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Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Final Report on the DSC's Haunted Starship Experience. An Odyssey Ghost Story. The Black Hole Special Effect. Two Spacecraft Explode. The Imaginarium.

Hello Space EdVenture Fans!
     A big post today covering several topics.  You got off lightly yesterday with just an Imaginarium to work through!
     A quick update on the Discovery Space Center's Halloween Haunted Ships.  I stopped by the DSC after our monthly Sandwich Club at my home. I wanted to see how things were going on their final night of haunting.  I was surprise to see last night was one of their busiest nights.  It surprised me because Halloween was the night before.  Who goes to haunted houses the day after Halloween?
     Casey was happy to report the enterprise had broken even financially.  They needed a minimum of 40 participants per night average - something they easily exceeded.  The rest was gravy in the bank.
     "What's the average age?" I asked.  "There are two median groups," Skyler answered. "One group averages around 12 years old. The other about 20 years old."  They couldn't speak long, there was a line of people waiting in the lobby.  The star of the show I'm told was Bradyn Lystrup as "Sparky".
Of course, you can't be the star of the show without an outstanding ensemble of co-workers working equally as hard to guarantee a successful production.  Congratulations to our friends at the DSC for a successful Haunted Spaceship Experience.  The first ever Space Center haunted thrill adventure!

Sparky "Bradyn" with his doomed crew....

 DSC Chairman Casey Voeks asking for a moment while he deals with Republican Party issues before his next tour.... His look of patience was soon replaced by a look of horror. I'm not sure the cause.  I suspect party issues and not the haunted house :)

     Emily and Skyler Paxman, long time Space Centerites, enjoyed the experience.  Not sure what Emily is playing at here.  I believe Skyler is due an explanation.

     The DSC staff had fun scaring themselves!

Another Space Center Ghost Story
By Annika

Being a volunteer for a short time, I had heard the stories of ghosts and hauntings. I'd seen a tennis ball thrown by no one rolling down an empty hallway, non-motion activated lights lights turn on without flipping a switch, and props, having been laid out neatly the night before, in a tangled mess the next morning. I'd brushed them all off and hadn't really believed.
     This Odyssey 5 hour changed that.
It was the summer of 2013 and I was sitting in the control room with another volunteer, just talking. Our flight director was out briefing the crew and the door was closed. We heard a voice outside and the handle jiggled, but the door didn't open. I opened the door to find a supervisor looking for our flight director, upset that we had locked the door. I exchanged glances with the other volunteer and replied that neither of us had touched the lock. 
That should have been our warning. 
The supervisor went on their way and the two of us were talking again. In the midst of our conversation, a beeping sound startled us. Backing away from the desk and making sure neither of us had accidentally hit a button, we figured it was a fluke. This "fluke" happened about 5 more times, slowly getting further into the soundtrack for both of us to realize it was the Main Computer start up noise. Being very freaked out, the two of us went to the office to find someone to tell them about it. It just so happened that Emily was standing there. We told her what was going on and she went into the control room, fiddled with some dials and told us the problem was solved. 
Still shaken, we waited in the hall until we had to go back inside when the Phoenix crew was passing through. We shut the door, taking extreme caution to not touch the lock. We had been inside for just over the amount of time it takes for the Phoenix crew to load when the sequence started again, this time making it through the entire computer start up sound, and escalating to loudly playing dramatic music. Both the other volunteer and I bolted from our chairs and to the door. I grabbed the handle and twisted, but the door didn't budge. I checked the lock quickly to see it hadn't moved. Trying again, the two of us frantically pulled against the door with all we had. We burst out of the control room, frantically telling Emily that it was happening again. 
Emily walked back into the control room and sat down. She woke up the music laptop, which still showed pause, even as music was playing in the Odyssey. After about a minute or two of poking around, she turned to the two of us, shaking in the hallway. The sound system: the speakers, the controls, all of it, was turned off. My blood ran a little cold at that statement. After a couple more minutes, Emily had everything back in order. 
Across the hall, the Phoenix control room door was open and Megan was flying. Without even turning around from what she was doing, Megan told us it was the ghost (I don't remember which one she told us it was). The volunteer working the Phoenix just laughed and said there's no such thing as ghosts. Megan turned around, and with a seriousness about her I had never seen before or ever seen since, and proceeded to tell us there are ghosts in the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. Not just one, but numerous ghosts, and that many staff and volunteers can vouch for the reality of these seemingly made-up tales.

The Science Behind the Coolest Ever Special Space Effect Soon to be Seen in Movie Theaters Everywhere!

Space News
By Mark Daymont
Farpoint Educator

Cygnus Loss Comes During Busy Week of Traffic for ISS

Dragon cargo spacecraft attached to ISS CanadArm robotic arm. About to let go and drift free of the station before de-orbiting. Credit: SpaceX.

