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29 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

GlennOn this date 6 years ago, Space Senator John Glenn returned to orbit on the Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-95 mission.

+ 0 - 0 | § You Can Be Blase About Some Things...

Titan...But not about Titan! Well, OK, you probably can, but that doesn't mean you should.
Per The Houston Chronicle:
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has spotted what may be icy volcanic flows and a large lake of oily liquid on Saturn's mysterious moon Titan, scientists said Thursday. ...
Cassini's radar-based images revealed a dark area about the size of Lake Tahoe. Experts believe it could be a liquid methane reservoir.
"You could imagine that if you were at the surface of Titan, it would look somewhat like a lake on Earth," said Charles Elachi, who leads Cassini's radar imaging team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "You cannot drink it, but it would look very similar the fluidity of the material. The fact that it's very dark means it's very smooth. It's the kind of image in your mind of a lake on a very calm day."

+ 0 - 0 | § King Of Night Vision

GalileoIn light of my post the other day about what China's rise as a space power means for international relationships, particularly as exemplified by ESA's Galileo GPS-type system, I thought I'd share this editorial from China's Xinhua News Agency:
...According to the Business Week magazine, the US threatened to attack the Galileo network if it is used by alleged adversaries, such as terrorists.
This is nothing but a US monopoly and sharply runs counter to the spirit of peaceful use of outer space and closer international space co-operation.
It explicitly demonstrates, once again, the urgency for the rest of the world to have an independent satellite-based positioning and timing infrastructure to ruffle the dominance of the US amid mounting worries about its post-September 11 hegemony in the name of anti-terror. ...
The US sabre-rattling spoke volumes about the importance for the rest of the world to be present on the international scene in all aspects of cutting-edge technologies. ...
The Pentagon should be fully mindful that the world will never accept "serfdom" in space by relying solely on US GPS.

28 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § "Vision" For Space Exploration

KerrySpace Senator John Glenn has written a column endorsing Kerry's space "plan".
Once again, Kerry leaves discussing space policy to others, giving him culpable deniability of their claims--"I didn't say I'd do that; that was John Glenn!"
And, once again, the column is all about Bush, with no substance of its own. Glenn criticizes Bush for his proposal to end Space Shuttle flights by 2010, leaving the U.S. without human space launch capability. So, how would Kerry address this situation? That's an excellent question, one neither Glenn nor Kerry can answer. In fact, Kerry's recently released space policy statement does not even mention the Shuttle at all.
Kerry and his supporters need to stop talking about space, and start saying something about it.
But with a few days left before the election, I don't see that happening.

+ 0 - 0 | § Team Titan

TitanStudying the first close-up images from Cassini's recent pass, scientists have learned much about Titan, namely that Titan sure is mysterious.

+ 0 - 0 | § Don't Want No Scrubs

DARTThe DART launch has been delayed again, and a new launch date has not yet been announced.

+ 0 - 0 | § This Week At NE

ESMD logoThis week at NASAexplores, I have an overview article about NASA's new Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, and Maggie's got one about the Science Mission Directorate.

27 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

Saturn IToday marks the 43rd anniversary of the first launch of a Saturn rocket, on an unmanned suborbital Saturn I flight.
The Saturn I at right is a picture I took of the rocket outside of the building where I work. Cool, huh?

+ 0 - 0 | § We Got Your Teraflops!

good meatballPer BusinessJournal:
Silicon Graphics, Inc., of Mountain View, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Tuesday claimed NASA's new Intel Itanium 2 processor-based "Columbia" supercomputer is the most powerful computer in the world.
...the new supercomputer achieved sustained performance of 42.7 trillion calculations per second (teraflops), eclipsing the performance of every supercomputer operating today...
...Columbia's 16-system result tops Japan's Earth Simulator computer, rated at 35.86 teraflops, and IBM's recent in-house Blue Gene/L experiment, rated at 36.01 teraflops.

To demonstrate its power, the Columbia supercomputer needed only two days in an exercise to solve the mystery of the debris that broke off the Columbia shuttle's rockets and struck its shuttle wing's edge, leading to its crash. ...
NASA's old supercomputers took three months processing that problem, he said.

