Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NASA delays Hubble telescope repair mission

Wired reports that the shuttle mission to repair the aging Hubble Telescope has been delayed for up to a year. The reason for the delay is that Hubble has stopped sending down data. The failure has been traced to the command and data-handling system for Hubble's science instruments, which means that it is now incapable of capturing images of any kind or transmitting them to Earth.

As disappointing as the delay is, NASA/Hubble controllers say that it could not have come at a better time. Had this failure happened after the repair mission, there would have been now way to repair Hubble as this will be the last mission to the aging craft. First step is for Hubble controllers to switch over to a second control channel and bring Hubble back on line. This should take a couple of days. Continuing with the mission and relying on Hubble's last remaining command channel would severely shorten Hubble's remaining life. Plans are to now replace the command and data-handling system which will guarantee Hubble a 5 to 10 lifespan.

<- ap via wired ->

Future Moon Base Site Imaged

Shaun Saunders submits an article from UniverseToday detailing possible sites for the future US Moonbase. The article suggests that one of the best sites has to be the Moon's south pole. Mountainous areas near the rim of Shackelton Crater provide areas of almost continual sunlight, meaning solar power would be constantly available. In addition, the shadowed craters are in constant darkness and may hold water ice, a potential water supply that would be a vital resource for any lunar base. Also the suggestion is made that with many permanently dark craters available, this would be a great place to set up a lunar telescope. This is one of many 3D photos of the site. Click on the article title for more.

Also while purusing the UniverseToday site, I see that the main page had a video of the re-entry of the Jules Vern resupply craft built by the ESA. The film shows the automated transfer vehicle breaking up shortly after it enters the Earth's upper atmosphere.

Moon Dust, NASA's Dirty Little Secret

The trouble with not doing something for 30 some odd years and then doing it again is that facts that were obvious then have been forgotten due to lack of use now. Take for example an article in Science Daily. Apollo astronauts has a major issue with Moon dust. It was as fine as flour and rough as sandpaper, Moon dust caused ‘lunar hay fever,’ problems with space suits, and dust storms in the crew cabin upon returning to space. During the Apollo 17 mission, for example, crewmembers Harrison “Jack” Schmitt and Gene Cernan had trouble moving their arms during moonwalks because dust had gummed up the joints. The dust was so abrasive that it actually wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on Jack Schmitt's boot. The material is also so static laden that it sticks and coats everything it touches. Because of the dust's high iron content, preliminary studies suggest that the inhalation of lunar dust may pose a health hazard, possibly including iron toxicity. These and many other problems with the Lunar environment need to be addressed for any long term occupation can take place.

<- more ->

Monday, September 29, 2008

Needless injections....

Hate injections? Wish the medical industry would invent something like the "Hypospray" that was made famous by Star Trek. Well truth be told efforts have been made in this direction. Several devices but the current crop are bulky, expensive and hard to use. Something small, cheap and easy to use is what is called for.

Well here ya go, according to Dvice blog: a Japanese inventor has created a needle-free, completely painless injection. The device, dubbed "Mother's Kiss," uses little plastic ampules to deliver meds. It's not only painless, but its cheaper and safer than traditional syringes, making it perfect for developing countries where shared needles spread diseases like wildfire. Only stumbling block is that the device is still expensive, but I would look to see these new "needles" in future doctor's offices.

<- more ->

Sunday, September 28, 2008

SpaceX Finally Gets Into Orbit

From Gizmodo: SpaceX wrote history Sunday September 28th - as the first private financed company to achieve orbit with a rocket. The next launch on SpaceX’ launch manifest will be a Falcon 1 carrying RazakSat for Malaysia. This launch if successful will be followed then by the maiden flight of the much larger Falcon 9 rocket in the second quarter of 2009.

Company representatives say they are looking to a new era of significantly lower launch costs that will allow for more flights

Click here for a video of the launch

The International Space Fellowship Via Gizmodo

The Worst TV Science Fiction Shows

Jerry Taylor over at Geekend loves, it would seem, to start flame wars. He has put together a list of what he suggests are the worst science fiction television shows EVER! Now I will give you the list, refresh your memory and add my comments or not, but I would be interested in what you folks think or if you have better suggestions. Now, no fair just flaming, if your going to say a show rots, back it up and we will talk about it on the next program. NO FLAMES!

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Voyage was broadcast on ABC from September 14, 1964 to March 31, 1968, and was the product of the science fiction schlock master Irwin Allen. The series tells the adventures of the crew of the Seaview, a nuclear powered submarine designed by Admiral Harriman Nelson (Richard Basehart) and commanded by Captain Lee Crane (David Hedison).

What is truly amazing is that this show was the longest running science fiction series of the 1960’s on American television. And lest we forget, Allen also made those fine science fiction series Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. (Now I watched this as a 10 year old so it was magic to me. I would make almost ANYTHING into a sub and spend long hours cruisin the depths. Was it bad? Looking back...a bit, but the remake? total waste of time)


The creation of Glen Larson, this series features our action here Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale), who can turn into animals to fight crime. Usually it is either a hawk or panther with the same exact backdrops every time; but, when he changed into a bull, dolphin and horse, it was off-screen.

Thankfully, this nightmare of cheap special effects only lasted from 30 September to 17 December 1983. Larson was also responsible for those excellent serious serious offenders such as Knight Rider, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the original BattleStar Gallactica and Night Man. (dead on here, I watched this maybe twice and it sucked. Knight Rider I watched a couple of times but that's one more time than the remake as well as Buck and the little robot that looked like a walking dildo, have to disagree on BSG, a bit slocky maybe but the stuff that worked was the stuff that is still working for the remake. Though if they had the present day Cylons back then I probably would have pissed myself. Night Man?! did ANYONE watch that crap?)


Donald Bellisario, told us of the adventures of series protagonist Stringfellow Hawke (Jan Michael Vincent), his crew chief Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine) tooling about in their an advanced supersonic helicopter with stealth capabilities and a formidable arsenal.

Having killed off the interesting arch-villain and all around American utter bastard Dr. Charles Henry Moffet (David Hemmings) in the series opener, it quickly devolved to flying Airwolf around, blowing up stuff and then flying home. One of the best TV series lines of all times is Moffet’s “There’s nothing wrong with a little perversion, Mark,” said to a crew person, “so long as you don’t hurt yourself.”

