Monday, November 8, 2010

Space Map International!


Occasionally, I'll think up a theme for the month. This isn't one of those months. Or, we could just consider this "daily random information because I’m so bummed about Discovery being scrubbed five times" month.

Next time, I'll go for something catchier.

But, one theme I have continued as time allowed is my Space Map! I started with NASA facilities, added Space Museums, later added Space Crafts... and then I thought I would pick up again with international space sites.

You'll notice I said "I thought" ... as opposed to "I succeeded." Turns out, there are far, far more space agencies and branches than I ever dreamed! I thought I knew an awful lot about the overall space industry… perhaps because I can rattle off all 18 member countries of the European Space Agency at cocktail parties. (I can also say the alphabet backwards unreasonably fast. Even after a few drinks.)

At any rate… did you know that the Japanese Space Agency alone has 21 space centers, research institutes, manufacturing sites and launch complexes in five different countries? I sure didn't. And Russia now has over 30 sites. Wow. (For those keeping score, NASA has 25.)

So, I'm going to take this in stages. This past weekend, I map-marked the headquarters sites of the European Space Agency, founded in 1975. This entity now includes the space programs of Austria, Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands (Holland), Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

I'm working on some of the other international sites now. Around Christmas, I should have the whole "world of space" on there. What a learning odyssey this has been! The overall space industry really snuck up on me, and is much larger than we all probably think!

European Space Agency
Interesting tidbits:
1. Check out the Swedish Space Institute (67.84° N, 20.41° E)... it is the northernmost space post I've found thus far, and a real snow-covered treat!

2. Note that three of the sites on the HTML page are not countries but rather the continent "Europe" – and these comprise the European Mission Control, Astronaut training site and general Astronomy office of the ESA.

3. The main launching space port of the ESA is, interestingly, located in South America! See if you can find it.