This past Friday, Paul and I stood beneath the wing of the last space shuttle to fly a mission to space. I could actually read the serial numbers on each of the thermal protection tiles as Atlantis hovered above me on its carrier.
This Thursday, September 13th, a public service will be held for Neil Armstrong at the Washington National Cathedral. Armstrong, the first human to set foot on another world, passed away on August 25th. He is to be buried at sea.
When interviewed on Neil’s passing, Jim Lovell, astronaut of Apollo 8 and commander of the infamous Apollo 13, said that water was, for many astronauts, the signal of a mission’s end and would go on to signal the end of life. Armstrong had a long Navy career. Flying nearly 80 combat deployments, all had return flights to the USS Essex aircraft carrier. His Gemini and Apollo missions both ended with parachute deployed splash landings into the Pacific Ocean. When returning home, it was to water. I got the news of Neil’s death by SMS as I was about to deliver a session to a group of new student-staff Residence Advisors at Simon Fraser University. Standing at the front of the lecture hall, I put moment behind me as I continued, but three thoughts that entered my mind; we have lost a very courageous man, he sparked a moment that unified the world, and we have yet to return. I was at a loss for a while to put it all into words, especially since Apollo had been brought very close to us through the interviews with NASA staff for Chasing many of whom worked directly with the rocket. I felt it easiest to express each thought individually:
In light of the new content we are putting together in anticipation of Polaris this weekend, I have been updating the Photo page and added many new production stills to the Flickr account.
Be sure to visit the Photo page to check out all the new shots spanning our 3 trips to the Kennedy Space Center in July of 2011, October of 2011 and March of 2012!
On the one year anniversary of Atlantis’ final flight, Chasing Atlantis is going to be at Polaris 26 this weekend. Chasing Atlantis is going to be at Polaris 26 this weekend. Polaris is a Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention held annually in Toronto. The guest line-up is pretty amazing including Star Trek actor and social media authority Wil Wheaton, J.G. Hertzler (Martok from DS9) and Robert O’Reilly (Gowron from DS9). We have a few interview requests out to see if we can sit down with some of the guests. Still waiting to hear back. Might be a shot in the dark, but then again, we figured it would be a long shot to interview astronauts as well. (Hertzler and O’Reilly are also doing photos IN COSTUME. Definitely going to get in on that. No pain sticks though Qapla!)
If you’re coming to Polaris, we hope that you’ll stop by to see one of our three presentations that will include a series of segments we’ve put together from the footage that will give you a sense of what the documentary will be about. We are also doing a Q/A to talk about the making of the movie and how it all came to life.
If you’re in the Toronto area and not attending Polaris; why aren’t you? Here is the registration page!
Once in a lifetime opportunity today to see Venus as it journeys across our view of the Sun. The planet, just slightly smaller than our own, will be dwarfed by our life-giving star and appear as a small black dot contrasted against the Sun’s light.
Some of you may already be setting up your solar observing telescopes. But for those of you without access to that equipment, (or in an overcast area like I’m in right now *shakes fist) you can watch the transit live from several locations including places very high up in the air (Hawaii) or above the entire Earth itself (International Space Station)
I found a handy article from Wired Magazine that outlines all the various sites online that you can watch today’s transit. Be sure to check it out! This event happens only twice in a given 8 year period every 150 years. The first was in 2004. Following today, the next will not happen again until 2117 May you be humbled by the wonder that is our solar system!
Some news has been brewing for a while that I am excited we are sharing with all of you. The Chasing Atlantis team will be participating in Polaris 26, Canada’s longest-running media event by fans for fans. This year, Polaris features guests of the science fiction world like Star Trek’s J.G. Hertzler, Wil Wheaton, and Robert O’Reilly, as well as Stargate’s Tony Amendola and Dollhouse’s Dichen Lachman.
BUT, among all the sci-fi fascination, comic book creativity and even Klingon Karaoke, Polaris will be hosting the Chasing Atlantis team in our first opportunity to share about our filmmaking adventure to see the Final Flight of the Space Shuttle one year ago to the day of the convention. Furthermore, Polaris itself is going to become part of Chasing Atlantis. We will be filming that day and talking with some of you about your love of things space and adding your stories to our film.
Personally, this is a chased dream in and of itself. I truly feel at home when I’m at cons. Shared interests, common values, a place where you can wear your passion completely on your sleeve (or on your face depending on what you’re dressed up as) and it’s totally cool. In fact, I often wonder how much our world would change if everybody treated one another as they do at a science fiction/fantasy convention. Cons have given me so much over the years, and I have wanted to make a tangible contribution in return. In the back of my mind, I had always hoped that Chasing would lead to an opportunity like this; our own booth, or display or presentation where I could share something unique and help truly celebrate the creative efforts that inspire all of us. Inspiration is, after all, why conventions exist.
We hope to see you at Polaris. If you come across us, please stop by to say hello and feel free to share your love of all things geek on camera. Or just hang out and chat. Connection is what Chasing Atlantis was all about.
In advance of Polaris, we are going to be populating chasingatlantis.com with more about our project with you. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for special clips, featurettes, and new photos about our adventures (and misadventures) while on the road.
We are listed under the Professional Participants Section
Off the coast of California today, the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule plunged into the Pacific Ocean following its decent from the International Space Station and ending the first commercial journey to the ISS.
The mission was designed to not only deliver fresh supplies to astronaut crews on the space station, which has facilitated continuous human presence in space for 12 years, but to demonstrate that commercial cargo transport to space is possible. The success of the mission will catalyze future discussion leading toward the inevitable attempt by a commercial space company to send a human space flight into low earth orbit or dock with the ISS. The Dragon capsule itself can serve as a human transport vehicle though the use of the capsule for human space flight has yet to be attempted.
Last week did not bode well for SpaceX’s first attempt at launching dragon. Aborted launches at 4am are not fun for viewers (I’m on the West Coast) never mind for the engineers that had to build, test and attempt to put the craft into space.
However, with a successful launch this past Tuesday, Dragon has now officially docked with the ISS to become the first commercial vehicle to do so. If deemed a success, this mission will secure a resupply contract for SpaceX to run similar missions in the future. The flight will also determine the capsule’s fitness for future human space missions.
And I also learned today that James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek) ashes were also brought to space along with the capsule! May you continue to boldly go!
History is about to be made with the first private launch to the International Space Station.
The automated Dragon cargo ship, the product of private space flight company Space X, is due to launch at 4:55 EST. You can watch the launch live at NASA’s public “Ustream” http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv
The launch represents NASA’s new strategy to use private space companies such as Space X and the parallel Orbital Sciences Corporation to supply the ISS. Seed funding as well as access to NASA patents was provided to both companies to catalyze the transition.
Space X’s Dragon Capsule (below) will be used for cargo on this flight to the ISS, however the capsule has been designed to sustain a human crew planned for future launches
Below: A mockup of the capsule I captured while in the Vehicle Assembly Building this past March
Be sure to catch the launch at just before 5AM!