The growth of Bellisseria

Pootling through some of the new Bellisseria continent regions by rail

It’s been a few months since I last wrote about Bellisseria, the Linden Homes continent. At that time, the trailers and campers selection of homes had just been deployed – and proven as popular as the Traditional homes and Houseboat ranges before them.

Since that time, as has been reported elsewhere, the continent has been expanded with a lot of new regions slotting into the southern side to fill out much of the “missing parts” when compared to the SSPE “test continent” used to initially develop Bellisseria’s layout.

These new regions have dropped into Bellisseria fairly close to where my houseboat is located, and I’ve tended to take the occasional look at them as things have been under development (see A little Culprit Moonwalking in Second Life, for example). However, as this a is quiet Monday, I decided to drop in to the regions at a time when I’m unlikely to get in the way of the Linden Department of Public Works (LPDW) as they continue to build-out the regions with everything from landscaping though flora and infrastructure to the Linden Homes themselves.

The new regions bring together a mix of Houseboats, Traditional houses and Trailers and Campers

The majority of the regions continue with the current themes of Traditional, Houseboat and Trailers and Campers homes. This means – on the surface –  that the new regions could be dismissed as “more of the same”, but as my Monday trip through some of them – by rail and horse – shows that while they may contain the same types of houses, they have their own unique character and look.

Take, for example, the Bellisseria railway. While this was introduced with the release of the Trailers and Campers, the extension to the continent illustrates it in not to be restricted to regions containing these types of Linden Home – as has been hoped would be the case. Within the new regions, the tracks pass from “camping” regions into Traditional homes regions, and back into “camping” regions once more. Along the way the tracks also branch for what I think is the first time, presenting two potential rail routes through the regions, and one of the new Traditional homes regions has markings for what might be a more substantial station than seen elsewhere (or at least one directly served by road).

The new regions see the Bellisseria rail lines extend into Traditional house regions

Given the continued popularity of the Houseboat styles, it comes as no surprise that the coastal regions offer more moorings for houseboats – some of which have already been populated. But again in what might be an interesting turn where popularity is concerned, the new regions offer an extensive reach of the camping parcels along the coast, presenting people who like the Campers and Trailers with the opportunity to enjoy coastal living, rather than being restricted to just the banks of inland waterways and lakes.

The new regions also offer the first real “blending” of Camper and Trailer regions and Traditional House regions. Until now, the boundaries of the two have tended to be denoted by water. With these new regions, the two types of Linden homes draw together more naturally, sometimes with just low mounds between them, sometimes abutting almost seamlessly.

Trailers and Campers move to being along the coast with the new regions

There are perhaps one or two little things that it would be nice to see. The rail tracks for example run through the regions, passing Campers and Trailer and houses alike running over and under bridges and through deep cuttings; but there are are no tunnels – it would be nice to see one or two in the more hilly areas.

Similarly, while the Traditional house regions and the Trailer and Camper regions do more directly abut one another, the roads of the Traditional house regions and the tracks of the Camper and Trailer regions never actually come together; rather they each end abruptly with a stretch of grass between them, it would be nice to a a more natural joining, asphalt gradually giving way to a narrower, rutted track, for example. Or at least have a fence and (open) gate between them, rather than curbstones, footpath and pristine-looking grass.

Food for thought for Linden Lab, perhaps?

2019 viewer release summaries week #45

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, November 10th

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version, formerly the Voice RC viewer, dated October 18, promoted October 31 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version on November 7th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers



Mobile / Other Clients

  • No Updates

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

A pot-pourri of sci-fi, recipes, homely tales and Shakespeare

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, November 11th 19:00: Teacher’s Pet / War and Peace

Gyro Muggins returns to Larry Niven’s Known Space universe and the Man-Kzin Wars series to bring us two short stories from that series written by Matthew Joseph Harrington, and which appeared in the Man-Kzin volume 11 (edited by Niven), first published in 2005.

Set after the end of the war, the stories within Man-Kzin XI are predominantly set during a period where the Kzin are down (but not necessarily out) and having to adapt to no longer being the masters of all races they encounter, and are in roughly chronological order.

The two stories by Harrington follow the trio by established writer Hal Colebatch, and marked his début as a published author at the age of 35. They are regarded by many as being strong studies in the Man-Kzin lore, whilst also drawing on other literary sci-fi sources. The stories are also noted for Harrington’s ability to round-out a number of “loose ends” within the Man-Kin wars as well as offering new slants on the broader carves of Niven’s Known Space universe.

Both stories use a play on words in their titles, with War and Peace doing so both in the manner it reflects the period of peace following war, and also for the way it focuses on the life and work of Peace Corben, a human female Protector, who returns in Harrington’s sequel story, Peace and Freedom, published in the 2009 volume Man Kzin Wars XII.

Tuesday, November 11th 19:00: What’s Cookin’?

A favourite food stories and recipe exchange with Caledonia Skytower and friends. This week: Finn Zeddmore with L’Achimista, a short story by American science fiction and fantasy writer, and psychologist N.K. Jemisin, the only author to have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Cale contributes bits and bobs and everyone is invited to bring some of their favourite recipes to share, on note card.

Wednesday, November 12th 19:00 Stories from Home

With Thanksgiving in the United States now approaching, the Seanchai Library staff sit down to celebrate this time of year by sharing local tales from the various regions of the corporeal world where they live, or have lived. This Week Faerie Maven-Pralou and Caledonia Skytower continue with tales from the Wild-ish West. You are invited to recommend stories from your home as well.