Tuesday's spectacular destruction of the Orbital Science Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft happened during a busy week of transitions at the International Space Station. The crew of Expedition 41 had seen an eventful October so far with three spacewalks. The crew has begun preparations for an eventual rearranging of the station's docking modules, readying for the time when commercial spacecraft will be arriving with regular ferry flights transferring astronauts between Earth and the station. New experiments are arriving, old ones are being returned to Earth of discarded, garbage is being removed, and supplies building up.

The Dragon spacecraft floats down via parachute to a watery recovery off the coast of Baja California. Credit: SpaceX

Currently there is a regular fleet of unmanned spacecraft that come and go at the ISS bringing supplies or removing equipment and garbage. The only one that actually returns to Earth is SpaceX's Dragon. On Saturday, the Dragon undocked from the station loaded with returning equipment and science experiments and samples, and made a safe splashdown in the Pacific Ocean for a speedy recovery.

A Russian Progress cargo ship undocks and moves away from the ISS. This one happens to be an earlier Progress 35 mission.

On Monday, while the Cygnus "Deke Slayton" spaceship waited for liftoff (which was scrubbed Monday due to an intruding boat near the launch site), The Progress 56 mission spacecraft undocked from the ISS loaded with garbage and waste. It would burn up in the atmosphere upon re-entry. The departure cleared the way for a new ship to dock at the Pirs module.

Spacecraft docked at the ISS on October 27. Cr: NASA.

After the departure of the Progress 56 craft, there remained two Soyuz crew spaceships and the European Space Agency's ATV-5 cargo ship. Recently, the ATV-5 engines were used to move the station away from a potential collision with space debris.

Then the Cygnus flight was cancelled, unexpectedly.

Pad 0A at Wallops Island, Virginia. Wreckage of the spacecraft is being examined and cleared.

It will take weeks to analyze what exactly happened to the Antares rocket. There is, of course, damage to the pad, the buildings and equipment around the pad, and to a nearby sounding rocket launcher as well.

And then it was back to business!

Soyuz rocket lifts off with the Progress 57 mission.

Early Wednesday, the Russian space agency launched a Soyuz 2-1A rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. This rocket variant replaces the usual Soyuz-U, and uses new engine types. The launch was good, and the Progress M-25M spacecraft (designated Progress57 by NASA) headed into orbit on a six-hour trip to the ISS.

Progress approaches the station.

Progress slowly approaches towards the Pirs module.

Progress almost ready to dock.

Exactly six hours after launching, the Progress spacecraft docked with the ISS bringing supplies of fuel, air, water, propellant, and scientific equipment. Progress 57 will stay docked for the next 6 months. The Progress 56 spacecraft, still in orbit, will be performing ground-controlled engineering tests in orbit until commanded to de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere.

he Antares rocket suffers its first explosion. The rocket then fell back onto the launchpad in a terrifying fireball. Credit NASA.

Yesterday at 4:22 P.M. our time in Utah, 6:22 on the East Coast, Mission CRS-3 was destroyed during liftoff. The mission was the third launch of Orbital Science's Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station this year. The Cygnus craft on this mission was nicknamed "Slayton" after astronaut Deke Slayton (deceased), one of the original Mercury astronauts. The Cygnus carried 5,000 pounds of supplies, equipment and experiments, all of which were lost when the spacecraft erupted in flames during the crash.

The final fireball completely enveloped the launchpad. No personnel were in the area.

15 seconds after ignition, the rocket seemed to be soaring upwards when unexpected flames erupted from the first stage. The rocket stopped moving upwards and fell back onto the pad, erupting more flames as it fell, finally being destroyed in a magnificent explosion. Scientists with Orbital Sciences and NASA immediately began contingency operations to backup all data and film in the control room and surrounding the pad while emergency crews raced to the pad to put out the fires. The launch site involved was Pad 0A at the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Atlantic coast. The Antares rocket used for this flight used the AJ-26 engines made in the Ukraine. These engines are modified Russian rockets from the old Soviet N-1 Moon Rocket program. There have been several Antares flights with these rocket engines, and none had this kind of problem, although an AJ-26 engine suffered a failure during a test. Investigators will have to determine if the disaster was caused by the engines or some other malfunction.

Distant view of the disaster from the Virginia mainland.

Astronauts on the ISS watched the disaster on live satellite broadcast (as did everyone tuning in on NASA TV). The crew of the ISS are OK with the supplies they have for a little time, and can wait for upcoming supplies. In fact, A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off very early this morning from Baikonur lifting its Progress M-25M cargo spacecraft into orbit. About six hours later, it has already docked with the station. The Progress supply craft brings needed cargo, water, and propellant to the ISS. The SpaceX Dragon supply ship is scheduled to launch to the ISS in December.

The Imaginarium

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