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Saturday, April 30, 2011

My first 'space album'...which was autographed by an actual NASA employee in 1992.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY... In case you wanted to know how huge of an obsessive space nerd I am, here are the latest (or oldest) evidence of that. Ever since I was in 4th grade (back in um, 1989-90), I would cut out practically every space-related article from a newspaper (specifically the Los Angeles Times, since I live in SoCal) and put them in plastic report covers I bought at the local supermarket. My interest in the space program started in the 3rd grade, and increased dramatically around August 25, 1989, when the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past Neptune and its icy moon Triton. During this flyby, I would get up early in the morning and see a photo that Voyager 2 took of the giant gas planet and its main satellite on the front page of the L.A. Times almost every day during the following week. In the photos above is the very first album (I don’t want to call it a scrapbook, despite the fact the latest albums are entitled The Space Scrapbook, haha) I worked on. As you can see, it was actually autographed by someone who worked at NASA. He visited my elementary school and gave a presentation to the entire student body when I was in 6th grade back in 1992.

All of my space albums...for the rest of the world to see.

Pages from my latest album, THE SPACE SCRAPBOOK: 2011 AND BEYOND...

As you can see below, I also did an album (back in 5th grade, I think. Or maybe it was 7th grade?) on the Persian Gulf War (the first one in 1991, that is) and the U.S. involvement in Somalia (also in ’91). Yep, I’m a space/tech/war nut who has lots of free time on my hands...especially since last January. That is all.


My um, Gulf War '91 album.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Michael Scott has left 'The Office' to find and screw up a managerial job somewhere in Colorado.

SINCE I WON’T be blogging about the launch of space shuttle Endeavour today because liftoff has been postponed till at least Monday due to technical issues (surprise, surprise), just thought I’d share this new awesome poster for Transformers: Dark of the Moon below. I could talk about last night's very good episode of The Office that was the final one for Steve Carrell (who's focusing on doing more movies) and his bumbling but hilarious character Michael Scott (who's heading to Colorado to spend more time with his fiancée, Holly), but you can read about it elsewhere online. The TF3 poster is courtesy of Yahoo! Movies. Very nice.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON theatrical poster.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

TRANSFORMERS 3 Update... The newest trailer for Dark of the Moon hit the Web today, and as per tradition if you regularly visit my Blog, here are a collage of screenshots I got from the preview. Since my computer is pretty old (how old is it? I bought it a month after I graduated from college...which was in the same year Spider-Man 2 was released in theaters. Why am I telling you this?), and every Quicktime video on Apple.com is now in High Definition (which my computer can't handle unless I buy more RAM and a better video graphics card for it), I had to get the screencaptures from a Youtube version of the trailer (that I linked to below)—which is of lower quality than that of a Quicktime clip. Oh well.



If you want to see the TF3 trailer on the big screen, watch it in front of Fast Five when it comes out in theaters tomorrow. I might watch the fifth Fast and the Furious film this weekend. Might.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TO COMMEMORATE the upcoming final flight of space shuttle Endeavour, here’s a cool infographic depicting the orbiter and other spacecraft that flew into and beyond Earth orbit since the Space Age began more than 50 years ago. Compared to the capsules (particularly the Russian-made Soyuz and the Chinese-owned Shenzhou), the shuttle is truly an elegant-looking—and giant—vehicle. Just how many Mercury capsules could fit inside its payload bay?? Anyways, this illustration comes courtesy of Space.com:

See the spaceships that have launched astronauts and cosmonauts into space in the first 50 years of human spaceflight.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shockwave looking menacing in a screenshot from TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

IMAGES OF THE DAY... Just thought I’d share these nine pictures from Transformers: Dark of the Moon, whose theatrical trailer will be shown in front of the next Fast and the Furious film, Fast Five, in theaters this Friday (and premiering online a day before, at 4 PM Pacific Time on Thursday). A bit of awesome news that was revealed lately is that Leonard Nimoy—who originally was in retirement from acting following his brief stint on the cool FOX TV show, Fringe—will do the voice of Autobot newcomer Sentinel Prime (shown below these three awesome illustrations of Shockwave, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee). Below the four kick-ass images of Sentinel Prime is another just-released photo of Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley...in a scene from TF3's climactic battle sequence in Chicago. I remember back in the days when it was Megan Fox looking hot and concerned standing behind Sam Witwicky. Rosie totally makes up for that. One last bit of TF3 news is that the Linkin Park song which will be featured in Dark of the Moon is called "Iridescent". Cool song— You can listen to it here. Carry on.

