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Monthly archive January, 2010

A Tweetup in Space? Well, simulated

So, you’ve seen the video of the Apollo astronauts heading to the moon aboard their spacecrafts, and you’ve seen the pictures of the people sitting at their consoles monitoring over system settings onboard the spacecraft. Sounds neat, huh? Think you’d want to try that? You can!


Myself, along with @CraftLass are planning a tweetup for anybody who is interested in New York. Included would be a simulated space mission at the Lower Hudson Valley Challenger Center in Airmont, NY (just a short hop from New York City). The mission would involve a 3 hour mission to either the Moon, Mars, or to Rendezvous with Comet Encke.


If you are interested, please either leave a comment or contact myself, @thenasaman, on Twitter. Also, included in that message, please specify which mission choice you would prefer of the three options. If we can get enough people, this will be able to happen. A date has yet to be chosen, so if anything is better than something else, let me know as well. For more information on the Lower Hudson Valley Challenger Center, follow it on Twitter as @LHVCC and of course visit the website, http://lhvcc.com

Talk about it with people outside of the space biz

I
worry about our future in manned spaceflight. It’s going to be a tough
ride for the next 10 yrs or more. Besides exploring the cosmos, are you
aware of what manned spaceflight has done to improve your life? Do you
think money for the space program is spent in space and not on earth?

Learn more about how technology from NASA has improved life in your home and your city: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/nasacity/index2.htm

I
do believe I’m living proof that NASA money is spent on Earth and not
in space. As an engineer who works on a NASA contract – I am
paid to help develop the next generation of space vehicles for NASA.
That money pays my mortgage, my student loans, and I shop at places in
Clear Lake and Houston (spending money) that keeps other businesses in
business.

Regarding future of manned spaceflight this is what I see happening.
Bush had vision w/o funding, Obama redirect with no add’l funding. Then
in 2013 if new Prez, another redirect with no add’l funding (b/c won’t
have shown much progress) & gap grows from 3 yrs to 10-15 yrs.

This is not acceptable. Think of the innovations and new technologies that
will not be developed/discovered to keep improving life on earth. Think
of the possible 100,000s people who will be put out of work in a bad
economy because the U.S. no longer believes manned space exploration
should be funded to actually take us somewhere.

What
can you do to make a difference? Tell people. Share what I have posted
here on your facebook accounts, on twitter, and on your own blog.  Add your own thoughts.  Get people talking about what’s to come and realize how it will impact our country.  Check out the link above. Add more resources for people to explore.  Talk about it. Don’t let manned
spaceflight disappear.

…It’s full of stars!

If you noticed that my blog title is a line from 2001: A Space Odyssey,
chances are you’re probably a sci-fi fan, movie trivia buff, or a space
fan. Or maybe you just have a really good memory. Anyhoo, it doesn’t
really matter since I’m not talking about movies or 2001 or if you can
recall what you had for lunch on Tuesday six weeks ago.

I’m talking about outer space today. After a few weeks of following
@flyingjenny on Twitter, I’ve become reacquainted with that
bigger-than-life world that is outer space and the magic that was
“maybe one day I can go to space” that all children seem to have at one
point in life.

I know I did. I don’t know when it started, but I’d guess it was when I
was about 5 and used to stare up at the night sky while driving home in
the evening. I loved to look at the moon and the stars and was
frequently disappointed when we arrived home and it was time to go in
to bed. I wished on stars ALL THE TIME, and one wish (for a dog) was
actually granted. I used to imagine the twinkling of those stars was
really a message to me, blinking and flashing in a secret code,
whispering to me how great my life could be and all of the wonderful
things that were in store for me.

My mother was very imaginative and when my brother and I were younger, we
were often treated to a game of make-believe play acting. We loved
pretending and sometimes our acting seemed real enough that if we lived
in CS Lewis’ books, we definitely would have made it through the
wardrobe.

My mom read to us for hours on end, introducing us to The Hobbit and
classics by Austen when we were still not of school age. She’d give us
little buttons or other trinkets to leave on the windowsill for a
magical princess who rode on the back of birds. In exchange for our
little gifts, she’d leave a nickel or dime. It was wondrous!

Now toss in some good churching: the kind that makes God seem as big as
eternity and just as wonderful and bright as those tiny twinkling
stars, send us off to school to learn about the world around us, and
you have two kids who believe anything is possible in the great big
world!

But back to outer space. I mentioned following @flyingjenny. (If you don’t,
you should!) She posed the question: “What “engages” you and keeps you
interested in space?” I knew what it was for me: it was the magic of
kinderhood that keeps me interested in space: it’s still a great big
old mystery, filled with all the exciting possibilities one could ever
imagine. My reply to her: “The magic that was space as a child!
Wondering if someday *I* could look down at earth from the stars! Still
feel that way. =)”

Why that is was her response, and what got me thinking today. Why is it
some of us grown-ups are still enchanted by space and others could care
less? When I heard NASA would be stopping the shuttle program, I felt
incredibly sad! It was my parent’s generation who experienced the first
shuttle missions, the first landing on the moon, the first tragedies of
space travel. It was my generation that experienced more shuttle
missions, the heartache that was the Challenger and Columbia. I
remember the space station news and all of the launches into space for
more exploration, and that pesky Hubble telescope that cost SO MUCH
money.

When I was about 10 or 11, I saw the movie Space Camp. Oh, how I wanted to
go to space and look down upon my planet! I wanted to fly to the moon
and back, and zoom to stars and distant galaxies. When I was 20, I
spent my evenings in Haiti gazing up at the sky, a sky so clear that
‘shooting stars’ flew overhead like ducks on a cold winter day and you
could see satellites cross the sky.

