Saturday, December 29, 2012

WTF Moments in Spaceflight TV Coverage: Disembodied Dave Scott Heads on TV, 1972 - 1981

The original Disembodied Dave Scott Head as seen on TV, flanked by a nonplussed John Young and Charlie Duke, April 1972. Photo by Retro Space Images.

"Dave? Whut in tarnation are yuh doin' here? Ah am tryin' to fly this dang shuttle. He's always tryin' to steal mah thunder." Disembodied Dave Scott Head, April 1981 version, shows up on ITV expressly to troll John Young. Apparently he's gone prematurely ash blond here. Screenshot from this fantastic video - thank you, Charles Hallan, for sharing this find!

"Someone tell me that I'm going to get paid for this. I want to take my makeup case and go home." Dave grins and bears it. Screenshot from ITV clip. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Let's Remember the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 17's Launch

40 years ago, the last Apollo moon mission lifted off, carrying Gene Cernan, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt and Ron Evans to Taurus Littrow. Here's great launch video taken that night/morning on December 7, 1972. The Saturn V turned night into day! Video by Mr. Dan Beaumont on YouTube.

Best highlight of this video: the onlooker saying, "OH SHIT!" as the main engines light up. My reaction exactly, and I wasn't even there.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Space in 2012: Year in Review...

2012 was the year we conquered Mars again. JPL/NASA photo, taken from the Curiosity Rover. 

Despite the absence of the space shuttle, space in 2012 was far from uneventful. Here are some of the events and happenings that made this year a particularly memorable one in spaceflight and space history. 

  • Mars Curiosity successfully conquers Gale Crater – In August, most space watchers around the world were chewing their nails down to the bone during MSL's EDL phase (entry, descent and landing). Mars is famously treacherous to navigate and JPL only had one chance to get the Curiosity Rover down in one piece. This, of course, included the now infamous "Seven Minutes of Terror" in which people on Earth had no idea if the whole scenario had actually worked. But the sky crane proved its might and Curiosity landed on Mars safely, returning images almost immediately. This proved to be a giant worldwide victory for JPL and NASA and showed that the space program was far from being over. 
  • SpaceX successfully conquers commercial space – In May, SpaceX made its first successful demonstration flight to the ISS. But that wasn't the end of SpaceX's victories in proving the viability of commercial capsules rendezvousing with NASA vehicles: in October, they repeated the May success with another mission to the ISS, despite an engine flare-out upon launch. Let's hope 2013 - 2014 brings more excitement from the ultra-cool SpaceX program – I have no doubts they will bring the goods to the table. I saw the October night launch and it was beyond stunning
  • Astronaut Scholarship Foundation brings the excitement again – In November, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation staged its annual Astronaut Autograph Show. It was a total blast (pardon the awful pun) for all who visited, including yours truly. I look forward to attending next year's event! Seriously, if you can get out to this event, do it – you've never had such fun with 80-year-old badasses. And, of course, proceeds go to student scholarships, which is an awesome cause and one to champion. 
  • John Young FINALLY drops his autobiography – In September, vintage badass John Young released Forever Young, after years of making vague, politely-worded threats to release memoirs. While it has received mixed reviews (some parts of the book are factually incorrect, but the man is 82 and memory is fallible, so I can understand...I barely remember what I did last week), it is filled with sometimes hilarious memories of Gus Grissom and sheds light upon his surprisingly tumultuous upbringing. Also, it has some great photos in it of a young badass in training. If you're a space freak, you have to read this...enough said. 
  • Some sad losses – During the summer, the spaceflight community lost two of its biggest heroes, Sally Ride and Neil Armstrong. They'll always be missed and the spaceflight community will forever be indebted to their amazing achievements and inspiration. These astronauts truly left a momentous legacy. We also lost some other great figures in spaceflight, such as Sam Beddingfield, pioneering NASA engineer and test pilot, who was good friends with Gus. We suspect there is a hell of a reunion going on about now.
  • NASA Socials – In 2012, NASA kept on keeping on, performing social media outreach with its NASA Socials. I was honored to attend two of these events (the KSC 50th anniversary social and the SpaceX one in October). NASA is the only federal agency I know of which invites its fans to its facilities to spread the word about space issues and awareness. It's a wonderful system and I hope I can get back to one of these events in the future, although I would love to see lots of first-time "Space Tweeps" invited to these events to experience the thrill of being up-close with history. 
Can you think of other events in spaceflight that happened in 2012? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. I know I'm missing a lot of stuff! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Mars Finding Everyone Is Talking About, But No One Quite Knows What It Is Yet...

My creation. 

According to our buddies at Caltech and JPL, Mars Curiosity has made a huge Mars discovery that "is gonna be one for the history books," according to a report to NPR by chief scientist John Grotzinger. has the full report on the big discovery that everyone is talking about, but no one is quite sure what it is as of yet. 

Can you guess what this big find is? Here are some of mine: 
  • Curiosity discovered Tupac and Ian Curtis hanging out, together, by the Martian DoubleTree Hilton pool and trading pop music war stories; 
  • Curiosity found that Viking 1 and Viking 2 made Viking love and had many Viking babies, who are now around my age (34 – 35); 
  • Curiosity discovered that John Young had somehow visited Mars on the sly during the 1970s when no one was looking, bringing his number of spaceflights to seven (or eight, depending on if you count him lifting off from the Moon as a "spaceflight"); 
  • Curiosity found that lakes on Mars actually contained Pepsi; or
  • Curiosity located the cast of Lost in Gale Crater, thus ending the extreme confusion over the show's hasty ending. 
Do you have any guesses as to what Curiosity discovered on Mars? Leave them in the comments. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Oh S--t, Jack Attack is Back: Jack Swigert of the Week, LEM-Style

"Does this LEM come with ladies? What? It was just a question." International playboy Jack Swigert in a 1966 NASA portrait, featuring an autopen signature.

The Enduring Mystique of John Young

When smoke gets in your eyes: 1965 Life magazine photo. 

In September, John Young's autobiography Forever Young, edited by Neil Armstrong's biographer James Hansen, was released at long last. So far, the biography has received mixed reviews – there are, alas, some factual errors in the book. Memory is fallible and John Young is 82 years old. However, there was one fact Young finally admitted to in the book that piqued my interest.

In the chapter discussing his childhood, Young remembered something from when he was merely five years old, which had to have taken place circa 1935 or 1936. One night, his mother was taken from the family's home in a funny-looking nightgown. Years later, Young realized what the nightgown really was – it was a straitjacket. 

John had no idea his mother had schizophrenia, a mental illness that is not understood well in 2012, much less in the mid-1930s. His mother, Wanda, was taken to Florida's state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which at best was a grim place; it was Florida's only state institution until 1947. Despite having absentee parents (his father, Hugh, was away during most of his childhood due to World War II), John succeeded in school and would attend Georgia Tech, taking a US Navy commission upon graduation. The rest, as they say, was history; John Young ended up becoming a test pilot and one of the most iconic US astronauts. He made it all look incredibly easy, in retrospect. 

Maybe I'm reading way too much into the admission that John Young grew up without a mother, but to me, this shed some light upon the enduring enigma that is his life. Young is rather famously shy and quiet about press attention and often looked fairly uncomfortable in the spotlight, starting as early as 1962 when he and his fellow New Nine colleagues were paraded around at various NASA press conferences. This shyness persisted through his last known public appearances in the last decade, around 2009. Even his Gemini 10 partner, Mike Collins, described him as "mysterious" in his 1973 book, Carrying the Fire. Collins made it clear that despite the hundreds of hours he spent with Young, he didn't really "know" him. 

Maybe John was nervous about people knowing too much about him and making judgments based on his family history. Maybe there was part of him slightly terrified of possibly being compared to his own mother, despite his calmness and noted reticence. Or maybe he just wanted some peace and quiet away from the glare of the flashbulbs. Who knows – as far as I know, John won't be available to talk about these things. Despite the release of his autobiography, John Young is still a closed book. Perhaps that's how he would have wanted it. 

What I do know is that despite some of the errors in the book, Forever Young is essential reading for space buffs. John's memories of Gus Grissom – an astronaut whose life was even more of a mystery, due to his untimely early death – are wonderful and deserve attention. It just strikes me that in a bid to get closer to the public – and with the admission of a somewhat flawed, less-than-perfect childhood – John Young remains more of a mystery than ever, even after setting down his life story on paper. What a way to say one final "goodbye" to public life.

1963 Life magazine photo. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

To my fellow veterans, regardless of branch...thank you for your service. Emily (Howlett) Carney, USN, 1997 - 2003

Monday, November 5, 2012

"Julie Jones: Cape Canaveral Nurse" Alternate Ending? Why Not...

Could you love a man who lived with danger? Read on. 

At the ASF Astronaut Autograph Show this weekend, Francis French had some copies of 1960s NASA nurse romance novels, which were a real thing back then. He was with Dee O'Hara, who was THE NASA nurse, and is a legend in her own right. 

I've never read these books, but I read the back blurb once...the plot detailed Nurse Jones' frustrations at being in love with some high-flying doctor who was in a dangerous position in the space program. However, of course This Space Available wasn't happy with the plot and wrote what probably really happened. Here is, for the first time since 1963, the new, alternate ending to Julie Jones: Cape Canaveral Nurse...after the jump!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

ASF's Astronaut Autograph Show...Part 2

Me talking Apollo 12 party times with Dick Gordon (left) and Sweet Al Bean (right.) Thank you, Kristen, for taking this photo!

