Thursday, May 31, 2012

Head On a Swivel

OK, I feel all rested up from the busy weekend.

My Memorial Day Weekend was all about history...looking back if you will...WWII Battleship USS Iowa...70th Monaco Grand Prix...96th Indianapolis 500.

Even baseball brought the history. On Monday, San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera passed Willie Mays' 1958 record of 49 hits in the month of May. Wednesday night the Melk Man knocked his 51st hit, tieing the all-time-any-month Giants record that goes back to 1918.

When SturgeUrge and I were on San Francisco Bay Saturday, the boat traffic became so crazy that SturgeUrge's head looked like it was on a it Combat Boating. Well, Skipper 'Urge brought us back to dry land in one piece to float another day.

This evening, I feel like it's my head on the proverbial swivel. My world is all on the up and up tonight...after watching the Giants lose 4-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, my twitter feed was suddenly full of spaceflight tweets...

As I write, I'm keeping an ear on the SpaceX Dragon and the International Space Station's LIVE ungrapple and departure stream. The Dragon Capsule will leave the ISS tonight on it's way back to Earth. As it turns out, all this spaceflight stuff is history too...SpaceX's Dragon is the first commercial spacecraft to visit and dock to the ISS. The Dragon will shuttle people back and forth from the ISS after some more test flights and NASA approval.

SpaceX aren't the only private outfit building commercial spacecraft for the ISS delivery market either...

Orbital Sciences Corp. is developing their Antares rocket/ Cygnus capsule system to serve the ISS, too.

Another company, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic received the necessary permits from the FAA to test their SpaceShip Two with full rocket motor power. Virgin who call themselves the "First Commercial Spaceline" (as opposed to airline), is going after the Space Tourist Trade...short sub-orbital rides into space, complete with the dramatic, firey atmospheric reentry.

I'm so grateful to these companies picking up NASA's slack. NASA seems to be dithering lately, and time is running out for me to see earthmen walk on Mars. When I was a kid watching NASA blast off into the New Frontier, it was a given that men would be on Mars sooner than it's been forty years since we last landed on the Moon! NASA gets it budget slashed every year while the Feds run up World Record deficits...

You know, all this internet/smartphone/Facebook/Twitter/iPad stuff is all the product of kids who were inspired by the Space Program and it's offshoots. Back in the day, we all felt like we were helping the astronauts...willing them higher, farther, the next unbelievable breakthrough, milestone after milestone, until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface in 1969. We all carried astronaut lunch boxes to school, scores of toys and commercial tie-ins exploited our space mania. Is Tang still on grocery store shelves?

Well, in the Internet Age, pandering is as easy as click, click, click, only in the 21st Century they're giving it away. Here's some SpaceX Dragon fun that's free save the price of printing it on your home printer:

Print and build your own paper Dragon Spacecraft

Have fun kids!

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