Trump Signs NASA Bill, Ponders Sending Congress to Space

The measure amends current law to add human exploration of the red planet as a goal for the agency.

Darlene Superville reports: President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday adding human exploration of Mars to NASA’s mission. Could sending Congress into space be next?

Flanked at an Oval Office bill-signing ceremony by astronauts and lawmakers, Trump observed that being an astronaut is a “pretty tough job.” He said he wasn’t sure he’d want it and, among lawmakers he put the question to, Sen. Ted Cruz said he wouldn’t want to be a space traveler, either.

“For almost six decades, NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth. I’m delighted to sign this bill. It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology.”

— President Donald Trump

But Cruz, R-Texas, offered up a tantalizing suggestion. “You could send Congress to space,” he said to laughter, including from the president.

Trump, who faces a crucial House vote later this week on legislation long promised by Republicans to overhaul the Obama-era Affordable Care Act health law, readily agreed. The health care bill is facing resistance from some conservative members of the party.

“What a great idea that could be,” Trump said, before turning back to the space exploration measure sponsored by Cruz and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

The new law authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the budget year that began Oct. 1. Cruz said the authorization bill is the first for the space agency in seven years, and he called it a “terrific” achievement. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA’s ‘Forgotten Astronaut’

Who is Michael Collins?

Neil Armstrong may have been the first person to walk on the moon, but he wasn’t the only astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission; someone had to stay onboard the ship.

Molly Fosco writes: Michael Collins is one of three astronauts that were aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. You’re probably a little more familiar with the other two astronauts from the mission, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. That’s because Collins is the only one that didn’t get to actually walk on the moon, which is why he’s sometimes referred to as the “forgotten astronaut.”

Collins was the command module pilot on Apollo 11 so he stayed behind to man the spacecraft while Armstrong and Aldrin took their famous moonwalk. Ultimately, this means that Collins isn’t a household name, but he’s still a very important part of space history. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND Apollo 11: Walter Cronkite Anchors First Moonwalk, CBS, July 1969

CBS INFO: On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off on a mission to put man on the moon. That dream came true on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Forty-five years after Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made history, CBS News is celebrating their achievement.

Each day through July 20, CBSNews.com will post videos showcasing archival footage of the coverage of the monumental mission and interviews with the astronauts and others reflecting on their great accomplishment.

Above, watch CBS News legend Walter Cronkite anchor coverage of Apollo 11’s dramatic blastoff from Cape Kennedy in Florida and the dramatic days that followed, culminating in the moon landing.

Buzz Aldrin launches social media campaign to mark moon landing anniversary
Cronkite marveled at how throngs of people stopped in their tracks to watch the liftoff.

“It seemed that the whole world stopped as man set out on the adventure to escape from his own planet and to set foot on a distant one,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Space History: The Brilliant, Funny Computer Code Behind the Apollo 11 Mission

From their key positions in this control center at Goddard, the Manned Space Flight Network operations director and staff controlled Apollo mission communications activities throughout a far-flung worldwide complex of stations. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

Paul Smith writes: NASA’s Apollo 11 mission—the mission that put human beings on the moon for the first time—was launched in 1969, the year after I was born. My early Christmas presents were giant kids’ books full of pictures of that giant Saturn V rocket launching into space, the command and lunar modules, and of guys in bulky space suits walking on the moon. The first intelligible answer I gave to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was, “Astronaut.”

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I did not end up becoming an astronaut.

Computers also captured my attention at an early age, and now I work as a developer for Slate. But my fascination with space endures—so needless to say, I was pretty excited when I heard that the source code for Apollo 11’s computer guidance systems was uploaded on July 8 to Github, a popular site used by programmers to share code and collaboratively build software. Anyone can now read the actual lines of programming code used to land men on the moon.

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

The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

“I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean ‘launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.’ And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?”

The code is pretty inscrutable to casual inspection: It’s not written in a programming language recognizable to modern coders. But Hamilton and her team wrote comments in their code (just like I do when I write code for Slate’s website) to help remind them what’s going on in a given spot in the program. Those parts are surprisingly readable. Here’s a block of code from a file called BURN_BABY_BURN–MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.s (really, that’s what it’s called):

Apollo1

So, clearly, “don’t forget to clean out leftover DVTOTAL data when GROUP 4 RESTARTS and then BURN, BABY!” I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean “launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.” And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?

