Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ultralight nano metal material

"Ultralight (<10 milligrams per cubic centimeter) cellular materials are desirable for thermal insulation; battery electrodes; catalyst supports; and acoustic, vibration, or shock energy damping. We present ultralight materials based on periodic hollow-tube microlattices. These materials are fabricated by starting with a template formed by self-propagating photopolymer waveguide prototyping, coating the template by electroless nickel plating, and subsequently etching away the template. The resulting metallic microlattices exhibit densities ρ ≥ 0.9 milligram per cubic centimeter, complete recovery after compression exceeding 50% strain, and energy absorption similar to elastomers. Young’s modulus E scales with density as E ~ ρ2, in contrast to the E ~ ρ3 scaling observed for ultralight aerogels and carbon nanotube foams with stochastic architecture. We attribute these properties to structural hierarchy at the nanometer, micrometer, and millimeter scales."

Science Mag

Monday, November 28, 2011

Visitors to Mars

And now we can add MSL to the list:

The square kilometer array

This will be one of the most important leaps in astronomy to date. Sadly the USA was not even a serious contender for hosting this project, as we continue to fall behind in high technology and science. It is worth mentioning that a similar, highly ambitious project was planned here called "Cyclops" way back in 1971. It goes without saying that funding never arrived.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beer in (near) space

Meh, every balloon flight that goes up without a rocket is a waste :)

Amateur astronomer captures disk around distant star

This is a very challenging thing to do, particularly with a 10 inch reflecting telescope. Impressive indeed!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fourth generation nuclear weapons

"The fourth chapter is devoted to fourth generation nuclear weapons. These new fission or fusion explosives could have yields in the range of 1 to 100 ton equivalents of TNT, i.e., in the gap which today separates conventional weapons from nuclear weapons. These relatively low-yield nuclear explosives would not qualify as weapons of \emph{mass} destruction. Seven physical processes which could be used to make such low-yield nuclear weapons, or to make compact non-fission triggers for large scale thermonuclear explosions, are investigated in detail: subcritical fission-burn, magnetic compression, superheavy elements, antimatter, nuclear isomers, metallic hydrogen and superlasers (i.e., ultrapowerful lasers with intensities higher than 1019 W/cm2).

The conclusion stresses that considerable research is underway in all five nuclear-weapon States (as well as in several other major industrialized States such as Germany and Japan) on ICF and on many physical processes that provide the scientific basis necessary to develop fourth generation nuclear weapons. Substantial progress has been made in the past few years on all these processes, and the construction of large ICF microexplosion facilities in both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States is giving the arms race a fresh boost. The world runs the risk that certain countries will equip themselves directly with fourth generation nuclear weapons, bypassing the acquisition of previous generations of nuclear weapons."

Nuclear Weapon Archive

And if you can read with a heavy grain of salt, here is some extreme speculation on what various future nuclear technologies may bring including nuclear shaped charges:

Physics Forum Keep in mind that several posts here fall into the realm of pseudo-science.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

BALLS 2011 - State of Decay On Board Video

Not sure what the specs are here, and if there was supposed to be an upper stage as well. Looks like an airstart in there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CTI O 25,000 Vmax motor

"Static firing of an O25,000 Vmax motor. Single-use Pro130. 6,000 pounds for 1.2 seconds."

An O25,000 staged to an N 10,000, if such an arrangement could ever be made strong enough, could realistically be expected to break mach 4 no problem. A great way to test new high temperature composite builds, as standard high power rockets seem to be getting badly burnt every time they break mach 3. This would also be great for a boosted dart - it is comparable to a Super Loki Dart in power. If you go with a bare motor and some TIG welded fins, mass fractions would be decent. Throw a 7 lbs 38mm boosted dart with a camera on there, I bet you could hit 50,000 feet with an initial boost of mach 2.4 or so.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

.50 BMG Flechette anti-tank round - DU (Depleted Uranium)

"The auctioneer claims that it is only one of twelve built and the only other known example resides at the Ford Benning sniper school.

