Space and flight

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a constellation of twenty-one primary satellites, and three spares, in near-circular orbits 11,000 miles above the earth at an inclination of 55 degrees to its equator. While the satellites are best known for their role in allowing the precise location of individuals and objects, by 1995 they had been […]

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During the readout of Vela 6911, AFTEC personnel watched as a stylus drew a figure representing the variations in light intensity, as monitored by the two satellite bhangmeters. There was no data from a third optical sensor, whose mission was to provide the geographic origin of any noticeable flash of light, because it was out […]

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Thanks to the intervention of my friend Amanda, I spent the weekend at my friend Sabrina’s cottage on Paugh Lake, near Barry’s Bay, Ontario. I had high hopes for a clear view of the fading Perseid meteor shower on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night was overcast and raining, though it was still remarkable to […]

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Compared with the basic two-line kite I was using before, the Prism Quantum certainly has substantially more power and fine control: I think it also provides enough traction to help with my chronic shoulder pain.

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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has been returning some exciting data, after a long flight through the solar system: This documentary provides illuminating background on the mission: The Year of Pluto. It is much to be hoped that the New Horizons craft will be able to observe other Kuiper belt objects.

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I have had so much fun with my $17 Toys ‘R Us DC Sport 60 delta wing kite that I am thinking about getting something more sophisticated to play with: the Quantum two-line kite from Prism Designs. It’s another delta wing, so the basics of control will be similar. It’s tough enough to let other […]

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I fear that my list of project ideas, which I assemble out of an optimistic hope that the future will bring a long span of free time for such undertakings, includes an idea for a screenplay. It would be a film in the style of Apollo 13 (technically and historically accurate, and developed with lots […]

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The category ‘Geek stuff‘ doesn’t begin to cover this one. At the same time, I am grateful when ‘Bombs and rockets‘ isn’t about killing real people. I used to take breaks from academic work by playing Starcraft II, but I haven’t loaded that game once since I got the demo and eventually the full version […]

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With the last Space Shuttle mission ongoing, people are naturally asking what the future of space exploration is going to be. It seems clear that ambitious plans like a manned mission to Mars are a non-starter in the current fiscal climate. That being said, one of the major reasons why such missions are basically off […]

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This year, after 29 years in operation and two catastrophes, the American Space Shuttle program is shutting down. The Shuttle was always a hacked-together prototype vehicle, never the cheap and dependable satellite-launching workhorse that NASA seemed to promise Congress. Lots of effort and brilliance went into the thing – make no mistake – but trips […]

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