Monday, November 28, 2011

Non-Space Post: Professional Women, Beware

I feel kind of like this right now. Frank Borman, mad, 1968. 

I usually never post about non-spaceflight related things, but I felt a need to make this tidbit of information more well-known. 

There's a "professional organization" (Editor's note: I am using this term extremely loosely) who call themselves the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW). Anyways, they called me at work this morning touting the news that I had been selected for a "free membership," which I thought was funny...I've only been at my current writing job since September. That's not a long time, really. 

After wasting my time with some silly, blatantly ego-feeding interview (I have no ego, so to be honest, I wasn't really that impressed...) they said I had been "selected" for their organization...and they needed about $680 to confirm my "free" membership. LOL, NOPE. The saleswoman on the other end then started to get increasingly desperate (read: snotty) and started quoting other prices for "membership," which were still impressively high. At this time I declined the membership (which I doubt does anything for any professional woman) and hung up the phone before she started asking me for credit card numbers, the names of my next of kin, etc. 

It was one of the grossest, most transparent telemarketing ploys I've ever dealt with. About 10 - 15 minutes of work time for me was wasted (yes, they called me at work, which is disrespectful). In addition, note that they called me on Monday morning at about 9:30 a.m. Hmmmm. After a long holiday weekend. So they figured I'd be a moron and fork over hundreds of dollars for some fake b.s. when I was basically half-asleep. Nice!

I did a bit of research and found these two great blog posts, which warn unsuspecting, LEGITIMATE professional women about this organization:

So yeah, these are good reads. Apparently the NAPW is also linked with some other fake "Who's Who" organization, which also enjoys draining hard-earned $$$$ from people. 

So the moral of the story is: 

  • If you are a professional woman, DO NOT be fooled by this organization. It is not legitimate. You should never pay for recognition of any sort. Be smart and do NOT give out any bank account or credit card information over the phone. If it seems shady, it most definitely is. Trust your gut instinct...I did. 
  • I am extremely disgusted that a "professional woman's association" would be looking to swindle money from professional women. The NAPW or whatever...they should be disgusted with themselves. Women should be in no position to exploit other women for money or for anything. Also, to this organization: if you come at me with a cease and desist, good luck with that. I'm certainly not lying and there are plenty of other women out there who can vouch for that. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Video of MSL Launch - November 26, 2011

From NASA Television on YouTube - MSL launch from this morning. Right now, MSL's Centaur stage is performing a burn which will take it out of Earth's orbit and on its way to Mars. NASA TV is showing some great video from the Centaur's about to separate from the spacecraft. 

EDIT: MSL just separated from its Centaur! Woo hoo! It's on its way to Mars now!

MSL/Mars Curiosity Atlas V Launch Liveblog - November 26, 2011

 MSL and its Atlas V on the launchpad this morning. Picture from Kennedy Space Center on Facebook.

8:41 a.m.: Okay, I am here. We are 1:10 away from the opening of the launch window. Right now, liquid oxygen is being loaded onto the rocket's Atlas stage. Catch all televised updates at online.

8:51 a.m.: My name is one of the many being sent to Mars via a microchip today. So awesome. A piece of me will go interplanetary!

9:02 a.m.: 50 minutes and counting!

9:05 a.m.: So far, weather conditions are "green." Liquid hydrogen is being loaded onto the rocket's Centaur and Atlas stages. No technical problems so far (fingers crossed).

9:07 a.m.: My buddy Heather at Pillow Astronaut explained the way the Mars Curiosity rover will have to land when it reaches Mars...the payload weighs approximately one ton. Dang. In comparison, 1976's Viking lander looks like a kid's Big Wheel. Thanks Heather :)

9:14 a.m.: Fueling is almost complete. The Atlas V rocket is being fueled with hydrogen and oxygen, which also helped to power the space shuttle.

9:17 a.m.: 35 minutes and counting! The view of that beautiful rocket by the water is unbeatable.

9:20 a.m.: Another wind balloon is being launched at T-31 minutes to assess the wind conditions.

9:25 a.m.: A weather briefing will take place soon. It's kind of breezy today but that's no cause for alarm...

9:32 a.m.: 19 minutes away with some holds, etc., planned. A weather briefing will take place in a few minutes. All safety checks have taken place. So far, so good.

9:36 a.m.: From MSL's Twitter account:  "Fuel fill sequence initiated. Top off the tank, guys. I hear there are no service stations en route to Mars."

9:42 a.m.: Nine minutes until first planned hold!

9:45 a.m.: Weather is green! Hell yeah!

9:48 a.m.: In first planned hold at four minutes. This final hold before launch will last for 10 minutes. Waiting for flight readiness statuses. Hold will be released in a few minutes. That was quick!

9:55 a.m.: What I like to hear - everything is GO. We have permission to launch! MSL is on internal power and so far is ready to go! So excited!

