Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

First Moon meal was? [Drum roll...] Bacon!

Gizmodo - Bacon Was the First Thing Ever Eaten on the Moon

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Setting foot on the moon for the first time was perhaps one of the biggest technological, scientific and political achievements of our age. So what better way to celebrate, after exploring that new lunar landscape, than with bacon?

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Image by Orin under Creative Commons license

Popular Science - When Bacon Flew to the Moon; or, #spacebacon

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The first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7, had the least variety in its meals. But bacon was a key food in three out of four breakfasts. The astronauts’ first meal on days 1, 5, and 9 of the flight consisted of peaches, eight bacon squares, cinnamon toasted bread cubes, and breakfast drink. Breakfast on days 4 and 8 were with Canadian Bacon and applesauce, strawberry cereal cubes, cinnamon toasted bread cubes, and more breakfast drink. Only days 3, 7, and 11 were bacon free.

And, it seems, the crew liked the bacon squares. Towards the end of the eleven-day mission, Walt Cunningham commented to Capcom Bill Pogue during breakfast that “Happiness is a package of bacon squares on day 10.” Bacon squares may have been a hit, but on the whole the crew came home feeling like they’d brought too much food that was too sweet.

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The bacon squares that were a staple on Apollo missions actually predate the lunar program; they debuted during Gemini mission where they were a breakfast staple. And bacon squares lived on after Apollo. In the 1990s, NASA astronauts also had bacon squares as part of their meal options. A meal plan from 2002, however, had a distinct lack of bacon. Today on the ISS, the closest thing astronauts have is a freeze-dried sausage pattie they rehydrate with hot water.

Sources: NASA; All Apollo mission press kits (Apollos 7-17); All Apollo spacecraft and air-to-ground transcripts (Apollos 7-17). Thanks to William Jeffs for the update on sausage patties in space. And for those interested, here's a list of common foods eaten on Apollo missions.

Bacon, the astronaut approved meal... ummm.... bacon...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Space Mining - Science Fiction or just Science? (NASA wonders about exo-solar Diamond space mining)

open.NASA - Awesome Stuff in Space: Planet Mining GONE

You may have heard of the hyper-startup Planetary Resources, a company which aims to “expand Earth’s natural resource base” by developing (and eventually using) the technology to mine asteroids in the Solar System. They also have a lot of money, with investors such as Larry Page (Co-founder of Google) and James Cameron (Writer of Rambo: First Blood Part II). But what if they’re thinking a bit too small? There’s an exoplanet called 55 Cancri e which orbits the star 55 Cancri A ~41 light-years away from Earth. What makes 55 Cancri e interesting is that it weighs about 8.63 times the mass of the Earth and there is a good chance that about third of that mass is diamond. That’s a lot of diamond. Let’s be optimistic and assume for the moment that 55 Cancri e does in fact contain 2.88 times the mass of the Earth on diamond. What would happen if Planetary Resources really turned on the afterburner and tried to mine 55 Cancri e?

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It would be prudent to open up the wormhole portal thing reasonable far away from Earth, we’ll use 35,786km because that’s the same height as a Geosynchronous orbit and I can calculate how much it costs to to get our mining equipment up there! Using the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch system, currently the world’s most powerful rocket, it costs $130 million to get 21.2 tonnes up to that altitude. I don’t know much about mining equipment, so I just found the most expensive looking Drill I could. I know it probably won’t be the right kind of thing, but I’m going to use it’s mass as a benchmark for the weight for the fancy laser-using robotic miners we’re going to deploy to 55 Cancri e. Fortunately, the expensive looking drill weighs 20.4 tonnes, so we’ll say each Robo-Miner thing costs $130 million to get to 55 Cancri e (assuming the wormhole was already there or something). We’re also going to want to bring some transportation equipment to send the diamonds back to Earth! Since there likely aren’t any people on 55 Cancri e, we can probably put one of the wormhole entrances on the surface of 55 Cancri e (and figure out some way to slow down our equipment when it passes through the wormhole from Geostationary Transfer orbit). I’m going to use the specs of the SpaceX Dragon as a benchmark for what the specifications of our diamond return vehicle will be like (we’d need a souped up heatshield though!). A SpaceX dragon weighs 4.2 tonnes and can return to Earth with 3.13 tonnes of extra cargo, so if we use some fancy folding system we can assume that we can launch 5 diamond return vehicles on one SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Since R&D/Construction/Running costs are notoriously hard to estimate, let’s assume that the cost will be in the same order of magnitude as the Apollo program (I’ve excluded the cost of the launch vehicles, because we’re going to get them from SpaceX): $15.2 billion. I’m going to sum up our costs below:

