Posts Tagged ‘space’

Suggesting Innovative Uses For Retired Space Shuttles

July 24th, 2011 07:40 admin View Comments


coondoggie writes “It was a sad event when the iconic NASA Space Shuttle program ended last week with the landing of Atlantis. After the last mission the flying shuttles will all be assigned to museums where millions will admire them as static displays. But wouldn’t it be cool if they were put to use in places where you might not expect?” (Best viewed with the slide-show consolidating software of your choice.)

Source: Suggesting Innovative Uses For Retired Space Shuttles

Atlantis’ Final Reentry Over Cancun, Mexico

July 22nd, 2011 07:37 admin View Comments


astroengine writes “Once again, videographer Noe Castillo has captured space shuttle history through his camera lens. On June 1, 2011, he witnessed the final reentry of space shuttle Endeavour. Now he’s released a video via his YouTube account showing the final reentry of Atlantis… and the final reentry of any space shuttle.” Many other cameras were trained on Atlantis yesterday, including one from the ISS, which captured the re-entry from the other side. Thierry Legault caught Atlantis transiting the sun for the last time, and NASA has pictures and video of the landing.

Source: Atlantis’ Final Reentry Over Cancun, Mexico

Sheikh Carves His Name In Desert So It’s Visible From Space

July 20th, 2011 07:40 admin View Comments


While it isn’t as cool as carving his name on the surface of the moon with a giant heat ray, Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Ahyan’s enormous signature is quite an accomplishment nonetheless. Measuring 1,000 meters high and two miles long, the sheiks name is now visible from space. From the article: “And rather than allow the writing to be washed away by the ocean, the letters actually form waterways that absorb the encroaching tide.The ruler’s name is even visible on Google’s map service. Hamad dreamed up the idea and had his workmen toil for weeks to craft the enormous piece of sand graffiti. It is not known how much it cost to make.”

Source: Sheikh Carves His Name In Desert So It’s Visible From Space

Understanding the Payoffs From Investing In Space Flight

July 16th, 2011 07:20 admin View Comments


A story at explains how the technological benefits reaped from investing in the US space program are numerous, but often indirect or difficult to explain. Quoting: “NASA has recorded about 1,600 new technologies or inventions each year for the past several decades, but far fewer become commercial products, said Daniel Lockney, technology transfer program executive at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. … ‘We didn’t know that by building the space shuttle main engines we’d also get a new implantable heart device,’ Lockney said. ‘There’s also a bunch of stuff we don’t know we’re going to learn, which leads to serendipitous spinoffs.’ … But some innovations do not appear as a straight line drawn from NASA to commercial products. The U.S. space agency may not claim credit for computers and the digital revolution that followed, but it did create a pool of talent that perhaps contributed to that transformation of modern life. NASA brought together hundreds of the brightest scientists and engineers in the 1970s to work on the guidance computers that helped the Apollo missions land humans on the moon. When the Apollo era ended, many of those people dispersed to private companies and to Silicon Valley.”

Source: Understanding the Payoffs From Investing In Space Flight

Last NASA Spacewalk Marks End of Era

July 13th, 2011 07:59 admin View Comments


An anonymous reader writes “Astronauts embarked on the final space walk of the US shuttle era at the International Space Station, where Atlantis is docked on the final mission of the 30-year US program. Atlantis carries a year’s worth of supplies — more than 3,600 kilograms — for the International Space Station. It will also bring up a system that will be used by Canada’s Dextre robot to test a system for refuelling and repairing spacecraft and satellites in space.”

Source: Last NASA Spacewalk Marks End of Era

Exercise Your Thumbs and Eyeballs With a Tiny Space Invaders Cabinet

July 12th, 2011 07:32 admin View Comments

Hardware Hacking

dotarray writes with this piece on GamePron with a piece of game pr0n: “If you’re big on nostalgia, but small on space, we might just have the solution for you. A clever gentleman has created a teeny-tiny ’80s arcade cabinet that will fit happily on your desktop – and while it might look like a mere mock-up, this one actually works, playing Space Invaders on the miniature screen.”

Source: Exercise Your Thumbs and Eyeballs With a Tiny Space Invaders Cabinet

CmdrTaco Watches Atlantis Liftoff

July 11th, 2011 07:15 admin View Comments


When someone offers you the once in a lifetime chance to see something as historic as the final Space Shuttle Flight: You go. As a child I assembled a puzzle of the Challenger illuminated by those bright xenon lights, and dreamt of space flight. And last week I went to see the last launch the world will ever see of a Space Shuttle. Atlantis. STS-135. What follows is the story of my brief stay at the Kennedy Space Center.

Source: CmdrTaco Watches Atlantis Liftoff

Google+ Runs Out of Disk Space, Swamps Users With Notifications

July 10th, 2011 07:28 admin View Comments

Data Storage

dkd903 writes “Yesterday, many users of Google+ noticed Google spamming their inbox with multiple email notifications in very quick succession. Earlier today, Vic Gundotra, Head of Social at Google, explained what was causing it – Google ran out of disk space on the server that keeps track of notifications.”

