tomtac: (Columbia helmet)
Well, it's Space Week. Forty-six years ago today, the Apollo One fire took place on January 27, 1967. Monday is the anniversary of the Challenger explosion.

And this coming weekend, it will be ten years since that Columbia reentry.

There's a bunch of strange feelings -- like how much it feels like superstition to think there is something strange about NASA flights this time of year. But OTOH it is clear - Florida is COLD in January, and that is not what people think of when they think Florida. The space shuttle stuff would get icy, and apparently it wasn't designed for that. Two shuttle flights lost it because of that cold.

It's a sobering feeling for me to realize that the NASA astronauts really deserved extra hazard pay -- the two space programs (US and USSR) were racing each other, and naturally accidents happen when things are rushed. The astronauts knew that, but took on the missions anyway. For the Apollo 1 crew died while trying to make the USA look technologically better than the Soviets. I think they succeeded ...

But as for the Space Week "superstition", I have started poking through the blog of a Nasa administrator who was in a leadership role ten years ago. He says that there was that kind of nervousness about a late January shuttle flight. As history played out, it was justified.

(Picture: helmet from Columbia after falling thirty miles)
helmet from Columbia after falling thirty miles

The blog is by Wayne Hale, and as his bio says he "is retired from NASA after 32 years. In his career he was the Space Shuttle Program Manager or Deputy for 5 years, a Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions..." Ten years ago, he was one of the Lead Flight Directors on Columbia's last flight.
tomtac: (Default)
Sitting here watching the Dragon/Falcon launch on NASA Select TV. Nighttime launches are pretty dramatic. This one was pretty, as well.

I would have liked to have known the ISS ground track at the time of launch. I used to have that URL at my fingertips, but haven't checked in a couple of years.  (Got it. The site is N2YO.COM, pretty well laid out -- You can string NORAD numbers together to see Dragon and ISS together.|38846 )

Meanwhile, after the visual part of the launch was over (and we only got to watch the Control Center personnel, I used my screen's magnifier to peer over their shoulders at their monitor screens. They have pretty intricate layouts, and I couldn't even make a good guess at what all the tables were showing.

But the big screen on the wall, that was 25% taken up by the NASA 'meatball' Logo.

I am pretty happy with the Dragon program, just impatient for manned launch operations to restart.

Meanwhile, it has spread its 'wings', the solar panels, and is heading to the station.

Go, little robot!
tomtac: "little green feline" (little green man feline)
Well, the first one ... It makes me wonder.

On this day in 1962, the first woman in space, the first Russian woman in space, was in orbit. (Launched on the 16th.)

On this day in 1984, the first U.S. woman in space was in orbit, launched that day.

And, in 2012, the first Chinese woman in space is in orbit. (Launched on the 16th, but today docked to the "Heavenly Palace" space laboratory.)

. . . . . So. What is going on?

I -don't- think it is an attempt to marginalize all female exploits in space, or that Hugh Hefner is planning a big June 18th "The Women in Orbit" pictorial. There seems to be a -lot- of anniversaries that seem to pop up in space travel, like April 12th a couple of times, or the July 15th ones in international cooperation.

sigh. But I can't help feeling like the people who plan these things are trying too hard to make them exciting.

Oh, well. The second. A joke I heard on the radio today with an otherwise serious expert. "The ISS crew tonight will be sending to the Chinese space station for takeout."

(note to me: Still yet, they are targeting Mars landers for July 4th. That's been going on since the first one in the seventies.)
tomtac: "little green feline" (little green man feline)
(Yes, this is a big deal for me. *8D ) From

They show the US, Russian, and ESA astronauts toasting Russian Christmas.

The cup's action is based on capillary forces.

(Only disappointment is that the ISS crew didn't get rowdy. I remember footage of a "going home" party on a Soyuz, decades ago, the day before retrofire - the cosmonauts had a really good drinking party, with them drinking wine and getting silly and getting the forward module, which they were going to jettison anyway, all messed up with spilled wine. Looked like a lot more fun than this "tea sipping session".)
tomtac: "little green feline" (little green man feline)
Astronaut feels space's toll on his body

In the past few years, about half of the astronauts aboard the international space station have developed an increasing pressure inside their heads, an intracranial pressure that reshapes their optic nerve, causing a significant shift in the eyesight of male astronauts. Doctors call it papilledema.

Female space travelers have not been affected.

Some of the astronauts slowly recover. Others have not.

This is of great concern. "Cranial pressure"? Why? I know our bodies did not evolve in weightlessness, so if the blood system just acts up in half the people to overdo its pumping job, yikes! The possibilities are not just limited to blindness.

This has implications for us earthbound folks. I understand that six months flat on one's back in bed is a pretty good simulation of zero-G. Have they seen the same thing there? And a greater understanding of the blood system is bound to be useful in other ways.


tomtac: (Default)

October 2016

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