Startup Costs: 20 Robo-Miners x $130 million each for launch = $2.6 billion. Total Estimated Costs = $2.6 billion + $15.2 billion = $17.8 billion (This does not take into account the cost of the Diamond Return Vehicle launches).

Cost of each Diamond Return Vehicle: $130 million for each launch/5 Vehicles = $26 million.

Current estimated price of 1 Tonne of Diamond: $60 million for 0.01192 kilograms. Therefore 1 Tonne of Diamond is currently worth $83892 million.

Cost to return 1 Tonne of Diamond: Each Diamond Return Vehicle costs $26 million and can return 3.13 Tonnes of Diamond. Therefore 1 Tonne costs $8.3 million

Profit on each Tonne of Diamond: $83892 million – $8.2 million = ~$84.9 billion

As you can see from the above, this would be very profitable! Keep in mind the effect INFINITY DIAMOND would have on the price of diamond (Economists, help me out!) It would give the miners of 55 Cancri e essentially a monopoly in the diamond industry though, and each capsule returning to Earth would make ~$265.7 billion in profit with the diamond prices of today! This would likely make the extremely high R&D costs much easier to stomach!

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I SO want to be a space miner. If our race is to survive, we need to get off this rock... and if there's money to be made doing it, well so much the better! :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Buying your own Mobile Launch Platform from NASA, bid now...

DVICE - Bid on a piece of NASA history

Have you ever wanted to own a piece of NASA history? Here's your chance: NASA is currently seeking bidders for three of its launch pads used during moon missions. Originally built in 1967, each 3700 ton pad was officially used at the Kennedy Space Center to not only carry the Apollo moon program's rockets from an assembly area to the launch site, but to also send those rockets into space. The launch pads were later redesigned to accommodate space shuttles and were used regularly until 2010. Note that it's just the pads themselves that are for sale, not the crawler transporters.

Due to the enormous size and weight of the pads, moving them to a museum would be extremely difficult, and few have adequate space to store and display them. Considering that the launch pads come equipped with the necessary equipment, supplies and connections to launch a rocket...

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON KSC MOBILE LAUNCH PLATFORMS

Synopsis - Aug 16, 2013
RFI - Mobile Launch Platforms - Posted on Aug 16, 2013
General Information

Solicitation Number:
RFI-KSC-MLP2013

Posted Date:
Aug 16, 2013

FedBizOpps Posted Date:
Aug 16, 2013

Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action:
No

Original Response Date:
Sep 06, 2013

Current Response Date:
Sep 06, 2013

Classification Code:
W -- Lease or Rental of equipment

NAICS Code:
237990


Contracting Office Address
NASA/John F. Kennedy Space Center, Procurement, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

Description
This notice is issued by the NASA/KSC to post a Request for Information via the internet, and solicit responses from interested parties. This document is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to comment and respond to this request. Interested parties are invited to submit written comments or questions to the Contracting Officer listed below no later than August 30, 2013. When responding please reference RFI-KSC-MLP2013.

This presolicitation synopsis and Request for Information is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government, nor will the Government pay for the information submitted in response. Respondents will not be notified of the results.

See the attached RFI file for further details.

The mentioned RFI doc's are actually pretty cool. If you've ever wondered what made up a launchers, check the doc's out...

