Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘space’ Category

Made on Earth by Humans

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How about that launch by SpaceX yesterday afternoon of the Falcon Heavy rocket?

If you didn’t see that Webcast, it’s well worth checking out.

According to SpaceX’s website, the Falcon Heavy is now the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, with the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lbs!). That’s a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel.

Furthermore, Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

In space, your mileage may vary (especially flying Elon Musk’s personal Tesla, which was, in this case, the primary payload — that, and an endless loop of David Bowie’s "Life on Mars.")

It was also quite something to see the two side boosters re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, fire up their re-entry burn, then plop down and land safely back on their pads at Cape Canaveral, ready to be re-purposed for future use.

Elon Musk did a TV interview this AM, in which he explained his greatest fear yesterday was seeing a big explosion on the launchpad, only to then see a tire rolling down the road with the word "Tesla" on the side.

Those fears have been put to rest, at least for this inaugural launch.

As for the upper stage, it will (hopefully) move through the Van Allen belts and, if it continues to operate as planned, will do another engine burn before heading into deep space on a Mars orbit.

And just in case Falcon Heavy meets any extraterrestrials or Martians on the way, he put a simple message on a circuit board:

"Made on the earth by humans."

Some really smart and inspiring ones.

Written by turbotodd

February 7, 2018 at 8:24 am

Posted in 2018, elon musk, space

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A Solar Eclipse of the Heart

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Did you hear?

There’s a major total solar eclipse going on today.

Not sure how you could have missed it. This is going to be the most overwatched, overphotographed celestial events in the history of mankind.

I’m way far south of the Zone of Totality, so I wasn’t able to experience the total eclipse firsthand. But I was able to catch it on ABC with David Muir and his crew.

At the peak eclipse here in Austin at 1:10 PM CST, you could definitely sense a darkening of the light out (but nothing like what folks in the Total Zone [my shorthand] saw.

If you’re still watching out in the eastern US, check it out on NASA TV.

Uh, and don’t look straight into the sun without some of those fancy solar eclipse glasses. It’s not good for you.

As opposed to any other time you might be tempted to look straight into the sun.

Written by turbotodd

August 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Posted in nasa, space

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Chase the Total Solar Eclipse

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Millions of consumers depend on The Weather Channel and weather.com for their daily forecasts, breaking weather news, and the latest in health and travel. And, on August 21, they will be able to experience a solar eclipse like never before.

The Weather Channel digital properties and Twitter have teamed up for a live stream of this once-in-a lifetime celestial event, which will allow consumers to chase the total solar eclipse in real time as it moves from coast-to-coast.

“This eclipse is a once-in-a-hundred-year event, and we’re going to party like it’s New Year’s Eve,’” said Neil Katz, head of global content and editor-in-chief, The Weather Company, an IBM Business. “This eclipse is a celestial phenomenon and cultural moment that can’t be missed, and we couldn’t imagine a better partner than Twitter to celebrate this with.”

“Chasing Eclipse 2017” Live Stream

The interactive live coverage for “Chasing Eclipse 2017” kicks off at noon ET on August 21. The Weather Channel digital coverage will immerse viewers in totalities from 10 locations along the eclipse path – from the ground and from space – and join the fun celebrations taking place across the country.

Live locations include: Stanley, ID; Carbondale, IL; St. Joseph’s, MO; Alliance, NE; Hopkinsville, KY; McMinnville, OR; Belton, SC; Nashville, TN; and Casper, WY.

Hosted in-studio by meteorologists Ari Sarsalari and Domenica Davis, “Chasing Eclipse 2017” will feature:

  • High-resolution and aerial drone footage from Weather’s network of storm trackers as the eclipse moves along the path of totality
  • User-generated content from Twitter
  • Live updates from eclipse viewing parties with weather.com field reporters
  • Special hyperlocal eclipse footage from TEGNA partner stations in Portland, OR; Boise, ID; Denver, CO; St. Louis, MO; Knoxville, TN; and Columbia, SC
  • Red Bull Cliff Diving event featuring athletes diving under the shadows of the eclipse. Surface mirrors will reflect stunning images of the divers and the eclipse.
  • Real-time eclipse footage from NASA
  • “Fact Off” game show featuring the hosts from “Part-Time Genius” podcast
  • Interactive social segments
  • Live coverage of an #Eclipse2017 joint wedding
  • IP-based broadcast production technology and support supplied by NewTek

