Thursday, December 31, 2009

Impact Debate at

There is a cool debate over at the Astrobiology Magazine about the risks and media coverage of potential impacts from space.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Canada's Space Program

I just got this book off of Amazon for about 50 cents plus shipping. It seems most of these warehouses don't know the value of rocketry or science books so they sell them for next to nothing. Or is it a matter of supply and demand?

50 Years in Space

Friday, December 18, 2009

To 100k pt. 2

Regular readers may remember a previous post about a project called To 100K. This was an attempt to launch a two stage rocket to about 100,000 feet using what appears to be a Pro 150 O motor staged to an M motor. Information about the construction project is detailed indeed, and a rather impressive example of rocketry teamwork to boot!

Images from Toma1 on Flicker

The Sun

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Operation Credible Sport

"Top secret Iran hostage rescue mission aircraft

YMC-130H were three modified Lockheed Hercules Aircraft for Top Secret "Operation Credible Sport", for second Iran hostage crisis rescue attempt.

One of the measures considered for a second hostage rescue attempt in Iran was a project to develop a "Super STOL" aircraft, to be flown by Combat Talon crews, that would use a soccer stadium near the US Embassy as an improvised landing field. Called Credible Sport, the project acquired three C-130H transports from an airlift unit in late August 1980, one as a test bed and two for the mission, and modified them on an accelerated basis.

Designated as the XFC-130H, the aircraft were modified by the installation of 30 rockets in five sets: eight firing forward to stop the aircraft, eight downward to brake its descent rate, eight rearward for takeoff assist, four mounted on the wings to stabilize them during takeoff transition, and two at the rear of the tail to prevent it from striking the ground because of over-rotation. Other STOL features included a dorsal and two ventral fins on the rear fuselage, double-slotted flaps and extended ailerons, a new radome, a tailhook for landing aboard an aircraft carrier, and Combat Talon avionics, including a TF/TA radar, a defensive countermeasures suite, and a Doppler radar/GPS tie-in to the aircraft's inertial navigation system.

Of the three aircraft, only one received full modification. The program abruptly ended when it crashed during testing on October 29, 1980, and international events soon after rendered another rescue attempt moot."

Operation Credible Sport

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mach 1

These are two fairly old, but quite interesting articles about supersonic flight in mid power rockets. One discusses the work of a team to go supersonic with small rockets, and the possible results (with potentially overstated confidence I might add), and the other talks about how hard supersonic flight really is at this scale, and often falls into what seems like borderline pessimism. In other words, two sides of the story. Both are good reads, but keep in mind that neither one may end up being the whole truth. Has anyone explored supersonic flight with 18, 24, or 29mm rockets? What was your hardware, and what kinds of results have you seen?

H.A.R.T Mach 1
Mach 1 not so easy

Friday, December 11, 2009

No new posts for a a day or two...

...don't mess with the place while I am gone!

Aerobee technical report

The year was 1997. I was in the 10th grade, or so. Walking into a book store, I make a quick move to the magazine section. (I like the pictures.) After checking the kayak mags, and rock climbing and ice climbing and all the usual, then SOF and gun mags, surf and scuba, I moved to find a radio or coin mag in the hobby area. Then I saw it: A rocketry journal, but with a very large rocket on the front. I had done model rocketry as a kid, but this was something very different: high power rocketry. This journal was the key to my introduction to the hobby. It has now been over 10 years!

It would be great if the whole series of journals were online, but for now we have to settle with one single very nice article about the Aerobee series of rockets from this same magazine. The first link is the news story talking about this, the next is the direct link to the PDF file. It is fairly large.

Rocketry Planet
PDF document

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Multi-spectrum view of space

Chromoscope lets the user see space data in different kinds of light; X-Ray, Visible, H-Alpha, IR, Microwave, and Radio. It is a potentially glitchy beta, but is still very cool.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rockets are cool, even when they fail... Crazy spiral contrails in the night sky over Norway

Update: The Russians have now taken credit for this rocket. Confirmed Bulava.

"A mysterious light display appearing over Norway last night has left thousands of residents in the north of the country baffled.

Witnesses from Tr√łndelag to Finnmark compared the amazing sight to anything from a Russian rocket to a meteor or a shock wave - although no one appears to have mentioned UFOs yet.

The phenomenon began when what appeared to be a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain. It stopped mid-air, then began to circulate."

Obviously most rocket people know what this is right away, and most civilians are really confused. I will be the first to admit that this was a pretty shocking looking event. The tumbling and spirals were so perfect! And the colors... What a great CATO this must have been. Or was it a normal stage separation maybe? The likely source would be Russia, but they are not saying anything. No one is claiming anything about this, not just yet anyway. That may indicate a military origin, or classified test.


This is one possible ICBM that is a likely candidate, the Bulava:

Bulava Wiki

Here is an article about the tests conducted on this ICBM: Bulava Article

"In June, Russia announced the sucessful test of its new Bulava ICBM. News of the Bulava's previous four failures (exploding after take-off, etc) were quietly swept aside. Only Kommersant's intrepid defense reporter Ivan Safronov, a retired colnel in the Space Rocket Forces, covered the issue. This is, until he decided to 'jump' from his apartment widnow in March.

