Monday, April 10, 2006

ad astra per aspera

In reading From the Earth to the Moon, one of the most fascinating things about it are some of Verne's predictions about the future of space flight. Most notably, his characters decide to shoot their projectile into space from Florida, which of course is where Cape Canaveral is located, the launch site for NASA's manned space program. As pointed out by Verne, Florida is the most ideal site in the continental US because of its proximity to the Earth's equator. Since Florida is closest to the equator, vehicles launched from the Sunshine state will be able to take advantage of a stronger centrifugal force which means the vehicle will be able to leave the Earth atmosphere more easily. But what I wonder about is why NASA commands its missions from Houston? In other words, why does it split the workings of its missions between Cape Canaveral and Houston? Does anyone know why? Thanks.

In other interesting space news, the ESA (European Space Agency)'s Venus Express is scheduled to enter Venus' orbit early tomorrow morning. It's Earth's first visit to our nearest planetary neighbor in several years.

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