Orbiter - A Free Space Flight Simulator
Starving for a high realism space simulator ever since Microsoft's Space Simulator was discontinued? Look no further than Orbiter, a free realistic space simulator written and maintained by Dr. Martin Schweiger. How realistic? You might want to start off by consulting NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Basics Of Space Flight
to get you grounded so to speak. This is a free, non-commercial simulator that uses accurate math and orbital physics (more or less) to try to model space flight. However hard it may appear, after orbiting Earth with the high-res (8192x4096) mod-pack installed, or sitting on the launch pad with the seamless OrbiterSound 2.1b
sound environment installed, you will be well rewarded for reading the manual and participating in the dance of the heavens. (Even if all you want to do is fly around the solar system!)
posted by Tystnaden
on Mar 22, 2003 -
Did downsizing and inexperience lead to Columbia's destruction?
In the rush to cut costs and 'downsize' NASA in the 1990s the agency outsourced most Space Transportation System (STS, or the Shuttle) functions to a private consortium called United Space Alliance. Now, senior engineers at Boeing (lead member of the USA) are beginning to talk about the lack of experience, 'brain drain', and negative effects of downsizing and privatization. This begs the issue of market imperatives, relative value of privatization and the question of how to better manage projects of this magnitude in a mixed private/public arrangement.
posted by tgrundke
on Feb 23, 2003 -
"I imagine this is the last we will hear of this."
Or not. NASA releases email between NASA engineers leading up to the Columbia disaster documenting significant concerns regarding damage done to the shuttle on takeoff. Engineers calculated the likelihood of a 7" x 30" gouge in the heat shields, but when they let management know of their concerns, they weren't taken seriously, were forced to work "at night" to do simulations, and found that requests for additional information were "treated like the plague."
posted by insomnia_lj
on Feb 22, 2003 -
I saw a documentary about the SR-71 Blackbird last night and I must admit I am fascinated by it. Not only is it sleek
it's also fast as hell
Given its space-age appearance it is amazing to think that it first flew in 1964 and still nothing comes near in performance terms (that we know about
Withdrawn from service in 1990 due to the expense of running it, it was used by Nasa for testing until recently. Nowadays your only chance of seeing one is in a museum, and if you're outside the US, the only place to go is the excellent Air Museum at RAF Duxford
posted by jontyjago
on Feb 14, 2003 -
The Microwave Anisotropy Probe
's long-awaited map
of the afterglow of the big bang
was released today, and all of a sudden, most of the uncertainty in the concordance model of cosmology has disappeared. We now know, to within 1%, that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. We now know that Hubble constant is 71, plus or minus 4. And though the results agreed stunningly well with the weird picture
that cosmologists have about the nature of the cosmos, there was one surprise -- the first stars were born way before expected. Great day for science, and a likely future Nobel.
posted by ptermit
on Feb 11, 2003 -
Shuttle "Achille's Hell"
According to this article, Shuttle has one. Curiously it's in the area in which that piece of insulation hit during launch.Were the astronauts warned ? Did they do some space walk to see what was wrong ? I would stop my car to go out and see if I heard a loud "thump" coming from somewhere.
posted by elpapacito
on Feb 3, 2003 -
"There is something noteworthy a rocket can do that the shuttle cannot. A rocket can be permitted to fail." Gregg Easterbrook's 1980 Washington Monthly
cover story looks into the Columbia's beginnings, the hazards he saw in the shuttle, and its weaknesses compared to rockets.
Once you get into space, you check to see if any tiles are damaged. If enough are, you have a choice between Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is hope they can get a rescue shuttle up in time. Plan B is burn up coming back. [via Slate]
posted by kirkaracha
on Feb 2, 2003 -
17 years ago today,
the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven aboard. I share this primarily as I recall this being the first where-were-you-when of my childhood. So where were you?
posted by xmutex
on Jan 28, 2003 -
--and promise to as brighter or brighter than last year:
NASA scientists' predictions for the 2002 Leonid meteor storm.
Such meteor storms rarely happen in consecutive years, but 2001 and 2002 are exceptions. Experts have just released their predictions: Depending on where you live (Europe and the Americas are favored) Leonid meteor rates in 2002 should equal or exceed 2001 levels.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the Moon will be full when the storm begins on Nov. 19th. Glaring moonlight will completely overwhelm many faint shooting stars. Indeed, I often hear that the Moon is going to "ruin the show."
We shall see.
posted by y2karl
on Nov 16, 2002 -
Swan song for a great explorer.
Tomorow, the Galileo explorer will make a flyby of Jovian moon Amalthea
ending pehaps the geatest unmanned mission in NASA history. Galileo telemetry may not survive the flyby having already receieved much more radiation than it was designed for. Even if it does survive, this will be its final orbit scheduled to crash into Jupiter in September of next year. In spite of antenna difficulties, the spacecraft returned many beautiful images
of Jupiter's moons, along with coverage of the Shoemaker-Levy collision
and the first atmospheric probe to decend into Jupiter's weather.