Bellisario later went on to make Quantum Leap, which more than makes up for this show. (Air Wolf I did watch, not sure why. I think by this time I was getting lazy in my sci-fi watching and the constant buzzing was a good way to phaze out. But the show was stupid and the only thing I wanted to see was the chopper. Quantum Leap, for some reason everyone loved and I never "got" the show. The premise never worked for me. I totally dissed the original run and only watched it later in syndication on Sci-fi. )

Star Trek: Enterprise

The brain child of Brannon Braga and Rick Berman, we follow the adventures Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) depicts the mostly human crew zipping about the galaxy at Warp Factor 5. The crew faces situations which have been encountered numerous times on other Trek series, but are new for them. The producers had the final laugh when it was revealed the last episode, These Are The Voyages… (and possibly the whole series) was a holo desk presentation being watched by Commander Riker and Deanna Troi! Low ratings killed the series after 4 seasons and may well have finally made any potential new Trek show in the future impossible - an ugly, ugly end for the franchise. (Did I ever buy Bakula as a captain of an Enterprise? Not completely, but calling the show a running joke is harsh. I was really regular at watching this program, though once I knew it was canceled I kinda lost heart. I never really picked up on ST-TNG in its first run because of the was it was marketed. The stations in my area didn't pick up on it and the Fox affiliate ran whatever it felt like which meant...you guessed it. No Star Trek. But calling Enterprise one of the worst? ummm nope, not when the greatest American Hero didn't make this list? or Time Tunnel? Or Land of the Giants? There are so many that calling this one bad is just to damn narrow)

Holmes and Yo-Yo

Brought to us in 1976 by ABC, Holmes and Yoyo is the tales of Detective Alexander Holmes (Richard Shull), NYC detective who is constantly getting his partners injured, so the department assigns him Gregory Yoyonivich (John Schuck), a good natured, slightly clumsy sidekick, who just happens to be a robot. The series featured a constant set of jokes about Yo-Yo’s constant malfunctions, inability to fully comprehend humans; while, they treated the depicted crimes seriously. Not to be confused with the John Amos and Ernest Borgnine Future Cop, which managed to earn distinction when Harlan Ellison successfully sued for stealing ideas from his work; this series well earned its place on the list. (ehhh one of the worst? He's right, Future Cop was grade a trash, but this was harmless fun like Hermie on Get Smart. I had trouble for years taking Schuck seriously because of this show. This is like an ehhh...I guess)


Automan featured police officer and computer expert Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), who had created an artificially intelligent crime fighting program that generated a hologram (Chuck Wagner) able to leave the computer world and enter reality to help fight crime. Automan could turn into all manner of everyday objects such as a Lamborghini Countach, helicopter, 18-wheeler, etc., while surrounded by a nimbus of wonky blue light and totaling violating all known laws of physics. This disaster ran for 13 episodes before being condemned to the dust bin. (ok, yeah, I don't think I watched all 13, I may have but then I don't remember the 18 wheeler so maybe I missed a few. Arnaz actually carried his part off I think. Always amazed geekie, but I also always knew it was a Tron rip. Have you seen it in rerun? That hair! Those clothes! unreal!)

Space 1999

Moonbase Alpha stuck on the moon, which has been blown out of Earth Orbit by an accident with nuclear waste being stored on it. Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau), Doctor Helena Russell (Barbara Bain), Professor Victor Bergman (Barry Morse) and other notables went from pondering deep universal questions to suffer through horrible scripts that were generated with the arrival of Fred Freiberger. (now Space is on this list because of the last season with Freiberger who every sci-fi tv fan knows is the killer of all we hold dear, but the basic show held me. I loved Landau, Bain, and Morse and I let it slide that anything that would blow the moon out of orbit would have plowed it into Earth first and at the very least broken the body into millions of parts. But I waited for that next season that never came. The level of special effect for that program were amazing for the day. Freiberger didn't do it any favors, but the worst? naaaaaaaa)

Logan’s Run

Lasting one season of 14 episodes, rogue Sandman Logan 5 (Gregory Harrison), Runner Jessica 6 (Heather Menzies) and their faithful android companion REM (Donald Moffat) travel towards Sanctuary post-apocalyptic America, while avoiding their dogged pursuer Sandman Francis (Randolph Powell). The series should be applauded for managing to use nearly every sci fi convention in a such a short run; however the beer budget special effects and wooden dialogue (shamefully written by such greats as D.C. Fontana, Harlan Ellison and William F Nolan) nearly outdoes Irwin Allen’s efforts in making truly bad television! (I used to love seeing the big names roll up for this program but this was one show that just never did anything for me. I never bought into the premise. I could never understand the motivation of the hunter, it never made any sense that he would pursue them like the FBI agent in the old Fugitive. The movie had it own really dumb moments - ice robot anyone? - and this show is one I have to agree, pretty bad)


the series tells the story of Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole) and the crew of IAS Excalibur’s search for a cure to the Drakh nanoplague that has been released on Earth, after the end of the Shadow War. TNT killed the series after 13 episodes were produced, but before any were aired. Due to the episodic nature of the B5 world, the series is a failure due to the extended time given to character development and unanswered questions. Frankly, after several more bad movies, I hope JMS will just let the B5 universe alone for awhile. (anyone? never saw this. )

Kolchak: The Night Stalker

ABC having made one of the greatest and scariest horror movies ever made for TV, decided to do a series about our intrepid, bumbling, cynical Independent News Service reporter hero Karl Kolchak (Darren McGavin). Between bamboozling his editor Tony Vincenzo (Simon Oakland) about which story he is actually reporting on, fending off the snide commentary and underhanded attacks of Ron Updyke (Jack Grinnage) and dealing with corrupt city officials while trying to get to the real story; he has to deal with all manner of various supernatural predators. (said to be the inspiration to the X Files but based on an unbelievable premise....come on! yeah the movie was better. Umm that's usually the way it works. This show put Darren McGavin on the map as far as I am concerned. Was it science fiction? NO it was a monster show, that being said, I never missed an episode)

