|:: Friday, April 30, 2004 ::|
From TechTV: How to make a stun glove from a disposable camera.
Yet again, no strip turning 10 today, but this one turns 7 tomorrow.
Expedition 8, Over And Out
Expedition 8 arrived home safely yesterday.
AICN has a first look pic of Batman from the upcoming movie.
|:: Thursday, April 29, 2004 ::|
All right, I updated the sidebar without even having to be told to. The results of the last poll were that invisibility was the superpower than 57 percent of ATW readers would want, with flight, invulnerability, and telepathy each also receiving one vote. I'd be curious to hear why you voted the way you did.
Also in my sidebar update, I added a countdown for the current launch date for STS-114.
Gotta Get Away
Flying saucer fever has gripped Iran after dozens of sightings in the last few days. Fanciful cartoons of alien spacecraft have adorned the front pages.
State television on Wednesday showed a sparkling white disc it said was filmed over Tehran on Tuesday night.
Ah, Those Wacky Brits
Warning: silly adult subject matter ahead.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about how a breathable atmosphere is maintained aboard the International Space Station, and Maggie's got a piece on the Smithsonian Air And Space Museum's new Udvar-Hazy Center.
Expedition 8 comes home today after 6 months on the International Space Station. Undocking from Station will be at 3:52 p.m. CDT, with landing expected at 7:12:02 p.m. CDT, about 8 minutes after local sunrise.
Boosting The Moon Initiative
What sort of rocket will be the next to carry men to the Moon? That was a topic of discussion at the 41st Space Congress yesterday at Cape Canaveral.
In Brightest Day...
Comics' best example of the fact that absence makes the heart grow fonder will return to his original role in September, when Hal Jordan once again becomes Green Lantern.
Apparently DC's plan 8 years ago of replacing a lackluster character with another lackluster character didn't pay off the way they'd hoped. Frankly, for me, Hal has been a much more interesting character not being Green Lantern than he ever was while wearing the ring.
Of course, I also believe that the one true greatest Green Lantern is John Stewart, so whadda I know. Want to impress me with a GL relaunch? Bring back Mosaic.
No word on what happens to Kyle Rayner.
|:: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 ::|
For some reason, there's no 10th anniversary strip today, but this one celebrates its sixth anniversary this week, and is another of my favorites.
Today In History
On this date in 2001, Dennis Tito become the first paying space tourist when he launched for the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft.
The Shoulder Is Very Cold--In Space
China is reportedly hurt by the treatment it has received from the U.S. since becoming a member of the manned spaceflight club last year. This comes as news to me, since I was not aware that China had even tried reaching out to the U.S. I was aware that they had agreed to work with ESA on the Galileo project which more or less competes with the U.S., not the best way to go about making friends. I'm not sure what they would want, since it's not like they're flying on a regular basis. If it were possible to use Shenzhou vehicles as ISS taxis, it might be worth considering, but right now they're flying manned missions 2 years apart, which really doesn't do a whole lot of good.
Happy Birthday, iTMS
The iTunes Music Store is celebrating its first anniversary today, and Apple is marking the occassion with updates to the iTMS store and to iTunes, and by offering free songs for the next 8 days from the store.
Get Your Free Cone! Get Your Free Cone!
It's free scoop night at Baskin Robbins today. Which I'm posting entirely because I like saying "Get Your Free Cone," even though I don't know that you really get a free cone there.
|:: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 ::|
Here ya go.
And this time, the Star Wars Kid will Kill Bill.
T Minus Who Knows?
Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log addresses the mystery of when the first X Prize flight will take place:
"I'll throw in my totally unscientific guess, based more on the holiday calendar than on any inside information. Let's say the first spaceflight comes on July 4, with a fireworks display worthy of the Fourth. Then the suspense could build as the two-week deadline ticks down to the second, prize-winning flight on July 17. That's the anniversary of the 1962 X-15 flight that made Air Force pilot Robert White the first human to earn astronaut wings for a rocket plane flight. If that's the way it happens, you heard it here first."
And just a reminder, if you join the X Prize Foundation before then, as I have, your name will be flown on each contestant launch attempt.
Change Of Command
There's a new commander on the International Space Station now: Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who took over from Mike Foale yesterday.
Stalled On The Way To The Moon
"NASA’s space exploration vision is stalling in the U.S. House of Representatives where key lawmakers say Congress has neither the details nor the dollars needed to fully support U.S. President George W. Bush’s 2005 budget request for the agency."
Florida Today has a good article about the actual cost of the program, which is estimated at closer to $229 billion over 16 years.
