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?

Monday, November 1, 2010

TubeSat Personal Satellite Kit
"Planet Earth has entered the age of the Personal Satellite with the introduction of Interorbital's TubeSat Personal Satellite (PS) Kit. The new IOS TubeSat PS Kit is the low-cost alternative to the CubeSat. It has three-quarters of the mass (0.75-kg or 1.65-lb) and volume of a CubeSat, but still offers plenty of room for most experiments or applications. And, best of all, the price of the TubeSat kit includes the price of a launch into Low-Earth-Orbit on an IOS NEPTUNE 45 (N45) launch vehicle. Since the TubeSats are placed into self-decaying orbits 310 kilometers (192 miles) above the Earth's surface, they do not contribute to the long-term build-up of orbital debris. After operating for a few months (the exact length of time on orbit is dependent on solar activity), they will safely re-enter the atmosphere and burn-up. TubeSats are designed to be orbit-friendly. Launches are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2011."

$8,000 TubeSat kit Includes Free Launch!

Interorbital Systems’ TubeSat pico-satellite kit can be assembled into a low-cost satellite bus or a fully functioning satellite. The price of the TubeSat kit includes a guaranteed launch into low-Earth orbit on Interorbital’s NEPTUNE 45 (N45) rocket. Launches are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2011.

Examples of TubeSat experiments include the following:

Earth-from-space video imaging

Earth magnetic field measurement

Satellite orientation detection (horizon sensor, gyros, accelerometers, etc.)

Amateur radio relay

Orbital environment measurements (temperature, pressure, radiation, etc.)

On-orbit hardware and software component testing (microprocessors, etc.)

Tracking migratory animals from orbit

Testing satellite stabilization methods

Biological experimentation

Automatic simple, repeating “message from orbit” transmission

Private e-mail

The builder can add any type of electronics or software application he or she wishes as long as it satisfies the volume and mass restrictions. These restrictions provide a unique intellectual challenge for the application designer.

Each TubeSat Kit includes the following basic hardware and software:

Printed Circuit Board Gerber Files

A Transceiver

A Battery Pack

Solar Cells

A Power Management Control System (PMCS)




Power switch

Complete Instructions

The total mass of the basic TubeSat systems is 0.50 kg. This leaves 0.25 kg for your experiment.

Your TubeSat will be launched into orbit on the IOS NEPTUNE 30 rocket

The IOS NEPTUNE 45 is a three-stage, modular, ultra low-cost orbital launch vehicle developed and built by Interorbital Systems. It is designed to place 45 kilograms into polar low-Earth orbit. This payload capacity allows formations of 48 TubeSats or a combination of CubeSats and TubeSats to be launched per orbital mission with each TubeSat or CubeSat housed in its own dedicated ejection cylinder. Other orbits are also available.

Your TubeSat will be launched into a polar orbit

IOS rockets are slated to be launched into orbit from the IOS Spaceport Tonga located in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga.

Your TubeSat will be launched into a self-decaying orbit

TubeSats are designed to operate for up to 3 months. They will be launched into a 310 km orbit with an orbital longevity of three weeks to three months depending on the solar weather. At some time during the end of this period, they will safely re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. This prevents the build-up of orbital debris fields.

Your TubeSat can be monitored on the ground Amateur Radio receivers

TubeSat owners can build their own uplink/downlink installation, use a hand-held receiver, or make use of existing ground stations or networks located around the world. Interorbital is presently developing a web-based communications system for the TubeSat community.

Multiple TubeSats

TubeSats are also available as Double TubeSats or Triple TubeSats. The length, volume, and mass of these expanded TubeSats are based on the multiplying factor.



TubeSat Shell: OD = 8.94 cm (3.52 in), ID= 8.56 cm (3.37 in), Length = 12.7 cm (5.0 in)

TubeSat Bearing to Bearing Length: 13.72 cm (5.4 in)

Deployment Cylinder: OD = 10.20 cm (4.00 in) ID = 9.91 cm (3.90 in)

The gap between the outside of the TubeSat and the inside of the Deployment Unit is 0.49 cm (0.19 in). This gap can be utilized for solar cells, antennas, or other hardware.

Mass (max): 0.75 kg

Mass Application with basic bus components (max): 0.25 kg

Mass of hardware: 0.50 kg

Experiment or Function Space: OD = 8.94 cm (3.52 in) Length = approx. 5.0 cm (2 in)

Transceiver Options:

Amateur Radio Band: Frequency 433 MHz

Voltage: 4.5–5.0 VDC; Output: 500 mW mW

License Free: Frequency: 902 to 928 MHz or 2.4000 to 2.4835 GHz Spread Spectrum

Voltage: 3.3VDC; Output: 100 mW to 1,000 mW Selectable

Computer: Micro Controller with memory board

Battery Power: Lithium Ion 3.6 V

Solar Cells: 2.52 V 31 mA (48)

Antenna: Dipole

Specifications are subject to change. E-mail Interorbital Systems for more detailed information on hardware and ordering.