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The Space Log
Space for Everyone      -    August 2003

August.28.2003 Space News

Gagarin - triumph & tragedy... I recently posted a press release about the documentary Starman, which examines the life and times of Yuri Gagarin. Though released in 1998 and seen around the world, the program for some reason has not yet been shown on American TV. I was given a tape of the documentary and very much enjoyed it.

The program offers an insightful and revealing look at Gagarin's life and his famous spaceflight on April 12th 1961. Antedotes from family, friends and co-workers show the first starman to be both a decent person and an icon with very human weaknesses.

The extensive period film footage provides a full color window onto the intense Cold War period of the 1950s and early 1960s when it appeared that the Soviet Union just might offer real competition to the US in industrial and technological development. The Khrushchev period, though still very restrictive by western standards, was a huge relief from the brutal repression of the Stalin years and wave of optimism swept the Soviet Union, especially after Sputnik reached space before a US satellite got there.

Yuri Gagarin mirrored the rise and fall of this era. Gagarin was picked to be the first human to fly in space not only because of his excellent aeronautical skills but also because as the son of peasant parents he best represented what could be achieved in a Communist society. He became a world superstar with the success of the flight and a favorite of Nikta Khrushchev.

Like John Glenn, Gagarin wanted more than anything else to return to spaceflight but the political leaders felt that his symbolic value was too high to risk, especially after the death in 1967 of Vladimir Komarov in Soyuz 1 for whom Gagarin was the backup pilot. In fact, Gagarin tried to stop that flight when he saw serious defects in the program. Unfortunately, he no longer had significant influence on the leadership as the Brezhnev led team that overthrew Khrushchev kept their distance from him, perhaps jealous of his celebrity.

Unlike Glenn, Gagarin did not go on to enhoyy a successful second career but instead his health deteriorated from heavy drinking. His flying skills lapsed and in 1968 he decided to revive his flight status. On the morning of March 27th he flew a MiG-15 trainer along with a co-pilot and, under still somewhat mysterious circumstances, the plane crashed, killing both pilots. The loss of Gagarin was deeply demoralizing to the Soviet Union and seemed to presage the long slow decline from its high point in 1961 to its final collapse in 1991.

I highly recommend this documentary and will post the news here if it is to be shown on US TV and/or released on video.

Update: HobbySpace reader Kaido Kert notes also the set of documentaries called Red Files (Abamedia) (see also RED FILES: Secret Soviet Moon Mission - pbs.org) that dealt with revelations in the Communist documentation released after the fall of the Soviet Union. Episode 3 is about the "Secret Soviet Moon Mission" and deals in particular with the secret father of Soviet space programme, Sergei P. Korolev.

Images of space history... The MiX- Marshall image eXchange at Marshall Spaceflight Center provides a big selection of images from the early days of rocketry up through the latest NASA projects.

Moon watching ... The The American Lunar Society promotes the observation and study of our nearest heavenly body. It encourages various educational projects and sponsors some fun contests: Yearly "Lunar Imagining Contest" and Image of the Month

August.25.2003 Space News

Rocketry defense... Here is a good resource for defending rocketry against the rampant ignorance in the US government : Answers To The Department of Justice & ATFE Anti-Rocket Propaganda Campaign - Amateur Rocketry Society of America (via Rocketforge.)

August.24.2003 Space News

Interview with Elon Musk - Founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk answers questions from HobbySpace about the history and status of the company and the Falcon orbital launcher project.

August.22.2003 Space News

Point the Mars camera... You can submit requests for targets for the orbiter camera on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) via this site : Mars Orbiter Camera Public Target Request Site - Malin Space Science Systems. See also the article NASA Seeks Public Suggestions for Mars Photos - JPL - Aug.20.03

Living & launching off the land... This article discusses research on using local resources on Mars rather than carrying everything from earth: Harvesting Mars: A NASA-supported scientist is learning how to use carbon dioxide--the main gas in Mars' atmosphere--to harvest rocket fuel and water from the red planet. - Science@NASA - Aug.20.03

Volunteer astronomy... Amateur astronomers keep a lookout for asteroids and comets that will impact the earth: Incoming! - Popular Science - Sept.03 issue. In Britain a group of astronomy buffs created a successful observatory that's lasted over 30 years: No place like dome - BBC - Aug.21.03

August.21.2003 Space News

Private space tug to the rescue... Dennis Wingo of Orbital Recovery Corporation proposes the company's orbital tug as a means to boost the Hubble Space Telescope when it nears the end of its fuel supply. Space Tug to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's Rescue? by Dennis Wingo - Orbital Recover/SpaceRef - Aug.20.03 .

