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Friday, June 30, 2006

The ARES Logo

CREW EXPLORATION VEHICLE Update: I’m too lazy to put this in my own words, so I just copied and pasted this from the main NASA website: "NASA has named the launch vehicles that will return humans to the Moon and later take them to Mars and other destinations. The crew launch vehicle will be called Ares 1, and the cargo launch vehicle will be known as Ares 5. Ares is the Greek god associated with Mars, and the "1" and "5" designations pay homage to the Apollo-era Saturn 1 and Saturn 5 rockets that took astronauts to the Moon in the 1960s. The Crew Exploration Vehicle (the cone-shaped capsule at the top of the Ares 1 rocket, shown below), which will succeed the space shuttle as NASA's spacecraft for human space exploration by September of 2014, will be named at a later date."

The Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle
The Ares 1 Crew Launch Vehicle

Just to reiterate, the name Ares was chosen because it is the name of the Greek god associated with Mars. Sure, Ares is actually the Greek god of war, but do you really think that NASA chose it because the space agency’s full of angry, sadistic people who want to scrap? Being that I don’t work for NASA, of course not. But if I did work for the agency, I’d name the new launch vehicles Reaper...as in THE Reaper. Reapers’ 1 and 5... I like the sound of that.


The Ares V Earth Departure Stage
The Ares 5 Earth Departure Stage

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Spider-Man enshrouded in the black alien symbiote suit

SPIDER-MAN 3... Click here to view the official teaser trailer for 2007’s most anticipated film (YEA, YOU HEARD RIGHT). From the footage that’s shown, this movie is gonna rock!! Spidey looks totally badass in the black outfit, Sandman looks pretty cool when he transforms into, you guessed it, sand, Kirsten Dunst appears much prettier in the SM3 footage than she did in Spider-Man 2 (no offense, haha) and Harry Osborne...uh, looks pretty determine to get revenge on Spidey while soaring on the Goblin’s glider (though I wonder if Osborne will be donning more than just that mask seen in the trailer for his Hobgoblin attire. Is he even called the Hobgoblin in SM3?). The one character most notably missing from the trailer, of course, is Spidey’s slithery arch-nemesis himself, Venom. Topher Grace’s Ed Brock is shown, but not his evil symbiotic version. Well, more power to Columbia Pictures for keeping Venom under wraps...till the full theatrical trailer comes out next Spring, that is. Did I mention how this movie is gonna rock??

Spider-Man 3 teaser trailer clips
Spider-Man 3 teaser trailer clips

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GARY PAYTON WINS A RING! And so does Alonzo Mourning. And— Good God— Jason Williams...whose recklessness back with the Sacramento Kings helped the Lakers get by them during the 2000 and 2001 playoffs. For those of you who didn’t watch the game last night (which would include I), Miami became the first team in league history to win the Finals after losing Games’ 1 and 2 by double-digit margins (and after the NBA switched the Finals to the current 2-3-2 format). Even though I told people that I rooted for Dallas in this series (I still respect Dirk The Diggler), I was actually indifferent. In all honesty, I was rooting for Payton to win the championship (though a lot of other people would disagree because they don’t like his trash-talk), since he was denied one with the Lakers in 2004...after they were emotionally drained towards the end of the season by Kobe’s white trash arse-banging episode in Colorado. And I don’t really have anything against Shaq (except his lousy f***in’ free-throw shooting), so it’s nice to know Tim Duncan will have to pull it together next season if he wants to tie "Steel" with four rings.

I would hope that this serves as motivation for Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak to find some really good players to put on the team next season, since they and Kobe can’t be pretty happy about Shaq having something to brag about in their faces next season. One thing’s for sure, if the Lakers want to come close to matching the success of the Dallas Mavericks, let alone the Heat, GET RID OF KWAME BROWN! NOW!! ‘Nuff said. Oh, and congrats to Pat Riley.

The 2006 NBA Champions.

Monday, June 19, 2006

24.

