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May 7, 1917 - Top British Ace Albert Ball is Shot Down and Killed

Pictured - England’s late great ace. With 44 victories, he was the best British pilot at the time of his death, and the fourth-greatest at the end of the war.

Unlike the French and the Germans, Britain had not had any great airmen to laud so far in the war. This began to change in the summer of 1916, when an unassuming , nineteen-year old former infantryman named Albert Ball joined the Royal Flying Corps and began mounting victories. Born in Nottingham, Ball served with the Sherwood Foresters before taking flying lessons at his own expense and transferring to the RFC in May 1916. His squadron flew French Nieuport fighters.

In July, Ball made his first kill. He soon developed a strategy of approaching enemy planes from below and behind, unnoticed, and then using a Lewis gun angled on his top wing to rake the enemy full of bullets. Soon his score was rising, and although Ball was shy and introverted, the British press made a hero out of him. By October he was so beloved that the RFC brought him back to England to work as a flight instructor between publicity tours.

While at home, Ball met and fell in love with eighteen-year old Flora Young, after he impulsively asked her to fly with him and she impulsively accepted. Soon, though, Ball began to chafe from the inaction and the attention, and he requested to be sent back to the front. In March 1917 he joined No. 56 Squadron armed with new S.E. 5 scout planes. Ball disliked the plane and had his extensively modified, replacing the fixed-forward Vickers machine guns with Lewis guns that he could tilt up or down. He also retained a Nieuport for solo flying. Soon, however, he began to undertake riskier and riskier missions, often traveling far over German lines by himself even against orders.

On May 7, 1917, Ball led eleven S.E.5′s against the German ace squadron Jasta 11. Ball engaged in a dogfight with Lothar von Richtofen, the Red Baron’s younger brother and a very skilled pilot himself. In a running battle with the red German Albatross D.III, Ball was last seen entering a dark thundercloud behind von Richtofen. Afterwards, a German pilot saw his S.E.5 falling to the ground, upside-down, with the prop not moving. When they found the crash behind German lines, Ball was dead but no bullets had touched his machine. The press in Entente and neutral countries speculated whether Ball was dead or captured, but the Germans buried him in a grave marked “Fallen in air combat for his fatherland English pilot Captain Albert Ball.“ The King posthumously presented Ball’s parents with the Victoria Cross. He received no less a tribute from the Red Baron himself, who credited Ball as “England’s greatest flying man.” With 44 victories, Ball was the top RFC ace at the time of his death and the fourth-greatest of the war. 

Prompt #97: Are you trying to flirt? because you're embarrassing yourself.

Written for @marcella-duchamp

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Bulma juggled a bowl of popcorn and drinks into the living room, carefully setting them on the table. “Trunks!” she called up the stairs, wiping her brow, “come on and let’s start the movie!”

“Coming, Mom! ” Trunks levitated down the stairs quickly, blowing past his mother. He plopped down on the sofa and grabbed a handful of popcorn, delighting in the buttery salty goodness. Finally he got a good look at Bulma and raised an eyebrow. “Why are you so dressed up to watch a movie, Mom?”

Bulma looked down at her black turtle neck dress that hugged her curves tightly. She smiled, moving a piece of her bangs out of her eyes. “Well son, your father is coming back from training with Goku today, and I wanted to look nice for him. Do you notice your mother’s new hair cut?”

Trunks nodded, stuffing the last kernels in his mouth before reaching for more. “You like nice, Mom, but why are you doing this all for Papa? You know he doesn’t care about things like that.”

Bulma frowned and placed her hands on her hips, standing right in front of her young son. “Trunks Briefs, you take that back! I’ll have you know that your father loves when I look beautiful.” She placed a hand to her chin, a conceited expression stealing her face. “He only wants the best as a Prince, you know.”

“Whatever you say, Mom,” Trunks scratched his head, commenting mentally on how strange he thought adults were.

“You’ll understand someday, son, ” she replied before the sound of the back door interrupted her. Perking up, she smoothed out the front of her dress and straightened her hair. “Speaking of the devil…”

Vegeta strolled in through the living room, stopping at the sight of his wife and son. He bounced his gaze around to both of them, a question lingering in his brows. Finally he settled his glare on Trunks. “What did you do now, boy?”

Trunks raised his hands defensively, popcorn falling to his lap. “I didn’t so anything this time, Papa, I swear!”

Vegeta nodded, turning to Bulma. “Why do you guys look so strange?”

“Strange?! ” she shouted, prompting Trunks to cover his ears, “is that what you say to your beautiful wife when you haven’t seen her in so long?”

“Hmph,” Vegeta said, crossing his arms, “I see even six months doesn’t strip away your vanity.”

“You love it hun,” she walked closer to him, placing a hand to his shoulders, “so, do you notice anything different?”

He studied her, taking in her pretty face and delicious curves. “New outfit and hair?”

Bulma beamed, smiling snarkily at Trunks. “See? And what do you think, Vegeta?”

Vegeta felt his forehead go damp. He hated when she made him so this. Earthlings were so peculiar in their way of giving compliments. He distinctly remembered his father giving his mother the head of someone who insulted her attire one evening, and she had practically thrown herself at him all night during dinner. Simple. Bulma required too much of his brain.

But he knew the consequences of he didn’t comply to feeding her ego, and he would avoid that headache.

“Your haircut doesn’t make me angry when I look at–”

“NO! “she cut him off, glaring at him.

