[Ed. note: this Carnival of Space accidentally went up without many of the links that should have been included. An addendum has been posted here.]
Wow what an Insane Week® it has been. I don't know about you guys, but I'm about ready to head off for a relaxing weekend. But first things first: The Carnival of Space.
The biggest news this week was the disastrous launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory. During the launch - aboard an Orbital Sciences Taurus XL vehicle - the payload fairing failed to separate from the vehicle, causing the vehicle/payload to crash somewhere near Antarctica. At least that's what the official press releases say. An investigation is pending. It's pretty hard to deny the beauty of any rocket in flight, though, don't you think?
OCO at Launch...
Also, Wired Science posted this slightly morbid article about launch failures, which is definitely worth a quick read, and this video of the launch (sans failure, which occurred 10 minutes into the flight):
The biggest news over in our neck of the woods, though, was the announcement of a new competitor to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Team SYNERGY MOON, which we wrote about earlier today, has proposed a pretty cool looking rover design, and we can't wait to see more from them. Check out the official press release, and then head over to their forum to wish them good luck.
Meanwhile, NASA awarded a contract to Oceaneering International, Inc. to develop the next generation space suits that will be used on the ISS and the Moon. Oceaneering International won a similar contract last June. I have to be honest here (and this is just me talking), I'm not such a huge fan of the design. It may be more functional than previous suits, but it really doesn't have that panache that older suits boasted, even the old-school charm of the Apollo suits. And they can't really hold a candle to the next-gen suits of Virgin Galactic.
Over at Cumbrian Sky, Stu makes an impassioned argument that the MERs are actually martians now. Having spent over 5 years on the red planet, the rovers have spent considerably more time there than they ever had on Earth. An interesting point, which he drives home with awesome images like this. Note how Spirit all but dissolves into the martian soil with years of accumulated dust.
Meanwhile, at Music of the Spheres, you can read a different kind of impassioned prose: advice to a 13 year old girl who wants to be an astronaut. As anyone who has ever dreamed of heading into space can attest, the path to the sky is long and arduous. But the article points out the many opportunities available to women in space, and the various women who have paved the way - including our very own Anousheh Ansari.
Back in lunar news, we have articles about Chandrayaan, Luna Glob, and tons of Constellation news brought on by the proposed budget for NASA fiscal year 2010 (PDF link). In addition to Constellation, the budget includes continued use of the ISS and Shuttle flights through the vehicle's 2010 retirement, a topic of generally intense debate. Buzz Aldrin chimed in, too, saying
In our view, there were several fundamental problems with the Bush Vision and its implementation for Space Exploration inherited from the get-go: ... (2) The VSE lacks strategic merit, which can only be built upon a sufficiently vetted decision-making process of logic and analytic rigor. Especially, such process should have been scrutinized through hearings to engage the American public and politicians. Instead, the Bush VSE was a product of a blind and near-childish emotional response to a series of domestic and international geopolitical events that occurred in 2003, such as the launch of China's Shenzou-5 manned spacecraft on the 15th of October and the STS-107 (Columbia) Space Shuttle disaster in early February.
The big disappointment, I think, is that the statement was quickly removed from the National Space Society blog where it was published. I'm not sure I agree with Buzz 100%, but I think the ideas here are open for a vibrant debate.
And while were on the topic of debating, check out this post over at Space Cynics about the extremes of proselytizing space geeks. As a community manager, I can tell you first hand that this sort of thing is not exactly uncommon; indeed those in the space community are an uncommonly passionate group of people. And how can you not? Just look at this:
That green goddess is the fiery mass called Lulin, which passed by the Earth this past week. The comet made quite the stir in the blogosphere, inspiring everything from technical photography discussions to unadulterated awe. I prefer this little gem (click for enlarged):
And since this has been a week full of musical humor - and as a bonus, it's Friday Funday #FFD today! - I leave you with this fun ditty. Enjoy.