Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thanks to the new cupola on the International Space Station, astronauts are now able to observe both the Earth and the ISS itself with its 360 degree view, and the most well-known image of the first ones published (that of the Sahara) can be seen here.
One other interesting photo taken by the same astronaut is this one of Jejudo (제주도), the island in the south of Korea that is the most popular tourist destination in the country:
The island has a population of about half a million, and most of them live in the city in the north (Jeju City, 제주시). You can see the airport there on the top left, which has a very nice location as it only takes about five to ten minutes to get there even from downtown. The airport in Incheon on the other hand takes about 70 to 120 minutes to get to from Seoul.
Jeju is often called the Hawaii of Korea, but it certainly isn't quite as warm as that; but in winter it always manages to be about 10 degrees warmer than the capital and temperatures at night are little different than during the day so certain trees (palm trees for example) are able to grow there that can't up in Seoul).
Here's the view from Google Maps if you feel like exploring the area some more. Zoom about a bit and you can see the big volcano at the centre of the island. That's Hallasan - 한라산.
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Back to space:
An article here on private space and specifically the Falcon 9, which is tentatively slated to go up near the end of next month. The Falcon 9 is SpaceX's other most important rocket, as this is the one that will be able to send up a manned crew.
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is very happy about an announcement by NASA for $75 million in funding for the Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research program.
An article here from the Economist makes the argument that extra funding in the private space industry may mean ending up on the Moon quicker than with Constellation.
Popular Mechanics has an article here on a similar theme, examining the cost vs. benefits of Constellation vs. the new program.