Per The NYT (req.req.):
Even as Silicon Graphics Inc. trumpeted on Tuesday a new speed record with the Columbia supercomputer it built for NASA, CNET has learned, it quietly submitted another, faster result: 51.9 trillion calculations per second. ...
On a secondary but still scrutinized measurement, peak speed, Columbia ran at 61.0 teraflops...

+ 0 - 0 | § SpaceShipTwo Update

RutanApparently at his Saturday talk in Huntsville, Rutan revealed some details of SS2:
The backbone of the Branson venture, called Virgin Galactic, will be five ships, each capable of flying at least five and more likely around eight people at one time. SpaceShipTwo will not look anything like its predecessor. ...
Rutan and Branson plan a ship of luxury, with service and amenities that at least match Virgin Atlantic's upper-class travel service. And that, as any airline flier knows, starts with leg room.
...SpaceShipTwo will have about the same diameter crew cabin as a Gulfstream V business jet, which measures slightly more than 6 feet in height and 7 feet in width (1.9 meters by 2.2 meters.) Seats will fully recline so that even elderly passengers - Rutan plans to fly his 88-year-old father - will be able to handle the expected force of six times Earth's gravity upon descent. ...
"You paid for it and this experience is going to have very few restrictions on what you can do because these payloads are doing it for fun and every person has a different idea of what fun is, Rutan said. Does that mean that some guy and his girl might want to take the whole ship? OK!"

Also, here's a little more of
Rutan on the future, in which he said commercial spaceflight to the Moon is 6 months closer than he thought this summer.

+ 0 - 0 | § There's A Blood Moon On The Rise

Blood MoonDon't forget to watch the total lunar eclipse tonight. The eclipse will start at 8:14 p.m. CDT, turning orange and then red as it nears totality, which begins at 9:23 and lasts until 10:45.

26 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § DART Update

DARTCan't find anything definitive as to whether today's DART launch has been postponed due to weather. Reports yesterday indicated there was a 90 percent chance of a weather scrub. If it doesn't fly today, the next opportunity is Thursday.

+ 0 - 0 | § Good Night, Moon

KerryAccording to Kerry, if he is elected, you can forget seeing humans leave Low Earth Orbit anytime soon.
And we will pay the price for his lack of vision.

(NASA Watch points out that it's also interesting to note that Kerry's position on space includes neither the Space Shuttle nor the International Space Station.)

25 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § An Open Letter To Burt Rutan

Burt RutanHere's the second of today's rants.
I went to hear SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan speak to teachers who were finalists for NASA's educator astronaut program Friday night.
To be honest, Rutan's talk annoyed me so much that at different points during the weekend, Nicole would ask me what was wrong, and I'd be upset again about Rutan.
If anyone's interested, news articles about the talk are here and here.
One interesting note: After repeatedly insulting the NEAT teachers (at one point describing them as "NASA's rejects"), he promised to fly them all into space on SpaceShipTwo--sort of. Actually, he said he talked to Branson, and the two agreed to fly all the NEAT teachers if a sponsor could be found. Which is saying nothing--I could have promised honestly to fly them all to the International Space Station, if I could find a sponsor willing to pay the $20 million per seat. Promising to do something really cool if somebody else will pay for it isn't that big a deal.
There were several other details in the talk that either were wrong, misleading, or just annoying:Below is an open letter to Rutan, which I probably won't actually send. (more)

+ 0 - 0 | § Back To Life

RutanThe resurrected Life magazine has a cover story about SpaceShipOne this week, but most ATW readers probably won't have access to it.

+ 0 - 0 | § The Final Frontier

ShatnerBecause I left my computer too early Friday, I'm having to post belatedly the coolest piece of news this blog has ever been able to share:

William Shatner will be traveling into space--very possibly aboard the Enterprise.

+ 0 - 0 | § First Flight

Brazilian rocketCongratulations to Brazil, which overcame adversity (including last year's deadly rocket explosion), to make its first space launch over the weekend.

+ 0 - 0 | § Space Wars

GalileoPer SpaceDaily:
The United States could attack Europe's planned network of global positioning satellites if it was used by a hostile power such as China, The Business weekly reported Sunday.
It's interesting to note the U.S. actually admitting (or claiming) satellite destruction capability.
This is also a concrete example of the concerns I've had about the importance of the changes in the space community landscape. China's growth as a space power has its greatest significance not in potentially beating the U.S. to the Moon or in using its manned space program as a weapons platform, as some have speculated, but in the potential for China simply to become a better friend to other nations than we are. Galileo, one of the earliest examples of that sort of situation, is turning into a perfect example: not only is China winning points with European nations by helping to enable the project through its participation, but it's causing the U.S. to alienate itself from allies as well.

