Commentary on Blue-Ribbon Panel Exploring NASA’s Strategic Options for Human Space Flight

 Posted by DrJeff on August 13th, 2009

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sciencegoal4_400_041014190552

This post is a Dr. Jeff Speaks Out and a Teachable Moment in the News.

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.

 

Should humans next travel to Moon, Mars, or …

 

The blue-ribbon panel tasked by the White House with reviewing NASA’s current strategic plans for human space flight, and exploring other options, wraps up deliberations this week. They’ve been at it just 2 months, and this Friday (August 14) Norman Augustine, the panel’s chair, presents the list of options to new NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and WH science and technology advisor John Holdren. I thought I’d weigh in.

 

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An Apollo 11 Personal Story

 Posted by DrJeff on July 16th, 2009

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This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.


Photo caption: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Photo by Neil Armstrong.

 

I think it was August 1998. I got a call from Gina Ross, the principal of Buzz Aldrin Elementary School in Reston, VA. Her teachers were about to return to school for the new academic year, and before the kids returned she wanted me to come and visit. My mission? To inspire her teaching staff with an inter-disciplinary talk on the nature of human exploration, what we as a species of explorers are capable of achieving when we put our minds to it, and that teachers and parents are the link that binds each generation to the next, allowing us personally and collectively to aspire to new heights.

 

The presentation was going well. They were with me, and I could see them getting energized for the new year. Midway through, I was telling them about how I was inspired to be a space explorer when I was just 11. It was one of those singular moments that changes us forever. I was watching a black and white television and on the screen were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking around … on the Moon! You just have to step back from that sentence and let it soak in.

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 4: You Want Me to Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

 Posted by DrJeff on July 8th, 2009

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Read Original Challenge HERE.

For Post

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

Ok, I know you’ve been perplexed for a week. You’ve been patiently waiting for me to read my bathroom scale on top of my 210 mile high mountain that apparently even the U.S. Geological Survey knows nothing about (I checked at their web site.) Wait! You say you have no clue what I’m talking about?? Hey, you’ve got to read Weekly Challege 4 FIRST! None of this lazy stuff going right to the answer.

 

Go read Weekly Challenge 4, think about it for a while, and come back. I’ll wait right here for you.

 

And now the answer—


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If I Could Gift Wrap the Moon

 Posted by DrJeff on July 2nd, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Earth-Moon

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News and a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.

 

Have you ever just stopped on a cloudless night and stared at the Moon? And I’m not talking about a 2 second passing glance, and a smile. A jewel in the night, it is a sight many of us learn to ignore. Yet it is ANOTHER WORLD, and we can see it clearly from our backyards. That to me seems like a gift.

 

Now for my gift to you. If you’ve never done it, or you haven’t recently, PLEASE just take out a simple pair of binoculars (forget the telescope) and look at the Moon. Do it with your children. Teach them an appreciation for what’s in their sky. It is a stunning site.

 

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Weekly Challenge 4: You Want Me to Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

 Posted by DrJeff on June 29th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

For Post

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Teachable Moment in the News.

 

As I write, NASA engineers at Kennedy Space Center are working mightily on space shuttle Endeavour to repair a hydrogen leak that scrubbed the June 13, then June 17 launches. Endeavour is headed for the International Space Station. NASA reports that the next flight opportunity is July 11—WHICH MEANS I’ve got plenty of time to get ready for my way cool experiment.

 

I’ve heard a lot about weightlessness, and astronauts having a great time floating around. The shuttle flies at an altitude of 210 miles (340 km) when rendezvousing with Space Station. (For a cool take on this read my earlier post The Business Trip.) So I wanted to find out first hand what’s going on up there. Since they don’t have a spare seat, I looked far and wide to find an amazingly tall mountain whose peak rises to the shuttle’s orbital altitude. See my mountain in the picture? Mt. Everest is only 5.5 miles (8.8 km) high. MY mountain is 210 miles (340 km) high. It took me some time but I finally found it south of the Land of Make-Believe, down a not too well traveled path. Still, you’d think someone would have noticed it.

 

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SPECIAL POST: Where Were You During the Flight of Apollo 11? Remember and Share –

 Posted by DrJeff on June 26th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Countdown to History
Ensure your system clock is correct for countdown accuracy.
Launch of Apollo 11, Cape Kennedy: T-minus
[clock1]

Touchdown at Tranquility Base: T-minus

[clock2]

A Footprint on Another World: T-minus

[clock3]

 

Aldrin

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.

 

We came in peace for all mankind


It was a moment that changed us. A moment that began a new chapter in the book of the human race. It was an achievement shared by all the peoples of the world … and in that moment—our differences were overwhelmed by the common bond of our humanity. And hear ye future generations—it was a testament to what we are collectively capable of achieving when we aim beyond the horizon.

 

Many of you reading this lived through it and were powerfully moved. Many of you were not yet born—but yearn to know what it was like.

 

I created this special post as a place where those that lived it could share the experience with those that did not.

 

If you were moved 40 years ago next month, please leave a comment below. Think about where you were, what it meant to you, and what it meant to the world. And we warmly invite you to put your thoughts to ‘paper’ here.

 

I’ll start it off with my own very personal experience in the recent post: The Launch of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Brought Back Memories of Apollo 11.

 

I have also assembled a list of resources below to help you celebrate with friends and family, and follow the flight—in real time—as it happened 40 years ago. I’ll be adding more to the list every few days.

 

With best wishes for great memories and wonderful sharing time,

Jeff Goldstein, Center Director, NCESSE

 

 

Please Tweet and Email the existence of this page far and wide, so we can remember together.


Return often to read new comments below with friends and family.

 

 

Feel the magic and the majesty—again.

 

 

Resources


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Yesterday’s Launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Brings Back Memories of Apollo 11

 Posted by DrJeff on June 19th, 2009

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Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is about to become the second human being to walk on the Moon. This picture was taken by Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, July 20, 1969.

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is about to become the second human being to walk on the Moon. This picture was taken by Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, July 20, 1969.


This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.


Yesterday (Thursday, June 18) the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and will reach the Moon next Tuesday, June 23. LRO is a robotic mission that will pave the way for humans to return to the lunar surface. It’s also a timely teachable moment in the news for another reason—

 

July 20th is coming. I’m waiting for the emotions to wash over me again. It will be the 40th anniversary of the first human footprints on another world, and I lived it.

 

I remember it so vividly. It was July 16, 1969. At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Apollo 11—a rocket as tall as a 36-story building—blasted off with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins aboard. The command module Columbia—with barely enough room for the three crew seats—was their home for the 3-day trip to the Moon, and by July 19th they were in orbit.

 

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The Business Trip

 Posted by DrJeff on May 19th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News by Dr. Jeff.

 

This was originally posted during the flight of Shuttle Atlantis, STS-125, May 11-24, 2009. But it can be used as a Teachable Moment for any Shuttle flight, or used at any time with the International Space Station.

 

Every so often I’ve got to tell my son Jordi that I need to go away on a business trip. His first question is always, “Daddy, where are you going?” So I pull out a map or a globe, talk about what I’m going to do when I get there, and make it a teachable moment. I can teach him some geography, and in a way where he’s personally connected to the place.

 

So, I have to wonder if astrophysicist John Grunsfeld has little kids. If so, he might have recently said, “kids, daddy has to go away on a business trip for a couple of weeks.” I would have liked to be the fly on the wall when they said “where daddy?”

 

John and his friends (Michael, Michael, Gregory, Megan, Scott, and Andrew) are definitely on a grueling business trip, but I’d rather go with them than to Disney World. Right now they’re in a spiffy RV (with really expensive accommodations) moving about 4.5 MILES PER SECOND (7 km/sec) relative to you. Think about that speed for a moment.

 

They’re aboard space shuttle Atlantis, relaxing after having just repaired a national treasure–the Hubble Space Telescope. They are in OUTER SPACE (say this slowly and with an echo for effect.) So, let’s use his business trip as a teachable moment. Where is … OUTER SPACE?

 

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