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Monthly archive August, 2011

Best of 2011 Space Shuttle Photos (STS-133, STS-134 & STS-135)

It took me awhile to prepare this set of photos as I wanted to pick the absolute best of my 2011 experience with the final 3 Shuttle launches in Florida (plus one scrub!). I wanted to portray the craziness that occurs in the press site, but more importantly the beauty of this historic exploration program. The final photo makes my eyes a little puffy as it portrays one of the crew check-out team (#1) walking out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) after saying his final goodbyes and receiving many congratulations from colleagues and strangers. The Shuttle program has been launching my entire life and I was lucky to witness 5 launches (125, 132, 133, 134, 135) and a 3 scrubs (127, 127, 134), I was there for SpaceShipOne’s three flights in 2004, and I’m optimistic about the future of human exploration in space.

These photos were originally posted on my website (I tweet as “RyInSpace” regularly, but I don’t blog on my site often): www.RyInSpace.com


Voyager: Happy 34th!

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 & 2 were to visit Jupiter and Saturn. They accomplished their mission with Voyager 2 flying by Neptune. Both Voyager 1 & 2 are expected to have power and fuel to 2020.

Voyager 1 & 2 are expected to cross over the threshold of our solar system into interplanetary in 2015

So, here’s my musical tribute to Voyager 1 & 2 from the Grateful Dead-  Keep on Truckin’

Glory Days: 30 Years of Space Shuttle Flights

Today, I was in a mood for nostalgia about the end of an era of an American icon. For thirty years, the Space Shuttle has been an iconic symbol of America.

The design of the Space Shuttle advanced engineering and techn0logy. Well, NASA’s needs from the very beginning advanced technology.

I was looking for an appropriate musical tribute that conveyed my feelings, my emotions of the close of an era of manned spaceflight.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s “Glory Days,” I think is an appropriate song to recognize the accomplishments of the Space Shuttle fleet and those that maintained her.

I searched high and low for the appropriate E Street video that also featured the “Big Man,” Clarence Clemons; may he rest in peace. I was entering the workforce when Springsteen had his first hit with “Born to Run.”

I was “dancing in my chair” screening videos and found this video.

This is to you guys and gals that make the impossible, possible.

Now, everybody get out of your chair and shout “OH YEA!”

Powering the Future: Inside the Ad Astra Rocket Company

In an old shoe distribution center just down the road from Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, rocket scientists are developing the engines that may one day propel giant landers to search for life on Europa or hurtle the first human missions to across the void to Mars.  Once part of NASA’s long-term technology development program, the Ad Astra Rocket Company is now a private space propulsion lab headed by former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz.  On a recent trip to Houston I was privileged to be able to tour the lab and see where the future is being built.

Ad Astra is developing the VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket).  They are developing a plasma rocket that shoots out super-hot exhausted that is controlled and directed by super-conducting magnets.  WOW.  The company is working with NASA to fly a full-scale prototype engine on the International Space Station in the next few years to refine their simulation models and confirm the output of the futuristic engine.

VASIMR diagram from Ad Astra

The building is unassuming to say the least.  It does not have a fancy glass and steel entryway, Tron-like glowing walls, or scenic views. Driving up, we were convinced we were in the wrong place. Inside the building, an open floor plan revealed a small reception area separated from a few modern work stations and a large conference room. The decor was sparse, a tasteful and eclectic mix of awards, spacecraft models, and signed Space Shuttle crew pictures from Chang-Diaz’s flights.


Vote for an Amazing SpaceTweep panel at SXSW!

Vote for an Amazing SpaceTweep panel at SXSW!

Tweeps, we have proposed a great panel for the 2012 South by Southwest Interactive festival. Our panel is called, “How to Win Friends and Influence Space Exploration,” and you can read about it here. While you’re there, please help us out by voting for the panel and giving us your feedback in the comments on the voting page.

We have a great group lined up including me from the Space Tweep Society, @Chris_Radcliff from SpaceUp@tim846 from Yuri’s Night@harbingeralpha from Valador, Inc. (a NASA contractor), @mrdoornbos from Evadot.com and @Astro_Ron from NASA of course, but also Fragile Oasis.

We really need your votes to ensure our panel is chosen from among the thousands of others. Yes, you’ll have to log in, but please take the time to do it. We’ll appreciate it more than you could know and if chosen, we will use our panel to spread the space tweep goodness to a whole new audience.

Thank you!


