Monday, November 30, 2009

There are more things in heaven and earth...

Having never been, it is easy to forget how incredible space must be. This is truly the final frontier; the future of humanity. We will set sail on this new ocean, at times dangerously close to the wind, and navigate across the great void. Because we are humans, because we are explorers, and this is what we do.

Shuttle and ISS images

Brooklyn in the house!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two big sets of rocketry images

Space Tech Photo Diary - Part 1

Space Tech Photo Diary - Part 2

How this wound up at a political blog I don't really know, but it is a great set of pictures of rockets and space gear. Do rockets look cool to non rocketry people?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some cool Cube Sats

Cube Satellites are built around a 10 x 10 x 10 cm chassis, and a baseline mass of 1 kg. These are Nano-satellites, and are designed for amateurs and students to build. Near the bottom of this post are three examples of nearly professional builds from the past, many other projects and resources can be found at the cubesat web page: CubeSat. Anyone who reads the Make blog, or who keeps track of the developments in electronics, knows that there are several small electronics platforms that are both inexpensive, and simple to use. Perhaps even the simple Arduino hardware, often used in projects reported in that blog, could work well in a nano satellite.

There has also been a fascinating and ongoing discussion about the past, present, and future of micro and nano satellites over at Unmanned Spaceflight.

For example, one user there suggested this (perhaps somewhat unrealistic, he thinks) plan for a space telescope:

Here are some projects based on this platform:

"Delfi-C3 is the first nanosatellite student project from the Delft University of Technology. Delfi-C3 is a battery-less CubeSat with multiple processors and transmitters. Delfi-C3 was launched from the SHAR range of Sriharikota in India on the PSLV-C9 launch vehicle on April 28, 2008 03:53 UTC into LEO. SFL/UTIAS provided launch integration services for multiple CubeSats with their X-POD line of CubeSat deployers. Telemetry from Delfi-C3 was acquired and decoded within a few hours of launch. The Delfi-C3 offers the free RASCAL telemetry decoding software on their website."

"Libertad-1 is Colombia's first satellite. It was developed by a novice team of only 8 members with no prior satellite experience at the Universidad Sergio Arboleda at a total cost of under $250k. Cal Poly handled launch integration, etc. A modern-day Sputnik, Libertad-1 was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 17, 2007 into LEO. LTAN: 22:30 UTC, 98 degrees inclination, 1hr 39min period, 787.5km apogee, 659.56km perigee, 0.0090 eccentricity. Libertad-1 functioned flawlessly, transmitting continuously without any reset events for the 34-day duration of its mission. The mission was terminated when the primary batteries were exhausted (Libertad-1 had no solar arrays). The Libertad-1 missions is considered a great success in Colombia."

"TU-pSAT1 is ITU SSDTL's first CubeSat. ITU-pSAT1 carries a camera, magnetometer, accelerometers and other payload instruments. This is the first Rev D CubeSat Kit launched. ITU-pSAT1 has multiple PIC microcontrollers functioning as distributed payload processors. These processors interface to the SD Card in the Pumpkin FM430 via the CubeSat Kit Bus. When the FM430 C&DH needs to transmit data collected by the payload processors, it reads the SD Card via the EFFS-THIN flash file system software that is included in each CubeSat Kit. ITU-pSAT1 also carries a Microhard MHX425 transceiver operating in the UHF band -- all of Microhard's newer MHX units (MHX425, MHX920, MHX2420 et. al.) run a version of Pumpkin's Salvo RTOS that was customized by Microhard for use with the Hitachi SH2 processor. ITU-pSAT1 was launched from India on the PSLV-C14 along with three other CubeSats on September 23, 2009 into LEO."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Saturn Instrument Unit

"The Saturn V Instrument Unit is a ring-shaped structure fitted to the top of the Saturn V rocket's third stage (S-IVB) and the Saturn IB's second stage (S-IVB). It was immediately below the SLA (Spacecraft/Lunar Module Adapter) panels that contain the Lunar Module. The Instrument Unit contains the guidance system for the Saturn V rocket. Some of the electronics contained within the Instrument Unit are a digital computer, analog flight control computer, emergency detection system, inertial guidance platform, control accelerometers and control rate gyros. The instrument unit (IU) for Saturn V was designed by NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and was developed from the Saturn I IU. NASA's contractor to construct the Saturn V Instrument Unit was International Business Machines (IBM)." - Wiki

