Space Shuttle

July 30, 2011

Here’s what we had, until lack of vision blurred the view…  watch the whole thing…

Soyuz? Really?

July 21, 2011

This was posted today by AFP via Yahoo:

“Moscow on Thursday declared it is now “the era of the Soyuz” after the US shuttle’s last flight left the Russian system as the sole means for delivering astronauts to the International Space Station.

Far less glamorous than the horizontal-landing winged shuttle, the principle of Russia’s Soyuz rocket and capsule system for sending humans into space has changed little since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in orbit in 1961.

But after the successful landing of the US Space Shuttle Atlantis Thursday drew the curtain on the 30-year US space shuttle programme, it is now the only vehicle which can propel astronauts towards the ISS.

“From today, the era of the Soyuz has started in manned space flight, the era of reliability,” the Russian space agency Roskosmos said in a statement.

Roskosmos expressed its admiration for the shuttle programme, which it said had delivered payloads to space indispensable for construction of the ISS.

“Mankind acknowledges the role of American space ships in exploring the cosmos,” it added.

But Roskosmos also used the occasion to tout the virtues of the Soyuz (Union) spacecraft, which unlike the shuttle lands on Earth vertically with the aid of parachutes after leaving orbit.

It said that there was a simple answer to why the Soyuz was still flying after the shuttles retired — “reliability and not to mention cost efficiency.”

It lashed out at what it said were foreign media descriptions of the Soyuz as old spaceships, saying the design was constantly being modernized.

Russia has this year started using the modernized TMA-M version of the Soyuz, which is lighter and uses a digital rather than analogue computer.”

Well, I’m so glad the Soyuz has a digital computer! 


July 20

July 20, 2011

1969.  On this day, humans finished the journey taking them completely out of their native environment, landing safely on our nearest solarian partner, the moon.

Now, with Space Shuttle Atlantis set to return from orbit, shelving plans for a new generation of booster rockets and craft, the United States is left with no way to put humans into orbit, apart from reliance on Russia.

In 1961, it would have been difficult to envision the ability to place Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on a celestial body 240,000 miles away, returning them safely home again.  For space travellers encountering other worlds a million years from now, it will still be considered the very first step.

Yet, even more difficult to imagine than the Apollo missions, is the current US lack of vision and will, which is all but unfathomable.

We have trashed a significant area of leadership, preferring to hitch-hike and spectate, as the path to the future is increasingly trod by others.

Tossing aside standards of unparalleled excellence, we strive now to new levels of mediocrity.  We have turned our legacy of making giant planetary leaps into the desperate hope of being helplessly carried aloft.

Derek Jeter

July 9, 2011

Well, what can you say?

The name exudes ultimate quality, confidence and character, in just four syllables.

The guy hits a home run to achieve his 3000 hit milestone.  Phenomenal?  Yes.  But then, it’s Derek Jeter.

Baseball is a deceptively simple game.

The parameters are clear and the playing field is well defined.

But the drama is profound, and the lessons imparted are eminently powerful.

This athlete has set about his craft on a day-to-day, really, moment-by-moment, basis for decades.

Today, is what we have as the result.


July 9, 2011

Most times, I have found that the most talented and knowledgable people are also the most giving and willing to share their insights.  No secrets, no insecurity.

I came across Dr. Clay via the internet and the Arkansas Sky Observatories.  Through that connection, Dr. Clay tweaked a telescope I had purchased, enhancing and certifying its performance, and thereby, increasing its value as an item and an instrument.

Now it’s been 5 years since I last worked with Dr. Clay, but recently enquiring about a different telescope, I received new replies freely including a wealth of informative detail well beyond what one would normally expect.

This guy is a class act, always willing to take the time to help out and enhance the experience of astronomy for anyone who has the interest to enquire.  What he gladly extends to others speaks volumes about the quality of the man himself.  Amazing.

Occam’s Razor, Casey Anthony

July 7, 2011

Occam’s razor is an approach to making conclusions that is attributed to the 14th-century English Friar, William of Ockham.  He is credited with saying that, “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”  For Latin lovers, it might read thusly, “pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate.”

Some have paraphrased Occam’s approach as, “the simplest explanation is likely the correct one,” though this is itself sometimes argued as too simple, therefore, not necessarily correct.

Even so, without adding to the facts presented, it would seem that when a mother doesn’t report a child missing for 31 days, lies to police, and that child is later found in a swamp with duct tape over its mouth, then something of a terrible nature, known by the mother, happened to that child.

Young ones are not born with duct tape on their faces.  While we cannot say with perfection how the tape got there, and who affixed it, there can be no doubt that Caylee Anthony was deliberately murdered.

And so, the month-long lack of maternal engagement in a daughter’s disappearance, with lying later added, indicates direct involvement, including either substantial insanity or cold culpability.

In the end, a small toddler is irrefutably dead, left in a swamp, and somehow, the prosecution was unable to build a cogent case against the most likely defendant based on simple logic.