Here’s some video our team took live from Kennedy Space Center a couple of days ago of the final launch of Space Shuttle Discovery.
February 26, 2011
February 25, 2011
The New York Times Travel Show officially opened today and runs through the weekend. I’m here with my eldest daughter, Rebecca, and we thought we’d take you on a quick video tour of some of the booths and of the great places to visit on our planet. The show runs from today, 25th February through Sunday 27th February. Here’s some photo’s and video:
February 24, 2011
It was almost four months late but Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off under clear blue skies this afternoon on its final mission to the International Space Station before it is retired next month. The 27-year-old orbiter, with a crew of six astronauts, roared from the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center at 4:53 p.m. as tens of thousands of spectators cheered NASA’s oldest and most-traveled shuttle.
“The final liftoff of Discovery,” exulted Mike Curie, NASA’s launch commentator, “a tribute to the dedication, hard work and pride of America’s space shuttle team.”
It was the 39th liftoff for Discovery. Its 11-day mission, commanded by space veteran Steve Lindsey, will deliver supplies and a humanoid robot to the International Space Station.
The launch marks the beginning of the end of the space-shuttle program, 30 years after NASA began launching reusable, do-all spaceships into orbit to do everything from launching satellites to building the space station itself. After Endeavour in April and Atlantis,now set for June, NASA will have no manned-space rocket for the first time in 60 years.
Today’s launch was delayed a little over three minutes by a computer glitch experienced by the U.S. Air Force Range Safety Office, which assures that the Atlantic Ocean downrange from KSC is clear of ship and airplane traffic but lift-off occurred with seconds to spare before the launch window closed.
“We had about two seconds of hold time remaining, which is about one second more than Mike [Leinbach] needed to get the job done, so we had plenty of margin,” quipped Launch Committee Chairman Mike Moses.
Leinbach acknowledged a “fairly large size” chunk of insulating foam fell from Discovery’s fuel tank nearly four minutes into flight. But he said that was late enough into the flight that engineers weren’t worried the foam did any damage to the orbiter.
Throngs of people watched the launch from vantage points all along the Space Coast. Among those in the VIP area were Florida Gov. Rick Scott, watching the first launch since he took office in January, as well as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.
In addition to Lindsey, 50, a retired Air Force fighter pilot who flew dozens of missions in Iraq, the crew includes pilot Eric Boe, 45, an Air Force colonel and fellow fighter-pilot veteran; and mission specialists Alvin Drew, 47; Michael Barratt, 51, a medical doctor; Nicole Stott, a former mission engineer at Kennedy Space Center; and Steve Bowen, 47.
Bowen replaced Tim Kopra, who was injured in a mid-January bicycle accident. Bowen flew aboard Atlantis last May and will be the first astronaut to fly on consecutive shuttle missions.
Discovery was originally planned to lift off on Nov. 1. But a hydrogen leak, followed by the discovery of cracks in the insulating foam and some support rods on the fuel tank, caused a lengthy delay as NASA engineers labored to identify a cause and a fix.
The highlight of the mission will be delivery of Robonaut 2, otherwise known as R2, a 40-inch robot built by General Motors that looks like a human from the torso up, with capabilities to one day be an active member of the space station crew.
R2 will spend the next year or so attached to a stand in the U.S. lab on the space station, simply being tested in zero-gravity and doing such things as turning knobs, plugging things in and other simple manipulation tasks.
NASA expects to upgrade and reprogram R2 so that it becomes a mechanical member of the crew. Eventually, it will get legs or some manner of lower body and be able to work with astronauts on simple tasks such as vacuuming, or more-complex maintenance and repairs and assisting astronauts on space walks. Finally, it could become a caretaker or experiment tender, working on assignments after astronauts have left.
NASA first began developing the robot 15 years ago, and the R2 model – the second generation of the concept — was developed in partnership with General Motors, at a cost of about $2.5 million per robot. Two have been built.
From waist to head, it stands 3-feet-4 inches and weighs 330 pounds. Built primarily of aluminum and steel, it has a soft, fleshy exterior, designed so that astronauts would not be hurt if they banged into it. R2′s arms give it an 8-foot wingspan. Its head is equipped with eight cameras. Its computer brain is in its torso.
