User Input

User Input: It’s Getting Colder


Most of the readers here I feel are probably fairly up on current events, so you have probably seen where there is a country that rhymes with Prussia that has (finger quotes) invaded (finger quotes) a country that rhymes with Brukraine. This particular event has gotten more than a few folks considering the possibility of a return to the Cold War that we knew and loved, and I don’t use the word love entirely with sarcasm–there does seem to be a certain excitement about for a nostalgic return to the heady days of living free and hating on Commies. I came across this question on Motherboard the other day, and they were coming at the situation from an angle that I hadn’t thought of, but I found quite interesting. Does a new Cold War mean a new Space Race?

Shutdown: American Space’s Futures Past

1970 was somewhat of an optimist perspective.


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Airborne Awesomosity

Atlant: Heavy Lift Soviet Style


In 1976 the Soviet leadership may have already been seeing the cracks of their centrally-planned economy appearing. Yet, they still had a “keep up with the Jones'” attitude and were funding the ill-fated Buran project. In order to transport large assemblies from the production facilities to the Baikonur Cosmodrome they needed an aircraft with some serious lifting ability. Vladimir Myasishchev was contacted and thought he had just the aircraft for the job.

Continue reading Atlant: Heavy Lift Soviet Style

Moments in History

Mysteries of the Moon

apollo11 launch

This afternoon I am going to run the first of a couple of posts that I have been kicking around for quite some time now, but just have never gotten around to. (Be sure to tune in next week for more!) The Professor’s User Input on the question of the current state of NASA and the future thereof reminded me of them. First up, when we remember back to the space race it’s culmination with the Moon landing, I think that we tend to view it as a period of triumph and success. But I think it is important to recall that at the time, the neither the success of these ventures nor the victory over the Russians in the Cold War were in any way assured. When it came to the Moon landing, did you ever wonder what sort of back up plans might have been in place in the event of mission failure?

The possibility had been considered that a problem with the lunar lander could have stranded the intrepid astronauts on the Moon, and a memo outlining actions to be taken and the speech that the president would make if such an unfortunate incident occurred were written.  The previously unpublished documents were found by LA Times columnist Jim Mann, in a file titled, “IN THE EVENT OF MOON DISASTER.”

President Richard Nixon would have informed the country that night on television:

Before giving the speech, the President would have made telephone calls to the “widows to be” to offer condolences. After final goodbyes, and perhaps recommendations to the astronauts on how to close their lives, the plans called for Mission Control to “close down communications” with the Lunar Module. In a public ritual likened to burial at sea, clergyman would then have commended their souls to “the deepest of the deep”. (

Continue reading Mysteries of the Moon


Hanging on Every Word

The world of the internet is always both a strange and fascinating place. It is hard to generalize and classify everything that is out there, but if perhaps you considered one end of one particular spectrum to be crackpots on a forum trading ‘facts’ about chem-trails and the fake Moon landing, the other end of that spectrum would be Spacelog. This folks behind this website have created searchable, linkable, and highly readable versions of the official transcripts of the early days of space exploration.

In fifty years since mankind began to explore in person the universe outside our home planet, there have been many memorable moments, of beauty, of bravery, and occasionally of tragedy. For those who did not live through them it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the excitement of these early flights. Spacelog aims to bring those missions back to life: a website for exploring manned space missions through transcripts of conversations from during the flights between those in space and those back on the ground, and from photography taken at the time.

The missions currently available are:  “Vostok 1 (1961), the first human space flight;  Mercury 3 (1961), first American manned mission;  Mercury 4 (1961), second American manned mission;  Mercury 6 (1962), first American to reach earth orbit;  Mercury 7 (1962), second American orbital mission;  Gemini 3 (1965), first Gemini mission;  Apollo 11 (1969), the first person to walk on the moon; and Apollo 13 (1970), a mission with a problem.”

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Moments in History, Spaceheads


That’s how long it took John Glenn to make 3 orbits of our blue marble aboard Friendship 7 on January 20, 1962. If you’re not good with the maths, that was 50 years ago today. Technically known as Mercury-Atlas 6, this spaceflight was the first time NASA attempted to put a man in orbit. Oh, and they were successful at it, too. Hit the jump for the first installment of NASA TV’s celebration of this milestone in US spaceflight. Do it. You have nothing better to do for the next 25 minutes, do you?
Continue reading 04:55:23


Running Out Of Space

The Progress 38 resupply vehicle heading towards the International Space Station looks so…lonely. Soon, though, space could be a lot more crowded.
Continue reading Running Out Of Space


Startup: Success Through Failure

Image Courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories

Normally for Startup, I post a piece of technology that is somehow significant, or whimsical, or historically relevant, or just plain old cool. Today I’m taking a slightly different approach. Pay close attention: this is not actually a piece of technology. This is an explosion.

Now […]