Boing Boing 

Nigerians in Space: afrofuturist science fiction debut novel

This sounds good: Afrocyberpunk reviews the debut novel of Deji Olukotun, Nigerians in Space: "He wouldn't hit golf balls like the American astronauts. He would squeeze out rhythms from a talking drum into the blackness between the stars. These were the drums of war and death, of celebration, the drums that had bonded the towns of his homeland over centuries in tonal communication… He would bind the stars with the drums. There would be dancing."

Review [Afrocyberpunk]

Nigerians in Space [Amazon]

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover completes its first Martian year today

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover captures a selfie to mark a full Martian year -- 687 Earth days -- spent exploring the Red Planet. [NASA/JPL]


NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover captures a selfie to mark a full Martian year -- 687 Earth days -- spent exploring the Red Planet. [NASA/JPL]

NASA shares a Mars Curiosity mission update with us. The little rover that could completes one Martian year today.

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Betabrand line of space-themed streetwear

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Our friends at crowdfunded clothier Betabrand held a hack day to design a line of space-themed streetwear called Mission Control! A slew of space enthusiasts participated, including BB contributor Ariel "Spacehack" Waldman. The crowdfundable prototypes include the Voyager Gold Record Tee above, Galactic Carry-On and Dopp Kit, a sweatshirt with the Arecibo message (which would be a great complement to our own Boing Boing Areciboing t-shirt), and other far out designs! Betabrand Mission Control

Cosmonauts on ISS complete spacewalk, install antenna, despite equipment challenges

exp40_olegeva38_large_0Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev waves to a video camera after exiting the Pirs docking compartment Thursday morning.

After more than 7 hours of installation and experiment chores outside the Russian portion of the International Space Station, two spacewalking cosmonauts were able to call it a day.

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On space-borne espresso pods

The Awl has the last word on Lavazza sending an espresso pod machine into space: "actual garbage that has been toasted, ground up, dehydrated and put into a non-biodegradable plastic coffin...a good reason to never leave this big dumb rock with all of its perfectly fine non-garbage coffee."

Good news: NASA and ESA's Mars500 inspires film. Bad news: Starring Dane Cook.

Photo: ESA. Diego Urbina and Alexandr Smoleevskiy resting before starting their first 'Marswalk' on 14 February 2011.


Photo: ESA. Diego Urbina and Alexandr Smoleevskiy resting before starting their first 'Marswalk' on 14 February 2011.

cookdane__140609170333A real-life mock Mars mission created by NASA and the European Space Agency to test the psychological stresses of long-distance space travel has inspired an action movie starring comedian-turned-serious-guy Dane Cook.

From our archives, Miles O'Brien's report for PBS NewsHour on Mars500.

Welcome to the Mars500 isolation experiment, where they are simulating many of the psychological aspects of a real mission to the red planet five miles from Red Square. Three Russians, two Europeans and one Chinese, all volunteers, stepped into a windowless, hermetically sealed mock spacecraft at the Institute of Biomedical Problems on June 3 of 2010, hoping not to break the seal for 520 days. That matches the six-month flight to and from Mars, plus a month to explore the surface.

And today, on Deadline.com:

Production is just getting underway on 400 Days, a sci-fi thriller that stars Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), Arrow‘s Caity Lotz , Mad Men‘s Ben Feldman, Ed‘s Tom Cavanagh, Grant Bowler and Dane Cook. New Artists Alliance and XLrator Media are backing the film, which is written and directed by Ghost From The Machine‘s Matt Osterman. The psychological pic centers on four astronauts sent on a simulated mission to a distant planet to test the psychological effects of deep space travel. Locked away for 400 days, the crew’s mental state begins to deteriorate when they lose all communication with the outside world. Forced to exit the ship, they discover that this mission may not have been a simulation after all.

The 2011 crew of Mars500.


The 2011 crew of Mars500.

The Mars 500 Experience Simulator.


The Mars 500 Experience Simulator.

[HT: Jeff Foust]

Rocket-ship pour-over coffee drip


Thinkgeek's Rocket Fuel Pour-Over Coffee Drip ($10) is a great, science-fictional way to make your single-cup pour-overs. Why flange when you can fin? It's made by the fine folks at Gama-Go.

