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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Selfies...IN SPACE!

This vacuous, self-absorbed post by Buzz Aldrin reminds me of an old meme I hate.  Digital cameras have ruined America and outer space.


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June 21, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Faces On Mars, Tattoos On The Moon



Wonder what hoaxes NASA will show us when Juno gets to Jove?


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June 18, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Get Your Ass To Mars

CNNHate your job? NASA wants you to work on Mars.

Yeah, until they fire your ass.


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June 18, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

JFK Superstar

Could Muhammad land at Hadley Rille, or was that just PR?


May 25, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, May 23, 2016

One Small Step

The Hindu:

Taking baby steps towards developing a reusable launch vehicle capable of sending spacecraft into orbit and returning to the earth’s surface, the Indian Space Research Organisation on Monday successfully tested the country’s first winged-body aerospace vehicle.

The technology, when developed completely, would launch spacecraft, including satellites, into space and re-enter the earth’s atmosphere withstanding extreme pressure and heat conditions and land in an intended spot, helping to cut costs on launch vehicles substantially.

“We had three objectives for Monday’s launch: To test the characterisation of the aero-thermo dynamics of hypersonic flights; to test the autonomous mission management of hypersonic vehicles; and to test the necessary re-entry technology for the vehicles,” K. Sivan, Director of the Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said.

A booster rocket, carrying a winged-body aerospace vehicle (RLV-TD), took off from the spaceport at Sriharikota, some 100 km from Chennai, at 7 a.m. It climbed for about 90 seconds before its burnout. Coasting to an altitude of 56 km, where it was separated from the booster, RLV-TD inclined further to 65 km, an ISRO release said. From an altitude of 65 km, the vehicle made a re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere at Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) and steered by its navigation, guidance and control system for safe descent, it glided down to the defined landing spot in the Bay of Bengal, 450 km from Sriharikota.

The total flight duration was about 12.8 minutes.

Dunno if I'd really call it baby steps.  Saw a commenter yesterday on a video about Apollo 10 questioning why they didn't just land then when the LM was so close to the surface.  Because you test the shit out of this stuff, even the little things.  Testing is good.  Every step is big.


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

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Okay, stand by, 13. We're looking at it.

Compare Hollywood's dramatic version to the rather calm, professional reality...


April 13, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (2)

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Do We Want To Go To The Moon, Or Not?

Happy birthday, John Cornelius Houbolt, one of the men who made LOR happen!


April 10, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, April 09, 2016

“Get naked, allow an hour, have plenty of tissues handy…”


Ariel Waldman, creator of Spacehack, has just published a delightful book titled "What's It Like in Space? Stories from Astronauts Who'Ve Been There?" Illustrated by Brian Standeford, it's a fun collection of astronaut anecdotes on everything from sneezing and farting in zero gravity to weird frights and the necessity of Sriracha in space. Here's an excerpt:

While performing a spacewalk is an exciting experience, it is also a very serious operation that is meticulously scripted for astronauts. The only time astronauts might get a chance to look around at where they are is when there’s a glitch in equipment and they get a few spare minutes while someone makes a repair. Astronaut Chris Hadfield found an opportunity to look around during one of his spacewalks:

“The contrast of your body and your mind inside . . . essentially a one-person spaceship, which is your space suit, where you’re holding on for dear life to the shuttle or the station with one hand, and you are inexplicably in between what is just a pouring glory of the world roaring by, silently next to you—just the kaleidoscope of it, it takes up your whole mind. It’s like the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen just screaming at you on the right side, and when you look left, it’s the whole bottomless black of the universe and it goes in all directions. It’s like a huge yawning endlessness on your left side and you’re in between those two things and trying to rationalize it to yourself and trying to get some work done.”

Sneezing, farting...what about pooping?


PS--Rusty Schweikart knows from EVAs and glitches.  And, I suspect, pooping.

April 9, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Eighty percent of space travel is showing up.

Compare with The Right Stuff (22:14 in).  And John Glenn--the Seven's sole living member--really does rock.


April 9, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

“It was as if he got permission from the world.”

Cassandra was right and deserved better:

For three decades, retired NASA engineer Bob Ebeling blamed himself for being unable to stop the 1986 launch of space shuttle Challenger. He had warned that the shuttle might explode, and it did shortly after liftoff, killing seven crew members.

In the final weeks of his life, however, thanks to an outpouring of support following a National Public Radio story in January on the 30th anniversary of the disaster, Ebeling, 89, finally found peace.

I'm glad he was able to slip the surly bonds of earth without so much guilt weighing him down.


