Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams' "Good Morning Discovery!" Wake-up Call

"Gooooood morning, Discovery!" Robin Williams provided this wake-up call to NASA's 1988 STS-26 "return to flight" mission after the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson Forges A Wormhole & Talks with Curiosity

On August 5, 2012 we bit our nails and held our breath in the midst of the sheer terror/joy as NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars via a ROCKET-POWERED SKY CRANE.

The night before landing, however, Neil deGrasse Tyson and the Curiosity Rover shared an EPIC conversation over Twitter:


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Apollo 13: Grumman Sends Rockwell "Towing Bill"

On April 11, 1970 the seventh manned mission in the American space program, Apollo 13, launched with the intention to land on the moon. On April 13 an explosion in the oxygen tanks crippled the service module, damaging the Command Module. Their journey back to Earth had been achieved using the Lunar landing Module as an impromptu "life raft", towing the crippled Command Service Module (CSM) behind it for some 400,000 miles.

Due to the incredible ingenuity of the astronauts and the crew on the ground, Apollo 13 was brought back safely and the mission has since been called a “successful failure.”

Afterward, the engineers at Grumman Aerospace Corporation, builder of the mission's Lunar Landing Module prepared a tongue-in-cheek "Towing Bill" addressed to Rockwell, builders of the crippled CSM.

Copy of the Towing Bill -- Click to Enlarge

  • Towing, $4.00 first mile, $1.00 each additional mile, Trouble call, fast service. 
  • Battery Charge (road call + $.05KWH) customer’s jumper cables 
  • oxygen at $10.00/lb 
  • sleeping accommodations for 2, no TV, prepaid air-conditioned, with radio, modified American plan, with view (contract NAS-9-1100) 
  • Additional guest in room at $8.00/night. (1) Check out no later than noon Fri. 4/17/70, accommodations not guaranteed beyond that time 
  • water (no charge) 
  • Personalized “trip-tik”, including all no charge transfers, baggage handling, and gratuities
= $312,421.24 (after allowing a 20% early payment discount and a 2% cash discount).

Monday, July 28, 2014

The 'Top Secret' Astronaut You've Never Heard Of: Walter Frisbee

The second class of astronauts chosen by NASA, 'The New Nine', may have in fact been the 'Top Secret Ten'. At least that's what Jim Lovell and Pete Conrad wanted the Press Corps to think.

The two pranksters would intentionally let members of the press overhear them speak about Walter Frisbee, a top secret astronaut with wildly incredible talents that NASA wanted to keep hush, hush. Was he the son of a Romanian nobleman? Maybe. Was he the most fearless, talented test pilot that ever took to the skies? Definitely.

The other members of The New Nine got on-board with the joke and as reporters quizzed each one about Frisbee they'd acknowledge his existence, excuse his absence due to his mysterious, extraordinary training and say nothing else. Rumor has it the press actually started writing about Fearless Frisbee in the papers and that's when NASA pulled the plug on this little prank.

[Within the last few years an account on Twitter, Astro_Walt, has popped up with the simple bio, "Pilot and astronaut, retired." Who knows, maybe it wasn't a prank after all....] 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chris Hadfield, Buzz Aldrin & Starfleet Win the Internet

On January 3, 2013, William Shatner (Captain Kirk) began a series of what is quite possibly the most epic conversation ever when he asked astronaut Chris Hadfield (who was then living aboard the International Space Station) via Twitter: "Are you tweeting from space? MBB."

Fellow Star Trek cast members promptly joined in, as well as the one and only Buzz Aldrin. January 3, 2013 -- the day the internet was officially won.

[Images from the Canadian Space Agency


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Female Stowaway on Skylab

Skylab as SL2 mission departs

From "Skylab: Our First Space Station" by Leland F. Belew

"On September 10, 1973, controllers in Houston were startled to hear a woman's voice beaming down from Skylab. Using a sexy tone of voice and calling startled Capsule Communicator Bob Crippen by name, the woman explained: "The boys haven't had a home-cooked meal in so long I thought I'd bring one up." After several minutes in which she described forest fires seen from space and the beautiful sunrise, the woman said: "Oh oh. I have to cut off now. I think the boys are floating up here toward the command module and I'm not supposed to be talking to you." As the Skylab crew subsequently revealed, Garriott had recorded his wife Helen during a private radio transmission the night before."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Apollo 10 Crew Finds Floating Turds

Though Apollo 10 was a very successful mission, a declassified NASA transcript reveals that Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan had a little stinky situation arise. It's okay to laugh -- even professional, highly trained, space-exploring astronauts think poop is funny.... It was literally all shits & giggles on Day 6 of their mission when they discovered some floating feces inside their capsule. 

