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Tag: space

Atlas V Rocket Has 50th Mission

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:33 PM on June 20, 2012

An Atlas V rocket was launched on June 20, 2012, from Cape Canaveral. This makes the 50th mission for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, as well as the 31st Atlas launch. It was carrying classified cargo for the United States National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The launch was described as flawless by Col. James D. Fisher, who is the director of the NRO’s Office of Space Launch.

The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, also called EELV, is designed to make space launch vehicles more affordable and reliable. The program is intended to replace older launch systems and reduce launch costs by at least 25%.

An Atlas V rocket can weigh between 734,850 pounds and 2,120,000 pounds. It has a maximum payload weight of 20,000 to 42,000 pounds to Low Earth Orbit. Or, it can carry 6,000 to 14,000 pounds to Geostationary Orbit. It also can carry a total of 8,750 to 28,660 pounds to a Geosynchronous Orbit.

It’s always exciting to watch a rocket launch!

X-375B Lands at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:46 PM on June 16, 2012

The X-375B is an unmanned spacecraft. It was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in March of 2011. It returned June 16, 2012, making an autonomous landing, and Vandenberg Air Force Base. It has now completed a fifteen month clandestine mission.

It had a classified payload on board, which, of course, has led to some speculation about what that might be. Could it have been carrying an experimental spy satellite sensor? Was it doing a reconnaissance mission? Maybe it was gathering intelligence? The answer is anyone’s guess.

The X-375B is an Orbital Test Vehicle, (also called an OTV). It is part of an experimental test program that is being used to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the United States Air Force. There are two main purposes of this program: to create reusable spacecraft and to conduct experiments that can be returned to Earth to be examined.

Boeing is the prime contractor that made the X-375B. It stands 9 feet and six inches tall, and is 29 feet and 3 inches wide. It has a wingspan of 14 feet and 11 inches. Overall, it is a stocky, solid, looking spacecraft that weighs 11,000 pounds. The power for the X-375B comes from Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells with lithium-Ion batteries.

Astronomers Spot Oldest Galaxy, Has Crazy Fast Star Birth

Posted by Alan at 3:29 PM on June 14, 2012

More than a decade ago the Hubble Space Telescope snapped an image that has since been referred to as “the most important picture ever taken”.  It’s real name is the Hubble Deep Field (you may want to watch this video before reading on).  While the image may seem old in this fast moving world of technology, it’s not even an eye-blink when compared to it’s subject matter – the farthest astronomers have seen in the universe, and into the past.

The folks at the Max Planck Institute have been studying the image almost since it was taken in 1995.  Mostly they have been focusing on the brightest galaxy in the picture, known by the catchy name of HDF850.1.  That galaxy represents the furthest object, and consequently the oldest, ever seen.  The fact is, HDF850.1 is 12.6 billion light years away, meaning that in the Hubble image we see the galaxy as it was 12.6 billion years ago, which is a mere 1.1 billion years after the universe began.

The galaxy, known as a starburst galaxy, is (or was) producing stars at the staggering rate of about a thousand suns per year.  The Register points out that the Planck institute, “had to use IRAM interferometer, and the Jansky Very Large Array, a giant compound radio telescope in New Mexico, USA” to verify their findings.  The official announcement of the discovery will be published in the next issues of Nature.

Source: Space.com

Photo Credit: M16 Eagle Nebula from Big Stock Photo

GNC-2012-05-29 #769 Family Loss

Posted by geeknews at 11:36 PM on May 28, 2012

Received the news late this afternoon that my Grandfather on my dads side of the family had passed away. While expected still has hit me like a ton of bricks. I am luckier than most as I had all of my grandparents up to a few short years ago. All lived into their 90′s and went out on their own terms which is all one can hope for at the end of a long fruitful life. On my past show we where close to the end as my Grandfather was reaching up and calling out my Dad’s name. So I know that my Dad was waiting for him and that he is in a better place. I will likely be heading to Michigan either Wednesday to Thursday so if there is a show it will be from Michigan..

Congratulations to Melisa Strayer she is out last listener appreciation month winner. Congrats to all of the winners this month, and a big thank you to all of you that participated in the contests.

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Meteor Explodes Over California

Posted by Alan at 4:57 PM on April 24, 2012

While news reports have been scant, there was a major cosmic event over California and Nevada this past Sunday.  A meteor weighing approximately 70 tons rocketed across the sky at a stunning 33,500 mph and exploded in the atmosphere.  The meteor sighting was reported by residents of both states and those in California also reported the explosion, which rattled house windows across a large area of the state and also set off building and car alarms.

The meteor, which was roughly the size of a minivan, although much heavier due to the density, and traveling at such a high velocity, was estimated by the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office to have exploded with the force of roughly3.8 kilotons of TNT.

While NASA is busy mapping earth-threatening asteroids, one of this size is difficult to spot in advance.  Thankfully most asteroids in this range are likely to burn up upon entry into earth’s atmosphere, as this one did.  Some experts think that it could have possibly scattered tiny pieces of debris across the Sierra Nevada mountains, but no fragments were likely large enough to do any damage.  You can check out the video below.

