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News in HobbySpace
Archive Jan-Aug 1999


Note: These articles provide a sampling of what was happening in Space activities with particular interest to the public. These could be hobbies or developments that might lead to more public access to Space. Unfortunately, many of the links attached to the items will expire over time.

When the the links go dead, an attempt to "relink" them will be made if the pages can be found at a new location. Otherwise, the text will be disconnected but still shown in italics.

If you want to follow up on an interesting but disconnected item, there are a few possiblities:

  • Most of the Yahoo news items are based on press releases from companies, NASA or other agency. If you go to the website of the particular company
  • or institution involved, it may have the PR in its archive. Look for the News or Press Release page.

  • Many online newspapers break their links after a period of time but keep the articles in an archive. However, they often will charge for a search.

  • If all else fails, try Google
  • or other search engine using the title or keywords from the title.

August 27, 1999

Track hurricanes at home. In this busy hurricane season you can follow the paths of both current and previous hurricanes with your PC. The shareware program Tracking The Eye - Hurricane Tracking Software from GenCode Technologies provides a graphical interface that shows hurricane tracks, and predicted tracks, using the most up-to-date information received over the Internet from weather services. Also, the latest satellite photos can be displayed. The program is a nice example of a stand-alone (i.e. outside of a browser) program that integrates the Internet into its operation.

MIR cosmonauts soon abandon MIR forever. The Millennium Rock will be in their luggage after its 1 year stay. The small piece of volcanic rock comes from a site in England with historic links to Charles Darwin and Lord John Cadman. The project was created by Phill Parker who views the rock "as a '..token..' from our millennium to inspire the continued exploration of space by human beings during the third millennium." The rock will tour museums and various space events in the coming year. See the earlier News article.

News briefs...CNN has a nice article about the space artist Robert McCall. It includes a gallery of a few of his works and also an IPIX 360 degree view of his studio. CNN - The soaring imagination of Robert McCall - August 26, 1999 .(Art )

Read the latest updates to RLV News

August 26, 1999

News briefs...The MIT [--Error--]ThinkMars group will host [--Error--]Mars Week at MIT October 1 - 3, 1999. It will be devoted to "Hear about the latest results and past, current and future missions".

Read James Cameron's presentation to the Mars Society convention.

The book Dragonfly, about the Mir-Shuttle program and all the problems that occurred while the astronauts were aboard, is being made into a movie by Will Smiths production company -[--Link Dead--]Yahoo - Latest Hollywood script deals...(Movies )

August 20, 1999

News briefs...Steve Bennett's StarChaser group today had a successful launch in the UK of its StarChaser 3A. The 6.6 metre (22ft) was attempted to break the UK amateur altitude record of 4200m. The vehicle was recovered and instruments should reveal the altitude achieved. BBC News | Sci/Tech | Rocket man aims high Advanced Rocketry

August 18, 1999

Mars Society approves plans to develop an arctic station in northern Canada to test techniques, instruments, and structures for future human Mars expeditions. During their recent conference , the Society voted to support the research station on Devon Island. A habitation module, greenhouse and other facilities will be developed. The Society hopes to develop into a National Geographic Society type organization that involves public support of scientific projects. [--Link Dead--]Prototype Mars Base to Rise on Arctic Island - Space.com Aug.8,1999.

James Cameron plans Imax movie & 5-part mini-series about Mars expeditions. Addressing the Mars Society 's recent conference , the director of Titanic gave his views on human exploration of Mars. He is in the process of developing a 3-D Imax that he will direct and producing a TV mini-series about the colonization of Mars based primarily on Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy of novels. [--Link Dead--]Mars Society Conference - Space.com * [--Link Dead--]Yahoo - Cameron Chronicles Martian Projects . [Mars Society Bulletin - [--Error--]Second International Convention of the Mars Society a Smashing Success Aug. 22]

August 12, 1999

News briefs...The Perseid meteor showers reach their peak this week: Here come the Perseid meteors * BBC News | Sci/Tech | Meteors to shower Earth * The Perseids, Live! - images from a NASA high-altitude balloon.

Whether meteor shower watching or simply star gazing, looking into a moonless sky from a site with little background light can truely be a startling experience for us typical urban dwellers. One forgets just how vivid and rich the cosmos can be.

The increasing amount of background light pollution, however, is eliminating for many people the opportunity to experience the true nightsky. It also is making life more and more difficult for astronomers both amateur and professional. See [--Link Dead--]Boston Globe Online / Health | Science / 'Sky preserve' has gazers seeing stars about one effort to protect an area for star watching.

August 8, 1999

Watch the August 11 solar eclipse broadcasts. If you cannot observe the eclipse in person, there are several internet broadcasts and it will also be on some TV channels:

Space activists battle NASA budget cuts. Science took the brunt of unexpectedly severe cuts on NASA funding in a recent vote in a House appropriations committee. After several years of reductions, many space supporters had been hoping that NASA might even get a small increase this year. Instead it got a cut of nearly 10%, most of which would hit basic science and planetary missions.

The appropriations process, however, is a long and winding one and there will be several opportunities to reverse these cuts. The major space activist organizations are gearing up to fight them with lobbying and mail-in campaigns.

See news articles at [--Link Dead--]Mars Society Fights NASA Budget Cuts - Space.com & Pro-Space Groups Ready For NASA Fight - Space.com., [--Link Dead--]National Space Society Action Alert!

Everybody is looking for extra-terrestrials in their home. Nearly 1 million people have downloaded the SETI@Home program to analyse radio data for indications of extra-terrestrial signals. So much analysis is going on, in fact, that the organizers, who had expected about 150 thousand participants, are having trouble supplying enough data to users. See SpaceViews Article: SETI@home Approaches One Million Users .

