Friday, May 25, 2018

Happy birthday, Slovakian cosmonaut Ivan Bella!

Ivan Bella, born May 25, 1964 in Brezno, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), is the first Slovak citizen to travel in space.  He flew aboard Soyuz TM-29 to the space station Mir.  He remained on board conducting experiments for a little over a week, and returned to Earth on Soyuz TM-28.

It was his only trip to space.

Remembering astronaut Alan Bean (1932-2018)

Apollo and Skylab astronaut Alan Bean passed away today.  The details of his passing haven't been released yet.  Bean, born in Wheeler, Texas, went to the moon on Apollo 12 and is one of the few men to have walked on its surface in November 1969.

He returned to space aboard Skylab 3, the second manned mission to the space station in 1973. 

He retired from NASA in 1981.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Toxic algae threatens Toledo while Pruitt fiddles

Since 2010, the U.S. has seen at least 300 toxic algae blooms in its lakes and ponds, and Lake Erie has experienced some of the worst blooms ever observed. In 2014, a bloom poisoned the water supply for Toledo, OH, affecting 400,000 people. 

Last year, head of the Trump Environmental Pollution Agency Pruitt refused to declare Lake Erie "impaired" under the Clean Water Act.  According to U.S. News, the TEPA said they agreed with state regulators who said they were making progress, and recognized the efforts to reduce pollution feeding the algae.

In April 2017, Ohio EPA Administrator Craig Butler recognized that voluntary farming incentives, such as cutting phosphorus pollution by 40% from 2008 levels by 2025 were not working.

A year later, nothing has changed but once hypothesized, now proven, the growth in algae blooms are related to global warming, and they are only to get worse.  In March, a group of scientists from the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Sea Grant and the EPA released a study that concluded increased greenhouse gas emissions are directly responsible for the increase in blooms.  And as the algae blooms decay, they release more greenhouse gases, a vicious circle.

Furthermore, The Donald, who carried Ohio in the 2016 election, has proposed budget cuts that include cutting funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  The program funds quality oversight, runoff mitigation and habitat preservation, among many other activities.

GOP Governor John Kasich recently declared "only parts" of Lake Erie as impaired, because the middle of the lake, for example, is not impaired.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz is not happy.  He claims that the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation holes too much influence on Ohio lawmakers, and Toledoans are paying the price.

Obviously, Pruitt is much too busy with this and that to care about Ohio.

Soyuz 18 launched 1975

Soyuz 18 crew

Mission patch

Soyuz 18, launched May 24, 1975, was the second and last mission to Salyut 4.  Its crew, Commander Pyotr Klimuk and Flight Engineer Vitali Sevastyanov, set a record of 63 days in space.  It was also the second time seven people were in space (7) simultaneously.

Soyuz 18 mission took place during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, hence all the people in space.  The crew were controlled from an Crimean Control Center, not used since Soyuz 12.

By the end of the mission, the environment aboard the station was deteriorating, windows fogging over and green mold growing on the walls.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Happy birthday, German astronaut Thomas Reiter!

German astronaut Thomas Reiter, born May 23, 1958 in Frankfurt, West Germany, went into space for the European Space Agency.  He has spent over 350 days in space, more than any non-American or non-Russian.  He is also the first German to perform an EVA.

His first trip into space was aboard Soyuz TM-22 to the space station Mir.  He was part of expedition Mir EO-20 from September 1995 to February 1996.  During this time he conducted two EVAs, becoming the first German to perform a space walk. 

His second trip was aboard Discovery (STS-121) to the International Space Station as a mission specialist in July 2006, when he became part of Expedition 13.  He remained on board the ISS to become a member of Expedition 14.  He was replaced by Sunita Williams in December, aboard Discovery (STS-116).

"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" released 1984

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, released in the U.S. May 23, 1984, is probably the darkest of the Indiana Jones movie franchise.  The trivia section of this movie on makes several references to Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford, saying they weren't entirely pleased with this one because of its darker tone. 

It won an Oscar for Best Effects, Visual Effects and John Williams received a nomination for his musical score. 

Temple of Doom opened to mixed reviews, mainly due to the horror and violence, but it still remains one of the best movies ever!

BTW, those were alligators in the river under the rope bridge, not crocodiles! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Patricia and Mike, Philipine monkeys, launched 1952

Several years before Sputnik and the on-set of the space race, scientists were already dabbling with the effects of weightlessness and what happens to the human body if was exposed to zero-g environments for extended period of time.  On May 22, 1952, Patricia and Mike, two Philipine monkeys were strapped into the nose section of an Aerobee rocket and launched from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.  Patricia was in a seated position and Mike was put in a prone position, so scientists could see if there were any differences in effects of rapid acceleration.

They reached an altitude of 36 miles (the highest any primate had reached before.  Scientists had been sending monkeys into suborbital space since 1948) and speeds of 2000 mph.  Patricia and Mike were recovered successfully after they parachuted back to Earth from the upper atmosphere.