Miles O'Brien

Reporting on space, science, aviation & tech.

Archive: Apr 2011

  1. Space Tourism Turns Ten

    Leave a Comment


    Ten years after his improbable, pioneering trip to space, Dennis Tito is still in orbit – in a way.

    “I’m back there and I go back — well, in my mind I go back everyday,” he told me.

    Ten years ago, he spent nearly a week blissfully gazing out the windows at the the International Space Station listening to opera music after plunking down a reported 20 million dollars to become the world’s first space tourist.

    “I started of course being very interested in space when Sputnik was launched in 1957. But it really was the launching of Yuri Gagarin in 1961 that’s just about 50 years ago that inspired me.

    In fact, I spoke to Tito, and five other space tourists in Moscow for the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the seminal Gagarin flight.

    (more…)

  2. Southwest: Cracks in the System

    2 Comments

    If you have ever unwound and bent a paper clip to and fro until it snapped you understand the concept behind metal fatigue. Railroad engineers in the late 19th century were the first to recognize the problem. As NASA’s Brent Wellman wrote in 1997, “A large number of accidents involving train axles which SHOULD have easily handled the loads on them, led engineers to describe the parts as being ‘tired,’ or ‘fatigued.’” (more…)