U of M (still) owns Space.
For those unaware, December 4 next month will be the first ever launch of the Orion Crew Capsule. Orion, similar in shape to the old Apollo capsule, will be the spacecraft of the future to ferry astronauts to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
This test flight coming up will be unmanned with the capsule on top of a Delta IV heavy rocket (the temporary launch vehicle until the SLS rocket is complete) but here's the cool part: The capsule was designed by Lockheed Martin and a good number of the Lockheed engineers who designed it were Michigan grads. I found out today that these Michigan grads are placing a UM flag in the capsule. No other college flags are going and the only other flag onboard at all will be the United States flag.
I was just watching the Olympics with the Mrs. and NBC had a piece about the space race between the United States and Russia. It reminded me of an incredible story I heard.
I have had many conversations with a man who was employed at NASA at the time of the first moon landing. As I'm sure you are all familiar with, Neil Armstrong, while taking his first steps on the moon, bounces slightly. Most people think it was because of a lack of gravity. My engineering friend said that was not why Armstrong bounced when he hit the moon's surface.
Before Apollo 11 landed on the moon, there was an extensive amount of discussion involving the NASA brain trust over what, exactly, the moon was made out of. After months of deliberation, the panel had decided on two possibilities. Either the moon was solid, and a human could walk on it. Or the moon had a center comprised of space dust and any human who touched it's surface would fall a hundred meters into it's center and be lost forever.
Neil Armstrong, before placing his feet on the moon's surface, wasn't sure if he'd ever come back to Earth. His bounce was a reflex, because he didn't know if he'd be buried forever in outer space, or be the first human to successful walk on the moon's surface .
I've thought of this so many times and can't believe how bad ass that crew was for taking that trip.
Space X launched their Falcon 9/ Dragon Capsule to the ISS today. Regardless if you feel if low earth orbit should have been privatized or not, it's still pretty cool.
Link to full launch (embed below).
A Friday article on the Grantland site about how teams are using "space" players in the NFL:
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My post is not intended as a slam on MANBALL or the current coaching staff, of whom I'm currently a big fan. If Hoke et al. want to move toward a Wisconsinesque road-grader offense that gets the job done, I'll be completely behind the idea.
But, I think the parallels between RichRod's offensive philosophy and what's described in the article are interesting. If his ideas were that lousy, would they be used at the highest level of football?
Godin is in-studio talking to Webb right now.
Talk about some real American heroes...I have been watching Tom Hanks' slick miniseries "From The Earth To The Moon" and it's worth noting how many astronauts in the Apollo program were Michigan alums:
Gemini 4: James McDivitt, Ed White (first American to spacewalk)
Gemini 8: Dave Scott (enrolled at Michigan for one year, enrolled at West Point after that)
Apollo 9: McDivitt, Scott
Apollo 15: Scott, Al Worden, Jim Irwin
NASA flew 27 manned missions comprising 59 total seats up to and including the last landing, and 12% of those seats were filled by UM alums. A few years back Michigan ran an ad with a very tinny The Victors emerging from an orbiting Apollo 15 command module with the caption "an all-UM crew." Sweet!
Semi-OT: Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell spoke at Tom Hanks' American Film Institute lifetime achievement award presentation. Similar to Scott, Lovell enrolled at Wisconsin for two years before being admitted to Annapolis and a street in Milwaukee is named for him. Check out the look on Hanks' face when Lovell is announced: