Thursday, December 30, 2010

Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy: Vista

This is a 4 meter survey telescope that can image in the IR. There are now several exceptionally powerful survey telescopes being constructed or in active use, including the exceptionally powerful PAN-STARRS telescopes with a 1.4 gigapixel detector in each. They, collecting TBs of data per day, will revolutionize our list of space objects. Hopefully a secondary target for the New Horizons mission will be found as a result.

Monday, December 27, 2010

GSAT-5P rocket failure

"Here's a fiery portrait of India's second failed launch of 2010. The GSAT-5P, launching a new geosynchronous communications satellite, broke up in the first stage and exploded. How did this happen?

According to press accounts, the GSAT-5P rocket developed an error soon after launch and took on too high an angle during launch, causing the vehicle to break up. Back in April, an earlier launch by the state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plunged into the Bay of Benghal, due to engine failure.

The GSAT-5P satellite was supposed to replace the outdated INSAT 2E and ensure a continuity of television and telecom services in India."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

ISRO rocket fails during launch

"This is the dramatic moment when India's ambitious space programme suffered one of its biggest setback when an advanced communication satellite exploded within a minute after its launch. A stunned Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) did not give the reason for the blast in the sky but an officer told IANS that there was a fault in the second stage of the launch. 'The rocket's first stage seemed to have performed normally. The problem seems to have cropped up in the second stage as the rocket didn't get sufficient thrust,' he said. But another official insisted that even the first stage was a failure. The multi-million pound 310 kg GSAT-5P satellite, was to serve the needs of the telecommunication sector and the weather department. It was at 4.04 p.m. that ISRO launched the rocket, with the satellite, in clear sky from the Sriharikota space centre, about 80 km from Chennai."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Frog Otolith Experiment - Frogs in space

"The Orbiting Frog Otolith (OFO) was a NASA space program which resulted in the successful launch in 1970 of the Orbiting Frog Otolith spacecraft (OFO-A mission), sending two bullfrogs into orbit for the study of weightlessness. The name, derived through common use, was a functional description of the biological experiment carried by the satellite. Otolith referred to the frog's inner-ear balance mechanism.

The Orbiting Frog Otolith Program was a part of the research program of NASA's Office of Advanced Research and Technology (OART). One of the goals of the OART was to study vestibular organ function in space and on the Earth.

The OFO experiment was designed to allow researchers to collect neurophysiological data on the response of the otolith to prolonged periods of weightlessness. The otolith is a part of the inner ear that is associated with equilibrium control: acceleration with respect to gravity as its primary sensory input.

The Frog Otolith Experiment (FOE) was developed by Dr. Torquato Gualtierotti of the University of Milan, Italy, when he was assigned so the Ames Research Center as a resident Research Associate sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. The experiment was designed to study the adaptability of the otolith to sustained weightlessness, to provide information for manned space flight. Originally planned in 1966 to be included on an early Apollo mission, the experiment was deferred when that mission was canceled. In late 1967 authorization was given to orbit the FOE when a supporting spacecraft could be designed. The project, part of NASA's Human Factor Systems program, was officially designated "OFO" in 1968. After a series of delays, OFO was orbited 9 November 1970.

After the successful OFO-A mission in 1970, interest in the research continued. A project called Vestibular Function Research was initiated in 1975 to fly a vestibular experiment in an Earth-orbiting spacecraft. This flight project was eventually discontinued, but a number of ground studies were conducted. The research has given rise to several very useful offshoots, including the ground-based Vestibular Research Facility located at ARC."

Orbiting Frog Otolith

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rockets of the World by Peter Alway

If you like what you see, consider buying the book.