The tug "could either boost HST to a very long lived high earth orbit where it could be stored or even do a plane change to move it to the International Space Station (ISS) where it could be serviced repeatedly and reboosted by the SLES to a high orbit above ISS."

August.19.2003 Space News

Broad public interest in space ... Despite the Columbia tragedy, support for NASA and space in general remains strong among a broad segment of the US public according to the latest poll:

However, this doesn't translate into support for increases in funding, though most people think NASA gets a lot more money than it actually does.

Jeff Foust looks at the nuances in an earlier poll: The gaps in NASA's support by Jeff Foust - The Space Review - Aug.19.03

I find the polls quite reassuring for commercial space development such as the various space tourist projects. While many people don't want to see large amounts of tax money going for government space projects, their high general interest in space shows that appealing privately financed projects have a good chance of finding a substantial market.

Get on the solar emergency call list... If you want notification of the latest solar flare, the SpaceWeather center will add you to its automatic phone alert system for a monthly fee: Spaceweather PHONE.

Sat fire spotters... Those seeking to monitor and contain forest fires in the US now have help from satellite observations:

SpacecraftNames update... Bruce Cranford's International Spacecraft and Launch Vehicle Names Glossary at www.SpacecraftNames.info now offers over 6500 satellites and spacecraft launched through 2002 in an alphabetized listing for fast lookup.

August.17.2003 Space News

Thanks for the fav[or]icon... My thanks to HobbySpace reader Abe Milde for providing me a nice favicon graphic that appears in the browser page address entry and in a bookmark for HobbySpace.

Space history library... Check out the long list of on line space history reports and books at NASA Histories On-Line.

Mars fiction... Follow the serialization of Robert Stockman's Mars Frontier novel in the Fiction section at the New Mars e-zine. Also, consider the proposal by Stuart Atkinson to raise awareness and interness in Mars with an IMAZ movie: Mars - The Movie - New Mars - July.8.03

August.15.2003 Space News

The Real Gagarin... Piers Bizony, noted author of several space related books, sent me this press release about a documentary he made about Yuri Gagarin based on his book

STARMAN: The Truth behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin

Atlantic Celtic Films is proud to offer this important and critically acclaimed film for the US market, in celebration of the world's first space hero.

On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin became the first human to leave the Earth and venture into space. His one-orbit flight lasted barely 108 minutes, but in that brief span of time he became the most famous man in the world.

Back on the ground, his good looks and easy charm captured the hearts of millions around the world. International film stars, politicians and pop stars queued up to shake his hand. Meanwhile, Russia enjoyed a period of glamour and global prestige that it has never since matched.

Yet, despite Gagarin¹s fame, almost nothing is known about the man himself, or the many people who contributed to his flight. Starman tells for the first time Gagarin¹s personal odyssey from humble peasant to international icon. We also explain why his flight was more dangerous than the Russians have ever admitted.

Our film charts Gagarin¹s rapid decline as his marriage, his space career and his personal life fell apart under the pressures of fame. We also discover his growing disillusionment with the Russian State, as he gradually discovered the cruelties that the Communist regime often heaped upon its citizens.

For the first time we reveal our hero¹s drinking binges and his reckless love for women; his career-threatening adventures at an élite holiday resort, and other incidents that we might expect from a young man full of mischief and energy. But there was another side to his story. He was a kind-hearted, conscientious man, a natural diplomat, a social worker and a friend to countless people, both within and far outside the space community. He intervened on behalf of ordinary citizens when they were treated unjustly by the authorities, and embarked on a dangerous struggle to save the life of another cosmonaut, blasted into space on a horrifying test flight that could only end in total, deadly disaster. It brought him into conflict with the darkest elements of the Politburo and the KGB.

Gagarin¹s epic flight spurred US president John F. Kennedy to send America to the moon. But when Neil Armstrong made his famous walk on the lunar surface eight years later, the young Russian spaceman was already dead, aged just 34. We explore the murky circumstances behind the air crash that killed him.

