|:: Friday, May 28, 2004 ::|
What everyone needs for their computer: Dave and Anime Dave icons! Make your own at this site.
Space Monkey Mafia
On this date in 1959, space monkeys Able and Baker become the first living creatures to travel into space and return safely to Earth, on a fifteen minute suborbital flight in the nose cone of a Jupiter missile. Able died later as a result of surgery to remove the electrodes implanted in his body for the flight, while Miss Baker lived for many years afterwards (I got to see her as a child) and is now buried in front of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, where tribute-payers oft leave bananas atop her memorial.
... John Carmack (of Armadillo Aerospace) posted a note on the aRocket forum that he expects that before Scaled tries an official X PRIZE flight, they will "will fly a single passenger without ballast for the other two first, which will give them the "first commercial astronaut" glory, and let them know if they actually have the performance to add the extra 400 pounds for the X-Prize flights after that."...
If this were the case, Scaled would presumably be exempt from the 60 day advance notice requirement to publicly announce any upcoming attempts at winning the prize for such a flight. The 60-day requirement means that such prime dates as the Fourth of July or the July 20 Apollo 11 anniversary are already out of the question for a prize attempt, but such dates could presumably still be used for a non-prize flight. Scaled has thus far prefered to make no previous announcements of upcoming flights, and this would also allow them, if they were so included, to make their first spaceflight with no previous announcement.
Space Walkin' Bill
Per James Oberg:
After the malfunctions of two of the three U.S. spacesuits aboard the international space station, a critical spacewalk to repair a broken stabilization system must now be made next month using Russian spacesuits. But the Russian willingness to step in and bail out NASA’s spacewalk comes at a price, outlined in documents obtained by MSNBC.com.
Writers Are Doing It For Themselves
The Hitchiker's Guide movie blog has posted the screenwriter's interview with himself.
Staring At The Sun
I wrote a while back questioning why Venus' upcoming transit of the Sun is such a big deal if you can't see it. Science@NASA has an answer--'cause it was relevant 236 years ago. Well, almost.
|:: Thursday, May 27, 2004 ::|
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got one article about Project Prometheus, NASA's nuclear-spacecraft-power initiative (which will be used for the JIMO mission I talk about below), and another article about the T-38 trainer jet which the astronaut corps uses for flying around the country.
Godspeed, Han Solo on ISS
Per collectSPACE (and taken from other sites):
Harrison Ford will be going back into outer space for Godspeed, an upcoming SF thriller under the guidance of James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment, Variety reported. ... Godspeed takes place on an international space station, where a life-threatening situation develops that could kill all the inhabitants on board, Variety reported. The film is scheduled to begin production in the fall.
...All These Worlds...
NASA has released more design requirements for the Project-Prometheus-powered JIMO mission to the Jovian system, which was delayed following the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration. We've got a long time to wait, but this is probably the unmanned mission that I find most cool.
On This Date In History...
I graduated from Huntsville High School.
Also, in 1999, Discovery launched on the STS-96 mission, the first to dock with the International Space Station.
To Worlds Beyond
Here's what Marshall Space Flight Center Director Dave King has to say about the Vision for Space Exploration:
... Now we will resume our journey beyond Earth, and in the years to come will take greater strides than ever before. Now we embark on a journey of discovery to distant worlds - one that promises to increase our knowledge, ignite our imaginations and make our spirits soar.
|:: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 ::|
I've set up a new poll, just to satisfy my own curiousity.
Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff won my poll for favorite realistic space movie with 44 percent of the vote each, and Marooned took the remaining votes. Space Camp and Space Cowboys claimed a grand total of no votes.
Also, I made a few changes to the sidebar, adding some lagniappe links, but moving them out of the way.
The Mac Is A Harsh Mistress:
Microsoft, ladies and gentlemen, is a cheap whore. She lives on the fringes of the law, but there’s no getting rid of her because she fulfils a certain need in our society. People want what she is selling. ...
Apple is a lover.
I considered stealing this meme from BeaucoupKevin, as I have several others in the past, but then realized that his was so much better than anything I was going to do, and made the sensible decision to just link to it instead. Also, I don't know if it really qualifies as a meme. To be honest, I don't even know what that word means, I just know it when I see it. Unless, as in this case, I don't.
Prize Winning Models
OK, this is cool. Model rocket kit manufacturer Estes is preparing to release model rockets based on X Prize contenders, and will be producing die-cast models of them as well. Just what the Dave space room needs!
Of course, if you just have to have some X Prize gear now and can't wait for the really cool stuff, the Cafepress X Prize shop is now open.
Summer Space Showdown
Per UPI's Frank Sietzen:
A political showdown is looming this summer and fall over NASA's fiscal year 2005 budget request, which contains $866 million in new funding.
Some $136 million of the proposed boost is earmarked to start President George W. Bush's new space exploration proposals. Neither house of Congress has acted on the plan yet, and though work has started on a bill to authorize both multi-year funding and a rationale for space exploration, most Hill staffers involved in the issue expect the authorization legislation to be left behind in the congressional rush to adjourn for the fall campaign.
|:: Tuesday, May 25, 2004 ::|
Hulk Hands--You Know They're The One!
Smells Like Jewel Spirit
"Fat girl... fat girl... she hates you... 'cause she's weird crazy Jewel."
Witnesses said Jewel went on a tirade of insults from poking fun at fat people to others with no teeth. ... Jewel was on stage for about an hour and played only four to five songs. Halfway through the show, Dion said Jewel began to talk about Zoloft and Paxil for about 10 minutes.
Also Today In History
The first manned crew of Skylab was launched on May 25, 1973, having been delayed until 11 days after the launch of the workshop to allow time for solutions to be found to the problems which occurred during the SL-1 launch. The crew was led by Charles "Pete" Conrad, who had previously flown two successful Gemini missions and was the commander of Apollo 12, scientist-astronaut flight surgeon Joe Kerwin, and Paul Weitz - all United States Navy pilots.
It would be the job of the first crew to prove that the Skylab program of living and working in space was not only feasible, but manageable. Before that could be done, however, a more pressing task awaited them--completing the task of saving the crippled station.
When they reached Skylab, the three astronauts found that one of the workshop's solar panels was completely gone and the other was only partially deployed, held down by a strap which was a remnant of the destroyed micrometeoroid shield. The crew tried to free the panel by performing a "standup" extravehicular activity from the command module's hatch but met with a frustrating lack of success. Then they were unable to hard dock with Skylab. Without a successful docking, the crew would have to return home, abandoning Skylab as a complete failure. However, the resourceful crew tried another technique, never practiced but mentioned once in training. They suited up, depressurized the CSM once again and removed the "probe" which normally guides the CSM into the "drogue" for docking. After removal, then Conrad drove the latching mechanism straight into the drogue and 11 of the 12 latches correctly actuated! The 12th was performed manually and the Skylab repairs were ready to begin.
By the time this was accomplished, the crew had put in an arduous 22 hour day. The following day, having spent the night in the docked command module, they entered the overheated Skylab, finding it uncomfortably hot. They pushed the "parasol" through the scientific airlock and it unfurled outside the station. Almost immediately, temperatures inside the station started dropping. The internal temperatures stabilized and the astronauts began the work they had come to do.
NASA officials believed that overcoming Skylab's adversities demonstrated the benefits of having humans in space. The mission also highlighted the importance of making allowances for unforeseen problems and being prepared for in-flight troubleshooting.
