Restored Video Repaints the Historic Apollo 11 Moonwalk

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 16, 2009 in Science

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first mission to land astronauts on the moon NASA has released a freshly restored video from the July 20, 1969 live television broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. This initial release is part of a larger Apollo 11 moonwalk restoration project and features 15 key moments from the lunar mission. Read more…

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Endeavour Has Patiently Waited for This

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 16, 2009 in Science

Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew launched at 6:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deliver the final segment to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and a new crew member to the International Space Station.

After several days of waiting Endeavour took off last night for the International Space Station. Part of me loves it anytime a spacecraft takes off and especially when it’s a safe and smooth launch — but another part of me regrets that it’s the year 2009 and NASA is still stuck with a vehicle that was designed in the 70s. But my hat is off to Commander Mark Polansky for a safe trip and return. Read more…

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The Dark Age of Manned Space Exploration: 1969-2009

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 13, 2009 in Science

The rusting hulk of a Saturn V rocket

Above: The rusting hulk of a Saturn V rocket (now under restoration) is a harsh reminder of a lost golden age of manned space exploration.

As a child who spent most of his life after the Apollo project it’s my humble opinion that over the last 40 years we’ve been living a micro-dark age of space exploration. To me the 40th Anniversary of Apollo isn’t a cause for celebration, but is in fact a funeral for NASA which has been a shadow of its former self. Read more…

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How NASA Saved Hubble

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 1, 2009 in Science

It’s so easy to forget that when Hubble first launched in 1990 that it was a total disaster because the lens on the main mirror couldn’t focus — yet 19 years later it’s one of the best NASA success stories in recent history. This video tells he story of the team that replaced the mirror back in 1993. Here’s a before and after photo to show how much of an improvement the mirror fix made: Read more…

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Buzz Aldrin: Aviation Family Values

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 26, 2009 in Science

This interview with Buzz Aldrin is from my favorite local news source NY1 (they have the best coverage of everything from the state of the subway to local political issues). Shelley Goldberg usually does their kids coverage so while this isn’t on her beat she does an A+ job of talking with an Apollo astronaut about some heavy topics in a very short amount of time.

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Buzz Aldrin: Let’s Aim for Mars

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 24, 2009 in Science

I just finished reading an amazing essay by Buzz Aldrin — Buzz of course is the second human to have walked on the surface of the moon during the Summer of 1969. Aldrin is currently pushing his book new book Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, but what has warmed my heart is that instead of reliving the past he’s pushing for the idea that NASA needs to aim higher and not just land on Mars, but build a space colony there: Read more…

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NASA Budget Goes Anemic with Congress: Write Your Representative

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 10, 2009 in Science

Orion Lunar Orbiter

At a time when everybody is talking about the need for high tech government investments to boost the economy it’s looking like congress is bleeding NASA funding dry:

“The House slashed NASA’s manned space exploration $4 billion budget by 16 percent for 2010, as the White House will wait patiently to hear more of NASA’s plans once the shuttle fleet is retired. The $670 million cut will leave just $3.21 billion, which is less than what the U.S. space agency is working with already.Read more…

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Astronaut Charles Bolden to Lead NASA

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 23, 2009 in Science

Charles Bolden

President Obama has picked Charles Bolden to head NASA — the photo above is from a shuttle mission in 1986. Bolden’s biography is nothing short of amazing: For starters he flew over 100 missions as a pilot in Vietnam and has been an astronaut on four shuttle missions. Bolden is well liked within NASA which is critical as the agency will try and retire the shuttle fleet while prepping for a moon mission with no real extra budget — to say the least it’s going to be challenging. Read more…

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40 Years Ago Today: Apollo 10 Flies Within 8.4 Nautical Miles of the Moon

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 22, 2009 in Science

Apollo 10 northwestward view of Triesnecker crater

On this day in 1969 the fourth manned Apollo mission set a record in terms of getting as close as possible to the surface of the moon. Comic fanboys should note that the mission used the callsigns of the Peanuts characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy, who became unofficial mascots of Apollo 10. In fact Charles Schulz even drew some artwork for the mission. So when you look back at photos from this 1969 endeavor every so often you’ll spot a Snoopy or a Charlie Brown hanging around: Read more…

