This morning, the first step on the road to a manned mission to Mars was taken. NASA's Orion space capsule successfully completed its first dual-orbital test flight and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

The space craft finally launched this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force base a little after 7 am Eastern time, after having been delayed for a day due to technical problems and poor weather. After a four-and-a-half-hour flight in which the spacecraft orbited the Earth twice at an altitude of 3600 miles, the capsule re-entered the atmosphere, deployed its parachutes, and landed gently in the Pacific Ocean.

This flight is the first step in a planned manned mission to Mars that is expected to take place within the next 25 years, assuming that it doesn't get derailed by political or monetary issues.

This is exactly the kind of mission that advocates argued would be encouraged by the termination of the space shuttle program. Critics argued that the space shuttle made access to earth's orbit too easy and reliable, and "tethered" NASA to low-earth orbit, instead of finding innovative new ways to reach further into space...

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According to several sources, insiders have confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch's character in J.J. Abrams' next Star Trek movie will be who everyone expected (but hoped it wouldn't) be: Khan Noonien Singh.

So it looks like we'll be seeing a pretty by-the-numbers space action movie with a singular villain.

Star Trek 12 - Benedict Cumberbatch battling Spock
Yep, looks like he's Khan...

This is disappointing for several reasons.

There's two ways to reboot something:

  1. Retell same stories with modernized style, effects. i.e. Casino Royale.
  2. Completely throw everything prior out and start from scratch. i.e. Batman Begins.

Star Trek under Abrams is trying to walk a fine line between the two. They tried retaining the original history by setting the reboot in a time-travel-induced alternate timeline (which was actually alternate before the time travel happened anyway). But they also wanted to separate themselves from the original canon as much as possible, to the extent that they fundamentally altered the development of the primary characters. Kirk grew up as an angsty delinquent without a role model father, and Spock had his home planet blown up and his species put on the verge of extinction. So they're not really the same characters, but they are shoe-horned into becoming the same characters because apparently Abrams favors “nature” almost exclusively over “nurture”. Oh, and Spock Prime told them how things are supposed to happen. So much for the Temporal Prime Directive. Or is it the regular Prime Directive since it's a parallel universe that is already developing independently?

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And I missed it...

I thought the shuttle was supposed to be launched at 2 pm eastern time, but when I turned on the television at 10:30 am Pacific time (half an hour before I thought the launch was), I saw that it had already been launched earlier in the morning.

So I missed the launch live.

Fortunately, there are videos and photos of it all over the internet, including this official video from www.Nasa.gov:


Video footage of the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-135), July 8th, 2011
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Today marks the anniversary of quite a few historical events of significance.

Firing on Ft. Sumter

Today, the American Civil War turns 150 years old, as we observe the anniversary of the April 12, 1861 attack by Confederate troops of Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina. Although a grim occasion on its own right, this attack does have some silver lining, as it began the conflict that would eventually set in motion this nation's steps towards racial equality.

50 years ago today, on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to travel into space and orbit the Earth.

NASA logo

Today is also the 30th anniversary of the 1981 maiden voyage of the space shuttle Columbia, the world's first reusable spacecraft. It was a momentous and cheerful day for space exploration. The shuttle itself met a tragic end, when it disintegrated on re-entry during a mission, killing its seven crew and passengers over 20 years later. I'd like to take this moment to thank the brave men and women of NASA for the heroic work they do expanding the horizons of human knowledge and experience, and to offer my sincerest condolences to the friends and family of all such heroes who did not return.

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Yesterday, the space shuttle Discovery landed on Earth for the final time in its 27-year long career. On Monday, it has been reported that actor William Shatner gave the crew their final mission wake up call:

"These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery, Her 30-year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before."

Discovery, which has been taking astronauts into space since before I was even conceived, is expected to be donated to the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum following a decontamination procedure. It will replace the space shuttle Enterprise, which will likely go on loan to other museums.

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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