Remembering the space shuttle Challenger disaster, 28 years later

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Atlantis returns to Kennedy: a review of the space shuttle's new permanent exhibit

Space educator Sawyer “@thenasaman” Rosenstein, 19, is a hardcore space fan. His enthusiasm for space flight was captured in a 2011 Boing Boing special feature, and shines weekly in his “Talking Space” podcast. He traveled to Florida for the opening of the new permanent exhibit of Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center, and shared photos with us. All images in this review are Sawyer’s. —Xeni Jardin.

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Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center: photos from opening night

Space educator Sawyer "@thenasaman" Rosenstein, 19, might also be described as a space fan. His enthusiasm for space flight was captured in this Boing Boing feature, and shines weekly in his "Talking Space" podcast. He traveled to Florida this weekend for the opening of the new permanent exhibit of Shuttle Atlantis at KSC, and shares these photos with us back home. All images in this post are Sawyer's so ask before you re-use them. —Xeni Jardin.


The Atlantis exhibit: 90,000 square feet, $100 million, and one precious piece of American space history. Give that to any organization and they'll come up with something pretty cool. Give it to Delaware North, the company that runs the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex, and you get one of the most impressive displays I've ever seen.

Atlantis is displayed with quotes from the people who worked on her. There are more than 60 interactive exhibits. The orbiter steals the show. These pictures do not do the experience justice, but I hope it'll give you, Boing Boing readers, a glimpse into what was done at Kennedy. And I hope it inspires you to go and see it yourself.

A view from underneath the model external tank and solid rocket boosters. They are impressive in size and visible for miles.

Space history is a beautiful thing.

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The Shuttle Shokunin, and Kennedy Space Center's 50th anniversary


Discovery launch. Source: NASA.

This past weekend, I accompanied Miles O'Brien to the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Space Center. In attendance were present and past KSC directors, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, astronauts and space heroes of all eras—from Thomas Stafford to Cady Coleman—and many of the so-called "pad rats" who built spacecraft from the Apollo era through the Shuttle era. Miles delivered an amazing speech dedicated to those pad rats.

If you're familiar with traditional Japanese craftsmanship culture or you've seen the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you'll know why he calls them "The Shuttle Shokunin."

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What else can a 747 carry?

Last week, a 747 took the Space Shuttle Endeavour on its final trip — a voyage to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. But that's not the only way 747s break away from the everyday task of hauling around airline passengers. Scientific American has a slide show of other amazing uses for these great big planes — from testing laser weapons to serving as a flying telescope.

Shuttle Endeavour flies over California today, en route to LA retirement


Photo: Shuttle Endeavour's final landing at Edwards AFB. September 20, 2012. By Todd Lappin

If you're in California today, Friday, Sept. 21, you may have a chance to see space shuttle Endeavour's historic flyover of the state as it heads for the California Science Center in Los Angeles for retirement. Here are more details from NASA Dryden on the exact route and planned times.

The orbiter, atop its 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), is scheduled to fly over northern California and a large area of the Los Angeles basin beginning at about 8:15 a.m. PDT. NASA originally planned the transit for an earlier hour, but rescheduled to increase the odds of good visibility for Bay Area residents—fog is a factor there in the early morning.

"During the four-and-a-half hour flight, social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour's vehicle designation," according to NASA, and there's a Flickr group for space fans. The official account for NASA is here. At 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT), NASA TV will air Endeavour's departure for the flyover.

NASA Ames' Twitter account is a good one to follow today, as is Boing Boing pal Todd Lappin, who shot the gorgeous photos in this post. SpaceFlightNow is liveblogging, and they're also great to follow on Twitter today.

Snip from the NASA press release:

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As space shuttle Endeavour retires in LA, 400 trees to be removed, four times as many to be planted

To make room for the space shuttle Endeavour as it is transported from Los Angeles International Airport to The California Science Center, some 400 trees must be removed from the city streets. The shuttle is just too damn wide. An agreement was today reached between the Science Center and South LA neighborhood groups to plant four times as many trees as will be removed. (photo and articles: Los Angeles Times.)

Shuttle Endeavour retires to Los Angeles: details on her transit to LA released

"Space shuttle Endeavour, retired from service after 25 missions that spanned 123 million miles, will star in a remarkable 12-mile parade through the streets of Los Angeles on October 12-13, traveling from the city's international airport to the California Science Center for display at the children's learning complex." More from our friends at Spaceflight Now.

Space Shuttle Enterprise floats to a new home: New York's Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum (photos)

Photo: C.S. MUNCY

The Space Shuttle Enterprise (OV-101) floated to its "retirement home" today, Wednesday June 6, 2012: the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. The museum's Space Shuttle Pavillion will open on July 19. The arrival of Enterprise was planned for 24 hours earlier, but weather delayed. During its voyage by water, the barge carrying Enterprise moved too close to the Jamaica Bay Bridge and clipped the Shuttle's wing. Ouch. But, you know: sadly, it's not like they're gonna need that wing for space travel now.