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Nov 3, 2002 -
Le Voyage dans la Lune/A Trip to the Moon
A tree grows in Houston. Apparently a cache of tree seeds were carried into space by an American astronaut in the early 1970s. They were carried home, planted, grown into seedlings, and distributed around the country, mostly in honor of the 1976 bicentennial. Anyway, no one took note of where the moon trees went. A curious NASA scientist is on the hunt for the locations of the moon trees. Do you have a moon tree
in your town? Do you have a documented historic tree
in your area? Are your local trees protected? Does this make local residents irate
posted by jengod
on Oct 22, 2002 -
Maybe they should have let Lance Bass on this one.
A Soyuz rocket explodes 29 seconds after takeoff, killing one and injuring eight from the blast. Although it was not carrying any material destined for the International Space Station, launch delays caused by the investigation into the explosion might hurt the IIS project in the long run.
posted by LuxFX
on Oct 16, 2002 -
World on Fire
is brought to us by the fun kids at NASA, showing satellite images of active fires around the planet on July 11, 2002. "Across the world, the widespread fires that burn each year in the savannas of Africa, Australia, and Brazil dwarf even the most significant fire season in the western United States as far as total acreage and number of fires."
has its own set of images from 2000 as well.
posted by keli
on Sep 3, 2002 -
Nasa plans to read the minds of terrorists...
NASA wants to use "noninvasive neuro-electric sensors," imbedded in gates, to collect tiny electric signals that all brains and hearts transmit. Computers would apply statistical algorithms to correlate physiologic patterns with computerized data on travel routines, criminal background and credit information from "hundreds to thousands of data sources," NASA documents say
posted by Espoo2
on Aug 20, 2002 -
Solar System Akin to Earth's Is Discovered
Any minute now, I imagine somebody at a listening station on a smaller, bluer planet a few in from this one making a minute adjustment to their equipment and promptly spraying warm stimulant-laced beverage over their console...
posted by hob
on Jun 14, 2002 -
The New Frontier-
Preparing the law for settling on Mars. "Like the abandoned launch fields [at Cape Canveral], the Outer Space Treaty [of 1967] needs to have its valuable parts salvaged, and the dangerous ones demolished."
posted by Ty Webb
on Jun 4, 2002 -
New NASA Satellite Zooms in on Tornado Swath ...the twister's swath is the bright stripe passing through the town and running eastward 6 miles (10 km) toward the Patuxent River beyond the righthand side of the image. This stripe is the result of the vegetation flattened by the storm. The flattened vegetation reflects more light than untouched vegetation.
posted by quonsar
on May 3, 2002 -
Freeze sperm, leave the men behind.
In this article, a NASA researcher explains how a flight to the nearest star would take place within our lifetimes, but require at least a couple generations. The generation that leaves (which could be entirely female to save on weight and maximize potential for offspring) would die, and giving birth to the next crew. Taking a trip like this would increase our knowledge of space many-fold, but would you be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for mankind? Is a trip like this a bad idea?
posted by mathowie
on May 2, 2002 -
Our great grandkids are toast!
A one kilometre-wide chunk of space rock could strike the Earth in 2880, say astronomers... "This is not something to worry about," said Jon Giorgini, a senior engineer at the American space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory... "That's plenty of time to consider the options - 35 generations, in fact."
posted by y0mbo
on Apr 5, 2002 -
The Solar System Simulator
to simulate - as realistically as possible - what one would actually see from any point in the Solar System. The software looks up the positions of the Sun, planets and satellites from ephemeris files developed here at JPL, as well as star positions and colors from a variety of stellar databasees, and uses special-purpose renderers to draw a color scene. Texture maps for each of the planets and physical models for planetary rings have been derived (in most cases) from scientific data collected by various JPL spacecraft.' Far too complicated for me to even begin to understand, still I've always wondered what Saturn looks like
posted by RobertLoch
on Mar 27, 2002 -
Puzzling X-rays from Jupiter
"We weren't surprised to find x-rays coming from Jupiter." Other observatories had done that years ago. The surprise is what Chandra has revealed for the very first time: the location of the beacon -- surprisingly close the planet's pole -- and the regular way it pulses. (Via Fark.)
posted by Mwongozi
on Mar 7, 2002 -
is NASA's nifty new site where they'll be posting info on new planetary discoveries. It's a long shot, but hopefully this will lead to broader based public support for the space program.
posted by Optamystic
on Jan 9, 2002 -
NASA creates the most detailed topographic map
of the Earth ever produced. The new map is a result of data gathered on shuttle mission STS-99
in February 2000.
The catch? DOD doesnt want most of it released. (link via Wired
posted by Irontom
on Dec 12, 2001 -
NASA Tentatively OKs Second Space Tourist
"NASA and its partners in the International Space Station have agreed in principle to let a 28-year-old South African become the second paying tourist on the orbiting outpost, the U.S. space agency said on Tuesday."
Mark Shuttleworth you lucky bastard!
posted by dgeiser13
on Dec 11, 2001 -