March 22, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hello, Naha RESCUE l, Naha SEARCH l, Gemini VIII.

Well, it was really a smoothie up until everything went to shit...


March 16, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, March 06, 2016

"Do we want to go to the Moon or not?"

Quite a busy day:

Kepler's dream of lunar travel was a little easier:

The island of Levania is located fifty thousand German miles high up in the air. The journey to and from this island from our Earth is very seldom open; but when it is accessible, its easy for our people. However, the transportation of men, joined as it is to the greatest danger of life, is most difficult. We do not admit sedentary, corpulent or fastidious men into this retinue.

We choose rather those who spend their time persistently riding swift horses or who frequently sail to the Indies, accustomed to subsist on twice-baked bread, garlic, dried fish, and other unsavory dishes. There are dried up old women especially suited for our purpose. The reason for this is well known. From early childhood they are accustomed to riding goats, or on mantles, and to travel through narrow passes and through the immense expanse of the Earth. Although Germans are not suitable, we do not reject the dry bodies of Spaniards.

The whole journey, far though it may be, is completed in four hours at most. Our departure time happens when we are busiest, before the Moon begins its eclipse in its eastern section. If the Moon becomes full while we are still on our way, our return journey is impossible. The occasion becomes so brief that we have few humans and not any other beings except the most helpful toward us.

Forming a column we seize any man of this kind and all of us pushing upward raise him to the heights. The initial shock is the worst part of it for him, for he is spun upward as if by an explosion of gunpowder and he flies above mountains and seas. On that account he must be drugged with narcotics and opiates prior to his flight. His limbs must be carefully protected so that they are not torn from him, body from legs, head from body and so that the recoil may not spread over into every member of his body.

Then he will face new difficulties: intense cold and impaired respiration. These circumstances which are natural to spirits are applied force to man. We go on our way placing moistened sponges to our nostrils. With first section of the voyage complete, our conveyance becomes easier. Then we expose our bodies freely to the air and withdraw our hands. All these persons are gathered into a ball within themselves, by reason of pressure, a condition which we ourselves produce almost by a mere sign of the head.

Finally, on arrival at the moon, the body is directed into its intended place by its own accord. This critical point is of little use to us spirits because it is excessively slow. Therefore, as I said, we accelerate by gravity and go in front of the man's body, lest by a very strong impact into the Moon he might suffer any harm. When the man awakes, he usually complains that all his members suffer from an ineffable lassitude, from which, however, he completely recovers when the effect of the drugs wears off, so that he can walk.

No drugs, no spells, no breezes of heaven in reality.  Yet we can be amazed that the application of Kepler's laws and others' discoveries, all put together by human ingenuity and will power, helped the "three to get ready" shoot into the heavens with Gumdrop and Spider.  The dream of Kondratyuk, Dolan, and Houbolt made possible by a man 400 years prior.


March 6, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Wish I'd Been Able To Spend A Year In Space As A Lad

I coulda used a couple extra inches (in height, assholes):

After living for nearly a year aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is two inches taller than his identical twin brother Mark.

One of the main goals of his groundbreaking mission is to study how well humans can endure — mind, body and spirit — on a long-duration spaceflight.

I'll bet Scott Kelly won't get shoved into lockers any more...


March 2, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Family Snapshot

February 14, 1990:

There we are.  Even this blog post pales in significance when presented with such context.


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

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Day On Earth

This is rather pretty.


January 27, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Third Time Pays For All

We're in a risky business and we hope if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life...Our God-given curiosity will force us to go there ourselves because in the final analysis only man can fully evaluate the moon in terms understandable to other men.

 - Gus Grissom, January 1967

It's the anniversary of that awful fire on Pad 34.  Apollo One was supposed to test the Command/Service Module in low Earth orbit a few weeks later.

You might also recall that Apollo 13's Service Module suffered a catastrophic failure a few years later, making the Command Module where the astronauts lived essentially uninhabitable.  That forced the crew to retreat to the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat."

This is the CSM's successor:

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is another step closer to launching on its first mission to deep space atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. On Jan. 13, 2016, technicians at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans finished welding together the primary structure of the Orion spacecraft destined for deep space, marking another important step on the journey to Mars.

Welding Orion’s seven large aluminum pieces, which began in September 2015, involved a meticulous process. Engineers prepared and outfitted each element with strain gauges and wiring to monitor the metal during the process. The pieces were joined using a state-of-the-art process called friction-stir welding, which produces incredibly strong bonds by transforming metals from a solid into a plastic-like state, and then using a rotating pin tool to soften, stir and forge a bond between two metal components to form a uniform welded joint, a vital requirement of next-generation space hardware.