News briefs...Terra Server , Microsoft's huge online database of remote sensing images, will soon begin selling photos to the public from Orbimage. Orbimage is one of the first private companies to orbit an imaging satellite capable of 1m resolution, approaching that of the best spy satellites. Terra Server to offer Orbimage pictures - Press Release Aug. 5, 1999 ... Homer Hickam now has his own website . Hickam is author of Rocket Boys on which the movie October Sky was based.... Watch realtime images of meteors taken from a high altitude balloon in a NASA project: [--Link Dead--]Yahoo - Internet Users to Meteor-watch Via Their Computers ... Christies to hold big auction of space memoribilia. See [--Link Dead--]CollectSpace article.

August 5, 1999

A total solar eclipse will occur on August 11 and be visible in much of Europe, Pakistan, India, northeast North America and parts of Asia in the Northern Hemisphere. There are a number of sites dedicated to eclipses where you can obtain information on how safely to view and photograph this spectacular natural event. NASA: There goes the Sun -- the August 11, 1999 solar eclipse . Staying Safe During an Eclipse - British Medical Journal

Note: Ham radio operators can listen for effects of the eclipse on the ionosphere: The August 11, 1999 Audio Eclipse.

Space off limits for British footballer. The BBC reports that soccer star Stefan Schwarz signed up with one of the adventure travel companies offering sub-orbital space rides in 2002. However, his team management didn't like the idea of its expensive talent taking such high risks and forbade space travel for the duration of his contract. BBC News | FA Carling Premiership | Footballer banned from space .

Celebrate Space exploration with a joyous sound. Space music is played in many styles and forms that range from symphonic to pop to jazz to electronic . Music has even been performed in space by astronauts and cosmonauts. Space activism is increasingly being heard from new performers like ZIA that write songs expressing support for Space exploration and development. Explore the sounds of Space in MusicSpace .

News briefs...The X-Prize organization expects several more rocketeers to contest for the $10 million jackpot. While the prize is only half funded so far they expect full funding by the time serious launch attempts begin. [--Link Dead--]New Contestants Expected In Race For First Private Spaceship- Space.com ... Not only astronauts and college students can ride NASA'S Vomit Comet. A NASA program to attract more high school students into science provides rides on a KC-135 that flies a parabolic trajectory to provide periods of microgravity. (Houston Chronicle article .)

Space Surfing - the ultimate extreme sport? See the new space recreation subsection of HobbySpace Future Hobbies . While you may not want to try reentry in your own micro-pod, you might enjoy flying like a bird in lunar gravity or a game of handball in zero-g.

July 30, 1999

More Internet SpaceCasts are streaming your way. Space events, reports, news, etc. are increasingly becoming available via streamed Internet audio and video. NASA TV, which broadcasts both live events, such as launches, and various documentaries, is available over the web from several sources . However, other space events, such as the first Sea Launch and other private launches, have been broadcast over the Internet independently.

New Internet TV sites dedicated to space include

  • [--Error--]Air&SpaceChannel - [--Error--]TVontheWeb offers this channel dedicated to aerospace in cooperation with the AIAA.
  • LiveOnTheNet
  • - occasionally offers space related programs.
  • Spacewatch
  • - offers 3 programs on space both live and from archives.

Some recent broadcasts of interest include [--Error--]Art Bell's interview with Robert Bigelow , owner of Budget Suites motel chain, about his plans for space tourism. (Bigelow interview begins about an hour into the program and the lunar cruise ship discussion starts after about 2.5 hours.) [--Error--] Interactive interview with Buzz Aldrin at the Air&Space channel, and the Learning Technologies Channel - End of Mission, Lunar Prospector .

July 28, 1999

News briefs...For the latest on Lunar Prospector's planned lunar slam go to the Lunar Impact site. Broadcast of the event will be on Learning Technologies Channel - End of Mission, Lunar Prospector ....

The Washington Post reports on Bigelow Aerospace in [--Link Dead--] Space Tourism's Boosters Start Countdown ....

Alabama Live gives the history of 200,000 NASA nickel-silver alloy medalians with bolts from the Apollo 11 capsule melted in with the mix. The medallians were distributed to the thousands of workers at NASA contractors and sub-contractors who built the lunar mission components - [--Link Dead--]Apollo was in mint condition Coin idea helped moon shot safety- Alabama Live -July 19,1999 By Mike Salinero....

Read the [--Link Dead--]essay at Spacer.com by Dr. David James Johnson on how amateur astronomers can contribute to the Spaceguard program to monitor the skys for asteroids and comets that might collide with earth...

MSNBC WAFF 48 in Huntsville, AL offers via RealVideo a [--Link Dead--]documentary about Wernher von Braun.

July 24, 1999

.Space riches? Eros asteroid worth $20 trillion in precious metals. Analysis of data from the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (Near) spacecraft indicates that the Eros asteroid contains more metals - gold, platinum, zinc, aluminum and other rarer metals - than has been used in the history of the human race. And this is just one of several thousand such asteroids. See BBC article . Also information on asteroids at P.E.R.M.A.N.E.N.T . and the SpaceDev company.

Amateur astronomers save earth from killer asteroid (well, sort of). Asteroid 1999 AN10 was previously thought to come periously close to earth in 2027. However, analysis of its orbit by two German amateur astronomers using images from the Palomer Sky Survey has shown that the asteroid will miss the earth by a very large margin. See report at Cosmic Mirror .