THE MOVIE... About two weeks ago, it was confirmed that 20th Century Fox and 24’s producers reached an agreement to release a big-screen version of the hit TV drama...to be released in theaters around summer of 2008. It’ll be interesting to see how they pull this off without using the unique real-time structure employed on the TV show. I really hope the writers have a totally kick-ass story in mind, since I wouldn’t want this to be another version of Kiefer Sutherland’s previous film, The Sentinel (which I never saw, but from what I read in most reviews, didn’t miss much). I cringe at the thought of 24: The Movie being derided as nothing more than a standard action film, so here’s hoping that there’ll be some clever, unique twists in the plot the same way there are in the TV episodes (though hopefully the plot won’t be 'unique' to the point that it seemed outlandish like the story in 1998's X-Files: The Movie). And also... Let’s see a brief nude scene with Chloe O'Brian. Just kidding! Or are I? (Bad grammar done intentionally.) According to Wikipedia.org, lensing for the movie will begin on May 30th, 2007 (after Season 6 ends), and is expected to be released between Seasons 7 and 8—assuming those seasons come into existence...which I hope they do.

Last Friday, Fox TV began airing 2 rerun episodes of Season 5 from 8 PM to 10 PM. So not only is KCAL Channel 9 (in Los Angeles) airing Season 2 episodes of 24 on Sunday mornings (12 AM) and nights (11 PM), but fans (those living in L.A., at least) also get to stay home all 3 weekend nights to watch Jack Bauer and Co. torture or shoot (mostly both) the bad guys. Sweeet.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The mission logo for STS-121.

Discovery a "Go" for launch... At 2 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) on Wednesday, June 28, countdown is set to begin for NASA’s second space shuttle flight since the 2003 Columbia disaster. Liftoff is targeted for 12:49 PM (PDT) on Saturday, July 1st. Here’s hoping that the launch will go virtually flawless (in the sense that only a few small pieces of foam insulating the external fuel tank will be shed during the ascent into orbit) and Discovery has a safe and successful flight. Should mission STS-121 succeed, space shuttle Atlantis is set to launch on August 28th to resume assembly on the International Space Station (on mission STS-115), and space shuttle Discovery (or possibly Endeavour) is set to launch again on STS-116 this December 14. I hope I’m not jinxing it, haha.

STS stands for Space Transportation System (which is the official, nerdy title for the space shuttle), in case you were wondering. Which I hope at least one of you were. Carry on.

The crew of Space Shuttle Discovery poses at Launch Pad 39B with the external fuel tank and a solid rocket booster in the background.
The crew of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-121.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The green line marks the path traveled by the New Horizons spacecraft as of 7:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time, on June 15, 2006.  It is 177 million miles from Earth.
ABOVE: The green line marks the path traveled by the New Horizons spacecraft as of
7:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time, on June 15, 2006. It is 177 million miles from Earth.
Click
here to view the official webpage showing where New Horizons is in space. (AU
stands for Astronomical Units, in case you're wondering.)


NEW HORIZONS Update... I mentioned in this earlier entry that I wouldn’t be talking about NASA’s Pluto mission again till the Jupiter encounter in February of 2007...unless sudden events warranted it. Well— A few weeks ago, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern mentioned that the spacecraft was going to pass by a 3-mile long asteroid dubbed 2002 JF56 on June 13...that is, two days ago. New Horizons came within 63,500 miles of the distant body. Although 2002 JF56 appears as a mere white speck in the photo below, the encounter was still a success for the New Horizons flight team, as this flyby was nothing more than a test to see how well the 'Ralph' camera (which took the image) onboard the spacecraft was able to track and photograph moving objects. Although the moons of Jupiter will appear to be zipping by much more slowly than 2002 JF56 during the Jovian flyby next year, New Horizons will be flying through the Pluto system at a brisk 31,000 miles per hour in 2015. So it’s a good thing that the spacecraft had the opportunity to pass by this Main Asteroid Belt object. New Horizons could’ve actually shot better images of 2002 JF56 if it used LORRI (the LOng-Range Reconnaissance Imager) instead, but LORRI is an extremely-sensitive camera and cannot open its lens cover till late August...since sunlight at the spacecraft’s current distance from the Sun (232 million miles) would damage the instrument.

Asteroid 2002 JF56, through the eyes of New Horizon's Ralph camera.
ABOVE: Asteroid 2002 JF56, through
the eyes of New Horizon's 'Ralph'
camera from 883,000 miles away.