Introduction: NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is soliciting information and/or concepts relating to traditional and non-traditional reuse or disposal options for the former Apollo and Space Shuttle Mobile Launch Platforms (MLPs). These large structures are no longer in use at KSC, and currently there is not a foreseeable Agency need. NASA currently has no appropriated funds for any divestment option.

The MLPs were used by KSC for stacking, transporting, and launching operations during a Space Shuttle flow. The MLPs were originally constructed and used for the Apollo Program in the 1960’s – early 1970’s, and were then renovated and modified to support the Space Shuttle Program. The last launch off an MLP was July 8, 2011.

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Figure 1 & 2. MLP-1 at KSC Park Site, MLP-1 underneath

These three (3) nearly identical MLPs are comprised mostly of steel and weigh approximately 8.2 million pounds each. They measure 160’x135’x25’ (Length x Width x Height). The height does not include the holding post shown in the Figure 1. They also have three (3) flame holes shown in Figure 2. Each MLP is a two-story hollow structure featuring an elaborate maze of pathways, compartments, plumbing, and electrical cabling.

Purpose: The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to gather data for KSC to assess potential divestment strategies for one (1) or more of the three (3) MLP(s) available. This RFI requests interested parties to provide concepts and supporting information on one or several of the options listed below. KSC may be willing to enter into reimbursable agreements to provide working area, heavy equipment operations, and unique engineering support. All options may occur after completion of the General Services Administration (GSA) property disposal process, through which NASA would completely divest ownership responsibilities for the MLPs.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

A view into the creation of NASA'a spaceappschallenge.org site

open.NASA - Creating spaceappschallenge.org

It’s 4:39am and I’m staring at a blank screen.

“Well, that’s just great,” I say to myself before making a quick edit and switching over to my command line prompt.

$ git add . && git commit -m "Please let it work this time"
$ fab deploy development


I refresh my browser and see an image of the blue marble with 75 colorful icons and a slowly moving International Space Station sliding across the screen. Success. Issue ticket closed.



That’s been the story of my life, and the lives of the rest of the team behind spaceappschallenge.org, over the past few weeks as we prepared the site to go live, first as a soft launch on March 3rd, and later as a full rollout last week. We’ve spent a lot of time on the site and are really proud of the result.



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  • Methodology


  • Backend


  • Frontend



    • SASS


    • Leaflet, OpenStreetMaps, & Mapquest Open Maps


    • Isotope


    • Wysihtml5


    • Typekit


    • Disqus


    • Hackpad


    • Cloudflare


    • Google Apps




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While I don't use any of that tech, I still thought this post interesting. And that opening segment had me chuckling. You can just feel Sean's pain and joy of a final working site success...

Monday, November 05, 2012

NASA talks space junk... "The Orbital Debris" iBook & PDF

open.NASA - Pack It In, Pack It Out: The Orbital Debris iBook

A few weeks ago, the NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL) publicly released its first iBook publication on the topic of orbital debris mitigation. Sometimes referred to as “space junk,” orbital debris is subject to national and international requirements that emphasize a “pack it in, pack it out” framework for space missions. These practices, which are essential for maintaining safe access to space, are important to aerospace engineers and policy makers around the world. The orbital debris iBook gives you – the engineer, the Space Tweep, the biologist, the concerned citizen, the environmentalist, the teacher, the political scientist, the law student – the chance to share the same materials NASA uses in APPEL’s orbital debris course.

This is the first of what we hope will be more books to come related to courses taught by APPEL.The future of learning at NASA is no longer confined to a classroom. This iBook speaks to the larger trend of the democratization of knowledge, where anyone can learn anything, any time, any place.

Below is an interview with the APPEL Director and NASA Chief Knowledge Officer Dr. Ed Hoffman on the iBook and learning at NASA, which was originally published in the October issue of APPEL’s monthly ASK the Academy newsletter. While this initiative is still evolving, we hope you take a moment to download the iBook or PDF of the orbital debris iBook and let us know what you think.

NASA - APPEL Releases Orbital Debris iBook [& PDF]

The NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL) is excited to announce the public release of Orbital Debris Management and Risk Mitigation, its first publication of NASA training materials using the iBook format. This new electronic book platform, introduced in the spring of 2012, enables the seamless integration of text with videos, 3-D models, image galleries, and interactive graphics.

APPEL’s Orbital Debris Management and Risk Mitigation (ODM) training course provides mission-critical knowledge that helps NASA missions implement with agency’s overarching strategic goals and the U.S. National Space Policy goals for sustainability in space. The new iBook supplements the existing course taught by Mr. Nicholas L. Johnson, Chief Scientist in the Orbital Debris Program Office at Johnson Space Center. These supplementary materials are now freely available to anyone.

The book was produced using iBook’s Author, a free software. Since iBooks are designed to function on an iPad, APPEL has also released a PDF of the complete text and all multimedia materials for readers using other technologies or e-readers.

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You'll find this weird but I've been wanting to write a science fiction story about a private space junk company so when I saw this I knew I had to grab a copy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Caution, Space Shuttle Crossing [Sign] ahead...

Windows Observer - Get Your Own Space Shuttle Xing Sign

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Well see that very cool SHUTTLE XING sign in the foreground? It was designed by Traffic Management, a company who makes all kinds of road signs, and is now being offered for sale on their website as a novelty sign..

Original Design by Traffic Management Inc., the official Traffic Management company responsible for Mission 26 of the STS Endeavor on October 12th and 13th 2012.

If you visit the Traffic Management Novelty Sign page you will see the entire list of sizes they have available for immediate ordering.  Just a word of caution though concerning shipping.  A fellow Space Geek purchased the 12 inch x 12 inch sign and shipping cost just more than the sign itself did ($25 for the sign and $27.95 for the shipping).

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That's awesome. Thanks for pointing this out Richard!

Friday, October 12, 2012

LAPD endeavors to help Angelenos view the Endeavor's last journey...

LAPD - Plan Ahead for Shuttle Endeavor

Metro Rail Service on Saturday October 13th

  • Expo Line (7th/Metro Center to Culver City) will run every 6 minutes from 2p.m.-11p.m. (Regular Saturday service ends at 2a.m.)
  • Red & Purple Line Subway (Red: North Hollywood to Union Station; Purple Wilshire/Western to Union Station) will run every 10 minutes with longer trains.  (Regular Saturday service ends at 2a.m.)
  • Gold Line (Pasadena to Downtown LA / Union Station to East LA)
  • Will run every 10 minutes with longer trains (Regular Saturday service ends at 2a.m.)
  • Additionally, we will be deploying staff at key locations to assist riders with paying fares and providing   directions.  
  • Metro recommends passengers buy a $5 day pass Tap Card if using multiple lines on this date.

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This is THE new of the day and weekend for Los Angeles. I thought this information and post by the LAPD cool, in that that it's highlighting the Los Angeles Metro system (think light rail and subway, yes LA has subways). Why drive when you can ride (which I'm doing as I write this... :)

I can't wait to see it when the Endeavor is in it's final, final home.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Dr. Evil's step-by-step guide to stealing the Endeavor

Jalopnik - How To Steal The Space Shuttle: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Yesterday morning I was at the California Science Center's press conference outlining their plan to drag a massive spaceship across Los Angeles. It was one of those times where logistics can make even the most outlandish plans seem boring, as they went over schedules and road closures and the like. While they were describing the locations where Endeavour would be stopped for viewing or technical reasons, I realized that this was the most exposed this priceless spaceship will ever be. Which, of course, got me thinking. Could someone steal the Space Shuttle?

The LAPD officers in charge of the security portion of the massive moving project were there, but it was pretty clear their responsibilities had to do with keeping people and the city safe, not protecting the Shuttle from theft. I asked both officers if they thought, given Bond supervillian-levels of resources, it would be possible for someone to steal the shuttle.

They made two mistakes in their answers. First mistake was that the first cop told me it was "impossible." The second mistake was that the other policeman told me "I won't say impossible." Now it sounds like a challenge.

