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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Casey Voeks Runs for Utah County Commission. Space and Science News. The Imaginarium.


Discovery Space Center's Casey Voeks Runs for the Utah County Commission

     Many of you know Casey from the Space Center and the Discovery Space Center. There are more of you who remember Casey as an awesome flight director in a number of starship simulators spanning many years. Did you also know that Casey was the chairman of the Utah County Republican Party?  What an impressive resume for someone his age.   
     I know Casey as all of those things and more. He is a dedicated, caring, intelligent member of the millennial generation with a talent for bringing people together for common cause.  He is gifted at seeing the big picture while still keeping his eye on the pixels from which that picture emerges.  He is a compassionate conservative, an true fiscal conservative, a big tent conservative who prefers to ignore those who classify and pigeonhole. He understands one simple fact - even those who disagree with him have a right to their opinion and a right to be heard.  
     Casey is passionate about making government work for the people.  He is opposed to the nanny state yet understands there are times when the government, acting in society's best interests, should help those who cannot help themselves. 



     I've known Casey since he was in elementary school. He and I have had many long, long talks covering issues from space center management, to politics, to life in general. I've seen him in good times and bad and not once have I witnessed Casey compromise his values. Bluntly said, he can't be bought - period.  That being said, one of the things I respect most about Casey is his willingness to sincerely study the issues and change his opinion when necessary based solely on the facts and logic of a situation, not the emotion or the name behind the petition. He is the kind of person who soldiers on right beside the people he serves.  
     If you know me, then you know I practice a strict online and classroom neutrality toward religion and politics. I believe it is a teacher's responsibility to represent an entire community when standing in front of a class. I present the arguments, teach students to think and reason, and then expect them search out their own positions.



     Why then am I breaking my online policy and writing this obvious endorsement for Casey Voeks?  I believe in Casey's politics; he is a new kind of politician, a breath of fresh air. I want him as one of my county commissioners.  He understands the issues facing Utah County in the 21st century. He has the right solutions. 
     Simply put, I trust Casey.  I ask you to do the same. 

Victor Williamson 

Space and Science News
by Mark Daymont
Spacerubble.blogspot.com


Another Falcon Sea Landing Crash


A little bit of SpaceX humor written onto the landing barge off the Pacific coast. All pictures credit: SpaceX.
On Sunday Jan. 17, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from its launch site at Vandenberg, California to place the Jason 3 satellite into orbit. This version of the Falcon was the last of the designated version 1.1 modifications, a stretched and re-engined Falcon 9. These versions have been flying since 2013. The next flights will be the Falcon 9FT, or "Full Thrust," which was most recently used in December 2015.


SpaceX launch site at Vandenberg AFB, California.

Last view of the Falcon 9 as it flies through low clouds.

Jason satellite program.
The Jason-3 satellite is a multi-program partnership between NOAA, NASA, EUMETSAT, and CNES. The multinational experiments will study sea surface topography, mainly sea surface levels. An additional experiment will study the radiation environment around the satellite.


Falcon slowing to touch down on the barge landing pad.
The Jason-3 spacecraft was successfully launched into orbit. Following separation, the Falcon 9 first stage descended slowly towards the recovery zone. Although SpaceX had made a totally awesome landing on a land recovery pad in December, Engineers were attempting to make the first successful sea landing on this attempt. Everything looked great right up to touchdown, when after landing one of the legs failed to lock in position, and the rocket toppled over onto the pad. Engineers suspect the heavy fog contributed to condensation which may have iced over and interfered with the lockdown.


Not successful at sea, yet.


FIrst EVA for the UK



British astronaut Tim Peake prepares to exit the ISS airlock. NASA pic.
On Friday, Jan. 15, astronauts Tim Kopra (USA) and Tim Peake (UK) took a spacewalk (EVA-35) to replace a Sequential Shunt Unit (SSU) which regulates electrical voltage from the Solar Arrays. It was the third EVA for Kopra, and the first for Peake. It was also a record as the first spacewalk for a British astronaut. There had been previous spacewalks by British astronauts when they worked for NASA, but this flight was the first time an astronaut representing the UK was performing an EVA.


Tim Peake enjoying the first British Spacewalk.
The replacement was scheduled to take place during one of the night portions of the station's orbit. Engineers did not want to risk removing the SSU during a sunlit period when the solar panels would be charged up and transmitting electricity. The astronauts moved out along the Truss and during a dark period changed out the failed unit with the spare SSU. They then moved back to the airlock area to prepare for using the rest of the EVA for some other minor tasks. 


Tim Peake moving along the side of the US Lab module.
Tim Kopra had completed the re-installation of a waste valve on Node 3 when he reported to NASA that he was experiencing a tiny amount of water leak in his helmet. Due to the experience astronaut Luca Parmitano had with a leaky water line that could have drowned him on EVA-23, ground Mission Control Director Royce Renfrew immediately cancelled the rest of the EVA and the two astronauts safely returned to the airlock. The leak in Kopra's helmet was not nearly as dangerous as the earlier incident, but no one was about to take any chances. No doubt the astronauts will be closely examining the problem and working with engineers to make repairs. The remaining tasks of this EVA will be left to another time.
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