Early this morning, an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a new scientific mission for NASA blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The early morning launch was actually the second attempt after a failed tracking beacon caused the launch to be scrubbed last Friday. After troubleshooting the beacon problem, the launch was held a day and then scrubbed altogether as Hurricane Isaac made for some poor weather last Saturday. Held until today, when the launch conditions showed signs of being more favorable, and the Atlas V containing NASA’s RBSP mission launched successfully at 4:05am EST. Enough of all that technical stuff, have a look at this hot action-on-opposite-reaction action…
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The recent remarkable test flight of SpaceX’s Grasshopper rocket didn’t impress everyone — in fact, it scared the living shit out of these cows. Cows might have four stomachs and be sacred in some religions, and Walter Bishop may have wanted one to keep him company in the lab, but apparently they’re not jazzed about spaceflight.
Most launches happen in places a bit more removed from nature — in fact, the closest bystanders can get to a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral is four miles. Then again, the Grasshopper isn’t just any rocket.
in theaters Friday
There is no shortage of reasons why Cloud Atlas is the clear front-runner for GFR sci-fi pick of the week. There’s the fact that it marks the return of the Wachowskis to both the big screen and to science fiction as a genre, the first time Andy and Lana have had their names attached (along with Run Lola Run’s Tom Twyker) in more than a producerial role since 2008’s Speed Racer. That film was hardly a rousing success, so the success of Cloud Atlas could herald whether we’re in for a return of the first-Matrix glory days or if they run the risk of pulling a Shyamalan.
And they sure as hell aren’t playing it safe: based on the supposedly “unfilmable” 2004 novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas has enlisted a cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant to tell a complex, intertwining narrative that spans across the centuries from past to future and has many of the actors playing multiple roles in different segments. Its not exactly the sort of thing that screams “mainstream appeal,” but it has the potential to be something truly unique and unforgettable. Early word is mixed, but you can bet we’ll be there Friday morning to check it out for ourselves, so be sure to swing by later this week to see what we thought.
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye are two of our favorites, so when they get together for some scheme or another, you can bet that it has our complete and total attention. And they’ve got a doozy of a project brewing this time, as they’re about to test their LightSail spacecraft.
The two popular figures in the scientific community, along with their partners at the Planetary Society, announced that they plan to embark on their first test mission in May of this year. Entirely funded by private citizens, the solar sail satellite will be a part of an upcoming launch of an Atlas V rocket.
When President Obama announced the end of the Constellation program, many people worried about the U.S. not having a method of transport for its own astronauts. Since then, American astronauts have been buying rides to the ISS on Russian Soyuz capsules. Given that Russia will soon be bowing out of the ISS, it’s now particularly important that NASA figures out another way to transport its astronauts. Hence the Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s way of soliciting transportation services from private companies. The three contenders were SpaceX’s Dragon, Sierra Nevada’s Dreamchaser, and Boeing’s CST-100. This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that NASA “is poised” to award the $3 billion to Boeing.
Six weeks after NASA announced that it would be cutting ties with Russia, except for their collaboration on the ISS, Russia has gone a step further, saying that it plans to stop participating in the ISS after 2020.
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that Russia will use its resources to focus on other projects. In the statement, he said, “We are very concerned about continuing to develop high-tech projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States, which politicises everything.” He also mentioned “inappropriate” sanctions, including plans to deny the export of high-tech equipment to Russia. In turn, Russia says that while it is ready to deliver engines used to build widely-used Atlas V rockets, it will only do so on the “condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites.” Um…