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What else is there to see in the sky this season? After today's first solar eclipse of 2014 (visible only in Australia and Antarctica), thirst is high for more nights spent with an eye to the sky. For a clue or two, we turn to one of our favorite Facebook pages, i fucking love science (IFLS). The page, which describes its mission as existing for "the funny side of science...quotes, jokes, memes and anything your admin finds awesome and strange," has over 13 million "likers."
Filed in among those memes and jokes is some spectacularly useful information, good enough to inspire summer travels. For example, take their quick guide to dates with celestial events (above) and meteor showers (below).
We checked out the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum when we were kids, and when we visited it recently—it looked exactly as we remembered it. Turns out that things haven’t really changed much since the place’s debut back in 1976, but thankfully that’s about to change as the place is undergoing a little bit of a 21st century facelift.
There will be some temporary closures of exhibits over the next two years, but it’s a small price to pay to get things looking shiny and new once again. Obviously history hasn’t really changed, but the curator folks are changing up what they’re showing off. Things from the Apollo moon landing will now be one of the main features that greet guests, while great goodies from the past like the Spirit of St. Louis, the Mercury capsule from the first Earth orbit, and an Apollo Lunar Module will all be some of the stuff on display.
Yesterday, the EarthWatch Institute celebrated April Fool's Day by offering "the first public expedition to Mars in search of water and life."
In a press release EarthWatch promised an idyllic journey in which "volunteers will spend their days hiking through meteor craters and Earth-gazing, all while looking for signs of water and life."
Space Travel / Museum Travel / Red Bull / Felix Baumgartner / Ohio Travel / Red Bull Stratos / Sky Diving / → All Tags
When it comes to aviation, Dayton, Ohio seems to have all the best stuff. There's the history of the Wright Brothers, the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in nearby Wapakoneta, and the National Museum of the US Air Force. You'd think those would be enough attractions for the middle of Ohio, but not so.
Dayton is now temporarily home to Felix Baumgartner's Red Bull Stratos capsule and spacesuit.
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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.
Have you wanted to travel to space but lack the degrees and/or money to get there? Here's your chance to volunteer for the next best thing.
The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is looking for volunteers age 18-65 to take part in a series of space exploration studies that will provide essential information needed for long-duration space exploration missions, like those astronauts hope to one day make to Mars.
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You know we like to follow the goings on of Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic project, and now we’ll be able to do from the comfort of our couch. Virgin Galactic is teaming up with the mastermind behind shows like Survivor and The Voice—Mark Burnett—to launch a reality show to give away a ride into space.
Details are limited at this point, but we’d imagine that things would follow the basic premise of pretty much all reality shows. Unique personalities, wacky competitions, and plenty of drama should lead to a show worthy of a spot on our DVR. We do know that the show will be called "Space Race," and the big winner will get a ride aboard SpaceShipTwo.
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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.
Tonight, between 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. local time, those in areas away from light pollution and heavy cloud cover will be able to observe some 60-100 meteors streaking across the sky as the annual Perseid Meteor Shower hits its peak. According to NASA, you'll want to look straight up and budget for the extra time it'll take for your eyes to adjust.
Wondering where is the best place to view the celestial event? Here's a few ideas from our recent travels:
· On an airplane!: Just as the Northern Lights are visible from airplanes in flight, so too are meteor showers. After all, in a major jet aircraft you fly above the clouds and, at night, the crew typically turns off the cabin lights. Even @BritishAirways is encouraging travelers tonight to keep their windowshades uptalk about in-flight entertainment!
It's crazy to think that Spaceport America, the middle-of-nowhere New Mexico base for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, has already been open for just over two years. We may not yet have regular flights to space, but while that day grows nearer the public is very welcome to come have a look around.
The Spaceport, located in the Chihuahuan Desert 150 miles south of Albuquerque, actually offers public tours aimed at "giving guests an up close look at the spaceflight facilities before operations begin." The tours have grown so popular that the tour operators, Follow The Sun Inc., have changed the pick-up point to a more central location (The Holiday Inn, with free breakfast!) in the hot springs town of Truth or Consequences.
Space Tourism / Virgin Galactic / Science Travel / Richard Branson / Space Travel / Travel News / → All Tags
We haven’t heard that much from Virgin Galactic recently, but that doesn’t mean the space ship team hasn’t been hard at work behind the scenes. They’re still doing their very best to ensure that space tourism becomes a reality sooner than later. That’s definitely good, since from what it sounds like, the space flight carrier already has more than a few customers on the books and ready to go.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two just finished its latest round of testing, and thankfully things all went according to plan. The latest aerial endeavor was known as a "cold flow” test. They haven't lit the rocket engines on this sucker just yet, but it means they've completed pretty much everything else—so that means they’re ready for the next step. The ship’s contrail was even visible for the first time, so now we know how awesome the thing will look like when it blasts away from earth.
On April 22, KLM will launch a high-altitude balloon from the Nevada desert. It's all Felix Baumgartner-style, but instead of a capsule containing a person, the balloon will instead lift a capsule containing a ticket to space...to be won by you.
Enter to win on their official site, but give yourself a couple minutes to complete the process. Just as with space flight, it's not as simple as it seems.
First, there's a snazzy intro animation to the entire project, after which you must predict the max height the balloon will reach and how far it will travel from its launch point. We just did it, and there's no point in keeping your choice a secret since each altitude & drift combination is unique. As in, no one else can choose your same altitude & drift guess. If the balloon comes closest to that bit of space you've virtually claimed, then you win the Grand Prize of a flight to space on the SXC Lynx, a trip worth $95,000.