Thursday, November 13th

19:00 Anthony and Cleopatra – A Novelisation

With Shandon Loring. Also in Kitely – find teleport from the main Seanchai World

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi Fantasy from such on-line sources as Light Speed, Escape Pod, and Clarkesworld online ‘zines and podcasts. With Finn Zinnmore.

Space Sunday: UK spaceports, Voyager 2 and TESS’s mosaic

Virgin Orbit’s plans to operate from Cornwall Airport, Newquay (CAN) – also called Spaceport Cornwall – is in the process of receiving a £20 million boost. Credit: CAN

The United Kingdom is to have two space centres operating within the next few years, if all goes according to plan, and at opposite ends of the country.

I last wrote about the plans to have both a vertical (i.e. rocket) launch facility and at least one horizontal (i.e. air lift and launch) facility operating in the 2020s (see: British space ports and some female space firsts, July 2018), and more recently plans for both have taken significant steps forward.

In October 2019 it was announced that construction of the vertical launch facility – now officially called Space Hub Sutherland – to be located at A’Mhoine on the Moine Peninsula, high up on Scotland’s North Atlantic coast, could begin in 2020. It would be used to place small satellites into a polar and sun-synchronous orbits.

An artist’s impression of the Sutherland Space Hub. Credit: Perfect Circle PV

The cost for developing the facility has been estimated at £16.2 million (US $20.7 million), with £2.35 million (US $3 million) already awarded by the UK Space Agency since July 2018. After the required studies, etc., this funding has enabled the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), a local Scottish government economic and community development agency, to sign a 75-year option to lease the land where the space hub is to be built, and to award contracts for the design of the hub’s launch-control centre and the assembly and integration buildings that will be used by commercial launch organisations to assemble their launch vehicles and integrate payloads ready for launch. Currently, HIE are awaiting formal planning permission to be granted, which will then allow construction to commence.

A partnership of US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and British aerospace company Orbex have committed to using the launch facility once it becomes operational – possibly in the early-to-mid 2020s.

Orbex plans to use the facilities to launch their innovative Prime rocket, and have already announced a series of contracts for the vehicle, including agreements with the Netherlands-based cubesat launch broker, Innovative Space Logistics and the U.K.-based company In-Space Missions, which plans to launch its Faraday-2b demonstration satellite from Scotland in 2022.

An artist’s impression of an Orbex Prime rocket – capable of lifting 150 Kg payloads to 500 km polar / sun-synchronous orbits – lifting off from the Sutherland Space Hub. Credit: PRNewsfoto / Lockheed Martin

Prime is a leading edge technology launch vehicle that among other things uses 3D printed rocket motors that can be produced as a single unit without joins, and utilises a bio-propane fuel and emits 90% less carbon dioxide than conventional, hydrocarbon-fuelled rockets. Bio-propane is an alternative to natural gas that’s produced from waste or sustainably sourced materials like algae. Development of the system is being partially funded by the UK government to the tune of £5.48 million (US $7 million), specifically in relation to the use of the Sutherland Hub.

Lockheed Martin has received funding to the tune of £24.3 million (US $31 million) to develop a vertical launch system suitable for operations out of the hub. However, precisely what they plan to launch from the facility once it is available, is currently unclear.

Planning permission for the facility is liable to meet some opposition, however. Moine Peninsula is part of an expanse of blanket peat bog that is a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. These peat lands are regarded as some of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth: they preserve global biodiversity, provide safe drinking water and minimise flood risk. In addition, they are the “largest natural terrestrial carbon store”, and when damaged ecologically, can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions (around 6% of global greenhouse emissions can be traced back to damaged peat lands). As such, opposition to the Sutherland Hub has already been voiced, and further objections may well be expected.

Cornwall Airport Newquay, also known as Spaceport Cornwall. Credit: CAN

At the other end of the country, plans for a horizontal launch centre at Cornwall Airport Newquay (CAN) – also known as Spaceport Cornwall – took another step forward with the UK Agency announcing on November 5th, 2019 that it will provide £7.35 million (US $9.5 million) to help develop the necessary infrastructure to support operations of the Virgin Orbit air-launch system.

We want the U.K. to be the first country in Europe to give its small satellite manufacturers a clear route from the factory to the spaceport. That’s why it’s so important that we are developing new infrastructure to allow aircraft to take off and deploy satellites, a key capability that the U.K. currently lacks.

– UK Government Science Minister, Chris Skidmore

Responding to the news of the funding, Virgin Orbit indicated that Spaceport Cornwall could host its first LauncherOne mission potentially around late 2021, the precise date being dependent on various regulatory approvals in the UK and in the United States, quite aside from the completion of the required infrastructure improvements at the airport. Should this time frame be met, a Virgin Orbit launch from Spaceport Cornwall would be the first orbital launch ever conducted from the UK (Britain’s Black Arrow launch vehicle was launched from Australia).

The funding is part of a £20 million (US $25.5 million) package promised to CAN; a further £10 million (US $12.78 million) to come from the Cornish local government and £2.35 million (US $3 million) from Virgin Orbit.

Cornwall itself is well-placed to support space launch operations. It is home to Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, once the world’s largest satellite earth station, with more than 25 communications dishes in use and over 60 in total, the largest of which were named after characters from the Arthurian legends.

While operations at the facility were pretty much shut down in the early 2000s, the complex has entered into an agreement with CAN to provide communications support for launches from the spaceport, whilst also being subject to possible upgrade and enhancement to support future lunar missions, both crewed and automated – including those planned as a part of NASA’s Artemis programme.

The largest of the Goonhilly communications dishes, the 32m (105 ft) diameter “Merlin”. Goonhilly may provide communications support for Spaceport Cornwall. Credit: British Telecom.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: UK spaceports, Voyager 2 and TESS’s mosaic”