October 6, 2013 |
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - I was inept at moonwalking. My rocket was a dud. And I crashed the space shuttle. Fortunately, I was just an astronaut wannabe and not the real deal. But it's as close as this middle-aged space geek is going to get. That geekiness, inspired by IMAX documentaries on space and news coverage of NASA's final shuttle launch in 2011, was what brought me to Adult Space Academy. The trip was a gift from my wife. The three-day program is among more than a dozen versions of Space Camp, which the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville created more than 30 years ago to give visitors a taste of what it's like to train as an astronaut.
October 3, 2013 |
"Gravity" is out of this world. Words can do little to convey the visual astonishment this space opera creates. It is a film whose impact must be experienced in 3-D on a theatrical screen to be fully understood. Though the strong work of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney - the only two actors who appear on camera - is essential to what the film accomplishes, the great lure of "Gravity" is the way director Alfonso Cuarón, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber have collaborated to make us feel we're stranded in outer space ourselves, no questions asked.
September 11, 2013 |
A spacecraft blasts off from Earth, zips by the moon and nine days later rendezvous with an asteroid that has been neatly bagged and placed in a lunar orbit. Those are just some of the highlights from NASA's new Asteroid Redirect Mission concept video. The space agency released a video this week depicting how it might get an astronaut within arm's reach of an asteroid, then chip off a few chunks from its surface and bring them home to Earth. QUIZ: How much do you know about asteroids?
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August 22, 2013 |
C. Gordon Fullerton waited years for his chance to go into space but less than six minutes after the space shuttle Challenger took off in 1985, he was starting to rethink it. One of the Challenger's three main engines suddenly shut down and Fullerton, the mission's commander, didn't know whether the others would follow. "Absolutely, with no warning - kapow! - there was an immediate drop in acceleration," he later told reporters. "The red light came on, and there we were. " Fullerton and pilot Roy Bridges immediately dumped a load of surplus fuel, worked the two remaining engines harder, and maneuvered the Challenger into orbit just 45 miles lower than planned.
August 21, 2013 |
The barest details of Luca Parmitano's near-drowning in space are harrowing enough: The Italian astronaut's spacesuit helmet began filling with water as he floated outside the International Space Station. Now, Parmitano has published a first-person account on the European Space Agency website that brings the chilling ordeal to life. In an unprecedented malfunction, Parmitano's suit and helmet began to fill with about 1 to 1.5 liters of leaked water, officials said at the time. The floating liquid soon blocked the astronaut's ears, nose and sight, forcing officials to cut the spacewalk from roughly six hours to 1 hour and 32 minutes, the shortest in space station history.
July 30, 2013 |
When astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet suddenly began filling with water as he floated outside the International Space Station, NASA officials said they'd never seen such a malfunction before. Now, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy explains in a video what happened to make his Italian partner's helmet leak. Parmitano, a European Space Agency astronaut who had become Italy's first spacewalker a week before, was roughly an hour into the July 16 exercise when he said his head felt "really wet. " Even as the team called off the spacewalk, liquid bubbles filled his helmet, ears and nose, even blocking his ability to speak.
July 17, 2013 |
How do you take your coffee? In a cup? That's the dilemma facing astronauts needing their caffeine fix in space. The almost-zero-gravity environment makes pouring hot coffee into a cup a dangerous task, said Mark Weislogel, who studies fluid dynamics at Portland State University (and whose faculty profile photo bears an uncanny resemblance to another college professor). It may be hard to get the coffee to move, let alone go into your cup. Working with much more important fluids, such as fuel and water, is essential to establishing a permanent human presence in space.
July 16, 2013 |
Officials are working to understand what caused an astronaut's helmet to fill with water - a serious leak that scrapped a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, NASA representatives said at a news conference Tuesday. The mysterious leak put roughly 1 to 1.5 liters of water into the suit of the European Space Agency's Luca Parmitano, whose helmet began to flood partway through the exercise. The water eventually got into his eyes and at times prevented him from speaking.
July 10, 2013 |
Even an astronaut needs to wash her hair occasionally, and in a newly released video, astronaut Karen Nyberg demonstrates how it's done -- in space. Nyberg, 43, is currently the only female aboard the International Space Station, and the only member of the crew with hair that flows past her shoulders. In the zero gravity environment of the ISS, Nyberg's blond locks billow wildly around her head, even when her hair is pulled back in a ponytail. But when she lets her hair down to wash it, it sticks straight up above her head, troll-doll-style.
July 9, 2013 |
Everyone has to make time for a little home maintenance now and then, even when your home is orbiting 260 miles above the Earth. So bright and early Tuesday morning, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy suited up for a six-hour-and-seven-minute spacewalk outside the International Space Station to knock a bunch of "to-dos" off their list. Tuesday's spacewalk was the fifth spacewalk of Cassidy's career, but the first for Parmitano, and the first for an Italian.