For the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, the BBC World Service produced an excellent podcast called 13 Minutes to the Moon, based on interviews and recordings from the people who were there including Michael Collins, Jim Lovell and Poppy Northcutt who was the first woman to work as an engineer in an operational support role in NASA’s Mission Control.
To commemorate the amazing story of Apollo 13, there’s now a second season of programmes which reports on the events as they unfolded. Using both new interviews, archive material and recordings from the time, the episodes tell the story of what happened 200,000 miles from Earth when an oxygen tank exploded in the command module, Odyssey, leaving the spacecraft critically damaged. The interviews with the people who were there are just incredible, including Jim Lovell, his wife Marilyn, Fred Haise, Ken Mattingly and the team in Mission Control. Sadly the third member of the crew, Jack Swigert died in 1982.
As an aside, I was very surprised to discover that the film Apollo 13 is 25 years old now. I watched it recently and it holds up well – the launch sequence is phenomenal.
Photo credit: NASA. Scans by NASA and Ed Hengeveld.
It’s been 50 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquillity and there are many commemorative events coming up to the anniversary on 21st July.
As expected, NASA is celebrating and there’s a whole raft of information and historical footage on a special Apollo 50th section of its website. I particularly like the mission audio that’s presented day-by-day. Listen to day 5 from about 6 mins in for the last few seconds of the descent and as the lunar module lands you hear the immortal words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.”
On the watch side, Omega’s Speedmaster Professional is forever associated with space exploration, visiting the moon six times – it’s not called the Moonwatch for nothing. To mark the event, there’s the Apollo 11 Anniversary edition in gold and red. Kind of pricey, mind you.
At the cheaper end of the market, i.e. free, the BBC World Service is joining in on the celebrations with 13 Minutes to the Moon, a series of radio programmes and podcasts based on interviews and recordings from the people who were there including Michael Collins, Jim Lovell and, Poppy Northcutt who was the first woman to work as an engineer in an operational support role in NASA’s Mission Control.
The first episode is available on 13 May but there are a few teasers in the podcast feed already. Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer has done the theme music. This is going to be epic.
Reports are coming in of an explosion at Kennedy during a test firing of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ahead of a weekend launch. Limited news on BBC and ABC13. Hope everyone is ok.
Just over one year ago, Felix Bomgartner rode his Red Bull Stratos balloon to the staggering height of 128,000 feet and then leaped out, free-falling from the stratosphere. It was the highest skydive ever made and, thanks to the extremely thin atmosphere, Bomgartner quickly broke the record for the fastest freefall at just over 840 MPH.
Prior to now, bit and pieces of the footage recorded by Bomgartner’s helmet cam have been released, but now, on the heels of the documentary release, the full nine-minute video has been released.
Astronomer Phil Plait points out that “Baumgartner accelerates to a velocity of 700 km/hr in a mere 20 seconds. That means he was accelerating at an average of about 9.7 meters per second per second — just about what you’d expect for an object falling to Earth in a vacuum, where the only force is that of gravity”.
While many news agencies were quick to describe this jump as “from the edge of space”, Plait also points out that space begins at a height of 100 KM and Bomgartner leaped from 39 KM. That doesn’t make it any less cool, of course, just a technical aspect of the perspective. If you are high enough to see the curvature of the earth, then its not somewhere most people would be comfortable with being, let alone jumping from.
Conspiracy theorists are running wild about a new web site that is purportedly from NASA. The web site in question is titled “NASA has made a historic discovery that will shake the entire planet. This announcement will be released to the media on November 13th, 2013. It will be a day to remember and One for the history books. Spread the word to your family & friends and sign up to stay updated! – See more at: Remember the 13th and sports a logo from the space agency along with a rather cryptic message.
“NASA has made a historic discovery that will shake the entire planet. This announcement will be released to the media on November 13th, 2013. It will be a day to remember and One for the history books. Spread the word to your family & friends and sign up to stay updated!”
There is also a countdown clock running on the site, currently at 41 days. Nothing more is revealed and there is nothing about the page which gives any sort of hints.
Its all very clever, but also likely a marketing ploy for something and not an actual NASA news conference. Other than the logo, which anyone can slap onto a website, there is nothing to suggest any of this is anything more than a clever marketing campaign for a product, movie or TV show.
I will leave the question up to all of you. What do you think this is? Legitimate news coming from the space agency? Has Curiosity discovered something? Or is it, as I am leaning towards, very good marketing hype?
Brian Cogdell of Celestron stopped by the broadcast table at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off some of the company’s latest products.
If you are not familiar with the name then perhaps you can gleen a bit of information from it none-the-less. Celestron manufactures telescopes and, for the amateur astronomer — and we are all space fans here at GNC, the company makes some of the better ones on the market.
The latest lineup contains robotic devices that make finding that illusive object a whole lot easier. The new lineup contains cameras for photographing that amazing image and even a remote control for pointing the telescope to whatever area of the night sky you wish to examine. The camera also works to align the device by calculating where it is pointed and moving to where you want to go.
There is a lot more to learn, but you will need to watch the video below. Given the technology involved in all of this the prices are fairly reasonable.
Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network
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NASA Johnson Style is an educational parody of Psy’s Gangnam Style, produced by the students of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It’s brilliant and deserves as much attention as the original. I’m sure this will be all over the web in a few hours, combining great visuals and intelligent parody with the hottest hit of 2012.