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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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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mentos and Diet Coke in Zero-G
I'm sure that some people will find this to be a waste of time in zero-gravity. I think it's pretty cool.
8:21 pm est

NYT on GOP: On to Mars!
A New York Times opinion piece (free registration required) on the Republican platform critiques the document and then notes this at the end:
One passage nicely summarizes the Republican approach to government, at the dawn of its long exile from power — bold and feckless, all at once. In a section on “Technology and Innovation,” the platform’s authors look to the heavens. They write, “As a symbol of that commitment, we share the vision of returning Americans to the Moon as a step toward a mission to Mars.”

A symbol of a vision of a step — one small step indeed. But a party can dream, can’t it?
I've not heard whether the Democratic Party platform contains a mention of Mars.
5:23 am est

Friday, August 29, 2008

I did my first video update on Wednesday. Here is the channel, and there are archives. Next one will be on Wednesday night at 8:30 pm ET. You can watch by simply going to the website, but if you want to participate in the chat room (it's how I get questions to answer), you'll need to register.
3:57 pm est

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blogging: Light and Scattered
As you might guess, my time for blogging has decreased since I've taken on TEMPO3. Right now I'm in the throws of getting things started: forming teams and getting the project off on the right foot. I have some other commitments around the house as well which are more involved, so we'll see what happens.
4:16 am est

Friday, August 22, 2008

Intriguing...Want one!
Want the ability to make 'almost' anything? You want a Fab Lab. Space connection: this is a precursor to something long-term space travelers would want rather than carrying a whole slew of spare parts.
5:21 am est

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here Comes the Sun
Looks like some new solar cells have been tested with an efficiency of over 40%. This bodes well for both space and terrestrial applications.
8:51 pm est

Monday, August 18, 2008

TEMPO3 will fly!
The Mars Society has chosen TEMPO^3 (read ' TEMPO cubed') as their next major project. It was my bid for The Mars Project Challenge. I'm working with the society to plan the way forward.
5:48 pm est

Monday, August 11, 2008

11 to get ready...
I'm heading to The Mars Society Conference in Boulder, where I'll be giving two talks. One is my entry for the Mars Project Challenge, a microsatellite demonstrator of artificial gravity. The other is a "Bored Billionaire's Guide to Space," which started as a panel discussion but has morphed into something else that I haven't been briefed on yet. Given that TMS has a new executive director, I expect the flavor to be quite different this year.
4:39 pm est

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Painful to Watch
Rand Simberg has a link that will get you to the video of the 2nd stage re-contact and of course, he can do comments at his blog. I like the sound in the video, as I think it comes from on board. The way it fades away gives you an idea of what the craft is going through.
8:51 pm est

Space Traffic?
SpaceX has announced (no permalink, check the archives if the August 6th update doesn't come up) their findings as to what caused the loss of their latest mission. Looks like the new first stage engine had a longer shut-down time to it than the old engine, and it caused a re-contact with stage 2 again. The pressure level in the engine that caused this problem was only 10 psi (unmeasurable during a sea-level test at ambient pressure of 14.7 psi), but that was enough. They're talking about flying again quickly, which I think is a good thing.

Hats off to this guy, who called it. Hopefully, Elon will bring some video to the Mars Society conference next week!
4:45 am est

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Portable Stars
Saw my first planetarium show in a portable planetarium today. I was quite impressed. The show I saw was done by John Meader, who runs Northern Stars. He travels around Maine (but will go further under certain circumstances) with his show for school kids, and he has 28 shows available. His shows are original, and use the standard equipment coming with the planetarium, though he's added a lot of his own effects.

There's also a contest for anyone who wants to win their own portable planetarium, including the digital projector and software. (places right pinky finger in teeth) Hmmm....
5:03 pm est

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hello, Beautiful!
I just came in after seeing the Milky Way for the first time in a long time. It was like seeing an old friend.
10:22 pm est

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Initial Feedback of Falcon Loss
According to Spaceflightnow, SpaceX is saying there was a stage separation problem. In their last launch, the first stage impacted the second stage nozzle as it separated. This drove some changes to the separation system, and would be the first place I'd look for trouble. No word on whether the 'jitter' in roll was a factor, though Justin Ray at SFN noticed it as well. Here's the video that came out last night:

Update: In a message to employees posted on the web, Elon focuses on the positive (excellent performance of the Merlin 1C), lists future activities, mentions a significant investment that SpaceX accepted, and says that he'll never give up. Good to hear.
6:08 am est

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Looks like the video feed was delayed again. The video broadcast has dropped off, and there was an announcement of an anomaly with the vehicle. This would be with the first stage, as opposed to the 2nd stage that caused the problem last time. I'm sure there's more to come.
10:41 pm est

There appears to be some rolling back and forth I don't remember from last time.
10:39 pm est

Lift off!
10:37 pm est

Countdown Procedure
It sounds like their countdown procedure is a combination of those of the big aerospace companies' (Lockheed Martin, Boeing) procedure. I was involved in early attempts to standardize the procedures, and it was amazing to see how worked up some people got about things!
10:32 pm est

Starting the count again
at T-10 minutes.
10:27 pm est

Vapor Trails Stopping
Having watched other launches, it floors me how late the LOX tank valves close on the Falcon. Of course, on the second stage, it would probably be better to leave the tank venting until after launch to keep some sort of consistency in the pressurization.

Needless to say, I haven't gone to bed yet.
10:21 pm est

No Ignition
On launch #2, the engine ignited, but the pressure was low. Here, there was no engine ignition. I'll be curious to hear what the problem is.
10:05 pm est

D'ooh. I think I'm going to bed.
10:01 pm est

Broadcast on hold
A couple times through the night, SpaceX's Quicktime client quit (we're in the midst of one right now). It's funny to see a broadcast error message. The first time I saw it, I tried to acknowledge the message, thinking the error was on my machine.
9:45 pm est

Counting Again
It's interesting to see how much slicker the SpaceX broadcast has gotten between launch 2 and launch 3. They're pressing for a launch at 11:00 ET.
9:36 pm est

Lotsa Stuff Going on
A lot of possibilities tonight:
  • SpaceX is in the midst of trying to launch its Falcon 1 booster. Good luck!
  • (This one is confirmed) SpaceX tested its Falcon 9 booster with all 9 engines in place.
  • Rumors (link problems at first posting, though it should be valid...will be updated) are heavy that some sort of big announcement is on the way from NASA about a Phoenix discovery. Supposedly, the White House had to be briefed first. My prediction: The hype will grow so fast that they'll need to hold a press conference on Monday to calm the speculation and it won't be that big a deal. In this type of prediction, I actually hope I'm wrong.
9:00 pm est

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

TEMPO³ Update
Click on the picture to go to the Mars Society TEMPO³ Page

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