Sunday, September 23, 2007

EarthBalls and MoonBalls at Space Prize Events

If you saw the Google Lunar X PRIZE announcement (in person or recorded), you probably noticed the big centerpiece globe of the Moon that was on display. (If you didn't see it, check here and the end of this video). You probably also noticed some big globes at the X PRIZE Cup. You may have been wondering where one gets a 16 foot globe. They don't sell them at the grocery store, do they?

Orbis makes these globes in giant and personal sizes. They're often used in museums or atriums, and also at events. Here you can see them at the X PRIZE Cup and other events. This page has an example of a Moon globe used at MSFC. Sometimes the globes even make it into space.

Exhibitor Online has an article about the 12 foot Moon globe that the company made for the Google Lunar X PRIZE announcement. Here's their promotional background:

"Utilizing the latest generation of NASA satellite imagery, Orbis World Globes produces globes and custom spheres for trade show exhibits. Orbis globes are the most visually authentic world replicas available on our planet.

In 1985, inspired by the early photographs of the whole Earth taken by the Apollo astronauts, Eric Morris founded Orbis. His goal was to bring to market photorealistic world globes and help change people’s perspective of our planet. Eric thought, ‘If everyone can see Planet Earth as the orbiting astronauts observe it, perhaps they will be similarly inspired.’

Orbis World Globes can be produced as large as desired, from 3 to 30 feet in diameter. They are perfect for permanent installations, such as corporate lobbies and museum exhibits, as well as temporary displays such as trade shows and conferences.

Orbis World Globes now makes Moon Globes, featuring NASA satellite imagery, and custom spheres of all kinds."

Usually when people think of commercial space, they think of one of 2 things: either big companies making telecommunications satellites, or startups trying to make cheaper launch vehicles. I think of commercial space as not just encompassing these 2 areas, and other businesses dealing with hardware intended for space or to support space missions, but also the many businesses involved with use of space data, space education, and many other related fields. This company is an example. Google is another example (with Google Earth, and search work with NASA Ames, for example ... they even have a page on what they're doing in space). It would be interesting to see what common interests this broader commercial space industry has, and whether or not they can speak with one, louder voice and achieve their goals.