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At MakerFaire NYC

Hi all,I'll be at the NYC MakerFaire this weekend (Sept 21-22), in case anyone wishes to join up...

Concepts For A CubeSat LARP

I am a firm believer that simulations improve reality.  If you want to launch a CubeSat, you...

Putting a TARDIS in Space?

I am used to odd looks when I say I'm flying a satellite to convert the ionosphere to music. ...

Who Can Launch a CubeSat?

In the half year since I wrote last September, the CubeSat field has greatly moved forward. ...

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Project CalliopeRSS Feed of this column.

Alex "Sandy" Antunes is the mastermind behind 'Project Calliope', a pico-satellite funded by Science 2.0 and being launched in 2011 by a mad scientist who is a space & music enthusiast. This... Read More »

In the alchemical days of building your own circuit boards, you had to swirl hand-masked boards in noxious chemicals to burn away the layers you needed. Now, you can just pay by the inch. It's a glorious time for using home-designed printed circuit boards (PCBs).
Is stating 'DIY' and 'Craft' redundant?  Perhaps, but the main story is about the cooler, hipper NASA teaming up with Etsy.  The premise: make a NASA-y shuttle-related artwork or handicraft and you can both sell it and win prizes.  They even use a pun for the title:  "NASA and Etsy present the 2010 Space Craft Contest"

You can even sell your work... but then you have to be able to recreate it if you win the 'will fly it on the Space Shuttle' prize. There's over 360 submissions already, with all entries due by November 2, 2010. You don't have to have an Etsy shop (though you do have to live in the US), so it's very open.  Their spec:
A 32-foot asteroid flew between the Earth and the Moon this morning.  It was spotted in advance.  It did not hit the Earth, but passed about 28,000 miles up.  If it had hit the Earth, it would not have done damage.  One of this size tends to hit the Earth's atmosphere every 2 years, on average.  And, as NASA notes, we get a flyby of this size in the 'tween-Earth-Moon space about once every day.

This particular one passed much closer to Earth than the Moon's distance, and in fact almost to the spacing of our Earth-launched geosynchronos satellites.  While the Moon is a hefty 236,000 miles away, geosync is only 26,000 miles away.
The Chinese Chang'e series is taking over the moon.  For lunch, NASA people in Florida are heading to bread lines, while meanwhile the Chinese are microwaving the entire moon for their own consumption.  Okay, I'll ditch the mixed jingoistic metaphors now and get to what really makes me hungry-- space exploration successes.

With 1 down, 1 flying, and several more coming, the Chang'e program is starting off with strong successes.  The Chang'E-1 mission mapped the entire moon in microwaves, with data presented at the European Planetary Sciences Congress conference last month (September 2010).
My main computer died, and I'm on my backup system.  While I can still work, it feels like I've shifted from my starship bridge to the tiny emergency control room, while still on full battle alert.

I have many working computers in the house.  Between my main (a linux PC), the Windows box (for when you absolutely need 100% Windows compatibility), the 2 netbooks, and the music/vid box, I can 'do' stuff.  I just can't do it as seamlessly, and that's caused frustration.
Ever want to build your own launch rail?  Interorbital Systems did, and sent me pictures.

I know, I know, you're thinking "aren't all the cool kids building their own rockets instead?"  Yeah-- and what are they gonna launch them off, huh?  Didn't think that far, huh?  So you're going to show up in a desert or tropical island somewhere with a rocket and be all "where shall I stick this?"  And the locals will be happy to tell you where to stick it.  Trust me, you need a launch rail for your rocket.  It's like the pod for the pea.