Monday, December 31, 2007

Candidates space policies

From Space.com here.

My concern is NASA should go beyond the low orbit and explore space and the planets. And private enterprise be more involved in the launching of rockets and satellites. Senator Clinton wants NASA to be the Global Warming Climate Change agency. Governor Romney wants to stay with President Bush's Moon-Mars policy. I'll have to do my reading this New Year's on each candidate's Space Policy.
Update: Space Review article is here:
The one candidate whose positions on space have received the most attention—and scrutiny—has been Sen. Hillary Clinton. That attention is based in part on her standing as one of the front runners in the Democratic race, but also because she is the one candidate, Democratic or Republican, who has provided any sort of detailed position on what she would do in space policy if elected. Even Dave Weldon, a Republican Congressman from Florida, said earlier this month, “The best person with a space policy—actually, the only candidate with any kind of substantial space policy on their Web site—is Hillary.”

However, Senator Clinton is more short term thinking than the Vision Bush proposed in 2004:
Another question about Clinton’s policy is her support for the Vision for Space Exploration. Her policy does mention support for “later human missions” beyond the completion of the International Space Station, but does not explicitly endorse the goals laid out nearly four years ago by President Bush to return humans to the Moon by 2020 and, later, send humans to Mars. In a New York Times article the day after her speech, Clinton indicated that such goals would be set aside in favor of restoring funding for aeronautics and space policy. Such exploration, she told the Times, “excites people,” but “I am more focused on nearer-term goals I think are achievable.”

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Star Trails

From SpaceWeather.com
These are star trails--slow, graceful arcs traced by the stars as Earth spins on its axis. "A full 180° rotation of the circumpolar stars can be obtained only at this time of year when the astronomical night lasts more than 12 hours," says photographer Lorenzo Comolli. "I took this all-night picture on Dec. 28-29 using my Canon 350D on a tripod in light polluted Tradate, Italy."

The stubby arc near the center of the swirl is Polaris, also known as "the North Star" because Earth's north pole points almost directly at it. Polaris may be the most famous star in the heavens--but fame is fleeting! Earth's spin axis is precessing and in 10,000 years or so white-hot Vega (six times brighter than Polaris) will take over as North Star. Star trail photos will look even prettier then, with an intense bright dot illuminating the core of the starry whirlpool.

New Year's Comet

Comet Tuttle From the Photo archive at Comet Tuttle @ SpaceWeather here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Shuttle launch will be delayed again

Flame Trench has full converge of the fuel sensors problem with Atlantis's external fuel tank.
After removing foam protection on Friday, technicians were scheduled to remove a suspect connector from Atlantis' external tank today.

The failed connector, which scrubbed launches on Dec. 6 and 9, will be sent away for testing. It provides readings from redundant low-fuel sensors in the bottom of the external tank and instruments that would shut down the shuttle's main engines before the turbopumps ran dry and flew apart.

The Connector has been removed and sent in to be tested. NASA has not announced another launch date yet.

Spirit's Winter Position


Crossing the Winter Finish Line ... for Now

Human explorers would be hard pressed to show more persistence than NASA's Mars rover Spirit. After weeks of careful driving with a broken front wheel, Spirit finally made it to a north-facing slope of "Home Plate."

The rover gradually descended over the north edge to get into position, as shown here, tilting its solar panels 13 degrees toward the sinking winter Sun to maximize power. Rover drivers plan to continue nudging Spirit forward, increasing the tilt, to track the Sun as it moves lower in the northern sky.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Hazard avoidance camera

JPL's float in Rose Parade


JPL will celebrate the 50 years in space with a float in the Rose Parade, January 1, 2008.
"In January 2008 we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Explorer 1, the first American satellite, which was built at JPL.? This is a historic milestone not only for the Jet Propulsion?Laboratory, Caltech and Pasadena, but for the country," said Charles Elachi, director of?JPL. "I can think of nothing better than kicking off the celebration?with a float in the ultimate New Year's pageant, the Rose Parade." JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More at NASA.gov here.


UPDATE 1/6/08: An article about the JPL float here at About Space.com.

Opportunities mission at Victoria Crater

Asteroid to hit Mars?


On January 30, 2008 an asteroid will pass Mars very close. Will it effect the Mars rovers if it hits the planet?
The chance that a rogue mini-world — asteroid 2007 WD5 — will smack into Mars on January 30th has increased from 1.3 percent to 3.9 percent.

