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updated: April 1st, 2016

Now that the Space Shuttle Program has concluded; ‘safeing‘ of the three remaining operational craft, Endeavour, Discovery, and Atlantis, (Columbia and Challenger suffered loss of vehicle and crew) (shuttle Enterprise, never flew into space) dismantling of the orbiters OMS pods, and storage of the vehicles occupies what’s left of the NASA shuttle workforce, and astronaut corps.

Also, in this photo: Mobile Launcher Platform, Crawler-transporter can be see. (upper left)

Questions.

Major questions remain; e.g., what is to become of the manned space program, Constellation, and the Ares I rocket?  Decommissioning and demolition of Launch Complex 39B, is already underway.

NASA is going ahead with plans to bring down the fixed and rotating service structures at pad 39B, even though the Ares I rocket and the entire Constellation program are being axed.

see also:  Kennedy Space Center – Google Maps

Uncertainty and criticism.

A combination of engineering obstacles and a trillion dollar budget short-fall, conspired to doom NASA’s Constellation program, including the Ares V, all effectively canceled, in October 2010, by the passage of the 2010 NASA authorization bill.

“It’s a very dynamic time, and a lot of folks aren’t real comfortable with all the uncertainties… None of us are.” –Peggy Whitson, Chief Astronaut, Johnson Space Center

Obama’s 2011 budget request eliminated the Constellation’s rocket, crew capsule, and the Ares I man-rated and Ares V heavy-lift vehicles. In their place it; funnels billions of dollars to ‘new spaceflight technologies‘, and outsources to commercial firms, the task of ferrying astronauts to low-Earth orbit.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) says that under Obama’s strategy “America’s decades-long dominance of space will finally come to an end.”

The Lab, wonders about what NASA has already spent developing these new systems.

  • $9 billion into the development of a new rocket, Ares I, and a new spacecraft, the Orion.
  • Terminating the program and closing out contracts will cost $2.5 billion more.

Will the R&D transfer to private sector contractors or be shelved?

Elon Musk, an American engineer, and entrepreneur, is best known for co-founding PayPal, and SpaceX, and is the original investor in Tesla Motors.

“The problem with Constellation was that success was not one of the possible outcomes…”

Of course, he would say that. Musk, who funded the first viable production electric car–the Tesla Roadster–is designing a private successor to the Space Shuttle, designated the F9/Dragon.

Absent the shuttle, and budgetary realities aside, what if anything, has really changed? NASA will still oversee the astronaut corps, all-be-it with significantly reduced numbers of active duty astronauts. The space agency will still be in charge of outsourcing; something they’re all ready quite familiar with. True, the names of the spacecraft have certainly changed, but except for a slip in the time-line, the mission goals remain the same, i.e., regular trips to LEO, the ISS, developing new craft and technology, a manned mission to an asteroid, and then–on to Mars.

What have we learned?

Anxious astronauts and Washington politicos not withstanding; The Lab concludes; the US will remain a space-faring nation, but not before some much needed house keeping, and prioritizing.

Keep watching the skies!

[developing story… stay tuned]

see also: Last Existing Shuttle-Centaur Rocket Stage Moving to Cleveland for Display, NASA Announces New Homes for Space Shuttle Orbiters After Retirement2 NASA Space Shuttles Meet Nose-to-NoseLaunch pad demolition paves way for uncertain transitionAstronaut Corps Shrink as Shuttles Stop

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The space shuttle prototype Enterprise glides toward a landing on the bed of Rogers Dry Lake after being released from NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft during the third free flight in the Approach and Landing Tests in September 1977. (NASA photo)

see also:  The Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests

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London UFO–is it real?

A new viral video making the rounds on the Internet purports to show what’s been dubbed a “mothership” and at least three separate smaller alien spacecraft filmed in the skies over London.

The most famous video (which was taken anonymously and is one of two or three versions in circulation) shows a large glowing white oval moving in and out from behind clouds over the course of about 20 seconds, and then zooming off, with three white dots also making an appearance. — Space.com

 

see also:   Is the UFO  Mothership Over London Video Real?

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These days, everybody and their dog is getting into the space race. Something is afoot. Great Britain, Mexico, China and India are all funneling large sums of capital, into their respective emerging space agencies.

With regard to one of NASA’s newest Astronauts José Moreno Hernández; oddly enough, the greatest criticism has come from the ranks of the ethnic Hispanics–lo Mexicanos de Mexico–if you will, instead of the ‘Norte Americanos or Chicanos.’

…an American engineer of Mexican descent and a NASA astronaut. He is currently assigned to the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-128.

Mission Specialist Hernandez, earned his astronaut wings, in August of 2009.  STS-128 (ISS assembly flight 17A) mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Mr Hernandez is the US-born son of Mexican migrant farm workers. …Hernandez wanted to fly in space ever since he heard that the first Hispanic-American had been chosen to travel into space.