“We are thrilled to partner with The Weather Channel and their award-winning digital editorial team for coverage of this momentous occasion,” Anthony Noto, COO, Twitter. “The ‘Chasing Eclipse 2017’ live stream allows people around the world to watch and join the #Eclipse2017 conversation as it unfolds live on Twitter.”

“Chasing Eclipse 2017” will be available via The Weather Channel app, weather.com, and Twitter. The live stream will be available for free to logged-in and logged-out users on Twitter as well as connected devices globally.

Viewers will be able to access the live stream at http://eclipse2017.twitter.com or via @weatherchannel. To join the conversation and submit content for “Chasing Eclipse 2017,” tweet with #Eclipse2017.

For more information, visit http://features.weather.com/eclipse. The Weather Channel (weather.com) is part of The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

The Weather Company, an IBM Business

The Weather Company helps people take action in the face of weather. As part of IBM’s Watson Content & IoT Platform, it powers new possibilities of decision making, informed by billions of data inputs and enabled by leading cognitive technology.

The company offers personalized insights and the most accurate forecasts globally to millions of consumers and thousands of marketers and businesses through its business solutions division and its own digital products from The Weather Channel and Weather Underground.

The company delivers around 25 billion forecasts daily. Its products include the world’s most downloaded weather app, a network of 250,000 personal weather stations, a top-20 U.S. website, one of the world’s largest IoT data platforms, and industry-leading business solutions. Weather Means Business — the world’s biggest brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business. For more, visit theweathercompany.com.

Written by turbotodd

August 16, 2017 at 9:39 am

Posted in ibm, internet of things, space, weather

Tagged with ,

SpaceX’s Return to Orbit: T-Minus One Day

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set to return to space tomorrow, January 14th, the company’s first launch since an explosion on September 1st of last year.

That launch was expected to carry Israel’s Amos-6 communications satellite into launch.

After a lengthy review of the explosion, on January 2nd of this year SpaceX representatives indicated the explosion occurred due to the buckling of an aluminum liner on a compositive overwrapped helium tank inside the Falcon 9’s upper stage liquid oxygen tank.

Tomorrow’s Falcon 9 has another, even more substantial satellite payload: 10 satellites for Iridium’s Next next-generation mobile voice and data relay network. And no question, SpaceX needs this launch to actually launch.

In June 2015, a Falcon 9 that was to carry four months of supplies to the International Space Station exploded just minutes after launch. According to a Wall Street Journal article published earlier today, SpaceX saw a quarter-billion dollar annual loss that year and a 6 percent drop in profits.

But SpaceX’s CFO Bret Johnson indicated the company is in “a financially strong position and is well positioned for future growth,” indicating the company had over $1 billion of cash and no debt.

Tomorrow’s launch for the Iridium Next satellites is slated for lift-off at 9:54:34 AM, Pacific Standard Time, at the SLC-4E launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Written by turbotodd

January 13, 2017 at 9:25 am

Posted in 2017, satellites, space

Spaceships, Aliens, And Androids: The Scott & Todd SXSW 2013 Podcast Debrief

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Scott Laningham and I first met around six years ago at SXSW Interactive.  Scott was already well known for his developerWorks podcast series and blog, and he was walking around the conference talking to people, so we decided to sit down and do a podcast discussing all the cool things we’d seen and learned about during the conference.

It was the beginning of a wonderful and still ongoing collaboration, and since that time, Scott and I have shared the stage at numerous IBM conferences, interviewing industry luminaries, IBM executives and business partners, and other thought leaders.

But we always come back to SXSW Interactive. And so it was with 2013.

Scott and I sat down on Friday via Skype and chatted for nearly 30 minutes about all the interesting things we heard and learned about at this year’s event, the first time it reached over 30,000 attendees.