The Soviet bosses, led by Leonid Brezhnev, attended the State funeral to mourn Gagarin¹s death. But privately, there was considerable relief. Gagarin was easier to handle as a dead hero than a living troublemaker. Our film reveals the flawed but brave and dedicated man behind the bland Soviet propaganda images.

Candid, emotionally moving interviews with Gagarin¹s relatives, friends, cosmonaut colleagues, secret KGB minders and rivals (few of whom have spoken before) run throughout the film, with superb and previously unseen archive footage and photographs. Above all, Gagarin's story is punctuated by the recollections of Gherman Titov, his closest rival in the cosmonaut squad: a man who simultaneously admired and resented the charming Yuri's rise to fame.

We also interview senior Russian space administrators and engineers from the Gagarin era, who describe with startling candour the circumstances behind the world's first manned space shot. We learn, too, about the fierce brilliance and bravery of the project's chief administrator, Sergei Korolev.

Beautifully photographed in widescreen format, and punctuated by stunning
historical archive, this is a finely crafted film. All the British newspapers highlighted our film as the lead national network TV review item.

In fact Starman was so successful in Britain, and right across Europe, that a tie-in book was published by Bloomsbury (in hardback and paperback) written by Starman¹s producer and originator, Jamie Doran, and science writer and collaborator Piers Bizony (nominated for the 1999 Eugene Emme Award for Astronautical Writing in the US). Like the film, Starman the book received a wonderful critical reception.

Big money for Martian meteorite... The eBay dealer sell2all.com expects a lot of interest and cash in its auction of the Zagami meteorite (Zagami story in NASA pdf file). Bids will start at $450k and may go as high as $2 million for the 188 grams of Red Planet stone. The Most Expensive Meteorite Ever Sold on eBay - collectSpace - Aug.14.03 * It Came from Mars - collectSpace - Aug.14.03

August.14.2003 Space News

Space elevator resources... Spaceref has introduced a new section dedicated to the space elevator concept and includes a reprint of an article by Arthur C. Clarke:

Greening arctic Mars... Spaceref's Devon Island greenhouse has begun to blossom: Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse Grows First Crop on Devon Island - SpaceRef - Aug.13.03

Hubble futures... Jeff Foust reviews the possible scenarios for the Hubble Telescopes final years: Considering the fate of Hubble - The Space Review - Aug.11.03

Mars in film.. Any movie even vaguely related to Mars is listed at Mars Movie Guide - The San Diego Chapter of the Mars Society * Mars Movies - Coming attractions

August.13.2003 Space News

Amateur finds afterglow... Berto Monard of South Africa is the first amateur astronomer to discover the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst: Amateur Astronomer Locates Powerful Stellar Explosion Before the Pros - NASA - Aug.12.03. He is a member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), whose members provide visual observations to support work done with high energy radiation detectors.

Disney does space... The new DisneyWorld space ride gets generally good reviews:

However, Rand Simberg believes they used the wrong model for the space future: Undying Mythologies - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.5.03

Space quake spotters... More about predicting earthquakes from space in this report Anticipating Earthquakes: High above Earth where seismic waves never reach, satellites may be able to detect earthquakes--before they strike - Science@NASA - AUg.11.03, which also discusses the Stanford nanosat spinoff project Quakefinder that recently launched a spacecraft

Surviving space with art... If you are in London in September, check out the Surviving in Space lecture at The Arts Catalyst s 3rd International Science & Art Conference on Friday 19th September 2003 2.00 - 9.30 pm at Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS.(www.artscatalyst.org) The presentation description:

With the long journey to Mars and back increasingly preoccupying the space industry and space medicine, some of the debates within the art and technology world about the human body have become increasingly mirrored. For long-term space travel should we create artificial environments to cocoon the body? Or transform the body into a space faring cyborg, augmenting and converting it for weightlessness?

In this compelling conference, taking place in the Royal Institution s beautiful historic Faraday lecture theatre  where Faraday demonstrated the world's first electric transformer - artists, scientists and cosmonauts come together to widen the debate about long-term human spaceflight as a cultural as well as scientific issue.

The Arts Catalyst, founders of the MIR International Network for Space Art, has been exploring the ideas of human spaceflight and taking artists and scientists on zero gravity flights with the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia for the past four years.

Culminating a day of stimulating debate, Catalonian electronic artist Marcel.li Antunez Roca will give a performance-presentation, Transpermia, of his Project Daedalus, which took place this year on zero gravity flights organised by Arts Catalyst with the Russian space agency.

