Imagery of Earth

Amazing images have shown up from the International Space Station (ISS) since the cupola.  A structure of seven Earth-facing windows, its spectacular views draw the crew to it in their off hours.

One of the most inspiring personalities from the ISS has to be Dr. Don Pettit, an engineer turned astronaut and communicator.  He performs really simple experiments, but does them in microgravity, and explains them in a way that the masses can understand.  In total, he has spent nearly a year in space, spread across several missions on the ISS.

He has also taken his love of photography with him into orbit.  This short film, Making the Invisible Visible, was crafted by Christopher Malin, and showcases amazing images from the ISS, interfaced with comments by Don Pettit himself.

It probably makes some people want to go to space just for the scenery.

Synopsis of events – 2 weeks ending March 2, 2013

[Modified on Mar 7 to add Feb 25 launch of STRaNDS-1.]

A lot of things have happened in the past two weeks, since asteroid 2012 DA14 passed near Earth and a previously unknown object impacted in Russia.  Alas, I’ve been short of time to comment on the events since then.

As an alternative, I hope to simply briefly mention significant events, either past or upcoming, and provide links to them.  Some these will only be of interest to Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, where I operate.  Others will be events which have been referred to me through reputable sources.  And then there are a few surprise news items.  The ones which involve AIAA SF and SVSC are certainly in the Bay area, in fact, in Mountain View.

Recent Events

Feb 21 – NASA announced a new Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). [announcement] [STMD website]  It appears that it will take on much of what was previously done by the NASA Office of Chief Technologist (OCT), which managed some highly innovative programs, and continues as a separate office.  At lot of what I previously saw in OCT functions is now on the STMD home page. I confess, I haven’t figured it all out and don’t know if those of us who try to develop technology will see any difference.

Feb 25 – The STRaND-1 smartphone nanosatellite was launched by an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV C-20).  [announcement]  The phone is a Google Nexus One running Android software with a few innovative apps.  It also has an amateur radio transmitting 9600 bps AX.25 on 437.568 MHz.

Feb 25 – I helped host an AIAA SF/SVSC talk on the Mission Control Technologies (MCT) software package, which was developed at NASA Ames, used by mission controllers at places like the NASA Johnson Space Center.  The presentation was primarily made by team lead Jay Trimble, but accompanied by three other team members to field diverse questions about the package.  MCT is an open source package; during the talk, at least one Java-skilled developer downloaded it and began to explore it.  Assisting us in the meeting was Darlene Damm of DIY Rockets, who told me about an upcoming SXSW event.  (See item below on March 9.)

Feb 27 – Dennis Tito, a multi-millionaire aerospace engineer and the world’s first space tourist, unveiled Inspiration Mars, a effort to send a pair humans on a fly-by of Mars starting January 28, 2018. [YouTube]  Apparently, this type of fly-by can only be done every 15 years.  Thus, the next possibility would be 2033.  The technical details of the accompanying feasibility study will be shared in the next few days.

Mar 1 – SpaceX launched a Dragon spacecraft capsule atop a Falcon 9 on their second Crew Resupply Services mission (CRS-2) to the International Space Station.  [press release]  There was a problem with the attitude thruster pods when the Dragon got to orbit; one of four was working and they needed two.  The problem was apparently fixed a couple of hours later.  Rather than March 2, Dragon will be expected to berth with the ISS on March 3.

Upcoming Events

Mar 9 – A panel discussion on “Crowd-sourceing the Space Frontier” will be part of  the South by Southwest event (SXSW), March 8-17, 2013, in Austin, Texas.  The panel, on March 9, will include Anousheh Ansari, principal sponsor of the Ansari X-Prize; Edward Wright, project manager at Citizens in Space; Christopher Gentry, manager of the NASA Open Innovation Program; and Darlene Damm, founder and co-president of.  DIY Rockets, which is planning to make some announcements there.  (SXSW website) ( article)

Mar 19-20 – AIAA 2013 Congressional Visits Day (website)  AIAA members converge on Capitol Hill and raise awareness of aerospace issues.    The AIAA public policy process, which involves members of its technical committees and others, has developed a set of key issues for 2013.

Mar 25 – Deep Space Industries will elaborate on its plans at an AIAA SF/SVSC TechTalk.   Yes, I’m helping host it.

Apr 12 – Yuri’s Night, the world space party.  Friends tell me it’s a lot of fun.

Apr 24-26 – 10th Annual Spring CubeSat Developers’ Workshop 2013, San Luis Obispo, CA.  [website]

Jun 3-5 – Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2013, Broomfield, CO. [website]

Jun 17-21 – 10th Interplanetary Probe Workshop (IPPW 10), San Jose State University, CA. [website]