Mars is now part of northern Virginia, at least for the purposes of Little League Baseball. Those in charge of the sport have granted a petition from its northern Virginia district to annex the planet into its district.
|:: Monday, April 26, 2004 ::|
Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft will be on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville beginning on May 28. Curt Newport, who found the sunken spacecraft, will be signing his book Lost Spacecraft at the museum on May 27 and 28 from 1-3 p.m.
Day Of The Comet
"Comet Bradfield (C/2004 F4), which flew by the Sun on April 17th, is emerging now from the Sun's glare. Look for it rising in the eastern sky just before dawn. The comet is barely visible to the naked eye, but it's a beautiful sight through binoculars.
Comet Bradfield isn't the only early-morning comet. Comet LINEAR (C/2002 T7) is there, too, together with Bradfield in the constellation Pisces. Both are about as bright as a 4th magnitude star. When you find one comet, scan back and forth with binoculars; you'll probably be able to find the other. Bradfield is the one with the longer, brighter tail."
Here ya go.
Zero Gravity For Sale
Zero Gravity Corp. will begin offering the public the opportunity to experience weightlessness this summer. For $2,950, passengers will get to experience 20 short doses of weightlessness during a 90-minute flight.
According to Space.com, a satellite imaging company believes it has found Noah's Ark.
"According to the press release, McGivern has put together a team of scientists, archaeologists and forensic experts to excavate the object and collect samples beginning in August of this year.
'These new photos unequivocally show a man made object,' McGivern is quoted as saying. 'I am convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah?s Ark.'"
In an Indiana Jones-like twist, it's believed that the U.S government may have kept secret knowledge of the ark since 1949.
Today In History
As I recall, today is the 18 anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. To mark the occassion, here's a little something for your reading pleasure.
|:: Friday, April 23, 2004 ::|
So, upon re-reading this strip after 10 years, I find myself wondering why they were making plans for the night in the dark.
The Hovering Fear
The joy of Blogdex is that it allows you to enjoy things such as: The Horror Of Blimps.
Tomorrow In History
Saturday marks the anniversary of two historic moments in spaceflight. In 1967, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov became the first spaceflight fatality when his Soyuz 1 capsule crashed on landing. Also, in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed.
On a related note, Hubble may yet have a future after all.
Another of the International Space Station's attitude-control gyroscopes has failed. Plans are being made for an EVA to repair the system, though certain limitations will have to be overcome, and new protocols developed.
"Berman confirms for the first time that he is now developing a STAR TREK feature film project: 'I am involved in the very early stages of what could be the next STAR TREK movie,' reveals Berman. Unwilling to offer many details he cryptically describes it as 'a prequel' without any further elaboration."
And, possibly even better news:
"TrekWeb insiders suggest Berman and/or Braga might take a reduced role in a fourth season of ENTERPRISE, though this is entirely speculation."
Well, it's official: The Guinness Book Of World Records has officially certified the giant Lucky Cow strip created at Indianola's Gentry High School to be the World's Largest Comic Strip. Now, you can buy a piece of history: Strip creator Mark Pett is auctioning off parts of the giant strip, along with signed Lucky Cow strips to raise money for GHS.
‘Worst Poet in the Universe’ passes away
Chris Tutor sent me this:
News has just reached me that Paul Neil Milne Johnstone, immortalised in the radio series of Hitchhiker’s Guide as ‘the worst poet in the universe’ sadly died earlier this month (from pancreatic failure). Johnstone shared a dormitory with Douglas Adams at Brentwood school – you can see a photograph of them together in my book – where he developed a reputation for writing slightly pretentious poetry. However, he must have had some literary skill as he won a prize for English the same year as Douglas and, like Douglas, won a scholarship to study English Literature at Cambridge. He went on to achieve some success in the poetry world as an editor and festival organiser. Famously, he objected to being named in HHGG and his character was thinly disguised in the subsequent book and TV series as ‘Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings.’ David Thomas, a friend of both men, told me: “Although Paul was miffed by Douglas’ epithet he was also amused. It was the inclusion of his then address (Beehive Court, Redbridge) in the first edition that annoyed him.” (NB. In the TV series graphics, Jennings’ address is given as ‘Wasp Villas, Greenbridge’!)
Eli's Not Coming
The Clarion-Ledger has a story today about Eli's NFL draft situation.
|:: Thursday, April 22, 2004 ::|
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got an article on the status of Return to Flight, though it's not as detailed as the information that avid readers of ATW will have seen. We've also got an article about how NASA helps keep SUVs right-side-up, and the promised piece on "A Black Box For People."
Gaming The Right Way
John Kerry: The Tax Invader
New blogging at Idle Ramblings, some of which certain readers of this blog *cough*Richie*cough* really should check out.
And So It Begins...
