Archive for the ‘Space’ Category

Amateur astronomer Matthias Kronberger discovered the soccer-ball nebula, called Kronberger 61, in January 2011 after poring over digitized photos of sky surveys from the 1980s. After he alerted professional astronomers, the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii zoomed in on the region to create the new, color-composite image.
Kronberger 61 lies roughly 13,000 light-years away in the Cygnus constellation and is almost perfectly round—an oddity when compared with the other 3,000 or so planetary nebulae already discovered.
“Very few are this spherical. They’re usually elongated and look like butterflies and other objects,” said astronomer George Jacoby of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization in Pasadena, California, who helped image the nebula with Gemini.

“Soccer Ball” Nebula Discovered by Amateur Astronomer

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Curiosity is his name, Martian Exploration is his game…
Did you know NASA is sending another Rover to Mars?

The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity

Mission: Study the habitability of Mars

Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover – Mission Animation

This artist’s concept animation depicts key events of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, which will launch in late 2011 and land a rover, Curiosity, on Mars in August 2012

See the video explaining the mission:

NASA – Multimedia – Video Gallery

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>For Sale: NASA Space Shuttle
Condition: 27 years old, 150 million miles traveled, somewhat dinged but well maintained.

NASA/Getty Images

The space shuttle Discovery on its 39th and final flight.

Price: $0.

Dealer preparation and destination charges: $28.8 million.

So, does anyone want to buy a used space shuttle?

Yes, it turns out. This old vehicle — the space shuttle Discovery — is an object of fervent desire for museums around the country, which would love to add it or one of its mates, the Endeavour and the Atlantis, to their collections. (Financing terms can be arranged with NASA.)

The Discovery is to return from orbit on Wednesday, concluding its 39th flight and its space-faring career, but it will make at least one more ascent — piggyback on a 747 airplane — to its resting place for public display. NASA will announce the final destinations for the three soon-to-be-retired shuttles on April 12, the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launching.

Some of the competing institutions have been campaigning energetically.

The visitor center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston hired a marketing firm and set up a Web site, Houston, the marketers argue, is the location of NASA’s Mission Control, which guides the shuttles during flight. For the Texans, owning a space shuttle would be “the modern-day equivalent of housing Columbus’ famed ships — the Nina, the Pinta or the Santa Maria,” the Web site states.

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan has collected more than 150,000 names on a petition urging that one of the shuttles be placed there. “New York City would make an ideal home for one of these retiring shuttles,” the campaign asserts, noting that the spacecraft would be “prominently displayed” on Pier 86 in Manhattan.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle has perhaps gone the furthest: this week, it erected the first wall of a new $12 million wing to house the shuttle it may never get. The museum’s “shuttle boosters” Web site argues that Seattle has “the right stuff” because the Boeing 747 was built there and 27 shuttle astronauts have called Washington home. (Officials at the Seattle museum say they have planned for the possibility of not getting a shuttle and would fill the space with other space artifacts.)

No one knows if these efforts, or dueling letters from various members of Congress, are exerting any sway on the top decision-maker at NASA, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., who has said that he alone will decide where the shuttles end up.

NASA says that 21 institutions have submitted proposals.

“We’re waiting,” said Susan Marenoff, president of the Intrepid Museum. “We’re hoping.”

Other hopefuls include the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the launching site of all of the shuttle missions; the California Science Center in Los Angeles; and the Museum of the United States Air Force, near Dayton, Ohio, which got a boost from President Obama’s budget request for 2012 seeking $14 million to send a shuttle there.

“There are more favorites than there are shuttles,” said Robert Pearlman, editor of, a Web site for space history enthusiasts.

One museum that has been mum is the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. But that is because NASA already offered it the Discovery three years ago, and most expect the Discovery will go there. After concerns last year that the Smithsonian could not afford $28.8 million, Congress, in a budget bill passed in December, included a clause that specifically excuses the Smithsonian from those costs. If NASA offered a shuttle to the Smithsonian, the bill decreed, it would be “at no or nominal cost.”

The Smithsonian, however, has been reticent about its intentions, and a spokeswoman offered only a short statement: “The museum is involved in discussions with NASA about transfer of the orbiter and other artifacts from the shuttle program. The final disposition of shuttle artifacts will be the decision of NASA.”

