|:: Friday, February 27, 2004 ::|
Per The Futon Critic:
"THE PRACTICE (ABC) - William Shatner is set to guest star in four of the show's final six episodes this season as Danny Crane, the chief partner of a rival law firm that goes head-to-head with the show's Young, Frutt & Berluti firm. Also cast is Vince Colosimo ("Lantana") as Shatner's junior partner in the firm, however it's not clear how many episodes he'll appear in. While the plot for Shatner's episodes has not been specified, both he and Colosimo have options to appear in additional episodes should their storylines prove popular."
I've been meaning to get around to updating the sidebar for a while, but following a polite request today that I do so, I immediately lept into action. Basically, I'd been having trouble coming up with a poll topic, and felt I should update it when I did the rest. Anyway, it's done now.
The results are now in for the poll on which Star Trek captain you would rather serve under at a NASA Moon base. I had been tempted to end the poll pretty quickly after Sisko, the obvious best choice, immediately took the first several votes before anyone else received any. In the end, however, he and Kirk ended up died with 24 percent of the vote each, while Picard won with 38 percent. Janeway received a grand total of one vote, which indicates that there's a decent chance that Kate Mulgrew has started reading my blog. "Other" received 10 percent of the vote, and if those voters are out there, I'd be curious as to who they had in mind.
Lain requested that I celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hatbag by running more strips on the day they turn 10. I couldn't find any for today, but this strip turns 7 today.
So, it turns out there are two books without the letter "e." I saw a link that somebody had to this one for the first time today, but I already have a copy of A Void, which is, in my mind, more impressive, in that it was originally written in French with no e's, and then translated into English with the same constraint.
It'll Be A Cold Day On Mars
The Mars rovers are beginning to settle in as the Martian winter begins, causing the rovers to receive less solar energy.
Though the image at right looks like it might be a computer graphic somebody put together to go with a Saturn story, it's actually a photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft on Feb. 9, which it was 43.1 million miles from Saturn (to give you a sense of scale, I believe that's much closer than Mars is to the Earth now). Cassini will enter the Saturn system on May 18, passing the outer moons, and will enter orbit around the ringed planet on July 1.
A malfunction in cosmonaut Sasha Kaleri's spacesuit brought about an early end to yesterday's all-hands spacewalk, but both astronauts are safely back inside Alpha. All but two of the planned EVA tasks were completed, despite the hour-and-a-half-early termination. The spacewalk demonstrates that the additional all-hands spacewalks planned before three-person occupancy of Station resumes can be succesful.
Launch of the ESA's Rosetta comet orbiter mission has been delayed again, this time until at least early next week. In a situation that should now sound all-too-familar, the most recent delay was caused by insulating foam shedding from the liquid fuel tank.
|:: Thursday, February 26, 2004 ::|
Here ya go.
Winning Public Support
If this doesn't convince the public to support NASA's lunar exploration initiative, I don't know what will. Um, possibly threatening to play it again.
As scientists anticipate an extended lifespan for the Spirit rover, it appears that Opportunity may be headed for an early death, due to a faulty switch that's causing a power drain. The MER-B team has found a solution that should help the situation, but it will be another month before it can be initiated.
What A Wonderful World
Now, here's a playlist that you should be able to buy from on iTunes Music Store: the Top Songs on Mars. There have been references in various stories about the wake-up songs the Spirit team has played for the rover since it's mission began. Space.com now has a list of the songs played for the first 51 Sols, and what the significance of each song was. While some of the songs were obviously chosen entirely for message, all in all, it's not a bad little playlist, and I may start putting it on my iPod.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about how astronauts and cosmonauts are trained to be able to talk to each other during their extended stays on ISS. In addition, we also have stories about potential flywheel power for spacecraft, and about the possibility of growing food in space.
Today's historic ISS spacewalk will begin with crew egress at 3:14 p.m. CST. The EVA, which will last 5 1/2 hours, will be the first time no crewmembers have been inside the Station since November 2000. The event will be covered on NASA TV (on cable and online) beginning at 2 p.m. CST.
Launch of the European Space Agency's Rosetta comet probe was delayed due to unfavorable winds this morning. The launch has been rescheduled for early tomorrow morning.
|:: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 ::|
Engrish.com recently posted a pic of the best place in the world to get some Hypersleep.
Might As Well Face2Face It
If anyone's interested, the Face2Face improv group will be holding shows here on March 12 and 13.
Hunstville In The Fake News
I was proud to see that Huntsville made the fake news in this week's The Onion. (More amazingly, Indianola was an Onion dateline while I was living there, as well).
It turns out that scientists were minutes from announcing that an asteroid could hit Earth within a couple of days last month, after having decided that 2004 AS1 had a one-in-four chance of hitting the planet, causing loss of life potential worth than the September 11 terrorist attacks. Shortly before they were ready to call President Bush, new data revealed that the asteroid was unlikely to hit.
Super Soyuz Update
A Russian publication (Lain, your Cyrillic is much better than mine: Is it something like Lerviy Canal?) has published a picture of the proposed 6-person Russian spacecraft which could be the successor to Soyuz. The link I've posted is a Babelfish translation of the page, which is always of limited reliability, but from what I can make out, it appears that the Super-Soyuz and the Russian Soyuz craft that I've posted about recently may actually be the same vehicle, which is reassuring (though makes me wonder about conflicting details of the two vehicles--particularly regarding orbital duration). Also, in this article, RKK Energiya says that, given funding, they could produce the new article in 5 years.
