Space Age Anniversary : 60 Years of Space.

The space age is 60 years old today.

October 4th 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth : Sputnik, sending it characteristic “beep-beep-beep” signal to Earth on 20 and 40 MHz.

The satellite weighed about 83 kilograms and sent the beeps till the battery ran out.

Here is a sample of how the signal sounded :

or this one :


Another Moon Walker picture

I just edited another of the pictures from the meeting with Ed Mitchell at Space EXPO.

This shows that longest of all the Moon walks in the Apollo program. Apollo 14’s.

From Apollo 15 on They brought a Moon Rover, so they had much less walking on the Moon.

Moon Walk

Apolle 14, the longest of the Moon Walks.







I may add a few more pictures later.


Watching now : Farscape and The Prisoner

A long time ago I saw some single episodes of Farscape.
I had a bit of trouble getting into the “muppet” style.
This year could be different :
At Fedcon in Germany some of the guests were Ben Browder and Claudia Black.
Their panel was a hoot, and, apart from Stargate, they talked quite a bit about Farscape, and how they enjoyed it.
At Phoenix Comic Con, two weeks later, just before the big Babylon 5 Reunion Panel – we had Gigi Edgley and David Franklin – also quite an enjoyable panel. Yes – all (well, mostly) about Farscape.
So, I decided to get started watching Farscape, in the correct order. I can appreciate the characters quite a bit better now, and I have finished the first season.
Very enjoyable season, when it gets going, a bit of single episodes, but still with some good vharacter moments and development.
Now, before I continue with Farscape, I decided to take a look at the old BBC series “The Prisoner”. I have heard a lot of good about it, and, even if I have not seen it, I know a few references in other shows.

Farscape Season 1 : 8/10
The Prisoner : remains to be seen 😉

Weekly Photo – Rocket Science

In 2010 I became aware of a group in Denmark Copenhagen Suborbitals.

The group is building rockets, rather big ones, no New Year’s fireworks.

Given the size of their vehicles they could not get permission to launch from land (Denmark is a small country, and has no large deserted areas). What did they do ? Easy ! If you can not launch from land, then it must be from the sea.

In the summer 2010 I went to the presentation of their Mark 1 sea launch platform, named Sputnik. It was set to sea carrying the rocket, using a crane. This is one of the better pictures I got from the presentation.

The Mark 1 of the platform is not self powered, so they used another self made project for propulsion of the platform, yes, it is a submarine you see on the picture.

The rocket itself is 9m (30ft) tall and 60cm (2ft) diameter.

The first launch attempt later in the year failed. The count went down to 0 and – nothing happened. Well, the pyrotechnics went off as expected, but the rocket stayed in place. The failure was due to a frozen valve for the liquid oxygen.

They learned a lot about procedure and tech from the failure, and one year later, June 2011 a modified rocket and launch platform (this time self propelled) were used. Counting down to 0 and – nothing happened. After a look at the telemetry it was found that the launch signal had not arrived, and 10 – 15 minutes later another attempt was made, and off it went. I do not have pictures from that event, since only active members of the group were allowed in the area. They did, however publish a press kit on the website.

Their criterion for success was that the rocket lifted itself above the platform, the flight went up to about 2km when the flight was aborted from the ground, in order to stay within the designated area.

The rocket had no active steering and veered off like a missile. The “payload” was recovered, but not the engine stage. More on this project later.

Iran Launches a satellite into orbit.

Today Iran is a member of a very exclusive group of countries – those who have launched satellites into space.
The then Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in October 1957. The United States followed with the successful launch of Explorer 1 in January 1958.
France, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, India and Israel followed later .

The satellite is called “Omid” which means “Hope” in Persian, and carries experimental control systems, communications equipment, and a small remote sensing payload, according to Iranian news reports.

I do find it a bit worrying that a nation with a stated hostile intent towards USA and Israel in particular, and the West in general, now has the capability to deliver whatever type of weapons they have (their secrecy about the nuclear installations, anyone ?) to any place in the world.

It remains, however, quite a feat from a nation to do what they have done, so we must have some respect for their technical abilities. Let us hope that they will learn the lesson of the Cold War – and that they will not start a “hot one”.

Find more information on Spaceflight Now

RIP Mars Phoenix Lander.

NASA has finished listening for the Phoenix Mars Lander, reports Spaceflight Now in *this article*.

It comes due to the Martian Winter fast approaching, the solar panels are unable to keep the batteries charge…. and it is a little tricky to send someone to run a generator or change the batteries. 😉

In a sense it is sad to lose a spacecraft, but Phoenix had done what it was supposed to do, and was operational for 2 months longer than its original 3 months mission. Not bad at all. The Odyssey orbiter appears to continue functioning, so not all is over yet, even if we are unlikely to hear it for some time while Mars passes behind the Sun (from our perspective).

Shuttle going up tonight

I am sitting here at the computer with NASA TV running. The final preparations for the launch of STS-126 with new living quarters and other items.

I will set my receiver at 259.700 MHz (AM mode) listening for the possibly few seconds of communication to the ground.

Unless …. the launch is canceled at the last moment.

Free space images from the web

I just looked at a few sites providing space related images for download. All images – except the logo’s from these three sites are freely useable for non-commercial purposes, including personal web sites – of course with a clear attribution of the source.

The three sites I looked up here are

NASA (of course)for general space travel and some astronomical images.

The Spitzer Space Telescope for images taken in infrared

and of course The Hubble Space Telescope with some of the most stunning astronomical images made

If you like images, maybe using them part of your web pages these are three very good sources.

Do not forget that many observatories and universities have images available. These include very old images from the classical telescopes in the world. I believe there is a project to scan all those ancient images before they are lost forever due to the deterioration pf the photographic material.

The old images *could* become important  for detecting transient events or variable phenomena, like recurring nova outbursts, so we can not afford to lose these images.

More space comms

Today the Soyuz TMA 13 was launched from Baikonur. At the first two orbits signals were heard here in The Netherlands and in Germany on their downlink frequency 121.750 MHz. signals were quite strong for a while.

I did not understand much of it since the comms were in Russian. One word I did recognize the Russian word for “good” (or OK) was used frequently.

The communications can only be heard for about 5 minutes, because the spacecraft need to be “visible” for both my position and the ground station in Russia.

Nils in Germany made two mp3 recordings , with his permission I have uploaded them :

file1 and

The Chinese Launch of Shenzhou 7 with a Crew of 3.

The Chinese space agency has launced their 3rd manned spacecraft with 3 astronauts (“Taikonauts”) on board. see the article from

The plan is to have a Space Walk of about 40 minutes in order to test a newly made Chinese space suit, collect some scientific experiments from the outside of the craft and launch a small satellite sending images back to Earth. The Space Walk should happen on Friday or Saturday.

Exciting to see the Chinese emerge as a manned space faring nation. along with the US and Russia.

There are still not many nations/organisations capable of launching space craft into orbit. I count

– US
– Russia
– Europe (ESA)
– Japan
– India

did I forget anyone ?

I am curious to see when and if the Chinese will join the ISS. I think they belong there along with the others.