For all the Star Wars and Star Trek resonances in this mission, Robert Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon seems a better fictional precursor.
Recently, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told 60 Minutes that the reason he seeks to develop spacecraft is to save humanity itself.
Spaceflight is hard. Really hard. And that's one reason that we bother going to space at all.
Someone in the crowd called out, "The space station!" and pointed toward the sky. We all looked up, and there, directly above us, a tiny point of light the same size and brightness as any star was moving through the night sky.
The Space Shuttle has been the most successful space launch system ever by far. In 30 years we launched the Space Shuttle 135 times. Today more than half of the just over 500 people who have ever orbited the earth, have done so aboard one of the five space shuttles.
It turned out that the time Dr. Nicholas Patrick had actually spent flying in space had accounted for only .6 percent of his total time as an astronaut! However, the way he spent 1/3rd of his time was something he found just as satisfying -- engineering.
So why the hue and cry -- why the determination to slay a "beast" barely visible from the towering heights of the Shareholders Communication Coalition? No surprise, the answer is money.
After eating lunch with the center staff in the Aeronautics room, they let me try a flight simulator. I managed to take off from LaGuardia Airport, navigate to another airport, and land, all without crashing, something I felt very proud of given my general lack of video-game skills.
"The thing I want people to take away is the example of international collaboration that created and built the space station. It's just awe-inspiring."
Only one week of classes stands between Boston University's student body and spring break, and the halls are ringing with the ever-popular question, "Where are you going?"
I was lucky enough to be selected for the Valentine's Day TweetUp at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. 150 followers of the @NASA account randomly chosen and invited to come to DC and meet with astronaut Ron Garan.
It may LOOK like just a dot from my backyard, but I know it's an orbital complex the size of a jumbo jet, built by 16 countries working together, and a house in space that's been inhabited continuously for more than half my life.
Here's a month-by-month listing of events I'm excited for in 2012.
We who are only a blink of an eye beyond the discovery of fire can wonder "Why space?" or even "Why are we here?" To those of us who know, it is obvious: We are here... to go there.
Space tourism may seem like an excuse for joy rides for the rich, but in reality it's the start of a new and vital private sector industry that will help develop safer, cheaper and cleaner space travel and result in technology that will lead to broader innovation and discovery.
The focus of Dr. Coleman's presentation was life aboard the International Space Station, from washing her hair (it's hard when water, like everything else, floats!) to the differences between modules built by different countries