Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Welcome Home, Discovery!

After a one-day weather delay, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-131, landed at Kennedy Space Center at 9:09 this morning. The entry path was from the northwest, and I didn't hear any sonic booms (darn it). The successful 15 day, 6.2 million mile mission delivered over 7 tons of equipment to the International Space Station.

Photo credit NASA/Bill Ingalls

Monday, April 5, 2010

Go Discovery!

Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off at 6:21 this morning, an hour before sunrise. These photos by Wayne Matchett are hot off the digital press, so to speak. We usually show a NASA photo of liftoff, but here you see the launch as you would if you were standing in Wayne's yard in Satellite Beach. The first is the moon before launch, followed by a pic shortly after liftoff, then one after the solid rocket booster (SRB) separation (the shuttle is the white circle, the SRBs falling away are the little orange things). Click to enlarge.

According to NASA's excellent site, Discovery will carry a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks for the laboratories aboard the station. The mission has three planned spacewalks, with work to include replacing an ammonia tank assembly, retrieving a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior, and switching out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 segment of the station’s truss structure. STS-131 will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station. I'm still in denial that the shuttle program is fast nearing its conclusion.

I live in the middle of the first green of a former golf course. About four years ago, the course was sold to a developer, who planned to build 350+ houses on it. Between lawsuits and the economy, nothing has happened (thankfully), except of course the formerly green landscape has gone to weeds. However, this Spring, we've been treated to fields of purple! Nobody knows why, and I didn't know what these little flowers were, but Wayne came to my rescue yet again. He has identified the plants as Blue Toadflax, and provided this closeup photo to augment my shot above. Such a beautiful addition to our landscape should have a more glamorous name, somehow. Blue Toadflax is technically a weed, but I'm grateful for the smile this purple carpet brings every time I drive past it.

We're coming up fast on sea turtle nesting season, and the Sea Turtle Preservation Society has announced its training classes for the Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program (STERP): 1) Sat. May 8th, Cocoa Beach library 9:30-11:30 am, 2) Monday May 17th, Schechter Community Center, Satellite Beach 6:00- 8:00 pm, and 3) Saturday July 17th, Satellite Beach 9:30-11:30. (You must attend one of the workshops to be a STERP volunteer.) Call the STPS office for more information: 321-676-1701.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Joyous Easter!

May the joy and promise of Spring and Easter be yours.

(Photo by Jim Angy)