Addendum: Alan Boyle talks about the Russian Space Clipper in his Cosmic Log today, and once again, the details don't entirely line up.
When Apples Collide
Apple and Apple will face off in court today as the computer company returns to London's High Court to contest the latest lawsuit filed by The Beatles' corporation.
The European Space Agency is preparing to launch its Rosetta comet probe tomorrow at about 1:37 CST atop an Ariane 5 rocket. If all goes well, this blog will next mention Rosetta a little over 10 years from now, when it enters orbit around comet Churyuomov-Gerasimenko.
|:: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 ::|
Just when you think things are really starting to turn around for NASA, something like this happens. The agency has been "honored"with a special "Voyager Award," commemorating NASA's achievements and future, given on behalf of the dullest era of Star Trek history. How embarrasing. Plus, the award appears to be a copy of the first season DVD set in a frame. Does this award serve any purpose other than trying to garner a tiny bit of attention for the DVD release? Oh well.
Anyway, yeah, congratulations, NASA.
In honor of the above item, here's your Hatbag.
Secrets of writing revealed.
Ten people were killed yesterday during a fire at the Indian Space Research Organization's Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant. The fire occurred while a test motor was being transported. We offer our condolences to ISRO during this time of great loss.
It's worth noting, however, that ISRO does not have a manned space program--meaning that this tragedy is linked solely to unmanned spaceflight. For all the talk last year about how manned spaceflight is too dangerous, so we should stick to far safer unmanned flight, in this one incident, more people were killed than have died in connection with manned spaceflight in 18 years. And, this is far from an isolated incedent--for example, even more people were killed in a launch-related tragedy in Brazil last year.
The story that I posted last week had been published on the front page of the NASA Portal has now been posted online on the front page of Space Daily as well (about halfway down, on the right, as "A Place For Everything In Orbit"). Plus, all three of the stories under the "Humans In Space" header on www.NASA.gov are from NASAexplores, with two of them being mine (the aforementioned "A Place For Everything" and "A Helping Hand For The Space Station").
Seek Out New Life
The European Space Agency is getting serious about the ExoMars probe, an orbiter and rover that would leave in 2009 to explore Mars and search for signs of past or present life.
Will The Real Slim Shady Please Tort Up?
Well, amazingly enough, Eminem and The Beatles now have something in common, thanks to the iTunes Music Store.
|:: Monday, February 23, 2004 ::|
The Smithsonian's National Air And Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center's Web Site has cool Quicktime VR tours of several aircraft and spacecraft cockpits, including Gemini VII and the unflown Freedom 7 II.
Be Like Shatner
Lain sent me this link a while back full of vital information on how to be more like Shatner, including helpful tips on how to do things like talk like Shatner and fight like Shatner.
I'm probably not sufficiently Linux savvy to fully appreciate this, but it nonetheless amuses me.
The greatest Mississippi writer is now also a nutrition expert.
You know, I had completely forgotten about this strip.
Everybody's Been To Mars
It turns out the Mars missions have generated a lot of internet traffic for NASA.
Exp. 8 EVA
For what is likely the first time in over 3 years, the International Space Station will be unmanned briefly Thursday as both crewmembers go outside for EVA.
In addition to the idea announced next week to develop a 6-person "Super-Soyuz" spacecraft, Rosaviakosmos is apparently also considering the development of a really silly sorta-Shuttle that could start flying by 2010. While this craft would have the Shuttle-esque ability to serve as an on-orbit science lab, it sounds as if it would be incapable of serving as a lifeboat for ISS.
The Future Of Hubble
While it was beginning to sound like that phrase was becoming an oxymoron, NASA is currently accepting ideas from industry on how to best make use of the orbiting telescope. While sending the Shuttle to service Hubble or bring it back remain off the table, boosting Hubble into a higher orbit where it could remain until it dies of natural causes apparently is an option.
|:: Friday, February 20, 2004 ::|
How Dixie Are You
Take the quiz and find out.
Personally, I'm 91 percent Dixie.
Also, find out how much of a fascist you are. With a score of 3.2333, I am "disciplined but tolerant; a true American."
My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable
Master martial arts, the Rumsfeld way!
Bearing in mind the post below, there was really only strip I could choose today.
God Speed, John Glenn
On this date 42 years ago John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth as Mercury-Atlas 6 carried his Frienship 7 capsule into space.
I've had another of my articles featured on the front page of www.nasa.gov, which is still a really cool accomplishment for me. The story "A Place For Everything," under the Humans In Space bar, is a truncated version of a story I did for NASAexplores (The Portal's maximum length limit is shorter than NE's minimum limit).
Sending E-Mail Stop
Morse code updated stop Atmark added stop First change in decades maybe more stop Now I'm stuck writing like this and can't stop
Roll Over, Pluto
Astronomers have discovered a new Kuiper Belt Object which may turn out to be even larger than Quaoar, the mini-world discovered over a year ago. In fact, the new object may turn out to be even larger than Pluto's moon, Charon (pronounced like the girl's name, though I'm not sure which one). The object, currently labeled 2004 DW, will doubtless provide more ammo for those that argue that Pluto is not a planet, but rather just an exceptionally large KBO.