The .50 BMG Flechette rifle project was contacted out by DARPA in 1960′s. The projectile consisted of a saboted depleted uranium dart weighing 11.9 gram ( 183.6 grains ).

.50 BMG Flechette round cross section. © Paul Smith (Used with permission)

The sabot was fired out of a smoothbore barrel with the dart achieving 4500 feet/sec velocity. That is more than a 32 grain .204 Ruger!"

Just to be clear, 12 grams is VERY heavy, and 4,500 fps is insanely fast. The energy at impact would be huge, and focused on a tiny point. I doubt this would be effective against modern tank armor, but it certainly will work against even heavy armor on all other vehicles including apcs.

Compare this to a 5 mm/35 SMc - a 39 grain round at 4,250 fps yielding about 1,564 foot-lbs on impact. If we can trust the (absolutely massive) mass above, this round exits the barrel with Just over 8,000 foot-lbs. This is insane considering the tiny nosecone on that dart, but still 4,000 - 6,000 less than a .50 BMG.

By comparison, the Gau - 8 fires a PGU-14/B armor piercing incendiary that is about 425 grams at 3500 fps. This results in 175,000 foot-lbs. That is more than 20 times greater than the DARPA rifle.

The Firearm Blog

Model rocket onboard footage

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wanted to visit a rocketry page from way back. This is what I found:

Boo, hiss.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

J-2X engine tested for 500 seconds

"Another key component of NASA's new Space Launch System, the J-2X rocket engine, is put to a 500-second firing test at NASA's Stennis Space Center on Nov. 9 The J-2X rocket engine will help carry the Orion spacecraft and its crew, cargo, equipment and science experiments beyond Earth orbit. The new SLS, heavy-lift rocket will be safe, affordable and sustainable, and help NASA explore deep space."

Boy I hope they actually build this rocket instead of dropping it like the last one.

Phobos grunt stuck in parking orbit

Sadly the spacecraft has not even made it to a Mars transfer trajectory. There is a small chance that it can be repaired and make the Earth escape burn, but time is running out because it will both lose the launch window, and run out of battery power. The odds were always stacked against this ambitious mission, but hopefully it can get a shot at Phobos at the least.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Phobos grunt launch footage

Today is the day for Fobos-Grunt aka Phobos Grunt aka Фобос-Грунт (I think?) to launch on a historic mission to dock with Phobos and then attempt to return a sample to the Earth. This is among the most daring unmanned missions of all time.

Here is the video footage of the launch from a few hours ago today (night time in Russia.)

"Zenit-2SB carrying Fobos-Grunt & Yinghuo-1" Yes there is also a Chinese spacecraft on this mission, the Yinghuo 1 is a really cute spacecraft that is just over 100 kg in mass. The Chinese space program is growing by leaps and bounds, as this is their first (but hopefully not last) visit to Mars.

This is a good animation showing the expected mission:

Launch report pt. 3

The following images are from a Wildman Drago on a G125 red motor from CTI, the video can be seen below.

Starting from near apogee, there is a pretty good view of the farms.

The ejection charge was once again visible through the airframe.

The nosecone appears in this frame first.

For now, the nosecone is attached to the rocket!

The nosecone fell off twice during this launch day. There was no damage however, it is a tough LOC cone.

Those small dots are the cars of the fligthline. The big white dots are vendors and the club trailer. The dots above the flightline are the LCO tables and generator. If you find the bright-white object near the middle of the cars, and go directly to the left, the green object is actually a large farm tractor.

The following frames are from the Wildman Drago flying on an F240 Vmax CTI motor. The video can be seen in the previous post, below.

This ultra-fast motor burns for about .25 seconds, and the flame was only seen in a few frames.

And here is burnout, only 15 - 20 feet above the pad. Indeed there was one previous frame that probably marked the termination of thrust, and it was even lower, but at this point the rocket is demonstrably coasting.

Due to a late recovery, the nosecone fell off. It landed just on the other side of a ditch from the rocket.

