Thank you, Neil Armstrong

Thank you, Neil Armstrong

When I heard Neil Armstrong had died, my first reaction was to stop walking and reread the text, curse once, and realize I had no more words. He is a hero who lived an amazing life, a long life, and will remain an inspiration as so many past heros have remained. Its *sucks* that we lost his input on our future, but we don’t live forever and he didn’t linger in suffering has so many people do. As I walked on, I did find myself pissed off by one thing: We are sooooo close to getting back to the Moon. The Google Lunar X-Prize will get rovers walking, roving, or (in my fantasy world) dancing a happy robot dance across the surface of the moon in the not too distant future. (1 or 2 years I’m guessing). Humans won’t be too far behind once the...

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Of NASA and Budgets

Of NASA and Budgets

Fine print: While I receive funding from NASA for some of my work, this blog post written by me as a private citizen. Today was the NASA Town Hall; that 1 or more hour window of time when some official from NASA stands at the podium and tells us how NASA will grow or crush our dreams. The very first NASA town hall meeting I attended was in 2003, at an LPSC meeting very much like the one I’m attending now, but that was a different economic time. It was actually the same week that we started bombing Iraq after 9/11. At that NASA Town Hall a woman whom I don’t remember stood up and outlined how over the next 10 years everything the planetary sciences field asked for in their Decadal Survey planning document was going to be built and flown. It was glorious. For every...

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LPSC: NASA Night

Live blogging will begin here at 5:30pm 5:10pm A presentation will be by Dr Laurie Leshin, Deputy Associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Title : “New Oppurtunities in the President’s FY2011 Budget” 5:12pm Speaker is not dressed in back. While there are people downstairs pre-lecture drinking in the bar, I don’t think it will be too awful. I fear for man (or at least manned space exploration) but I trust in science (or at least Obama’s support of science and science ed) 5:14pm This liveblog is made possible by my Verizon 3G cell card and the power strip under the mixing board (and the help of the friendly person manning the mixing board). 5:19pm They are now micing people up and the room is filling. 5:24pm...

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Charlie Bolden’s NASA Policy Talk: First Coverage

Charlie Bolden’s NASA Policy Talk: First Coverage

NASA Director Charlie Bolden is a grandfather (he talks about his grand kids all the time), an astronaut, a communicator who brings laughter, and a person willing to admit with humility that he’s not the smartest person in the room, and to admit with pride that he likes working with all the smart -icists in the room. As he speaks, he is looking forward to a great year of new launches and new science. […]

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NASA Tweetup for STS-129: Postscript

NASA Tweetup for STS-129: Postscript

It feels like a lifetime has passed since the Shuttle Launch, but I need to finish telling that story before I can move onto something new. That November the shuttle Atlantis launched flawlessly. It is all a mosaic of moments: the shuttle astronauts drove past and waved; we all piled out for a group picture; speakers came and went and media came and went and we listened and we didn’t and we were interviewed and we laughed. I paused in the middle to record Astronomy Cast – a 10 minute bit for 365 Days of Astronomy actually – and I paused in the middle to work on a grant. There is no escape from real life even when you stand at the edge of the looking glass. At about 2:15pm we went out and staked out our places in the grass. We fussed with cameras...

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NASA Tweetup for STS-129: Day 2

NASA Tweetup for STS-129: Day 2

We’re here. We’re actually here. It is launch day for STS-129, the next to last launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. We settled into our seats at T-3 hours and holding, waiting for the crew to head out the vehicle and load up and get locked in (a new meaning for load & lock?) It is a fair day here in Cape Canaveral, with partial clouds, 4-5 ft seas, and low wind. Chances of launch are currently 70%, but in this room of 101 people from 21 US states, and 4 additional nations (Morocco, New Zealand, UK, and Canada), we are going to keep on believing this-is-happening-right-now until someone makes us stop. As a little girl, one of my earliest memories is watching the shuttle contrails from landings at Edwards Air Force base. From our California home,...

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