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NASA Scientist Predicts We’ll Meet E.T. by 2019

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 27, 2009 in Science

Phoenix Mars Mission: Photograph from July 14, 2008

The good news is that Peter Smith who led NASA’s Phoenix Mars Mission predicts that within ten years we’ll find life on other planets — but the bad news for us fanboys with hopes of hanging out with Vulcans and Klingons is that E.T. may be a clump of lowly microbes sitting underneath a rock on Mars. Smith made this prediction during his recent “Journey of the Phoenix” presentation at the University of Delaware which included images from the Phoenix which touched down on the Martian arctic last year. Read more…

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NASA Testing the Orion Spacecraft Crew Module Mockup

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 11, 2009 in Science

It’s funny I’ve been watching the space shuttle for so many years that when I see a design like this it brings me back to my early childhood of watching the Apollo projects — it’s been that long since I’ve seen a spacecraft that was designed to leave Earth’s orbit. NASA is still awaiting the hear from the Obama administration to find out who the next leader of the space program will be, so it’s questionable if Orion will become real (although the administration seems to be motivated to return to the moon thanks to China).

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The 50th Anniversary of Project Mercury

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 9, 2009 in Science

50 years ago in April of 1959 the then new American space agency NASA started Project Mercury — the goal of which was to have manned spaceflight. In 1962 Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. would make the first American sub-orbital trip — and later in 1962 John Glenn (shown in the video above) would make the first orbit: Read more…

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This Space Bat Tribute Will Make Every Star Trek Fanboy Cry…

Posted by Michael Pinto on Mar 29, 2009 in Science, Star Trek

Good bye little fella! We know that you’ve gone boldly where no bat has gone before. Well except for the other bat on that previous shuttle ride…

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Check Out This Amazing International Space Station Footage…

Posted by Michael Pinto on Mar 26, 2009 in Science

You know it’s not quite as cool as a space station that you’d see in 2001: A Space Odyssey but on the whole now that the ISS is 80% done it doesn’t look too shabby! This footage was shot by the space shuttle before it heads home. Here’s an amazing photo from a space walk earlier in the mission: Read more…

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Gemini 3 Launches: A Photo Essay from 44 Years Ago Today

Posted by Michael Pinto on Mar 23, 2009 in Science

Astronaut John W. Young, the pilot of the Gemini-Titan 3 prime crew, is shown suited up for GT-3 pre-launch test exercises.

On March 23rd, 1965 the Gemini 3 launched into history — it was the first manned Gemini flight. The ship was manned by John W. Young (shown above) and Virgil I. Grissom (shown below). Grissom named the spacecraft the Molly Brown in reference to the Broadway show The Unsinkable Molly Brown as he was hoping not to duplicate his previous experience with the Liberty Bell 7. This mission was very much a test flight and this was the first time ever that an American spacecraft had a crew of two. NASA was still in catchup mode at this point as the USSR launched the Voskhod 1 in 1964 which had a crew of three. Read more…

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NASAtelevision: The Next Best Thing to Being an Astronaut

Posted by Michael Pinto on Mar 18, 2009 in Science

In my humble opinion one of the best ways of following the space shuttle this week is to watch the NASAtelevision channel on YouTube (or you can watch it live here) — sadly this is the sort of thing that the SyFy channel should be doing, but maybe this yet another sign that mass media is in decline. Shown above is the crew of the space shuttle being welcomed to the International Space Station, I just love the nautical touch of them ringing the bells. Below are the highlights from the 2nd day: Read more…

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Just a Typical Day at the International Space Station

Posted by Michael Pinto on Mar 13, 2009 in Science

With all of the excitement today about space junk threatening the International Space Station it dawned on me just how easy it is to forgot how untypical life is on a space station. Shown above is a spacewalk from this week which didn’t even make the news, yet it’s an amazing under taking. What you’re seeing here is the crew if the International Space Station conducting a four hour plus spacewalk which included an experiment and photography of the Russian segment of the station. They’re doing this in advance of the next Discovery mission which will deliver a new set of solar panels which will make the station easier to spot from the ground. Read more…

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It’s Criminal that the Space Shuttle Discovery Should Be Allowed to Take Off

Posted by Michael Pinto on Feb 21, 2009 in Science

When the space shuttle Discovery first launched MTV and the Macintosh were new.

