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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Constitutional Republicans In Space!

[The Moon] is ours! If we rightly improve the heaven sent boon, we may be as great, and as happy a nation, as any on which the sun has ever shone...

 - David Ramsay, May 12, 1804


After snarking about NACA and the Constitution, I was in a playful mood last night and decided to check out what Apollo astronaut Jack Schmitt had to say about such agencies.  Why?  Because after NASA he became a Senator (R-NM), headed the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, and directed NM's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.  And this is what I do for fun.

To that end, I found a collection of his papers on the subject called Space Policy and the Constitution.  I don't have a big narrative about it, but while reading I was struck by a few items I wanted to highlight.

I didn't even make it through the Foreword by one Michael D Griffin, a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering prof from Rocket City before getting tripped up:

Jack believes the Constitution means what it plainly says, that (not having been written primarily by lawyers) lawyers are not required to explain its meaning...

Why not start with a big factual error?  Over half the Framers were lawyers (with different legal perspectives).  What's more, 80% of them had served in the Continental Congress, and almost all had local or state government experience.  That's Mamet level of ignorance right there.

IANAL, but I do love examining the Constitution's meaning, and agree that one need not be a Con Law professor to do so.  That said, it's not entirely plain all the time if one doesn't understand terms of art, history, context, etc.  And one must remember that however plain you might think the words might be, we have always argued about them from the very beginning.

So that statement is pretty much meaningless.  But haha, lawyers are such elitist jerks and we don't need them at all, amirite?

Anyway, there was some other silly stuff in there, but I did eventually get to what Jack wrote.  Not surprisingly, he slagged on subsidies while seemingly not being aware how long they've been embedded in American development of science, industry, etc.  

Yet he's no Ron Paul.  To his credit, Schmitt cites not only "common defence" but also "general welfare," "science and useful arts", and "necessary and proper" clauses to justify a variety of space-related expenditures.  

At first I was a bit shocked that he discussed climate science as something important since he's a big climate change denier.  Upon reflection, though, it makes sense that he would want to study it even (or especially) if he thinks the current consensus is bunk.

Probably my favorite graf:

Returning to the Moon and to deep space constitutes the right and continuing space policy choice for the Congress of the United States. It compares in significance to Jefferson’s dispatch of Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Purchase. The lasting significance of Jefferson’s decision to American growth and survival cannot be questioned. Human exploration of space embodies the same basic instincts—the exercise of freedom, betterment of one’s conditions, and curiosity about nature. Such instincts lie at the very core of America’s unique and special society of immigrants.

Jefferson himself doubted the constitutionality of his big purchase, so I love seeing this in the context of space policy.  Exploration is just something we do.  For commercial purposes, yes, as well as defense, and also because learning stuff is an important part of republican virtue and supporting a well-informed nation that can effectively govern itself.  

It is both necessary and proper for Congress to spend money on such things.  And you don't need a lawyer to tell you that plain truth.

ntodd

March 5, 2015 in Biofuels, Bitches!, Constitution, Schmonstitution, Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Unconstitutional NACA

Since I was kinda busy yesterday, I didn't get around to posting this:

On March 3, 2015, NASA celebrates 100 years since the founding of its predecessor -- the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA.
 
With a small budget and no paid staff,  the NACA began developing the capabilities our nation needed to gain leadership in aeronautics.  Throughout and beyond World War II, the NACA developed or helped develop many aeronautical breakthroughs that are still used today -- from engine cowlings, to retractable landing gear, and jet engine compressors and turbines.
 
When the nation's focus began turning to space during the 1950s, it was decided that the NACA's 7,500 employees and $300 million in facilities would transition on October 1, 1958, to a new agency. Some of the NACA's brightest minds became leaders of the space effort and directors of NASA research centers. One former NACA employee put the first footprints on the moon. 

Yet I don't see anything in the Constitution about airplanes (or spaceships), right Mr Paul?

ntodd

PS--I think it counts as irony that the first Shuttle was originally going to be called Constitution before Nimoy and Shatner fans got it changed.

March 4, 2015 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Am As Constant As The Northern Star

A new fellow in the firmament:

A newfound cosmic object may be a long-sought missing link that could help flesh out the black hole family tree.

