If you want an Apollo Command Module, just build one…

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Education, Space Travel | 0 comments

Like many of space-nerds in training who grew up in the 60’s, we longed to have our own Apollo spacecraft or Apollo Command Module. Few get a chance to actually realize that. I started working on my own, around 1969, starting on the panels. Made out of cardboard with red felt-tip lettering for the controls, surplus toggle-switches (5/$1) and “real” buttons that I could press, I stopped after a single panel when I couldn’t figure out how to do a “real” FDAI (the artificial horizon globe) or computer displays. However, Luigi Pizzimenti went...

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Freedom 7 + 55 years

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Essay, Space Travel | 0 comments

Freedom 7 + 55 years

As I am writing this, it is the 55th anniversary of the launch of the Mercury Spacecraft, Freedom 7, our first manned spaceflight. It’s hard to underestimate how important it was to the national psyche after being upstaged by the Russians (RUSSIANS!) several times from first satellite, first spacecraft to the moon, first spacecraft to use solar-cells, first to photograph another body up close, and so on and so on. It was especially difficult, when the weight of their spacecraft was so much more than ours, it really spoke to the advanced state...

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Ed Mitchell and Apollo 14

Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Essay | 2 comments

Ed Mitchell and Apollo 14

The passing of Apollo 14 astronaut, Ed Mitchell, recently marks in a way, “the beginning of the end” of the Apollo era. As I write the I am listening to the air-to-ground audio of their mission, that occurred 45 years ago in February, 1971. Mitchell’s colleagues, commander and first American in space, Alan B. Shepard, and command-module pilot, Stu Roosa both passed away some time ago, leaving Ed as the sole representative of the third landing on the moon. But now the Apollo 14 crew are the first to have completely die off. As the youngest...

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Weird crap in Mike’s place: Gemini 5 flight plan

Posted by on November 26, 2015 in Fun, NASA Space stuff | 0 comments

Weird crap in Mike’s place: Gemini 5 flight plan

In the arena of space collecting there are many levels to handle the many different interests and bank accounts. The most cost effective are things such as patches from the various missions, photo or other swag commonly found in NASA gift shops or on the web. The more serious collectors opt for autographs from Apollo era astronauts, or even flown artifacts. Several online dealers advertise flown items such as small pieces of parachute material in Lucite paperweights or embedded in the covers of pens. However amongst the most serious of...

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Ms. Astronaut

Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Essay, Fun | 1 comment

Ms. Astronaut

Not too long ago I attended a talk by Stephan Pastis the creator of one of my favorite comic strips: Pearls Before Swine. Of course he described the process of getting a strip selected for syndication (a process ultimately aided by Scott Adams), how many times he had to submit and so on. This reminded me of my own experience in that arena. Being a “child” of the 60’s…uh, not the bead wearing “peace, man!” slacker types, my sister filled that roll, I had two things I wanted to be when I grew up. The first was an astronaut. Astronauts were in...

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Only photograph of Neil Armstrong on the moon

Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Education, NASA Space stuff, Space Travel | 2 comments

Only photograph of Neil Armstrong on the moon

On this, the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, take note of the following space oddity: For all of the beautiful photos from man’s first walk on the moon, interestingly enough there exists but a single still photo of Neil Armstrong on his historic walk. One of his duties was to take photos while Buzz Aldrin set out the experiments. Armstrong of course, is visible in the relatively poor television from the lunar surface, in some movie footage and a reflection off of Aldrin’s helmet visor, but no actual direct still...

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W. M. Keck Observatory Launches App KeckWatch

Posted by on July 17, 2015 in Press Releases | 0 comments

W. M. Keck Observatory Launches App KeckWatch

Kamuela, Hawai‘i – Today, W. M. Keck Observatory launched a new smartphone app to stoke the curiosity and wonder of astronomy. KeckWatch was built by First Light Design – the makers of category definer Distant Suns – and offers mankind’s collected knowledge of the Cosmos on the screen of your iOS device. In addition to being able to easily identify stars and planets with both conventional and Hawaiian names, it offers a unique glimpse through the gigantic eyes of the Keck I and Keck II telescopes, the two largest and most scientifically...

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Weird Shuttle Crap in Mike’s Place

Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Education, Fun | 0 comments

Weird Shuttle Crap in Mike’s Place

The space shuttle’s cockpit layout would be instantly familiar to any airline pilot when it came to the many electro-mechanical displays that it used. With the “8-ball” attitude indicator and HSI, or Horizontal Situation Indicator, not to mention many other meters and gauges, the main control panel was gravid with intricate “old school” instruments. Starting in 1998 with Atlantis, the shuttles went through a period of cockpit upgrades to replace the mechanical displays and green-screen vector CRTs with colorful flat-screen video displays....

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Weird Crap in Mikes place

Posted by on April 25, 2015 in Fun | 0 comments

Weird Crap in Mikes place

Still more weird crap around Chez Mike. The most casual of space collectors go with the basics, that is, autographs of astronauts, mission patches, and maybe some of the paperweights that have small fragments of a document or insulation from one of the missions. The serious space collectors, the aging baby-boomers with a little extra cash in hand go after hardware. Leftover hardware or someone’s souvenirs collected by dad or grandparents who used to work for NASA in the early days, are a huge draw. At the top of the list you will find...

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Weird Crap in Mike’s Place: Twentieth Anniversary Mac

Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Essay, Fun | 0 comments

Weird Crap in Mike’s Place: Twentieth Anniversary Mac

It’s no secret that Apple has produced a number of oddball machines: the spasm-inducing Mac Portable, the original Color Mac, the eMate, and so on. Toss into this hodge-and-or-podge is the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, otherwise referred to as the “TAM.” The TAM was a boutique computer, designed by Sir Jony himself, and celebrated the 20th anniversary of Apple. Released in the spring of 1997, the TAM was initially priced at $7499, and was the first desktop Mac to use a flat screen. Using the PowerPC 603e, the TAM ran at a whopping 250 MHz and...

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