ALAN BEAN (Apollo 12 and Skylab 3) and DICK GORDON (Gemini 11 and Apollo 12): Adorable. We talked about Pete Conrad for a few minutes, which was downright surreal. Oh my goodness. 

JOE KERWIN (Skylab 2) and PAUL WEITZ (Skylab 2 and STS-6): Kerwin was downright adorable (word of the day) and very talkative. His former crew mate, Paul Weitz, was very soft-spoken and funny. I am a longtime Skylab fangirl and I am honored to possess their autographs. They were awesome and a lot of fun to chat with. 

I also met tons more of iconic astronauts - the photos are in this album on Facebook. All in all, it was a very positive and fun experience...I highly recommend this autograph show experience to all space buffs. I also was honored to meet Francis French, an awesome author, and Dee O'Hara, NASA's go-to nurse in its golden era. It was just so much fun, gah. 

I would also like to thank my friend Jonathan Ward for taking tons of awesome photos, J.L. Pickering (in addition...the Gemini 4 Retro Space Images disc is amazing) and Tim Gagnon, space artist and maker of awesome commemorative patches. I am probably missing lots of people, but I thank you all, especially the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation for putting together such a diverse and awesome range of personalities in one place. I'll be there again in 2013!

ASF's 2012 Astronaut Autograph Show Round Up...Part 1

"What is this about space hipsters? SUMBITCH." Gene Cernan, Last Man in Your Face™, with me, November 3, 2012. 

So, I went to my first ASF Astronaut Autograph Show yesterday and had a total blast (pardon the pun). Here's my round up of all the different, ahem, personalities there. 

GENE CERNAN (Gemini 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 17): Gruff. Showed him This Space Available on my phone and he also manhandled my copy of Falling to Earth. He's a lot like Tom Stafford (which is not shocking). However, he was very cool and very...Gene-like. BEST QUOTE: "What the hell is a 'space blog'?" (Upon showing him this blog on my iPhone.)

I AM NOT STALKING DAVE SCOTT HERE. Not even a little bit.

DAVE SCOTT (Gemini 8, Apollo 9 and Apollo 15): Dave will not pose for photos unless you purchase his autograph, which was not shocking. However, he wasn't rude. In fact, he was...hilariously flirty and winked at me. Handsome Dave Scott™ lived up to his promise as one of NASA's oddest, inscrutable, flirtiest divaz. He's still handsome, laydeez!


 JIM MCDIVITT (Gemini 4 and Apollo 9): Jim McDivitt is awesome. If Jim McDivitt ran for president, I'd vote for him each election year. If GI Joe made a Jim McDivitt doll, I'd probably own 40. He was absolutely hilarious, friendly, warm and talkative. BEST QUOTES: "Damn, look at that handsome young man." (Upon looking at a 1965 photo of himself in a Gemini spacesuit.) Also: "I'm 83. I don't remember what happened this morning...much less in 1965." 

There are plenty more hilarious, awesome moments to share, so I'll continue with Part 2 later...also, I have lots of thanks to give to tons of wonderful people I was blessed to meet this weekend!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Astronaut Hysteria, Coming To You From KSC This Weekend

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's 2012 Astronaut Autograph Show will take place from Thursday, Nov. 1, to Saturday, Nov. 3. 

I will be going after the Atlantis relocation, which takes place Friday, Nov. 2, on Saturday. Woot! Lots of astros will be there, including Joe Kerwin (I hope he doesn't punch me for referring to him as "Squishy" online) and JIM MCDIVITT. Yes, one half of Gemini 4 will be there, among many, many others...including moonwalkers. Do you die? I hope to stay alive long enough to get some photos. 

So, expect some hysteria and screams enthusiasm on my end, coming from the Kennedy Space Center region. 

Also, for those readers up north, please stay safe during Hurricane Sandy. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Did You Miss Felix Baumgartner's Space Jump? Don't Fret, Here Are Highlights

Felix Baumgartner jumps, Oct. 14, 2012. Image by spaceplasma on Tumblr...I own nothing.

For some reason Blogger is being crabby about embedding video again, so here's a link to the Red Bull Stratos space jump highlight video. It is 100 percent badass. 

For those who may not know what happened:

Earlier this afternoon, Felix Baumgartner jumped from an altitude of over 128,000 feet (that's approximately 24 miles) from the edge of space. More photos and highlights are at the Red Bull Stratos website. He fell to Earth, breaking the sound barrier (at Mach 1.24), making the highest ever free fall. I'm sure more photos and videos will follow, but the view was completely mind-blowing.

With the SpaceX launch/docking and this, it has been a pretty awesome week in aeronautics and space.

UPDATE: Click on this link to see the entire video of the jump!

...And click on this one for the post-jump press conference!

Watch Felix Baumgartner Attempt to Jump From Space

Click on this link to see Felix Baumgartner attempt to jump from space this morning.

Godspeed, Felix!

UPDATE: HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Let's Talk About Al Worden's Book, Falling to Earth

Al Worden engages in some awesomely WTF behavior circa 1967. Photos from Falling to Earth's page on Facebook. Yes, he is drinking a beer. 

So yeah, if you haven't read this book yet, you probably need to do it, now. I've had it for a while and have probably reread it about three times.

This book gets This Space Available's endorsement. Falling to Earth is pretty hilarious (these photos of Al's "gotcha" aren't in the book, but the story surrounding them is) and breathtakingly heartbreaking. Col. Worden tells readers what really happened surrounding the Apollo 15 stamp situation and it is infuriating. One has to give kudos to Worden for maintaining his class and dignity about the whole thing (I wouldn't have). One wishes this book had been published 30 years back, so he would have had the opportunity to get his story out sooner. It's a candid, blunt tale. 

It does have a happy ending. He gets back in NASA's good graces and goes on to continue being an ambassador of the space program. But, there's lots of hilarity. Some pointers: look for the stories about the Bad Boys of Apollo and, of course, the legendary prank pictured here. I wish the alternate title had been Only My Mama Can Call Me Sonny, but that's a story for another time (it's also explained in the book). 

"LOL, welcome to your wonderfully remodeled hotel room. Hope you like it. Bitches."

Worden previously had written Hello Earth – Greetings from Endeavour, a book of poetry, following his return to Earth in the 1970s. I haven't gotten my mitts on it yet, but it looks pretty cool and a bit brave for an astronaut to tackle (I haven't seen other astronauts do coffeehouse-style slam poetry...that is edgy for the 1970s). 

Have you read Falling to Earth? If so, leave your thoughts in the comments section. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Watch Red Bull Stratos Space Jump Live

Watch Felix Baumgartner free fall jump live from the edge of space (over 120,000 feet in altitude) this morning. Click on the video for current updates. 

The only man to achieve a similar feat was U.S. Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger in 1960, whose record still stands (as of this minute). He will be aiding Baumgartner in today's jump. 

UPDATE: The jump was aborted this day due to high winds. According to Red Bull Stratos on Facebook, the next attempt window will be Sunday, Oct. 14 at 6:30 a.m. MDT. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

More SpaceX Highlights: Pre- and Post-Launch Press Conferences

Me with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, October 7. It left the Earth's bounds less than 7 hours later. 

Here are some links to the SpaceX press conferences that took place from October 6 to October 7. For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me embed video, so click on these links: 

Dragon Carrying Slew of Science to Station;

SpaceX Ready for Historic Flight

Post-Launch Press Conference; and 

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Praises SpaceX Launch

These links are courtesy of NASA Television on YouTube. I own nothing...except the amazing bitchface in the top video from 38:33 - 38:57. Also, I'm asking a question at 24:34 in the second video...woot! 

Thank you, NASA and SpaceX, for this amazing experience!

Contrary to my facial expression, I was perfectly happy! From a SpaceX press conference, October 6. Screenshot by Trent Faust - thank you! 

The SpaceX Experience: SpaceX Dragon CRS-1 NASA Social, October 6 - 7, 2012

About as real as it gets: Space X Falcon 9 launch, 8:35 p.m. EDT, October 7, 2012. 

Lori Garver, NASA's Deputy Administrator, October 7, 2012. 

I just came back from the Cape, having enjoyed the SpaceX launch experience last night. I was honored to have participated in the NASA Social for the launch this weekend. I tell you what - don't be tricked by its small size: the SpaceX Falcon 9 has some real juice to it. Here's video above, with audio, Florida News Network's Steve Carney took right next to me as the rocket thundered into space. 

Yes, it was really that badass. I've seen night launches before, but this was really something to behold. I don't have great photos of the launch, because I was just sitting back and enjoying it. In addition to seeing that sight, us space Tweeps also got to see the rocket on the pad, were embedded with news media in press conferences and treated like kings and queens, and also got to meet the woman above. And this guy:

Charlie Bolden, NASA's Administrator and shuttle badass/legend. 

NASA and SpaceX really outdid themselves as usual and the social was an amazing event. I got to realize one of my lifelong dreams this weekend: I got to participate in televised press conferences and ask Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president, about the launch. I finally made it! It was a great way to champion the cause of spaceflight. 