The first Mexican in space was Rodolfo Neri Vela. There seems to be some rivalry between the two astronauts–not on a personal level–so for as I know, but between the Mexicans and North American Hispanics. The Mexicans don’t really claim Hernandez as one of their own, favoring Neri Vela, instead. A Mexican National, Neri Vela, flew on the US Space Shuttle (STS-61-B) in 1985, and served as Hernandez’s inspiration to become an astronaut.

Incidentally, STS-128 also marked the first time two Hispanic Americans flew on the same Space Shuttle crew. John “Danny” Olivas of El Paso, Texas, made his second trip up into space, on STS-128, along with Hernández.

Always read the comments, please.

One commenter referred to him as: “…the second latino-american astronaut.” Another commenter, again referring to Hernandez as: ” no un chicano que habla espanol con acento gringo.” Translation. …not [really] a Chicano, but [a] Spanish speaker with a North American accent.

Either way, I think you’ll agree with Dr. F., when I say; the story of NASA engineer / astronaut José Moreno Hernández, is quiet an inspiration, regardless of which side of the river you grew up on.

see also:  Mexico Enters The Space RaceJose M. Hernandez – NASA’s Mexican Astronaut, John D. Olivas, Rodolfo Neri Vela

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last updated: 03-10-2010

Just like Laura Palmer, ticket kiosks and ticket validation machines are shown here, wrapped in plastic, on the occasion of Dr. F’s recent visit to the MetroRail’s MLK Jr. station.  Whether this new covering was for the protection of the fancy new machines from the elements or from vandalism, I cannot say. Last Summer’s brutal heat, sent the computers in the newly installed ticket machines, into a tizzy. Simultaneously, moisture was also a problem, as  “horizontal rains,” soaked the ticket machines temporarily disabling them. These and many other problems contributed to the delay in opening the Red line.

The weeds are all gone from last springs visit still, the rails are looking a bit rusty;  that should all soon change though, as a March opening is promised by Cap Metro for MetroRail’s Red Line.

Today we sent word to the Federal Railroad Administration…we expect to be operationally ready to begin service at the end of February.

Trains will be running again, but no paying customers–not just yet, anyway.

This doesn’t mean we’ll open the service at that time, though. At that point, Herzog will simulate full testing of everything for two weeks, and if things go well we’ll be ready to open later in March.

Originally scheduled to launch in 2008, passenger rail service, was delayed by a host of engineering, computer programing and signaling issues, several of which have yet to be resolved. In spite of this,  Cap Metro leaders say they are confident, and expect the rail line to begin operating sometime in March.

None of these are going to keep us from opening the system. Let’s be clear on this. These are not issues that will stop us from opening up…

Issues–smissues.  After firing its contractor Veolia Transportation,  Cap Metro awarded the commuter rail contract to Herzog Transit Services and the freight line contract to Watco Companies Inc., three-fourths of the rail’s “new start” FRA requirements have been addressed leaving only four major issues yet to be resolved.

But there are still issues with signal and crossing programs, the linchpins that delayed startup before.

Whatever label you hang on this story as it’s cause:  stumbling-block, linchpin, programing issues, the fact is, Austin has a passenger railroad, but without any riders, and by default no revenue being generated, no extra automobiles being taken off crowded roadways or carbon emissions saved.

Someday, hopefully someday real soon, this railroad’s gonna open, and when it does there will rise up a cry from the people of  “Hallelujah–it’s about damn time”.

see also:  capmetroblog.com, We’re opening in March, Cap Metro could begin running MetroRail by mid-March, Cap Metro confident MetroRail nearing completionMayor pulls support for vote on urban light rail

This is a follow-up to the original 2009 Frankensteam blog entry titled:  All Systems Go Capital MetroRail Prepares For Service

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A UFO is believed to have struck a giant wind turbine on the coast near Mablethorpe, in Louth Lincolnshire. Louth, refered to as “the capital of the Wolds,” will be the eventual southern terminus of the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway

see also:  UFO mystery over broken turbine, MOD releases UFO files, UFO sightings files released

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updated: September 17, 2009

After last years Gustav and Ike, the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season may just go down in the record books as one of the quietest tropical seasons, ever.

…the El Niño that formed earlier this year has “really, really dampened hurricane activity” in general in the western Atlantic…We probably will see more storms…But I don’t believe we’ll see the [intense] late-season activity that we’ve seen during the past 10 or 15 years.

capt.photo_1250692165554-1-0

 

This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-NASA GOES Project satellite image shows Hurricane Bill(right of C). Bill, the first of the Atlantic season, strengthened to a powerful Category Four storm Wednesday as forecasters warned residents of the Caribbean, Bermuda, US East Coast and eastern Canada to be on watch. (AFP/NOAA/NASA-HO)

 

Nova Scotia — offshore, a buoy measured waves up to 85 feet (26 m).

Jemina_ussat_600x405

Hurricane Jimena, strikes Baja, Mexico September 2nd, 2009.

see also:  Atlantic Hurricane Bill, Hurricane Fred Is Second Major Storm of 2009

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