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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)

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Экспериментальный полёт «Союз» — «Аполлон»

Speaking of Apollo, Deke finally got himself onto the rotation.


July 17, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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To Pretend To Go Where No Man Or Smurf Has Gone Before

Launch and TLI were yesterday, today has Apollo 11 doing a midcourse correction and some TV.  In honor of that, here's some Jules Verne:

"Man began by walking on all-fours; then, one fine day, on two feet; then in a carriage; then in a stage-coach; and lastly by railway. Well, the projectile is the vehicle of the future, and the planets themselves are nothing else! Now some of you, gentlemen, may imagine that the velocity we propose to impart to it is extravagant. It is nothing of the kind. All the stars exceed it in rapidity, and the earth herself is at this moment carrying us round the sun at three times as rapid a rate, and yet she is a mere lounger on the way compared with many others of the planets! And her velocity is constantly decreasing. Is it not evident, then, I ask you, that there will some day appear velocities far greater than these, of which light or electricity will probably be the mechanical agent?”

“Yes, gentlemen,” continued the orator, “in spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people, who would shut up the human race upon this globe, as within some magic circle which it must never outstep, we shall one day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars, with the same facility, rapidity, and certainty as we now make the voyage from Liverpool to New York! Distance is but a relative expression, and must end by being reduced to zero.”

The assembly, strongly predisposed as they were in favor of the French hero, were slightly staggered at this bold theory. Michel Ardan perceived the fact.

“Gentlemen,” he continued with a pleasant smile, “you do not seem quite convinced. Very good! Let us reason the matter out. Do you know how long it would take for an express train to reach the moon? Three hundred days; no more! And what is that? The distance is no more than nine times the circumference of the earth; and there are no sailors or travelers, of even moderate activity, who have not made longer journeys than that in their lifetime. And now consider that I shall be only ninety-seven hours on my journey. Ah! I see you are reckoning that the moon is a long way off from the earth, and that one must think twice before making the experiment. What would you say, then, if we were talking of going to Neptune, which revolves at a distance of more than two thousand seven hundred and twenty millions of miles from the sun! And yet what is that compared with the distance of the fixed stars, some of which, such as Arcturus, are billions of miles distant from us? And then you talk of the distance which separates the planets from the sun! And there are people who affirm that such a thing as distance exists. Absurdity, folly, idiotic nonsense! Would you know what I think of our own solar universe? Shall I tell you my theory? It is very simple! In my opinion the solar system is a solid homogeneous body; the planets which compose it are in actual contact with each other; and whatever space exists between them is nothing more than the space which separates the molecules of the densest metal, such as silver, iron, or platinum! I have the right, therefore, to affirm, and I repeat, with the conviction which must penetrate all your minds, ‘Distance is but an empty name; distance does not really exist!’”

Then he let on it was all a hoax, just like what the Smurfs pulled off...


July 17, 2016 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Einstein's Younger Brother

Brothers in space!

"So, where[as] I used to be just 6 minutes older, now I am 6 minutes and 5 milliseconds older," Mark Kelly said Tuesday (July 12) during a panel discussion at the ISS Research & Development 2016 conference in San Diego. Scott Kelly also participated in the panel, which was moderated by CNN TV personality Sanjay Gupta and webcast live. "Now I've got that over his head."

Mark Kelly is also a former NASA astronaut; he logged a total of 54 days in orbit over the course of four space shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011. But Scott Kelly's greater exposure to space radiation could end up aging him prematurely, Mark joked.

"So if 10 years from now, I look like I'm 60 and he looks like he's 80, you'll know what happened," Mark said. (The brothers are 52.)

"Mark got Botoxed, is what happened," Scott shot back, drawing a laugh from the audience.

How odd that NdGT never mentioned botox...


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

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Like Rocks From A Highway Overpass

Oddly enough, Samuel and I were discussing the odds of something like this just today:

One afternoon in 1954 Ann Hodges of Alabama was napping on her couch when a meteorite the size of a software [ed note: softball, or MS Office bundle?] came through the ceiling, bounced off a radio and hit her in the thigh. She escaped with a giant bruise, but the meteorite inflicted much harsher damage in an unexpected way. The Air Force took the meteorite. Hodges and her husband Eugene fought to get it back, but their landlord, Birdie Guy, said the meteorite belonged to her and she sued to get it back. She settled with the Hodges, taking $500 in exchange for the rock.

Good thing he never naps these days...


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

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Speaking Of NASA Data Geeks

Stone knives and bearskins:

Here's a challenge...

Develop a system that can control a 13,000 kg spaceship, orbiting at 3,500 kilometres per hour around the moon, land it safely within metres of a specified location and guide it back from the surface to rendezvous with a command ship in lunar orbit. The system has to work the first time, and minimise fuel consumption because the spacecraft only contains enough fuel for one landing attempt.

Do this with a computer that has barely 5,000 primitive integrated circuits, weighs 30 kg and costs over $150,000. In order to store your software, the computer doesn't have a disk drive, only 74 kilobytes of memory that has been literally hard-wired, and all of 4 Kb of something that is sort of like RAM.

Sounds daunting?

That's the task that faced Peter Adler and Don Eyles of the MIT Instrumentation Lab who were responsible for developing the software for the Apollo Lunar Module. Their system worked, but almost caused the first moon landing to be aborted in the final minutes before the touchdown.

You try fitting a rhino into a VW and hoping he knows how to drive when the Abort discrete is set (nevermind 1200-group alarms)!


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