Posts tagged dragon

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Our Trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

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Author’s note: this article is very picture-heavy. Feel free to click on any of the images to enlarge them, and skip to the bottom for an album of more images.
 

badgeRecently, the fine people over at the NASA Kennedy Space Center invited me to attend a SpaceX launch as a Social Media attendee. This was pretty awesome news – they only extend this invitation to 50 people per launch.

Unfortunately, we got news the day before the launch that the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launch had been postponed a few weeks due to issues encountered while testing the Falcon rocket. Getting that news was kind of a bummer, but we were promised a special surprise to make up for it, and NASA delivered.

After arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, we got our media badges, and then boarded a bus with a NASA Social sign in the front window. Some introductions were made, and some of these internet socialites already knew each other. One thing I can say for sure was that everyone who attended this event was amazingly friendly and welcoming.

DSC_0041We were driven around the KSC for a little while, hearing facts about the building of the KSC in the 60s. We heard about how the KSC is home to many species of wildlife, and saw evidence of this – including alligators in the canals lining the road, and an enormous eagle’s nest in a tree just off the road. We chatted with each other, exchanged stories and interests, and heard many anecdotes such as “Of course a bus full of NASA nerds are also Firefly fans!”

DSC_0055Our first destination of the day was a launchpad used for – you guessed it – launching large things into space! On our way, however, we saw a couple of Crawlers. Crawlers are what NASA uses to move large objects across the property. Objects such as spacecrafts, rockets, and mobile launch platforms. The crawlers are gyroscopically stable, meaning that no matter what bumps and turbulence they encounter, their cargo will not be affected.

Once we got to the launchpad, we were brought into the actual launchpad, right were shuttles are loaded, and where the launch fire comes out. The walls were scorched by decades of previous launches. The sound suppression system was enormous. You’ll see it in the pictures below – it’s used to make sure windows don’t get smashed all over Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach whenever there’s a launch.

DSC_0073Next, we were taken to check out a couple of mobile launch platforms. When a crawler is used to move this platform, it will be positioned underneath the mobile launch platform, and will then lift it off the pillars it stands on to move it. The scaffolding on the mobile platform to the left here is used to position a shuttle against. It’s ridiculously huge. The pictures don’t really do a great job of showing how huge it is. We also went underneath a mobile platform, and stood where hundreds of thousands of gallons of water would be flushed through to counteract the heat from a shuttle launching. It was pretty awesome.

Then came the really big surprise. We were told we’d be able to see the spacecraft, Orion, but not that we would get to participate in a full press conference for the return of Orion. This particular Orion spacecraft flew 66,000 miles out and around the Earth. It met 85 out of 87 flight objectives, which is extremely high. Orion’s mission was to collect data, and it was considered a success. Orion landed in the Pacific Ocean, and was then transported to the East Coast over about 8 days via roads and highways to get to the Kennedy Space Center. Coming up in February, Orion’s heat shield will be removed for further analysis. Various parts of the space craft will be removed for testing and data analysis, but for the most part, it will remain in tact for display and/or simulations because of how well it held up in space. And of course.. I took a couple selfies with Orion. Wouldn’t you?

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After the big Orion reveal, we were given access to the KSC’s Visitor Complex. I’m honestly surprised that NASA’s pretty amazing marketing team hasn’t come up with a better name for the Visitor Complex. It’s not some stuffy building with a desk and pamphlets like you might expect. No.. the KSC Visitor Complex is like Disneyland for space. It’s a lot of fun. There are rides, exhibits, simulations. If you’re ever around Cape Canaveral, I definitely recommend checking it out. You could easily spend a whole day there.

Despite the launch woes, the trip was a lot of fun, and definitely worth it. A huge THANK YOU!! goes to NASA (and especially Jason!) for the opportunity. 
If you’re interested in the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft launch, it is currently scheduled for Saturday, January 10th at 4:47am. More info will be posted on the SpaceX website

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Review: Dawn of the Dragonslayer

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Dawn of the Dragonslayer tells the story of Will (Richard McWilliams), a shepherd’s son whose land is ravaged by a dragon. After his flock is destroyed he takes his father’s advice to look for a better life. He is encouraged to approach Baron Sterling (Ian Cullen) to cash in a debt owed to his father.

Under the impression that he is meant to be a bondsman training to be a knight, his thoughts of a better life are extinguished when he recognizes that the Baron is suffering a financial windfall. He is initially sent away until he reveals a sealed document from his father. The Baron reluctantly agrees to employ him, but the Baron’s servants immediately delegate the less tasteful jobs to Will.