Hello, World: NASA transmits video from space via laser

This week, NASA beamed a high-def video from the International Space Station to Earth, a distance of 260 miles, using a new laser communications instrument. The "Hello, World!" video was the first video message transmitted from space to earth using Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), "a technology demonstration that allows NASA to test methods for communication with future spacecraft using higher bandwidth than radio waves."

More about the video transmission, and the system it uses:

"The International Space Station is a test bed for a host of technologies that are helping us increase our knowledge of how we operate in space and enable us to explore even farther into the solar system," said Sam Scimemi, International Space Station division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Using the space station to investigate ways we can improve communication rates with spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit is another example of how the orbital complex serves as a stepping stone to human deep space exploration."

Optical communication tools like OPALS use focused laser energy to reach data rates between 10 and 1,000 times higher than current space communications, which rely on radio portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Because the space station orbits Earth at 17,500 mph, transmitting data from the space station to Earth requires extremely precise targeting. The process can be equated to a person aiming a laser pointer at the end of a human hair 30 feet away and keeping it there while walking.

To achieve this extreme precision during Thursday’s demonstration, OPALS locked onto a laser beacon emitted by the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory ground station at the Table Mountain Observatory in Wrightwood, California, and began to modulate the beam from its 2.5-watt, 1,550-nanometer laser to transmit the video. The entire transmission lasted 148 seconds and reached a maximum data transmission rate of 50 megabits per second. It took OPALS 3.5 seconds to transmit each copy of the "Hello World!" video message, which would have taken more than 10 minutes using traditional downlink methods.

"It's incredible to see this magnificent beam of light arriving from our tiny payload on the space station," said Matt Abrahamson, OPALS mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We look forward to experimenting with OPALS over the coming months in hopes that our findings will lead to optical communications capabilities for future deep space exploration missions."

The OPALS Project Office is based at JPL, where the instrument was built. OPALS arrived at the space station April 20 aboard SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft and is slated to run for a prime mission of 90 days.

Skeletons in space-suits


The Skeletons in Space Suits is a fabulous collection from a very diverse set of sources. I'm sure they could use your contributions -- do you have anything that'd work?

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Parliament Funkadelic Mothership soon to be on display at Smithsonian

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The Mothership made famous in George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic golden years will soon be available for viewing at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

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NASA spaceflight review concludes agency lacks ability to get humans to Mars

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Washington Post: "A sweeping review of NASA’s human spaceflight program has concluded that the agency has an unsustainable and unsafe strategy that will prevent the United States from achieving a human landing on Mars in the foreseeable future. The 286-page National Research Council report, the culmination of an 18-month, $3.2 million investigation mandated by Congress, says that to continue on the present course under budgets that don’t keep pace with inflation 'is to invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.'”

More here.

The report bolsters the case for manned missions to the moon, which President Obama oppose. “I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before,” the president said in a space policy speech in 2010.

Vintage photos of NASA Apollo astronauts training in Hawaii

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In the 1960s and 1970s, NASA astronauts spent time training in the moon-like volcanic landscape of Hawaii's Big Island; the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems dug out fantastic photos from NASA's archives (thanks, Bob Pescovitz!).

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These entries in a NASA kid space art contest are the best thing ever

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The NASA Langley Research Center held a space art contest for kids K-23 in the Hampton Roads, VA region, and their Flickr Pool of entries provide me with endless happy web browsing.

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Violent birth of a star, as seen from NASA Hubble Space Telescope

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An image released from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows IRAS 14568-6304, a young star shrouded in golden gas and dust.

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SpaceX unveils new Dragon V2 manned spacecraft

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In a carefully choreographed event that felt more like an pop music awards show or an Apple product launch than anything we're used to with space flight, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tonight unveiled the newest edition of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

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Spaceship docks with ISS, astronaut immediately tweets awesome photos

A Russian spacecraft carrying three people docked successfully at the International Space Station today after a flawless launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Our guy in space, NASA's Reid Wiseman, got right to work tweeting totally awesome photographs that masterfully convey the wonder and beauty of being, holy crap, an astronaut in space.

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Photos of Russia's Rocket Town

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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."

Russian Soyuz rocket launches 3 crewmembers on trip to ISS

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A Russian Soyuz rocket today launched three new crewmembers toward the International Space Station.

