Alexander Kartveli Association Sponsors Voyager Mission Anniversary Events in Tbilisi

The Alexander Kartveli Association sponsored a week-long celebration (September 25-28th) of the 40th anniversary of the Voyager missions as part of its mission to supports efforts to expand opportunities for young people in STEM initiatives.

Continuing on their more-than-40-year journey since their 1977 launches, the Voyager missions are much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between the stars. 

The events took place in Tbilisi, Georgia.  Key members of the original mission team attended included Rob Manning, Mars program senior engineer, and John Casani, Head of the Voyager satellite program. The U.S. Ambassador Kelly and Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood also partook in these events.   

  Robert Manning exchanges Golden Record at ceremony as John Casani head of Voyager program looks on. Pictured in the fo  reground is Mariam Jashi, Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, Georgian Parliament

Robert Manning exchanges Golden Record at ceremony as John Casani head of Voyager program looks on. Pictured in the foreground is Mariam Jashi, Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, Georgian Parliament

NASA and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum celebrated the anniversary of the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft with a public event on September 5th.

Voyager 1 carried an iconic Georgian folk song (Charkulo) on the “Golden Record.” The 'Golden Record'  contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on planet Earth.  The spirit and effort of that mission are emblematic of Alexander Kartveli’s dedication to innovation, entrepreneurship and learning. For example, it is little known that Kartveli performed important preliminary design work on high orbital aircraft and advised NASA’s predecessor agency – NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).

  Robert Manning reviews photos of the Voyager launch at the Techno Park established by   Georgia's Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA)

Robert Manning reviews photos of the Voyager launch at the Techno Park established by Georgia's Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA)

Here are some events that celebrated the anniversary:

  • NASA engineers met with tech-related startups and small businesses at 'Techno Park' of Georgia run by The Georgian Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA);
  • Voyager project manager John Casani spoke about the decision to include a Georgian song on the Voyage spacecraft.
  • A screening of the new Voyager documentary The Farthest was shown produced by Emer Reynolds;
  • Rob Manning described the challenges of landing a rover on Mars;
  • The Erisioni ballet performed a final celebration concert at the Georgian Opera House followed by a screening of The Song, a documentary film sponsored by the Alexander Kartveli Association and produced by the NOVA Foundation.

The Voyagers’ original mission was to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Though the twin spacecraft are now far beyond the planets in our solar system, NASA continues to communicate with them daily as they explore the interstellar frontier.

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 Ramaz Bluashvili interviewing Robert Manning (left) and John Casini (right)

Ramaz Bluashvili interviewing Robert Manning (left) and John Casini (right)

History

From the NASA Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., Voyager 2 was launched first, on August 20, 1977; Voyager 1 followed on a faster, shorter trajectory launched on September 5, 1977.

On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 took the last pictures of the Voyager mission. Beyond the outermost planet in our solar system, at a distance of about 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers), Voyager 1 turned its camera inward to snap a series of final images that became its parting farewell to the string of planets it called home. Mercury was too close to the sun to see, Mars showed only a thin crescent of sunlight, and Pluto was too dim, but Voyager was able to capture cameos of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus from its unique vantage point. Earth was quite small and hard to discern.  It was this image that inspired Carl Sagan to call our home planet“a pale blue dot.”

 After that set of portraits, the cameras on Voyager 1 and 2 were switched off and the software controlling them removed from the spacecraft. There was very little for the cameras to see in the vast, dark emptiness of space. Mission managers needed to conserve antiquated computer memory space (advanced for its time at launch)  as well as to conserve power for other instruments that would be critical to measure the boundaries of intersteller space. It would be those measurements that would describe what the far reaches of the solar system were like. This milestone marked the end of the Grand Tour mission and the beginning of Voyager’s Interstellar Mission.

 

Kartveli's A-10 Design Remains Vital As The U.S. Air Force Turns 70

Today, the U.S Air Force turns 70 years old.

Since the U.S. military's first aircraft purchase from the Wright brothers in 1909, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the "Warthog", is perhaps the most effective aircraft design in history. The A-10 has played a vital role in every theatre of war since the 1970's and is feared by every enemy who has encountered the nose-mounted 30mm Gatling gun and the plane's legendary durability.

  A-10 "Warthog". Image by U.S. Air Force

A-10 "Warthog". Image by U.S. Air Force

The U.S. has put off the retirement of a 1970s era fighter plane, citing its effectiveness in the fight against the Islamic State military group among the reasons for keeping the jets flying.

The A-10 is a close-support aircraft designed by Alexander Kartveli in the early 1970s to counter Soviet armored forces. The twin-engine jet is not fast but is able to engage a wide variety of ground targets with its main gun, a 30mm cannon, as well as missiles, rockets and other munitions launched or dropped from wing pylons. Like many of Kartveli's airplane designs, the plane is also extremely durable and can withstand considerable damage from ground fire and keep flying.

Major role in Iraq War, Afghanistan

The A-10 was first used in combat during the 1991 Gulf War, destroying thousands of Iraqi tanks, armored vehicles and artillery pieces. It has played a role in most major U.S. military action since then, including the Balkans conflict in the late 1990s, the Iraq War and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Air Force has called for retiring the A-10, citing budget savings and saying the aircraft's role can be filled by newer, more versatile planes. But the 2017 Defense Department budget says the Warthog will keep flying at least through 2022.

Efficient in combating IS

Last year, former U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told Congress the A-10's usefulness combating IS in Iraq and Syria is one reason the Pentagon wants to keep the plane.

"I saw some of the A-10s that are flying bombing missions against ISIL when I was at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey last December, and we need the additional payload capacity they can bring to the fight," Carter told a House Appropriations subcommittee. "We're pushing off the A-10's final retirement until 2022 so we can keep more aircraft that can drop smart bombs on ISIL."

ISIL is another acronym for Islamic State.

Sen. John McCain, a long-time supporter of the A-10, said last year he was pleased the Warthog would remain in the U.S. arsenal.

“I look forward to seeing our A-10 pilots continue to make important advances in the fight against ISIL in the Middle East, boosting NATO’s efforts to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, and supporting vital missions for U.S. national security wherever they are needed,” McCain said in a statement.

  Kartveli's P-47 and A-10 flying together. Image by U.S. Air Force

Kartveli's P-47 and A-10 flying together. Image by U.S. Air Force