Gagarin was an incredibly lucky man to have come out of this unhurt and alive. In rushing to accomplish a human spaceflight in the race with the US, Soviet engineers pushed the boundary of acceptable risk to its limits. Fortunately for Soviet planners everything went well.Yuri Gagarin's flight as the first human in space fiftyfive years ago may have been slightly more dangerous than previously thought.
How many digits of pi do we really need? Thirty-nine.
An all-female Russian crew is currently undergoing a simulation of an eight-day trip to lunar orbit and subsequent return to Earth. The highly-qualified volunteers were chosen through a series of rigorous selection processes based on the real cosmonaut selection regime. In the press conference that was held prior to the start of the mission, the team had to face questions of how they would cope without men or makeup for eight days. [more inside]
"The search for alien life has recently taken a surprise twist away from Mars and toward Europa, an ice ball of a moon in orbit around Jupiter. To understand why, you just need to look at these three numbers: Zero 1.33 billion 3 billion.... [more inside]
For their senior project, George Mason University students Seth Robertson and Viet Tran decided to ignore all of their professors and classmates who told them their idea was terrible. They proceeded to invent a fire extinguisher that uses sound waves instead of chemicals to put out fires. The project was partially inspired by the fact that traditional fire extinguishers do not work in space. [more inside]
Astronaut Marsha Ivins describes her experiences: prelaunch, launch, and zero-g: "It’s a mix of the transcendently magical and the deeply prosaic."
"[M]y 5-year-old son goes to bed worried, sometimes in tears. He is worried about the Voyager Interstellar spacecraft, the fact that it is out there all by itself. He wants it to come home to be safe. What do we tell him?" Commander Hadfield responds. [more inside]
In January of 1979, ABC premiered a made-for-TV movie called Salvage, featuring Harry Broderick (Andy Griffith) as "the junkman with a dream," which he stated simply: "I want to build a ship, fly to the moon, salvage all the NASA stuff up there, bring it back to the earth, and sell it." His crazy idea isn't so crazy, thanks to the assistance of former astronaut Skip Carmichael (Joel Higgins) and fuel/tech expert Melanie Slozar (Trish Stewart). They managed to build their spaceship and get to the moon and back, thanks to Carmichael's ingenious "Trans-Linear Vector Principle." The movie did so well that the crew's adventures were extended into a total of 18 episodes, split into two seasons. [more inside]
How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 "moon rocket" engine back to life - "The story of young engineers who resurrected an engine nearly twice their age." [more inside]
A five-part series on the ultimate limit on technology, and how that limit could help us find other civilizations: 1 2 3 4 5 [via]
In 1994, theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a scheme for virtual faster than light travel using a real-world analog to the familiar science fiction trope known as "Warp Drive." The basic premise exploited certain space-time warping effects predicted by General Relativity to fold space-time, theoretically allowing a specially designed space craft to reach distant destinations effectively at FTL speeds without actually having to accelerate to light speed or beyond at all. There was, however, at least one major problem with the proposal: The math suggested it would require as much energy as the mass of the planet Jupiter to power the thing. But according to newer calculations based on a modified version of Alcubierre's original proposal, warp speed travel may now theoretically be within reach (warning: eyeball-gouging Space.com link), requiring drastically less energy than originally thought. Of course, not everyone's convinced there's anything to see here. And even so, prohibitive energy input requirements may not be the only serious challenge facing the development of real-world warp drive technology, so don't go packing your bags for that long overdue vacation to Risa just yet.
Chilling amateur home video of the Challenger disaster "Obviously a major malfunction." Those words have always haunted me, but to hear them here, echoing across a PA system as shocked onlookers come to terms with what they have just seen, they carry even more power than they did when they were just an anonymous voiceover on a TV shot.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-135, is scheduled to lift off this morning from Kennedy Space Center. The time was originally scheduled for 11:26 AM EDT, but that has been pushed back, despite "no technical concerns and... weather is a 'go'." Astronauts aboard are Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Watch live coverage, with some archival footage, on NASA's Ustream or on NASA.gov. NASA has provided countdown highlights of the day to get you up to speed. Read NASA's feed on Twitter. At the time of this post's writing, the countdown clock is on a scheduled hold with 9 minutes to go. Previously, STS-134, on the Blue.
The Women@NASA website was developed to encourage more young women to pursue careers in math, science, and technology. Through a collection of videos and articles, the Women@NASA project shares the stories of 32 women across the agency who contribute to NASA’s mission in many ways.
Challenger . . . . go with throttle up. Twenty-five years ago today the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into the 25th space shuttle flight. The reports (pdf) tell us of O-Ring failures. Today, we remember one of the most tragic days in the history of the U.S. manned spaceflight program. Today, January 28, 2011, we remember: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
"I can sense stars, and their whispers amid the roaring of our own Sun." So goes one poetic status of the Voyager 2 twitterfeed, which appeals to my sense of wonder like nothing else on the internet. Interstellar space probes and microblogging go hand in hand in the 21st Century.
The Space Shuttle is still retiring but a U.S. Senate plan (full text PDF), (House version) would add one more flight to the shuttle's career, probably sometime late next summer. The move comes as thousands of jobs stand to be eliminated with the shuttle's retirement. [more inside]
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
'I ask you to keep the images and albums with the numerous drawings and models that I created for you humans.'
The Leonardo of Wermsdorf: technical illustrations by Karl Hans (Joachim) Janke
Life Beyond Earth and the Mind of Man. Direct Google Video link to a fruitcake-tastic half-hour film of "a symposium held at Boston University on November 20, 1972 that explores the implications of the possible existence of extraterrestrial life within the galaxy and the universe. " Well worth scrubbing through for some good moments if you don't have time to watch the whole thing. Other cool old NASA videos on google video include Who's Out There?, starring a cigar smoking Orson Welles squinting a lot and reading off the cue cards, and Debrief: Apollo 8: "Happiness is bacon squares for breakfast".
Move over X-Prize - in order to win the next big space prize($50 million) one will have to build a spacecraft capable of taking a crew of no fewer than five people to an altitude of 400 kilometers and complete two orbits of the Earth at that altitude. Then they have to repeat that accomplishment within 60 days.
SpaceShipOne is set to take off around 9:30 ET today. Funded by that other guy who founded Microsoft, this (if successful) will be the first non-government-sponsored manned spaceflight.
Highlift Systems may have found a better location for their space elevator in Perth, Australia. Calm waters, few thunderstorms, not too far from the equator, international airport. (Slashdot discussion) I live in Perth, so I'm excited about the prospect, but our current premier may need a little prod.
Who owns the moon? Apparently these people do, and they’re selling it off acre by acre. They are “The founders and leaders of the extraterrestrial real estate market.” Do we really need a Galactic Government with an embassy on the moon? I guess The Federation had to start somewhere. This just begs the question, “Does Venus have its own laws?”
Space Shuttle Atlantis is about to be launched from Cape Canaveral. Watch it live. Blast off at 3:45pm EDT 07/10/02.
China to Mine Moon for 'Benefit of Humanity'. China says it is planning to establish a base on the Moon to exploit its mineral resources. Beijing has not yet put a human into space, but scientists say they expect to do so within three years and they have outlined an ambitious programme for the future. Chinese space official Ouyang Ziyuan said: "Our long-term goal is to set up a base on the moon and mine its riches for the benefit of humanity."
Hey! What's this thing suddenly coming toward me very fast? Very, very fast. So big and flat and round... Are you one of those people in search of a new extreme sport? Have you considered spacediving?
Mission To Mars What if we could get there in about two weeks?