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Ohio man: goddamn meteorite bashed my Buick

Photo: Dee Moorman


Photo: Dee Moorman

Joe Massa said he was driving home Sunday morning around 2AM when his Buick was struck by something. And that something, he says, was a freakin' meteorite.

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NASA to space nerds: you may now drive this space probe

ISEE-3, artist's rendition.


ISEE-3, artist's rendition.

NASA is giving a group of citizen scientists permission to take over ISEE-3, a 36-year-old decommissioned robotic space probe that will fly by the Earth in August.

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NASA releases 'Global Selfie'

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Here's a larger size, and a zoomable 3.2 gigapixel version, which you really have to see to appreciate the whole thing.

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Everday Tyson, a tumblog of greatness

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Everyday Tyson, a tumblr dedicated to the imaginary mundane musings of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a man better known for his musings on the profound.

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NASA builds flying saucer

A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua‘i, Hawaii. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech


A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua‘i, Hawaii. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's latest experimental test vehicle looks like the classic UFO of science fiction film fame. The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, "a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle, has completed final assembly at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii."

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UPDATED Bowie's takedown of Hadfield's ISS "Space Oddity" highlights copyright's absurdity

Update: The Ottawa Citizen has retracted its article about the takedown of Hadfield's video. The article incorrectly said that Bowie had not renewed the license for this work. The truth is that Bowie had sold the right to this song, and the owner of that right was the intransigent party. The more important point of the article, though, is that none of this would matter if Hadfield had recorded the song and put it out on CD instead of on Youtube, because we have a relatively sane system of compulsory licenses for sound-only recordings; the law has not made the obvious step of expanding to cover Youtube covers, and that means that wonderful work like Hadfield's is at the mercy of capricious rightsholders in a way that it would not be if it were made in older media.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's cover of Bowie's Space Oddity was a worldwide hit, and now it has been disappeared from the Internet, thanks to a copyright claim from David Bowie. Ironically, if Hadfield had recorded the song and sold it on CD or as an MP3, there would have been no need for him to get a license from Bowie, and no way for Bowie to remove it, because there's a compulsory license for cover songs that sets out how much the performer has to pay the songwriter for each copy sold, but does not give the songwriter the power to veto individual covers (that's why Sid Vicious was able to record "My Way").

As Blayne Haggart's Ottawa Citizen editorial points out, it's hard to make a utilitarian argument for copyright that lets musicians determine who can make Youtube videos from their songs, given that covers are such an accepted part of musical practice. As Haggart writes, "Is the world a better place now that this piece of art has officially been scrubbed from existence?"

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Apollo spacesuit replica

The $2250 Deluxe Apollo Astronaut Full Space Suit Replica from Spacetoys is made from nylon-denim twill, and features faithful recreations of the fittings and apparatus. However, unlike Kip's storied suit in Have Spacesuit Will Travel, this one appears unlikely to be spaceworthy no matter how much work you put into it. Not even the $9500 Apollo 11 model fits that bill.

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A huge slice of the Moon

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Steve Jurvetson, VC and space/aviation collector, shares this wonderful photo of a new acquisition that now resides at the Draper Fisher Jurvetson offices. He explains:

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1970s original space art by Robert McCall on eBay

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Three beautiful early 1970s oil paintings by legendary NASA artist Robert McCall are up for auction on eBay in the $40-$60,000 range. McCall is also known for his concept and promotional art for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Funding available for makerspaces' open anti-asteroid initiatives


Alex sez, "Spacegambit is a hackerspace space program that funds cool space projects around the world. We're now working with NASA on the Asteroid Grand Challenge, with the aim of getting more makers involved in detecting asteroid threats to human populations and figuring out what to do about them. We're running our open call at the moment (closing on 20 May) and looking to fund open-source projects linked with hackerspaces/makerspaces/fablabs/etc."

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Cassini revisited

Boing Boing Science Editor Maggie Koerth-Baker recaps the latest news from the far-flung probe, whose journey to the outer solar system yields more beautiful images.

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Space-age refrigeration, 1968


Frigidaire's commitment to modernism waned in the product-development phase, as can be seen from the wood-grain on this "space-age refrigerator."