While I recovered the rocket and turned off the camera, my father (frequent partner in rocketry crime) went for the nosecone.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Launch report pt. 2

My half-finished Wildman Drago flew on a G125 red CTI motor carrying a small digital camera, a $12 unit found all over Ebay as a "security camera" or keyring camera. My first ever video, posted a few months back, was on a Thunderbolt 38 by Giant Leap. Perhaps because of the Acme fin can, the Thunderbolt spins way too much for good footage. On a hunch, I put it on the Drago next and as you can see, there is nearly zero spin before recovery. This is certainly the rocket to fly for good video footage in the future.

This little motor is incredibly fast. It is comparable to a H800 or an I1600. Or even more shockingly, an N-60,000! Burnout was in .25 seconds at about 10 or 15 feet above the pad. The rocket did not get much altitude at all, because this is just an F and also because fast burn = lower altitude due to drag. The flight was particularly short because recovery was late, and the rocket hit highway speeds on the way back down before the 'chute came out. The nosecone fell off (actually it fell off in both of these flights, I need a much thicker screw eye) but was recovered close to the rocket. No damage despite the late ejection. I set the motor to 7 seconds, thinking the ultra-fast burn rate called for it. But 5 seconds would have been plenty. After landing, you can skip to the end to see recovery if you want. Again I have not edited these yet, this is raw footage. The recovery was very close to the pad as a result of the minimal altitude and late (by choice not flaw) ejection charge. How great are these Vmax motors? Have to also try the G250 (29mm) motor.

Expect another post tomorrow with a frame-by-frame breakdown of some good events in the videos.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Launch report pt. 1

The launch today was good, with very clear conditions and moderate to low winds. I was able to fly the Wildman Drago on an F240 and then on a G125. These two first flights each included a digital camera, and videos were recovered both times. They must be processed (minimally) and uploaded to Youtube tomorrow. The F240 flight was exceptionally short due to a rapid boost, and late recovery event. The G125 video is much longer, and the highest altitude I have yet recorded in video (probably around 1800 feet.)

After these two flights I flew the Loc Viper IV on four D12-3 motors. This was a graceful flight with all four motors burning perfectly. (That is two in a row for this rocket!)

Towards the end, the wind was low enough to allow for a HPR flight. I loaded the Giant Leap Thunderbolt38 with an H400. Needless to say, the .5 second burn time with about 90 lbs of thrust was enough to give this rocket a real kick to nearly 2000 feet. It was a great flight, and perfect way to end the flying season.

Here are a few images from today:

Recovery at METRA is generally very good. Not only do you have a large recovery area (despite a few natural hazards such as trees and streams) but you will also find the softest possible ground surface. The sod, wet soil, or newly tilled onion field seen above are all very gentle on rockets. Rockets routinely survive major recovery failures here. The Drago has twice taken a major core sample with nothing more than a small chip on the nosecone.

Firing on all four cylinders: these D12-3 motors ignited instantly and burned in unison.

This monster of a rocket was on display at a vendor table. It looks very much like one of the Robert DeHate upper-stage rockets seen here previously.

This guy really knows how to burn a rocket! The paint and nosecone were badly melted from the several seconds above mach 3 just before and for a while after 2nd stage burnout. Just seeing something like this gets me, a small time level 1 guy, dreaming about what could be some day. It turns out that given a long coasting delay and N4000 ignition at 40,000 feet (not so easy really) such a rocket could achieve far more than just 80,000 feet. It is predicted that under optimal conditions, there is no reason why this rocket could not hit space. But that means staging late, when the upper stage is just subsonic. Better mass fractions are also helpful.

This is the smoke left from some kind of large motor failure (possibly forward closure failure) that resulted in a short "roman candle" effect followed by a big smoke cloud. My reaction time, and camera, were too slow to catch the best part.

