Brian Yee

Neither Here Nor There

The Earth and the Moon

@NASAhistory just posted to twitter that this pictures was taken 33 years ago today:

I love pictures like this, the Earth and the Moon in one frame.  This image was taken by Voyager 1, the first to look back from such a distance (7,250,000 miles away), and the right equipment, that the Earth and Moon could be seen together as a pair. There’s more information about the photo here.

A more recent photo was taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft en route to orbit Mercury:

This photo was taken from about the same distance from the Earth as the orbit of Mercury and was just recently released. Many people have remarked about its resemblance to the Pale Blue Dot photograph (also from Voyager 1).

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. –Carl Sagan (from his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)

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“Sometimes doing nothing is the best option”

Great post by NASA’s Wayne Hale on his blog regarding conjuctions, or close encounters between the Space Shuttle and space junk.  When a conjunction is going to occur during the crew sleep period and there is sufficient reason to believe there will not be a collision, mission controllers will set a timer to expire at the Time of Closest Approach and everyone would hope they did their math correctly.  This happened three times during Wayne’s tenure in Mission Control.  His quote:

So as we waited for the clock to count to zero, there was plenty of time to contemplate metaphysical topics:  life, death, courage, risk, achievement, probability, dishonor.  They are all fellow travelers, intimately bound together.  No great accomplishment comes without difficulty or risk.  Miscalculation or failure results in death and dishonor.  But it is what it is; you do the best you can, make the best rational choice you can given what you know, and then wait for the result.

Going to Las Vegas holds no enticement for me.

I follow Wayne Hale on twitter (@waynehale) and I am always impressed with his insights and thoughts on the space program.

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Spaceflight, Helicopters, and Nomads

Before launches at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Helicopters search the downrange path of rockets to find any nomads in the vast grasslands of Kazakhstan.  If any are found they are warned of the upcoming launches.


This picture of this activity was particularly interesting:

(image from, copyright noted)

The americans launch with ocean downrange. and a similar search is performed for boats that are in the wrong spot.

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One of the things I’ve been looking forward to recently is the rollout (on 10/20) and the launch (scheduled for 10/27) of  Ares I-X: NASA’s first test flight of the new rockets in support of the Constellation Program (created by Bush II in his Vision for Space Exploration).

It’s been exciting to read about the development, creation, and assembly of the new rockets — the first new thing from NASA since the launch of STS-1 in 1981.  Even more exciting, in a different sort of way, is to read the debates going on right now on the web and trying to figure out what’s going to happen next.  There’s been a review of the entire program by the Augustine Commission — and the future direction of NASA is going to announced soon by new NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

Whether or not Ares I continues development, it’s still an exciting time in Human Spaceflight…even if you only get to watch from the sidelines.

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