Monday, December 31, 2012

Two stage rocket with onboard footage and telemetry

It is fun to keep an eye on the velocity and acceleration during the stages and right after burnout when acceleration drops to below -2 gs for a moment, and then slowly moves back towards zero as the drag decreases.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

JAMSTAR student sounding rocket

Jamstar (Joint Aerospace & Meteorlogical Stratosphere Analysis Rocket) was a boosted dart sounding rocket project that hit mach 2 and about 80,000 feet.  Launching at night is an interesting twist!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Go-Pro camera into remote-controlled F-16

Altitude attempt nosecone

After many hours of computer simulations, conference calls to JPL and NASA, and several aborted first attempts, I have completed my latest and greatest nosecone, optimized for supersonic flight:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monster Machine - a blog about pure fusion explosions

An Orion spacecraft en route to Mars.

The author of the German blog, Monster Machine, posts regularly about fusion energy.  Although I would put his ideas somewhere between highly speculative and science fiction, they are nevertheless fascinating to consider.  A common topic is the idea of a pure fusion explosive, something that has never been demonstrated on a large scale or in a small, self contained package.  (ICF and MCF are massive machines that fuse small pellets or small amounts of gas.)  Here are a few of these interesting ideas:

This is from the post Flying platforms with nuclear pulse propulsion, a combination of Orion, a drilling platform, and perhaps a container vessel?  Here is what the author says about this:  

"In the near future, only in a few decades, space travel could look like this: huge flying platforms that are propelled by pure fusion detonations start from earth’s surface and fly nonstop to mars and land there after a few weeks in it’s desert near a building site. A ticket to mars will be affordable for most people. The platforms are made of concrete and construction steel and of 30,000 metric tons mass. The technology is rather primitive but complicated. The more mass the better for the vessels. The power of the fusion detonations is huge. The fuels are liquid deuterium for the fusion pulse units with liquid methane, oxygen and tritium for the pure fusion primary igniters. Pure fusion detonators are possible, there’s a chance that they already secretely exist in the arsenals. The energy of fusion propulsion is 10,000 times more than that of chemical propulsion. This and its side effects makes the tickets up to 50,000 times cheaper. Trips to earth orbit will cost $1000, to the moon and back $5000, to mars and back $20,000, value in currency of 2012. I know that this sounds unbelievable, but I will convince You with physical and engineering arguments in the following text."

In another post, called  Building Micro Black Holes Utilising the Ulam ablation Pressure Principle, the author discusses applying the most powerful man-made force, fission and fusion, to creating a black hole with the matter from a solar system object like an asteroid.  It should be remembered that ablation pressure in a fusion bomb is extremely powerful, on the order of billions of atmospheres of pressure applied to the fusion secondary by the "rocket effect" of ablating surface material.  But I doubt this even comes close to the pressures found in an imploding star.  Large stellar class black holes, would be extremely useful for spacecraft propulsion, using their gravity (particularly two black holes) to throw payload out of the system very rapidly.

"The ultimate machine invented for creating black holes with Ulam ablation principle. In the middle is an asteroid iron globe. Cascades of fusion synchronized Detonators are fired from all directions on the celestial object to form a hot plasma sphere surrounding the globe. The surface of the globe vapourizes fiercely for a fraction of a second and pushes the massive object inwards. Just during the explosion attenuate the next salvo is exploded, one after the other. Staggered rows - just like the teeth of a shark - Detonators increase of the plasma density Sufficiently damped for not blasting the iron globe by dissipation heat of the shockwave and compress it until the core exceeds all limits. The object implodes and a big fraction of the inner material is compressed into a black hole..."

There are many more interesting posts including, particularly, early discussions on how to make a pure fusion device, and how to exploit such devices (akin to fusion bombs instead of fusion reactors) to generate energy.

In any event, I highly recommend reading more at, let me know what you think in the comments section below.  In many cases, I am unable to determine what these diagrams show or how they will work.  Perhaps the author is also still grappling with that issue.

Bomb surgery

Easy... easy does it...              Now!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Los Alamos Dig Unveils Items Ranging from Military Trucks to Toothbrush

"Workers excavated a radiation protection suit as part of the cleanup of the landfill.

In a $110 million Recovery Act project at Los Alamos National Laboratory, workers are excavating a waste disposal site known as Material Disposal Area B (MDA-B). Completion of the MDA-B cleanup will reduce EM’s legacy footprint by more than 260,000 square feet."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Daya Bay Antineutrino Detector

"While they might look like drops of water or soap bubbles, these colorful figures are actually photomultiplier tubes that line the walls of the Daya Bay neutrino detector. Neutrinos and antineutrinos are neutral particles produced in nuclear beta decay when neutrons turn into protons. This experiment aims to measure the final unknown mixing angle that describes how neutrinos oscillate. The tubes are designed to amplify and record the faint flashes of light that signify an antineutrino interaction. Lawrence Berkeley and Brookhaven National Labs and a number of physicists at U.S. universities played leading roles in the Daya Bay experiment, from designing the detectors all the way through to analyzing the data gathered.

| Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, LBNL."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Experience the Apollo 11 landing like never before

Experience one of the most nerve-racking events in the history of manned spaceflight; the first landing on the Moon. This website syncs flight footage, telemetry, and communications all on one page. I was about to turn blue by the end of it... Breathing again now.