Per The AP:
"Yuri Semyonov, the chief of Russia's Energiya company, which builds Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, emphatically replied: 'Our position is rigid: The next crew must make a long flight.'
Gregory didn't respond."
NASA has issued a request for information seeking input on the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle.
To The Moon... Slowly
You know, this is just going to be a long year for NASA.
Them Planets Are At It Again!
Apparently, there's more good planet-watching to be done this week, with Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter all visible, and some funky stuff going on if you have a telescope.
Nova Good Game?
With the laptop coming, and a new Star Trek TC just released, it may be time for me to get back into Escape Velocity Nova.
Normally, when I hear that a story I love is being made into a movie, it makes me happy. WIth Watchmen, I'm just not so sure. That said, the news of who is directing Watchmen is kinda exciting, though doesn't necessarily fill me with a ton of confidence that this is a sure thing now.
Dr. Stuart Bullion, chair of the journalism department at Ole Miss, died yesterday.
|:: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 ::|
In the age of cell phones, Kirk's communicator, which in the '60s was assumed to be centuries away, is obsolete. Now, so is Picard's (more or less).
Per Get Reading:
" THEY used to clean up the mean streets of Gotham City ? but now the Caped Crusader and his loyal sidekick are taking on a new challenge.
That?s right folks! Batman and Robin have been on the streets of Whitley, saving damsels in distress, scaring wrongdoers and even chasing naked men from football pitches."
Bought On eBay?
Per Popular Science, the most powerful force in science today is... eBay.
Rosaviakosmos says the issue of the proposed 12-month Expedition 10 mission is not resolved.
Now There's Something Meteor!
The Lyrid meteor shower will peak around 3 a.m. tomorrow morning. Skywatchers who go outside between then and dawn can see about 5 to 20 meteors an hour.
Another name has been leaked from the list of candidates for Astronaut Class 19. Maj. James P. Dutton is an Air Force officer from Edwards AFB. Announcement of the new class is expected in about 2 weeks.
Get Your Free Cone!
Ben & Jerry's will offer up to 50,000 free iTunes song to US residents who take an "Oath to Vote" as well as a chance to win an iPod and iMac as part of its 26th Annual Free Cone Day. It will offer free ice cream as well as an opportunity to register to vote in local Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops.
Free Comic Book Day
Mile High Comics has posted the entire first issue of Joe Quesada's Daredevil:Father miniseries online for your reading pleasure.
Hoopy Froods Assemble!
After all this time, it's kinda hard to believe, but apparently true. Filming began Monday on The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy movie.
Gravity Probe B launched successfully yesterday, and is functioning properly. Science-data aquisition will begin in about 2 months, following a checkout and calibration period.
|:: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 ::|
Ironically, we're working on a story for NE this week called something like "A Black Box For Human Beings," and posting these strips this week makes me want to say, "You wanna rephrase that?" everytime I see the title.
For any students out there, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space is conducting an online survey on student reaction to the Vision for Space Exploration.
For The Short Term...
NASA has turned down the Rosaviakosmos request to make Exp. 10 into a year-long mission, citing the agency's inability to adequately prepare for the change prior to October. I'm curious as to what sort of fall-out will come of this--whether the Russians will begin to rethink their generosity.
Oberg has an insightful piece on the issue.
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center recently made the first two successful flights of rockets with aerospike engines, essentially an inside-out rocket nozzle, where the plume travels around the outside of the nozzle instead of down the inside of it, increasing engine efficiency.
The launch of Gravity Probe-B will be on NASA TV today. Launch is scheduled for 11:57 a.m. CDT.
"Jay And Silent Bob Will Return..."
"As a thank-you present for getting sober, director Kevin Smith is going to write a new Jay and Silent Bob movie for Jason "Jay" Mewes. Mewes missed out on a role in Jersey Girl because of his problem with drugs. Smith told him if he gets clean he'll write him another plum role. He's snagged a nice little part in The Green Hornet and Smith hopes to have him back in front of the cameras for the new Jay and Silent Bob chapter, which Ben Affleck has agreed to appear in as well, for 2006..."
|:: Monday, April 19, 2004 ::|
Gravity Probe B Update
The launch of Gravity Probe B has been delayed almost 24 hours due to wind conditions at the Vandenberg launch facility. The launch is now scheduled for 11:57 a.m. CDT Tuesday.
The day the weasel died.
Some of the listservs I belong to had posted this, and now I've found it online: The most entertaining Nigerian e-mail scam letter I've seen.
Premiere Magazine has put together a list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. Interesting, although frequently misguided. (Dr. Evil is almost 50 places higher than Darth Vader?)
...the coolest Web site in the history of the Universe.
According to Wired, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee uses a Powerbook, and created the Web using a NeXT Cube.