And there you have it! Expect a post tomorrow with youtube videos from my F240 and G125 flights.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Aerobee pellets - shaped charges on sounding rockets

This project, launched just days after Sputnik 1, was the inspiration for my N-prize project proposal: Explosively formed projectile on a rockoon. Simply put, this was a modification of a project based on launching grenades with captured V2 rockets. I don't doubt that, like Project Farside, there must have been a political component to this being done around the time of Sputnik. Small shaped charges launched metal bits away from the rocket at high velocity near the apogee of the sounding rocket trajectory. There is a decent chance that the pellets entered into Earth or Solar orbit. There is a small but non-zero chance that something, perhaps tiny metal bits (no larger than sand grains) made an escape trajectory and are still on the way out of the solar system. There is also a risk that nothing was launched fast enough or in the correct direction, and all of the bits fell back to the Earth. Here is the best article about this project:

"On October 16, 1957, the Aerobee rocket was launched by the US Air Force from White Sands. On reaching an altitude of 56 km the nosecone was separated and upon reaching an altitude of 87 km the charges were triggered producing a -10 visual magnitude flash seen as far as mount Palomar, 1000 km away. In the same images which recorded the flash of the explosion the trail of a -2 visual magnitude meteor, clearly caused by the atmospheric entry of one of the spheres was recorded. The other two spheres were not recorded by any observer and it is possible that, if they were deployed in a correct attitde and having a speed much greater than Earth escape speed (about 11 km/s), they entered a solar orbit, thus becoming the first artificial "planets."

All glass steam engine

"This Model of Stephenson's Steam Engine was made in 2008 by master glassblower Michal Zahradník.
Highlights: * The crankshaft is glass. The piston is glass. The counterweight that makes the wheel spin evenly is glass. * There are no sealants used. All is accomplished by a perfectly snug fit. The gap between the piston and its compartment is so small, that the water that condensates from the steam seals it shut! * Notice the elaborate excessive steam exhaust system next to the piston. * The piston is the most arduous part to make due to to extreme level of precision needed. Its parts have to be so accurate that no machinery is of use here. The piston and its cylinder must be hand sanded to perfection, and they are very likely to crack in the process! On average, three out of four crack."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Launch is a go for this weekend!

Preparing for the last launch of the year. The motor collection is still pretty big, hopefully quite a few of them will be gone by next week.

3x D15-4T
1x F12-5J
1x F52-5T
2x F240-VX
1x G53-5FJ
2x G76-4G and 7G
1x G125-R
1x G131-SS
And a bunch of D and smaller Estes motors.

The keychain camera should fly at least once, and with a bit of luck I can recover a nice video like last time. Perhaps it would be interesting to fly the camera with an F240, but unlike last time (with excessive spin) the camera will go on a 2.6 inch Wildman kit that hopefully will not spin quite so much.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kick Sat

"Would you like to have your own spacecraft in space?

I'm Zac Manchester, a graduate student in Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. Over the last several years a few collaborators and I have designed, built, and tested a very tiny and inexpensive spacecraft called Sprite that can be built and launched into low Earth orbit for just a few hundred dollars each!

The Big Picture

My goal is to bring down the huge cost of spaceflight, allowing anyone from a curious high school student or basement tinkerer to a professional scientist to explore what has until now been the exclusive realm of governments and large companies. By shrinking the spacecraft, we can fit more into a single launch slot and split the costs many ways. I want to make it easy enough and affordable enough for anyone to explore space."

"KickSat is a CubeSat - a standardized small satellite that we can easily launch. It is designed to carry hundreds or even thousands of Sprites into space and deploy them in low Earth orbit. The Sprites will be housed inside KickSat in several spring-loaded stacks and held in place by a lid. A radio signal transmitted from our ground station will command the lid to open, releasing the Sprites as free-flying spacecraft.

The Mission

After the Sprites are deployed from KickSat, we will track them and record their radio signals using a worldwide network of amateur ground stations to demonstrate their communication capabilities. We will also gather data on how long the Sprites stay in orbit and how well their electronics hold up in the harsh space environment.

Because we will only launch KickSat into a low-altitude orbit, we can guarantee that all of the Sprites will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere within a few days or weeks, leaving no trace of space debris. KickSat itself will last somewhat longer, but should burn up in the atmosphere within a few months."

More Here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Throwable panoramic camera ball

This ball is covered with many small digital cameras. One toss up, and it will take a 360 by 360 degree spherical image of the world around it. I think this would be great as a rocket payload if it could have a timer and take a picture at altitude. Or how about an image every few seconds on the way up?