Category: Space

At least when it comes to the debate over launching the Space Shuttle this July.

After a “spirited” two-day review, NASA managers today concluded the agency has reduced the threat of catastrophic damage from external tank foam and other debris to an acceptable level, a major milestone on the road to clearing the Discovery for launch July 1 on the second post-Columbia shuttle mission.

I have to wonder if this was the same “spirited” debate they had back in 1986 and in 2003.
I honstly think the timeline to mothball the shuttle should be tomorrow. Yeah, as in June 2, 2006. It would put a huge number of people out of work, but the shuttle over its lifetime has become a bloated white elephant that NO ONE wants to retire since it would be “thousands” of people out of work…which at this point is the ONLY reason that it is flying….


Scrweing with Stardust

Looks like someone has been having a little, umm, “fun” with the Stardust spacecraft…

From Transterrestrial Musings
NSF is supposed to have a press release later today about the discovery of a possible Earth sized planet.
(UPDATE): The planet is eight times the mass of the Earth and rotates around it’s star every 1.9 days. Cancel the plans to build the extraterrestial beachfront property…
If anything, 2014 can’t get here soon enough.

Too Close

Apparently scientists are calling to perserving DNA on the moon in case of a cataclysmic ending to the Earth. Here’s why it’s bad.
#1. If something really bad happens that actually wipes the Earth out (like an intergalactic causeway), 239,000 miles isn’t going to be outside the “Danger Zone”.
#2. If something really bad happens that doesn’t wipe out the planet, but just a good chunk of the DNA-bearing creatures that live on it; most likely DNA will still survive and flourish in the aftermath. It’s been done before.
If we’re looking to leave a lasting impression on the universe, it’s pretty easy to do these days. Build a big frigging building that can be easily seen from orbit well outside the Danger Area when the Sun goes Nova (think Pluto/Kupier Belt). Make it reflective as all heck. Then build another. And another. Think “thousand times redundant”. At that point, you have significantly increase your odds of DNA surviving anything that is thrown at it.


Genesis made it home today. Unfortunately the parachute didn’t deploy and it hit the ground at about 100mph. I was lucky to grab the impact on the Tivo, will post a video link when it appears later. It’s pretty spectacular.
Someone needs to start a “Name the New Crater” contest.

San Francisco on High Alert

All San Franciscans are to be on high alert for people wearing funny clothes running around looking for the Enterprise.
Yes boys and girls, someone invented transparent aluminium.

The Darker Side of X-Prize

Or at least in this case, the humorous one….source of the story can be found here.
Warning: Link below leads to large video file.

SpaceShipOne and the Media

Talk about a giant buildup to a complete letdown.
All the major news services were covering the story before takeoff. The big three networks (well, the big one Fox and the other network CNN and it’s bastard stepchild MSNBC) had guys onsite to cover the launch. I should have known things were going downhill when the guys on Fox asked if the chase plane was SpaceShipOne.
Then during the actual launch, all three were either doing other stories or even worse, commercials. Finally when the time came for the ship to return, all three networks focused in on aircraft that were NOT SpaceShipOne (including the same chase plane that Fox had incorrectly pointed out earlier which was Rutan’s Starship).
But even with the horrendous coverage, congrats to Burt, Paul, and the team for pulling off a wonderful flight.

Damn Impressive

Making its way through the geek blogs of the world, Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites had another successful test of SpaceShip One. But to me, the really interesting news was in the flight data…
Launch conditions were 46,000 feet and 120 knots. Motor light off occurred 10 seconds after release and the vehicle boosted smoothly to 150,000 feet and Mach 2.5. Subsequent coast to apogee of 211,400 feet. During a portion of the boost, the flight director display was inoperative, however the pilot continued the planned trajectory referencing the external horizon. Reaction control authority was as predicted and the vehicle recovered in feather experiencing 1.9M and 3.5G’s. Feather oscillations were actively damped by the pilot and the wing was de-feathered starting at 55,000 feet. The onboard avionics was re-booted and a smooth and uneventful landing made to Mojave.
So he had a major avionics failure, rebooted during descent, and then made a safe landing? No offense, if this was NASA, that guy would be toast. This is why NASA runs five computers on the shuttle, in case there is a failure, one can take over immediately. Damn impressive if you ask me….

More Government Waste!

The Federal Government is spending taxpayer dollars on building model rockets.
Actually, it isn’t a waste. NASA, the USAF, and a private company have just launched the first aerospike engine. The flight with a 10 foot long rocket (hint: christmas wish list) got up to Mach 1.5 and went to over 26,000 feet. Aerospike engines are really awesome since they look really cool and are efficient over a variety of altitudes. I won’t go into the details of it, since the article does a nice job on that.
Wonder when Estes is going to start rolling out these bad boys….