October 30, 2012

Weather Satellites Revolutionized Weather Forecasting & Save Lives

Credit NASA
The worlds first weather satellite was invented by NOAA and NASA in America and launched on April 1, 1960, ushering in the modern era of weather prediction.

TIROS-1 showed a typhoon near Australia, cloud patterns over the US, and allowed for the first time meteorologists to view storms from space and track their motion.  

Previously, storms over the ocean might go entirely unnoticed except for chance reports by ships, and powerful storms could come as a total surprise when they reached land, resulting in far higher deaths and injuries than today.

In spite of the terrible damage from Hurricane Sandy, we should be thankful for the space program which developed life-saving weather satellites, and allowed early warning of Sandy's path and destructive force. There would have been far greater loss of life in previous decades. As an example, thousands died in the 1900 Galveston Hurricane as evacuation in advance was not possible as it would be today.

Hurricane Sandy from ISS, in the Bahamas
 off east coast of Florida. Credit: NASA TV
It may be difficult for those who grew up with satellite-based forecasting to imagine life with poor or no forecasting. Weather forecasters today get picked on for appearing to not get it right at times, but when we look at their record, they are right far more than not, and every decade offers considerably greater accuracy and yet earlier warnings.

Today's weather satellites provide far greater resolution and data than the first, and can monitor tsunamis and even receive broadcasts from emergency beacons. Astronauts on the International Space Station frequently photograph storms and other phenomena such as aurora.

Completing the picture are weather apps for smart phones as well as emergency alert apps. Anyone care to forecast what's next on the horizon?

More weather satellite history at: www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100401_tiros.html

October 15, 2012

The Space X Launch to ISS

Space X achieved yet another success as it launched its first official Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station on October 7. During the launch, one engine failed, which resulted in a secondary payload failing to achieve orbit, however about 1,000 pounds of cargo, including some ice cream for the crew, were delivered successfully.

The Director of the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration attended the launch; and participated in press conferences, discussions with NASA and Space X officials, and toured the launch pad.

Among issues discussed with Space X: They are not planning to park a Dragon on ISS for 200+ days to validate use as a human spacecraft or lifeboat, but may independently place one independently on orbit for such purposes. The target for the first human test mission for Dragon is 2015, and remaining work includes the launch escape system and life support. Falcon Heavy is slated for a test launch next year at Vandenberg.

The Dragon capsule, filled with equipment and experiments, is scheduled to return on October 28, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The ability to return equipment and experiments has not been possible since the shuttles were retired, and scientists are eager to analyze many experiments once Dragon is back on earth.

Watch these short and unique videos:

Raising Falcon for Launch

Countdown & Launch 

Exclusive Briefing with
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Exclusive Briefing with
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver

Photo Gallery. See more at www.Facebook.com/SaveMannedSpace 

Workers Monitoring Raising
of Falcon Rocket

A Dramatic View of the Falcon 9 Rocket Ready for Launch

Coalition Director Art Harman followed up on previous discussions on surviving Soyuz launch crises with ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini, and discussed Dragon human rating issues with Space X President Gwynne Shotwell

Xenon lights paint the sky and spotlight
Falcon on the Pad just minutes before launch
Presenting NASA Administrator Charles Bolden with the Coalition's historic recreation of the signs hung all over NASA during the Apollo program.  Download and print yours too--see menu on this page!
Presenting NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver with the Coalition's historic recreation of the signs hung all over NASA during the Apollo program. Download and print yours too--see menu on this page!
All photos and videos credit Art Harman and copyright © 2012