Category Archives: Space

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Space Shuttle External Tank Falling Toward Earth

December 10th, 2016 | Space


An external tank from the Space Shuttle falling toward Earth. However, it didn’t actually land in the farms of North-East France below because it is moving parallel to the surface of the Earth. Eventually, it landed safely in the Indian or Pacific ocean.

The external tank contained the liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer used for boosting the shuttle into space.

The external tank was the only component of the shuttle stack that was not reusable. A new tank had to be constructed for each launch.


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A Journey to Photograph Alpha Centauri

April 12th, 2016 | Space

Breakthrough starshot nanocraft yuri milner alpha centauri lasers

Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking revealed a plan today to send small robotic spacecraft 4.37 light years away to our closest neighbor solar system, Alpha Centauri, and send back pictures.

The basic idea is to send thousands of probes into space and then propel them forward with powerful laser beams from Earth. The nanocraft could then accelerate to 1/5th the speed of light and reach Alpha Centauri in approximately 20 years.

Of course there are 10’s of billions of dollars to raise for the mission and countless details to be worked out like building robust light sails, circuits that can withstand radiation in space and high gravity, and a suite of high powered lasers that work in perfect unison. However, if successful, we might get actual close-up pictures of a new solar system. Alpha centauri hosts three different stars and at least 1 known planet (and likely many more).

We all may be alive to see the launch, but we’ll have to wait about 20 years + whatever time it takes to beam back the images to see the fruits of the mission. Exciting nonetheless!


Direction-Space! by Maria Gruzdeva

February 7th, 2016 | Space

Direction_Space Soviet Space Program 1

Direction-Space! is a project by Russian-born photographer, Maria Gruzdeva. The photographs depict relics from the Soviet-era space industry in all their 20th century glory. Two iconic sites, Star City and Baikonur (previously blogged here), are featured prominently in the images.

A blurb from the artist:

“Direction–Space! series explore the reality of the space community at first hand, investigating the physical and psychological space as well as the routine and lives of its residents and their habitat. Generation of cosmonauts have trained in these surroundings and because of the reticence and insularity of this world the physical space and its spirit have been preserved. The series reveals these traces of history, power and ghost-like presence left behind. It is this space that holds the weight of the past and shapes the reality of people who live and work there currently. Direction–Space! offers a new insight into the subject central to the Cold War history of the Soviet Union and raises questions over attitudes and perceptions that have been formed over the past decades.”

And without further ado, here’s a sample of the fascinating collection:

Direction_Space Soviet Space Program 2
Direction_Space Soviet Space Program 6 Direction_Space Soviet Space Program 5 Direction_Space Soviet Space Program 4 Direction_Space Soviet Space Program 3

If you are interested in the history of the Soviet space program, she put the collection of images in a book:

Direction_Space Soviet Space Program 7

You can pick it up from Amazon here, Direction-Space!.


Living in the International Space Station

January 18th, 2016 | Space

living in the international space station

Sunita Williams guides us through life on the International Space Station in this 30-minute video, which was filmed back in 2012 as part of mission 32/33. It’s really fascinating to observe the adaptations that must be made to live in a gravity-free environment… from the bathroom operations to exercise needed to maintain bone density. Human life really isn’t made for life in space, but these researchers are actively searching for the best methods to make it function. Current work on the ISS will undoubtedly pave the way to our journey to Mars and beyond.


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