Today In History
On this date in 1961, only 19 days after Alan Shepard became the first American in space, President John F. Kennedy issued a bold challenge to Congress, building on the nation's 15 minutes of spaceflight experience: to land a man on the Moon in less than 9 years, and return him safely home.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, my copartners in Government, gentlemen-and ladies:
The Constitution imposes upon me the obligation to "from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union." While this has traditionally been interpreted as an annual affair, this tradition has been broken in extraordinary times.
These are extraordinary times. And we face an extraordinary challenge. Our strength as well as our convictions have imposed upon this nation the role of leader in freedom's cause.
No role in history could be more difficult or more important. We stand for freedom.
Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.
I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.
Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.
I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations--explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon--if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will accelerate development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself.
Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating the use of space satellites for world-wide communications.
Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars--of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau--will help give us at the earliest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.
Let it be clear--and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make--let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal '62--an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.
Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.
It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.
I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.
This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.
New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further--unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.
GO To Orbit Sooner
Space tourist Greg Olsen may be making his flight to ISS sooner than planned, according to Cosmic Log. Initial announcements were that Olsen would likely fly in April 2005, but there's now discussion that an ESA astronaut might be bumped from the October 2004 Soyuz flight in favor of Olsen for financial reasons.
I've posted quite a bit lately about SpaceShipOne and its progress toward winning the X Prize, but here's a story about one of the other contenders. Armadillo Aerospace is preparing to begin flight tests of its Black Armadillo spacecraft.
How big is everything? Well, scientists have measured the entire universe, and it turns out the universe is at least 156 billion light-years wide. Which means that in some 13.7 billion years the universe has been around, the stuff at the edge has become some 78 billion light years from where it started. Meaning that it's an average of well over 5 light years per year from where it started. So if light travels, by definition, one light year per year, and the stuff of the universe travels five, then... it's... moving... faster than light? But...
But, you see, silly, it's not, 'cause the universe is expanding.
I'd explain better, but at this point it starts involving science. Or at least so they pretend.
Due to problems with the American EMU spacesuits on ISS, the Expedition 9 crew will use Russian Orlan suits for an EVA next month to replace a failed electronics box on the Station's exterior. The change will mean exiting the Station through a different airlock and translating further to the worksite.
|:: Monday, May 24, 2004 ::|
The Atari 2600 homebrew community is the largest among groups who develop original games for classic video game consoles.
Ice-T is to produce David Hasselhoff's first hip-hop album.
The pair are neighbours in Los Angeles and are said to have struck up a close friendship.
Hasselhoff has had some success as a singer, releasing seven albums. He's also said to be very popular in Germany.
Ice-T, who was one of the first real hip-hop stars in the late 1980s, said: "The man is a legend. And we are going to show a whole new side of him."
The rapper is said to be convinced that the 51-year-old for Knight Rider and Baywatch actor can take on the biggest names in rap, reports The Sun.
Ministry Of Space
British scientists are urging their government to reconsider its ban on human spaceflight. Only one person has ever flown into space as a British citizen, and that was without government involvement. Others, such as Expedition 8 commander Mike Foale, have become U.S. citizens in order to become NASA astronauts.
The Mojave Airport is anticipated to soon become certified as the first inland nonfederal spaceport, able to serve private spaceflight.
Despite its failure, the European Beagle 2 Mars lander has been painted by some as a success, to the fact that it actually made it to Mars for incredibly low cost, and plans have even been discussed for future Beagle-based Mars missions, possibly to feature a multitude of landers to be dropped on the planet. That may change, though, with the results of an ESA investigation which found that the Beagle mission was a failure waiting to happen.
Stories About Supernothing
Look, on the Web! It's the newest Adventure of Seinfeld and Superman.
Smith Burns Atlanta
Don't expect Kevin Smith to visit Atlanta anytime soon. The director is still steaming over how some folks in the Georgia capital criticized his movie "Jersey Girl." "When I was there, I did a radio show where the crew was all kiss-***y, and then slammed the flick when I left town. So lame," Smith wrote on his Web site. "Their excuse was that they can't get confrontational with guests, lest publicists refuse to bring cool guests in anymore. How corporate and safe is that? Particularly for the typical zoo-crew that insists they're cutting edge and counter-culture?" Smith was so irate about one Atlanta review that he called the critic a name we can't repeat here, but it has to do with someone in the world's oldest profession smoking crack. "So right about now, I've got about as much love for Atlanta as it's [sic] patron saint, Ted Turner, has for his ex-wife, Jane Fonda."
Revisionist Future History
On Sept. 14, Lucas will be releasing his first film, THX 1138, to DVD. But, this being Lucas, it's going, of course, to be "The Director's Cut" of the film. Apparently Lucas' original vision included using CGI effects that didn't exist yet, but the studio wouldn't let him.
Lucas has got to be just a few years away from a doddering retirement of "editing" all his old family photos with scissors and crayons to recreate his life the way he thinks it should be.
|:: Friday, May 21, 2004 ::|
One Civic Duty For Man
Per The Cincinnati Post:
The commander of Apollo 11 became just one of 12 Thursday.
Indian Hill resident Neil Armstrong, who became the first man on the moon during his historic 1969 space flight and lunar landing, was empanelled Friday to serve as one of 12 jurors to decide if Frederick Davis is guilty of theft.
The Big Question
Can Episode III be saved?
Per The New York Times:
The difficulty of developing an in-flight inspection and repair system may force NASA to consider alternative approaches if it wants to resume flying the space shuttle next spring, an oversight group said Wednesday. ...
Among the possible alternatives:
Since all planned shuttle missions are to the International Space Station, alternatives to boom inspection include having astronauts making spacewalks for close-up looks at the shuttle and readying the station to serve as a lifeboat for the crew of a damaged shuttle that cannot be repaired.
In other words, it sounds like Loss Of Vehicle is being considered as an acceptable alternative. To be sure, thermal-protection-related LOV has occured only once in 113 flights, so it's not something that's likely to happen again in the future. Accepting this as an alternative is probably based somewhat on the assumption that it's probably safe to fly a few missions without a repair technique, since the odds are way against you needing it. And, if you do, you have a contingency that prevents loss of crew. Still, it's interesting to see that we've reached a point in the program where LOV is considered an acceptable possibility. And, that's not all bad--it means the agency is reaching the point of throwing its cap over the wall for moving beyond the Shuttle program.
In The House
If I'm reading this correctly, the Senate is recommending that the House approve NASA's budget request including funding for the Vision.
Addendum: Per Florida Today:
Congress is poised to give NASA all the money it asked for in 2005, including funding to start work on human missions to the moon and Mars. ...
Indeed, a deal reached earlier this week by House and Senate negotiators would give NASA the entire $16.2 billion that President Bush requested.
The committee that worked out the budget compromise wrote a report endorsing the Bush space plan, saying the budget gives "sufficient funding to initiate the process."
For those who like their OS a little retro, different sites have posted online Flash versions of Macintosh System 6 and System 7 (in varying degrees of French and German, respectively).
The first pieces of Space Shuttle Columbia debris loaned to a non-governmental agency for testing and research are on their way from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., to The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, Calif.
Thought Lain might be interested in this:
"There's a wild one-shot coming out in August called Tales from the Bully Pulpit, that I'm really looking forward to," Image's B. Clay Moore told Newsarama. "It's pretty off the wall, to say the least. Basically, it's Teddy Roosevelt and the ghost of Thomas Edison with a time machine, defending the universe."