But wait! I can’t forget the space movies and television shows! The
encounters had by Kirk and Spock! The evil empire of Darth Vader and
the dashing Han Solo! What about space is there for a girl not to love!?

I don’t know what the future holds for space exploration (heavens, many
will say it isn’t important enough because we can’t take care of our
issues here on our own planet, much less outer space). I don’t know if
the economy will bounce back and there will yet again be money for NASA
to blast off into the undiscovered vastness of space. I doubt I’ll ever
be in a space shuttle or on a space mission, or be a space tourist
before I die. Heck, the one time I wanted to see the shuttle take off
when we lived in Florida it was canceled. Some hurricane or rain storm
or something. So I may not even hear the thunder that is the rocket
booster thingamajigs, and feel the powerful shaking of the land as the
shuttle takes off.

But I can tell my children about space, the planets, the possibilities of
places far beyond human knowledge. I can tell them that Pluto is still
a planet in my book, and maybe someday there will be hundreds more
planets found and named. Maybe one day they will fly up to the stars
and gaze down upon planet Earth.

One thing has to be certain: there isn’t a human who was or is or will be
alive who hasn’t at some point stopped and stared up, wondering what is
up there, what is out there, what kind of greatness would it be to *be*
there.

Oh, for all my love of space and fantasy, I still can’t figure out the
constellations. They NEVER look to me like the shapes they’re supposed
to be. =)

What about you? What makes you a space lover either as a kid or an adult!?

There Is No Way You Can Do That; Foolish Dreamer!

The words in the above title of this blog, along with, “Your heretical ideas that the Sun is not the center of the Universe will send you to prison” or “Monkeys? You are telling me we are related to monkeys? You are insane!” were all expressed in condemnation of ideas from great dreamers.  Throughout the history of humankind, it is the dreamers who have moved us forward, in fact they have helped keep us around and alive.

This Space Tweep Society is the product of a dreamer.  Most, if not all, of its members are dreamers and in their dreaming they put forth ideas that ignite dreams in the rest of us. What a great, invigorating and challenging social environment. When one becomes a Space Tweep, their mind never rests.  There is always a challenging idea around the corner to be considered, debated and expanded.  The real excitement; however, comes from the sharing of that interaction between all of us.

I was born dreaming, still dream, and will pass on dreaming.  The opportunity to share some of those dreams here and to experience my fellow Space Tweeps reactions, comments and LAUGHTER are priceless.

Bored, tired, depressed, about to give up?  Dream. Pile on all your hopes, your ideas (even the wacky ones) and your fears and let your spirit and you mind take you to a whole new world of ideas and possibilities.  When you are finished, jump onto Twitter and hail the first Space Tweep you find and share, share, share.  The result will always be astounding and exciting.

DREAM ON!     

Thanks for the boost, spacetweeps.

I can’t recall when I first became interested in space. It wasn’t an obvious interest when I was a child… I never made my parents dress me up as an astronaut, I never asked to go to any space museums. But the little things– the fact that I loved science class even though I lacked the talent, always making sure I had lots of glow-in-the-dark stars on my bedroom ceiling, always looking up at the sky at night– are what I look back on now, and I see that I’ve loved space all along. But nothing like I have lately.

During my last two years of high school, something snapped. I was set on going to college for Film and Creative writing, until I took my first Physics class… and that was all it took. Astronomy followed the next semester. I was hooked.

Late 2008, I joined Twitter, probably out of curiosity. After browsing around, I saw that NASA had an account. Hm, cool. Then some employees. I thought it was pretty neat that I could follow people that actually worked for NASA. Then I found other people interested in space in general.

As I kept following more and more of those people (“space tweeps,” they called themselves), I found that their enthusiasm was the most contagious thing I’ve experienced. It swept me away. With the help of these folks, I was more informed about astronomy and the space program than I ever imagined I could be.

The more I got to know these tweeps, the more I realized what an extraordinary group of people it was. I started watching NASA TV regularly, calling all my friends to watch shuttle launches, and I can probably say that all this excitement was the catalyst that led me to apply to work at my local Science Center’s Planetarium and Observatory.

Then in the fall, I was presented an opportunity that I would have NEVER imagined I would get. I was able to attend the STS-129 #nasatweetup launch event. Needless to say, that was pretty much the point of no return… I had experienced such a life-changing event with the most amazing people who were all just as excited about space as I was. I got to meet Spacetweeps that I had always talked to, but never met. I made friendships that will probably last forever. There aren’t any words to express just how big of an impact those few days had on my life.

So, what keeps me interested? I think it’s pretty clear. Ever since I got involved with the Space Tweep Society, or Twitter in general, I’ve had experiences that absolutely would have not been possible otherwise. Talking on a daily basis to people who share the passion has increased my love for space exponentially. So thanks, Tweeps, for getting me where I am today. You are more inspiring than you could ever imagine.

APOD Comes to NYC

Dr. Jerry T. Bonnell, co-founder of the amazing Astronomy Picture of the Day site is coming to the American Museum of Natural History on Friday, January 8th as a part of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York’s Lecture Series.  The event is free to the public, I have confirmed that you do not need to be an current member of the AAANY to go.  I will definitely be there, so if you plan to go as well, drop me a tweet!

Thanks to alert young astronomer Elias Jordan @ksastro for letting me know about this event.

[Updated 1/6/10 with confirmation that membership is not necessary]