News briefs... Mars Society will broadcast July 26, 1999 on the internet a program from Northern Canada at the site of its Haughton-Mars project ...The Artemis lunar project now has published the first issue of its magazine - Artemis Magazine Issue #1... The SAREX ham radio station is now operating on the shuttle during STS-93.

July 21, 1999

Cosmic Voyage 2000 contracts SpaceDev for asteroid mission. Digital messages and images from the public will be sent on a special CD archive aboard Spacedev's spacecraft to the Nereus asteroid. [--Link Dead--]Package deals begin at around $60. Make your reservation for immortality now. (Tourism )

Judy Collins commissioned by NASA for song to honor Eileen Collins, the first woman commander of a space shuttle. The famous singer/songwriter premiered the song Beyond the Sky at a pre-flight briefing of STS-93 on July 19th. The NASA Art program since 1962 has commissioned works of music and art to commemorate space events. (Art , Music ) [RealVideo of her performance - Space Chronicle ]

Space Art train begins journey through Northeast US. The Artrain carries 78 works from NASA arts program that has commissioned over 2300 pieces from major artists since 1962. The artists range from Norman Rockwell to Andy Warhol. The 5 railroad car exhibit will stop at a dozen stations for at least 3 days per stop. For more info on the Artistry of Space tour, see the Artrain schedule . See also the articles at [--Link Dead--]ABCNEWS.com : Space Art Exhibit Hits the Rails * [--Link Dead--]CNN - TravelGuide - Space art exhibit makes tracks through Northeast - July 20, 1999 (Space Art )

Several great new websites for the HobbySpacer have recently appeared. Check out:

  • collectSPACE
  • - dedicated to space related collecting of all sorts (Collecting )
  • Inconstant Moon
  • - beautifully designed multimedia site dedicated to all phases of the Moon's personality including "maps, photos, explanations, animations, selected links and even music". (Astronomy , Multimedia )
  • Moon Project
  • - Benjamin Britton's provides all sorts of lunar related multimedia experiences such as the interactive Moon Museum , landing simulator , etc. See the [--Link Dead--]Space.com article. (Astronomy , Simulations , Multimedia )
  • Space.com
  • - for the space news junkie this is a great place to OD on dozens of different pages on topics ranging from NASA to astronomy to business to whatever. (News )

News briefs... Postal service releases stamp honoring [--Link Dead--] ‘MAN WALKS ON MOON’ to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11... The recent [--Link Dead--]Commercial Lunar Base Symposium brought together scientists, engineers and business people to discuss the possibilities of commercial operations on the moon. See Christian Science Monitor article . and SpaceViews article ....The Lunar Prospector will crash into the Moon on July 30 in an attempt to throw up water in the debris. There is an outside chance that amatuer astronomers can see see the plume. See the article at NASA space science Bracing for Impact . See also the Lunar Prospector Impact page.

July 17, 1999

News briefs... The next shuttle mission will be the last flight of the SAREX ham radio station to avoid interfering with the busy space station construction activity. However, there will eventually be a Ham station on the station itself. STS-93 SAREX Information ... A NASA exhibit of space art is now on tour. See press release .... Amateur video cameras recorded meteor showers in 1997 of the Leonids outburst. See the short videos at NASA's space science site .

July 11, 1999

The tragic death of Pete Conrad , third man to walk on the Moon, has elicited many comments of sadness on the space newsgroups and forums. Pete Conrad was one of the most personable and popular of the astronauts. Those who watched the Tom Hanks series "From the Earth to the Moon" will remember the Apollo 12 episode as the one in which the astronauts - Conrad, Alan Bean and Dick Gordon - had the most fun of any of the crews.

Conrad was still involved with projects at the forefront of space development. He helped manage the DC-X reusable rocket project and had started a company, Universal Spacelines, to develop new launchers. Another of his startups was Universal Space Network that found a profitable niche in providing telemetry and control services to micro-satellite projects.

For more information about his life and work, see Space Online and NASA History 's page on Apollo 12 . Also, remembrances are being recorded at the Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr. Memorial site. (History )

From sci.space newsgroup message by Curtis Roos: "If you wish to make a donation in memory of Pete Conrad, the American Cancer Society (a charity Pete supported for many years) will send a card to his family acknowledging your thoughtful donation. If you wish, you may add a personalized message to the card. You will also receive a card to confirm that your donation has been received and that a gift card has been sent. It will take you 5 minutes on line, [--URL error--]https://www.cancer.org/donate/memhelp.html or call 1-800-ACS-2345. Just provide your name address and credit card information along with: Nancy Conrad 6301 Princeville Circle Huntington Beach, CA 92648"

Help astronomers understand Gamma Ray Bursts. Among the most mysterious of celestial phenomena, gamma ray bursts emit almost unbelievable amounts of energy in a short time. However, only recently has a gamma ray burst been correlated with a source visible in optical wavelengths. NASA is beginning a program to send "rapid email notification when earth-orbiting gamma-ray observatories detect and localize a cosmic gamma-ray burst. Amateurs could then train their telescopes on the GRB coordinates and begin monitoring." See the article at NASA's space science news.

Checkout also the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) and their Hands-On Astrophysics program to find how you can get involved in doing real science via variable star observation and analysis. (Astronomy )

Check out the Kosovo 3-D flyover movies and photos from Space Imaging using imagery from remote sensing satellites such as the US Landsat and the IRS Indian satellite. Note that the IRS satellites provide 5 meter resolution and the Landsat 24 meters. Within a year, there should be commercial satellites offering 1 meter resolution. See the Eyes in the Sky section for information on obtaining satellite photos of areas of interest to you.