+ 0 - 0 | § Expedition 9 Final Update

Expedition 9In the midst of the Tutor wedding festivities, Expedition 9 returned safely to Earth.

22 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Fly Into Space For $10

SS1Don't know that this person's cost estimates are entirely correct, but it's an interesting concept.

+ 0 - 0 | § Ascans At Marshall

Class 19The astronaut candidates of Group 19 were at Marshall last night, and I got to meet several of them. From the conversations I had, they appeared to be a great group.
Possibly the highlight of the evening was when we were eating. I was sitting next to Joe Acaba, one of the Educator Astronaut candidates, and a kid who was about 5-years-old across the table from us decided that he wanted to show the astronaut how quickly he could tie his shoes. Joe got up from his meal, walked around the table, got down on the ground, untied the kid's shoe for him so he could tie it back, and then timed while he tied it (counting the seconds a bit slowly so the kid could meet his 5-second goal).
Yeah, I think Joe will do well.
It was kind of exciting to be among these astronauts so fresh they aren't even rookies yet, and realize that the next person on the Moon could be in your midst.
The future appears to be in good hands.
(Oh, the picture is from a story on today about the new class's training.)

+ 0 - 0 | § Expedition 9 Update

Expedition 9Six months after swearing to never again walk upon the Earth as long as Chris Tutor was single, the crew of Expedition 9 will finally return to the planet tomorrow. Touchdown is expected around 1935 CDT, and will be on NASA TV (on cable and online).

21 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Public Opinion

... Americans continue to support human space flight, with 69% supporting Space Exploration ...
In addition, when provided information about the percentage of the U.S. budget allocated to NASA each year (< 1%), 42% of the respondents indicated that it should be increased ...
42% of Americans believe that NASA is either "very relevant" or "relevant" to their day-to-day lives ...

And, shockingly:
79% of respondents believe that NASA is "marketed" poorly or very poorly

+ 0 - 0 | § ESA on ISS

ESA has an interesting article which simultaneously says a whole lot and nothing. Turns out ESA's negotiating with RSA for an ISS increment. I'd heard this before, but apparently it's still in the works. Sounds like it's not going to happen before RTF, but even so I'm curious as to how it'll play out. My guess would be that one expedition that would have been two Russians and an American will instead represent all three agencies.

+ 0 - 0 | § This Week At NE

STAThis week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about the Shuttle Training Aircraft, a Gulfstream jet modified to handle like the Space Shuttle for approach and landing training, and Maggie's got a piece about monitoring head-pressure increases in microgravity.

20 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Picture Of The Day

satellite damage
This picture shows the damage done to a four-story dwelling by the crashed Chinese satellite. Courtesy China View.

+ 0 - 0 | § Visions Of The Future

Moon baseI'm offering this one up here just in case anyone's interested, but it's pretty heavy reading (well, for a collection of PowerPoint presentations, anyway). has links to proposals by bidding contractors on exploration systems.

+ 0 - 0 | § Absentee Voting

The space station's newest astronaut will cast his ballot in the presidential election from 225 miles up, with NASA's help.
Leroy Chiao said Monday that the space agency has worked hard with local and federal authorities so he can vote from the orbiting complex, his home until spring. He will cast his ballot via a secure e-mail connection, much the same way another astronaut did from Russia's Mir space station in 1997.
U.S. astronauts, most of whom live around Houston, won the right to vote from space under a Texas bill signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush.

+ 0 - 0 | § Halley's Pieces

OrionidGet up around 5:30 tomorrow morning, and you'll be able to see the peak of the Orionid meteor shower, which consists of debris left behind by Halley's Comet.

19 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § SpaceShipOne designer will speak here

Burt Rutan, designer of the first private ship to fly into space, will speak in Huntsville Friday at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. ...
Rutan will give a presentation beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at the Space Center and show a film about the SpaceShipOne flight and its development, a spokeswoman for Rutan's California-based company confirmed Monday. ...
The event will include German rocket team members Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger and Dr. Konrad Dannenberg.

