50 Ways to Space Out
Looking for ways to celebrate a half century of spaceflight? Here's fifty of 'em.
- By Roger Mola
- Air & Space magazine, July 2007
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16 DISCOVER THE DESIGNS of Hermann Potocnik, pseudonym Hermann Noordung, a Slovene rocket engineer whose 1920s sketches were adapted for NASA’s earliest space station designs as well as the fictional space habitat in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Potocnik’s milestone work, Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums (The Problem of Space Travel: The Rocket Motor), and his exquisitely detailed drawings can be viewed at noordung.info.
17 EXPLORE GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY in Hollywood, California. It was reopened with a newly renovated interior on November 3, 2006, after its first makeover since 1935. Some $93 million bought 60 new exhibits and 40,000 square feet, a 200-seat theater and 300-seat immersive planetarium with digital lasers and sound, and new polish on the plaque given by 1955 visitor James Dean (much of his movie Rebel Without a Cause was filmed at Griffith). Because the observatory expects a crush of visitors, it has set up a timed-entry program; make reservations for the parking-lot shuttle bus at (888) 695-0888 or griffithobservatory.org.
18 SEND YOUR OPINION into oblivion, or maybe on to unknown life-forms, via Blog in Space at bloginspace.com. Certify your age as 13 or older, and your ruminations (up to 2,500 characters) will be fed, at no charge, to a deep-space transmission dish. If you’ve got nothing to say, just buy Blog in Space boxers for $12.99.
19 COLLECT ROCKETRY STAMPS designed to honor such space travel achievements as the Mercury program, the first Chinese manned mission, and Earth-bound experiments in rocket mail. Visit spacestamps.com and spacecovers.com (for an international overview), www.asss.utvinternet.com (the British Astro Space Stamp Society), and philatel2.com; click on “Postal History” for rocket mail.
20 GRAB THE SPUTNIK 3 LAPTOP BAG from Chrome, arguably the most tenuous promotional reference to the satellite in 50 years. Chrome says its collection “continues the pioneering spirit of the Space Age by launching Sputnik 3 into the vast cosmos of dull black laptop bags.” The $75 bag, large enough to tote Laika (the first dog in space), has a metallic vinyl shell, nylon liner, and cell phone pouch. Call (415) 503-1221, or order at chromebags.com.
21 STUDY SPACE LAW at the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal, established the same year Sputnik was launched. McGill coordinates with the nearby Canadian Space Agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the International Air Transport Association, and also publishes the Annales de Droit Aérien et Spatial (Annals of Air and Space Law). File your briefs at mcgill.ca/iasl/.
22 SPACEWOMEN ARE HONORED at the International Women’s Air & Space Museum at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. Honorees include the 13 First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATS, assembled by NASA in 1961) along with a roster of spacewomen from Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union (1963) to Sally Ride, the first American woman in space (1983). The IWASM also helps Girl Scouts earn an Aerospace badge. Start online at iwasm.org, or call (216) 623-1111.
23 SIMULATE DEEP SPACE charting and travel by downloading two of the most detailed and realistic simulations, Celestia and Orbiter, for free. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X and gives your mouse freedom to hop around 100,000 stars and planets in three dimensions: shatters.net/celestia/ or learn.arc.nasa.gov/planets/index.html. Orbiter empowers you to plan entire missions, from launching the shuttle to designing hardware; orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/orbit.html.