Rocket Launched With Secret Payload

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:31 AM on April 4, 2012

Vandenburg Air Force Base, which is located 130 miles from Los Angeles, California, launched a rocket at 4:12 in the afternoon, PDT, on April 3, 2012. Originally, this rocket was planned to be launched on March 29, 2012. It was delayed because engineers needed to fix an issue with the upper stage engine of the rocket.

The rocket is a Delta IV. It was launched on a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. This is the agency that monitors the United States’ network of spy satellites. It is known that the rocket was carrying a secret payload. The details of that mission are classified, but it has been said that the mission “will help various government agencies improve national security by monitoring other parts of the world”.

My husband and I live in California, but we were too far away from Vandenburg Air Force Base for it to be convenient for us to drive over there in the hopes of being able to watch the rocket when it was launched. However, we were able to walk outside our home, look up into the sky, and see the long, white, vapor trail that the rocket left behind.

We were just coming back from picking up some take-out for a late lunch when we noticed the mark that the rocket temporarily left in the sky as it exited the planet. It isn’t something we get to see every day, and both my husband and I thought it was really cool that the vapor trail was visible from where we live. It is one thing to know that a rocket was launched. It is quite a different experience to actually see the evidence of the launch, floating in the sky, before one’s very eyes.

There is a really good video that was taken of this rocket when it was launched. It is a raw video replay that you can watch right now. Off it goes!

Image: Rocket Tail by BigStock

Fireball Seen in Skies Over New Zealand

Posted by Alan at 10:15 AM on April 2, 2012

Eyewitness reports have been pouring in about sightings of a meteor in the skies above New Zealand.  The fireball passed over large population areas like Wellington and Christchurch giving the opportunity for anyone with a camera handy to grab shots.  The pictures have been piling up at the WeatherWatch site for the kiwi nation.  One eyewitness reported seeing an “object the size of a helicopter on fire.”  Others across the island nation have submitted reports about seeing the object, which seems to have been visible across a large portion of the country.

The meteor was likely a lone incident as the earth is not currently passing through any showers right now, although the Lyrids is coming up in about three weeks.  The meteor probably burned up in earth’s atmosphere as there are no reports of an impact.  If more information comes in I will add an update to this post.  I have also sent a message to the “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait to see if he has additional insight.

Picture Credit: Channel 3 News via Web Pro News

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson Testifies to Congress on Behalf of NASA

Posted by Alan at 3:02 PM on March 31, 2012

Earlier this month our favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson,  went before Congress to plead his case  for NASA.  In recent years the budget for NASA has been slashed mercilessly by the folks down in Washington DC, all many of whom have little to no clue about science and technology.

Tyson makes his case by pointing out the obvious ties between NASA and everyday technology, much of which has stemmed from NASA and military technology.  He eloquently talks of the lack of science education and new engineers and scientists in today’s United States and points out that many of today’s aging generation of scientists got their start and motivation during the 50′s and 60′s space race.

The full eight minute video has been posted to YouTube and can also be seen below.  If you aren’t familiar with Tyson, he is the head of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s Museum of Natural History and is also the host of NOVA on PBS.  If you agree with his arguments then contact your local representative and make your voice heard now before it’s too late.

GNC-2012-03-26 #753 Privacy Soapbox Time!

Posted by geeknews at 1:05 AM on March 27, 2012

Feeling a 100% better and it is time to have a serious discussion about privacy and actions in the internet and public space. Looking for your feedback in a big way on these issues. Lots of great tech stories to share with you tonight as well.

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Links to all the articles talked about in this Podcast are on the GNC Show Notes Page [Click Here]

Teen Sends Lego Space Shuttle Into Space

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:04 AM on March 20, 2012

An eighteen year old named Raul Oaida, who is from Romania, is a big fan of NASA’s Space Shuttle program. When he learned that the program had ended, he decided to see if he could manage to launch a replica of the Space Shuttle, made out of Legos, into the upper atmosphere of Earth. Surprisingly, he managed to actually succeed at doing it!

Who doesn’t love Legos? I have several fond memories of building things out of Legos with my younger brothers. We managed to put together some creative and interesting things with the little colorful blocks, but nothing that compares to what Raul Oaida created.

The teen used LinkedIn to make contact. with Steve Sammartino, a venture capitalist from Melbourne, Australia. Raul Oaida was looking for an investor who could help him to finance his project.

The two eventually ended up talking on Skype, where Raul Oaida kept asking questions of Steve Sammartino. The result was that the venture capitalist became inspired by how earnest, and excited, the teenager was about this project. He agreed to manage the funding aspects that were necessary in order to make the project happen.

Raul Oaida put together a small model of a Space Shuttle that was made from Lego bricks that he glued together. The glue was to help the little plastic blocks to stay connected so that the model would survive the 124mph atmospheric winds it would be exposed to during its flight. The Lego Space Shuttle had a large weather balloon attached to it. There also was a styrofoam box that contained a camera and some tracking equipment attached to the model.

The launch of the Lego Space Shuttle happened on December 31, 2011. It took place in Germany, in part because it seems that Romania has laws that do not allow people to just go ahead and launch things into space whenever they want to. The Lego Space Shuttle ascended to 130,000 feet. An impressive video was taken during the launch, which can be viewed on YouTube. I highly recommend you check it out!

Image: Space Shuttle Flying Left on White Stock Photo by BigStock