Saturday, June 30, 2007

To the Moon.... I hope so!

"We're returning to the moon. America doesn't quite know that that's happening, and we need to make sure the story gets out," he said. "That's my job -- to get the story out of NASA and to make sure that the members of Congress are informed and interested in what it can do for our country to continue a viable space program."

Space activists need to get the message out to the public. We are going to the moon and beyond. We need to tell them why we need a space program and its benefits. I don't see many congressman or senators supporting the space program right now. With Tom Delay gone from Congress and the democrats in power it seems dim. But with the 'Blogosphere' and new media I think we can make a difference.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Shuttle Possim babies

Go over to Flame Trench to see the new Possim babies born today! I still think thar Varmits!

Go Atlantis! (KSC or Lake Rodgers?)

The OC is going to hear the booms today

From Flame Trench here:
Conditions are not expected to improve at KSC after another orbit of Earth. If the bad conditions remain, entry flight director Norm Knight already has said he would take his first good-weather opportunity to bring Atlantis down at Edwards.

The weather looks better for two subsequent landing opportunities at the California desert military base. The first landing chance at Edwards is 3:49 p.m. A second chance comes at 5:23 p.m. The weather forecast calls for acceptable conditions during those first two passes at the California site, but strengthening winds later in the day.

The Science Dude says:
NASA says it might land the space shuttle Atlantis at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert today if weather conditions don't improve at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where thunderstorms are expected. If Atlantis does set down here, it will produce a double sonic boom that will likely be heard across Orange County.

NASA has booked three possible landing times for Edwards: 12:49 p.m., 2:23 p.m., and 3:59 p.m.

Why does the shuttle make two sonic booms? Here is the explanation:
"The Cause"
"Sonic booms are created by air pressure. Much like a boat pushes up a bow wave as it travels through the water, a vehicle pushes air molecules aside in such a way they are compressed to the point where shock waves are formed."

"These shock waves form two cones, at the nose as well as at the tail of the vehicle. The shock waves move outward and rearward in all directions and usually extend to the ground. As the shock cones spread across the landscape along the flightpath, they create a continuous sonic boom along the full width of the cone's base. The sharp release of pressure, after the buildup by the shock wave, is heard as the sonic boom."

"The nose and tail shock waves are usually of similar strength. The time interval between the nose and tail shock waves is primarily dependent on the size of the aircraft and its altitude. Most people on the ground cannot distinguish between the two and they are usually heard as a single sonic boom. As the time interval increases, two booms are heard. A small fighter-type aircraft about 50 ft long will generate nose and tail shock waves of less than a tenth of a second (0.1 sec). The ear usually detects these as a single sonic boom."

"The interval between nose and tail shock waves on the Space Shuttles, which are 122 ft long, is about one-half of a second (0.50 sec), making the double boom very distinguishable."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Edwards AFB will be open for Public viewing of Shuttle Landing

I remember the days when Edwards was the only place besides White Sands to land the shuttle. I saw Discovery (Mission Archive) land back in 1988 at Edwards. It was a flying brick I tell ya!

Here is the Edwards release here.

No go on landing today

Poor visibility and rain at the landing site at KSC forced NASA to postpone today's landing of Atlantis. Here is the updated landing times for Friday, Saturday and Sunday (HT Flame Trench):
# 2:16 p.m. at KSC
# 3:51 p.m. at KSC
# 5:21 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California
# 6:56 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California

# 1:02 p.m. at KSC
# 2:33 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico
# 2:37 p.m. at KSC
# 4:07 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California
# 4:08 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico
# 5:42 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California
# 5:44 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico

# 1:22 p.m. at KSC
# 2:54 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico
# 2:58 p.m. at KSC
# 4:27 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California
# 4:29 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico
# 6:03 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California

Weather conditons not too promissing today

The weather in Florida is not too good for landing today. It looks like they'll stay up another day. Atlantis can stay in orbit until Saturday to land at KSC. The alternates are Edwards and or White Sands.
**Update Shuttle doors were ordered closed to start landing proceedures:
The landing times today would be either 1:55 p.m. or 3:30 p.m., if there's a sudden clearing of low clouds and predicted thunderstorms fail to materialize near the runway.

