Iain Banks inspiring space travel

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SCOTS writer Iain Banks is helping to inspire space travel – less than two years after his death.

The celebrated science fiction author has been immortalised in the names of two ships that will be used to recover rockets sent to the International Space Station (ISS) and deliver satellites into space.

The ships have been called Just Read The Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You.

The celebrated science fiction author has been immortalized in the names of two ships
The celebrated science fiction author has been immortalized in the names of two ships

 

As fans of Banks’ science fiction will probably know, these were the names of imaginary space ships from his 1988 novel The Player of Games.

The tribute to Banks, who died of cancer aged 59 in June 2013, was the idea of the boss of California-based SpaceX.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk hopes his rocket ships will provide a reusable way of getting astronauts to and from the ISS.

Immortalised

His transport solution involves using a pair of remote-controlled ships on which the rockets land.

The ships – on the east and west coast of America – are 300 by 100 feet, with wings that extend its width to 170 feet.

One of the ships named after imaginary space ships from the novel
One of the ships named after imaginary space ships from the novel

 

Musk, who counts PayPal among his earlier creations, revealed the Banks tribute on Twitter.

He tweeted: “Repairs almost done on the spaceport drone ship and have given it the name Just Read the Instructions.”

He later tweeted: “West Coast drone ship under construction will be named Of Course I Still Love You.”

Wayne Cunningham, a follower of Elon Musk on Twitter said: “Excellent, I love the Iain Banks shout-out.”

Scott Manley said: “First Culture ship confirmed.”

One ship was called Just Read The Instructions
One ship was called Just Read The Instructions

 

Another, Amanda Westwood said: “I see you’re a Culture novels fan.”

The reusable rockets have to be landed at sea because the re-entry system is too inaccurate to risk a ground landing.

The ships, however, can be moved to the spot within 10 metres of where the rockets are predicted to come down.

The retirement of NASA shuttle fleet in 2011 means that all forms of space travel currently rely on hugely expensive, one-shot rockets.

Successful 

Musk hopes to offer a reliable, cheaper alternative.

The novel The Player of Games was Banks’ second installment in his Culture series and is set in 2083 AD. It follows a successful board game player, Jernau Morat Gurgeh, who is blackmailed into taking a long journey after cheating at a game.

Iain Banks wrote both mainstream fiction and Sci-Fi fiction under the name Iain M Banks. His Culture series includes nine novels.

The writer, who lived in North Queensferry, Fife, died on June 9, 2013 of cancer of the gall bladder.

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