|SLS âracing stripesâ replaced with photogrammetry targets|
Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK has cast ten solid rocket booster (SRB) segments for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). Four of those segments have been completed at the company's facilities in Promontory, Utah, and painted with photogrammetric markings. Two five-segment boosters will be used to help power the super-heavy-lift vehicle into orbit as early as 2019 â but what happened to the rocket's "racing stripes"?
The post SLS âracing stripesâ replaced with photogrammetry targets appeared first on SpaceFlight Insider.
|Turtle Talk #5: GAMERAâGUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (1995)|
Ah, that dreadful moment when you step from a Showa kaiju series into a Heisei kaiju series and production values have gone up so substantially that you almost feel the need to drop the kaiju-reviewinâ kurve and judge these movies like you would any other. The Devilâs Envoy is back for a new generation, and he brought some of his classic foes with âim! Well, technically just one, but they are legion now! Allow us to explain, gentle readerâ¦ Like Godzillaâs darker, harder-edged Heisei reboot, GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE starts with a ship in peril. A plutonium-carrying tanker crashes against an atoll. Drama abounds, as breathing one molecule of this shit is enough to cause cancer. Butâ¦ nothing is spilled? A true mystery! The mystery gets even more mysterious when the atoll simply vanishes. A research team is sent to the moving rock formation as it approaches Japan, consisting of leader Naoya Kusanagi (Akira Onodera) and first mate of the ship from the opening scene Yoshinari Yonemori (Tsuyoshi Ihara). The island quickly seems to be more than meets the eye: littered with comma-shaped orichalcum amulets and strange etchings, the team comes to the conclusion that something is afoot here. Ya donât think? While investigating a monolith engraved with Etrurian runes, something goes wrong. A quake â and the atoll takes off once more! The scientists are thrown off, but Yoshi sees a giant (not entirely un-JURASSIC PARK-like) eyeâ¦ what could this be in this film called GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE?
Meanwhile, in the other plot, ornithologist Mayumi Nagamine (Shinobu Nakayama) is summoned to a distant island where her mentor professor Hirata (nobody) seems to have vanished. The last thing he was able to say in a storm-disturbed phone call was âbird.â If you still have any doubt as to whatâs happening here â ornithologist protagonist introduced, the fact that youâre watching a big monster movie, disappeared side character hinting at âbirdâ â the movie really makes it clear by having Mayumi find a big pile of bird shit containing professor Hirataâs glasses. What a delightfully crude and cruel way to show that we are indeed dealing with a giant, and â fairly rare for the kaiju eiga genre â man-eating bird. Thatâs right, Gyaos is back from the Showa era to combat our favorite jet-propelled turtle. If this makes you weary since Gyaos was one of the worst looking creatures of that time, fret not! The updated version actually kind of looks amazing, a dark copper-colored creature of malevolent instinct. Its big triangular head with the V-like plate covering its eyes now occasionally bobs up and down quickly as it chews on meat, giving the fantasy-version of a Pterosaur an almost Gremlin-like air of mischief. Heee hee hee weâre gonna eat ya and shit ya out! Thatâs wonderful!
That element of crude transgression no doubt came from director Shusuke Kaneko, a man Godzilla fans may already know from no doubt the best action and second best horror movie of that franchise, GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK. His run of GAMERA films got him the job working on the original big G, and if this first Heisei Gamera is any indication, you can see why Toho approached him! The creaturesâ physicality is at an all-time high, and the decision to make the Gyaos birds actually eat people (and, in one scene sure to distress animal lovers like myself, a poor chained-up dog) is a great one. Seeing the Gyaos chomp down on carcasses, pick off humans, shit them out (!), bleeding their own slime-like bloodâ¦ well, this is an intense movie, as Kaneko is seemingly wont to make! Have you recovered yet, Travis?
