Thursday, January 19, 2012
Despite being around for many years, this blog has only today arrived at the 1000th post. Most of these posts have come in just the last three years. Thanks to all the loyal readers; without your interest, the minuscule Google payments alone would not justify maintaining a regular post rate. The picture above may perhaps be the best in the history of rocketry. It is a 4 stage, 10 motor rockoon, accelerating with something like a 75 to 1 thrust ratio on it's way to space. The rocket has just flown directly through a giant helium balloon, piercing it in two places the way a bullet would pass through a soap bubble. The rocket is so fast that the balloon has not yet collapsed. This image encompasses all that is great about rocketry. The farside project was complex, risky, expensive, and damn fast. The upper stage was expected to hit more than 17,000 mph, and top out at an apogee of thousands of miles. That giant balloon contained 3.75 million cubic feet of lift gas. After getting this rockoon to work, there was a tentative plan to use an extra stage to launch payloads at the Moon!
This is the substance of rocketry. This is why rocketry and space exploration will always have a central place in my life. In other words, get ready for the next thousand posts. Soon enough, I will start a new rocket project and attempt level 2 certification in the spring.
Just because this picture is so great, I decided to throw in a Hayden Planetarium (the sphere within the glass building) for scale. It is a bit less than half the diameter, and 1/10th the volume of the balloon used for this project. (Spheres are so strange.)
You can read more about Project Farside here, here, and here.