(Now, before we get started, I should probably mention to any supervillians or countries reading this that we in no way condone the theft of the Space Shuttle, or 300,000 lbs of any public property. We're just having fun here.)

Actually, the second LAPD officer qualified "not impossible" by saying it would take "supernatural powers," but I get the idea. It'd be really, really hard.

Naturally, I couldn't quit thinking about it. After sketching out some bad ideas and consulting both the Jalopnik Council of Elders and our mainframe (located deep below Los Angeles, in one of Barry White's old hot tubs), I think I came up with a viable plan, in seven steps. Here it is:

 

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This was awesome...

(via TOR.com - Morning Roundup: How to Steal a Space Shuttle)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Curiosity checks in... Literally, it checked into Foursquare...

Redmond Pie - NASA’s Curiosity Rover Checks In On Foursquare From Mars, One Check-In Closer From Becoming Mayor [IMAGE]

"NASA’s Curiosity rover, which recently saw pop star will.i.am broadcast from on the surface of Mars, is quickly becoming the master achiever of unprecedented feats, and now holds acclaim as the first to check-in from another planet, courtesy of Foursquare.

Granted, it’s not the first time a check-in has been made from outside planet Earth, but it’s a pretty amazing achievement, and while the 2010 Expedition 25 check-in at the International Space Station by Commander Douglas H. Wheelock was the first human check-in from space (unlocking the NASA Explorer Badge), this is the first time it has been done from outside the earth’s atmosphere by a non-human machine.

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Foursquare - Foursquare in space! Follow @MarsCuriosity as it explores the red planet

"Today, NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover checked in for the first time on Mars, marking the first Foursquare check-in ever on another planet (and the second check-in in space!). Carl Sagan would be proud.

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Awesome.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Cool Job of the Day: Asteroid Miner

blastr - Want to be an asteroid miner? James Cameron is hiring now!

A few months ago, James Cameron announced that he's investing in a staggeringly ambitious scheme to mine asteroids. Now the company behind the project, Planetary Resources, is taking job applications. Wanna mine space rocks?

Chris Lewicki, the president of Planetary Resources, announced that the company's hiring paid interns in an email to supporters Monday.

"Do you want to be an Asteroid Miner?

"Well, here's your chance!

"We're looking for passionate college students for
paid coop positions to help us mine asteroids
this spring and summer...

"If you love space and want to contribute directly to
the development of the next generation of space
exploration technologies, we want to hear from you
(or from anyone you know that you think would be
interested)."

Sadly, the company's really only looking for juniors and seniors in college studying things like aerospace engineering and computer science with a GPA of 3.2 or higher. Plus, you have to be willing to relocate to Bellevue, Wash., from January to August of next year. ..."

So if I quit my job today and go to college I can apply for this in 3-4 years? hum... :P

Friday, September 21, 2012

Looks like you're trying to land a shuttle... do you need some help with that?

Facebook/Microsoft

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I always like companies who don't always take themselves to seriously...

I was bummed that I didn't see this, even though I live in the greater LA area. Just a little to far north... :(

(via Frank's World - Clippy and the Space Shuttle)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Using open data and open source to map out Mars (Think "Maps.Mars")

open.nasa.gov - Reach for the Stars

Mars Data

Have you seen this? Chris Herwig set out to map Mars with open data and open source tools. The results are pretty spectacular, along with the story of how he did it. Here’s where you can explore more of Mars yourself with open planetary data. This is what openness is all about: what the data can make possible, how it can engage you, pull you in. What could you build with the live data and images from Mars? How could it stir people’s imagination about exploration?

More Mars data can be found here – and we’d love to see what you create.

..."

http://hrwgc.github.com/planets/

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That's a pretty cool use of the open data from NASA. Loving seeing this kind of work...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NASA goes 3D, providing 3D models of NASA and other space stuff!

NASA - Welcome to the 3D Resources Page

Here you'll find a growing collection of 3D models, textures, and images from inside NASA. All of these resources are free to download and use.

Please read the Usage Guidelines.