CDR: Tom Stafford             CMP: John Young          LMP: Gene Cernan

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"NASA Johnson Style" ("Gangnam Style" Parody)

NASA and its astronauts have achieved many great things -- moon landings, the Hubble Telescope, sending Voyager 1 to interstellar space -- but their greatest badge of honor could possibly be the fact that they somehow managed to make a pretty freakin' sweet parody of "Gangnam Style". (Truly turning the impossible into the possible here, folks.)

NASA Johnson put this video out in December of 2012 to spark public interest in the space program. And. It. Rocks. Mike Massimino, veteran of two Space Shuttle missions that serviced Hubble, looks on disapprovingly in the video... but eventually even he breaks down and gets into it. Clay Anderson, Mission Specialist who has 152 days logged aboard the International Space Station, shows us his KILLER dance moves and also three time extra-vehicular activity spacewalker, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, makes several happy cameos.

[Lyrics below]

[Follow Mike Massimino and Clay Anderson on Twitter if you dig their moves.]

"NASA Johnson Style" lyrics: 

NASA Johnson Style
Johnson Style

Welcome to NASA's Johnson Space Center
We are coming in hot so don't burn up as we enter
We do science everyday that affects your daily life
Throw them up for manned space flight

Science everywhere
As we engineer the marvels
That fly though the air 
And take us way beyond earth's levels

Science everywhere 
Because we engineer the marvels
That fly though the air 
Flys us through the air

Control the mission out of Johnson
This is ground, hey!
And this is space, hey!
Tell me Houston what's the problem 
It's okay!
It's okay!
Because there's flight controllers on the job today 

Johnson STYLE!
Johnson STYLE!
EYYYYYY science daily!
EYYYYYY it's amazing!
NA, NA, NA, NA ey ey ey ey ey ey!!
Orbiting earth, international space station
Where we work and live in space with a crew from several nations
Got Japanese, and Russians, that European charm 
Throw them up, like the Canada Arm

Kicking out research
29k cubic feet, revolves around the earth
Science microgravity, revolves around the earth
Columbus, JEM, and Destiny
Kicking out research
Kicking out research

Train the astronauts at Johnson
To go to space, hey!
To go to space, hey! 
Cause the missions of tomorrow 
Start today, hey!
Start today, hey!
As we engineer the future day by day

Johnson STYLE!
Johnson STYLE!
EYYYYYY science daily!
EYYYYYY it's amazing!
NA, NA, NA, NA ey ey ey ey ey ey!!

Orion or SLS, MPCV 
We cannot feel the floor, cause the lack gravity
The destinations are an asteroid, mars, or moon 
We are blasting off start the countdown soon
[Sound clip: launch countdown]

EYYYYYY science daily!
EYYYYYY it's amazing!
NA, NA, NA, NA ey ey ey ey ey ey!!
NASA Johnson Style

Monday, May 26, 2014

Remembering the Lost Astronauts

High Flight by John Gillepie Magee, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings,
sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun split clouds - and done a hundred things
you have not dreamed of
wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence hov'ring there.
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
where never lark or even eagle flew
and while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space
put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

T-38 Training Jet Crash October 31, 1964
Freeman was on landing approach to Ellington AFB near Houston, TX. He ultimately died due to a goose smashing the left side of the cockpit canopy of his T-38 jet trainer. Flying shards of Plexiglas entered the engine intake and caused both engines to flame out.
  • Theodore Freeman (United States Air Force)
          Theodore Cordy Freeman.jpg

T-38 Training Jet Crash - February 28, 1966
The original Gemini 9A crew were killed while attempting to land their T-38 at Lambert Field in St. Louis, Missouriin bad weather. Elliot See misjudged his approach and crashed into the McDonnell Aircraft factory adjacent to the airport, where the two astronauts had been headed for simulator training.
  • Elliot See (NAVY)
  • Charles Bassett (United States Air Force)

Apollo 1 Pad Fire - January 27, 1967
A fire in the cabin claimed the lives of all three Apollo 1 crew members as they rehearsed the launch sequence for their planned February 21 launch.
  • Gus Grissom (United States Air Force)
  • Edward White, II (United States Air Force)
  • Roger Chaffee (NAVY)

