December 18, 2017

July 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

The mid-point of the year, and with it the middle of the summer blockbuster season, is nigh. This year has brought no less than three each smashed moon sightings in the films Oblivion, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Man of Steel. Just what is it that Hollywood has against planetary companions, anyway? It almost seems that having a smashed moon is mandatory these days, whether the planet of discussion is Qo’noS (I say Kronos), Krypton or Earth. [Read more...]

18.01.11: The Signs They Are a Changin’

Sextans…the 14th sign? (Created by the Author in Starry night).

OK. By now, you know that your astrological sign isn’t what you were always told it was. Last week, (non-) news broke that according to astronomy, not only were the zodiacal signs wrong, but the Sun actually passes through a 13th sign, that of Ophiuchus. The astrology-minded scrambled, desperately trying to conceive not only what a ‘serpent bearer’ should be like, but how to pronounce it. [Read more...]

15.04.10: President Obama Addresses the Space Coast.

President Obama made a short stop to speak at the Kennedy Space Center today on his way to Miami. He was greeted by both space enthusiasts and nervous NASA employees who rightly wonder about the ultimate fate of their jobs as a result of the ending of the Space Shuttle program later this year. Would his speech be a Kennedy-esque vision or a consolation prize?

It’s a truism that when Kennedy spoke we didn’t even know how to reach LEO; 8 years later, we were on the Moon. That’s the kind of vision we need. Obama’s last visit to Florida didn’t fill NASA fans with a lot of hope; not only did he essentially nix the Constellation, but his promised “train to Disneyland” seemed like a bit of a snub. Mind you, we like this Prez… during the election, he was the only candidate that could speak articulately about science. Still, there seems to be a certain reluctance for the current administration to do something truly visionary. [Read more...]

29.01.10: A Failed Vision: Where does the U.S. Space Program go from here?

By now, everyone in the astro-blogosphere has heard the bad news concerning the Constellation program. No Ares. No Mars. No permanent presence on the Moon. This week’s announcement of Congress failing to provide funding for the future manned space program comes as a tremendous blow to all who work in and follow the space industry. All we’re left with is the vague promise of the development of a heavy lift rocket to get us out of low-Earth orbit, a promise that might be over a decade from lift-off… at this point, it seems as if we may be headed towards another lean decade, much like what struck the space program in the 70’s after Apollo.

But is there hope? Certainly, the dual forces of crisis and opportunity may well come into play here. While the shuttle program is coming to an end, the extension of the International Space Station out to 2020 assures us that our manned presence in space will indeed continue. Scientists and astronomers may quietly breathe a sigh of relief, as the axe didn’t fall on their pet space probe, and funds for small shoe-string unmanned projects won’t be sacrificed to the dollar-guzzling manned space program.  Perhaps, as some might argue, the “Apollo on steroids” approach lacked the vision to truly grab the public’s imagination and was doomed from the start. But all would ultimately acknowledge that we truly need both, a robust manned program and a diverse unmanned space exploration program. It’s true; we are in financially troubling times. Unfortunately, space exploration tends to wind up on the short list of many inside the beltway as they search for perceived pork barrel projects to cut. But history has shown that nations that cease exploration and curiosity tend to end up as historical has-beens’ as they become introspective and withdrawn. Perhaps the sight of Chinese or Indian astronauts setting up shop alongside our hallowed Apollo sites will be enough to inspire a new space race… but will it be too late? “How could this have happened?” the credulous public will then say… how did we end up so far behind?

We here at Astroguyz believe now is the time for vision and action in space. What’s needed are some truly innovative plans for exploration; how about a manned mission to an NEO such as Apophis in 2029? Or funding the shelved Terrestrial Planet Finder?  Or further exploratory landers for Europa or Titan? A heavy lift platform also gets astronomers wheels spinning as to the payloads it could launch. Now might be the time to dust off some of those innovative alternate plans that engineers were said to have been moonlighting over years back. But one thing is certain; any new drive into space must be accompanied with a twin drive in science education as seen in the 60’s to be truly effective. This week’s news may have been a major setback, but there are lots of intriguing options out there; let’s get out of low-Earth orbit and back into deep space exploration, this time, for good!

The Ares X-1 Test Launch!

The “rubber hits the road” tomorrow for NASA’s next generation of spacecraft with the first test launch of the Ares X-1 rocket. Liftoff is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27 at 8:00 AM EDT from launch pad 39B. The shuttle Atlantis is also currently sitting at launch pad 39A for launch on November 16th to the International Space Station (ISS). Tomorrow’s Ares X-1 will be an unmanned launch and perform a short duration ballistic flight to test key systems over a 30 minute mission. Viewers along Florida’s Space Coast should get a good show, weather willing.

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Election 08′; What About the Science?

Ok, this week, Astroguyz will get political. I promise not to bludgeon my fans with it like the rest of popular media.

We here at Astroguyz decided to do this piece not just to jump on the election year band wagon, but as an effort to educate ourselves. Frequently, we hear much talk about Iraq and the economy during an election, but little about science. [Read more...]