Category Archives: NASA

Life on the Space Station as a Space Zucchini

Don Pettit, a flight engineer on board the ISS, writes in his space log as a zucchini aboard the station. Here is a sample of what the zucchini have to deal with and see on a day to day basis:

We are starting to have shortages in some of our supplies. This is not unexpected; when you live on the frontier and are extracted from your normal terrestrial soil, it is expected that some items will be in short supply. But you cannot run to the store to buy things. We try to conserve and we try to notify the Big Gardener on Earth when supplies get low, but in spite of this, sometimes shortages happen. Currently we have a shortage of trash bags, disinfectant wipes, and shampoo. We have no more bags in which to put our compost. For us plants, we thrive on compost so this does not pose a problem for us, but for our animal crewmates, this is a big deal. In situations like this, you improvise. We have many spare suitcase-sized bags that protect the scientific equipment during shipment. We are now using those for storing our trash. Gardener said that when he uses the toilet, he can use one disinfectant wipe five times, thus, extending our supply until the next shipment. He keeps his hair pruned short so shampoo in not a factor. Such minor inconveniences are normal here. Gardener says shortages in these supplies are not critical (unless it is coffee.)

I have to agree about the coffee part, but unlike these folks,  I’m pretty sure I would NOT be able to handle some deprivations.

You can read all of Don’s entries at –


Filed under NASA, Science

The Search for ET continues

Really? They operate in the background, quietly searching the skies for radio signals that might come from a place like Earth, from people maybe like us, or maybe not. They are SETI, and they keep on, keeping on.

Many, many years ago when I first moved back to Virginia – this was about 1998 – I started hearing about this organization called the SETI Institute. I was interested, of course, because SETI are the people looking for life beyond our own inhabitants on Earth – the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. I signed up my computer to their computer, letting them use my meager bandwidth to help in the search. It was a fun screen saver to watch, but unfortunately, I had to end my efforts due to lousy internet connectivity – namely the usage restrictions my satellite provider placed on my account. SETI used up too many megabytes.

I miss having that connection to real scientists doing something I think is extraordinarily important. I believe there is life out there, intelligent, civilized and maybe looking for us at the same time that we look for them. I can’t find on the website where they have this group computer link in effect anymore. They have other programs now that involve regular people and I encourage you to check them out. 

The SETI Institute

They’re going to have a SETIcon again this summer and I’d give an arm to be able to attend! Artists, computer geeks, a guy from Pixar and even a NASA astronaut will be there. Bill Nye is going to be there.. I’d be is space heaven. You can get more info about SETIcon II here – SETIcon II

I remember when I first heard of SETI and read about the mission. Carl Sagan was a believer. He co-founded the Institute and spoke in its name. He believed in the search. And you know, yes,  it’s a “big-ass sky”, but I think he’s right. One day, we’ll find them, alike to us or not – intelligent life. I will be one of the first to step up and say hello.

Anybody out there? 


Filed under NASA, Science

A Baby Shuttle is Born!

Meet Dream Chaser – the next version of the space shuttle, only…so much smaller. Well, it’s only for people to fly in, not tons and tons of cargo. I like the way it looks. I definitely like that the ship is built and they are starting to test it is both a relief and exciting. I have nothing against our Russian brothers in space operations, but it doesn’t sit well with this space buff that the US should have to rely on ANY other country to get our astronauts to space. We’re still years away from this dream being realized but at least we’re on our way.

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Filed under NASA