Updates from the week ending Sunday, March 13th, 2022
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
Release viewer: version version 188.8.131.528554 – formerly the Maintenance J&K RC viewer, promoted Monday, February 28.
Release channel cohorts:
Lao-Lao Maintenance RC viewer, version 184.108.40.2069191, issued on March 11th.
Now open within the sky gallery spaces at Monocle Man Galleries, operated by curated by Kit Boyd and Lynx Iuga, The Song of the Selkie is a collaborative exhibition featuring six visual artists and the voice of Electric Monday (perhaps best known in art review circles for formerly running the excellent Sim Quarterly region and its immersive installations) that is, I gather, the first under to be opened under the umbrella title of Voice and Art.
The idea – as indicated by the umbrella title – is to bring together images and voice / music in a combined experience married to a story. However, the twist is that while each of the participating artists knows the theme of the exhibition, they are unaware of the other images being produced for the exhibition.
For The Song of the Selkie, the exhibition takes as its theme the legend of the selkie, as brought to us through the words and music for Dutch alternative metal-gothic rock group Blackbriar, and featured on their first album The Cause of Shipwreck (April 2021). For those unfamiliar with them, selkies are mythological beings capable of Therianthropy (shape-shifting). In this case from seal to human and back by shedding / re-wearing their pelt, whilst tales of selkie often focus on female selkies being coerced into relationships with men by the latter stealing their pelts whilst they are in human form, thus trapping them.
This is the tale presented in the exhibition, with the six artists – Hilaire Beaumont, Kit Boyd, John Garrison, Lynx Iuga, Tresore Prada and Evie Ravens – each presenting what is a single frame of the story, from a man discovering a selkie in her human form through his theft of her pelt to the eventual tragedy that arises from stolen / lost love. Each image is accompanied by a giver in the form of an electronic tablet that provides a biography of the artist when touched.
A HUD offered to visitors as they enter the hall from the landing point teleport disk provides the voice element of the exhibition – lines from the Blackbriar song read by Electric Monday. Use of the HUD is simple: attach it from inventory, then view the first image in the exhibition (Lynx Iuga) before click “image 1” on the HUD. After a pause, a recording to Electric reading lines from the song will be played back; when you have heard them and finished studying the first image, click the HUD image again to turn off the recording before moving to the next image in the gallery, and repeat with the HUD, this time clicking “image 2”, then repeat through the remaining images / recordings.
The final touches to the exhibition come in the hall in which it is being staged. Within its wood interior and heavy beams, the hall carries with it a sense of it having a Celtic / Norse edge, in keeping with the origin of selkie mythology. This is increased by the mail box (inviting artists to participate in the next story to drop their details into it) that rises from the middle of the floor, appearing to be some latter-day Mjölnir awaiting the return of its wielder. Finally, at the far end of the hall relative to the landing point, a large board will offer visitors to hear Blackbriar’s song via You Tube.
Small and engaging, Song of the Selkie presents an interesting audio-visual exhibition.
The war in Ukraine continues to have repercussions in international space activities. some of them somewhat bizarre in nature.
In particular, the head of Roscosmos and noted Putin hardliner, Dmitry Rogozin has been putting out a series of tweets that have been increasingly threatening – in my previous Space Sunday update, I noted that Rogozin had threatened to allow the International Space Station ISS to slip into an uncontrolled de-orbit and potentially crash into a Western city (since the shuttle’s retirement, Russian Progress re-supply vehicles have been used to routinely boost the station’s orbit as drag with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere), despite the fact the multiple means by which the United States can boost the station’s orbit. In fact, NASA is planning a test using the current Cygnus NG-17.resupply vessel that docked with the ISS on February 21st to do just this, the test being scheduled for early April 2022.
Since then, there have been threats to “abandon” US astronaut Mark Vande Hei on the station at the end of his tour. Vande Hei flew to the ISS in 2021 aboard Soyuz MS-18 in April 2021. He is due to return to Earth at the end of March aboard Soyuz MS-19, but Rogozin has publicly tweeted that Russia will deny him his seat on the flight unless US and International attitudes towards Russia are reversed.
Whilst denying Vande Hei a seat on a Soyuz would mean his return to earth would be delayed, it is hardly “abandoning” him. NASA has at least two options for returning him directly to the United States using the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which can carry up to seven people – although flights thus far have not exceeded four -, whilst Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, once operational and as a longer-term option, might also be used.
Most bizarrely, and in connection with Vande Hei, on March 5th Russian state media company RIA Novosti posted a video apparently put together by Roscosmos that showed Russian cosmonauts packing up and detaching the Russian segment from the ISS utilising edited footage of actual activities on the ISS, together with studio-developed CGI images, it is unclear if the video is intended to be a threat or not, although it does end with the words “This is based on unreal events”, but it appeared to be a further part of the Roscosmos / Rogozin belligerency, the latter issuing a statement at more-or-less the same time, also through Russian media:
The blame for the collapse of cooperation in space lies on the shoulders of the United States, Britain, France and Germany. These countries destroyed what was created by mankind with such difficulty, what was created by the blood and sweat of those people who mastered space.