One Year Ago On YMFTB
"You down with OSP?
NASA has announced the Level One Requirements for the Orbital Space Plane, which will become the agency's first new manned launch vehicle in almost 30 years when it is completed around the end of the decade. While some are critical of the agency's ability to complete a new spacecraft, I really think this is going to happen, if Congress will let us. I'm a little bit biased, but it really is an exciting time to be involved in NASA, and, assuming we continue to move on in light of recent events the way we have been, the agency is really poised to build some momentum."
Um... er... um... whoops.
(Though I wasn't completely wrong)
No Money In The Kitty
It was supposed to dominate the online music business through the sheer power of its brand, but Napster's come up against something it's no match for: a better brand. It turns out Napster isn't nearly as popular if you have to pay for it, and currently is no match for Apple's iTMS, in the hearts of either the public or other businesses.
|:: Thursday, February 19, 2004 ::|
Mid-Life Crisis On No Earths At All
Having reached Sol 45, Spirit is now halfway through its planned lifetime on the surface of Mars. However, the JPL team is now pretty confident that the rovers will easily exceed that lifespan, and possibly more than double it. As a result, they're currently working to look at exploration possibilities beyond the original 90-Sol mission.
Space Sims II
Sure, it's possible that the computer game Space Colony, which is being ported to the Mac soon is simply an amusing game that lets you Sim in space. But, it's also possible that it's NASA's secret Last Starfighter way of finding ideal candidates to oversee the recently announced space colonies the agency will be developing. Possible, just not very likely.
One Year Ago Today
"Ha! I have a blog now! How cool is that! (well, technically, probably not very, but hey...)
Thanks to DeeDee for introducing me to the magic of blogs!
(Though mine's working and her's isn't...pphhhbbbblllltttttt)
OK, that's all I have for right now!
That's right, kids, YMFTB turns 1 year old today.
|:: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 ::|
I'm too lazy to find a Daily Hatbag today. Go get your own!
Almost Like Legal Music Piracy
Want to download your music legally, but miss the heady days of cheating the system? Here's how to do both! This site explains how you can always pick winning bottles in the Pepsi iTunes give-away.
Enterprise flew for the first time on this date in 1977, in a captive-carry flight atop a 747.
So, what's the big deal about Helium-3, the substance that, depending on who you believe, could make the Moon the solution to all Earth's problems?
Cosmic Log has a decent story explaining it all.
For The Children
The Fort Worth Star Telegram has an article about The New Voyages, if you're interested.
New Life For Shuttle
This kind of defies conventional wisdom:
" Space shuttles could fly more missions than currently scheduled if the International Space Station's capabilities are expanded to contribute to the U.S. goal to send astronauts to the moon and Mars, a top NASA spaceflight official said this morning."
According to NASA Watch, the launch date for RTF is expected to slip until March 2005. In addition, NASA has manifested STS-300, a mission which hopefully will never fly--a Shuttle prepared to perform a rescue mission in the event of a problem on STS-114.
Let me begin by pointing out that RKK Energiya has been known to talk bigger than it gets to produce, having boasted that given the chance it could have Buran back up and running with no problem, and could build a manned Mars craft like right now for spare change. Of course, this news is coming from Rosaviakosmos (RSA) rather than Energia.
Anyway, Russia is apparently developing a new manned spacecraft twice as large as the Soyuz and capable of carrying six people, and which would be the nation's first reusable (or at least reused) spacecraft.
The article does not say what the target completion date for the new spacecraft is.
If they can do it, and if they can do it relatively soon, it will make a huge impact on spaceflight for the next 10 years, allowing the originally intended larger crews for ISS.
It's worth noting, though, that RSA head Yuri Koptev took the opportunity of the announcement to again bash NASA's exploration initiative:
"There is no explanation whatsoever where the money needed to implement the declared program would come from," Koptev said as he announced that Russia was beginning work on a new spacecraft with no idea where the money needed to implement the declared program would come from.
Not Quite Hyper-Time
The flight of the X-43A Hyper-X scramjet has been delayed. Originally scheduled for Saturday, the test flight has been pushed off until likely either late March or early April, due to technical anomalies. Given that the agency had to destroy the first X-43 test demonstrator during the first attempt at flying it before the scramjet could be engaged, there's plenty of reason to take an approach of caution this time around.
OK, I need some computer help, and feel dumb even having to ask. There's a remote chance, if the stars align just right, that I may get a iBook in a couple of months. If I do, one of the main things I would want to be able to do with it is use the internet in place I could never use the internet before, such as when we go visit Nicole's family. I know there must be a way of doing that, but I haven't the foggiest what it is. Currently, I have cable internet, so I can only access my ISP when I'm physically connected to a coax outlet at my house. It seems like surely there's a way people can access the internet from the road, but I have no idea what it is today. Sure, 6 years ago I could do it, but today I'm clueless.
Debt Down, Jobs Up
Apple is now debt free.
So, it turns out, Kevin Smith is going to write and direct Green Hornet for Miramax. Um, that's nice, but...
I have to say, of all the projects he's been attached to recently, this is the most underwhelming to me. Give me the animated Clerks movie (which is still in the queue, but is going direct-to-video, which is fine). To be honest, I've never seen the Chevy Chase Fletch films, but the K.S. version sounded interesting. But I was particularly keen to see "Ranger Danger," his sci-fi film he said he's been planning.