I am very fortunate and grateful to have been invited to this historic launch, and I recommend the NASA Social experience to all space buffs or people who simply like to have a great time.

A "Falcon" ready to take flight: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket after being hoisted vertically on October 7, 2012. The Dragon capsule on board is set to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Wednesday, October 10. 

All photos by Emily Carney; video by Steve Carney. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Note to newcomers to this blog or people who aren't familiar with me/what I do...

I’ve gotten some messages over the last few weeks concerning people who think I personally know some of the astronauts I fangirl over/write about here. 
For the record, I don’t personally know anyone I write about. 
I’ve been lucky to have had brushes with some of them, but that’s about it. I’ve also been blessed to meet and know some amazing people who are in the spaceflight community, who are awesome - and they know who they are. But I respect their privacy. 
Also, if I was blessed enough to be personal chums with any of the great men and women who have flown for NASA/Roskosmos/ESA/other, I wouldn’t share any of their phone numbers, addresses, or email addresses with anyone due to me respecting peoples’ privacy. Yes, I’ve gotten messages from people - not people in the spaceflight community, but random fans - asking me for personal information. 
I would never give out anyone's personal information, regardless of their level of fame/infamy/whatever. 
Thank you; I hope this note didn’t sound too snarky, but I just wanted to clear this up. I merely live vicariously through space travelers, but I don’t personally know any of them. If I did, I wouldn’t share their personal information, because they probably would have the respect not to share mine or anyone else’s.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

SpaceX CRS-1 Launch? Yeah, I Got That.

Hey guys and gals, I know I don't update this space as diligently as I should (life and work happens, and I've been very busy - happily so!), but I haven't forgotten about spaceflight. 

In fact, I will be at SpaceX's next launch on Sunday, Oct. 7. I am quite honored to have been invited to the NASA Social for this historic event. 

So, I will be providing pictures and updates about this event. I will be at the KSC Press Annex Saturday and Sunday, for all of the pre- and post-launch events. Also, I'm hoping to scope out some of the various space sites in the area, such as the Space Walk of Fame Museum (I've been there before, but it's a wonderful place). 

Feel free to hit me up on Facebook ( or my group on Facebook, Space Hipsters (yes, that's really its name - If I don't update this blog immediately, I'll definitely have some stuff there. Happy launching! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Neil's Next Journey Is Just Beginning

The memorial service for Neil Armstrong, held yesterday, September 13, at Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral. 

Thank you to NASA Television on YouTube for posting this. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Goodnight, Moon...Goodnight, Neil

Neil Armstrong passed away this afternoon. 

Here's his family's statement, which ends with these words:
“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”
Tonight, wink at the moon. Feel free to leave your memories of Neil in the comments section. 

Rest in peace, Neil. Always loved, always missed. 

"Goodnight, Moon." Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong wave to crowds, 1969.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Selections From The Book of Cernan, Part 1

"This docking adapter is a sonofabitch. F--k it." Gene Cernan and Tom Stafford, cuss word architects, 1966.

So I'm currently avoiding writing about the NASA Social, because it was so awesome I can't even begin to wrap my head around it. Instead, here are some Selections from The Book of Cernan, aka The Last Man on the Moon by Eugene Cernan and Don Davis. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

Tom Stafford, aka “Mumbles,” discussing Cernan’s helicopter crash, page 263: 
“‘You dumb f--king shit, what the hell did you do? I’m out here trying to make sure you command Seventeen, and you just may have f--ked it all up.’ For a slow-talking Oklahoman, Stafford sure had a way with words. I had somehow managed to cheat death and he was making me feel guilty for ruining his day.”
Charlie Duke and Stuart Roosa, Adorable Astronauts, play a mean trick on Cernan, page 287:  
“No mercy. Stu Roosa and Charlie Duke killed a six-foot-long rattlesnake on the track behind the simulator building at the Cape, cut off its head and planned a major league gotcha…
Just as I reached for the telephone, I caught sight of the curled, scaly monster and my f--king heart stopped. I came out of the chair like I had a rocket up my butt, and slammed flat against the wall clear on the other side of the room, staring wildly at that big damned snake. Sonofabitch!”
 More to come, because this book is absolutely hilarious. 

"What? But I'm nice! I wouldn't do anything like that." Stuart Roosa plots, 1971. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

MSL's Landing Post, Aug. 5 - 6, 2012

11:03 p.m.: To watch it live, check out NASA TV online. Programming begins at 11:30 p.m. EDT. Hey guys!

11:33 p.m.: Here's MSL now: 

Thanks Eyes on the Solar System for this awesome look at MSL!

12:11 a.m.: Curiosity is now on her own, officially.  

