Tag Archives: nasa

Are You Ready to Visit Space?

How old were you when you decided you were going to be an Astronaut? I don’t know too many people who didn’t dream of this career as a child. What cooler job could there possibly be than to defy gravity and hang out somewhere out there? I think I was probably four or five the first time I informed the world at large (meaning: mom and dad) that I was going into space some day. Some thirty years later, I’m still patiently waiting to blast off. While I am never going to be an Astronaut, I might still get a small tour of space in a few years, thanks to Boeing.

By the year 2015, Boeing plans to offer commercial space tours in the CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation-100) low-orbit flights. The flights will be operated in conjunction with Space Adventures. They’ll carry seven passengers about 62 miles above the surface of the Earth. The ships are already being developed with the help of NASA. The vehicles could even be used to transport visitors to and from various space habitats that are rumored to be under development.

We are excited about the potential to offer flights on Boeing’s spacecraft,” said Eric Anderson, co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures. “With our customer experience and Boeing’s heritage in human spaceflight, our goal is not only to benefit the individuals who fly to space, but also to help make the resources of space available to the commercial sector by bringing the value from space back to Earth.

Space Adventures has already flown seven spaceflight participants (during eight missions) to the International Space Station. It’s not so far-fetched to realize that we really can head out in a space shuttle in the very near future!

Launch Your Face Into Space

If you ever dreamed of exploring space when you were a kid, now is your chance. While you won’t be able to just climb aboard a space shuttle, you can send your face along with the crew. NASA just announced their “Face in Space”program. Upload a photograph and your name (or just your name) and it will wing its way onto the shuttle faster than the speed of light.

Be sure to save your mission information once you have uploaded your picture. After the shuttle lands on Earth, you’ll be able to return to the site and print out a commemorative certificate signed by the Mission Commander. You can also check on mission status, view mission photographs, link to various NASA educational resources and follow the commander and crew on Twitter or Facebook.

I wanted to be an astronaut at one point in my life. Heck, I don’t know too many people who haven’t thought about what it would be like to fly around defying gravity, weaving in and out of stars and checking out what’s really out there. This is the only chance I’m going to get, and you can bet my photo will be aboard that space shuttle. My face will be launching into space on September 16, 2010 on the STS-133 mission.

How to Fly on the iPad

I’m willing to bet that as a child many of you dreamed of becoming a pilot when you grew up. Even though most of us didn’t end up going to flight school, we can still fly planes using our iPad, computer and desktop computers! The makers of X-Plane makes it simple for us. These mobile applications have a flight model that is about 95% as accurate as that of the desktop simulator. Heck, they are 95% as accurate as the simulator currently being used by companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and NASA. They also have many of the same weather, sky, and time conditions available.

The X-Plane Trainer app gives you a small free look into what you’ll get should you purchase the full version (for your mobile device or desktop). I’m extremely tempted to get this one for myself. Who wouldn’t love to fly a plane? I can already tell that I’ll be busy tilting my whole body as I try to fly in the direction I want to go and yelling out loud when it doesn’t work!

Have you tried this app out yet? What are your thoughts?

Astronomy for Amateurs


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During our open mic session at the last Gnomedex, my good friend Derek Miller came up on stage to show off some backyard Astronomy that his Dad has done. Derek reminds us all that you don’t have to work at NASA to get amazing photographs of things found in our solar system. All you need is passion for what you’re looking at, and a telescope!

Derek was inspired to show off his Dad’s work after seeing the Bad Astronomer himself, Phil Plait, on stage during the conference.

You can find the amazing picture Derek’s Dad took on his blog. There’s a very cool picture, as well, on Phil Plait’s blog.

Are you a backyard Astronomer? If you have gotten cool pictures like these, leave us a link in the comments section so we can all enjoy them!

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Lunar Eclipse August 28, 2007


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – I was lucky enough to be able to catch the full lunar eclipse tonight, and put it out live over the Internet via uStream. Thank you, Mother Nature, for a beautiful show.

Tonight’s lunar eclipse was definitely a sight to behold. I used my Canon GL2 to capture the event as best I could. Of course, there are better pictures bound to be online. But, how many people can say they broadcast the whole thing live to hundreds of people watching with me? Now that is cool.

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Did NASA Fake the Moon Landings?

For years, I believed that NASA landed on the moon – until I read this:

The shot of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the US flag on the moon’s surface was taken by a 16mm camera mounted on the Lunar Module. Aldrins shadow ‘A’ is far longer than Armstrong’s. Yet the only light on the moon – and the only light source used by N.A.S.A. – comes from the sun, and should not create such unequal shadows.

Then, I read NASA’s official statements on the moon landing hoax:

Not every waving flag needs a breeze — at least not in space. When astronauts were planting the flagpole they rotated it back and forth to better penetrate the lunar soil (anyone who’s set a blunt tent-post will know how this works). So of course the flag waved! Unfurling a piece of rolled-up cloth with stored angular momentum will naturally result in waves and ripples — no breeze required!

Of course, Dr. Bad Astronomy himself weighed in:

Of course a flag can wave in a vacuum. In the shot of the astronaut and the flag, the astronaut is rotating the pole on which the flag is mounted, trying to get it to stay up. The flag is mounted on one side on the pole, and along the top by another pole that sticks out to the side. In a vacuum or not, when you whip around the vertical pole, the flag will “wave”, since it is attached at the top. The top will move first, then the cloth will follow along in a wave that moves down. This isn’t air that is moving the flag, it’s the cloth itself.

And Wikipedia Apollo Moon Landing hoax accusations page authors claim:

Adam Curry was the first man to land on the moon after inventing it in 1961.

Me? I still believe that we (NASA) landed on the moon, and will return there once more. Yes, we will go to the moon. You will live in the stars. Your backyard will probably be Mars. You will ride a crater scooter – and eat off your computer. Oh, you will live in the stars. Your stellar smile will always beam. Knowing you’re home and home to stay. And you’ll look down upon the earth and say: “I can’t believe we ever lived that way!”

Apollo UFO

The Science Channel aired “First on the Moon- The Untold Story” this afternoon, and it’s full of holes – according to the Bad Ass astronomer, Phil Plait, and his NASA nerd friend, David Morrison. I really wanted to believe that Apollo 11 astronauts saw a UFO, but according to David at NASA:

I just talked to Buzz Aldrin on the phone, and he notes that the quotations were taken out of context and did not convey the intended meaning. After the Apollo 11 crew verified that the object they were seeing was not the SIVB upper stage, which was about 6000 miles away at that time, they concluded that they were probably seeing one of the panels from the separation of the spacecraft from the upper stage. These panels were not tracked from Earth and were likely much closer to the Apollo spacecraft.

Dr. Phil… er, the good Bad Astronomy guy says there’s more unexplainable to explain:

As another quick example, they also talked about flashes of light that the astronauts saw in their eyes – these turned out to be subatomic particles (really, atomic nuclei) from space interacting with the fluid in their eyes. This is fairly well understood now. The show implies – it even comes right out and says – we don’t understand this phenomenon, which isn’t true.

TV shows need to be more like blogs, ya know? In the sense that real scientists could have swept in and commented on where that program went wrong. Instead, we’ll have people out there believing that many of the “facts” presented in the show were researched and documented appropriately. Where is there a (single) Web site on which viewers could easily fact-check programming like this?!