I'm more than recovered, Luca. In fact, this era of Gamera re-vitalizes my kaiju-lovin' spirit! I mentioned in the beginning of this series that I was no fan of him as a child and dismissed his Showa adventures as trifle compared to my beloved Godzilla flicks. It wasn't until my teen years that I could access more Japanese monster movies beyond what I could catch on TV, and the Heisei Gamera films were quite highly regarded among fan communities. With a little hesitation, I finally rented a copy of GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE and was blown away. Though the big turtle is the hero of this trilogy, Kaneko truly is the star. The kinetic energy he brings is a breath of fresh air, and it's not just the action sequences that are livened up. The human scenes where people talk on and on about the monsters' origins and how to defeat them and yada yada are peppered with pull-in close ups, Dutch angles, and even sweeping pan shots. Okay, it doesn't sound that exciting, but when your typical kaiju flicks cut from boring medium shot to boring medium shot when showing folks in lab coats and military uniforms, a little movement is appreciated! It shows that Kaneko cares about the filler stuff and wants to give it enough energetic flow as we go between the monster action.
I'm sure we'll have more to write about Kaneko in the next few reviews, but let's take a quick look at his pre-kaiju career. His indoctrination into the film industry began in the 1980s at the movie studio Nikkatsu. In particular, he found quick work as a screenwriter and assistant director for many of Nikkatsu's Roman Porno films (or âpink filmsâ, the popular Japanese genre of theatrical erotic features). He eventually made his directorial debut with 1984's KOICHIRO UNO'S WET AND SWINGING and would win numerous awards for his pink films until Nikkatsu closed its doors in 1988. Despite this, he continued to direct feature films into the 1990s and even helmed a segment of the American horror anthology NECRONOMICON. He would eventually find his biggest financial and critical success with his Gamera trilogy, which of course lead him to take on Godzilla for 2004's GMK. Though he hasn't returned to the kaiju stuff since GMK, he's remained a busy director, most notably for his live action adaptations of the popular manga DEATH NOTE in 2006 and 2007.
I would happily welcome him back to the monster wrestling world though! One thing I love about his kaiju stuff is the sense of history he gives to the monsters. They're not simply creatures that suddenly appear and wreck shit up, but they have ties to ancient history and civilizations. Just as Godzilla and company were old Japanese spirits of the past in GMK, Gamera's Heisei backstory ties itself to the lost island of Atlantis. In this narrative, the technologically advanced Atlanteans apparently created Gyaos through genetic engineering, but their creation ultimately lead to their extinction when it became too dangerous and wiped them all out. However, in a last ditch effort to protect future civilizations from Gyaos, they also created another hybrid animal to be the guardian of the universe... Gamera! Yep, instead of having these monsters fire laser beams and blast off with rocket boosters for no reason, we're told that the kaiju in this universe are the result of scientific tampering. Which is... kind of a neat idea! I like it because it's an amalgamation of fantastic elements (Atlantis) and plausible science (genetic modification of species). I think it also works because although we've known that Gamera has existed since Atlantean times in his 1965 debut film, there hasn't been a concrete origin for him. Illustrating the minor details we were given in the first GAMERA feature is a fun way of both revamping him while keeping him tied to his Showa past. Anything else strike you in this bold Heisei direction, Luca?
So in our little talk about a new era of Gamera with a new director in which I praise the newly acquired physicality of the monsters, and the grounding of them as real creatures by focusing on all manner of bodily fluids, you inform me that the new director used to do porno? Should I even waste time coming up with a joke here? In all seriousness though, thatâs kind of fantastic. In this series and the Godzilla one, Iâve often compared kaiju eiga to both wrestling and porn. The fact that some of its most celebrated entries are from the mind of a man who in fact cut his teeth working on a genre that is basically defined by bodies in motion and interacting with each other should tell you something. While Kanekoâs iconoclastic treatment of some of Tohoâs monsters in GMK left me with a slightly bad taste in my mouth (despite it being an excellent kaiju action movie), his extreme reimaginings of classic Showa creatures were essentially perfect. Oh, 60s Gyaos was a big troll? Letâs make him an extreme dog-killer and human-munching troll for our hardcore 90s version. Gamera was an Atlantean monster who was also a friend to all children? Well maybe he was an Atlantean creation that can be communicated with via magical rock! And mayhaps a teenage girl will get a hold of such a rock! It almost feels like what happened in the 80s with the British Invasion of American superhero comics, and the likes of Swamp Thing and Animal Man were not just re-imagined, but actually rebuilt starting from a fresh interpretation of their original concepts.
