Blog Archives

Two Years of Chasing Atlantis

Hey Chasers!

July 8th marks the second anniversary of Atlantis’ final liftoff from Earth.  Just a few days ago, Atlantis’ new home was opened to the public as she rests at a precise 43.21 degree angle, proudly displaying both her scored heat shielding and open cargo bay in celebration the Shuttle’s legacy. Oh yeah, and that’s the Canadarm extending from the bay if you hadn’t noticed it. (Below)

Shuttle Atlantis in New Shuttle Exhibit cr. Ryan Horan

Shuttle Atlantis in New Shuttle Exhibit cr. Ryan Horan

Two years ago, we were tightly huddled within a forest of tripod legs anxiously waiting to see if Atlantis would fly. Literally one million people stood beneath rain clouds in hopes of a patch of clear skies that would be needed to avoid a scrubbed mission. We only had one shot to capture the launch on film. If the mission were scrubbed, we didn’t have the funding at the time to make a return journey. Despite the weather and the risk, the million gathered on the shores; some having traveled much farther than us to witness this (potentially) historic moment. As you might know by now, the clouds did part, and just in time. At T – 30 minutes, those gathered around radios heard “Atlantis…you are go for launch” crackle through the radio. The roar of the crowd in celebration was second only to the  exuberance of the launch itself.

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Planetary Resources Launches Campaign to Fund Revolutionary Telescope

Hey Chasers,

We wanted to share an incredible project that has been started by Planetary Resources.

A few months ago, you might recall that we had the amazing opportunity to interview Chris Lewicki and Chris Voorhees of Planetary Resources. 

planetary

Both Chris’ discussed the company’s mission to explore space and secure “resource-rich” asteroids that are within our solar system. The goal:  mine those  asteroids for those resources (kinda like in cool space video games…but in real life!!) Both Chris’ have a wealth of engineering experience and have worked directly with NASA. In our interview with Chris Voorhees, he talked about being the last human being to actually touch the Opportunity rover before it landed on the surface of Mars and the profound impact that had on him being a star gazer and knowing that something you helped construct is actually on the surface of another planet. Chris Lewicki actually has an asteroid named after him.  (We are hoping to unlock this achievement ourselves depending on the success of the film 😉 )

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Chasing Atlantis Yuri’s Night Celebration Trailer

In celebration of Yuri’s Night, Chasing Atlantis released a new trailer that yesterday was exclusive to those who participated in one of the over 300 parties around the world to celebrate humanity’s entry into the final frontier.

Today we are releasing the trailer online! Be sure to check it out!

It’s Official! Mars Did Have A Habitable Environment!

In a press conference today, An announcement was made that the Mars Curiosity Rover has discovered that Mars once supported a habitable environment. Very cool news as that means that, at one time, life could have existed on the Red Planet.

Now there has been confusion over the announcement. Not to add to this confusion, the rover has NOT discovered life itself either in the past or present, but rather the rover has confirmed that the planet supported conditions that could’ve given rise to life.

The news is particularly exciting to us as during our recent North America Tour, we were able to sit down with Chris Voorhees of Planetary Resources who served as Chief Engineer for mechanical assembly, integration and testing of the Mars Science Laboratory that makes up the Curiosity Rover. It’s very cool to think that we will be able to share with you the insights of somebody who has helped to make this discovery possible!

Check the link above for the article on www.space.com about the Mars discovery!

curiosity-rover-lead

-Keep Chasing

-Matt &8-)

Returning Home: The West Coast Leg of the North America Tour

Hey Chasers!

We survived! We successfully made it back to Canada, but not first before making three stops along the West Coast.

We left Florida following our interviews with Ryan Kobrick and John Horan in Florida. During that post we talked about struggles with getting into the new Atlantis Facility. That unfortunately didn’t pan out. We did get amazing footage right under the wing of Atlantis during her roll out but we thought it would be cool to see Atlantis all shrink wrapped and getting prepped for public display this Summer. Alas, NASA was touchy to have Atlantis filmed in such a state and we had no choice but to respect their wishes on that one. Nonetheless, some incredible adventures still awaited us on our next stop: San Francisco

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Sun Rise over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

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We’re in Universe Today!

Universe Today writer Elizabeth Howell contacted us a few weeks ago about doing an article in Universe Today. I was super stoked because I follow Universe Today and our team was honored to make a contribution. Elizabeth also writes about subject material we are into such as thoughts on Star Trek and SPAAAAAACE!! We are definitely down with exploring both the science as well as the fiction.

Please check out the article HERE

And a huge thank you to Elizabeth for taking the time to talk with us. Take the time to visit her site!

-Matthew

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Atlantis Enters Vehicle Assembly Building (Cr. Ryan Horan)

43 Years since the Moon; 1 Year Since the End of Shuttle

43 years ago yesterday, on July 20th of 1969, humanity set foot for the first time on another world.

1 year ago today, July 21st, Atlantis’ mission, STS135, came to a close with the Shuttle’s safe return to Earth and subsequent finale of the Shuttle Program.

During our presentation at Fantasy and Sci-Fi Convention Polaris in Toronto earlier this month, we had the opportunity to meet several individuals who recalled being woken up by their parents in the early hours of the morning to watch as Neil Armstrong stepped off of the Lunar Lander. This moment in history would go on to be known when the whole world “looked up.” As we talked about Chasing Atlantis, the conversations at Polaris shifted to an expression of disappointment. Since Apollo, we have yet to visit other worlds. After watching the Moon Landing at age 10, one audience member relayed, it seemed reasonable that over 40 years later we’d have planted foot prints on other planets, asteroids, or moons at least within our own solar system.

At the Kennedy Space Center it is clear that the Apollo era is still dominant in how NASA brands itself. One of the largest displays is a Saturn V rocket. Tour guides, many of whom are retired NASA staff who worked during Apollo, recall how NASA’s share of the American GDP was close to 5% during the Space Race. NASA’s budget is now 1/10th that figure. Why? Some would argue politics. The Space Race was about beating the Russians to the Moon. When that was accomplished, there was no further impetus for pouring tax dollars into missions beyond the confines of Low Earth Orbit.

What’s next? Asteroid Mining with Planetary Resources? Mars? Whatever the mission, its success will demand public engagement. Lack of public support for NASA was what many of our interviewees cited as a reason why public funding has waned considerably. Why fund something if it won’t bring in votes? So the debate continues surrounding private entrepreneurship and whether the private entry into space exploration, with the advent of companies like Space X, and Planetary Resources, and space tourism companies such as Virgin Galactic, will bring a new push against the final frontier. Public engagement was a key focus of our documentary. We were excited to connect with both the Apollo generation as well as the current generation of sci-fi and space enthusiasts at Polaris to talk about shuttle; an icon that we realized was not as well recognized by today’s youth as by the previous generation. Perhaps that lack of resonance is partly due to the stagnation of space exploration over the last decades; something we continue to explore in our interviews.

Looking ahead, I am personally hopeful for a future where the next 4 decades see more giant leaps for humankind. The journey outward is about more than the curiosity of what’s beyond our planet, but also seeking a better understanding of ourselves in the process.

Here is a link for a remastered version of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Footage

And here is a link for a video of Atlantis’ safe return to Earth

-Matthew

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A Different Kind of Frontier (The End of the Race for Space)

Lately, I have given a great deal of thought to my childhood dream of going to space. Reflecting on space has certainly been a central part of Chasing Atlantis, the documentary we shot this past Summer about the final flight of space shuttle Atlantis. The famous lines from the opening of Star Trek described Space as the Final Frontier. It is the ultimate manifestation of the outward journey; one that leaves the confines of this world to explore the beyond. However, I feel that my own journey has breached a different frontier. A more inward journey, one of remembering past goals, finding new hopes, new projects. I may not be venturing into space itself, but I certainly feel like I have been exploring new spaces. With my colleague and friend, Paul Muzzin, Director of Chasing Atlantis, we have a documentary in the works; one which has taken on a life of itself that went beyond any of my wildest expectations. I have a new website up that has become a new outlet for creativity and thought, and the woman I met in Africa back in 2004 who became foundational to Esther’s Echo will be visiting Canada in 10 days. 

So, I may not be headed to space, but certainly I have had the opportunity to explore some incredible frontiers lately. And regardless of the Race for Space outcome, I wanted to thank all of you who supported my entry. I was so encouraged by the many supporters who wrote me continually to remind me that they were voting, by those who also shared their dreams of one day going to space, and friends with whom I was reunited even after many years who saw my entry online and wanted to share their support. You all made the competition so worth it! Besides…somewhere inside, I still believe I’ll make it there some day. Perhaps many of us will. Lots of exciting things have happened in space sciences since the end of the Race for Space. The United Nations observed the international day of human space flight on April 12th. The Space Shuttle Discovery flew on the back of a 747 to Washington replacing Enterprise at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Enterprise will be flying over New York City on April 27th, and a new company called Planetary Resources made a bold claim that steps are being taken to begin mining asteroids to delivery their precious resources to our home (they are hiring right now by the way 😉 ). 

Enterprise and Discovery Swap Places

Above: Enterprise and Discovery Swap Places

Space is a physical place. It is the place beyond the boundary of what we know and what sustains us. It is a place beyond our comfort zones in the most extreme sense. And perhaps it is a place that will yield future resources. But perhaps space, then, is also a place within where we breach the expected, the comfortable and find certain riches. So, in light of the Race for Space and the experience it has been I ask you, what frontiers are before you that you can begin exploring right now? And, if there is a competition involved, know that I’ll for sure be voting for you too!

-Matthew

http://www.un.org/en/events/humanspaceflightday/  (United Nations Day of Human Space Flight)

http://www.planetaryresources.com/ (Planetary Resources Website)

http://www.universetoday.com/94662/enterprise-go-for-big-apple-fly-over-on-april-27-viewing-guide-in-nyc/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews (Enterprise scheduled to fly over New York City on April 27th)