After the Discovery lands, only two shuttle flights remain. The Endeavour is scheduled to launch in April, and the Atlantis in June. Then the three will become museum pieces, with delivery expected next year. Each weighs about 170,000 pounds and is 122 feet long, with a wingspan of 78 feet.

There is also a fourth orbiter, the Enterprise, which was used for early glide tests but never went to space. The Air and Space Museum has the Enterprise on display at its spacious Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington-Dulles Airport. If the Discovery goes to the Smithsonian as expected, the Enterprise would likely get bumped to a new home, a consolation prize for one of the museums that did not receive a space-traveled shuttle.

A couple of years ago, NASA inquired if any museums or other institutions had an interest in acquiring one of the three flying space shuttles. Potential bidders were told that educational programs had to accompany the exhibits, and that the shuttles had to reside in an indoor, climate-controlled environment. (NASA does not want to repeat the mistake at the end of the Apollo era, when the remaining Saturn V rockets rusted and decayed outdoors.)

Since then, NASA has been mostly silent.

“We’ve not been contacted since we submitted,” said Richard E. Allen Jr., chief executive of Space Center Houston, the visitor center at Johnson.

After it lands, the Discovery will go through a month of postflight rituals, like the removal of payloads. But then, instead of beginning preparations for another flight, workers will start primping it for its life as a tourist attraction. That work — which accounts for most of the $28.8 million that NASA is charging — will include cleaning or removing parts that have been contaminated by toxic propellants, and will likely take nine months to a year.

The visitor complex at the Kennedy Space Center has proposed what would probably the most ambitious display: While most of the museums would have the orbiter sitting on the ground and build a fancy hangar around it, Kennedy would like to suspend it horizontally as if it were in Earth’s orbit, with the payload doors open and the robotic arm sticking out. It would the centerpiece of a $100 million, 64,000-square-foot exhibit that would open in the second half of 2013.

“We want to show it in flight,” said William Moore, the chief operating officer of the visitor center, which operates under contract with NASA without government funding, “and so the exhibit is really based around the shuttle working, because it’s a working vehicle and has done a lot of great things.”

Mr. Moore said he was confident that his institution would be one of the recipients. “You should be sure to call me back on April the 13th about how we feel when we get an orbiter,” he said.

However, for all his confidence, Mr. Moore admitted that he had no idea what General Bolden was thinking. “We read the newspaper a lot,” he said. “NASA has been very close-lipped about this. We really don’t have any inside scoop at all.”

Museums Compete for NASA’s Soon-to-be-Retired Space Shuttles –

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Are we closer to a ‘theory of everything’?

Susan Watts | 12:09 UK time, Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The physicists’ ultimate dream is the search for a “theory of everything”, a unifying explanation that can make sense of the infinitely tiny as well as the infinitely large.

From the strange particles that are the terrain of atom-smashing machines such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, to galaxies beyond our own, about which we’re learning more and more through increasingly powerful telescopes and observatories.

Much of Stephen Hawking’s new book, The Grand Design, makes his case for so-called M-Theory as the prime contender to be that elusive theory of everything.

The Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider is helping in the quest

But it’s esoteric stuff. So, in his first television interview, Newsnight asked him how he would explain the importance of M-theory to the many people in the UK who have little interest in theoretical physics.

“M-theory is the theory of everything. It explains how the universe was created out of nothing in the Big Bang, and how it behaves now. It governs everything we think and do. Isn’t that of interest?” Hawking asks.

Though he hasn’t really tackled the important part of the question, it’s clear from his answer that Professor Hawking is as dogmatic about M-theory as he is about God. Recall his quote from the book: “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

He deals with M-theory in a similar tone: “M-theory is the only (sic) candidate for a complete theory of the universe.” He adds later: “M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find.”

But not all physicists agree that M-theory is the answer. The blogosphere has been almost as alive with chit chat from critics of his support for M-theory as it has over his views on God.
The thing about M-theory that most people find confusing is that its maths implies extra dimensions – not yet observed – that exist alongside the four dimensions of space and time that we have become familiar with in our everyday world.