Shockwave still looking menacing in a new banner for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Optimus Prime looking bad-ass in a new banner for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Bumblebee also looking bad-ass in a new banner for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Concept artwork of Sentinel Prime...the Autobot newcomer in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Concept artwork of Sentinel Prime for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Concept artwork of Sentinel Prime for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Concept artwork of Sentinel Prime for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley watch out for danger in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A photo of the Curiosity Mars rover, taken on April 4, 2011, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, CA.
NASA / JPL - Caltech

VIDEO OF THE DAY... Check out this awesome animated clip below that depicts events ranging from the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft departing Earth (after launching from Florida sometime this November) to it deploying the Curiosity rover onto the Martian surface more than 8 months later (in August 2012). Cool video... The only gripe to make about it is that there is no sound in space. You’ll have to watch the video to know what I’m talking about.




The Mars Science Laboratory’s components are scheduled to be shipped to Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California, in May and June...to begin launch preparations. Hopefully, it will be Curiosity itself that arrives at the Cape in June—seeing as how I would like to see it one last time in person at the JPL Open House next month. On a final note, click here to see some very amusing Photoshop work done on the image below...which shows Curiosity’s "head" (containing the 'Mastcam' and other imaging devices that the rover will use to help it navigate on the surface on Mars). Funny stuff. Carry on.

A close-up of Curiosity's head...which contains the Mastcam and other imaging devices used to help the rover navigate on the surface of Mars.
Emily Lakdawalla / The Planetary Society

Friday, April 15, 2011

At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, CA, on April 14, 2011.

YESTERDAY, I attended another lecture at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Pasadena, California. The topic this time around was about scientific achievements made during the space shuttle era. The speaker was Eugene Trinh...an astronaut who flew on STS-50, a 13-day-long Spacelab mission onboard the orbiter Columbia in June of 1992.

A model of NASA's Juno spacecraft...which will launch to Jupiter this August.

It’s always cool to see an astronaut up-close in person. The last time this occurred was in 1993, when I attended another presentation (in San Diego, CA) by Sally Ride—the first American woman to fly into space (onboard the orbiter Challenger in 1983). I went to that presentation with one of my brothers...who was also at yesterday’s lecture (he attends more JPL lectures than I do). I also ran into one of my former high school classmates at last night’s presentation. Of course, he actually works at JPL...as a software engineer. Lucky dude.

A mock-up of the Explorer 1 satellite inside the lobby of JPL's von Kármán Auditorium...where the lecture was held.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An artist's concept of the space shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

SINCE IT’S GONNA BE quite a while till we see preliminary designs of the building that will house space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center (considering the fact the Center—or CSC—has yet to hire an architect who will design and build the orbiter’s final home), just thought I’d post these two pics of the exhibit that will eventually surround space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC). You can read more about what the KSCVC has in store for NASA’s second oldest existing space-flown orbiter by clicking here. What I’m thinking is...what was the artist thinking not drawing people to scale with the shuttle in the image above? I’m trying to fit in a joke about the shuttle being in an exhibit on Pandora (as in the movie Avatar) and those folks being giant Na’vi (disguised as um, humans), but I changed my mind, haha. In terms of where to place Endeavour while the new air and space building is being built at CSC, might I suggest the Spruce Goose Dome in Long Beach? How far is that from Los Angeles International Airport (or even Long Beach Airport)? Hm.

An artist's concept of the space shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Space shuttle Columbia heads into space on her first flight, on April 12, 1981.

ENDEAVOUR, HERE I COME! Seeing as how I currently live only 30 miles from the California Science Center in Los Angeles, where Endeavour will find her new home in mid-2012, I am totally looking forward to seeing NASA’s youngest space shuttle orbiter on display there after she flies her final flight, STS-134, later this month. While I got to see Discovery on the launch pad when I visited Kennedy Space Center two years ago (and actually saw her up in the sky—while she was on mission STS-119—shortly after), it was Endeavour that was the first orbiter I saw in person almost 19 years ago...when she touched down at Edwards Air Force Base in California after completing STS-49 in May of 1992 (see blurry pic at the end of this entry... I um, took that photo). Anyways, here’s the official press release on which museums Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour and the prototype shuttle Enterprise will be heading to next year...

