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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Hubble Space Telescope following release from a space shuttle during a previous service flight.

HUBBLE MISSION A "GO"... Earlier this morning, NASA chief Michael Griffin officially gave the go-ahead to prepare for one last space shuttle flight to repair the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The orbiter that will rendezvous with it will be Discovery, which launched HST into space in April of 1990. Lift-off for this next flight is set no earlier than May of 2008. Two new scientific instruments will be installed onto the orbiting observatory, and its batteries as well as devices used to point the spacecraft (such as its gyroscopes) will be replaced. Also, HST will be fitted with a docking mechanism that will allow a small rocket module to be attached to the telescope in the future...to guide it to a controlled re-entry of Earth's atmosphere once HST finally stops operating about 5 years after the next servicing flight. This will be the sixth shuttle mission—and fifth servicing flight overall—devoted to the space telescope. Astronauts revisited HST in 1993, ’97, ’99 and 2002, respectively, to upgrade it. The next modifications to Hubble should allow it to last at least till 2013, when its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to launch.

On April 24, 1990, space shuttle Discovery launches on STS-31...the flight to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope.

The upcoming mission was originally scheduled for 2005...but cancelled in 2004 by then-NASA head honcho Sean O’Keefe following the 2003 Columbia disaster. The reason for this was because astronauts visiting the telescope had no place to seek refuge should a Columbia-type hole be found punctured in Discovery’s heat shield. All shuttles so far have been headed to the International Space Station, where astronauts could seek a safe haven should severe damage be found on their vehicle before the trip home. A rescue mission will be made available for the upcoming Hubble flight...with another shuttle being launched within a one week’s notice should Discovery be deemed unfit to return to Earth. Enough supplies will be placed onboard the spacecraft to allow astronauts to stay in orbit for about 25 days.

Scores of galaxies grace this photo of the Hubble Deep Field...one of the most popular images taken by the space telescope.

In other Discovery-related news, the orbiter is scheduled to be rolled into the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida's Kennedy Space Center no earlier than 7 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) tonight...where it will be mated with its external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters for its upcoming flight. Discovery is still scheduled to launch December 7 on the next space station assembly mission, designated STS-116. The 2008 Hubble flight is designated STS-125.

UPDATE (November 1): According to NASASpaceflight.com, Atlantis might be used for the Hubble mission...making this the first time the orbiter flew to the telescope, as well as the very last mission for the vehicle before it is retired in 2008.

An astronaut works on Hubble during the last service mission, which took place with space shuttle Columbia on 2002's STS-109 flight.

One more thing... Happy Halloween, everyone!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Space shuttle Columbia lifts off into the night sky on flight STS-109...which was the last servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2002.

BACK TO THE SPACE TELESCOPE... Though NASA won't make an official announcment on this till Halloween Tuesday, online sources are stating that the next servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telsecope is all but confirmed. I'll do an official blog on this on Tuesday.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after winning the 2006 World Series.

Darn, I was rooting for Detroit to win the Fall Classic. Oh well. The Cardinals have two players (Scott Spiezio and David Eckstein...the Most Valuable Player of the '06 World Series) who were on the 2002 Anaheim Angels championship team, so it's all good. I'm a SoCali person, in case you were wondering.

Monday, October 23, 2006

24.

SEASON 6 Preview... Starting tomorrow, you can view the online trailer to the next season of Fox’s Emmy award-winning show. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for Jack Bauer and Co. come next January...

Jack Bauer is freed from Chinese custody to deal with a new terrorist threat on U.S. soil...in a shot from the preview to Season 6 of '24'.

Oh, and on December 5th you can buy the DVD for Season 5 of 24. The things I do to promote TV shows and films for Fox... I should get paid for this.


The DVD package for 24, Season 5.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Soldiers raise up the American flag in Iwo Jima in FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS: Blog #2... I saw the World War II epic today, and while it was not as intense as 1998's Saving Private Ryan, it was more moving and emotional. Like Private Ryan, Flags opens up with a modern-day sequence featuring a WWII veteran...who in the Clint Eastwood film recounts the significance of the flag raising photo shot in Iwo Jima. The battle scenes in Flags are just as realistic and gut-wrenching as those in the Steven Spielberg epic. But unlike Private Ryan, the modern-day scenes also take place during the movie...and they are actually pivotal to the story in Flags. The modern-day scenes at the beginning and end of Private Ryan, on the other hand, could've been deleted from that film...which would've probably made the '99 Best Picture nominee a much better movie. It's still a great film, though.

A screenshot from FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS.

Proof that Flags of Our Fathers was emotional and moving was evident at the finale, when most of the theater audience remained still and silent during the end credits sequence. As the credits rolled, actual photos taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima came up on screen...and it was interesting to see how close Clint Eastwood came to re-creating certain events that took place in the 1945 Pacific conflict.