For now, it will remain in a crate until the space station astronauts finish more-pressing tasks and have the time to set it up. Robonaut 2 has only a one-way ticket to space, and it’s been waiting for months inside Discovery’s hold.
February 22, 2011
The Atlanta Braves began their first week of full-squad workouts Saturday at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney, marking the start of a new era for the Braves who added first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez and all-star second baseman Dan Uggla this season.
The Braves, who are in their 14th spring training season at Champion Stadium at Disney, are under new management for the first time since 1990 after long-time manager Bobby Cox retired last season. But some regular faces remain, including last year’s rookie sensation Jason Heyward and 18-year veteran Chipper Jones.
The Braves are holding full-squad workouts each day leading up to the opening of Grapefruit League play this weekend. The Braves’ first home game at Disney is Sunday against the Mets at 1:05 p.m. at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Here’s some video:
February 20, 2011
It’s Daytona 500 day again and after the track break up farce of last year, race organizers will be hoping things go a lot more smoothly. The track has been re-paved to such an extent that Nascar Champion Matt Kenseth was heard to remark “I think you could run the whole race on one set of tires with absolutely zero issues.”
Today’s race marks the tenth anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death as he died on the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001. To honor Earnhardt, the speedway will celebrate a “Lap of Silence” during the third lap of Sunday’s Daytona 500 as all media have been instructed to go silent on lap No. 3 and fans will be asked to stand and raise three fingers in Earnhardt’s honor. In addition, there will be a No. 3 painted on the infield grass near the entrance of pit road.
The race this year will be cleaner than ever before in an attempt to better the environment, all 43 cars today will use fuel with a 15-percent ethanol blend and new rules are in place.
Due to temperatures expected to reach 80 degrees, Sprint Cup officials said race teams could add an extra inch to grill openings in their cars, allowing more air to flow into the engine. The rule change was made on Saturday afternoon after the final practice session and will keep engines cooler during the 500.
Looks like it’s going to be a great race…and here’s some video that our team took last year…
The 67th Annual Osceola County Fair has been in town since 11th February and today marks the final day and your final chance to get along and have some fun. The fair has over 80 daring thrill rides, a fun-filled kiddieland, prize winning games and spectacular shows … there’s something for everyone! The Fair offers plenty of the traditional favorites such as the Garden/Antique Tractor Pull, Children’s Pet Show and the Draft Horse Pull and Baby Show. Village Inn’s Annual Pie Eating Contest is also a featured event.
The Exhibition Building is filled with Arts & Crafts exhibits submitted by Osceola County residents and 4-H members. Commercial exhibitors selling unique goods from around the country are also be on hand. In addition to thrilling rides, and games of chance, the Fair’s midway offers favorite foods such as funnel cakes sprinkled in sugar, candied apples, cotton candy and mouth watering Bar-b-que.
Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for Seniors and Children 5-11, Children 4 and under are free. Parking is free. Unlimited ride armband specials are also available…so get along and have some fun. Here’s some video…
February 19, 2011
Professional soccer kicks off in Orlando tonight as Orlando City take on Philadelphia Union at the Citrus Bowl in a pre-season game. The club has adopted the nickname “Lions” and their colors are shades of red, purple and gold, and are the same colors used by Serie A club ACF Fiorentina, who have no affiliation to the team.
The Lions will play in the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division when the main season starts and they will play in one of three five-team divisions that will comprise USL PRO. Orlando City is in the American Division with the Charleston (S.C.) Battery, Charlotte (N.C.) Eagles, Richmond (Va.) Kickers and Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads. USL Pro is considered to be in the third tier of American soccer, beneath Major League Soccer and the North American Soccer League.
The Lions are coached by former English Football League player Adrian Heath who was at the training camp on Monday at the Lake Sylvan complex in Sanford. The ownership group of the club was originally identified as Orlando Pro Soccer and was announced on March 4, 2010. It was initially affiliated with the Orlando Titans National Lacrosse League team but the Titans ran into financial difficulties.
In October 2010, the Orlando Pro Soccer USL rights were purchased by Phil Rawlins, a board member of English Premier League club Stoke City, who moved the Texas based Austin Aztex organization to Orlando. The team was announced on October 25, 2010 as Rawlins stated at the press conference that he intended to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Orlando “within 3-5 years”, and intends to bring international matches to the city as well.
