After 30 years, NASA has closed the door on another era of spaceflight. The STS program was not without its faults and shortcomings. It cost way more per mission than estimated. It only achieved to get us into orbit, not to other planets, not even to the moon. Some saw it as a huge step backwards from Apollo.
There was still a great return on our investment, despite it not being the best investment.
The payloads it delivered to space: the Hubble, the ISS, and numerous other satellites and science experiments have greatly improved our understanding of the universe and how we can interact with it. Every launch I watched felt magical, like we could achieve more than the daily bullshit and grind on this planet.
Here’s a collection of all the missions in one glorious video.
That’s right, for an exclusive time only, NASA is offering to fill up your sensory organs with Discovery’s awesome thrust. Check out Discovery’s last mission into space as it hammers it home from every angle imaginable.
10 years ago, on November 2nd, humans climbed into a room, suspended on an average of 229 miles above the Earth, traveling at roughly 17,0000 miles per hour. The International Space Station stands as one of mankind’s greatest scientific achievements. It engenders the cooperation of dozens of countries spanning the bounds of language and politics.
It is a symbol of what we accomplish together. It is startling beautiful.
It’s accomplishments like this that inspire. 41 years ago we first landed on the moon. Mankind walked on the surface of another object in space. It’s almost hard to hold in your head that we actually did this, moreover something this country alone has successfully accomplished. That inspiration produced a generation of engineers, scientists, and thinkers like no other in history. They developed the theories and technology that has allowed mankind to orbit the Earth for 10 consecutive years.
Perhaps it’s all this that makes me feel wretchedly sick when I tune back into the petty partisan bickering, and short sightedness that’s been the major news for the past year during this especially vitriolic election period.
Unless you are into science, REALLY into science you may not hear, see, or read the absolute moronic way science gets misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misused by politicking. Whether it’s the Virginia Attorney General on his witch hunt against climate change science, Presidential ‘hopefuls’ that think humans walked with the dinosaurs, or any number of base ignoramuses that think it’s noble to block essential medical research due to their latest superstitious interpretations of 2,000 year-old writings, some days it’s enough to totally sap my will to enjoy life.
And then a video like this comes along. Turn off your cell phone. Turn up the speakers. Here’s 15 minutes of some of the most inspirational stuff I’ve seen and listened to in a long, long time.
With the sun setting on the NASA’s shuttle program things were looking grim. We had no vehicles to put people or payloads into space, especially to support the International Space Station. It looked like we’d be paying other countries hundreds of millions of dollars for us to be able to piggy back on their flights.
The one underdog in the story was private industry. There’s been a race to see if it could be done. Yesterday, SpaceX nailed it everyway possible with the successful launch of their Falcon9 rocket.
Sitting on top of the rocket is the Dragon module. It can carry seven people, pure payloads, or a mix thereof. It’s compatible with the ISS, so we can continue to deliver personnel and supplies.
SpaceX’s success means so much more than just their engineering proven to be right – it means the U.S. is back in the space game in a major way and private industry has a new frontier to build and explore. It also means NASA is free to focus on other things, freeing up budgets for other missions. Good news all around!
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is live and the first images are back. Built to observe our sun in a number of ways, the images and videos that are coming back are beyond words. Head on over to NASA’s site to see more pictures and videos of that awesome star that powers our planet.
"A full-disk multiwavelength extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by SDO on March 30, 2010. False colors trace different gas temperatures. Reds are relatively cool (about 60,000 Kelvin, or 107,540 F); blues and greens are hotter (greater than 1 million Kelvin, or 1,799,540 F). Credit: NASA"
The Spitzer telescope nabbed this awesome shot. It’s a beauty. It’s also something you’ve seen all winter long – just without all the extra bits.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
If you look you should find the familiar three stars that make up Orion’s belt. For the full write up head on over to the Bad Astronomer’s blog. I just sit and stare at that image thinking how awesome would the night sky look if we could naturally see into the infra-red. Rather than just a black mass with many pin points of light, it’d be myriad swirls of color.
Also, visible to most of the East coast was an early morning shuttle launch! Shuttle mission 131 took off with more science labs and bits for the international space station. It was the shuttle Discovery, the oldest one in service, and the last to be retired when the final shuttle mission takes place this September.
Pseudoscientists often reveal themselves by their handling of the scientific literature. Their idea of doing scientific research is simply to read scientific periodicals and monographs. They focus on words, not on the underlying facts and reasoning. They take science to be all statements by scientists. Science degenerates into a secular substitute for sacred literature. Any statement by any scientist can be cited against any other statement. Every statement counts and every statement is open to interpretation. - Science and Unreason, Radner and Radner
(thanks to abb3w on Fark for turning up this awesome quote).