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3D Resources - 3D Models

These models are for anybody that uses a 3D software package. Most of the models are in the common .3ds format, which can be read by most 3D programs. Some models, however, are in their original .lwo, .fbx, or .obj formats to preserve details that would be lost in conversion

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From Tools to the Shuttle;

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I think my favorite is the Crawler. Imaging mashing this up to create some kind of uber-tank/land battleship thing...

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While you're there, make sure you also check out the other stuff on the 3D Resources page too. There's some pretty cool looking things...

(via MAKE: - 3D Models of NASA Spacecraft)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

101 #SpaceApps from the International Space Apps Challenge

open.NASA - 100+ Reasons #SpaceApps Made a Difference

"The International Space Apps Challenge, held on 21-22 April 2012, was a very productive event. 100+ solutions were developed in less then 48 hours, and although a few teams are still submitting their solutions to the website, we wanted to provide a summary of the 100+ reasons what you did at the event made a difference! We have listed out all unique solutions submitted below, in alphabetical order, and included a one or two sentence elevator-pitch description of each. We have also included a link to the solution page if you are interested in finding out more information about the solution, want to view or download the code, share a comment, contact the team, or in some cases view a demo or prototype of the solution itself. If you are one of the participants and would like to improve the description we have for your project, please email us your updates at coreteam@spaceappschallenge.org.

Each location had the opportunity to nominate up to two winning solutions for consideration in the Global Judging process. The solutions thare were nominated are identified as well. Congratulations to everyone who contributed to one of the solutions below – the results truly speak for themselves.

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This is a serious list of some very awesome and cool apps, many of which you can get the source for (at least those I checked);

Here's just a couple that stood out for me;

7. Beam Be Up To A Satellite! – Space Checkin (Virtual)
A spaceobject checkin game that visualizes the nearest satellites overhead and provides points and badges for each check-in.\

26. Exoapi.com (New York City, USA) (Nominated for Global Judging)
ExoAPI is an ongoing project that extends the accessibility of exoplanetary data by providing an easy to use RESTful API.

33. Galaxy Sexy (Tokyo, Japan)
An app that generates a graph of brain waves from a user who is interacting with space data, using a cheap EEG device, a PC and an arduino.

38. Hazardmap.info (Exeter, United Kingdom)
A real-time hazard map application that is powered by social media observations to help provide a a useful risk assessment for potential (and actual) crisis situations.

58. NASA-Ex (Virtual)
An 3d solar system exploration tool that uses C# ASP.NET MVC3 for a backend to interface with HORIZON data over telnet, Three.js to do the WebGL rendering, HTML5 and CSS3

101. Ze-Api (French For “The API”) (Nairobi, Kenya)
An API that converts inaccessible NASA data into popular formats used by developers, by converting Json data XML, YAML and a better structured JSON data.

Related Past Post XRef:
Some open apps at open.NASA with SpaceApp examples...
NASA making #spaceapps physical or "I just wanted some lasers on my fricken Arduino's..."

Friday, April 06, 2012

And you thought debugging your production environment was hard... Debugging code that's running 60 million miles away

The Endeavour - Writing software for space probes

"A few days ago I quoted Ron Garret on his experience debugging software running millions of miles away. Since then I discovered a video of a talk Garret gave at Google a few weeks ago. He talks about remote debugging toward the end of his presentation, but most of his talk is about how NASA developed software for space probes during his time there.

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This is a really interesting presentation and makes you appreciate having systems that are only a few feet/rooms/buildings/miles away...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some open apps at open.NASA with SpaceApp examples...

open.NASA.gov - #SpaceApps: Space Makes Anything Possible

"What exactly is a space app? What could you do with all that data, anyway? And how can we use space to improve life on Earth?

On the first night of the first codeathon-type event I ever attended, I saw this quote from Herb Kelleher posted on the wall: “We have a strategic plan, it’s called DOING THINGS.” And that’s the key to what’s going to happen at the Apps Challenge: we’re in this to do things. We’re in this to make things. We’re in this because we believe that the questions that motivate us to explore space can change the way we live here on Earth and the way the next generation will continue to explore, and we’re ready to see where that takes us.