Green Hornet? Well, I'll go see it, sure, but...
Music To Side-Scroll By
For those that miss the classic tunes of the Nintendo era, you can recapture the glory of '80s era video game soundtracks, re-arranged for modern times, thanks to the minibosses.
NASA's (Almost) Day Of Destiny
Today was going to be the beginning of the future. For several weeks, I had today's date thumbtacked to my wall.
Well over a year ago, obviously, Sean O'Keefe said that this date--Feb. 18, 2004--would be of overwhelming importance to NASA. To the best of my knowledge, nothing extremely significant is occuring in the agency today.
Today was scheduled to be the launch date for the STS-120 Space Shuttle mission. That mission was to carry Node 2, the last ISS component required for U.S. Core Complete status, the minimum final U.S. contribution to the Station. Future U.S. contributions to the Station would be considered only after Core Complete was achieved, and the decision-making process would be based on NASA's success in reaching that goal.
And, so, Feb. 18 was to be the beginning of the future. By launching Node 2 today, on schedule and much closer to within budget than 2 years earlier, the agency was going to prove that this was a new and better NASA that could be trusted with aggresive goals and projects.
But, of course, Feb. 1, 2003 changed all that. Core Complete is still years away.
Ironically, though, the future began more than a month early. And is probably brighter than it would have been had it started today.
|:: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 ::|
The IMAX Corp. has announced that it will release its Space Station movie on DVD later this year in both 2D and 3D formats.
X Prize Update
From the X-Prize newsletter:
"We are pleased to report that NASA has included funds in its Fiscal Year 2005 budget for a series of space prizes called Centennial Challenges. We are proud to have played a central role in this important new effort. For the last 6 months we have been working directly with NASA Headquarters and the NASA field centers to help them create a prize program and we're delighted with the level of support and interest that we encountered. Here is an excerpt from a description of the new program:
CENTENNIAL CHALLENGES: "[This] request includes funding to establish a series of annual prizes for revolutionary, breakthrough accomplishments that advance exploration of the solar system and beyond and other NASA goals. Some of the most difficult technical challenges to exploration will require very novel solutions from non-traditional sources of innovation. By making awards based on actual achievements instead of proposals, NASA will tap innovators in academia, industry, and the public who do not normally work on NASA issues. Centennial Challenges will be modeled on past successes, including 19th century navigation prizes, early 20th century aviation prizes, and more recent prizes offered by the U.S. government and private sector. Examples of potential Centennial Challenges include very-low-cost space missions, contests to demonstrate highly mobile, capable, and survivable robotic systems, and fundamental advances in technical areas like lander navigation, spacecraft power systems, life detection sensors, and nano-materials.""
In honor of Comet C/2002 T7 (LINEAR), here's today's Hatbag.
Games People Played
Lest anyone doubt that the internet is the single greatest creation in the history of man, I produce Exhibit A: this page where you can play cool games from the 80s.
I haven't been able to try them out yet, but they've got Pac-Man, Simon, Space Invaders, and--check it out--Moon Patrol, among many, many others. If anybody gets to try them before I do, please give me a report.
For some reason, this experiment which was posted to the internet a year and a half ago has seen a huge resurgence in popularity, leading one YMFTB reader to write and ask if I was going to post it. So, OK, yeah, here it is.
It turns out water does weird stuff in microgravity.
collectSPACE has a report from the American International Toy Fair, where, among other things, new space toys were announced.
Give 'Em What They Want
The top headline on the NASA News Summary today:
"NASA Top-Rated Workplace Among Government Agencies, Survey Shows"
The headline right underneath that:
"Audit Shows $58 Million In Missing NASA Property"
Hmmm... Do we sense a pattern?
(By the way, the image I found to go with this item is of temporary meatball tattoos available at Countdown Creations. You KNOW I'm buying some of those!)
The Good Of The Mini
According to MacNN, Apple has said response to the iPod mini, which comes out Friday has been "off the charts," and that 100,000 of them have been pre-ordered.
Icons Of Spaceflight
The Icon Factory has a set of computer icons based on the history of spaceflight, available for both Macs and PCs.
Per NASA Watch:
"GRS Games is nearing completion of SpaceStation:SIM, a PS2/PC video game due for initial release for the Christmas 2004 season. In the game, the player assumes the roll of the Chief Administrator of NASA, creating astronaut crewmembers with unique needs, abilities and personalities while managing their activities and personal relationships like "The SIMSÆ". ...
Astronauts will face mission critical situations, including micro meteor strikes and decompression while conducting micro gravity experiments and dealing with hilarious but troublesome space tourists shipped aboard by the Russians. Space Station SIM is a true 3-D construction SIM that encourages a player to use their imagination and build thousands of different configurations of the International Space Station (ISS). ...
The Space Act Agreement allows GRS Games a flow of information from, and access to, NASA personnel so the company can gather information to build their game."
Ad Luna, Machina
Goddard Space Flight Center has marching orders to being work on a lunar orbiter probe to search for water ice on the lunar poles in 2008. According to Space.com, a number of alterative, fast-track approaches are under review at GSFC to build the lunar orbiter.
