In 2012, Spaceport America was completed in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico. The closest town has the unusual name Truth or Consequences, some 33 km away as the crow flies. In all the vastness of the desert, Spaceport America was constructed right on the button at 33°0’0″N.

Spaceport America - The Gateway - Varnent CC BY-SA 2.0

Spaceport America – The Gateway – Varnent CC BY-SA 2.0

Today I felt inspired to measure the distance from the end of the runway at Spaceport America and see where the ruler tool in Google Earth wanted to take me. Before I tell you what I discovered, let me rewind and give you some background. I am a long time trekkie, and just enjoyed watching J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness two nights ago with my son (tonight we watched two episodes of the Enterprise series). Normally, I don’t mention much in the way of popular culture in this blog, but for me Star Trek is more than light entertainment.

Gene Roddenberry’s mission of multi-cultural exploration of space, seeking out new life and new civilizations, has always captivated my imagination. I’ve often wondered what humanity could do if we would act out of mutual respect and appreciation for our differences and begin to cooperate in a common enterprise, in something like a United Federation of Planets. Spaceport America is one of the places where something like that might literally take off for humanity.

UnitedFederation555

Knowing this, I dragged the ruler in Google Earth from the end of the Spaceport America’s runway to the center of the closest thing we have today, the General Assembly dome of the United Nations in NYC and was surprised that it measures exactly 3330333 yards.

Michael Jones, chief technologist of Google Earth has cited Star Trek as his inspiration in the development of Google Earth (source).

General Assembly of the UN - Patrick Gruban CC BY-SA 2.0

General Assembly of the UN – Patrick Gruban CC BY-SA 2.0

The UN flag’s has 33 sectors dividing or uniting the earth, depending on how you see it.

UN-emblem555

Around the time of my birth humanity seemed to be going in an expansive direction with the Moon landings, although doubt has been cast on whether that was actually achieved or what was truly found there. I wish we’d get the truth out of NASA or make them face the consequences.

Interesting that the Saturn V rocket that made all the Moon shots had a 33 foot diameter and propelled its payload just beyond 33 times the speed of sound to reach escape velocity. The speed of sound in air is 333.3 m/sec at 3.3°C. The weight of our atmosphere is equal to a column of water 33 feet high. The Sun is 333000 times more massive than the Earth. The conspiracy is cosmic in scope.

Apollo 17 sits poised to make the last Moon mission in 1972

Apollo 17 sits poised to make the last Moon mission in 1972

Here is how Werner von Braun and Walt Disney imagined exploring the dark side of the Moon some 60 years ago. Scrub to time index 42m 45s and watch for a minute or so.

I too get a high geiger count at 33°, and I’m not ruling out aliens. Walt Disney’s Club 33 tells me he didn’t either.

The era of governments funding big space programs is largely over and it is now increasingly up to private enterprise to make it happen. It’s too bad that Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane crashed. It is now unclear whether the handful of individuals who have paid $250,000 each to journey into space for a few minutes will ever get to take their pleasure trips.

Humanity should dream bigger, infinitely bigger! Scotty wants to beam up already.

The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula

Update: Spaceport America’s future is uncertain. Is America to really be a spacefaring civilization or just create cool sci-fi? Maybe the UK will make it happen?.