20 Mar

The iPods rock the Space Shuttle, and single-bit soft errors

I found this article about an iPod that was spotted on the Space Shuttle…

I wonder if the iPod is experiencing single-bit soft errors. In space, unless the electronic equipment such as computers (or iPods!) is “radiation hardened”, using techniques such as single bit correction Error Correcting Codes (ECC), single-bit soft errors can and will occur by radiation from space. Computers are highly susceptible to bit-flips when the spacecraft carrying them is flying over the magnetic poles, and obviously if there is a solar flare.

I remember many years ago I spent long hours (of pure pressure during a Shuttle mission) trying to explain a fail-to-sync (FTS) that occurred in orbit; a FTS is when one of the computers in a redundant-set diverge, taking a different execution path from the other ones; a very bad thing in redundant systems, especially during launch or landing, but not as bad in orbit, unless during rendezvous. Based on downlink data, I attributed the FTS to a single bit-flip. Was my assessment 100% correct? We will never know. But it was the best educated guess I could come up with (after lots of data analysis)… Note that FTS are very rare, and the Shuttle software is extremely stable and next to error free.

This I found interesting:

Getting an iPod into space isn’t easy. The lithium batteries have to be replaced with specially certified alkaline batteries. Once docked, crew members can’t bring them on board the Space Station, however, since they haven’t been certified as safe in that environment.

Related to this see On Self-Modifying Code and the Space Shuttle OS.


14 Mar

This week on Space: STS-123 launches, Cassini meets Enceladus, new Google Sky

An interesting week on space-related activities…


The Space Shuttle STS-123 mission launched into its 16 day mission; and busy is the crew delivering pieces for the International Space Station (ISS). This is the the 25th shuttle mission to the ISS. It is pretty cool to see back to back missions. STS-123 launched at night, which is an spectacular sight (night becomes day for a minute or so):

Shuttle Up

STS 123 night launch

The next two videos are from different point of views and distances of/from the launch. The cracking sound from the solid rocket boosters (and main engines) is one of the cool things to experience; but just imagine that loud sound but x10 passing through your body. The first video is just 2.5 miles away from the launch pad (must have been taken by a NASA employee to be that close). The second video is great, as you can listen the reaction of the people watching the launch.

Cassini in Saturn

The spacecraft continues its voyage of discovery in the outer planets. Cassini survives Enceladus very close flyby through icy water geyser-like jets.


Google Sky goes Browser

Google Sky Logo

Google Sky is now available browser-based. Very cool. Read the announcement at the Google Lat Long blog.


30 Dec

Johannes Kepler – first human being to truly understand the laws of planetary motion

Three days ago marked 436 years since the birth of Johannes Kepler. Born in Germany on December 27, 1571, Kepler was the first human being who was able to put together all the observations from others and himself, and truly see and understand, and define laws of planetary motion. For this he had to make the leap from religious faith into the pure essence of mathematics, astronomy, and science, something that on those days could get you killed. Kepler law’s were the ones that led Newton to his own discoveries and laws on motion and gravitation.

Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion:

  • Kepler’s First Law: The Law of Ellipses: The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the sun at one of the foci. An ellipse is characterized by its two focal points; see illustration. Thus, Kepler rejected the ancient Aristotelean and Ptolemaic and Copernican belief in circular motion.
  • Kepler’s Second Law: The Equal-Areas Law: A line joining a planet and the sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time as the planet travels along its orbit. This means that the planet travels faster while close to the sun and slows down when it is farther from the sun. With his law, Kepler destroyed the Aristotelean astronomical theory that planets have uniform velocity.
  • Kepler’s Third Law: The Harmonic Law: The squares of the orbital periods of planets are directly proportional to the cubes of the semi-major axes (the “half-length” of the ellipse) of their orbits. This means not only that larger orbits have longer periods, but also that the speed of a planet in a larger orbit is lower than in a smaller orbit.


[References and sources: NASA and Wikipedia]

15 Nov

Watching the Earth-rise and set over the Moon

Wow, so gorgeous, check it out…

Japan’s space agency (JAXA) has released two high definition videos of Earth-rise and Earth-set, as witnessed by its lunar explorer SELENE, which is now orbiting our largest natural satellite.

See the videos (note, downloading is slow):


[Via The Register]

21 Oct

The New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission

New Horizons

I’m not sure that many folks know about the New Horizons probe, which is in route to the Pluto-Kuiper Belt, in the outer solar system (this is beyond the orbit of planet Neptune).

