Happy 11th Anniversary to Opportunity!

Nearly 26 miles and counting. Opportunity has nearly run a marathon!

Here is the gorgeous result of a series of photos Opportunity took at the rim of Cape Tribulation with its panoramic camera. NASA released this on January 22 as part of the anniversary celebration.

Check out some of the latest photos here

Read more here

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OASIS Lecture Review: Richard Foss tells how astronauts are eating better food than ever!

On January 17, 2015, author/historian Richard Foss spoke on “From Tubes to Cubes to Space Espresso – Dining in Zero Gravity” at the A-MAN STEM International Science and Discovery and Learning Center. The audience was enthusiastic, both about the talk and the freeze-dried ice cream created especially for astronauts. However, as Foss pointed out,  astronauts did not really enjoy the ice cream as much as the audience did.

Foss regaled the audience with accounts of how Russian space food was so much better than what the astronauts had to eat (at least at first). The food improved over time but not without some bumps, which some astronauts attempted to get around. Ultimately, space food achieved near-gourmet status, thanks to the French and Italians.

There will be more detail in the February 2015 issue of The Odyssey, OASIS’ newsletter. Join OASIS to receive your copy!  Learn more about OASIS here.


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MARCH STORM Congressional Action Event, March 15-19 In Washington DC

If February in Washington DC is too cold for you, consider joining the MARCH STORM Congressional action event organized by the Space Frontier Foundation March 15-19. The MARCH STORM focuses more narrowly on space development than the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) Blitz. You can expect topics being pushed to include a Low Cost Access to Space Prize, full funding for Commercial Crew, and increased funding for commercial research on the ISS. The basic commitment is to a training session on Sunday, March 15, and to one day on the Hill – March 16th. Supporters with more time can join additional Congressional visits on March 17/18/19.

If you are interested, send mail to spacepolicy [at] yahoo [dot] com with a copy to dale [dot] skran [at] nss [dot] org.

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Join NSS in the Space Exploration Alliance Blitz February 22-24 in Washington, DC!

NSS will be participating in the Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) 2015 legislative Blitz. During the SEA Blitz teams of up to four space advocates from various organizations visit Congressional offices in Washington, DC. NSS encourages all members to sign up for and participate in the SEA Blitz.

We are currently planning on holding a special dinner training session for NSS members only on the evening of Sunday, February 22nd, following the SEA training session.

The session will be held on Sunday, February 22nd starting at 2 p.m. at a location in or near Washington, D.C. where it will be accessible by public transportation (precise location TBD).

Dale Skran, Deputy Chair of the NSS Policy Committee will be coordinating NSS members. Please send him a short email message at dale [dot] skran [at] nss [dot] org indicating you plan to participate in the Blitz and whether you will be attending the Sunday evening NSS-only session. Also, when registering for the SEA Blitz we request that you answer the last question by saying that you will represent NSS. SEA includes groups ranging from NSS and Explore Mars to AIAA, the Moon Society, the Mars Society, the Planetary Society, the National Society of Black Engineers, SEDS, and Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation. The major goal of the SEA Blitz from an NSS perspective will be to provide as much support for the NASA budget as possible during these difficult budgetary times. Now is the time to stand up for space and be counted.

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Indian Space Research Organization Mars Orbiter Programme Team Wins National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

(Washington DC – January 12, 2015) The National Space Society takes great pleasure in announcing that its 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category has been won by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Programme Team. This award will be presented to an ISRO representative during the National Space Society’s 2015 International Space Development Conference (http://isdc.nss.org/2015/), the 34th ISDC, to be held in Toronto, Canada, at the Hyatt Regency Toronto (downtown). The Conference will run from May 20-24, 2015.

The annual Space Pioneer awards recognize those individuals and teams whose accomplishments have helped to open the space frontier. The awards are divided into thirteen categories. The intent is to recognize those who have made significant contributions in different fields of endeavor to “develop a spacefaring civilization that will establish communities beyond the Earth.”

