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Commonplace space tourism is still a thing of the future. But if you want to get up close and personal with the world of astronauts, you'll soon have a new option. A few days ago, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex broke ground on a new attraction, Heroes and Legends, slated to open in 2016. And it sounds like it'll be an intergalactic-inspired good time. A statement announcing the attraction promises guests "simulated holograms and augmented reality" via "an omnidirectional theater with 3D and special effects, designed to make guests feel as though they are floating in the vastness of space" with famous astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Alan Shepard. It concludes: "The new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will serve as the culminating element of the attraction, allowing guests to interact virtually with nearly 100 astronaut heroes."
Plus: a snack shack serving Tang and Milky Way candies! (Kidding. Ba-dum-bum-ching!)
Drones / Hybrid Aircraft / NASA / → All Tags
It’s about to get all 007 up in here.
The wide, wacky, freaky world of drones grows more fascinating by the day. Here’s the latest OMG moment, courtesy of NASA Aeronautics: a ten-engine electric drone that transforms from a helicopter to an airplane and back — in midair — without, you know, falling out of the sky.
Check out a video of the prototype’s first successful flight below. Marvel at how it begins its sojourn as a helicopter, hovering away from the ground with the use of 10 whirring motors — two on its tail, eight across its 10-foot wingspan — before tilting its upright wings forward to enter airplane mode. Why would anyone want this battery-operated hybrid to exist? According to Gizmodo, potential applications include “package delivery, long-endurance agricultural surveillance and mapping.” The hybrid drone is dubbed “Greased Lightning” (GL-10) and has been compared to the military aircraft (of dubious safety and merit, say some) V-22 Osprey.
Check out the cool video of the craft-shifting drone below, then reflect on the fact that some of us can’t even pat our head and rub our belly at the same time. Life is just unfair.
Future Travel / NASA / Kepler / Vintage Posters / Space Travel / Exoplanets / → All Tags
In celebration of Kepler's quest to find new planets fit to inhabit life, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology has released vintage-style posters that advertise futuristic travel into outerspace.
It seems the purpose was not only to create general awareness of NASA's success, but to indulge and celebrate in accomplishing something that was once only seen as science fiction.
“We have been super inspired by the fact that so many planets are being discovered," David Delgado, one of the creators, told Newsweek. "It feels like we’re living in the future or science fiction is coming to life.”
See below for shots of the vintage posters. The planet names need a little work, but we love where NASA's head is at with this project. You can read more about Kepler and the individual planets here. Oh and just to be clear, you can't visit these exoplanets right now. But maybe some day, you will.
Thanksgiving Travel / ISS / Space Travel / NASA / → All Tags
It may not be "Follow Friday," but if you only follow one social media account this week, let it be that of the International Space Station.
Instagramming as @iss, the crew frequently post photos of the Earth below them, completely blowing away any other cappuccino foam or macro flower photo on Instagram.
Earth Day / Instagram / Social Media / NASA / Selfie Day / → All Tags
The "Selfie" has been quite the topic of both derision and obsession so far this year, but tomorrow should be the true test of its popularity. April 22 is typically Earth Day, and that it'll be again this year; NASA has their own plans, however, and they need you.
Take a photo of yourself showcasing the nature of wherever you are, and upload it to social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Flickr) with the hashtag #GlobalSelfie to join inyou guessed itGlobal Selfie Day.
Space Travel / Tours / NASA / Florida Travel / Factory Tours / Space Shuttles / Travel News / Tourism / → All Tags
Heading to Florida anytime soon? If not, you may want to consider a trip since tours through NASA's massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in Titusville are ending on February 11, 2014.
The reason for discontinuing the tours is simple: "As a working spaceflight facility, NASA is preparing the VAB for the new SLS launch systems for 2017."
Now that Space Shuttles have begun their retirement as static displays in several US cities, NASA is moving on to the next stage of space exploration with the Space Launch System (SLS). In order to develop and construct what will be space vehicles designed to lift 70-130 metric tons (and astronauts!) into orbit and, perhaps, even to Mars.
Space Travel / Museum Travel / Houston Travel / NASA / Boeing / 747 / Space Shuttle / Texas Travel / → All Tags
Houston has a problem.
Or, rather, Houston had a problem, as their bitterness from being passed over when NASA handed out Space Shuttles may be staunched by the delivery of the special 747 carrier plane instead.
Okay, so the home of Mission Control will likely never heal from the pain of the Shuttle decision, but a consolation prize does mean the city's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center will have something other than laboratories, training rooms and the mission control center to show off to visitors. According to Space.com, the modified 747 "Shuttle Carrier Aircraft" will be disassembled with Boeing's help, shipped to Houston, and reassembled within a brand new, $12 million, six-story building at Space Center Houston, adjacent to Johnson Space Center.
We admit to searching for frequent flyer miles in everything we do, but it's because we know that however obscure the loyalty program points are, they might just pay off one day. So now we have Qantas to the rescue after partnering with NASA on their newest (and probably most expensive) advertising campaign.
The Australian airline has obviously called in some favors from other high-fliers and used NASA's little baby, the Mars Exploration Rover, to show that's all too easy to pad your frequent flyer account with miles. Okay, the actual rover is still over on Mars doing its thing, but the replica of the high-tech machinery shows members of Qantas' frequent flyer program how to rack up those miles without even stepping foot on a plane.
The new enclosure, in progress
It opened to the public on July 19, 2012. It closed only a few months after, in late October, when Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City and, well, huffed and puffed and blew its house down. We're speaking of the Space Shuttle Enterprise on the Intrepid aircraft carrier, of course, and the latest image showing progress on the reconstruction of the exhibit hints at exciting things to come.
Compare the construction of the new structure (above) to the old tent-like one (below). First observation? It's not a tent! Hallelujah, break out the champagne because now the exhibit may actually have a chance of surviving the next huge storm to hit NYC (knock on wood). Secondly, we notice increased space. Perhaps the single staircase to view the nose of the shuttle (through scratched plexi glass, mind you) will mercifully be replaced by an actual viewing platform? And perhaps it won't all feel like some temproary, low-budget exhibition, which is definitely is not.
So they’re not exactly launching any space shuttles out of Florida anytime soon, but the Kennedy Space Center is still plenty busy these days. In fact they’ve got so much going on that they’d love to have you swing by and check things out for yourself.
The next piece of space stuff departing earth is the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and if things stay on schedule—and the weather cooperates—it’ll blast off on Friday, March 1. Those heading over to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex can score a front row seat for the event, with viewing right along the NASA Causeway.
If you’re looking to set a reminder on your phone, it’s all scheduled to go
down up at 10:10am EST from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Geek Travel / Green Travel / Space Travel / NASA / Road Trips / Holiday Travel / Christmas Travel / → All Tags
If you’re more bah humbug than ho, ho, ho, there are trees out there for you too: Moon Trees. These trees, located all over the U.S., don’t have sparkly lights or flashy ornaments but they have been to the moon.
Back in the 1971 Stuart Roosa brought along close to 500 seeds from five tree species on the Apollo 14 mission as part of an experiment. As Apollo 14 re-entered Earth's atmosphere the container carrying the seeds opened and the seeds all mixed together.
You can't exactly take a trip there (yet), but the International Space Station keeps on keepin' on with its outer space research even as the Space Shuttles settle into their retirement. Did you know the ISS is the third brightest thing in the sky? The Hairpin, one of our favorite blogs, even notes that the Space Station has a system where you tell it where you are on Earth and NASA will email you when the conditions are best for you to get outside and spot the floating lab far away from Earth.
It's called "Spot the Shuttle" and it's brilliant.