Saturday, July 01, 2006

Safe Journey

Awaiting launch of Discovery from Kennedy Space Center this afternoon. Weather is clear right now though one maneuvering vernier heater is causing problems. They think they have the heater fixed so it looks like we are on track for the 3:49PM EDT launch.

Meanwhile an asteroid named 2004 XP14 is supposed to give our planet a fly-by this weekend. This asteroid appears to be a half-mile in size and will pass at a distance of 269,000 miles. The mean distance from the Earth to the Moon is 238,857 miles. Viewing times in North America to see this whizzing dot will start Sunday night with best viewing early Monday morning in North America. Its track should cross the constellations of Andromeda, Perseus and Cassiopeia.

So it looks like we will have a jammed pack celestial Fourth of July. May it be a safe one for all.

Update: NASA has scrubbed the launch for today due to thunderstorms. So the proposed launch window is now for tommorow and 22 minutes earlier than today to accomodate shifts in the ISS's orbit.


Anna said...

My the shuttle crew stay safe and their flight be a success! My mom was fascinated by the space program. We watched every rocket launch and moon walk when I was growing up...even if it was early or late, mom would get us up!

Sounds like an exciting space weekend. We may have to pull the telescope out from the basement and see if we can't spot the asteroid.

Anna said...

I think that has been lost, the excitement and fascination with space travel. From the socialists who killed the last three Apollo Moon missions because the money was needed on Earth to NASA selling the Shuttle as a work truck. The glamour has slipped away like Kennedy's Camelot myth.

So as Discovery [OV-103], now the oldest Shuttle in the inventory, waits on the launch pad for the weather to clear with countdown still running, what do I hear on Fox News about the mission? Endless squawking about the dangers and the foam. Almost nothing really about its mission to the International Space Station.

And what is to replace the Space Shuttle system to get into space? Rutan's Spaceship One is going forward, but what about NASA? Or others? Russia continues to use Soyuz which dates back to Apollo-era while Buran and Pritchka sit grounded. China is emerging as a space power. It seems the gee-whiz is gone.

Mike's America said...

I think we have lost the sense of adventure and accomplishment of the earlier space program. I grew up druing that time and it was so exciting I began building models of the rockets, Atlas and later Apollo.

Of course my brothers and I were also experimenting with rocketry, the old Estes rockets were ok, but not much fun. It wasn't until I discovered the recipe for gunpowder in our World Book encyclopedia that the fun began.

I wasn't surprised to see this launch scrubbed. But it does bring home again the overly complex nature of the Space Transportation System.

We've canceled too many innovative potential alternatives like the Space Plane.

EOR looks like a reliable lift vehicle that can hopefully bridge us over until new technology comes along.

Anna said...

Gunpowder huh? Explosive days at the house I bet.

As 2004 XP14 proves, we [the human race] needs to get out there or we all die when another dinosaur killer shows up. To paraphrase Heinlien, all of our eggs are in one basket right now.

Then there are all the resources that are out there. From H3 on the Moon for fusion power to the iron-nickel asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

Space is our last frontier to excite the imagnination and innovation inside the human soul. If we turn fully inwards then we shall be that herd of sheep Twain was so disparaging of when a European Utopiaist explained the glories of Utopia.

Mike's America said...

Oh we had some fun with our homemade stuff. Trouble was when we tested a fresh batch in the basement fireplace and a spark hit the container and sent it all up at once.

Oh well, we all lived, and so what if the house smelled like sulfur. Never had a roach problem.

Anna said...

Heh. Sulphinated critters.

A whole can go *BOOM* at once. Leave that to the movies. Glad you made it out alive. I bet you learned a real lesson on safety with that.

Anonymous said...

I read an article in WIRED magazine (I think that it was last month's edition) about how kids don't get chemistry sets anymore. And if they do get chem sets, there are no "real" chemicals to do experiments. I remember when I was a kid (Of course there were only 2-3 elements then) we all had chemistry sets. I was lucky because my dad worked at Standard Oil as a lab tech and he could get me the glassware that they were throwing away. I had a better lab than any of the highschools in the area. Also there was a little shop in town where you could buy almost any chemical you wanted, (and in any amounts witgh no questions asked) and if they didn't have it, they would order it. Yea Mike, we used to make up some serious explosives. But we also did some serious experiments which helped us in high school and college. These days, everyone is so afraid of the lawyers and liability, that the natural curiosity of the kids is crushed. From that article, it stated that schools are now getting away from hands on experiments and are just doing demonstrations. What a world. Might as well put the kids in bubble wrap when they are born and leave them there until they get old enough to be responsible for their own liability.