12:51 a.m.: I'm getting stressed just looking at the control room. It's gonna be a long night. 

1:16 a.m.: Curiosity is apparently spinning down for entry. Sweating bullets.  

1:19 a.m.: Five minutes until entry.  

1:23 a.m.: One minute until entry.

1:25 a.m.: At entry interface...SOMEBODY HOLD MY HAND PLZ  

1:26 a.m.: Almost at the point where parachutes will deploy. GO BABY, GO. We have data from Mars Odyssey. 

1:28 a.m.: Mach 2.4.  


1:30 a.m.: We have radar!!! 

1:31 a.m.: Powered flight. 


1:32 a.m.: WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

1:33 a.m.: WE'RE WAITING FOR IMAGES. This is a historic moment.  

1:38 a.m.:

LUCY, I'M HOME: The first hi-res image of Mars from Curiosity. It has wheels!

KSC 50th Anniversary/MSL NASA Social, Aug. 2 - 3 , 2012, and MSL's Landing!

Hey all, I need some time to even synthesize my thoughts about the Kennedy Space Center NASA Social. Tonight, I will be liveblogging the MSL landing. Here's my scientific diagram showing what MSL will look like on the surface of Mars tonight/this morning: 

(It's safe, just a bit tired. Click to enlarge the image.) 

Watch this space for further updates!!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kennedy Space Center 50th Anniversary/MSL NASA Social...Yeah, I'll Be There

Happy 50th Anniversary, Kennedy Space Center! Photoshop masterpiece courtesy of Scott at Play Space on Tumblr. My most gracious thanks to you, sir!

One of my favorite places in the world, Kennedy Space Center, is celebrating its 50th year. On Thursday, August 2, and Friday, August 3, NASA is inviting 50 of its social media followers to a NASA Social celebrating this accomplishment. I will be there!

So yeah, expect lots of Internet-shrieking and fangirling from my side of the world later this week. I intend to be blogging from the event and I promise to take lots of photos. Also, dear reader, you can follow me on my personal Twitter account, as I'll be updating that too. 

We will also be treated to a preview of MSL's upcoming landing, which will be about as challenging as fitting three gallons of crazy into a two gallon bucket (I did not make up that phrase...a good friend did, and it's apt to describe MSL's landing).

So yeah, if you don't like lots of updates about the Space Coast and other happenings in that area, you can feel free to...

Deal With It Dave strikes again. Dave Scott, before Apollo 15, 1971 NASA photo. Lolz added by me. Because I had to get a gratuitous mention of Apollo 15 in here (it's also Apollo 15's 41st anniversary this week!). 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grief - 7/23/2012

STS-7 crew, 1983. Sally Ride, John Fabian, Bob Crippen, Norman Thagard and Fred Hauck. 

I hate it when people write tributes or ruminations about people they admired and attempt to make the piece about their own life, rather selfishly, but in this case, I'm going to have to make a departure. 

I remember when Sally Ride became the first U.S. woman in space with her STS-7 flight in 1983. In 1963, the USSR sent the first woman into space, Valentina Tereshkova. It took our country 20 years to get with the program and send our own women into space; the Mercury 13 were rather unceremoniously blocked from being womankind's first foray into spaceflight in the 1960s. Sally Ride was literally the first woman who entered my consciousness as having a career in science. For me, this was a huge deal and I wanted to be like her some day, having an awesome career in any field of my choosing. Because of her, I really think I was able to do that. The next big role model I remember was Judith Resnik, also a great astronaut and scientist.

I got the news of Sally's passing from my husband as I walked in the door; I had just gotten home from work. It was a good thing he gave the news to me after work, as I am a bit of an emotional mess...I flashed back to all of those spaceflight books I devoured as a kid and remembered how awesome, carefree and smart Sally seemed, with her flying hair and her jaunty smile. Did it really seemed like those days would ever end? Not this soon. Just looking at the achievements of my female friends in all fields - not just science - one can understand how Sally Ride did so much for us and made so much eminently possible in our lifetimes.

Here's the official press release. Like I said, I loathe self-serving tributes...I hate it when people equate others' losses with themselves, if that even makes any sense. But Sally really made a very positive impact on my life and I know she made a huge impact on the lives of so many young women. Her death will not end that, as death never really ends anything. I know the stars are a better place tonight, because of her. 

"...In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night."

 - Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, The Little Prince 

Sally's handprints, from the Space Walk of Fame Museum, Titusville, Florida. Photo by Emily Carney.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Happy (Belated) Moon Day: Here's Neil Armstrong Eating Fried Chicken

On July 20, 1969, this quiet, unassuming Ohioan flew a spaceship to the moon and became the first man to walk on its surface. Our hats are off to you on your big anniversary, sir. Enjoy your chicken.