Titan cryovolcano flyover - Cassini

"This movie is based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft and flies over an area of Saturn's moon Titan known as Sotra Facula. Scientists believe Sotra is the best case for an ice volcano - or cryovolcano - region on Titan. The flyover shows two peaks more than 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) tall and multiple craters as deep as 1,500 meters (5,000 feet). It also shows finger-like flows. All of these are land features that indicate cryovolcanism. The 3-D topography comes from Cassini's radar instrument. Topography has been vertically exaggerated by a factor of 10. The false color in the initial frames show different compositions of surface material, as detected by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer. In this color scheme, dunes tend to look relatively brown-blue. Blue suggests the presence of some exposed ice. Scientists think the bright areas have an organic coating that hides the ice and is different and lighter than the dunes. The finger-like flows appear bright yellowish-white, like the mountain and caldera. The second set of colors shows elevation, with blue being lowest and yellow and white being the highest. Dunes here appear blue because they tend to occupy low areas. The finger-like flows are harder to see in the elevation data, indicating that they are thin, maybe less than about 100 meters (300 feet) thick.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The radar instrument was built by JPL and ASI, working with team members from the U.S. and several European countries. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer was built by JPL, with a major contribution by ASI. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer science team is based at the University of Arizona, Tucson."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Videos by 40390576

Some of the best rocketry and space videos on Youtube must be those hosted by 40390576. Sadly this youtuber does not allow embedding of videos, so here are some of my favorites in link form:

Saturn 1 LOX tank interior view
Saturn 1 LH tank interior view
SA-6 Staging outside view

I came across these videos while looking up some Little Joe footage. I am now reading the Springer Praxis book "Space Rescue."

45 minutes of shuttle engineering footage

"hotographic documentation of a Space Shuttle launch plays a critical role in the engineering analysis and evaluation process that takes place during each and every mission. Motion and Still images enable Shuttle engineers to visually identify off-nominal events and conditions requiring corrective action to ensure mission safety and success. This imagery also provides highly inspirational and educational insight to those outside the NASA family.

This compilation of film and video presents the best of the best ground-based Shuttle motion imagery from STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124 missions. Rendered in the highest definition possible, this production is a tribute to the dozens of men and women of the Shuttle imaging team and the 30yrs of achievement of the Space Shuttle Program.

The video was produced by Matt Melis at the Glenn Research Center."

Tongue of the Ocean from the ISS

Friday, December 10, 2010

Naval rail gun footage

"A theoretical dream for decades, the railgun is unlike any other weapon used in warfare. And it's quite real too, as the U.S. Navy has proven in a record-setting test today in Dahlgren, VA.

Rather than relying on a explosion to fire a projectile, the technology uses an electomagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound. The conductive projectile zips along a set of electrically charged parallel rails and out of the barrel at speeds up to Mach 7.

The result: a weapon that can hit a target 100 miles or more away within minutes.

"It's an over-used term, but it really changes several games," Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr., the chief of Naval Research, told prior to the test.

For a generation raised on shoot-'em-up video games, the word "railgun" invokes sci-fi images of an impossibly destructive weapon annihilating monsters and aliens. But the railgun is nonetheless very real.
An electromagnetic railgun offers a velocity previously unattainable in a conventional weapon, speeds that are incredibly powerful on their own. In fact, since the projectile doesn't have any explosives itself, it relies upon that kinetic energy to do damage. And at 11 a.m. today, the Navy produced a 33-megajoule firing -- more than three times the previous record set by the Navy in 2008.

"It bursts radially, but it's hard to quantify," said Roger Ellis, electromagnetic railgun program manager with the Office of Naval Research. To convey a sense of just how much damage, Ellis told that the big guns on the deck of a warship are measured by their muzzle energy in megajoules. A single megajoule is roughly equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph. Multiple that by 33 and you get a picture of what would happen when such a weapon hits a target.

Ellis says the Navy has invested about $211 million in the program since 2005, since the railgun provides many significant advantages over convention weapons. For one thing, a railgun offers 2 to 3 times the velocity of a conventional big gun, so that it can hit its target within 6 minutes. By contrast, a guided cruise missile travels at subsonic speeds, meaning that the intended target could be gone by the time it reaches its destination.