Creator and writer Benito Cereno described the book to Moore, who in turn shared this bit of info with Newsarama. "Tales from the Bully Pulpit is a hearkening back to a time in which your job could be "explorer," science didn't have to be about anything specific, and people were still excited at the concept of the unknown. It's about two such explorers, one an adventuring hero and policeman of the world, the other an inventor and innovator -- both of whom just happen to be people you've heard of: Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison. Tales from the Bully Pulpit is an exploration of what would happen if two such daring and inquisitive men had the capability to explore everything. Literally everything. In a souped-up version of a stolen time machine, the two adventurers travel where their whims carry them; in this case, that happens to be the future, and traveling to the future takes them to Mars. Once there, Teddy and Edison discover that not all is well on the red planet, so they take it upon themselves to help. Amid strange creatures and even stranger foes, the two ultimately face the darker side of time travel."
|:: Thursday, May 20, 2004 ::|
Death Or Serious Injury Can Occur
So, here ya go.
Have You Heard About This One?
A hoax, but interesting. Anybody have the full scoop yet?
RSA In ESA?
Nature has more information on the discussions that Rosaviakosmos might join the European Space Agency, including a better explanation of the rationale for giving RSA an associate membership.
Three Months On The Moon
NASA is eyeing the possibility of 90-(Earth) day missions to the Moon as part of the Vision. The story also mentions the possibility of "short-term" missions that would involve a 7-day stay, which would still be longer than any of the Apollo missions.
NASA is still struggling to develop a means to inspect and repair any space shuttle gashes in orbit--a hurdle that could prevent flights from resuming next spring, an oversight panel said Wednesday.
The biggest challenge involves a 15-meter (50-foot) inspection boom that has been under development for months.
Richard Covey, a former astronaut in charge of the return-to-flight task force, said the schedule for solving the problem is tight, and launches may have to be postponed, unless an alternative to the boom is found.
Per Universe Today:
NASA has been working for the past several months to implement the changes requested by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The Stafford-Covey Task Group released their second interim report today, which tracks the status of the Return to Flight effort. Three of the fifteen recommendations have been completed, and they expect to wrap up several more by the summer. One of the most difficult tasks so far has been to eliminate falling debris during launch--it was a piece of foam that fell off the fuel tank that critically damaged Columbia - engineers are worried that the only way to test if the problem has been fixed is by actually launching the shuttle.
Mystery Japanese In Space!
The next space tourist has been announced. Er, kind of. Space Adventures has announced that a well-known Japanese personality will be visiting ISS at some point in the future, but hasn't disclosed the identity of the tourist. Instead, they've made lots of silly comments, like "Together we will make history by sending the first Japanese explorer to space," something astronauts Takao Doi, Chiaki Mukai, Mamoru Mohri, Soichi Noguchi and Koichi Wakata would probably take exception to.
Jim Henson's Boba Fett Babies
Yep, there is a Star Wars TV show on the way. Yep, it takes place between Episode 3 and 4. Yep, the character and story arcs are starting to come together. Hehe... fanboys are gonna love this! Playing one of the series' villans we love to hate is none other than... wait for it... Boba Fett! Expect young Boba (but not nearly as young as in Ep. 2) to feature in the series significantly. And you wondered why Lucas spent so much time focusing on that kid in Attack of the Clones and made sure that you knew that he knew that the Jedi/Republic was responsible for his Dad's death. Now you know.
Part of Lucas' ongoing efforts to find the elements of the original Star Wars trilogy still considered cool and to retroactively suck the cool out of them. Sheesh.
I just bought and read Warren Ellis' Orbiter graphic novel, which came out in paperback last week. For the past year, I had decided I wasn't willing to pay the hardcover price (though apparently I could have bought it on Amazon for about what I paid for the softcover), and also, post-Columbia, wasn't sure that I really wanted to read what sounded like a space disaster comic. That said, having read it, I was really glad I did. It had some interesting things to say, and depicted a depressing future in which we could all-too-easily end up (though ultimately, it's a story of redemption, rather than loss).
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I have an article about how implementing space laser technology on your car can help fight pollution, and Maggie has a story about keeping astronauts from getting too sleepy.
|:: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 ::|
One thing you can say for Hatbag is that, even at our worse, we never got this desperate.
Hot Amateur Action
I've had a suggestion to blog this.
So, here ya go.
Someone Give Alanis A Potato
Avril Lavigne has explained why the lyrics to her songs were also so angry: she was eating too many carbs.
Robot Holocaust Update
Oh, crap! It's official: Robots are now superior to humans. Might as well go find you a place up against the wall.
Next Stop: Space
Cosmic Log reports that the next flight of SpaceShipOne will be the big one--reaching for the 100 kilometer high edge of space. The X Prize Foundation has said that it will give 60-day notice of any attempt at the prize, meaning that a speculated-upon July 4 flight is not going to happen. It also means that a July 20 flight would have to be announced by the end of the week.
The Flying Car
Per the BBC:
The levitating Skycar is the brainchild of Paul Moller, who has spent $200 million trying to get his invention airborne. The car needs 35 feet to take off, but thanks to its 770hp engine can climb at 6,400 feet a minute and reach speeds of 365mph.
"The head of NASA says that in 10 years, 25% of the American population will have access to the Skycar. And he also says that in 25 years 90% of people will be using them," Mr Moller told BBC News Online.
Per NASA Watch:
Editor's note: From a NASA Watch reader: "NASA will no longer be funding the X-37 program. They had been financing the Approach and Landing Test Vehicle (ALTV) which is currently under construction in Palmdale. Apparently, the program is moving forward; a new customer is supposed to be announced in a months time."
For more about the X-37, here's an article I wrote last year.
There's A Little Black Spot On The Sun
OK, since, like, everyone else in the entire freakin' world is posting about it, I might as well, too: Venus is going to transit the Sun on June 8. It's an overwhelming marvel, one of the biggest astronomical events of the year, the first time it's happened in like 122 years, but--it will probably be barely observable here, and even if it were, you can't look at it. So, yeah, there you go. If you miss it (which you will, since you can't see it), next show's in 2012 (but you won't be able to look at that one either).
The newly-formed Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) announced Monday that their organizations are taking their cause to Washington on July 11-13. ...
During SEA's Washington event, the "Moon-to-Mars Blitz", organizations will bring their members to Capitol Hill to visit as many congressional members and staff as possible with a single message: "Fund NASA’s requests for FY 2005 for starting the new Moon, Mars, and Beyond initiative."
The collaboration for the Moon-Mars Blitz is the opening shot illustrating the kind of campaigns that SEA members will be undertaking to help insure passage of the budget required to launch the new space initiative.
All The Way To LEO
OK, can we please, please, please, please finally just shut up about how the U.S. is going to return to the Moon and find China waiting for us? This blog has been saying for a while it's not going to happen, and now, agreeing with us is China itself. The chief designer of the Chinese space program has announced that the country has no plans to send a man to the Moon. However, the nation does plan to construct a permanent manned space station in about 15 years.
Addendum: More is here and here.