The trouble with theories of everything, including M-theory, is that testing them in the laboratory is tricky – and that leaves them open to the charge that they’re as much a leap of faith as religion. Theoretical physicist and broadcaster, Jim Al-Khalili, suggested as much on Newsnight last week.

But experimental evidence may be closer than some think. Atom smashers such as the LHC may one day “see” the extra dimensions that M-Theory implies, and London’s Imperial College has published a paper in Physical Review Letters with a press release making the bold claim: “Researchers discover how to conduct first test of ‘untestable’ string theory.”

Lead author Michael Duff tells me it’s not quite as black and white as that and that the “test” is an indirect one, but it could have important implications for both string theory and M-theory – effectively an umbrella theory that embraces all five leading string theories.

The team from Imperial say they’ve found that string theory predicts the behaviour of entangled quantum particles – another mind-boggling area of physics. As this prediction can be tested in the laboratory, researchers say they can now test string theory.

“This will not be proof that string theory is the right ‘theory of everything’ that is being sought by cosmologists and particle physicists,” Professor Duff explained.

“However, it will be very important to theoreticians because it will demonstrate whether or not string theory works, even if its application is in an unexpected and unrelated area of physics.”

But Professor Hawking is not alone in his attachment to M-theory, or to the idea that our universe is just one world in a “multiverse” of worlds.

This is an idea which echoes work by the physicist Hugh Everett III in the 1950s on quantum theory. This was roundly dismissed while he was alive, but has enjoyed a late renaissance in recent years. Everett described the universe as having not one single history, but multiple histories, in his so-called Many Worlds, or Parallel Worlds, theory.

Though there’s no direct link between Everett’s many worlds theory and M-theory, Professor Hawking does describe how M-theory “allows for 10 to the power of 500 different universes, each with its own laws”.

Hugh Everett’s son, the musician Mark Everett, more famously known as E of the rock band Eels, has tried to grapple with some of this physics in an effort to better understand his difficult relationship with his father.

E, promoting his latest album Tomorrow Morning, tells me how he believes his father’s withdrawn character was down to the early dismissive reaction to his work from other physicists.
“He was a 24-year-old genius that was brushed under the carpet, and that ruined his life,” he tells me.

But Professor Hawking explains how Hugh Everett III contributed to our knowledge of the universe.

“Hugh Everett made an important contribution to our understanding of quantum theory,” he said. “In classical theory the universe has a definite history but this is not the case in quantum theory, Instead Everett suggested we could think of it as if the history kept branching into alternative histories.”

The struggle to understand our world, or worlds, will continue, and the concluding paragraph of Professor Hawking’s book sets out a seductive insight into the drive behind that search.

“The fact that we human beings – who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature – have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph… If the theory is confirmed by observation, it will be the successful conclusion of a search going back more than 3,000 years. We will have found the grand design.”

Incidentally, the M in M-theory is variously said to stand for “membrane”, or according to Professor Hawking, possibly “master”, “miracle” or “mystery”. And mystery it may well remain for those of us still trying to make sense of it all.
Watch Susan’s film featuring interviews with Stephen Hawking and Eels musician Mark Everett on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.

BBC – Newsnight: Susan Watts: Are we closer to a ‘theory of everything’?


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The importance of David Bowie

By Paul Morley
Published: September 3 2010 21:59 | Last updated: September 3 2010 21:59

David Bowie on stage in Rotterdam in 1976
David Bowie on stage in Rotterdam in 1976, the year he made ‘Station to Station’

