Retro raygun coffee mug

The 12 oz, dishwasher/microwave safe Retro Raygun Rocket Mug is $9.72 and ships worldwide. (via Geeks Are Sexy) Read the rest

Photos of Russia's Rocket Town

For Air & Space Magazine, photographer James Hill visited Russia's "Rocket Town," the city of Baikonur in Kazakhstan, where, he says, "everything you see is related to space." Read the rest

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Rocket launch filmed by drone

The SpaceX Grasshopper's latest launch—and graceful descent!—captured by a drone-mounted camera. Grasshopper was most recently seen terrifying the cows. Read the rest

SpaceX's futuristic rocket design toolkit

Demonstration of SpaceX's experimental rocket design tools melding gestural interfaces, 3D design, virtual reality, and 3D printing. Read the rest

The search for a greener rocket fuel

Hydrazine has powered rockets since WWII. Unfortunately, it's also highly toxic. Researchers in the U.S. and Sweden are working to create a better alternative, and may have a couple new fuels that could do the same job with less risk. Read the rest

The trouble with Wernher

Amy Shira Teitel has a nice essay about how we grapple with (and awkwardly avoid) the full legacy of Wernher Von Braun — father of the American space program and a Nazi whose rockets were once built by prison laborers. Read the rest

Help fund a documentary about art and rocket science

Ed Belbruno is a mathematician who worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1980s. While he was there, he devised a way to use chaos theory to help change the course of spaceships and put satellites into orbit for far less fuel than had ever been used before. His inspiration came from painting. Painting the Way to the Moon is a documentary, currently raising money on Kickstarter, that hopes to tell Belbruno's story and help people understand the links between art and science. Read the rest
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Religion, space, and the power of cultural connections

That's a picture of an Orthodox Christian priest, blessing the launch of a Soyuz spacecraft.

It seems like a weird and outdated pairing: Religion and space exploration. But they're actually a lot more intertwined than you might think, writes Rebecca Rosen at the Atlantic. A lot of astronauts are religious. A lot of astronauts that aren't really religious seem to have an urge to carry the cultural traditions of religion into space. And religion returns the favor. For instance, The Book of Common Prayer now includes an astronaut option in its prayer for travelers: "For those who travel on land, on water, or in the air [or through outer space], let us pray to the Lord."

I'm sorry. I'm an atheist and that just kind of gave me the shivvers. Basically, being out in space, so far from your fellow humans and in such an alien environment, makes for a really good example of the way religion (and ritual) can serve as a tie binding us to the rest of humanity. For some people, it's a connection to a bigger sense of history. And when they look the future (and/or the vast emptiness of space) full in the face, they need that connection to humanity. It doesn't work for everybody. But the relationship between religion and space travel is a good place to start when you want to have a conversation about the fact that there really don't have to be conflicts between religion and science. (Really, people. For serious.)

Here's the scene: It's Christmas Eve, 1968.

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Second attempt for SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon launch: Tue. May 22, 3:44am ET

A second launch attempt for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for 3:44am EDT, Tuesday May 22. Weather is currently 80% go. Watch it live here. For background, watch Miles O'Brien's PBS NewsHour feature, and SpaceFlightNow's QA with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. SpaceFlightNow will also have live coverage from Mission Control, with streaming video. (Image: SpaceFlightNow) Read the rest

Rockets fly at Thai rice festival

REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Participants in a rocket competition cheer after their rocket was successfully launched during the rocket festival known as "Bun Bangfai" in Yasothon, northeast of Bangkok, May 13, 2012. The festival marks the start of the rainy season when farmers are about to plant rice.

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17-y-o girl, accepted to MIT, sends her admission letter into space

Chris sez, "My name is Chris Peterson. I run web communications for MIT Admissions and have been a loyal BB reader for years. For the last several years we have been sending our admitted students their acceptance letters in cardboard tubes. First because we sent a poster, but now it's its own thing. 2012 is the anniversary of an old MIT balloon hack, so we put a letter in all of the Early Action admit tubes telling them we wanted them to hack the tubes somehow, and set up to collect responses. Lots of them are great, but this one, from Erin King (MIT '16) in Georgia, is the best."

Update: Erin sez, "I goofed on my Erin king 'MIT admit letter in space' submission. She is 17. I plain forgot what year it was - been too buried in applications!!"

16 year old girl from Georgia launches her MIT acceptance letter into near space (Thanks, Chris!) Read the rest

Atlas rockets could carry astronauts to space again

It looks like Boeing will be the main competitor for Space X in the race to see what U.S. company will provide the commercial space flight services that NASA eventually plans to rely on.

Space X has its Dragon capsule, and Boeing is developing a new capsule system, called the CST-100. That capsule would ride into space under the power of an Atlas V rocket, an engineering descendant of the Atlas rockets that carried the first four American astronauts to space half a century ago. Read the rest