While those particular runs of the comics are known for their dark and gritty departures from their kid-friendly roots, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE doesnât so much bring us a âdarkâ version of olâ shellhead as a âmore visually realisticâ one. The gore and slime and physical viscerality of the action donât really preclude kids from watching this movie, but I would definitely recommend that maybe kids 8 and up watch it, whereas the Showas are totally 6 and up. The shift in audience kid-identification character from boy scout and toddler-age moppets in the Showa movies to this movieâs assertive teen (and monster-controller) Asagi (Ayago Fujitani â the actual daughter of Steven Seagal) certainly indicates this. Itâs a bit of a shame that sheâs saddled with a run-of-the-mill âwhy is dad never homeâ motivation, but it seems par for the course in this more grounded new direction. Iâm sure the wackiness in the human scenes will come forth as we proceed in the Heisei era, as it did with the Godzilla movies. Iâm not contradicting you in Kanekoâs attempts at bringing some verve in the necessary human scenes, Travis, itâs just that Kazunori Itoâs screenplay brings things back to basics when it comes to these characters, which does not work exceedingly well when binge-watching these movies as we have. Of course, I also acknowledge that this should not really be a concern for any screenwriter ever. Unless youâre commissioned to do a Netflix/Amazon/Hulu show, I suppose!
Any final thoughts on this slimy new porno-take on the friend of all children (but not in that way), Travis?
I think the character of Asagi epitomizes for me the strength of this movie. How long has Gamera been known as âthe friend to all childrenâ? Such a label is cute, but it has also been sort of a negative mark, indicating how blatantly kid-friendly the series is. In GUARDIAN, we never hear anyone say the famous moniker, and yet we still understand the strong connection between our monster hero and Asagi. It's this refreshment of cheesy clichÃ©s that works incredibly well for me. Of course, let's not forget that this movie's all about a big turtle fighting a big bird, but giving just a little maturation to the broad details of the Gamera series keeps the Heisei entries on a nice balance of grounded reality and kaiju whack-a-doo.
In fact, GUARDIAN won over famous critic Roger Ebert! He was never a fan of silly kaiju stuff, and a glance at his negative reviews for Godzilla movies (GOJIRA only got received one and a half stars!) showed that he had little patience for rubber creatures knocking over buildings. Yet in his printed review for GUARDIAN, he not only gave it three stars, but he also kept praising it over the Hollywood blockbuster AIR FORCE ONE (which had opened a month before GUARDIAN's limited US run in 1997). In his comparison, AIR FORCE ONE was another dour, realistic action film while GUARDIAN was just a fun, goofy time. He writes, â'Gamera' is not a good movie but it is a good moviegoing experience.â He even talks about the possibility that Gamera's rocket powers might actually be supplied by the turtle's own flatulence! Hey, sometimes it's nice to see the co-writer of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS still recognize the trashy pleasures of cinema. Japanese audiences shared in that joy too, as GUARDIAN was a box office hit and signaled the triumphant return of our hero. The Gyaos might have been legion, but a threat from outer space was soon going to be more... uh, legion. And you'll see why in... well, GAMERA: ATTACK OF LEGION!
|We're back on Mars - Curiosity Touchdown Story|
Yes, we've just made it to the Mars once again, a few minutes ago Curiosity Rover safe-landed on Mars and started to send back the signals. I was just glued to my chair during the last 2 hours of flight of the Curiosity capsule, listening to various media news and NASA TV and finally as it was successful, I was sunken in a lot of feelings. What an effort made by the crew to have this sophisticated robot landed on our neighboring planet, the dedication and sacrifices they've put forward in bringing this up to a reality. So hats off to all those who are behind this great project, well done guys !!!
Plus what kind of discoveries can be made with this rover's expertise. By far Curiosity is the largest rover to have landed on Mars as we know and what we all just have to do is let the science begin, Already there are torrents of photos and data being sent to Earth and you all can see the pictures in NASA website. Quite interestingly it was seen that the NASA web-servers crashed at the high traffic naturally triggered for the Curiosity's news of safe landing. Anyway stay tuned in for NASA for latest news about the Curiosity.