The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in January of 2006, got a gravity assist with a fly-by of Jupiter early this year (2007), and it is on its way to the outer regions/edge of the solar system, arriving, if all goes well, in the year 2016.

During the fly-by of Jupiter earlier this year, the probe took some gorgeous photos of Jupiter and its moon Io — see Pluto-Bound New Horizons Sees Changes in Jupiter System.

At the time of this writing the mission elapsed time is 639 days, with 2,729 days to go. Note that by then the Constellation program should be in full swing towards the Moon (I can’t wait to see again humans returning to the Moon).

See the gorgeous photo of Jupiter and its moon Io erupting taken by the New Horizons probe:

Click to enlarge.

About the Image: This is a montage of New Horizons images of Jupiter and its volcanic moon Io, taken during the spacecraft’s Jupiter flyby in early 2007. The Jupiter image is an infrared color composite taken by the spacecraft’s near-infrared imaging spectrometer, the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) at 1:40 UT on Feb. 28, 2007. The infrared wavelengths used (red: 1.59 µm, green: 1.94 µm, blue: 1.85 µm) highlight variations in the altitude of the Jovian cloud tops, with blue denoting high-altitude clouds and hazes, and red indicating deeper clouds. The prominent bluish-white oval is the Great Red Spot. The observation was made at a solar phase angle of 75 degrees but has been projected onto a crescent to remove distortion caused by Jupiter’s rotation during the scan. The Io image, taken at 00:25 UT on March 1st 2007, is an approximately true-color composite taken by the panchromatic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), with color information provided by the 0.5 µm (“blue”) and 0.9 µm (“methane”) channels of the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The image shows a major eruption in progress on Io’s night side, at the northern volcano Tvashtar. Incandescent lava glows red beneath a 330-kilometer high volcanic plume, whose uppermost portions are illuminated by sunlight. The plume appears blue due to scattering of light by small particles in the plume. This montage appears on the cover of the Oct. 12, 2007 issue of Science magazine. Credit: NASA/JHU/APL.


15 Sep

Google Lunar X Prize

Google Lunar X Prize

Google is funding the Lunar X Prize with $30 million, to encourage private teams to go to the moon, with $20 million to the first private enterprise to put a robot on the moon. Very nice Google!

I love the space program, and this kind of announcements makes me want to go back to it… The time for Moon 2.0 is now.

Interestingly, it seems that this X Prize lunar challenge will occur in parallel to NASA’s return to the Moon missions; see NASA manned space exploration plans for the next 20 years.

Video 1: Google Lunar X PRIZE Vision

Video 2: Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) Launch Highlights

Video Credit: The Lunar X Prize Foundation.


09 Aug

We have liftoff – Teacher in Space

I missed the launch of STS-118 yesterday due to business travel… But it is great to see the successful and historical launch of the STS-118 Space Shuttle Endeavour.

We have liftoff! of the Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-118…

The Vehicle

Endeavor flag
Orbiter: OV-105 Endeavour at Launch Pad 39A.

The Crew

crew sts-118
From the left are mission specialists Richard A. (Rick) Mastracchio, Barbara R. Morgan, Pilot Charles O. Hobaugh, Commander Scott J. Kelly and mission specialists Tracy E. Caldwell (she is gorgeous!), Canadian Space Agency’s Dafydd R. (Dave) Williams, and Alvin Drew Jr. Credit: NASA

The Mission

Mission Number: STS-118 (119th space shuttle flight). The 22nd shuttle flight to the International Space Station.

It will continue space station construction by delivering a third starboard truss segment.

This mission is of great symbolic significance. In this mission is Astronaut Barbara R. Morgan, Mission Specialist, who originally was the backup astronaut for the NASA Teacher in Space Program to Christa McAuliffe, who was part of the Challenger crew who died during the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. Following the Challenger accident, Morgan assumed the responsibilities of Teacher in Space, but had to wait more than 20 years to fulfill the Teacher in Space mission.

The Patch

sts-118 patch

From the STS-118 Press Kit:

“The STS-118 patch represents Space Shuttle Endeavour on its mission to help complete the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS), and symbolizes the pursuit of knowledge through space exploration. The flight will accomplish its ISS 13A.1 assembly tasks through a series of spacewalks, robotic operations, logistics transfers, and the exchange of one of the three long-duration expedition crew members.