The gang's all here: Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins and Neil, with an inflatable moon.

Both photos are from Life magazine, 1969.

Monday, July 16, 2012

John Young's Greatest Hits, Part 2

Crip's all business, while John is a clown. STS-1 25th anniversary talk, 2006. 

If you ever had doubts about John Young's comedy prowess, watch this clip here (it's 53 minutes long, so get some tea and a snack). 

  • John discusses what would have happened if software hadn't canceled out aerodynamic sideslip on STS-1 ("You'd still be lookin' for us...");
  • Calls modern lunar/interplanetary landing techniques for "a bunch of sissies";
  • Just watch the entire clip. Seriously. The whole thing is hilarious. "How many of y'all worked on Gemini?"
I just reread Andrew Smith's book, Moondust, and giggled at John all over again. He was blatantly trolling the poor interviewer there by not looking at him and basically being a smartass, but it had a great result. John's contribution is one of the greatest parts of the book and I think revealed the most about him (well, more than other books have, but his memoir is on its way...). Viva John forever!

Pool partiez, 1969. Life magazine photo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hey Guys, Remember That Time We Nuked Space?

The resulting explosion from the Starfish Prime warhead over Maui, July 9, 1962. Photo from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Death, pretty death!

...How could possibly anything go wrong?

As most people know, the United States and the former Soviet Union were locked in a Cold War during the 1950s and 1960s. The "Space Race," in part, happened due to the Cold War, as the U.S. wanted to outdo everything and anything the USSR had to offer. It's no secret that during this period, there was a lot of nuclear testing, both underground and above ground. Well, at some point, both the U.S. and USSR decided it was a good idea to see what would happen if they nuked space. Yes. SPACE WAS NUKED. I didn't make that up. 

Starfish Prime was detonated 250 miles above the Earth on July 9, 1962. To this day, it remains the biggest high-altitude nuclear explosion and its effects were momentous. Above, one can view the magnificent aurora caused by the explosion - beta particles were attracted to the planet's magnetic field and lit up the sky like a Christmas tree. However, high-energy electrons formed radiation belts. This would cause problems...the following day, Telstar 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral, becoming the first communications satellite to relay television pictures. It orbited along the Van Allen Belt, which had been energized by the nuclear warhead's blast. Within a few months, the radiation damaged its electronics, causing it to fail. By February 21, 1963, the satellite failed, although it is still in Earth's orbit (amazingly enough). Over the next few months, seven satellites failed due to radiation bombardment. The effects of Starfish Prime were felt through 1968, more than five years after the explosion. 

In conclusion, here's a lesson learned: don't send stuff, in general - living or dead - into space along the path of a very recent nuclear detonation. You might get a bad sunburn, or worse. 

For further reading, check out this 1964 NASA report on the effects of high-altitude nuclear explosions. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Having a Busy Month, BRB

I know I've been bad about updating this blog, so here's a picture of Jim and Ed to cheer you up. 1965 Life magazine photo.

The good news: I've been extremely busy at work and will continue to stay busy through this month. I look at this as a positive thing. However, that means I probably won't be able to update this blog for a while...I've missed a lot of events, including most of SpaceX and the Venus transit across the sun today. 

At any rate, I promise to be back soon when the dust settles and I hope to update this space with more lolzworthy, vaguely heartwarming spaceflight stories. Hang in there, I'll be back soon!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Here We Go Again...SpaceX Launch Rescheduled Tomorrow Morning...

The launch of SpaceX/Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch early Tuesday morning. At 3:44 a.m.

Yeah, I will unfortunately not be going anywhere to view this, because that is extremely early and I have work in the morning. I will try to catch it on TV, though. Check out This Space Available for updates and we'll see what unfolds in the wee hours of Tuesday, May 22...

UPDATE: Yeah, it launched. I've been super-busy at my job, so I haven't been too diligent with my updates, but the launch of Falcon 9 was a success! Yay!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

SpaceX Launch Scheduled for this Morning at 4:55 a.m. (Updated: Nope, It Was Scrubbed)

Yep. So far, it's a go. I'm going to try to get some pictures at a local beach. Fingers crossed...been crazy busy here, hence the lack of updates recently.

EDIT: It was aborted. Dang it...I will post further updates later after I pass out for a while.

EDIT #2: From Spaceflight Now

"Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, says technicians will inspect Engine No. 5 on the Falcon 9's first stage beginning at around 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT). Further data analysis of readings from the engine during the ignition prompted SpaceX to order hands-on inspections before clearing the rocket for liftoff.

The next launch opportunity is still Tuesday at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT), but that is pending the outcome of today's inspection.

