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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, February 28, 2011

Musical Space Station Review
No matter what I say about NASA, astronauts, or what needs to change in our approach to space efforts, this would be really cool to do.

Note: 17 minutes of Five for Fighting songs. According to some of the comments, this is difficult to take for some listeners.
7:31 pm est

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cool Idea!
Amateur high-altitude balloons have been around for a few years as an exciting way for a group of students (or adults) to get pictures from the edge of space. Usually, the timing of the balloon launch deals mostly with people's availability (on the weekends) and weather conditions at the launch site and in the upper atmosphere. A group of people deliberately launched a balloon to see Discovery's launch. The launch included two Android phones and got video...can't wait to see it.
5:33 am est

The Stuff of Science Fiction and Fact Alike...
Two planets that share the same orbit.
5:25 am est

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I missed Discovery's last liftoff.

The biggest topic of conversation in the next day or so will probably be the object circled in red in this image from about 4:40 in this video.
8:43 pm est

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cheery Thought
Could a large enough solar storm create a global Katrina through wide-scale failure of electronics and the electrical grid? Hope not...
7:02 pm est

When Congress isn't Giving you the Action you want, go to the UN!
The United Nations just discussed space issues, and came up with a list of methods where space can help us here on Earth. None of them mention sending people into space, and none of them mention resources from space. In my opinion, the second oversight is the bigger of the two.
8:34 am est

I didn't help my son with his response to a KidsPost question other than letting him use my email account.
6:54 am est

Budget Bruha
While I understand its importance to space as it's currently done (something 'cool' that major governments choose to do), the congressional budget process literally makes me ache, so I try not to follow it too closely. There have been a couple of recent developments, though, probably foreshadowing things to come.One problem with being reliant on one organization for all your funding is that you're reliant on one organization for all your funding. In the case of Congress, one staffer who thinks that space is a waste of funds can slip an amendment into a bill and shut everything down. Yes, a single funding source and centralized control has the potential to do amazing things rather quickly (Apollo), but it is not the answer to everything.
6:48 am est

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The view from (very near) the Sun
MESSENGER is approaching its orbital rendezvous with Mercury. Over the course of a couple days last year, it took a mosaic of pictures showing most of the planets in the solar system. It makes an excellent counter to Voyager's pale blue dot picture.
5:38 pm est

Cross-Atlantic Amateur Balloon?
Ever since TEMPO's balloon flight, I've been on the email list for the group Stratofox. They're an amateur (ONLY because they don't get paid...I'm really thinking we need a new term for "incredibly skilled people who choose to do work for fun instead of pay"). They just pointed me towards a group who plans to send the first amateur balloon across the Atlantic. Launch date may be as soon as next week. The project has a wiki, and I noticed that in the tech data for their satellite receiver, the diagram shows the signal reaching a satellite that looks suspiciously like Pioneer 10 or 11. Now that's an impressive link!
6:03 am est

Mojave Video 5:46 am est

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

That's not as big as I Expected...
The crater made by the Deep Impact impactor didn't leave as big a hole as I expected. Stardust's cameras show us what it looks like.

Update: There may be some issues with the resolution and lighting of the image preventing a good view of the crater.
8:15 pm est

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Still Thinking Big at NASA
Here's an article, including a 28-slide Powerpoint presentation, about a huge structure for in-space (non-atmospheric) transfers. While this guy is definitely thinking outside the normal box by having an inflatable centrifuge ring, something tells me this won't be the way we move into the solar system.

Favorite quote:
Will Nautilus X ever become reality? It does constitute good, outside the box thinking. Much depends on money and leadership, both of which is lacking currently.
8:33 pm est

Friday, February 11, 2011

Checking in on an old Constellation
In my early days as a brash young lieutenant, I was in the Air Force working on several satellites. The one I worked on then that most people recognize nowadays is the GPS Constellation, where I assisted with early orbit checkout for 13 of the original 24 operational satellites. I talked with some folks today who work policy issues for that constellation, and they have a 'scorecard' of satellites. Turns out that 5 of the 13 satellites I worked on between 1992 and 1995 are still flying, providing navigation data to the world. Back then, I bought one of the early handheld units so I could show people what I did at work. The unit had the first attempt I'm aware of trying to make a number keypad type letters, and they had a ways to go in the approach.
9:31 pm est

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Now we're not Talking About Commerce
I have very little commentary on this, except to say I doubt it will work.
9:15 pm est

Lunar Reservations Being Made
The Google Lunar X-Prize teams are starting to get serious by reserving Falcon 9 flights. Note: GLXP contestants get a 10% discount on SpaceX flights. Now we're talking commerce!
9:13 pm est

NEO Conference!
I plan to try and get to this. It's dealing with some important stuff:
Workshop will address these questions: Do we have adequate NEO targets for a robust, resilient, forward-looking but affordable human spaceflight program beyond LEO over the next two decades? What do we know in the context of human exploration of a NEO, and what information is lacking? Which missing information is critical, and which is “nice to have”? On what timescale is that information necessary? What level of effort and resources are necessary to resolve outstanding issues on that timescale? What is the community consensus on the costs and benefits of resolving those issues?
9:08 pm est

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sun, Brought to you in its Entirety... SDO and the two STEREO spacecraft. This is a very big deal, and you can see the sun's rendering here, while it looks like they'll keep some sort of status on the main page. Let's hope we don't lose this capability.

While the sun can be quiet at times, it remains unpredictable. Some of the biggest flares (search for December 2006) happen during the sun's quiet times. If people are going to be away from the Earth, with less shielding than Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere supply, we're going to need to tell them when it's time to get into the bunker. A 360° view of our home star is the way to do that.
2:01 pm est

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Predictions and Such
My prediction, about Mark Kelly not commanding his final shuttle mission due to his wife's injury, has not come true. He will command STS-134. As the story developed, and I heard that Gabrielle Giffords was moving to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, I thought that might be the way things go. On a technicality, I did say 'barring some amazing recovery.'

What a gut-wrenching decision. Between your (most likely) last trip into space and mostly watching, but helping somewhat in your wife's recovery from a traumatic injury. All I have to say is I hope I never have to make a call like that.
1:30 pm est

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kepler Brings Home More Bacon
1235 planet candidates so far! 68 are Earth-sized, and some of them are in multi-planet solar systems with planets in the Goldilocks Zone.

This changes everything. Again.
5:38 pm est

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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

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