That time a garbage scow crashed into a space station

Sometimes, you forget about things that happened during your own lifetime. For instance, I'd completely forgotten that, back in 1997, cosmonauts accidentally ran an unmanned spacecraft full of garbage into the side of the space station Mir, temporarily knocking out power and sending the space station into an uncontrolled spin. NASA has the full story, an oral history from an astronaut who was on board Mir at the time, and some nifty animations showing what happened. Read the rest

Video of the Maui Space Surveillance Complex

From the US Air Force's Airman magazine:

The Maui Space Surveillance Complex is located on Mount Haleakala, a dormant volcano on the island of Maui in Hawaii. It’s one of three sites Air Force Space Command operates that makes up the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep-Space Surveillance network, which tracks man-made objects orbiting the Earth.
"Capturing Space" Read the rest

Museum of Robots: retro-futuristic jewelry and housewares

I got to see a bunch of the lovely, retro-futuristic themed housewares and jewelry from Musuem of Robots at a show last week, and they're beautiful, well-crafted, and really up my street. Especially lovely are the rocketship and planet pendants (above), made with naturally swirled agates and adorable pewter rocketships. They also do rayguns, and, of course, robots

Museum of Robots Read the rest

NASA's Kepler spacecraft sends home data suggesting odds of space life are better than we thought

Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Dennis Overbye, in the New York Times: "Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy, based on a new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft." Read the rest

Indian spacecraft soars on historic journey to Mars

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifts off at 0908 GMT (4:08 a.m. EST; 2:38 p.m. local time) from India's Satish Dhawan Space Center. Photo: ISRO

Today, India makes space history: its low-cost Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off with the nation's first mission to Mars. More at Spaceflight Now. Read the rest

Tweet your ideas for the future of human spaceflight!

BB colleague Ariel Waldman, creator of Spacehack and global instigator of Science Hack Day says:

I'm an appointed National Academy of Sciences committee member of a congressionally-requested study on the future of human spaceflight. The Committee on Human Spaceflight has been tasked with a study to review the long-term goals, core capabilities, and direction of the U.S. human spaceflight program and make recommendations to enable a sustainable U.S. human spaceflight program. Committees regularly request white papers as a way of soliciting public input - however, I'm leading the charge on the NAS's first ever endeavor to solicit public input via Twitter!

On Tuesday, October 29, any tweets with the hashtag #HumansInSpace will be used as *direct input* to the Committee on Human Spaceflight. Specifically, we'd like people to respond to: "What are your best ideas for creating a NASA human spaceflight program that is sustainable over the next several decades?". The official website for the campaign is here.

To me, this is a huge (and more accessible) way to make sure we hear from a wide array of people, and I'd absolutely love to make sure to get everyone who follows Boing Boing to have their voice be included.

#HumansInSpace at Twitter Read the rest

Kazakhstan's decaying Soviet space murals

Esquire Kazakhstan features photos of the country's decaying Soviet space murals, which do not have protected status, and are coming to bits. They're still towering, heroic Soviet Realist paeans to space travel, sorrowful as they may be. Read the rest

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

Send a Togolese 3D printer made out of ewaste to Mars

Afate is a Togolese hacker who uses the WoeLab makerspace in Lome, Togo (the first makerspace in west Africa). He's invented a 3D printer made out of the ewaste that is piled high in neighborhood-sized ewaste dumps in Agbogbloshie, near Accra, Ghana. He's raised money on Ulule to standardize the printer, called the W.AFATE, so that anyone can turn ewaste into a 3D printer. The W.AFATE design has already won NASA's Space App challenge with a concept for building trashbot 3D printers on distant planets. Read the rest

Asteroid named after Randall "XKCD" Munroe

Holy. Smokes. Randall "XKCD" Munroe has had an asteroid named after him. Good old 4292 is big enough to wipe out life on Earth, but alas, its Mars/Jupiter orbit is boringly stable. Still, there's hope it will decay eventually, and create the splash Randy deserves! Read the rest

A rather horrible accounting of what happens if an astronaut floats off into space

The good news: There's a contingency plan for this sort of thing, involving the use an emergency jetpack that can (hopefully) stabilize you and help you maneuver back to the ISS. The bad news: If the jetpack fails, you're pretty much screwed. And you've got 7.5 hours of breathable air to consume while you think about that fact. Read the rest

Dinosaur toy, made in space

This lovely stuffed toy dinosaur was created by ISS/Nasa flight engineer Karen Nyberg for her three year old son, created from scraps left aboard the station. She uploaded the pic to Pintrest. As Collectspace recounts, this may be the first stuffed toy made in space. Read the rest

Lee Billings — exoplanet-obsessed science journalist — on Reddit's AMA

At 3:00 Eastern today, science journalist Lee Billings will be doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything. Lee has been a guest blogger at BoingBoing in the past. His specialty is exoplanets, the worlds that exist beyond our own solar system. Bring him your questions about the Kepler space telescope, human exploration of the galaxy, the likelihood of alien life (and of us finding it), and more. Read the rest

Two good reasons to question the claim that alien life has been found in Earth's atmosphere

First, neither the authors of the paper, nor the journal its published in, have the best track record for careful work, well-documented research, or non-hyperbolic results. More important, the actual paper, itself, makes claims it can't back up. Case in point, says Phil Plait, the alien in question is a particle the authors assume is part of a diatom — a single-celled plant. The paper actually says "assume", and, from the sounds of things, they haven't even checked out that basic, important idea with a diatom expert. Read the rest

Inside NASA's rubber room

If a Saturn V rocket had ever exploded on the launchpad, it would have been a catastrophic event. NASA engineers once calculated that the resulting fireball would have been 1048 feet wide and would have hit temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. In the hopes of not losing astronauts or launch crew to the inferno, NASA tricked out the Apollo launchpad with some safety systems that still exist today, including an underground, rubber-lined bunker that was accessible from the launch platform via a 200-foot twisty slide. (Which almost sounds like fun, until you consider the context.)

Amy Shira Teitel is one of the few people who have been inside the rubber room recently. In the video above, and she shares photos and stories about it in the video above, at her blog, and on

Video Link Read the rest

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