T-38 Training Jet Crash - October 5, 1967
A mechanical failure caused the aileron controls to jam on his T-38 while traveling from Cape Kennedy to Houston.
  • Clifton Williams (NAVY, Marine Corps)

F-104 Training Jet Crash -  December 8, 1967
While practicing a series of high speed, quick descent landing profiles, the aircraft hit the runway hard and the landing gear collapsed. The aircraft belly caught  fire and the canopy shattered.
  • Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. (United States Air Force)

Space Shuttle Challenger - January 28, 1986
Broke up 73 seconds after lift-off due to a faulty O-ring.
  • Greg Jarvis (United States Air Force)
  • Christa McAuliffe
  • Ronald McNair
  • Ellison Onizuka (United States Air Force)
  • Judith Resnik
  • Michael J. Smith (NAVY)
  • Dick Scobee (United States Air Force)

Space Shuttle Columbia - February 1, 2003
Damage to the shuttle's thermal protection system (TPS) led to structural failure of the shuttle's left wing and the spacecraft ultimately broke apart while returning from their two week mission. 
  • Rick D. Husband (United States Air Force)
  • William McCool (NAVY)
  • Michael P. Anderson (United States Air Force)
  • David M. Brown (NAVY)
  • Kalpana Chawla
  • Laurel B. Clark  (NAVY)
  • Ilan Ramon (Israeli Air Force) 

Find out more about the crews, missions and accidents on Wikipedia.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Apollo 11's Customs Form From the Moon

Thought being an Apollo astronaut was all about exotic travels, ticker tape parades and dinners at the White House? Not even the crew from Apollo 11, the first men on the moon, could skip over the red tape of bureaucracy.  This customs form, signed by Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins upon their return to Earth, is definitely cooler than any customs form you've filled out. 

Flight Routing: Cape Kennedy -->  MOON --> Honolulu, Hawaii
Cargo Declaration: Moon rock & moon dust samples

[Side note: It was in fact all done in good humor, probably during their 21 days of required quarantine after the mission.] 

Credit: NASA

Friday, May 23, 2014

The "Pad Führer" Mocks Gemini 10 Crew

Guenter Wendt, original pad leader, or "pad führer" as the astronauts jokingly nicknamed him due to his strong German accent & unyielding rules, oversaw spacecrafts on the launch pads and all who had access to ensure safety for all those involved. 

To ease tension in the white room, he was well-known for giving gag gifts to the crew before they strapped in for liftoff.

Gemini 10: Weeks before liftoff Astronauts Mike Collins and John Young had broken off bits & pieces of the spacecraft. Young had then put in a request for a pair of pliers to aid in the manipulation of some switches aboard the capsule but it was denied. Wendt, of course, had their backs and made sure they indeed did get a pair of pliers... made of Styrofoam... and a little over-sized. [Referenced in Carrying the Fire and Two Sides of the Moon]
Wendt & Young
Credit: NASA

The crew often reciprocated his humor though! From the book, First Man
On July 16, 1969, Armstrong received a crescent moon carved out of Styrofoam from the pad leader, Guenter Wendt, who described it as a key to the Moon. In return, Armstrong gave Wendt a ticket for a "space taxi" "good between two planets"
Wendt helps Glenn into a Mercury capsule -- Proof that he always had their backs
Credit: NASA

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Apollo 1 Prank Became NASA Policy

From TechRepublic:
Every Apollo astronaut knew the code phrases Navi, Dnoces, and Regor, which refer to the stars Gamma Cassiopeiae, Iota Ursa Majoris, and Gamma Velorum, respectively. This trio of stars was (and likely is) used for visual reference during spaceflight, and was a core component of Apollo mission training for inertial navigation procedures.
These interesting code names, however, originated from a practical joke started by the Apollo 1 crew:
Navi is Gus Grissom’s middle name, Ivan, spelled backwards. Dnoces is the word second spelled backwards, in reference to astronaut White’s full name, Edward H. White II. Regor is Roger Chaffee’s first name spelled backwards.
White, Grissom, Chaffee  -- Natural Pranksters
Credit: NASA
What started out as a small prank turned into NASA policy as a tribute to the three brave men who sacrificed their lives for NASA, for the United States and for human space exploration on January 27, 1967.