How much do you like David Bowie? You will have to like him a lot to want to spend more than £80 on a deluxe box set edition of his 10th studio album Station to Station (1976), an ostentatious souvenir collection of memorabilia, outtakes, live concerts, photography, essays, remastered versions, exclusive mixes and heavyweight vinyl inspired by the mere six tracks that made up the original record.
It is a mesmerising album, one of Bowie’s best, which is saying something, as he made many, most of them during the 1970s, that were sold as entertainment but contained the moving detail and mysterious, transformative depth of art.
It may well be one of rock’s very greatest, as a comment both on where the smart, neurotic artist who made it was, psychologically, creatively and commercially, but also where rock music itself was, on its compelling journey from Sinatra, Presley and the Beatles to Prince, Jay-Z and Gaga, from the Velvet Underground, the Kinks and Kraftwerk to Madonna, Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails. It is one of those Bowie albums, like Hunky Dory (1971), or Ziggy Stardust (1972), or Low (1977), or Lodger (1979), that are at times my favourite of his, because they demonstrate with such elan what a sparkling, mischievous mind he had, and what ambition, and what a stupendous ego, and how dangerously charming he was.
His impact as a musician, as a brand, as a sign of the times, has been as great as Dylan and the Beatles, his influence as an otherworldly pop star actually greater, and if you just want one example of what he got up to as this erudite pop combination of shaman, singer, thinker and shameless self-promoter, then Station to Station is as good a place as any. But is all of that worth £80? And does wrapping it up inside such technological and geeky paraphernalia clarify its position as a musical masterpiece, or turn it into a banal collector’s item, a nicely designed object of desire for committed Bowie fetishists and connoisseurs?
There’s no obvious anniversary marking the release of the deluxe edition. It’s a non-special 34 years since Station to Station was produced, coming between the Americanised soul-funk slickness of his Young Americans (1975) album and the radiant, challenging Euro-bleakness of Low. He was working on Nic Roeg’s dark film fable The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Peter O’Toole was not available to play Thomas Jerome Newton, an exiled visitor from outer space, a role that seemed perfect for the lost, distracted, preternaturally bright Bowie. Station to Station was a soundtrack that never was to the film as Bowie was strangely not asked to compose the movie’s music. Roeg just wanted the cracked, emaciated Bowie that was falling apart in real life, the wired, burnt-out pop star playing the baffled but brilliant spaceman from the future, part new-born innocent, part ancient guru.
Playing an alien, and having lost sight of his real self after years of relentless shapeshifting, Bowie constructed a new character, the Thin White Duke. Inside six years, since 1970, he’d been a psychedelic music hall singer channelling Syd Barrett and Anthony Newley, a whimsical novelty specialist, surreal folkie, risqué glam rock starman, cosmic wizard, apocalyptic androgynous Diamond Dog and blanked-out white soul man flirting with superstardom. Now, he would play a transparently autobiographical, ghostly, narcissistic, cocaine obsessed, existential adventurer, anxiously yearning for deeper meaning in a superficial, chilling world.
Bowie would kill off the damaged, demented Thin White Duke a little quicker than he killed off Ziggy Stardust, just in case the Duke took over like Ziggy appeared to. The soundtrack to this character showed Bowie withdrawing from his fascination with the expressive, penetrating showmanship of American soul and turning to more enigmatic and forward looking European music. Young Americans, containing hits such as “Fame” and an appearance by John Lennon, was the calculatedly commercial Bowie response to achieving the American fame he had set his heart on. He was becoming so successful he was peering into some form of the middle of the road, a fixed place Bowie wasn’t quite ready for.
Station to Station – feeling hunted, he was moving from place to place, character to character, fixation to fixation, charade to charade – was where he faced his demons, and made a kind of baroque soul music where it is not quite clear if there is soul involved. It retains the iced funk and post disco groove of Young Americans, alongside decaying traces of the kinky folk, metal, glam, and cabaret melodrama he’d passed through in the early 1970s. But it was already anticipating his less obviously commercial next destination, abstract and minimalist European electronic music. Station to Station contains echoes of everything Bowie had done, or was about to do. Previous characters re-dream themselves. It becomes the link, the tunnel, through which Bowie crawled – spent, emptied out – from fraying pop star decadence to the three classic made in Berlin albums he released next. On Low, Heroes (1977) and Lodger, Bowie and close collaborators Brian Eno and Tony Visconti created a stark, pulsating post-pop soundtrack to personal and historical tensions where Bowie broke out into the wider spaces of the universe. On this trilogy, Bowie refrained from entering the worlds himself, and losing himself in all the offbeat theatre. Station to Station was where he recovered himself, or at least enough of himself that he could continue his search for new extremes, and new experiences, and the kind of unusual, unforced new pop music he craved, music that produced worlds all of his own.
. . .
Depending on your age, you might already have bought a few versions of Station to Station. First of all, pretty much on the day it came out, the original RCA vinyl disc, released when the deliciously unstable Bowie dominated the pop planet in a way that makes Gaga, Beyoncé, Florence and co seem a little lightweight. Then, a few years later, the CD version, and then perhaps, depending how much you loved Bowie, a remastered CD version, even a Japanese import. Or two.

