The measure amends current law to add human exploration of the red planet as a goal for the agency.
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 »
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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):
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?
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) July 16, 2016
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 »
We take a brief look at the history of the spacesuit as NASA engineers work on the next generation of spacesuits for future Martian astronauts.
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”.
[VIDEO] HOLY MACKEREL! Cooking in Microgravity with Samantha Cristoforetti: Quinoa Salad & Leek Cream TortillaPosted: June 25, 2015
ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is
currently living on board (Update: Cristoforetti returned to earth in early June) the International Space Station for her long duration mission Futura. Food is an important item in space, also on the psychological side; that’s why astronauts are allowed a certain quantity of the so-called “bonus food” of their choice that reminds them of their home cooking tastes. We asked Samantha to show us how she manages to cook one of her bonus food recipes in microgravity: a quinoa salad with dried tomatoes, mackerel and leek cream, all wrapped in a warm tortilla.
“To boldly brew….”
Cosmic rays could leave travelers to Mars confused, forgetful and slow to react
“These sorts of cognitive changes could manifest during the mission and could be a real problem.”
In a NASA-funded study of radiation-exposed mice published Friday in Science Advances, researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Nevada warned that prolonged bombardment by charged particles in deep space could affect the brain cells involved in decision-making and memory, with implications for possible manned forays into deep space.
“I don’t think our findings preclude future space missions. But they suggest we need to come up with some engineering solutions.”
— UC Irvine radiation oncologist Charles Limoli
“These sorts of cognitive changes could manifest during the mission and could be a real problem,” said Cary Zeitlin at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who wasn’t involved in the study. In 2013, Dr. Zeitlin reported radiation levels between Earth and Mars detected by the Mars Science Laboratory craft during its cruise to the red planet, and found that the exposure was the equivalent of getting “a whole-body CT scan once every 5 or 6 days.”
“Apollo crews, who ventured furthest from Earth’s protective shield on their journeys to the Moon, reported seeing flashes of light when they closed their eyes, caused by galactic cosmic rays speeding through their retinas.”
Deep-space radiation is a unique mix of gamma rays, high-energy protons and cosmic rays from newborn black holes, and radiation from exploding stars. Earth’s bulk, atmosphere and magnetic field blocks or deflects most deep-space cosmic rays. Shielding on spacecraft also helps. Read the rest of this entry »
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) April 28, 2015
Good night from #space.
[VIDEO] Meet キロボ Kirobo: The First Companion Robot to Go to Space Returns to Earth After 18-Month JourneyPosted: April 2, 2015
After a 18-month mission aboard the International Space Station, the tiny Japanese robot Kirobo returned to Earth on February 2015. During a press conference, organizers celebrated the successful project.
NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg shows how she washes her long hair in space while living in weightlessness on the International Space Station. Hint: No rinse shampoo is a must. Read more about it here. Next: How to wash your car in space!
The seven-member crew of the STS-107 mission was just 16 minutes from landing on the morning of Feb. 1, 2003, when Mission Control lost contact with the shuttle Columbia. A piece of foam, falling from the external tank during launch, had opened a hole in one of the shuttle’s wings, leading to the breakup of the orbiter upon re-entry.
Addressing the nation, President Bush said, “mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.”
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
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 tracking 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,” 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.
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 »
On the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti gets a haircut from colleague NASA astronaut Terry Virts while cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov assists with the vacuum cleaner, making sure that no hair cuttings float off.
Ted Cruz now oversees NASA, and that’s a very good thing
At The Corner, Josh Gelernter writes: With the GOP in charge of the Senate, Ted Cruz has taken charge of the Science, Space, and Competitiveness subcommittee. Which means Ted Cruz now oversees NASA. On Wednesday, Cruz issued a statement saying that “Our space program marks the frontier of future technologies for defense, communications, transportation and more, and our mindset should be focused on NASA’s primary mission: exploring space and developing the wealth of new technologies that stem from its exploration…We must refocus our investment on the hard sciences, on getting men and women into space, on exploring low-Earth orbit and beyond . . . I am excited to raise these issues in our subcommittee and look forward to producing legislation that confirms our shared commitment to this vital mission.”
It’s not surprising that Cruz has taken an interest in NASA — whatever you think of his policies, there’s no question that he has a powerful intellect. And as a bonus, NASA’s Houston establishment is in the Texan senator’s constituency. So Cruz can be counted on to take this seriously….(read more)
The Ark of Mars by Frank Kelly Freas
[PHOTO] International Space Station Decorated with Christmas Stockings: ESA Astronaut Samantha CristoforettiPosted: December 25, 2014
ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is in the holiday spirit as the International Space Station is decorated with stockings for each crew member and a tree.
— NASA (@NASA) September 20, 2014
A good deal from Famous Monsters of Filmland. This is actually true, though they weren’t astronaut helmets or suits, they were designed for wear in the U2 spy plane and the NACA supersonic test flights.
“Our aerospace engineers have designed a new-concept coffeemaker, which is safe for the astronauts and able to function in microgravity conditions.”
— David Avino, Managing Director of Argotec
The machine will go by the name ISSpresso, from the acronym of the International Space Station (ISS), where it is to be installed
Following numerous complaints by Italian astronauts over the last 13 years that what they miss most while on duty at the International Space Station is a high quality espresso, the company hope that Samantha Christoforetti, who is set to become the first Italian woman to go into space in November can enjoy a warm cup of coffee on board.
The plastic tube carrying water inside a standard espresso machine has been replaced with a special steel tube designed to withstand pressure above 400 bar, while the machine and its accompanying equipment weighs around 20kg.
Astronauts will not be restricted to a shot of espresso for their caffeine fix, with the innovative capsule system able to produce other hot drinks like a caffe lungo or even a cup of tea.
The astronauts ran about an hour and a half ahead of what NASA expected to be their timeline.
Rich Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineers, began at 7:01 am EST Saturday morning to replace a degraded ammonia pump module associated with one of the station’s two cooling loops that keeps internal and external equipment cool, NASA said.
Mastracchio, the lead spacewalker, conducted six previous spacewalks, and holds the record for the 14th longest number of hours of spacewalking. Hopkins made his first spacewalk.
Apollo 17 and a piece of space history.
APOLLO 17 : The voyage of Apollo 17 marked the program’s concluding expedition to the moon. The mission lifted off after midnight on Dec. 7, 1972 from Kennedy Space Center and touched down on the lunar surface on Dec. 11. The crew spent almost 75 hours on the lunar surface, conducted nearly 22 hours of extravehicular activities (EVAs), and traveled almost 19 miles in the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). During lunar lift-off on Dec. 14, Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan remarked that the astronauts were leaving as they came, “with peace and hope for all mankind.” In this photo, taken during the second EVA on Dec. 12, 1972, Cernan is standing near the lunar rover designed by Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC