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Monthly archive September, 2010

SEDS Creates Video Ad Contest for Students

I wanted to let the students in the community know that Students for the Exploration and Development of Space has created a competition aimed at getting students interested in space exploration and helping students find out what SEDS is all about.

The contest site is hosted at http://seds.org/video-ad-contest/

Each 2-5 minute entry will be judged by our panel of judges with the finalist videos to be judged by some of our friends in the space industry like William Pomerantz of The X Prize Foundation, William Watson of the Space Frontier Foundation and Gary Barnhard of the National Space Society.

We will also post all of the entries to our Youtube channel for the world to see!

The grand prize includes $200 cash, Membership to National Space Society, Free Admission to ISDC 2011, and a SEDS shirt from the SEDS store at seds.spreadshirt.com.

We have a whole gallery of images that contestants can use on our website and we’re working on providing more video and audio content on the contest site for use in contest videos.


Space Station Crew Returns Home

Russians and one American returned back to earth this morning after
spending 177 days in earth orbit, living and working aboard the
International Space Station.

TMA18 spacecraft commander and outgoing leader of the Expedition 24
crew, Alexander Skvortsov and flight engineers Tracy Caldwell Dyson and
Mikhail Kornienko touched down upon the desert of Kazakhstan, near the
town of Arkalyk on September 25 at 1:23 am EDT (0523 GMT).

space, the orbital outpost flew high off the coast of Japan and over
the western Pacific Ocean as the parachutes of the Soyuz lowered the
craft to the desert floor.

in the day, the departing crew of three said farewell to the ongoing
crew of Expedition 25 of Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Fyodor
Yurchikhin, and entered their Soyuz one last time for the trip home.

Hatches were officially closed at 6:35 pm and the trio went to work powering up the crafts systems for undocking.

It was the second try in as many days to undock from the complex.

to the Russian Poisk module, ground controllers in Moscow had to scrub
the first undocking attempt 24 hours earlier due to an electrical issue
with the sealing of the module’s hatch leading to the Soyuz.

controllers counted down the final seconds to undocking, the separation
bolts were released on time and the small spacecraft sailed away from
it’s port-of-call for the last 174 days at 10:02 pm.

the two spacecraft flew 222 miles high over the Russia – Mongolia
boarder, Skvortsov slowly guided his ship back away from the station to
prepare for a separation burn which will carry the crew swiftly away.

it’s engines on time, the Soyuz performed a four minute deorbit burn at
12:31 am today to slow the craft by 259 miles per hour, and allow for
it to drop out of earth orbit during a precise keyhole in space.

minutes later, the support module attached to the Soyuz crew module was
then jettisoned, exposing the heat shield and setting up the craft’s
change in it’s attitude for reentry.

crew’s plunge into the atmosphere gave them their first effects of
gravity since their April 2 launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

crews aboard ground transports and Russian helicopters were on station
as the module landed with a thud under a huge main chute — kicking up
dirt from it’s impact on a cool late-morning Saturday.

stay aboard the station witnessed two space shuttle visits by Discovery
and Atlantis; one Soyuz crew departure for earth and weeks later an
arrival of the current Soyuz TMA 19 crew; and Caldwell-Dyson and
Wheelock performed three spacewalks in August to replace and install a
needed backup cooling unit for the space station.

next crew to launch from Baikonur to the station will be aboard an
upgraded Soyuz TMA 01M on October 7, docking 49 hours later to the
orbital complex.

Next Space Shuttle Launch – Informal Poll


I’m conducting an informal poll on Spacepirations with the purpose of understanding how much first level acquaintances of space enthusiasts know about the upcoming launch of Space Shuttle Discovery.

It would be great to get all of you (obviously space enthusiasts) ask your friends and family 4 simple questions and report back, preferably on Spacepirations.

The questions are:

  1. Which Space Shuttle is getting ready for launch?
  2. When is the next launch?
  3. How many Space Shuttle launches remain after this one?
  4. What mission number is it going to be?

After the launch I will tally the responses and gauge in a non-scientific way how well we space enthusiasts and NASA keep these historic last few shuttle launches and space on people’s minds.

The full post with the poll questions is here: http://www.spacepirations.com/2010/09/next-space-shuttle-launch-informal-poll.html

Thanks for your help!

Orbital Tourism Around the Corner? and more

OK, so I’ve been busy. I went to Israel, came back, released a line of security products at Webroot which got the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Award, got laid off, been looking for a job, started getting pilot lessons, discovered it’s really expensive…

And finally I also wrote about all that and about the impending (if we take Boeing and Space Adventures at face value) orbital tourism in 5 short years.

So people, come on over to Spacepirations, read all about it and comment until you’re blue in the fingers.

Expedition Patches for Meco – Updated!

Update: The deadline for creating an expedition patch for Meco has been extended until the end of October! So for those of you that forgot or didn’t think you could come up with one, here’s another chance just for you! To get those creative juices flowing, we have a few examples of designs already submitted below. A very special thanks to Mark (@zarquil) and his kids, Rebekkah and Kelley, for letting us show their patches! Once all the patch designs are submitted, there will be a document created containing all of them for everyone to see! Have fun everyone and let those creative juices start flowing!

zarquil patches

Original Post: I have some exciting news! The Space Tweep Society’s birdonaut mascot, Meco, is scheduled to travel to the International Space Station this coming March- courtesy of @Astro_Ron! Meco (in the form of one of our Space Tweep Society patches) will be launching on Soyuz and will be on a very long duration expedition. Thanks, @Astro_Ron for taking him along! Thanks, @CAtkeison for arranging the trip!

Now Meco needs a patch design for his very long duration expedition. In fact, since he is so special, he needs a whole collection of different designs and it is up to you to make them. This isn’t a contest; it is just a fun activity for members who want to participate. Patch designs should be your original artwork, ideally produced in a digital format. A drawing that is scanned or photographed is acceptable as well. The designs submitted* will be posted on our website for everyone to enjoy. Kids are also encouraged to participate.

Submissions for this activity will be accepted from now until the end of August; simply email them to spacetweepsociety at gmail dot com. Format is not important, as long as I can open and view the file- .jpg, .pdf, .bmp, .png, .psd, etc. Make sure to include your Twitter name, so I know who it came from. (For children or other non-tweeps, you can just give their first name and relationship to you, like: “Sarah, student of @janellewilson”)

As an added incentive to join in the fun, if you include your mailing address when you email your design, I’ll send you something cool, no matter where in the world you live. You can submit multiple designs, but you still only get one cool thing in the mail per participant.

Have fun; Meco is counting on you!


*Fine print- Designs containing copyrighted images belonging to others, objectionable language or message, political statements, advertising, offensive imagery or that are off topic (i.e. not designed to be an expedition patch for Meco) will not be displayed on the site, nor receive a gift in the mail. This is at the discretion of the site’s administrators. Remember, this is supposed to be a positive thing!

The first StratoSpera flight, from launch to Meco


At the eve of the maiden STSp-1 flight of the Italian StratoSpera amateur stratospheric ballon project, we wondered how central Italy would look like from above. The mission was a success, and we can now show what it actually looks like.


We launched the balloon from the area of Chianti, in eastern Tuscany, at about 09:20 UTC on September 4, 2010. After reaching a maximum altitude of 27.6 km, the payload safely descended attached to a parcahute, landing a few minutes before 11:00 UTC about 2 km East of Foiano della Chiana near Arezzo. It was successfully recovered.

The payload included a crew of 2 “mementonauts”: a  Space Tweep Society patch featuring Meco the birdonaut, and Joe, a small toy astronaut eagerly provided by a team member’s kid son. Wondering why the toy is named Joe? Joe Kittinger did Project Excelsior‘s final stratospheric parachute jump 50 years and a few days ago, on August 16, 1960.

As far as we know, this is currently the highest flight of Meco, who is also training for an upcoming, real trip to space and the International Space Station.

The STSp-1 onboard camera took lots of beautiful photos and videos, which we are still reviewing. We will post more to the project blog, @StratoSpera and the StratoSpera page on Facebook.

What’s next? The next mission, STSp-2, will likely fly also a Geiger counter, already built and tested, and a biological experiment.

StratoSpera: an Italian amateur stratospheric balloon project

Tuscany, in central Italy, has a rich terrain with plains, mountains, hills, sea and lakes in view. How does it look like from above? We may find out very soon, and the area might look like this.

Simulated view from the STSp-1 balloon flight

I am a member of StratoSpera, an Italian project for sending amateur balloons to a height of about 30 km in the stratosphere to take pictures and measurements. The first launch attempt is scheduled for September 4, 2010 around 8:00 UTC from the Chianti area between Firenze, Siena and Arezzo.

For updates follow @StratoSpera on Twitter. Besides the project blog we also have a page on Facebook.

We came up with almost totally random naming schemes for the launch site and mission number: KSC (Kianti Stratosphere Center), and STSp-1 for the first mission. The above image comes from an STSp-1 simulation of the view facing Tyrrhenian Sea from a 30 km height.

We are members of the online space enthusiast community ForumAstronautico.it with the help of Develer, a hardware-software design company. Launching balloons to the stratosphere is a cheap and relatively simple way of experiencing views and an environment with some of the characteristics of outer space. We were inspired by the Canadian SABLE-3 balloon experiment.

Most of the information available at our sites is in Italian, but images will hopefully speak for themselves. Indeed, the project name is an Italian pun based on the words stratosfera (stratosphere) and spera (you hope).