Return Of The Jedi Spoiler
That's right, a Return Of The Jedi spoiler. How do you spoil the end of a movie that came out 21 years ago. Oh, trust me, George Lucas can find a way. Anyway, AICN has info on a change that's been incorporated into the DVD version of the Star Wars trilogy. It's in a long post that talks about a bunch of stuff, so just scroll down 'til you see it (you won't even have to look that hard, it's pretty easy to find).
|:: Monday, May 17, 2004 ::|
City Stages 2004
Birmingham's annual City Stages concerts will be June 18-20, and will feature Skynyrd, Loretta Lynn, Fountains Of Wayne, Ruben Studdard, and many, many more.
I'll be glad when summer school starts, so I can go back to anniversary strips. In the meantime, here's one that's not.
Err.. it turns out that's not Bill Gates.
State Of The Union
The AFL-CIO has established a Web site criticizing Bush's Moon-Mars plans, arguing that because many people have lost their jobs, and millions of others are underemployed or have no health insurance, this nation can't afford to pursue a program that would invest billions of federal dollars in high-paying technology jobs. Um... OK. I would be tempted to write them a letter, but, despite the fact that they give contact information for the White House in several places, they don't seem interested in telling how to get in touch with them. Perhaps if they are truly interested in the potential effect of this program on labor, they should talk to the labor representatives who spoke in support of the plan at the Atlanta meeting of the President's Commission.
Delay On The Way To Mars
While I agree with Keith Cowing that "National Keep It Sold" is, at best, an odd name for a space advocacy group, I wanted to share these remarks by Tom DeLay, which I thought were pretty decent.
Balance Of Power
Here's an interesting bit of space politics: Rosaviakosmos wants to join ESA, but the Europeans will only let them join as an associate member. Presumably, RSA will still maintain a higher level of independent identity than most other ESA members, but, even so, a combined ESA/RSA would be quite a formidable space power. Further, if it meant that RSA were to consider ESA interests as its own interests, it could very seriously alter the landscape for NASA.
I Smell A Lawsuit!
Man, Hatbag Productions should so sue this guy:
The Conversation turned out to be merely the same few panels repeated over and over again with nothing but the dialogue changed.
|:: Sunday, May 16, 2004 ::|
Chicks With Attitude
It's kind of like Lilith Fair Lite, except very, very... not. This would be kind of cool if my summer concert schedule weren't already full (if I can't work in Simon and Garfunkel in Nashville, this sure ain't happening).
|:: Friday, May 14, 2004 ::|
I'm curious as to what percentage of the surviving online references to Hootie and the Blowfish are from Hatbag strips.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about the X-15 program, and Maggie's got a piece about how things glow in the dark.
Today In History
At first, the launch of the Skylab space station appeared to go perfectly.
And, indeed, it had—for about a minute.
The workshop was launched atop the SA-513 booster on May 14, 1973, in what was to be the final flight of the mighty Saturn V. The powerful rocket which had sent men to the Moon took its bow in a two-stage configuration, since the station took the place of the S-IVB third stage.
Ten minutes after liftoff, Skylab was in orbit 271 miles above the Earth. Ground controllers watched as it began flawlessly moving through the checklist of tasks to be performed upon its arrival in space. The successful jettison of a radiator cover meant that refrigerators could be switched on. The payload shroud covering the docking adapter and Apollo Telescope Mount peeled away, and the ATM rotated into position perpendicular to the workshop. When it was in place, the mount’s four solar panels unfolded into their X shape.
The only significant anomaly, a report that the micrometeroid shield had deployed early, had not been reflected in further telemetry, and was dismissed as a false signal. Unfortunately, however, such was not the case.
During the launch of the Saturn V, the forward end of Skylab—the docking adapter, the airlock module, and the Apollo Telescope Mount were placed under a nosecone shroud, which served to make them more aerodynamic, but also protected them during launch. The workshop itself, being a modified booster stage, had no such covering. Items on the exterior of the workshop, including the main solar panels and the micrometeroid shield, were on the exterior of the rocket during flight. The solar wings were folded up against the body of the S-IVB, to be deployed in orbit.
About a minute into the launch, flight controllers noticed a strange sideways motion in the rocket, shortly before it reached Max Q, the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure on the vehicle. As the powerful booster sped through the atmosphere, the airflow tore loose the 0.025 inch-thick micrometeroid shield. As the shield came loose, it tore off one of the workshop’s solar panels, and wrapped around the other, preventing it from deploying.
Half an hour after launch, the Flight Director in Houston had been informed of anomalous signals from both the meteoroid shield and the solar panels. The full direness of the situation began becoming apparent about 41 minutes into the mission, the point at which the solar panels were supposed to deploy. Ground controllers waited for the station come into range of the Carnarvon, Australia tracking station so that it could report the status of the deployment. The telemetry signals were confusing, with some indications that the wings had been released but were not fully deployed and other indications that both wings were completely gone. The shortage of electric power on the station supported the latter. Commands were sent to Skylab for it to continue deploying the panels, but to no avail.
Further telemetry confirmed the worst—the station was badly crippled, in not one, but two ways that had the potential to end the Skylab mission before it had truly begun. While the micrometeroid shield was to serve to protect the workshop from impacts, despite its name, it actually performed a far more important role. The shield shaded the workshop, allowing the temperate inside to be kept at a comfortable level despite the exposure to direct sunlight. While research showed that the risk of damage from impact with a meteoroid or orbital debris was relatively slight, the dangers posed by overheating were far greater. Not only could the heat make things very uncomfortable for any human occupants and ruin scientific experiments, it would also cause equipment malfunctions which could render the station unusable.
Russian To The Moon
The Russian wire service RIA Novosty (5/13) reports Russia and the US are "pondering the possibility of creating a joint station on the Moon. Anatoli Perminov, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, said he has discussed the question with Sean O'Keefe, head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Perminov participates in the international aerospace exhibition ILA2004, going on near Berlin." Perninov said, "At our last meeting in Moscow, Sean O'Keefe asked us to join the lunar research and development programme. Building a joint lunar station is also possible."
Wayward satellites could be dragged back into working orbits using a space tug that is set to make its maiden flight in 2007.
The orbital tugboats could rescue spacecraft placed into the wrong orbit during a flawed launch. They could also reposition orbiting satellites that have simply drifted into a useless low orbit over time, as a result of the Earth's gravitational pull.
Eyes On The Prize
So, here's the biggest question I have left about the X Prize: Will SpaceShipOne make its first suborbital flight on July 4 or July 20? I've seen speculation that the flight is coming on the Fourth of July, but the July 20 date might be even more appealing. Unfortunately, the 2-week time limit for making the two flights just barely precludes one of the Fourth and one on July 20 (though it would allow for a Fourth of July first flight and a second flight on the July 16 Apollo 11 launch date).
Anyway, SpaceShipOne made a third powered test flight yesterday, reaching a speed of Mach 2.5 and an altitude of about 40 miles, almost two-thirds of the way to the 63 mile goal. Given that this test roughly doubled the altitude of the previous one, I have no trouble imagining that the spacecraft will be ready for its close-up by July.
Addendum: Here's additional insight from Cosmic Log and Space.com
Another Addendum: Video of the flight can be seen here, and it's pretty cool.
Pixar's posted the new full trailer for The Incredibles, which is still over 5 months away. I am so looking forward to this movie.
|:: Thursday, May 13, 2004 ::|
To be honest, this was probably not our best work.
What a time for Richie to not be able to comment.
Keep On Searching For A Heart Of Gold
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie has a blog.