News briefs... Kennedy Space Center now offers an optional guided tour that emphasizes the history of the early space program: [--Link Dead--]Yahoo - Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Announces Cape Canaveral: Then And Now Tour ... Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau and president of Ocean Futures , recently participated in an underwater training exercise at the Johnson Space Center Neutral Buoyancy Center. Jean-Michel is a strong supporter of the use of space to study and protect the oceans. He has also expressed strong support for human space exploration ...Listen to an audio broadcast of the [--Link Dead--]Commercial Lunar Base Development symposium July 15-16 from the Artemis Project Webcast .

July 9, 1999

Where were you on July 20, 1969? With the 30th anniversary of the first moon landing approaching, there are many commemorative activities planned. Where Were You? is a site that is collecting stories from the public on their memories of that date. [--Link Dead--]MSNBC is also collecting stories. See a list of other 30th anniversary sites on the History page. Also, see other sites that involve personal memories of the space age.

Get the latest announcements of celestial events from Sky & Telescopes AstroAlert News Service . Amateur astronomers can receive email notifications of supernovas, comets, meteor showers, asteroids and other phenomena that they can try to spot with their telescopes. ([--Error--]New e-mail alert service will be a blast for amateurs, professionals )

News briefs... Wall Street Journal reports (July 2,1999) that Hilton International is working with the Space Island Group to design a zero-gravity hotel that would orbit the moon...A salvage group is back out in the Atlantic trying to bring Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule to the surface (CNN - Salvage team...July 1, 1999 ).

June 30, 1999

News briefs... Space Adventures offers a [--Link Dead--]Space Greetings service in which Mir cosmonauts records a videotaped a message from space to the person of your choice. Only $11,900 per message...Watch the streamed program at [--Link Dead--]Discovery Online, Space and Spacecraft with representatives from NASA, the X-Prize, and Rotary Rocket discussing RLV developments.

June 27, 1999

Full scale simulator built by college students in Kansas City. The U.S.D.C. machine weighs nearly 2 tons and holds up to 5 people in a realistic flight deck. Thirteen displays show flight data and graphics. Fourteen processors run the realistic simulations of the Orpex T-71 spacecraft, also designed by the group. Take a tour of this simulator and see what a group of dedicated space enthusiasts can accomplish. (Simulators )

Wellesley students take microgravity to the classroom. A group of physics students at Wellesley college recently rode on NASA's KC-135 reduced gravity laboratory. They were videotaping various physics demonstrations as part of their project that was accepted in the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities program. The videos are intended to assist the teaching of basic physics in introductory courses in high school and college. Some of the students have since toured local high schools in Boston to discuss their experiences in weightlessness. See the article in the [--Link Dead--]Boston Globe Online and the VOGUE: KC-135 Undergraduate Research Project at the Wellesley Physics Dept . (Space Tourism )

June 24, 1999

Space activists clash over NASA's TransHab. California Congressman Dana Rohrbacher added an ammendment to the recent NASA authorization bill to prevent NASA from using funds for the inflatable TransHab module on the Space Station. The TransHab would be larger and better able to resist punctures from space debris than the current hard shelled US habitation module that was to be built by Boeing and installed in the 2003 timeframe.

The Mars Society and, in particular, it's leader Robert Zubrin see the TransHab inflatable technology as very useful for Mars shelters in some future manned missions and are leading a fight to have the funding restriction removed. They have accused the Congressman of intending to kill Mars exploration development .

However, other activists say that it Zubrin is unfairly attacking Rohrbacher who has often supported measures important to space development. He just doesn't believe NASA should be developing and constructing spacecraft but instead put such projects up for bid to the private sector.

For more info: [--Link Dead--]06.10.99. NSS Policy on TransHab * SpaceViews:Advocacy Groups Split on TransHab . Activism

News briefs...The Red Herring financial news site offers a report about Space.com and how Lou Dobbs got involved: Space.com: the final frontier - 6/19/99 (Investing )....Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offers the Cosmos: From Romanticism to Avant-Garde that shows 2 centuries of art celebrating the universe and man's relationship to it. See article at [--Link Dead--]Ottawa Citizen .(Art )

June 19, 1999

News briefs...Couples are already booking flights on suborbital flights for their weddings. Vela Technology and Zegrahm Expeditions are now taking reservations for rides on their space tourist vehicle beginning in 2002. Some couples are planning to use the opportunity to have their special day in space. See article at The Age .

Brian DePalma's Mission to Mars movie now will have [--Link Dead--]Connie Nielsen as the female lead, replacing Monica Potter.

The South African Sunsat student satellite returns its first videos. See Amsat News May 24 * Sunsat Latest News * [--Error [--Time Out--]--]SUNSAT streaming multimedia files .

Starshine satellite observations begin although, due to the postponed launching of Discovery, many students in the Northern hemisphere are leaving for summer vacation. See articles [--Link Dead--]Student trackers off for summer as satellite orbits - Dispatch.com * North Jersey students basking in NASA project's reflected glory .

.New York Times reports on JPL's student project involving remote control of Mars rover prototypes - New York Times - Real-World Science From Internet Labs .

Space Frontier Society and several other groups are sponsoring the [--Link Dead--]Commercial Lunar Base Development Symposium on July 15-16,1999 in League City, Texas. Astronaut John Young will lead off the discussion of how commercial companies can bring people back to the moon to stay.