Misfits of Science

The series detailed the madcap adventures of a group of super-powered humans. Led by Dr. Billy Hayes (Dean Paul Martin, Dino’s son who tragically died in a National Guard F-4 Phantom fighter jet crash in California’s San Bernardino Mountains during a snowstorm in 1987) and featuring such diverse actors as Courteney Cox (Friends), Kevin Peter Hall (who was the dude in the Predator suit in the first film if ya didn’t know) and Mickey Jones (where he played kick butt take no names Chris Faber in the V miniseries), the series was played for laughs, which were all too few. Ultimately, it was done in by J.R. as it was playing in the same time slot as Dallas. (again: anyone? I never watched it....looked stupid and mostly was I surmise. Didn't know the Predator stuff though. cool. but hell yess, trash)

V: The Series

Kenneth Johnson (who also gave us the The Incredible Hulk) took the interesting premise of his Nazi allegory V and turned it into a weekly soap opera that reads like a mash-up of The Fugitive and Star Trek, without bothering to have any good scripts! Watching Mark Singer and Jane Badler spout bad dialogue fully explains the utter look of disgust on Michael Ironside’s face every time you see him in the background of a scene. (Ditto. For some reason seeing Michael Irosides in this show didn't work for me. I guess maybe you could tie it into the way he trashed his career in the old Battlestar Galactica. I didn't care for him there either. But Nazis? I never got that vibe once! Anyone else? I just thought bad special effects, all the aliens look human. Eat mice and bad vocal track. ehh. I lost interest fast.)

The Starlost

This series about Devon (Keir Dullea) and his adventures on the Ark. Lasting 16 episodes which were broadcast on CTV and syndicated to a few US stations, the plots and acting were so bad that Twentieth Century Fox, executive producer Douglas Trumball, writer Harlan Ellison and Ben Bova, all disavowed the show.

Little seen for years, the series is finally being released on DVD on September 30th, 2008, which you might miss in all the excitement of the Iron Man DVD release. (Never seen this one either, but if someone said Ellison and Bova in the same sentence I would have gone for 1 at least)

Ok, so, lets get a list together of what you thought were rank terrible or why these are or are not.

Oh and you will want to go over to Geenend for the complete article.
I have only put up the highlights

Saturday, September 27, 2008

SciFi Channel Picks Up 'Stargate SG-1' Movies

According to MICHAEL HINMAN at the SyFyPortal blog: The two direct-to-DVD movies MGM made over the past couple years based on the "Stargate SG-1" universe are coming to the SciFi Channel beginning this spring. "Stargate: Ark of Truth" as well as "Stargate Continuum" will air on SciFi Channel as Sunday night movie events, and could complement the release of the new series "Stargate: Universe," which may come out in July.

<- more ->

Thursday, September 25, 2008

China's Space launch news is FAKETASTIC!

News of China's successful launch of it's first space walk flight hit the web hours before the actual launch of the rocket. Creepier still was that the news release had transcripts of conversations between the astronauts and mission control. Shades of Capricorn 1 huh guys? Like the Yahoo News article said - "No wonder (people) think we never went to the Moon!" Said to be a technical glitch, it still means that reports of the whole event were to be completely manufactured and have no relationship to the actual mission! Gizmodo has it right - they exclaim "Faketastic!"

<- Yahoo News via Gizmodo ->

Space Adventures being sued

Daisuke Enomoto has wanted to go into space since he was a child. The Japanese internet tycoon paid $21 million to become the first space tourist to walk outside the International Space Station. He was well on his way to realizing the dream until it all came crashing down around him. Daisuke will not be leaving mother Earth, now Daisuke wants he 21 mil back. Space Adventures is the private firm with connections to the Russian Federal Space Agency that was supposed to handle the preparation for the flight, but The Virginia company scuttled Enomoto's space journey to the Russian section of the station after he refused to cough up more money. They cited his purported ill health as the reason to renig on the contract. Enomoto lawsuit claims that Space Adventures repeatedly pestered him to invest, and that the company took his money without ever having permission by the Russians or the 15 other members of the International Space Station to participate in an EVA.

<- read complete article ->

Serpentarius Magazine Dies

You can read the full particulars over at SFScope blog, but the jist is that some pinhead calling himself Ghost51 has hammered Serpentarius' site so bad that they have given in and shut down.

Their ending words were: If you know some teen named Ghost51, tell him thanks for ruining things.

If you liked the magazine or not, if you read it or not - frankly that isn't the issue. What is though is some pin head with a hair across his ass and a hard drive full of tools he bought off ebay, most likely, has limited your choices. Swell..........

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Frank Herbert's Helstrom Hive preview?

Cool! well, lets bring you up to speed - it seems, according to our friends over at SF Signal that Google will let you embed previews of certain books on your blog. Now these are supposed to be "page limited" but it would seem that the whole book is here for our enjoyment!

<- complete SF Signal story ->

When Worlds Colide just happened!

Sciencedaily.com has a story detailing two terrestrial planets orbiting a mature sun-like star some 300 light-years from Earth recently suffered a violent collision. It's very much as if Venus and Earth were to collide. The operative word here is "mature". This happened not in a young system where you would suspect something of this nature to occur, but in an older well defined system similar to the Solar System. Astronomers have never documented this happening before, and up to this point had considered major collisions in older systems unlikely if not impossible.

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Dark Flow may be sucking in huge portions of our Universe

You ready for something REALLY freaky? Forget about dark matter, lets consider for a moment DARK FLOW. Hair on the back of your neck standing up yet? No? It will. An article in IO9 writes that: there is a force called "dark flow" that exists outside our universe, and it's tugging several galaxy clusters at 2 million mph toward an empty spot in space. Unlike the localized pull of dark matter, Dark flow is a force that's operating at a universe level to push enormous chunks of matter around. And weirder yet: a group of astronomers say that this dark flow comes from a place where constants like time don't exist — nor do stars and galaxies. Our part of the cosmos, our universe may in fact be only a small bubble of space time. There could be other parts of the cosmos beyond this bubble that we cannot see. In these regions, space-time might be very different, and likely doesn't contain stars and galaxies. It could include giant, massive structures much larger than anything in our own observable universe. These structures are what researchers suspect are tugging on the galaxy clusters, causing the dark flow. One reason that we may not be able to see even a hint of these structures or other regions is that they have been pushed so far away by the initial expansion of our universe that the time it would take light from these areas takes longer than our universe is old to reach us.

