Dedicated to the Health and Safety of the Personal Space Traveler

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Russia's fading scientific prospects-- harbinger of things to come for the US Space Program?

I first read this in the Washington Post thanks to a friend who sent it to me... here's an excerpt from the Charlotte Observer:

What I find sad... and frightening about this is that is seems like the same fate is being guaranteed for the US Space Program and space science. Do you agree? We want to hear from you!

Space- the next business frontier?

The WSJ had a provocative editorial back in Dec 2011 on Richard Branson and plans for Virgin Galactic. The question is... does a real business model for space tourism REALLY exist? We want to hear from you!

Here's the link to the editorial:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

China Manned-Space Program Moves Forward

According to an article posted on the English version on PeopleDailyOnline, the Chinese space program is moving forward.  They are currently choosing astronauts for Shenzhou 8 and Shenzhou 9 missions planned for next year.

They will be working on maintenance and docking tasks as well as testing and measuring physiological and psychological changes which occur in space.  It would be interesting to know what measurements and tests they will be performing and to see the results of these tests.

It looks like the Chinese are stepping up their program at a time when the United States seems to be in a holding pattern.  Maybe this activity will spur those in the US, both private sector and NASA to step up their game.

To read the article in PeopleOnlineDaily, click here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Why Do We Need To Go To Space?

We need to go to space for several reasons.  We are explorers.  We need the jobs.  We need the medical research.

Humans have always been explorers.  From the earliest point in time we have been on the move - across continents, across oceans, under the seas, through the air, into space.  We need to see, we need to feel, we need to know.  We have google-mapped the planet and we still need to know more.  We have been to the moon, we have sent probes to the planets and we still need to know more.

We need the jobs.  People balk at the large price tag for space exploration.  And that is a good thing.  But, the vast majority of the price tag goes to salaries.  And those salaries go to people right here on earth.  Those salaries pay for mortgages, car loans, groceries, movie tickets, cable bills, internet bills, hair cuts, and much more.  Every dollar spent for space explorations circulates through our economy several times and keeps many businesses going.  Cut space programs and jobs dry up quickly.

Yes there are probably more cost effective ways to do medical research, but there is some research which requires the special environment found in low earth orbit.  Cancer research, osteoporosis, chromosome analysis are just a  few of the places benefiting from research done in space.  For more of these benefits read this ABC News article.

Yes the budget will be cut.  That is the political climate in Washington these days.  Let's hope they make intelligent cuts.  Cuts that make sense.  Cuts that don't hamstring NASA's ability to explore, create jobs, and conduct vital research.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flying Blind in Space Long-Term?

In a September 2nd article on the website MedLine Plus, a site run by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, being in space for extended periods of time can affect your eyesight.

"The new study, of more than 300 astronauts in the U.S. space program, found that almost 50 percent of those who served on long missions -- six months or more -- reported experiencing new problems with their ability to see objects near to them while in space and for some time after returning to Earth. Roughly 23 percent of astronauts who spent shorter periods in orbit reported problems with their near vision during their missions and after getting home."

Yikes!  I hope we can find a solution for this.  Otherwise, we will not be able to see what we discover when we go venturing away from the planet.

Studying this and other space health issues should be something we are doing on the International Space Station.  After all, we don't even know what the health effects are for someone staying in space for as short as two years.  Hey, NASA, let's put some money into this please.

To view the entire Medline Plus article, click here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Science Fairs are Coming

Calling all Science people!  Science Fair season in coming up in the next month or two.  I have already received two emails inviting me to judge at science fairs this fall.  If you think you might like to judge at a science fair, don't be afraid.  It is fun, easy, and you are helping to support the future. 

Don't know where to start?  Contact your local high school, middle/junior high school, or local board of education.  Let them know that you would be interested in judging.  They can put you in touch with the teacher or science coordinator in charge.

Then show up and spend 3 to 4 hours talking science with students.  Granted some of the projects will be duds, but when you see the work done by students who "get" it, you will be glad you showed up.

Do it now, you know you want to do it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Moon Day!

When I moved out to West Virginia about 13 years ago, I started a tradition.  Almost every year since then, I have sent an email to my good friend Dr. Eleanor O'Rangers celebrating what we call Moon Day.  That day, July 20th is the Anniversary of when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out onto the Lunar surface.

Usually I rant for a few paragraphs on the lack of direction this country now has in space.  This year I want to try something different.  A few positive thoughts (or at least non-negative) might be better.

First I have a link to a blog post written by someone I went to high school with.  I guess I did not know him as well as I thought.  Turns out he is a "space" guy as well.  In this post he talks about going to the launch of STS 135. The title is "Space Shuttle Launch: Joe's Personal Experience" published online via "The Boone Examiner".  I just wish I had gotten to see one of them launch too.

Forty-two years have passed since man first set foot upon the moon.  If I have my numbers right, that means most Americans have been born since that event.  As a kid growing up, I had thought that we would have a space station and that we would be refueling spacecraft there.  And that those spacecraft would be taking us to the other planets, and maybe, just maybe, to some distant star.  I hope kids growing up today feel that same awe and wonder as the space shuttle flies it's last.  I hope they dream of building spacecraft, robots, and space stations too.  I hope one of them discovers a way to allow our fragile bodies to conserve muscle and bone to allow long space flights.  I hope one of them discovers better propulsion and better life supports systems.  I hope one of them makes a computer breakthrough which allows us to fully map our solar system's weather allow us to predict events hazardous to our astronauts and plan for their safety.

I think someday soon, they will.

Happy Moon Day Eleanor, and everyone.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dangerous Shuttle and ISS Events

Since the last space shuttle mission lifted off this morning, I thought I would share a link to a Scientific American article and slide show entitled:

The 10 Most Dangerous Moments in Space Shuttle and Station History

Most of them I remember, but a couple of them snuck in under my radar.  Let's just hope NASA and the commercial companies springing up these days learn from these problems.

Enjoy and have a great day!