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Archive for January, 2006

Attention Jim Oberg…

Sorry, JimO, buddy, but a certain Elaine Meinel Supkis is “exposing” your “boilerplate lies” regarding the Challenger “accident”.

Almost Like Being There

NASA’s Mars Rovers to Hit the Silver Screen

Disney’s new IMAX film Roving Mars, set to open nationwide on Jan. 27, chronicles the exploits of NASA?s Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission that entered its third year exploring the surface of the red planet this month. Originally slated for a 90-Martian day mission, Spirit and Opportunity have consistently surpassed the expectations of their handlers and filmmakers throughout their mission.

“My original idea was to wait for the rovers to die and that it would be a dramatic ending, Roving Mars director George Butler told SPACE.com. “However, these rovers won?t die, which is excellent news.”…

“We’ve been saying for years that the PanCam images were good enough to look good on an IMAX screen and by God they do,” Squyres said, adding that he and his team have not been able to view rover imagery at its full potential until now. “A computer screen falls woefully short. It’s like looking through a soda straw.”

Butler’s team relied on actual data and images beamed back to Earth from Spirit and Opportunity, as well as the computer imagery talents of Ithaca, New York-based Maas Digital, which created original animations for NASA to illustrate the rover mission…

Depictions of the rover landings, during which they plunged through the Martian atmosphere, deployed parachutes then bounced along the red planet’s surface with airbags, are based on data from gyroscopes and accelerometers embedded in the landing craft, Squyres said.

Filmmakers also overlaid digital elevation models recorded by Spirit and Opportunity with rover imagery to generate accurate landscapes for their computer-generated counterparts to explore, travels that again are based on mission telemetry, he added.

Missing the Action

Looks like I’ll just miss the moonbats protesting at the Broadmoor this week:

WHO: The Air Force Space Command, the Army Space and Missile Command, Northern Command, NORAD, and AFCEA and numerous military contractors, large and small.
WHAT: SpaceCOMM 2006: Defending America – a major propaganda event

WHEN: January 24-26

WHERE: Broadmoor Hotel Convention Center, Colorado Springs

What else: Citizens for Peace in Space and other local activists plan to peacefully banner and leaflet convention goers on Wednesday, January 25 from 1 – 2 PM to express our opposition to the policies being carried out in our name. (read below)

Carpool from Camp Casey (Nevada and Dale) at 12:30 or meet us there.

It is rare to find a gathering that brings together as many of the war making and spying elite as this symposium at the Broadmoor. The sponsoring agencies of “Defending America“; Air Force Space Command, NORAD, Northern Command, Army Space and Missile Command and the Armed Forces spy organization, AFCEA, are carrying out the Bush doctrine of permanent war abroad and increased police state activity at home. They are the beneficiaries of a military budget which has ballooned from $300 to $500 billion and a spying budget which has grown from $30 to $45 billion . Both policies ignore domestic and international law. Both operate in an environment of fear. Both operate behind closed doors with utter disdain for democratic values. And they are a failure. If we are to learn anything from the events of “9-11″ we need a radical course correction before it is too late. Join us on January 25, 1 – 2 PM to help stop this madness.

For more info: Citizens for Peace in Space – xxx-xxxx

Bill Sulzman
Citizens for Peace in Space

I’ll be there on the 27th and 28th for the LPR Annual Retreat. So close, yet so far. Maybe I could drive by their “Camp Casey” while I’m down in the Springs.

Moving the Goalposts

New Horizons launched successfully (some might say flawlessly) yesterday — no doubt to the disappointment of Bruce Gagnon.

So what now? Bruce moves the goalposts…from histrionic opposition to New Horizons only because it had nuclear material aboard, to complaining now about the environmental impact of space launch vehicles as a whole, regardless of what they carry.

(more…)

New Horizons Off

A successful launch, finally: Unmanned Spacecraft Hurtles Toward Pluto

Watched the launch with about 60-odd coworkers, crammed into a hallway where there happened to be a television. The biggest oohs and ahhs came when the solids separated and (especially) when the fairings were jettisoned. There was a lot of disappointment that there was no rocket cam on this flight, though.