<- io9 article via space.com article ->

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free eBook: The Infinite Sea by Jeffrey A. Carver

SF Signal has posted a message that:
  • Jeffrey A. Carver has just posted a freely downloadable copy of The Infinite Sea, the third book in The Chaos Chronicles.
  • They are all available in multiple formats.
The download area of Jeff Carver's web page "The Science Fiction Worlds of Jeffery Carver

Terminator HKs?!!!

It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. Word to make you shiver eh? Take them to heart and check this out! The U.S. Air Force is thinking of building unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability, armed to the robotic teeth with Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System. Aurora's Excalibur VTOL UAV is intended to have fully automated flight systems. It will know its mission and complete without remote operator control Oh yeah, its a f...in HK! The one below .... movie hk - the one above... the proposed real deal. Small scale and large scale tests begin soon. What was the line.... oh yeah, there's a storm coming.

The Solar System's biggest junk yard

Each white dot represents an individual piece of tracked orbital debris. This image shows the Low Earth Orbit, which is the region from the Earth’s surface to 1,240 miles and contains the most space junk.

You remember when you read stories of gallant ship captains launching on a new mission into outer space? There was never any mention of watching out for garbage. But looking at the image above, the real adventure and danger is the first 1200 miles! Asteroid belt be damned - our own back yard is so choked with trash that it's a wonder we can sail anywhere!

I know that the average reader here understands the problem, but do we clearly understand the magnitude? There are tens of millions of pieces of rubbish there. Some of the pieces are rocks and dust from passing comets, but most of them are man-made and called “orbital debris”.

From the Science News article:
  • There are some unusual things up there, like a camera that floated away from astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams in December 2006. Other astronauts have lost tools like wrenches and screwdrivers. In 1965 astronaut Ed White even lost a spare glove. Most of the junk, however, comes from large satellites and rockets that fell apart after they stopped working.

  • Together, all the space junk would weigh about 11 million pounds on Earth, or more than 3,000 cars. The largest piece is a part of a rocket about the size of a minivan.
And its all deadly. Have you seen this pic? A tiny fleck of paint struck and cracked one window of the space shuttle Challenger while it was in space in 1983.

And you would think that because we are aware of the problem it is under control and not worsening. Ha! In 2007, the space junkyard grew by more than 100,000 pieces. That’s more than any other year since people started launching satellites into space. I know I keep coming back to this subject. The truth is, that like cutting edge science, I truly feel that this is and will be grist for the speculative fiction mill. I am surprised that it hasn't played a part in some of the newest fiction to date. Not as glamorous yes, but every bit a part of dangerous spaceflight.

<- space news
via boing boing ->

Monday, September 22, 2008

Adult Swim Anime rant

Is anyone else just a bit cranked at what has happened to the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on Saturdays? As a general rule Saturday evening would have Toonami which lead in with a few light anime shows. From 11 to 2, adult swim used to come in with some really hard edged anime. It was the only night they really did a schedule like that and quite honestly I had come to enjoy some varied anime classics. Now they have eviscerated the schedule and run only one...Bleach, which is not bad, but one wonders if it's days are numbered. So instead of a couple of hours on Saturday nights.....they have me for 30 minutes and start looking forward to Mondays on Sci-fi which, guess what? yep, has 2 hours of pretty damn good anime. LATER AS!

*UPDATE 10/1/08*
From IO9: Cartoon Network may have killed off their Toonami programming strand, but that doesn't mean that the network has abandoned anime entirely, according to an unnamed Bandai employee at last weekend's New York Anime Fest. Talking to Newsarama, the Bandai source is quoted as saying “There is no way Cartoon Network is giving up Naruto or Pokemon any time soon... We also want people to make sure Code Geass is not cancelled and will be back on a more convenient time slot in the near future." Maybe CN is ready to just admit that anime is as much a cartoon as American animation? [Newsarama]

I am not holding my breath or watching any Adult Swim anymore. We shall see, but I AM getting my fix off Sci-Fi believe it or not. Monday nights at 11 rock with anime. That and the internet network Hulu can really cover the anime booster you need. I rave at Sci-fi's programming but they HAVE stayed with the Monday night schedule so Cartoon Network can bite me.

SciFi Channel Orders First Season Of 'Warehouse 13'

Have you heard anything about Warehouse 13? Me neither, but it seems Michael Hinman over at SyFy Portal has the low down. First news is that the Sci-Fi Channel has indeed ordered a full season of 13 episodes of the series. And what praytell IS Warehouse 13? I remember watching a curious program on cable several years ago about this strange little show who's original ower dies. Upon his death the stock is liquidated. The original owner's neice learns that there was more to the shop than originally suspected. The shop had a vault with items of "unusual powers" stored in it. Now that vault is empty and the stars of the program spend each episode reaquiring the lost items. Can't remember the name but its the feel of the show that is important because it would seem that Warehouse 13 has some facets very much like the older program. Warehouse 13 focuses on two Secret Service agents working in a top-secret storage facility in South Dakota after saving the life of the president. These agents are tasked to chase down more artifacts to include in the warehouse. That's basiclly all I have at this point...sounds interesting though.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Your Chance To Catch Regenesis

Have you been chompin at the bit for a chance to watch the Canadian biotech drama ReGenesis? Then you know that despite critical acclaim - it's barely been shown in the U.S. and impossible to find on DVD. Fortunately for us non-torrenters, Hulu is now showing the first two seasons! Thanks to a recent IO9 listing, we can indeed, at least partially, peak our interest. For those of you that haven't heard much past the name to base your opinion of wether or not you would enjoy watching, IO9 describes the show as:
  • ReGenesis takes the disease of the week approach shared by a show like House, M.D. and marries it to the split-screen, big-stakes, world-in-jeopardy sweep of 24. Each episode, the Toronto-based scientists of fictional organization NoRBAC (The North American Biotechnology Advisory Commission), led by brilliant grouch David Sandström, find themselves up against some new formidable threat, such as an unnatural combination of Ebola and Camel Pox, and use a blend of ingenuity and scientific research to solve the problem.
Sounds interesting in my book.

[ReGenesis on Hulu]

Endeavour put on standby as rescue spacecraft

An article in Cnet shows something that one doesn't see too often at Kennedy space center. Matter of fact this hasn't taken place since 2001. What you might ask? Two shuttles ready to launch at the same time. As you can see by the picture, Atlantis is in the foreground on Launch Pad A, and Endeavour is behind it on Launch Pad B. Endeavour was moved into position Friday so it could be on standby in the unlikely event that a rescue mission is necessary for the Atlantis' planned October 10 mission to repair the Hubble telescope. Due to Hubble's high orbit, a shuttle is more likely to be inpacted by space debris. Matter of fact the odds are 1 in 185 chance that a piece of space junk or a micrometeoroid will cause catastrophic damage to the shuttle.

