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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, February 27, 2010

New Deep Space Network Antennas Under Construction
Looks like some upgrades are on their way for the Deep Space Network (DSN), used to communicate with spacecraft both near and far. Upgrading to the Ka band will allow greater data rates. Anyone with satellite TV will talk about rain fade in that radio band, but the DSN locations (Southwest US, Australia, and Spain) are pretty dry so that shouldn't be much of a problem.

I like how the article describes the differences in data rates using terms like 'web streamed video' vs. 'HDTV signals', because it shows a bit of how technically savvy they expect their readers to be. Though I guess before the yardstick used was the number of TV channels...

I've often thought that a new model for a DSN-like antenna system would be a network of smaller antennas located around the world. These could be built relatively cheaply and then networked to provide a more powerful signal. I guess areas like The Pacific Ocean would be troublesome...
7:08 am est

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Mars Rising?
There's a new organization pushing for humans to Mars. It's called Explore Mars, Inc. Their announcement press release is here, and there are a lot of names I recognize from The Mars Society.

I don't know what will happen next.
9:12 pm est

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Somehow, Not as Poignant as 2001
2010: The Year we Make Contact is on TV right now. Unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey, I saw 2010 in the theater. When the namesake year for 2001 hit, I went to see it in the theater where it was released, a couple months after I was born.

It's funny to have to explain to my son about the cold war, and the Soviet Union, and why there's so much paper flying around in the spacecraft.
8:57 pm est

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Room has a View
The Cupola is in place, giving station astronauts views like this. I would love to look through that window sometime. Other views can be found in the archive, though the indexing scheme seems to change daily. At this posting, the Cupola shots were around pages 11 and 12.
9:11 pm est

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I have Mixed Feelings About Shuttle Retirement...
...but I will miss pictures like this, showing Endeavor approaching ISS. I'd much rather have 150 rockets flying each year building orbital infrastructure that leads to flights beyond, because after a relatively brief period of time without such pictures, a whole new slew of shots will appear taken by a growing number of people.
1:05 pm est

Friday, February 12, 2010

Interesting Take on the Typical Valentine's Day Story
There's a valentine traveling through space according to this NPR story. In it, Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan's widow), talks about how she worked to collect sounds and recordings for the record that traveled with the Voyager spacecraft. One thing they did was to record the electrical impulses from Ann's brain, and it turns out that she and Carl had just gotten engaged, so the majority of what she was thinking about was love.
5:25 pm est

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Falcon 9 Coming Together in Florida
SpaceX has the update. 1-3 months to launch, according the the website, but that's success-oriented.
1:13 pm est

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Case of a Meteor Driving History?
I hadn't heard about this one, but one archeologist proposes that the Inuit Migration across North America happened in order to gain access to an iron meteorite in Greenland. Between this one and the (proposed) Clovis Impact/Airburst, meteors may have had a big 'impact' on North America.

In this case, however, I'm inclined to believe in the meteor impact theories because it's an interest of mine that we fully characterize the threat we face from asteroids. To me, that means I can't form a relevant opinion due to my bias without much more time investment than I have today.

If more people examined and acknowledged their internal bias towards a topic before spouting an opinion they know a little about, certain debates today would be much less annoying.
8:37 pm est

Solar Dynamic Observatory to Launch Today; Snow not a Factor
The Solar Dynamic Observatory is scheduled to launch today. You can follow launch updates here, and it looks like winds at the launch site will be a potential factor in the launch. One thing that isn't mentioned on the status board is that the control center for SDO is at Goddard Spaceflight Center, which happens to be buried under a bunch of snow, so the people who are to control the spacecraft are already in place, ready to sleep in the control center.

Afternoon update: Delayed due to surface winds. Trying again tomorrow.
6:41 am est

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shuttle Launched; First Space-view of the Snow
Shuttle made what was likely its last night launch earlier. It looks like all went well. Can't wait to see the views out of the Cupola, and would love to see them in person...

The Terra Satellite got an early view of the snow that hit the DC area over the weekend. Landsat 5 will fly overhead today, and I'll post a link if it's clear.
6:17 am est

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chinese Space at Rand's Place
Rand Simberg has a post on an article from early January about the Chinese Space Program and their plans to get to the moon. The plan uses their new Long March 5 rockets for four launches, sending their lunar module to lunar orbit, then sending a crewed vehicle to join it a couple weeks later. The plan is clever in that it avoids storing cryogenic propellants for long periods of time in orbit. I made a comment, however, pointing out how Chinese Space Program timelines for future missions are usually radically faster than their track record would indicate.
7:03 am est

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snowy Night with a Good Book
I'm home with the family, locked in while the East Coast gets dumped on. Late to the party, I'm sure, but I'm in the process of reading The Challenger Launch Decision. Diane Vaughan really captures day-to-day life of an engineer. She meticulously reconstructs the incidents that built upon each other leading to that fateful day in January 1986.
5:49 pm est

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Some Things Going on Besides the New Direction for NASA
  • NPOESS, the US Government's attempt to combine military and civilian weather satellites has been split into military and civilian projects. The messy divorce is to play out over the coming months.
  • Spirit is staying stuck in the sand trap where it's been for months. From there, they hope to answer questions about Mars' core.
  • Apparently, two asteroids collided in the asteroid belt, and Hubble imaged the aftermath.
  • Speaking of Hubble, the 'scope returned new images of Pluto.
9:10 pm est

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I know, I know
The blog's been mostly silent for a long time. Since I don't have an RSS feed, it's possible that people won't even notice that I posted this. If anything should get me posting again, it would be the President's Budget that hit the streets on Monday. I'm actually more hopeful than most on it, but know that the future will have to be run very well (not a strength in the NASA/NASA Centers/Congress Triangle) to accomplish anything. I want to write more about it, but may not have the time to devote to doing it right. We'll see.
8:23 pm est

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Taken During a Tour of KSC on 6 Oct 2010

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