Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!

My children (with some help from their mother) pooled together some of their savings to buy me a LEGO set for Father’s Day, and today we spent some time together and assembled it.

It’s no surprise or secret that I really do love The LEGO Movie, and Benny is basically what I was like as a child: somewhat manic, space obsessed, and ready to build a ship at a moment’s notice.

Finding Snoopy

Discovery News:

The Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon rather overshadowed the phenomenal achievement of the previous mission, Apollo 10. Without the bravery of Thomas Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan, the moon first landing would never have happened.

[…]

As part of the mission, Apollo 10’s lunar module ascent stage — affectionately called ‘Snoopy’ — was discarded and sent into an orbit around the sun. 42 years later and it’s still believed to be out there.

[…]

“We’re expecting a search arc up to 135 million kilometers in size which is a huge amount of space to look at,” Howes continues. “We’re aware of the scale and magnitude of this challenge but to have the twin Faulkes scopes assist the hunt, along with schools, plus the fact that we’ll doubtless turn up many new finds such as comets and asteroids makes this a great science project too.”

This is like trying to find a needle in a haystack made of needles.

In the Shadow of the Moon

Watching this tonight.

We don’t do things this audacious anymore. Just think about the boldness and the sheer effort required and expended to do this—especially with the technology of the time. It’s staggering.

The US space program up through Apollo is one of the greatest stories of determination, leadership, and overcoming adversity ever.

And the heroes who walked on the face of the moon will soon be gone and we will not have followed in their giant footsteps.

Welcome NASA to the Commons

NASA joins the Commons on Flickr today with three iconic sets spanning the US space agency’s 50+ year history. Their Commons account will feature photos from across the agency’s many locations and centers, chronicling the history of space and lunar missions, and the people and places of the organization.

Gaze upon what used to be at the forefront of American ingenuity and industriousness.

(via Flickr Blog.)

“For The United States, the leading spa…

“For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.”

Neil Armstrong, in a letter to the President

Listening

When I was much younger, my parents fulfilled the wishes of a dreamer of a kid by sending me to Space Camp.

It was an interesting experience. One week of being away from my parents, learning to get along with about one hundred total strangers, and investigating the science, the excitement, and the teamwork behind space travel and our country’s space program. Looking back on it as an adult, it was merely a slight taste of what the real thing is, but it was nonetheless exciting and taught me many things.

As part of the curriculum, there was a “simulated” Shuttle mission (I use the term loosely as it was very time-condensed and largely automatic). Part of the exercises during the week led up to the part you would play within this (mostly) scripted exercise. It was with no small amount of pride that I took the role of Mission Commander. I was very excited and—looking back on it—about as ambitious as someone in elementary school could have been.

There is an award given to one of the teams from each “class” in a given week. The award is hyped up and much talked-about throughout the week. Every team wanted to win it.

At the end of the week we participated in the simulated mission. It involved a highly scripted set of actions, with a computer console that you punched “commands” into that would move the computer simulation from point to point. It was very structured. There were, however, “break points” within the structure that asked a question of the team. This question would involve dealing with some kind of simulated crisis or problem.

Not long into our simulation, we were faced with one of those problems. As we’d practiced and had been instructed, I acted in my role and asked the other team members for their opinions regarding the problem. Most of them gave the same answer. There was a clock running; a decision had to be made.

I acted like an idiot. I assumed that I knew better and could answer the question correctly while they could not, so I chose another answer from the list. The wrong answer. The majority of the team had been right, and I had overruled them simply because I was in charge and I thought I had the answer. My recollection is that I’d basically decided what I was going to say even before I asked them the question.

Needless to say, we didn’t win the award, and I had let down the rest of my team. I failed them as a leader by not listening to them.