Stardust Memories

A mission well played and an efficient use of taxpayer money too. They wrung every last bit of scientific data out of every last dollar.

Lights go out on NASA’s Stardust comet mission

Fresh off a bonus flyby of comet Tempel 1 in February, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft fired its four main engines for more than two minutes Thursday, draining its fuel tank as managers said goodbye to the well-traveled comet chaser after more than 12 years in space.

With Stardust’s single hydrazine fuel tank emptied, the craft lost its ability to control its orientation and the probe’s solar panels were expected to lose track of the sun, and officials anticipated the mission’s battery charge would be exhausted within hours.

Stardust was also programmed to turn off its radio transmitters about 20 minutes after the burn, just in case it might interfere with some future mission using the same frequency.

NASA announced the last transmission from Stardust was received at 7:33 p.m. EDT (2333 GMT) Thursday. Officials monitored the burn from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and issued commands from the Lockheed Martin Corp. mission support center in Denver.

See also:
NASA and Lockheed Martin Say Goodbye to Historic Stardust Spacecraft
NASA’s Venerable Comet Hunter Wraps Up Mission
NASA’s Stardust: Good to the Last Drop
Inside NASA’s Space Funeral for the Comet-Hunting Stardust Probe
NASA kills off comet hunter
Comet-hunting spacecraft shuts down after 12 years
NASA Retires Comet-Hunter Stardust
NASA’s Stardust set to ‘burn to depletion’
NASA’s stardust empties its tank after 12 years
NASA’s ‘Comet Hunter’ Heads Off Into The ‘Sunset’
Stardust – NASA’s Comet Sample Return Mission
NASA – Stardust
Stardust (spacecraft)

Hopefully they put some type of return address on it.

/maybe, like a note in a bottle, something out there will find Stardust and bring it back home, as long as they’re good aliens that come in peace

A New Space Capsule For Not Going To The Moon

The original reason for developing Orion was to return to the moon as part of the Constellation Program, but Obama canceled that idea.

NASA’s Orion capsule, testing center unveiled

The first version of NASA’s new manned Orion space capsule is ready to begin a series of rigorous trials, in preparation for the vehicle’s first test flight in 2013.

NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, the aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, unveiled the prototype spacecraft and a spacious, state-of-the-art testing center Tuesday near Denver. Lockheed’s Space Operations Simulation Center (SOSC) will put Orion through various paces, testing its navigation, ranging, descent and landing systems, among other features.

“Lockheed Martin built this remarkable facility to develop and test spacecraft systems, further demonstrating our commitment to improve safety and advance capabilities for future U.S. human spaceflight,” John Karas, vice president and general manager for Lockheed’s human spaceflight programs, said in a statement.

See also:
NASA Space Capsule Begins Tests at New Proving Ground
NASA’s Orion Moon Craft Unveiled at New Spaceflight Facility
NASA’s Orion begins road to space travel
Lockheed Martin unveils first Orion spacecraft
Lockheed Unveils Orion Space Vehicle
Lockheed Martin Unveils First Orion Spacecraft
Lockheed reveals new simulation center, Orion spacecraft
The Future Of Space Exploration Takes Step Forward In Littleton
Lockheed Martin unveils Orion test facility
Lockheed Martin unveils Colorado training center for Orion
NASA – Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle
Orion (spacecraft)

Apparently, the Orion will be relegated to serving as an incredibly expensive emergency escape vehicle for the International Space Station, if the ISS is still even around sometime after 2013, when Orion might first be operational.

/you’d think we’d at least consider using Orion to ferry our astronauts to the ISS and back, instead of having to rely on the Russians, who keep jacking up the price, but no, apparently not

The Curious Case Of Gary Brooks Faulkner

What’s the deal with this guy? There just has to be more to the story here.

U.S. Man Arrested for ‘Hunting’ Bin Laden

An American construction worker who was arrested with a 40-inch sword, a pistol and night-vision goggles in northwestern Pakistan told investigators Tuesday that he wanted to kill Osama bin Laden to avenge the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Gary Brooks Faulkner, 50 years old, of Greeley, Colo., was caught by Pakistani police Monday in the remote Bumburat Valley near the border of Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, where he apparently hoped to find Mr. bin Laden.

Police quoted Mr. Faulkner as saying he wanted to avenge the victims of the attacks on New York and Washington. He was carrying Christian religious books, according to Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, a senior police officer in the northwestern town of Chitral.

Mr. Faulkner arrived in Chitral on June 3 and stayed in a hotel in Bumburat Valley, an area famous for its spring dancing festival, which attracts large number of foreign visitors every year.

At a news conference near the Colorado statehouse in Denver, Mr. Faulkner’s younger brother, Scott Faulkner, a physician, described Gary as “a man on a mission.”

“He’s not crazy,” Dr. Faulkner said of his brother. “He’s not a psychopath. He’s not a sociopath.”

. . .

After the 9/11 attacks, he said Mr. Faulkner began visiting Pakistan to try to find Osama bin Laden because he felt the U.S. military was not “doing enough.” Dr. Faulkner said his brother grew a beard and adopted local attire to assimilate in Pakistan and obtain intelligence there.

“Who says, ‘Why do I rob banks? Because that’s where the money is,'” Dr. Faulkner asked. He said his brother went to Pakistan because “that’s where Osama is.”

The current trip was roughly Mr. Faulkner’s sixth to Pakistan since 2002, Dr. Faulkner said. The physician said he drove his brother to the airport, and that Mr. Faulkner wasn’t carrying any weapons when he boarded the plane. “He did not have a sword, although that is his weapon of choice in Pakistan,” said Dr. Faulkner, who said he thought his brother obtained the sword in Pakistan.

Dr. Faulkner said his brother also brought wire ties to use as handcuffs on Mr. bin Laden. He said that if Mr. Faulkner, who must undergo dialysis three times a week, killed or captured Mr. bin Laden, he planned to use his reward money to retire to Nicaragua, where he would help locals build houses.

See also:
Pakistan holds American man hunting bin Laden
US officials meet with American hunting bin Laden
Pakistan: US bin Laden hunter on mission from God
Gary Brooks Faulkner: Was ‘American ninja’ working for CIA?
‘Rambo’: Osama hunt my holy war
Gary Brooks Faulkner examined by doctor in Pakistan, say Bin Laden hunter has psychological problems
Details Emerge On Would-Be Bin Laden Assassin, Gary Brooks Faulkner
What was Gary Brooks Faulkner reading?

You know, if you’re an lone American wandering around the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan border, carrying a sword and Christian reading materials is a nice touch. One thing’s for sure, he was in the right ballpark for bin Laden hunting and $25 million in bounty is a lot of money. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

/is Faulkner crazy or crazy like a fox?