18 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § All The Way From Orbit

Long MarchTwo bits of news related to the Chinese space program:

Unmanned Chinese Return Capsule Crashes Lands Into House
A Chinese satellite smashed into a villager's house on its return to earth, destroying the dwelling but causing no injuries, state media reported Sunday.
I'm curious how much would have been known about this if they hadn't been open about it. My initial reaction is to be pleased that China would actually admit this to the world, though I don't know whether it's something they could have kept a secret.

Chinese space hero eyeing place on Shenzhou VI manned space flight
China's first man in space Yang Liwei is competing against fellow astronauts to be onboard the nation's second manned space flight, tentatively scheduled to be launched during the second half of 2005, state press said Saturday.

+ 0 - 0 | § Expedition 10 Update

SoyuzTurns out the Expedition 10 trip to ISS was more interesting than I'd heard previously. Per Spaceflight Now:
Cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov grabbed manual control of the Soyuz spacecraft during the final minutes of today's rendezvous with the International Space Station, overriding the autopilot that was supposed to guide the capsule throughout the approach and docking.
The unplanned switch, prompted by a yet-undiagnosed malfunction with the autopilot, added a touch of drama to the Expedition 10 crew's arrival at the station ...

+ 0 - 0 | § A Faster Way To Mars

Plasma propulsionA propulsed new space propulsion method, magnetized-beam plasma propulsion, could theoretically cut the round-trip time of a Mars mission down to a mere 90 days.

15 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Personal Note, Cont'd

The one thing I left out of my rambling post last night was how amazing it was just sitting in the back of the room for the ASE congress.
Once or twice before, I'd been in situations where astronauts outnumbered non-astronauts, but never before with the sort of overwhelming majority that there was the last couple of days.
I'm apparently one of the very rare non-astros to be in the audience of an ASE group, and it was like being allowed to hang out in Olympus for a couple of days. Being there, amongst that group, was just amazing, and it was cool witnessing the camraderie, being among a crowd of greats treating each other as peers.
Again, I'm so blessed just to be here.

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

The Cassini spacecraft, which arrived in orbit around Saturn earlier this year, began its journey with a launch 7 years ago today.

14 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Expedition 10 Update

Expedition 10The Expedition 10 crew had a safe launch last night and is on its way to ISS. With this is Russian Space Forces cosmonaut Yuri Shargin, a rookie who has been added to my Space Voyagers total in the left sidebar, which has been increasing fairly rapidly in recent months. (However, I'm still eagerly awaiting the day when I can add more than one person at a time.)

12 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § To Ye Olde Moon!

Per The Independent:
More than 300 years before the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellites and American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped on to the Moon, England had its own ambitious space programme. ...
The man behind the lunar mission was Dr John Wilkins, scientist, theologian and brother-in-law of Oliver Cromwell. In 1640, as a young man of 26, Dr Wilkins wrote a detailed description of the machinery needed to communicate and even trade with beings from another world.

+ 0 - 0 | § Robot Surgery!

AquariusNASA's current underwater NEEMO mission will include simulated robot-performed surgery. A remote-operator surgeon will use the robot to remove the gall bladder from a robot training dummy. The procedure will be used as a proof-of-concept demonstration with an eye towards on-orbit medical treatment.

+ 0 - 0 | § Basstronaut Update

bassPer Cosmic Log:
Remember 'N Sync pop singer Lance Bass and his dream of flying in space? Well, the dream is still alive, two years after Bass was taken off a crew bound for the international space station due to a lack of sponsorship.

+ 0 - 0 | § Expedition 10 Update

Expedition 10The ISS Expedition 10 crew will depart Earth tomorrow night at 10:06 CDT. The launch should be carried on cable and the Web via NASA TV.

11 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

Apollo 7On this date in 1968, the Apollo program marked the launch of its first manned mission, Apollo 7.

+ 0 - 0 | § 500 Days

RosaviakosmosAs research for an eventual Mars mission, Russian scientists will be isolating a team of people in a simulated spacecraft for 500 days to research issues involved in a long-duration flight to Mars. While it's an interesting concept, I wonder how meaningful a test it truly is. It seems like there would be no way of truly testing psychological factors. I agree with the argument that the key to making such a flight bearable will be keeping the crew meaningfully engaged. Since all the tasks, and indeed the entire motivation, of the experiment will be simulated, a failure in the simulation involving psychological concerns would not necessarily mean the real thing would encounter the same problems.