The Return-To-Flight Task Group Friday gave an update on the status of preparations to get the Shuttles flying again. In short, progress has been made, but much remains to be done, and it's uncertain if the current NET March 11 target can be met. Coverage is available through Floriday Today, The Orlando Sentinel, and the AP, among others.
After more than 40 years of work, the Marshall-managed Gravity Probe B is scheduled for launch today at 12:01 p.m. CDT. Coverage on NASA TV has already begun, and will continue until the seperation of the probe from the launch vehicle at 1:30 p.m. CDT.
" NASA's Gravity Probe B mission, also known as GP-B, will use four ultra-precise gyroscopes, orbiting the Earth in a unique satellite, to experimentally test two extraordinary predictions of Einstein's 1916 theory that space and time are distorted by the presence of massive objects. The two effects being tested are: The geodetic effect, the amount by which the Earth warps local spacetime in which it resides, and the frame-dragging effect, the amount by which the Earth drags local spacetime around with it as it rotates."
Fortune was smiling on me today, as I narrowly avoided getting Chris Baker'd bigtime by Apple. I finally yesterday placed an order for a 12" iBook, only to discover this morning that Apple had today announced upgrades to the Powerbook and iBook lines, which would have made my new computer literally obsolete before I even got it. Fortunately, they hadn't shipped the order yet, so I was able to call them up and get them to upgrade to the new one. I'm sure I'll still have regrets when they mark the mid-range model from the old generation down to what I'm paying for my low-end machine, but I'm going to try to remain blissfully ignorant of the price cuts.
In one of the quickest DVD-release turnarounds I've seen yet, the final episode of Friends will hit DVD 5 days after it's broadcast. Completely apropos of nothing, but I just thought it was kinda weird.
This bit fromthe Daily Show about the Moon landings hoax is both interesting and insightful.
GO For Launch
Space tourism company Space Adventures has established a Web site for Greg Olsen's planned visit to the International Space Station in April 2005.
Godspeed, Expedition 9!
There is supposed to be video of last night's successful launch of the Expedition 9 crew at Energia's Web site, but so far I haven't been able to get it to work.
Addendum: In reading coverage of the launch, I've learned that Michael Fincke has wanted to be an astronaut since he was a child and would make his siblings play Star Trek with him, and that ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers took advantage of a cosmonaut tradition of smuggling personal items into their suits before launch to carry a comic book with him.
|:: Friday, April 16, 2004 ::|
I'm not bloggin' today.
|:: Thursday, April 15, 2004 ::|
This has always been one of my favorites.
People are stupid
The name of another reported EA pick has leaked out: Joe Acaba.
This Week At NE
I have two stories online this week at NASAexplores, including what's been probably my second-favorite NE piece to work on--the long-duration spaceflight article based on my on-orbit interview with Expedition 8. The story has links to a video of the interview, as well as a transcript.
I've also got a story about the recent flight of X-43A scramjet.
Would you pay $50 to visit the International Space Station? That's what Rocket Raffle wants to know. The company is considering a lottery for a Soyuz seat to ISS, in which chances would be sold for $50 a pop. Right now, though, they're just trying to determine what the interest would be, and are asking people who might participate to sign a non-binding pledge that they would buy tickets.
Your Face In Space
OK, yet another thing Dave really doesn't need to spend money on, but would kinda like to:
Beyond-Earth Enterprises, a Colorado Springs-based small payload sub-orbital launch company, announces MissionOne, the first space-related commercial product offerings geared toward the average American household.
Basically, for a cost of around $80 to $150, you can have a small, flat item, such as a business card or photo, launched into space on a suborbital flight, and then returned to you. (For a little more, you can have larger items sent.)
Fortunately, I haven't been able to come up with a killer app of something I would just really want to have space-flown.
That's No Moon!
Sedna is apparently more mysterious than first realized. Astronomers initially speculated that the planetoid must have a moon, which would explain an eccentricity in its rotational period. However, according to Hubble, there is no moon.
John Grisham will make his acting debut in "Mickey," the little league baseball movie he wrote. The movie will get a limited release in late April and early May.
Don't Let The Love Bug Bite
Lain will be happy to know that Herbie: The Love Bug--Four Film Collection will be released on DVD June 1, including an extras-loaded two-disc version of the first movie.
|:: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 ::|
Here ya go!
Bunches of good posting on Idle Ramblings.
Are you a Democrat? Do you support space exploration? Are you a moron? Then hurry right now to the new DemsForMars.com blog, which has two goals: "To convince space supporters that this year's Republican candidate is not their friend. And to convince the Democrats to set their sites (sic) on the starts (sic)."
The site would make a convincing point, if not for the fact that Kerry, during his campaign, has been an outspoken critic of sending humans to Mars.