Graphic (Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller )

Friday, September 19, 2008

DARPA seeks Casimir forcefields

Dave Tackett over at the Quasar Dragons blog sends in an odd article from the Register. It seems of late DARPA has expressed interest in the Casimir effect. And no I don't mean they want to develop an insidiously itchy sweater. Darpa's interest is in the little understood "Casimir Force". The mysterious Casimir Force, is the tendency of nanoscopic, barely perceptible spacetime ripples - at the edges of the "quantum vacuum" in which all matter exists - to push things together. Some scientists have previously speculated that one might reverse the effect, fashioning a Casimir repelor platform causing objects to levitate on "literally, nothing".

As strange and far out as this seems, Darpa has gone so far as to issued a request for proposals (pdf), in which it is said:
  • The goal of this program is to develop new methods to control and manipulate attractive and repulsive forces at surfaces based on engineering of the Casimir Force. One could leverage this ability to control phenomena such as adhesion in nanodevices, drag on vehicles and many other interactions of interest... Possible approaches ... could include the development of composite materials, engineered nanostructures, mixed-phase materials, or active elements.
Now the Register article is all a bit tongue in cheek, but there are some very interesting points raised, if a bit far fetched.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sci-Fi-Inspired Concept Ships

Shaun Saunders sends in a link to an article in Wired. From the article:
  • The The conceptships.org website run by Igor Tkac showcases these artists' renditions of spaceships and other fantastical creations. From retro-futuristic aerial attack machines to automated deep-sea treasure hunters, here are some of the coolest. website run by Igor Tkac showcases these artists' renditions of spaceships and other fantastical creations. From retro-futuristic aerial attack machines to automated deep-sea treasure hunters, here are some of the coolest.
The pane at the right is just a sample. The Wired article has several to click on and of course you can head over to conceptships.org for more or hit the Conceptships blog which is just crammed with graphics of conceptual art of space transport, Battlestar Galactica art, future aircraft idea for the US military... and tons more. Worth a look.

pic Dan Blomburg

AntipodeanSF issue 124 online now

The editor of Antipodean SF magazine writes:
AntipodeanSF issue 124 is now available for you to enjoy on the net.

This month's pick of fabulous stories includes:

"Follower of the Prophet" by Sharif Oerton

"A Living Room" by Richard Ridyard

"Home For Christmas" by Gwyn Gordon

"The Day The Sky Fell" by Stuart Wilson

"Make Mine A '327" by Shaun A. Saunders

"Stumblebum Seductions" by Wes Parish

"The Bride" by Camille Picott

"Genesis" by David Kernot

"Booze" by David McVeigh

"Fingertip" by Chris Kakris

Those Stories and more

You can read the newest issue here: http://antisf.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Army still serious about mind control

We have heard so many times of the odd tech that seems to fascinate the military. For the most part we see that there is no substantive science behind the projects. Most often they quickly phased out and forgotten. One project seems to continue netting support over and over again. Shaun Saunders notes that Time magazine online reports of renewed interest in the science of mind control. Not so much of people, but soldiers in the field having control over machines. In the article: ....the U.S. Army has just awarded a $4 million contract to begin developing "thought helmets" that would harness silent brain waves for secure communication among troops. Ultimately, the Army hopes the project will "lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone...."

The pic at right show just how many brain-wave reading sensors the Army scientists want to cram into a helmet.

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Automated Assets

I was just reading on Reuters page that the Internet Movie Database is now showing full-length movies and TV shows. The site contains over 6,000 titles. Even more exciting is that this fall, new episodes will be available before they air on TV. Anyway, whilst checking out the wares I came across a short independent film called Automated Assets by Robert Dastoli and Matt London. Basically it's about two robots office workers talking about the same kind of thing you would expect from humans. The twisted ending though....everyone is going to be able to share a collective groan.

Automated Assets

Japanese ISS module may be to dark to use.

Here's a science fiction image for ya. A dark, apparently lifeless space station floats above a planets surface. Just the image alone generates the feeling of ancient devices, Long unused. One would not expect this hulk to be something that for all intents still has the new car smell about it. But that is exactly what is happening above our heads right this minute. Wired science is reporting that the spankin new Japanese Space Lab attached to the International Space Station is in danger of being completely unusable. Why? Well of the 21 fluorescent bulbs used in the Japanese modules, almost half have already burned out. That's bad enough right? Worse yet, there are no more spare bulbs and none will be until the next resupply mission in November. JAXA says that if more than half of the bulbs are affected it will be too dark in the module to work.

The one really odd line in this story that struck me was this: The bulbs were produced by a U.S. company in 1997. That and the fact that they don't see LED lighting in place before 2010.....

Plus I really have to ask whats up with less than a year on a bulb that should last at least 5. What am I missing here?

<- Wired via Gizmodo -> <- Mainichi daily news ->

George Takei & Brad Altman Wed

As SF Scope reported in an earlier article: Actor George Takei was making plans to marry his long time companion Brad Altman after CA lawmakers struck down legislation banning gay marriages. George and Brad made it legal the 14th of September at the Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony featured a Buddhist priest, Native American wedding bands, a Japanes Koto harp, a bagpipe procession, and two of Takei's Star Trek cast-mates: Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols served as best man and best lady. (The AP photo at right shows, from left to right, Nichols, Altman, Takei, and Keonig, offering the Vulcan salute.)

Live long and prosper George and Brad

Summer Glau (Makes Me Feel Fine)

John Anealio nails down another great Sci-fi inspired tune called Summer Glau. The name alone should perk you right up, but the inside scoop on this neat tune is even better. First off you know Summer from her appearances on Serenity and The Sarah Connors Chronicles. Well a few months back, John DeNardo of SF Signal composed lyrics to "Summer Glau (Makes Me Feel Fine) as he put it: mostly as a way of destroying the association between her name and the Seals and Crofts song, "Summer Breeze". Along comes John Anealio, musician and proprietor of Sci Fi Songs, a website where John collects his recordings inspired by the works of speculative fiction. John has taken my Summer Glau lyrics and set them to an original tune of his own."

