NASA Lends Reality to Disney Thrill Ride


For decades, the creative minds at Disney have been the experts on fantastic voyages, taking children of all ages to magical kingdoms and enchanted seas.

But when they wanted to send people rocketing towards Mars, they called NASA.

“Mission: SPACE” officially opens at Walt Disney World’s Epcot on Oct. 9. Disney touts the ride as their most technologically advanced attraction ever, relying on visual imaging, motion control, and centrifuge technology to send would-be astronauts on a futuristic voyage to the red planet.

But it also relies on input from NASA advisors to create what the ride’s co-producer, Susan Bryan, calls “a mix of real science and thrill.”

Over the past few years, NASA provided Disney’s Imagineering team with tours, briefings and discussions on current human and robotic missions, as well as the challenges that future missions, like a trip to Mars, might present.

Phil West of NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, was an advisor on the project and says Disney “wanted as much realism as they could get.”

“Part of our mission at NASA is to inspire the next generation of explorers. The U.S. needs them to be our inventors of tomorrow, and NASA needs them to explore new worlds and improve life here on Earth,” says West.

“So when Disney approached us, it was a natural fit.”

The team at JSC laid out a potential timeline: a six-month journey to Mars, followed by an 18-month stay on the surface and another six-month return ride. The advisors also told Disney any future Mars mission would likely set up surface support ahead of time and verify things are up and running before sending the human crew.

West says Disney also loosely modeled a post-ride game, “Mission: SPACE Race,” after procedures at Mission Control, where data is passed from flight controllers to the Flight Director to the Capcom, who then relays the information to the crew in space.

It’s also the Capcom (for “Capsule Communicator,” a name that dates to the earliest days of human spaceflight) who meets riders in a ready room and briefs them before their mission. Next they head to a “pre-flight corridor,” inspired by the “White Room” at Kennedy Space Center. Finally, the four-member teams are strapped into the fictional X-2 Deep-Space Shuttle for a Mars mission set in the year 2036.

When they arrive at Mars, the would-be astronauts will see a landscape based on NASA imagery taken by several spacecraft over the past two decades, provided to Disney by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

NASA’s Michelle Viotti, who worked on the project at JPL, says the result is a “cross between the realistic and artistic. They took the planetary geologists’ knowledge and abstracted from that.”

“We’re really trying to make Mars a real place, as familiar as your backyard,” Viotti says. “This ride brings it home and makes it real.”

Talks with JPL engineers also led to Disney computer models of Mars rovers, another sign, as Viotti says, that the Imagineers were “really great about wanting to have a sense of reality behind their ride.”

Viotti says it’s great “to partner with somebody who reaches people,” especially those in Florida, where launches every 26 months make the state a “Gateway to Mars.”

Humans may someday follow their robotic predecessors through that Gateway, and it’s possible that a child alive today will command the first mission. Who knows, the future astronaut may even be driven toward that goal by the NASA-inspired feasible fiction of “Mission: SPACE.”

Trådlösa nyheter från Microsoft

Det händer mycket på hårdvarufronten i höst! Microsofts möss och tangentbord har fått nya funktioner, ny form, nya färger och en ny, skönare känsla.

Under september och oktober kommer Microsofts nya möss och tangentbord till Power. Nya funktioner och former är ledorden bland höstens trådlösa nyheter.

Nya Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer har funktioner som rullhjul som går i sidled, längre livslängd för batterierna samt fler kanaler i mottagaren.

Nya version av Wireless Optical Desktop lanseras i början av oktober. Tangentbordet har handstöd, snabbtangenter och mediacenter med snabbtangenter för uppspelning av film och musik. Musen i paketet är nya Wireless Optical Mouse.

Basic Wireless Optical Desktop ger dig ett funktionellt tangentbord med snabbtangenter, mediacenter med snabbtangenter för uppspelning av film och musik, samt en optisk, trådlös mus. Detta trådlösa paket kommer i oktober.


First Acquisition: Mark Hamill’s Directorial Debut
the Improvisational Film, “Comic Book: The Movie”

May 22, 2003 – Miramax Films is proud to announce a first look production and distribution deal with Creative Light Entertainment, a vertically integrated production company, in the areas of film, television and home entertainment. The announcement was made today by Kevin Kasha, Executive Vice President, Miramax and Scott Zakarin, CEO, Creative Light Entertainment.

“We’re excited about being in business with the team at Creative Light because of their great track record of creating highly successful fan-based productions,” said Kasha. “Our first project together, Comic Book: The Movie, promises to be an exciting undertaking with widespread appeal to audiences young and old – from comic book fans to action-hero fans to loyal followers of Mark Hamill,” Kasha added.

“We knew we were taking a chance making a largely unscripted movie, but we had faith in the talented team we had assembled. Thankfully, there are studios as bold as Miramax who can share our vision,” said Zakarin.

Miramax’s first acquisition from Creative Light Entertainment is a semi-fictional documentary, Comic Book: The Movie, which is slated for a fall release. This improv film follows the antics of the world’s biggest comic fan, Donald Swan (Hamill), who has just been hired to direct a documentary about his favorite comic book heroes of all time, “Commander Courage & Liberty Ladd.” Armed with the studio’s marketing guru (Roger Rose), a perpetually wasted cameraman (Jess Harnell) and the grandson of “Commander Courage’s” deceased creator (Billy West), Donald heads to the world’s largest comic book convention, San Diego Comic Con, where he’s on a mission to save his beloved “Commander Courage” from the clutches of Hollywood and the big bad movie studio.

