For the longest time, I had “See a space shuttle flight” on my TODO list. There is only one more to go and unfortunately, I have not hit it big with a hot web app (90s’), nor a spectacular mobile app (00’s). Thus, there is no spare cash to flit me back and forth to Florida to catch an ever delayed launch (got to keep the day job). So, I’ll have to revise this particular TODO.
Hopefully, with the onset of some really exciting happenings in the commercial space flight arena, I may still get that opportunity to feel the rumble of thousands of pounds of thrust in my bones. SpaceX is leasing out Pad #40 and with the coming the Falcon 9 Heavy, I may get the opp to see a new Lunar or Martian mission push up and out of the gravity well.
And if I do eventually hit it big with the next goldrush in technology (nano?), maybe I’ll be able to afford to not only watch, but participate. Assuming that Mrs. Calrissian will allow me to see the dark side of the moon.
Image from Quest for Stars’ Senatobia-1 Mission: http://twitpic.com/photos/questforstars.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know I am a big fan of NASA. But, as much as we Americans like to be #1 and want everything to always be about us, there are other space agencies in the world. While not as blessed with a budget as large as NASA’s (and that’s pitifully small if you ask me), the Europeans, Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, and a whole host of others nations are working towards building a space-based society.
The Europeans are excellent makers of robotic explorers. One of their “long term” missions, Rosetta, is nearing a key point in its travels. On its way out to its rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 (where it will go on orbit and release a lander!), Rosetta will make a swing by of Mars once and Earth three times! The third and final swing-by of home is set for this month. Emily Lakdawalla over at the Planetary Society blog, highlights a great picture of a crescent moon taken from Rosetta as it approaches our Earth-Moon system.
I feel so lucky to be alive at a time when space science is going through such a boon. I predict that it is going to be a great 10 – 20 years!
For me, one of the saddest things in life is to see inner city gangs fighting over turf. Often just a block or two. I’ve always found that view of life so limiting.
I feel the same way about people that have never traveled outside of their city or county. There is so much about this life and this universe to discover. Now look at this picture!
That’s home. Home for me. Home for you. Home for all six billion humans in this universe. Everyone that you have ever loved, every person in all of history has lived on that ball of rock.
This picture was taken from a satellite that was orbiting the planet Mars. Back in 2006, it took some time out from looking down at Mars and turned its camera towards the heavens. Wow! Even more spectacular is the full image, which captures Jupiter and its moons.
Support space science and exploration! Turn your kids into space nerds!
Big ups to BA for the highlight of the original!
Missed this over the weekend. The XPrize Lunar Lander Challenge is giving 1,000,000 buckaroos to the first team that can build a lunar lander that:
- make a round trip between two landing pads
- refuel at the 2nd landing pad
- hang in the air for at least 3 minutes during each leg of the round trip
- land on a pad that is littered with fake lunar boulders
Here is the first leg of flight #1 from Armadillo Aerospace
NASA kicked off it’s long awaited plans to return to the moon with the launch of LCROSS and LRO. While LCROSS is doomed to crash into the moon and give us some insight into the possibility of water being found in the bottom of south pole craters, LRO is settling in for a 1-year mapping exercise. Yesterday, the LRO team shared the first pics from the orbiter. Awesome! I need to start saving up for my first visit for when they get the Lunar Westin ready.
Check out my GeekDad post on the latest hip hop artist to hit the scene:
Kayuga completed it’s mission and as planned crashed into the moon last week. JAXA released the HD video of its demise onto their YouTube channel. Wow! LCROSS is many times more massive than Kayuga, so the fireworks will be impressive. But LCROSS does not have an HD camera aboard. Someone should turn this into a 3D video.
Repost from my GeekDad article:
A few years ago, Mrs. Calrissian bought me a telescope. I get to use it every couple of weeks or so in the warm months. It’s nothing fancy, but it does its job of bringing the cosmos closer to home.
Yesterday, my daughter and I were doing a little moon and star hunting when one of the neighbor kids walked by. He was a teenager and headed to drop something off to another neighbor. Seeing us with the telescope, curiosity got the better of him:
“Yeah, you want to take a look?”
After I focused back in on the moon and let him have a look:
“Holy cow! I can’t believe it!”
All it takes is a little time. Maybe I just made a new convert out of him…
NOTE: While I wish I had something so amazing to take pictures, the one in this post is not mine. Thanks PopSci.
Many people fantasize about what they would do if they won or inherited a ton of money. Buy new houses and cars. Take expensive vacations. Definitely quit work.
But not me (well I would do the things above, but they would not be the focus of my new found wealth). I would donate a lot of it to the X Prize Foundation (or something like it). The X Prize Foundation started in 1996, but the idea of offering a reward for achieving a very hard to reach goal extends way back in history.
To me, there is no better way to spend away your pile of gold, then to offer rewards to those explorers and entrepreneurs that have a vision to help make this a better planet. Last week, the Northop Grumman Lunar Lander X Prize awarded it’s first ever prize to Armadillo Aerospace. For their efforts, AA collected $350,000 and the admiration of nerds around the world.
Next on my list of “most exciting things”, is the Google Lunar X Prize which will award $30 million to the first team to land a privately funded, built, and launched craft to our nearest celestial neighbor. In a previous post I mentioned how the Planetary Society would like for the United States to focus on “beyond the Moon” exploration. It would be great to see the X Prize Foundation take up this mantle and offer a reward for some of the goals proposed by the Society.
I read through a pretty good presentation today about why we MUST go to the Moon (via Popurls via Reddit). While I agree with the premise of the deck (we must go because exploration = advancement of science), I’m not sure if the Moon should be our next destination. BA discussed this a week or so back on his blog. I am a member of the Planetary Society and I fall in line with their plan:
Leave the Moon to other nations and the private sector. The United States should focus on touring NEOs and ultimately Mars. In their mission agenda, A New Roadmap for Human Space Exploration, they advocate the following incremental steps:
- FIRST human trip beyond the Moon
- FIRST human trip beyond Earth’s gravity well
- FIRST human step into interplanetary space
- FIRST human mission to a Near-Earth Object
- FIRST human mission to the Mars gravity well
- FIRST human mission to the Mars surface
To me this is logical, progressive, and daring. I believe that an agenda like this would keep the public excited and tuned in as we attempt to push further and further beyond our home planet. Exactly like something that Shackleton (read the Moon presentation above) would do.
The new Obeezie administration will have some tough choices to make when it comes to NASA and the country’s space priorities. You have people clamoring for a return to the Moon or on beyond, but at the sametime, you have the MSL sucking the wind out of everything, the Ares program on weeble-woble legs, the nation is a serious financial funk, and it looks like no one cares about space anymore.
If you are reading this, do your part. Help to keep the spirit of exploration alive…