On the patch, the top of the gold astronaut symbol overlays the starboard S-5 truss segment, highlighting its installation during the mission. The flame of knowledge represents the importance of education, and honors teachers and students everywhere. The seven white stars and the red maple leaf signify the American and Canadian crew members, respectively, flying aboard Endeavour.”

Download the STS-118 Press Kit (PDF 10.3 Mb), which contains great information about the mission and the crew.

See the mission in real-time over the Web at NASA TV.


23 Jul

Galaxy Zoo – take part in a census of one million galaxies

Galaxy Zoo

What a cool project… Galaxy Zoo leverages the human collective intelligence to help classify thousands of images taken from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey:

“Astronomers are inviting members of the public to help them make major new discoveries by taking part in a census of one million galaxies.”

It is the same concept introduced by Luis von Ahn et. al. (see the video on Human Computation) for labeling images, and used in Google Images Labeler.

After taking a short 15 images training, participants help classify photos of galaxies as Spiral, Elliptical or other — it is a fun project (and it is great for children) that teaches about Astronomy, while contributing to the very hard problem of image processing and classification… what better and more accurate way to classify images than using humans themselves, and the Web…


09 Jun

Successful launch of Atlantis STS-117 Mission to the Space Station


A great, successful launch of STS-117. Awesome. I'm glad.

The first Shuttle launch of 2007. Mission STS-117, on board Atlantis, is the 21st Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station… this one is taking 7 astronauts to the station.

It has been a long time since the 1st mission related to the space station… I was working on the Shuttle program during the first rendezvous mission with MIR (1995, STS-63), in preparation to STS-71, the first docking mission with the station. Today, 12 years later, we are not done yet.

See the STS-117 Mission Overview.

Godspeed to the crew…

And while I write this, one of my coolest experiences ever come to mind — because I worked on the onboard software (the Flight Computer OS or FCOS), I had access or visibility to certain things and people, and the time I got the chance to (quietly) sit down on the back seat during one of the STS-71 crew training launch exercises inside the actual Space Shuttle flight simulator – I mean, we are talking about the closest experience to the real thing, just second to the real launch itself — 3 intense hours sitting with the astronauts while they trained — this is vertical cockpit position, countdown sequence, the engine sounds and cockpit vibration, the motion simulation, SRB separation, looking “out the cockpit windows” as the sky transitioned from blue into the blackness of “space”, and the successful and sometimes not successful, glad it was a simulation, orbital insertions, and watching the astronauts react to the events and failures as they happened (were introduced)…

For those interested in the space program, preparation and hiring for the next phase of the U.S. space program, the return to the Moon, is happening as we speak… It is very tempting…


28 Jan

January 2007 – remembering the crew of Apollo 1 and STS 51-L

A day like yesterday, 40 years ago on January 27, 1967, astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died during the Apollo 1 ground test accident.

A day like today, 21 years ago on January 28, 1986, astronauts Francis “Dick” Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Dr. Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe died during the STS 51-L mission accident onboard the Challenger during launch.

Let the dream, the vision of (human) space exploration continue…


[Image source: Wikipedia]

09 Jan

NASA manned space exploration plans for the next 20 years

It is very exciting to see NASA (trying) to go back to its roots of space and human planetary exploration. See below NASA’s plans for the next 20 years – until 2016. And it is it is about returning to the Moon, and preparing for Mars:

  • Fly the Shuttle as safely as possible until its retirement, not later than 2010.
  • Complete the International Space Station in a manner consistent with NASA’s International Partner commitments and the needs of human exploration.
  • Develop a balanced overall program of science, exploration, and aeronautics consistent with the redirection of the human spaceflight program to focus on exploration.
  • Bring a new Crew Exploration Vehicle into service as soon as possible after Shuttle retirement.
  • Encourage the pursuit of appropriate partnerships with the emerging commercial space sector.
  • Establish a lunar return program having the maximum possible utility for later missions to Mars and other destinations.

        Source: NASA 2006 Strategic Plan.

The following diagram shows NASA space exploration plans until the year 2025:

Last space shuttle flight in 2010, that is 3 years from now. That will mark the
end of an era in the U.S. space program and the start of the Return to
the Moon, with the 7th manned moon landing in the year 2019.
From the illustration, it seems that space station missions will end in the year 2016, in preparation for (focus on) lunar missions, which seems ridiculous short for the amount of time, effort, headaches, and money spent on its construction, which is yet not complete. Manned Mars expedition mission project would begin in 2020, while learning/training on the Lunar bases.