The object appears to be an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH), astronomers say. Called NGC-2276-3c, it lies in an arm of the spiral galaxy NGC-2276, about 100 million light-years from Earth.

IMBHs are thought to contain the mass of a few hundred to a few hundred thousand suns. The black holes are therefore intermediate in size between stellar-mass black holes and the behemoths that lurk at the hearts of galaxies, which can harbor billions of solar masses.

Researchers have long hypothesized the existence of IMBHs, which are believed to be the seeds from which supermassive black holes grow. But the midsize structures have proven elusive thus far.

"Astronomers have been looking very hard for these medium-sized black holes," study co-author Tim Roberts, of the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "There have been hints that they exist, but the IMBHs have been acting like a long-lost relative that isn't interested in being found."

There is no true-fix’d and resting quality to our understanding of this Cosmos...

ntodd

February 28, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Beam Me Up, Scotty

Life could very well be on other worlds in our solar system besides Earth.  Still no indication of whether there's intelligent life anywhere, though...

ntodd

February 28, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, February 27, 2015

There Are Always Possibilities

Quite logical:

Solar power has been studied and tested for nearly 40 years, but only within the last few years have we seen innovations truly make leaps and bounds. Looking towards the future, scientists are now saying that with the technology we have in development today, giant solar-powered satellites able to collect energy and shoot it back down to earth could be used to power the entire globe as soon as 2041. John Mankins, former NASA scientist and U.S. Space Agency former Head of Concepts, is credited with pioneering the theory, which is creating quite the buzz with a number of international scientists and organizations.

Naturally, this reminded me of Asimov's story Reason:

Half a year later, the boys had change their minds. The flame of a giant sun had given way to the soft blackness of space but external variations mean little in the business of checking the workings of experimental robots. Whatever the background, one is face to face with an inscrutable positronic brain, which the slide-rule geniuses say should work thus-and-so.

Except that they don't. Powell and Donovan found that out after they had been on the Station less than two weeks.
...
"I've come to have a talk with the two of you," [the robot said quietly.]

"Oh!" Powell looked uncomfortable. "Well, sit down. No, not that chair. One of the legs is weak and you're no lightweight."

The robot did so and said placidly, "I have come to a decision."

Donovan glowered and put the remnants of his sandwich aside. "If it's on any of that screwy-"

The other motioned impatiently for silence, "Go ahead, Cutie. We're listening."

"I have spent these last two days in concentrated introspection," said Cutie, "and the results have been most interesting. I began at the one sure assumption I felt permitted to make. I, myself, exist, because I think-"

Powell groaned, "Oh, Jupiter, a robot Descartes!"

"Who's Descartes?" demanded Donovan. "Listen, do we have to sit here and listen to this metal maniac-"

"Keep quiet, Mike!"

Cutie continued imperturbably, "And the question that immediately arose was: Just what is the cause of my existence?"

Powell's jaw set lumpily. "You're being foolish. I told you already that we made you."

"And if you don't believe us," added Donovan, "we'll gladly take you apart!"

The robot spread his strong hands in a deprecatory gesture, "I accept nothing on authority. A hypothesis must be backed by reason, or else it is worthless – and it goes against all the dictates of logic to suppose that you made me."

Powell dropped a restraining arm upon Donovan's suddenly bunched fist. "Just why do you say that?"

Cutie laughed. It was a very inhuman laugh – the most machine-like utterance he had yet given vent to. It was sharp and explosive, as regular as a metronome and as uninflected.

"Look at you," he said finally. "I say this in no spirit of contempt, but look at you! The material you are made of is soft and flabby, lacking endurance and strength, depending for energy upon the inefficient oxidation of organic material – like that." He pointed a disapproving finger at what remained of Donovan's sandwich. "Periodically you pass into a coma and the least variation in temperature, air pressure, humidity, or radiation intensity impairs your efficiency. You are makeshift.

"I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself, smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing."

Donovan's muttered curses rose into intelligibility as he sprang to his feet, rusty eyebrows drawn low. "All right, you son of a hunk of iron ore, if we didn't make you, who did?"

Cutie nodded gravely. "Very good, Donovan. That was indeed the next question. Evidently my creator must be more powerful than myself and so there was only one possibility."