About ISRO Mars Orbiter Programme Team and the Mars Orbiter Mission

 The mission was launched on Nov 5, 2003 and went into Mars orbit on Sept 24, 2014. This mission has achieved two significant mission firsts. (1) An Indian spacecraft has gone into orbit around Mars on the very first try (on Sept 24, 2014). No other country has ever done this. (2) The spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit with a high apoapsis, and has a high resolution camera which is taking full-disk color imagery of Mars. Very few full disk images have ever been taken in the past, mostly on approach to the planet, as most imaging is done looking straight down in mapping mode. These images will aid planetary scientists. The Mars Orbiter programme team located in Bangalore, India, is headed by Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai.

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The good, bad and ugly – Movie reviews: Interstellar

I am very proud to present two reviews of Interstellar. Reviewers Ali Farhat and Charlie Xu are Cerritos High School students taking Advanced Placement Physics under the instruction of former OASIS president and long time OASIS member Phil Turek.

Many thanks to the two for their contribution!

Mr. Farhat noted flaws but overall gave the movie a good review.

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time, all of the time, without fail, when you least expect it?” This law was one of the two punch lines the movie had. If anyone feels this is true, then he or she is living under Murphy’s law.

Interstellar in general was an imaginative movie that combines physics, action, and romance, although without detailed explanation. The movie itself had flaws that had to deal with physics laws and motions. However, I understand Hollywood’s need for drama in there. So wherever they were supposed to die, Hollywood just saved them.

Newton’s third law was the second punch line; in fact, the best statements of the entire movie. Riding in space was all calculated based on this law. He must leave behind.

Murph was the most fascinating character. She knew what she was dealing with and never gave up. She really loved her father and didn’t want him to leave. Cooper didn’t want to make her not feel safe so he didn’t lie to her. Murph’s character developed vastly throughout the movie. She ended up saving humanity.

Overall, the movie was a blast and I hope for more to come. Next time, let’s try to not survive when nearing a black hole.

Mr. Xu, however, was not nearly so impressed:

I’ve always looked forward to Christopher Nolan’s new films. Whether it be Memento, Inception, or the Dark Knight, every movie I watched from his heretofore was in my memory a pleasant experience. And this week, I walked out the movie theater more disappointed than I had been in any movie for years. Interstellar was a flat disappointment that simply made no sense. With prolonged exposition, painfully predictable, gaping with inconsistencies and plot holes, Interstellar is little more than nice visuals and a litter of bombast that attempts to conceal mere convolution as great profundity.

Interstellar takes a majority of its time creating the exposition of the movie. It attempts to explain everything in the majority first part of the movie and do everything in the last 30 minutes. Way too much time is spent with inconsistent and needless dialogue explanations of the science, and it takes more than half the film to take off. Nolan seems almost unwilling to make any action until everything is explained, so that the movie would not come off as confusing. I personally feel that it was oversimplified to the extremes, even going as far as to explain the gravitational pull of a black hole as well as its effect on time, a concept that even I know and Cooper definitely should know. Even so, they go through explaining this to Cooper. In addition, many of the events that happen are a little too predictable because of how the exposition was carried out. I found myself predicting many of the things that would happen – they explained the nature of the black hole, I expected a black hole scene, and sure enough there was a black hole scene. There was just too much explaining over the course of the 3 hour movie, and I feel that Nolan could have been a bit more concise.

For a film that takes place in deep space, Interstellar has little real depth to it – whether that means emotional depth or intellectual depth. Christopher Nolan has never, in my opinion, been great at creating emotional scenes. His climatic emotional moments always end up hollow, as evident in multiple scenes of the movie such as the reunion between Cooper and his daughter. That scene and others (emotional talk between Murph and Cooper across the 5th dimension of time through the use of large bookshelves in a chamber inside the center of a black hole, where time is actually a physical dimension created by transcendental 5th dimensional humans of the future? What? is what I’m thinking as well) felt histrionic, and left an empty feeling of apathy that this time not even Hans Zimmer’s brilliant score could cover up.

