This summary is published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:
It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog
By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
Official LL Viewers
Current Release version: 220.127.116.111958, dated December 1, promoted December 5 (no change) – formerly the Project Bento RC viewer download page, release notes.
Eugene Andrew “Gene” Cernan, Captain, United States Navy (retired) and former NASA astronaut, passed away on Monday, January 16th at the age of 82. The commander of Apollo 17, he was – and currently remains – the last man to walk on the surface of the Moon, in what was arguably the most significant of the Apollo lunar missions.
Born in Chicago, Illinois in March, 1934, he attended Purdue University, Indiana, where he gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1956. While at the university. he took a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. Following his graduation, he attended U.S. Naval Flight Training, qualifying as an attack pilot, and went on to log more than 4,000 flying hours in jet aircraft and completed over 200 aircraft carrier landings.
In 1963, Cernan completed his education under the auspices of the US Navy, obtaining a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Later that same year, he was selected by NASA as a part of their third intake of Astronaut Candidates, and participated in both the Gemini and Apollo programmes.
His first flight into space, aboard Gemini 9A started with a tragedy. The original Gemini 9 flight had been scheduled for Elliot See and Charlie Bassett. However, when they were unfortunately killed when their NASA aircraft crashed at the end of February 1966, the mission was re-rostered as Gemini 9A, and Cernan and his flight partner, Thomas Stafford, were promoted from back-up to prime crew.
Gemini 9A was to prove a mission plagued with misfortune. The first attempt to launch the mission, in May 1966 had to be scrubbed when the uncrewed Agena Target Vehicle Gemini 9A would rendezvous and dock with once in orbit was lost not long after launch. This required a delay while a second Agena was prepared for flight, being launched on June 1st, 1966. However, once in orbit, telemetry from the vehicle suggested a launch shroud had not been correctly jettisoned.
On approaching the Agena following their launch on June 3rd, Stafford and Cernan confirmed the sections of the shroud, although open, had failed to detach, leaving the vehicle looking – in Stafford’s words – “Like an angry alligator out here rotating around”. He and Cernan indicated they were willing to carefully approach the Agena and try to nudge the shroud elements clear of the docking adapter, but mission control nixed the idea, fearing the Gemini vehicle might be damaged in the process. Instead, the crew rehearsed docking runs with the target vehicle and tested rendezvous abort procedures.
On the third day of the flight, Cernan became the third man (and America’s second) to walk in space. However, this part of the mission also proved troublesome. The Gemini spacesuits were not water-cooled, and had to be “inflated” prior to egressing the vehicle. Cernan found the latter made the suit almost completely inflexible and a serious impediment to his movement. This meant he had to exert himself a lot more, and because the suit had no proper cooling, he face the genuine risk of suffering heat prostration.
Nor was this all; the build-up of heat meant his helmet faceplate fogged to the point where he could barely see, and there were serious concerns about him getting back into the Gemini. His EVA was curtailed without all goals being met, and after 128 minutes in space, Cernan eventually made it back inside the spacecraft. As a result of this experience, the Apollo spacesuits were redesigned to incorporate an undergarment using a water circulation system to cool the wearer – and approach still used in modern space suits.
Cernan next flew in space in May 1969 as part of the final Apollo dress-rehearsal mission for an actual landing on the Moon. Apollo 10, which saw Cernan and Stafford again fly together, and joined by John Young, became the second crewed mission to orbit the Moon (the first being Apollo 8, in December 1968), and the fourth crewed flight of Apollo overall. The focus of the mission was for Stafford and Cernan to pilot the Lunar Module to just 15.6 km (8.4 mi) above the lunar surface, gathering critical data which would allow the powered descent systems aboard future Lunar Modules to be correctly calibrated for their missions.
In most respects, the Apollo 10 Lunar Module was fully capable of flying a mission to the surface of the Moon – it just lacked sufficient propellent in its ascent engine fuel tanks to make a successful flight back to rendezvous with the Command Module. This later prompted Cernan to joke, “A lot of people thought about the kind of people we were: ‘Don’t give those guys an opportunity to land, ’cause they might!’ So the ascent module, the part we lifted off the lunar surface with, was short-fuelled. The fuel tanks weren’t full. So had we literally tried to land on the Moon, we couldn’t have gotten off.”
Apollo 10 reached lunar orbit on May 21st, 1969, three days after launch, and remained there for a further three days, completing the Lunar Module tests in the process, before returning to Earth. It was a mission which set both records and firsts. It was the first (and only) Apollo Saturn V mission to launch from Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Centre; it was the first (of only two, the other being Apollo 11) Apollo missions to comprise veterans of previous missions into space.
I first encountered the art of Elo (Elorac Paule) at the Nitroglobus Roof Gallery in an intriguing and key-catching display entitled Always Closer (see here for more). I was therefore delighted to learn from friend (and arts) Owl Dragonash, that Elo would be exhibiting Ray of Light, a selection of her work at Commune Utopia.
For those not familiar with it, Commune Utopia is a Bohemian community within Second Life with over 1800 group members. Founded by Sedi (Seductive Dreamscape), the commune celebrates creativity, passion, laughter, music and art, and fosters a caring, inclusive environment all are welcome to visit and enjoy – and join, if they wish. Owl handles a lot of the music aspects of the commune, and details on events can be found both on her blog, and on the official Commune Utopia blog.
With Ray of Light, Elo presents fourteen of her captivating studies, most of which should be considered NSFW, and all of which contain considerable expression. One or two among them may be familiar from Elo’s other exhibitions, but this doesn’t in any way reduce them experience of seeing them here. These are emotive, seductive and physical pieces, rich in their allure and perfectly suited to being displayed together.
Offered in a large format and in an outdoor environment, these are very much personal studies, focused on Elo herself. As such they reveal a number of facets of her personality, and dip into some of her explorations of sensuality in Second Life. Coupled with the fact many of the images have nudity (hence the NSFW note), this personal, sensual aspect to the pieces might be taken to mean the visitor is perhaps cast into the role of voyeur.
However, I’d suggest this is not the case. For the majority of the pieces, whether colour or monochrome there is far more of an invitation for us to become partners within the scenes set by the pictures, rather than the suggestion that we are furtive observers. This adds a layer of emotional response: the desire to reach into these pictures, caress and share is powerful.
Ray of Light is an excellent exhibition, offered in a setting which invites wider exploration as well – be it the small art studios perched around the exhibition area, or the rest of the region as a whole. Recommended.