The Earthmen looked blank and Cutie continued, "What is the center of activities here in the station? What do we all serve? What absorbs all our attention?" He waited expectantly.

Donovan turned a startled look upon his companion. "I'll bet this tinplated screwball is talking about the Energy Converter itself."

"Is that right, Cutie?" grinned Powell.

"I am talking about the Master," came the cold, sharp answer.

It was the signal for a roar of laughter from Donovan, and Powell himself dissolved into a half-suppressed giggle.

Cutie had risen to his feet and his gleaming eyes passed from one Earthman to the other. "It is so just the same and I don't wonder that you refuse to believe. You two are not long to stay here, I'm sure. Powell himself said that at first only men served the Master; that there followed robots for the routine work; and, finally, myself for the executive labor. The facts are no doubt true, but the explanation entirely illogical. Do you want the truth behind it all?"

"Go ahead, Cutie. You're amusing."

"The Master created humans first as the lowest type, most easily formed. Gradually, he replaced them by robots, the next higher step, and finally he created me; to take the place of the last humans. From now on, I serve the Master."

Hari Seldon never could have anticipated...

ntodd

February 27, 2015 in Biofuels, Bitches!, Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Paint Mars By Numbers

In 1964, NASA was still years away from its first moon landing. Failed missions and botched technology were common, but the agency was determined to learn more about the universe. On November 28, 1964, Mariner 4 set out to orbit Mars.

It took over seven months for the probe to reach Mars, and when it got there, it spent just 25 minutes observing the atmosphere. On July 14, 1965, scientists gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to celebrate the probe’s historic flyby. But though the probe successfully transmitted 22 close-up images and 5.2 million bits of data, the team had to wait for a data translator to create a photograph.

McKinnon reports what happened next:

Instead of waiting for the entire image processing procedure to create the official photograph, the employees in the telecommunications group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory mounted the strips in this display panel and hand-coloured the numbers to create a quick and dirty visualization.

Once the mosaic was complete, the Telecommunications System employees framed the completed image and presented it to their director, William H. Pickering.

(h/t Suzie Kidnap)

Which brings to mind one of my fave Cosmos episodes...

ntodd

February 25, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

That's One Small Theft For A Man

Everybody likes to take souvenirs:

These are the contents of a mysterious white bag found hidden in Neil Armstrong's closet: Weird looking lamps, wrenches, utility brackets, sights, and a film camera that later was identified as the one that captured the famous Apollo 11's descent on the Moon's surface. Nobody knew about it, including his widow.

According to NASA, Carol Armstrong sent photos to Allan Needell, curator of the Apollo collection at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, who immediately knew what was inside: It was a McDivitt Purse full of parts from the Eagle, Apollo 11's Lunar Module...

Cernan kept a moon buggy fender.  Wonder what else people will find as Apollo astronauts die...

ntodd

February 8, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, February 06, 2015

Abort Discrete

I've blogged about Apollo computing before, including on 14.  That flight involved one of my favorite computer stories ever:

In the center of Antares’ control panel was a red circular push button labelled “Abort.” Its purpose did not require a huge amount of explanation, except that pressing it would set in motion a chain of events to terminate the lunar landing, activating the ascent engine and boosting Shepard and Mitchell back up toward Roosa and Kitty Hawk. “The switch,” wrote Gene Kranz, one of the mission’s four flight directors, “had electrical contacts to issue signals to the LM engines, computer and abort electronics. When the abort switch for Apollo 14’s LM had been manufactured, a small piece of metal had been left in the switch. Now, in zero gravity, and with both crew and ground oblivious, this piece of metal was floating among the contacts of the switch, randomly making intermittent connections.”

Since the drama of Apollo 13, more than $15 million-worth of modifications had been incorporated into the Mission Operations Control Room, one of which included changes to help a controller to rapidly identify any change in status in critical spacecraft systems. From his chair as Antares’ control engineer for descent and landing, Dick Thorson glanced at his monitor and noticed a red light blink on; it seemed to imply that either Shepard or Mitchell had pushed the Abort button. Thorson was perplexed. Why would they do that? They had yet to begin their Powered Descent. Maybe there had been a telemetry patching error to the light panel on his console; a quick check, however, confirmed that everything was as it should be. As the engineer’s eyes widened, it became clear that, if this was for real, it signalled bad news for the landing at Fra Mauro. In the back room, two of Thorson’s colleagues, Hal Loden and Bob Carlton, also noticed the problem and suggested that one of the astronauts should tap the panel on which the Abort switch was located, in an effort to resolve the indication.

