Wednesday, January 28, 2015

They Were Flying For Me

Share

The end of January and beginning of February holds an unusual amount of losses for our space program:

January 27, 1967… Apollo 1 lost
January 28, 1986… Challenger STS-51L lost
February 1, 2003… Columbia STS-107 lost


I have to be careful on this day, because many news outlets re-run footage of
Challenger in particular, and I for one simply never wish to view it again. Instead, from time to time, I chose to visit the Challenger Memorial in Houston, while it was still there. I have also visited the Apollo 1 Memorial at Cape Canaveral, and the Columbia Memorial in Arlington.

While there are many civic and private memorials, or schools and streets named after astronauts in their home towns or other cities -- quite incredibly, there is no national memorial for NASA's collective tragedies. 


Sad that this amazing piece of work was presented by musician John Denver, who would himself perish in an air crash. "They Were Flying For Me" is truly a beautiful song, with moving footage of the Challenger crew.

We are certainly not alone in our losses. The official efforts of the USA and USSR have claimed 9 human lives in training accidents, 15 in flight, and 3 in space.

NASA also has very informative Day of Remembrance slide shows for the three missions in which the most lives were lost.

Astronaut Memorial - Neil Armstrong Museum

The most recently constructed memorial, which I felt very privileged to see in fall of 2014, is at the Neil A. Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Created by Tony Hight in 2009, it's one of the few that lists every major mission in which an entire crew was lost in service to their country.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Star Talk Radio Live!

Share

Star Talk Radio is on the road again! And this week, Bill Nye The Science Guy will be hosting Neil deGrasse Tyson's usual gig in Los Angeles and San Francisco!  Lucky, lucky audiences in California.

Okay, okay, don't say it... if it's Star Talk Radio LIVE and ONSTAGE, it's... not.. exactly RADIO. But who's quibbling with the best radio show and podcast around?

Star Talk Radio Live

StarTalk, from Curved Light Productions, is the first (and still only) popular commercial radio broadcast devoted to space exploration, the search for life in the universe, astrophysics, and cosmology -- and they manage to make all these subjects accessible to listeners of all ages and backgrounds with facts, humor, celebrities, and occasional co-hosts.

If you are not a regular StarTalk listener... um, who are you and what are you doing on my blog?? No seriously, if you're new to the show, you can brush up on the format and fun by seeing their greatest hits: TOP TEN Most Listened To StarTalk Radio Shows in 2014.

There's one episode where NdT had a conversation with GOD. Make time.

Bill Nye's Website

I'm so very flattered to tell all my readers and followers that the StarTalk social media team invited me to "guest-host" their Twitter account during Bill Nye's show on Friday, January 23rd.

Engineer, comedian, Emmy-winning TV host, and owner of 150+ bow ties, Bill Nye is also the current CEO of The Planetary Society.  I happen to be a proud, card-carrying member. It will be my distinct pleasure to put all my Nye-rich knowledge into describing the show on Friday night at the historic Nourse Theatre in San Francisco.

If you're local to the Bay Area, you can purchase tickets to come live-tweet #StarTalkRadio with us, or follow along with all the great sciency comedy from home by following the social media hashtag #StarTalkLive.


The above video is from Nye's 2014 San Francisco StarTalk show, at the annual SF Sketchfest. Watch this if you want to get an idea of what's in store!

For all the news this week about #StarTalkLive, you can follow the major players on Twitter at @Pillownaut, @ScientificScott, @TheScienceGuy, @EugeneMirman, and of course the Big Guns: @StarTalkRadio.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Moon Musings

Share

A stunning anniversary just passed, and it's been on my mind all weekend.

On December 19, 1972, upon the splashdown return of Apollo 17, there were 12 men on planet Earth who knew what it was like to walk on the surface of our Moon. This fact remained true for true for 18 years and 7 months.


Then, in August 1991, James Irwin (Apollo 15) died of a heart attack at age 61.

In 1998, Alan Shepard (Apollo 14) died of leukemia at age 74.