9:58 a.m.: Less than four minutes. No offense...if it launches you'll hear about it afterwards. I just want to enjoy the view.

10:07 a.m.: WOOT! It went off we are seeing the Centaur stage burning.

10:11 a.m.: 150 miles in altitude above Earth...coming to the end of the first burn.

10:16 a.m.: The spacecraft is now in a coast phase along the Earth for the next 19 minutes or so until the Centaur burns again to send MSL into an interplanetary trajectory.  Watch NASA TV online to see replays of the launch. I should have a launch video up later today. Everything looks good and NASA did it yet again. What a great year for space!

MSL launches successfully this morning at 10:02 a.m. Eastern Time. Photo courtesy of Spaceflight Now on Facebook

Friday, November 25, 2011

MSL/Mars Curiosity Liveblogging Starts Here in the A.M. - Don't Miss It!

From Kennedy Space Center's Facebook page - en route to the Vehicle Assembly Building, 11/25/2011. 

Watch this the morning I will be here around 8:00 liveblogging the MSL/Mars Curiosity Atlas V rocket launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

The launch is scheduled to go off at 10:02 a.m. While I won't be hanging out at the Space Coast, I will be following it online and on NASA TV. Anyway, stay tuned!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How to Perfect Frank Borman-esque Facial Expressions, Part 1

This blog post was inspired by this blog post on, so enjoy.

There are three basic facial expressions used by former NASA astronaut/general serious business guy Frank Borman in the 1960s. Here are some expert tips on how to pull these off. These are great tools to scare people at work or in grocery stores.

Indifference, or The Official NASA Portrait Face

Basically all you have to do here is stare blankly ahead at someone or some fixed object like you're bored. This one is rather easy to do. 

Raised Eyebrows with Indifference 

This one is a bit more difficult. Learn to move your brow muscles to add a slightly worried, concerned furrow to your forehead. This expression is useful when being told you have to stay in a space capsule with someone for two consecutive weeks. 

Get the Hands Involved/Complete Exasperation
Use your hands to get your point across: you don't want to share a locker with Buzz Aldrin. Sometimes the face says what words just cannot convey. 

My Awe-spiration: 

No one has ever been so effective being angry, ever.

Frank Borman photo from Life magazine. The supermodel of the world is Emily Carney.

MSL Delayed by One Day Next Week...

 “The launch of the Atlas V carrying NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), has been delayed one day to allow time for the team to remove and replace a flight termination system battery. The launch is rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 26 at 10:02 a.m. EST.” 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Soyuz TMA-22/Expedition 29 Launch and Mission Updates

Soyuz TMA-22 launches from the snowy Baikonur Cosmodrome November 13, 2011 at 11:14 p.m. EST. This was the first manned launch since July 8 this year (STS-135's launch). The spacecraft will rendezvous with the ISS on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of online.

Check it out at this link above! The launch was flawless and the crew has reached orbit! Yes! 

Their solar arrays were just successfully deployed. Great news for Russia and the U.S. space programs! (Also, I wish I was there in space, too!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Russian Mars' Moon Probe Drama - UPDATED 11/14/2011

The Russian Mars' moon probe Fobos-Grunt (Russian for "Phobos-Ground") was launched yesterday. It was meant to take a tiny sample of the Martian moon Phobos, which would have been the first sample taken from an interplanetary body since 1976. However, it failed to make its planned trajectory towards Mars and is now stuck in Earth's orbit. Russian engineers are attempting to rescue the probe by planning a series of burns and by resetting its computer system. 

Space buffs are worried that the probe may crash back to Earth, potentially unleashing toxic fuel. According to an AP report, a U.S. expert said the probe "could become the most dangerous man made object ever to hit the planet." A more detailed report can be found on

Apparently the spacecraft's orientation system experienced failures, which is why the probe is stuck in Earth's orbit. Hopefully if the spacecraft does have to be deorbited, it can somehow be steered somewhere over the ocean away from land, similar to what happened when the U.S. satellite UARS deorbited earlier this fall. Famed space writer and NASA veteran James Oberg condemned Fobos-Grunt by saying, "The go-for-broke nature of this mission, aiming for the first Russian deep space success in a quarter century, always looked awfully bold, and now looks just plain reckless - whatever happens next." 

Stay informed about this latest space event by checking back with This Space Available; I will be providing updates. 

UPDATE 11/12/2011 - The latest news about Fobos-Grunt is not good as ground controllers have failed to reestablish communications with the space probe. Also, its orbit has dropped. Thanks to my friend Trent for sending me this update.  

UPDATE 11/13/2011 - Fobos-Grunt is officially considered lost. Stay informed for possible reentry information through This Space Available over the next few days.  

UPDATE 11/14/2011 - According to this link from the Planetary Society's blog, all is apparently not lost according to Roskosmos, the Russian space agency. So yeah, keep checking back here...