Saturday, August 25, 2012

Death of a Hero

Neil Armstrong has died at age 82, due to complications with the cardiovascular surgery he had earlier this month. A brave man, and a humble man. He climbed aboard a spacecraft as big as a small closet with Buzz Aldrin, a spacecraft that they didn't even know was going to work, and landed on the moon for the first time, with only 17 seconds of propellant left. So it almost didn't work.

Neil and Edwin "Buzz" spent  21 hours on the surface of the moon, three of which were spent outside, then climbed back aboard the Eagle lander and shot back into lunar orbit, to join back up with Michael Collins to head back to Earth.

And then Neil said no more about it. He didn't seek fame, and turned fame away when it sought him. To have done such a thing, to have said the famously botched words, become such an important historical figure, and then to go back to your life... the very definition of humility. We need more like him. On this world, and on others.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

My wife has been drawing again...

Monday, August 06, 2012

At 8:30 PM yesterday, a rover as heavy as a small car landed on Mars. The Mars Curiosity Rover also known as the Mars Science Laboratory sent back a picture of it's wheel on the Martian surface. The landing went in multiple stages, you couldn't just surround it with balloons like the Spirit and Opportunity rovers and let it hit the ground - it was too big! A rocket-powered crane hovered 20 feet in the air to lower the rover safely to the ground. This feat cost a whopping 2.5 billion dollars. That seems like a lot, until you consider the fact that the ENTIRE MISSION cost a little less than two and a half B-2 stealth bombers. So really it's pretty cheap. That rocket-crane trick WILL come in useful in the future, for carefully lowering heavy things where there is no atmosphere. It was a worthwhile investment, especially compared to the expenditure of killing people.

Of course, the local newspaper was FULL of online comments about this "Boondoggle" costing "so much money" and someone actually asked "What has the space program done directly for you, ever?"

So I think I will come up with a short list. But before that, I would like to mention, that the amount of money spent in 2011 on the military (JUST 2011) is more than NASA has ever spent. Ever. From the very beginning. In addition, a few years back we gave even MORE money to a bunch of bankers to reward them for crashing the economy, and that amount of money is about $150 Billion more than the entire budget of NASA, from the very beginning. And I can promise you that NASA has done more for each of you, directly, than a banker ever has or will.

So, on to a short list of what NASA has done for you:

Disposable diapers (Don't sit there and tell me you've never used or worn one)
Miniature Electronics (Cell phones that do more than a computer did ten years ago.)
Good rechargeable batteries
Good computers
Accurate maps
Weather tracking (hurricanes and thunderstorms)
Flat panel screens
SMALL flat panel screens
Fuel cells
Global Positioning Satellites
The ability to watch the Oympics, no matter where they are and where you are.
All these 18" Directv dishes on people's roof
Heat resistant ceramics
Memory Foam