Album cover of David Bowie's 'Station to Station'
The original 1976 cover

Digging through my record cupboard, preparing the space for the big box of Station to Station, I find I have the vinyl version, with original black and white cover, and the bright orange RCA label that induces Proustian pangs of feeling for those days when a male teenager could fall in love with Bowie because he seemed so alive, and so scandalously full of himself. I’ve also got a CD version bought at full price, and then one bought for less than a fiver when I thought I’d lost the first one. The music business survived well into the 1990s following a policy of blind greed persuading people to buy albums they already owned all over again on CD. Now, perhaps at the end of its tether, devastated by the arrival of such alternative music sources as iTunes, the music industry is hoping to persuade people to buy once more in a gorgeous new format the same thing yet again, still relying on its back catalogues for sustenance. Or, depending on your point of view, ensuring that in a world where music can be so easily distributed through the air, the album can still exist in tempting solid form, as a tangible thing, something that you can hold, not merely store, and place in a sterile list of your favourite music.
The vinyl version is something that I have clearly held a lot, and loved, and still love, prized like a hardback first edition, now looking strangely oversized and florid in a world where even the miniaturised CD has been replaced by essentially the featureless, soulless, click-click nothing of the download. The CD versions look less powerful, more paperback, and more clinical.
Somehow, an old collection of music that could recently be bought for a few pounds, on the verge of being something you could get on tap, is now on sale, admittedly smartly done up, for almost £90. This is a lavish way of pointing out that a big part of the appeal of a pop record in the last few years of the vinyl era was the combination of the music and the art, the image, the design – the overall story, a constantly developing context – that went with it.
It calls into question just what is going to happen to all those albums that have been made and that artistically deserve to endure now that the era of this kind of vinyl-shaped album is more or less over. What was an album, what is Station to Station, how will we remember it? As a complete, significant work, as a series of loosely connected songs that will just randomly flow off into space and time, separated from each other, available on demand until they just fade away into silence, or some kind of work of art that needs to be celebrated and dissected in this way?
It seems right that David Bowie is at the forefront of such consideration of how vinyl era music – songs and stardom that existed because of the nature of the 45rpm single and the 33⅓ album – will survive this new period in music. He may not have been especially active for the past 20 years or so but he’s never stopped thinking, and plotting, and fastidiously nurturing his image.
After making his extraordinary albums in the 1970s, and inevitably running out of energy in the 1980s, he then settled down into his reputation, his history, with a knowing, Dylan-like acceptance, and an occasional Dylan-like reminder of his unique powers. He wasn’t as aloof and inscrutable as Dylan, but had his own ways of protecting, and projecting, his mystique. In Bowie’s case, this meant not just an occasional good new album, or a memorable tour. It also meant a strategic understanding of how entertainment itself was changing because of the technological progression that meant there would be more and more music, less and less originality, and newer ways of receiving and playing that music. He ended his formal alliances with record labels at the beginning of the century, set himself up as web location, turned himself into a sort of bank, and in 1997 sold his future royalties to the Prudential Insurance Company as Bowie Bonds, leading some wags to suggest he invented derivatives and was directly responsible for the latest recession. A confirmed futurist, he anticipated a breakdown in music industry and media certainties, and prepared himself for the science fiction future he always craved. A future where his 20th-century music could still exist, and still sound contemporary.
Albums such as Station to Station are from the past. Boxing them up in expensive deluxe editions is essentially a commercially based nostalgic act, extending their life as product, to some extent one last mad music industry fling. But the music itself, six songs, expertly weaving their enchanting phantom spell, from the opening title track, an extended montage of despair and determination, lunacy and sorrow, to the final track, a precious, caressing version of “Wild is the Wind” first sung in 1957 by Johnny Mathis, where Bowie appears to repair his self-control, via the tricky, nervily jaunty big hit “Golden Years”, is thus given yet another lease of life. The music is strong and intriguing enough to resist the vulgarisation of being repackaged and resold one more time. Somehow, the ornate deluxe edition of Station to Station says: the album is dead, long live the album.
From Ziggy Stardust to SpongeBob SquarePants
1947 David Robert Jones born January 8 in Brixton, south London. Shares same birthday as Elvis Presley.
1953 Family moves to Kent. Attends Bromley Technical High School where Peter Frampton, later a rock guitarist, is a friend.
1961 Fight with friend leaves one pupil severely dilated, causing illusion his eyes are different colours.
1963 Leaves school with art O-level. Becomes junior paste-up artist at ad agency.
1964 First release, under the name of Davie Jones, is “Liza Jane/Louie Louie Go Home”. Interviewed on TV as founder of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-haired Men, he complains, “It’s not nice when people call you darling and that.”
1966 Changes name to Bowie to avoid clash with Davy Jones of the Monkees.
1967First solo album, David Bowie, an odd, jolly mix of pop and psychedelia.
1969 “Space Oddity”, song set in outer space, released to coincide with moon landing
1970 Marries Mary Angela (Angie) Barnett for whom the Rolling Stones song “Angie” was written. Begins unequalled run of 11 studio albums from Man Who Sold The World (1970) to Scary Monsters (1980).
1972 First appearance of glam group Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Produces Lou Reed’s Transformer.
1973 Breaks up Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.
1975 Re-release of “Space Oddity” is first UK number one.
1977 Bing Crosby records “The Little Drummer Boy”, with Bowie, a month before crooner’s death. Appears on old friend Marc Bolan’s ITV music show, duetting on “Heroes”. Bolan dies in car crash two days later.
1980 “Ashes to Ashes” is second UK number one.
1981 “Under Pressure”, with Queen, is third number one.