£15, £12 Concessions. £10 ICA Members

August.11.2003 Space News

Happy Birthday to the Martian Chronicler... The Planetary Society offers you a page to wish Ray Bradbury a Happy Birthday: Planetary Society: Bradbury's Birthday. More info at Help Ray Bradbury Celebrate a Martian Birthday - Planetary Society/SpaceRef - Aug.10.03

Congratulations to the happy space couple... Overcoming the resistance of space agency bureacrats in both Russia and the US, Yuri Malenchenko and Ekaterina Dmitriev finally got to make their wedding vows between earth and space: A marriage made in orbit: Cosmonaut, earthbound bride wed in space service - Florida Today - Aug.11.03

August.8.2003 Space News

Canadian Mars program in peril according to the Mars Society of Canada. The Phoenix project, recently selected by NASA for a 2007 mission to Mars, will include instruments from a Canadian group to study the Martian atmosphere: Canadians Selected for 2007 Mars Mission - Mars Society of Canada - Aug.6.03

However, cutbacks in funding threaten the ability of Canadian researchers to participate in this and other projects:

Unfortunately, these and future opportunities for Canadian science and industry are now in peril: the 2003 federal budget contained none of the funds necessary to pursue the Canadian Space Agency's newly planned Mars involvement. Recognizing Canada's wealth of expertise, the Mars Society of Canada is part of a coalition of student and space advocacy groups including the Canadian Space Society, the Carleton University Mechanical and Aerospace Society, and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. We have initiated a petition to the House of Commons (Marssociety.ca/petition) and embarked on a campaign to inform the public of our nation's scientific and technological prowess, its economic benefits, and its relevance to our understanding of the Earth.

August.7.2003 Space News

Lots of space & rocketry resources are available at the home web site of Mark Goll. He runs the advanced rocketry company Texas Spacelines and also devotes much effort apparently to developing educational and advocacy materials for space and rocketry. I list some of his sections here:

Thanks go to Kert Kaido for pointing me to Goll's site.

August.5.2003 Space News

University hits Mars jackpot... NASA selected a collaboration led by a group at the University of Arizona to develop a Mars lander for 2007. The head of the Arizona group, Peter Smith, is also, by the way, a steering committee member in the Mars Society. Furthermore, according to a Mar Society announcement, the Scout missions were first proposed by the Society in 1998 and accepted by NASA in 2000. Who says space advocacy organizations don't make an impact?

Love finds a way in space... Looks like the wedding will happen despite space bureaucracies in both Russia and the USA: ISS wedding is on - spacetoday.net - Aug.4.03

August.4.2003 Space News

News briefs ... Arthur C. Clarke (via 3-D projection), Freeman Dyson, and other futurist thinkers to meet in Colorado at the Telluride Tech Festival : Futurists Flock to Telluride to Roadmap Space Exploration Goals - Space.com - Aug.4.03 ...

... India and Chinese space programs growing :

... Disney to offer ground based ride to space Mission: SPACE Ready to Take Guests on Flights to Mars - Space.com - Aug.4.03

August.3.2003 Space News

Aviation & Space art ...The latest issue of Fine Arts Magazine has these interesting articles on aviation & space art:

Plus there is this article Space Art: Drift Painting in a Microgravity Environment
by Frank Pietronigro - Fine Arts Magazine - Aug.03
. The author Frank Pietronigro describes his space arts projects on planes flying parabolic trajectories to provide periods of microgravity.

Via these articles I found the Air Force Art site, which offers a large gallery including this space art collection: The Air Force Art Collection -Space. (Unfortunately, the on line images are rather small.)

August.1.2003 Space News

Arctic Mars letters... Checkout the reports by April Childress on the experiences of her and her husband during the Mars simulations on Devon Island this summer sponsored by the Mars Society.

Solar sails in New York.... The Planetary Society shows off a section of the Cosmos 1 solar sail at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City:

Cosmos 1 Unfurls One of its 47-Foot Blades at Centennial of Flight in NYC :
Solar Sail Blade Gives Public a First Look at Future Space Flight Technology
- Planetary Society - July.28.03

Note that your name can fly on the Cosmos 1 if you register by August 20.

Continue to July 2003 articles in archive

HobbySpace News Articles Index 1999-2003


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