When the first men to walk on the moon splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969 – 50 years ago this month – the first human being they encountered was Lt. Clancy Hatleberg, a 25-year-old Navy SEAL from Chippewa Falls. As the capsule bobbed on the choppy, shark-infested waters, Hatleberg opened the hatch, handed biological isolation suits to the astronauts, sprayed them with disinfectant to kill any “moon germs,” and helped get them hoisted into a waiting helicopter. “Being given a chance to participate in the first mission where men would actually walk on another planet … it was like a dream come true,” he said in an interview published in 2005. Hatleberg – whose wife, Sue, grew up in Eau Claire – went on to a two-decade career in the Navy.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir had been scheduled to venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) together next Monday (Oct. 21), as part of a series of excursions to install new batteries. But they’ve been retasked and fast-tracked, thanks to the failure of one of the orbiting lab’s power controllers over the weekend, NASA officials announced today (Oct. 15).
“@Space_Station update: our first all-female spacewalk with @Astro_Christina and @Astro_Jessica will be Thursday or Friday to replace a faulty battery charge-discharge unit,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said via Twitter. More details will be relayed during a press conference later today, he added.
When Lori Fraleigh unwrapped the present her husband had given her for her 38th birthday, she found a curious surprise: a model of a spaceship. It was cool, sure, but a toy would be better suited for her young children, then 5 and 1, not her.
Then she noticed the ticket. It took Fraleigh, a Silicon Valley executive, a moment to realize what her husband had purchased for her: a trip to space with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. “I went through a lot of crazy emotions, like, ‘Did you really buy this?’ ” she recalled of the moment in 2011. “ ‘Do we still have enough money to remodel the kitchen?’ ”
Today, her children are 13 and 9. The kitchen remodel has long since been completed. But Fraleigh is still waiting for her trip to space.
Autonomous robots will assist future astronauts during long-duration missions to other worlds by performing tedious, repetitive and even strenuous tasks. These robotic helpers will let crews focus on the more meticulous areas of exploring. To help achieve this, NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, along with Space Center Houston of Texas, opened the second phase of the NASA Space Robotics Challenge. This virtual challenge aims to advance autonomous robotic operations for missions on the surface of distant planets or moons.
“We believe the public has ideas that can help us advance the state-of-the-art in autonomous robotic operations on planetary surfaces,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “The first phase of this competition demonstrated teams could create sophisticated autonomous software, and this second phase will push teams to pair those capabilities with tasks that will be critical to exploring the Moon and Mars.”
The National Space Grant Foundation (NSGF) (www.SpaceGrant.org) is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of our Space Grant Store at www.SpaceGrantStore.com, which has been carefully created to share and sell fun and educational STEM and Space Related merchandise. Visitors supporting www.SpaceGrantStore.com help fund our programming needs to reach more students to become involved in STEM and space related education and careers. NSGF intends for the SpaceGrantStore.com to be the Ultimate STEM and Space related merchandise Super Store for STEM and space enthusiasts around the world in the months and years ahead.
More products are arriving weekly at www.SpaceGrantStore.com so check back often, especially during holiday gift giving time and birthdays! Your generous donation at www.SpaceGrantStore.com helps NSGF fund our ability and programming to reach more students, with our goal to impact a million more STEM and Space Explorers by 2025, so please consider a donation to support our cause today!
Engineers took NASA’s Mars 2020 for a spin on Aug. 29, 2019. The 2,300-pound (1,040-kilogram) Martian vehicle was rotated clockwise and counterclockwise at about 1 revolution per minute on what is called a spin table in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (The rotation was speeded up in the video above.) The engineers were looking for the rover’s center of gravity, or the point at which weight is evenly dispersed on all sides.
Establishing the rover’s center of gravity is a key part of the assembly process and helps ensure that the spacecraft travels smoothly from launch to entry, descent and landing on Mars as calculated. Engineers can add weights in order to help balance out the vehicle. In the end, they affixed nine tungsten weights totaling 44 pounds (20 kilograms) to the rover chassis at predetermined attachment points to get the center of gravity just right.
Amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere may be able to currently see Saturn, but NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken a series of images of the ringed planet that give new details about its rings, as well as its ever-changing weather.
In a blog post, NASA said the images snapped by the telescope “are more than just beauty shots,” adding that they shed new light on a planet that has “a turbulent, dynamic atmosphere.”
Olivia Pierce spent part of her summer vacation at NASA and she wants to help other students get the same kinds of unique opportunities.
The Oliver Ames High School senior attended a NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) internship at the University of Texas in Austin for two weeks this past July.
The internship, offered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium and University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research provides selected students with exposure to Earth and space research. All expenses were covered in the internship. Pierce only paid for her flight, but some travel grants are available.
Astronomers have discovered the most massive example yet of the dead stars known as neutron stars, one almost too massive to exist, a new study finds.
Neutron stars, like black holes, are corpses of stars that died in catastrophic explosions known as supernovas. When a star goes supernova, the core of its remains collapses under the strength of its own gravitational pull. If this remnant is massive enough, it may form a black hole, which has gravity so powerful that not even light can escape. A less massive core will form a neutron star, so named because its gravity is strong enough to crush protons together with electrons to form neutrons.