Places I should be traveling to

NASA posted high resolution scans of all the Apollo photos, so obviously I had to browse through them. A few thoughts: When you see the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module at high resolution, or in real life, it looks really crap. It’s like something welded together out of dented leftover sheet metal and wrapped in aluminium foil. Obviously part of the design problem was making it as lightweight as possible, but it’s hard to believe that something so flimsy looking landed on the moon and took off again.

Not exactly rocket science

“CAPCOM to Nowak, prepare to begin pre-launch procedures.” “Copied loud and clear, Houston.” “Astronaut to confirm all required equipment and supplies have been loaded and stowed.” “Trenchcoat—check… Wig—check… $600 in cash—check… Adult diapers—check… Rubber tubing—check… BB gun—check… Pepper spray—check… Steel mallet—check… 4″ knife—check… Latex gloves—check… Large garbage bags for disposing of body parts—check.” “Checklist confirmed, you are cleared for 900 mile drive to Florida.”

Choices, choices

Amount NASA will save by cancelling the Voyager 1 and 2 projects and no longer receiving the scientific data they are sending: $4 million. Amount NASA plans to spend in 2005-2006(PDF) to improve their IFMP financial reporting system: $77 million.


I’m not sure I can explain why space travel means so much to me.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting with my grandfather, watching one of the Apollo moon landings on TV. I’m not sure which one, but since the Lunar Rover was involved it must have been one of the later ones. I would watch Sci Fi TV shows with him as well. “UFO”, in particular, and sometimes “Dr Who” if it wasn’t too scary.

Later I began reading SF, starting with Arthur C. Clarke. By then “Space:1999” was on TV, and soon I read the novel of “2001”. I remember working out how old I would be in the year 2000. With some delight, I calculated that I would be the right age to be one of the people working on the moonbase. So that became my plan.

I learnt everything I could about the space program. I collected books about astronomy, and books with diagrams of how rocket engines worked. I learned about relativity, zero gravity, orbits, black holes, red shifts and how zero gravity bathrooms worked, all before I’d got as far as trigonometry at school. I memorized the sequence of vehicle maneuvers for an Apollo moon landing. I studied souvenir brochures from the Kennedy Space Center, with pictures of the Vehicle Assembly Building, Skylab, Soyuz, Gemini, and the Angry Alligator.