Monday, May 30, 2011

Sky motionless, Earth moves....

It's another one of those very cool time-lapse photos from the observatory in Chile.   Darks skies, bright Milky Way, and those big telescopes moving probably every night.  But this view has been modified a little.  Rather than the sky rotating over the Earth, the sky is kept still and the Earth rotates under the sky. 
Different and interesting!

| Credit to YouTube user "Bulletpeople" and Phil at Bad Astronomy |

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Last shuttle spacewalk completed.

Another one of those "Last _______ of the space shuttle...." moments.  Fill in the blank with "Spacewalk" this time.  Just another view we won't see again.
....still waiting for the Soyuz pictures!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Infographic - yep, this is the next NASA spacecraft.

Like it or not, it now seems that Orion is officially not canceled like the rest of the Constellation program.  Here is an infographic of the future of NASA manned spacecraft after this summer when the shuttle is grounded and distributed to some strangely chosen museums.
The Orion spacecraft development has been moving along while the booster has been canceled.  Remember that single bottle rocket flight of the Aries 1x a while back?  So the shuttle will be gone, and this will be it.  At least its something, but some kind of booster still needs to lift this.  Falcon 9?  Outsource to ESA's Ariane?  Giant beach-based trebuchet on what's left of complex 39?
It will be interesting to see what happens at least!  Possibly around 2016.  Click on the image and admire that large, graceful, ghostly image of the shuttle behind the next generation of small spacecraft (Apollo is include there since it will always be the coolest of the "capsule" types).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ultimate ISS photo - coming soon

UPDATE 5/25:   STILL waiting for the photos. Seems they left the memory cards in the Soyuz spacecraft and it's going to Moscow tomorrow.
The contents of the Soyuz craft, including the precious cards, "will be processed through normal disposition procedures" at the Energia rocket company's spacecraft fabrication facility on the northern outskirts of Moscow, Navias told Oberg. NASA expects to get access to the pictures in about a week. 
A week?!  Energia is torturing space geeks worldwide!

The Russians approved the departing Soyuz spacecraft to do a fly-around of the station after departing with the outgoing crew.  This has been the goal for a while, but the Russians were too afraid of taking any chances with a brief fly-around and re-docking.  But with this crew on the way home anyway, they did it.
Tomorrow the photo of the completed station should be out, showing all the spacecraft, including the shuttle Endeavour, docked at the station.
For now, we have a peek from the on-board camera from the Soyuz.  My friend Dave put together this little animation of the fly-by made from video stills of the TV images.  More to come....

The sound of power.

If you are like me, you can appreciate the sound of certain machinery doing what they do best.  The deep rumble of a B-17 at full power, the snarl of a 12 cylinder Ferrari accelerating on the on-ramp, or the crackling thunder of a shuttle launch.   These fine sounding machines are hard to really capture the sound to do it any justice.  The shuttle is so loud that most microphones will get over-loaded and clip the sound where we really want to hear it.
I came across a fine recording and video of the STS-133 launch that is probably the closest thing I have heard yet of the true sound of the power of the shuttle.   As for video or photos, I still have yet to see anything that looks like the sun-like brightness of the SRB exhaust.  The screaming of the crowd in this video is all a part of the launch experience too!
Plug in your headset, turn up the volume and enjoy!

| Shuttle video from Universe Today |

...and if you liked that, here is another good one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Endeavour launch - best view from above.

I'm kind of glad that I didn't try to go see this launch last week.  It's looking like the best view was from above the clouds, since viewers on the ground saw it for about 22 seconds before it went into the clouds.  Kind of a bummer view if you ask me, but then I've been spoiled with 2 great launches including a night launch. Can't beat that!
Short view from the Visitor Center.  Funny to hear the "awwwww...." when it vanishes quickly.

Then there is the view from above the clouds, I just saw these photos show up on website.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Infographic: 50 years of human space vehicles.

An interesting graphic that I found a while back, but just getting around to posting. Sizes, crews and other information on spacecraft and stations over the last 50 years.
Sad that we haven't been any farther from Earth than we were back in 1966.  Thirty years of the shuttle and nobody has been farther out than approximately 300 miles.
(Click the graphic to see the full size)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May the forth be with you Alan Shepard.

I'm a day late on the Star Wars day, but got the date right for the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard's first flight.  50 years ago today the United States took second place to Yuri Gagarin and flung Alan Shepard up into space - briefly - but high enough to count.  His 15 minute flight got him up into space, but not fast enough to go into orbit, 190 miles downrange he splashed into the Atlantic.  The space race had begun!
Just under a decade later, we won the race to the moon.  Now we are nearing the end of US manned flight (in government spacecraft at least) with the end of the shuttle in a couple months...after a few more delays I'm sure.  What's next?  Soyuz tickets will be bought for great amounts by NASA to send our people up there to the ISS, maybe they can get some kind of season pass for a few years?
My bets are on SpaceX and the Falcon 9/Dragon spacecraft that will be the next manned orbital vehicles from this country.  The next manned spacecraft will most likely be the $200,000/ticket Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two flights to space (similar to Shepard's flight, just enough to get your toes into space and back again).
Space Adventures is planning tourist flights to the moon on modified Soyuz spacecraft.  The plan is for rich folks to make a stop at the ISS, then board another spacecraft for a ride around the far side of the moon and back.  Maybe private companies will be the first back to the moon (at least around it in Apollo 8 style)?  But who will be the next to step on the surface?  Probably Chinese!