NASA

A worthy New Year message…..

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20121230-172907.jpgIf this short film produced by the astronauts on the International Space Centre as a new year message to all humanity doesn’t make you think, or at least bring a lump to your throat, you have no soul……

Click on this link to watch it http://bit.ly/VLeyO9

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Taking technology for granted.

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I am a lover of all things tech – there I have admitted it – but mainly due to the way that it helps enrich our lives. I also love the purity of some designs – apple being a case in point. I come from a generation that has seen an amazing amount of change and I sometimes think that our kids just take it all for granted!

20120901-145505.jpgI was at a clients last week (who deal in fruit of the electrical kind) and we got talking about the current NASA mission to Mars, this was partly on the back of the picture of the late Neil Armstrong on their wall. We all agreed that it was frankly amazing that it was possible to view ‘live’ pictures and video from Mars via the NASA app on the iPad. Bare in mind that we are dealing with people from the ‘Apollo’ era here, so we are easily impressed anyway – but come on – live high definition images from half way out of our solar system! That has got to be pretty amazing hasn’t it?

I seem to recall that as a child I was totally in awe of the moon landings and everything that went with them, and i am sure that it was that which helped spark my love of all things techy.The younger generation however just seem to accept it as ‘normal’ and get on with their lives. When we used to go away on family holidays, contact with friends and families at home ceased for two weeks – nowadays kids keep in touch via Skype and Facebook – their normal lives just carry on where ever they are.

Probably a sign that they are totally at ease with things, but aren’t they missing some of the magic?

R.I.P – Neil Armstrong

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As a child I grew up following the Apollo program, I was only 7 when the first man stepped on the moon but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was in black and white on TV in those days obviously, subsequent landings were broadcast in colour, but it is the photos taken on the moon by the astronauts that are most impressive and definitive of the era.

The passing of the first man to step on the moon is a major and sad event. Neil Armstrong was a great man who didn’t exploit his fame for money, a true hero.

R I P Neil Armstrong.

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The stuff of science fiction

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Whenever the subject of the moon and Apollo and NASA comes up in our house I bore my kids about my moon landing scrap book – for which I publicly apologise (sorry kids). However I ‘lived’ the Apollo moon landings, Skylab and everything that followed. It was amazing stuff and I make no apology for being geeky over it all.

But what has happened over the last few days is frankly amazing and something that would have seemed too far fetched even to a moon landing kid of the 70’s like me. The picture below is from Curiosity Rover on Mars, that is a robot the size of a small car that NASA put there. And as if that isn’t enough, they have a photo of it descending by parachute onto the surface (the second picture) – awesome stuff – real science fiction become fact!

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Being an ‘Apollo’ child this appeals!

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I am a child of the NASA Apollo era, I lived the moon landing as a 7 year old and then kept lots of press cuttings for all the program following (sadly I can’t find this scrap book any more). When we have been to Florida as a family we have gone to the space centre and the Saturn 5 is still one of the most amazing things I have ever seen – I believe it is still the most powerful ‘machine’ ever built – not bad for the 1960s!

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The engines in question

So the news that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says he has located the long-submerged F-1 engines that blasted the Apollo 11 Moon mission into space is amazing! The five engines were found using advanced sonar scanning some 14,000ft (4,300m) below the Atlantic Ocean’s surface.

Mr Bezos, billionaire bookseller and spaceflight enthusiast, is making plans to raise one or more of the engines. The F-1 engines were used on the giant Saturn V rocket that carried the Apollo landing module out of the Earth’s atmosphere and towards the Moon. They burned for just a few minutes before separating from the second stage module and falling to Earth somewhere in the Atlantic.

And of course Apollo 11 carried astronauts on the first Moon landing mission in 1969.

The F-1 was a “modern wonder” (that has never been surpassed) it boasted 32 million horsepower and burned 6,000lb (2,720kg) of rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. There are of course examples of unused F-1motors at the space centre, but these are ‘special’. I really hope they are raised and that I can see them next time I go to the space centre!

Sometimes a photo says it all…….

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just stunning.....

Every so often NASA and the European Space Agency release photos taken from their satellites over the Earth. Some show how we are causing problems for our planet – others are just plain stunning – like this one taken over the Iberian peninsular at night…….

The end of an era!

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the last launch is due...

As a child born in the 1960’s I watched the space race develop from the Americans landing on the moon (I was only 7 but remember it) to the collaboration between the US and USSR in the Soyuz/Apollo program on Skylab and then the International Space station.  However once the Saturn Five stopped being launched at the end of the Apollo missions it was all about the Space Shuttle for me.

The Shuttle has obviously had its issues, and some very bad moments, but the sight of it launching has always been something I loved watching. I almost made it to a launch back in 2001, I had managed to obtain tickets from NASA (you could apply on-line) and was due to visit Florida – but then various events prevented the trip and so I did not see the launch.

A subsequent trip was within a few weeks of a launch – again so close……

Now however I will have to add this to my “failures” on my wish list (it also includes a flight on Concorde) as the last flight is due to launch today (although the weather may stop it).

Just in the nick of time Apple have managed to get the iPhone approved for flight (they have made some minor modifications – all wireless communication has been disabled and the battery has been removed. Instead, an external battery pack already certified for use in space will be used. The two units will be used to run some experiments.

So an iPhone 4 will be on the last flight – I am jealous……