40 years ago tonight, on Christmas Eve, 1968, Lunar Module Pilot William Anders, in a live television broadcast, announced that they were approaching lunar sunrise, and that he had a message for "all the people back on Earth." He then began to read from Genesis 1:1–10:
Scientists have long theorized that the “magic spark” that created life on Earth may have come from meteors plunking into our primordial soup. Wired News reports that a team of Japanese scientists has set up a teeny tiny scale model which offers proof of concept that meteors could in fact have done the deed.
Sapporo, the Japanese beer-maker, has brewed "Space Beer" entirely from barley grown on the Space Station. The beer has a 5.5% alcohol content. There are only 100 liters of the special Space brew, so don't look for it in the U.S. anytime soon. There's something enormously fun about the fact that one of the first things humans do upon reaching space is figure out how to make beer.
After traveling more than six and a half million miles in sixteen days, the space shuttle Endeavor landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California, on Sunday the 30th of November. Originally scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, the weather didn't cooperate so NASA had to change the original re-entry and landing plans. Endeavor will be ferried home on a Boeing 747, probably later this week. You can find mission pictures here.
I always breathe a sigh of relief when a shuttle takes off or touches down safely. Since the Challenger exploded just after launch in 1986, and the Columbia re-entry disaster in 2003, there's been that awareness of tension about the danger our explorers face, and that poignant sense of waiting and hoping for their safe return. It's always been part of the experience of those who stay behind, I suppose.