Edgar Mitchell, NASA astronaut, Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot, and outspoken alien visitation believer, has died at age 85. [more inside]
“I would give my life to fly in space. It’s hard for me to talk about it but I would. I would then, and I will now.” The terrible injustice of Jerrie Cobb, who deserved to be the first female astronaut, yet never made it to space at all.
It's official, Boeing's CST-100 and Space X's Dragon have been chosen to launch astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017, ending Russia's dominance as the sole provider of rides to the ISS, which they haven't been shy about using for leverage. Meanwhile, develop of the Space Launch System, designed for travel beyond low earth orbit, continues for its maiden launch in 2018. [more inside]
While on ISS, astronaut Reid Wiseman captured and tweeted a picture that captured night time picture of the Gulf of Thailand, including a vast area of green lights, distinct from the white, yellow and orange lights of adjacent cities. Reid wrote "Bangkok is the bright city. The green lights outside the city? No idea… " but others did know: it was many fishing boats with green fishing light attractors. [more inside]
Astronaut Sally Ride and the Burden of Being The First. 'Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn’t float away. Engineers asked Ride, “Is 100 the right number?” She would be in space for a week. “That would not be the right number,” she told them. At every turn, her difference was made clear to her. When it was announced Ride had been named to a space flight mission, her shuttle commander, Bob Crippen, who became a lifelong friend and colleague, introduced her as “undoubtedly the prettiest member of the crew.” At another press event, a reporter asked Ride how she would react to a problem on the shuttle: “Do you weep?”'
Scott Carpenter has died at 88. As the commander of Aurora 7 in 1962, Carpenter was the second Mercury astronaut to orbit the Earth. He is best known for having wished his friend John Glenn "Godspeed" as the latter launched into orbit. [more inside]
A few weeks ago, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano (@astro_luca) almost drowned during a spacewalk when his helmet started uncontrollably filling with water, possibly from a leaky spacesuit cooling system. (See previous MeFi discussion on the incident.) A week later, his fellow ISS astronaut Chris Cassidy posted two videos online showing the actual spacesuit and using it to illustrate the problem. All future US and European spacewalks have been halted while the incident is being investigated, although the Russian ones are continuing, as they use different suits. Yesterday, Luca published a scary new entry on his in-orbit blog, where he not only gave all the horror-movie details, but also revealed that he nearly chose to depressurize his suit outside the ISS in order to survive.
In 1985, Houston was preparing for a party: 1986 marked the city's 150th birthday, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Texas, and 25 years since the opening of NASA's Johnson Space Center, the hub around which the city's aerospace industry blossomed. In comes French synthesizer pioneer Jean Michel Jarre, the "composer of the future", known for his spectacular 1979 Bastille Day show that attracted a million people to Place de la Concorde, and for being the first Western musician to play China in 1981. With the Space Shuttle Challenger due to take off on mission STS-51-L in January, Jarre penned a piece for Mission Specialist and saxophonist Ron McNair to record in space. The nation watched as McNair and his crewmates prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, only to perish in a haunting and iconic explosion. As Houston mourned the loss of the seven crew, who called the city home during their preparation for spaceflight, Jarre wasn't sure if the upcoming festivities should be held, but was convinced by astronaut Bruce McCandless that the show must go on. On April 5, 1986, 1.5 million people gathered downtown to witness Rendez-vous Houston, a massive tribute to America's pioneering spirit that used the city as its backdrop. [more inside]
Last fall, the Canadian Space Agency asked students to design a simple science experiment that could be performed in space, using items already available aboard the International Space Station. Today, Commander Chris Hadfield conducted the winner for its designers: two tenth grade students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, in a live feed to their school in Fall River, Nova Scotia. And now, we finally have an answer to the age-old question, What Happens When You Wring Out A Washcloth In Space? [more inside]
Astronaut, and Expedition 33 Commander, Sunita Williams gives a tour of the International Space Station.
Auroras Underfoot is a short documentary about auroras by NASA, which uses high-definition images taken by International Space Station science officer Don Pettit of aurora from orbit. Pettit writes about the difficulties of taking photographs from orbit and other subjects on his blog.
NASA is hiring new astronaut candidates. Positions are open for all qualified U.S. citizens. [more inside]
32 images of the earth from the blackness of space, many with spacewalking astronauts in the foreground, presented in a Big Picture style. (via) [more inside]
Year: 2025. Mission: Save Moonbase Alpha after critical systems were damaged by a meteor strike. A free Steam-powered 3D-immersive game from NASA. Windows only.
José Hernández was a migrant worker when he first started to dream about becoming an astronaut. He is the first astronaut to Twitter in Spanish from space on shuttle mission STS-128. NASA wasn't happy about the controversy he caused when he advocated for the legalization of undocumented immigrants. He is not the first Hispanic-American to fly on the space shuttle. Hernández is a national hero in Mexico and has been invited to dine with President Calderon.
Astronaut Michael Collins – "I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified façade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied."
Astronaut Candidate Program. "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announces the opportunity to apply for the position of Astronaut Candidate to support the International Space Station (ISS) Program." [more inside]
RIP Wally Schirra, 1923-2007. One of the original Mercury Seven "Right Stuff" astronauts (just two left now), Schirra flew on Sigma 7, Gemini 7, and Apollo 7. From there on, it's stationkeeping.
Max Q, named after the aeronautical engineering term, is the only astronaut rock band (but not the only musical astronauts). Not to be confused with the barbershop quartet.