From Flame Trench here:
Landing opportunities Friday are:

# 2:15 p.m. at KSC
# 3:50 p.m. at KSC
# 5:20 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California
# 6:55 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California

Saturday opportunities are:
# 1 p.m. at KSC
# 2:32 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico
# 2:35 p.m. at KSC
# 4:05 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California
# 4:07 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico
# 5:40 p.m. at Edwards AFB, California
# 5:42 p.m. at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico

Climate Change is due to the Sun's activity

Photo Credit: William Gray's presentation 6/6/07 here.
I saw this on Drudge report this morning about Global Cooling/Warming. It is all in the activity of the sun.
Using computers to conduct what is referred to as a "time series analysis" on the colouration and thickness of the annual layers, we have discovered repeated cycles in marine productivity in this, a region larger than Europe. Specifically, we find a very strong and consistent 11-year cycle throughout the whole record in the sediments and diatom remains. This correlates closely to the well-known 11-year "Schwabe" sunspot cycle, during which the output of the sun varies by about 0.1%. Sunspots, violent storms on the surface of the sun, have the effect of increasing solar output, so, by counting the spots visible on the surface of our star, we have an indirect measure of its varying brightness. Such records have been kept for many centuries and match very well with the changes in marine productivity we are observing.

In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-90-year "Gleissberg Cycle," the 200-500-year "Suess Cycle" and the 1,100-1,500-year "Bond Cycle." The strength of these cycles is seen to vary over time, fading in and out over the millennia. The variation in the sun's brightness over these longer cycles may be many times greater in magnitude than that measured over the short Schwabe cycle and so are seen to impact marine productivity even more significantly.

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shuttle crew is ready to leave ISS

Sunni on Spacewalk
Atlantis Docked to ISS
Both crews together

Another successful mission is wrapping up. I think they did a fantastic job while the station gyros were malfunctioning, the computers crashing and a quick sewing job to a tear in insulation. The new Power section will be able to power the new modules that will be coming in the next missions. And Sunni will be coming home, the longest female in Space! Great mission and Godspeed to earth on Thursday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

ISS power problems

The Russian computer crash might be a power related problem from the new solar arrays installed on Monday. Today Atlantis crew will repair the thermal blanket.
HT Space Daily here:
"They had a problem with those computers going off-line overnight," NASA spokesman Bill Jeffs told AFP from Houston, Texas.

The first such mishap of its kind raised concerns the mission might have to be cut short.

But now "they have reestablished communications" with the module and Russian central computers, Jeffs said.

"The Russians report that they think it is a power problem and not a software problem" that triggered the potentially problematic glitch, Jeffs said.

Another NASA spokesman, John Ira Petty, said the problem had not been entirely fixed by 1255 GMT Thursday, but that restoring communictions was "certainly a step in that direction" after many hours of interruption.

"There is some cleaning up left to do after a situation like this as you can imagine. But we are optimistic," he added.

James Oberg over at MSNBC discusses the Russian's computer problem here.
Without the control computers, the Russian rocket thrusters — both on the station itself and on the unmanned Progress freighters that bring up supplies — cannot be activated to orient the station in space.

The main pointing control comes from a set of gyroscopic stabilizers on the U.S. segment that use electrical power to spin in directions that twist the station into desired turns. But this hardware — the "Control Moment Gyroscopes," or CMGs — need occasional assistance from rocket thrusters for more forceful turns and to "dump" excess angular momentum (which arises when the gyroscopes spin too fast).

As long as the computers are inoperable, other critical equipment in the Russian segment cannot function. The devices for producing oxygen, controlling humidity and scrubbing excess carbon dioxide were inoperable at first. However, during the brief time that the computers were operating Thursday morning, circuit breakers on the station were reconfigured to create a power pathway for some of that gear.

I'll blog the walk today.
Flame Trench will have NASA TV.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Space Walk number two

The space walkers worked a bit on the retraction of the old solar panels and will finish that job on the fourth or fifth spacewalk. They are working now on the new solar panels attaching brackets and such.

The astronauts will try to patch up the thermal blanket on Atlantis with needle and thread on the last spacewalk.

I like to view the NASA TV on Flame Trench here.

Commander Rick Sturckow is a Marine. The Marines in Iraq said a prayer for the mission here.

Fairwell Mr. Wizard

I heard that Mr. Wizard from the TV Science shows of the 50's and 60's passed away yesterday. I remember watching his show but I was really young. He will be missed. On his website you can buy the DVD's to his shows here. I would like to pick some up for my kids to see. My Kids grew up watching Bill Nye the science guy. He's great too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

False sensor alarms going off

The ISS had a false fire alarm go off. And the wing on the shuttle had an alarm go off too. (false also). There will be another spacewalk to repair the torn thermal blanket. At least the solar wings got unfurled today! (story here)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Are they going to patch it?

From the Flame Trench here:
During ascent, a 4-inch by 6-inch flap of heat-resistant fabric tore on the left orbital maneuvering system pod, a bell-shaped structure near the rudder. Similar insulation tears have been seen in other areas of STS-121 and STS-116, and no damage was reported on re-entry, chairman of the mission management team John Shannon said Saturday.