The names of the new educator astronauts, and even the date the next class will be announced are supposed to be embargoed, but one has already gone public, which can't be currying much favor.
Yet another reason I'm not really buying a PC laptop:
"SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, warned on Tuesday that three "critical"-rated flaws in the Windows operating system and other programs could allow hackers to sneak into personal computers and snoop on sensitive data.
Robot Holocaust Update
And these are relatively good robots.
Addendum: Lightweight, super-strong robots will lead human soldiers into battle within 10 years -- at least according to iRobot.
|:: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 ::|
Here ya go!
A genetially-engineered mouse has just turned four, the equivalent of 136 in human years. "Researchers are studying the genetic mutants to determine how altered hormone levels can slow the aging process, with the hope of figuring out which methods, if any, eventually could be applied to humans."
Houston, We Had A Problem 34 Years Ago Today
Today marks the anniversary of the explosion that nearly doomed the Apollo 13 mission on its way to the Moon in 1970.
The President's Commission will be holding its next meeting on Thursday and Friday in San Francisco. Overall, the lineup of witnesses isn't as captivating to me as the one I attended in Atlanta, but I'll probably watch online two of the sessions Thursday, in which Educator Astonaut Barbara Morgan and author Ray Bradbury will speak.
Class of 2004
James Oberg has an article about the next class of astronaut candidates, which will be announced soon and will reportedly include three educator astronauts. The Oberg article goes onto discuss what the future may hold for the latest additions to the corps, and the criticism that the corps has become too large.
To Seek Out Old Life...
The tools which speeded the mapping of the human genome could help determine whether life ever existed on Mars, possibly providing an answer by the end of the decade, according to a Berkeley chemist.
Ask And You Shall Receive
A mere 2 weeks ago on this blog I asked when we'd finally be seeing Knight Rider released on DVD. Well, the wait will soon be over: the first season of the adventures of Michael Knight and KITT hits DVD on August 3. Unfortunately, though, it's priced at 60 bucks for a no-extras four-disc set, so I'll probably be skipping it. Alas. In related news, Dark Horizons reports that the Knight Rider movie is progressing. Hasselhoff, who's producing, will reprise his role as Michael Knight, but will move into Devon's (who was killed in the Knight Rider 2000 TV movie) old position. The KITT-jockey job will go to Michael's son, whom the studio would like to see played by Ben Affleck. Hasselhoff hopes to get William Daniels to return as the voice of KITT, but it's not official yet (To me, that would make or break the whole thing).
|:: Monday, April 12, 2004 ::|
Here ya go!
Robot Holocaust Update
"OHBU, Japan - To some scientists, robots are the answer to caring for aging societies in Japan and other nations where the young are destined to be overwhelmed by a surging elderly population."
Mars On A Shoestring
"MOSCOW - A group of Russian space experts on Friday announced an ambitious plan to send a six-man crew to Mars within a decade, a project it said would cost only $3.5 billion. Russian space officials dismissed the project as nonsense."
More is here.
The Sol After Tomorrow
With the original missions of the Mars rovers ending, members of the Mars rover teams at JPL have returned to Earth time, once more living there life on Earth-standard 24-hours cycles.
It's A Long Way Down...
Yet another reason why where I work is unbelievably cool:
According to Spaceref.com, NASA has begun advertising for bids on a contract to perform antimatter space propulsion research at Marshall.
Need A Lift?
NASA has already begun the process of trying to decide what sort of rockets will be needed for the Vision for Space Exploration. Options include relying on existing launchers like the Atlas 5 and Delta 4, launching smaller payloads which would then be assembled in space, or developing a new heavy launch vehicle (a la the Saturn V). If the latter route is taken, one option would be, rather than developing an entirely new vehicle from scratch, to use portions of the existing STS architecture to create a launch booster that could lift three to four times as much payload as the Shuttle.
Another interesting note in the article--NASA apparently has no idea how it's going to launch the JIMO Jovian moon orbiter in 2015.
One Year Mission
NASA is expected to make a decision within a few weeks on the Russian proposal to stretch Expedition 10 out to a full year. This article by the AP's Marcia Dunn quotes ISS program manager Bill Gerstenmaier on the pros and cons of doing so.
On this date, 43 years ago, the era of manned spaceflight began as Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.
Also on this date, 20 years later, the Space Shuttle era began, with the STS-1 launch of the late Orbiter Columbia, crewed by commander John Young and pilot Bob Crippen.
|:: Friday, April 09, 2004 ::|
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Hatbag anniversary.