DLR-ESA #SpaceTweetup in Cologne, Germany

DLR-ESA #SpaceTweetup in Cologne, Germany

UPDATE: Several long-time spacetweeps were selected for this tweetup and will be attending. Look for tweets from me (@flyingjenny), @CraftLass, @travelholic, @amoroso, @marcozambi, @SpaceKate, @DrLucyRogers, @rocketman528, @akanel and more- follow the hashtag #spacetweetup and follow along with our #endlessBBQtour as we travel through Europe.

The DLR German Aerospace Center and the European Space Agency are hosting a #spacetweetup on September 18th in Cologne, Germany. From the tweetup announcement:

German Aerospace Day takes place every two years at the Cologne/Porz establishment shared by DLR, ESA’s European Astronaut Centre and partners Cologne Bonn Airport and the German Air Force.

For the first time, this year’s event will feature a variety of attractions with exclusive access for DLR and ESA Twitter followers.

The Space Tweetup will provide customised access, insights and opportunities, including:

  • Welcome by DLR and ESA Social Media Managers, Marco Trovatello and Fulvio Drigani
  • Keynote by NASA Social Media Manager Stephanie Schierholz
  • Chance to meet Thomas Reiter ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations and ESA astronaut, and other European astronauts
  • Q&A with SOFIA project managers/scientists
  • Various indoor and outdoor tours including:
  • Tour of ESA’s European Astronaut Centre
  • SOFIA, the NASA–DLR flying observatory using a heavily modified Boeing 747 SP
  • Airbus A380, provided exclusively by Airbus for German Aerospace Day
  • A300 Zero-G used by DLR and ESA for parabolic flight campaigns
  • Tour of DLR research institutes and facilities
  • Q&As with DLR/ESA scientists and project managers
  • Opportunities to meet the DLR and ESA social media teams, as well as fellow European spacetweeps
You can find more information and to register for the tweetup here. Registration closes Friday 5 August at 12:00 CEST.

Space Shuttle Mission Schedules: Late 2007-2011

I just uploaded my collection of Space Shuttle mission schedules here.  The zip files include all of NASA’s mission schedules, including as many revisions published during the missions. Missions in this zip file are: STS-119, STS-122, STS-123, STS-124, STS-125, STS-126, STS-127, STS-128, STS-129, STS-130, STS-131, STS-132, STS-133, STS-134, and STS-135.

You can use these Excel files in conjunction with the free Windows program I wrote: NASA Space Shuttle TV Schedule Transfer to Outlook Calendar.  It reads the Excel file that NASA published for each Space Shuttle mission and copies the events into the Calendar of Microsoft’s Office Outlook.

Project page

#NASATweetup Juno Launch

Today is the launch from the Kennedy Space Center to study Jupiter. Want to know about why Jupiter is important? Follow us with the hashtag #NASAtweetup

Japanese Space Exploration

Hello spacetweeps, I’m a junior high school student living in Japan. This is my first time uploading a post here, and I’ve decided to cross-post an entry from my blog about space explorations. (if you’re interested here’s the link to my blog- OdysseyPod)

Japan’s involvement with rockets started in 1954 with the “pencil rocket”, which is really tiny.The development of the rocket was supervised by Hideo Itokawa.(remember that name, it will pop out later on!) 

It was launched horizontally most of the time, because it was made just for tests. Not very exciting.

Then came the “baby rocket” which was slightly long than a meter.

After that, the rockets got bigger and bigger, and with the L-4S rocket, Japan’s first satellite, Osumi, was launched and put in orbit.The weirdest thing about the L-4S rocket is that it doesn’t have guidance, navigation and control (GNC) built in! It was because some people in Japan said that the technology like GNC could be put into missiles, which they couldn’t accept. (the Japanese constitution prohibits the act of war.)

And the engineers did come up with a way. The 1st and 2nd stages used the aerodynamic effects of the tail assembly to hold it steady. The 2nd(comes out again) and 3rd stages used a motor to spin the rocket like a giant gyroscope, thus holding the rocket steady. The 4th stage stopped the spinning, and before it lit the engine did a little bit of maneuvering to align it,(and the boosters weren’t firing at that time so it wasn’t really GNC.) then made the rocket spin again, and finally, put it to orbit.

japan's first satellite

Osumi, Japan's first satellite

All this hard work paid off, and Japan became the 4th country(following Russia, America and France) to put a satellite into orbit.

Decades after Japan’s first satellite, it came by a long way. (more…)