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Internet heavenly for space enthusiast in search of info


John Shovic
 (The Spokesman-Review)
John Shovic (The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokesman-Review

Editor’s note: Shovic is a technology entrepreneur and currently vice president of business development at InstiComm, a North Idaho tech firm.

I have been a fan of the space program since the early 1960s when I was 5 years old.

I remember scouring the newspapers looking for news on the latest space shot and planning my time in front of a TV to watch the launches live.

You had to be there at that point, because there were no VCRs to record programming. “Time-shifting” TV programs by recording hadn’t been invented yet, although we were doing it for radio programs with tape recorders.

Throughout my teen-age years I remember being starved for space information and news. I finally subscribed to “Aviation Week and Space Technology.” That specialized magazine helped a great deal, but it was all a month old by the time I got each issue.

Back then choices for up-to-date space information were hard to find.

During the mid-80s while I was getting my doctorate at the University of Idaho, I discovered the Internet and news groups. Suddenly I could get a lot of information from many different sources about what was going on with the space program. (Trivia fans: I’m the one that chose “uidaho.edu” as the domain name for the University of Idaho, without asking the administration. By the time they knew what a domain was, it was too late).

Fast-forward to today. The Internet gives you hundreds of ways and locations to get all the information on space, technology and the cosmos you’d ever want.

For space junkies

I still surf the Web looking for information about the space program and what is happening. I hit the following Web sites on almost a daily basis:

www. space.com (This site offers great coverage of all things space and science.)

www.jpl. nasa.gov (I read the Mars Rover daily logs.)

www.nasa watch.com (This site offers good scuttlebutt on what is happening on a program basis at NASA.)

www.slash dot.com (Site motto: News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters.)

While attending college in the 1970s in Montana, I workedmy way through school by doing a number of different jobs, including being a disc jockey at AM radio station KARR in Butte.

What was cool back then was having a teletype news feed from the AP and I could read all the news when I was on the air. I remember distinctly the Viking I landing on Mars of July 20, 1976. I was doing a remote broadcast at the Montana State Fair and the news flashed across the teletype that Viking had discovered life on Mars! Although it proved to be false later on, I kept that yellow paper printout for many years.

Today, it’s far easier to get the dope on every space shuttle launch and any doings up at the International Space Station. All you need is a good search engine, plus signing up for RSS feeds from NASA TV, at www.nasa.gov.

I also subscribe to the e-mail newsletters that the major planetary missions put out (Cassini to Saturn, the Dawn mission to explore the asteroids, the Mars orbiter missions, etc.). Go to the individual project Web sites at www.jpl.nasa.gov to subscribe.

My thirst is finally being quenched for accurate, not-dumbed-down news on the space program. Go NASA!

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