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Scientific Habitat? Secret Military Project? China’s Tiangong Keeps Us Guessing

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For The Week, Steve Weintz, reports: Months after its scheduled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere — and a surprise cameo appearance in hit space flick Gravity — China’s first space station boosted into a higher orbit. It still speeds around the planet, doing … what, exactly?

“As with the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B robot space plane, mystery opens the door to daydream.”

No one outside of China’s popular but opaque space program seems to know.

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Tiangong, or “heavenly palace,” blasted off atop a Long March 2F booster in 2011. “Chinese Gen. Chang Wanquan, commander of China’s manned space program, declared the launch a success from a control center in Beijing, drawing applause from assembled Chinese politicians and dignitaries,” Spaceflight Now reported.

“What are they doing up there? Only they know for sure. But it’s obvious that Tiangong could be more than a scientific habitat.”

During spaceflights Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10, three-person Chinese crews lived aboard Tiangong’s small habitat for as long as 15 days at a stretch.

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[Also see - "China Set to Launch Its Own Space Station; Mission: Unknown" - WIRED]

The astronauts practiced rendezvousing and docking with the station, observed the Earth, conducted medical experiments, and tested equipment. Astronaut Wang Yaping wowed students back home with her live-cast zero-G science demos. The manned missions delivered NASA-style civil prestige and outreach. Read the rest of this entry »

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Martha Stewart: Why I Love My Drone

Originally posted on TIME:

There’s been a lot of discussion and a tremendous amount of speculation lately about the nature of drones and their role in our society as useful tools and hobbyist toys.

Last year, while celebrating my birthday in Maine, I was given a drone fitted with a high-definition camera. After a quick introduction to the mechanics of operating the contraption and a few words about its idiosyncrasies, I loaded the appropriate app on my iPad and went down to the beach.

In just a few minutes I was hooked. In near silence, the drone rose, hovered, and dove, silently and surreptitiously photographing us and the landscape around us. The photos and video were stunning. By assuming unusual vantage points, the drone allowed me to “see” so much more of my surroundings than usual. The view I was “seeing” on my iPad with the help of the drone would have otherwise been…

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Driving Distances on Mars & the Moon

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From a great tumblr site, : This chart provides a comparison of the distances driven by various wheeled vehicles on the surface of Mars and Earth’s moon. Of the vehicles shown, NASA’s Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity are still active and the totals listed are distances driven as of July 28, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Launch of AFSPC-4 on Delta IV Rocket from Cape, July 28, 2014

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[VIDEO] Hubble: Star Explosion Slo-Mo


[PHOTO] Apollo XI Lunar Module-5

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[PHOTOS] July 26, 1971: Apollo 15 Launch

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FAA Extends WTF Travel Ban to Israel for Another 24 Hours

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ABC News reports: The FAA announced today that they have not lifted their ban against travel to or from Tel Aviv‘s airport and will prohibit travel to the country for an additional 24 hours.

[See [VIDEO] Lowry: FAA Ban ‘an Overreaction and a Real Blow to Israel’]

“The agency is working closely with the Government of Israel to review the significant new information they have provided and determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated so the agency can resolve concerns as quickly as possible,” the FAA said in a statement.

This comes a day after they barred all American air carriers from flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv following a rocket attack within a mile of the airport. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Bill Whittle: It’s Been 45 Years Since Man Walked on the Moon for the First Time. Have We Been Challenged Since?

Its been 45 years since man walked on the moon for the first time. Have we been challenged since? Or are we a windless sail, full of potentital without a direct challenge? We tamed a continent, we conquered the skies, and we did fly to the moon–don’t let us, as a people, only have political discussion as our challenge.

Afterburner w/Bill Whittle


USA 45 Years Ago: NYT Cover ‘Men Walk On Moon’


[IMAGE] APOLLO 11: 45th Anniversary

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Passionately Curious – 45!


Global Air Traffic Avoiding Ukraine


BUSTED: Pro-Russian Rebel Leader Boasted About Downing a Plane Before He Realized…


[VIDEO] ISS Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Message

“When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago, this space station that we live on was science fiction”

International Space Station astronauts Steve Swanson and Reid Wiseman salute the Apollo 11 mission on the 45th anniversary of its launch.

“But today it is reality thanks to the legacy of the Apollo astronauts…”

“When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago,” says Swanson, “this space station that we live on was science fiction. But today it is reality thanks to the legacy of the Apollo astronauts and all the nations that have followed the path to space since then.”

 


Joe Pappalardo: Everything You Need to Know About the Air Forces New Bomber

Defense contractors are now bidding on the right to build the Long Range Strike Bomber. This is what you need to know about the Air Force’s next big machine of death.

For Popular Mechanics, Joe Pappalardo writes: The U.S. Air Force this week made it official: They are officially in the market for a next-gen-stealth-0714-mdnnew bomber. In wonk speak, the service sent a formal Request for Proposals to defense contractors who will vie for the (at least) $55 billion program.

“Will the LRS-B be designed to deliver nukes? The Air Force has indicated that the priority for America’s new bomber is not an ability to drop nuclear bombs but to deliver other weapons”

Like any massive, classified national security effort, few things about the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) are exactly what they appear to be. So here’s a cheat sheet.

1. Our Bomber Fleet is Old—Very Old

The average B-52 Stratofortress is 50 years old, and the B-1 Lancer fleet has a mean age of 28. Now, there are plenty of things you can do with a B-52; you can fly over undefended terrain and drop bombs, or launch missiles from longer, safer ranges. But you can’t fly a B-52 anywhere that is guarded by the kind of top-notch, integrated air defense radar and anti-aircraft missiles that Russia sells and that China, Iran, Syria, and others use. Only the B-2 stealth bomber can breach those defenses.  Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Gordon Cooper in Mercury Spacesuit

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Official portrait of Gordon Cooper while wearing the Mercury spacesuit

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Space: The Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon Took Place 45 Years Ago This Week


[PHOTO] Space: Robert C. Stewart Flying a Rarely Used MMU in 1984

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