Someone Didn’t Do His Homework

Over in paranoid narcissism world, the verdict is in: the New Horizons protest was a qualified success, but that doesn’t matter because Bruce’s speaking tours are the real success story, persuading legions of people to turn on NASA:

NASA is spending $700 million to fly New Horizons and untold millions dollars more to sell it to the public because their polling data says that the American people are less supportive now than ever of their space program. The public says, “Yes these pictures from space are nice but I?d rather have my tax dollars spent on health care, education, child care, or cleaning up our planet Earth.”

Meanwhile, in the real world…
Public Favorable Toward NASA, Space Exploration

NASA is making news again as one of its missions comes to an end and another is set to begin. The Stardust space capsule finished a seven-year mission collecting particles from a comet, and today NASA launches the New Horizons probe that will fly to Pluto on a nine-year mission. Previous Gallup polling has shown that Americans generally view NASA favorably, and favor government spending on space exploration at current or higher levels.

Gallup last asked Americans to rate the job NASA was doing in August 2005. In that poll, 60% said NASA was doing a good job, including 16% who said “excellent.” Twenty-nine percent thought NASA was doing a “fair” job, and 8% said it was doing a “poor” job.

The public has generally been positive toward NASA over the years, with a measured high of 76% positive ratings shortly after former Sen. John Glenn returned to space on a space shuttle mission.

Additionally, Americans are supportive of federal spending on space exploration. In an August 2003 CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey, three-quarters of Americans thought spending should be kept at its present level (51%) or increased (24%). Twenty-four percent thought it should be decreased (17%) or ended altogether (7%). Gallup found similar results in a slightly different question it asked in a survey conducted for the Space Foundation in the summer of 2004.

Hm. Looks like Bruce didn’t read Mark this morning.

In Their Own Words

Someone asked me the other day why I spend so much space here ragging on Bruce Gagnon and other anti-space nutters.

Here is one indication — a rare discussion thread reproduced in its entirety from GNAW-N-PIS’ globenet discussion group, kicked off by another apparently “nasty” email to Bruce…

(more…)

Nair for Moon, Mars

Nair is also talking about manned lunar missions, and probes to Mars.

The ISRO chairman said the Indian space agency is not shying away from manned mission to the moon.

“It’s not a question of shying away. Whether we need it (manned mission to moon) immediately or not; that debate is going on. Opinion is truly divided. Some people believe the instruments themselves are more than adequate. Robots can do the job and so on. A few others believe it (manned mission) is a national pride and we should do it. We are also subjecting this for an internal review as well as in various professional bodies. Maybe in the course of a year, we will have better clarity on that (whether or not India should go for a manned mission),” he said.
“If we decide to do such a job, yes, we will gear up for facing such a challenge,” he said.

And also, apparently, dealing with the same sort of robots über alles arguments heard from some quarters in the US.

Nair for Nuclear Rockets

It’s just a passing mention, but this is interesting news, if only for the fact that India’s counterpart to Mike Griffin feels free to suggest such a thing:

ISRO has an important mission ‘Chandrayaan’, planned during 2007-08 for planetary exploration. The mission will not only map the lunar surface, but also find presence of minerals and water on the moon. Besides, the aim is also to look for helium-3 which will help satisfy India’s fuel needs.

He said the moon mission will form a major stepping stone in the efforts of ISRO and the nation as a whole towards launching a probe into a 100 km polar orbit around the moon using PSLV. The missions involving travel to very distant planets, wherein the time to reach is going to be of the order of months using conventional rocket propulsion systems, may call for the use of alternate systems, like electric and nuclear propulsion, he said.

Meanwhile, New Horizons’ launch has been postponed until Wednesday afternoon due to high winds.

Upcoming Events

Looks like the GNAW-N-PISers are planning a protest against the Space Foundation symposium down in the Springs on April 3-6.

I’ll be at the Broadmoor (with Hugh Hewitt, as it happens) two weeks from now for the LPR Annual Retreat, but I expect that event to be regrettably protestor-free.


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