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+ 1 - 0 | § Astronaut for Veep?

(Link) | Back before we had words other than "astronaut" for what he did.

+ 0 - 1 | § Space Adventures Buys Zero-G

(Link) | Interesting. Well, to me, anyway.

+ 1 - 1 | § Three web apps for space cadets with iPhones

(Link) | One of those overlap stories I have to post.


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27 March 2008

+ 1 - 0 | § STS-124 Update

STS-124 patchWith Endeavour back on the ground after a successful mission, I've reset the ATW countdown clock at the top left for the STS-124 launch of Discovery, currently scheduled for May 25. The flight will deliver the pressurized module and robotic arm of the Japanese Experiment Module, Kibo.

Keywords: international_space_station,launch_schedule,nasa,space,space_shuttle,sts_124

26 March 2008

+ 0 - 1 | § Triple Sighting

Jules VerneI almost gave up.

I'd never really noticed how much light pollution there is even in the darkest part of my neighborhood. But standing out in a dark open area last night, a bit after the first spacecraft flew by, I was about to leave, figuring I must have missed the other two. Given the low number of visible stars, I figured I must have just seen the station -- the brightest of the three -- and the other two had been too dim.

Right before I left, though, the second moving star appeared, much brighter than the first. This, then, was the International Space Station, and the first one had been the European Jules Verne ATV cargo ship. I'll admit, I have no real sense of how big ATV is; I just know it's bigger than I picture it in my mind. Regardless, it was much brighter than I was expecting.

Very shortly after station appeared, the third dot appeared and followed it across the sky; Endeavour departing from ISS.

Shamefully, I've not seen station in about five years (at least intentionally, I'm pretty sure I saw it once accidentally since then), and I've never seen shuttle and station together, despite making a note to on a number of cloudy nights. So to finally see not only those two, but a third spacecraft as well? Very cool.

And it was amazing how bright station has become since the last time; Alpha's grown up a bit recently.

Last night was also another of those moments were it really struck home how incredibly fortunate I am to be even a tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny part of an organization that can move stars across the sky. And how amazing the current international partnership in space is -- those three stars included one built by the U.S., one by Europe and one built cooperatively by the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. All moving across the sky in an orderly row.

Keywords: astronomy,international_space_station,nasa,roskosmos,space

+ 1 - 0 | § The Gravity Of Marriage

me in zero-gTo be sure, I like space, and stuff related to space, and all that, but, I think, were I ever to get married again, I wouldn't get engaged in weightlessness. I mean, you know, maybe if, somehow, I were actually, like, in orbit, maybe, but the odds of that are pretty slim. (No cracks about the relative odds of me finding someone willing to marry me, thankyouverymuch.) But on a reduced-gravity aircraft flight? Probably not.

Keywords: altspace

+ 1 - 0 | § STS-123 Update

STS-123 patchPer NASA:
The crew of space shuttle Endeavour spent Tuesday getting ready for its journey home and the end of the STS-123 mission. Early in their day, the crew members performed a test of the thrusters that will be used to position the orbiter for re-entry and the control surfaces for its flight through the atmosphere.
Endeavour is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 7:05 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
(6:05 CDT)

Keywords: eva,international_space_station,nasa,space,space_shuttle,sts_123

24 March 2008

+ 0 - 1 | § Double Sighting

Jules VerneWith the Jules Verne European cargo vehicle awaiting its upcoming docking with the International Space Station, it will be possible in some areas to see the two spacecraft race across the sky, one after the other. You can go here to find out when/if they'll be visible in your area.

Keywords: international_space_station,nasa,space

+ 0 - 1 | § STS-123 Update

STS-123 patchPer NASA:
The crews of space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station have completed their last full day together.

Much of the astronauts’ morning was off‐duty time. Afterward, the crews wrapped up transfers of equipment and supplies between Endeavour and the station, and they checked out the tools needed for undocking and subsequent activities.
Endeavour will undock from the station at 7:56 p.m. EDT Monday and begin its journey back to Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Keywords: eva,international_space_station,nasa,space,space_shuttle,sts_123

21 March 2008

+ 1 - 0 | § STS-123 Update

STS-123 patchPer NASA:
Mission Specialists Robert L. Behnken and Mike Foreman completed the fourth STS-123 spacewalk at 12:28 a.m. EDT, spending six hours and 24 minutes on the excursion.

As the docked International Space Station and space shuttle Endeavour orbited high above the Earth, the two shuttle crew members replaced a failed Remote Power Control Module – essentially a circuit breaker – on the station’s truss. However, there were difficulties removing a power connecter from the Z1 truss.

With Mission Specialist Rick Linnehan coordinating their activities from inside the orbiting complex, the spacewalkers also tested a repair method for damaged heat resistant tiles on the space shuttle. This technique used a caulk-gun-like tool named the Tile Repair Ablator Dispenser to dispense a material called Shuttle Tile Ablator-54 into purposely damaged heat shield tiles. The sample tiles will be returned to Earth to undergo extensive testing on the ground.

Endeavour’s crew will perform a final inspection of the orbiter’s heat shield tiles Friday using the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS).

Behnken and Foreman will begin the mission’s fifth and final spacewalk Saturday at 5:23 p.m. Among other tasks, they will stow the OBSS on the station’s main truss to be retrieved by the crew of Discovery on STS-124, the next space shuttle mission.

