We’re Over the Moon for These Space Day Pubs

May 2, 2019

Life Cycle of Stars – NASA image.

This year International Space Day will be celebrated around the world on May 3. Space Day, founded in 1997 and expanded to International Space Day in 2001, is dedicated to sharing the excitement of space exploration. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the holiday “is a time to learn more about our universe and to excite others about space, too.” And what better way to learn about our universe than through official Federal publications?!

Since President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act on July 29, 1958, to create NASA, the agency has worked to achieve a wide array of spectacular accomplishments for mankind, including sending a man to the moon, successfully landing a man-made object on Mars, and creating the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, just to name a few. The agency has allowed humans to see their planet from a perspective they never had before. NASA’s First 50 Years covers these accomplishments. But it also remembers tragedies such as the Apollo fire and the Columbia and Challenger accidents.

Did you know that the International Space Station is a large, multi-functioning spacecraft that orbits the earth? Since November 2, 2000, astronauts have lived in this spacecraft, which is about the size of a house with five bedrooms and boasts a gymnasium and a big bay window. Learn more about the space object, which serves as one of the world’s most inspirational examples of international teamwork, in NASA’s Reference Guide to the International Space Station. This book discusses the creation of the International Space Station (ISS) and the vision for the station, which includes being a hub for scientific research, technological development, exploration, commerce, and education.

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most well-known names in space. And for a good reason! This spacecraft looks at the sky from beyond Earth’s atmosphere. It has the capability of seeing and snapping shots of stars, planets, nebulae, and galaxies with complete detail. The telescope provided conclusive evidence that hubs of most galaxies do indeed have substantial black holes with millions or even billions of stars. The Hubble is fast. No we mean, really really fast. In fact, it circles the entire Earth every 96 minutes. Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble has traveled about 2.83 billion miles. Hubble: An Overview of the Space Telescope provides an overview of the historic space telescope with sections on its history, design, operations, and cultural impact. Explore images of the telescope’s fascinating findings – like its image of the heart of the Lagoon Nebula 4,000 light-years away from Earth, its shot of four of Saturn’s moons passing in front of the planet, and its views of the galaxy M84.

What’s possibly more fascinating than the space missions of NASA? The stories of the brilliant minds behind them. William H. Pickering: America’s Deep Space Pioneer provides a biography of Dr. William H. Pickering, who pioneered the exploration of space at NASA. Shortly after NASA was established, Dr. Pickering was put in charge of NASA’s Ranger program, which aimed to capture live, close-up video images of the surface of the Moon. After getting off to a rough start, the mission proved successful, and America had its first close-ups of the Moon. Pickering’s team succeeded in conducting further lunar missions that paved the way for the Apollo mission that famously landed Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Learn more about Pickering’s contribution to space exploration in this book.

Want to experience Space Day with your little ones? Order Junior Ranger Night Explorer, an activity booklet from the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior. The booklet will guide you through smart stargazing, including what items to bring with you so you can see all the planets and star clusters up close and personal. With Junior Ranger Night Explorer, your little rising stars will learn how to find the North Star, track phases of the Moon, learn about galaxies, and use all their senses to explore the night environment at a national park.

Even the U.S. Army uses knowledge of space for its missions. Space Warriors: The Army Space Support Team from the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, and Center of Military History, outlines the organizational and conceptual evolution of the Army Space Support Team (ARSST). These support teams provide warfighters the ability to leverage space capabilities. This helps soldiers enhance their intelligence and operation planning capabilities.

The facts and photos in these publications truly make us feel over the Moon, no pun intended. There is so much to know and learn about our beautiful, vast universe. We wish you all a happy Space Day!

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

Wings in Orbit: An Interview, Part II

July 28, 2011

On Tuesday, we posted the first of a two-part interview about Wings in Orbit: Scientific and Engineering Legacies of the Space Shuttle, 1971-2010, a new book published by NASA to mark the ending of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program. Here’s Part 2 of that interview with Robert Crippen, the pilot of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s first orbital flight into space, Dr. Helen Lane, Editor-in Chief of Wings in Orbit, Wayne Hale, Executive Editor, and Dr. Kamlesh Lulla, Co-Editor.

 GovBookTalk: Wings in Orbit is beautifully illustrated. Do you have a favorite photograph or other image?

 Bob Crippen: My favorite is the cover shot of the Orbiter in space.

 Helen Lane: Every person involved with this book has a favorite, so there are at least 300 favorites, depending on who you asked.  I was so involved with each graphic that it is impossible to decide.  One of the privileges of working for NASA is the wonderful images and our graphic artists.  We had two outstanding artists to provide these images.

However, I am partial to the first protein crystal, shown on page 433, and the flight of the 747 carrying the orbiter over the desert, page 109. The photos of preparing the Space Shuttle for flight at the Kennedy Space Center are fantastic, but because we had to reduce the size, we did not get the full benefit.  All the photos and many of the graphics are available online through the Johnson Space Center or Kennedy Space Center.

