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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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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Planet Found in the
We've been discovering extrasolar planets for over a decade. The discoveries so far are biased bacause of the methods we've used, but most we've found so far are big and hot, but just recently, scientists discovered a planet in the "Goldilocks Zone", that is, not too hot and not too cold to have liquid water on its surface. The star is much less bright than our sun, so the planet's year is pretty short (~30 days), and there are lots of other issues (the planet is likely tidally locked, etc) but this is still an exciting find.
8:43 pm est

Monday, September 27, 2010

Had to Check the Source
When I hear that The United Nations Appointed Someone to Represent Humans to Extra-Terrestrials, I have to verify that the source isn't The Onion (note: site sometimes not safe for work).

Speaking of which, according to the nation's finest news source (sometimes I wonder), President Bush is still working on the Mars mission (again, sometimes NSFW).
6:39 pm est

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Space Policy Emergencies
I've been half-heartedly following the Congressional political battles over space policy. The more I watch, the more despondent I get that anything smart can actually happen. Any plan with some semblance of well-thought-through strategy is attacked for what it's missing or deleting, so someone else fiddles with the plan, adding some things, deleting others, changing others.

I just can't get excited about these moment-to-moment things.
7:20 pm est

Saturday, September 25, 2010

They Fooled Me
In my visits to Kennedy Space Center, I didn't notice that the Gemini-Titan vehicle on display was actually made of two Titan I first stages. This article describes the recent swap-out. The thing that made the biggest impression on me in the display was the bird's nest on the top of the Gemini capsule, since it was a flat surface.
12:32 pm est

Another Meteor, Another All-sky Camera
This one recorded over the skies of Texas and New Mexico
12:22 pm est

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More Depots and FiDOs
The Space Show Thursday will host Dan Adamo, the flight dynamicist featured earlier along with Dennis Bienhoff, a Boeing engineer who's done a lot of the engineering work of how to build and use them. Pre-read presentations (and some pre-show comments!) can be found here, and discussions will take place here (I'll update this link after the show).
9:40 pm est

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh the Times, They are a Changin'
Based on this Space Review article about potential upcoming declassifications on NRO's part, I checked out the NRO's 50th Anniversary Page. After clicking on their flyer, I spotted some terms not used officially in public before.
5:17 pm est

Been down for a bit between business travel, kids getting back to school, and a recent computer failure. Thought I was in deep trouble, but it turns out there's a known flaw in my laptop's video card that the vendor replaces for free. Gotta love free.
4:36 pm est

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Depots and the FiDO
I may write more about this later, but I've been having some communications with a former Flight Dynamics Officer (while the description is for an Apollo position, the job stayed much the same in the Shuttle Era, though focusing on Earth orbit and later, docking with ISS) who's been on The Space Show saying that propellant depots won't work because of the orbital mechanics involved. His particular episode was part of The Space Show Classroom. He'll be on again tonight, and I'll link to the archived show here once it's posted. Some told me I was wasting my time in trying to debate the topic with him, at first I thought I wasn't, but later communications made me think that perhaps I was. I'm still debating whether I'll call in.

Wednesday Update: Show link now in place. There's a new discussion board here for this episode, as well as some past ones.

Listening to the show, I realized that I am in agreement with Dan about almost all the orbit dynamics issues he talks about in this show and in other places. The difference is in how we view them: as challenges or as obstacles. To me, the idea of multiple times more space launches, many more space launch providers, and improved space control methods for example, which come from the depot fueling process are a huge advantage. Spelling this all out would be the stuff of a very large article, or perhaps a small book like The Rocket Company
8:37 pm est

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gil Levin, Call your Office
While Gil Levin has been (and remains) on the fringe by saying that the Viking Spacecraft found life on Mars, this news certainly moves the mainstream a little closer to his position.
6:54 pm est

Old Dog, New (Important) Tricks...
It's funny how in astronomy, some local (and important) observations take a back seat to more distant objects. It may be similar to the phenomenon of lots of satellite engineers working on the spacecraft side, while one or two people work on the ground system. Anyway, the Spitzer Space Telescope is now out of its cryogenic coolant, which allowed it to view the deep-space objects it was launched for. Turns out, the remaining capabilities allow it to characterize local asteroids. It's very cool that the spacecraft is doing this, though I wonder if it could have done more involved characterization when it had coolant. I guess that will have to wait for the dedicated asteroid hunter near Venus that Lindley Johnson is pushing for. Given Spitzer's orbital characteristics (it's orbiting the sun, moving away from Earth at .1 AU per year), it may be a good asteroid survey craft itself!
4:37 am est

Report Out
The Lockheed Martin report on Orion asteroid missions mentioned earlier is now out. Look under "Orion Alternative Mission Capabilities." It's also getting some press.
4:22 am est

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Space: Search Now! with Google

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

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

Solar System Ambassadors
Click on the image above to see Tom's SSA profile

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