Keywords: eva,international_space_station,nasa,space,space_shuttle,sts_123

20 March 2008

+ 1 - 0 | § STS-123 Update

STS-123 patchPer NASA:
The crews of space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station got some off-duty time at the beginning of their 10th day in orbit. They also spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and participated in interviews with U.S. media.

The astronauts spent the remainder of their day configuring tools for the fourth STS-123 spacewalk and reviewing spacewalk procedures.

They also prepared for the primary task of that spacewalk, which is the test of a heat shield repair method. This technique uses a caulk-gun-like tool named the Tile Repair Ablator Dispenser to dispense a material called Shuttle Tile Ablator-54 into purposely damaged heat shield tiles. Once the test is complete, the sample tiles will be returned to Earth to undergo extensive testing on the ground.

Before going to sleep, Mission Specialists Robert L. Behnken and Mike Foreman entered the station’s Quest airlock for the standard “camp out,” during which the nitrogen is purged from their bodies. They are slated to begin the mission’s fourth spacewalk at 6:28 p.m. EDT.

Keywords: eva,international_space_station,nasa,space,space_shuttle,sts_123

+ 1 - 0 | § Editorial Note

ATW logoYeah, the blog has broken yet again. Why? I don't know.

Here's the deal -- I need to fix it, but I really need to address the root causes rather than continuing to duct-tape the thing. The CMS software I use is currently developing a major revision; but it's still in alpha. When it moves into beta, which should be next month, I'm going to switch over, and do another major overhaul of the blog.

In the meantime, you'll just have to be patient with the glitches. Thanks.

Keywords: blog

19 March 2008

+ 0 - 1 | § All These Worlds...

arthur c. clarke"Dave...My mind is going...I can feel it..."

Wow. An entry that's going to be inadequate even before I start writing it.

How does this blog pay adequate tribute to the man that inspired its name? I considered just taking the thing offline today, with a splash-page tribute. But that's too easy.

From the big picture, what I find to be the greatest tribute to Clarke is that the stories yesterday and today all refer to him as a science-fiction author. The man is the father of modern satellite communications, and yet is best known for his books. You've got to be a pretty serious writer for your genre fiction to outshine that sort of accomplishment. Picture Chuck Yeager writing westerns so good that breaking the sound barrier was bumped to the second graf of his story, or Oppenheimer being better known for his fantasy books.

From a personal note, 2001 was the first novel I ever read. I was in elementary school, loved science fiction, and wanted to watch the movie. My father said that I needed to wait until after I read the book; that I couldn't really understand the movie without having read it. I'm sure in retrospect that his intent was that would delay watching the movie for a few years until I was old enough to read it, and not that I would immediately pick up 2001 as the first novel I read, and being chugging through it. I forget how long it took; certainly months, maybe longer. I was 6 or 7 or 8, I guess? As I recall, I put it down and picked it up again more than once before I got through the part about the monkeys. I'm wanting spaceships and cool computers, and instead I'm reading about the day-to-day life of protohuman apes. But it got me to start reading, and I never stopped.

There's a bit of irony in the fact that, while Clarke's books generally involved humans in space, a large portion of my interest in unmanned exploration is owed to him. 2010, and 2061, really generated a sense of wonder about what lies in our outer solar system. Yes, without question, I want us to go out there someday; but, in the meantime, the fact that our probes have done nothing but fly by Europa from a distance is shameful.

Clarke's passing almost certainly makes official something that actually took place years ago; the end of the era of the grandmasters of science fiction -- men like Asimov and Heinlein and Herbert who used the genre to open horizons. Asimov, for example, couldn't tell a story to save his life for decades, but the ideas ... the ideas more than made up for any faults in his writing. Their descendants remain -- Gibson comes immediately to mind -- but it's just not the same.

"All these worlds are yours ... Use them together. Use them in peace."

Keywords: books

05 March 2008

+ 0 - 2 | § The Launch Of Jules Verne

Jules VerneI've been remiss in not writing about it before now, but the European Space Agency's Jules Verne cargo vehicle is scheduled for its maiden launch this weekend. The new vehicle is the first non-US or -Russian spacecraft to be used to support the station, and can reportedly carry three times the cargo of the Russian Progress cargo vehicle.

Keywords: esa,international_space_station,space

04 March 2008

+ 1 - 1 | § STS-123 Update

STS-123 patchPer
The seven-astronaut crew of NASA's shuttle Endeavour is gearing up for the longest construction mission ever aimed at the International Space Station (ISS), where spaceflyers will add a Japanese-built room and a Canadian robot to the growing orbiting laboratory.

Endeavour's STS-123 crew is on track for a March 11 launch toward the station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to begin a marathon construction flight expected to last about 16 days.
Gorie and his crew are planning to launch - and land - in darkness, bookending a busy construction flight that includes five spacewalks to assemble the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robot Dextre, install the first segment of Japan's massive Kibo laboratory, test a shuttle heat shield repair method and deliver spare parts to the ISS. Two new international control centers, in France and Japan, respectively, will begin operations during the mission to activate the Kibo component and prepare for the arrival Europe's maiden ISS cargo ship Jules Verne.

Keywords: international_space_station,launch_schedule,nasa,space,space_shuttle,sts_123