After years of iterating designs on the drawing board, hard work on the factory floor, and combating the naysayers and haters, the Crew Dragon, the first private orbital spacecraft (Virgin Galactic’s bird is a suborbital craft, and yes, the Orion also had an unmanned test flight as the first government-commissioned craft since the space shuttle) will launch from Kennedy Space Center in the United States in the early morning hours of Saturday, the 2nd of March. Continue Reading
On March 31, the UK Firefly and Serenity podcast Sending a Wave announced that it was coming to an end after twelve years of keeping Browncoats around the world up-to-date on all the latest conjurings in the Firefly fandom throughout the ‘verse. Sending a Wave will always be very special to all of us here at Take Back the Sky, because the podcast was the first media outlet to interview Jeff and me (way back in the 2012) about our efforts to convince Elon Musk and SpaceX to name their first Crew Dragon Serenity. Not only did our interview on Sending a Wave spread the news of what we were doing to a worldwide audience, it also gave our campaign a level of legitimacy in the Browncoat community that it hadn’t had previously. This was especially crucial to the success of our first online petition to SpaceX, which ended up with thousands of signatures from every continent except Antarctica, accompanied by comments in multiple languages.
About a year later we had the pleasure of meeting Wendy Scott, co-creator and host of Sending a Wave, in person at Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con in June of 2013. At the con that weekend, Wendy interviewed me again about my work as the event coordinator of Pittsburgh’s Can’t Stop the Serenity charity screenings, and together we attended the Firefly panel that featured Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Jewel Staite and Gina Torres. Wendy is a lovely woman who is tremendously knowledgeable about science-fiction and the film industry and an absolutely fascinating person to talk to. One of my favorite things about Wendy, both as a podcast host and as a friend, is that her “BS-meter” is finely-tuned, and she’s not afraid to call anyone out if their story has the odor of a fabrication or a retcon. (If you don’t believe me, you can hear her give me a much-needed history lesson upon our first meeting in Sending a Wave Episode 93: The One with Dragons!)
When I heard about the end of Sending a Wave, I contacted Wendy to ask her if it would be okay if I achieved some closure of sorts by bringing things full circle and interviewing her about what had been great run of a groundbreaking Firefly and Serenity podcast. She graciously agreed, and on April 28 we spent nearly three hours on Skype talking about everything from the podcast itself to geek culture, science-fiction of all kinds, Joss Whedon, CSTS, the current state of the film industry and even American and European politics. As you can guess, that conversation meandered in many different directions. The following is a transcript of questions Wendy answered that were specific to Sending a Wave:
SpaceX will launch its third Dragon spacecraft this year to the International Space Station on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 1231 EST, delivering thousands of pounds of science equipment and supplies for the astronaut crew. The engines to be used in the launch completed a successful test-fire on Thursday afternoon.
Chief among the payloads will be the new Cosmic-Ray Energetics and Mass
investigation (CREAM) apparatus, which will be attached to the Japanese external “porch” on its laboratory module. It’s hoped that, over the course of its three-year mission, it will provide scientists with a clearer picture of the structure of our universe.
Also among the science payloads being delivered is an experiment to grow protein LRRK-2. It’s long been known that protein crystals grow orders of magnitude faster in microgravity, and with greater crystalline strength. This particular type has been identified as being correlated to the pathology of Parkinson’s Disease; so it is hoped that this experiment, developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and other partners, will help scientists understand the disease itself better.
Additionally, this flight itself will be historic in that it will be the last time that a factory-new Dragon craft will be flown for some time. Eventually, of course, they’ll have to make more, but from here on out, the plan is to fly used, saving the company, NASA, and American taxpayers millions–if not billions–of dollars.
Watch the launch live-streamed with us on YouTube or at http://www.spacex.com.
When you’re an innovator in your industry, there’s no time for a summer vacation. Fresh off the success of its recent CRS-9 resupply mission to the International Space Station, and before Dragon even returns from that mission, SpaceX plans to launch again.
This Sunday, August 14, SpaceX will launch a Falcon9 rocket to deliver the JCSAT-16 satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit. The client for this launch is Japanese satellite operator SKY Perfect JSAT. Once in orbit, the JCSAT-16 will act as a backup transmitter for the rest of the company’s satellite fleet. The launch, which will take place at SLC-40 in Cape Canaveral, is scheduled for the early morning hours, with a launch window set to open at 1:26AM, EST.
If your corner of the ‘verse is in or around the Pittsburgh area, then we have the perfect way for you to kick off your weekend!
Take Back the Sky will be at Carnegie Science Center on Pittsburgh’s North Shore this Friday, April 15 from 6-10pm for their annual “21-and-over Sci-Fi Night.” We’ll have a table at the event where Browncoats as well as devotees of other science-fiction fandoms can sign a petition to SpaceX and/or write letters to SpaceX founder/CEO Elon Musk and president Gwynne Shotwell, asking them to name their first manned Dragon after Serenity.
This Friday, April 8, SpaceX will launch an unmanned Dragon spacecraft to low Earth orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket to deliver critical cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. SpaceX’s eighth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-8), will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:43pm EST. (A backup launch window opens at 4:20pm EST on April 9 if necessary.) Dragon will be deployed about 10 minutes after launch, and its flight to the ISS is significant for a number of reasons.
Dragon will be carrying a very important cargo to the ISS on CRS-8. In addition to experiments that will help NASA test the affect of antibodies on muscle wasting in microgravity, provide insight into the interactions of particle flows at the nanoscale level and use protein crystal growth in microgravity to help in the design of new drugs to fight disease, Dragon will also deliver a very special cargo called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). This module is an experimental expandable capsule that attaches to the space station.
Ni hao again, fellow travelers, and best wishes for the new year! Today we’ll be introducing you to another one of the four astronauts pegged to be the first crew of the next fleet of American, privately-made spacecraft– meaning if our campaign to urge SpaceX to name their first-of-the-line Dragon capsule ship after Serenity succeeds, it’s entirely possible she could be its captain.