To stir up your imagination, the Apps Challenge team has assembled this list of some of the coolest apps we have seen recently using space data, space experience, or just plain space awesomeness. They include software and hardware, science and art, education outreach and creative ideation. Some of these apps originated as official NASA projects; some are the work of engaged, inspired citizens. Nearly all demonstrate the vital importance of open data and the scientific and technological possibilities it creates.

You can read more here about the four types of challenges we will address at the event. We’re adding new challenges to the site every few days… go here to read and comment on the current challenges, and go here to submit a new challenge idea for the International Space Apps Challenge.

...

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Besides being space'ish (I know, I know, space app's should be more than enough... but...), many of the projects provide you the details, source, designs, etc...

 

Related Past Post XRef:
NASA making #spaceapps physical or "I just wanted some lasers on my fricken Arduino's..."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

NASA making #spaceapps physical or "I just wanted some lasers on my fricken Arduino's..."

open.NASA - Making #spaceapps physical

Did you hear the one about the product designer, the jeweller and the physicist? Oh, and NASA too.

My colleague Jon Rogers (@iledigital) told me that he had just ‘had the Skype of a lifetime’. I guess this is the NASA effect. NASA holds, for many, the sense of adventure and exploration that is often lacking from our everyday lives. For many kids NASA and the space programme are an inspiration that lead them to a wide variety of careers in science and engineering as well as being a dream, that one day they could end up in space. And now NASA wanted to work with us!

Jon is a product designer at the University of Dundee and runs our successful MSc in Product Design. His research emphasis is on physical apps, which as he explains it are a way to take information or data from the internet and connect that to a real world device. He will be showcasing examples of this work making use of paper circuitry (and how it can save the music industry(!) ) at SxSW this week. Physical apps are a way of making the web physical.

NASA’s Apollo rockets made use of computers that are puny in terms of the processing power, storage capacity and memory of your average smartphone. And what do we use this awesome power for? To send the odd email and play Angry Birds. Since the 1960’s NASA has invested huge amounts in space exploration and in the novel technology to work in the harshest of environments, and in doing so has collected huge amounts of data and made many significant technical innovations. They now want to harness these archives to try and make “practical applications that benefit humanity”.

And they want everyone to help. Can you, as a citizen of the world, make some contribution to the big challenges that face the world? Does that seem daunting? By working together with similarly concerned citizens from throughout the world, NASA believes that by sharing your expertise you can make a difference.

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Our first port of call was to the MSc Product Design students and we set them the task of thinking about what data is and how this can be visualized in a physical manner, and also about how ideas of space link back to life on Earth. Where do the challenges lie? The full list of ideas will be live on the space apps challenge page, but here’s one to give you a flavour of what a space physical app might be.

...

We call on makers, bakers, bread lovers, food scientists, product designers, electrical engineers and tinkerers everywhere to come and develop physical apps and hardware as part of the NASA International Space Challenge. Come help us bring home into space, and in doing so, help us shape a better planet.

P.S. If anyone fancies making me a little device that warns when the ISS is about to pass overhead, that’s the simple physical space app that I would really love!"

The Arduino Lasers just struck me as awesome...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We don't need no stink'n rockets... Mountain maglev it into space!

DVICE - StarTram maglev would launch cargo up a mountain and into space

"Rockets are a lousy way of getting stuff into space, because most of what they lift is their own fuel. We're still using rockets because we don't have a space elevator yet, but an innovative interim solution could be a maglev vacuum tube that launches cargo up the side of a mountain and straight into low Earth orbit for dirt cheap.

NASA has been looking at railgun and maglev launching systems for a while now, but the solution that a company called StarTram is offering doesn't need any rockets or turbojets or scramjets or anything like that. Instead, StarTram proposes to construct an 80 mile long tunnel, the end of which follows the curve of a mountain up to the peak. The inside of the tunnel would be held at a vacuum, and magnetically levitated cargo spacecraft would be fired down the tunnel at about 20,000 mph. They'd exit at the top of the mountain through a plasma window and continue up into space with 35 tons of payload on board, requiring only one tiny little correction with on-board rockets to circularize their orbit.