That’s the new estimation from officials at the Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), stemming from several sky watching teams in Alaska, New Mexico, and in Arizona.
Read more at Live Science here.
The pre-discovery observations were located by Andy Puckett, a recent Ph.D. from the University of Chicago who has since moved to the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Puckett located the observations in the archive of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey II, which contains extensive repeat coverage of 300 square degrees along the sky's celestial equator. The observations were taken using a 2.5 meter aperture telescope at the Apache Point Observatory near Cloudcroft, New Mexico. For the recent orbit refinement, these pre-discovery observations on November 8 were added to the existing observations provided by the Catalina Sky Survey and Spacewatch observatories (both near Tucson AZ) as well as New Mexico Tech's Magdalena Ridge Observatory.

More from NEO JPL page here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Apollo 8 Christmas eve broadcast


From NASA here.
William Anders:

"For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you".

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."

Jim Lovell:

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Frank Borman:

"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."

Borman then added, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mars will be a Christmas Star!


HT from Mars Blog.
Mars is retrograding (moving westward) through the stars of Gemini and will cross over into Taurus on Dec. 30. It will come closest to the Earth on the night of Dec. 18 (around 6:46 p.m. EST). The planet is then 54,783,381 miles (88,165,305 kilometers) from Earth. It is at opposition – exactly opposite from the sun, with Earth in the middle – six days later, on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

It will then gleam at magnitude -1.6, and through Jan. 2, 2008, will outshine Sirius, the brightest star.

......
The night that Mars will probably attract the most attention, from even those who don't normally look up at the sky, will be on the night before Christmas Eve: Sunday, Dec. 23. That will be the night of a full moon, and Mars will serve as a companion to it all through that night. In fact, it will result in an exceptionally close approach between the two across much of the United States, while for parts of the Pacific Northwest, southern and western Canada and Europe, the moon will actually occult (hide) Mars.

From Space.com here.

January 10 launch

The shuttle Atlantis launch will be rescheduled for January 10. It will not delay the next flight of Endeavour on February 14Th.
From Flame Trench here:
NASA could still pick up its original 2008 schedule after launching Atlantis on Jan. 10. A five-week turnaround between the launches of Atlantis and Endeavour would make that possible.

"If we launched on the 10th (of January), it does not affect the ability to launch on Feb. 14," said NASA spokesman Kyle Herring.

A Valentine's Day launch of Endeavour will return NASA to the schedule the agency proposed to complete the space station before the shuttle program ends in 2010.

However, if Atlantis' launch is delayed until Jan. 13 or 14, that would force a day for day slip in Endeavour's Valentine's Day mission. Laboratory modules will be delivered on both missions to the International Space Station.

"All of that still fits," said Herring.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving greeting from Space


"We wanted to say happy Thanksgiving to all our NASA viewers,"
Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson, an Iowa native, said. "We feel particularly privileged and thankful to be up here on board the International Space Station this Thanksgiving, and we're looking forward to our activities this week. We have a busy week with spacewalks, and we hope that you also are having a great
Thanksgiving."

"My family, we gather for Thanksgiving, and we spend a minute just thinking about the things we're thankful for and, of course, I'm thankful for the continued health of my family and my loved ones," Flight Engineer DanTani, an Illinois native, said. "Also this year,I'm thankful that I'm safely on the space station, conducting our
mission successfully and having a great time doing it."


Update: Here's an article from Space Review on the Women commanders meeting in space.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to shuttle commander Pam Melroy and station commander Peggy Whitson, and to their ground-breaking (perhaps we should say space-breaking?) predecessors such as Sally Ride, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, Eileen Collins, and three dozen others, is that an examination of their technical credentials—their education, experience, and career achievements—couldn’t give a clue as to their gender. Their ultimate “firsts” were logical step-by-step progressions from their solid professional competence.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Comet Holmes

From Hubble site here.

Hubble first observed Comet 17P/Holmes on June 15, 1999, when there was virtually no dusty shroud around the nucleus. From that observation, astronomers deduced that the nucleus had a diameter of approximately 2.1 miles (3.4 kilometers), about the length of New York City's Central Park. Astronomers hope to use the new Hubble images to determine the size of the comet's nucleus to see how much of it was blasted away during the outburst.

Hubble's two earlier snapshots of Comet Holmes also showed some interesting features. On Oct. 29, the telescope spied three "spurs" of dust emanating from the nucleus, while the Hubble images taken on Oct. 31 revealed an outburst of dust just west of the nucleus.

