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Displaying recent entries tagged with "NASA". Back to all recent entries

Popular tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, L10n, Status, Firefox

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July 21st, 2011

Atlantis Ending A Historic Era

The city of Atlantis is a historic myth, the symbol of an era of science, wealth, and great achievements.

Today's story on Atlantis is no myth at all, but it's about an era of science, wealth, and great achievements coming to and end - this time all the knowledge and achievements hopefully don't get lost but are used to seed another great era.

When I was a small boy in school, I became a follower of space exploration and a big fan of the Space Shuttle program. I found and still find the idea of a reusable space craft very compelling, one that can bring larger payloads into orbits but also back down. I have lived practically my whole life with the Space Shuttles being the very symbol of human space travel, even though they helped build an even greater icon in the recent decade with the International Space Station. As a huge space enthusiast, it's a bit hard to see that program go away, esp. with no clear picture of the future and surely nothing in the books at all that can replace the capabilities of bringing cargo of that size down or servicing satellites like Hubble in orbit.

30 years ago, creating the technology of the "most complex machine ever flown" was an achievement way ahead of its time, and today it's still unmatched. Still, it showed pretty well that humanity can create out of this world experiences and go beyond what many believe it's possible. Almost on the day 42 years ago the people of Planet Earth showed that with humans landing on the moon, in the last three decades with the Space Shuttle, and in the very recent 10 years with the ISS. I really hope there's more to come, like a moon base and a manned mission to Mars - esp. as I agree with Stephen Hawking that humanity needs to learn to survive outside this planet for its own survival, the risk of man- or nature-made disaster on Earth being too large not to invest in alternatives.

Of course, the Shuttle had its downsides. While it enabled great achievements in low Earth orbit, it couldn't go beyond that. While it was set out to allow cheaper access to orbit, it never gained the frequency needed for that and required way larger investments in maintenance and safety than anticipated, esp. after reacting to the Challenger and Columbia losses. Still, it made the ability to travel to space sound like a commodity enough that most normal people are not concerned with it any more, not seeing an interesting challenge there for humanity or any of our nations. In the end, even that might actually be an achievement, even if it creates problem with financing future space endeavors in harsh times for public budgets of democratic countries.

The end of the Shuttle era should mean the start of at least preparations for a new era, though, and some pieces, like the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, seem to mostly exist already. I for myself recently faded out a legacy program in my life and started into a new one nearer to innovation, I guess my favorite space agency has to do the same - I hope funds will allow for that. I for myself would donate to NASA if I could, just to show my support for their human space programs.

With the final landing of Atlantis, the Shuttle leaves a great legacy of Discoveries and Endeavors, but leaves us and future generations with the great and challenging task of doing even better - and to continue to go where no one has gone before.

By KaiRo, at 14:10 | Tags: NASA, Shuttle, Space | 1 comment | TrackBack: 1

February 3rd, 2010

A Bold New Vision To Go ... Nowhere!

Six years ago, the lowly Bush administration announced a short-sighted, uninspiring view for human space "exploration" that got titled "to the moon, mars and beyond" in NASA marketing speak later on.
But the tables have turned - the US has an inspired, bold visionary as their new president, who already earned a Nobel Prize for his great achievements in bringing around world peace once and for all. While he backed the old, short-sighted plan for some time last year, he and his administration now goes for the next step and did set up a new, bold vision that will surely inspire thousands of people and give new hope: Humanity will go nowhere!

I think that's finally a clear word and a good way, we all know that we have no business in exploring new worlds or achieve extreme things, we should stick to ourselves and boldly envision to change nothing. Even if some yesterday-minded people like Astronaut Ron Garan still believe the moon is valuable, or that the only chance for long-time survival of the human race is to make sure we can live outside of Earth, as Stephen Hawking likes to put it, those doubters will soon be gone and everyone will cheer for the strong and life-worthy future our all-beloved world leader has dared to set our directions to.

The task set up for public administration is not to boldly go where no private enterprise would, or to lead the world in science and exploration, but to trash already-started promising programs like Constellation and let others do the jobs Kennedy and Bush have wrongly envisioned for NASA. China and India surely agree as well, as they finally have a chance to overtake the US in space exploration and rip away the dreams of those lowly capitalists that still see a Captain Kirk in the future of this world - well, the interplanetary ships might come, but under a strong communist Chinese leadership, possibly backed by Russia.

Obama did come into office with a strong promise of "Change", and we surely are seeing what he was meaning all along. We don't need to go to just "to the moon, mars and beyond" - now we finally have a bold new vision to go... nowhere!

And we, as space enthusiasts and future-orientated humans, fully support NASA in fulfilling this mission.

Yes, we can.

By KaiRo, at 17:29 | Tags: Moon, NASA, Space, Vision | 15 comments | TrackBack: 0

February 8th, 2008

A Successful & Sanitized Launch Day

I've just done the announcement dance for SeaMonkey 1.1.8 (yes, even to the SeaMonkey Blog), completing the release process for our current security update (yes, I know, we don't have partial, binary-diffed updates, those will only come for 2.x). It's always nice to ship fixes for a number of security updates and know that users of current SeaMonkey versions are safe from known vulnerabilities.

The thrill of launching that release was increased by the thrill of watching a successful Space Shuttle launch on the same day, which was even more thrilling because of the low probability of favorable weather that forecasts had given for today. Nice to see Atlantis finally up on orbit, making the Space Station really international with the European "Columbus" laboratory module.