This Is A Test
Per BBC News:
Churches are having to use their imagination to attract new members. The 3D virtual-reality Church of Fools is just one idea, but does it have any chance of building a congregation?
As I took my pew, I noticed that not only was the guy next to me wearing the same clothes as me, but we had the same heads on as well. A true 21st Century faux pas.
Per The Clear Lake Citizen:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay continued his campaign for congressional funding of the new space vision Friday night at a dinner in Seabrook.
"Our generation has been given a choice - a bold choice - either to drive mankind deeper into space than ever before, or once and for all tether humanity to 'the surly bonds of earth,'" he told Seabrook Rotarians and their guests.
"I know which path I want to choose," he said, adding, "It is the path many of you have cleared for the rest of us, and it is the path that the American people, deep down, want to brave."
I've had for a while a sense of dread about the upcoming House vote on the NASA budget, and while that's far from abated, I'm graduatlly starting to see a small glimmer of hope.
While the news that Project Constellation is called Project Constellation is not news at all, this article by Frank Sietzen does give an interesting picture of what NASA is doing now connected to the Vision.
The Future Of The Shuttle?
Marked for death in 2010, the troubled space shuttle could find new life as a rocket to the moon and Mars.
Long after the winged orbiter completes its last mission, its external fuel tank and twin solid-fuel boosters could continue flying. Strategists in government and industry hope to convince NASA's new Office of Exploration Systems that vehicles derived from the shuttle offer the least risky and most practical transportation for future explorers.
Questions And Answers
Here's an interesting letter to NASA from former astronaut Don Peterson addressing the Vision for Space Exploration. For someone who became an astronaut in 1969 and flew on the Shuttle in 1983, Mississippian Peterson seems to have rather myopic hindsight on the agency's history. His statement, for example that, "And then for some reason you must have felt (Apollo) had no long-term value, because you canceled two or three flights and shut the moon program down," is overly simplistic at best.
A few facts that Peterson would do well to reacquaint himself with:
--Apollo was a goal-oriented plan--To land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade and return him safely home. It's mandate did nothing to address the issue of sustainability.
--NASA has no control over the federal budget. If it did, space exploration would be very different than it is now. If Congress won't give NASA money for more Saturn Vs, it becomes very difficult to keep going to the Moon.
--NASA has no control over the Iran Nonproliferation Act. No matter how much NASA does or doesn't want more Soyuz vehicles, the agency can't simply order more.
--The planned life expectancy of Station from the outset has been the mid-2010s.
His argument that the Shuttle is a limited and flawed vehicle, I don't understand why you'd retire it is also a fascinating one.
What it comes down to, though, is that NASA has already addressed the concerns he raises, to wit: that NASA has a hard time keeping a program going.
The issue of sustainability has been a core part of the Vision since it was announced. This is not a goal-oriented initiative, but rather one designed to take larger and larger steps into the Solar System. A second major watchword of the program is affordability. NASA, I'm sure, would have been more than happy to continue Apollo for as long as Congress was willing to give the agency 4 percent of the national budget.
I don't know what the agency's official answers to Peterson's questions would be, but as someone who is relatively well-read about what's going on in spaceflight today, I'll take a shot at it.
Please explain to me why you think we no longer need the capabilities of the Shuttle, or an equivalent vehicle, to support human activities in low earth orbit.
The Shuttle fleet is aging, and needs to be replaced. What sense does it make to replace it with a vehicle limited to Low Earth Orbit when we could develop a system capable of both operating in LEO and of moving out into the solar system.
Tell me why you have changed your mind about the value of long term research on the Space Station.
At no point has anyone said the agency has "changed its mind" about the valude of research on the Station. Rather, the Vision takes NASA's currently unfocused ISS science program and focuses it on areas believed to have the highest benefits for exploration.
Explain to me why the Space Station wouldn't serve as an excellent facility to test the systems and equipment that will be needed for the long journey to Mars and also provide an ideal place to assemble the Mars vehicles?
I don't know that anyone has said it wouldn't.
Why isn't it to our advantage scientifically and economically to participate in the burgeoning international human space flight effort? (Some U.S. companies are using Russian-made boosters because of their low cost, good performance, and high reliability.)
As Peterson notes repeatedly, NASA is involved in the International Space Station. While no specifics have been worked out, the president and NASA have both publicly expressed an interest in international cooperation for the Vision.
Finally, if you feel all the things that humans have done in the past on the moon and in low earth orbit are not worth continuing, why do you believe that humans on Mars will accomplish things that are worth the cost?
The argument that an agency feels that lunar exploration is not worth continuing while it is developing a program of lunar exploration is a fascinating one. Clearly NASA feels that lunar exploration is important. As for LEO, what is the point of continuing to swim in the shallow end of the pool when one can move on to the deep end? NASA is a long ways from abandoning LEO, but when, and if, it does, it will only be to move further into space.
|:: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 ::|
Need a fan-made TOS Trek fix while you're waiting for "In Harm's Way"? Try Star Trek: The Animated Series Comics. This site has six fanmade comics done in the style of the old cartoon Trek series. The first is a comic adaptation of Yesteryear, but the remaining five are original stories.
Here you go.
I'm posting this link to test Nik's trackback system. I would also note that he so stole this from me, except that he probably didn't.
La Verdad Esta Hacia Fuera Alli
i feel a hot wind on my face
and the touch of a world out in space
i turn the switch and check the number
this sure is one spaced-out summer
i hear the rhythms as their spacecraft
darts around from fore to my aft
i hear them talking as I gawk
can't understand their alien talk
i see a mexican UFO
A flaw in Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq:MSFT - news) almost universally used Windows operating system could allow hackers to take control of a PC by luring users to a malicious Web site and coaxing them into clicking on a link, the company warned on Tuesday.
Strange New Worlds
Per NASA JPL:
Included in the nation's new vision for space is a plan for NASA to "conduct advanced telescope searches for Earth-like planets and habitable environments around other stars." To meet this challenge, NASA has chosen to fly two separate missions with distinct and complementary architectures to achieve the goal of the Terrestrial Planet Finder. The purpose will be to take family portraits of stars and their orbiting planets, and to study those planets to see which, if any, might be habitable, or might even have life.
The <sarcasm>Chinese space juggernaut</sarcasm> has announced that the Shenzhou 6 launch will be in autumn 2005, pushing back the date from earlier reports of a June or July '05 launch date, and moving the mission closer to 2 years after the Shenzhou 5 launch. The flight will carry two people and last 5 to 7 days. After that, the mighty Chinese space program, which no doubt will beat the U.S. back to the Moon, will carry out the Shenzhou 7 launch, which will include a space walk sometime before 2010.
Addendum: this story has a little more information.
Total Eclipse Of The Jupiter
The ISS will eclipse Jupiter tomorrow night. A full eclipse will be visible to only a limited number of people, but it will supposedly be a pretty cool thing to watch even for those who don't live in that small area.
The iTunes Music Store is working to make out-of-print music available again.
"What Jobs is saying is, 'We'd be happy to take all this content that is rotting away in warehouses and turn it into a new revenue source for you,'" said Barry Ritholtz, a market strategist with Maxim Group, a money-management firm. "It's probably a bit much to say Jobs is saving the music industry, but he's showing them the way into the digital age. They have been stumbling around drunk in the dark."