The Hubble images, however, do not show any large fragments near the nucleus of Comet Holmes, unlike the case of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (SW3). In the spring of 2006 Hubble observations revealed a multitude of "mini-comets" ejected by SW3 after the comet increased dramatically in brightness.

Ground-based images of Comet Holmes show a large, spherically symmetrical cloud of dust that is offset from the nucleus, suggesting that a large fragment did break off and subsequently disintegrated into tiny dust particles after moving away from the main nucleus.
From NASA here.

Harmony's hooked up


From CNN here.

Commander Peggy Whitson and Daniel Tani spent hours hooking up power and heater cables and fluid lines between the space station and the Harmony compartment that was delivered by the shuttle last month. It was tedious, hand-intensive work.

"Yay! Got it," Whitson exclaimed after making a particularly difficult connection. "Those were hard."

Not long afterward, Tani commented on how strong Whitson looked.

"She's the king of the world," Tani shouted. "Queen," replied the space station's first female skipper, sparking laughter between the two.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Smelling smoke in a suit

Late last week a Russian astronaut trainee, working at Johnson Space Center, smelled smoke in his spacesuit and felt heat on his neck during a test in a pressure chamber.

NASA feels the problem will be cleared up and is examining CO2 scrub cans, which have not functioned properly in the past, said NASA spokesman Lynette Madison at Johnson Space Center.

"There is no evidence of a combustion source," said Madison. "They feel like this is going to be cleared up and there won't be any issue for the spacewalks." Late today, Mission Control radioed to tell the crew they expect to clear the spacesuits soon.

From Flame Trench here.

A fire in a spacesuit would be fatal to the astronaut. The Oxygen would ignite and instantly kill the occupant of the spacesuit.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Delta IV Heavy


I watched the launch Saturday night. It took half a minute to clear the launch pad. Great night launch. HT Florida Today.

The payload:

Weighing 5,200 pounds, the DSP-23 satellite completed a 6 hour, 20 minute mission and was deployed into its proper orbit at 3:10 a.m., today. The DSP-23 launch completes the deployment of this important constellation of satellites. DSP satellites provide early warning for intercontinental ballistic missile launches and have been used by the military for more than 30 years.

The United Launch Alliance site is here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ready Houston, here we come!






Discovery is getting ready for re-entry burn. Weather is clear enough at KSC to land. I will be live blogging as much as I can.

Discovery will be coming over British Columbia, Flying over the heartland of America! And landing at KSC.

-- 9:00 AM PST Good Burn No trim required

-- 9:30 AM PST Discovery is near atmosphere re-entry. It's about a half hour to touch down at the cape.
Discovery is beginning to encounter the effects of the atmosphere, a point called "entry interface." Now flying at about 16,000 miles per hour, the orbiter is angled upward with wings level. The shuttle is set to touch down in just over 30 minutes.
HT from NASA Landing Blog here.

-- 9:36 AM PST Discovery is closing in on the coast of Canada. They will be the first to hear the double sonic booms.
What causes the booms?
Air pressure. As the shuttle cuts through the atmosphere flying faster than the speed of sound, air molecules get pushed aisde (like water around a fast-moving boat). The air molecules form a shock wave around the nose and the tail of an aircraft. The rapidly increasing air pressure can be heard as a loud boom.

Why two sonic booms?
The space shuttle is big for a supersonic aircraft. A typical aircraft capable of this kind of speed would be a fighter jet, something about 50 feet or so long. For those small fighters, the shock waves generated at the nose and the tail of the aircraft happen less than one-tenth of a second apart. On the ground, people would hear what sounds like one boom. The orbiter is 122 feet long. The time between the nose and tail shock waves is half of a second, just long enough for us to hear both of the booms.
HT from Flame Trench here
-- 9:40 AM PST Right over Montana. 22 minutes to Florida coast!
-- 9:42 AM PST Right over Nebraska with 18 minutes to go to landing.
-- 9:44 AM PST Right over Kansas TODO! 16 minutes to go.
-- 9:46 AM PST Right over Missuiori with 14 minutes to go.
-- 9:47 AM PST Right over Mississippi and Alabama! 13 minutes to go.
-- 9:49 AM PST Right over Alabama toward Georgia. Florida here we come! 12 Minutes.
-- 9:50 AM PST Merrius Island tracking station has Discovery on site. Less then 11 minutes to go. GPS and tracking a-go.
-- 10:01 AM PST TOUCH DOWN! Great landing! Photos of banking and landing were fantastic! Good Job Pam!