And as that all wouldn't have been enough, I finally took up the challenge to go a bit more into code than usual, and at the same time do away with the striking emptiness of the main "Privacy & Security" pref panel in SeaMonkey. We were missing the "sanitize" feature (a.k.a. "Clear Private Data") in our suite, which seemed to fit perfectly into that empty space in my opinion - so I took a deep look into Firefox code and ported that feature to SeaMonkey. The patch ended up pretty large, but consisting mostly of code copied from Firefox, even from code that hasn't yet landed and probably won't even land for FF3! After a few hours of concentrated work, it looked all good to me - but knowing Neil, I'm pretty sure it will go through a number of iterations to fix his review comments. ;-)
In any case, this is is very likely another feature we will be able to add for SeaMonkey 2.

Having not done (much) of real Mozilla code, JS modules or XPCOM components before, I can tell anyone who doesn't dare to try that it's not that hard - especially when you can learn how things work by doing such code porting. Just Try It™! :)

By KaiRo, at 02:36 | Tags: ISS, Mozilla, NASA, release, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2, Shuttle | 2 comments | TrackBack: 0

October 27th, 2007

Harmony in Space

I've just been watching a news conference of 7 astronauts that are currently on the International Space Station ISS, which just was expanded with a new building block these days by the current STS-120 Space Shuttle mission.

While this is a surely a great thing for science, I also think the political dimensions of what's happening here are also just cool: This station is operated by people from the ex-cold-war-opponents Russia and the USA, which are now working closely together there in closely joint missions, 50 years after Russia (or actually the USSR back then) flew the first experimental satellite "Sputnik", started the space age and made the US work hard to compete with them in this area. Cooperation between those nations in such a way makes them talk and do lots of work together and such communication ultimately boosts lasting peace and cooperation around the world.

This is even more so as those two big nations aren't the only two participating here, actually, the cooperative work unites people around the world and equally righted people of different origins - and the new "Harmony" module that was just added to this space station shows that perfectly: Planned by the US, this module was built in Italy, flown up by a woman-commanded NASA crew, handed over with a Canadian-built roboter arm steered by a black-skinned astronaut to a currently (incidentally) also woman-commanded space station, and will connect European and Japanese laboratories to the currently existing US and Russian modules as well as serve as a docking port for future manned missions to the station. The name of "Harmony" sounds really fitting for such a hub of international cooperation.

Even if the ISS projects span countries around the globe already, I hope even more will join in and make the peaceful international space cooperation network tighter. Some rumors tell that China is thinking about joining in in some way, NASA administrator Griffin had talks with officials there last year, though the topics of those talks stay undisclosed at the moment. Views from space made us see how small and fragile our planet actually is, work in space can hopefully make us see how we all can peacefully work together and do amazing things that wouldn't be possible without sharing and combining experience, knowledge and workforce.

This cause is surely worth attention and the help of anyone who has the abilities to support it. And those who can not directly participate should hold it up morally and try to maybe help other projects of open international cooperation, like open source software and the Mozilla project(s).

The spirit of open cooperation and communication is what really brings harmony - to space but even more to everybody down here on on this world.

By KaiRo, at 20:54 | Tags: ISS, NASA, Space | no comments | TrackBack: 0

May 2nd, 2007

Hawking escaping gravity

As a physics student and a space exploration fan, I can't help but giving this notable event some credit:

Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist, who did lots of work involving space phenomena and gravity, did get a bit nearer to space when he escaped gravity in a flight with a ZeroG plane that took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center last week.
In this case, this was more a free fall than a space experience though, as that flight similar to what astronauts use for zero G training rises to very high altitude before dropping down in a sharp angle so that things and people inside begin floating in a free fall microgravity experience.
It's cool that someone with a serious disease like Prof. Hawking can do such things, and I really hope he can live to do a real suborbital spaceflight with Virgin Galactic in 2009, as he announced at his 65th birthday this year.

By KaiRo, at 13:53 | Tags: NASA, physics, Space | 1 comment | TrackBack: 0

March 10th, 2007

It's all about the planets...

Blogging life in many areas, especially in OSS developer communities like GNOME, KDE or Mozilla sometimes seems to actually orbit around planets, which are basically website feed aggregators that collect blogs from the whole community and show their entries at a single place. This way, you can read or watch one single site/feed and get a glimpse of information from the whole community.

Planet Mozilla is just such a site, and there has been some discussion recently about its administration, with the outcome that Asa is probably owning it now, a new set of peers for that administration has been decided, and we'll end up with this main planet site having the full range of all blog entries of "active Mozilla Community members" and a second feed that only has their Mozilla-related entries. Asa is doing a great job there, and despite of some differences of opinion I may with him from time to time, I'm glad he's taking care of that now.
Additionally, for all of us who are in the L10n community, there's another planet page up on the new L10n server, named as Planet Mozilla L10N.
I'll try to get this blog aggegrated on those planets, at least as soon as I have tag support here and can filter feeds for those where required (L10n, future Mozilla-related-only planet).

In other planetary news, I'm still a bit sad that the next Space Shuttle launch to our home planet's orbit has been pushed out due to damage caused by a hail storm and now can only take place after the ISS crew changeover from Expedition 14 to Expedition 15, which means I have to wait until at least late April to see another hopefully great Station construction mission. I hope they get the second half of P6 solar panels retracted more easily than the first half back on the STS-116 mission last December.

But until STS-117 goes out into orbit, I'll keep hoping their preparations go well and stick to those planets down here... ;-)

By KaiRo, at 03:10 | Tags: ISS, L10n, Mozilla, NASA, Planet, Shuttle, Space | no comments | TrackBack: 0

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