The planned February launch of the Discovery has been delayed for the forth time due to potential faulty fuel valves. But that’s not the real story here: The fact of the matter is that the Discovery first flight was in August of 1984. Think about that for a minute — that’s just a few months shy of 25 years ago! In that time we’ve had five Presidents in office spanning three generations — and when Discovery first launched geeks were first discovering dial up bulletin boards. Read more…

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Reinventing NASA: Internal Video Aimed at Changing Culture

Posted by Michael Pinto on Feb 10, 2009 in Science

What makes this video amazing is that not only does it address what was once a taboo subject at NASA (embracing innovation) but in a bold step towards transparency NASA is making this video public and putting it on YouTube for the entire world to see. I applaud this as the agency has been facing criticism of being too bureaucratic, and this video shows the right stuff to having the correct mindset to change. Read more…

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Shuttle Replacement Orion Starts to Take Shape, but the Future is Uncertain

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jan 31, 2009 in Science

A replica of the launch abort system for the Ares 1X is taken off an Air Force C-5A Galaxy aircraft on Wednesday at the shuttle landing facility at Kennedy Space Center. The mock-up will be used in a July 11 test flight. (Michael R. Brown, FLORIDA TODAY)

Lacking a new administrator NASA’s next direction seems a bit uncertain — and part of the problem with the previous administrator was that the Orion Vehicle project which was suppose to replace the space shuttle which ran way over budget. This past week a mockup of part of the new system arrived at the Kennedy Space Center with the hope that NASA can put together a test launch by July. While it’s certain that President Obama wants to return to the moon his immediate focus at the White House has been on trying to rescue the economy, although the space exploration fanboy in me hopes he gives NASA some leadership sooner than later.

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Obama is Dead Serious About Quickly Going Back to the Moon: Great News for NASA Fanboys

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jan 4, 2009 in Science

New NASA capsule Orion resembles Apollo

The most recent NASA soap opera started with administrator Michael Griffin giving the incoming Obama transition team a hard time — coming from an engineering background Griffin’s fear was that the Obama administration was going to gut the new moon rocket program. To be fair to Griffin the program was way over budget (so it looked like a good target) and early in the campaign trail Obama sent mixed signals on his support for manned exploration. The latest chapter was Griffin’s wife sending out a sad email pleading his case to keep his job (despite the fact that he is a Bush administration employee). Read more…

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Earthrise: The 40th Anniversary

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 24, 2008 in Science

1968: The first Earthrise to be witnessed by a human

On Christmas Eve of 1968 for the first time humankind watched the earth rise thanks Apollo 8 reaching the orbit of the Moon:

Happy Birthday Earthrise

“As Apollo 8 nosed its way back from the far side of the Moon for the fourth time, it was Frank Borman who first spotted the view by chance from a window, his reaction captured by the on board tape recorder. “Oh, my God! Look at that picture over there!” he exclaimed. “Isn’t that something…” After a quick joke about the fact that it was not in their flight plan to photograph it, the crew abandoned protocol and scrambled to get a snap of the occasion with their stills camera. The Hasselblad only had a black and white film magazine in, resulting in the image above – the first photograph of Earthrise taken by a human as he watched it happen.”

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Five Years on Mars: Rovers Surviving the Martian Winters

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 23, 2008 in Science

In January the Mars rover program will turn five years old — it’s quite amazing to think how much we’ve learned about the red planet in such a short amount of time. To me this program is yet another argument why we should focus on a manned trip to Mars rather than returning to the moon.

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The 2009 International Space Station Calendar: A Cool Freebie for NASA Fanboys

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 12, 2008 in Science

2009 International Space Station Calendar

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station NASA is offering a free calendar online to to the public (caution: link goes to a 5.3 meg Adobe Acrobat file). 100,000 copies of the printed version of the calendar will be distributed to schools for free in the United States.

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