Thursday, December 16, 2010

Waleed Abdalati, NASA Chief Scientist and I

What do I have in common with the new NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati?

We've both recently accepted a job offer (I'm going to work for Amazon, you all know where he's going). We're both moving over winter break. In fact, we're both moving to Washington, although while Abdalati is moving to D.C. I'm moving with my family to Microsoft-Boeing-Amazon-Starbucks land also known as Seattle.

In a small world such as ours, it doesn't stop there.

We both have preschoolers in our household. Yeah, pretty mundane stuff, so do millions of other people. But his daughter and my son happened to be in the same preschool.

Here are a couple of photos I took at the Thanksgiving play a few weeks ago:

Thanksgiving preschool playProud parents, including new NASA Chief Scientist (right)
I wish Dr. Abdalati great success in his new role and hope to see NASA continue to be a crucial contributor to understanding our planet and beyond.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Rocket Science" and a Successful Falcon 9 Launch

SpaceX added a very positive event to a line of problems and mishaps that occurred recently, from the failed Russian three-satellite launch to more delays in Discovery STS-133 launch, originally set for the end of October, now scheduled for Febuary.

All in all, these recent events show us that even after a space access system has been working for 30 years and more than 60 years after launching the first satellite, getting complex systems or people to space is still, as the saying goes, rocket science.

In contrast, through what looks like a flawless launch, a couple of orbits, reentry, splash-down and recovery, Falcon 9 (overview and comparison to Shuttle and Soyuz here) is on track to fulfilling its contract as a cargo platform to the International Space Station, and later on possibly taxi astronauts as well, ending the Russian monopoly formed by the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.