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Saturday, January 28, 2006
In Memoriam
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:25 am

1986-2006

Also: 7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster and a previous post of mine on the Space Shuttle program.

Filed under: Space | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Florida Masochist linked with "slipped the surly bonds of earth"
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Pluto’s “New” Moons
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:01 am

Via the AP: Pluto Has Three Moons, Hubble Images Show

Pluto has three moons, not one, new images from the Hubble Space Telescope suggest. Pluto, discovered as the ninth planet in 1930, was thought to be alone until its moon Charon was spotted in 1978.

[…]

Follow-up observations by the Hubble are planned in February. If they are confirmed, the International Astronomical Union will consider names for the objects.

Earlier this month another group of astronomers, who claim to have discovered the 10th planet in the solar system, also said that body had a moon. (Whether the group actually discovered a new planet has not been confirmed.)

Intriguing.

It’s a shame that the Hubble is going to be allowed to expire.

Filed under: Space | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
To the Moon!
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:41 pm

The CSM has an interesting piece on using Hubble to look for a good landing spot on the moon: Wanted: a flat, mineral-rich plot - with Earth view.

Also noteworthy in the piece:

The European Space Agency currently has a small craft orbiting the moon. India and China are planning to launch lunar orbiters in 2007. Japan is inching ahead on its long-anticipated mission to study the moon.

I find all that interesting, as there seems to be a burgeoning interest in space of late in the international community and I wonder if we aren’t about to enter a new era of competitive (an maybe cooperative) space exploration.

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Monday, October 17, 2005
Chinese Astronauts Return Safely
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:12 am

Via the BBC: Chinese spacecraft back to Earth.

One wonders if an increased interest in space by the Chinese will fuel a space race-although granted, they are still about where the US was about 35 years ago. Of course, the US is about where it was 25 years ago, so it isn’t that big of a gap…

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Chinese in Space
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:34 pm

Via the BBC: China launches rocket into space

China has successfully launched a rocket carrying two Chinese astronauts into space, for the second time.

The lift-off, from a site in the Gobi desert, was shown live on state television and included views from a camera on the outside of the rocket.

The mission will take the astronauts on board the Shenzhou VI spacecraft on a five-day orbit around Earth, during which they will carry out experiments.

Filed under: Space | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, August 12, 2005
Mars Probe Launches
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:25 am

Via the BBC: Mars probe launches at third try

The US space agency’s new spacecraft to Mars has launched successfully from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The $720m (�397m) Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) blasted off at 1243 BST (1143 GMT) on Friday after being delayed for two days running.

A launch attempt on Thursday was scrubbed due to a sensor malfunction.

[…]

Nasa is planning two further Mars missions this decade: the Phoenix module, set for launch in 2007, and Mars Science Laboratory in 2009.

There is a diagram of the probe with the main story.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Good Deal
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:50 am

Space shuttle Discovery lands safely in California

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Monday, August 8, 2005
Discovery Delayed
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:49 am

Weather delays shuttle’s return to Earth

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Sunday, August 7, 2005
Godspeed
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:12 pm

No Looking Back As Shuttle Heads Home

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Wednesday, August 3, 2005
May it be so
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:10 am

Via ABC News: Unprecedented Shuttle Repair a Success

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Sunday, July 31, 2005
That Doesn’t Sound Good
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:04 pm

Via the AP: Discovery May Need Unprecedented Repair.

Of course, OTB’s Rodney Dill makes a legitimate observation:

the real problem is that we are taking measurements and assessments now that were never taken, so we don’t know what really is a potential problem and what was there all along.

Of course, it does remain possible that this is a real problem. Ultimately the age of the vehicle is a major problem.

Filed under: Space | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Shuttle Fleet Grounded
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:09 pm

Via CNN: NASA grounds shuttle fleet

There will be no more shuttle launches until NASA engineers determine the effect of debris that fell from the shuttle Discovery during blastoff Tuesday, said Bill Parsons, space shuttle program manager.

“We are treating it very seriously,” he told reporters. “Are we losing sleep over it? Not yet.”

Lovely. Always nice to ground a fleet of craft when one is in space.

Filed under: Space | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Down deep in Texas: The View from Waco linked with This is not good news for NASA
More on the Shuttle
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:10 am

The CSM has a piece that notes that the shuttle is slated to be replaced by 2010, althought it doesn’t discuss what the replacement vehicle might be-indeed, it is unclear that that is yet know (Shuttle launches into its final era).

And does this sound like a device designed by government, or what?

the bane of the shuttle program has ever been impatience born of unrealistic expectations. In short, the shuttle has never been what it promised it would be.

Never have shuttles made more than nine flights in a year, and even before Columbia, each flight cost as much as a half billion dollars.

The reason, say experts and analysts, emerged from the first concepts of the shuttle, which were not practical but fantastic. It should be reusable. It should fly like a plane on reentry. It should carry huge payloads - such as satellites and pieces of space stations.

“It was given so many conflicting requirements that it wasn’t going to be able to reach any of them,” says Howard McCurdy, a NASA historian.

The technology to do it did not exist. So the shuttle emerged as a compromise, an inordinately complex machine that fulfilled all the functions adequately, but none perfectly. In its report, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board acknowledged this flaw.

Also from the CSM last week: Beyond NASA: The push to privatize spaceflight

Filed under: Space | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
More Shuttle Talk
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:56 pm

It would seem that Sean Hackbarth and I were operating on the same wavelength today:

Discovery had a successful launch. I have mixed feelings. I’m glad NASA pulled it off. I’m always proud of American resilence, but the shuttle is old technology. Man won’t conquer space with the risk-adverse methodology of the space agency.

Yup.

Filed under: Space | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
The Shuttle
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:45 pm

NASA sends shuttle to space, debris fears arise

NASA successfully launched space shuttle Discovery on Tuesday, but anxiously reviewed video showing debris falling from the craft during liftoff, the same problem that caused the fatal Columbia disaster 2-1/2 years earlier.

The debris did not appear to hit the shuttle during the smooth morning blastoff, marking a triumphant U.S. return to manned space travel after the long struggle to recover from Columbia’s breakup over Texas.

On the one hand, I am quite pleased that the shuttle took flight, although the debris situation is somewhat concerning. I will say that today’s launch was not as dramatic (to me, anyway) as the first launch after the Challenger disaster. I was in college when that launch took place and recall sitting in my car in the parking lot of the law firm where I had a part-time job to listen to the actual take off. It was a clear relief with the launch went off without a hitch. For some reason I can conjure that day in my mind as if it happened yesterday, rather than almost 17 years ago.

On the other hand, I am concerned that the shuttle is getting too old-waaaay too old. I distinctly remember getting up early to watch the shuttle take off when I was in middle school (STS-1 was on 4/12/81) . While I am hardly an old fogey, that was a while ago. And when one considers that the shuttle was primarily designed and constructed in the middle 1970s (Enterprise was built in 1976, although it wasn’t meant for spaceflight), meaning that most of the technology that originally went into it was from the late 60s/early 70s (in terms of original design and concept-with the tech being from the late 70s by the time Columbia went into space), that makes the orbiter one old piece of equipment in techno-years. I know we used aircraft for a loong time (e.g., the B-52), but please, we are talking space travel here.

If we, as a country, are going to be dedicated to manned space flight, we need to move on to the next vehicle or vehicles.

I will confess to a great deal of romantic attachment to space exploration (being that I was captivated by Star Trek as early as 5 years-old, perhaps younger), so I know my views on this topic are somewhat biased. Still, it seems to me that there is substantial gain to be had in knowledge and it economic benefit in the ability to venture beyond our planet. Granted: it may take a true profit motive for it to actually happen.

Regardless of where we go next, it certainly seems that the time of the space shuttle should be coming to a close-and I hope that it is a graceful exit, not a tragic one.

Filed under: Space | Comments (6) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » In Memoriam linked with [...] 10:25 am 1986-2006 Also: 7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster and a previous post of mine on the Space Shuttle program. Filed under: Space | |S [...]
PoliBlog: Politics is the Master Science » More Shuttle Talk linked with [...] tle Talk By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:56 pm It would seem that Sean Hackbarth and I were operating on the same wavelength today: Discovery had a successful launch. I have mixed feelings. IR [...]


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