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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Forget about Jet Packs

How many decades have you been waiting for jet packs? Where are the jet packs? Are they reserved for James Bond?

Forget jet packs. NASA has leapfrogged the jet pack with a personal aircraft, the Electric Icarus, they call it, unofficially, and the Puffin, officially. It has electric motors, stands on its tail with four legs. It does a vertical take-off, hovers, and flies horizontally (of course, or what would be the point?). It's powered by rechargeable lithium phosphate batteries. The pilot lies prone during flight. It has no height ceiling since the engines aren't gasoline and so aren't affected by low oxygen. (The pilot might find a lack of oxygen inconvenient.)

It's a right handsome craft. To see a picture of it and learn more about it, see this Scientific American article on NASA's personal aircraft, the Puffin.

No mention of the estimated cost was given. If you have to ask...forget it. But you can write about it, no charge. You'd make quite a splash arriving in a Puffin to receive your Hugo award.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yet Another 2012 Apocalypse Retrieve

Flash Fiction Online reported on an earlier 2012 apocalypse reprieve. That reprieve merely gave us another eight years to live. Now, NASA is on crusade to debunk 2012 apocalypse myths. That Google link is more newsy-looking. This one (Ask an Astrobiologist) and this one are more NASA-like. And this Daily Mail (UK) one has better images.

Dude, that's like a total reprieve. Ew!

However, will 2012 be a disaster for the movie producers?

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NASA's Ares I-X Launch Success

From NASA's blog: NASA's Ares I-X test rocket lifted off at 11:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a two-minute powered flight. The flight test lasted about six minutes from its launch from the newly modified Launch Pad 39B until splashdown of the rocket's booster stage nearly 150 miles downrange.

Now, Flash Fiction Online readers and writers are naturally skeptical, especially after a reader's anonymous tip led to the moon landing controversy, which NASA had to defend. However, Yours Truly personally viewed the launch from about 30 miles south of the Cape. I can attest that the Ares I-X flight had substantial vertical and eastward vectors. As a Fair Witness, I can say it left from somewhere (Titusville, Florida area), but I cannot confirm that it arrived anywhere, as that leg of the flight was beyond unenhanced human vision from my viewing location.

However, I haven't taken our meds in a while and we are very, very confused. Ohh, shiny!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Space vs. Earth Chess Match

A great drama is nearing a conclusion: the Space vs. Earth chess match. The honor of Earth is on the line. A terrible day it would be if Earth--who invented the game somewhere during the imperial quakes of the early middle ages--should lose to spacemen. Here's the situation: the International Space Station was invaded by an expatriate Earthling chess player, Greg Chamitoff, who has wrangled a chess game of honor with Earthling elementary school children. Earth's honor rests on children's shoulders because of this diabolical match. The only saving grace is that the children may select four candidate moves and let all of Earth vote on which to use. I pray Earth is using all of her supercomputers, networked together, to select the best of the four children's moves. (I'm not certain, but I think the ISS has only a Commodore 64 at its disposal.)

The spaceman's goons at NASA and the U.S. Chess federation set up this match. Here is NASA's announcement of the Earth vs. Space chess match. Here is the U.S. Chess Federation's reporting of the current tactical situation in the game. Here are the moves of the game. Yours Truly has some hope for Earth. She is up two pawns and it seems that her queen rook pawn's threat of promotion to a queen will force the spaceman's king away from defending his pawns from an overwhelming force of Earth's pawns.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hi-Res Moonwalk Video to Be Released

Do you remember NASA's embarrassing 2006 episode of the missing video tapes of the moonwalk? These were high-resolution video recordings. The images seen back home on television were reduced resolution (a standard TV camera recording off a hi-res monitor, BION). The cited Wiki article is a bit confusing because of serial editing, but in June of this year the tapes were found in a Perth, Australia storage site. One tricky bit is that the video recording format is so old that restoration was difficult.

:drum roll: NASA has announced it will hold a briefing on Thursday (July 16, 2009) to release the restored Apollo 11 moonwalk video.

Two interpretations:
--Our space enthusiasts: Yah!
--Our cynical curmudgeons: why'd it take Disney so long to produce these tapes?

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

International Space Station (ISS) Visible to Many

Starting yesterday (you're welcome), the International Space Station (ISS), will be quite visible all over the world for a while. It has a 90-minute orbit, so it may be visible several times per day. Because of its continuing construction over the years, it has become quite large...the largest spacecraft in existence*.

NASA has some general information on these ISS viewing events, here. That article refers to Space.com's satellite spotting guide, which gives some guidance on when and where to look in your area. You may also find local news coverage in your area on this topic.

*Except for certain alien craft in Area 51...we can't talk about it. Americans can see the alien craft by going to Nevada and presenting a valid public library card or Disney Pass and telling who won "the series" in 1951.

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