15 days in space

Were did the time go? This mission was a great accomplishment in space. The space walk to repair the solar wings was phenomenal. Placing an astronaut on a boom then extending the station arm as far as it could reach. The station commander was worried it would not reach the proper place to fix it. But with a hockey stick in one hand ( to avoid electrocution) and home made cuff links (materials found on the ISS) in the other the repair was done. Well done!

I wish I could have spend more time space blogging on the mission but my life has been busy with kids, getting the flu and cars breaking down, etc. But I did keep an eye on Space Trench and NASA TV. It was a wonderful mission getting the ISS fitted to Harmony and ready for other modules to come.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Women Commanders meet in Space


Its great day for America and the space program. Space is a great place to meet!
From Flame Trench here:
With the shuttle and the station linked 220 miles above Earth, Discovery mission commander Pam Melroy floated through the hatch of the U.S. Destiny laboratory around 10:39 a.m. as the spacecraft flew over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina.

Melroy immediately embraced station skipper Peggy Whitson, the first woman to command the outpost. It was the first time two female space mission commanders have met in low Earth orbit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

T Minus 9 and counting!

All go for Discovery to launch!

God bless and God Speed!

Discovery is in space and launch is a success.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Update on Discovery

NASA managers are getting together today to discuss launch readiness of Discovery. One topic will be the cracks in the coating of the leading wing edge panels:
While the astronauts practiced for launch, shuttle program managers held two days of meetings in advance of today's review. One of the topics discussed before the conclusion of last week's program review involved the reinforced carbon-carbon, or RCC, on Discovery's wing leading edge panels. In the past, there have been post-flight indications that the edges of a couple of panels have lost small amounts of their upper-level coating. Thermography, or thermal imagery, has been used to inspect the panels in order to identify any internal defects that could lead to coating loss.

The NASA Engineering and Safety Center has been working with shuttle engineers to better understand the potential causes of coating loss. At last Wednesday's meeting, the center recommended replacing three of Discovery's 44 panels.

Discovery has flown at least twice with these panels in the current condition, and with no indications of degradation based on thermography. At this point, the Space Shuttle Program has determined that Discovery's astronauts can safely carry out their mission without having to replace the panels.

Gray on ALGORE

Dr. William Gray spoke to 300 Meteorology students at University of North Carolina on the day AL GORE got his Nobel Peace Prize. His take on AL Gore and his peace prize here:
"We're brainwashing our children," said Dr Gray, 78, a long-time professor at Colorado State University. "They're going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It's ridiculous."

Dr Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicised, said a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures - related to the amount of salt in ocean water - was responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place.

However, he said, that same cycle meant a period of cooling would begin soon and last for several years.

"We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was," Dr Gray said.

HT to Powerline.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

First Female commander for ISS


Discovery Launch might be delayed

From NASA here:
One of the topics discussed before the conclusion of the program review Wednesday involved the reinforced carbon carbon, or RCC, on Discovery’s wing leading edge panels. In the past, there have been post-flight indications that the edges of a couple of panels have lost small amounts of their upper-level coating. Thermography, or thermal imagery, has been used to inspect the panels in order to identify any internal defects that could lead to coating loss.

The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) has been working with shuttle engineers to better understand the potential causes of coating loss. At Wednesday's meeting, NESC recommended replacing three of Discovery's 44 panels.

Discovery has flown at least twice with these panels in the current condition, and with no indications of degradation based on thermography. At this point, the Space Shuttle Program has determined that Discovery's astronauts can safely carry out their mission without having to replace the panels.

More over here at Flame Trench. Shuttle engineers say that the small cracks should not be a major problem. They have had those coating cracks on other shuttles without major damage during re-entry. (Correction: No other cracks have been found on other shuttles on their leading wing edges. Discovery has flown twice with the cracks in the coating and based on the thermography no degradation has occurred.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Space Age 50th anniversary



Tomorrow will be the 50th anniversary of the launching of Sputnik.

