[VIDEO] REWIND: American Hero John Glenn on ‘Weirdest’ Training for Historic Flight

The multiple-axis space test inertia facility, fondly called “the gimbal rig,” simulated tumble-type maneuvers that might be encountered in space flight. From February 15 through March 4, 1960, the gimbal rig provided valuable training for all seven Project Mercury astronauts. John Glenn explains how it worked and what the experience was like. Credits: NASA

On February 20, 1962, NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Mercury capsule Friendship 7.  In 4 hours and 56 minutes, John Glenn circled the globe three times, reaching speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour. The successful mission concluded with a splashdown and recovery in the Atlantic Ocean, 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.

In this video, Glenn discusses the Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility, informally known as the “gimbal rig,” used to train the “Original Seven” Mercury astronauts for America’s first human spaceflights.

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The rig, which simulated an out of control spacecraft and required the astronauts to bring it back under control, was located at what was then NASA’s Lewis Research Center near Cleveland, Ohio. That center now bears Glenn’s name. Read the rest of this entry »


John Glenn, the First American Astronaut to Orbit the Earth, Dies at 95 

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One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before. In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his […]

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Source: The Washington Post


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Source: Not Pulp Covers


The Next NASA Leader Should be a Star 

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quin-hillyerQuin Hillyer writes: As Donald Trump builds his Cabinet, too little public attention has focused on the quasi-Cabinet-level position of Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

It’s an agency needing significant attention – and in Trump-supporting Alabama, home to Huntsville‘s Marshall Space Flight Center, we should be pushing for NASA to be revamped, re-energized, and perhaps re-imagined.

[Read the full story here, at AL.com]

NASA traditionally has been one federal agency that gets good “bang for the buck,” in terms of benefits to human life. Because of experiments that can be conducted only in the weightlessness of space, NASA has contributed mightily to human medicine in ways too numerous to count (heart-transplant-related devices, artificial limbs, and pain reduction during cancer treatments among them). NASA also has contributed in many ways to highway safety, mapping, weather tracking (especially valuable for those of us who deal with hurricanes), oil-spill cleanup, and better computer software, not to mention the plethora of ordinary (non-life-saving) consumer products made possible or made better by NASA discoveries.

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Meanwhile, NASA can boast a string of successes in its highest-profile role, that of exploration of both near- and deep-space. Sometimes we take for granted the astonishing feats of technology that NASA has produced – but recent robotic and orbiting analyses of Mars, and our amazing studies of distant semi-planet Pluto after a nine-year space flight, have added immeasurably to our knowledge of the solar system and its capacity for life. The orbiting Hubble Telescope, meanwhile, has opened new vistas into far-off galaxies we never knew existed.

[Read the full story here, at AL.com]

Knowledgeable observers, it is true, will say that no need exists for only government to do everything space-related. They are correct:

Commercial/private space projects show signal successes and great potential for more. Nonetheless, the sheer scale and cost of rocketry makes space the one frontier in which the national government can rationally engage in public/private partnerships of the sort usually more suited to state and local governments. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Sorry, Elon Musk! Driverless Cars Will Take Longer Than You Think

Family In Self-Driving Car

 


Rocket Men: Why Tech’s Biggest Billionaires Want their Place in Space

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Forget gilded mansions and super yachts. Among the tech elite, space exploration is now the ultimate status symbol.

On board was a $200m, 12,000lb communications satellite – part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project to deliver broadband access to sub-Saharan Africa.

Zuckerberg wrote, with a note of bitterness, on his Facebook page that he was “deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite”. SpaceX founder Elon Musk told CNN it was the “most difficult and complex failure” the 14-year-old company had ever experienced.

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It was also the second dramatic explosion in nine months for SpaceX, following a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” of a booster rocket as it attempted to land after a successful mission to the International Space Station.

Later that day, Nasa’s official Twitter account responded: “Today’s @SpaceX incident – while not a Nasa launch – reminds us that spaceflight is challenging.”

Yet despite those challenges, a small band of billionaire technocrats have spent the past few years investing hundreds of millions of dollars into space ventures. Forget gilded mansions and super yachts; among the tech elite, space exploration is the ultimate status symbol.

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Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, is arguably the most visible billionaire in the new space race. The apparent inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark character in Iron Man, Musk has become a god-like figure for engineers, making his fortune at PayPal and then as CEO of luxury electric car firm Tesla and clean energy company Solar City. Yet it is his galactic ambitions, insiders say, that really motivate him. “His passion is settling Mars,” says one.

