A quick thought on a past statement and hope for the future.

Like many in the space community, I’m interested to learn more about Joe Biden’s record on space policy and NASA programs. While there isn’t a ton to go on, I found this statement he made in the Congressional Record from 6/19/73 to be interesting.

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Screen capture from the 1973 Congressional Record. Full version can be seen here.

Nearly 40 years have passed from when he made this statement, so obviously, his policy positions could be markedly different. I find it interesting from a historical perspective and realize policy positions can/do change.

If the Republicans continue to control the Senate, NASA could be in for a period of relative stability in the coming four years. If the Democratic party gains control of the Senate, should we expect changes in policy that would move support to programs “which would be much more deserving” of funding? …


A brief policy overview from Apollo to Artemis… and hopefully beyond

Public Policy and Executive Branch Agencies-

The operation of NASA has always been intertwined with Presidential politics. Since its inception, NASA has been an independent agency that is part of the executive branch. For better or worse, this has meant that each President can impart their legacy on the agency. Some Presidents like Ford and Carter took a more hands-off approach, so I’ll be skipping them for now.

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Space became a defining part of President Kennedy’s legacy, even if he had not intended to make it so upon entering office. …


Wet burps, rockets, and tasty space drinks

On July 29th, 1985, the Space Shuttle Challenger launched on the STS-51F mission, successfully completing an Abort to Orbit. An early shutdown of one of the RS-25 engines meant that the Challenger wasn’t able to reach as high of an orbit as planned, but the mission was still Go.

A dramatic camera angle framed this picture of Challenger, as it rose from the Pad 39A. Challenger carried experiments studying life sciences, plasma physics, solar physics, high-energy astrophysics, astronomy, and some cans of soda.

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Liftoff! Picture- NASA

This weird payload, part of the “Cola Wars,” flew on STS-51F. The crew of the Challenger performed taste tests on Pepsi and Coca-Cola while in orbit. It seems that neither cola won accolades from the crew. The cans pictured here are on display at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. The item description for these artifacts notes, “Both colas tasted like a bottle that had been opened and then forgotten about.” …


Launch Alert!

Update- SpaceX successfully launched and recovered the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. Yesterday’s recovery was the first time that SpaceX recovered a booster for the fifth time. This will help pave the way to continued reusability of the Falcon 9 rocket. The 60 Starlink satellites have also been deployed. Congratulations to SpaceX on another successful mission, which launched a day before the first launch of the Falcon 9 in history.

SpaceX will launch the latest batch of 60 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket later tonight. Liftoff is scheduled for 9:25 p.m. …


2011 Was a Busy Year and 2020 Will Be Even Busier for NASA and SpaceX

NASA’s final Space Shuttle mission lifted off on July 8, 2011. The final flight of Atlantis started the longest gap between crewed missions launching from the United States in the history of NASA.

SpaceX and NASA are slated to fly the first crewed mission with the Crew Dragon capsule on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will launch from Pad 39A, the same site of the final flight of Atlantis in 2011.

In no particular order, here are ten pieces of news, pop culture, and space history that took place the last time humans lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in 2011. …


Launching Skylab- 47 Years Later

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Liftoff! The last Saturn V rocket carried Skylab into orbit. The Saturn V first stage produced ~7.6 million pounds of thrust. Picture credit- NASA

Today is the 47th anniversary of the launch of Skylab, America’s first space station. This picturesque launch would soon turn dangerous, roughly a minute into the flight, but before we get to the hair raising launch, let’s talk about Skylab and the last Saturn V rocket.

Skylab fits in a class all of its own. The station itself was massive, and it had a habitable volume nearly the size of the International Space Station (ISS). What’s even more impressive is that Skylab launched on one mission, instead of over 42 assembly missions like the ISS.

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Skylab is pictured here atop the Saturn V rocket in the foreground at Pad 39A, with Skylab 2 on a Saturn IB in the background on Pad 39B. Pad 39A is currently used by SpaceX, while Pad 39B will support upcoming SLS launches. Picture- NASA

While Skylab itself is an impressive piece of hardware, it is remembered (or forgotten by many) because the station was home to NASA’s first long-duration crews. Skylab enabled American astronauts to work in space for extended periods, breaking the records set during the Gemini and Apollo programs. Proving that humans can live and work in space on long-duration missions is an essential part of planning future expeditions to the Moon and Mars. …


The Final Shuttle Built Took to Space for the First Time

The Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off for the first time on May 7th, 1992. Endeavour was the last of the Shuttles to be built; NASA ordered the creation of the new Shuttle after the loss of the Challenger.

Interestingly, the delivery of Endeavour to Kennedy Space Center took place exactly one year before its first launch. On May 7th, 1991, Endeavour arrived at KSC atop one of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Before we get to STS-49, Endeavour’s first mission, let’s go over a brief history of the Shuttle program. …


Musical Voyeur

When I purchased my used 5th generation iPod, it came with 2277 songs, from artists ranging from Abba to The Zombies. Frankly, I was not expecting anything on the iPod, and I plan on erasing the contents of this iPod once I complete this series. You can read Part 1 here.

However, for the time being, I have taken advantage of listening to an eclectic collection of music, some of which is familiar, while other songs are entirely new.

It is like tuning into a random radio station that you have never heard before. One of the things I have come to love about the iPod is the main menu option to “Shuffle Songs” and its something I’ve taken full advantage of over the past week. …


Make the best of the next meteor shower.

Getting up early or staying up late to watch a meteor shower can be an awe-inspiring experience. Here are five resources to help you observe some of the wonders of our solar system.

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Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash taken at Northstar Mountain, Breckenridge.

1. Find a dark patch of sky

Light pollution sucks. Find a spot away from the light pollution of cities and urban areas. Sadly, this is tricky for a lot of us. Driving to the countryside or heading up to the Rocky Mountains for those of us in Colorado is not always something we can do. …


“Roger, liftoff, and the clock is started!”

On May 5th, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American to go into space.

Shepard’s flight in his Freedom 7 capsule lasted just 15 minutes, 28 seconds. America’s first foray into space was this quick, suborbital flight.

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About

John Mulnix

Hosts The Space Shot & The Cosmosphere Podcast. Podcaster. Techie. Bibliophile. Space science & history nerd.

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