NASA released a video outlining their plan to prepare for a lunar colony and to establish an orbital docking station.More
Twenty years ago Wednesday morning, I sat on a hilltop overlooking the northern part of the firing range at Vandenburg Air Force Base. In a pre-internet era for monitoring the umbilical data from what was going to be the first of three climate-research satellites, my go/no duties were completed around 6 a.m. It was just in time to head out of the “blockhouse” (no they don’t really exist anymore) to watch sunrise wash over the SLC-3 launch pad.
Despite this area technically being southern California, it was breezy and bitterly cold. I silently prayed that we would not get scrubbed for the third time in this six-day campaign window. Two days prior, it was from some idiot flying his ultralight around the pattern at Lompoc airport, which is in a temporary air-restricted zone during launch periods. This forced a stand-down after our 30-minute launch window closed.More
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss polling revealing 51 percent of Americans support ICE deportation raids compared to just 35 percent who are opposed. They once again dive into the controversy involving Donald Trump, Ilhan Omar and theTrump rally chants of “send her back.” And they shake their heads […]
In the 1960s there was no hotter job in Texas than that of astronaut. If you were one of that elite crew, you were conquering space, getting there by riding a column of fire. With a job that hot, you needed to cool down after the workday was over. Fortunately, the astronauts were based in Houston and did most of their work there. They could take advantage of a Texas tradition: the ice house.
For those of you from more benighted regions, a Texas ice house is not just a place where you buy blocks of ice or which manufactures or stores ice. That is what folks mean when they talk about an ice house in some parts of America.More
I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. More
Years ago, I was beginning as a student teacher in a middle school in Westchester County, New York. It was exam week for the kids, and since I was new in town, I was given the task of coming up with an extra credit question for the 8th grade American History class. It was about 11:30 a.m, almost lunchtime.
I came up with this: “Who is Christa McAuliffe?”More
The New Horizons will flyby Ultima Thule in three days. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is set to fly by a distant “worldlet” 4 billion miles from the Sun in just six days, on New Year’s Day 2019. The target, officially designated 2014 MU69, was nicknamed “Ultima Thule,” a Latin phrase meaning “a place beyond the […]
Here’s the headline that caught my eye: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/695338/nasa-sperm-space-iss-elon-musk-space-x-falcon-9-astronauts More
Houston the launch was successful, the reentry was rough: A California driver escaped a dangerous crash early Sunday morning after apparently hitting a divider at such a high speed that it launched the car into the second story of a nearby building. More
The Mars Society is calling on all Americans to urge their members of Congress to support the nomination of Jim Bridenstine as the next NASA administrator. A telecon to coordinate the campaign will be held today (Wednesday, September 20) at 8:30 pm EDT (5:30 pm PDT).
Those interested in participating in the Mars Society telecon can call in at (563) 999-2090 and offer passcode 438709# when prompted on their phone or visit our website’s telecon page a few minutes in advance of the starting time.More
Sick of news, politics, and that chatty co-worker who eats a garlic bagel every morning? A new life awaits you in the off-worlds! On Wednesday, NASA announced that they have found seven new Earth-sized planets. The best part? They’re just down the street, astronomically speaking.
I should write a technical post on the emerging post-Shuttle age of manned space flight, but I’ll leave that for Rand Simberg, James Gawron(?), John Walker, and the others who are more knowledgeable. Instead, I’m going to bring up a NASA language peeve: The tendency to misrepresent the meaning of “man” and “manned.”
NASA, depending as it does on public relations, has probably always been a PC kind of place, at least in the public face it puts on. There is a great Bloom County cartoon satirizing the tendency to promote “firsts” in space by race, sex, and ethnicity. Those of you old enough to remember the Apollo days or earlier will no doubt recall discussions of “manned spaceflight.” But since at least the 1990s, and I suspect the 1980s, the term “manned” has been suppressed in NASA use in favor of the clunkier “human spaceflight.” Today, that inelegant phrase is increasingly replaced by the unfortunate-sounding “crewed.”More
We got sad news Monday that legendary astronaut Eugene Cernan has died. Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17, which flew in December 1972. And as the last member of the mission to reboard the lunar module Challenger, Cernan was the last human to walk on the Moon.
Apollo 17 wasn’t Cernan’s first trip to the moon either. He was also on board Apollo 10, which didn’t land, but descended within eight nautical miles of the surface. Before NASA, Cernan was a naval aviator, flying FJ-4 Furys and A-4 Skyhawks. He retired from the Navy in 1976 with the rank of Captain.More
Not sure what is going on with the sun, but it is very warm here in NW Florida and we’re in a drought. More
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Last night, NASA’s Juno probe successfully performed the necessary braking maneuver to put it in orbit around Jupiter. Juno was launched back in the summer of 2011 and has traveled 1.7 billion miles (including a flyby of Earth to pick up speed) to get to Jupiter.More
Ever since people began to think seriously about the prospects for space travel, visionaries have looked beyond the near-term prospects — flights into Earth orbit, space stations, and even journeys to the Moon — and toward the red planet: Mars. Unlike Venus, eternally shrouded by clouds, or the other planets which were too hot or cold to sustain life as we know it, Mars, about half the size of the Earth, had an atmosphere, a day just a little longer than the Earth’s, seasons, and polar caps which grew and shrank with the seasons. There were no oceans, but water from the polar caps might sustain life on the surface, and there are dark markings that appeared to change during the martian year. Some people interpreted this as plant life that flourished as polar caps melted in the spring and receded as they grew in the fall.
In an age where we have high-resolution imagery of the entire martian globe — obtained from orbiting spacecraft, telescopes orbiting Earth, and ground-based telescopes with advanced electronic instrumentation — it is often difficult to remember just how little was known about Mars in the 1950s, when people first started to think about how we might go there. Mars is the next planet outward from the Sun, so its distance and apparent size vary substantially depending upon its relative position to Earth in their respective orbits. About every two years, Earth “laps” Mars and it is closest (“at opposition”) and most easily observed. But because the orbit of Mars is elliptic, its distance varies from one opposition to the next, and it is only every 15 to 17 years that a near-simultaneous opposition and perihelion render Mars most accessible to Earth-based observation.More
I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. More
One of the most famous speeches given by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was at Rice University on September 12, 1962, where he said “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” How was such a deadline determined given the enormous complexity of such an endeavor?More
It was bad enough when BHO changed NASA’s mission from space exploration to Muslim outreach: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/14/nasa-outreach-program-confirmed-despite-white-house-denial-rep-says.html More
For all the beauties to be found in Nature — and there are many — there are horrors aplenty. To take one of the more obvious examples, our own planet is subject to marvelously beneficent conditions that have allowed life to form and flourish, eventually giving rise to a sentient species whose members are able to contemplate their own existence, create civilization, and adjust their behavior not only by instinct, but also (within limitations) by intent. Every so often, however, a mountain-sized space rock slams into us at incredible speed. Depending on the mass, speed, and trajectory of said rock, the damage may be local, regional or — in rare cases — civilizational.
For the overwhelming majority of its history, humanity has had no way to predict such an event, let alone prevent one from happening. In just the past few decades, however, both of those abilities have come within the grasp of our most advanced cultures and — remarkably — at fairly modest cost. And while most of the worst likely troublemakers have been identified, a few big ones are likely still out there undetected, as well as a great many moderate ones.More