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

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

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...

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Freedom 7 + 55 years

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,...

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Only photograph of Neil Armstrong on the moon

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...

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Starmus, 2014

Starmus, 2014

I love my “job.” As one who deals in astronomy education it is my sworn duty to go to any odd corner of the world in search like-minded types. And so I undertook a torturous journey to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, owned by Spain but not too far to the east from Morocco. It was on these islands, that the first Starmus conference was held in 2011. The Canaries were chosen as the organizers live there and due to the large number of...

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More weird crap in Mike’s place

More weird crap in Mike’s place

Growing up in the 60s, I was a bit too young to get into the officially approved rockhippieantiwar-run off to the Height and Groove all Night-scene. That duty was relegated to my sister who was 4 years older and part of the prime demographic for VW Bugs, beads and Patchouli incense. And we were only about 35 miles south of The City. My job was to follow the moon program. So odd to think that as I write this, it is 45 years since the One Small...

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Modern simulations of NASA’s classic spaceflights

Modern simulations of NASA’s classic spaceflights

Simon Plumpton uses the moniker “lunarmodule5” on YouTube. Not many people would get that, but those who do are grateful for the remarkable work he’s been doing to make the spaceflights during NASA’s golden age feel real and present again. Lunarmodule5 didn’t have those experiences first hand, the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975 being his earliest memories. But that started a fascination in him such that he at one time hoped to become a...

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