Category Archives: Science & Technology

Space Shuttle Flight Director Bryan Lunney Retires

Space Shuttle Flight Director Bryan Lunney served his last shift at Mission Control on March 7, 2011, concluding a 22-year career at NASA. Bryan directed almost 50 space shuttle missions and logged over 300 shifts directing the International Space Station (ISS). Lunney is leaving NASA and joining Odyssey Space Research, an engineering analysis firm, and Firestar Technologies, specializing in propulsion and power systems.

A second generation NASA Flight Director, Bryan followed in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Glynn Lunney, who was Flight Director for Apollo Program moon missions.

During a press conference Monday to discuss the final flight of space shuttle Discovery, Flight Director Bryan Lunney spoke about about the legacy of his Onyx Flight team at NASA:

Onyx Flight is my flight director team color, for those who don’t know, named somewhat after my father’s team, who was Black Flight,” said Lunney. “So I wanted to stick with the family tradition to some extent there.”…”What is my legacy? Hopefully a good one. I came into this program to hopefully make this a better place, this world a better place for my kids. I think what we do here at NASA does that and I hope I contributed my piece to that.”…”I got a lot of help when I was growing up over the last 10 years, my first 10 years here. I hope I paid that back and helped evolve some of the younger folks who came through…”…”I wanted to hand down that torch, so to speak. And I tell you, looking around either control room today, there’s not as much gray hair as perhaps on my head, but there’s some extremely competent individuals who have come in.”…”Maybe, I like to think,” Lunney said, “a little piece of my legacy in station was to help those flight controllers who do such a fabulous job today. Maybe I was a little bit helpful getting them along on their way.”

Earlier Monday, before his Orbit 1 shift ended, Lunney was celebrated by his fellow flight controllers and by the crew of Discovery from orbit. “I’ve known Bryan for years and years, working with him for years and years, through the Astronaut Office, through various roles, and of course, as our lead on this flight,” radioed Discovery Commander Steve Lindsey to Mission Control. “Bryan has just been a great friend and a terrific flight director and a leader.”… “He pulled this mission together and made it all happen. Kept us all focused and working on the plan and working to the plan and when the plans changed and we went through multiple flight plans, he kept the team focused and just showed true leadership throughout.”…”We’re going to really miss him. I know you guys are, too. And Bryan, it was just an absolute pleasure to work with you and we wish you the best of luck in your new career,” said Lindsey. “It’s been a hoot,” responded Lunney. “You guys obviously have been really great to work with.”…”I really enjoyed working with you on this flight and over the years, all of you and your crew. Couldn’t have had a better choice for my last flight. Thanks very much,” said Lunney.

“Today we retire the call sign Onyx Flight,” chief flight director John McCullough said. “Twenty-two years in the agency with nearly 50 flights on the shuttle side and over 300 shifts on the station side, kind of appropriate he’s working the Orbit 1 shift at night again closing it out.”…”We just want to say thank you very much for all that you’ve done and best wishes on everything you hope to accomplish in the future,” said McCullough.

“It has always been a pleasure to come to work to be with people like you guys, even when it was that midnight shift,” Lunney said, addressing the crowd of flight controllers who had gathered in the shuttle flight control room. “I am honored and privileged to be able to do this the last 22 years.”…”I look forward to the next phase in my career. It is going to be something completely different but it will be fun, too. But I don’t think it will be anything like what I’ve gotten the opportunity to do here.”…”It has been an amazing opportunity and I’m just thrilled to have that opportunity. I owe it to each and every one of you all for that. You are guys are awesome, this agency is awesome and MOD [the Mission Operations Directorate] is awesome. So I very much appreciate it and I look forward to working with you guys in the future,” Lunney said.


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Have you noticed that the year 2012 keeps appearing in various news articles…all connected with some predicted major event or calamity? 


I’m not a superstitious person, but I’ll admit that I’m becoming a little concerned about all of these apparent “coincidences”. 


On December 21, 2012, there will occur a once in 24,000-year alignment of the earth, sun and moon with the central super-massive black hole at the center of our galaxy.  This coincides with ancient Mayan and Chinese predictions of the “end of this era” of time.  There are some “concerns” about potential “tidal effects” from this alignment.


Also, there are unconfirmed reports that some mysterious planet or asteroid “X” will collide with Earth in 2012. 


There are confirmed reports that solar sunspot activity will reach a 50-year peak in 2012, and is expected to cause major disruptions to the world-wide power grid, satellite communications and the Internet…for months.


The Internet is projected to reach complete “overload” in 2012.


November, 2012 will see the next election of a US President.




2012 is the year that the first enormous group of “baby boomers” will want to retire and start collecting Social Security…I’m not counting on that one!


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Net Jam

You may have noticed that the Internet has been having some problems lately…frequent disconnects, slow-as-molasses downloads, problems playing YouTube videos, and on and on.  Why is it that I have to read the London Times to find out what’s going on in the world of Cyberspace ?

