Archive for the ‘astronauts’ Category

Geriatric Space Gear Gets Federal Medical Make-Over

May 11, 2009

Geriatric Space Gear Gets Federal Medical Make-Over

It lacks health insurance and does not quite qualify for Medicare, but the elderly Hubble Space Telescope will get a house call from NASA this week. Medical procedures are expected to include vision correction and a change of pacemaker batteries.

The geriatric care team will depart this afternoon in a Studebaker Atlantis emergency medical vehicle.  After the launch, technicians at Kennedy Space Center will scatter Kitty Litter on Launch Pad 39A to absorb oil and fluids leaked from the 1985-model space shuttle (thanks to Heloise for the tip).


Commerce will Blast Off With Richardson

December 3, 2008

Commerce will Blast Off with Bill Richardson

UPDATE: Richardson launch aborted!

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico will be named Secretary of Commerce by President-elect Barack Obama today. The Governor will probably not bring his pinto pony here to Washington, despite nonstop whining by Malia and Sasha Obama.

The current economic crisis calls for bold initiatives, and Governor Richardson has plans to Go Where No Commerce Secretary Has Gone Before: Space, the Final Economic Frontier. The Governor has invested millions in the Spaceport America project in southern New Mexico. This effort may spur a new economic boom by initiating Space Commerce; it may also out-source your job to Alpha Centauri and bring new meaning to the term “illlegal alien.” Chances are it will just be another extravagant thrill ride for the very rich. The best the rest of us can hope for is getting our pictures taken while we sit on Bill’s pony.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

China Space Walk

September 26, 2008

China Space Walk
Shenzhou 7 (artist’s conception)

Three astronauts are now circling the Earth at a constant altitude of  213 miles (343 kilometers) in China’s Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a perfect take-off on a Long March II-F rocket on Thursday. A crew member, probably mission commander Zhai Zhigang, is preparing for China’s first spacewalk.


Space Tourism Drives Leap in Technology

July 29, 2008

Space Tourism Drives Leap in Technology
Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo launch vehicle and SpaceShipTwo herald a new era . . . .

From a Virgin Galactic Press Release, delivered in state-of-the-art Microsoft Word:

Mojave Air and Spaceport, California, July 28th 2008

Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson and SpaceShipOne designer, Burt Rutan, today pulled back the hangar doors on the new WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft that will ferry SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages and payload [sic] on the first stage of the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space experience. [Hyperlink added].


Hubble Telescope Upgrade

July 6, 2008

Hubble Telescope Upgrade
Artist’s concept; not to scale.

While NASA spends most of its budget producing exciting, life-threatening spectacles in competition with Robbie Knievel, the next NASA Humans-In-Space Stunt actually has a scientifically-defensible aim: updating the Hubble Space Telescope, greatest space observatory in the history of Astronomy. 

On October 8, 2008, seven astronauts are scheduled to blast through the atmosphere in the aging, creaky, Atlantis Space Shuttle to make a service call on Hubble, 350 miles above Earth, repairing seventeen years of wear-and-tear from vibration and space dust and installing state-of-the-art instrumentation, including Wide Field Camera 3, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, and one of those newfangled digital TV converter boxes.


Folklife Festival 2008

June 25, 2008

 Folklife Festival 2008

The 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival begins on the National Mall today. There will be speechifying at 11AM and the festival itself opens at Noon.

The exhibits, music and food featured are from:


Space Shuttle Lands in Florida

June 17, 2008

Space Shuttle Lands in Florida

The aging space shuttle Discovery wheezed and rattled back from its mercy mission to the International Space Station on Saturday after successfully delivering a Russian-made zero-gravity toilet and French-made bidet. U.S. astronauts assumed the latter was a zero-G drinking fountain.


Space News

June 8, 2008

Space News

NASA astronauts concluded another highly-scientific space stunt experiment yesterday with another highly-scientific extra-vehicular “space walk”  excursion side-trip, one of the highly-scientific accomplishments of this highly-scientific multi-million-dollar cruise, which proved conclusively that astronauts could take three spacewalks.  The space voyagers also operated this highly-scientific experimental apparatus:


Triumph in Outer Space

June 5, 2008

Triumph in Outer Space

Another landmark engineering triumph for the manned space effort as a new hydraulic device was installed at the International Space Station.

To the great relief of the international crew, space station flight engineer Oleg Kononenko ended a tense situation at the orbital facility, installing new Russian equipment — exactly like the part that failed! — recently delivered by the USA’s elderly Discovery Space Shuttle. (more…)

NASA Holiday Weekend Road Trip

May 27, 2008

NASA Holiday Weekend Road Trip
(Artist’s conception)

While you were stuck in highway traffic on the way home from the beach, mountains, or nudist fishing camp, NASA celebrated a space triumph, landing the Phoenix Mars probe in the cool North Polar area of Mars. No sea ice or polar bears there, either.