Friday, July 29, 2005

A New World

Astronomers have announced the discovery of a new object in the outer Solar System that is larger than Pluto. Assuming Pluto retains its designation as the ninth planet, this new object will likely become known as number ten.

Jeff Foust links to several articles about this exciting and historic development.
Notorious Anti-Abortion Group

I'm finally catching up with this story, and critics of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts seem to have backed off from the line of attack concerning his wife's involvement with a certain prolife group. Perhaps it is because they realize that the more they draw attention to Feminists for Life, the more they undercut their own argument that abortion is in the best interest of women.
Embryonic Gyrations

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has announced that he supports embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Of course the Senator and other ESCR supporters and especially the Old Media continue to 'overlook' the fact that the real action is with adult stem cells.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Future Shuttle Flights Grounded

NASA has announced that the large pieces of foam that came off the External Tank during ascent (thankfully missing the Orbiter Discovery) indicate a problem that needs to be fixed before future flights are launched. At least with all of the imagery obtained on this flight, engineers will have a head start in troubleshooting the problem.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Return to Flight!!


Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off this morning and the crew is beginning to carry out their mission on orbit. Today's launch is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of hard work and dedication following the tragic loss of Shuttle Columbia and her crew.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Space Geeks Do Vegas!

Well, attendees at the Return to the Moon conference did have a good time. However, the conference brought together some of the leaders in government, established and entrepreneurial space companies, scientists, engineers, lawyers and citizen space advocates to examine where we are in the effort to return to the Moon to stay.

Technical aspects of flying to the Moon and using its resources were discussed, along with a stimulating discussion by leading space lawyers on the topic of space property rights. But the big news coming out of the conference is the announcement by NASA officials of new approaches to achieving its space exploration goals.
There’s just one problem with this approach: the money’s not there. Shank made that clear in his presentation as he outlined the overall exploration roadmap. “We’ve run the numbers, the budget numbers, and we can’t afford this plan—we simply can’t—if we follow the business-as-usual approach.” He didn’t go into the specifics of what made this unaffordable, although he later indicated that the problems were in the out-years beyond 2010 when NASA had to fund continued operations of the ISS and the new CEV while developing a heavy-lift launch vehicle and other systems needed for a human return to the Moon.

However, as Shank put it, “If there’s one thing about Mike Griffin that industry and stakeholders are learning about, it’s that he’s not a business-as-usual kind of guy… The NASA budget is only so much per year. It is just a matter of what it is you want to do with that money. So we, NASA, need to be smarter customers.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Apollo Anniversary


Tomorrow is the 36th anniversary of humanity's first expedition to the lunar surface, and I'll be off to attend the Return to the Moon VI conference.

Also, tomorrow is the second anniversary of the launch of this humble blog. (Please scroll to the bottom for the inaugural post.)
John Roberts It Is

W has announced his pick of Appeals Judge John Roberts as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Judge Roberts is widely respected for his qualifications and legal thought. Never-the-less, the howling and shrieking from the usual suspects has begun. (Obvious example here.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Launch Scrub

Today's launch scrub is only a familiar disappointment to those familiar with space activity. The launch will occur in several days at the earliest, according to the articles from and CBS News/Spaceflight Now.

Meanwhile, Frank Sietzen and Keith Cowing report that the White House and NASA are considering starting an early phase-out of the Shuttle fleet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Space Shuttle Discovery is still GO for launch tomorrow, despite an incident involving a window covering falling and striking the Shuttle. Meanwhile, the families of the men and women who gave their lives on the Shuttle Columbia have expressed their support for the STS-114 crew and their mission.
As the families of Apollo 1 and Challenger before us, we grieve deeply but know the exploration of space must go on. We hope we have learned, and will continue to learn, from each of these accidents, so that we will be as safe as we can be in this high risk endeavor.

I've been watching the coverage on the various network news shows and an inspiring special on MSNBC tonight. There's an electrifying feeling like there has been on other key launches going back to the sixties. Much is riding on the outcome of this flight.

May God bless the STS-114 Discovery crew and grant them safe travel as they carry out their mission.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Countdown Is Underway

For the first time since the launch of the fatal STS-107 Columbia mission in January 2003, a countdown is underway for a Shuttle launch. Discovery is scheduled to liftoff on Wednesday afternoon July 13 at 3:51 p.m. EDT (1951 GMT).
Dennis Storms the Gulf Coast

Hurricane Dennis came ashore today along the Florida Panhandle.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Harsh Reminder

With serious domestic battles over the Supreme Court and other more mundane and sometimes trivial items in the news recently, it's been easy to let the terrorism war slip into the background. This morning's horrendous attacks in London are a reminder that the war is very much with us. A summary of stories on the attacks posted by CNN is here.

In a terrible time, strong leadership is critical. Statements were made by Prime Minister Tony Blair
When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed. When they try to divide our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve will hold firm. We will show, by our spirit and dignity, and by our quiet but true strength that there is in the British people, that our values will long outlast theirs. The purpose of terrorism is just that, it is to terrorise people, and we will not be terrorised.

and President George W. Bush
The war on terror goes on. I was most impressed by the resolve of all the leaders in the room. Their resolve is as strong as my resolve. And that is we will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists. We will find them, we will bring them to justice, and at the same time, we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate.

And this AP article reports on Pope Benedict XVI's statement.
"Deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attacks in central London, the Holy Father offers his fervent prayers for the victims and for all those who mourn," the telegram said. "While he deplores these barbaric acts against humanity, he asks you to convey to the families of the injured his spiritual closeness at this time of grief."

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

As we celebrate, let's rededicate ourselves to the principle of human dignity proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Impact images are posted on the Deep Impact project web site.

Images from flyby spacecraft grainy but spectacular. Will be enhanced later.

Confirmation brings cheering in the JPL control room! Spectacular images being shown of impact.

Going back to bed. What a spectacular way to begin Independence Day!
Awaiting Impact...

a few minutes away. Final maneuver reported 'right on'.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Deep Impact

The Deep Impact spacecraft is closing in on it's target, comet Tempel 1, with impact set for 1:52 AM (EDT) tomorrow morning. The impact probe was released from the main spacecraft early this morning.
The Mars Event That Won't (But Did) Happen

If you receive an e-mail about a spectacular opposition of Mars coming up on August 27, don't believe it. The article does describe a real event. The problem is that the Mars opposition described in the event actually occurred on August 27, 2003.

There is no year mentioned in the circulating e-mail message, and it somehow started recirculating this year. Please see more details here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Time Has Come

Opposing forces are already speaking out and organizing in the wake of Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement of her retirement from the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi provided an example of excessive deference to the Supreme Court's supposed 'wisdom' (at least while it's rulings don't conflict with her views), speaking of the Kelo eminent domain decision in an interview.
Ms. Pelosi. It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It's an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.
(italics mine)