Altogether, with comments and some added copyright headers, the AGC code adds up to about 2 megabytes—a teeny tiny fraction of the amount of code packed into an Apple Watch. Read the rest of this entry »


Kennedy Space Center Displays Suit Worn By Buzz Aldrin While Lobbying For NASA Funding

CHANTILLY, VA - DECEMBER 5: A member of the media walks by space paraphernalia in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Smithsonian's new addition to the National Air and Space Museum December 5, 2003 in Chantilly, Virgina. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center sits nearly 30 miles west of Washington DC in Virginia and is home to such flying objects as the Space Shuttle Enterprise, Enola Gay B-29 Bomber, the Concord, SR-71 Spy Plane, and others. The center is scheduled to open December 15, 2003. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—Expressing their excitement to share the historic item with visitors, Kennedy Space Center officials confirmed Thursday that the suit worn by Buzz Aldrin on February 24, 2015 when he lobbied the Senate to increase NASA funding was now on display for public viewing. “We are honored to add to our collection the actual jacket and trousers Dr. Aldrin wore that fateful day when he stepped out into room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building and uttered the immortal words ‘I wish to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak with you about the future of American human spaceflight,’” the facility’s associate director, Kelvin Manning, said of the charcoal single-breasted suit, which was displayed together with the crisp button-down shirt, mission patch–patterned tie, and various lapel pins the former astronaut donned as he made the case for expanding the U.S. space program through strategic investments…(more)

Source


Monetizing Junk from Outer Space: Art Collectors Bid on Rare Meteorites

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Bruce Dormancy writes: Holiday shopping for items from the Moon, Mars and the wilds of outer space is still possible for those open to meteoritic stocking stuffers. Such truly ancient pieces of space rock — think older than Earth itself — are increasingly sought after by hundreds of high-end collectors looking for natural pieces of sculpture.

Although a plethora of commercial startups are pining for metal riches from asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt and beyond, meteorite collectors here on terra firma now routinely buy and sell these off-world treasures at auction.

Christie’s South Kensington Auction House in London is planning their first catalog sale of meteorites next April. Prices typically range from around $500 to over $100,000, depending on the size, type of meteorites, condition and provenance, James Hyslop, the Head of Science & Books at Christie’s South Kensington, told me.

However, some meteorites can sell for much higher.

This meteorite was part of the Chelyabinsk meteorite shower of February 15, 2013. Unlike 95% of all other meteorites, this meteorite did not tumble or invert during its descent to Earth. To be sold at Christie's in April 2016. (It measures 4.5 inches across and weighs 2 pounds). Credit: © Mark Mauthner / Christie's

This meteorite was part of the Chelyabinsk meteorite shower of February 15, 2013. Unlike 95% of all other meteorites, this meteorite did not tumble or invert during its descent to Earth. To be sold at Christie’s in April 2016. (It measures 4.5 inches across and weighs 2 pounds). Credit: © Mark Mauthner / Christie’s

The Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing paid a cool $1 million for two small Mars meteorites. Indeed, Hyslop says lunar and Martian meteorites are the most sought after, since they are also the most rare; representing less than one percent of the estimated 62,000 catalogued meteorites. The rest all originate from asteroidal or cometary bodies in deep space.

[Read the full story here, at Forbes]

Darryl Pitt, Curator of the Macovich Collection of Meteorites in New York — one of the world’s largest private collections, told me that any given meteorite’s sales value is also influenced by other factors. They include whether the piece is whole or fractured; its locality at the time of discovery; its esthetics; color; crystalline structure and translucency.

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And often, the more bizarre their shapes, the better collectors like it. Hyslop notes that meteorites with naturally-occurring holes are much rarer and more highly-prized.

Alan Rubin, a UCLA research geochemist, told me that such bizarre shapes result from both fragmentation while traveling through Earth’s atmosphere and often years of terrestrial weathering after hitting the ground.

But the hot quick trip through our atmosphere is nothing to compared to their circuitous orbital routes to Earth itself.

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For meteorites that originated on the Moon or Mars, their journeys here can take up to millions of years. Most lunar meteorites either reach the Earth in a few days or achieve quasi-geocentric orbits that bring them to Earth in less than a million years,” said Rubin.

Mars meteorites typically take much longer.

Rubin says we know this as a result of cosmic ray dating on the meteorites themselves.

He says that when objects in interplanetary space are less than a few meters in size, they are penetrated by cosmic rays which transmute some elements into measurable radioactive isotopes. Read the rest of this entry »


Remembering the Apollo 1 Disaster: How 3 Astronauts were Killed 49 Years Ago Today 

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The crew of Apollo 1 were the first fatalities in America’s space programme, but they will forever be remembered as pioneers of manned space exploration.

Gemma Lavender writes: Following the success of the Mercury and Gemini missions in the 1960’s, NASA set about planning a series of manned missions to the Moon that would become known as the Apollo missions, under direction of John F. Kennedy to land a man on the moon by 1970. Apollo 1 was to be the first manned mission and, although it would not travel to the moon itself, it was intended to test important technologies in Earth orbit with Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee on board. Tragically, however, the spacecraft was destroyed in a cabin fire during a launch pad test 47 years ago on 27 January 1967.