+ 0 - 0 | § R.I.P.

max fagetPer CNN: The designer of the Mercury space capsules that took the first Americans into orbit has died at age 83, NASA announced Sunday. Maxime Faget led the space agency's engineering and development branch from 1961 to 1981, leading the design work on every manned U.S. spacecraft from the Mercury capsules to the space shuttles, NASA officials said.

10 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

ChallengerOn this date, 20 years ago, the Soviets fired a laser at Challenger, causing malfunctions and temporarily blinding the crew.
(The mission was commended by Bob Crippen, whom I'll be talking to this week--may try and ask him about it, if I have time.)

09 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Picture Of The Day

The holes in the side of the VAB have been patched.
(The picture above still shows a small hole, which has since been fixed. More recent pictures are available at the link below.)
Courtesy NASA.

08 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § I Can't Handle The Truth

Well, I made a shocking discovery last night.
I learned why I never went to Space Camp.
Every year in school, I would enter the Space Camp essay contest to try and win a scholarship.
Readers of ATW, of course, couldn't imagine how it would be possible for me to not win that.
Well, my mom yesterday gave me a copy of one of my applications from seventh grade, and I learned why I was never picked.
The essay was horrible. How embarrassing. (more)

+ 0 - 0 | § X=?

Ansari X PrizeI'm all in favor of the X Prize Foundation using its success to try and change the world, but I really believe the name "X Prize" should only be used for the prize that was just won by SpaceShipOne. I'd hate to see it diluted by falling into common use.

+ 0 - 0 | § Space Force

space badgeSo that thing in the picture to the right is the Air Force's new space badge, which disappointingly isn't actually for people who've been to space.

+ 0 - 0 | § This Week At NE

NASAexploresThis week at NASAexplores, Maggie's got an article about Leonarda da Vinci, and I've got a story about bioreactors, which may revolutionize medicine.

07 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Tech Transfer

DeedeeDeedee was kind enough to post this on her blog for me since I'm now a leading expert, per Google, on astronaut poop, and so I thought I'd pass it on to the folks here:
How to Poop Like an Astronaut
(Though, while he claims "all of this is actually true," he neglects to mention that it hasn't been true for 30-something years.)

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

MercuryOn this date in 1958, the 6-day-old National Aeronautics and Space Administration established Project Mercury, which was to succeed in launching a man into space only 2 1/2 years later.

+ 0 - 0 | § The Race Card

SS1All right, it's the second slow news day in a row, so I'm subjecting you to another Dave-rant.

On Sunday, NASAwatch posted links to a batch of articles about the next day's SpaceShipOne X2 launch under the header Civilian Space Travel is Real - Get used to it, NASA

He's far from the only one to take that attitude.
Burt Rutan has felt an obligation to thumb his nose at NASA every time a camera is pointed at him.
As he said Monday:
"Quite frankly, I think the big guys the Boeings, the Lockheeds, the nay-say people at Houston think we're a bunch of home builders who put a rocket in a Long Easy ... I think they're looking at each other now and saying, 'We're screwed.' "

"I have a hell of a lot bigger goal now (than NASA)," he said. He is now determined to supply the craft for Virgin Galactic.

Rutan has talked at great length about how much better his program is than the NASA-centric space program, particularly focusing on how much more cheaply he can operate. It was a real point of pride to him that the X2 flight exceeded the altitude record of the X-15. He portrays a NASA that is quaking in its boots at the threat Scaled Composites presents.

Here's a few points worth noting, though: (more)

+ 0 - 0 | § Space Geeks

Ansari X Prizec|net has an article about the tech billionaires funding the world of private spaceflight, like Allen, Ansari, Bezos, Carmack, and Musk.

