Saturday, July 30, 2005
10th Planet or Something Else?
6:36 am est
The news is hot, and the arguing is set to start. Is the large object outside Pluto's orbit
a planet or Kuiper Belt Object? If the new item is a KBO, then shouldn't Pluto be as well? Of course, since this is an
academic argument, you can expect a lot of controversy.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Space Makes White House News
7:28 pm est
It doesn't happen that often, but space, more specifically, the space shuttle mission and later the grounding of the fleet
made the White House press briefing twice this week. Jeff Foust comments on both at Space Politics
. The first one, where a reporter pressed the press secretary about missions to Mars, is here
. The comments get particularly interesting, relating to journalists who fight their way to become White House correspondents,
so that all they are is a pipeline of White House statements. Rand Simberg picked up on the thread on his blog
. I've read less about the second story
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Two Announcements Today
7:11 pm est
Less than two days after Discovery
took flight, NASA grounded the fleet again. Turns out, another large piece of foam
came off. Indications are that it didn't hit the orbiter, but it's time for a pause to figure out what happened and how
to keep it from happening again.
In other news, Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan announced the creation of The Spaceship Company
to build spacecraft for suborbital tourism.
As much as my pulse quickened to see the shuttle fly again, the idea of 100 people willing to pay $200,000 each for a flight
into space gets much closer to my flying into space.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Taking Flight/Irrelevant Space Reporting
Congrats to the Discovery team and crew for getting us back 'up there.' 140 miles down, millions to go.
8:00 pm est
The countdown appeared nearly flawless. The reporting (at least on NASA Select online, where I was watching) was less so.
I've talked before about how space reporting is filled with cute, but either oversimplified or wrong statements or analogies.
A classic happens whenever a spacecraft enters another planet's orbit , and it's described as "pitching a strike in Yankee
Stadium from LA."
Another took place during today's count. While showing footage of some of the new launch monitoring cameras, the announcer
stated that the control joystick on one of the cameras was so sensitive that it responded to the operator's heartbeat.
That statement, although it's likely true, is silly. If the joystick is that sensitive, then the camera shouldn't be controlled
by a person. The vibration that the heartbeat puts into the system will make the images blurry and less useful. It's likely
that the camera points itself, or that a person steering it using the joystick has a control setting to cut the sensitivity.
So either the control isn't used or it's de-sensitized for use. In the meantime, people who've watched solely NASA reporting
think that it's important for a camera to have such a twitchy control that the image shakes with the operator's pulse.
Once we start focusing on issues that matter, like successful, frequent flight rate, and stop focusing on individual distractions
like touchy controls or the chance of an individual part breaking, we'll know that we've moved into a new realm of space utilization.
The problem is...what's the transition method from one focus to another?
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Return to Flight/Waste use on Mars
6:27 am est
Well, NASA thinks they may have got the problem licked, but won't know for sure until the fuel sensor is exposed to hydrogen
as part of the countdown
. Guess we'll know if they've got it on Tuesday.
an article on "closing the loop" with food and waste on a Mars mission. The researchers spent at least some of their time
making their composting scheme work in zero gravity. That's nice to have, I guess, but an assumption of artificial gravity
makes all the work moot.
New Review out
5:38 am est
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Good to Have/Antarctic Base/Beyond NASA
7:19 pm est
I've mentioned it before, but it's good to have a few responses ready for someone you bump into who thinks we didn't land
on the moon. Space.com
has a short but sweet list
of some of the top conspiracies you'll hear, and a response to them.
A unique architecture has been chosen for an Antarctic Base
. If the modules were round instead of rectangular, and viewed with a red filter, you could almost believe you were on Mars.
Christian Science Monitor
hits most of the main points about flying into space outside of a government space program in this piece.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Coherent Argument Against Heavy Lift/Anniversary
7:32 pm est
I've not read Johnathan Goff before, but he puts together a lot of good pieces into an argument against heavy lift for Moon-to-Mars
. Of course, NASA's stated
that they will develop a shuttle-derived launch vehicle means that they either didn't think of these arguments, or they didn't
think they're valid. By the by, I don't like it just because he mentions Orbital Supply Depots
Also, take note of Google's tribute to Apollo 11
(only valid on 20 July). They also expanded their map program
by adding a moon section
. Be sure to zoom in the whole way.