The Passion Of The Christ will be released on DVD Aug. 31, though in a $30 bare-bones edition. A super-deluxe box set will be released at some point in the future, though there's no word on when or what features it will have (though it will likely be even more expensive, I'm sure). In other Jesus DVD news, Jesus Christ Superstar will hit DVD the same day, for half the price.
B.B. Comes Home
|:: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 ::|
A New Era
It's a moment all astronauts remember, when the phone rings, and the voice at the other end from Johnson Space Center says, "We'd like you to come be an astronaut, if you're still interested." Really, they say, who's going to turn that down.
Well, a potential member of Class 19 did. A 12th person was offered a candidate position, but decided they'd rather not be an astronaut when they found out they wouldn't be able to fly on the Shuttle. (To me, going to the Moon would be a pretty darned good consolation prize.)
Also interested is "a senior NASA source"'s claim that "This will be the first class that will fly the Constellation (crew exploration vehicles)." One assumes that means that, just like the Thirty-Five New Guys in 1978, who were the first class to be picked to fly the Shuttle, these are the first astronauts picked specifically for the post-Shuttle era. If, in fact, they literally mean that previous astronauts will likely not outlast the Shuttle era, that's a very intriguing statement. The 1978 Class 8 may have been the first picked specifically for Shuttle, but members of, to the best of my knowledge, every class except 3 have flown on the Shuttle.
Here you go.
(I tried a little something different with the Hatbag today. Let me know what you think.)
The Greatest Generation
Martian Manhunter. Fire. Guy Gardner. Booster Gold. Blue Beetle. What could possibly improve the classic line-up of the Justice League of America? How about if they were My Little Ponys! Well, this site makes the dream a reality. In addition to that JLA line-up, there are a few others from other periods, including the Dark Knight Batpony.
See The Station!
According to Space.com, now is the ideal season for spotting the International Space Station.
During the next couple of weeks, North Americans will have many opportunities to see the International Space Station, due chiefly to a seasonal circumstance. From now through the beginning of July, nights are shortest and the time that a satellite in a low-Earth-orbit (like the space station) can remain illuminated by the Sun can extend throughout the night, a situation that can never be attained during other times of the year.
..Against That Movie Star
Filming has begun on "Constellation," a movie starring Billy Dee Williams being shot in Huntsville.
Spaceport New Mexico
Winning the first X Prize competition, New Mexico has been chosen to host the X Prize Cup competitions that will be held after the initial private space race ends. The state allocated $9 million in its budget to host the competition and develop the state's inland spaceport, meaning that the $10 million Prize has already encouraged a similar amount of government investment in private spaceflight.
The Vision Thing Update
Per UPI's Frank Sietzen, one of the writers who broke the Bush initiative story:
President George W. Bush plans to make a major speech early this summer defending his plan for a new U.S. space exploration initiative, administration sources told United Press International.
Sources said although drafting the speech -- termed a vigorous call to support the president's new space exploration policy he announced last January -- has not yet begun, aides have been narrowing prospective dates and venues.
"The president wants to speak about space," a senior administration source said.
Rather interesting news. The speech will reportedly be timed around the release of the report of the President's Commission on Moon, Mars, and Beyond. I'm curious as to whether it's been his plan all along to follow up with the Vision after the completion of the report he mandated in his first speech (Kennedy's two main Moon speeches, after all, were several months apart), or whether he's responding to criticism that he hasn't been an ardent enough advocate of the program. Personally, I had kind of made my peace with Bush taking a relatively hands-off approach to the program this year out of fear that it become overly politicized. His involvement has the potential to ensure the death of the program if he fails to win re-election, which would have disastrous consequences for American space program. Odds are already being laid down for an July 20 date, since it's hard to imagine that Bush would host a White House reception for the 35th anniversary of Apollo 11 without even addressing the subject of returning to the Moon.
Addendum: Cosmic Log has some commentary on the subject.
|:: Monday, May 10, 2004 ::|
Here's one last dateless strip from May 10 years ago.
Russian To Mars
I've posted a bit about the civilian Russian group that has boasted of a "Before this decade is out" mission to Mars, which has generally elicited a "Yeah, right" sort of response of "Wouldn't that be cool, but it's never, ever going to happen." Now, however, the new head of Rosviakosmos has reportedly said the ambitious plan is not unfeasible.
I hadn't seen this before, but it's kinda amusing (though too drily informative to really live up to its potential, IMHO): the fake Steve Jobs' blog.
X Prize contender Canadian Arrow has announced it will conduct unmanned test flights of its rocket soon. The article states that the group plans to conduct the unmanned flights over a period of 4 months, beginning in August, which is interesting, since the deadline for winning the Prize is December.
The Phoenix Has Landed
The ESA's prototype space shuttle Phoenix succesfully completed its drop-test flight Saturday, which would be exciting, except for the fact that the ESA is undertaking this project that makes the development of the U.S. Space Shuttle, which was beset by constant delays, look downright hectic in comparison.
One Vision, One Voice
In an unprecedented move, 13 space activism groups have united to show support for the Vision for Space Exploration. The group includes not only obvious participants such as the Aerospace Industries Assocation and the Aerospace States Association, which have financial interest in the plan, but also groups such as The Mars Society, which has previously spoken out ardently against the plan.
This blog has been among those who have been saying since Jan. 14 that the biggest thing this plan needs now is outspoken support from the space community, so I'm glad to see this important step being taken.
Get Your Free ... Shrimp!
"If you’re craving for a crustacean, get ready to eat thanks to NASA’s Mars rovers.
At participating eateries of the Long John Silver's quick service seafood chain you can claim your free “Giant Shrimp” in celebration of Mars rover evidence that "a body of gently flowing saltwater" once existed on the red planet.
On Monday, May 10, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., customers can stop by any participating Long John Silver's restaurant and enjoy a Giant Shrimp."
It turns out NASA and SETI are wasting phenomenal amounts of time and money. Despite research such as this stating that there is evidence that life is common throughout the universe, one could, instead, simple Ask Marilyn Vos Savant, who in her Parade Magazine column yesterday (unavailable online until May 17) stated unilaterally that there is no alien life.
So, here's the thing about all these extrasolar planets that have been discovered: Nobody's actually seen one. There are all sorts of techniques for locating them, but nobody has ever been able to actually image one through a telescope, they just study the effect they have on other celestial bodies. Now, however, that may have changed. A group of astronomers say they may have taken the first picture of a planet outside of our solar system, though they'll have to wait a while to be sure. To me, it's an exciting development--another layer of proof of the amazing universe we are discovering.
There Can Be Only... Well, A Lot
One of the most entertaining movies of all time, Highlander 2, is getting a new DVD release! The new version will include the "Renegade Version" of the film, with "enhanced and reimagined visual effects." No word yet on whether it will include a documentary featurette on the concept of being able to look forward through time, but only as far as time has passed in your time.
Enterprise is being renewed!
"'I am confident [...] that we are going to get a season 4 from UPN,' Berman told the Star Trek Communicator."
"Star Trek Enterprise is unlikely to be renewed for a fourth season, according to a report in a Hollywood trade paper yesterday."
The First Shall Be Last
Having released TNG, Voyager, and DS9 on DVD in complete-season packages, Paramount is finally going back and fixing the crappy two-episode-per-disc DVD release of The Original Series. The three seasons of Star Trek will be released this year in three "complete season" packages. The article this links to is for the Region 2 release (for some reason, I'm getting a bunch of Region 2 Trek DVD news before I see the Region 1 announcement--I still haven't heard anything about Generations in Region 1), but the specs are expected to be similar for the U.S. I really kind of like those packages.