Some would say SouthBy has jumped the shark. I’m not so sure. I joked early on in the event last week that perhaps it had jumped a few dolphins.

Has it gotten a lot more crowded?  Absolutely.

Has it stretched the outer limits of Austin’s hotel and transportation capacity?  Without question.

Do you have to wait in long lines stretching halfway around the Austin Convention Center just to see a keynote?  Yes yes yes.

And to my mind, it’s still worth every minute.

P.S. Scott has also established a new blog, which you can find right here on WordPress.

Written by turbotodd

March 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

SXSW 2013: A Long Future From The Lone Star

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The way I see it, former elected U.S. president Al Gore and digital payments guru and solar/space explorer Elon Musk would have it one of two ways: Either we get our act together on Planet Earth and stop treating it as a discardable TV dinner, or we get on some rocket ships and get the %#*&#$ outta here!

Of course, space travel’s still a little too expensive for the average joe, considering our recent income disparities here in the U.S., so I suspect for now most of us really don’t have much of a choice but to stay here.

Mother Earth, we’re stuck with you, and it looks like you’re stuck with us!

Gore’s talk was the kind that made you want to go ahead and just put a gun to your head and pull the trigger. But with all this gun control talk, that’s about to become less of an option.

Orrrr, you can take a more positive and upbeat view of the world, and reason that since we created many of these problems, we oughta be able to lick ’em.

Gore’s latest book entitled The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change outlines just that, and Wall Street Journal technology editor Walter Mossberg sat onstage with Gore on Saturday to walk through some of those changes.

Gore explained the idea of “Earth Inc,” whereby we are realizing a “new stage of economic globalization with much tighter linkages and nexuses globally,” and that we have a “new relationship to the natural factors of production: labor, capital, natural resources.”

Think outsourcing, remote sourcing, robosourcing, rightsizing, and all that good stuff, and you get the general gist.

He also discussed the emergence of what he called “the global mind,” or the connections of thoughts and feelings of billions of people to each other and other devices (and vast databases…and sensors…and so on).

On this meme, he told an hilarious story about Swiss dairy cows which, with embedded sensors, are able to convey to their ranch overseers when they come into heat (for optimal reproduction). The first instance, Gore joked, of “interspecies sexting.”

Who said the former President doesn’t have a great sense of humor?

Of course, all that data and all those sensors could also lead to a stalker economy, and Gore didn’t shy away from the dark side of his six predictions.

For example, the idea that our democracy has been “hacked” and that Washington, D.C., and public policy, are now completely controlled by the moneyed interests on K Street. “The Congress is utterly incapable of passing any legislation,” Gore asserted, “unless it was approved by the special interests.”

Gore also warned us that we’re rapidly outgrowing the idea of growth, something Doug Rushkoff reminded us of in his session on “Present Future.” We’ve enslaved ourselves in outmoded economic transaction models, one that don’t take into account our ever over-social-mediated, present-oriented present tense, a tense most of us don’t even bother living in anymore (Think about all those folks who ignore you at dinner whilst they disappear into cyberland on their iPhones).

So what’s the antithesis, we all become a new collective of philistine Unabombers?

Nothing that dramatic. Well, not unless you’re Elon Musk.

The founder of SpaceX joked early in his interview with Chris Anderson on Saturday that “I’d like to die on Mars…just not on impact.”

Could we have a virtual, trans-universal drum roll, please?

Musk extolled on the “how’s” of going into space, and how his plans include building multi-stage rockets that are re-usable, thereby making space exploration more cost-effective.

He also indicated that he’s “all in,” having put most of his fortune into Tesla (his electric car company), SpaceX (his space company), and Solar City (to try and capture energy from the sun just in case things don’t work out so well on Mars?)

But Musk never left me really understanding *why* he so desperately wanted to leave Planet Earth? Was he trying to escape alimony payments from his first ex-wife? Did he want to mine the asteroids? Did the CIA want to speak with him about his attempt to purchase Russian ICBMs back in 2001?