David Bowie in 'The Man Who Fell To Earth'
In ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ (1976)

1983 Releases Let’s Dance, produced by Nile Rodgers; title track fourth number one
1985 Having won praise as actor in films The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), The Hunger (1983), Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983) and on Broadway in The Elephant Man in 1980, turns down role in Bond film A View to a Kill. Duet with Mick Jagger on “Dancing in the Streets” leads to fifth number one.
1989 Forms Tin Machine. Critics sneer, live album does not chart.
1992 Marries Iman Abdul Majid in Switzerland.
1996 Plays Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat.
1997 Releases internet-only single “Telling Lies”. Predicts time when music will be freely available at click of a switch. Sells back catalogue for $55m, creating Bowie Bonds, planning to pay back money from future royalties.
2003 Declines knighthood.
2004 Suffers heart attack, undergoes triple bypass.
2006 Receives lifetime award at Grammys.
2007 Voices Lord Royal Highness on TV cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants.
2010 Lady Gaga says Bowie is her biggest influence and she wants to work with him

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MOJAVE, Calif. — The left main landing gear on Virgin Galactic’s space tourism jet collapsed as it landed after a test flight in the Mojave Desert Thursday, federal aviation authorities said. No injuries were reported.

Two Federal Aviation Administration inspectors were on the scene to examine WhiteKnightTwo, a four-engine jet that will serve as the mothership for Virgin’s passenger-carrying spaceship.
“The left main landing gear is damaged, but we don’t yet know if that’s the extent of the damage,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.
The problem occurred around 11:15 a.m. PT at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
In a statement, aircraft builder Scaled Composites described the event as a “minor incident.” The company said there was a mechanical problem with the left landing gear.
Scaled did not describe the problem in any detail, but said there were no injuries. The rocket-powered spaceship, known as SpaceShipTwo, was not attached to the jet at the time.
WhiteKnightTwo is designed to carry Virgin’s spaceship to high altitude and then release the rocket, which will then fire its engine for a brief dash into space.
Virgin has said the test program is expected to run through next year before commercial operations begin. About 300 clients have paid for a $200,000 ticket or placed a deposit.
Seven years ago, SpaceShipOne — the predecessor of the rocket plane currently being developed — suffered a partial landing gear collapse and ran off the runway at Mojave at the end of its first powered test flight . The plane went on to make three successful spaceflights in 2004, winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize in the process.
This report includes information from The Associated Press and

© 2010

Space tourism jet has trouble during test run – Technology & science – Space –


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