“Gerry,” Thorson called up Flight Director Gerry Griffin on the intercom loop, “I’m seeing an abort indication in the lunar module. Have the crew verify that the button is not depressed.”

Capcom Fred Haise duly passed the request up to Antares, and Mitchell tapped the panel with a flashlight. The abort light blinked off, then came back on again a few minutes later. “What’s wrong with this ship?” Shepard wondered. They were barely 90 minutes away from the initiation of Powered Descent, and the landing was temporarily waved off until a solution could be found. “Thorson’s dilemma was a thorny one,” explained Kranz in his autobiography, Failure Is Not An Option. “To land, we needed to bypass the switch, but if we had problems during landing, we needed the switch to abort. It was a hell of a risk-gain trade.” Thorson’s team identified a software “patch” for Antares’ computer, which would lock out both the Abort and Abort Stage switches, allowing the mission to continue. However, in an emergency, should Shepard and Mitchell need to perform an abort close to the surface, they would need to use the keyboard to manually initiate the abort program. Gerry Griffin was willing to accept the risk, confident that Shepard would probably do the same. He rescheduled the landing attempt for two hours’ time, on the next pass.

Key to this effort was the Draper Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which had developed the guidance and navigation systems for the Apollo spacecraft. Their engineers now shifted into high gear to wring out the software patch and make it work. Within the hour, a procedure had been devised, whereby the Abort switch could be bypassed when the descent engine was ignited and then re-enabled immediately thereafter. Amidst ratty communications with Antares, Haise radioed up instructions to Mitchell. First, the astronauts would start the descent engine at low power, using the acceleration to move the contaminating metal—probably a bit of solder—away from the switch contacts. As soon as Shepard fired the engine, Mitchell would input a string of 16 commands to enable steering and guidance, then another string of 16 more commands to disable the Abort program, then another 14 commands to lock into the landing radar and the descent software.

“This entire sequence,” wrote Kranz, “would occur as the crew was descending to the Moon. The mission now rested on an emergency patch to the flight software that was less than two hours old, had been simulated only once and was being performed by a crew that had never practiced it.” Nevertheless, when the engine lit, Kranz was astounded that Shepard had lost nothing of his sharpness and marvelous calmness as the instructions were entered into Antares’ computer. As the engine climbed steadily toward 10 percent thrust, Thorson monitored his display and saw no evidence that the Abort switch had been activated. So far, the mission was back on track.

“Thank you, Houston,” radioed Shepard. “Nice job down there!”

In his biography of Shepard, Neal Thompson related the singular contribution of one young MIT programmer, Don Eyles, who had helped to design Antares’ software. Eyles recalled being shocked from sleep as an Air Force car screeched to a halt outside his apartment at two in the morning and a uniformed officer hammered on his door. He was told that he had 90 minutes to come up with a solution for Apollo 14’s problems. Eyles threw a jacket over his pyjamas and was driven to his nearby lab to create, virtually from scratch, a substitute program to eliminate Antares’ faulty abort signal.

Can you imagine Microsoft needing to come up with a patch in a couple hours?  I mean, a working one that didn't need another patch and a .NET Passport account...

ntodd

February 6, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

"Okay, we made a good landing."


Decided to go for historical drama this year, rather than NASA's poor attempt at perpetrating their Hoax.

ntodd

February 5, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

High Flight

By John Gillespie Magee, Jr:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth 
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; 
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth 
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things 
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung 
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, 
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung 
My eager craft through footless halls of air. 
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue 
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace 
Where never lark, or even eagle flew - 
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod 
The high untrespassed sanctity of space, 
Put out my hand and touched the face of God. 