There are now a flurry of questions as to the sucesss of the latest Bulava test. "The main designer of the Bulava, Yuri Solomonov, has in the past attributed the multiple mishaps of test-launches to the progressive degradation of the Russian defense industry, the inferior quality of Russian-made components and materials, and the 'loss' of key military technology (Jamestown)."


More images:

 This first video shows a simulation, something that I think was created after this event, to demonstrate what a spinning rocket stage might look like. The coolest part is the fact the fine material (solid propellant exhaust?) is being ejected pretty darn quickly. As soon as it runs out, as can be seen in some of the videos, the center gets dark showing a lack of material. The darkness spreads to the edges as the whole phenomenon fades. Really this is a good demonstration of how extreme the physics of rocketry can be. In my mind, I see a solid rocket stage that has failed or lost guidance and is simply spinning. Do you think that may be right?

The News Story
Discussion in the forum (btw. I am "New Ocean" at this forum.)
A nice article at Bad Astronomy
Here are some other night contrails from large rockets, do they look similar to you?

You call that a rocket? This is a rocket!

This shows the assembly and parts of the Saturn V. Click to embiggen most cromulently. (I split the image in half so that Google would accept it and keep it readable. However, the first one is still not so great. Click here for the full size image.)

I love this one, does anyone know the source? Maybe from a How Things Work book or something like that? The Cahall Observatory blog was my initial source:


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Chinese rocket from the air"

Chinese Rocket Fly-by - Watch more Funny Videos

Rocket from Jet

Does anyone know what this is? Is it even Chinese?

Confusing or simple? Vote in the comments.

Or vote any difficulty level in the spectrum from counting the sand grains on all the World's oceans, to blinking.

I ask because of this thread in the Rocketry Planet Forums. It is no new thing that I am involved in a debate against a few other people about a topic. Again, it was turned into a personal argument because for some reason rocketry makes some people really grumpy, and at the same time makes people like me happy. In any event, there are real questions in the thread that should be discussed. So to extend the discussion, I made this simple post. Do you find Aerotech directions, as included with motors (and particularly the delay section in this case) hard to use? Hard to read? Too confusing? Feedback would be interesting, any comments welcome!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Great video from Greg Smith

"Finally I quickly prepped my horribly battered and thrice repaired LOC Bullet with a CTI 660J381 Skidmark. I really can't get enough of these loud and impressive motors. The flight was cool and uneventful except the ~1.5 mile walk east since I'd used a 45" parachute. I was able to track it visually but I'm still glad I put my radio tracking beacon in there as an insurance policy. I left the AVCHD camera on it's tripod during my roughly half-hour walk and captured some other flights before the wind wall kicked up effectively shutting down the launch for the day."

Greg Smith's Quest (Click here for a much better quality video and more information, including some cool GPS work and a TON of great videos.)

Patent by R.H. Goddard

I have been reading Retro Rockets recently, it is one of the new books in the recent buying frenzy over at Amazon, and one of the best chapters covers the work of Goddard. Goddard is now very famous in and outside of the rocketry world, but in his time (largely due to his desire to remain private and keep his work away from others, it seems) he was not very well known. It is sad to report that most of his work was simply replicated by at least one other team around the world, and little was learned directly from him. However he was among the first, and most brilliant minds in rocketry history. Here is a patent that I have found for an interesting little rocket:

This looks like a neat little two stage solid rocket, with some bulky steel structures around it.

Check this link if you would like a quick history of the early rocketeers:

Rocketry history

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eyeglass - a 100 Meter space telescope

For the longest time, I have been wondering if a refracting telescope could be used in space, or perhaps even built there. On earth, refractors have not been built past 40 inches (or about 1 meter), because the weight of the glass causes sagging and lens deformation. In space, not only would this not be a problem, but also the lens could be made very thin as it would not need to support any weight. And similarly, the very long focal length could be accommodated with a light weight truss system, tethers, or perhaps nothing at all.

There is also the possible use of Fresnel type lenses, or perhaps even electronic lenses. In any event, this is a project that is considering a 100 meter space telescope. Such a telescope would greatly enhance our understanding of The Universe. It could directly image the surfaces of planets around other stars, probably even showing surface details. It would be a life finder. We would be able to clearly image the most distant galaxies, such as those in the Hubble deep field, and let us clearly see how they have evolved over time. A telescope like this could also probably view solar system objects with as much detail as orbiters. I suspect it could image the surface of Pluto with as good a resolution as New Horizons, but I have not done any math to confirm that.

It sounds impossible now, but a gossamer spacecraft and lens system could potentially be built to 1KM diameter some day. Because almost all of the observable universe is totally out of reach to our probes, we can only look at these things. Light is the key to all astronomy, and telescopes are the light collectors. The bigger the collector, the better. After the incredible work done by the Hubble, space will be exposed to ever larger generations of space telescopes. The James Webb will be next, and it alone will probably blow all previous observations out of the water. When the Ares V comes out, there are plans for monolithic 8m telescopes, and folding telescopes to 16 meters. These will compliment land based telescopes that will approach 50 meters. Decades later, perhaps a space telescopes will pass 50 meters, and then decades later 100 meters.

Short article
PDF from the source

Thursday, December 3, 2009