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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Important discovery on Mars?

Clearly the team needs to continue working to confirm any discovery before releasing the information.  It is pointless to speculate at this point, but also fun.  Here are my guesses in order from most likely/least exciting to most exciting/least likely:

Amino acids
Biological molecules like RNA, DNA, proteins, fixed nitrogen (ammonia)

I think a smoking gun for life, such as RNA, would not have been announced in this way at all, instead it would have fallen on the president to announce it.  Also, I do not know if this device is capable of identifying RNA.  Similarly, I think the methane discovery may not be important enough to generate this kind of buzz.  So I will settle on amino acids, though they would most likely be from space rather than a biological source.

Any other ideas?  Post a comment if you have a guess.

Friday, November 16, 2012

"99K" a P to N rocket project

"A few of us were sitting around lunch one day, discussing another 'to 100K' project, when we decided 'Hey, we can do that!'   Then Cliff asked Wedge to borrow a 'P' motor, and he agreed. Then James turned a nozzle, and started doing Burnsim work. Then I started using RockSim and WRASP to see how high this would go. Then we got a fin can for the sustainer. Then I ordered $1300 worth of stuff from Performance Rocketry, and eventually it showed up - including an ISC that's to die for.

Well, we're started, and it's a huge, exciting project. A truly scary and awesome project."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Science vs military spending

SpaceX Grasshopper takes a long hop

Note: This is a giant 100 foot tall rocket! I understand this is an early prototype for a reusable first stage. Getting a rocket this heavy (and boy, this thin?!) to land vertically is rather scary. SpaceX is bound for great things, I think. In no small part because Musk is a really great inventor and futurist.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A rocket for the road?

This suitcase rocket is a reasonably compact high power rocket that can (and apparently will) fly under J power.

Detailed report on Carmack prize winning flight

Needless to say, I was not bored for a moment while reading through these 100 pages of documentation.  This is exactly what one would hope to have for every significant high altitude flight.  A team that worked carefully, tested different configurations, and then documented their work with videos and this article.  The efficiency of this flight is most impressive; the rocket broke 100,000 feet (despite flying many miles down range, far from vertical) with only 21,000 newton seconds of impulse installed.  In the process, they beat the performance of many P, Q, and R flights from the past.  Clearly the slow-burning booster and sustainer, combined with the efficiency of a two-staged rocket, is capable of more still.  For example, it can be safely said that this rocket configuration is capable of 120,000 feet if nearly vertical during the flight of the sustainer.