In 1999, Pete Conrad (Apollo 12) was killed in a motorcycle crash at age 69.

In 2012, Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11) died of heart failure at age 82.

Today, there are 8 men left who remember traveling to and working on the moon.

  • Buzz Aldrin turns 85 years old in January.
  • Ed Mitchell and John Young are also both 84. 
  • Alan Bean and David Scott are both 82. 
  • Gene Cernan is 80.
  • Jack Schmitt and Charles Duke are both 79.
In less than one year, every single man who walked on the Moon will be an octogenarian.

Even if the youngest of them make it in to their 90s or to 100, will they see another Moon mission? Or perhaps, as has been hot news this year, BEYOND the moon? Will they watch astronauts who are American or Chinese? Male or female? Who will be President in that era? Will it be just as inspiring to the world?


Some think we could pull off a Moon mission or beyond by 2020, though with how administrations roll, it will be more like 2025.
  • At that point, Buzz Aldrin would be 95. 
  • Ed Mitchell and John Young would both be 94. 
  • Alan Bean and David Scott would both be 93. 
  • Gene Cernan would be 91. 
  • Jack Schmitt would be 90. 
  • Charles Duke would be 89. 
I wonder, will they make it? Statistically, we can expect to lose a few more of their tiny club before we see a return to the lunar surface, given that even the best ideas are still in the planning stages. Anything could suffer cancellation again, in favor of Mars, Asteroids, or on the altar of war, depression or unforseen disaster.

So, when we go back, if we go back, will anyone alive personally remember what it was like to go the Moon?

Something to ponder.

Monday, December 1, 2014

FREE 2015 "Year In Space" Calendar

Share

Readers and Tweeters! Some lucky SpaceTwit is going to win a stunningly gorgeous 2015 Year In Space Calender, hot off Starry Messenger Press, published in cooperation with The Planetary Society.

And when I say SpaceTwit, I mean that in the nicest possible way. Because all you have to do to enter the contest is tweet about the new calendar to spread the word.


Designer Steve Cariddi created this large-format 2015 Year In Space Calendar to appeal to space enthusiasts of all ages, and the introduction was written by everyone's favorite Science Guy, Bill Nye!

This beautiful creation has his stamp of approval, and it's not difficult to see why. I got my hot little hands on it, and have been absorbed for hours. The photography is stunning, and every square centimeter is packed with colorful collages, planets, astronauts, space crafts, and profiles of famous scientists. The calendar grids feature moon phases, sky-gazing guides, space exploration milestones throughout history and fun space facts.

https://www.yearinspace.com/


TO ENTER THE TWEETSTORM

Circulate any of the tweets below, or create your own tweet with the calendar link, and CC: back to my account so I know to enter your Twit-handle in the drawing.

Win a FREE Year In Space 2015 calendar w/fabulous space photographs! http://bit.ly/1F5EBsG Intro by Bill Nye @TheScienceGuy cc @pillownaut

Win a FREE Year In Space 2015 Calendar http://bit.ly/1F5EBsG Created by @YearInSpace & @exploreplanets the Planetary Society cc @pillownaut

EVERYONE who tweets will also get a re-tweet from me from somewhere in their recent stream, and an inclusion in my next #FF round for your Klouting pleasure! Next Monday morning (December 8, 2014), we will choose a winner at random and notify everyone.

http://www.yearinspace.com/wall-calendar
Click to see Calendar Pages!

And Get This: you get a special discount for being a Pillow Astronaut Reader and Tweeter! Of course, only one person can win the free prize, so when the rest of you purchase multiples for your kids for Christmas, and I know you will, check out the discount grid, alongside FREE U.S. shipping and lowered international shipping.

Check in the box for the Internet Discount, which ranges from 22% to 39%, depending on quantity ordered; then in the comment section, let them know Pillownaut sent you!

If you do not have a Twitter account, feel free to share this article to Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or Tumblr!  Then, leave me a comment here on this blog post to let me know! Anyone who shares is entered. :)