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NASA ANNOUNCES NEW HOMES FOR SHUTTLE ORBITERS AFTER RETIREMENT (Press Release)

WASHINGTON -- After 30 years of spaceflight, more than 130 missions, and numerous science and technology firsts, NASA's space shuttle fleet will retire and be on display at institutions across the country to inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program. Shuttle Enterprise, the first orbiter built, will move from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The Udvar-Hazy Center will become the new home for shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March. Shuttle Endeavour, which is preparing for its final flight at the end of the month, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

"We want to thank all of the locations that expressed an interest in one of these national treasures," Bolden said. "This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind. In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA's remarkable Space Shuttle Program. These facilities we've chosen have a noteworthy legacy of preserving space artifacts and providing outstanding access to U.S. and international visitors."

Today's 'Google doodle'...which celebrates Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's historic flight into space on April 12, 1961.

NASA also announced that hundreds of shuttle artifacts have been allocated to museums and education institutions.

- Various shuttle simulators for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum of McMinnville, Ore., and Texas A&M's Aerospace Engineering Department

- Full fuselage trainer for the Museum of Flight in Seattle

- Nose cap assembly and crew compartment trainer for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio

- Flight deck pilot and commander seats for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston

- Orbital maneuvering system engines for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center of Huntsville, Ala., National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

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Space shuttle Endeavour prepares to land at Edwards Air Force Base in California after completing her maiden flight, STS-49, on May 16, 1992.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yes, I WILL sleep soundly tonight.  Okay, I won't.

SINCE THESE PHOTOS have been taking up space on my desktop since um, last September (the key to not having to reformat my computer yet? Defrag it once a week...and lay off the virus-infested XXX sites), just thought I’d post them now. Camel spiders... *Shudder*

Two camel spiders (tossing salad) in Iraq.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Engineers work on NASA's Juno spacecraft at the Lockheed Martin facility in Denver, Colorado, on January 26, 2011.
Lockheed Martin

JUNO Update...

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NASA's Jupiter-Bound Spacecraft Arrives in Florida (Press Release)

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Juno spacecraft has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch this summer. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, to the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., today. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

"The Juno spacecraft and the team have come a long way since this project was first conceived in 2003," said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator, based at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "We're only a few months away from a mission of discovery that could very well rewrite the books on not only how Jupiter was born, but how our solar system came into being."

Next Monday, Juno will be removed from its shipping container, the first of the numerous milestones to prepare it for launch. Later that week, the spacecraft will begin functional testing to verify its state of health after the road trip from Colorado. After this, the team will load updated flight software and perform a series of mission readiness tests. These tests involve the entire spacecraft flight system, as well as the associated science instruments and the ground data system.

Juno will be carried into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifting off from Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch period opens Aug. 5, 2011, and extends through Aug. 26. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the launch window opens at 8:39 a.m. PDT (11:39 am EDT) and remains open through 9:39 a.m. PDT (12:39 p.m. EDT).

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute at San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is building the spacecraft. The Italian Space Agency in Rome is contributing an infrared spectrometer instrument and a portion of the radio science experiment. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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An artist's concept showing the Juno spacecraft approaching Jupiter.
NASA / JPL

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

An artist's concept of the Falcon Heavy rocket launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX

IMAGES OF THE DAY... Meet SpaceX's newest creation, the Falcon Heavy rocket...which will become the most powerful launch vehicle to soar into the sky since the Saturn V rocket sent Apollo astronauts to the Moon more than 40 years ago. The Falcon Heavy is set to lift off on its maiden voyage from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California sometime in 2013 (which would also be the year that NASA's Orion spacecraft is suppose to undergo its first test flight onboard what is currently rumored to be a Delta IV vehicle. Is SpaceX trying to change NASA's mind on this?). For more info on the Falcon Heavy, click here.

An artist's concept of the Falcon Heavy rocket soaring into the sky.
SpaceX