Although the experience wasn’t quite what he expected, he took note of the Baron’s lovely daughter, Kate (Nicola Posener). As sparks start between them, a young nobleman named Rogan (Philip Brodie) arrives with a request for Kate’s hand.

During these deliciously awkward moments, the dragon migrates to the Baron’s lands. The Baron, hungry for glory and gold leaves with Rogan to take down the monster. While they are away, Kate reveals a book that helps Will learn the lessons of a knight. Before he is ready to avenge his homeland, the dragon attacks the castle and Will manages to wound it.

Through faith in himself and his feelings for Kate, he sets off to finish what had started on his farm.

I have to admit that even though I had a bit of a setback*, I was a little hesitant to watch an independent film about dragons. I’m one of those people that loves the idea of being immersed in a movie, and if the budget isn’t high there are areas that tend to be shaved down.

I KICKED MYSELF once I started watching it. The special effects and underscoring were incredibly impressive. The dragon itself looked phenomenal and the magical moments were accentuated without distracting you from the actors, and their performances were compelling.

Richard McWilliams and Nicola Posener have a chemistry on screen that feels naïve but intense. The romance novel nerd in me squeed when there were slight facial clues of the character’s developing feelings. It was very well played in a training montage. Yes… That’s right. A montage. As Kate and Will are learning the ways of the Knight, there are stolen glances and tender moments.

One of my favorite characters is Lady Spriggs (Maggie Daniels), Kate’s Aunt who initially appears to be a minor character. When the Baron leaves to battle the dragon, however, she steps into a far more inspirational role to Will than the Baron could ever be.

As of right now, Dawn of the Dragonslayer is only available through UK distribution, and they are currently speaking with US distributors. If you “like” their facebook fanpage they can keep you abreast with the latest updates.

 

* Back in September, we posted an official press release for Dawn of the Dragonslayer’s World Premiere at Bleedfest 2011. In October, I managed to get my hands on a copy of the movie. Frankly, I love dragons. Can’t get enough of them. It was just my luck that the weekend I planned to watch it and write a review, Connecticut would have a freak snowstorm and leave 94% of the state without power for a week and a half. Guess which percentage I was a part of?

But there is still great news! ‎Dawn of the Dragonslayer was awarded Best Fantasy Film at Bleedfest 2011!

Coming December 7th: World of Warcraft – Cataclysm

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Blizzard has decimated their landscapes!

In preparation for their latest expansion “Cataclysm”, Blizzard rips Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor asunder. They explain that an “old evil” by the name of Deathwing is rising. Deathwing is a superhuge dragon of dragony proportions.

You can watch the trailer yourself (link at the bottom of this post).

With the Burning Crusade expansion it was the introduction of the Horde race Blood Elf and the Alliance race Draenai. In Wrath of the Lich King, there was the addition of the player class DeathKnight. True to fashion, Blizzard has announced the introduction of two new player races: Goblins and Worgen.

Goblins and Worgen have been in the game for as long as I can remember, but they have never been player characters. Also, they’ve been pretty generic. Goblins have appearance adjustments to choose from and the Worgen have gotten a major overhaul. MAJOR.

In addition to this, the level cap has been increased to 85. Odd, as it typically raises in increments of 10. They’ve explained that off that the new goal is to improve your characters through talents and a path system that will be implemented (I’m assuming it’ll happen in a patch before Cataclysm’s release date).

They have added new high-level zones with Uldum, Grim Batol, and a Sunken City that looks like it would bitchslap Ariel and also boast more raid content than ever before. Great… Thanks Blizzard. I’ll never see my bro again.

They’re also finally taking some of the races class exclusions away. Now you can finally be a gnome priest or blood elf warrior. A tauren paladin! A troll druid (My brother and I have always thought was weird that you couldn’t be one. That’d be perfect.)!!! Squeeeee!

New Secondary Profession: Archaeology! Apparently with the enormous changes in the landscape, you now can unearth valuable artifacts and earn rewards! I can hear the auction house bells chiming!

The flying mount ban in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms has been lifted. I’m guessing that Blizzard can justify that due to the fact that a humongous dragon is going to be flying around getting his burn on in Brill.

Check out the trailer for more details! Let me know how you feel about it! Are you excited? Irritated? Bored?

I haven’t decided if I’m going to start playing again, but the Worgen look pretty fierce so you never know.

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