Shotwell said the abort was triggered one-half second before liftoff after all nine engines were ignited.

Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA's commercial crew and cargo manager, said there should be another launch opportunity May 23 at 3:22 a.m. EDT (0722 GMT)."

There you have it. In happier news, there was a great ISS pass at 4:43 a.m., visible to the east. I had my crappy cell phone camera only, but it was quite visible, albeit quick.

Check This Space Available (and Spaceflight Now...great website with the latest updates in real-time, plus streaming video) for future updates.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brushes with Badassery, or How I Met Tom Stafford

Gen. Tom Stafford bravely deals with my nervous giggling and dorkiness. April 14, 2012. Photo by me. 

I'm basically copying this text from my Tumblr blog, As Only NASA Can, but I wanted to recap my Apollo 16 Anniversary experience at KSC. Oh, it was beyond amazing.

Anyway, we did our bus tour and disembarked at one point near the shuttle/Apollo launch pads (39A to be specific). A bus rolled up and out came Stafford and Gordon. Gordon was drinking water like a boss. He was dispatched to the other tour bus.

Anyway, TP (Tom Stafford's nickname) strolled up to our group. I seriously thought I was going to collapse and couldn’t believe it. I’ve been looking at pictures of this guy in books for over 30 years and to see him in real life - knowing he was real and not some unreal figure from a book who accomplished all the things he did - was downright surreal. 

I muttered something incomprehensible about Apollo 10 (“That looked fun!” - One of the derpiest comments I’ve ever made to anyone) and he was like, “Yeah. I did that. With John Young and Gene Cernan.” In the same voice most people say, “Yeah, I went to the store.” I couldn’t stop smiling. Having TP look directly at you is crazy. 

After our bus tour (I sound like such a jerk, but I’ve seen the KSC facilities and was in a stupor by this point) we disembarked again at the Apollo Saturn V center. He was standing there being pursued by some dudes who wanted to talk. I went up to him and just said, “General, I just want to shake your hand.” He smiled and shook my hand and said, “Why, thank you, young lady.” Now I can tell my descendants that I shook a space pioneer’s hand. Holy crap. 

I didn’t get an opportunity to speak to Duke, Mitchell or Haise (everyone was pretty pressed for time) but it was so weird to see those guys there and not in my space books I collected as a child. Duke still looks boyish and young. Mitchell is DEEP and strikes me as being extremely intelligent and underrated. Haise was unexpectedly hilarious. Here’s a real snippet from their panel discussion:
Member of audience: What does the moon smell like?
Duke: Well, you don’t get to smell it in the suit, but the dust in the LM smelled like gunpowder.
Mitchell: Yeah. It smelled like lava.
Haise: Well… (At this point everyone cracked up)
Also, Charlie Walker is the nicest dude ever. He’s another one I used to read about in the 1980s. Holy CRAP I can’t believe any of this stuff happened to me. I am still in shock. Walker’s lecture was pretty awesome, too and very inspiring. He worked for McDonnell Douglas and ended up becoming an astronaut himself. Amazing. 

Charlie Duke, Edgar Mitchell and Fred Haise, April 14, 2012. Photo by me. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What I'll Be Doing Next Weekend

I am not worthy. I AM NOT WORTHY, etc. 

Next Saturday, April 14, Kennedy Space Center will be having an Apollo 16 40th Anniversary Event.

Here's what's going to happen: four buses will be touring sites around the space center, with tours being provided by none other than Tom Stafford, Jim Lovell, Walter Cunningham and Dick Gordon. If you don't know who they are, I suggest you Google their names, because they're total badasses. There's going to then be a panel discussion, led by some guys named Charlie Duke, Fred Haise and Edgar Mitchell. Yeah, just some dudes. Who all orbited and/or walked on the Moon at some point. 

I am completely not worthy of attending this event, but I will be there. I wish I could take all of my readers with me to enjoy this. However, I will be taking tons of photos and I will share them here, as well as on my Facebook.

A bit of background: Apollo 16 launched April 16, 1972, and boasted the crew of John W. Young, Charlie Duke and Thomas "Ken" Mattingly. This was Apollo's first and only all-Southern crew. Young and Duke explored the Moon's Descartes Highlands region to sometimes hilarious effect. They splashed down April 27. The final Moon mission, Apollo 17, took place in December 1972. Sadly, we haven't returned yet. I hope we do sooner than later, at least during my lifetime. I feel legitimately disappointed that I never got to see an Apollo launch (I was born in 1978. Drat!). 

Watch this space for updates and plenty o' photos. I will try not to shriek like an 11-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert. I can't make any promises. 

Here's the crew of Apollo 16, 1972. From left, Thomas "Ken" Mattingly, John W. Young and Charlie Duke.