In The Midnight Hour, He Cried Gilmore, More, More
For the one member of the YMFTB audience that could conceivably care (you know who you are), the first season of Gilmore Girls is being released on DVD on May 4.
Well, Well, Well
For those who have been reading Jasper Fforde's vastly entertaining Thursday Next series, the most recent installment, The Well Of Lost Plots is in bookstores now. For those of you who haven't, start immediately. I recommend going back to the first book, The Eyre Affair, but according to Richie, you can just start with whatever book you can find a hardcover first edition of most conveniently, so it's up to you.
In case anyone's interested, Bob Dylan and Dave Matthews will be among an extensive line-up playing at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, about an hour and a half from Huntsville.
I Am Worthy Sniam, Jesus' Right-Hand Man!
I just happened, during a bout of late-night Web surfing, to come across the fact that former Ole Miss co-ed (about as unapt a description as they come, even if it's accurate) Garrison Starr has a new album out, and, as part of her continuing efforts to entertain Dave, the album's title even has a space theme.
Day Of The Comet
Comet C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) is approaching Earth, and is continuing to brighten. Not yet visible to the naked eye, by the time of its perigee on May 19, the comet will be one of the brighter objects in the night sky--but only in the southern hemisphere. Sometime in the middle will be its peak northern hemisphere visibility, but I'm too lazy to figure out when that will be. If you're interested, the info's at this link.
|:: Friday, February 13, 2004 ::|
Of all the Hatbag merchandise that never saw the light of day, to me, the coolest potential product is the tiny Hippie in a box that BG has here.
Celebrate Friday the 13th with this piece by Cosmic Log's Alan Boyle about origins of the superstition.
Sean O'Keefe met yesterday with the House Science Committee to discuss the agency's new planetary exploration initiative. Spaceref.com characterized the discussions as a mixture of support for the idea and for the development of a new spaceflight strategy mixed with doubts about NASA's ability to carry out the initiative in the relatively low-cost manner proposed. Hopefully, this is a good sign: for now, all the agency needs is a commitment to be able to spend the money to begin serious planning for exploration.
To Sustainably Go...
Spaceref.com has an article about the first meeting of the President's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Policy, which met yesterday with representatives of previous space implementation commissions over the years.
This is hardly unexpected, but this is the most official statement of it thus far: Sean O'Keefe told the House Science Committee yesterday that it's unlikely that the Shuttle will return to flight in 2004 due to slower-than-expected progress in making a couple of the improvements needed before RTF.
More Jobs At Disney?
So, apparently, Steve Jobs is trying to buy Disney. Boy, what are the odds that Jobs could go from leaving a company under controversial circumstances to coming back running the place? Michael Eisner, meet Gil Amelio (or, for the Jackson crowd, Ooks-A-Millio). Personally, I don't know that I'm in favor of anything that takes more of Steve's attention away from Apple, but, beyond that, it would amuse me.
|:: Thursday, February 12, 2004 ::|
The New Georgia Encyclopedia, the official ultimate resource on all things Georgia (uh, not counting those things Georgia not have to do with the U.S. state of Georgia) is now online, and features an article by Lain on CNN.
(You know, I really need to upload a new picture of Lain.)
What Does God Need With A Special Edition DVD
I was intrigued by the information in the New Voyages page I linked to yesterday that there had been a "Phantom Edit"-type reworking of Star Trek V, so I went looking for information about it. While I don't know that I found it, I did find the following items of interest.This is the page of someone who is working on a STV re-edit. I couldn't find when this was posted, how far along they were, or for sure whether it was the same or different from the re-edit mentioned in the page yesterday. It sounds like a pretty cool project, in terms of the new effects work they're doing. That said, some of their editing choices are kind of interesting. Check it out, and see what you think.
This page belongs to someone who worked with some friends to MST3K STV, even going through the trouble of building sets and props. For a blank tape and four bucks, he'll send you a copy (or a copy of MST3K of Highlander 2).
Haven't posted one of the weekly strips for a while.
New Joe Bloggin'
For the first time in a couple of weeks, there's new posting at Idle Ramblings.
A Ton Of Science
While Spirit and Opportunity are currently showing how things are supposed to be done on Mars (well, not Spirit at quite this very moment), NASA is already hard at work on the future of robotic Mars exploration. Space.com has an interesting article on the Mars probe of three generations from now (er, Mars probe generations, not people generations), the Mars Science Laboratory.
Richie, you may already know this, but Ender's Game is being made into a movie, written by Dan Harris and Mike Dougherty of X2, and directed by Wolfgang Peterson.
|:: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 ::|
These Are The Adventures...
There are days when I wonder whether this whole blogging thing is really worthwhile. And, then, I find something like this. Just being able to disseminate this one link to my audience justifies the entire existence of YMFTB.
Whatever you're doing, whereever you are, you must IMMEDIATELY go to www.5yearmission.com. RIGHT NOW.
"The new show will be the continuing voyages of Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701 as seen in the 1966-69 television series, ?Star Trek?. The series was cancelled after its third season. We are restarting the series as if it were in its fourth year. ...