Each of the three astronauts had been influential during NASA’s space exploration program in the run-up to Apollo 1. Gus Grissom was the second American in space aboard Liberty Bell 7, the second Project Mercury flight, in 1961. He later became the first American to fly in space twice, piloting the Gemini 3 spacecraft in orbit in 1965.

The Apollo 1 crew are pictured here during water egress training. Image Credit: NASA

The Apollo 1 crew are pictured here during water egress training. Image Credit: NASA

Edward White was the first American to walk in space during the Gemini 4 spaceflight, also in 1965, when he spent 36 minutes outside the spacecraft. Roger Chaffee was the only one of the three who had not flown in space before. He was chosen in NASA’s third pool of astronauts in 1963 and served as capsule communicator on the ground alongside Grissom for White’s Gemini 4 mission. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Astronauts Falling on the Moon

Clips of astronauts falling on the moon. Video created by Joel Ivy. To let all those who are asking know, the music was one of the tracks on youtube’s audio list for videos. It’s by musicshake and the title of it in the list was “Game – Rise of the Loner Spacer/Fall of E.I.M.” I hope you enjoy. The Apollo program was a great program. Apollo 10 and 17 astronaut said he “felt like he was standing on God’s front porch”, and that “There’s too much purpose, too much logic, it was too beautiful to happen by accident. There has to be somebody bigger than you and bigger than me”.

More about Apollo moon flights >>


[VIDEO] Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch Cam E-8 

This clip is raw from Camera E-8 on the launch umbilical tower/mobile launch program of Apollo 11, July 16, 1969.


Buzz Aldrin Joins Florida Institute of Technology, Forming ‘Master Plan’ for Colonizing Mars within 25 Years

 In this July 20, 1969 file photo, astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. stands next to a U.S. flag planted on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first men to walk on the lunar surface. During a ceremony in Melbourne, Fla. on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, Aldrin announced he is teaming up with the Florida Institute of Technology to develop "a master plan" for colonizing Mars within 25 years. (Neil A. Armstrong/NASA via AP)

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Marcia Dunn reports: Buzz Aldrin is teaming up with Florida Institute of Technology to develop “a master plan” for colonizing Mars within 25 years.

“The Pilgrims on the Mayflower came here to live and stay. They didn’t wait around Plymouth Rock for the return trip, and neither will people building up a population and a settlement.”

— Buzz Aldrin

The second man to walk on the moon took part in a signing ceremony Thursday at the university, less than an hour’s drive from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Buzz Aldrin Space Institute is set to open this fall.

The 85-year-old Aldrin, who followed Neil Armstrong onto the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, will serve as a research professor of aeronautics as well as a senior faculty adviser for the institute. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Great Unlearning: How Our Society Became so Stupid

Bill Whittle overheard a young-man spouting off that the moon landing was faked, which made him wonder… how did Americans become so stupid?

 


[PHOTO] Lyndon Johnson and Spiro Agnew Watch the Apollo 11 Liftoff

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Apollo 11 Astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong Returned Safely from the Moon, 46 Years Ago Today

Apollo 11 returned

As Dave in Texas notes, it was a mere 66 years from Kitty Hawk to the moon.


[PHOTO] NASA: Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center Celebrates the Safe Return of Apollo 11, July 24, 1969

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Buzz Aldrin: ‘I have 3 words to describe why this photo Neil took of me is so iconic: Location, location, location’

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 via Twitter


‘Tumbling End Over End’: Gemini VIII, 1966

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Dave Scott (left) and Neil Armstrong breathe the fresh air of Earth as the hatches of Gemini VIII are opened after splashdown. Photo Credit: NASA

[Also see – ‘A Finite Number of Heartbeats’: The Trauma of Gemini VIII (Part 1)]

Ben Evans writes: Gemini VIII astronauts Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott accomplished a key goal in America’s bid to land a man on the Moon by successfully rendezvousing and docking with an unmanned Agena target vehicle in Earth orbit. As noted in part 1 AmericaSpace article, it was the first time that a manned vehicle had achieved physical contact with another target in space. However, the situation aboard Gemini VIII was far from perfect. A distinct lack of available gemini-8-launch-377x800tracking stations across the flight path had already resulted in decidedly “spotty” communications with the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in Houston, Texas.

“We have serious problems here. We’re tumbling, end over end. We’re disengaged from the Agena.”

— Dave Scott

In fact, only two ship-based stations were supporting the flight, the Rose Knot Victor and the Coastal Sentry Quebec, together with a land site in Hawaii. Shortly before one loss of contact, at around 6:35 p.m. EST on 16 March 1966, Capcom Jim Lovell radioed the Gemini VIII crew. If problems arose, he told them, they should immediately deactivate the Agena with Command 400 and assume manual control with the Gemini. It was a standard call. Lovell could hardly have imagined that a potential disaster would soon engulf the mission.