This humorous journey into the world of comic book fandom is directed by and stars Mark Hamill (Star Wars) along with his crew of wild characters, played by award winning voice over artists including Billy West (Futurama), Jess Harnell (Animanics) Roger Rose (Rugrats in Paris: The Movie), Daran Norris (Fairly Odd Parents), Lori Alan (Spongebob Squarepants) and Tom Kenny (voice of Spongebob Squarepants). The films also stars Donna D’Errico (Baywatch) and features notable appearances from pop and pulp culture icons including Sid Caesar (Your Show of Shows) Stan Lee (Spider-man), Kevin Smith (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back), Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead), Hugh Hefner, Debby Derryberry (Jimmy Neutron), Bill Mumy (Lost in Space), Matt Groening (The Simpsons), Chase Masterson (Deep Space 9 Creature Unknown), Gary Owens (Laugh-in) and many more. Marking the first time Caesar and Winters have appeared together since It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in 1962, Comic Book: The Movie was filmed live on location, at the renowned San Diego Comic-Con in 2002.

“Comic Book: The Movie was a great adventure where we had passion, and a certain framework of what we wanted to achieve. Even though we couldn’t totally guarantee what was going to happen at every twist and turn, I’m thrilled by the final results!” says, first time director and star, Mark Hamill.

“Making this movie was taking part in the ultimate role play game. We took a documentary look at the phenomenon of comic books being adapted into blockbuster films and blended it with our crew of satirical players!” says Zakarin.

Comic Book: The Movie is produced by Scott Zakarin, Eric Mittleman, Mark Hamill, Roger Rose, Billy West and Jess Harnell for Creative Light Entertainment and Amazing Invisible Ink. The film is executive produced by Rich Tackenberg and Peter Jaysen.

Creative Light Entertainment’s other upcoming projects include Creature Unknown, a coming of age horror film featuring Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), which is releasing later this year. Coming Out Party is a groundbreaking stand-up comedy film featuring gay and lesbian comedians as they share funny and poignant stories about “coming out” for the first time, which begins production in June, and Reality eXtreme! is a satirical film about reality dating shows which begins shooting on location later this Summer.

Creative Light Entertainment is a vertically integrated production and distribution company, which has successfully positioned itself as a creative force in the production of high quality genre films. Recent releases include William Shatner’s Spplat Attack, a sci-fi scenario paintball game and Stan Lee’s Mutants, Monsters & Marvels, a one-on-one documentary with filmmaker Kevin Smith. This project follows up Creative Light Entertainment’s recent successful release of Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and Showtime’s critically acclaimed television documentary Hail Sid Caesar! The Golden Age of Comedy.

Miramax Films, founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 1979, has released some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful independent feature films of the past decade, including fourteen Best Picture nominations over a span of eleven consecutive years: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, In the Bedroom, Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, Shakespeare In Love, Life Is Beautiful (La Vita É Bella), Good Will Hunting, The English Patient, Il Postino (The Postman), Pulp Fiction, The Piano and The Crying Game.


The Zora Neale Hurston U.S. Post Office Stamp

“I have landed here in the kingdom of Marie Laveau and expect to wear her crown someday – Conjure Queen as you suggested.” So starts a letter from Zora to famous black poet and writer, Langston Hughes, in 1928. Zora spent months in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana researching the life and work of Laveau, who had been the most powerful voodoo priestess in the world in the 1800s and self-proclaimed “Pope of Voodoo.” Zora was in fact “crowned” by a grandnephew of Laveau’s after an initiation rite that required her to lie face down and naked, without food or water, for nearly three days. (Zora Neale Hurston, a Life in Letters, collected and edited by Carla Kaplan, 2002)

Zora Neale Hurston stamp from 2003

Today, the Library was the site of the Zora Neale Hurston U.S. Post Office Stamp Dedication (second release) and Zora Neale Hurston Community Celebration. The first release of this stamp occurred in Eatonville, Florida, where Zora spent her childhood.

San Diego Con

The Con seemed to be a bit disorganized this year which was most likely due to having more work to do with not enough volunteers. If you think you might have interest in helping next year, pay their site a visit: Comic-Con International. One of the most notable changes this year was the registration process. Badges were not sent in the mail this year which required that they be picked up at the event. For us this seemed to go smoothly, but I can’t speak for everyone.

The programming for this years event seemed pretty comprehensive, but unfortunately we didn’t get partake in much of it, due to the fact that we spent most of our time on the floor. There were panels from everything from Star Wars to Spiderman, with speakers such as John Romita Sr and Jr, Todd McFarlain, Stan Lee, Stan Winston, and even Arnold Swartzenegger. The Autograph area seemed a little smaller and had a “last minute” feeling to it this year, but all things considered, we were very happy with the Autograph Signers this year. There were people like Jason Lee, Warwick Davis, Elvira, and Asia Argento just to name a few.

The masquerade this year was uneventful and while there were a couple of notable costumes, but nothing that jumped out and really got my attention. I have seen photos and read reviews from previous masquerade competitions and each year it seems to diminish just a bit. In my opinion, this year wasn’t as good as last year. For the second year in a row, there was a bonus night for attendees who had signed up for the full four days. This is a great night to get an early look at the exhibition floor and the vendors. Great for making the rounds, noting who has what and buying anything you might want before it sells out.

Exhibitors included Sony Play Station, Activision, Blue Box Toys, Side Show Toys, just to name a few. Here are a couple of pictures from the Plastic Fantasies, Babe Force and Pioneer areas. Thursday brought the official opening of the 2002 San Diego Comic Con, and while traditionally there were lines that went down the street just to get in, that was not found this time due to a huge Tanker truck accident which closed Highway 5 for the rest of the day. Several people ended up late or not at all.