Here's Sputnik's beep.
On October 4 at 10:28 p.m. Moscow time, a brilliant and deafening detonation of smoke and flame illuminated the Soviet Union's rocket test site near Tyuratam, Kazkhistan, as the 32 nozzles announced the rise of the Russian R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile. 295 seconds and 142 miles later, the last of the R-7's engines shut down for good. Soon after, pneumatic locks were activated, a nosecone fairing separated, and an antenna spike was released. Then, in one final act that signaled the dawn of the space age, a pushrod connected to a bulkhead of the R-7 was activated, shoving a 183-pound beach ball-sized aluminum sphere into the cold, harsh blackness of space. Sputnik had arrived.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New moon buggy

NASA wants the next astronauts visiting the moon to be driving a pressurized rover they could ride in like it was a motor home. If the crew spotted something intriguing outside, they'd climb into attached spacesuits and go explore.

"It's not much bigger than the Apollo rover. I call it a cross between a sports car and a spacesuit," said NASA astronaut Mike Gernhardt, who is working with engineers to develop more capable moon buggies.

The ice-shielded rover would protect the astronauts inside from solar storm radiation. The crew could spend most of its time in the comfort of shirtsleeves during trips from lasting hours to more than a week. If they need to go out, they can hop through a porthole into the ready-to-go spacesuits.

"It would only take 10 minutes to get in the suit and be boots on the surface," Gernhardt said.

HT Flame Trench.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Yemeni Eruption


A NATO fleet passing nearby reported seeing a "catastrophic volcanic eruption" at 7 p.m. local time Sunday on the island, about 70 miles off the Yemeni coast, said Ken Allan, a Navy Public Affairs with the Canadian Armed Forces.

"At this time, the entire island is aglow with lava and magma as it pours down into the sea," Allan said in an e-mail Sunday evening. "The lava is spewing hundreds of feet into the air, with the volcanic ash also (rising) a thousand feet in the air."

The NATO fleet was sailing toward the Suez Canal when it spotted the eruption. The government of Yemen asked NATO to assist in the search for survivors and the closet ship, the HMCS Toronto, was heading toward the island. The Canadian Armed Forces said they are trying to locate nine people believed to be at sea after the Yemen coast guard requested help. It is unclear why there was a discrepancy with the SABA report on the number of missing.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

SkyCast.com -- Star Wars v Star Trek

Long live and prosper or May the Force be with you?

Update: Shuttle now moving to pad


The shuttle is rolling out now. Thunderstorms prevented it from rolling out yesterday. More over at Flame Trench here:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dawn Launch

The Dawn Launch at dawn, Sept. 27, 2007.

Shuttle rolls out today!

Shuttle Discovery will be rolled out to the Pad today for an October 23rd launch.
In preparation for the targeted Oct. 23 launch, Discovery is set to roll from the Vehicle Assembly Building out to the Launch Pad 39A aboard the crawler transporter this weekend. Earlier in the week, the orbiter was attached to the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters atop the mobile launch platform.

In the predawn hours Thursday, the payload canister for mission STS-120 arrived at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The Italian-built U.S. Harmony module destined for the International Space Center will be transferred to Discovery's payload bay once the space shuttle reaches the pad.

More about the Harmony module and STS 120 here.
The pressurized component was named "Harmony" by U.S. students in a nationwide contest. "This module will allow all international partner pieces of the station to connect together, so it's really wonderful that kids recognize that harmony is necessary for space cooperation," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations, when the six winning schools who submitted the name were announced.

Successful SDI test

HT Drudgereprot
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - A ground-based missile successfully intercepted a target missile Friday in a test of the nation's defense system, the Missile Defense Agency said.
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An intercontinental ballistic missile interceptor blasted out of an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly after 1:15 p.m., and tracked a target missile that had lifted off from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, the Boeing Co. said in a statement.

The Missile Defense Agency said initial results show the interceptor's rocket motor system and kill vehicle performed as planned. Boeing said the warhead was tracked, intercepted and destroyed.

Boeing is the prime contractor for what is formally known as the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system.

The MDA expects to invest $49 billion in ballistic missile defense development and fielding over the next five years.

Two operational interceptor missiles are currently based at Vandenberg and there are 11 deployed at Fort Greely, Alaska.


View the video of the intercepted missile here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fossett crashed in Death Valley?

Crews plan weekend search near Death Valley
By Brendan Riley
ASSOCIATED PRESS

7:35 p.m. September 25, 2007

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Relying on new leads from Air Force experts, crews looking for famed aviator Steve Fossett plan to comb a rugged area near Death Valley by air and foot, authorities said Tuesday.

Gary Derks, the state Department of Public Safety official in charge of the search, said the Air Force analyzed images picked up by radar and satellite and “picked up what could be Mr. Fossett, his track.”

