After the presentation, we assume he flew away in an Iron Man armor suit.
If you missed out on last week’s public unveiling of the Dragon v2 spaceship, you really missed out. It had all of the “cool” factor of an Apple product debut–but when was the last time your smartphone shot a 30-foot flame behind it? Tens of thousands of viewers watched online when the sheets were pulled off of it, revealing what will in all likelihood be the first 21st-century spacecraft to take adventurous souls out into the ‘Verse. The media and the general public were blown away by the touted features of powered-descent landings “with the accuracy of a helicopter,” and especially the sleek, futuristic control panel.
The smooth, streamlined touchscreen interfaces made so much of an impression, in fact, that it may have overshadowed some of the other salient details revealed during the event. We thought that, now that the press has had a moment to catch its breath, we’d help read between the lines for you about what was said–and what wasn’t said, but can be deduced.
Dragon being mated to rocket for mission CRS-3
In the cult favorite sci-fi-western series Firefly, the crew seek freedom and fortune among the stars aboard a craft that, we’re told, is classified as a Class III Firefly medium transport. Now, details have been announced by Space Exploration Technologies that will tell us at long last just what kind of ship her real-life counterpart will be. Continue Reading
Steven “Swanny” Swanson
Years ago, a young man found himself about to finish grad school, and began to contemplate his career path in life for the first time. He knew that he wanted to be in a field in science and technology–which was fitting, given that his bachelor’s was in Engineering Physics and that the advanced degree he was about to earn was in Computer Systems.
Finding one’s passion is one of the easier–and more enjoyable–pursuits in life, but finding a way to make a productive career out of it is something that precious few among us are fortunate enough to achieve (and even fewer now with the loss of so many of the jobs that people go to college for). The more the young man thought about it, the more sure he became aware that he was not content to spend the rest of his life “sitting in an office all day long every day.” Long before he would be eventually be introduced to the ‘Verse, this much he knew: he aimed to misbehave. From there, deciding to become an astronaut almost seemed like the logical course. He had no idea if such a thing would really prove possible in the end–but doing the impossible makes us mighty. Continue Reading
It is indeed a rough road that leads to the stars, and the exploration of strange new worlds is intrinsically a risky endeavor. In the history of NASA’s space program, there are many astronauts who have made the ultimate sacrifice to further our understanding of the universe. Fourteen lost their lives during a mission. Three perished in a launch pad accident. Numerous others have died as the result of aircraft accidents during training, and one was even lost in a commercial airline crash while traveling on NASA business.
We’ve talked a lot this week about changes in the way that we go into space happening right now that, we hope, will make the heavens available to all. The day will come that spaceflight becomes so routine that memorializing those lost to it will seem unnecessary and excessive. We’re not at that point, yet, though, and feel that we still owe it to them to remember their names. Continue Reading
Today is the first day of World Space Week, an international celebration of spaceflight’s contribution to enriching and improving the quality of life for the human race. Officially recognized by the United Nations, it begins every October 4th (the day that Sputnik launched) and runs through (the day that the Outer Space Treaty was signed). Here at Take Back the Sky, we’ll be celebrating with a special post each day, with a few surprises at the end!
As we talk to people all over this little world, we continue to find that many people simply aren’t aware of what’s going on in the world of spaceflight — many aren’t even aware that the space shuttle is no longer flying, nor will ever again fly. On the one hand, if a majority of people cared enough about space to “educate themselves” about it the way that they do about other issues, like the economy or the environment, then things would be vastly different today and we might not even be having this conversation. To be fair, the topic of humans in space hasn’t seen the front page of any major media outlet in many years.
Whatever the case, we thought it may be appropriate to dedicate this, the first day of World Space Week 2012, to a “State of the ‘Verse” summary. As Captain Reynolds of Firefly would say, “here’s the way it is:” Continue Reading
In 1991, the space shuttle Endeavour, last of the line, was completed and taxied out from the OPF (Orbital Processing Facility, the garage where they kept the shuttles and changed the oil) to the VAB (Vehicular Assembly Building, where they lift it on end and connect it to the big orange fuel tank and two white booster rockets). After that, it would head out to pad 39 for its maiden voyage. In the meantime, NASA decided to celebrate by turning this brief, normally routine drive from one building to another into a parade.
All the technicians, wrench-turners and other facility staff got to be in it. Utility vehicles, such as mobile cranes, cherry pickers and hazard trucks were decorated with streamers to be the floats. Employees were encouraged to invite their families and children to this special occasion, and a grand time was had by all.
Well, almost all. My uncle was an engineer for the company that made the main engines and brought my family in, and all I remember as a little kid was how hot it was that day and how bored I was. I didn’t see what the big deal was. Then, as many a hard-boiled detective has begun their story, “she came waltzing into my life.” Continue Reading