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Space Brothers or How to make grounded Science-Fiction

Space Brothers (or Uchū Kyōdai) is an ongoing manga series pre-published in the magazine Morning, compiled into 41 volumes by Kodansha since December 2007 and written as well as drawn by Chuya Koyama. In France, it has been published by Pika Édition since October 2013. It tells the story of Namba Mutta, a freshly fired car engineer and his astronaut brother Namba Hibito. Because of different events, Mutta’s long forgotten dream of becoming an astronaut is reignited and from then on, we follow him through the many hardships on the way to its goal while seeing the difficulties of Hibito’s life as an astronaut.

Space Brothers © Chuya Koyama/Kodansha Ltd.

Space Brothers shines through many of its aspects, be it its beautiful art, its engaging storyline, its mastery of drama (if not a bit cheesy at times) or its message on what bounds families and even all of us humans together… but one of its qualities that is not often brought up, though integral to immerse the reader in the story, is the believability of the setting. Indeed, the story takes place in what in 2007 was seen a distant future (2025 at the beginning of the story). If some of the accomplishments realised in the manga seem a bit far away from us right now, some of the space technologies exhibited throughout the story seem believable enough and were really created later.

One of the most fitting examples is the development of a rover windshield that could display a real time lunar map to move quickly and safely around the lunar surface. Working like a GPS, it would use data from different agencies to create a map. A similar idea has been put forth by Huawei but to be used with regular cars on Earth. Whenever this new technology is unveiled to the market, it wouldn’t be crazy to imagine NASA repurposing it for their lunar rovers.

Space Brothers © Chuya Koyama/Kodansha Ltd.

Another good example is the “Sharon Lunar Observatory”, a radio telescope on the surface of the moon inspired by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Having a radio telescope on the moon would allow longer radio wavelengths to reach it (because of the moon’s lack of atmosphere) and have it on the dark side of the moon would be ideal as the moon itself would act as a wall blocking off the radio chatter emitted from Earth.

The Arecibo Observatory in 2018 - Source : Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz/Wikipedia

As a matter of fact, the real Arecibo Observatory was decommissioned because of an accident occurred in 2020 and is now being removed by NASA. That same year, the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts moved the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) proposal. If built, this telescope would be the largest radio telescope in our solar system sitting at a whopping one km diameter.

Space Brothers © Chuya Koyama/Kodansha Ltd.

Space brothers is proof that good science fiction doesn’t have to be extravagant: if it has compelling characters and a believable setting, it has the ingredients for a good story.

Bibliographie et articles relatifs au sujet qui peuvent vous intéresser :
  • Space Brothers © Chuya Koyama/Kodansha Ltd:

  • On the windshield:

Chapters 131 and chapters 134 to 136 of Space Brothers

  • On lunar observatories:

Chapter 116 and chapters 240 to 329 of Space Brothers

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