First Men On The Moon

New Saturn image from Cassini

Crushing radioactive waste

"AMWTP Disposes Problematic Waste With Crushing Success

In the Treatment Facility, drums are size reduced by a machine called the Supercompactor. The only machine of its kind in the United States, this behemoth delivers 4 million pounds of force, capable of smashing a 55 gallon drum full of radioactive debris waste into a puck about three inches tall. Recently, by taking advantage of available Supercompactor time, the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP) was able to accelerate the processing of these problematic drums, resulting in an overall volume reduction of more than 100 cubic meters."


Monday, December 17, 2012

Poor Saturn!

Grid-sphere passive communications satellite

"In 1959 the USAF became interested in the use of satellites as space reflectors for long distance communications. One possibility was a metalized balloon-type structure that could be boosted into space in a small container and inflated after it reached orbit. The NASA ECHO I, launched Aug. 12, 1960, was one of these. Unfortunately, the closed structure of the inflated balloon satellite was, in time, deformed and pushed out of orbit by the pressure created by the sun's radiation. Furthermore, small space particles caused drag which eventually reduced the balloon's speed. These minuscule influences were enough to prevent the balloon satellite from staying in a long-term orbit. It was gradually slowed and eventually fell from orbit.

To reduce the effects of solar pressure and space drag, the USAF contracted with the Goodyear Aerospace Corp. for construction of a 30-foot diameter grid-sphere balloon. It was made of a soft aluminum wire grid embedded in a special plastic designed to dissolve in space under the sun's strong ultraviolet rays. On July 13, 1966, the USAF grid-sphere payload was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., atop an Atlas booster. It went into orbit 620 miles above the earth and was automatically inflated with helium. The plastic covering soon dissolved, leaving a 30-foot diameter open aluminum structure orbiting the earth. Tests indicated that the satellite would remain in orbit for at least 11 years and that it had a reflective power five times greater than that of a solid sphere."

National Museum of the US Airforce

Thursday, December 13, 2012

PEMEX Refinery Explosion alt. view

"Mexican State owned oil company PEMEX reported a huge explosion in a gas depot outside Reynosa, leaving 30 casualties and more than 40 injured. Military forces took almost all day trying to put down the immense fireball and contain the situation."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Not your typical jet engine

"As part of the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program, the U.S. conducted extensive research showing that nuclear fission could power an aircraft. The research involved a series of Heat Transfer Reactor Experiments (HTREs), which tested if different types of jet engines could be run by nuclear power. In 1955*, however, the project was cancelled, and a safe, operational prototype aircraft was never developed. In this 1988 photo, the two HTRE reactors are shown in transport to Idaho National Laboratory's EBR-1 visitor center, where they remain today. | Photo courtesy of Idaho National Laboratory."

*This should be 1961, it seems.

DOE Photostream.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Massive explosion at Mexican refinery

"The state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) reported the death of 30 contractors/PEMEX workers and 42 injured at the Centro Receptor de Gas y Condensados de Pemex Exploración y Producción located in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. Mexico.

Emergency serives, local police, estate police, Federal police and military personel cordoned the area and shuting down the Monterrey-Reynosa Highway. Firefighters from Reynosa, Monterrey and the surroundings counties rush to the scene to control the fire that took over 10 hours to be controled. At this time at some workers remain missing.

Some unofficial sources mention that casualties may be over 50 workers. ACTION STARTS @ 1:10"

Opening the World's heaviest door

"For 35 years, the Energy Department has pursued an all-of-the-above energy strategy — and the critical work done at the National Labs has helped put America at the top of the global clean energy race. This photo from 1979 shows a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employee opening the world's heaviest hinged door, which was eight feet thick, nearly twelve feet wide, and weighed 97,000 pounds. A special bearing in the hinge allowed a single person to open or close the concrete-filled door, which was used to shield the Rotating Target Neutron Source-II (RTNS-II) -- the world’s most intense source of continuous fusion neutrons. Scientists from around the world used it to study the properties of metals and other materials that could be used deep inside fusion power plants envisioned for the next century. | Photo courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Burrito Bomber

"Earlier this year, the world was brought to its knees when it was cruelly teased with the promise of tasty Mexican treats being delivered via quadcopter. We believe everyone deserves carne asada when they want it and so today, we make that dream a reality. We're proud to introduce: Burrito Bomber -- truly the world's first airborne mexican food delivery system."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lost at Sea

