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

North Ain’t Where You Thought It Was

In case you haven’t noticed already, your magnetic compass is now pretty much worthless, you may as well toss it in the trash. There goes all that Boy Scout orienteering training.

Magnetic north shifting its position

Magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings, is shifting its position about 64 kilometres a year. In geologic terms, it’s racing from the Arctic Ocean near Canada towards Russia.

As a result, everyone who uses a compass, even as a back-up to modern GPS navigation systems, needs to be aware of the shift, make adjustments or obtain updated charts to ensure they get where they intend to go, authorities say. That includes pilots, boaters and even hikers.

“You could end up a few miles off or a couple hundred miles off, depending how far you’re going,” said Matthew Brock, a technician with Lauderdale Speedometer and Compass, a Fort Lauderdale company that repairs compasses.

Although the magnetic shift has little effect on the average person and presents no danger to the Earth overall, it is costing the aviation and marine industries millions of dollars to upgrade navigational systems and charts.

See also:
Ordinary Compasses Thrown Off by Changes in Earth’s Magnetic Field
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Randy Mann: Magnetic pole angles toward Russia
Pilots, boaters adjust to shift in magnetic north position
Magnetic north drift affects airports
Map: Shift in magnetic north
Headed north? It might not be where you think it is
Which Way Is Magnetic North?
Natural change in earth’s magnetic field causes issues for some pilots
Magnetic North Is on the Move. Time to Panic?

Of course, now we have GPS to do our navigating for us. But what happens when the batteries go dead or, in a worst case scenario, GPS is no longer available because the satellites have been destroyed or there’s been an EMP attack? There’s no reliable backup anymore, now that magnetic compasses are pretty much useless.

/how many people nowadays are trained in celestial navigation or sextant use?