Who's Taking Genesis
When the Genesis sample return probe returns to Earth later this year, NASA will have only minutes to catch it during its descent, lest the samples be lost. Per Wired:
How do you catch a 460-pound package of some of the world's most precious cargo as it falls through the sky? If you're NASA, you use a helicopter, a giant hook and a Hollywood stuntman.
President's Commission member Laurie Leshin recently spoke with the BBC about the need to send human explorers to Mars:
You can imagine how Opportunity has been running around at this beautiful rock outcrop on the surface of Mars. An astronaut up there would have paced that place out and had it understood within a day and we've waited a month-and-a-half.
Well the hope I have is to some day be at the 25th anniversary of the first human mission to Mars. I'd like to have the first astronaut that went there and walked on the surface, stand up, talk about her experience and say: "I was inspired when I was a kid after seeing little rocks from Mars in the Smithsonian and that's what made me want to go.
And if I could be involved with bringing those materials back and inspiring that person that is going to be that first Mars astronaut, it would just be extraordinarily exciting. I'd be happy to be an old lady seeing that.
(Though I'd note if she believes the first person on Mars will still be a kid when the first rocks are brought to Mars, then "old lady" is right--NASA has no plans for a Martian sample return mission before 2014 [though that could change, the ESA may launch one before then--but first they have to learn how to land on Mars], and it would probably be another 25 years before someone who is a kid then could walk on Mars, meaning that the 25th anniversary of that landing would likely be some 60 years away. Personally, I prefer to think that the first person on Mars is currently at least in elementary school.]
The question is not whether there are idiots out there big enough to believe this, but whether these people are idiot enough to believe this:
"Winners will be subjected to the rigorous screening process performed by NASA. One lucky person will be awarded a seat on a future mission."
Daily Hip-Hop News: KRS Taps NASA For Hip-Hop Conference
White Knight Returns
Here's the link I promised on yesterday's rocket-powered flight of SpaceShipOne.
Going The Distance
With Spirit already in overtime, NASA has extended the MER mission until September, adding another 5 months to what was to be a 90-day project. Of course, the continued mission depends on the rovers being up to the task.
Once Opportunity finishes its 91st sol, everything we get from the rovers after that is a bonus," said Dr. Firouz Naderi, manager of Mars exploration at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., where the rovers were built and are controlled. "Even though the extended mission is approved to September, and the rovers could last even longer, they also might stop in their tracks next week or next month. They are operating under extremely harsh conditions. However, while Spirit is past its 'warranty,' we look forward to continued discoveries by both rovers in the months ahead."
Pinheads, I Tell You
Today In History
Today is apparently Astronaut Day, which I'd never heard anything about before (and haven't heard the agency mention). It's also the 45th anniversary of the announcement of the Mercury Seven astronauts.
Curious if you would have had the Right Stuff to make the cut? Here are some sample questions that were asked of the applicants.
Find It, Fix It, Fly It
Welcome, boys and girls, to today's installment of Grumpy Old Space Coot. Allow me to bring your attention to some quotes from this story in today's edition of The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger:
Meanwhile, Rosenker said it was too soon to know whether something was wrong with the track.
"We need to learn more," Rosenker said Thursday. "I cannot validate what (the engineer) saw. (His statement) certainly adds a great deal to the investigation."
The track reopened early Thursday morning. The first freight train probably traveled across it around 3 a.m., Thomson said. As many as 10 freight trains had been across the track by Thursday afternoon, he said.
Amtrak's first train since the derailment was scheduled to cross the site this morning.
This was a wreck that killed a woman, and injured 60 other people, some of them severely. Now, compare this to the last over-a-year of NASA's existance: They don't know what caused the wreck, and yet they're already putting people back in the same situation.
I don't really have a point here, it just struck me as interesting.
|:: Thursday, April 08, 2004 ::|
X Prize Update
On its second powered flight, earlier today, SpaceShipOne made it almost a third of the way to space, and reached approximately Mach 2. I don't have a link yet, but I'll post one when I see it.
Apparently, there were strips for April 7 and April 9, 1994, but not April 8, which really doesn't make a lot of sense, unless I'm just missing it. So, anyway, here's a different one, instead.
For The Defense: iPod
I'd never been to Wired's Cult of Mac blog before, but it's got some pretty good stuff on there, including this recent story about a guy in Washington D.C. who fought of a robber using his iPod mini.
Lest We Forget
The Fume Of Doom!
License To Fly
Scaled Composites, considered by many as the frontrunner for winning the X Prize in the next few months, has already added another "first"--Scaled last week was issued the U.S. Department of Transportation's first license for sub-orbital manned spaceflight. The license will be required of anyone conducting X Prize flights in the U.S.
It's That Poppins Woman!
