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Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Once in a Blue Moon" Tonight

Once in a Blue Moon is tonight.
At 9:04 pm Eastern Daylight Time tonight, the full moon over North America will turn blue.

Not really. But it will be the second full moon of May and, according to folklore, that makes it a rare Blue Moon.

If you told a person in Shakespeare's day that something happens "once in a Blue Moon" they would attach no astronomical meaning to the statement. Blue moon simply meant rare or absurd, like making a romantic date for "the Twelfth of Never."

But "meaning is a slippery substance," writes Philip Hiscock of the Dept. of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland. "The phrase 'Blue Moon' has been around a long time, well over 400 years, and during that time its meaning has shifted.

"The modern definition sprang up in the 1940s. In those days the Maine Farmer's Almanac offered a definition of Blue Moon so convoluted even professional astronomers struggled to understand it. It involved factors such as ecclesiastical dates of Easter and Lent, tropical years, and the timing of seasons according to the dynamical mean sun.

Aiming to explain blue moons to the layman, Sky & Telescope published an article in 1946 entitled "Once in a Blue Moon." The author James Hugh Pruett (1886-1955) cited the 1937 Maine almanac and opined that the "second [full moon] in a month, so I interpret it, is called Blue Moon. "This was not correct, but at least it could be understood. And thus the modern Blue Moon was born.

Surveying the last four centuries of literature and folklore, "I have counted six different meanings which have been carried by the term," recounts Hiscock. In song [video], for instance, Blue Moons are a symbol of loneliness; when love conquers all, the Blue Moon turns gold. "This makes discussion of the term a little complicated," he says.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

2007 ISDC Underway

The 2007 International Space Development Conference is now underway in Dallas, Texas with hundreds of participants from around the nation gathered to hear reports on the development of commercial, civil, and military space.
Bloggers will be blogging live from the event, companies will offer to make news from there. Spaceports will attempt to keep-up from here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

STS-117 Atlantis Looking to Launch June 8 from Kennedy

The Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-117 is on schedule for launch to the International Space Station for Friday, June 8, 2007 without any pre-launch issues being worked by the Kennedy Space Center launch teams.

NASA hopes to have three to four launches this year to achieve the space station construction schedule and to advance the manifest to the space shuttle fleet retirement in 2010.

STS-117 is the next Space Shuttle mission that will deliver the second starboard truss segment and energy systems to the International Space Station, the S3/S4 Truss and set of solar arrays. Starting with this mission, all remaining space shuttle launches will be from pad 39A, as pad B will be deactivated after the launch of the Hubble servicing mission, STS-125, so it can be modified to support Project Constellation.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Update on Free Energy: Steorn University College Dublin Lecture

The Steorn, Ltd. free energy claim lecture series is now available on the web in a series of videos -- 1, 2, 2b, 3, 4, 5 and a report from Sky News.

The lecture took place at the University College Dublin, May 4, 2007 the CEO of Steorn, Sean McCarthy, presented the basis for their free energy technology to a sceptical academic audience. The Lecture Poster.

Steorn has pledged to demonstate the free energy technology in London, England this coming July. A jury of 22 academic scientists are now testing the discovery. The law of physics states “energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change form,” and the Steorn technology claims to break that.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Did an Asteroid Change America as New Studies Suggest?

Nature's Rex Dalton is reporting how a series of new studies point to the possibility that an asteroid may have caused the near-extinction of North America's first humans.

At an upcomig May 24 gathering of American Geophysical Union in Acapulco, Mexico, new research suggests that an comet or asteroid could have exploded above or on the northern ice cap some 13,000 years ago, plunging regional temperatures to plunge for the next 1000 years. The theory would also help explain the disappearance of the continent's large mammals, including woolly mammoths, American lions, and the saber tooth tiger.

The article says that the presentations will certainly be controversial since leading hypotheses already explain various occurrences during the period.

"A change in ocean circulation is generally thought to have brought about the onset of the millennium-long cooling, which is known as the Younger Dryas. This cooling might, in turn, have caused the Clovis hunters to disappear. And, if they had not previously been killed by disease or hunted to extinction, the big prehistoric beasts may also have been doomed by this change in climate," writes Dalton in the Nature article.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NASA Asteroid Report Available

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, according to Secrecy News, attempted to block access to the full report on the planetary defense against asteroids despite it being a part of a Congressional mandate "to provide an analysis of alternatives to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize" potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs) and to submit "an analysis of possible alternatives that NASA could employ to divert an object on a likely collision course with Earth."

The full document (123 page, 23 MB PDF file) was posted this month by the B612 Foundation, , along with the organization's technical critique of NASA's analysis, here. The NASA abbreviated version (28 pages, pdf) is posted to compare.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hubble Finds Dark Matter

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has discovered the first visable evidence of 'dark matter,' the mysterious substance thought to account for much of the mass of the Universe, surrounding a very distant cluster of galaxies.

The strongest evidence yet for the existence of the enigmatic material, dark matter does not shine like stars, or reflect visible light like planets, so it cannot be directly seen. Nevertheless, scientists have calculated that it makes up almost a quarter of the mass of the Universe.

Only four percent of the known Universe is ordinary matter of galaxies, stars, and interstellar dust. Models suggest that about 23 per cent of the total mass is made up of dark matter, while the remaining 73 per cent is something even odder: a dark energy that drives the Universe’s expansion.

Science Daily provides more information of the international scientific finding by the Hubble Space Telescope. A Babe in the Universe blog has more.

Atlantis Back at Launch Pad for June Orbit to Space Station

The Space Shuttle Atlantis sits at the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center today after 2 1/2 months of repairs from hail damage sustained in mid-March . The launch is now planned for no earlier than June 8. A final decision will be made at the end of the month.

