Thursday, January 31, 2008

50 YEARS AGO TODAY, the United States launched its very first satellite, Explorer 1, into Earth orbit. It was in response to the Soviet Union launching its Sputnik 1 satellite three months earlier, thus touching off the Space Race. Just thought I’d give you a bit of history as we are now living in the fifth decade of the Space Age. Awesome.

A model of Explorer 1, held by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William Pickering, scientist James Van Allen and rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun in 1958.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The crew of mission STS-51L.

22 YEARS AGO TODAY... This week marks the anniversaries of three of the lowest points in our nation's manned space program. Rest in peace to the Challenger well as the Columbia and Apollo 1 astronauts. This Friday marks the 5-year anniversary since the second space shuttle disaster took place. When the shuttle Atlantis launches again on February 7 (hopefully), let's hope it begins a safe and successful round of missions (six in all) to the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station this year, so space station assembly can be finished by 2010. After that, we can now focus on heading back to the Moon, and eventually onto Mars...

The crew of mission STS-107.

The crew of Apollo 1.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SpaceShipTwo unveiled... Do you think traveling 60 miles into space will one day cost as much as doing a tandem skydive (usually around $300), or at least a HALO tandem dive (around $3,000)? $200,000—the current asking price by Virgin Galactic, which owns SpaceShipTwo—is a bit out of my price range...for now.

Artist concepts showing SpaceShipTwo and White Knight II in action.

SpaceShipTwo and White Knight II undergoing construction at the Scaled Composites facility:

SpaceShipTwo and White Knight II undergoing construction at the Scaled Composites facility.

All images courtesy of Virgin Galactic / Scaled Composites