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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Update on the New USS Voyager. Space News. Theatre Imaginarium.

Update on the USS Voyager II

Alex and Brent Anderson spent most of today onboard the new USS Voyager at Renaissance Academy preparing the ship for a January launch (fingers crossed).  This is what you call grit determination and true dedication - especially when you know this is all volunteer time. All of us who proudly claim to be devoted fans of the original USS Voyager at the Space Center, owe a debt of gratitude to the Andersons, Renaissance Academy, and all others who've put so much into designing, building, and programming this majestic simulator. 

I was upstairs in my classroom adding four new Voyager cadets into our growing space and science club while Alex worked in the Voyager's Control Room.  On today's punch list - readying a ship wide camera system. Who would have thought an iPad with camera could also work as an effective bridge camera?  

The Voyager's computers (mac minis) have what I would claim as the coolest keyboards and mice in the fleet.

The Forward Bridge's computers are installed behind their protective plastic. Ignore the folding chairs. The ship's real chairs haven't arrived.  

The Forward Bridge's stations are beautiful in design and construction.  

The Rear Bridge still needs computers. 

This ship has a unique feel about it.  It is difficult to describe.  You feel like you're aboard a ship with purpose and destiny.  There's a calm about the ship that gives it a personality akin to the first Voyager.  You feel at home. You feel an urge to GO. You want to give the order for warp speed and set sail for destinations far far away. You know something wonderful and disconcerting is waiting to be discovered out there in the darkness.  
"I want to fly this ship right now," I said to Alex as he tinkered with the camera. He smiled. I knew he felt the same.   

The Engineering / Sickbay hallway

 The Voyager's Upper Sick Bay

The entrance to the brig / containment chamber

The walkway from Containment to the Forward Bridge.

Friends, the long wait for the new USS Voyager is nearly over.  Are you saving your pocket money to buy one of those golden mission tickets?  

If you're between the ages of 10 and 17 and not a member of the Voyager Club, now is the time to join (  We're about to form the battle squadrons for this year's Long Duration Mission.  

Become a Voyager supporter. It is time. Contact me to learn how you can be a part of this great new adventure. I can be reached at

Mr. Williamson 

Your Weekly Theatre Imaginarium. The Best Clips of the Week. Enjoy

Space News
Mark Daymont


Russian Cargo Ship Reaches ISS

The Progress cargo ship looks very much like a manned Soyuz spacecraft. This one is Progress M-27M.
Taking off from Baikonur on Monday, the Progress 62 robotic cargo ship entered Earth orbit and began a two-day flight to the International Space Station. Rather than follow the now-typical 6 hour short cut rendezvous flight to the ISS, ground controllers guided the ship into the longer flight to make room for Monday's unplanned EVA by NASA astronauts to move the Mobile Transport cart to a safe location on the truss.

Progress 62 indicated two new mission equipment upgrades. The Progress ship is the first of a new MS series of supply ships, that include en external compartment for launching micro satellites, and an improved system for protection from micro-meteoroids and debris strikes. The Russian (Roscosmos) designation for this mission is Progress MS431.

Soyuz 2-1A rocket booster. Credit Roscosmos.
The second upgrade is in the rocket itself. It can get confusing when the manned spacecraft is named Soyuz, but so too is the rocket. In this case the mission launched atop  a Soyuz 2-1A rocket. First flown in 2004, it was designed to eventually replace all rockets used for manned and unmanned missions flown by previous Soyuz and Molniya variants. It has been used for manned Soyuz missions so far, but is now being used by Progress missions.


Success for SpaceX and Falcon 9!

Falcon 9 after touching down on the Cape Canaveral landing site. Credit: SpaceX.

Happy congratulations to SpaceX and the Falcon 9 team! On Monday night, SpaceX launched the newest version of the Falcon, the Falcon 9 Full Thrust, with a payload of eleven Orbcomm communications satellites aboard the payload stage. An earlier attempt Sunday was cancelled due to weather concerns, but this time the rocket took off perfectly and sent the payload stage into orbit, successfully releasing the constellation of satellites.

View of landing Falcon 9 from hovering helicopter. Credit: SpaceX.

SpaceX also broke a new record by returning the first stage Falcon 9 back to the Cape Canaveral launch location and the newly- refurbished pad LC-13. That launch site was previously used in the 60's and 70's to launch Atlas missiles and Atlas-Agena rockets carrying satellites, and was last used in 1978. The launch tower and blockhouse were later demolished and the site declared a historic landmark. SpaceX recently leased the site from the Air Force and prepared it as a landing site for re-useable Falcon first stages. Previous attempts to land the Falcon were carried out at sea on landing barges, and all resulted in crashed rocket stages. This was the first attempt to return to land, and was successful as the pictures show. Prior to this, Blue Origin successfully landed a sub-orbital launched New Shephard rocket. The SpaceX success was more complicated, as this effort was a launch into orbital space.
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