Kamlesh Lulla: In my view, the Space Shuttle provided the scientific community with stunning views of our own home planet. It captured both the natural beauty and human drama: the book contains examples of both. My favorite image in the book is oil fires inKuwait, imaged by the Shuttle crew during a 1991 flight.

Wayne Hale: I particularly like the one of the Shuttle silhouetted against the sunrise colors of the atmosphere.  But there are so many beautiful illustrations, it is hard to pick out just one.

GovBookTalk: From your perspective, how has the Shuttle program advanced space exploration and how will that be reflected in NASA’s future endeavors?

Bob Crippen: It has shown we can operate on a frequent basis of sending crews in space, but more important it has shown the broad range of tasks that humans can accomplish in space.  That knowledge will be invaluable in planning our next major goal in human space flight.

Helen Lane: The focus of the book was the legacy of the Space Shuttle – what would it be remembered for in 10 years.  So much as been made of its failures that we wanted to explore its accomplishments, unlike most of the popular writings.  It is a complex story.  However, I think there are several aspects that changed human space flight forever, and maybe international relationships.

The Orbiters can easily take six and sometimes more people into space.  The Shuttle began when theU.S.was opening up technical jobs to women and minorities.  The Space Shuttle provided the golden opportunity to expand the astronaut core to these folks, plus a wide variety of careers from physicist to astronomer to medical doctors.  No other nation has done that.  Now, it is totally accepted that anyone with the talents, health, and desire can go into space – see the commercial space programs.

The Space Shuttle era moved from the competition (Space Race) between countries to collaborations.  As astronaut Mike Foale (p. 144) said, “When we look back 50 years to this time, we won’t remember the experiments that were performed, we won’t remember the assembly that was done.  What we will know was the countries came together to do the first joint international project, and we will know that that was the seed that started us off to the moon and Mars.”  There were many countries, including our former enemies,Russia and Japan, along with the Europeans involved in the space shuttle.  We flew folks of many nationalities, religions, and cultures.

Many today say it is the Hubble.  The Space Shuttle enabled the Hubble Space Telescope to perform well, leading to major discoveries.  However, through our work with Hubble, we learned to do big construction and repair projects in space.  The Space Shuttle taught us that the human is extremely capable of completing complex tasks in space.  Now, it is accepted that we can do this, but 30 years ago most thought that it was only the dreams of the science fiction writers.

The human, plant, and animal research provides the bases for belief that humans can survive long space flights, probably leading to long-duration stays, including growing their own food.  However, the research provided a warning too – from changes in space craft components, e.g. atomic oxygen, along with orbital debris and radiation, much of which we learned from entering space 135 times.

Finally, 135 re-entries taught us a lot about high attitude hypersonic flight, a must to enable  complex vehicles to come back to earth, manned or unmanned. Prior to the Shuttle program, there were calculations that provided models.  Now, we have real data to use for future modeling of space craft re-entry back to Earth.

Kamlesh Lulla: I agree with Helen. In addition, it is important to remember that each Shuttle mission was a mission to planet Earth. It was both a scientific laboratory and an in-orbit classroom for researchers and educators around the globe.

Wayne Hale: The Shuttle was envisaged as merely one part of a space infrastructure that would eventually lead to missions to myriad places in the solar system.  Since the Nation decided not to invest in the infrastructure to go farther, we learned the most we could from the shuttle; how to operate in space with large teams of people; how to fly safely through planetary atmospheres on the way to and from space.  These are all valuable lessons which will allow future endeavors in space to be successful.

GovBookTalk:  Now that the book is done, what are your feelings about it – and about the Space Shuttle program as well?

Bob Crippen: I am very proud of the book and the Space Shuttle program.  Both are major accomplishments and everyone involved can be proud of the results.

Helen Lane: As with most of the folks that worked in the Space Shuttle program, it is a bittersweet ending – the ending of the longest human space program using these vehicles over and over again in the extremely dangerous environments of space. So I am both sad and proud of working for NASA.

Wayne Hale: It was a privilege to be a part of history; to be a team member trying to do something difficult – nearly impossible – and extraordinarily valuable in the largest sense of the word; historic.  I feel nothing but pride and a sense of gratitude for being part of it.

Kamlesh Lulla: I believe new opportunities will emerge as this era comes to an end. We will continue our journey!

To browse a copy of Wings in Orbit online, click here: http://books.google.com/books?id=aEZo8dHqJbIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=wings+in+orbit&hl=en&ei=kOYeTs3ABYrV0QHi4PDXAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

To purchase a print copy, click here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/collections/wings.jsp

To purchase Wings in Orbit as an eBook, click here: http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=aEZo8dHqJbIC&dq=wings%20in%20orbit&as_brr=5&source=webstore_bookcard

To find it in a library, click here: http://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=wings+in+orbit

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