Monday, July 19, 2010

webspotting 17 - Astronautica

As published in the Dec/Jan 2010 issue of SCOPE, the newsletter of the RASC Toronto Centre. Republished here with permission. Minor edits.


It was at the gathering of the Gastronomical Society, the meeting after the meeting, back in February, in the back room of the Granite Brewery. After answering some questions of new member Uve Potisepp about the loaner Dobsonian, the conversation turned to the Space Shuttle program, its imminent end and the Russian counterpart, the Buran, that only flew in space once.

If I remember correctly, I had recently seen some photos of the Russian Shuttle clone which I had found utterly fascinating. Uve said that there were good photos and information on the Encyclopedia Astronautica web site. He promised to send me the link. I had it ( before midnight.

This gem will keep you busy! But you must be disciplined. Only view on cloudy or rainy nights. Do not let this site interfere with night-time observing! You have been warned.

There are well over 150 pages in the site, many of which are several screens deep. They are rich with photos, drawings, diagrams, charts, etc. collected and collated by Mark Wade.

I particular enjoyed the Buran and transporter facts and figures. The archival photos are, again, fascinating. The development drawings are mesmerising.

The history of cancelled space flights lets you imagine all the possible outcomes. It makes you wonder where we’d be today if any one of these had played out a little bit different.

The chronology of space flight reveals a remarkable effort on the part of the contributors to collect such obscure and arcane details. Did you know that some 87 countries on the third rock from the Sun have been involved, one way or another, in space exploration or travel? Places like Iceland, Mongolia, and Latvia?

While Ron Howard’s interpretation of Apollo 13 was sincere, it is insightful to read the log of events before, during, and after. I could go on but I want to leave off here so that you may begin your journey. One site. Hundreds of articles and images to enjoy! But remember: only visit Encyclopedia Astronautica on cloudy and rainy nights!

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