Orion Spacecraft 7.5

Orion’s First Orbits

The Orion Spacecraft has successfully completed it’s first “live” test today, 05 December 2014.

At this time, Orion is the leading candidate to be the spacecraft that will (finally!) take a crew of humans to Mars sometime in the 2030’s.

Delta IV Launches Orion 2

The launch earlier this morning is shown to the left.

The Orion capsule was safely tucked sway atop the Delta IV rocket.

All indications are that this unmanned test flight was a rousing success regarding the information that has been collected from the instruments aboard.

The image below is from a “screen shot” that I took while watching the launch and subsequent flight in real time on NASA TV earlier this morning.

Orion to High Obit

The actual path of the spacecraft in orbit is shown, along with an insert in the lower left-hand corner, which shows the “altitude” of the craft.  I caught this image just 10 minutes before the craft reached  the peak of it’s orbit, and began the long plunge back to Earth.

The Orion spacecraft attained an orbit much farther above the Earth than the International Space Station. At the peak of Orion’s elliptical orbit it was about 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface before beginning it’s long fall back to the targeted landing spot about 600 miles west of Baja California.

During the exciting days of NASA’s Apollo missions, many people, including myself, expected that we would have left footprints in the sands of Mars by now (2014), but alas, there are so many wars to be fought that we have reduced the priority of space exploration to a pale shadow of what was expected.

Be that as it may, we have now taken the first tangible steps toward Mars which may someday be called “home” by the explorers of the only other likely place for humans to live in this solar system.

Additional details can be found at the NASA website.


While you are visiting the NASA website, I suggest you check out some of the other exciting happenings by exploring the other missions NASA is currently managing.

Enjoy !!

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Point, Squeeze, and Drag

02 November 2014

I have (finally) entered the “mobile” computing universe.  Connie, my wife, gave me an early Xmas present a while back, so I am now the proud owner of an Apple iPad.  Perhaps I should say “a confused owner”.

Yes, I can use the iPad for fundamental stuff, such as creating this blog entry and doing email, but the”other” capabilities of mobile computing have caused much confusing and frustration over the past few weeks.

First of all, I had to go through three updates of my “Big” computer (an Apple iMac) in order to set up the media syncing between the iMac and the iPad (which still doesn’t work)   and other capabilities that simply don’t work quite right.  You may have noticed there is no photo in this blog entry – that’s because I have yet to figure out how to send photos from my huge collection in the iMac to this iPad.

I hasen to point out that I am not completely in the dark ragarding things computational, having written my first computer program in 1957 for an IBM  RAMAC computer, which was one of the first commercial computers to use disk storage.  My career had many twists, turns, peaks, and valleys before I retired from IBM June 1, 1987 – but that’s a story for another day.

Be that as it may, I am looking forward to learning about using this iPad for a variety of applications.  One thing I am considering is starting a new blog about computers in general, and my learning experiences with the iPad in particular  –  of course, all blog entries  will be created on this iPad.

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Riding a Comet

12 November 2014: The European Space Agency’s space probe, Philae, lands on Comet 67P today after a 10-year journey!

See details on today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) . . .


If successful, this will be the first time a space probe has ever landed on a comet. If all goes as planned, Philae will ride the comet as it goes around the Sun and send scientific data back to Earth.

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Dawn Journal: 7 Years of Interplanetary Travel

Dawn's Journey 27 Sept 2014

The spacecraft, Dawn, was launched from Cape Canaveral 27 September 2007, and is now on it’s way to the dwarf planet, Ceres, after having been in orbit around the asteroid Vesta for 14 months, sending back dozens of photographs and other valuable data.

Dawn is on schedule to arrive and enter an orbit around the dwarf planet, Ceres, in August, 2015.

For additional information and photos, please visit NASA scientist Marc Rayman’s blog.


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Four Score, and Counting . . .

Me 1 inch png

A few days ago I celebrated my 80th birthday.

I must have done something right in order to have achieved 80 years of age.  Breathing probably helped; simply enjoying one breath after another can take one far on our brief  journey from null to void.

What else have I been doing all that time?  (You might ask.)

To make a short story even shorter ( by leaving out a few details) I have been traveling through space and time aboard this damp dirt ball we call home, and have gone about 3.6 quadrillion miles – – that’s 3,6o2, 112,000,000, give or take a few billion miles.

Really ??  Yes, really, and that doesn’t even include the miles traveled in a spiral by simply going around in circles each day the Earth spins on it’s axis.  Check it out, and do the math yourself to find out how far YOU have traveled.  Hint: try wikipedia and/or NASA to find such things as the circumference of earth’s orbit around the sun (about 585 million miles), how far the sun travels in it’s orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy during one year (the sun is traveling at about 514 thousand miles per hour in it’s orbit), etc.

Be that as it may . . .

. . .  fortunately for me, I have been privileged to live during the best of times in the best of places, and this has allowed me to bask in the enjoyment of being human and contemplating the wonders of the cosmos.

Andromeda png

All too soon I will be returning to the lifeless mineral existence from which we all come.

Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy life as much as possible, for as long as possible.

What more can one ask ??

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The Pale Blue Dot

Earth from Saturn small

This is for anyone who does not know about Carolyn Porco’s work in general and The Pale Blue Dot in particular.

Simply follow the link below for the complete story, and more images . . .




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Hand Art

Hand Art Browsing around the www a while back, I came across something that I want to share with You . . . check out some of the extraordinary Hand Art by Guido Daniele, shown above. Not being as clever and creative as Guido, I have simply painted my left hand . . .

My Left Hand png   FYI: I plan to display more of my own paintings on this blog as soon as I gather suitable photos.

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