Source: Google+ Runs Out of Disk Space, Swamps Users With Notifications

Space Invaders: The Movie

July 9th, 2011 07:45 admin View Comments


rainmouse writes “Hollywood, clearly after witnessing the staggering success and endless critical acclaim of other computer game adaptations with their typically engrossing story line and deep, believable character development, have now apparently picked up the rights to make a film based upon Space Invaders. ‘The classic 1980s arcade game from Taito and Midway, which is ranked as the top arcade game of all time by Guinness World Records, is heading to the big screen courtesy of producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Odd Lot Entertainment’s Gigi Pritzker.’” Please help out by providing appropriate plot-lines and character sketches below.

Source: Space Invaders: The Movie

The Space Debris Threat And How To Handle It

July 9th, 2011 07:00 admin View Comments

Editor’s note: The following guest post is by Scott Spence, Director, Raytheon Space Fence Program, Integrated Defense Systems.

Yesterday marked a momentous day in U.S. history as NASA launched its final space shuttle, ending a 30-year era. Four astronauts—commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus—are leading the 12-day Atlantis mission, the 135th and final flight of the storied space shuttle program. After Atlantis returns to Earth, NASA will officially retire the program and shift its focus to developing next-generation crew exploration vehicles (CEV) capable of carrying crew and cargoes to Earth’s orbit, the moon and Mars.

But just days before the Atlantis launch, something unexpected made headlines.

Rocketing past the International Space Station at 29,000 miles per hour, a piece of space debris came only 1,100 feet away from a collision, forcing crew members to take refuge in two space capsules reserved for an emergency escape.

Since the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, Earth’s low orbit has become increasingly filled with man-made space debris—objects ranging from a single fleck of paint to larger explosion and collision fragments to entire defunct satellites. Just two years ago, an Iridium satellite collided with an expired Russian Cosmos spacecraft, significantly contributing to the amount of debris already orbiting the Earth.

A piece of debris as small as one centimeter traveling at incredibly high speeds can completely destroy an operational satellite if the orbits of the two intersect. Leveraging existing technologies, more than 20,000 objects have been catalogued by Space Command, but it is estimated that more than half a million pieces exist. Though untracked, these pieces of “space junk” can be lethal to our space systems—from military space systems to commercial systems to civil space systems—no one is invulnerable to the threat.

Our Increasing Dependence on Space

Throughout the past ten years, space has become inextricably linked to all aspects of human life. Just try to imagine one day without essentials like ATM machines, GPS devices, DirectTV and Both private activity and global commerce largely depend on communication, remote sensing and navigation satellites from space. Just three years ago, world government space program expenditures reached historical highs of more than $62 billion dollars.

Similarly, space has become vital to military operations. Investments in satellite communications programs have been climbing rapidly, reaching $6.6 billion spent in 2008 for both non-classified defense and civil programs. But the increasing importance of space to daily life, global commerce and national security has given rise to a major concern about the vulnerability of American space systems to disruption in the event of international conflict.

Consequently, more than 128 satellites are planned for launch in the next decade driven largely by our nation’s defense sector.

But this growing number of satellites in orbit around the Earth has made space a much more hazardous place in recent years. Low orbits have now become so crowded that operators are regularly forced to make emergency maneuvers by firing thrusters to avoid disasters.

This coupled with the rapid proliferation of space debris highlights the imperative for more precise space tracking and surveillance improvements.

Emerging Opportunities

In the near future, enhanced “space situational awareness” capabilities will be paramount to detecting and reporting on the proliferation of space debris and ever-increasing numbers of space objects in Earth’s lower orbits.

As various organizations and individuals focus on developing the next disruptive technology to combat the space debris crisis, the U.S. Air Force is simultaneously working to improve its space surveillance capability. First it wants to replace its current Space Surveillance System, or VHF Fence, which has been in service since 1961. The replacement program, dubbed Space Fence, will be designed to provide enhanced space surveillance capabilities to detect, track and measure these smaller pieces of debris as well as commercial and military satellites. For example, Space Fence will be able to detect a piece of debris the size of a softball traveling at 17,000 miles per hour from more than 1,800 miles away. This enhanced capability will allow precise cataloging of up to 10 times the number of low earth orbiting objects than the current systems in place.

Most importantly, Space Fence’s enhanced situational awareness capabilities will provide more accurate positioning data, providing satellites and spacecraft with much longer lead times to assess potential collision dangers and make more timely and strategic maneuvering decisions. For example, had this technology been operational during last week’s close call for the International Space Station, Space Fence would have provided highly accurate tracking data long before the threatening piece of space debris even approached. Instead of having only 15 hours of lead time, NASA could have had much more time and information necessary to make an informed decision to maneuver—or not—eliminating the need to consider an emergency crew evacuation.

Space Fence will be designed to create a larger field of vision using sensors in both hemispheres to provide a more complete picture of orbiting objects. Delivery of the first radar system is expected by 2015.

Once we have better data about what kind of debris is out there, we can develop all sorts of products and businesses to take advantage of the data and build better systems to avoid it. That’s where entrepreneurs and computer programmers come in. Improved situational awareness will create a host of opportunities for those daring enough to solve one of the most challenging problems keeping us from fully realizing the commercial potential of space: debris.

Source: The Space Debris Threat And How To Handle It