Monday, December 24, 2007

The ALTAIR logo that will be used by NASA on future lunar expedition missions by astronauts...hopefully starting in 2020.

"Houston, the Altair has landed." Not as catchy as Neil Armstrong’s "Houston, the Eagle has landed" quote back in 1969, but oh well. I think any space aficionado will be grateful if U.S. astronauts are even in the position in 2020 (when Americans are suppose to return to the Moon via the Orion spacecraft) to do a newer take on Armstrong’s memorable line. Almost two weeks ago, NASA announced the new name for its next generation lunar lander: the Altair. Altair is the brightest star in Aquila, the constellation, and is the twelfth brightest celestial object in the night sky...according to NASA folks who work on the Altair project. The logo for Altair was also unveiled (shown above), and pays homage to the patch for the Apollo 11 mission (click here for more info on that). Below is an art concept for the lunar lander itself. The original title for Altair was the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM), but here’s hoping Altair becomes a household name faster than LSAM does. That is all.

An artist's concept for the ALTAIR lunar lander.

Images courtesy of NASA

Thursday, December 6, 2007

NASA Merges With NASCAR... This satirical article by The Onion is more than 10 years old, but it’s still funny anyway. And for the record, the shuttle’s name is spelled Endeavour, not Endeavor. Oh well. Blame the British (Endeavour was the name of a British ship, commanded by James Cook, more than 200 years ago. Hey, this Blog was nerdy already) for adding a ‘u’ after ‘o’ in words like that, as well as flavour and labour. And spelling theater ‘theatre’ and kilometer ‘kilometre’. Okay, I’m veering waaay off-topic here. Just check out that article.

Space shuttle Endeavour takes part in Tennessee's Purolator 500.
Courtesy of The Onion

UPDATE (December 9): The reason why the Onion article is relevant right now is because space shuttle Atlantis, which is now scheduled to launch on flight STS-122 in January, is carrying onboard three green starting flags from the Daytona 500. Both NASA and NASCAR's "Great American Race" are celebrating their 50th anniversary next year. Once Atlantis lands after STS-122, one of the green flags will be waved at the beginning of the race in Florida next year, the second flag will be given to the winning Daytona driver, and NASA will keep the third.

The three Daytona 500 racing flags that will ride into space onboard the shuttle Atlantis, on flight STS-122.