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Thursday, January 05, 2017

It is man's destiny to dream the impossible, to dare the impossible, and to do the impossible.

Only Nixon could give us a space jalopy so China could go to the moon:

It was Christmas in January, for whereas Fletcher and Low had come in hoping for approval of the downsized version that they really did not want, [OMB director George] Shultz now was ready to recommend that they receive the full-size version that had not been in play for over a month...The decision to proceed with the Shuttle became firm during the meeting in Shultz's office, with Shultz confirming his assent to NASA's request for $200 million as startup funds for the Shuttle within Nixon's FY 1973 budget.
As recently as November, Flanigan had anticipated that any White House announcement would be low-key. At that time, with the $3 billion glider as the likely new initiative, Flanigan expected to see the main coverage limited to the aerospace trade press, thereby reassuring this industry of Nixon's support while avoiding the high visibility that would draw fire from critics. The Shuttle, however, had metamorphosed now into a $5.5 billion program. As early as the previous Friday, prior to the meeting in Shultz's office, a White House staffer had already laid out the high-profile announcement that now was scheduled for Wednesday, January 5.

Fletcher and Low flew out to California, editing two NASA statements along the way. Nixon greeted them at the Western White House, as did John Ehrlichman. Though the President had planned to spend only 15 minutes with his visitors, the meeting ran well beyond a half-hour as he showed strong interest in the Shuttle and the space program. Fletcher had brought a model of a [Thrust Augmented Orbiter System], and Ehrlichman would remember "Nixon's fascination with the model. And he held it and, in fact, I wasn't sure that Fletcher was going to be able to get it away from him when the thing was over."

Nixon stated that NASA should stress civilian applications but should not hesitate to note the military uses as well. He showed interest in the possibility of routine operations and quick reaction times, for he saw that these could allow the Shuttle to help in disasters such as earthquakes or floods. He also liked the idea of using the Shuttle to dispose of nuclear waste by launching it into space. Fletcher mentioned that it might become possible to collect solar power in orbit and beam it to earth in the form of electricity. Nixon replied that such developments tend to happen much more quickly than people expect, and that they should not hesitate to talk about them.

He liked the fact that ordinary people would be able to fly in the Shuttle, who would not be highly-trained astronauts. He asked if the Shuttle was a good investment, and agreed that it was indeed, for it promised a tenfold reduction in the cost of space flight. He added that even if it was not a good investment, the nation would have to do it anyway, because space flight was here to stay.

Nixon's announcement on January 5, 1972:

I have decided today that the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system designed to help transform the space frontier of the 1970s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980s and '90s.

This system will center on a space vehicle that can shuttle repeatedly from earth to orbit and back. It will revolutionize transportation into near space, by routinizing it. It will take the astronomical costs out of astronautics. In short, it will go a long way toward delivering the rich benefits of practical space utilization and the valuable spinoffs from space efforts into the daily lives of Americans and all people.

The new year 1972 is a year of conclusion for America's current series of manned flights to the moon. Much is expected of the two remaining Apollo missions--in fact, their scientific results should exceed the return from all the earlier flights together. Thus they will place a fitting capstone on this vastly successful undertaking. But they also bring us to an important decision point--a point of assessing what our space horizons are as Apollo ends, and of determining where we go from here.

Nice idea, but it kinda took our eyes off the horizon:

"This may be the last time in this century that men will walk on the Moon," President Nixon declared after [Harrison "Jack"] Schmitt and Eugene Cernan rocketed off the lunar surface on Dec. 14, 1972.

Schmitt has never forgiven Nixon for that remark and says he never will.

"Whether it was true or not, it was an inappropriate statement for the president to make," he said.

What's worse, it's [proven] to be true. 

Only Donald Trump could gut NASA's terran research so we could explore deep space...


January 5, 2017 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Trump Will Get Us Back To The Moon

Think of all the savings from not studying climate change on this Blue Marble...you've screwed one Earth, you've screwed 'em all!


December 14, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, December 08, 2016

And All The Seven Are In O[r]bit

Godspeed, John Glenn, last of the first.


December 8, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

You seen one Selenite, you seen them all.

It's just like daylight here at the Kennedy Space Center as the Saturn V is moving off the pad...


December 7, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chimp #81

Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord...


November 29, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Every Astronaut Poops

NASA wants a better space suit to crap in.  What's wrong with the traditional system of getting naked with lots of tissues?


November 28, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Give us a reading on the 1202

As you can see, there are no chicks landing on the Moon.


November 25, 2016 in Mars, Bitches!, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Patriarchy In Space

Just catching up on this week's news:

President Obama awarded his last Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest US honor given to a civilian — in a packed ceremony on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. Margaret Hamilton, the woman behind the onboard flight software for NASA Apollo lunar modules and command modules, was among the 21 recipients.

Hamilton, who invented the term “software engineer,” began her career as a computer programmer at MIT in the 1960s. In August 1961, NASA issued a contract to MIT to design the spacecraft’s guidance and navigational system. Hamilton presided over the in-flight software group, which included overseeing the alarm system that would give a warning when the computer was overloaded, but at the same time allowed it to switch its focus to critical tasks and stop doing non-critical tasks.

This alarm system proved to be crucial in the moments leading up to Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s Moon landing when it rang due to a faulty radar. But it allowed Aldrin and Armstrong to continue with the landing as the computer informed the crew that it was shedding its less-important functions to focus on steering the engine during the spacecraft’s descent.