Special thanks to photographer C.S. Muncy, who is pretty intrepid himself—we understand these terrific shots cost him quite a sunburn.

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What do astronauts and the Holocaust have in common? "An Article of Hope"

Filmmaker Dan Cohen is the guy behind "An Article of Hope," a feature film project seven years in the making. The documentary is done, but Dan's got a Kickstarter to raise funds to get it on television and into schools. Below, some words from Dan for Boing Boing readers about the film:

What could space shuttle Astronauts and the Holocaust possibly have in common? When I began my research into my documentary An Article of Hope, I thought I was making a film about a Holocaust story. But I soon unraveled a story that was much more than that. It is a story that crosses generations woven by the lives of three men, born at a different time, but brought together by a twist of fate.

At the center of the story were the Astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia. All from different backgrounds from around the world, magnificently diverse, yet threaded by a moment from the Holocaust, a horrific attempt to stamp out diversity.

Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon was a hero fighter pilot, a man who had the ability to rise to the moment. By the time he launched into space he was more than that, he was the representative of his country, his faith, and in his eyes perhaps, humanity. He searched for a symbol of this responsibility, and found a little Torah scroll given to a boy in a secret Bar Mitzvah in a Nazi concentration camp.

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Space Coast motel goes nude in desperate attempt to survive post-Shuttle economy crash

screengrab: Fawlty Towers Resort website

Cocoa Beach is a Florida town where the economy was for decades buoyed by the NASA Space Shuttle program. Astronauts, aerospace contractors, service workers, and their families all made their way to communities like this one along the "space coast," near Kennedy Space Center.

I traveled to Cocoa Beach a few times last year with Miles O'Brien, Kate Tobin, and the SpaceFlightNow crew, for the final shuttle launches. Press and fans swooped in around those launches like migratory birds. Everyone in town—donut shops, cigar stores, restaurants, strip bars, and, of course, hotels—everyone depended on the space industry for their livelihoods.

But now, the shuttle program is gone. Property values and many of those small locally-owned businesses have tanked. It's a huge bummer. There are big-picture ways to tell this story, but sometimes, smaller stories tell it best.

So here's one: the owner of a garish, hot pink motel along the Cocoa Beach strip called Fawlty Towers (after the excellent British comedy series starring John Cleese) is relaunching the joint as a nudist resort.

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Shuttle Enterprise arriving at JFK (big photos)

Two gorgeous photographs shot by C.S. Muncy of the retired NASA space shuttle Enterprise landing at New York City's John F. Kennedy airport earlier today.

The original test shuttle piggybacked on a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The duo flew from Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC., and landed at 11:22 AM Eastern after flying over famous sights of NYC including the Statue of Liberty, and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, which is the shuttle's new home. Robert Pearlman has more at Space.com/MSNBC.

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To do in NYC Friday: see Space Shuttle Enterprise fly overhead

NASA just announced that on Friday, April 27, space shuttle Enterprise will be "piggybacked" on a 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from Washington Dulles International Airport to New York's JFK.

The duo "will fly at a relatively low altitude over various parts of the New York City metropolitan area," and are expected to "fly near a variety of landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Intrepid."

The FAA is coordinating the flight, which is scheduled to occur between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. EDT. More details here. (photo: NASA/Renee Bouchard)

Space Shuttle Discovery's final landing (video)

As Rob noted earlier today, Space Shuttle Discovery piggybacked in flight this morning to its final resting place, at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center. Here is video of the shuttle arriving in Washington, DC.

Space reporter Miles O'Brien was at Kennedy Space Center this morning for the final departure.

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Texas drought reveals wreckage from space shuttle Columbia

There's a major, ongoing drought in Texas, Oklahoma, and southern Kansas. As of July 26th, Amarillo had clocked in a record-breaking 30 days of 100+-degree temperatures. Wichita Falls, Texas, is on a (so far) 50-day streak with no precipitation. (If the trend continues to August 8th, as is predicted, it'll break into Wichita Falls' list of top 10 runs of precipitation-free days.)

All of that means lower water levels in local lakes. And, in Nacogdoches, the exposed lakebed revealed something very interesting—a part of the space shuttle Columbia, lost when then that shuttle disintegrated upon reentry in 2003. At the Houston Chronicle website, Eric Berger explained that this sphere is actually a tank for holding the cryogenic hydrogen that was critical to generating electricity via chemical reactions in the shuttle's fuel cell power plants.

NASA has reminded Texans that even though eight years have passed this, and any other shuttle parts that might turn up, are government property. It's a crime to tamper with them or squirrel them away.

Via Gizmodo and looprock