It would certainly cost a whole bunch of money to set up a system like this: estimates put it as something on the order of $20 billion over ten years, and that's if we really push to make it happen. But once it's up and running and launching 35 tons of cargo ten times per day, the cost of getting something into low Earth orbit would be just $20 per pound, which is hundreds (or thousands) of times cheaper than it costs now.

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Rocket's byte. There's no way I'm every going to be able to afford getting into space on a rocket. I've been keeping my fingers crossed for a space elevator, but I've also wondered why we haven't done something like this? I mean we've got maglev pretty much figured out, right (Heck if we can use it on roller coasters, trains, etc...). We know how to build big, and we know we need to get into space cheaper, faster, easier.

We've got 80 miles of land and mountain somewhere don't we? Let's build this and get off this rock... :P

(Yeah, yeah, I know the G's for this would preclude humans on it, but still if we can get materials into space at $20 a pound, then everything changes...)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lego's and Space Elevators? Yep!

The Space Elevator Blog - LEGOs and the Space Elevator

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For several years now, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) has had an annual competition (LASER) devoted to children building models of Space Elevators and, this past year, the American Space Elevator Conference added a similar event to its schedule.

And now a new book has been published titled The Cult of LEGO, by John Baichtal and Joe Meno. It is an absolutely fascinating look into this whole genre, everything from the history of LEGOs, Minifigs, LEGO art, the whole robotics - Mindstorm thing (which I really would like to do one day)., etc. The last chapter of the book, entitled “Serious LEGO” talks about LEGOs being used for Autism Therapy and “Open Prosthetics”; amputees using LEGOs to help design the next generation of prostheses - talk about being Über cool.

And, in that same chapter, Serious LEGO, is a sub-section entitled “Prototyping a Space Elevator“. Here the authors discuss the LEGO model of a Space Elevator that the representatives from the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) brought to the 2008 Space Elevator Conference, complete with pictures (I had earlier posted about the JSEA LEGO Space Elevator here).

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And, on a related note, there are now several pictures posted on Flickr of entries into last summer’s The Next Generation of Space Travel competition. The winning entry was, fittingly enough, of a Space Elevator. Shown is a picture of the winning entry. Click on the thumbnail to view a full-size version of the picture. You can see more pictures of this entry here.

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If it takes Lego's to get us a Space Elevator then so be it! As long as we get one! (Why do I care? Because that looks like the only realistic way I'm personally ever getting into space and I REALLY want to get into space one day... ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FlightGear takes you into space...

FlightGear - What would it be like to fly a rocket into space?

"Do you want to earn your astronaut’s wings?

Author: Thorsten Renk

Real spaceships aren’t actually piloted into orbit. The risk that a human being, strapped to his acceleration seat and under a crushing acceleration of 4 g for a prolonged period of time is unable to fly with the precision required to reach orbit is far too great, and real spacecraft reach orbit on autopilot.

But what would it be like? Welcome to a scenario in which a Russian Vostok spacecraft has been acquired by the USA and fitted for a manually flown mission.

This is the launch vehicle assembled at Edwards Airforce Base. The actual capsule is hidden under an aerodynamically formed protective cover. Below it is the third stage of the rocket, with its exhaust nozzle visible. All this is mounted on top of the huge first and second stage. Unlike many US rockets, which use sequentially burning stages, the first stage of the Vostok launch vehicle consists of four boosters which burn along with the long, cylindrical second stage.

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Oh come on, you KNOW this is awesome!

I knew FlightGear went beyond airplanes, but not like this. Now it's got me wondering when other like things it can do? For example, I wonder if a Project Orion type ship would be created? That would be uber-awesome... lol :)

 

Related Past Post XRef:
FlightGear, the open source flight simulator, releases version 2.4