Note that the Return to the Moon program has started and is happing (planning) now. I you like the space program and have the right stuff to help put people on the Moon and beyond, now is the time to join NASA – I personally think that working on the onboard OS software, and/or flight-software for the space vehicle would be very neat.


04 Jan


Cosmic Log has published a story titled Blue Origin Revealed, where you can read and learn about Blue Origin, which is Jeff Bezos aerospace company – see pictures and a short video of their successful maiden test flight of their Goddard rocket vertical-take-off-and-landing vehicle.

It is great to see their accomplishments, especially after having met some of the folks behind it – an awesome group of people, scientists and engineers, and I was immediately convinced they had the right stuff, and would be successful: because of the people involved, and because of their do-it-right-and-safely long-term approach to this very high risk, empirical venture, from hardware to software to people to processes. It is as their motto reads “Gradatim Ferociter” which translates to “Step by Step, Courageously”.

This story, their maiden test flight, has a personal emotional effect on me. Back in 2003 I interviewed with Blue Origin, and got a job offer from them, to help develop their onboard software… but due to family circumstances at that time, I was not able to take the job and move to Seattle; this is one of those opportunities in life that I look back and kick myself… but life goes on.

Note that Blue Origin is currently looking for engineers…

Congratulations to the Blue Origin team!


[Via Weblogsky]

12 Dec

STS-116, so far so good

I have been so busy, that I totally missed the fact that the Shuttle STS-116 crew had launched last Saturday onboard Orbiter Discovery (OV-103); the first night launch in 4 years. Night launches are one of the most spectacular things to watch, and see how literally night becomes day for a couple of minutes while the bird flies up, and up…

Because it was a night launch, engineers on the ground must rely mainly on radar to track and analyze falling (ice) particles that might hit the vehicle, as (obviously) photography can't be leveraged that much during the night, except for what the bright solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and main engines can help the engineers see. But the good news is that “so far so good”, and with the new procedures put in place to visually check the vehicle and even try to fix damage tiles etc while in orbit, something that should have, and which BTW was considered and proposed by many engineers many years ago, are finally now in place:

During tonight’s Mission Status Briefing, Mission Management Team Chairman John Shannon said that engineers have completed the first review of Sunday’s inspection of the orbiter’s heat shield. “The team has looked and gone through and done their first pass on all of the wing leading-edge RCCs and the nose cap,” Shannon said, “and has identified no issues. It is a very rigorous process.”

The goal of the STS-116 mission is to continue growing/expanding the station itself, for example, this mission will install the P5 integrated truss using the shuttle’s robotic arm. See the Shuttle's website for more information on the current Space Shuttle mission.

In addition, the Shuttle mission will impact the current Space Station crew:

The Expedition 14 crew lost one member and gained another Monday night during the first crew exchange at the International Space Station during a shuttle mission in four years.

See the Station's website for more information on the current Space Station Expedition.

Congratulations and good luck to the crew of STS-116, and Expedition 14…


21 Sep

12 Astronauts in Space, Station is now Half Built

12 Astronauts in space at the same time… I think that is a new record, isn't? 6 astronauts in the Shuttle STS-115, 3 in the space station, and 3 in the Soyuz spacecraft… Lots of tense people on the ground monitoring 3 manned spacecrafts at the same time… Pretty cool.

Lots of good news… The Shuttle STS-115 crew is safe at home (see landing image gallery), and Expedition 14 has safely docked with the Space Station. Expedition 13 and 14 are in the station, and the first woman private space explorer is up there with them.

The International Space Station is now half built, and the plan is to complete construction by 2010.

Congrats to the crew of STS-115, Expedition 13, and Expedition 14, and to Anousheh Ansari.


[Image Source: NASA

17 Sep

Anousheh Ansari – First Female Private Space Explorer

Expedition 14

Anousheh Ansari is a serial entrepreneur and is Chairwoman to Prodea Systems of Plano Texas. She also is the first female private space explorer (tourist), who is flying under commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

She is part of the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 14 crew.

The ISS Expedition 14 crew is ready for launch. Take off is planned for tomorrow September 19th, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on a R-7 rocket carrying a Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft.

Anousheh Ansari story is pretty neat. She (the Ansari family?) sponsored the Ansari X-Prize, the $10 million cash award for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks, which was won by legendary aerospace designer Burt Rutan in 2004. She also is a member of the X-Prize Foundation's Vision Circle, as well as its Board of Trustees.