How to plant a flag on the Moon

"The flag on the moon represents an important event in vexillological history. This paper examines the political and technical aspects of placing a flag on the moon, focusing on the first moon landing. During their historic extravehicular activity (EVA), the Apollo 11 crew planted the flag of the United States on the lunar surface. This flag-raising was strictly a symbolic activity, as the United Nations Treaty on Outer Space precluded any territorial claim. Nevertheless, there were domestic and international debates over the appropriateness of the event. Congress amended the agency's appropriations bill to prevent the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from placing flags of other nations, or those of international associations, on the moon during missions funded solely by the United States. Like any activity in space exploration, the Apollo flag-raising also provided NASA engineers with an interesting technical challenge. They designed a flagpole with a horizontal bar allowing the flag to "fly" without the benefit of wind to overcome the effects of the moon's lack of an atmosphere. Other factors considered in the design were weight, heat resistance, and ease of assembly by astronauts whose space suits restricted their range of movement and ability to grasp items. As NASA plans a return to the moon and an expedition to Mars, we will likely see flags continue to go 'where no flag has gone before.'"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wamore Guided Recovery System on Stig B

"This is a video of the first Stig B flight that shows the liftoff and landing in the same camera angle. This precision is not an anomaly! They typically land within 80 meters of the intended point. In this case they were 55 meters from the intended point. Even with the slight damage to the canopy, it still flew like a dream. It had a bit of a line dump when it opened and the slider came down early. Even still everything held together as designed and the unit experienced a perfect recovery. One cautionary note. Make sure you program your landing point in a clear area away from the launch rail. This thing is accurate enough that if you use the launch point you are at risk of crashing into your launch tower when it comes back! Contact Mark Kusbel at Wamore Inc. His company has built and tested guidance units from 25 lbs and less up to 30,000 lbs. The one in the video is rated for 2200+ lbs. Is it expensive? Well, that depends. Cost for a new 4 wheeler or a jeep to chase across the desert, $2000+. The ability to walk 100 yards and walk back with a 100K' shot, priceless!"

 Hopefully onboard footage is pending...

Ethics of Building and Launching HPR

"I am currently a college student and one of my courses is having a discussion on ethics this week. I am wondering what precautions are taken by RSOs to ensure everything is safe. What happens if an RSO finds a rocket to be unsafe or if there is a dispute between the owner and the RSO? These questions came to me after reading all the posts concerning the ROCKET CITY REDNECKS. It seems that they do rather unsafe things for the sensationalism of being on TV. Also, I downloaded Nat Geos LDRS 2010 and LDRS 2012 and found that the majority of the show was catastrophic launches. Having never been to a club launch what is the typical failure rate of larger rockets.

I picture an individual with a degree in a relating field who is new to rocketry and thinks he knows exactly what he is doing, but in reality does something potentially unsafe because of his lack of experience.

On the flip side to that What is done about people biting off more than they can chew while creating a one-of-a- kind design using ROCKSIM or a similar program?

I have read a few graduate level theses about the difference between computer yielded results compared to actual results. I feel that people in this hobby may becoming too reliant on what ROCKSIM or OPEN ROCKET is saying and forget their good judgment. I understand the safety needs to come first and is extremely important but also taking a little bit of calculated risk is not always a bad thing. I would appreciate to hear everybody’s thoughts on ETHCIS in Rocketry."

Join the discussion at The Rocketry Forum.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Science saves lives, and ignorance kills.

"The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing trying to look into the cause and prevention of autism. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) launched into a several-minute diatribe (beginning at 12:58 in the video above) that starts off in an Orwellian statement: He claims he’s not antivax. Then he launches into a five-minute speech that promotes long-debunked and clearly incorrect antivax claims, targeting mercury for the most part. Burton has long been an advocate for quackery; for at least a decade he has used Congressional situations like this to promote antiscience.

 In the latest hearing, Burton sounds like a crackpot conspiracy theorist, to be honest, saying he knows—better than thousands of scientists who have spent their careers investigating these topics—that thimerosal causes neurological disorders (including autism). He goes on for some time about mercury (as does Rep. Dennis Kucinitch (D-Ohio) starting at 21:44 in the video), making it clear he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. For example, very few vaccines still use mercury, and the ones that do use it in tiny amounts and in a form that does not accumulate in the body."

At Bad Astronomy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Early news coverage of the Sputnik 1 launch

"Sputnik 1 was launched during the International Geophysical Year from Site No.1/5, at the 5th Tyuratam range, in Kazakh SSR (now at the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi) per hour, taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit. It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz[4] which were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world. The signals continued for 22 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957. Sputnik 1 burned up on 4 January 1958, as it fell from orbit upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, after travelling about 60 million km (37 million miles) and spending 3 months in orbit."


