Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The mission logo for STS-120.

SEND A PERSONAL MESSAGE TO THE CREW OF SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY! Courtesy of Space Center Houston and Lucasfilm, the film production company of Star Wars creator George Lucas, you can send a personal greeting to the 7 astronauts currently onboard space shuttle Discovery. Discovery launched from Florida on mission STS-120 a week ago...embarking on a 14-day flight that involved installing a new pressurized module (known as Harmony) to the International Space Station last Friday. Today, an old set of giant solar panel wings (known as the P6 truss...which was launched in November of 2000) will be relocated to the port-side of the orbital outpost. Here is where you can submit a greeting:

This opportunity comes at the same time a lightsaber film prop used by Mark Hamill (as Luke Skywalker) in 1983’s Return of the Jedi is riding onboard Discovery. The prop will be put on exhibit once the orbiter safely returns to Earth on November 7. In terms of the personal messages, they will be imprinted onto a compact disc and presented to the shuttle astronauts during a de-briefing at Houston’s Johnson Space Center after the flight. Hurry before it’s too late!

LEFT PIC: Space shuttle Discovery launches from Florida on flight STS-120 on October 23, 2007.  RIGHT PIC: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in a production still from STAR WARS: EPISODE VI - RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983).
Reuters - Scott Audette / Lucasfilm Ltd.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

SPUTNIK: Half a century later... Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary since the Soviet Union launched the very first manmade object into space—prompting the United States to send a satellite of its own (Explorer 1) into orbit a year later, making a declaration in 1961 to send a man to the Moon before the Soviets did (wish fulfilled by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July of 1969), and thus launching the Space Age. Tomorrow is also my birthday... I turn 28! I’ve always wondered why I’m SO into space exploration (the last two dozen journal entries might give you a hint about this)... The fact I was born on the same day humans began the exploration of the final frontier is a nice little rationale for that. I actually got into spaceflight and astronomy in the 4th grade...while I got into filmmaking during the 5th grade [after watching The Hunt for Red October at the theater that year (1990), and wanting to draw storyboards and plot out my own Tom Clancy thriller-like film]. So as you can see, I’ve had a much longer interest in space exploration than I did cinema. Somewhat. Despite the fact I got a 'D' in astronomy during my first year in college, and spent more than 2 years in film school studying moviemaking, haha.

October 4, 2007 marks the 50th anniversary since the Sputnik satellite was launched into space.

Anyways, it’s gonna be interesting to see how the next 50 years in space exploration play out. Will the U.S. return people to the Moon by the year 2020? Will China land its own astronaut—or should I say, taikonaut--on the lunar surface before then? Will America send astronauts to Mars by the year 2037 like what NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said in a recent speech (I’m too lazy to link to an article mentioning that speech)? Will we eventually send unmanned spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa, Saturn's moon Enceladus (which may both harbor life-supporting oceans underneath their icy crusts) and/or Saturn’s other moon Titan? We’ll just have to wait and see...