When it comes to commemorating the crew of the space shuttle Columbia, NASA found a way to pay both kinds of tribute, and at the same time. On February 2, 2004 — a year and a day after seven astronauts perished as their shuttle broke apart in the Texas sky — the agency announced the names of a series of seven hills. There was Anderson Hill, named for Columbia mission specialist Michael Anderson; Brown Hill, for mission specialist David Brown; Chawla Hill (mission specialist Kalpana Chawla); Clark Hill (mission specialist Laurel Clark); Husband Hill (mission commander Rick Husband); McCool Hill (pilot Willie McCool); and Ramon Hill (mission specialist Ilan Ramon).
Read more. [Image: NASA/JPL/Cornell]
Frontpage: Wednesday, June 13th
- Former Giffords Aid Wins Seat: It’s a fitting end to an inspirational saga: 66-year-old Ron Barber won the seat of his former boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Tuesday night after Giffords resigned to recover from a gunshot wound to the head.
- Yemen Continues U.S. Attack: Yemen on Wednesday pressed ahead with a U.S.-led offensive against Islamic militants in the southern part of the country, a day after it recovered control of two strategic cities.
- Car Bomb Kills 63 in Iraq: A wave of coordinated car-bomb attacks throughout Iraq on early Wednesday killed 63 people and injured dozens more—one of the deadliest attacks since U.S. troops withdrew from the country last year.
- Russia Defends Syrian Arms Sale: Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday defended his country’s alleged sale of arms to Syria, and also accused the U.S. of supplying weapons to the rebels fighting the government.
- NASA to Launch Telescope: A powerful new X-ray telescope, dubbed the NuStar by NASA, will soon be on the prowl for supermassive black holes, the invisible remnants left when stars die.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Dolores Walker leaves the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office after identifying the remains of her son, Joseph Briggs. Briggs, who recently turned 16, was shot and killed while sitting on a stoop in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood. Read the full story here.
FTW! The scene inside SpaceX’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, CA earlier this morning. Today at 8:56am CT, SpaceX and their spacecraft “Dragon” made history becoming the first private company to dock at the International Space Station. “Look’s like we got us a dragon by the tail,” relayed the International Space Station to SpaceX and NASA Mission Control in Houston.
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What was that planet-sized ‘Death Star’-like structure seen floating near the surface of the sun on Monday? Although sightings of supposed UFOs in space images are nothing new, this particular orb appears to be refueling with solar plasma — there’s even a hose extending from the sun’s surface!
As you may have guessed, that’s no moon… but it’s no space station either. Obligatory “Star Wars” clip:
That’s no moon!
The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, orbits smack in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our own.
Previous research had hinted at the existence of such Earth-like planets, where liquid water could exist, but this is the first time such a life-friendly alien planet has been confirmed.
The planet is about 2.4 times wider around than Earth. It’s still unknown whether Kepler-22b has a rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a milestone to finding Earth-like planets.
“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington said
Forty-two years ago today, the successful execution of mission Apollo 11 allowed humans access to the Earth’s moon for the very first time. American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the lunar wonderland, erecting the flag of the United States on its rocky surface. That week, Newsweek ran with the above cover—a grainy shot of mankind’s first steps on the moon. Here’s how our editors at the time summed up the moment:
“The feat of Apollo 11 was, in fact, the culmination of centuries of painstakingly acquired knowledge; the realization of dreams and myths as old as man’s consciousness itself; a magnificent opportunity to look deeply into the origins of the moon, the earth, and perhaps the universe; an exciting portent of the future. But most of all, it was a demonstration of what man’s ingenuity and courage and will can achieve when mobilized to a grand design.”
[Newsweek; July 28, 1969]
In April 1981 Newsweek published a cover story on the Space Shuttle program, then just getting underway with the launch of Columbia that week from Kennedy Space Center. In it, the editors call the program “the most spectacular sales promotion in history,” predicting that the future in space lies in fact with private industry—a belief mirrored by the Obama administration nearly three decades later:
Once investment in space loses its element of risk, predicts NASA’s Bekey, “industry will jump in.” If so, Columbia’s historic voyage may turn out to be not only a splendid technical and scientific achievement, but also perhaps the most spectacular sales promotion in history. Even as mankind’s great adventure in space is getting under way, it is also, in a sense, ending. Impelled by the dual human imperatives to explore—and to see if some money can be made at it—we have begun to probe the very fringes of a great uncharted sea; already, we want to know where the best fishing is.
Standing by for blastoff!