This giant ring represents an avionics and guidance component of the Saturn V rocket system. What a fascinating and robust system this must have been. Many of the components, particularly the computers and electronics, can now be made far smaller. The computers could fit on a single chip, for example. Perhaps some other parts can't be made much smaller. What was the purpose of the "platform air supply" I wonder...

These are a bunch of images, ripped from the internet without proper credit. Welcome to the future of web 2.0... One nice image shows one IU being loaded (or unloaded) from either a Pregnant Guppy, or perhaps even a Super Guppy aircraft (the latter with a cargo bay of 111 ft x 25 ft x 25 ft.) Imagine the cost of transporting such small parts on such a large plane! Perhaps there was more than one IU in that payload.

Now there is nothing wrong with modern computers, they make so many things possible for the average person, too many to list. But all the same, there is something to be said for computers that one can step into.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Model Rocketry - The Last Frontier

Some interesting rocketry promo video clips from the 1970s. Does the narrator sound familiar to anyone?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Venus or bust

"The Mariner program was a program conducted by the American space agency NASA that launched a series of robotic interplanetary probes designed to investigate Mars, Venus and Mercury. The program included a number of firsts, including the first planetary flyby, the first pictures from another planet, the first planetary orbiter, and the first gravity assist maneuver." - Wiki

Friday, November 20, 2009

Team Prometheus Update

Team Prometheus, an N-Prize team, has fixed their blog so that everyone (including chrome users like me) can see it. Pictured above is a possible tiny pico-satellite (or actually a femto-sat. I think) for the N-prize mission.

Here is the blog.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

N2000 min. dia. onboard to 27,000 feet

"Onboard video from my X-98 rocket:

4" dia., 8' tall, Carbon fiber airframe, custom 5:1 VonKarman fiberglass nosecone.

15 lbs dry weight
40 lbs. liftoff weight

N2000W motor
388 lbs. avg. thrust
6 second burn
30 second coast

27,500 ft.
2,200 ft/sec (Mach 2)
20 Gs

XPRS 2008 launch, sponsored by AeroPac.
Saturday, September 20th, 2008"

More info about this rocket:


The simulation for the N1100 is about 30,000 feet. That would be some nice footage! Or maybe get an O motor in there!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

38mm three stage flight!

Regular readers may remember the last post about a very impressive 38 MM three stage project.
Well the final article has just been published about the flight, at Balls 2009. This is a fascinating project because of the great use of composites, complex arrangement of electronics, and overall performance. (This rocket was simulated to break 10 miles and mach 3!)

Three stage 38mm attempt by Adrian Adamson

Friday, November 6, 2009

New NOTSnik images

These are two new (to this blog anyway) images from the NOTSnik project. I could spend the rest of my life just focusing on project farside, NOTSnik, vanguard, and the Thor-able moon shots.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Pioneer 0 - 2 Images

Long time readers may remember a previous post about the Pioneer 0-2 program. Above are 5 new images from an image archive that show, in great detail, the design of one of these nearly identical pioneer spacecraft. These were all designed to fly to the moon, and burn a large solid rocket (the nozzle can be seen in one image)to enter lunar orbit. This project is fascinating because it was a very risky series of attempts to do the nearly impossible. The technology at this time (both the rockets and satellite components) was very young and limited. But the attempts were made, and resulted in three partial or total failures. However one flight got past 100,000 KM. That is pretty impressive.

"Professor Van Allen, developer of Pioneer’s ion counter, hedged his bet. “The success of the experiment does not depend on whether the rocket hits, or even comes near the moon. We will consider the flight a success if the rocket reaches out 40,000 miles, let alone 220,000 miles!” he declared."

More images here.
Even more images here.
Three quick reads on the program (Pt. 1)
(Pt. 2)
(Pt. 3)