Of Iranian descent,
Anousheh is in my opinion a prime example of the American dream – with dedication and hard work, regardless of nationality, race, sex or religion believes, you can realize your dream –
it is noted that having lost of money does help though :-). She earned degrees in electronics and computer engineering, and is currently working toward a master's degree in astronomy. She is a successful businesswoman and Chairwoman, a space traveler, and space ambassador. She earned the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Southwest Region, and well as many other awards. Not only she has the cash to pay for the ride (an expensive ticket), but she is an amazingly accomplished woman.

Anousheh Ansari keeps a blog.

The other 2 crew members are the mission's captain, Lopez-Alegria, a military aviator who was born in Spain (from Spanish father and American mother), and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin – both veteran aviators and spacemen. While Ansari will stay for around a week, the other two crew members will remain in the station for 6 months, where they will receive a number of Shuttle and Soyuz visits to continue building the station.

Good luck to the crew of the Expedition 14.


P.S. If you had $20 million dollars, would you go fly up into space? A very tempting idea indeed.

16 Sep

On the Space Station, STS-115, a rant and some memories

Today I watched NASA-TV's video stream – you should check it out, it is pretty awesome to see in real-time (or not) the men and women of STS-115 workingat an altitude of 200+ miles, while moving at 17,000+ miles/second.

The STS-115 mission is the Shuttle's 116th flight, and is being flown in the orbiter Atlantis (OV-104).

And I noticed that spacewalks are getting more sophisticated – there were 3 three astronauts (2 men, 1 woman) working together on completing the station, in what clearly looked as a hard, multifaceted activity.

A very nice camera shot of the space station caught my eye – the station is taking form, finally. You need to understand — the station is supposed to have been completed by now – when originally commissioned, it was supposed have been completed in 10 years. And yet to be delivered are a number of components, which translates to missions to be flown until 2009 (God permitting).

And I'm looking forward to its completion. If all goes well, it will be finished in a couple of years. The shuttle, the space cargo bus, is doing what is was designed to do so many years ago. It is quite a bird.

The rant:
Too many delays. First, back in early 1990s – very political time period (those were my days in the space program). In 1993 the US-only space station became a multi-national operation. The move affected all. The space station Freedom became the International Space Station (ISS), and operations for the station changed hands, to be ran by Boeing. Back then I worked at IBM in the Space Shuttle data processing system, specifically the OS. But IBM was also responsible for the data management system for the station – all the computers, software, and the networks on the station. By the time the station became international, lots of equipment had already been built, software was coded, and the fiber optic network was ready to go. What was to be done with all the IBM personnel working on station? and the equipment? Everyone moved on, many of the engineers relocated (at that time layoffs were rare). All the equipment was discarded, and the data management system was redesigned. Soon after IBM sells its Space Shuttle project. Note that up to that point IBM had been part of the the manned space program since its inception… Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, SkyLab, Freedom and Space Shuttle. With the change coming from the top (government), and the loss of time and money, IBM calls it quits – IBM is out of the manned space program. And it hasn't returned.

The station's data processing system became non-intelligent, and based on plain Multiplexers/DeMultiplexers (MDMs) for communication (think of MDMs as routers) – no real intelligence or programmatic growth. The data processing system designed by IBM was based on fiber-optic networks, and computers running at a whooping 25MHz 386 DX… yeap, that doesn't sound fast but it was sufficient for the type of applications it was designed for. Plus the 386s were radiation hardened with memory error detection/correction circuitry (the Shuttle's memory is also rad-hard).

Years later came the accidents. :-( And more delays. Today the space station today is a fraction from its original design/plan :-(

I just visited Wikipedia's entry for Space Station Freedom and found it to be pretty accurate with what I remember.

The good memories:
I worked on 5 revisions of the Space Shuttle OS (OI-20 to OI-25), that have flown on 44 missions (STS-42 to STS-85). Because the changes are applied incrementally (OI=operational increment) my code (or residues of it) should still be running right now in the current mission. I enjoyed working on the Mission Evaluation Room (MER), this is a (very secure) room behind the large mission control room (the front-room) that you see on TV. The MER was a room full of engineers monitoring different aspects of the mission. I monitored the data processing core systems, providing support to the front-room; I personally supported around 25 flights – launch, while in orbit, landings. The coolest thing was listening to the astronauts, while they were for the first time trying one of my new software features (such as the new program boot/load sequence or IPL, new I/O, or new UI). At times we had to apply memory patches via uplink to correct code errors – hey, not in my code ;-).