From The Sunday London Times:

April 26, 2009

Beware surfers: cyberspace is filling up

by John Harlow

Internet users face regular "brownouts" that will freeze their computers as capacity runs out in cyberspace, according to research to be published later this year.

Experts predict that consumer demand, already growing at 60 per cent a year, will start to exceed supply from as early as next year because of more people working online and the soaring popularity of bandwidth-hungry websites such as YouTube and services such as the BBC’s iPlayer.

It will initially lead to computers being disrupted and going offline for several minutes at a time. From 2012, however, PCs and laptops are likely to operate at a much reduced speed, rendering the internet an "unreliable toy".

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist, wrote the code that transformed a private computer network into the world wide web in 1989, the internet appeared to be a limitless resource. However, a report being compiled by Nemertes Research, a respected American think-tank, will warn that the web has reached a critical point and that even the recession has failed to stave off impending problems.

"With more people working or looking for work from home, or using their PCs more for cheap entertainment, demand could double in 2009," said Ted Ritter, a Nemertes analyst. "At best, we see the [economic] slowdown delaying the fractures for maybe a year."

In America, telecoms companies are spending £40 billion a year upgrading cables and supercomputers to increase capacity, while in Britain proposals to replace copper cabling across part of the network with fibreoptic wires would cost at least £5 billion.

Yet sites such as YouTube, the video-sharing service launched in 2005, which has exploded in popularity, can throw the most ambitious plans into disarray.

The amount of traffic generated each month by YouTube is now equivalent to the amount of traffic generated across the entire internet in all of 2000.

The extent of its popularity is indicated by the 100 million people who have logged on to the site to see the talent show contestant Susan Boyle in the past three weeks.

Another so-called "net bomb" being studied by Nemertes is BBC iPlayer, which allows viewers to watch high-definition television on their computers. In February there were more than 35 million requests for shows and iPlayer now accounts for 5 per cent of all UK internet traffic.

Analysts express such traffic in exabytes – a quintillion (or a million trillion) bytes or units of computer data. One exabyte is equivalent to 50,000 years’ worth of DVD-quality data.

Monthly traffic across the internet is running at about eight exabytes. A recent study by the University of Minnesota estimated that traffic was growing by at least 60 per cent a year, although that did not take into account plans for greater internet access in China and India.

While the net itself will ultimately survive, Ritter said that waves of disruption would begin to emerge next year, when computers would jitter and freeze. This would be followed by "brownouts" – a combination of temporary freezing and computers being reduced to a slow speed.

Ritter’s report will warn that an unreliable internet is merely a toy. "For business purposes, such as delivering medical records between hospitals in real time, it’s useless," he said.

"Today people know how home computers slow down when the kids get back from school and start playing games, but by 2012 that traffic jam could last all day long."

Engineers are already preparing for the worst. While some are planning a lightning-fast parallel network called "the grid", others are building "caches", private computer stations where popular entertainments are stored on local PCs rather than sent through the global backbone.

Telephone companies want to recoup escalating costs by increasing prices for "net hogs" who use more than their share of capacity.


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The Beginning of Winter in the Southern Hemisphere ?


Massive ice chunks are crumbling away from a shelf in the western Antarctic Peninsula, researchers said Wednesday…warning that 1,300 square miles of ice, an area larger than Rhode Island, was in danger of breaking-off in coming weeks.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf had been stable for most of the last century, but began retreating in the 1990s. Researchers believe it was held in place by an ice bridge linking Charcot Island to the Antarctic mainland. But the 127-square-mile (330-square-kilometer) bridge lost two large chunks last year and then shattered completely on April 5. "As a consequence of the collapse, the rifts, which had already featured along the northern ice front, widened and new cracks formed as the ice adjusted," the European Space Agency said in a statement Wednesday on its Web site, citing new satellite images.

The first icebergs broke away on Friday, and since then some 270 square miles (700 square kilometers) of ice have dropped into the sea, according to the satellite data.  "There is little doubt that these changes are the result of atmospheric warming," said David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey.


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A cosmic hand

If you’ve never visited the website, then you’ll be amazed at the following photograph:


In this new image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, high-energy X-rays emanating from the nebula around pulsar PSR B1509-58 have been colored blue to reveal a structure resembling a giant hand reaching for some eternal red cosmic light. This star spins around at the dizzying pace of seven times every second, spewing energy into space. Strong magnetic fields, 15 trillion times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field, are thought to be involved, too. The combination drives an energetic wind of electrons and ions away from the dying star. As the electrons move through the magnetized nebula, they radiate their energy as X-rays. The red light is actually a neighboring gas cloud, RCW 89, energized into glowing by the fingers of the PSR B1509-58 nebula, astronomers believe.

The scene, which spans a distance of 150 light-years, is about 17,000 light years away; so what we see in the photo is how it looked 17,000 years ago. A light-year, the distance that light travels in a year, is about 6 trillion miles; so that ghostly hand is about 102,000 trillion miles away…amazing…a number bigger than our national debt!

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