Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pigs in space?!


The Hurt Locker

There are lots of bad war films, a bunch of so-so films, and a few good war films. This one was supposed be good, but having just watched it today, I can honestly report that if I saw it in the theater, I may have walked out. Not only is in the "meh" category of films (boring, simplistic, flat), but it is also massively unrealistic. In almost every way, and at almost every turn. I can forgive a film like "Saving Private Ryan" for romanticizing a war that is long over, after all Americans are a simple folk and they need their wars to be simple. But people are in Iraq right now, and somehow that seems much worse. Good war films don't have to be strictly realistic, "Apocalypse Now" for example, but they should only introduce as much fiction as needed, and no more. As in good science fiction, where the sci-fi elements are added to support the story. This would include films like "Blade Runner" or "12 Monkeys." In bad films, the science fiction is used to dazzle the eye and prevent anyone from looking for acting or a story. That would be films like Avatar or the recent Star Wars films. In this film, the ridiculous things going on all the time were just there to entertain where a story or acting could not. Rush up to bombs against all code and regulations? Sure. Diffuse bombs by hand when they could simply be disrupted by a robot? Yes.

The Hurt Locker even had a stereotypical shrink character in it, with about 3 predictable scenes under his belt, who (no need to warn about spoilers because you should never see this film) finally gets into the action one day and dies almost instantly. Please. Also, at one point an innocent man is found locked into an elaborate bomb vest that looks like it cost a few thousand bucks to make. (Compare that to the typical IEDs in Iraq that cost about $5 and take an hour to build and plant.) And as in most lame action films, the bomb is attached to a timer. How can anyone even seriously propose a bomb with a timer like this when making a new film? Call me crazy, but if you want to put a bomb on a timer, why have a display showing it? The bombs in Iraq all typically detonated remotely. Timers just can't ensure that someone will be around at the right time. This film was about on par with top gun, without the 80s action and "fun because it is so bad" appeal.

I am often alone in my rants, but not in this case:

NY Times

This would be a tempting time to include some videos from the real Iraq - the real bombs. But this is a happy place, so instead I will conclude with a word from my favorite arms manufacturer, Bofors. The Heat 751 uses a shaped charge, efp, and a main charge AND it has a cute little rocket engine inside.

Friday, April 29, 2011

TRMM 3-D View of Deadly Storms

(You better have fast internet to get this gif...)
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce

A simulated 3-D flyby of the TRMM satellite around severe storms on Aprill 28, 2011.
The Universe Today

The Earth from Space

English Russia

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easy Star Multiple Rocket Launcher

This is an RC glider that was converted to rocket power with fireworks. Probably a violation of safety codes... but still very fun.

"I got a few boxes of 25 shot Saturn Missile Battery fireworks on the way home. As you can see they unpack nicely. The fuse just runs right through the bottom and you can pull them back and forth like beads on a necklace.

The fuse lights an ejection charge and this ignites a short bit of rocket propellant in the plastic missile, then there is a delay fuse and a exploding charge in the head.

The circuit is the same one I used to launch the Estes rockets, as stated above it took me a while to get it back in working order. The microchip just monitors incoming pulses and when it sees the right length pulse 3 times in a row it activates a relay connecting the rocket fuse to the main battery.

The LED's are there to show you if it got a fire signal, if the system is armed, blah blah blah

I tried a few things but in the end I just dug out a good old Estes rocket igniter and shoved it into the missile fuse, wound it with a bit of wire and dabbed some hot glue to hold it all together."

See the whole story at the RC Groups Forum.

Fire in space

"When you mention burning hydrogen, many people think of the nearly invisible rocket exhaust from the Space Shuttle's three main engines. The last thing you would expect is that a burning droplet of alcohol would produce enough water to put itself out. Or that a fireball the size of a pinhead would linger for eight minutes.

These are some of the results coming out of experiments with fires so small that sometimes they barely exist. From these results, scientists hope to develop a better understanding of the countless fires - in internal combustion engines - that we use to run modern society."

Fireballs in space

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Small orion spacecraft and project pluto

All this and more at

Milky Way time-lapse compilation

With some kind of Enya music.

Why people visited this page today

High power rocketry - 88
Milky way time lapse - 19
High power rocket - 13
Explosion - 12
Q motor - 11
Elektro-l - 10
Project 463 - 8
Vladimir petrovich demikhov - 8
Notsnik - 7
Sr-71 - 7

Right on readers! It is early in the morning, but already things are rolling with some great searches here. I can only tell what the readers want to see from these stats, because no one ever comments. If you are brave enough, leave a comment if you like something and want to see more of the same.

Just going to google and typing in "Explosion" is a pretty fun thing to do. Explosions are almost always good, as we know. It is nice to see that so many people are interested in Project 463 (now more than a decade old.) Obviously there are only a few hits once you search for this giant but fairly obscure rocket from Balls 005. (Boy if I could have been at Black Rock for those early Balls launches...) Here are two images of this incredible two-stage rocket. In a time of great weakness (and poverty) I sold all of my VHS rocketry videos. Part of the reason was that I no longer had a VCR, but also I expected all of these videos to wind up online. Anyway the construction behind this rocket was very interesting to see. At the time, it was by far the largest hobby rocket ever flown.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gravel (button) Mines

"Gravel mines, also called Button mines were small U.S. made air-dropped anti-personnel mines. They were used extensively during the Vietnam War as part of the McNamara Line. They were also used as a rapid-deployment area denial expedient, to provide a barrier during combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations between downed pilots or other endangered units and infantry threats.

The mines consisted of a small green or brown camouflage fabric pouch filled with Lead(II) azide and 30 grams of coarse ground glass between two sheets of plastic. No fuse was required because the explosive became shock-sensitive after dispersal, i.e. able to be detonated without a fuse on contact. The explosive lumps came in wedge or cubed shapes and their plasticizers evaporated after three to eight minutes exposure to air.

To allow them to be handled and dropped from the air, the mines were stored soaked in Freon 113. Once released from their container, the Freon would evaporate in between 3 and 8 minutes, thereby arming the mines. The mines varied in size, from simple warning bomblets (Button mines), whose detonation was to be picked up by air dropped acoustic sensors and relayed to a central control centre, through to larger mines, while not powerful enough to kill a person outright, they were capable of wounding anyone stepping on it. The larger mines were fitted with a two tablet chemical system to gradually render the explosive inert, although the reliability of this mechanism is unknown.

The mines were also used by the U.S. during the Battle of Khe Sanh, however a U.S. Air Force history described them as being 'little more than a nuisance', with the Viet Cong clearing the gravel mine fields using Oxen dragging logs and the mines became inert after a short time.

37 million gravel mines were produced between 1967 and 1968, though mines were produced into 1970."

Gravel Mines

V2 on P power


Monday, April 25, 2011

155mm howitzer gets some - M198?

The sound of rounds flying to target must be pretty terrifying if you are on the wrong end.

Pratt & Whitney J58 (A-12 and SR-71) with a tiger tail (shock diamonds)

Back, by popular demand, images of the Pratt & Whitney J58 - famous from use in the A-12 and SR-71. Check out the tiger tails! These are incandescent exhaust cones with shock diamonds within.

UGC 9128

"Galaxies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with most being classed as either elliptical or spiral. However, some fall into the miscellaneous category known as irregulars, such as UGC 9128 shown here in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.

UGC 9128 is a dwarf irregular galaxy, which means that in addition to not having a well-defined shape, it probably contains only around one hundred million stars — far fewer than are found in a large spiral such as the Milky Way. Dwarf galaxies are important in understanding how the Universe has evolved and they are often referred to as galactic building blocks, as galaxies are thought to grow as smaller ones merge.

In recent years, astronomers have been trying to find out if dwarf galaxies contain a similar halo and disc structure to their much larger counterparts, whereby older stars are found in the extended spheroidal halo, with the flat disc being home to younger stars. Observations of UGC 9128 indicate that it does indeed contain a similar halo and disc structure.

UGC 9128 lies about 8 million light-years away, which means that it is part of the Local Group of more than 30 nearby galaxies, and it is found in the constellation of Boötes (The Herdsman). Despite its relative closeness it is very faint and was only discovered in the twentieth century. The Hubble image clearly resolves the galaxy’s starry population and also shows many much more distant galaxies in the background.

This picture was created from images taken with the Wide Field Channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. Images through a yellow-orange filter (F606W, coloured blue) were combined with images taken in the near-infrared (F814W, coloured red). The total exposure times were 985 s and 1174 s respectively and the field of view is 3.2 arcminutes across."


ESA/Hubble & NASA

Thursday, April 21, 2011

700th post - New template

Working on a new template, let me know if there are any problems including slow loading and poor performance, or anything that is broken or looks strange.

My first rocketry video - frame by frame analysis

No not the whole thing, which is mostly 5 minutes of a rocket sitting on the ground as I scramble to recover it... but here are a select few frames from my first attempt at onboard rocketry footage. As previously stated, this is a modest offering and much work is needed to ensure future videos have less spin. If wind conditions are better next time, they were dangerously close to 20 mph this time, it would be nice to throw an H motor in there to get some extra altitude for the video. But a few cool things were captured here nevertheless.

This first grab is a fraction of a second after the ejection charge lit (as indicated by the suddenly dark smoke trail.) For the longest time, I just ignored the orange color of the airframe here as perhaps some early debris blocking the camera. But doing a frame-by-frame analysis has indicated something rather different; this is the flash of burning black powder as seen through the translucent airframe! In the next frame, some residual glow can be seen. This is not sunlight streaming through the rocket. It is interesting just how bright this flash must have been.

This next shot is the "dog barf" just after ejection of the recovery system. This is fire retardant newspaper bits used to protect the parachute from ejection gasses and hot particles. Since recovery was late, and the rocket was doing an easy 50 mph at this point, these light bits of paper were sucked away rapidly by the airstream.

Next, the nosecone can be seen flying away in pieces after impacting the rocket and shattering (brittle phenolic.) The waves in the video are the result of the impact.

This frame shows the flightline, including this blogger and other people waiting at the upper left. Also pictured, an essential part of any METRA launch, the food vendor.

And last, just for fun, the moment of impact with flying soil clumps.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Propaganda posters of Soviet space program 1958-1963

USSR Space Propaganda

I first saw these at The Rocketry Blog.

Tupolev Tu-143

"The Tu-143 was introduced in 1976 and strongly resembled the Tu-141, but was substantially scaled-down. It was a short-range tactical reconnaissance system and had a low-level flight capability. It was truck-launched with RATO booster, recovered by parachute, and powered by a TR3-117 turbojet with 5.8 kN (590 kgf, 267 lbf) thrust. The initial version carried film cameras, but later versions carried a TV or radiation detection payload, with data relayed to a ground station over a datalink.

The Tu-143 was used by Syria in reconnaissance missions over Israel, as well as by Soviet forces in Afghanistan."

Tupolev TU-143 Reys:

* wingspan 2.24 m (7 ft 4 in)
* length 8.06 m (26 ft 5 in)
* height 1.54 m (5 ft 1 in)
* launch weight 1,230 kg (2,710 lb)

* maximum speed 950 km/h (515 kn, 590 mph)
* service ceiling 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
* range 200 km (110 nmi, 125 mi)

More at English Russia

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FGM-148 Javelin missiles misfire

These cost about $40,000 each. Did a fun tax calculation; last year I personally contributed about $2,000 to the armed forces. Wonder why it costs so much? Well clearly to keep Iraq from invading us. This is the largest single budget item. A few hundred times larger than things like NASA.