“It gives us an idea, if it's him, what direction he was going,” Derks said of the wealthy adventurer, missing for more than three weeks.

Derks said the area stretches about 100 miles to the southeast from where Fossett took off Sept. 3, an airstrip on a million-acre ranch owned by hotel mogul Barron Hilton. Maps show the area would include Nevada's remote Silver Peak Range, close to Death Valley National Park in California.

“There's nothing definite, nothing concrete,” Derks said. “These are just some hits that we want to track.”

Search planes will fly over the area Saturday and Sunday, Derks said.

The area is “very rough terrain,” Derks said. “If he's there, he's going to be hard to see. That's why we're sending in the ground search-and-rescue crews, too.”

A private search effort by Fossett's family and friends continued Tuesday when a plane with sophisticated camera gear took off from the ranch.

Fossett, 63, has not been seen since he left on what was supposed to be a short ride in a lightweight acrobatic plane to scout locations to break the land speed record.

The adventurer, who made millions as a commodities broker in Chicago, is the first person to circle the globe solo in a balloon. He has also swum the English Channel, completed the Iditarod sled dog race and scaled some of the world's best-known peaks.

James Hansen's Fundrasing his cause

Ht from LGF here.


James Hansen received $720,000 from OSI, Open Society Institute a Geroge Sorros group and to fund his media campaign. Then he received $250,000 from the Heinz group (Mrs. John Kerry) and supported John Kerry in 2004.


Then the hockey puck theory was kicked out from him here:

After the the GISS data error was revealed, Hansen finally agreed to make public the method he uses to generate "official" temperature records from the actual readings. That process has been revealed to be thousands of lines of source code, containing hundreds of arbitrary "bias" adjustments to individual sites, tossing out many readings entirely, and raising (or lowering) the actual values for others, sometimes by several degrees. Many areas with weak or no rising temperature trends are therefore given, after adjustment, a much sharper trend. A full audit of the Hansen code is currently underway, but it seems clear that Hansen has more explaining to do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

In the Shadow of the Moon


A movie you must go see, "In the Shadow of the Moon." Here's some facts I did not know about Apollo 11:
The film also devotes time to a disaster that never happened - Armstrong and Aldrin being stranded on the moon. There's astonishing footage of President Richard Nixon delivering a eulogy to the astronauts, which, of course, never aired. Obviously, the fact that the speech was written and recorded says a lot about NASA's lack of confidence about the success of the mission - and the effect that failure would have had on the American public. The film continually makes the point - as do some of the astronauts - that the Apollo program represented what was good about the United States not only to Americans but also to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Where is Steve Fossett?

From Flame Trench
Steve Fossett is missing.I remember his 2002 circumference of the world in a balloon. I pray for his wife Peggy and family. Let's hope he is safe.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Re-write history?


HT From Hotair here:
“The only moon landing in history is NASA’s Apollo expedition in 1968.”

Well lets see, did we or did we not have 6 Moon landings from 1969 to 1972? Is there something wrong with this story here.
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia plans to send a manned mission to the Moon by 2025 and wants to build a permanent base there shortly after, the head of Russian space agency Roskosmos said Friday.

"According to our estimates we will be ready for a manned flight to the Moon in 2025," Anatoly Perminov told reporters. An "inhabited station" could be built there between 2027 and 2032, he said.
I guess the AFP in Moscow doesn't fact check at all!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Full Lunar Eclispe tonight

NASA
Map of coverage here:

Article here:

Conversely, almost the entire Pacific Ocean is turned toward the Moon during this August eclipse. In fact, at mid-totality the Moon will appear directly overhead for a spot over the open waters of the Pacific, roughly 1,800 mi. (2,900 km.) south of Hawaii.

And whereas, for the March lunar eclipse those near and along the Pacific Rim could catch a brief view at dawn, while the Americas view coincided with moonrise, in August we are presented with the converse of these circumstances. For the eclipse will already be underway at moonrise for Japan and much of Australia on the evening of Aug. 28.

The rest of eastern Asia will either have the Moon rise during totality, or will see it as it is exiting the Earth's shadow.

But from North America, the eclipse occurs during the early morning hours of Aug. 28.


On the Pacific coast it will start at 2:51 AM PST.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bio Fuel Launch

The Orange County Space Society's yearly Summer BBQ meeting at Brookhurst Park. The rocket is a 2 liter coke bottle with vinegar and baking soda for fuel.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The rings around Uranus


Taken by the Hubble
Story here at NASA.