Furthermore, current U.S. Navy guns can only reach targets about 13 miles away. The railgun being tested today could reach an enemy 100 miles away. And with current GPS guidance systems it could do so with pinpoint accuracy. The Navy hopes to eventually extend the range beyond 200 miles.

"We're also eliminating explosives from the ship, which brings significant safety benefits and logistical benefits," Ellis said. In other words, there is less danger of an unintended explosion onboard, particularly should such a vessel come under attack.

Indeed, a railgun could be used to inflict just such harm on another vessel.
Admiral Carr, who calls the railgun a "disruptive technology," said that not only would a railgun-equipped ship have to carry few if any large explosive warheads, but it could use its enemies own warheads against them. He envisions being able to aim a railgun directly at a magazine on an enemy ship and "let his explosives be your explosives."

There's also a cost and logistical benefit associated with railguns. For example, a single Tomahawk cruise missile costs roughly $600,000. A non-explosive guided railgun projectile could cost much less. And a ship could carry many more, reducing the logistical problems of delivering more weapons to a ship in battle. For these reasons, Admiral Carr sees the railgun as even changing the strategic and tactical assumptions of warfare in the future.

The Navy still has a distance to go, however, before the railgun test becomes a working onboard weapon. Technically, Ellis says they've already overcome several hurdles. The guns themselves generate a terrific amount of heat -- enough to melt the rails inside the barrel -- and power -- enough to force the rails apart, destroying the gun and the barrel in the process.

The projectile is no cannon ball, either. At speeds well above the sound barrier, aerodynamics and special materials must be considered so that it isn't destroyed coming out of the barrel or by heat as it travels at such terrific speeds.

Then there's question of electrical requirements. Up until recently, those requirements simply weren't practical. However, the naval researchers believe they can solve that issue using newer Navy ships and capacitors to build up the charge necessary to blast a railgun projectile out at supersonic speeds. Ellis says they hope to be able to shoot 6 to 12 rounds per minute, "but we're not there yet."
So when will the railgun become a working weapon? Both Ellis and Carr expect fully functional railguns on the decks of U.S. Navy ships in the 2025 time frame."

Rail guns should be developed fully, but I would note that we can now accelerate projectiles to similar velocities using sabot discarding shells in large naval guns, particularly with longer barrels. So if range and kinetic energy is required, it would be possible to bridge the time gap with long guns of the type used in HARP. But obviously this would be expensive and difficult.

Here is an older video of test operations:

And please check out this post from a while back discussing the naval plans in further detail:

Naval rail guns.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Falcon 9

"CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A private company launched a spacecraft into orbit Wednesday, 12/08/2010 in a bold demonstration test for NASA that could lead to the first commercial space station supply run next year and eventual astronaut rides.

The Falcon 9 rocket, owned by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., blasted into a clear, chilly morning sky, carrying a capsule named Dragon. The capsule successfully reached its intended 185-mile-high orbit, drawing cheers among employees for the company known as SpaceX.

"It is on its way," said a launch commentator. "Great day here at SpaceX. Looks like we had a great flight."

The next milestone: Dragon's re-entry, three hours later.

It will be the first time a commercial business tries to recover a spacecraft re-entering from orbit. So far, only governments have accomplished this.

SpaceX intends for Dragon to circle the world twice, then parachute into the Pacific Ocean, 500 miles off the Mexican coast. The spacecraft carried thousands of patches for company employees; no official payload was required for this test.

NASA is hiring companies like SpaceX to haul supplies to the International Space Station following next year's shuttle retirement. Taxi trips for astronauts may follow.

The flight had been scheduled for Tuesday, but was delayed to repair cracks in the upper-stage rocket nozzle. Wednesday's countdown was held up briefly by a false reading that triggered an abort.

This was the first flight under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, as well as the first flight of an operational Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX's first flight of a Falcon 9 rocket, in June, carried a capsule mock-up that deliberately burned up on re-entry.

