Tag Archives: space exploration

Gene Cernan (1934-2017)

Gene Cernan, the last human being to walk on the moon, passed away today in a Houston hospital, surrounded by friends and family.

…As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.

Despite never seeming to smile for photographs, Captain Cernan was a noted humourist–even being invited to roast legendary comedian Don Rickles. Additionally, he was a bit of a speed demon: He rode aboard fastest manned vehicle ever recorded (22,791mph) during Apollo 10’s return from the moon and he holds the land-speed record for any extraterrestrial time trial, racing the lunar rover up to a screaming 11.2mph!

After NASA, Cernan became a contributor to ABC news, published a memoir about his US Navy and NASA career, appeared in several documentaries about space exploration, and even testified before Congress with fellow Apollo alum Neil Armstrong in opposition to the Obama administration’s cancellation of the Constellation program.

There is also the story about how he wrote his daughter’s name in the lunar sand before boarding the LM for the return to earth, making him the first graffitist to tag a celestial body.

Godspeed, Captain Cernan. Godspeed, indeed.

John Glenn 1921-2016

The string of celebrity deaths continues with the passing of one of America’s earliest space heroes, John Glenn. Colonel Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, less than a year after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to reach “outer space”.

A decorated Marine Corps pilot that served in both WWII and the Korean Conflict, Glenn became a Navy test pilot and nearly lost his life during a decompression accident flying the FJ-3 Fury. Undeterred, he got back in the cockpit and in 1957 completed the first recorded supersonic transcontinental flight, flying an F8U Crusader from Los Alamitos AAF (just down the street from me) to New York City in under 3.5 hours.

Colonel John Glenn, USMC, kicking back in a pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars on the deck of the USS Noa after his historic space flight.
Colonel John Glenn, USMC, kicking back in a pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars on the deck of the USS Noa after his historic space flight.

Realizing that he would likely not be chosen for a lunar landing, Glenn resigned from NASA in 1964 and immediately ran for senator of Ohio. As a senatorial candidate, he gave one of the most rousing political speeches ever delivered by a modern candidate–denouncing his opponent’s assertions that he “never worked” because he was in the military.

John Glenn was such a badass, that when he was 77 years old, he became the oldest astronaut he volunteered to go back into space on the shuttle Discovery as a human guinea pig so NASA could study the effects of space travel on elderly humans.

Godspeed, John Glenn! You will be missed!

U.S. and Russian Scientists Are Making Plans to Go Back to the Moon Together

We choose to go [back] to the moon! Actually, cislunar space and lunar orbit are great [and–more importantly–nearby] places to develop proofs of concepts and practice for the eventual Mars shot!

What US-Russian cooperation in space might look like in ten years: a moon base.

Source: U.S. and Russian Scientists Are Making Plans to Go Back to the Moon Together

Smithsonian launches online Apollo 11 high-res 3D spacecraft model for moon landing’s 47th anniversary

One small step for man….

Source: Smithsonian launches online Apollo 11 high-res 3D spacecraft model for moon landing’s 47th anniversary – Boing Boing

The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I wonder if any techno-space hipsters will try to recreate the original Apollo program using this code.

One developer submitted an issue saying, “A customer has had a fairly serious problem with stirring the cryogenic tanks with a circuit fault present,” and listed steps to reproduce the problem.

Source: The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it’s like a 1960s time capsule — Quartz

With Earth’s Largest Telescope Threatened, Its Homeland Rallies

Besides the myriad of invaluable scientific observation it provides, one of Arecibo’s primary missions is the hunt for potential Earth-destroying asteroids. It seems to me that it’s a pretty important mission and worth the budget. As Billy Bob Thornton’s character in Armageddon observed: “…Our object collision budget’s a million dollars; that allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and begging your pardon sir, but it’s a big-ass sky.”

Puerto Ricans speak out about how science and education would suffer if the observatory closes.

Source: With Earth’s Largest Telescope Threatened, Its Homeland Rallies – Phenomena: No Place Like Home

Rescued Japanese spacecraft delivers first results from Venus

“I’m your Venus, I’m your fire…”

Streaked acidic clouds and a bow shape in the atmosphere are among Akatsuki’s findings.

Source: Rescued Japanese spacecraft delivers first results from Venus : Nature News & Comment