So here is John Anealio's "Summer Glau"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pic of planet around another star

From ScienceDaily: University of Toronto astronomers have posted what could possibly be the first planetary mass type object orbiting a star similar to Sol. The star, which is about 500 ly distant, is very similar to Sol but is much younger. The companion, which has a mass about eight times that of Jupiter, and lies roughly 330 times the Earth-Sun distance away from its star. ( By comparison Neptune, our most distant planet, orbits the Sun at only about 30 times the Earth-Sun distance.) At this early stage, they hesitate to call it a planet, because they are not sure the object is in orbit around the star. However they have determined that it is the same basic distance from Earth as the star. Also spectra shows that it is much to cold to be another star or even a brown dwarf. It will take another couple of years of study to difinitivly prove that the planet and the star are indeed companions, but the proof is already compelling.

<- more ->

(Credit: Image courtesy of Gemini Observatory)

Hubble Finds Unidentified Object in Space

In December of last year I started hearing about a REALLY strange explosion that seem to happen in the middle of no where (earlier BMU article). Well it would appear that far from fading away, astro-physicist have continued to try and understand this very strange occurance.

Here on the Gizmodo's blog, I again see a report on a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal that documents the occurance while Hubble was observing a small section of sky, when the object appeared without any warning. Showed no sign of moving into the area or leaving the area. But after 100 days of observation, the object simply disappeared.

Since the initial observation, ( On February 21, 2006, in the direction of a cluster in Bootes named CL 1432.5+3332.8) not a whole lot more has been uncovered by the scientists.

Because it just appeared and disappeared, scientists are not sure what it is and even spookier "where" it is. Because without movement or being close to something else they can't tell exactly how big it is. It is likely that it was no closer than 130 lightyears, but without more information it could have been as much as 11 billion lightyears away. It wasn't in any known galaxy and was not a super nova, because it did not match any of the spectral records of previously documented supernova. Click article title for Gizmodo release

<- sky & telescope article ->

Sunday, September 14, 2008

You ever hear of "StarShip Regulars"?

Couple of questions, any of you ever visit the Flash animation site Icebox? And, have any of you ever heard of animated short series "StarShip Regulars"? If your like me your batting 1000 for a double no answer. The IO9 blog writes about the series:
  • Starship Regulars, a cartoon that ran on Flash animation site Icebox from 1999-2000, was intended to parody self-righteous military space dramas like Star Trek: The Next Generation Babylon 5. But the interstellar comedy in many ways resembles the rebooted Battlestar Galactica with its focus on the orange jumpsuit-wearing non-officers, heavy use of a fictitious swear word, and frequently intoxicated crew. Showtime bought the rights to Starship Regulars in 2000 with an eye toward developing a live-action series, which, sadly, never came to fruition. The entire 10-episode run is still available on Icebox.
Also it seems the series was a Michael Dorn vehicle as well. He voiced the series captain's voice.
I got about half way through the episodes and though it was fun and funny, it was pretty much the same ole same ole. I really can't see Showtime buying this one up and thinking series out of the bunch and I have to say that I disagree with the article's author being sad about it not making the grade. But at a few minutes per episode, it's a good diversion.

<- link to episodes ->

Friday, September 12, 2008

Leia in the Return of the Jedi 2 piece like you never seen it!

This should have been in the movie! Wow, I kinda figured something was left out with Leia just lounging around in that 2 piece... well it seems that a belly dancer umm excuse me Professional belly dancer Amira Sa'id wearing a precise replica of that Leia outfit, travels to conventions across the country to perform for enthusiastic fans who always wondered what Leia might have looked like shaking it like it should of been done first time! Here is the dancer shaking it at MegaCon 2007

I have a feeling if there was a dance like that in ROTJ - it hit the cutting room floor.

<- more of the dancer's bio at Wired ->

Tor to resume free E-book program!

In the latest Tor newsletter:
  • More details next week--but yes, we plan to resume giving away selected e-books on Tor.com, at least one title per month. To download them you’ll need to not just visit Tor.com but register as a user; the downloads won’t be accessible until you do. Registering on the site takes maybe thirty seconds if you type particularly slowly...so Act Now, Act Without Thinking, get over to Tor.com and create yourself a user account today.

Skynet Development Team!

Here is a T that the geek in you will just have to have. Bold yet obscure reference all on good ole black! Tech Republic always finds the coolest stuff. From Split Reason, even the copy is cool

  • Unwittingly or not, you're now a direct contributor to the mass slaughter of mankind. Never thought that comp-sci degree would lead to billions of deaths did you? Well at least you built something cool!

Skynet t-shirt @ SplitReason.com
Skynet t-shirt design @ © SplitReason.com

And like Techrepublic says:
  • .....subtly advertises that you’re a minion of Cyberdyne Systems, .... developing The Terminator but then, if more Terminators looked like Summer Glau, who could blame you?

<- More from Tech Replublic ->

Researchers develop Nano sized anti-cancer machines

Scientists have developed nanometer-sized anti-cancer drug delivery systems that can be injected into the bloodstream - without control from an external control system or detection by the body’s immune system, deliver anti-cancer drugs into tumors that might otherwise go untreated or undetected. Scientists at UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and MIT report that their system integrates therapeutic and diagnostic functions into a single device that avoids rapid removal by the body’s natural immune system. 1000 times smaller than a human hair, these microscopic cargo ships could one day provide the means to more effectively deliver toxic anti-cancer drugs to tumors in high concentrations without negatively impacting other parts of the body. The clever way the machines avoid detection is to coat the outside of the tiny machines with specially modified lipids--a primary component of the surface of natural cells, modified in such a way as to prevent the body from eliminationg them for up to several hours. This would allow them enough time to find and deliver the drugs to cancer cells.

<- USC news via Dvice ->

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How would alien civilizations communicate with us?

Shaun Saunders sends in an article from NewScientist space online that speculates on ways advanced civilizations might communicate over long distances or with us. John Learned of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu have focused their their research on a type of star called a "Cepheid variables". these stars are so bright they can be seen as far away as 60 million light years and vary their brightness in regular intervals. Learned and his colleges speculate that by shooting a beam of high-energy particles called neutrinos into the cores of these stars – it might speed up the pulsations by causing its core to heat up and expand. By adding and subtracting energy you could simulate digital 1 and 0 and thereby send send information across the galaxy by using these Cepheid variables as a network.

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Now as grand as this sounds, I have to take issue with this proposal. The very first thing that comes to mind is that it's wildly inefficient. 1s & 0s are fine to consider for digital transfer, but as it happens, even computers need more than 1s and 0s to gather digital information. Yes, bits of information are your 1s & 0s but data comes in bytes which are 8 bits of data. Even Morse code is more efficient than that. How can that be you ask, well consider the morse A - a short followed by a long - a dit dash if you would. That's brightening and darkening the Cepheid once. That very same letter in digital would need 4 times the energy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Open-Source Humanoids

The writers over at the Daily Galaxy blog seem to have a pretty compelling vision of the future of robotics, specifically of the humanoid variation. It would seem that quite a few people consider the DIY (do it yourself) and Open Source are not just a fad, but the wave of the future. It's a future most elegantly fronted by the Willow project who's aim is to bring robotics to the masses. The project makes all their hardware and software designs open source, so anybody with the capability can take part, downloading existing designs and uploading their own. Willow feels that such an approach of putting the hardware and software in the hands of the average man "will enable breakthrough robotics applications, much as PCs and DOS enabled a new set of computing applications two decades ago."

<- The Willow Garage ->

Slim Chips: Snacks made from paper!

From Gizmodo comes a snack chip that isn't made of potato or corn but paper. It's a definite look to the future and what we might all be snacking on in the very near future, but what is this "yum" stuff? It is purported to be edible paper, which in truth is nothing new. Rice paper has been around for like ever. The new chip is supposed to be calorie free, which lets rice off the hook. And how about the weird flavors....mint, blueberry,sweetpotato...? So its edible but possibly not digestible. Are we looking at something like the infamous Olestra? More to the fact should we start asking if it has one of Olestra's famous side effects. Oh yes.... I spent all this time so I could say anal leakage. Oh and I swear there is another product on their page call (honest! go look!) funstackable stools. Oh he HAS to get this stuff to market! I want my paper chips and stackable stools.... ok, I'll stop.

Hafsteinn Juliusson product designer

Stein flyby movie from ESA's Rosetta comet chaser

Here is a cool first look at the asteroid Stein as seen from the spacecraft Rosetta during it's close flyby earlier this month (September 2008) At Right are some stills of the oddly shaped asteroid. Click the link below for the animation, or more information.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Fringe - first impressions

Fringe starts when an international flight lands at Boston's Logan Airport with no signs of life. Of course the first few scenes show, well, people melting. What looks like bizarre terrorism is in fact the tip of something much stranger and more insidious. FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham comes to this realization while working with a certifiable DR. Bishop an Einstein in his own right but he's been institutionalized for the last 17 years. With the help of his estranged son Peter they make headway as to what happen to the flight, but realize that they are uncovering a world wide conspiracy of epic proportions.

Its even more complicated than that. It's easy enough to say that the show pulls you in with the weird pseudo-science and dark conspiracies, but it's not much of a stretch calling it science fiction. I have heard worse gobbeledegook on any episode of any Star Trek, so there isn't much suspension of belief. The characters are believable and their motivation understandable. The plotline might confuse some for it's twists and turns (espically agent Dunham's love interest) and change-ups, but this is probably what will give the show some legs. I am in for the next episode.

Fox Tuesdays 9pm

Big Screen Greatest American Hero?!

Believe It Or Not (humor ar ar) SF Signal has an article up that says Stephen J. Cannell, creator of the original Greatest American Hero TV series, confirmed that a feature film, based on the TV show, is in the works. They have a screenplay and have hired a director and are working to put the movie together. Even though the word is that this would be a "reboot" the original cast would be invited to participate in the project with, as the article puts it, "larger than cameo roles"

For those of you that don't recall: The Greatest American Hero aired for three seasons from to 1983 on ABC. It premiered as a two hour movie pilot on March 18 1981. It starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley, Robert Culp as FBI Agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. The hook of the show was that Ralph receives a "super suit" from aliens and told that he must save the world. However he loses the instructions on how to operate the suit, so he is constantly causing as much havoc as he cures. FBI agent Maxwell is pressed into service to watch over Ralph and keep tabs on the suit which they find only Ralph can "operate". Honestly I can not remember Connie Sellecca's contribution to the program. However Culp stood head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. Culp seemed almost to reprise his character played in "I Spy" where he played a spy for the government with Bill Cosby.

Google Wants Server Farms on the High Seas?!

From IO9: The New York Times' Ashlee Vance [reported] that Google has taken out a patent to create "water based datacenters," which are essentially barges that house cargo container-sized server farms.

I just started hearing about these container/server farms. Microsoft has a huge network of them. Each one is pack with rack after rack of servers already networked together. All you do when they arrive is hook up your network connection, power and air conditioning. You NEVER enter the container which is sealed by the manufacturer. When enough of the servers in the container fail the whole thing is swapped out. One of these things is whacked enough, but the picture from Redmond was ACRES of these things stacked several units high. I was impressed by IL&M's server group until I saw what a REAL farm was. And now Google wants to up that ante with offshore barges full of containers? WTFUWT? Some suggestions are that these barges could go where the data is needed, like if a city needed emergency computer power these barges could be moved in complete and ready to go. Other more suspicious persons view data as some view account information and the need for places like the Swiss to give them security. These barges would not be under the control of any one country so in theory, the information would be secure....Still, its a weird world

<- more ->
graphic from io9 article

Monday, September 08, 2008

Rings Arcs Discovered Around Saturn

From Space.com - Shaun Saunders sends in an article of a new Cassini spacecraft discovery. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found two new, partial rings around Saturn that each accompany a small moon. The ring arcs, extend ahead of and behind the small Saturnian moons Anthe and Methone in their orbits. These ring arcs are formed by the gravity of the nearby larger moon Mimas as it tugs on the two smaller moons, first pulling the moons ahead in their orbits and then pulling them back spreading material just ahead and just behind each little moon.

click article title for the complete article

German Sci-Fi channel Star Trek Commercials

Via IO9 Trailers for the German SciFi Channel's Star Trek run. There are several on the site, for more than just the original Star Trek, but I have to tell you this is the one that had me laughing:

huh huh? was I right? There are more, click on the article title for the remainder.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Why Dinosaurs Really Went Extinct!