The rocket stands at 158 feet, about the height of the shuttle's external fuel tank.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration issued its first re-entry license to SpaceX, paving the way for Wednesday's flight.

"Getting this far, this fast, has been a remarkable achievement," said NASA's acting director of commercial spaceflight development, Phil McAlister. He stressed that this is a test flight and that spaceflight is "very, very difficult."

"The purpose of the test flight is to learn. So as long as we're learning and we have a clear path for demonstration flight two, we would consider that successful," McAlister told reporters earlier this week

The California-based SpaceX -- created by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk -- intends to begin station deliveries by the end of 2011. He said he could be launching station crews within three years of getting the go-ahead from NASA.

NASA already is relying on Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the space station. It's an expensive arrangement: $26 million per person this year, rising to $51 million next year, and to $56 million in 2013.

Ideally, NASA wants multiple companies to take over the job of cargo and crew transport. The effort has taken on increased significance, McAlister said, since the working lifetime of the space station was extended to at least 2020.

SpaceX currently has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 supply runs. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Virginia has a $1.9 billion contract for eight.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said her company has poured more than $600 million into the test flight effort so far and received $278 million from NASA. She took aim at critics, some of whom don't trust companies to provide the same level of crew safety as NASA.

"I bristle a little bit at the whole concept of 'cutting corners,' " she said this week. "Just because it's faster doesn't mean it's more risky."

NASA has just two shuttle missions remaining, in February and April. The space agency hopes to get funding for a third and final flight next summer, to restock the orbiting lab in case the commercial launch companies fall behind."

Here is a previous launch:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SETI from deep space - Dr. Claudio Maccone

Regular readers will remember a previous post about solar system gravitational telescopes.

Here is a relevant presentation by the author of a book and papers on the topic. Sadly the book, at more than $100, is a bit out of my price level. But the talk is pretty detailed. I will wait for used copies of the book to come online. Eventually, science books seem to wind up being sold on Amazon for next to nothing.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CTI Pro X F240 (24mm)

I just placed an order for a complete 24mm pro x case set, and three of these F240 motors. Boy it was not cheap... but it should be great next year to fly them.

For the record, please do not end videos the instant a rocket takes off, and certainly not in the middle of a kinda creepy sounding laugh.

Also, I finally messed around with the keychain camera and added a 2 gig. SD chip:

The first few video tests showed better than expected video, and as bad as expected sound results. The videos run about 1 meg. per second, which means 2 gigs should give me about 30 minutes of recording time. That should be enough for a flight or two, more if I bring a laptop out and dump after each flight. Anyway, I am certainly looking forward to doing this next year and making some youtube videos. Slowly, over the next few decades, I plan on getting into electronics more and doing altimeters and cameras.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Plane crash in Brooklyn?


Are people in this project building a jet to fly them away to some tropical island? Is this the set for LOST the film?

Note the different colors blurring behind the jet, obviously it was moving very quickly past the ground while the satellite tried to image it. But it is still very crisp all the same. I imagine that, presuming it is flying at an altitude of a few thousand feet, it is larger looking than it should be against those cars and trees. The depth is totally lost here, and the jet looks as if it were just sitting on the ground. When a camera is several hundred miles up, thousands of feet of elevation get compressed into almost nothing. The entire troposphere looks rather cute and thin from space:

There are many planes captured in odd Google Earth images from time to time, but I have to say this is one of the best that I have seen. I found it quite by accident while browsing to find directions to a post office in this part of Brooklyn.


So after doing all of this research, I decided to use Google streetview (TM) to get a closer look:

Interesting. A bit TOO interesting if you ask me. Doesn't this look a bit like a chemtrail conspiracy? You decide for yourself, don't let me try and convince you! (Yes it is a chemtrail, and I got a bloody nose a few weeks ago. Coincidence? You decide. [No it isn't a coincidence, it is a chemtrail conspiracy.])

But seriously, a large truck was blocking the view so I might have to investigate on foot tomorrow, while walking to the post office!

