basis. I haven't finished my first build yet, so this light posting will likely continue for the coming days/weeks untill I finalise a first UGO app. In the meantime, some interesting developments worth noting:

Some interesting background to the recent Google addition of web search history (found them in an earlier post which I never published):
Funny sidenote is that I was discussing this feature a couple of weeks before it came out with Google. Of course its the ultimate user trackability feature (and potentially quite a useful one for the user at the same time)...Discussions here in Amsterdam steered towards setting up a search engine solely based on P2P functionality using people's websearchbrowsing history. For one it would do away with the need to have a 'copy' of the internet at one central location as is currently the case with Google. And it would also be an interesting way to find people with shared minds, based on the viewability of their realtime search history...I am not sure whether I feel comfortable with Google having access with my personal web history though, so I made sure to have it disabled untill I see a better personal gain from it, beyond just having it accesible locally.

And of course there is the news of a new WorldWind JAVA release.

Updated blog feed

Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mmm, turns out I already had a FeedBurner account with several subscribed readers to this blog (re: earlier post). Strange how things like feeds can get this complicated...;) Anyway, to keep things organised I decided to delete the new account and merge its feed with the already existing one. For those of you who subscribed to the new one in recent weeks, please visit my blog's webpage and (re)-subscribe one more time to the FeedBurner link on the right.

To check if you have the correct feed, the correct FeedBurner account should now have the following URL: (for Safari on OSX this should read: feed://

Thanx again...

YES2 into EMC testing

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2007


YES2 finally made it into the Electromagnetic compatibility testing. Congratulations team!

Chinese ASAT test analysis in Google Earth

Posted on Sunday, February 18, 2007

Click to enlarge

Catching up on my blog role after a week of virtually no second life activities (is that proper English?), I come across a post at OgleEarth on the Chinese Anti-Satellite test I blogged about last month. Turns out researchers at MIT's Science, Technology and Global Security Working Group did exactly what I was looking for: a visualisation of the satellite kill in Google Earth.

Apart from the kml file displaying above scene in Google Earth (which as yet appears to be a static visualisation only), they also issued a report on the same website which gives some further analysis of the event. It is here that I am happy to find the first (well, actually 2nd ;-) online evidence of the use of Google Earth for actual visualisation in the realm of space engineering and analysis beyond mere pretty images (see images at bottom of this post).

Scanning through the document, it seems the program they made the analysis with is a recently released stand-alone program to calculate ballistic missile trajectories which has a direct output to Google Earth. From their website:

GUI_Missile_Flyout is a stand-alone program running under Windows for simulating ballistic missiles with 1, 2, or 3 stages in a framework with a round, rotating Earth. Users can easily input all the necessary parameters in an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). A modest number of quantities can be interactively plotted on the Interface but the complete trajectory can be saved as either an Excel or Matlab file for further analysis. The trajectory can also be directly displayed in Google Earth for visualization. The GUI can be used to optimize gravity turn parameters to maximize range or aim at a specific target (entered, as is the launch site) through latitude-longitude pairs. In addition to an introduction to using the program, this paper describes the integration of the three-degrees-of-freedom equations of motion and approximations made to the aerodynamic (such as a parameterized drag coefficient, Cd).

If you use this program for a publication, please reference: Geoffrey Forden, “GUI_Missile_Flyout: A General Program for Simulating Ballistic Missiles”, submitted to Science and Global Security. December 2006.
Incorporating the option to directly output to Google Earth readible format is something that has been occuring on a frequent basis in the traditional GIS field but I haven't heard of it yet in the space arena. I wonder for example what STK's strategy is in this respect? They have their own AGI viewer, but as with all the different GIS viewers, who is interested to have all these different systems installed when Google Earth can handle them all at once, and on top of that is also cross-platform (which most sophisticated analysis tools are certainly not yet).

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


Posted on Friday, February 9, 2007


Delta-Utec, the company I have been working with the last couple of years, recently moved its whole Leiden office to ESA's research facility ESTEC in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. The whole YES2 team of students, Young Graduate Trainees and Delta-Utec staff are at ESTEC to succesfully complete the final Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) of the YES2 satellite before it is integrated on the Foton-M3 platform and launched later this year on a Russian Soyuz. I have been spending the last couple of days in this highly inspirational environment, working on the follow up of the YES2 mission, working title 'Polyspheres'. Here are some of my impressions sofar.

YES2 is bloggin' again

Posted on Thursday, December 14, 2006


After a couple weeks offline due to an unfortunate hack, the YES2 website is a blog! Yes, satellites also blog...
Finally we get to see some of the testing presently taking place on YES2 at ESA/ESTEC in order to deliver the flight hardware to ESA early next year. YES2 is scheduled for launch onboard Foton-M3 in September 2007. Keep up the great work guys...and keep that satellite bloggin'...

YES2 Google Earth

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2006


Here is another one of my older posts (May '06) which I managed to bring back from digital oblivion by specifically interrogating The Google about my domain name and looking at the cached pages (search string 'site:tobedetermined xxxx'). Its only good for text though, cause other stuff like images is not cached (thanks for the tip Jurryt).

Recovered post:
Following up on my suggestion about the resemblance between the 3D GoogleEarth implementation of the TWA flight-800 disaster and the 2.5D visualisation currently available in YES2's Re-Entry Simulator Tool (REST), Marco Stelzer of the YES2 team at ESTEC has done a great(!) job implementing a REST2GoogleEarth output file option in REST.

The REST simulator, which is part of the larger YES2 mission simulator YESSim, is currently under development for ESA's 2nd Young Engineers' Satellite in order to study and control the landing of the YES2 'Fotino' re-entry capsule. The educational YES2 mission is designed to return a small capsule from space to the Earth using a 30 km long tether. Its launch is currently sheduled for October next year from the Russian launch base Baikonur onboard the Foton M3 spacecraft.

One of the REST2GoogleEarth output files developed by Marco provides an elegant display of the re-entry trajectory as calculated by REST, starting in this case from an initial altitude of ~253 km. Clicking on one of the dots brings up the longitude, latitude, and altitude of the capsule at that particular time in the re-entry (Directions: To here - From here ;) ). In this simulation, the time from start at 253 km to landing of the capsule in Kazachstan takes ~30 minutes. Its not so visible in this particular simulation, but I remember from an earlier one that the influence of the wind (through implemented wind models) on the final stage of descent comes out very nice in the GE visualisation.

In another section of the simulation tool, this 2nd REST2GoogleEarth output file shows the outcome of a monte-carlo simulation of the proposed landing site of the capsule, where each little dot represents a calculated landing point of the capsule. If you zoom out, you start seeing the landing ellipse of the Fotino capsule, representing the 3-sigma chance distribution of the actual landing position of Fotino.

For more on YES2, see their YES2 website (update: which is currently down I believe after having been hacked and them not having the time to bother with a website while building a satellite...). Once its back on, here is a short movie I shot & edited back in 2003 called YES2 meets...Michiel Kruijff with a brief introduction to the YESSim simulator.




The future is process, not a destination
Bruce Sterling

Everything is ultimately becoming information technology
Ray Kurzweil

Data is the Intel inside
Tim O'Reilly

There is only one machine and the web is its OS
Kevin Kelly

The medium is the message
Marshall McLuhan