The producers feel that Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest should be treated as "classic" characters, like Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings or even Hamlet, Othello or Romeo. Many actors have and can play the roles, each offering a different interpretation of said character. Though the character is the same, the interpretation of the actor is what's in question. We feel that the crew of the Enterprise has more to teach us about life and each other than has been explored to date. We also feel the new actors can add to the legend in a believable and contemporary way. Yes, some may have a problem separating Shatner from Kirk - all we ask is that you give it a try and see whether Kirk and the crew still have something to say. ...
The idea for creating a new series based on the original Star Trek, first originated in 1997 with James Cawley. James worked with original series and Next Generation costume designer, William Ware Theiss. Over the years James has amassed a huge collection of set pieces, props and costumes with one goal in mind: recreating the spirit of Trek. Jack Marshall and James were introduced in April of 2003 while working on another project together. Jack is best known as one of the ?Phantom Editors? whose re-mix of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Star Trek V have met with wide acclaim on the internet and at screenings in several film festivals. ... "
Why Are You So Petrified Of Cylons? Here, Can You Handle This
From The Futon Critic:
"After a month of rumors and speculation, Sci Fi Channel made it official this morning as the network has given its "Battlestar Galactica" mini-series a series order of 13 episodes. Production is set to begin in Vancouver next month for a yet to be determined air date."
Everything that has a beginning, has an end.
If NASA doesn't want the Space Station, then Eric Anderson will take it.
The president of space-tourism company Space Adventures has proposed increasing commercialization of the International Space Station as NASA pulls out of ISS.
Of course, that ignores the issues of the fact that NASA plans to be involved in ISS for most, if not all of its planned functional life (and while it's extremely likely that ISS would be usable beyond that point, it's questionable how well private interests could maintain it in safe operating condition past that), and the fact that ISS is not really NASA's to give away. It's possible that some of the 15 other nations in the partnership might want to use it more.
Still, it's a nice thought, as is his vision of space tourists making Apollo 8-style trips around the Moon in as little as 15-20 years from now.
From "The Funny, If It Weren't So True" Department
From The Onion:
"Majority Of Americans Thought We Already Had A Moon Base
WASHINGTON, DC—A NASA poll conducted to gauge support for President Bush's space-exploration initiative revealed that a depressing 57 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. already has a research base on the moon. "We put that international space-station thing up there in the '60s," phone-poll respondent Randy Snow said. "It might be on Mars, but I think it's the moon—wherever they have the golf course that President Kennedy played on. Remember, the Cubans tried to take it over?" NASA officials said they hope someday to make Americans' perception a reality."
|:: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 ::|
I don't think I've posted this one as the Daily Hatbag before.
If you've enjoyed the animations of Spirit and Opportunity landing and roving on Mars, then you'll enjoy this animation of Spirit using its drill to study a Martian rock (note tongue planted firmly in cheek).
Tech Central Station has an opinion piece written by Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham about the exploration initiative. I don't necessarily agree with him, but it's kind of interesting (though likely moreso to me because I was just talking to Cunningham about this subject 3 days ago).
"We Choose To Explore Space..."
The "President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond" now has a Web site set up at www.moontomars.org. So far, content on it is pretty sparse, but it's early yet.
Rovers Impact On Earth
Lain sent me this excellent column from a Tucson high school student:
"In other words, a rover trundling around 100 million miles away has more of a positive impact on my life than anything else in the year's budget."
Thanks, Jar Jar!
I have to say, while I'm excited about the announcement that the original Star Wars trilogy will be released on DVD Sept. 21, at the same time, I'm preparing myself for the inevitable disappointment, something Lucas has made easier over recent years. I'm just pretty confident that these things are not going to live up to my expectations for them. For example, I'm already disappointed that Lucas won't do like Spielberg did with ET, and include both the original and "special" edition of the films ("special" in this case presumably used euphemistically, as in "special education"), or at least make both available. In addition, for me to be really happy with the DVDs, they would have to include the deleted scenes (which, to be fair, Lucas did include some of on the Ep. I and II DVDs) and the audition footage, which has also been shown at various points in time. After the joke that was the Indiana Jones DVD set, I'm hoping Lucas is a little nicer to us this time, but I'm not holding my breath.
Anything in particular you would want to see on the SW DVDs?
|:: Monday, February 09, 2004 ::|
As I reported a while back might happen, the Expedition 9 crew, scheduled to launch in April, has changed once again, due in part to "a psychological incompatibility."
The new crew will be astronaut Michael Fincke and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who were training as the back-up crew for Expedition 10.
Here's the part I don't understand, though. You've got three crews--the first crew, Bill McArthur and Valery Tokarev, who were the original Exp. 9 crew; the second crew, Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov, who were Exp. 10 and the E9 backup, and Fincke and Padalka, who were the E10 backup.
McArthur developed temporary health issues that would preclude long-duration flight. So, he was replaced with Chiao from second crew, who was teamed with first crew cosmonaut Tokarev.
Now, because of the problems between Chiao and Tokarev, Fincke and Padalka, both from the third crew, are Expedition 9.
Now, plans are for first crew members Tokarev and McArthur (who will not fly on E9 even though he has already recovered from the health issues), to be E10, and for second crew members Chiao and Sharipov to continue as the back-up crew, which could likely make them E11.
Part of the benefit here, and NASA's official reason for the switch, is that it allows crews that trained together to stay together.