Recently announced on DVD are the fourth season of the Simpsons, which hits stores June 15, and a decent version of Mary Poppins, one of the best kids' movies of all time, which comes out on Dec. 7.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about a recent breakthrough in composite liquid hydrogen fuel tanks, and we've also got stories about personal items astronauts carry into space, and whether people can go to Mars.
If Bill Gates Ran NASA...
A co-workers sent me these. Some of them are kind of funny, though the list looks like it may have been around for a while.
|:: Wednesday, April 07, 2004 ::|
Hatbag du Jour
Who Are You?
Say you had to convey to someone who you are with a box of a dozen items. What would you pick?An issue of The Enterprise-Tocsin
I'm too lazy to come up with my full list, but it would definitely include:
A copy of my e-mail from Eileen Collins complimenting the article I wrote about her.
An Apple sticker
A Corky's wetnap
A copy of the Hatbag CD
A picture of Nicole
City Of New Orleans
The Mississippi folks probably already know this, but the City of New Orleans jumped its tracks near Flora last night, killing one and injuring nearly 60 others. Nicole and I rode CoNO for our honeymoon on the way to, well, the city of New Orleans, and had hoped to again someday, though this may reduce that desire somewhat.
On Track To The Moon
Frank Sietzen has an excellent article about the signs that the House of Representatives is warming to the Vision for Space Exploration, and may be willing to vote through the entire budget increase.
Also of interest was "confirmation" of something this blog has theorized:
"According to congressional sources, several House members complained Bush has failed to say anything more about the moon-Mars plan since his Jan. 14 speech, and his silence has been interpreted as a cooling of support. The group was told the White House was silent, not because Bush was rethinking his grand space plan, but was instead trying to avoid further politicization.
One source told UPI that Bush would 'keep his powder dry until the myths, legends, and political barbs on this strategy subside,' and the president probably would speak again about his space plan sometime late in his re-election campaign."
JSC has posted an interview with Mike Fincke, who is just 11 days away from launching to International Space Station Alpha, where he'll serve as the Expedition 9 science officer for the next 6 months.
Install Discs Of Tron
In the sort of news that makes Dave happy, it turns out that, finally, Tron 2.0 is being ported to the Mac, which I had basically given up on happening. I don't know that I'm going to be willing to pay $50 for it, but surely it'll come down a little eventually (of course, if I get it at the same time as a laptop, you'd hardly notice the extra money).
And Limewire Waits
In a shocking turn of events, record labels are looking for ways to shoot themselves in the foot in the online arena.
Possible Sequel Fodder
Newton's Third Law Of Robotics--"A Robot In Motion Must Remain In Motion Unless Acted Upon By An Outside Force"
Tyler Durden's First Law Of Robotics--"Don't Talk About Robotics"
"The Rules" For Robots--"No Robot Shall Kiss On The First Date, Or, Through Inaction, Allow Itself To Be Kissed"
|:: Tuesday, April 06, 2004 ::|
Yet another 10th anniversary strip.
The Great Moonbuggy
Most cars change their design quite a bit over the years, but according to The Space Review, the late 2010s model of the lunar roving vehicle will likely be very similar to the one used in the early 1970s. While more advanced designs may someday be used, including pressurized vehicles, it likely wont't be anytime soon.
Playing Catch On Mars
Two different proposals are being considered for the ESA's planned Martian sample return mission. In one, a launch vehicle would carry the samples off the surface, and then dock with a vehicle in space which would return them to Earth. A second proposal skips the docking phase, with the ascent vehicle ejecting the samples for the return vehicle to "catch."
The Ongoing Mission
It's science in overtime: Yesterday marked the Spirit rover's 90th full day on Mars, marking the end of its planned operational life. However, the rover is still, by and large, going strong, and heading for the hills.
|:: Monday, April 05, 2004 ::|
Another 10th anniversary strip.
Search strings so far this month at Hatbag.net:spacex and manned spaceflight heat shield
spare time in students of university
Hardees gluten-free list
a black bear named natch
beastie boys windows media player fight for your right to party
pc chicken invastion
thermal curtain failure
"Davy was like a rock star in those days. He was a legend in his own time and that's a weird thing to live up to. A lot of guys in the Mexican army knew who he was. It'd be like you or me going into a fort to kill Bob Dylan."
-- BILLY BOB THORNTON telling the Houston Chronicle what it was like to portray DAVY CROCKETT in "The Alamo."
Are You Go For Mars?
Space Holdings has started a petition where you can register your support for the Vision for Space Exploration. Needless to say, this blog encourages you to do so.
ESA On ISS
Here's an interesting tidbit: Rosaviakosmos has to give up one of its berths on the Station, resulting in two-person Expedition crews consisting of representatives of NASA and ESA. Which, I guess, would be possible if the price were right.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is in negotiations with Russia to send a European astronaut next year on a long-term mission to the International Space Station, a top ESA official said in Moscow.