Another day, another NASA disaster anniversary...

ntodd

January 28, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

One More Throwback


Geologist and Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt addresses Congress as his crewmates look on, January 22, 1973 (same day that LBJ died). Wish I could find a good copy of the Congressional Record from then.

ntodd

January 22, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

When It's Dark Enough, You Can See The Medicean Stars

Galileo Galilei:

On the 7th day of January in the present year, 1610, in the first hour of the following night, when I was viewing the con­ stellations of the heavens through a telescope, the planet Jupiter presented itself to my view, and as I had prepared for myself a very excellent instrument, I noticed a circumstance which I had never been able to notice before, owing to want of power in my other telescope, namely, that three little stars, small but very bright, were near the planet; and although I believed them to belong to the number of the fixed stars, yet they made me somewhat wonder, because they seemed to be arranged exactly in a straight line, parallel to the ecliptic and to be brighter than the rest of the stars equal to them in magnitude.

The position of them with reference to one another and to Jupiter was as fol­lows. On the east side there were two stars, and a single one towards the west. The star which was furthest towards the east, and the western star, appeared rather larger than the third.

I scarcely troubled at all about the distance between them and Jupiter, for, as I have already said, at first I believed them to be fixed stars; but when on January 8th, led by some fate, I turned again to look at the same part of the heavens, I found a very different state of things, for there were three little stars all west of Jupiter, and nearer together than on the previous night, and they were separated from one another by equal intervals...

At this point, although I had not turned my thoughts at all upon the proximity of the stars to one another, yet my surprise began to be excited, how Jupiter could one day be found to the east of all the aforesaid fixed stars when the day before it had been west of two of them; and forthwith I became afraid lest the planet might have moved differently from the calculation of astronomers, and so had passed those stars by its own proper motion. 
...
I therefore concluded, and decided unhesitatingly, that there are three stars in the heavens moving about Jupiter, as Venus and Mercury round the Sun; which at length was estab­ lished as clear as daylight by numerous other subsequent obser­ vations. These observations also established that there are not only three, but four, erratic sidereal bodies performing their rev­ olutions round Jupiter, observations of whose changes of position made with more exactness on succeeding nights the fol­lowing account will supply.

My photo above from 2006 isn't quite the arrangement Galileo first saw--Ganymede, Io and Callisto with Europa lost in planetary glare, as compared to Ganymede being hidden initially from the astronomer, plus it's actually reversed because of how the optics of his telescope worked.  But you get a flavor of the scene.  

These days a decent, inexpensive set of binocs will let you pick out the Medicean Stars and casually watch the clockwork of the solar system mark time in the night.  I wonder if Galileo ever imagined that the heavens would become so widely accessible...

ntodd

January 7, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jovian SPF

Pretty cool hypothesis:

The Great Red Spot on Jupiter — the persistent high-pressure ‘anticyclone’ that was first observed by Gian Domenico Cassini in 1665 — is likely only red because of what scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are calling a “sunburn.”

There have been competing theories as to why the Great Red Spot has its color. NASA scientist Kevin Baines said that one theory is that “the spot’s red color is due to upwelling chemicals formed deep beneath the visible cloud layers.”

But, he added, “[i]f red material were being transported from below, it should be present at other altitudes as well, which would make the red spot redder still.”

The models that Baines and his team constructed at the JPL, however, “suggest most of the Great Red Spot is actually pretty bland in color, beneath the upper cloud layer of reddish material.”

His team believes that the storm’s altitude makes the ammonia and acetylene present throughout the atmosphere more vulnerable to UV light.

So we have sunburn to thank for one of the most gorgeous jewels in our solar system.

ntodd

December 28, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, December 26, 2014

"We've looked and looked, but after all where are we?"

The Star-splitter:

"You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney
To make fun of my way of doing things,
Or else fun of Orion's having caught me.
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights
These forces are obliged to pay respect to?"
So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk
Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming,
Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming,
He burned his house down for the fire insurance
And spent the proceeds on a telescope
To satisfy a lifelong curiosity
About our place among the infinities.

Robert Frost.

ntodd

December 26, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Star And Santa Sightings

Jim Lovell learned a bunch about optical navigation on Apollo 8, which held him in good stead for 13.  Anyway, they headed home on Christmas:

095:10:47 Carr: Roger, Frank. I have some feature page and sports page news if you'd like it.

