“Ground Control To Major Tom”

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Recorded on the International Space Station.

Like I said… I love living in the future!

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shatner_hadfield

Space Station passed over my house last night

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Go to full screen to glimpse the station.

Space Geek: Another private spaceship begins testing

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Dream Chaser took to the air for the first time, in what is called a “captive carry” test.  Designed to test hardware, facilities, and ground operations, the test was conducted at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County, Colorado.  A heavy-lift helicopter…  lifted it.  Eventually, they’ll let it go, and see if it can fly!

This one sure looks more like a spaceship than the Dragon, which just successfully docked with the International Space Station, and splashed down today in the Pacific Ocean.  Of course, the Dragon is a working system, based on tried and true technology.  The Dream Chaser is following in the footsteps of the Shuttle, a very much more complex design.  I’m crossing my fingers.

Atlantis lands, Shuttles retired, NASA’s next mission is… what?

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Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the pre-dawn hours of July 21, 2011.  42 years and one day after Apollo 11’s Eagle landed on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, the last shuttle to fly touches down on KSC’s runway 15.

It’s appropriate that this image shows the shuttle touching down in the dark, because the United States now has no manned access to space.

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NASA Geek – Discovery departs ISS on last mission

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Discovery departs from ISS. Photo Credit: NASA

Space Shuttle OV-103, Discovery, pulls away from the International Space Station on Monday, March 7, 2011.  This is the final voyage of Discovery, after 39 missions in 27 years.  NASA is retiring the Shuttle fleet this year, due to concerns regarding the stresses on the vehicles from repeated launching and landings.  While designed, built, and maintained for multiple missions, the Shuttles are, like any heavily used machine, subject to wear and tear, and at some point become a safety risk above and beyond the dangers inherent in space flight.  Endeavor, OV-105, is being prepped for it’s final mission in the VAB at Kennedy Space Center.

NASA Geek – NASA TV

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Watching the astronauts suit up for a spacewalk.  You can see it on your cable/satellite system, or online at NASA TV.

There is a HD feed at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/ustream.html that is actually ahead of my satellite tv system feed!  That’s a bit strange to me…  the HD internet feed is a split second ahead of the satellite feed, and well ahead of the standard internet feed.  If you’ve got a broadband connection, the HD is the way to watch online!  Spacewalks are a lot of work, but you get a break beforehand…  you just float there while your astro-buddies do all the work getting your suit ready to go!  Once you step outside, though, it’s about 6 hours of steady work, and no coffee breaks.  Bathroom breaks are a bit different, too.

Shuttle Geek – Discovery’s Last Roll Out

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Picture by Larry Tanner KSC

Discovery’s final roll out.  November’s launch to the International Space Station will be the last flight for this historic vehicle.  The third orbiter in the Shuttle fleet, Discovery’s first launch was on August 30, 1984.  In April 1990,  it launched the Hubble Space Telescope from it’s cargo bay.  In it’s career, Discovery has flown over 30 missions.  For more information, check out NASA’s Discovery pages, here and here.

Shuttle Geek – Discovery Rolls Out For Final Mission

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The Space Shuttle Discovery is moved into the Vertical Assembly Building today, in preparation for the next Shuttle mission to the International Space Station.  This may well be the last flight of Discovery.  STS 133  While there is a new system on the drawing boards, it will be years before the United States has a manned spacecraft after the shuttles are retired.  In the meantime, we will rent space on Russian rockets to get our astronauts into space.

Space Station Geek Moment of the Summer

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It came out of the northwest, a brilliantly glowing white “star”, moving faster than any airplane.  It climbed higher and higher in the night sky, progressively brighter as it approached.  Slowly at first, then appearing to gain speed as it drew near, it passed almost directly overhead.  I was standing in my driveway, trying to squint past the brilliant floodlights of the church parking lot across the street, and focus the sight in my binoculars (that I purchased at Johnson Space Center, Houston, at a “garage sale” they had in the commissary the day of my visit!) .   Not powerful enough to resolve the station from a bright point of light into the actual structure, I put them down to enjoy the site through the best oculars available to me tonight, my own eyes.

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