Back to the space station, before I left the space program, I worked on the first Shuttle mission that docked with the space station; a very critical mission that would show if all the docking theory that had been practiced for years was going to work or not – this was on the summer of 1995, the mission was STS-71. It also was the first flight of OI-24, a software version I dedicated many hours, in particular was a memory management change that required changing the use of (assembler) instructions to enable extended memory usage – this change touched the whole OS: the bootstrapper, interrupts, timers, I/O, scheduling, and was considered very critical – remember, these software systems are man-rated. One of the toughest situations I was put on during my Shuttle days was finding (while missions were pending to fly) a weird behavior during memory block copies – it took me weeks to figure it out. The bug was not in the high-level software, but in the microcode for a specific machine instruction! A bug in the microcode is very rare; that one was a bitch to find.

I was lucky enough to take a ride in the backseat with the STS-71 crew during one of their practice sessions on the NASA orbiter simulator – what an awesome experience, the closest to the real thing: vertical position for takeoff, the sound and vibrations, the solid rocket booster separation, seeing the S/W work and be used by the astronauts, the aborts, and looking “out” the window – that was the coolest thing, the closest to a real Shuttle launch. I also was lucky to see a Shuttle the launch of STS-60 up-close, during a cold morning in February of 1994 – another awesome experience; this was the 1st mission where a Russian cosmonaut flies in a US Shuttle. I also had the privilege of receiving the Silver Snoopy Award – mine was flown in STS-58, in the Columbia orbiter, which was lost in one of the accidents.

While the Internet and the Web were being created in the early 1990s (and many people made millions of dollars), I was a software engineer in the US the space program – I enjoyed every minute of it. Today, the 2nd wave of the Web is happening – the mobile Web, and this time I am in. :-)


28 Aug

Pluto not a planet, but a dwarf planet

By now you probably know that the International Astronomical Union came out with some guidelines for what is considered a planet. This effort to reclassify planets started when UB 313 (Xena) and its moon where discovered in 2003.

I've mixed feelings about the whole thing… Pluto should remain a planet… it is large enough to be discovered back in 1930. And what the heck, it has been a planet my whole life!

Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet, together with Ceres, the largest asteroid in our solar system, and Xena.

Between planetary guidelines and .mobi guidelines, I'll tell you… do you think those guidelines are serving us well?

I just noticed that Pluto's entry in Wikipedia has been updated already to reflect the new dwarf planet classification — that's pretty quick… That's the power of user-generated content!


20 Jul

37 Years Ago Today….

The date was July 20, 1969. The mission was Apollo 11. A day like today, 37 years ago, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon…

Forgotten by many, the trio of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, together with thousands of other people who worked on the mission, made history like it was never done before, and will never be done again – the first time a human being walked on another planetary body – one of the most awesome events in our human history… An event like no other…

Apollo 11

Click to visit NASA's Remembering Apollo 11 web page


04 Jul

STS-121 Discovery Blast Off!

STS-121 Discovery

STS-121 has cleared the launch-pad, and the mission has begun. A perfect blast-off, on a perfect Fourth of July – this is the first Space Shuttle launch on Independence Day, in the history of the program…

If you like to follow the STS-121 launch and mission, visit the STS-121 Discovery page. It is pretty awesome to have access to all the real-time information, from crew conversations to video, all from the Internet.

Best of luck to the crew of STS-121 and Godspeed!

For those in the U.S.A. happy 4th of July!


P.S. Now that Discovery is safe in orbit, back to the World Cup, and the Alemania vs. Italia game! :-)

02 Jul

STS-121 Discovery web page and other info

STS-121 Discovery

Today's launch attempt was scrubbed (for the second time) due to weather – 3rd attempt will occur on July 4 – great day to have a launch!

Update: We are a go for launch, today July 4th!

If you like to follow the STS-121 launch and mission, visit the STS-121 Discovery page. It is pretty awesome to have access to all the real-time information, from crew conversations to video, all from the Internet – when I used to work at NASA (IBM for NASA on the on-board OS), access to such information was limited – now anyone can see, hear and learn, on real-time, at anytime.

Also, see TwitTV – Space Shuttle Discovery Web Cams for a list of cool Space Shuttle cams.

Many years ago I had the privilege of watching in person and close-by the launch of Discovery – one of the most exciting and awesome experiences ever, specially when having software controlling the vehicle…

Best of luck to the crew of STS-121 and Godspeed!