F-15 Quiet Spike

"Quiet Spike is a collaborative program between Gulfstream Aerospace and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center to investigate the suppression of sonic booms.
An eventual outcome of the project is to develop technology that may allow next generation supersonic transports to overfly populated areas at above Mach 1 without the high intensity of sonic boom that proved problematic for first generation supersonic transports such as Concorde (c.f. Operation Bongo). Gulfstream has a particular interest in resolving this problem because of its desire to build a supersonic business jet."

Blog template update:

Obviously I have not done much work around here to change the template. The fact that I only get about 100 readers a day, and few of them ever comment, really doesn't light a flame under my keyboard! : ) However, I just removed the thin google adsense ad bar from the top of the blog. No one clicks on my ads, I don't make much money anymore as a result of rock bottom rates from google, and frankly I would rather have the page look better without them. This is a labor of love not profit. Having said all this, if you have any comments or advice on how to improve the look or function of this page, please post them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft

All asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft as of November 2010
Credits: Montage by Emily Lakdawalla. Ida, Dactyl, Braille, Annefrank, Gaspra, Borrelly: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk. Steins: ESA / OSIRIS team. Eros: NASA / JHUAPL. Itokawa: ISAS / JAXA / Emily Lakdawalla. Mathilde: NASA / JHUAPL / Ted Stryk. Lutetia: ESA / OSIRIS team / Emily Lakdawalla. Halley: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk. Tempel 1, Hartley 2: NASA / JPL / UMD. Wild 2: NASA / JPL.

Can't wait to see Ceres elbow its way in there.

Make high altitude balloons

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SL-1 Nuclear Reactor Accident Video

"U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
Idaho Operations Office

SL-1 The Accident: Phases I and II

Describes this nuclear accident from the point of view of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Considering the time, this film report is exceptionally candid about the vulnerabilities of nuclear reactors. This first civilian reactor accident was especially gruesome in that one of the reactor operators was shot into the ceiling by an expelled reactor vessel plug and control rod. Views of the internal wreckage are fascinating. The cause of this accident has never been determined, although operator error has been alleged.

Documentaries of this quality are rare in the U.S. nuclear community, at least for the general public.

Producer: U.S. Atomic Energy Commission; Creative Commons license: Public Domain

The SL-1, or Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One, was a United States Army experimental nuclear power reactor which underwent a steam explosion and meltdown in January 1961, killing its three operators. The direct cause was the improper withdrawal of the only movable control rod. The event is the only fatal reactor accident in the United States.

The facility, located at the National Reactor Testing Station approximately forty miles (60 km) west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was part of the Army Nuclear Power Program and was known as the Argonne Low Power Reactor (ALPR) during its design and build phase. It was intended to provide electrical power and heat for small, remote military facilities, such as radar sites near the Arctic Circle, and those in the DEW Line. The design power was 3 MW (thermal). Operating power was 200 kW electrical and 400 kW thermal for space heating. NASA system failure studies have cited that the core power level reached nearly 20 GW in just four milliseconds, precipitating the reactor accident and steam explosion.

On December 21, 1960, the reactor was shut down for maintenance, calibration of the instruments, installation of auxiliary instruments, and installation of 44 flux wires to monitor the neutron flux levels in the reactor core. The wires were made of aluminum, and contained slugs of aluminum-cobalt alloy.

On January 3, 1961 the reactor was restarted after a shutdown of eleven days. Maintenance procedures commenced, which required the main central control rod to be withdrawn a few inches; at 9:01 p.m. this rod was withdrawn almost to the top of the core, causing SL-1 to go prompt critical. In four milliseconds, the heat generated by the resulting enormous power surge caused water surrounding the core to begin to explosively vaporize. The water vapor caused a pressure wave to strike the top of the reactor vessel. This propelled the control rod and the entire reactor vessel upwards, which killed the operator who had been standing on top of the vessel, leaving him pinned to the ceiling by a control rod. The other two military personnel, a supervisor and a trainee, were also killed. The victims were Army Specialists John A. Byrnes and Richard L. McKinley and Navy Electrician's Mate Richard C. Legg.

