Category Archives: Space

“Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge.”

The Guardian: Don’t panic! The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is back. “It’s the biggest thing to happen to the universe since the Vogons blew up Earth. Our writer grabs a babelfish and goes behind the scenes as the space satire returns.”

“The original cast has been reunited to record a new radio series of the intergalactic comedy that, from small beginnings in 1978 on Radio 4, grew into a juggernaut that spawned a TV series, a Disney film, a much-loved series of books, several stage shows and even a video game.
[…]
The new series combines unpublished material, dug out of Adams’ notebooks by archivist and superfan Kevin Jon Davies, and newer plotlines drawn from And Another Thing, Eoin Colfer’s book continuing the saga, which was commissioned by the Adams estate after the author’s sudden death at the age of just 49 in 2001.”

I’ve read the four-part trilogy and enjoyed the original radio play. Looking very forward to this!

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“You don’t want to be politically correct. You want to be right.”

The Washington Post: NASA: Legendary astronaut, moonwalker John Young has died.

“Young was the only spaceman to span NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs, and became the first person to rocket away from Earth six times. Counting his takeoff from the moon in 1972 as commander of Apollo 16, his blastoff tally stood at seven, for decades a world record.

He flew twice during the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, twice to the moon during NASA’s Apollo program, and twice more aboard the new space shuttle Columbia in the early 1980s.

His NASA career lasted 42 years, longer than any other astronaut’s, and he was revered among his peers for his dogged dedication to keeping crews safe — and his outspokenness in challenging the space agency’s status quo.”

There also is a MetaFilter thread about him, of course: The Astronaut’s Astronaut.

“At 13 billion miles from Earth, there’s no mechanic shop nearby to get a tune-up.”

JPL CalTech: Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years

Voyager 1, NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, is the only human-made object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars. The spacecraft, which has been flying for 40 years, relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth. These thrusters fire in tiny pulses, or “puffs,” lasting mere milliseconds, to subtly rotate the spacecraft so that its antenna points at our planet. Now, the Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980.

“With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years,” said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.”

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Some eye candy: Voyager Images from the Odysseys (NASA Space Photos) (YouTube, 2:48min)

The last of Earth

The Economist: Joseph Schmitt died on September 25th.

“He was there when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947; when Alan Shepard made America’s first manned space flight, in 1961; when John Glenn first orbited Earth, in 1962; when Apollo 8 went round the moon in 1968, and when Apollo 11’s module landed on it in 1969, for him the most mind-boggling moment of all. The team had never worked so hard at anything. But he went on for many years yet, to suit up men for the first Skylab flight and the first Shuttles, before in 1983 he left to get on with all the stuff at home that needed fixing.”

“Gosh, I’ve worked on Cassini for almost an entire Saturn year.”

BBC News: ‘Our Saturn years’. Cassini’s epic journey to the ringed planet, told by the people who helped make it happen. By Paul Rincon.

““The Voyagers gave us a really wonderful impression of Saturn. It’s a beautiful gas giant,” says Nasa’s director of planetary science Jim Green.

Prof Andrew Coates, from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey, UK, agrees:

“Saturn is the most spectacular planet in our Solar System. The incredible rings, visible even in binoculars or a small telescope, make it stand out compared to all the rest.”

In places, the rings are only about as tall as a telephone pole. Yet from end-to-end they are more than 20-times as wide as the Earth. “

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