June 12, 1999

Win a sub-orbital ride on Thunderbird. The British Starchaser advanced rocketry group led by Steve Bennett announced a contest for a ride on their entry in the X-Prize contest. Their Thunderbird will provide a 15min ride that takes the 3 occupants to 100km. A number of British [--Link Dead--]organizations and companies are supporting the effort. Advanced Rocketry

Bigelow Aerospace plans orbital hotels. Owner of Budget Suites of America, a $600 million privately held company, Robert Bigelow is planning a long term project to develop space tourism. Greg Bennett, a founder of the Artemis Project , has been hired to build a team of designers, engineers and programmers. Full page ads seeking job applications have been seen in major aerospace publications. A recent article in Space News indicates that the company is a serious effort and Bigelow is expecting to fund the company for several years before revenues begin to arrive. Space Tourism

Amateur astronomer contributes to near earth asteroid tracking. Winner of the Planetary Society's Gene Shoemaker Near-Earth Object (NEO) Grant in 1998, amateur sky observer Frank Zoltowski used his new CCD camera to monitor the asteroid 1999 AN10 from his home in Woomera, Australia. His measurements have allowed researchers at the Minor Planet Center (MPC) to improve their predictions of the objects future orbital path. It is now expected to pass within 200,000 kilometers (about 120,000 miles) of Earth in 2027, and possibly even closer in 2044 and 2046. Planetary Society press release . Space Science .

Amateur astronomers capture lunar occultation with camcorders. Multiple views of a star as it is eclipsed by the Moon can provide a precise mapping of the Moon's limb. Then during a solar eclipse this mapping improves the measurements of the sun's diameter and energy output and how these vary over time. The star Regulus is bright enough to be visible from consumer camcorders without the need for a telescope. Before the lunar eclipse of Regulus on May 21, the International Occultation Timing Association issued a call for amateurs to make videos of the event. See an animated gif of the eclipse. For more info, see NASA's Space Science News report . Space Science

CNN's Lou Dobbs quits to run Internet space venture. The popular anchor of CNN's financial news show MoneyLine and president of the CNN Financial News division will become chairman of Space.com . The site opens on July 20th, the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and will provide " space news, space fiction, live feeds, science and business content, and educational material for children." [--Link Dead--]CNNfn Anchor Quits - Wash.Post.

Starshine satellite released by Discovery. The satellite, covered with mirrors built by thousands of students, was carried in a shuttle Hitchhiker canister and launched on June 5. It will be visible for up to a year during morning and evening twilight periods to those located between latitudes 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south. Students will monitor the mirrored satellite and measure its orbital decay. The rate of decay will be a measure of the upper atmospheric density. BBC News | ISS | Shuttle launches 'disco ball' * CNN - Discovery astronauts eject satellite, prepare to land - June 5, 1999 * Shuttle Launches Satellite For Student Studies . Satellite Building , Satellite Watching .

Other news... Jean-Paul Costeau in an essay defends human spaceflight and the Space Station...NASA opens a site dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 ...Checkout as well the beautifully high-resolution Apollo images at Full Moon ...Richard Branson's interest in space tourism is confirmed. The Virgin Galactic Airways has been registered and they hope within 10years to provide tourism trips to low earth orbit. An article in Space News, however, says that they have no plans in the near future of major investments in any of the RLV startups.

May 28, 1999

The Mars Society received $200,000 in donations for its Mars Arctic Research Station development. (earlier report ). The funds will allow design and construction to begin of the Devon Island site in northern Canada and become operational in summer of 2000. (The Mars Society Bulletin [--Error--]Mars Society News - May 1999 ). Space Science

JP Aerospace breaks the amateur rocket altitude record. Using a balloon to lift the rocket to 26,000 ft, the rocket then ignited and reached more than 72,223 ft. (last GPS verified position) or 24km. High winds prevented a planned ignition at 100,000ft and hopes then of reaching 300,000ft total altitude. See JP Aerospace: Flight Summary . (Articles at  Space Frontier Foundation! SpaceViews Article ) Advanced Rocketry

Encounter 2001 transmitted messages from over 50,000 people to four stars 50 to 70 light years away on May 24. Using the the 230-foot (70-meter) Evpatoriya radio telescope on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, a 150-kilowatt signal at 5 GHz was coded with data about the earth and its inhabitants. In addition, 50,000 customers paid, at prices ranging from $9.95 to $69.95, to add their own short messages. The higher price also includes sending some hair samples and messages on a spacecraft to be launched in 2001. (Articles at [--Link Dead--] MSNBC BBC News ) Token Space Travel

SETI@Home has nearly 400 thousand users analyzing SETI data just 2 weeks after the screensaver software became available. SETI@home servers have been overwhelmed by the huge response. Upgraded machines from Sun Microsystems should soon ameliorate the problems. Team analysis setups are now available for schools, clubs and other groups to work together on the data. (ET, phone SETI@home! NASA Science news) SETI

May 18, 1999

Starshine satellite to be tracked by students. The shuttle Discovery, on the upcoming STS-96 mission, will release a small reflective beachball sized satellite covered with mirrors polished by students from around the world. Easily visible to the naked eye, students will track the satellite and report their measurements online. They will also monitor sunspot activity to study correlations between solar activity and the heating of the upper atmosphere that, in turn, affects the lifetime of the orbit. See [--Link Dead--] Salt Lake Tribune -- Schoolkids Look To the Sky to Track Giant Mirror Ball. Satellite Building , Satellite Watching .

SETI@Home releases software to analyse radio data for extraterrestrial signals. The project will take advantage of thousands of idle computers to examine the huge amount of data obtained from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico. A joint effort of the Planetary Society and groups at the Univ. of California at Berkeley, the SETI@home software runs as a screensaver that download small batches of data and then sends the analysis results back to a central site. See also articles at SpaceViews , BBC News , Yahoo . SETI

Amateur rocketry group aims to develop ramjet booster. A pneumatic launcher would provide the initial speed of ~1300mph (2200kph) at which the ramjet could fire. The ramjet stage would then reach up to 20mi ( 32km) and 3600mph (5900kph) where it would release a rocket third stage. This Tri-Mode Launch Assist concept was developed by Glen Olson as part of his study into Amateur Rocket Launch Assist . Initial indications are that the development of the launcher tube and ramjet look well within reach of low cost amateur efforts.