Rawlins is President and majority owner of the club’s ownership group, Orlando Sports Holdings. Also in the group is Brendan Flood, a board member of English Championship side Burnley, while Steve Donner will act as CEO. For more information on upcoming games and ticket prices check out the clubs web site at www.OrlandoCitySoccer.com
It’s that time of year again as Central Florida’s largest spring time consumer event takes center stage for three days with over 500 expert exhibitors in the home improvement industry. Celebrity guests and national experts give demonstrations, tips and pointers for improving your home and garden.
This show features Central Florida’s elite contractors from all categories, including irrigation, garden displays, tree experts, pools & spas, interior design specialists along with outdoor design consultants. Other feature exhibits include custom cabinets, kitchens & baths, sunrooms, awnings & decks, HVAC services, windows, doors & siding, water treatment, home theatre, home security, insulation, solar energy management and so much more.
There’s also a special guest appearance by Taniya Nayak from HGTV’S “Designed To Sell” and show hours are Saturday, Feb 19 from 10am to 8pm and on Sunday, Feb 20 from 10am to 6pm.
On-site parking is available at the Convention Center for a fee. Locals should always remember to ask if Florida resident discounts apply for parking. Tickets can be purchased on-line which is a huge time saver. Each year the show does offer savings for different fundraiser participation and discounted days and times. It’s best to check their site for further information.
Here’s some video:
February 18, 2011
Busch Gardens’ announced yesterday that the new Cheetah Hunt triple launch roller coaster will be up and running during Memorial Day weekend, along with it’s Cheetah Run exhibit of live cheetahs. I went along yesterday to take a look at the progress so far as Mark Rose, Busch Gardens’ vice president for design and engineering, led a group of reporters, news crews and photographers on a tour of the coaster’s construction site.
The Cheetah Hunt coaster will feature five trains seating 16 people each and each will race along the 4,429-foot track, allowing 1,200 to 1,400 riders per hour to experience one figure eight, one turn upside down and three magnetic-propulsion launches that will increase the coaster’s speed to 30, 60 and 40 mph in just two seconds. Riders can also expect a peak-drop of about 120 feet and several seconds of weightlessness after the third propulsion.
Rose said “This is all about the celebration of the cheetah,” and that the world’s fastest land animal had inspired the steel coaster’s three-and-a-half minute long ride. “Busch Gardens has many roller coasters that have gravity as a source of energy. This will be very different because we use magnets to actually launch the coaster in three different places as you propel yourself around the track.”
Riders will board Cheetah Hunt in the former monorail building, race over the Clydesdale stables housing 14 cheetahs and plunge past Rhino Rally’s shallow river canyon. Busch Gardens has spent the past year-and-a-half repurposing the monorail, the Clydesdale stables and part of the Rhino Rally jeep tour to accommodate the exhibit and the coaster’s seven-acre span.
Cheetah Run will showcase both male and female cheetahs, adults and cubs, languishing in the shade or racing in shifts along a narrow stretch bordering the coaster. Both Cheetah Hunt and Cheetah Run open to the public at 9 a.m. on May 27. More photo’s are at www.Facebook.com/FloridaLeisure … make sure you click “LIKE” and here’s a short video from yesterday’s visit :
February 16, 2011
Pat Williams, the Orlando Magic executive who’s credited with bringing the National Basketball Association franchise to Orlando in 1987, was diagnosed with blood and bone marrow cancer two weeks ago, the team has announced.
The 70-year-old senior vice president has multiple myeloma and underwent his fourth chemotherapy treatment.
“We have launched the treatment as fast and directly as possible,” Williams said on Orlando’s website. “The mission is remission. That’s the goal.”
Williams, who has written more than 70 books and raised 19 children, said he’s been told by his physician “the percentages are good” that he will reach remission.
“The only pain that I have is in my lower back area and some days are better than others,” said Williams, who has reduced his workload at the Magic’s office. “There’s a pattern of pain in my lower back and it’s intense at times.”
Williams led Orlando’s effort to get an NBA team in July 1986. On April 22, 1987, the league approved the franchise in Florida. We wish you well Pat… “fight the good fight, with all thy might.”