Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Giant Loss

The world lost one if its true giants today. I'm talking, of course, about Arthur C. Clarke: author, futurist, scientist, and inventor. And it's safe to say that he will be not only missed but celebrated for his contributions to our modern world.

After World War II, Clarke authored a series of scientific articles proposing the use of geosynchronous orbit (GEO = 36,000 km above the equator) for telecommunications satellites. As a result, this orbit is commonly called the "Clarke Orbit," and the communications satellites there have allowed such things as international calling, satellite television, and satellite radio. Without those satellites (still the most profitable business in space) the Internet would be a very different place.

Best known for his writings, Clarke believed that his true legacy would be popularizing the concept of the space elevator.

And, of course, the title of this blog comes from one of his sayings (see above). His contributions to society were great, and his loss is tragic.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Endeavour Launches Tonight

Space Shuttle Endeavour launches tonight or early tomorrow morning, depending on what time zone you live in. The launch is scheduled for 2:28 AM EDT (1:28 AM here in the Central time zone) which means this will be the first launch in quite a while I have not watched live online.

This is a major mission, the longest duration flight to the ISS so far at 16 days. Over the course of the mission, the Japanese Kibo laboratory module will be added to the space station, along with a newer, improved robotic arm system (with two arms and fine manipulator "hands") from the Canadian Space Agency.

Additionally, Endeavour will be delivering Garrett Reisman for a stay aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 16 and will bring European astronaut Leopold Eyharts home from the space station.

Forecasters are projecting a ninety percent chance of good weather, and no problems have been indicated as of now, nine hours before the launch.