Shuttle lift-off highlights

Here’s the kind of thing we used to see alongside a headline like HISTORIC IMAGE FROM SPACE or FUZZY BLOB WALKS ON OVEREXPOSED LUNAR SURFACE.


It’s no wonder people claimed the moon walk was fake. It wouldn’t be hard to fake this sneeze-and-spilled-ink furball. But we’ve come a long way since then. Cameras are cheap, and so is telemetry. That coupled with the fact that NASA is haunted by deadly launch mishaps means that a shuttle launch is one of the best documented events on the planet. Via the NASA_Ares Twitter feed, I came across this amazing video in which dozens of video streams from the STS-129 launch are merged into one artful reel. Please watch. If you’re impatient, jump ahead to 4:30.

STS-129 Ascent Video Highlights from mike interbartolo on Vimeo.

Shower with your telescope

Fargo North Decoder, of Electric Company fame, once helped a character played by Rita Moreno with her dangerously loose interpretation of a No Fishing sign. Her version went like this: “Private Property? No! Fishing Allowed.” She was wrong; trouble ensued.

In a similar vein, here is a good one from Steve Crandall’s blog. It appears he was actually sent the following email ad.

There really is a meteor shower early this morning, but I’m guessing that by the time you read this it will be long gone. For the record, I should point out that you should not, in fact, shower with your telescope. If the optics are dirty, it’s far better to run it through a car wash on the back of a pickup truck. Just remember to use lots of bungee cords to hold it in place. Although I suppose there do exist people who, upon seeing the Perseid Meteor, are moved to do mysterious things with their equipment. How about this: “Watch the Perseid Meteor. Shower with a Celestron Telescope. Smoke a Marlboro Cigarette.”

It’s just as well there were no pictures with the ad.

In other space news, today was Cassini’s big Enceladus flyby in which the Saturnian probe dipped to within a few hundred miles of frosty Titan’s spicy little sister. No pictures as of this writing, but there should be some good ones before long. In the meantime, you can contemplate NASA’s latest headline.

Researcher Excited As
Moon Probed Open
Season for Satellite Science

Okay, that was my best effort. Let’s hear your “unfortunate break” headlines.

X-36 pictures

The other day when I was trying to track down an old friend from my previous job, I ended up on a Beach Volleyball photography site. Because that’s what I used to do in my old job: pro beach volleyball. Yep. I was quite the pro beach volleyballer back in the day. You can probably find me in these action shots.


Actually, I worked with a guy who later went on to be a professional photographer of professional beach volleyballers. My real previous job was at NASA where I worked on a plane called the X-36. In the airplane business, you can spend years working on an airplane that never gets built. The good news is that they actually built and flew the X-36. Sadly for me this happened six years after I left the job. You can see from this picture that it was just a little guy, a 1/3 scale unmanned technology demonstrator. Because it was so small, it was often roughed up by the meaner planes at Edwards Air Force Base. Here it is being menaced by a gang led by the SR-71. That SR-71 thinks he’s so great.

Lots of other good pictures here.

But those are all the official NASA pictures. When did the X-36 take up beach volleyball? Here is a shot taken by VolleyShots photographer John Geldermann at the Induction Ceremony for the X-36 into the USAF Air Museum in Dayton, Ohio (July 2003). And those are the people I used to work with long, long ago.