+ 0 - 0 | § Four Wheel No Drive

SpiritSpirit's having problems again:
The relay for steering actuators on Spirit's right-front and left-rear wheels did not operate as commanded on Oct. 1. Each of the front and rear wheels on the rover has a steering actuator, or motor, that adjusts the direction in which the wheels are headed independently from the motor that makes the wheels roll. When the actuators are not in use, electric relays are closed and the motor acts as a brake to prevent unintended changes in direction.
The rover team is currently working to figure out how to work around the problem if it persists.
Spirit has driven more than 3.6 kilometers (2.2 miles), six times the distance set as a goal for mission success.
(Again, while I'm blown away by the success of the rovers, let me point out that it's taken Spirit over 8 months to drive 3.6 km, while the Apollo 15-17 crews drove a total of over 100 km in a matter of days. Robots are a vital precursur to human missions to other worlds, but not a replacement.)

06 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Who's An Astronaut

Astronaut PinCosmic Log addresses today an issue which is giving the space collecting world fits. Who is an astronaut? The FAA has awarded astronaut wings to Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie, but says it will not do so for spaceflight passengers.
Space autograph collectors have been debating what this will mean for their hobby. Today, there are completists who have, or are trying to collect, the autographs of all 430-something people who have flown in space. In the future, tough, if "thousands" of people start flying into space, obviously there will be little interest in getting all of their autographs. So where do you draw the line? Do you continue to collect the pilots of private flights, who will be awarded wings? If not, when do you stop. Certainly, there's a strong argument for including Melvill in a collection, but what about Binnie? What about the pilot after Binnie? The first pilot to carry passengers? The second?
Further, this poses some retroactive implications, as well. What does it mean for people like Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth, who paid to ride Soyuz to ISS? Taking it a step further, what about people like Sens. Bill Nelson and Jake Garn, who rode on the Shuttle?
Where to you draw the line? Who's an astronaut?

+ 0 - 0 | § SpaceShipTwo has answers to some questions I had after Monday's flight. Rutan plans to fly SpaceShipOne a few more times before it goes to the Smithsonian; and SpaceShipTwo apparently will be the five-passenger suborbital craft Scaled is developing for Virgin Galactic, rather than an orbital spacecraft, as previously rumored.

05 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § That's The Ticket!

Lemon-lime beverage, 7 UP, the official soft drink of the Ansari X Prize, announced Monday plans to offer consumers the first free ticket into space. The announcement followed the win by SpaceShipOne of the $10 million competition. ...
Details of 7 UP's first free ticket into space will be unveiled in 2005.

This is far from the first contest to mention a trip into space as a prize, but this may be the first one that I'd say has a pretty darned high chance of actually making good on the offer.

04 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Godspeed, Gordo

Gordon Cooper
A day which began on a happy note for the spaceflight community ends on a sad one.
Mercury 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper has died.

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

SputnikOn this date 47 years ago, the space age began with the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik.
Also, on this date--today--a new era of spaceflight began when the X Prize was won.

+ 0 - 0 | § Congratulations Again!

Congratulations to X Prize winners Scaled Composites and Brian Binnie!
Third time's charm!
(Photo from CNN.)

+ 0 - 0 | § Kerry's "Vision" For Space Exploration

Moon2Physics Today asked Bush and Kerry to answer questions on issues of science policies.

Here's what Kerry had to say on his thoughts on space (Bush, of course, just reiterated the Vision): (more)

+ 0 - 0 | § Nearing The Horizon

New HorizonsDespite problems related to the classified information issues at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, NASA's New Horizons Pluto spacecraft will still launch in January 2006, ironically going to Pluto with less plutonium.
The change will likely mean scrapping the probe's post-Pluto Kuiper Belt mission, though a follow-on KB spacecraft is being proposed.

+ 0 - 0 | § Blue Moon II

Blue MoonWe may be seeing a blue Moon of a different type.
When there was a story recently about the traditional Blue Moon, which is a second full Moon in one month, the stories all said that the Moon, of course, doesn't actually turn blue.
Well, it may soon. With the activity at Mount St. Helens, there's the potential for ash to be thrown into the atmosphere which can make the Moon appear blue. has the info.

+ 0 - 0 | § Genesis Update

GenesisPer Spaceflight Now:
"We still have a way to go before we can quantify our recovery of the solar sample. I can tell you we have come a long way from September 8, and things are looking very, very good." ...
"When I first saw three of the four target segments were intact, and the fourth was mostly intact, my heart leapt. Inside those segments are three years of the solar samples, which to the scientific community, means eons worth of history of the birth of our solar system. I saw those, and I knew we had just overcome a major hurdle." ...
"But here we are, with an opportunity to fulfill our major science objectives. It is a great day for Genesis, and I expect many more to come."

