Ever since learning about the Rubber Room and Blast Room deep below launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center I had been hopeful that I would one day get to photograph this mysterious remnant of the Apollo Program. I had seen very few photos of this room online and by talking to friends at KSC I seemed to have confirmed that access to this underground bunker had been very limited over the years. Following the end of the Shuttle Program and safing of the launch pads, access has become a little bit easier. There are two Rubber and Blast Rooms built to identical blueprints, one under launch pad 39A and another under 39B. Just recently, the rooms under 39B were closed off due to concerns from peeling lead based paints, which were commonly used during the era. Luckily for me, due to a different contractor building launch pad 39A, the Rubber and Blast Rooms were painted using non-lead based paint and is in much better shape allowing for the occasional visit. I would finally get the chance to enter the Rubber Room for an assignment with SpaceflightNow.
This is where I will be tomorrow evening – I shall warm up the television and actually bother watching something live for once.
This is what makes us human. Shame we don’t do more of it, but props to Felix for having a good stab at it.
Although still lacking funding to extend its mission beyond Saturn, Nasa’s optimistic engineers loaded enough control propellant on board to keep the probes’ dishes orientated towards the Earth for decades after passing Saturn.
They’d also built the Voyager power supply system to last until at least the year 2020. But most visionary of all, they’d included five experiments on board that were capable of analyzing space beyond the Solar System.
In 1977, as the duo launched from Earth, no-one dared imagine that they would survive long enough to make such measurements. But in 2012, they’re still going strong – their pitifully weak signals just a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a watt of power by the time they reach the Earth. New discoveries are still being made.
Today, in a darkened lecture theatre at JPL – named after the same Theodore von Karman whose boundary to space our machines first crossed 70 years ago – sits a model of the Voyagers.
These great machines are now carrying our spirit of exploration across a boundary the Hungarian-American engineer could only dream of – into interstellar space.
Voyager: To The Final Frontier will be broadcast on BBC Four on Wednesday 24 October, 2012. It is produced and directed by Christopher Riley and presented by Dallas Campbell.
Scan the night sky next month and you may witness a rather unusual phenomenon – an tiny Japanese satellite using LEDs to beam a Morse code message earthwards.
The message will come from FITSAT-1, or Niwaka, a 10cm cubed satellite weighing just 1.3kg and recently released from the from the International Space Station.
Built by the Fukuoka Institute of Technology in southern Japan, the box will beam the Morse code message “Hi this is Niwaka Japan” onto the sky.
Observers will see green dots and dashes in the northern hemisphere, where people will see the “front” of the satellite, and red in the southern hemisphere, where they see the “back”, according to AFP.