A day of three Space Shuttles (almost)


Challenger (Lost on 01-28-1986), freshly refitted at the Palmdale refurbishing plant, mounted on the NASA 747, ready for transport to Florida.


In 1984, before the Kennedy Space Flight Center was ready to land the Space Shuttles, they would routinely land at Edwards AFB, CA, and then be carried on a specially modified NASA Boeing 747 from California to Florida, where they would be readied for the next launch. On this special day, when President Reagan visited Edwards AFB, the Shuttle Columbia was just returning from orbit, the Shuttle Challenger, was mounted atop the 747 ready to depart, as soon as the Columbia was on deck, and the Enterprise, used for airdrops from the same 747, early in the program (I watched), was on static display. Sadly, only the old testbed, the Enterprise, remains of these three space shuttles. Time goes on and hopefully much has been learned and the American people have not lost the desire and will to go back into space in newer, less complex systems, nor are willing to cede space and the Moon to other nations.

      Columbia on final approach. (Lost on 02-01-2003)


The Enterprise (endo-atmospheric test vehicle) and President Reagan's rooftop viewing stand.


Personal Musings:

As humanity slowly develops the technologies to terra-form planets, advances in genetic and cybernetic research may provide humans with the ability to planet-form terrans.

And now we have it from other, more scientific minds than my own:

Cyborgs are expected to be part of mankind's future. The full article is here (click on image)

Space Historian Sees Cyborgs in Our Future



Space has been since childhood the object of my dreams and source of spirituality. Ever since I picked up my first telescope in one hand, and my first science fiction novel in the other, I have been totally fascinated by this incredible environment. Little has changed. While on occasion overcome by life, I never strayed far from my love of space and the perception of its scale as compared to Earth and humanity. To judge from the general public's enthusiasm for the current crop of sci-fi films and TV series, as well as their, thankfully, continued support of space exploration, I am far from being alone in this pursuit.

National Geographic Magazine showed the world what the
Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is all about. Stunning pictures that gave humankind new and unexpected insight into the mysteries of the universe. Of course, as can be expected, the revelations pose as many new questions as they answer. What we do know, and what I was always certain of, is that the universe is an unimaginably large volume of space, populated by countless trillions of suns (stars), typically clustered in the form of galaxies, where they rotate around a common gravitational center. This teeming, beautiful multitude of blazing suns of many sizes, colors and composition, is more and more giving rise to the belief, that planetary formation is the normal by-product of star formation. New giant composit and multi-mirror telescopes, in conjuction with enhanced computer analysis of stellar wobbles, seem to lead to the conclusion (New Planetary Systems) that many stars are being affected by orbiting planets. Even newer technology promises the discovery of Earth-sized planets that might orbit distant stars. Our own galaxy - the Milky Way, as it is commonly called, is composed of around 200 billion suns, all majestically revolving around the center of the Milky Way (and the supermassive black hole located there), a lens-shaped disk, about 100,000 lightyears across. The sun, our own star, is about 2/3rds the distance from the center. With planet formation a possibility for most, if not all suns, why should life, in any form be limited to just one solitary tiny planet of one of trillions and trillions of suns, in all of the seemingly infinite universe? That would be one hell of a waste of space. Presumptuous? Not really, because there are common elements, bound by common physical laws, involved in common processes as far as we can see. This gives the scientist a lot of reassurance that there are standards of physics and nature applicable to the entire observed universe. Einstein did his part in discovering and mathematically defining these universal commonalities. If this is true, I must make the not very far-fetched assumption, that Earth and this solar system are the rule, and not the exception. In my opinion, this wonderful, fantastic universe is absolutely swarming with lifeforms, intelligent or otherwise. As it stands, I have small hopes that in my own lifetime, any material proof of intelligent life in outer space will be discovered. The distances are simply too impractically large, and the theory of relativity applies everywhere to everyone. Travel through interstellar space, while it may seem shorter in time for the individuals in flight at the speed of light (300,000 km/sec), or some reasonable percentage thereof, still would require them to settle for leaving all they know behind, only to return decades or even centuries later to a world in which they would be lost. This also would require that the incredibly complex technical problems of propulsion have been satisfactorily solved, and that the vessel can deal successfully with all the atomic and particular gaseous debries (space dust), that make the emptiness of space more like an atmosphere at those huge velocities. Considering the effort and knowledge involved, interstellar travel might be the domain of very few alien cultures. What we might instead discover are fossilized remains of life, microbial or larger, on Mars, known to once have had abundant water on its surface, or maybe in impact craters on planetary bodies, like the moon, which are not subject to lots of erosive forces. Life of sorts might also be found on some of the large and geologically very active moons of the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn. Last, not least, we might detect a broadcast, or signals through (SETI), that intentionally or unintentionally were beamed into deep space, to at last bring peace to our minds with the certain knowledge that we are not alone in this vast and mysterious universe.


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