Above, "Sunrise Suit-up," Martin Hoffman, 1988, mixed media: "Television screens in the media area at the Kennedy Space Center. The launch pad can be seen in the distance beyond Banana River. It is one moment of calm before the frenzy of launch activity."
PBS NewsHour, Google, and YouTube are teaming up to produce a live webcast with the Space Shuttle Endeavour and International Space Station astronauts, starting between 6 and 6:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, May 19. Space journalist Miles O'Brien will host.
Led by Endeavour commander Mark Kelly, the astronauts will answer questions from the internet in a live Q&A session hosted by Miles, as the crew orbits the earth at 17,500 mph.
They're still accepting questions!
Morpheus is a vertical test bed demonstrating new green propellant propulsion systems and autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. Designed, developed, manufactured and operated in-house by engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Morpheus Project represents not only a vehicle to advance technologies, but also an opportunity to try out "lean development" engineering practices.
It was manufactured and assembled at JSC and Armadillo Aerospace. Morpheus is large enough to carry 1,100 pounds of cargo to the moon - for example, a humanoid robot, a small rover, or a small laboratory to convert moon dust into oxygen - performing all propellant burns after the trans lunar injection. The primary focus of the test bed is to demonstrate an integrated propulsion and guidance, navigation and control system that can fly a lunar descent profile to exercise the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) safe landing sensors and closed-loop flight control. Additional objectives include technology demonstrations - for instance, tank material and manufacture, reaction control thrusters, main engine performance improvements, helium pressurization systems, ground operations, flight operations, range safety, software and avionics architecture.
On May 5, 1961, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard piloted his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule in a 15-minute suborbital flight, becoming America's first astronaut. In this image, he is shown being hoisted aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter after splashdown. The flight carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles.
Below, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued the following
statement today, Thursday, May 5, 2011, about the 50th anniversary of United
States human spaceflight.
Maia Weinstock (Twitter) creates these these neat minifigs of various personalities in science, space, and internet media. I first learned about this when I was attending a lecture by Carolyn Porco with Richard Dawkins, and Maia presented Dawkins with a teeny-tiny LEGO version of himself.
Maia has an ever-growing photo set of these LEGO figures here. They include @carolynporco, @pzmyers, @sciencegoddess, @badastronomer, @plutokiller, @richarddawkins, @profbriancox, @flyingjenny, @janegoodallinst, @milesobrien, @sallyridesci, @toastforbrekkie, @bluerules, @lukedones, @astroengine, @lirarandall, @jcventer, @algore, @oliversacks, @planetdr, @therealbuzz, @seanmcarroll, and @jenlucpiquant.
For the past two months, the "space advocacy" nonprofit Yuri's Night has been receiving hundreds of space-themed videos, photos, and PSA concepts from around the world, for a series of contests with cool space prizes. I co-judged one of them, an art contest to produce an ad promoting space exploration (my co-judge was Ariel Waldman). Prizes included a 'zero-G' flight and the observation of a Soyuz launch from Baikonur. Today, Yuri's Night has announced the winners and runners-up for each of these contests:
May 5, 2011, is the 50th anniversary of the historic flight by Alan Shepard which made him the second person, and the first American, in space. LIFE has published a photo gallery of rare, never-before-published photos of Shepard, Glenn, Slayton, Grissom, and the rest of the Mercury astronauts, along with observations by LIFE photographer Ralph Morse (dubbed "the 8th Mercury astronaut" by John Glenn)
When Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in April 1961, a stunned America asked, How did the Russians beat us? And more importantly: Will we ever catch up? Three weeks later, on May 5, the second question was emphatically answered when 37-year-old Alan Shepard blasted off from Cape Canaveral on his own historic flight -- a feat that made the New Hampshire native the first American in space, and marked the moment the U.S. caught, and surpassed, Russia in the Space Race.
On the show today, we talked about the crazy Cosmonaut's Day celebration we attended inside the Kremlin; what space tourists do in space; why NASA has bought up seats on the Soyuz as our shuttle program ends, and we also chatted about weird Russian strawberry sushi and the amazing Soviet time capsule that is the Moscow metro. [Listen here, or download MP3 here].
Miles shot video of the military choir finale, with breakdancing cosmonaut cosplay kids. That video is embedded above, or here on YouTube. The good stuff starts around 1:39 in.