Discovery’s final flight / April 17, 2012
Yesterday Space Shuttle Discovery made its final flight, as it was transferred atop a Boeing 747 from Florida to Washington, destined to become a museum exhibit after 27 years of service and 39 missions to space. Coverage of the journey was all over the web and TV, as it made a dramatic flypast over the Washington skyline.
One of the best things that I ended up watching though, was this CBS special news report from August 1977. If you’ve got 30 minutes to spare, check it out on YouTube. This ‘Approach and Landing Test’ was the first time a Space Shuttle flew on its own. Piggy-backing in the same way on a 747, the Shuttle climbed to 24,00 ft, before astronauts Fred Haise and Gordon Fullerton performed a separation and guided it to the runway for the first time.
The documentary makes for compelling watching — not least because of some beautiful 70s graphics; just check out those Polaroid and CBS logos, nice! — but because, 35 years ago, NASA and the world dreamed these vehicles would be making 100+ trips into orbit over their lifetime, making space travel a routine, cheap and frequent exercice. It’s interesting to watch, noting this sense of optimism and excitement, and to think back on what the Shuttle program did and didn’t achieve over the last 30 years.
Apollo 8 iPad wallpaper
Just a quick update – my iPad wallpaper celebrating the mission of Apollo 8 has now been updated to suit the retina display of the new iPad. That’s a massive resolution of 2048 x 2048 pixels, so go wild! Download it here, along with its iPhone counterpart.
Apollo 11 / Ryan McNaught, 2012
Well done sir, well done indeed. More photos here.
Space Center / Nanoblocks
So far on this blog, 2012 seems to mainly be me geeking out over Space Shuttle related things. I do apologise.
But when they’re this cool, can you blame me? Nanoblocks is like Lego, only smaller. Really small. I just built the space shuttle kit, above, and it’s pretty fiddly stuff. Good fun for the kid/engineer in all of us.
Inside Space Shuttle Atlantis + Discovery / Collectspace.com
Some truly awesome photos showing the interior of Space Shuttle Atlantis – with the instrument panels lit up one final time before the spacecraft is powered down for good, ahead of its transfer to public display at Kennedy Space Center.
More pictures here, and some of Discovery here.
Seen on ISO50.
F–Sim Space Shuttle / Sascha Ledinsky, 2011
Admittedly this iOS shuttle landing simulator has been around for a while now, but I only just got round to downloading it. If you’re interested in the space shuttle at all, you have to get this app, it’s absolutely stunning! And currently on sale at the ridiculous price of 69p.
I remember the days when a flight sim game of this realism and quality could expect to sell for £20–30 on PC. Thank you, App Revolution.
Apollo 8 / 21st December 1968
43 years ago today, three men strapped themselves to the top of a Saturn V rocket – one of the most powerful vehicles ever constructed – and headed for the moon. They were the first astronauts to command the enormous rocket; and the first humans leave Earth’s orbit. They travelled over 238,000 miles, successfully completed 10 orbits of the moon, and returned safely to Earth. It was an astonishing accomplishment.
Today, as part of the Just Us 2011 advent calendar, my iOS wallpapers are available to download, celebrating the Apollo 8 mission.
Download them from my own site, and at Just Us.
It was a fun little project to work on – trying to summarise such an immense, almost inconceivable human achievement in a visual format that demands the utmost simplicity. I decided that focusing on scale would be the most effective way to represent the enormity of the mission. The Earth (iPad) and Moon (iPhone) are sized in proportion to one another. And if you place your iOS devices 2.82m apart, you’ll get an accurate sense of the distances involved.
Yeah, it’s crazy. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, Bill Anders — you’re awesome.