Blogger has implemented a bunch of new changes over the weekend, such as a new user interface that is amazingly inconvenient. I'm strongly considering moving on to a different blogging system, but we shall see. In the meantime, there were also some new features included in the "upgrade," and I'm going to try playing with those also. One of them is a new comment system which is integrated into the Blogger stuff. If I can get it to work, I ask that y'all try it out and let me know how it compares to the system I've been using.
|:: Saturday, May 08, 2004 ::|
So I'm writing this from the steps of Farley Hall, which is kinda cool.
The thing that has fascinated me the most about being on campus is that, despite all the changes, the Union still smells exactly like the Union, and Farley still smells exactly like Farley. Kinda odd. Particularly in the Union, since so much has changed there since I was a student here.
There's a display up in Farley with bunches of photos of journalism week, including a bunch of Jesse, who spoke here a few weeks ago as part of an editors panel with Lee Eric and a few later editors.
The DM is still relatively as it was, which will probably be the last time I see it as such.
The have stacks of free yearbooks from various years in Farley, and I plan to load up before I leave.
|:: Friday, May 07, 2004 ::|
Since it fell during the weekend, I'll post this strip, which celebrated its 10th anniversary Sunday.
Home Decorating Unchained
Since Lain may soon be seeking a new home, may we respectfully suggest this apartment.
Addendum: And some among my readers may be interested in this.
It's No Pants Day, and I didn't know about it until too late!
Another interesting tidbit from the Group 19 announcement yesterday: One of the speakers was Justin Houchin, 17, who wants to be the first teenager in space. My first reaction, was, of course: ha ha, who doesn't? Don't hold your breath, kid. Only, reading further, the thing is--he might do it. (FYI, the current youngest space traveler is Gherman Titov, who was 26 when he became the second cosmonaut in space. Lance Bass was 23 in late 2002 when he hoped to fly, but since Soyuz flights are booked through 2005, even if he were able to put together a deal in the future, which I've read he still hopes to do, he would be unlikely to beat Titov's record.)
Today In History
Fourteen years ago today, the Space Shuttle Endeavour made its first flight--the last time the U.S. launched a new manned spacecraft.
One Small Step
Per Space Politics:
A blurb in this week's Aviation Week (not online) notes that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the House majority leader, has taken over work on introducing a NASA authorization bill that would support the President's space exploration plan. House Science Committee chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), had planned to introduce the President's version of the NASA authorization "as a courtesy" while working on his own version of the legislation, which he apparently plans to continue. With both DeLay's influence as well as his interest in the plan—he is one of the few Congressional leaders to broadly praise the plan, and his district now includes JSC—this move would seem to raise the odds that the President's plan will make it through the House, at least in an authorization bill.
Enterprise and Enterprise
NASA Watch's Keith Cowing has an article about the announcement of the newest class of astronauts yesterday, which includes some interesting tidbits, such as the fact that, as the ceremony concluded, the opening theme from Enterprise was played (meaning, ironically, that it would be really appropriate for that song to be played about the future of spaceflight, since by the time of Enterprise, it will have long been a part of spaceflight).
A droptest will be conducted today of an unmanned prototype of a future European Shuttle-type spacecraft.
Addendum: Maybe not. NASA Watch has a link to an article saying the test was delayed, but it links to an article I'm not registered for.
|:: Thursday, May 06, 2004 ::|
Cool Things About NASA
Among the cool things the agency I work for does that yours probably doesn't: shoot the Moon with lasers!
Hey! Hey! Hey!
The Kool-Aid FAQ
It doesn't have a date on it, so I don't know exactly when this strip ran, but it was apparently in May.
Yet another reason for Dave to be sad he can't find his Newton since the move.
"Further proof that Apple's Newton will never die: A Seattle blogger is using the brick-like PDA to run the very latest in personal publishing -- a mobile blog.
Programmer Mike Manzano maintains his Dumb Blogs Have More Fun mobile blog, or moblog, almost entirely from his Newton MessagePad."
Because Memes Must Be Spread
OK, kids, it's time for a game! Yet again, I'm stealing from Beaucoupkevin, who frequently posts cool stuff like this on his blog--the only one I read regularly not by someone I know (well, other than Dave Barry). I don't have time to give all of these the thought they deserve, so I'm just answering things that pop into my head as I go through. I'd be curious to hear your answers.
1. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text.
Walking In Memphis
2. A song you've listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life.
3. Ever bought an entire album just for one song and winded up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song.
Yes, but can't think of one of the top of my head
4. A song whose lyrics you thought you knew in the past, but about which you later learned you were incorrect.
Sheesh--just one? How 'bout "In Your Room" by the Bangles. The actual lyric is "He tells me in his bedroom voice," but for a long time I thought she said, "He takes me in his bedroom, boys."
5. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time.
6. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent.
7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that's not by Liz Phair.
I could probably come up with something better than "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette, but that's all that's coming to mind.
8. A song that sounds as if it's by someone British but isn't.
9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of.
Give A Little Respect--Erasure
10. A song that reminds you of spring but doesn't mention spring at all.
11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels.
All Fall Down--Sarah Masen
12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album.
Angel--Sarah McLachlan w/ Emmylou Harris--Lilith Fair
If I have to do a song that's original to a compilation, rather than just a different version or cover, though, the best I can come up with at the moment is Photograph, by R.E.M. and Natalie Merchant
13. A song from your past that would be considered politically incorrect now (and possibly was then).
14. A song sung by an overweight person.
Uh... OK... Sorry, dude, but... The Thrill Is Gone--B.B. King
15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise hate.
16. A song by a band (whose members actually play instruments) that features three or more female members.
Ironically, the guy I got this from had trouble naming one. For me, singling one out is hard. How 'bout What's Up--4 Non Blondes
17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to.
El Condor Pasa--Simon & Garfunkel
18. A song you've been mocked by friends for liking.
19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard.
Sheesh... dunno. I could think of any number of good covers I like which have never been on the radio, and some that I don't believe have even been released on CD, but I'm having a hard time thinking of any that I'd be arrogant enough to think that nobody on here has heard, particularly since Lain frequents my iTunes.
20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation.
Again, I could probably do better, but howbout just "It Is Well With My Soul."
So, there's my answers... Go for it.
Newly Installed Patch
Expedition 10, which will travel to ISS in October, has unveiled its mission patch, a relatively simple design with U.S. and Russian flags forming the roman numeral 10, monochome depictions of ISS and Soyuz, and the names of the crew members. Uh, and a star.
The X Prize has a new name. It's now the Ansari X Prize, following a multimillion-dollar contribution by the Ansaria family.
Introducing Group 19
NASA this morning announced the newest class of astronaut candidates, which includes three educator astronauts. In addition to the new EAs, the canditates consist of two pilots and six mission specialists.
Aim For Mars!
The Planetary Society has started a petition of support for human missions to the Moon and Mars which will be presented to members of Congress. I've signed it, and encourage you to do the same.
On the day I turned 21, NASA announced that it had found evidence of life on Mars in a meteorite found in Antarctica. I had thought that the findings had been largely discredited by now, but now it's been discredited even more.