Speaking of the Main Asteroid Belt (which is between Mars and Jupiter for those of you who never took an astronomy class, haha), New Horizons entered this vast, 113 million mile-wide region early this month and won’t be emerging from it till August.

NEW HORIZONS Blog Entries Archive:

September 26, 2005
December 19, 2005
January 7, 2006
January 17, 2006
January 19, 2006
April 12, 2006
June 15, 2006

EDIT (June 22): This week, the International Astronomical Union officially gave names to Pluto's two recently discovered moons. They are Nix and Hydra. Nix is the innermost moon orbiting Pluto and Hydra is the outermost moon. For more information on why these two names were selected, click here. As for what the International Astronomical Union is, it is the worldwide governing body responsible for giving celestial objects like planets and asteroids their names (mostly Greek and Roman monikers)... Think "U.N." without the sanctions, but with a lot of geeky talk.

A Hubble Space Telescope image showing Pluto with its three known moons.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BACK IN THE BLUE YONDER... More than two weeks ago, I went skydiving for the second time in 9 months...this time above Perris Valley in California. The experience kicked ass as much as the first time around; and I got to wear a cool jumpsuit on this second jump, haha. Anyways, I uploaded better versions of these pics to my Gallery One section. So when’s my next attempt at defying gravity? And muerte? Won’t say. *coughtandem-at-30,000feetcough*

Perris Skydive Photos
Perris Skydive Photos

Oh, and I attended the annual open house at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California, the weekend (Saturday, May 20th) before I went to Perris Valley. Click here to see the pics. I know... I know... They’re just models. But I think the photographs came out pretty good, haha. Digicams rule.

A model of the Sojourner Rover

Monday, June 12, 2006

TRANSFORMERS Website Art

EVEN MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE... Those screencaps that I posted in this last entry may have belonged to a fan-made film, but the image above is from the actual Transformers: The Movie website. There is not much on this page yet...except for some dramatic music, a countdown to next year's release date and that cool close-up of a robotic eye. The question is...does that eye belong to an Autobot or a Decepticon? Probably a Decepticon...since it looks pretty sinister. Yep. Obviously.

That is all.

A production still of Megan Fox...who will play Mikaela Banes, the love interest of Shia Labeouf's character Sam Witwicky, in TRANSFORMERS.  This particular shot is from a climactic battle scene in the film.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

The "Slaughtering Sheik"...slaughtered. Well, not really. Al-Zarqawi was still alive when Iraqi and U.S. ground forces arrived on the scene right after the militant’s not-so-safehouse was bombed by a U.S. F-16 fighter jet Wednesday night. And ironically (or is it?), Zarqawi’s head was framed in a large postmortem photograph for everyone on the Internet and watching TV to see, much as how Zarqawi displayed the heads of those he severed in videos during his 3-year reign of terror across Iraq. Now if only we could go online someday and read that Osama bin Laden was also found and taken out by a pair of laser-guided bombs, then maybe gas prices will go down to at least $2.00 per gallon. Actually... Pretend I didn’t type that last part of the sentence. Parno, you sadistic bastard! Haha.

On a different topic, Gary Payton is currently 3 games away from being denied his first championship ring yet again, after the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat, 90-80, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Meh... Whatever. Oh, and the World Cup just started. Carry on.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

THE 2006 NBA FINALS... So now that the Phoenix Suns are officially out of the playoffs (YES!), I guess it’s safe to say that I’ll be rooting for the Dallas Mavericks to win the championship series. I would’ve rooted for the Miami Heat had the Suns came back and won the Western Conference Finals, but fortunately, that ain’t the case. I would’ve rooted for Gary Payton to win the ring that eluded him in 1996 and 2004, err respectively(?), but now I’ll be rooting for Dirk "The Diggler" Nowitzki (not his real nickname, by the way) to hoist up the Larry O'Brien Trophy a few weeks from now. Anyways, that’s all for now. To heck with Dwayne Wade. Go Mavs!

No wait— Oe more thing: It must REALLY SUCK to be a Suns fan... Considering the fact that this team was brought to the brink of elimination twice, let alone twice by two Los Angeles teams—only to finally choke the third time around—must've been a really crappy roller coaster ride for Phoenix fans. Oh well. Better luck next time, Nash! And Raja Bell! NOT.

Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki.