Just hours after I wrote of Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket explosion, Virgin Galactica has suffered a similar fate. But this one has claimed at least one human life so far — the pilot — and the co-pilot is in bad shape. SpaceShipTwo apparently suffered an engine explosion moments after ignition, and after it was dropped from the WhiteKnightTwo mothership. This was the first in-flight explosion for the system, but there is a history here. [...]
(In a conversation elsewhere, I responded to complaints about the “NASA rocket” exploding — and to suggestions that this stuff was not new technology and should be easy by now.) It was not, exactly, a NASA rocket. And it was indeed new technology. This was a launch contracted from NASA by Orbital Sciences, who have been having some trouble with their systems. Enough trouble to cause them to change the name of the rocket (from Taurus to Antares, kind of “anti-Taurus”) to avoid bad vibes/publicity/luck. SpaceX is doing rather better, so far. [...]
IN SPACE, no one can hear you’re green. It’s a pity. Caesar turned slowly, arms outstretched to catch the sun. In the middle distance, I could see Hamlet doing the same thing. A moment later, Fortinbras began to turn. Yes, they’re all named for dead people — they’re all shades. [...]
I was asked yesterday about the “surly bonds of Earth” reference in the post about Neil Armstrong’s death. There is indeed a story behind that and a very unusual young man.
John Gillespie McGee Jr. was born in Shanghai to a US ambassador, thus was American. His initial school was in Shanghai, “The American School” [...]
Neil Armstrong, first human to set foot on another world, passed away today.