Author Archives: roamingfirehydrant

About roamingfirehydrant

I get paid to break things.

New bone growth therapy to be tested in space

Astronauts aboard the ISS and scientists stationed on Earth will study a bone-forming molecule called NELL-1 and assess its ability to promote bone formation and protect against bone degeneration.

“A group of 40 rodents will be sent to the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory onboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule, where they will live for two months in a microgravity environment during the first ever test of NELL-1 in space,” states NASA’s chief scientist for the ISS, Dr. Julie Robinson….

The team hopes that the research project will allow them to learn more about preventing bone loss and osteoporosis. In particular, they hope the study will provide new insights into how to heal and rebuild the type of large bone defects that occur in wounded military personnel.


The big target is preventing or healing osteoporosis, but the comment about wounded veterans caught my eye. I thought this was worth sharing.

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What a difference a decade makes

In cleaning up my office, I found “The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond”.  Now that it’s 2015, let’s see what we accomplished and what died on the vine.

The first thing to remember is that the Space Shuttle was still grounded at the time and would not fly until July 2005.  Administrator Sean O’Keefe talked about President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration, begun in 2004 and cancelled by Obama.  O’Keefe was already planning on leaving NASA and “move on to other challenges.”

Some of the long-term objectives listed were.
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How a pair of cadets from Alabama started the 1826 Eggnog Riot at West Point |

Roberts, Burnley and Center managed to get the alcohol into the north barracks and, on Christmas Eve, the cadets spiked a batch of eggnog and proceeded to get drunk. The original group of nine cadets, including a young man named Jefferson Davis, was joined by more cadets, and still more, until soon dozens were staggering through the halls, some armed with muskets and bayonets.

via How a pair of cadets from Alabama started the 1826 Eggnog Riot at West Point |

**waves at Blaster**

This is one year I don’t have eggnog or fruitcake.

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Geminid meteor shower this weekend

Hope there’s clear skies for you.

The online Slooh Community Observatory will host a live webacst of the Geminid meteor display on Saturday night beginning at 8 p.m. EST (0100 Dec. 14 GMT).You can also watch the Slooh webcast directly:

More skywatching info at


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JPL | News | Saturn’s Moons: What a Difference a Decade Makes

The successor to the Voyagers at Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, has spent the past 10 years collecting images and other data as it has toured the Ringed Planet and its family of satellites. New color maps, produced from this trove of data, show that Cassini has essentially fulfilled one of its many mission objectives: producing global maps of Saturn’s six major icy moons.

via JPL | News | Saturn's Moons: What a Difference a Decade Makes.

Pretty cool to see the difference in the maps. The north polar region of Enceladus will be filled in next year.

On a side note, I always thought that GM-Saturn should have named their cars after the Saturnian moons rather than names like SL and LW. Titan would be a pretty good name for a big SUV.

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Poll of the day

We buried my father-in-law the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He was a WW2 veteran, 15th Army Air Force. The local chapter of the VFW did a great job as honor guard. Minutes before the service at the cemetery, the funeral director asked, “Who’s the oldest?” And so it was that the flag was presented to my sister-in-law.

At my maternal grandfather’s funeral, the flag was presented to the second-oldest aunt, and there was a great deal of squawking about it. Consensus seemed to be that the oldest uncle (also a veteran) should have received it.

At my oldest brother’s funeral, the one who received the flag was not the oldest, but the son currently serving in the Army. Everyone was fine with this.

So my question is this:

Just to keep the record straight, I think it’s fine that my sister-in-law received the flag. She had the lion’s share of caring for my father-in-law. I plan on giving her a display case for the flag. I just wondered if there’s a dominant tradition out there.


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Successful launch of Orion

Yesterday there was a boat too close, then winds were too high, then a fuel valve wouldn’t cycle properly. This morning, the countdown went smoothly.

I realized that while I know the rhythm of the Shuttle launches – the max Q, the booster separation, eight minutes to main engine cutoff – I don’t know squat about a Delta 4 Heavy launch. That was impressive.
Splashdown around 11:30 AM Eastern time off Baja California.


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