Go humans!

Felix Baumgartner’s freefall from near-space makes me wish we had a real manned mission planned — the world is INTO IT, judging by the millions tuned in. Maybe Red Bull would sponsor it?

HR 4158, wherein astronauts are allowed to own space-souvenirs (except lunar material)

The following bill was just Signed by Obama, which allows old heroes to sell mission checklists and ancient cameras taken to space in auctions (and Ebay)…

To confirm full ownership rights for certain United States astronauts to artifacts from the astronauts’ space missions.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

For purposes of this Act, the term `artifact’ means, with respect to an astronaut described in section 2(a), any expendable item utilized in missions for the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo programs through the completion of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project not expressly required to be returned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the completion of the mission and other expendable, disposable, or personal-use items utilized by such astronaut during participation in any such program. The term includes personal logs, checklists, flight manuals, prototype and proof test articles used in training, and disposable flight hardware salvaged from jettisoned lunar modules. The term does not include lunar rocks and other lunar material.

(a) In General- A United States astronaut who participated in any of the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo programs through the completion of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, who received an artifact during his participation in any such program, shall have full ownership of and clear title to such artifact.
(b) No Federal Government Claim- The Federal Government shall have no claim or right to ownership, control, or use of any artifact in possession of an astronaut as described in subsection (a) or any such artifact that was subsequently transferred, sold, or assigned to a third party by an astronaut described in subsection (a).
Passed the House of Representatives September 19, 2012.


Blasting the Moon on Friday morning: LCROSS [space]

On Friday morning (October 9th) a spacecraft the size of a VW bus will crash into our only moon. LCROSS, or: the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite is meant to shake up the surface of the moon in attempt to determine what can be upturned (water please?) following a huge punch in the moon’s face. The mission is part of a larger goal to map the moon’s resources to determine just how much chicken salad workers on a moon base would need to bring with to survive.

If you’re lucky enough to 1) live on the west coast 2) own a pair of binoculars you’ll be able to see this lunar effacement as it happens. Four-thirty AM PST. Set your alarm! (viewing information here). Here’s how it will go down:

On final approach, the Shepherding Spacecraft and Centaur will separate and the Centaur upper stage will act as a heavy impactor to create a debris plume that will rise above the lunar surface. Following four minutes after impact of the Centaur upper stage, the Shepherding Spacecraft will fly through this debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before impacting the lunar surface and creating a second debris plume. NASA expects the impact velocity will be over 9,000 km/h (5,600 mph). [via Wikipedia]

image: Artist rendering of the LCROSS + Centaur. Click for larger.

The following video is a great into to the mission:

LCROSS Animation on KQED Public Media.

More imagery of the moonsplosion:



If you’d like more information, visit the NASA LCROSS site.