But could / would Russia take such an act? The Russian elements of the station sit as an individual group of modules connected to the rest of the station at a single point. So technically, they could be detached. However, doing so would require more than a simple packing up of bags, closing a couple of hatches and pushing off; there are a lot of interdependencies to be considered – and the flow of power, etc., is not one-way as Rogozin has attempted to paint. As such, numerous activities would have to be completed ahead of time so as to avoid risk to the Russian crew. As such, seeing the video as an outright threat, per the NASAWatch tweet above, this seems unlikely.
More to the point, Roscomos has already announced plans for a new dedicated space station – the Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS) – they intend to start assembling in 2025. This will use at least one module (SPS-1/NEM-1) originally intended to join the ISS in 2024, but which Roscosmos has stated will be repurposed for the new station. This will be added to using a second “former ISS” module and the Nauka module that arrived at the ISS in July 2021, both in around 2028. As such, detaching modules such as Zarya and Zvezda, already practically at the end of their operational life, from the ISS and which would serve no real purpose would seem unlikely. But then, international space cooperation is one of the more significant areas in which Russia could express itself without necessarily escalating tension on Earth in an irreversible manner.
Currently, NASA is stressing that from their perspective, and despite Rogozin’s rhetoric, it is cooperation as usual with the ISS, although some voices are urgent the agency to put together a tiger team to explore options should Russia opt to do something unexpected with the ISS. However, ISS missions aren’t the only target.
As I noted last time around the worsening situation in Western-Russian relations means that a number of ESA launches have potentially been impacted, and the fate of the joint ExoMars lander / rover mission, due for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in September – a date a lot closer than the other threatened missions.
More directly impacted has been British satellite internet company OneWeb. They had contracted Roscosmos to launch 36 of their internet communications satellite network – part of an initial network of 220 such satellites (eventually rising to 600), However, OneWeb was rescued from bankruptcy by the UK, which now holds a 51% stake, and Roscosmos initially refused to go through with the launch until the UK government sold its stake in OneWeb – a demand that was refused. As a result of the action by Roscosmos, OneWeb has cancelled all further launches using Russian vehicle, and has joined a growing number of businesses no longer utilising the Russian launch vehicle fleet, and taking their business elsewhere.
But it is not all one-way. The German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR), one of the largest space agencies in Europe announced it has cancelled its partnership with Roscosmos across all space research and development, with no intention of resuming cooperative ventures with Russia in the future.
In response, Dmitry Rogozin immediately ordered the shut down of the German-built eROSITA x-ray instrument on the on the Spektr-RG high-energy astrophysics space observatory, launched in 2019. Occupying the Earth-Sun L2 position 1.5 million km from Earth, Spektr-RG was a flagship mission for both DLR and Roscosmos. However, shutting eROSITA down is something of a pyrrhic response on Rogozin’s part, as it is the primary instrument aboard the satellite, and its loss impacts Russian space science as much as German.
China Offers Station for Commercial and International Cooperation
China is planning to open its space station to commercial research and activities, according to a senior human spaceflight program official. It is first indication that the national space agency will allow Chinese commercial enterprises to participate in the programme, and is being seen as a similar step to NASA’s “public/private” partnerships for crew and cargo vehicles for the ISS.
When our space station is completed and running, we will actively encourage the private sector to engage in space through various ways. There are many possibilities. We hope there will be competitive, cost-efficient commercial space players to participate in areas including space applications and space resource development. The prospects are good.
– Zhou Jianping, director of China’s human spaceflight programme
Construction of the Tiangong station is due to be completed this year with the addition of the Wentian and Mengtian modules (May / June 2022 and August / September 2022 respectively), two cargo spacecraft and two crewed missions – Shenzhou 14 and 15 – are also due to visit the station, marking the start of a 10-year operational lifecycle for Tiangong.
As well as national interests, China is also seeking international involvement with the station, calling directly to scientists and universities around the world to provide experiments and engage with China to research and station activities. China has also extended an invitation to United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), following in the footsteps of America’s Sierra Space in offering the opportunity to those countries that do not have easy access to space with the ability to fly experiments to Tiangong (Sierra Space is due to fly the first UNOOSA mission aboard its Dream Chaser Cargo space plane in 2024).
Nor is this passing unnoticed. Nanoracks, a company that specialising in flying experiments to the International Space Station in behalf of clients, has admitted China has already lured one of the significant customers to start flying to Tiangong in preference to the ISS.