Deepest, Darkest Borneo

It might be a week or so before my next post as I’m about to depart from the connected world for a bit. Internet availability in Borneo is expected to be patchy – that’s why they’ll benefit from more satellite communications.

If I manage to survive the jungle, the mosquitoes, leeches, snakes,spiders and the occasional Orang-utan I hope to surface eventually in Singapore.Then immediately travelling on to colder climes.

After having made some 6,000 flights I never really want to see [Read more…]

First and Last Launches of the Space Shuttle

Well spotted. The internal photo isn’t a picture of the Space Shuttle. It’s one of the European Space Agency‘s (ESA) first astronauts, Wubbo Ockels, inside the ESA Spacelab D1 in the Shuttle’s cargo bay (both pictures are courtesy of and copyright ©NASA).

ESA’s first astronaught was Ulf Merbold flying in Spacelab on STS-9.

I’m writing this piece now because today is to be the very last flight of a space shuttle. As I type, the launch is scheduled for about 5 hours’ time, weather at Cocoa Beach permitting.

Spacelab was developed in parallel and in conjunction with NASA’s space shuttle to be the orbiting laboratory in the Shuttle’s cargo bay, as a follow-on for Skylab and prior to the ISS (International Space Station).

The Spacelab programme was run from ESA’s ESTEC facility (European Space Technology Centre) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. I worked at ESTEC all through the 1970s – not on Spacelab but on different communications satellites. [Read more…]

Following and Commenting

From 1st October 2011 the specifics of the next four paragraphs in italics no longer apply, following the move to this new website. The rest do – because I can’t change history!

[A couple of people have had questions about following and posting comments on the blog.

If you want to follow, then click the blue-background ‘Join this site’ button on the right. That should take you to some sign-up options. You can then follow using your Google, Yahoo or Twitter sign-ins.

If you’re already a Blogger member you can sign in via the ‘Already a member’ link underneath the Followers’ pictures.

I’ve tried to set this up so that only Followers can post comments. To post a comment click the “n comments” link underneath the blog post text. Right now, it’s set up so that I have the option to moderate all comments. Why? Well there are a few folks I know where the language could become somewhat florid! Let’s see how it goes.]

Now, I hope the above is clear and that I’ve set things up correctly. I’m not very good with programming things like TV remotes or DVD recorders. In fact, I shouldn’t really be let loose on any equipment or control mechanisms at all.

I remember once carrying out some antenna pattern tests on a geostationary communications satellite 36,000 km up and located [Read more…]