NASA Hits the Big Five-Oh

October 1, 2008

Well, technically NASA is a little older than that, but as they “started business” on October 1, 1958 we’re calling it their fiftieth anniversary. In actuality it was July 29, 1958 that President Eisenhower who signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act which created NASA.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) basically took over the operations of NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics)to be the “official” agency of exploration of space and aviation. The first administrator of NASA was T. Kenneth Glennan, who served in that capacity from August 19, 1968 until January 20, 1961. The current administrator is Michael Griffin.

It would be hard to list the many varied and vast achievments that have happened over the past fifty years, or the leaps in technology that have been brought to the mainstream populace due to the ingenuity, courage, and intelligence of the people who have worked for NASA over the years. Suffice it to say the world would be a vastly different place without their efforts.

If you head over to the main NASA site, they have a wide variety of images and stories regarding their anniversary.


NASA Astronaut to Speak in Grand Rapids

April 14, 2008

The notice is a little late, but for those of you who might be interested, NASA astronaut David C. Leestma will be speaking on Wednesday evening, April 16th, at the Public Museum in Grand Rapids Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association is proud to co-sponsor this special event with Grand Valley State University, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, and the Roger B. Chaffee Scholarship Fund.

Captain Leestma is currently the Manager of the Advanced Planning Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston. His position entails heading a team involved in strategy for development and implementation of this country’s most ambitious of all human space programs: return to the moon and an expedition to Mars.

His presentation, “Flying in Space: What It’s Like and What’s Ahead” will include his experiences as a NASA astronaut, his missions, and a look ahead to an exciting future for exploration, as humans progress toward missions throughout the star system.

The presentation begins promptly at 8.00pm. Persons interested in attending are encouraged to arrive early, as seating is limited. Please mark your calendars and join us for what is sure to be a memorable evening for all.

For more information, please visit this page on the GRAAA site.

Arthur C. Clarke: 1917-2008

March 18, 2008

A sad note came across the news wires earlier today, as the announcement of the passing of Sir Arthur C. Clarke was made public. He was 90 years old.

Perhaps best known to the world as the author of the book 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke was also an accomplished scientist and explorer.

Clarke was born in Minehead England in late 1917, and while with the Royal Air Force in World War II was instrumental in developing radar. He actually wrote a paper in 1945 outlining a world-wide network of communication satellites in a fixed orbit – what are now geostationary satellites. In fact, these orbits are commonly referred to as “Clarke Orbits.” He never patented the idea, and in 1965 wrote an essay that was subtitled “How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time.”

But it was his writing that he was known for the most. Apart from 2001, he penned such classics as Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, The City and the Stars, and A Fall of Moondust. In fact, 2001 grew out of two of his short stories, The Sentinel and Encounters in the Dawn.

The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation was created in 1983 to recognize those individuals whose insights range most broadly in our comprehension of the universe we live in, the way we live in it, and the responsibility we have to improve our world.

Clarke also formulated three laws of prediction, or what are now called “Clarke’s Laws.” As to the number of his “laws” Clarke commented “As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop there.”

A great man… a visionary… a critical thinker… has left us. He will be missed.