Space and flight

The first Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was lost on the way to space because of fraudulent metal provided by a supplier. The OCO was rebuilt at OCO-2, which has since collected data on the spatial distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth. OCO-3 will be attached to the International Space Station, which will further fill in […]

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A worldwide effort by the Event Horizon Telescope has produced the first false-colour image of a black hole.

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Of course, the Columbia and Challenger accidents have reminded us we need to be ever vigilant. Despite more than two years of careful work to prevent foam shedding from the shuttle’s main tank, my STS-114 mission lost a large piece of foam on ascent, in a circumstance very similar to what happened to Columbia on […]

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One big surprise from Michael Leinbach and Jonathan Ward’s Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew is the claim that people at NASA hadn’t anticipated the catastrophic loss of a Shuttle during reentry. That despite of the delicacy of the thermal protective tiles and the fatal consequences expected […]

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A tweet of mine, written in a moment of irritability aggravated by the sound of jets roaring overhead, has gotten some attention by virtue of being incorporated into some news articles about social media commentary on the Toronto Air Show. In addition to my standard gripes about the wastefulness of jet engine use, the undesirability […]

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The Japanese robotic spacecraft Hayabusa2 has arrived at the asteroid Ryugu. Among other things, it’s meant to “use small explosives to blast a crater on the surface and collect the resulting debris”.

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has some great free software available that lets you see many solar system bodies (from the sun to Jupiter’s absurd abundance of tiny moons) as well as a wide variety of space missions. Some interesting objects: Miranda, Phobos, Deimos, Io, Europa

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Then they led him out again, trying to get him near a mockup of a Mercury capsule, where the television networks had set up cameras and tremendous lights. The reporters and photographers surged forward again, yammering, yelling, exploding more camera lights, shoving, groaning, cursing—the usual yahoo sprawl, in short—and the animal came unglued again, ready […]

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With the decline of archaic magic, the belief in single combat began to die out. The development of the modern, highly organized army and the concept of “total war” seemed to bury it forever. But then an extraordinary thing happened: the atomic bomb was invented, with the result that the concept of total war was […]

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More fighter pilots died in automobiles than in airplanes. Fortunately, there was always some kindly soul up the chain to certify the papers “line of duty,” so that the widow could get a better break on the insurance. That was okay and only proper because somehow the system itself had long ago said Skol! and […]

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