Other news...Melvin Schuetz has published an extensive bibliography on Chesley Bonestell 's artworks ...TERRIERS student satellite from NASA/Boston University was launched on an [--Link Dead--]Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket on May 18....Students in the JPL led [--Error--]LAPIS project recently participated in a field test of a prototype Mars rover in the Mojave desert. The [--Error--]FIDO rovers are similar to those that will explore Mars on missions in 2003 & 2005....CalTech students make a detailed plan for a manned mission to Mars in 2014 while MIT students develop a business plan to help pay for it. (See Spaceviews article.)...[--Error--]Apollo 18 simulator from AIM Software is now available in the US.

May 8, 1999

Students will rove Mars in Planetary Society's [--Link Dead--]Red Rover project. During Space Day festivities at the Air & Space Museum the Planetary executive directory Louis Friedman and Science Guy Bill Nye announced the. Students will be selected from essay- and journal-writing contests. The students will particpate in the Mars Surveyor 2001 mission and even operate the spacecraft's rover and robotic arm. See articles at Spaceviews and CNN . [See also the entry below about another Planetary Society project to put a nanoexperiment on the Mars rover.]

JP Aerospace goes for amateur altitude record. On Saturday, May 22, 1999 (althernate: June 12/13, 1999) JP Aerospace, an experimental rocket group in Sacramento, Ca. will attempt to launch the first amateur rocket into space. Their rocket will ride a balloon to 100,000 feet (inspired by rockoons designes used by Van Allen and other scientists in the 1950s.) and then blast off to an altitude of about 60 miles. [More publicity: [--Error--]Amateur race to the sky -SF Gate (also discusses a San Jose group led by Tom Rouse that will launch from Canada this summer), SpaceViews Article: Amateurs Plan Space Launch May 18, 1999]

Other news... NASA Space Science News discusses use of the J-Pass program for observing spacecraft in low earth orbit...Another successful Space Day brought out many people to celebrate space exploration. ([--Link Dead--]Yahoo - News article...[--Link Dead--]Space Day net broadcasts) ... See the beautiful [--Link Dead--]reproduction of the Rotan as a model rocket byPatrick Underwood of Peenemunde, Texas....Updated RLV News .

April 29, 1999

See the view from a rocket during flight. Some sounding rockets have had cameras mounted on them that look back to earth or show payloads being released. Now such videos have been broadcast live on the web. See the pages at White Sands and Wallops Island for clips and schedules of upcoming webcast launches.

April 26, 1999

Other news...another article about Richard Branson and space tourism. See [--Error--]The Times: Business:Branson plans to go into orbit . See also the BBC report on the recent symposium in Germany about space tourism. [[--Link Dead--]MSNBC report.]

April 16, 1999

NASA sends students on weightless flights. A NASA program allows college students to propose experiments to be carried out on its training aircraft that flies parabolic trajectories to provide short periods of microgravity. If their proposals are accepted, the students will fly along with their experiments. Recent flights received lots of publicity. See articles at [--Link Dead--]Boston Globe Online / Health | Science / zero-g whiz kids, ABCNEWS.com : Not Quite Outer Space, Part 1 , ABCNEWS.com : How to Float in Zero-G Yourself, Part 6 .

Note that some companies now sell tickets on their own aircraft for such microgravity experiences. See the Tourism section.

Richard Branson expresses interest in space tourism. The Virgin Group entrepreneur and balloon adventurer, Richard Branson says that his company has a long term interest in space tourism. He made comments to that effect on a recent Discovery Channel special about space exploration and in a [--Link Dead--]The Australian newspaper article. Virgin is monitoring progress of the development of low cost launchers by private companies such as Rotary Rockets and may make some investments to help them along.

The Advent - Mayflower space tourism project shuts down. Due to an insufficient number of participants placing deposits, the project was unable to begin construction on the Mayflower sub-orbital rocket. For a ticket price of $10000, the rocket would have taken off from a water launch in the Gulf of Mexico and given riders four minutes of weightlessness and reached an altitude of 70miles. A few hundred people had put down a deposit but the sign-up rate was much slower than expected. So the organizers have decided to return the deposits and cancel the project. SpaceViews Article: Space Tourism Company Shuts Down

Amateur radio operators protest Swatch-Russian satellite. A Swatch promotional project is sponsoring the launch of the [--Link Dead--]Beatnik smallsat, formerly call RS-19 (see below ), built by Russia that will broadcast messages on an amateur radio frequency. Unfortunately, this broadcast was done without prior agreement or cooperation with the amateur radio community:

"By deceiving AMSAT organizations in Russia and France, the Russian SCSC (Space Flight Control Centre) in cooperation with the Swatch company have decided to use the two meter Amateur band for direct advertising via the "Beatnik" satellite (a mini-Sputnik-99 project formerly to be known as RS-19) across the entire world. To prevent this egregious violation of amateur frequencies, immediate action is necessary. By Rob Carlson, KC2AEI <rcarls2@umbc." Swatch Protest and Boycott

See also the SpaceViews Article: Amateur Radio Operators Protest Russian Satellite Plans . *** April 16 - Satellite release canceled ** =>> Spaceviews article BBC | Hams jam space spam

An expedition to find Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule began this week. Grissom flew the second US sub-orbital flight on July 21, 1961 a few months after Scott Shepard's mission. After splashdown the hatch blew off unexpectedly and caused the capsule to flood and sink, almost taking Gus down with it. The project will spend two-weeks hunting for the Liberty Bell 7 in 3-mile-deep water about 300 miles offshore of the US. See Yahoo: AP article: Team To Search for Mercury Capsule .See History section.