Reactor principles and events
Fission produces neutrons with a wide range of energies. In all light-water-moderated reactors (LWR), to sustain fission of the U-235 the reactor core needs to have water present to moderate (slow down) the neutrons produced by the nuclear reaction. This process is called "thermalizing" and increases the probability of the neutrons causing fission. When reactivity is inserted in the reactor core, more neutrons are available and power rises. Several factors limit the increase in power.

The first limiting factor is that, given a proper initial spectrum of neutron energies, water has a negative reactivity coefficient. Having a negative reactivity coefficient means that, as the water heats up, the molecules are farther apart (water expands and eventually changes phase) and neutrons are less likely to hit hydrogen atoms, so fewer neutrons are thermalized by collisions with the hydrogen in the water and the probability of fission decreases. This removes reactivity from the core. The lower the temperature, the closer the molecules, the greater the number of neutrons thermalized and the greater the core reactivity. It is also possible to design a reactor core that has an entirely different neutron energy spectrum such that it has conditions for which water has a positive reactivity coefficient. A graphite-moderated, water-cooled reactor like the RBMK reactors at Chernobyl may have a positive reactivity coefficient for coolant (water) temperature."

This is a shorter clip showing the recovery process.

"This clip shows the post-emergency response to this radiation accident to recover bodies of the two workers killed. This clip is taken from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) film, SL-1 The Accident: Phases I and II. It describes, using real and recreated film footage, the events surrounding this 1961 nuclear accident, the initial emergency response and the early response to protect the public and the environment. Three workers were killed in this incident, the first worker fatalities associated with nuclear power. For more information on the Sl-1 and this tragic incident, link to . The entire 40 minute film is available for viewing and downloading at the Internet Archives."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gravitational telescopes

I have always been fascinated with the ability of solar system objects, the Sun and planets mostly, to function as large telescope lenses. However, I have been unable to find much information about this technology, including the math behind it until now.

There is one serious limitation to this plan; the telescope must have a large focal length. The distance between the gravitational lens and the camera (probably in the form of a very sensitive space telescope) must be at least 550 AU for the Sun, and about 1000 AU for optical use of the Sun. This is by far the best option. For planets, one must be many thousands of AU out. These distances are very great indeed. Voyager 1 is "only" about 116 AU away from the Sun, and unlikely to reach 550 AU in my lifetime. (It has been on the road since 1977, 5 years before my birth.) The technology is on hand to reach 1000 AU. Ion propulsion, solar photon sails, and beamed energy sails are a few possible ways to make this work. But despite the challenge, there is much science to be done here. A telescope using the Sun as a lens would be able to directly image the surfaces of extra-solar planets including probably continents and oceans. It could also allow us to transmit and receive radio signals across the entire galaxy with unprecedented power.

Below is an image that shows the distance needed to use different bodies in the solar system as a lens:

I frequently plug the TAU and FOCAL missions when talking to astronomers and anyone else who may be interested. It is dangerous to underestimate the potential of such a system, even just for radio astronomy alone (in some ways simpler than optical astronomy with gravitational lensing in the light-day to light-month range.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New 24mm G motors

Machbusters and altitude motors all, particularly that G150... looks like a mach 1.4 motor. Or the G65 for altitude attempts.

Pro 24

AGM-158 JASSM Cruise Missile

"The JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) is an autonomous, long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. JASSM is designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets. JASSM's significant standoff range keeps Air Force and Navy aircrews well out of danger from hostile air defense systems. The missile's mission effectiveness approaches single-missile target kill capability. With this superior performance and affordable price, JASSM offers the best value of any weapon in its class."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

N 10,000 videos

"Greg launches 4 inch dia. carbon fiber rocket using Cesaroni N10000 V-Max 98mm motor. (Mach 1 at 700 feet and Mach 2 around 1100 AGL)"

"Jack Garibaldi and James Dougherty duke it out at LDRS 29 with identical full-scale Patriot missiles flying with Cesaroni N10,0000 motors."