It's taking an excruciatingly long time to even get this puppy upstairs to test, but given the trifecta of NASA disasters around this time of year, that's not entirely a bad thing.

Back in '76 I had debated the merits of the shuttle program in my language arts class at Maumee Valley Country Day School--I was on the "pro" side, and a good friend was "con" (our teacher declared it a draw, which I quite possibly resent to this day).  A few years later I'd seen the first moving pictures of Jupiter's Red Spot, compiled from data sent back from Voyager 1.  It was a giddy time for space geeks like me.

To see the first re-usable spacecraft finally ready for primetime was wicked cool.  I remember watching the landing in Mr. B's 7th grade science class in '81, in the same place where I'd learned all about Voyagers 1 and 2 in the first place (Carl Sagan's Cosmos notwithstanding).  I thought NASA could do anything. 

Yet three decades ago I sat with the rest of Mrs. Z's high-school physics class and sadly watched the endless replays of the shuttle exploding 71 seconds into its flight (Z had been part of the "Teacher in Space" program).

It was time for class, but when I got to the room it was dark and somebody ran past me yelling, "it blew up!"  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the school library watching events unfold on the TV that had been set up to show the triumphant launch.

If I recall correctly, the last voice transmission from the shuttle was "uh-oh."  Maybe that's a faulty memory, or one of the myths that developed afterward (as opposed to the joke punchline, "No, I wanted a Bud Light!"), but whatever.  It represents to me that sinking feeling that if only certain warnings had been heeded, lessons learned, decisions made, we wouldn't come to this. 

Yet I believe, as did Grissom, human spaceflight is a good thing.  His colleague Jim Lovell said on the 1st anniversary of Columbia in 2004:

President Kennedy referred to the Apollo Program as "Mankind’s greatest adventure." As an astronaut who made those journeys, I’d like to think he was correct. But as I look at the limitless vistas ahead, I have to believe that the greatest adventures are yet to come. We must continue the journey which has only just begun.

Apollo One, Challenger, and Columbia didn't have to happen--the business is full of risk, but NASA cannot settle for undue risk.  I hope "failure is not an option" once again becomes the mantra as we continue to explore our cosmos.


January 27, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fifty Thousand Miles To Your Anus

Yes, I'm still in fourth grade:

On January 24th, 1986, Voyager 2 swept past our system’s seventh planet, Uranus, on its way through the solar system. It was the first and last time we visited the gas giant, and we found it’s one of the stranger locations in our solar system.

Throughout classical times, scholars recognized only six planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, each visible to the naked eye. It wasn’t until the advent of advanced telescopes that anyone found additional worlds orbiting our sun.

While Uranus is visible to the naked eye, and had been observed throughout history, it had been identified as a star. It wasn’t until March 13th, 1781 when William Hershel observed the planet and noted it down as a comet.

Jupiter is what sparked my passion for our solar system in the first place back in the 70s, but the whole Voyager program turned me on and I watched with great excitement as the first pictures of...you know...were processed and displayed.


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

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why Does Obama Address Congress?

All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties.

 - Some guy citing some other guy

If only the Soviets had caused global climate change:

Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there.  We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget.  We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon. 

I wonder what NASA's carbon footprint was back in those heady days...


January 12, 2016 in Biofuels, Bitches!, Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Ground Control To Major Glam

The Original Seven was featured in Life, the New Double-Xs get Glamour, but still cool:

For the first time in history, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)has chosen a class of astronauts that consists of as many women, as men. Adding to that good news—some f these women may be on the inaugural trip to Mars. The New York Times writes:

The mission itself is at least 15 years away—it will take that long to build and test every last piece of equipment. But it's already the most hotly anticipated space-exploration effort ever. Governments around the world—in China, Europe, and Russia—have plans in the works to at least land robots on Mars, while in the U.S., private companies like SpaceX are partnering with NASA on a human mission and plotting their own commercial trips. And unlike the 1960s race to the moon, this time women are playing pivotal roles—building rockets, designing space suits, and controlling the remote rovers that are already sending momentous insights back from Mars.

To become astronauts, these women had to endure two years of intense training. Ginny Graves with Glamour Magazine writes and extensive story and supplies quotes from these space women.

If we ever do get around to sending a peopled mission to Mars, I'll probably have to change the ironic pop-ref post category...


January 12, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Innumeracy Tax

I think I have a better chance of winning Powerball than becoming preznit or being killed by an asteroid, so Imma buy a ticket this week.  Then become the preznit who sends Bruce Willis into space.  Mission paid for with lottery revenue, natch.


January 10, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)