095:10:54 Borman: Roger.
...
095:14:43 Carr: In Reno, Nevada, because there is no fireplace in his home, (garble) a little boy wrote Santa Claus in care of the local newspaper and suggested, "Would you please use the front door. You will have to kick the bottom a little bit because it sticks."...

Here is one in ecumenical cooperation. In Indio, California, the Chief of Police was armed, Christmas Day, with a prayer book. Rabbi Phillip H. Wienburg has taken over as Chief for a day so the real Police Chief, Homer Hunt, a Methodist, could spend the holiday with his family. This is the third straight Christmas the Rabbi has filled in for Hunt, The previous 6 years, Rabbi Weinburg did the same for the Roman Catholic Police Chief of Reno, Nevada.
...
095:17:46 Carr:
 Here is a feature by Harry Rosenthal of Associated Press. It says: from Houston. Two Santas brighten the Christmas Eve for 2-year-old Jeffrey Lovell. The first one knocked on his front door and brought presents. The second started his daddy home from the Moon. The first wore a red suit and a white beard and ho, ho'd loud enough to be heard down the block. The second was a huge engine spitting flame behind the Moon, and thousands of people were awaiting word that it had fired. 

"Please be informed that there is a Santa Claus." were the first words from Apollo 8 as it emerged from radio silence to inform an anxious world 15 minutes after the fact that the engine had performed its critical burn. "None of us ever expect to have a better Christmas present than this one." said Ken Mattingly of Mission Control. "Thank everyone on the ground for us. You know we couldn't have done it without you," came the reply from Col, Frank Borman, spacecraft commander.

At this point, a Christmas the tree came aglow in front of the consoles in Mission Control, and Astronaut Harrison Schmitt read a space version of "A visit from Saint Nicholas" to the crew. "'Twas the night before Christmas, and way out in space, the Apollo 8 crew had just won the Moon race," it began. The Mission Control crew had delayed the celebration until Jeffrey's daddy, Navy Captain James Lovell, along with Air Force Major William A. Anders and Col. Borman were safely on their way home.

No fireplaces on spacecraft, so while they saw Santa on Christmas Eve, they didn't get any presents.  Plus they needed to watch the Yule Log on TV.

ntodd

December 25, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Space Is 3D

This is extremely cool:

[H]ow do you email a socket wrench into space?

The story starts back in November, when Wilmore put together the ISS's very first 3D printer, a collaboration between NASA and company Made In Space. About a month later, Wilmore noted to mission control that a socket wrench would be helpful to have. Instead of putting it on the supply, however, Made In Space mocked up a quick model on CAD on Earth and emailed the design to Wilmore, who ran the designs through the printer and assembled the 20 separate parts into the exact socket wrench he had requested.

What would be cooler is teleportation, but this is a nice application of current technology. 

ntodd

December 19, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another NASA Coverup

There's clearly life on Mars.  They're doing it to us again.

ntodd

December 16, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

What I Believe History Will Record


We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. "Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

ntodd

December 14, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Kuiper? I Hardly...

A lot of work just to check out a dwarf planet named for a dog:

After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles —the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation today for its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system. 

New Horizons flight controllers Sarah Bucior, Katie Bechtold and George Lawrence monitor data confirming that the Pluto-bound spacecraft had exited hibernation.

Operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., confirmed at 9:53 p.m. (EST) that New Horizons, operating on pre-programmed computer commands, had switched from hibernation to “active” mode. Moving at light speed, the radio signal from New Horizons – currently more than 2.9 billion miles from Earth, and just over 162 million miles from Pluto – needed four hours and 26 minutes to reach NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia. 

“This is a watershed event that signals the end of New Horizons crossing of a vast ocean of space to the very frontier of our solar system, and the beginning of the mission’s primary objective: the exploration of Pluto and its many moons in 2015,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo. 

Since launching on January 19, 2006, New Horizons has spent 1,873 days — about two-thirds of its flight time — in hibernation. Its 18 separate hibernation periods, from mid-2007 to late 2014, ranged from 36 days to 202 days in length. The team used hibernation to save wear and tear on spacecraft components and reduce the risk of system failures.

I could use a couple thousand hibernation days.

ntodd

December 7, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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The Last Time We Went High Before Orion


Pretty neat footage of the activity before and during Apollo 17's launch.

ntodd

December 7, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack