DynaSoar writes: The wakeup song has been a part of the space program since the days of the Apollo missions, and now NASA is giving you two chances to be a part of this history! We need your help selecting wakeup songs to be played during the final missions of the Space Shuttle Program! In the first contest the public can vote for their favorite wakeup songs from a list of 40 that had been played on previous missions. The winners will be announced and played during STS-133. In the second, people can submit original songs. After screening by NASA, finalists will be posted for public listening and voting. Winners of this contest will "fly" the final shuttle mission, STS-134.
DynaSoar writes: Farewell RocketPlane, We Hardly Flew You...
What started out as a dream of rockets in the Oklahoma sky and money flowing from space enthusiasts has finally ended. George French Jr., owner of Rocketplane Global, decided a mountain of debt and expectations of the same altitude were too much to burden and filed for bankruptcy http://www.personalspaceflight.info/ .
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy papers were filed June 15, one each for three separate companies — Rocketplane Inc., the parent company, and its subsidiaries Rocketplane Global and Rocketplane Kistler — and a personal bankruptcy filing by French himself. Rocketplane Global was the space tourism company, while Rocketplane Kistler was set up to handle a NASA contract to build a rocket ship for carrying cargo to the International Space Station. The company was awarded the contract in 2006, but NASA pulled the contract a year later due to the company’s failure of meeting financial deadlines.
The news was made public immediately, of course. But it spread very slowly, taking 3 weeks to make it to 'enthusiasts' media. This is probably because it was no surprise — the financial woes were public all along. Also, Kistler, despite marvelous design and prototype work, tended towards this same end. In fact it's how Kistler, Inc. became as subsidiary of Rocketplane. http://www.space.com/news/rocketplane_022606.html
DynaSoar writes: SmartMoney http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/budgeting/10-things-not-to-buy-in-2010/ is carrying an article entitled "What Not To Buy In 2010". They take 10 brief looks at current products and services and evaluate them according to their version of impending obsolescence, which seems as though it's based more on what companies will have increasing or decreasing profits than whether the items will still be viable in the business sense. Intentional or not, bias is quite visible in this article, such as touting Netflix and other on demand services over DVDs, with a Netflix advertisement next to that paragraph, but this too is business oriented. Not examined is whether these things will still give the owners what they paid for despite this obsolescence, consideration of the technical aspects of the question. My questions to the Slashdot readership are which of these (or what other consumer electronics items or services) are likely to decline significantly in the business sense and/or become a bad purchasing decision in the coming year, and which of these things becoming obsolete in the business sense will become obsolete to the end user vs. which will continue to be useful for the expected lifetime of that item.
DynaSoar writes: On Friday November 13th, ESA'a Rosetta probe will get its third and final gravity assist slingshot from Earth on its way to it primary targets, the asteroid Lutetia and Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But the slingshot itself will allow ESA scientists to examine the trajectory for unusual changes seen in several other probes' velocities. An unaccountable variation was first noticed as excess speed in Pioneers 11 and 12, and has since been called the Pioneer Anomaly. More troubling than mere speed increase is the inconsistencies in the variations. While Galileo and NEAR had appreciable speed increases, Cassini and Messenger did not. Rosetta itself gained more speed than expected from its 2005 fly by, but only the expected amount from its 2007 fly by. Several theories have been advanced, from mundane atmospheric drag to exotic variations to special relativity, but none are so far adequate to explain both the unexpected velocity increases and the lack of them in different instances. Armed with tracking hardware and software capable of measuring Rosetta's velocity within a few millimeters per second while it flies past at 45,000 kilometers per hour, ESA will be collecting data which it hopes will help unravel the mystery.
DynaSoar writes: From Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log: "Masten Space Systems' Xoie rocket prototype has apparently taken the lead in a nail-biting race for a million-dollar prize from NASA. The Masten team's "try, try again" effort at California's Mojave Air and Space Port was aimed at winning the top prize in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge's Level 2 contest. Although the official results are still pending, it looks as if today's flight was good enough to best Texas-based Armadillo Aerospace, which qualified for the prize with its Scorpius rocket last month. However, questions were raised about the fairness of giving Masten an extra opportunity to launch beyond the scheduled times on Wednesday and Thursday. [Armadillo's John Carmack writes:] 'The current situation, where Masten was allowed a third active day of competition, after trying and failing on both scheduled days, is different. The rules have given the judges the discretion to do just about anything up to and including awarding prize money for best effort if they felt it necessary, so there may not be any grounds to challenge this, but I do feel that we have been robbed.'"
DynaSoar writes: NASA’s new Ares I-X rocket is undergoing final preparations for its planned launch test Tuesday, October 27. Launch time is scheduled for 8 AM EDT (1200 GMT). As of noon Monday it appeared that there was a 60% chance of showers and/or high altitude clouds interfering. However, the launch has a an eight hour window of opportunity through 2000 GMT, and would require only 10 minutes of clear skies within that time to fly. Of interest to engineering types, both those who favor the new vehicle's design and its critics, will be to see whether the predicted linear "pogo stick" oscillation will occur, and whether the dampening design built into it prevents damaging and possibly destructive shaking. Extensive coverage is being presented by Space.com at http://www.space.com/special_reports/1x.html For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv"
DynaSoar writes: "20 October 2009, 9:13 a.m. EDT. NASA’s new Ares I-X rocket is settling in atop Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a historic seven-hour trek from the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building. The rocket will be secured to the pad for a planned Oct. 27 launch test, set for 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), NASA’s first-ever test flight for its new Ares I-Orion spacecraft launch system." Of interest to engineering types, both those who favor the new vehilces design and its critics, will be to see whether the predicted linear "pogo stick" oscillation will occur, and whether the dampening design built into it prevents damaging and possibly destructive shaking. Extensive coverage is being presented by Spacfe.com at http://www.space.com/special_reports/1x.html Upcoming Ares Events: Friday October 23 Ares I-X Launch Readiness; Monday October 26 Ares I-X Prelaunch Briefing; Tuesday October 27 Ares I-X Launch from KSC. For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
DynaSoar writes: "From time to time we hear of someone taking some time series data such as radio astronomy or EEG recordings and transforming them into sound. But what we get to hear is just a static recording of the transform. At Moonbell http://www.pinktentacle.com/2009/08/moonbell-lunar-music-generator/ you can listen to the surface of the moon dynamically transformed into music, under your control. "Moonbell is an automated music generator that plays musical scores based on lunar topographical data obtained by Japan's Kaguya (SELENE) explorer during its orbit around the moon from late 2007 to June 2009. Moonbell, which was developed in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has two playback modes: âoeOrbit Play" and âoeFree Scratch." In Orbit Play mode, Kaguya traverses the moon in a circular orbit and music is generated based on the topography below. In Free Scratch mode, you can use your mouse to chart a path across the moon's surface. To tweak the audio output, click the âoePreference" button on the bottom left of the screen. This opens the settings panel, where you can choose from 128 musical instruments for each track, change the playback speed, set the volume for each instrument, and more.""
DynaSoar writes: "Of the many excellent TV shows to appear during the 1960s' "The Prisoner" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prisoner remains one of the most influential and enduring. This single season (1967-68), 17 episode series, starring its co-writing, co-directing executive producer Patrick McGoohan http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001526/ , already famous for his acclaimed "Secret Agent Man" (US)/"Danger Man" (UK, maintains a steady fan base and gains more with each syndication re-release. For over 40 years there have been announced intentions and projects to resurrect this surreal psychodrama combining science fiction, allegory and spy thriller in a new series or movie (but always without McGoohan, who adamantly refused, saying "he'd done it."). Finally, as of December 2008, a remake has been "in the can" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prisoner_(2009_TV_miniseries) . In November 2009, AMC will begin airing an original six-part mini-series of The Prisoner http://www.amctv.com/originals/the-prisoner/ starring James Caviezal http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001029/ as the spy who resigns only to find himself abducted and transported to "The Village", where he is renamed (or rather renumbered) Number Six, and where the minds behind his incarceration attempt to pry and/or trick secrets from his brain. Chief among those minds is the visible face of the administration, Number Two, played by Ian McKellen http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005212/ . Unlike the original, with a new Number Two in each episode, McKellen appears throughout. To promote the upcoming release, AMC is presenting (along with a ton of 'additional material' stuff) the entire original 17 episodes, free for the streaming."
DynaSoar writes: "Personal Spaceflight http://www.personalspaceflight.info/2009/08/16/armadillos-level-2-llc-attempt-coming-soon/ is reporting that it appears the first team to try to capture the US$1M prize for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Level 2 http://space.xprize.org/lunar-lander-challenge will be John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace, who won US$350K first prize in Level One last October. The flight rules for level 2 are identical to level 1, with the exception that the landing site is a simulated lunar surface with craters and boulders rather than a flat concrete pad. According to a post on the "Official Armadillo Q&A thread at The Space Fellowship, http://spacefellowship.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=396&sid=964ed27ced5678390c79f77155265326&start=1725 Carmack said at the QuakeCon 2009 convention Thursday that their Level Two attempt is planned for Labor Day weekend. That development was also picked by a GameSpot article http://www.gamespot.com/news/6215286.html about Carmack's speech, although not specifically mentioning the Lunar Lander Challenge, only an upcoming "Labor Day launch". There's nothing official yet on the Armadillo Aerospace or competition web sites. The Space Fellowship post states that Armadillo has also been busy with Rocket Racing League vehicle test flights and that "AA would make a lot more progress in the next year for reasons he couldn't announce yet." On the other hand, though, Carmack said that since his gaming company, id Software, was sold this summer, "he feels compelled to produce and deliver, rather than working on fun extracurricular projects like Armadillo Aerospace.""
DynaSoar writes: "With the Apollo 11 lunar landing nostalgia wave over, and the ongoing discussions about keeping, changing or abandoning designs and plans for Constellation, the new Ares rocket and the very Apollo-looking Orion crew vehicle, it is interesting to examine the development, evolution (including evolutionary dead ends) and the many never-were projected possibilities for the Apollo and Saturn components. Encyclopedia Astronautica offers a feast of details about Apollo developments, both successes and failure, in The Apollo Development Diaries http://www.astronautix.com/articles/apoaries.htm . Plans for the vehicles were later not so much lost as is claimed now, but were abandoned as unfeasible, unnecessary, and in the cases of some such as the high jumping Lunar Leaper and slithering Lunar Worm vehicles, just too weird http://www.astronautix.com/craftfam/apollo.htm . And while the eternal claims of a moon landing hoax are sufficiently rebutted in many places, the Encyclopedia carries a fine summary of The Real Moon Landing Hoax, the now disproven claims by the Soviet Union that they were never in a "space race" with the US http://www.astronautix.com/articles/theghoax.htm . Here you can read the details first presented in Quest (2004 issues Volume 11, numbers 1 and 2) of how the USSR tried and failed — but barely — to beat both the Apollo 8 circumlunar flight as well as the Apollo 11 landing, and then covered up their failures. But despite failures and animosity on both sides, mere years later the Cold War opponents participated in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project http://www.astronautix.com/flights/apooastp.htm . This program serves not only as a harbinger of hope for peaceful relations through space exploration, exemplified by The Handshake In Space http://www.astronautix.com/details/ast27555.htm but also as an example showing that although a successful program might be abandoned, it is possible to re-establish the goals and develop new programs to carry on. After ASTP there was no US/Russian space cooperation for two decades, but then they came together once again to build the International Space Station."
DynaSoar writes: "One year after its roll out WhiteKnight Two flew from Mojave to the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture show. While there, its owner Virgin Galactic announced an anticipated important next step by signing a major investor. However, the home of origin of this investor as well as many details of the merger came as a surprise. Aabar Investments http://www.aabar.com/ of the United Arab Emirates is paying $280 million for a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic, valuing the overall company at about $900 million. Aabar is also providing $100 million for the development of a smallsat launcher that would use WK2 as the launch platform, and will build spaceport facilities in Abu Dhabi and have "exclusive regional rights" for Virgin Galactic tourism and research flights. The numbers dwarf those of Virgin Galactic, which has invested $100 million developing its space flight program since it was founded in 2004. Meanwhile, WhiteKnight Two, the world's largest all carbon composite aircraft, is performing flawlessly in flight testing, and its sister craft Spaceship Two is preparing for flight testing later this year."
DynaSoar writes: "While its cousin/competitor site, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN remains offline http://science.slashdot.org/science/08/09/24/1451233.shtml Fermilab's Digital Hadron Calorimeter continues to produce significant results. Recently Fermilab announced discovery of the Omega-sub-b baryon, a 'doubly-strange' particle http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/CDF-Omega-observation.html . This baryon, containing two strange quarks and one bottom quark, has six times the mass of a proton. "The Omega-sub-b is the latest entry in the "periodic table of baryons." Baryons are particles formed of three quarks, the most common examples being the proton and neutron.... The observation of this "doubly strange" particle, predicted by the Standard Model, is significant because it strengthens physicists' confidence in their understanding of how quarks form matter. In addition, it conflicts with a 2008 result announced by CDF's sister experiment, DZero. In August 2008, the DZero experiment announced its own observation of the Omega-sub-b based on a smaller sample of Tevatron data. This result contradicted some predictions of the Standard Model, suggesting a 'new physics'. The new result leads to the possibility that the prior results are not accurate." To observe this particle, analysis of DHC data required pouring through a trillion (10^15) observations, finding only 16 instances of the predicted outcome."
DynaSoar writes: "According to a Wired article http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/06/nasadata-2/ NASA is soliciting ideas from the public on how best to catalog and digitize the collected notes of Werner von Braun. "We're looking for creative ways to get it out to the public," said project manager Jason Crusan. "We don't always do the best with putting out large sets of data like this." The notes http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/363387main_von_Braun_notes_RFI_Appendix_1.pdf [pdf] are those of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, the fist director of NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and are typed with copious hand written notes in the margin. According to the official request for information http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/363386main_von_Braun_notes_RFI.pdf [pdf], NASA needs ideas on what format to use, how to index the notes and how to create a useful database. The unique nature and historical value of the data, literally discovered in boxes six months ago, is what motivated NASA to ask the public for ideas."