Other news... Ham radio communications allow amateurs to talk to Mir cosmonauts and visiting US astronauts. See the recent article on a school in Wales where students used amateur radios to talk to Mir: BBC News | Sci/Tech | Mir calls Welsh school ..It's been a busy spring for space conferences and activities. See SpaceViews Article: Space 2000 Symposium Overview & SpaceViews Article: March Storm Redux ....The The NASA Star Trails Society sponsored meteor counting efforts during a balloon launch to capture meteor dust: BBC News | Sci/Tech | Balloon to bag space dust .

March 28, 1999

Spoutnik/RS-19 amateur satellite will be hand launched from Mir. It will be delivered in April by a Progress vehicle. The small satellite was built by the Amsat France group and will broadcast up to 10 messages in many different language. The messages, 7secs long, can be altered once a day. The project is a follow-up to the successful Spoutnik 41 launched from Mir on Nov. 10, 1998.. [--Time Out--]Spacenews article . Homepage "1998" Année Internationale de l'Air et de l'Espace [See Protest above]

Student NanoExperiment Challenge was announced by the Planetary Society. The "students must construct nanoexperiments, extremely compact designs that can fit within a cylinder that is one (1) centimeter in diameter by one (1) centimeter in height. Total mass allowance is three (3) grams or less. The experiment must also be self-contained, since no power from the lander will be available to power the student experiment." Deadline is July 31, 1999.. CNN article .

Students in Shuttle simulator spent two and one half days in space. This was the seventh annual Space Shuttle Simulation by the Science Club at Westmont High School in San Jose, Ca. The shuttle Exodus blasted off on the morning of March 25, 1999, carrying six student astronauts and landed on Saturday, March 27, 1999. Live webcasts allowed those on earth to monitor the progress of their mission. See the WHS-Shuttle site for results of their mission. [--Link Dead--]MercuryNews article.

James Cameron, director of Titanic, joins the Mars Society. A longtime supporter of space exploration, he also recently purchased the rights to Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) for a possible TV mini-series. "Both Cameron and Robinson will attend the Second International Mars Society Convention scheduled for Boulder, Colorado, this August". See [--Link Dead--]Mars Society report.

SUNSAT , the South African student satellite, is working and its amateur radio system has now successfully been used for voice contact. Voice quality was reported to be excellent and signals strong. See latest reports at Amsat news and at Sunsat .

March 21, 1999

British amateur rocketeers pursue altitude records and the X-Prize. Groups such as Starchaser and MARS are showing vigorous efforts in advanced rocketry. Starchaser, led by Steve Bennett, a lecturer at Salford University, recently had a successful launch of a 14ft, 50lb rocket ( see BBC article ). The group also has submitted its proposed Thunderbird into the X-Prize competition. See the Advanced Rocketry section for more info and links.

Other news...A survey of the American public shows broad supports for space efforts although there is apparently little knowledge about the broad application of space in their lives such as with telecommunications....Studies inspired by the Lunar Prospector's discovery of water ice on the lunar polls have led to a proposed site for a moonbase location - BBC News article .... Scientific American Presents has a new issue out dedicated to space exploration with the latest on new rocket designs , making money in space , interstellar flight, and more.

 

March 12, 1999

Tributes to Stanley Kubrick as one of the worlds' greatest directors were widespread after his sudden death this week. Although he only made 12 films, they all had enormous inpact. His 2001: A Space Odyssey was a landmark in filmmaking due to its special effects, which were not surpassed until Star Wars came out nearly decade later, and also due to its unique visual narrative style and integral use of music. While its vision of huge revolving space stations and Moonbases will unfortunately not materialize by 2001, it remains an inspiration for space pioneers who are working to make it happen someday. NASA News is collecting readers comments about the impact 2001 had on them. CNN article , [--Link Dead--]Arthur C. Clarke Mourns Kubrick - Reuters , Movies

Another Mars Meteorite has been found. Only 14 such meteorites have been authenticated so far. This one was found in North Africa by an anonymous collector. See the BBC News article , Collecting .

The Millennium Rock is flying on Mir. The small piece of volcanic rock, together with a commemorative plaque, accompanied cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev as part of a project organized by Phill Parker of Newcastle-under-Lyme with the assistance of Tasillio Roemisch. Parker "views the Millennium Rock as a 'token carrier' for the people of the second millennium that can carry their hopes, spirits and dreams forward to the people of the third millennium - to encourage them to continue the human exploration of space." After the rock is returned the summer, it will tour museums and various space events. [corrected May 8, 1999]

MarsNews has opened to report on all the latest news about Mars such as recent mission reports and images, proposals and plans for new probes, etc. News , Mars links .

ProSpace's March Storm hits Washington D.C. during the week of March, 21st to March 26th. Register to join other space supporters to lobby Congress in support of space exploration and development. ProSpace , Activism

Other... Hilton studies the feasibility of a space hotel (BBC News ) ... Colorado students test their satellite on NASA's micro-gravity airliner ([--Link Dead--]InsideDenver.com ).

Feb. 26, 1999

Broadcast of the rollout of Rotary Rocket 's ATV, sponsored by Space Frontier Foundation and ProSpace , displays the growing interaction among space activists and the new generation of space companies. The live internet streamed event, done in cooperation with broadcast.com, will show the 2 hour rollout ceremony that includes speeches by NASA's Lori Garver [NASA's Daniel Mulville showed up instead, 12-Mar-99], formerly with the National Space Society , and by novelist and Rotary investor, Tom Clancy. Rotary Rocket is developing a single stage, fully reusable vehicle with 2 pilots that can carry a 7000lb payload to orbit.

