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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, March 31, 2011

Evidence of Past Impacts...
...found in Saturn's rings.
8:30 pm est

Spacecraft Black Boxes?
As spaceflight becomes more commonplace and more commercialized, it will become increasingly important to determine what happened when one fails, because there will still be failures. A big step in that effort moved forward recently, with the first use of a spacecraft black box.

Full disclosure: The company featured is The Aerospace Corporation, my employer.
5:57 pm est

Something Big is Coming
Two days ago, I was perusing the SpaceX Manifest when I spotted a Falcon Heavy listed for 2012. I really wish I'd posted something here, because it would have 'scooped' SpaceX's own announcement of something big.

Yes, they've suffered delays, but they're flying hardware that carries cheese to orbit and back.
5:51 pm est

Friday, March 25, 2011

Would Geocaching be as popular as it is today if GPS receivers stayed as large as these? Page down to the guys with the backpacks.
7:09 pm est

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Solar System Exploration and Fiscal Reality
The Decadal Survey came out a couple weeks ago. Some great missions were proposed, but the survey went further, saying that the ultra-expensive flagship missions, while potentially very important, should not be followed unless the funding profile changes. Discussion here.
8:59 am est

Meanwhile, back in the Asteroid Belt
Dawn is approaching its rendezvous with Vesta.
8:42 am est

I didn't watch it, but...
MESSENGER is now in orbit around Mercury. It is the first spacecraft to do so.
8:34 am est

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Far-Reaching Implications
The Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami will obviously go down as one of the worst disasters of our time. The cost in human lives (now estimated over 10,000), farmland, and infrastructure will likely set new standards in loss.

Those issues, while grave, will be mourned, repaired, and return to some form of normal. I'm watching with great interest as the nuclear reactor issues develop, convinced that some will use the opportunity to rail against the non-perfect, yet (in my opinion) best source we have today for stable, high-yield power. Fission power already faces a complex political landscape (partially due to the Three Mile Island disaster, which I lived through), yet in engineering terms I see it as required for human habitation of space. I understand that this reactor issue is very serious, could render areas of Japan inhospitable, and may increase the death toll of this disaster over the course of years. Without nuclear power, people on the moon or Mars are relegated to bringing huge solar farms and very heavy batteries with them to keep power levels high during times of non-sun. A nuclear power system can provide very low maintenance constant power.

While not nuclear related, I can't get this image out of my mind. It shows a stack of standard cargo containers, that weigh 5000lbs each, and are 40x8x8ft, scattered like LEGO bricks.

Update: The container image was on a Yahoo page that kept changing. Apparently, others found the image riveting as well, because I found it in a newspaper's online article.
5:48 am est

Just an Advertisement?
I found this article pretty interesting, detailing the ways GPS has moved into economies in huge ways. The point being, that if GPS were to go offline, either due to a malfunction or jamming, the effects could be devastating. As I read along, and the article started pointing out that Europe's planned Galileo Constellation would provide a viable alternative, I noticed where the initial article was published (France), and thought that maybe someone was just advertising. The points that the article raise are valid, but since Galileo's frequencies (check the chart, though the article is interesting as well) are close enough to those of GPS to cause concern of interference, the jamming concern is shared, is it not?
5:21 am est

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Commerce Fillng a Niche
At least, it looks like they're going to. I hope Space Flight Services can follow through with their trips to orbit and ESPA Ring spacecraft-based trips to Lunar orbit.
9:30 pm est

More Astrophotography
This time, Thierry Legault captured an astronaut on EVA. More of his work can be found on his main page.
8:38 pm est

Mecury Orbit on St. Patty's Day
Details here, including a link for a live webcast.
8:34 pm est

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Get your Name on the way to Mars 5:21 pm est

Cheesey, but I love it
William Shatner recorded a new version of the Star Trek opening as a wake-up call for Discovery.
5:19 pm est

Sunday, March 6, 2011

This Should be Interesting
In a new Journal of Cosmology article, a scientist makes the claim that he's found fossilized remains of life forms in freshly-exposed sections of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. These microfossils are very similar to Earthbound counterparts.

Obviously, this is a huge discovery if proven. This type of meteorite comes from comets, and evidence leads us to think that comets are everywhere throughout the universe. I'll be watching this unfold with serious interest.

Update: The more I see, the more I'm holding back judgment. The Journal of Cosmology has published a number of interesting papers, and in a press release (I couldn't find the press release on the JOC website itself) says that they're stopping publishing due to thieves and crooks. The article is therefore surrounded by lots of other amazing claims. Even if this finding is true, the momentum is against it because of its location.

One last note: I was asked to review an article for JOC in 2010. The request fell off my plate and I never got back to them. I see that it got published without my input.
6:31 am est

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Though they may be Ready for their Closeup...
...Discovery, The ISS, ATV, Progress, HTV, and Soyuz spacecraft will not have their picture taken.

I'd be really curious to know more information about the safety concerns (the reason cited for 'no photo') exist that didn't before. Hmmm... that image is of Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with Mir. I thought I'd seen one of a shuttle docked with the ISS.
5:16 pm est

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

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