[Read the full story here, at The Guardian]

SpaceX has completed 32 successful launches since 2006, delivered cargo to the International Space Station and secured more than $10bn in contracts with Nasa and other clients. Musk has much grander ambitions, though, saying he plans to create a “plan B” for humanity in case Earth ultimately fails. He once famously joked that he hoped to die on Mars – just not on impact. Read the rest of this entry »


China Flight-Tests 10 DF-21 Missiles

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Show of force comes amid transition to Trump

Chinese state media reported Thursday that the simultaneous flight tests of 10 DF-21 intermediate-range ballistic missiles were carried out in China.

The missiles “can destroy U.S. Asia-Pacific bases at any time,” the dispatch from the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The flight tests were disclosed by China Central Television on Nov. 28 and coincide with President-elect Donald Trump’s high-profile announcements of new senior government officials.

Disclosure of the missile salvo launch comes as Trump announced on Thursday that he will nominate retired Marine Corps. Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary. Mattis is one of the Corps’ most celebrated warfighting generals. Read the rest of this entry »


Russia: Progress MS-04 Space Ship Malfunctions, Breaks up Over Siberia 

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The Progress MS-04 cargo craft broke up at an altitude of 118 miles over the remote Russian Tuva region in Siberia that borders Mongolia.

An unmanned Russian cargo spaceship heading to the International Space Station broke up in the atmosphere over Siberia on Thursday due to an unspecified malfunction, the Russian space agency said.

The Progress MS-04 cargo craft broke up at an altitude of 190 kilometers (118 miles) over the remote Russian Tuva region in Siberia that borders Mongolia, Roscosmos said in a statement. It said most of space ship’s debris burnt up as it entered the atmosphere but some debris fell to Earth over what it called an uninhabited area.

The Progress cargo ship had lifted off as scheduled at 8:51 p.m. (1451 GMT) from Russia’s space launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, to deliver 2.5 metric tons of fuel, water, food and other supplies. It entered an orbit nine minutes later and was set to dock with the space station on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »


Ace Double D-465: The Martian Missile by David Grinnell, 1960, Cover art attributed to Ed Valigursky

The Martian Missile

Source: Sci-fi Covers


[VIDEO] Elon Musk: Internet on Mars & Artificial Intelligence

Source: Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016) Narrated by Werner Herzog

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[VIDEO] Replay: Incredible Lunar Views From The Japanese Selene Orbiter – Earthrise 

Take a journey across the surface of the moon. See the earth rise and set from the lunar surface.

This video was recorded by the SELENE Lunar Orbiter – images are copyright JAXA / NHK
SELENE , better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya, was the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft following the Hiten probe]

Produced by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA), the spacecraft was launched on September 14, 2007. After successfully orbiting the Moon for a year and eight months, the main orbiter was instructed to impact on the lunar surface near the crater Gill on June 10, 2009.[2] Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] What Thanksgiving Dinner Looks Like in Space


One of Obama’s Successes was Bringing Capitalism into Outer Space. Trump Should Follow his Lead

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Space Age comeback?

Glenn Reynolds writes: Space entrepreneur Peter Bigelow, who’s working on hotels in space, wants the Trump Administration to sharply increase NASA spending. But although I’m all in favor of making America’s space program great again, I’m not so sure that pumping money into NASA is the way to do it. For that matter, I’m not even sure that the term “space program” makes much sense in the 21st century.

Image: vintagefuture.tumblr.com

Rather than a space program, what we really have is a package of space policies. Unlike the Apollo era, when the nation was fixed on a single major goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970, we now want a bunch of different things, all of them important, but no single one of them is our sole focus. And, honestly, much of what’s going on at NASA isn’t even close to overridingly important.

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

The good news is that, as I’ve noted before, space — at least the burgeoning commercial space industry — has been one of the Obama Administration’s notable policy successes.  Where not long ago the United States was looking at an aging fleet of increasingly dangerous space shuttles, we now have a flourishing collection of private companies providing transportation into earth orbit, from SpaceX, to Blue Origin, to Virgin Galactic, to a number of smaller companies. (Full disclosure: I own a small amount of friends-and-family stock in one of those smaller companies, XCOR Aerospace). Moon Express even plans to land a robot on the Moon.

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As a recent piece in The Washington Post noted, whatever his policies on Earth, Obama has brought capitalism to outer space. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Mars’: National Geographic Network’s Moonshot

National Geographic is releasing “Mars,” a six-part series that follows a dramatized mission to Mars while real scientists and thinkers discuss the challenges of such a journey.

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WSJ‘s Lee Hawkins and John Jurgensen discuss “Mars” and the rise of the “premium nonfiction” genre on television. Read the rest of this entry »


Shunde City, Guangdong Province: Ever Wondered What Being in Space Feels Like?