During the award ceremony, Obama said Hamilton represents “that generation of unsung women who helped send humankind into space.”

Unsung is an understatement.  In popular culture and history about the Apollo program, women are relegated to the Wives, some nurses...men are the heroes.  And I admit I didn't even realize that until recently.


November 25, 2016 in Mars, Bitches!, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Three More Like Before

"Try SCE to aux..."


November 14, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, October 31, 2016

To Go Where Lots Of People Have Floated Before

Near-earth orbiting is a little dull these days, but amazing that we've been maintaining constant presence on the edge of space for 16 Halloweens (give or take).


October 31, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, October 14, 2016

A Lousy Commercial For Actifed

Apollo finally goes live with some crabby astronauts.


October 14, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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I've been busy with Operation Vaguebooking, so blogging has suffered.  Anyway, here's Ericka from several years ago, looking somewhat like her future daughter.


October 14, 2016 in Family Life, Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Without this signal freaking everybody out, Al Gore never would have invented the Internet.


October 4, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Monday, October 03, 2016

Are you a turtle today?

You bet your sweet ass I am!


October 3, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Prefer My Earthrise Pictures In Color

The first earthrise, 50 years ago:

[O]n 23 August 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 snapped the first photo of Earth as seen from lunar orbit (Larger view). While a remarkable image at the time, the full resolution of the image was never retrieved from the data stored from the mission. In 2008, this earthrise image was restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. We obtained the original data tapes from the mission (the last surviving set) and restored original FR-900 tape drives to operational condition using both 60s era parts and modern electronics. 

Okay, I lied about the theme being done...


August 23, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Star Wars Also Gave Us Sound In Space

Still a good thing on balance:

Star Wars created Star Trek. You know that?” [William Shatner] said.

Speaking at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, [he] said the franchise owes its success to the box office dynamo that was George Lucas’Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While it’s true that Star Trek came out a decade before that (put those keyboards down, Trekkies), it also got cancelled after three seasons, with little hope of it ever returning.

“Every year, there was the threat to be canceled. The third year, we were canceled, and everybody accepted it,” he said.

Shatner said Star Wars got people so interested in sci-fi that, of course, Star Trek was going to be brought back from the abyss. Star Trek: The Motion Picturewas released two years later.

“At Paramount Studios, they were running around bumping into each other. ‘What do we got?! What do we got to equal Star Wars?’” Shatner told the crowd. “There was this thing that we canceled, under another management, it was called Star Trek? Let’s resurrect that!”

Also, too: Jaws gave us Superman.  But without cream cheese, lox, and capers, thankfully...


August 7, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I do not see a hostile, empty world.

I see the radiant body where man has taken his first steps into a frontier that will never end...


July 26, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Splashdown! Apollo has splashdown.

Hornet, copy. Understand splashdown.


July 24, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tranquility Base Here, The Punch Has Landed

Not fake.  Nor this.  But this is.


July 20, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

If you're fixing to go to the Moon

What a groovy thing:

Between the Moon and Earth, there came a point where the gravity of the approaching body became stronger than that of the receding body. When this point of gravitational equality was reached, it was customary for mission control, and especially those concerned with flight dynamics, to switch their frame of reference from one world to another.

However, because the Moon itself was in motion around Earth, the numbers representing the spacecraft‘s speed and position appeared to jump. Journalists, more used to figuring out the trajectories of political figures rather than those of spacecraft, found it difficult to make sense of this change in the velocity figures being fed to them by the NASA public affairs people, and some got the impression that a ‘barrier’ was being crossed and that this must surely be felt by the crew.

Mike Collins later related how Phil Shaffer, one of the flight dynamics controllers in the MOCR struggled to explain the truth to reporters as Apollo 8 entered the lunar sphere of influence: “Never has the gulf between the non-technical journalist and the non-journalistic technician been more apparent. The harder Phil tried to dispel the notion, the more he convinced some of the reporters that the spacecraft actually would jiggle or jump as it passed into the lunar sphere. The rest of us smirked and tittered as poor Phil puffed and laboured, and thereafter we tried to discuss the lunar sphere of influence with Phil as often as we could, especially when outsiders were present.”

As a homeward-bound Apollo 11 crossed the imaginary line between the gravitational spheres of influence of the two worlds, Capcom Bruce McCandless called the spacecraft to inform the crew: “Apollo 11, this is Houston. Stand by for a ‘mark’ leaving the lunar sphere of influence." He then indicated the moment’s passing, “Mark. You’re leaving the lunar sphere of influence. Over.”

Collins saw a chance for some mischief. “Roger. Is Phil Shaffer down there?“ The FIDO console was being manned by Dave Reed rather than Shaffer. “Negative.” said McCandless, “but we've got a highly qualified team on in his stead.”

“Roger. I wanted to hear him explain it again to the press conference," teased Collins. “Tell him the spacecraft [definitely] gave a little jump as it went through the [equigravisphere].“

“Okay. I'll pass it on to him. Thanks a lot," said McCandless, “and Dave Reed is sort of burying his head in his arms right now.”

One line that's always bugged me in the otherwise generally excellent From the Earth to the Moon:

It is the biggest rocket anyone has ever seen, a behemoth intended to transport men beyond the influence of the Earth.

What, the Moon isn't under the influence of the Earth?  Anyway, NASA defined the equigravisphere as 40,000 statute miles (64,374 kilometers) from the center of the Moon.  Earth's gravity is still there, just a little less than it is in Houston.  A frame of reference to help them figure out where they're going, is all...


July 19, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)