For those into ritual, Rand Simberg
has a suggestion
It gets harder and harder for me to think of grand events fading into memory. Tonight, after explaining to my son what happened
36 years ago, he said "Who's on the moon today?"
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I'm on vacation with my family. Should have posted the note earlier, but hey.
3:42 pm est
With shuttle launch now TBD, we probably won't get to see it from our site here in SC. Given the humidity, it was probably
a long shot anyway.
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Moonships Take Shape, Zubrin Comments
8:12 pm est
Space.com has an article
on moon plans coming together. In it, they talk about NASA's decision to use shuttle hardware for a heavy-lift launch vehicle
and a CEV-to-LEO craft.
Also, Bob Zubrin emailed out an op-ed
giving some good reasons that a CEV needs to be small. He bases the argument on simple calculations based on the to-orbit
mass of the shuttle-derived vehicle mentioned above, and therefore I'm sure that there will be a very vocal group who disagree
with his conclusions. I agree with his conclusions. I expect it to be posted on the Mars Society website soon, and just
posted it on my site in the meantime.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Counterpoint/Some Great D.I. Images
7:17 pm est
, I pointed to a two-part article about LBJ and his influence on starting and ending the space race. Today in The Space Review
, Dwayne Day
pokes some holes in the claims, saying that there are others that he doesn't have time to get into. Having read both sides,
Mr. Day's argument makes more sense to me. I haven't validated his dates, but his interperetations of events seem more realistic.
The Deep Impact main page
has some great quicktime movies of the impact, both from the Flyby and the Impactor point of view. The mission appears to
have caught a lot of interest
, though of it is bad
. According to Rand Simberg
(page to the bottom of the long, rather funny blog entry), the 'bad' post may not be serious. For the record, the comet
Tempel 1, which Deep Impact
hit, comes closest to Earth on an approach to Mars, so moving its orbit in the short term
would take an almost unimaginable amount of energy. One response to this rather odd entry details the case.
Monday, July 4, 2005
Deep Impact lived up to its name. In typical NASA-ese, I knew things were looking good when someone on the impactor team
reported "loss of downlink." They're reviewing images now and the flyby craft reported ready to go into shield mode as it
flew through the comet's debris cloud.
1:08 am est
More to come. This incident has given me lots to think about.
Sunday, July 3, 2005
5:48 am est
I avoid political commentary on this site, trying to stick with space-related topics. Here's an entry that includes political
commentary in a fictional space perspective. A fine line, I know, but walk it with me. I found this spoof of the original
broadcast of War of the Worlds
very funny. If you're not familiar with the original, read it first, and then get a feel for what today's media coverage
might do with an invasion from Mars
Saturday, July 2, 2005
Mars Direct...in for a Landing/Mars Day
3:28 pm est
I've posted about the Mars Direct Project
in the past
, but I wanted to bring them up again. The email link
is starting to get some interesting discussions on it, like "I'm having trouble pulling in my landing location error, we
may need to add some lift to the entry vehicle to compensate" and other comments of that type. These are people who've taken
time to learn orbiter
, downloaded the mission files
, and have actually flown to Mars on their computers. They may be some of our best experts on what's required to get there
The original hope was to have them here
for the Air and Space Museum's Mars Day. Unfortunately, that didn't work out. The event should be fun, anyway and if I
can work the time, I'll be there.
Return-to-Flight Press Kit Out
1:55 pm est
If you want the bare information that the press is being handed about the shuttle flight, it can be found on this page
(near the bottom). I'm glancing through it, but I don't find it that interesting.
The biggest news, at least through the 4th, is Deep Impact
. If you want to watch it live (I plan on getting up to do so), space.com has a few sites listed here