Here is one fun new item that will surely cost millions of dollars:

Ballistic boxers

Conserve ye helium while ye may...

... because before long it will cost a crap ton to buy it. Helium is not a renewable resource, and because it is needed for certain scientific activities that cannot work with other elements, we should maintain a stockpile again. What happened to our last stockpile? The government is selling it away, artificially lowering the price. We need to save this element for things that matter, not making a piece of rubber float around for a few minutes before a kid lets it go. Just wait until we have to start removing it from the atmosphere... that will be fun. Like the mythical tar sands of Canada.

Pop Sci

Frank Kosdon

Frank Kosdon passed a few days back. He is well known for rocket motors as well as a few rocket projects including the one pictured above (Thunderbolt.) Frank worked on the OuR project; something that helped get this blogger started in HPR. You can read more about his rocketry work at the link below. Also check out some of his rocketry:

The Rocketry Planet

An ocean on Titan?

Europa has always held a special place in my heart. It is only logical that we should orbit it, scan it with powerful radar, then land on the surface. Some day, we should also attempt to melt through the ice if that seems possible, and explore the oceans below. Europa is a great place to look for life (among many others like Mars, Jupiter, Ceres, Enceladus, etc.) But there are several problems with this and other moons in the area; they have essentially no atmosphere. For Europa, we also have to deal with high radiation.

Titan is growing on me, and it has some good things going for it. Firstly, the possible biosphere is near the surface (some drilling may be enough rather than melting through kms of ice.) Also, the thick atmosphere allows for purely passive deceleration and landing. Few other bodies can offer this, and no other moons can. (Mars does, but Mars is for manned exploration and further probes that do not directly support a manned visit are just delaying the inevitable.) Titan would also support balloons, aerostats, and airplanes for exploration. Due to the heavy atmosphere and low gravity, I dare say helicopters and VTOL style jets would work well.

The Universe Today

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chasat II

No information right now, let me know if you have a page for these guys. A bit of frost at altitude, but overall very good video. Would have been nice to see the recovery also, or at least a few highlights from it.

Here is the camera they used.

How to Ship an Obelisk

"In the 19th century Egyptian rulers gifted several large 1500BC obelisks to Paris, London and New York, all of which are still standing today. We already know how these things were erected, but how did they get there? The images above and below (from a 1878 article in the French magazine "La Nature") show the vessel used for the transportation of the fragile 250 tonne heavy granite stone which is now in London. A special vessel (the "Cleopatra"), was constructed around the obelisk, rolled into the sea, and then towed across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to England. It sank on the way, but miraculously drifted to shore and was saved. The barge consisted of a steel cylinder enveloped in wood. The Americans, the French, and (much earlier) the Romans used different methods."

No Tech

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A-10 runs in Afghanistan danger close to US troops

Twice the plane gives an altitude deviation warning. The fact is, the A-10 was not able to achieve the kind of precision needed here and a helicopter would have been the better call. Have to admire the pilots for handling this kind of situation, one can feel the pressure from just watching the video. And also wonder at the motivation of the tribal fighters who are going up against A-10s, 130 specters, and drones. These are the children of the people who went up against the USSR.

Friday, April 15, 2011

WISE images


"Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is a NASA infrared-wavelength astronomical space telescope launched on 14 December 2009, and decommissioned on February 17, 2011 when its transmitter was turned off. The US$320 million mission launched an Earth-orbiting satellite with a 40 cm (16 in) diameter infrared telescope, which performed an all-sky astronomical survey with images in 3, 5, 12 and 22 μm wavelength range bands, over 10 months. The initial mission length was limited by its hydrogen coolant, but a secondary post-crygenic mission continued for four more months."

Lalala I can't hear you!

Pretty much your standard level of creationist discourse.

Testing of JWST flight mirrors

Is it rude to suggest that the James Webb Space Telescope makes your telescope, and by association you, look lame? No it isn't.