"My Level 3 certification flight at Red Glare IX. The rocket is an Ultimate Wildman flying on an N10000. It flew to 11,927ft at Mach 1.38 and pulled 53 G's off the pad."

Radio Operated Dozers at Chernobyl

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mystery rocket off California is just a jet contrail

"Pentagon can't explain apparent mystery rocket off California coast

The Pentagon is unable to explain images of what appears to be a high-altitude rocket launched off the coast of southern California at sunset Monday, officials said."

At what point do we realize that the public is willfully, dangerously incompetent when it comes to science? It is sad when people are unable to recognize an airplane contrail, because that means they hardly ever look up. And when they do, they have no science tool kit, no ideas about skeptical inquiry, and they usually misunderstand what they see.

Sometimes, sadly, the experts on topics like this also have very little practical knowledge. That is why rocket and aviation experts can look at an obvious contrail and say "It is spectacular, it is a really large missile." Also, for the record, a ballistic missile HAS been launched over the pacific. Indeed the only live American test was a Polaris missile in operation Dominic, out over the Pacific. How can I know this off hand and an expert on TV doesn't? Next time call just about anyone from the NAR and ask them about this object. Save the time.

Read more here:
The Rocketry Blog
The Rocket Dungeon
The Danger Room
New Scientist

People could really benefit from taking some kind of skeptic lessons, or visiting, or maybe just getting a pair of binoculars and looking at the sky a few times BEFORE jumping to wild conclusions about it. Learn it, then talk about it.

Even The Rocketry Planet is in on the frenzy.

Why am I so confident in my statement that this is a jet and contrail? After all, I was not there in person and don't even have a good copy of the video! Well here is why: THE SAME THING HAPPENED LAST YEAR. And then the SAME DUMB PEOPLE JUMPED TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS.

Look familiar?

*Update: Fox news gets the real story!

Relative mass of solar system objects

Monday, November 8, 2010

ASLI project Pathfinder 1B

(Great pic, but get that cute girl out of the way of the airframe!)

"The Pathfinder rocket provides a unique and completely safe platform for student and academic researchers, seeking a true “hands on experience” of space mission style operations. Being 100% free of any explosive propellants, toxic chemicals, electric matches & other pyrotechnic devices commonly used in rockets. Payload user teams are allowed unprecedented access to the rocket all the way up final propellant loading, and commencement of launch operations. Which are managed by ASLI team members, further insuring risk free participation for student & academic researchers."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hartley 2 flyby

The comet as seen by the largest single telescope on Earth, the Arecibo.

The deep impact camera.

"This morning, NASA's Deep Impact (EPOXI) probe flew past Comet Hartley 2 only 435 miles from the comet's active nucleus. The spacecraft has since turned its high-gain antenna toward Earth and data are being transmitted to mission control at JPL. Even without processing, the first raw images are spectacular.

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, mission scientists discussed their first impressions. The comet has a dumbbell shape, they noted, with rough ends and a smooth middle. Jets come from rough terrain and seem to be correlated with specific topographic features. The middle is covered with some kind of fine dusty material that has collected in a topographic low point.

The images reveal a comet bristling with gaseous jets--even on the comet's nightside where volatile ices are temporarily protected from solar heating. Distinct lines of jets trace the comet's day-night terminator. Researchers again expressed their amazement at Comet Hartley 2's hyperactivity."

As usual, the Planetary Society Blog is the best place to go for these kinds of events. Here are some early images from Emily:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Now it is very premature to begin speculating on the nature of this comet. But to my eye, it looks almost as if the two ends are large rubble piles or solid objects, and the center is mostly a fine powder or pile of smaller particles. Almost as if two objects have a central column of dust between them. Is this possible? Wouldn't there be some kind of gravitational limbo between two large masses like that?