Picture of the Week #86

Gemini TTV-1 Paraglider Capsule at the National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. Photo September 2006.

From the information plaque:
At the start of the Gemini program in 1961, NASA considered having the two-astronaut Gemini capsule land on a runway after its return from space, rather than parachute into the ocean. The controlled descent and landing was to be accomplished by deploying an inflatable paraglider wing. However, NASA later decided to stick with the proven technology of parachutes and water landings.

This full-scale, piloted Test Tow Vehicle (TTV) was built to train Gemini astronauts for flight. It served as the first of two TTVs used to perfect maneuvering, control, and landing techniques. A helicopter released the TTV, with its wing deployed, over the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where it landed.

A visit to the Main Building

For the past four years I have been representing Astronomy and McDonald Observatory on the University of Texas Staff Council and for the past two years I have chaired a committee, which also made me a member of the Council's Executive Committee. We've been working hard to raise the profile of the Council on the campus and I think our efforts are starting to pay off. The Chancellor of the UT System (the collection of all the University of Texas campuses, of which UT Austin is just one) was visiting the Austin campus last week as part of his annual visit to the whole system and for the first time he requested to meet the Executive Committee for the Staff Council. The meeting went pretty well considering that we didn't really know what the meeting was going to be about or what they expected of us.

While we were waiting for the meeting with the representatives of the Faculty Council to finish, we sat in the waiting area outside the President's office, which has a wonderful stained glass window in the nearby stairwell. This photo is just the top part of the window.

Picture of the Week #85

Pan American World Airways Boeing 307 Stratoliner "Clipper Flying Cloud" at the National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. Photo September 2006.

According to the Boeing website, this plane was delivered to Boeing in 1940 and was the world's first pressurized commercial airliner.

Picture of the Week #84

Mammoth or mastodon at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. (Sorry, can't tell them apart unless I can see the teeth!)