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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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Monday, June 28, 2010

Asteroid Landing Talk
News flash: It won't be like Armageddon. Some pretty good discussion in the article, though I feel the radiation concern is typically over-played. The crew could shield from the sun behind their water supply and waste tank. Cosmic rays are not easily blocked, though their activity decreases as solar activity increases. Lots of good options in the engineering trade space.
6:25 pm est

Sunday, June 27, 2010

At Least Partially Inspired by Space...
Yesterday, I stopped by Frederick Municipal Airport, where the local amateur radio club was having its field day. Two sets of radio gear and some antennas, along with some guys to talk with were OK, but what caught my eye was the power system they were using: turn-key solar power system built into a trailer including solar panels, batteries, and a 120V inverter. They were operating at a power surplus, so charging the batteries while using the radios. Trailers can be purchased at various sizes.
7:23 pm est

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Definition of Finding a Needle in a Haystack
Japanese scientists are examining the Hayabusa capsule to determine whether any grains of dust from its target asteroid are inside. The process could take six months.
5:49 am est

Signs of the US Being out of the Space Business
I guess that's how some people would read the fact that Boeing is developing its own capsule with an eye towards affordability and short development times. I'm not sure how this fits on the talk/action scale, though the fact that Bigelow is involved moves it towards action for me.

They discuss the fact that the capsule is meant for short missions. I hope that they're building it in a modular way, so that parts intended for longer durations can be swapped out as they come online.
5:37 am est

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Amazing Recovery
Have you ever bought a new piece of electronics, turned it on, and found that nothing (or very little) happens? Whether it's a hum where music should be, clicking instead of motion, the item you purchased just didn't work.

Had you ever thought of just leaving it on and seeing if it would work eventually?

Well, that's what basically happened with the Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) on the most-recently-launched GOES satellite. Early in testing, the SXI was turned on and didn't respond as expected. After analyzing all the data the team had, they decided to just turn it on and see if it would come on over time. After 16 hours of power application, it did!
7:48 pm est

Monday, June 21, 2010

Elon Dissects the Aerospace Industry
Before Elon Musk built SpaceX, he spent a lot of time trying to figure out why space hardware is so expensive. If his launch prices hold, he likely found the critical problems. He discusses what he learned here.
4:45 am est

USA Today Takes on Asteroid Mission in 2025
USA Today has an article about the proposed mission to an asteroid in 2025. It's not the worst article I've seen on the subject, though it spends most of its time just listing problems (can't use a space shuttle, need heavy-lift, radiation environment, low gravity on the asteroid) rather than countering the problems with practical solutions.
4:38 am est

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Plentiful Planets
While the data still needs to be verified, it turns out that the Kepler spacecraft spotted 706 candidate planets in its first 43 days of operation. According to the article, it takes three transits of the star to become a candidate, so the maximum orbit period of one of these planets is 21.5 days. This is a huge number of planets, though I'm curious about how that many very close planets (short orbital periods) will affect the number of those with longer orbital periods.
8:13 pm est

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Heavy Talk at Space Politics
Jeff Foust has a post entitled "When is the right time to start heavy lift?." As with most posts like this, there's a mix of good and bad discussion within.

I'm of the mindset that just because heavy lift (Saturn V) was how we sent humans beyond Earth orbit last time, it should be our only option in method this time. A revolutionized medium-lift industry could do the job as well and cheaper while upping flight rates and decreasing costs for others to unheard-of levels.
1:38 pm est

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spacecraft Taking Pictures of Themselves...Cool!
The Japanese solar sail spacecraft IKAROS, just sent a picture of its deployed sail back to Earth. It did so by deploying a small camera that took the pictures and transmitted them to the spacecraft. It's almost like we live in the future.

As a friend said, three of the biggest news items in space travel (Hayabusa return, Falcon 9 flight, and IKAROS) over the last weeks didn't involve NASA. We live in interesting times.
6:02 pm est

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Disruptive Market Forces can Change the World
Iridium just signed with SpaceX to launch their next series of satellites. The deal is billed as the largest launch services purchase ever at $492M, with a number of launches scheduled between 2015 and 2017. There will be 66 satellites in the constellations, plus spares, and their website discusses some interesting hosted payload opportunities. Iridium did mention that they'll be contracting with other launch providers. I'll be curious to see how many spacecraft will fly on each Falcon, and more curious to see how things change over the next few years in spaceflight.

After further reading on the hosted payloads: Wow! The payloads can weigh 50kg each, draw 50W of average power, and have 1Mbps datarate.

Report from the press conference at Rand's Place.
6:25 pm est

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Return from the Depths
Today, the Japanese space probe Hayabusa (Falcon) returns its potential sample of asteroid Itokawa today. News story here.

The mission didn't go as planned, but there are hopes that some sample of the asteroid will be in the payload.

Update: Landed!

Update 2: Video posted! The spectacular 'break apart' portion is apparently the spacecraft, while the little light visible at the end is the capsule.

Updates coming in from The Planetary Society.
5:41 am est

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Legalities of Cancelling a Program
It looks like NASA found a route to start shutting down Constellation without formally canceling it. They've essentially invoked a law that many (at least in Congress) forgot about called the Anti-Deficiency Act, which says that contractors must keep enough money in reserve to cover cancellation costs. There's discussion at Space Politics, and someone apparently in the know, Jim Muncy, had a comment of his on another site reposted at 10:45am on the 10th (no permalink).

In my opinion, this sort of thing happens all the time. It's hailed as brilliant if the maneuver works in favor of your agenda and as counter to the law if it works against. In the end, there's lots of noise and confusion with very little action.
8:39 am est

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another Save for SARSAT
Abby Sunderland, the 16-year old who was trying to sail around the world solo, has been rescued. More details are coming, but when she lost radio contact she activated her EPIRB, which linked through the SARSAT System and got information to rescue crews.
5:46 am est

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Profile in Space Entrepreneurship
The New York Times profiled Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace. The article is pretty complimentary, though I'm not sure how his belief in prayer or the big bang theory is newsworthy.
7:11 pm est

Monday, June 7, 2010

SpaceX's Version
The company posted an update on their website. No really new information, though I like their statement that SpaceX developed two rockets and three launch pads, and launched six rockets for the cost of the Ares I launch tower.

Again, excellent achievement. While some in other comments compare it to a "Wright Brothers" moment, I come closer to agreeing with others that it's more of a "Henry Ford" moment. Looking to make space more commonplace and available to more people.
8:44 pm est

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Falcon 9 2nd Stage: Australian UFO?
Looks like a UFO was sighted in the skies of Australia, soon after Falcon 9's flight. I'd have to check the timing and such to verify it (probably won't), but it would be interesting if true.
6:56 pm est

More Bow Shock Pictures
No direct link, but if you page down on this page, you'll see some great shots as Falcon 9 went sonic.
1:19 pm est

Reaction to SpaceX's Flight
Jeff Foust has some political statements made after the successful flight of SpaceX. My personal favorite is Senator Hutchison's faint praise, to which Elon replied that SpaceX employs people in Texas. The comments get a little weird, with some people going to great lengths to try and claim the flight wasn't really successful, but even if it was, it doesn't mean much anyway.

Note: I will always be a bit biased in favor of SpaceX. I first met Elon Musk at The 2001 Mars Society Conference. I've talked with him a few times, and really think that he has the possibility of cracking spaceflight wide open in a good way. Of course, being in favor of humans moving into space, I'm in favor of the cracking. I'm also in favor of Obama's Space Plan, feeling that it has a much better chance of putting hundreds or thousands people into orbit in the next 10-20 years than any previous plan I've seen before. All the while, it strikes me as odd that The Obama Administration's answer to every other issue has been 'more government', so why is space different in their eyes?
10:04 am est

Jupiter Rocked Again
Further blurring the line between amateur and professional astronomers, Anthony Wesley, the same guy who spotted a recent impact on Jupiter in July 09 got video of another impact.
9:52 am est

Friday, June 4, 2010

Congrats to SpaceX!
Falcon 9 flew to orbit today! I was watching the spotty video feed through the first attempt to fire, then had to travel. Got the pleasant news in my email box when I got home. Hopefully, more to talk about later.
4:05 pm est

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Same Planet, Different Worlds, Same Opinion of New Space Plan
Drs. Paul Spudis, noted and quoted 'moon guy' and Robert Zubrin, well-known 'Mars guy' both don't like the new space plan.

The more I hear, the more I think any 'improvements' will just make things worse. For example, the 'Orion Lifeboat' gives Lockheed Martin an advantage in government funding for building a capsule.
8:51 pm est

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