Just before the first entry point, it was seen the usual tradition of munching of peanuts was practiced and now we all know that Curiosity has made it to Mars safely. The crews at JPL were exhilarating as they made the achievement when the pictures of the Martian surface appeared on the screen. It was truly a moment of joy and celebration, as their untiring efforts paid off.
If you have time just try to find and have a look at the animation depicting the entry and landing, the technique of parachute and rocket boosters is novel and interesting. They have built the largest ever parachute for this endeavor, I heard. Looking forward to more updates from Curiosity !
Pictures courtesy : NASA TV
|Welcoming Back the last solid rocket booster from the shuttle programme||none|
|NASAâs Space Shuttle Program: 30 Years of Flight|
|SpaceX pulls off first successful mid-ocean rocket landing||
Four failed attempts and years of effort paid off Friday, as the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and lowered itself vertically onto a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean — the company’s first successful landing at sea.
The aerospace and space transport company landed the rocket on terra firma once before, but its size — 12 stories tall and a diameter about the length of Volkswagen Beetle —Â made bringing it to a platform bobbing in the open ocean challenging.
According to an AFP report, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the ability to safely land a rocket so it can be used again — as opposed to the traditional method of deploying a new rocket for each launch and allowing used rockets to crash-land in the ocean — will make it cheaper to get to space, and more Eco-friendly.
Several of the company’s earlier attempts at rocket landings ended in spectacular near-misses
Musk said it costs roughly $300,000 to fuel the rocket with combination of kerosene and liquid oxygen and $60 million to build a new one.
“If you have got a rocket that can be fully and rapidly reused, it is somewhere on the order of a 100-fold cost reduction, in marginal costs,” Musk said.
President Barack Obama was quick to congratulate SpaceX Friday after the rocket gracefully alighted on the oceanic landing platform, a drone ship that SpaceX christened “Of Course I Still Love You.”
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
Since it was founded in 2002, SpaceX, whose name is short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has rapidly become a major player in the American aerospace industry and an important part of NASA’s future plans.
The agency has already awarded contracts worth over $4 billion to the California-based company as part of its effort to reduce its reliance on Russian space shuttles. And before it landed Friday, the rocket launched into orbit a cargo craft laden with supplies for astronauts at the International Space Station.
Video of the successful Falcon 9 rocket landing on a drone ship.
The post SpaceX pulls off first successful mid-ocean rocket landing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
|MRS 007 My Ruby Story Charles Max Wood|
My Ruby Story with Charles Max Wood
How did you get into Programming?
Inspired by his Grandfather
Electrical engineering in College
Programming gets more serious
His first job with Ruby on Rails
Shifting into Podcasting
What are you working on now?
|Advanced NASA camera catches amazing detail in rocket test||A revolutionary new video camera capable of catching extremely detailed footage is helping NASA learn more about its rocket booster technology. But as an engineer noted, it didn’t all go according to plan during a recent test of the prototype camera tech. Source: Advanced NASA camera catches amazing detail in rocket test|
|Go Fever: short fiction by Patrick Ryan|| |
Understand, we were all feeling a little rattled. Some of us had been in charge of checking the range-safety systems on the rocket boosters. Some of us had been combing over the liquid oxygen and hydrogen lines on the external fuel tank. Some of us â guys like me â had been double- and triple-checking the 31,000 thermal-protection tiles that covered the outside of the orbiter. The people who inspected the body flaps and elevons, the people who maintained the aft control thrusters, even the people who inflated the tires and washed the cabin windows had been involved in the incident. You didnât have to be the man whoâd given the okay to launch on that cold Tuesday morning to feel responsible.
Image also via Catapult
|NASA HiDyRS-X Camera Reveals New Detail in Rocket Plumes||If you have ever seen photos of NASA rocket boostersÂ in flight or in testing, you know that all you really see is a bright orange flare. Itâs impossible to make out much in the way…|
|SpaceX Launches a Satellite With a Partly Used Rocket||The use of a rocket booster that had flown once before may open an era of cheaper space travel, particularly for business ventures like satellite companies.|
|Columbia: The Road Trip|
I was cleaning off my hard drive and I found this. I have modified it very little. I believe I wrote it in about 2001.