So my question is this, when it became clear that Chiao and Tokarev couldn't work together, and it was decided that the pairs should stay together the way they trained, why didn't Sharipov replace Tokarev on E9, letting Chiao stay, rather than bringing in an entirely different crew? I mean, wouldn't have flying the second crew achieved the same goals as flying the third crew?
From an excellent piece that was submitted to Florida Today:
"The announcement of the new national space exploration plan has been accompanied by some sloppy journalism and even sloppier editorializing.
It has been common for various critics of the plan to establish unrealistic strawman arguments that they then demolish in order to try and discredit the plan rather than to debate its merits or shortcomings."
Project Prometheus, NASA's nuclear spaceflight initiative, is going through some changes. The project is being transferred from the Space Science enterprise to the newly created Exploration Enterprise, showing that the agency is serious about weaving its various efforts into a substantial cohesive agenda. On a down note, the target launch date for JIMO has slipped to NET 2014.
I'm not well-read enough on recent Mississippi events to know what this is referring to, but, having seen it, I plan to support Haley Barbour for president at the earliest possible opportunity.
This would be funny, if it weren't so darned true. (The low-carb story theme continues over the next few days, BTW).
According to DVD File, an announcement is expected tomorrow from Lucasfilm that the original Star Wars trilogy will be released this year. If the rumors are to be believed, a four-disc box will come out on Sept. 21. More as it develops, of course.
The DVD Redemption
Score one for patience--I love the movie "The Shawshank Redemption," and have been tempted to get it on DVD, but it's always struck me as very wrong that the current DVD release has next to no special features on it, given that this is a movie that seems to be just crying out for them. Anyway, Frank Darabont says a special edition 10th anniversary DVD is in the works currently, per AICN.
|:: Saturday, February 07, 2004 ::|
Meanwhile, Back On Mars...
As you have no doubt noticed, I'm not making any attempt to substitute for David in the realm of deciding which space-related news warrants inclusion on the blog...but I have to say that I think it's cool that mankind has drilled its first hole on Mars. I hope there are no Martian animals around to fall into it.
|:: Friday, February 06, 2004 ::|
You Can't Go Home Again
British scientists claim to have discovered the secret to pigeons' uncanny navigation...and it isn't any form of biomagnetism, thus retroactively rendering invalid the main underlying premise of my mid-1980's science-fair experiments. Sigh.
Cupid, the Jonathan Archer of Love
This group is devoted to keeping Star Trek: Enterprise on the air. They've placed ads in major trade publications, and are now encouraging folks to send Valentines to Paramount executives, encouraging them not to cancel the show. I won't go that far, but I will say to any Paramount or Viacom executives who are reading You Must Fight The Bear: "Don't cancel Enterprise. Also, have a nice Valentine's Day."
There KITT Goes Again...
Today is Ronald Reagan's 93rd birthday. But while we wish the Gipper well, let's not let ourselves forget the unsung hero in ending the Cold War: David Hasselhoff.
Ap(ple)ropos of Nothing
Apple's iTunes not only has the best in downloadable music, it also has the best in downloadable silence. Apparently John Cage is considering a lawsuit.
Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes, in a rare fit of bad taste, it even imitates Hatbag. For example, I recently actually heard a somewhat hippie-ish person talking about Darkwing Duck.
Miss Jackson? If You're Nasty.
My favorite online headline of the morning (don't care about the story, really, but the headline is funny): "Janet Jackson fallout continues." Wow, how long does it take to cover up one breast?
|:: Thursday, February 05, 2004 ::|
Rocky Raccoon and the Frat Boys of Doom
Yes, Athens, my new home town...a great place to live. Unless, of course, you happen to be a raccoon.
Legal (Oxford) Eagle
Any of you planning to read the new Grisham book? I haven't decided yet whether to plunge back in...I haven't read any of his stuff in a while. On the other hand, it returns to the scene of A Time To Kill, which I enjoyed, and it apparently deals with the fascinating high-stakes world of Mississippi small-paper journalism.
Ah, for the sweet days of unlimited carbs.
Keptin...he put things...in our burgers...
One day in the not too distant future, McDonald's may actually be proud to say that they have worms in their hamburgers.
Sean Connery's Not Getting Any Younger, Folks
I swear, I'm going to be a grandfather before the next Indiana Jones movie comes out.
Hi, folks, substitute blogger Lain here. I'm hijacking YMFTB for a few minutes to ask for your help. I'm toying around with a project (which I'll never actually complete, mind you, but with which I enjoy toying around) that would deal with the different types of, for lack of a better and more gender-inclusive term, fanboys. I've come up with some rough categories that I think describe most of the fandom universe (multiverse?), but I'd like some feedback. Rather than post 'em all here, I've set them up on a quick-and-dirty temporary blog that I'm calling the Kneel Before Zod-iac. I'd love for the regular Daveblog viewers, particularly those whose names are "Joe" or "Richie," to go by and post some feedback about whether or not my divisions make sense, and whether or not I've left anything out. Thanks.
|:: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 ::|
You know, Other Black Guy never had the most well-defined artwork.
Quote Of The Day
On the radio this morning:
"Is he invisible? Or, is he invincible? 'Cause he can't be both!"
Today In History
The modern era of international space cooperation marked a huge milestone 10 years ago today, when Sergei Krikalev, the first cosmonaut to fly on a U.S. spacecraft, spent his first day on the Space Shuttle Discovery during its STS-60 mission. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to interview crewmate Jan Davis, who works here at Marshall. The brief interview is here.