I think the part of Interstellar that I disliked the most was by far its ending. For the first two hours or so, Interstellar spends its time building up to the climax, to some “click” of realization in which everything connected and all made sense. To me, the majority of the movie was actually entertaining and perhaps even thrilling, but largely because I thought it was going somewhere, and that when it finally reached there, everything would make sense in the most marvelous of fashions. But it never actually reached there. In fact, the ending actually adds narrative complications rather than explore intellectual complexions. This “click” Nolan banks upon utterly fails, presenting nothing but the generic theme of “the power of love” in perhaps the most convoluted way possible. It never really explores the themes that it occasionally brings up, and lacks depth thought it poses otherwise. How did Murph know that it was her father delivering the messages of all people with such confidence? Why didn’t they send a satellite of some sort through the wormhole rather than individuals to each planet? If they were manufacturing underground plants that could work, why not spend profits on that rather than move the whole station to space as Plan A? Why is the assumption that humans made the tesseract when they become 5th dimensional beings in the future treated as a fact? To me, many of the ideas of the ending were pretty ridiculous. Humans become 5th dimensional beings and they implant a wormhole from the future. Cooper enters the Tesseract inside the black whole which is some physical library of time also implemented from the future. If these future humans were able to do such things, why didn’t they just save the humans more directly rather than sending Cooper on a huge trip? These were off the top of my head but here were so many others that I just could not understand while watching the movie and even after the credits rolled.

It should be noted, however, that Interstellar was far from a terrible film. I did enjoy it overall despite being overwhelmingly disappointed. The visuals were very well done, perhaps even better if we had watched it at IMAX. The soundtrack (as most scores from Hans Zimmer) was very well done and played a crucial role in Interstellar. The majority of the film was entertaining at the very least. TARS was one beast of a robot, showing off his great sense of humor and providing Interstellar with occasional moments of great comedy. And probably most importantly, I get five thousand stinking millipoints of extra credit for watching it. However, I feel in the case of Interstellar the flaws outweighed the strengths. Interstellar was a major disappointment that offered little more than the thrills of the moment and visual splendor. And, as I said before, Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite directors; every film he makes is brimming with ambition, and Interstellar is no exception. However, this time, Nolan’s ambition exceeds his grasps.


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“[Falcon 9] Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time”

On Saturday, January 10, SpaceX launched its fifth official mission to resupply the ISS. The launch was successful: the Dragon cargo capsule is expected to reach the ISS in two days.

However, the rocket landed hard on the drone ship, damaging some of the equipment on the ship. Telemetry data analysis will tell us more… it was too dark and foggy to get a video.

See more, and some stunning photographs, here:


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OASIS Hotline is phased out!

Hello all,

The OASIS hotline has been phased out.

Please check the website for all information, or email oasis [at] oasis-nss [dot] org.

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National Space Society Encourages Virgin Galactic To Press On

The National Space Society (NSS) and OASIS extend their support to Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites over the tragic loss of SpaceShipTwo and offer their heartfelt sympathy to the families involved and to everyone who worked on that program.

“We are extremely honored that Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides served on the NSS team as our Executive Director and we all stand by him in this time of difficulty,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “We expect that the cause of the accident will be found and fixed so that the Virgin Galactic dream of ‘opening space to tens of thousands of people’ can become a reality.”

NSS encourages Virgin Galactic to continue moving forward. NSS has been a consistent supporter of private efforts to develop space commercially, including both orbital and sub-orbital tourism. Economic returns from spaceflight are necessary for humanity’s long-term future in space.

NSS notes that fatal accidents during both the testing of aircraft and their operation were relatively common during the early days of commercial aviation, and now it has happened in commercial space flight. America was always built on the courage of those who dared to explore new frontiers. From Lewis and Clark to the Apollo astronauts, great men and women have tested themselves against the frontiers of their age.

The frontier of space is far from tamed. The men and women of Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are engaged in one of the great efforts of our time: opening space for all humanity. That is a noble pursuit and we are all thankful for their work and for their sacrifice.

NSS Executive Vice President Paul Werbos sums up: “This is a sad moment for the space tourism industry and the families of the pilots. The Scaled Composites pilots are true heroes who risked their lives to blaze a trail to a better future for everyone.”


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Gateway To Space 2014 – A Regional NSS Space Development Conference

St. Louis Space Frontier, a chapter of the National Space Society, will host “Gateway to Space 2014,” a regional space development conference on November 7-9, 2014 in downtown St. Louis. The three-day conference will be packed with out-of-this-world panels, keynotes, sessions, seminars, tours, and special events.

Registration is now open!

Read more here

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