Author Archives: launiusr

Boarding the Spaceplane?


I posted this originally to the blog, “Above and Beyond,” on June 15, 2015. I thought I would reprint here. During the administration of President Ronald Reagan, senior government officials began to discuss the possibility of developing an “Orient Express,” … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Matty—An American Hero”


Matty—An American Hero: Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants. By Ray Robinson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Ray Robinson is a sports journalist and editor, and this book is very much in the genre of many other conventional … Continue reading

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A Balance Sheet on All of the Landings on Mars


Since the beginning of the space age there have been 17 landings on the surface of Mars, some of which were not successful. Initially the Soviet Union carried out two attempted landings in 1971, Mars 2 and 3, but the … Continue reading

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The George Brett “Pine Tar” Incident


It seems like it took place yesterday, but on July 25, 1983, one of the most bizarre incidents in the history of Major League Baseball. It involved future Hall of Famer George Brett, to this day one of my all … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Scientific Exploration of Mars”


The Scientific Exploration of Mars. By Frederic W. Taylor. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010. V + 348 pages. Prologue, acknowledgments, notes, illustrations, appendices, index. ISBN: 978-0-521-82956-4. $45, hardcover. Mars has long held a special fascination for humans who pondered … Continue reading

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Recalling the First Vikings on Mars


The 20th of July marked the 39th anniversary of Viking 1’s touch down on Mars after a voyage of nearly one year, followed within a two months by Viking 2. The landings represented the culmination of a series of missions to … Continue reading

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Forty Years Since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project


Forty years ago a great adventure took place. It was one that changed the course of history. In the middle of a forty-year the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union the heads of the two rival … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Great Warming”


The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. By Brian Fagan. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2008. Is there anyone who is not familiar with the concept of global warming? Or, if one wants to use a less … Continue reading

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“New Horizons” Reaches Pluto


The “New Horizons” spacecraft is a major NASA program to complete the initial exploration of all of the major bodies of the solar system. It was designed to help understand worlds at the edge of our Solar System by making the … Continue reading

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Recalling the Voyages of the Space Shuttle Endeavour


The quest for a reusable spaceplane extends far back into the 1920s, but it only found realization with the inaugural flights of the Space Shuttle in the early 1980s. NASA initially built four spaceworthy orbiters—Columbia (OV-102), Challenger (OV‑099), Discovery (OV‑103), … Continue reading

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