Persistance Is Futile
Given the current poll at YMFTB, I thought I'd post this article I just came across in which Patrick Stewart says he's opposed to sending people to the Moon. Since I'm posting it largely for entertainment purposes, I'm not going to waste the time debunking his arguments, but suffice it to say I could if I wanted to. But, I'm too busy (<---Richie tribute).
I'll be away from the blog the next few days as I'll be traveling to Johnson Space Center, and likely won't have internet access while I'm gone. I'll return Sunday. In my absence, there may be some guest-blogging.
|:: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 ::|
Here ya go.
Finally, a site that answers the age-old question: What if someone else had written The Lord Of The Rings?
All These Worlds
Though I'm sure it was completely in no way connected to the hype over the U.S. plans, the ESA has taken the opportunity to re-announce its Aurora space exploration agenda, which would land a man on the Moon after the U.S. does as a springboard toward a manned Mars mission.
'It's Time To Soar Again'
Space.com has an commentary piece by Jim Lovell:
"I believe we must look farther ahead and deeper into the cosmos. We’ve trolled the shallows of low-Earth orbit long enough, and I agree with President Bush that the time has come to set sail once again on the seas of space. ...
I think the correct approach is to explore incrementally, just as the President suggests, one small step at a time. We must aim high, carefully measure our progress, and doggedly pursue the ultimate goal of extending human presence across the solar system. ...
President Kennedy referred to the Apollo Program as "Mankind’s greatest adventure." As an astronaut who made those journeys, I’d like to think he was correct. But as I look at the limitless vistas ahead, I have to believe that the greatest adventures are yet to come. We must continue the journey which has only just begun."
Show Me The Space Money
More details of the future of spaceflight have been made public with the release of NASA's FY05 budget proposal. The link is to an excellent NASA Watch article that breaks down what the changes will mean for various programs.
The budget is available online at NASA's Web site.
With Outstretched Arms
Both of the Mars Exploration Rovers are currently using their robot arms for scientific research on the surface of Mars. Opportunity is conducting a microscopic analysis of a soil sample, while Spirit is dusting off a Martian rock.
Astronomers have reportedly made the first discovery of oxygen on an extrasolar planet, reporting that the "Hot Jupiter"-class planet Osiris apparently has an atmosphere containing oxygen and carbon, which is being blown off into space. The planet orbits a Sol-like star 150 light years from Earth.
More Shenzhou VI Non-News
China's 14 taikonauts have started training for the Shenzhou VI mission, expected for late 2005, after goofing off since October. For the current round of training, the taikonauts will work in pairs, since S-VI is expected to carry two people. According to the report, it is expected that the remainder of the corps who do not fly on the next mission will never get to, having passed the age limit of 30, and that a new taikonaut class will be selected for S-VII.
|:: Monday, February 02, 2004 ::|
With two hits in the new month, this is this most-viewed strip for February so far.
For the first time in over 3 months, there's a new update to "what would gilligan do?" with the latest updates from Rebecca's law-school adventures. It's worth noting that it includes the coolest line in all of blogging history:
"THERE WERE MONKEYS IN THE CASES!!! Woohoo!!!"
I must now endeavor to work that line into my blog at the first available opportunity!
A New Constellation
In his Cosmic Log, Alan Boyle muses on the Project Constellation name for the proposed Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Those who assume that Bush has dropped the lunar initiative because it wasn't mentioned in his State Of The Union address will learn otherwise today when he releases his budget request for NASA for FY05 of $16.2 billion. (Or, more than likely, they won't, since they're probably not informed enough to realize the budget's being released today, unlike the readers of YMFTB.)
That's The Spirit!
Spirit is healthy again! Controllers purged thousands of data files from its flash memory, and will be spending today doing some preventative maintenance. In upcoming days, Spirit will finish the study of the first rock it drove to, Adirondack.
You know, I'd be a lot more interested in the Pepsi iTunes give-away if it included any of the Pepsi products that I actually like. Oh well.
Among tomorrow's DVD releases is X-15, a movie about the, natch, X-15 program. I had never heard of this movie before today. Does anybody know anything about it? If it's a true story, I'd be really interested in it, but I couldn't tell from the Amazon description.
|:: Sunday, February 01, 2004 ::|
One year ago today--
I was woken up with a call from a co-worker.
To be honest, like so many others, I just sort of took the landing for granted, and paid no attention to it. When I left work Friday, I knew they were coming in sometime soon, and so when the phone rang that morning, I assumed Columbia was already down safely, so my friend's first words to me were confusing.
"I think they've lost the Shuttle"
My thought process was something along the lines of --"Lost" it? Did they look the last place they put it? How do you lose... Oh. My God. My God. No.
I turned on the TV immediately, but, of course, at that time, there were few answers to be had.
I made a few phone calls myself, as much to let others know as because I needed to hear friendly voices.
I don't know how many hours I spend in front of the television.
The in-laws came into town that day. I think they thought I was just being anti-social. They didn't, couldn't, understand.
Beyond that, the details sort of fade as they day goes on. I remember watching TV, a lot. I remember being on the phone, a lot. I remember that I cried. And I have plenty since. I do remember the gut-wrenching emptiness, because it still comes back easily under certain circumstances.
So--where were you?