The Atlantis crew will deliver a 17 1/2-ton addition to the space station's truss system and take three spacewalks during the 11-day mission.

NASA managers hope Atlantis' launch puts the space agency back on a regular schedule of shuttle missions after a five-month hiatus. The last space shuttle flight was in December, and three more missions are scheduled for this year after Atlantis.

The space agency has at least 14 more missions to finish building the space station and repair the Hubble Space Telescope before the shuttle fleet is grounded in 2010. The next-generation spacecraft, Orion, is not scheduled to fly astronauts until 2015.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Russia's Energiya Requests State Approval for 2015 Human Trek to the Moon Using Soyuz/Kliper

Russia's state-controlled space firm RKK Energiya today told media that it is seeking to government approval for a human-rated mission to the Moon by 2015 first using the Soyuz and then a planned new vehicle Kliper.

ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies have reported that Nikolai Sevastyanov, the head of the Energiya, said, "I believe that our country is better equipped for such a task, since we have technology, highly-qualified experts and scientific data that would allow not only to substantially reduce technical risks, but also increase economic efficiency."

"A decision to implement the Kliper program must be made this year so that we could begin a full-scale work and build it by 2013-2015," Sevastyanov said. "Our foreign partners are developing new technologies, while we keep relying on non-reusable Progress and Soyuz craft designed in the 1960s."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Steorn Free Energy Claim Day of Judgment Coming Very Soon

Steorn Ltd. is an Irish technology firm that claimed last year to have developed technology that smashes one of the basic laws of physics by producing "free energy" will publicly demonstrate the technology in London, England in July. Steorn CEO Sean McCarthy, [August 2006 video], provided a global scientific challenge nearly a year ago.

The Dublin-based Steorn [video] says it has developed developed a perpetual motion machine/device considered to be an impossibility since it would violate the fundamental laws of thermodynamics and the first law of thermodynamics in particular.

The technology is said to create energy based on the interaction of magnetic fields that can be applied to virtually all devices requiring energy, from a flashlight to airplanes, McCarthy told Fox News in 2006 [video].

A panel of 22 scientists chosen by Steorn began the process of validation of Steorn's technology, branded "Orbo." McCarthy has released a recent video update on the vilidation testing [April, 2007].

Nikola Tesla, the father of the 20th Century, sought to develop similar technology decades ago, he was deemed the "mad scientist" in this very field. While several debunk the firm Steorn as a hoax, this Blogger, and everyone who stops at a gasoline pump, hopes that Steorn's technologies are proven right. The firm's success would add new meaning to the word "revolutionary." Hear BBC Radio 4 interview with McCarthy and interviews with members of the Blogger Forum.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

World Space Expo Set Nov. 1-4 at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

© US Air Force photograph by TSgt Justin D. Pyle.
The USAF Thunderbirds fly over Kennedy Space Center for the first time in 31 years in preparation for World Space Expo to be hosted by NASA.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Queen Visits NASA Goddard

British Queen Elizabeth II and British-born astronaut Mike Foale smile enjoying a video link-up with the International Space Station 250 miles above the Earth at the NASA Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Maryland - home to the largest organization of scientists and engineers in the United States.

Astro and NextSat Demonstrate New Satellite Services Potential

A New Era may have been commenced this past weekend as a 300-mile orbital dance between Astro and NextSat commenced. The two spacecraft separated, spent an hour flying in tight formation, and automatically docked together again marking the possibility of commercial on-orbit satellite services in the near-term future.

The DARPA funded project still images were caputured Saturday on-orbit to caputure the first automated undock and redock tests. VIDEO.

The Orbital Express program is demonstrating refueling and servicing, which could be employed by satellite operators dramatically expand the operational lifetime of military, civil and commercial satellite spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic Passenger List

The USA Today has posted an interesting story entitled "Who's paying $200,000 for a few minutes in space?" in the on-line edition. "There's a wide range of scientists, entrepreneurs, business people and people who really have a vision of wanting to go into space and always have," says Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, one of several private companies trying to kick-start the space tourism industry, the story goes. MORE

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Spaceport Oklahoma Touted

KSWO-TV provides a video report from the FAA-licensed Burns Flat, Oklahoma spaceport . Rocketplane's suborbital vehicle was displayed touting the recently licensed spaceport. The Oklahoma spaceport has been underway for a decade, according to the report. The commercial spaceport license was first issued in June 2006. California resident Reda Anderson plans to be the first commercial paying passenger to be launched from the inland spaceport before the end of the current decade.

Araine Sets New Commercial Payload to Orbit Weight Record

The Araine 5 rocket set a new benchmark record for a commercial payload boosted to orbital space of 9.4 tons from the Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana Friday.

The Astra 1L and Galaxy 17 platforms it put in space will deliver TV and other services to Europe and North America. Watch the launch from the BBC.

Friday, May 04, 2007

ESA to Launch Ariane 5 Today

Between 06:29pm and 07:13pm on 4 May, 2007 (today) the ESA Ariane 5 booster is slated to launch from the Kourou Spaceport, French Guiana. The launch countdown may be viewed LIVE via webcast. Coverage beings on the web at 6:09pm EDT or 20-minutes prior to launch. High-altitude winds delayed Thursday's scheduled launch of the Astra 1L and Galaxy 17 commercial communications satellites.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes DNA on The Red Planet

A Harvard University medical scientist is developing a sensor package called the "Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes," with the primary purpose being to hunt for DNA signs of life in Martain soil reports The Boston Globe.

The unique method of hunting for life through DNA on the Red Planet is based upon avoiding an earth-centric view of what life might look like. It is a long shot "jackpot" science endeavor leaving NASA with a challenging launch decision in the next decade on what scientific packages to place on the Mars surface.