• 2019

  • The Chandrayaan-2 Lunar Mission Successfully Launches

  • Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar for The New York Times writes:

    The mission was relatively inexpensive in space terms, costing less than $150 million — less than it cost to make the 2014 film “Interstellar.”

    But Chandrayaan-2 will take much longer to reach the moon than the relatively straight shot made by the Apollo missions, which cost billions (the presence of humans added to the price tag).

    The Indian orbiter will conserve fuel by making ever-widening orbits around Earth before being captured by the moon’s gravity and pulled into lunar orbit.

    This launch was a historic leap for India and the ISRO (India Space Research Organisation). This was the second attempt, two weeks ago, the launch was scrubbed at the last minute. The last Lunar mission the ISRO spearheaded, was the Chandrayaan-1, and if you need reminding — it was a colossal success and the entire science community of Earth benefitted from their findings. Generally speaking, the Chandrayaan-1 discovered water on the Moon. It used infrared spectrometry to detect water on the side of the Moon that faces away from us here on the third rock from the sun.

    Photo from The New York Times

    Chandrayaan-2 includes a rover, a lander, and an orbiter. The rover will collect samples for analysis. Given the fact that rovers sent to planetary realms typically outlive their lifespan, the possibility of sending a rover to the Moon is truly thrilling.

  • Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston Fully Restored

  • Nearly 50 years ago, we landed on the moon. “We came in peace for all mankind,” the immortal plaque reads:

    NASA, CC.

    Indeed we did we come in peace. An incredible achievement. The Johnson Space Center played an important part in the Apollo missions. The JSC was historic backdrop where Gene Kranz was Flight Director for 33 missions. One of which landed the first men on the moon. And of course Apollo 13, the terrifying mission in which a catastrophic oxygen tank explosion nearly ended in tragedy, but thanks to NASA engineers and Kranz, were able to return safely. From NPR:

    The room where Kranz directed some of NASA’s most historic missions, heralding U.S. exploration of space, was decommissioned in 1992. Since then, it had become a stop on guided tours of the space center, but fallen into disrepair. Kranz has led a $5 million dollar, multi-year effort to restore Mission Control in time for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20.

    “I walked into that room last Monday for the first time when it was fully operational, and it was dynamite. I literally wept,” Kranz said in an interview with NPR. “The emotional surge at that moment was incredible. I walked down on the floor, and when we did the ribbon cutting the last two days, believe it or not, I could hear the people talking in that room from 50 years ago. I could hear the controllers talking.”

    Incredibly, the preservation went above and beyond — Sandra Tetley, the Johnson Space Center preservation officer worked meticulously to outfit the control room with ephemera such as paper cups, ash trays, coffee pots and other items from the 60s from eBay. They literally salvaged everything:

    The @NASA_Johnson Twitter account even put together a short reel about the restoration:

    Photo of Gene Kranz from NPR

    The last time I visited the JSC, Mission Control was a dusty, dimly lit reproduction set — only visible from afar. The CRTs, knobs and switches were disabled, with no visible telemetry charts or buzzing vacuum tubes. But, this modern restoration (photo above) looks so much fun, and just looks at Kranz smile! Simply, amazing to behold. If you ever get a chance, visit the Johnson Space Center and check it out. Apart from Mission Control, it’s an amazing place, where people from far and wide can come to learn or get inspired about the Apollo missions, rockets, the ISS, spacewalks, aeronautical engineering and science.