This Week At NE
This week at NASAexplores, I got nothing. Just the way the schedule worked out. We've got stories about aircraft tracking, a cooling system that can help MS patients, and microbes in space.
Different Decade, Same Moon
Frank Sietzen, one of the two reporters who broke the story on Bush's space exploration initiative, has an excellent piece today noting the similarities between the unveiling of the Bush and Kennedy plans.
|:: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 ::|
COMET NEAT: Long-awaited Comet NEAT (C/2001 Q4) is approaching Earth and growing brighter. At closest approach on May 7th, it will be 0.32 AU (48 million km) from our planet and about as bright as a 3rd magnitude star. The comet is now visible to the unaided eye--just barely--after sunset from dark-sky locations in the northern hemisphere. It looks like a fuzzy blob with a stubby tail. City dwellers are advised to use binoculars or a small telescope. Visit Spaceweather.com for pictures of the comet and a sky map.
METEOR SHOWER: Today Earth is passing through a stream of dusty debris from Halley's Comet--the source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. Unfortunately, tonight's full Moon will outshine the display, reducing it to near invisibility. Try listening, instead, using real-time links to meteor radars on Spaceweather.com.
New Breeze Blowing
Well, Chewbacca has someone new to support for president. Although two-time LP nominee Harry Brown will not be seeking the Libertarian Party nomination again this year, Harry Braun is running as an independent candidate this year. Hopefully, the fact that most of the nation probably never heard of Brown will help prevent confusion between the two, in that Braun appears to be a bigger nutcase than a mere Libertarian.
Since it fell during the weekend, I'll post this strip, which celebrated its 10th anniversary Saturday. (How exactly do comic strips celebrate? You're probably happier not knowing.)
The President's Commission on Moon, Mars, And Beyond has concluded its public meetings, and has announced it will provide NASA with a report on June 2 recommending about 10 fundamental changes it believes the agency must make to undertake the mission.
Today In History
The era of American Human Spaceflight began 43 years ago today when Alan Shepard became the first American in space on the suborbital MR3 launch of Freedom 7.
|:: Tuesday, May 04, 2004 ::|
Ah, yes. One of the greatest Hatbag strips off all time celebrates its 10th anniversary today. Note that the version here has been digitally restored. Also note that whichever idiot posted the commentary at the bottom of the page was incapable of telling the difference between Hippie and Black Guy.
This, by the way, was the last strip of the first semester that Hatbag was published, meaning that there's no new 10th anniversary strips until summer semester began.
Hatbag.net search strings for the first three days of May:rebecca gurner and blog
Noahs ark mcgivern
apollo 14 space movies videos
brazil Halftrack pics
build a model tower supporting 10 kilograms of weight
competition with fotoes for one year old
hoax mile high comics
hootie and the blowfish hickam air force base
ilove apple background
pixlet shuttle video
rebecca or joe gurner
were can i buy a newspaper printing michines
(This represents, by the way, a sea change in the popularity of the ATW audience. "Lain Hughes" has traditionally been one of the top search strings for Hatbag.net, while the Gurners have never made the chart before. So far this month, though, no one has come here searching for Lain at all.)
Little, Yellow, Different, Better
It's Pac Manhattan.
Now, we should organize games of "You Don't Know Jackson," "Duck Huntsville," and "Street Fighter Tupelo."
Ah, Those Wacky Brits Update
I posted a link to an article last week from a British paper on the subject of intimate relations in space. The Space Review has posted this response, which debunks the paper's claims and then engages in a bit of Brit space bashing.
Aspyr is giving me quite the birthday gift (other than the fact I would have to pay for it): oringally released on X-Box, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic is being ported to Mac in August. All the reviews I've read of the Star Wars role-playing game indicate that KOTOR is one of the best SW games yet. I had been disappointed that it was only available on X-Box, and am excited about being able to buy it without needing a Microsoft machine. Now all I need is to find tons of free time to play it in.
Tiger Is Coming
So I just recently got Panther installed on my computers, and I'm still getting used to it (I haven't even used Expose yet) and now Jobs is already hyping Tiger (OS 10.4, presumably?).
Do You Feel Lucky, Punky?
Um, OK. Automan is not on DVD. Misfits Of Science is not on DVD. The Greatest American Hero is not on DVD. Remington Steele, to the best of my knowledge, is not on DVD. The animated Trek is not on DVD. The animated Tick is not on DVD. And yet, in less than a month, Punky Brewser will be. The set even includes two hours of the "popular Saturday morning animated series."
Why? Why? Why?
|:: Monday, May 03, 2004 ::|
In His Genes
Roddenberry has joined the New Voyages team. Rod Roddenberry, Gene's son, is now a producer for the Star Trek: New Voyages series, which the Roddenberry family has endorsed.
In other ST:NV news, the next episode will be out in August.
Star Wars Live
So, apparently the Star Wars television show is going to be live-action. I have a bad feeling about this.
Ah, the beginning of the month, when random things can make the most-viewed list.
Stories like this one about the Sasser computer virus that takes advantage a known hole in Windows are much less amusing now that it keep me off the internet and office network for subtantial periods of time.
T Minus 5 And A Half Years To Mars?
I posted a couple of times in the past about the Russian group that is planning a private, relatively near-term manned mission to Mars. Well, they now have a Web site, complete with a countdown clock on the front page until the mission begins, which, if I'm doing the math right, should be October 27, 2009 (not entirely sure what the significance of that date would be).
The President's Commission On Moon, Mars, And Beyond will hold its final public meeting today and tomorrow, beginning at noon CDT. The last hearing isn't as captivating to me as the one I attended in Atlanta, but still looks like it should have some interesting parts. I'm curious to hear the commission's discussion with O'Keefe, for example.
"NASA’s just issued plan points out that 'considerable progress' has been made in the past months in the agency’s return to flight efforts and to make the Shuttle safer.
'We’re feeling very good about being back in the flying mode next spring,' Wayne Hale, Space Shuttle Program Deputy Manager said in a press briefing today in discussing the return to flight status of the space plane. "
One Last Look
How's this for a sense of scale: Remember last summer, when Mars was the closest it had been to Earth in thousands of years? Remember how bright it was in the night sky? But, even at that close distance, Mars was still just a dot in the sky. At its nearest, Mars was only 35 million miles from Earth.
A little over a month ago, the Cassini spacecraft took its last full picture of Saturn. At a distance of 30 million miles, a little closer than Mars was to Earth, Saturn looms so large in the craft's narrow angle camera that it is now impossible to get the planet and its rings in one shot. We're aware in an academic sense that the outer gas giant planets are much larger than the inner rocky ones, but even so, thinking about Saturn being that big compared to the tiny dot of Mars is just amazing to me.
According to AICN, rumors and leaks point to the possibility of a Babylon 5 movie being developed. At its height, particularly the middle three seasons of the original series, B5 was some of the best science fiction television ever made, and so I'm excited about the idea of a movie. On the other hand, though, pretty much all the B5 stuff since the end of the fourth season has been varying shades of lackluster, so that doesn't bode well for this project. Still, I imagine that, worst case scenario, big-screen B5 would be some pretty nice eye candy.
I'm Your Venus
Venus will be at its maximum magnitude this week, 23 times brighter than the brightest night star, Sirius. The planet will be able to cast faint shadows on Earth.
Well, I'll Tell Ya
Coming to DVD on July 6 is Challenge of the Superfriends: Season One. Extras will include commentary on selected episodes and a documentary.