Half an hour after docking with the Agena, Dave Scott instructed the target to roll them 90 degrees, and Neil Armstrong, in the commander’s seat, told Lovell that it had “gone quite well.” The call came a few seconds before Gemini VIII passed out of radio contact with the ground. Alone, the astronauts electronically activated the Agena’s tape recorder. Shortly thereafter, their attitude indicator showed that they were in an unexpected, and almost imperceptible, roll of about 30 degrees.

Neil Armstrong (left) and Dave Scott sought to fulfil many of the objectives needed to reach the Moon, including orbital rendezvous and docking. They were the only Gemini crew whose two members both walked on the Moon later in their careers. Photo Credit: NASA

Neil Armstrong (left) and Dave Scott sought to fulfil many of the objectives needed to reach the Moon, including orbital rendezvous and docking. They were the only Gemini crew whose two members both walked on the Moon later in their careers. Photo Credit: NASA

“Neil,” called Scott, “we’re in a bank.” Were the Agena’s attitude controls misbehaving? Or was it a problem with the target vehicle’s software? Certainly, Gemini VIII’s own thrusters were now switched off and the assumption could safely be made that the Agena was at fault. What they did not know was that one of their thrusters—the No. 8 thruster—had short-circuited and stuck into its “on” position. Unaware, Scott cut off the Agena’s thrusters, whilst Armstrong reactivated the Gemini’s thrusters in an attempt to stop the roll and bring the combination under control.

gemini-8-agena-500x472

Credit: NASA

For a few minutes, his effort succeeded.

Gradually, the craft stabilized. Then, as Armstrong started to reorient them into their correct position, the unwanted motions resumed … albeit much faster than before and along all three axes. Perplexed, the men jiggled the Agena’s control switches, then those of the Gemini, on and off, in a fruitless attempt to isolate the problem. Glancing at his instrument panel, Scott noticed that their craft’s attitude propellant had dropped to just 30 percent. At this stage, it dawned on the astronauts that the fault was with their craft. “We had to disengage from the Agena,” Scott later wrote in his memoir, Two Sides of the Moon, “and quickly.”

“Television stations began interrupting their programmes—Batman and, ironically, Lost in Space—to provide live coverage. Original plans had called for Gemini VIII to splash down in the Atlantic and be recovered by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Boxer, but the emergency guided them instead to a point in the western Pacific, 500 miles east of Okinawa.

This posed its own problems, since both craft were rapidly rotating and could hit each other. Quickly, Scott set the Agena’s recording devices to allow flight controllers to remotely command it; a crucial step, since, after undocking, the target would otherwise be dead. “No one would ever know what the problem had been or how to fix it,” he wrote. His prompt action saved the Agena and preserved it not only for subsequent investigations, but also for a remarkable “double rendezvous” on the Gemini X mission in July. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Margaret Hamilton: Code Pioneer

margaret-Hamilton

sixpenceee:

Margaret Hamilton is a computer scientist and mathematician. She was the lead software engineer for Project Apollo.  Her work prevented an abort of the Apollo 11 moon landing. She’s also credited for coining the term “software engineer.”

Those stacks are the code she wrote for Apollo 11. Incredible.

nowonlyghosts – mudwerksmudwerks – drtuesdaygjohnson


Some Guys Who Didn’t Bitch and Moan About Quarantine: Apollo 11 Astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins & Neil Armstrong, July 1969

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Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, in NASA’s mobile quarantine trailer, meet President Nixon aboard the USS Hornet after splashdown, July 1969.

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Within the Mobile Quarantine Facility, Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right) Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong relax following their successful lunar landing mission. They spent two-and-a-half-days in the quarantine trailer en route from the USS Hornet to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. The Hornet docked at Pearl Harbor where the trailer was transferred to a jet aircraft for the flight to Houston.

LIFE.com


President Obama To Press: Drop Dead

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Obama has attended three super PAC events in the past week. | AP Photo

The most transparent administration in history…

SAN FRANCISCO —For POLITICO.comDward-Isaac Dovere and Josh Gerstein report: President Barack Obama went to the West Coast to meet donors from two top Democratic super PACs, but the press wasn’t invited.

“We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president’s participation in them is fundamentally public in nature.”

— Christi Parsons, the new president of the White House Correspondents’ Association

Tuesday, the reporters and photographers traveling with the president on Air Force One and in his motorcade were left on the gravel path not even within sight of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal’s house in the Seattle suburbs where Obama sat for a Senate Majority PAC fundraiser with a $25,000 entrance fee.

“Denying access to him in that setting undermines the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing.”

Wednesday morning, when he met with big donors for the House Majority PAC at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown San Francisco, they weren’t even told what room or floor he was on. 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!


[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.”

 


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


[VIDEO] REWIND: Apollo Lunar Orbiter

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