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Ever wondered what being in space feels like? Well, in the wake of October’s launch of China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, a theme park in Shunde City, Guangdong Province has given visitors the chance to experience the sensation of weightlessness. Tourists put on spacesuits before riding a capsule attached to cables. Read the rest of this entry »


Hypersonic Flight Is Coming: Will the US Lead the Way?

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The world is at the start of a renaissance in hypersonic flight, but the U.S. will need steady commitment and funding if it wants to lead the way.

MOJAVE, California — The world is at the start of a renaissance in supersonic and hypersonic flight that will transform aviation, but the effort will need steady commitment and funding if the United States wants to lead the way, congressional leaders and industry officials said at a forum late last month.

“What’s exciting about aerospace today is that we are in a point here where suddenly, things are happening all across the board in areas that just haven’t been happening for quite a while,” said former U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke.

“There was a period where engine technology had just sort of stagnated — a point where all materials technology was going along at about the same pace,” Bedke added. “There just wasn’t much happening. But suddenly, in all sorts of areas that apply to aerospace, things are happening.”

[NASA’s Vision of Future Air Travel (Images)]

Bedke was one of five panelists to speak Oct. 27 at the Forum on American Aeronautics here at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Sponsored by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the forum was hosted by committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and member Steve Knight, R-Calif. Bedke, Smith and Knight were joined by David McBride, director of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, and Craig Johnson, director of business strategy and development for Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. Former Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt moderated.

Knight has taken the lead on the House Science Committee in getting NASA’s aeronautical program to focus on a new set of experimental aircraft. He said his passion for these programs isn’t just about improving American aviation — it’s personal. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: NASA’s Mars Rover Just Found an ‘Alien Egg’ on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover has just found something truly surreal on Mars – a black, shiny object which looks like an alien egg.

The object is actually a metallic meteorite – but that (of course) hasn’t stopped UFO sites from suggesting that the thing might actually hatch.

“Iron meteorites provide records of many different asteroids that broke up, with fragments of their cores ending up on Earth and on Mars.”

Mystery Vault says that the find raises, ‘hopes of finding life on Mars’.

It doesn’t of course – but what NASA scientists call the ‘Egg Rock’ is interesting nonetheless.

Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory project, which operates the rover, first noticed the odd-looking rock in images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) at at a site the rover reached by an Oct. 27 drive.

‘The dark, smooth and lustrous aspect of this target, and its sort of spherical shape attracted the attention of some MSL scientists when we received the Mastcam images at the new location,’ said ChemCam team member Pierre-Yves Meslin.

ChemCam found iron, nickel and phosphorus, plus lesser ingredients, in concentrations still being determined through analysis of the spectrum of light produced from dozens of laser pulses at nine spots on the object. Read the rest of this entry »


BEAST MODE: China Debuts J-20 Stealth Jet in Show of Strength

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ZHUHAI, China (Reuters) –Tim Hepher and Brenda Goh report: China showed its Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in public for the first time on Tuesday, opening the country’s biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers with a show of its military clout.

“It’s a change of tactics for the Chinese to publicly show off weapons that aren’t in full squadron service yet, and demonstrates a lot of confidence in the capability, and also a lot of pride.”

— Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute

Airshow China, in the southern city of Zhuhai, offers Beijing an opportunity to demonstrate its ambitions in civil aerospace and to underline its growing capability in defense. China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s top aviation market in the next decade.

Two J-20 jets, Zhuhai’s headline act, swept over dignitaries, hundreds of spectators and industry executives gathered at the show’s opening ceremony in a flypast that barely exceeded a minute, generating a deafening roar that was met with gasps and applause and set off car alarms in a parking lot.

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“I think we learned very little. We learned it is very loud. But we can’t tell what type of engine it has, or very much about the mobility. Most importantly, we didn’t learn much about its radar cross-section.”

— Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor of FlightGlobal

Experts say China has been refining designs for the J-20, first glimpsed by planespotters in 2010, in the hope of narrowing a military technology gap with the United States. President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in Asia, particularly in the South China and East China seas.

“It is clearly a big step forward in Chinese combat capability,” said Bradley Perrett of Aviation Week, a veteran China watcher.

State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) was also bullish on China’s appetite for new civilian planes, estimating the market would need 6,865 new aircraft worth $930 billion over the next 20 years.

The COMAC forecast – similar to long-term outlooks from well-established rivals Boeing Co and Airbus Group – said China would make up almost a fifth of global demand for close to 40,000 planes over the next two decades. Read the rest of this entry »