Mars soil has microbes?

Viking Lander
Phoenix Lander
I remember the Viking data was sort of like microbial but not like on earth. It was not proven to be life 30 years ago.
The soil on Mars may contain microbial life, according to a new interpretation of data first collected more than 30 years ago.

Scientists want to know whether or not Mars ever supported life.

The search for life on Mars appeared to hit a dead end in 1976 when Viking landers touched down on the red planet and failed to detect biological activity.

But Joop Houtkooper of the University of Giessen, Germany, said on Friday the spacecraft may in fact have found signs of a weird life form based on hydrogen peroxide on the subfreezing, arid Martian surface.

His analysis of one of the experiments carried out by the Viking spacecraft suggests that 0.1 percent of the Martian soil could be of biological origin.

That is roughly comparable to biomass levels found in some Antarctic permafrost, home to a range of hardy bacteria and lichen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No delay in future Shuttle launches

From Florida Today here:
NASA is leaning toward launching shuttle Discovery on Oct. 23 without external tank changes despite heat-shield damage done to Endeavour during its blastoff earlier this month.

The agency also aims to launch Atlantis and a European science laboratory to the International Space Station on Dec. 6.

But NASA on Tuesday acknowledged it will be hard to launch 13 station assembly flights and a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission before a presidential deadline to retire the shuttle fleet in September 2010.

"I think we get into trouble if we start holding up some kind of standard that we have to complete all remaining 14 flights and it's a failure if we don't get all 14," NASA space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier said after Endeavour's landing at Kennedy Space Center.

STS-1 and tiles lost


Commander Kelly was not a bit worried about the tile damage on STS-118. He said John Young, commander of STS-1 Columbia, spoke at meetings with STS-118 crew and stated that many tiles were lost on Columbia on her maiden voyage. She came home safely on her first trip out to space.
From the STS-1 Mission page:
Major systems tested successfully on first flight of Space Transportation System. Orbiter sustained tile damage on launch and from overpressure wave created by the solid rocket boosters. Subsequent modifications to the water sound suppression system eliminated the problem. A total of sixteen tiles were lost and 148 tiles were damaged.

The three inch gouge was not in a critical area such as the wing tips or the nose cone. The felt between the tiles was not burnt at all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Endeavour's home


The damaged tile after the landing.

8:25 AM PST Deorbit burn is occurring and going well. Endeavour should be landing in an hour at KSC. Mission control said no further trim necessary.

You can follow the landing from Flame Trench as always here. I have kid detail to do. I'll be back soon!

9:00 AM PST Endeavour is entering the atmosphere right now.

9:02 AM PST Weather good at KSC but wind is changing.

9:06 AM PST First roll off manuver. Its banking to slow the spacecraft down.

9:12 AM PST Will target landing runway 15.

9:13 AM PST Less than 20 mins to go. Over Central America.

9:15 AM PST Over Costa Rica now. May be they will see the Top of Hurricane Dean as they go by.

9:16 AM PST 5 Mins. from Merrit Island tracking station.

9:17 AM PST 15 mins to touchdown at KSC. Over the Carribein now.

9:18 AM PST Almost over Cuba now. Getting closer.

9:20 AM PST Communication back with Endeavour. Crosswinds at landing strip.

9:21 AM PST Merrit Island tracking is picking up Endeavour now.

9:22 AM PST Endeavour using the GPS now.

9:23 AM PST Less than 10 mins. to landing.
9:24 AM PST Take the data Endeavour.
9:25 AM PST 6 mins and the cameras are picking her up!
9:28 AM PST Boom Boom!
9:33 AM PST Wheels stopped. Endeavour has landed safe and sound.

10:18 AM PST The crew is getting into the crew carrier. I'll be waiting for Commander Kelly to do his walk about the orbiter. More at NASA landing blog here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Endeavour to land Tuesday

Deorbit 201
Endeavour’s first landing opportunity on Tuesday is at 12:32 p.m. at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., with the deorbit burn occurring at 11:25 a.m. A second opportunity is available at the Florida spaceport at 2:06 p.m. The deorbit burn would occur at 1 p.m.
All times are EST.

More here at the Space Shuttle site.


Over at Flame Trench they discuss the flight path over the Hurricane if Endeavour lands tomorrow as planed. Endeavour will pass 180,000 feet over head of Dean as it lands in Florida. I'll try to live blog the landing tomorrow sporadically with kid duty in between. God Speed Endeavour!