+ 0 - 0 | § RTF Update

STS-114Due in part to the effect of recent hurricanes, NASA has decided that the March-April launch window for Return To Flight is no longer achievable, and is now looking at the feasibility of a launch window beginning 14 May 2005.

I've updated the Launch Countdown in the sidebar reflecting the tentative new NET date (and imagine I'll update it again before this is over). I also updated the Aerospace Events calendar, changing not only the RTF date, but also the launch of Expedition 10, now scheduled for 10:06 p.m. CDT on 13 October and the landing of Expedition 9, which will be at 7:32 p.m. on 23 October, during Chris Tutor's wedding festivities. I assume he'll provide access to the NASA TV or Webcast coverage of the landing for attendees.
I'll also, of course, be updating the Space Voyagers item in the sidebar later today as well.

(Also, the item I linked to about the Exp. 10 schedule notes that the ISS's Elektron oxygen-producing-device is working again.)

+ 0 - 0 | § Here's To The Crazy Ones

A few thoughts on the last year in spaceflight: (more)

+ 0 - 0 | § Today Is Gonna Be The Day

Ansari X PrizeCoverage of the SpaceShipOne X2 X Prize attempt has already started on NASA TV and elsewhere.
Take off of White Knight will be around 9 a.m. CDT, and launch of SpaceShipOne will be about 9:45.
Brian Binnie will be piloting SpaceShipOne, which will carry no passengers for this flight.

Addendum: White Knight is in the air!
Addendum: 9:58--SpaceShipOne is headed for space!

01 October 04

+ 0 - 0 | § This Week At NE

VORTEXThis week at NASAexplores, I have an article about

swirling, flaming astronaut poop

Yeah, I'm serious. It's an article about swirling, flaming astronaut poop. Now, where else on the Web are you gonna go to find that? Huh? That's right. (Let me point out that the actual article is a little more discreet than that, and it's actually about a very cool project that's gonna help us live on the Moon. But it's still about swirling, flaming astronaut poop [with any luck, I should be the top Google search result for that phrase soon].)

Also, Maggie's got an article about air pressure monitoring.

On a related note, we just got our September stats back, and NE had the second-highest-traffic month in its history last month, and the most unique IP visitors ever! So, yay us! The ATW audience can take a small bit of pride in that, in that as of a couple of months ago, this blog was the second-biggest referrer to NE, believe it or not.

On a related note to the related note, ATW also had its biggest month ever in September, by a huge margin (roughly double the previous monthly average of unique IPs, which is the main thing I look at).

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

On this date in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began operation.

+ 0 - 0 | § KSC Damage Update

VABRepair work is underway at Kennedy Space Center. Crews will be working until midnight for the next few days to patch the holes in the VAB, though it's estimated that complete permanent repair of the building could take up to a year.

+ 0 - 0 | § Spaceman's Best Friend

A robot that can fetch and come to heel just like a well-trained dog is set to help astronauts explore the Moon and Mars.
The metallic mutt, nicknamed Boudreaux, is officially called the Extra Vehicular Activity Robotic Assistant. It runs on four wheels and is about the size of a small golf cart, similar to the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

+ 0 - 0 | § Wanna Work For NASA?

good meatballNASA is once again seeking Solar System Ambassadors. Basically, you get access to cool NASA stuff in exchange for doing a few NASA outreach projects a year. I thought it might be of interest to Joe, and that, since you receive educational materials, there might be interested people at Prep, so I figured I'd share it with the whole blog.

+ 0 - 0 | § X Prize Update

Ansari X PrizeIt's official--Scaled Composites will attempt to win the X Prize Monday. The flight had originally been scheduled for then, and the launch date was confirmed after review of this week's X1 flight.

Also, Brian Feeney says Wild Fire will fly this month, even if SpaceShipOne has already won the prize.

Addendum: I'm a little embarrased that I hadn't noticed this, and had to read it somewhere--the X2 flight, which should win the X Prize (and, arguably, could launch a new era of spaceflight), is scheduled for the anniversary of the birth of the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

+ 0 - 0 | § What If The Moon Never Comes Back?

EclipseThere will be a total lunar eclipse on October 27.