The sub-orbital Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV) will begin flights this spring to test the innovative rotor landing system and other components. Orbital vehicles will begin testing next year. Note that the broadcast will be archived for later downloads. Broadcast site is at www.rollout.org [available in archive, 12-Mar-99].See also the article at [--Link Dead--]Prototype spacecraft from our little corner of universe to roll out - Mercury Center (2/24/1999). RLVCountdown , Activism . [ See Rotary's Rollout page , 12-Mar-99]

SUNSAT , the South African student satellite, was launched Feb. 22 on a Boeing Delta II from Vandenberg AFB as a piggyback payload along with the Danish Oersted smallsat and the primary ARGOS payload. SUNSAT was built by graduate students in the electrical engineering department at the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town. It holds several instruments including amateur radio transponders. The project members have worked to use the satellite to inspire South African high school students to pursue interests in science and engineering. Satellite Building , Space Radio .

Brian DePalma reportedly signed to direct Mission to Mars, a Walt Disney movie in development. The plot involves the first manned mission to Mars in 2007 and a mysterious radio beacon detected emitting from the Mars surface shortly before launch.

Feb.22, 1999

SETI with a 1000 small satellite TV antennas. UC Berkeley professor Jack Welch, who holds the first endowed chair specifically for SETI research, and the publically supported non-profit SETI Institute have announced the One Hectare Project . Taking advantage of the relatively low prices of commercial satellite TV antennas, an array of 500 to 1000 of the 3.7 to 5.5 meter dishes will be linked together to carry out searches for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. The $25 million array will provide sensitivity equivalent to much more expensive large single dish radio telescopes such as at Arecibo. The SETI Insitute will raise the money from public contributions . See Yahoo News . SETI

Feb.20, 1999

Professional and amateur astronomers discuss asteroid discovery and observation at the [--Error--]Minor Planet Astrometry and Photometry Workshop - April 23rd and 24th 1999 . Astronomy

Name the Mars ground probes and win a computer. JPL is holding a competition to name the two microprobes that will dive into the ground at 450mph when released from the Mars Polar Lander when it reaches Mars in Dec. 1999. The probes will search for the presence of water, which is suspected of being on the Mars surface in large quantities at one time. See the JPL Press Release . Contests .

2000 Michigan fifth-graders given Space Camp trips by annonymous donor. The $675 tuition for a weeks stay at one of the three space camps will be covered by a $2.5 million grant to three Detroit area school districts. See [--Link Dead--]Florida Today/Space Online article. Spacecamping

Feb.13, 1999

October Sky , the film based on Homer Hickman's book The Rocket Boys , opened last week to many good reviews. The film portrays the true story of how Homer and his friends in small company town in West Virginia are inspired by the launch of Sputnik to build their own rockets. Overcoming discouragement from his father and others in the town, they succeed in learning not only about rocketry but also about their own potential.

Feb.9, 1999

The NASA Genesis mission is having a contest to design its patch. The Genesis probe will liftoff in 2001 to gather particles from the solar wind and return them to earth. The contest deadline is April 1, 1999.

Sasha Jones won the contest to name the first spacecraft of the Earth Observation System . A 12th grader in St. Louis Missouri, Sasha had her essay for the name Terra chosen out of 1100 entries in 1998. The EOS is a long term program dedicated to intensive, coordinated observation of the earths environment from space.

Feb.5, 1999

One million people will ride vicariously on the Stardust probe to a comet when it lifts off (scheduled for Feb.6). Included on the probe are two microchips , one etched with the names of 136,000 people and the other etched with the names of over a million people, most of whom signed up over the Internet The former is in the return capsule that will parachute back to earth in 2006 along with samples of comet Wild-2. It will probably be put on display in a museum. The latter chip is attached to the main craft that will continue to travel through space for billions of years. [--Link Dead--]SpaceToday article. TokenSpaceTravel

John DeWitt Jr. who first bounced radar off the moon has died. The amateur astronomer conceived of the experiment in 1940. After several efforts he succeeded on January 25, 1946 with the use of US Signal Corp equipment to send radar signals to the moon and detect their reflection. Hailed at the time as one of the first steps in space exploration. [--Link Dead--]CNN article. Radio

A Simulated Mars Station in the arctic is being developed by the Mars Society . It will test tools and techniques to support Mars exploration. The site will be on Devon Island in the Canadian arctic where the dry, cold temperature and rocky terrain has similarities to the Martian surface. CNN article . Space Science

Encounter 2001's Cosmic Call will send public messages to a nearby star. For a fee the project will include messages on a radio signal to be beamed towards a star in hopes it might be intercepted by a (friendly?) extraterrestrial civilization. This precedes a more ambitious project to launch a spacecraft in 2001 out of our solar system carrying both messages and DNA samples (from hair strands) for $49 per person. BBC News ET call Earth . SETI , TokenSpaceTravel

Jan. 28, 1999

The Mars Polar Explorer is now on its way along with a microphone to a December 1999 landing on the south pole of Mars. An addition to its many other scientific instruments, the microphone will send back the first recorded sounds from the surface of another planet. The microphone, first proposed several years ago by Carl Sagan, was funded by the publicly supported Planetary Society . Related Links . Space Science

The new Winds of Mars CD uses sounds derived from the Mars Pathfinder station via indirect measurements and some artistic interpretation. Here the winds accompany Bach piano music. Music

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