Video: What Does A Space Shuttle Launch Look Like From Above? Well, Like this

From the video description:

“Flying from Orlando, FL I had the rare opportunity to be able to watch Discovery’s final launch as it embarks on STS-133.”

What an awesome video!

SpaceX Eyeing Manned Space Flight

Fresh on the heels of a very successful 2010 for SpaceX, they’re moving ahead with their plans for manned spaceflight.

According to the LA Times:

After becoming the first private company ever to blast a spacecraft into Earth orbit and have it return intact last month, Hawthorne rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is pushing toward its next big step.

The company known as SpaceX wants to be the first commercial firm to launch astronauts into outer space and has submitted a proposal to NASA.

SpaceX wants in on the potentially multibillion-dollar job of ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station after the space shuttle is retired this year. The company is already building rockets and capsules to deliver cargo to the station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program hopes to award about $200 million in seed money in March to companies to develop rockets and spacecraft for the next step in manned spaceflight after the shuttle. Several aerospace companies, including SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing Co., have submitted proposals.

Source.

Very exciting times for space travel! Can’t wait to see what SpaceX has in store!

NASA Images Most Distant – and Youngest – Galaxy in the Universe

most distant galaxy

The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped an image of the most distant galaxy in the universe.

From NASA:

Astronomers have pushed NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits by finding what is likely to be the most distant object ever seen in the universe. The object’s light traveled 13.2 billion years to reach Hubble, roughly 150 million years longer than the previous record holder. The age of the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years.

The tiny, dim object is a compact galaxy of blue stars that existed 480 million years after the big bang. More than 100 such mini-galaxies would be needed to make up our Milky Way. The new research offers surprising evidence that the rate of star birth in the early universe grew dramatically, increasing by about a factor of 10 from 480 million years to 650 million years after the big bang.

Source.

NASA – The Frontier Is Everywhere (Video)

This inspiring fan video, featuring Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” narration, is made by Reid Gower and he has this to say about NASA’s current public image:

I got frustrated with NASA and made this video. NASA is the most fascinating, adventurous, epic institution ever devised by human beings, and their media sucks. Seriously. None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd, which is now more important than ever. In fact, NASA is an institution whose funding directly depends on how the public views them.

In all of their brilliance, NASA seems to have forgotten to share their hopes and dreams in a way the public can relate to, leaving one of humanity’s grandest projects with terrible PR and massive funding cuts. I have a lot of ideas for a NASA marketing campaign, but I doubt they’d pay me even minimum wage to work for them. I literally have an MSWord document entitled NASAideas.doc full of ideas waiting to share. I thought maybe, just maybe someone might be able to work their magic for me on that. But the primary point of this post is to vent my frustration with NASA. Sure, they’ve fallen victim to budget cuts but I honestly think cutting media will seal NASA’s own fate. Unless they can find a way to relate to the general public, support for their projects will always be minimal, and their funding will follow suit. A social media department would easily pay for itself in government grants because it could rekindle the public interest in the space program.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY59wZdCDo0&hd=1

Here’s hoping NASA takes a cue from this!

Amazing Chart of Every Human and Robotic Space Mission

This amazing chart visualizes every human and robotic mission into space.

Click the image to view a larger version.

Thanks to X-WideP for discovering it.

Source.

Upcoming Auction of Space Memorabilia

This news comes via Neatorama:

NASA is preparing to auction off souvenirs, paperwork, and hardware from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects. Of course, items from the Apollo 11 mission will command higher prices, such as the American flag shown, which went to the moon in the summer of 1969.

Remarkable flight-flown printed fabric American flag, 6 x 4, flown aboard Apollo 11 during its historic flight to the moon. Flag is affixed by its corners to a 10 x 12 certificate stating “This flag traveled to the moon with Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, July 20, 1969,” and signed in black felt tip by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Armstrong has also added an inscription that reads, “To Rooster with sincere best wishes from Apollo 11.” Rooster Andrews was the owner of a very successful sports shop business in Texas, a keen space collector, and a friend of the astronauts.

The Auction begins January 13th.

Check out the details here.

NASA Releases Best Photos of 2010

The Huffington Post has put together NASA’s top pictures from 2010.

Check them out here.

Astro Alert: Solstice Lunar Eclipse Tonight

The night of 20 December, or very early into the morning of the 21st depending on your time zone, will feature a total lunar eclipse easily visible in North America, Greenland, and Iceland.  While lunar eclipses are fairly common, this one falls on the same day as the northern winter solstice and that hasn’t happened since 1638!

If you have clear skies, and a warm jacket, be sure to look up tonight around these times:

Partial Phase Begins Moon Enters Umbra Mid-Eclipse Moon Leaves Umbra
EST Dec. 21, 1:33 a.m. Dec. 21, 2:41 a.m. Dec. 21, 3:17 a.m. Dec. 21, 3:53 a.m.
CST Dec. 21, 12:33 a.m. Dec. 21, 1:41 a.m. Dec. 21, 2:17 a.m. Dec. 21, 2:53 a.m.
MST Dec. 20, 11:33 p.m. Dec. 21, 12:41 a.m. Dec. 21, 1:17 a.m. Dec. 21, 1:53 a.m.
PST Dec. 20, 10:33 p.m. Dec. 20, 11:41 p.m. Dec. 21, 12:17 a.m. Dec. 21, 12:53 a.m.

More info on tonight’s lunar eclipse can be found at:

NASA – Eclipses

NASA – The Moon’s Holiday Gift

Solstice Lunar Eclipse – NASA Science

New Zealand Space Company Gets Lucrative Space Contract

According to TVNZ, Rocket Lab – a company based in New Zealand – has secured a contract with NASA to commercialize its space technologies.

From the article:

New Zealand space company Rocket Lab has secured a deal which will see its rocket technologies commercialised in the United States.

Rocket Lab said it had signed a deal with L2 Aerospace, a company focused on developing innovative flight systems, technologies and solutions for the commercial, civilian and military markets.

The deal comes a year on from the company’s launch of a rocket toward space from Great Mercury Island, off the Coromandel Peninsula.

Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said it was an exciting time for the company.

“I have had the opportunity to see some remarkable operations, people and hardware and at the end of the day whether it be a giant corporation or a small company on the other side of the world, we are all trying to solve the same engineering problems,” he said.

“However, our way of solving the problems are unburdened by regular convention, historic methods or bureaucracy, so our solutions tend to be quite different and that is what really excited the US space industry”.

Many congrats to them. Read the details of the deal here.

Final Discovery Launch Postponed Until February

Bad news on the Space Shuttle front. Discovery, which was already supposed to have been launched, has had its final mission delayed until February while engineers investigate several problems.

They’re shooting for February 3rd. More details as we know them.

What do you think of the latest Shuttle delay? Let us know in the comments!