The torn corner of the insulation blanket would heat to 700 degrees during re-entry, not likely presenting a danger if left unrepaired.

However, astronauts have practiced techniques to tuck, trim or stick it in place with thermal goo, if engineers decide a repair is necessary, Shannon.

From My Way News here:
Thermal blankets came unstitched during flights of Discovery in 2005 and 2006 without any problems, and thermal tiles were lost in the same area where the peeled-up blanket is on Atlantis on two of the earliest shuttle flights.

The area does not get hotter than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit during the shuttle's return to Earth, compared with other parts of the vehicle where temperatures can get as hot as 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is not a place where NASA is usually concerned about potentially fatal problems. But if engineers decided it needed to be fixed, Atlantis' astronauts could trim if off, tuck it back into protective tiles or cover it with a plate held in place by adhesive goo during three planned spacewalks or extra one added to the schedule.

After the Columbia disaster, a shuttle repair kit was included in all shuttle missions.

"We have wide spectrum of repair technologies," Shannon said.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Shouldas, Couldas, Wouldas....

I laugh when the MSM gets in a wedgie on GW! NASA Chief Griff gets a grilling on his comments from the media and he apologizes. He is right, if GW is occurring we can't stop it. We have to adapt.

Godspeed Atlantis!

Mission STS-117 is the Space Shuttle Program's 21st mission to the International Space Station. Rick Sturckow will command the mission and Lee Archambault will serve as Atlantis' pilot. Mission Specialists Patrick Forrester, James Reilly, Steven Swanson, John Olivas and Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson round out the crew to deliver the S3/S4 starboard truss segments, batteries and another pair of solar arrays to the space station. Anderson will replace Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams on station and Williams will return to Earth aboard Atlantis.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Messenger will Flyby Venus today

NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry,
and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft will make its closest pass to Venus on Tuesday, June 5. This will place the spacecraft on target for a flyby of Mercury in January 2008. MESSENGER will be the first probe to visit the innermost planet in more than 30 years.

Threading its path through an aim point 209 miles above the surface ofVenus, MESSENGER will use the pull of the planet's gravity to guide it closer to Mercury. During this flyby, Venus's gravity will change the spacecraft's direction around the sun and decelerate it from 22.7 to 17.3 miles per second.

"Typically, spacecraft have used planetary flybys to speed toward the outer solar system," said Andy Calloway, MESSENGER mission operations manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md. "MESSENGER, headed in the opposite direction, needs to slow down enough to slip into orbit around Mercury."

Monday, June 04, 2007

William Gray part II

Shuttle Crew at KSC

There might be a strike at KSC for Union workers on support crews who work for United Space Alliance. Story here.

Launch ready to go!

Atlantis on pad

The crew will arrive to KSC this evening. From Flame Trench here is the schedule this week:
# 6:30 p.m. Today: Astronauts arrive at KSC.
# 10 a.m. Tuesday: Countdown status briefing, weather report.
# 9 p.m. Tuesday: Countdown officially begins.
# 10 a.m. Wednesday: Countdown status briefing, weather report.
# 4 p.m. Wednesday: Conference on results of launch readiness review.
# 10 a.m. Thursday: Countdown status briefing, weather report.
# 9:42 a.m. Friday: Tanking of space shuttle for flight.
# 3:47 p.m. Friday: Astronauts head to the launch pad.
# 7:38 p.m. Friday: Launch.

I'm switching to AccuWeather!

From NYT here:
In December, she raised the ire of Fox News and others by writing on her blog that the American Meteorological Society should not give its “seal of approval” to any meteorologist who “can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change.” (There are now more than 1,700 comments on that one post.)

Dr. Cullen, a tiny woman who speaks with conviction, said she believed that people were “finally seeing climate connected to weather,” but that a lot of information still needs to be disseminated. “If you turn on the local forecast, you wouldn’t necessarily know that global warming exists,” she said.

Far from being intimidated by the political backlash, Dr. Cullen and executives at the channel say they have embraced the issue of global warming. Dr. Cullen is host of the weekly show “Forecast Earth,” formerly named “The Climate Code” where she has entertained such guests as former Vice President Al Gore. She also appears on the channel’s other programming with segments on hybrid taxicabs in New York City and the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The network’s other programs have also directly engaged the elephant in the room — or, in this case, the polar bear on the melting ice cap: a recent anniversary roundup of “The 100 Biggest Weather Moments” listed global warming as No. 1. And the network is training its meteorologists so that they can discuss long-term trends as well as five-day forecasts.