Dean's a Cat 5

Dean's clocking at 160 Mph winds and will hit Yucatan very soon

Friday, August 17, 2007

Endeavour Might be coming home a day early



NASA has decided not to fix the gash on Endeavour's belly. Underneath the gash is aluminum and can withstand 350 degrees F of heat. NASA's models conclude that it will only heat up to 330 degrees F.

Another issue is Hurricane Dean might effect Space operations in Houston so they want Endeavour to come home next Tuesday instead of Wednesday. A Crew might be transferred to Kennedy to assist in the landing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Watch out Texas, Here comes trouble!

From Weather Underground here.
T-5 depression will be called Erin and will only be a tropical storm at the most. Dean can get a bit ugly if the right conditions occur.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Barb's a Robo Chick!


Since this mission is getting the ISS built and serviced the "Teacher In Space" aspect is not being pushed. The fact it is summer and school is not in session. Also, Commander Kelly has stressed Barbara is an astronaut first and teacher second. They will be having a teaching session to the Idaho students that attend the school that Barbara Morgan taught at. Granted she is an Astronaut and was part of the "Teachers in Space" Program. But now NASA hired her as an Astronaut. And Her former job was a teacher.
And yet, Morgan’s role was somewhat muted going into last week’s launch (though Mission Control did mark her space arrival with a glib, “For Barbara Morgan and her crew, class is in session.”) and even more so now as Endeavour’s tile damage overshadows her space presence.
It is both perplexing and understandable at the same time.

Through the karma of shuttle flight scheduling, Morgan’s flight falls outside the school year, limiting the agency’s education reach to schools across the nation.

And since her assignment to STS-118 in late 2002 and the Columbia accident a year later, NASA has shifted its shuttle missions to make completion of the International Space Station a priority, so construction - not education - takes center stage.

Happy Birthday Tracy!


Gouge will not be a problem

NASA said the gouge will not be a problem to Endeavour's return mission. They do plan to use one of the three patching techniques to cut down on repair and turn around time on the ground for Endeavour.
The video is here of the gouge.


More from Space.com here.

Nothing to see here, Move along!

HT qob

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Gouge up close

Put some filler in and Spackle it down!

Story at Space.com here.
The foam damage etched a 3 1/2-inch by 2-inch (9-centimeter by 5-centimeter) gash across two tiles on Endeavour's belly. The damage left a tiny area of about 0.2-inch by 1-inch (0.5-centimeter by 2.5-centimeter) bare of any heat-resistant tile material, Shannon said.

In a bit of luck, the damage occurred right underneath a spot on Endeavour's wing that includes a metal rib, which also lends additional heat resistance to the local area, he added.

They have three options my husband and I have discussed:
1. Do nothing.
2. Fix it in a spacewalk and bring the whole crew down together. (most probably do this one)
3. Fix it and have another shuttle (Atlantis I suppose) come up with a skeletal crew of two and bring down part of the crew on Atlantis and the rest on Endeavour.
I wager they will have a voluntary crew of two experienced commander/pilots to come up in a rescue crew.

More from Flame Trench here:
Despite a gouge that reaches Endeavour's aluminum skin, a top NASA official believes the shuttle could reenter the atmosphere in its present condition without danger to the crew.

"If we were in a significant emergency case, we would feel comfortable deorbiting this vehicle," chairman of the mission management team John Shannon said at a Sunday briefing.

Three repair techniques exist, but computer analysis and tests must be performed before deciding to risk a repair effort, said Shannon.

However, the 3-inch gouge leaves a .2-inch by one-inch area of the shuttle's aluminum skin exposed to temperatures as high as 1,500 to 2,300 degrees on reentry.

"The gouge goes pretty much through the entire thickness of the tile," said Shannon. The brittle silica tile is 1.12 inches thick.

After computer analysis and arc-jet tests in the laboratory, engineers will decide early this week whether to send a spacewalker to repair the gouge.

More over at Blogs of War here.
John Little supposes NASA will do all three types of repair. From LA Times article:
If a repair is ordered in this latest incident, the astronauts would use one of three re- pair kits: an emissivity wash to paint the surface; a protective plate that could by screwed in- to the body over the hole; or "the goo," a putty-like sub- stance that would be applied by hand.

I'll have to go research the plans NASA has drawn up for rescue operations. That will be for Next post!