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Here's the latest on space, and my opinions on it...
This is the legacy site, with blog entries from November, 2004 through June, 2011.
Updates after June 9, 2011 can be found at

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Repeat of Weimar Rocketry?
As usual, while I think his views would be better accepted if he used a different tone, I can't find many factual errors in Jeff Bell's latest rant comparing the X-Prize Cup displays to the rocketry madness which swept through Germany in the interwar years and led to all those black and white documentary shorts of guys trying to use rockets to skate on the ice or other silly things. My favorite quote:
Those who forget space history are condemned to repeat it - with better video quality
8:18 pm est

Another Chance for Military Support to NASA
There's an effort underway at NASA to develop new spacesuits for exploration. Some ideas include mechanical counterpressure suits, while there are prize competitions underway to develop a new suit glove. Meanwhile, the military, trying to help troops carry heavy loads for longer distances while being armored, is working on exoskeleton suits that are hydraulically augmented. If the military work goes well, and some of the options for spacesuits don't pan out, the exoskeleton suit could probably be adapted into a spacesuit or surface suit. by the by, the image shown is the battlesuit shown in the movie Starship Troopers, which is different than the suits described in the book. The Army idea seems to be much more like the ones described in the book.
7:57 pm est

Any Bets?
NASA posted a press release about an impending announcement on a Hubble servicing mission. The announcement will take place on Tuesday. In a "tipping your hand early" move, there's a series of other news events scheduled for later on Tuesday just in case the decision is in the affirmative:
  • 2:30 p.m. News conference with the astronauts who would carry out the mission from Johnson.
  • 3:30 to 5 p.m. Media interview opportunities on NASA TV.
  • 5 to 7 p.m. Astronaut media interview opportunities on NASA TV.
Sounds like a decision's already been made to me...
8:21 am est

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Example of a Poorly Written Article
Here is an example of a nearly useless article. I saw the headline, "Russian Scientists Warn Of Asteroid Impact Hazard In 2035" and assumed that the threat discused was 99942 Apophis (note: according to the Wikipedia article, Apophis now rates a zero on the Torino Scale), also known as 2004 MN4. That asteroid will make a close approach in 2029 and may, based on the exact trajectory it takes, come back for a more up close and personal visit in 2036. The odds are very small, but an impact is possible (although the new information of the Torino scale of 0 refutes any possibility). The article, on the other hand, discusses an asteroid with a close approach in 2028 and a re-visit in 2035. Now, there are a few possibilities: 1. The article is actually talking about Apophis, but got the initial close-approach date wrong or 2. The article is talking about a completely different asteroid, with approach dates very similar to Apophis. Unfortunately, the article doesn't mention the name of the asteroid in question, which makes it difficult to fact check the story. Anyone who wants to fact check the story could look at this list of potentially hazardous asteroids, and if the asteroid in question makes its first close approach in 2028, it will easy to spot. If the space rock in question makes multiple approaches between now and then the search gets a little more involved. Maybe giving a vague warning was the idea.
8:45 pm est

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Second Life Mars Mission
While I've not gotten involved in any of them, the virtual worlds (World of Warcraft, Second Life) seem to be quite popular today and getting moreso. In the Second Life scenario, people can build virtual things, make virtual money from them, and exchange the virtual cash for real cash. The thought occurred to me that, if someone is already in Second Life and is interested in Mars, they may be able to build a space effort and perhaps even a mission to Mars.

I'm not the first to suggest it.
8:11 pm est

A Chance to Create a Real Collector's Item
I just got word today that Buzz Aldrin will be present at the book signing I'm in at NCASE on Saturday from 10:00-1:30. To my knowledge, there's only one copy of Space: What Now? with both his and my signatures on it right now. Others could come into existence on Saturday. I've been asked if I'd like my table to be near his. I said yes.
7:39 pm est

Friday, October 13, 2006

Moon Flight Manifest?
An interesting document and analysis over at NASAspaceflight describing a proposed manifest of Orion flights leading up to America's return to the moon in 2019. I don't know if it was sheer guts or a complete lack of media savvy that led to the selection of the mission number for the return: Orion 13.

Some of the interesting analysis points to the sheer lack of missions to the space station, and I noticed that there's a big break (3 years) between the earlier-mentioned flight of the partial-SRB Ares I and the next flight off that launch pad.
8:12 pm est

How to get Real Money for Space Travel
Here's an article talking about golf resorts on the moon. That's when there'll be some real money flowing in spaceflight.
7:54 pm est

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

4 out of 5 ain't bad?
I have to side with The Chairforce Engineer when he says that this test of the Ares I vehicle is of questionable value. Apparently, there will be a test flight in 2009 including a 5-segment solid rocket booster (the fifth segment will be inert), inert upper stage and boilerplate CEV. To me, on a gut level, it would make a lot more sense to wait until the 5-segment version is ready and fly with that. The dynamics would be much closer to the real thing, and Chairforce goes into the details. My first thought is that this flight was originally scheduled earlier, attempting to get some sort of fireworks going ASAP, then it got pushed back by realities of pad buildup or something else. Now, no one will admit that it's smarter to switch to the 5-segment booster.
6:30 pm est

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Knew it was Coming...
...but it's still really cool that when MRO took this picture of Victoria Crater, you can see The Opportunity Rover in it. As Dr. Steve Squyres said in the press conference announcing this image "It sure is good to see that rover again!" I'm sure that images of Vikings, Pathfinder, and maybe even Mars Polar Lander, and Beagle 2
6:50 am est

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Mars...Ready for its Closeup
Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter (MRO) is now in its final mapping orbit around Mars. The images are just starting to come in and they look spectacular. The Bad Astronomer has a comparison between an image taken by MRO and an image of the same scene taken by Mars Global Surveyor (MGS)Unfortunately, we're approaching the time when Mars moves behind the sun so commanding and getting images from the craft will be difficult, but once that period's over we'll get even better pictures
8:36 pm est

Got Some Time and Want to Help?
Got an email today. Looks like they're taking the Bedrest Study to the next level. Instead of simply lying in bed for 41 days, you lie in bed while they spin you in a centrifuge. Ugh. If I were younger and had a few less responsibilities I'd consider it. Unfortunately, the age group (25-55) will exclude most undergrad college graduates, unless they REALLY took their time...
8:25 pm est

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Upcoming Sightings
I've just been confirmed at an event which reminded me that I hadn't posted anything about my upcoming appearance at another.

The National Congress on Aviation and Space Education, known as NCASE, will be taking place in Washington DC on October 19-21 at the Crystal Gateway Mariott. I'll be staffing a booth for The Mars Society during most of the event and be part of a book signing on Saturday. Marilyn Glass, illustrator of I Want to go to Mars, will also be available for the book signing.

Allies in Space is an event organized by the New York chapter of NSS. It will take place at the City University of New York's graduate center on November 4th from noon to 5. I started out playing a minor role, but a recent cancellation led to my invitation to be a speaker/panelist.

Hope to see you at one of the events.
3:01 pm est

Technical Difficulties
My primary computer is exhibiting signs of monitor/driver failure. In short (pun possibly intended), for a while I could rely on the monitor staying up for a short period of time but then going all strange and not coming back when I rebooted. Now, the monitor won't come up at all, and even when I plug in the adapter I can't bring up an image on a separate monitor. I'm madly trying to back up stuff from it before turning it in for maintenance.
2:35 pm est

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Tom and Discovery
Taken During a Tour of KSC on 6 Oct 2010

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