If Elon couldn’t explain the need to get our asses (and assets) into outer space, Dr. Mae Jemison and her Star Trek-studded crew (including LeVar Burton) on the 100YSS mission certainly could!

An abbreviation for “100 Year Starship,” agree with it or not, 100YSS’s mission is clear: To make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years.”

Not for its own sake, mind you, but to “identify and push the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight…” Pause one second…Anddddd…”while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth.”

Finally! A space bound mission with a realistic and practical hedge that I could get behind!

Hey boys and girls, we can certainly go across the universe in search of Marvin The Martian, but just in case we either A. Can’t get there or B. can’t find the elusive little bastard, let’s make sure we learn something that could help the people left back here on the home planet.

Imagine, Dr. Jemison suggested, what it would take to figure out in terms of energy production to get us to the nearest star (which, she reminded us, is a mind bogglingly long ways away). All that technology would have profound implications for use back here on earth.

“Pursuing an extraordinary tomorrow,” Jamison extolled, “creates a better world today.”

From your lips, Dr. Jamison, to the U.S. Congress’ ears.

Written by turbotodd

March 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Out Of Curiosity?

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I had a glorious weekend, thank you.

I got to watch some of the Olympics Saturday night, and I must say, it was refreshing to me to watch some plain old vanilla track and field events.

From Oscar Pistorius to Usain Bolt to Allyson Felix, I found myself enjoying the simplicity of seeing people running around the track.

Not that I haven’t enjoyed the beach volleyball and the swimming and everything else…I certainly do…but watching those runners break out of those gates and sprint for ten seconds or two minutes…well, I just found it very refreshing.

I did some of my own sporting over the weekend, playing golf at a couple of courses in north Texas where the temperatures in the afternoon were hovering around 102 or 103. Yes, it required lots of Gatorade.

Then, I went to bed late Sunday night, too tired to stay up for the Mars Curiosity landing but praying for its safe landing.

Terrified of what might become the further paring of the space program if Curiosity took a nose dive into the red planet.

This is one of the first images taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  “Mars Science Laboratory” endured the now infamous “seven minutes of terror” (Google it) and landed just fine.  Here’s what JPL Tweeted on MSL’s behalf:

I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL

Ah HA, a NASA with a Tweeter who’s the voice of MSL who has a sense of humor! (Follow MSL on Facebook here, a wonderful page about the program so far).

I’m an unabashed and unapologetic supporter of NASA and the American space program. One of my earliest memories was sitting on my dad’s knee when I was barely three years old, watching Neil Armstrong landing on the moon, so NASA made an impression on me very early on.

But also, just think about the amazing technology transfer the U.S. space program has brought back down to earth all these years: GPS, remote sensing for water and minerals and crop exploration, weather satellites, light-weight materials, geographic information systems…the list goes on and on.

And at a time when so many politicians and leaders seem to be thinking so small, I think it is through programs like Curiosity that we can dare to think and dream big.

Also let there be no question, IBM technology has played an instrumental role at times throughout the history of U.S. space exploration.

Just last year, while celebrating our Centennial, we saw videos like the following, which highlighted IBM’s role in Project Mercury, which led to Alan Shephard’s becoming the first American in space.

Shephard later became the fifth person to walk on the Moon, and the only astronaut of the Mercury Seven to make that walk. During his mission to the moon he hit two golf balls on the lunar surface — the longest drives ever!

NASA used IBM 7090 computing systems, and, later, 7094s to control the Mercury and Gemini space flights, and the IBM 7094 was used during the Apollo missions including Apollo 11, the moon landing.

Goddard Space Flight center also operated 3 7094s. During the early Apollo Program, a 7094 was kept operational to run flight planning software that had not yet been ported to mission control’s newer System/360.

So while curiosity may have killed the cat…it’s also what’s driving our latest mission to Mars…literally, and figuratively.

And no matter how little or vast our new knowledge becomes of the red planet, we will have proved once again that looking up and into the heavens helps us expand not only our knowledge base about Mars, but also our sense of ourselves and humankind.

Written by turbotodd

August 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

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