He took a deep breath. "That dress is impractical, and I don’t see how it can protect you, but perhaps—”

“Absolutely not!”

Jesus, what did she want from him? “That black marker you put around your eyes is enticing–”

“—There you go! –”

“—It looks like you were in a serious fight. ”

Trunks chuckled on the couch while Bulma growled. “I’m sorry, are you trying to flirt? Because you’re just embarrassing yourself!”

“Papa, ” Trunks interjected, “do you remember the last movie Mom forced us to watch?” Bulma turned to glare at him and Trunks cleared his throat, correcting himself. “I mean, the last movie we all enjoyed as a loving family?” Bulma smiled, satisfied.

“What about it? ”

“Well,” Trunks shrugged, “don’t you remember what that old dude did in the end? To make the woman love him?”

“I thought we told you to close your eyes on that part! ” Vegeta roared.

“ B-before that part! ” Trunks chuckled nervously, “the big speech that he gave. The one you said was silly.”

Vegeta chewed over his lip in thought. Oh, so that was what she wanted. He cleared his throat and turned to Bulma wrapping his arms around Bulma’s waist. “Woman,” he said, his tone dropping several octaves, “you are the most ethereal creature I have ever seen. And even though you constantly change your hair like you change underwear, I love each style that you choose. I especially love that you no longer wear that atrocious birds nest like when we first met—”

“You’re pushing it, Vegeta. ”

“Let me finish!” He raked his eyes down to her frame, smirking. “And that dress is practically painted on and it’s making me want to send the boy to his room. One look at you in this and I know that we’ll need to soundproof this entire street. You’ve done well to satisfy my manly needs.”

Bulma giggled like a school girl while Trunks groaned loudly. Leave it to his father to overdo something, considering that the man in the movie had only called the woman ethereal.

“It’s a little far fetched but I’ll take it, ” Bulma replied, wrapping her arms around his neck. She kissed his lips gently, giving him compliments about how form fitting his training suit was.

Trunks grabbed the popcorn bowl and left the living room, disgusted. “You guys have a bedroom, you know!”

“Shut it boy!” Vegeta called after him.

Trunks headed to the kitchen to phone Goten, hoping Chi Chi would agree to letting him spend the night. There was no way he was staying at Capsule Corps tonight.
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Space Missions Come Together in Colorado

Our leadership hit the road to visit our commercial partners Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Ball Aerospace in Colorado. They were able to check the status of flight hardware, mission operations and even test virtual reality simulations that help these companies build spacecraft parts.

Let’s take a look at all the cool technology they got to see…

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building our Orion crew vehicle, the only spacecraft designed to take humans into deep space farther than they’ve ever gone before.

Acting NASA Deputy Administrator Lesa Roe and Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot are seen inside the CHIL…the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo. Lockheed Martin’s CHIL enables collaboration between spacecraft design and manufacturing teams before physically producing hardware.

Cool shades! The ability to visualize engineering designs in virtual reality offers tremendous savings in time and money compared to using physical prototypes. Technicians can practice how to assemble and install components, the shop floor can validate tooling and work platform designs, and engineers can visualize performance characteristics like thermal, stress and aerodynamics, just like they are looking at the real thing.

This heat shield, which was used as a test article for the Mars Curiosity Rover, will now be used as the flight heat shield for the Mars 2020 rover mission.

Fun fact: Lockheed Martin has built every Mars heat shield and aeroshell for us since the Viking missions in 1976.

Here you can see Lockheed Martin’s Mission Support Area. Engineers in this room support six of our robotic planetary spacecraft: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Juno, OSIRIS-REx and Spitzer, which recently revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star, TRAPPIST-1. They work with NASA centers and the mission science teams to develop and send commands and monitor the health of the spacecraft.

See all the pictures from the Lockheed Martin visit HERE

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Next, Lightfoot and Roe went to Sierra Nevada Corporation in Louisville, Colo. to get an update about its Dream Chaser vehicle. This spacecraft will take cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of our commercial cargo program.

Here, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Vice President of Space Exploration Systems Steve Lindsey (who is also a former test pilot and astronaut!) speaks with Lightfoot and Roe about the Dream Chaser Space System simulator.

Lightfoot climbed inside the Dream Chaser simulator where he “flew” the crew version of the spacecraft to a safe landing. This mock-up facility enables approach-and-landing simulations as well as other real-life situations. 

See all the images from the Sierra Nevada visit HERE.

Ball Aerospace

Lightfoot and Roe went over to Ball Aerospace to tour its facility. Ball is another one of our commercial aerospace partners and helps builds instruments that are on NASA spacecraft throughout the universe, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Ball designed and built the advanced optical technology and lightweight mirror system that will enable the James Webb Space Telescope to look 13.5 billion years back in time. 

Looking into the clean room at Ball Aerospace’s facility in Boulder, Colo., the team can see the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite. These sensors are used on spacecraft to track ozone measurements.

Here, the group stands in front of a thermal vacuum chamber used to test satellite optics. The Operation Land Imager-2 is being built for Landsat 9, a collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey that will continue the Landsat Program’s 40-year data record monitoring the Earth’s landscapes from space.

See all the pictures from the Ball Aerospace visit HERE

We recently marked a decade since a new era began in commercial spaceflight development for low-Earth orbit transportation. We inked agreements in 2006 to develop rockets and spacecraft capable of carrying cargo such as experiments and supplies to and from the International Space Station. Learn more about commercial space HERE.

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