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Corium and "Chernobylite"

"Lava, glass and crystal flow discovered in the base of the reactor In December 1986, an intensely radioactive mass was discovered in the basement of Unit Four and scientists rigged up a crude wheeled camera to investigate. The mass was more than two metres across and weighed hundreds of tons. [This statement is in error, the foot cannot weight more than a few tons.] Because of its odd wrinkled shape, it was christened, “the elephant’s foot”. To approach it meant certain death. Analysis of the material showed that it was composed of sand, glass and nuclear fuel, and the proportion of sand suggested to scientists that a large amount of fuel had escaped from the reactor in this form. Underneath the reactor, the investigation team found steaming hot concrete and, draining into the basement, lava and spectacular unknown crystalline forms - Chernobylite."

"The “elephant’s foot,” a two metric ton slab of materials from Chernobyl’s melted reactor core. The slab is melted 2 meters deep into concrete and cannot be approached; to obtain samples, scientists use AK-47s to shoot off pieces. The Chernobyl reactor today is covered in a huge concrete box called the sarcophagus. As of 1998, the debris inside the sarcophagus was emitting radiation levels as high as 10,000 rontgens (average city background radiation is about 35 microrontgens). The sarcophagus is predicted to collapse; rain water corrosion is already threatening the roof and leaking radioactive material into the soil. A new confinement system will be installed in 2013. Interestingly, the inside of the reactor is covered in black radiotrophic fungus, which uses melanin to convert gamma radiation into energy."

The first claim, that this lump weighs hundreds of tons, sounds way off.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Giant Quadcopter Crash - Blimpcopter

This is an interesting idea for a quadcopter - dirigible combo, but clearly it was not strong enough to withstand the stress of flight. Those engines look like full-sized choppers!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yak-40 jet converted into Kindergarten

"A real Yak-40 aircraft appeared in one of the Georgian kindergartens. Children started to play inside the plane after it was restored. The cockpit remained untouched. According to the official documents Yak-40 4L-TGN (1976) could be bought for $60,000."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

100,000 stars in your browser window.

Solar Eclipse from High Altitude Balloon

Nuclear detonations on the Moon - Project A119

"Project A119, also known as "A Study of Lunar Research Flights", was a top-secret plan developed in the late 1950s by the United States Air Force. The aim of the project was to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon to boost public morale in the United States after the Soviet Union took an early lead in the Space Race. The existence of the project was revealed in 2000 by a former executive at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Leonard Reiffel, who led the project in 1958. A young Carl Sagan was part of the team responsible for predicting the effects of a nuclear explosion in low gravity.

Project A119 was never carried out, primarily because a moon landing would be a much more acceptable achievement in the eyes of the American public. The project documents remained secret for nearly 45 years, and despite Reiffel's revelations, the United States government has never officially recognized its involvement in the study."

Wikipedia entry.

PDF copy of article.

Cleaning a plutonium spill

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The North Pole of Saturn

More at The Planetary Society Blog

ISU Rockoon Project

"The objective of the Rockoon Project is to build a fully reusable, economic, lightweight and stable sounding rocket to be assisted by a high-altitude balloon. The rocket will be launched near the stratosphere, to an altitude of at least 140,000 ft."

See the whole plan at A Continuous Upward Climb.

Full-room radiation mapping device

SRNL Deploys Innovative Radiation Mapping Device AIKEN, S.C. –

The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), EM’s national lab, has made strides with remote technology designed to reduce worker exposure while measuring radiation in contaminated areas. Building on a successful collaboration with the United Kingdom’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), SRNL completed successful deployments of RadBall, a radiation-mapping device, after testing at the Lab’s shielded cells. The device provides technology to remotely perform characterization needed for deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) of radioactively contaminated facilities.

 A single RadBall can be positioned in a highly contaminated area, glove box, or hot cell and left alone to passively collect data, instead of personnel spending valuable time and incurring potential exposure carrying out manual scanning and surveying. The device consists of a colander-like outer shell that houses a baseball-sized sphere made of a radiation-sensitive polymer. Those areas of the polymer sphere that are exposed react to the radiation, becoming increasingly more opaque, in proportion to the absorbed dose.

At the DOE photostream.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Melting metal with a MOT

Boar Atomic Rocket

Mk1 Boar naval nuclear weapon The Boar (Bureau of Ordnance’s Atomic Rocket) was an early-1950s USN attempt to enable carrier-borne single-engine propeller warplanes (and first-generation naval jets) to employ atomic weapons in a tactical anti-ship context. It was also envisioned for supporting amphibious landings. The Boar was completely unguided. The tail rocket was simply a very crude self-contained combustion chamber which burned for three seconds. The warhead was the 20kT W7, which was a uranium fission model (TX-7E fissile component). The US Navy also used the same W7 warhead in the Mk90 atomic depth charge.