Courtney was showing me some funny clips on Youtube when she came across this and I thought I would break a rib. Of course those of you that have been listening long enough know that if there is anything scatological.....

Friday, September 05, 2008

Get your cyborg name right here right now, while you wait

It seems I have a cyborg name! Sweet! Suicide Robot blog had a link to The Cyborg Name Decoder which I thought well.....silly cute...kids will love it....bout that time I found myself typing in my name. Damn!

Positronic Artificial Utility Lifeform

Get Your Cyborg Name

And as you can see - you too can, with saccharin sweetness have your own as well! Ahhh hell who am I kidding.... Positronic Artificial Utility Lifeform could have stepped right out of U.S. Robotics with a seal of approval from mz Calvin herself! Oh and the wheels are an especially nice touch!

From IO9: This video from the Sci Fi Channel explains why the Stargate creation is best left to the professionals.

I echo their sentiment when they say that this could easily be the funniest video promo[s] I've ever seen. The just barely hanging together, spray paint and the cannon?!!! OMG. Of course the total tongue in cheek thing is sprung on us, but it's done with such good humor that it drew even a bigger belly laugh.

And the really fun addition is that IO9 gives us some real home made films that are wickedly inventive!

Check them out here.

Politics Threatens U.S. Occupation of Space Station

The Universe Today has noted that once again politics is interfering with the space program. With the recent chilling of U.S. - Russian relations, due in part to the recent Russian invasion of Georgia, Congress is understandably reluctant to authorize buying Soyuz seats for U.S. astronauts.

The problem is that "NASA also is counting on using the Soyuz to bridge the five-year gap between the end of shuttle operations in 2010 and the debut of the Constellation program in 2015." This gap is the result of delays caused by short sighted politicians underfunding NASA.

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin notes that this leaves only three possibilities. Either there won't be any U.S. and partner country astronauts on board the ISS for a time, or NASA will be authorized additional money to extend the space shuttle's life, or Nasa will be told to keep the shuttle flying without extra money. Griffin doesn't say it, but the last possibility is the most typical of Congress.

<The Universe Today article>

(Thanks Dave, I might want to suggest everyone take a look at a previous article I wrote dealing more with the political end of what is happening here. At risk here is of course the ISS, what is in play though is a WMD non proliferation waver that Russia has enjoyed for some time now and is about to expire. <- read more ->)

Artist Eric Joyner's Artificial Enlightenment series

From Boing Boing:

  • [Eric Joyner's] new collection, titled Artificial Enlightenment, features the machines in their day-to-day lives involving donut factories, motorcycle rides, and steam train catastrophes.
His works are being displayed at Culver City's Corey Helford Gallery, starting in September. The gallery, in speaking about Joyner's inspirations writes:
  • Joyner is "inspired by science fiction, toys, and Brandywine artists and illustrators of the 1900’s."
His complete show is viewable online.
ummm yeah, what's the deal with the doughnuts?

<- view ->

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Movie of Martian Clouds from Phoenix Lander

Clouds scoot across the Martian sky in a movie clip consisting of 10 frames taken by the Surface Stereo Imager on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander.

This clip accelerates the motion. The camera took these 10 frames over a 10-minute period from 2:52 p.m. to 3:02 p.m. local solar time at the Phoenix site during Sol 94 (Aug. 29), the 94th Martian day since landing.

<- movie ->

The Ant King and other Stories by Ben Rosenbaum now available under Creative Commons

Cory Doctorow writing in Boing Boing notes that: "The marvelous Small Beer Press has put the entirety of my (Ben Rosenbaum) new short-story collection The Ant King and Other Stories under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa license and made it downloadable in a number of formats.

For those of you that are living in caves...how are you reading this? ... anyway, Creative Commons is free with restrictions. The nc sa means non-commercial and sa is share alike, meaning you can pass out as many copies as you want, long as you don't sell em. What is a bit different is that there is no nd restrictions. Which doesn't mean you can rewrite it and call it something different, but you are allow to "change" it depending on how you plan on distributing. For example, I read "the House Beyond Your Sky" and "Start the Clock" on BMU, but that was a change that was acceptable. The book is full of great stories like "The Ant King" I highly recommend downloading the book. The wonderful thing is that the hard copy is available as well if you feel like reading without carting a crapload of tech with you.

<- Small Beer Press free book page ->

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

ISS Future in Question

If you feel like you might have missed something over the last few days, don't feel like the lone ranger. I have been hearing ever so much more frequently lately, from varied political camps that renewed considerations should be given to halting shuttle service flights to the ISS at the "end" of the fleet's service life. Those of you that have listened to me long enough know that I have harped on the "all your eggs in one basket" mentality that seemed to be rampant at NASA. Having no fall back or rescue craft seemed incredibly short sighted. And then halting shuttle flights with no stop gap seemed well passed foolhardy. But when I start hearing those sentiments echoed by politicians not known to be all that interested in anything past their political boundries, I have to pause and think...wait...just whats going on? I know, I hear ya saying, well with the Russian/Georgia thing going on, it strains our working relationship. Your right but only to a point. It seems a lot of the ill will is the waiver that Russia had been enjoying for a time now is about to expire. That waiver being, signing the accord to abide by a rulling not to participate in proliferation of WMDs. (I know there it is again. someone screaming about WMDs) The thinking is that with tensions building and the exemption about to age off, we are likely to find personel in a position of not being able to get to or return from orbit. From the Wired blog:
  • Without a new waiver, U.S. astronauts would be stuck without a ride from 2011 until a new human vehicle is ready around 2015. NASA needs the waiver approved this year to get a Soyuz by 2012 because the Russian spacecraft take three years to build. Many think that this waiver will be harder to get given Russia's recent actions.
Of course it's not as simplistic as saying don't halt shuttle missions. The reason being the ISS depends on the Russian Soyuz and support craft for supplies and rescue. So without the Russian contingent we couldn't go to full crew on the ISS or stay for anything longer that a week or two. The other problem is that the Shuttle program is not in full swing and then just stops. NASA started phasing out shuttles TEN years ago. It's now a problem of parts, service and replacements that have been totally removed from the equation. This train wreck is going to happen if we like it or not.

<- More from Wired ->