ESA has had astronauts visit ISS briefly on Shuttle flights and Soyuz exchange missions, but thus far only NASA and Rosaviakosmos astronauts and cosmonauts have actually lived there as part of Expedition crews.
According to the article, ESA is in talks to send two cosmonauts to ISS next year, one in April and one in October 2005.
To do that, one of three things has to happen:
The ISS crew complement would have to be restored to three, allowing an Expedition crew representing all three agencies. The current reduced size was implemented due to the limited upmass capabilities with the Shuttle fleet grounded. If the Shuttle does, indeed, return to flight in March, it might be possible to get enough supplies to Station to support the larger crew.
The third possibility, of course, would be a two-person crew consisting of representatives of RSA and ESA. While NASA, I believe is entitled to a berth on ISS, it's not entitled to Soyuz transportation to get there, and, unlike ESA, is unable to pay for seats. This article makes me wonder whether RSA might be considering ending the free ride for NASA.
I'm curious as to whether Rosaviakosmos has the right to make the decision to take the first or second option unilaterally, or whether NASA and other partners would have to approve changes in the make-up of Expedition crews. It's very possible that RSA could pick the third possibility unilaterally, since it does have sole control of the passenger manifests of Soyuz crafts.
It'll be very curious to see exactly how this develops.
NASA is expected to release the latest Return To Flight update today.
Dawn Of The Moon
Paul Spudis, a planetary scientist and a member of the President's Commission on MM&B spoke before Congress last week in a hearing on the benefits that can be gained by a resumption of manned lunar exploration. Additional coverage is available at NASA Watch.
Duel Of The Constellations
This article has more on the possibility that NASA may order prototypes of multiple proposals for CEV and then conduct a spacecraft fly-off in 2008 to pick the final version.
iPod, There I Am
The Boston Globe has an interesting article about a subjuct that I find fascinating--how iPods change the way we listen to and think about music (which is also relevant to iTunes as well, though they only talk about the portable part). And for Richie, there's a cool presumably unintentional comic book reference early in the "You can take it with you" section.
The internet wouldn't be complete with a site where you can post a picture of the Apple sticker on your car. For some reason, the captions on some of the pictures amuse me.
|:: Friday, April 02, 2004 ::|
In case you missed it, the whole buying a PC thing yesterday was an April Fool's joke. If I'm going to spend money for a computer, I'm going to buy a real computer. As clues, there were three Easter eggs hidden in the post, but they may have been too well hidden.
Also, for your amusement, here are the 100 greatest April Fool's pranks of all time.
No blogging this morning, as I'm at the Great Moonbuggy Race.
|:: Thursday, April 01, 2004 ::|
This Week Only
It's Venus and the Pleiades, which, in addition to being a good name for a band, is an astronomical event that only happens every 8 years.
Happy Birthday, Apple!
Surprisingly, I haven't seen anything about it online today, but Apple turns 28 today. I just happened to look back at my blog from last year and notice the item I had posted then.
Here ya go.
BTW, March saw the second highest number of visitors in the history of hatbag.net. Thank you all!
My daily visits to the long-dormant Joe Blog have finally paid off, as new blogging was finally posted yesterday! w00t!
On A Sadder Note...
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the end of Preview in the DM.
NASA Needs You!
Sean O'Keefe is quoted in today's Denver Post:
"It's imperative the advocates of the vision become as vocal as the skeptics. We really have a compelling, positive story to tell. We can win this debate ... We can't win it by sitting on the sidelines."
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about space radiation research, and Maggie's got one about air-breathing rockets.
ET: Go Home
Sixty-five workers were laid off yesterday at Lockheed Martin's Michoud facility in New Orleans, which produces the External Tank for the Shuttle. The cuts stem from a reduction in the need for additional tanks as NASA prepares to phase out the Shuttle.
The Search For Infinite Earths
Spaceflight Now has a pair of articles today about the possibility of finding Earth-like planets in other solar systems. The first article discusses how astronomers are conducting the search, while the second addresses the odds that a known planetary system will include an Earth-like planet, which some say may be as great as half.
Well, the unthinkable is more or less official. I've been doing some laptop shopping, and have decided I think I'll go with--drum roll please--an HP Pavilion Athlon notebook. For less than a previous generation iBook, I can get a 1.8 GHz processor. I've been using a PC at work for over a year and a half now, and I've gotten used to it, so it seems sort of silly to pay all that extra money for a slower computer.
An Extra Hope
DVD File has the latest specs for the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set coming out in less than 6 months. So far, I don't see anythign compelling, but they say more extras may yet be announced.