A montage of screenshots from FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Soldiers raise up the American flag in Iwo Jima in FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS... Clint Eastwood’s World War II epic about the famous photo taken in Iwo Jima comes out today. I’ll probably watch it sometime this weekend. Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige is also out in release. I’ll probably watch that too... Don’t know when, though. Definitely can’t wait for Borat to come out (it opens on November 3rd). That looks like a hilarious film. "I support your war...of terror." ‘Nuff said.

Friday, October 13, 2006

An artist's concept of the ORION spacecraft and Lunar Surface Access Module (lunar lander) in Moon orbit.

ORION 13... According to NASASpaceflight.com, a plan is in place that will return astronauts to the moon on the thirteenth overall flight by NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The mission, dubbed Orion 13, will last 21 days...and will see three members of a four-man crew setting foot on the lunar surface for the first time in 47 years (the last moon mission being Apollo 17 in 1972). Orion 13 will blast off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in December of 2019...if everything goes as planned. The first Orion flight will be an unmanned test flight (labeled Ares I-1) in April of 2009, and the first Orion mission with astronauts onboard will be Orion 5...scheduled to launch in September of 2014. The first operational flight to the International Space Station (where both cargo and a 3-astronaut crew will be onboard the spacecraft) will take place with Orion 7 in May of 2015. Go to the NASASpaceflight website for more details.

An artist's concept of ORION astronauts beginning their exploration of the lunar surface.

What’s actually interesting is NASA choosing Orion 13 to be the flight where we return to the moon. If you’re superstitious, you’d know the implications of that number. Of course, when (not ‘if’) Orion 13 becomes a success...that will make up for the drama that took place on Apollo 13 in 1970. Then again, Apollo 13 was deemed a "successful failure" (go watch the 1995 Tom Hanks film to know what I’m talking about), so Orion 13 really has nothing to prove. Except to show that the Vision for Space Exploration plan set about by George Dubya Bush wasn’t just something Dubya came up with while he was stoned on a cold January day in 2004.


The LSAM's ascent stage blasts off into space after the astronauts' sojourn on the lunar surface.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) gets interrogated by one of Frank Costello's (Jack Nicholson) goons.

THE DEPARTED... So I saw the film yesterday, and there’s really one thing I need to point out: In the hands of a capable director like Martin Scorsese, violence rocks!! Yes, you heard right... It might be my dark, sadistic subconscience talking...but nothing gets the adrenaline pumpin' faster than having most of the main characters get blasted away at the en— Err, you can finish the sentence. Storywise, I’m well aware that Scorsese actually remade a little Hong Kong film known as Infernal Affairs, but since I didn’t see that movie, I’ll treat Departed as being completely original and kicking ass. Jack Nicholson, unsurprisingly, gave a great, wacky performance as mob boss Frank Castello (especially in that scene where he was giving that little imitation of a rat. Yes, the actual rodent). Matt Damon gave a good, straightforward performance as mob mole Colin Sullivan. Mark Wahlberg gave an amusing performance as trash-talking police investigator Dignam...and Leonardo DiCaprio gave a strong performance as Jack Dawso—err, Howard Hugh—I mean, police mole Billy Costigan. And Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin were okay, too. So that was Anthony Anderson. And I thought that was Maggie Gyllenhaal who played Madolyn. My bad. It was another lady named Vera Farmiga.

Billy Costigan gets interviewed by police officials Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg).

Now that I’m done listing the main cast, what else should I mention? I already pointed out the violence, and how it kicked ass, so I’ll switch to something else. One negative comment I have about the film is that the editing was very haphazard in many of the scenes. Apparently, the script supervisor was dozing off on set...since some of the actors' gestures were inconsistent with the shots that followed the previous ones. In one shot Leonardo Dicaprio will be staring straight ahead at a wall, in the shot after that his head is turned as he is conversing with Martin Sheen or making a move on Vera Farmiga’s character. To the film editor: It must’ve been fun working on the Avid for this film, eh? Anyways, that is the only nitpick I have. Don’t know if this film will be Oscar material for Scorsese, but we shall see...

Billy Costigan confronts his mole counterpart, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

MySpace.com... Where people close to you reveal their inner, slutty side... As you can see, I really don't have anything interesting to say on my Blog right now. Well, anything moreso than usual, that is.

Friday, October 06, 2006

MySpace Tracker... Whoever invented this should be dragged out into the street and shot. Just because.

Monday, October 02, 2006

You know society is going down the drain when even the Amish are doing things that would get them gunned down by other people. That is all.

The Amish tragedy in Pennsylvania