Thirty-five years ago, six of us set out from Lake Geneva, WI, in two cars. We had told our bosses that we were taking a few days off to see Columbiaâs first launch. Lawrence, his wife Josie, and Jeff were in Lawrence & Josieâs car. Erol, Paul, and I were in mine.
Iâll say, right from the beginning, that many of the routine details of the trip are hazy now. I couldn't consult photos, because they're all in storage. I donât remember the route we drove, although I suspect that we went from Lake Geneva through Indianapolis, Louisville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Gainesville, Orlando to somewhere near Cocoa, just inland from Cape Canaveral, following I-65 and I-75. Itâs likely that some of the sharp memories of the trip are just as hazy as well. But everything here is as I remember it, with some support from Google.
Columbia was scheduled to launch in the early morning of Friday, 10 April 1981 as STS-1. With nearly 1300 miles to drive (and without Google Maps or GPS to help us) we figured on leaving Wednesday evening after work and driving straight through, arriving in Florida Thursday night. Lawrence had contacted a D&D fan in the area of Cape Canaveral, whoâd convinced his parents to let us crash at his place. In return, we agreed to run at least one game for them fanboy and his friends while we were there.
Once the launch was over on Friday, we thought weâd visit the beach during the afternoon and run the game in the evening. Then weâd cross Florida to visit Disney World on Saturday before starting back on Saturday night, thus missing only two days of work.
The Drive Down
Putting three 20-year-old boys into a car together for more than 20 straight hours of driving is guaranteed to generate bizarre behaviour, even if the three arenât all avid D&D players. We had our fair share. Someone in the car drew up a sign for the passenger side saying âwe kill XXX for fun and profitâ, where XXX was the common name for a specific religious minority in the US. I remember the sign, but not the context. Somewhere in Florida, one of my passengers was hanging out of the right side window asking a cute girl in the next lane âare you bisexual?â. At 75 miles per hour. At night. Without alcohol to blame it on. In 1981.
We didnât stop to sleep, just rotated drivers when necessary. Since this was before cell phones, we had to stay right with each other and use limited signals to indicate the need for a stop.
Crashing with a fanboy
I donât know exactly how Lawrence had made contact with our host fanboy. It almost has to have been by fan letter. I certainly donât remember other details about him, like name, hometown, or pretty much anything else. I think he was maybe fifteen.
In any case, Lawrence had this contact, and got a phone number, and arrangements were made. We had a place to crash (six of us -- his parents were clearly very tolerant). The âpriceâ was very reasonable -- run a game, or maybe two. Since that was essentially what we all did for a living, and in our free time for fun, it wouldnât be much of a hardship.
Alarm clocks went off at four or five am. After way too little sleep, we piled into a van provided by our hosts (Iâm not positive about that, but I donât think we drove our two vehicles -- itâs possible we squeezed the six of us into one car) and headed for the Cape.
Traffic was atrocious. It seemed that they had not anticipated the interest in Columbiaâs launch. It wasnât just bumper-to-bumper, it was (mostly) stop and (seldom) go. We had the radio on, and as launch time approached, we were happier and happier about holds.
Eventually we parked at a viewing area. It was plush, with vendors selling souvenirs, bleachers, trailer-offices, media, talking heads, and bunkers. It was clearly not where we belonged. Somehow in the mess of getting people into the Cape, weâd ended up at the VIP viewing area.
The view wasnât great, actually. It seemed to be all over land, with brush and low trees between us and the launch site. But from the bleachers you could see pretty well. And there were lots of big cameras here, both TV and film.
We made the most of our good fortune. We ate the food, oogled the souvenirs (most of us barely made minimum wage), clambered around the bleachers, goggled at the celebrities (mostly news-type celebrities, it must be said), and generally made a nuisance of ourselves. At least we werenât the only ones doing it. Or the only ones who didnât belong there.
Friday's launch was scrubbed due to computer malfunction. Fortunately, the APs managing traffic had learned something since the morning, and we were all off the Cape within an hour or so.
The Atlantic Ocean
Since we had the rest of the day to ourselves, we thought weâd go and show Jeff what an ocean looked like. Even though the Great Lakes are wide enough to have no visible farther shore, they donât look like an ocean.
The beach was covered, absolutely covered, in jellyfish. Which were immediately dubbed âMan oâ War Jellyfishâ (whether they were actually capable of stinging was never tested). We walked along the beach covering them with sand and smashing them with large flat rocks. One of my friends approached an attractive young lady and explained that she should not swim. Her response was devastating in tone, if simple in words: "I know" :-)
Since we obviously couldnât swim in Man oâ War infested ocean waters, we used our hostâs pool. There is a picture somewhere of several of us, pasty white from the Wisconsin winter, standing by the pool with our arms outstretched, our eyes closed, turning to get the most possible sunlight.
I slept through Lawrenceâs game. I donât know about anyone else. I vaguely recall a slice of pizza landing in a large glass of milk at dinner, though.
Because NASA could not cycle Columbia in less than about 48 hours, we had to decide what to do. We had always planned to go to Disney World on Saturday. If we left as planned, weâd driven 1300 miles and back again for no particular reason except to visit Disney World. If we stayed another 18 hours, weâd be driving home for 20 plus hours and going straight into work on Monday morning.
Four of us were 21 or under, so of course we decided to stay and see the launch if it happened Sunday morning! It seemed unlikely that theyâd fire us all, since we represented about 1/2 of the design group, 1/3 of the development group, and 1/4 of the artists. And they werenât paying us that well anyway.
Saturday morning we up and drove across Florida to Disney World. We did all the things that youâd expect us to. And by the end of the day, we were so exhausted that we all crashed out on the railroad that circles the park, singing Kliban. You know, the cat guy? We were finding out how many stylistic variations we could do of:
Love them little mousies
Mousies what I love to eat
Bite they little heads off
Nibble on they tiny feet.
I recall that we did pop and country versions, but the one I liked best was the Gregorian chant. Surprisingly, security did not even comment, much less remove us from the park as undesirables.
As it happened, Columbia had been re-scheduled for launch on the morning of 12 April 1981, exactly 20 years after Yuri Gagarin flew in Vostok 1. Without having Wikipedia handy, we were of course unaware of the timing :-).
Unlike Friday morning driving to the Cape, Sunday morning went very smoothly. As a result, we were not in the VIP area :-(. Instead, we were on the first of a series of causeways across ponds and wetlands. Because we had planned to take as long to get onto the Cape as it had taken Friday, we were early, and roughly in the middle of the first causeway. Several other causeways behind us gradually filled with other visitors. Every causeway had its own set of speakers, which resulted in a maddening echo effect being applied to every word Mission Control said. âHoldingâ became âHOLDING ... Holding ... holding ... hldngâ as we got the word from successive sets of speakers behind us.
Since weâd left a couple of extra hours early, we got there before dawn. Even though we were used to Wisconsin winter weather, it was cold sitting for hours just a few inches above the water. Sunrise was at about six. The launch was scheduled for seven.
As it got close to seven, you could feel the tension rise. I donât know how many people there were, but we had hundreds of vehicles on our causeway alone (weâd brought both our cars because we were leaving immediately after the launch). Since few if any of the vehicles were single drivers, we must have had thousands of people on the causeways. Cameras were set up. They ranged from high-end systems with lenses that looked feet long down to Jeffâs Instamatic. Which he was holding up to a pair of binoculars.
The boom box weâd been using for a radio had a cassette recorder in it. We plopped a blank tape in it and started recording as the final seconds ticked away, each number coming from the rows of speakers over and over and over again.
Crowd noise rose as the countdown dropped. Individual words disappeared and were replaced with squeals and screams and shouts. At âignitionâ there was a greater shout -- a single word cast across the water: âYeah!â. I think, in our secret hearts, weâd all been sure that this was going to be Friday all over again. Now it was really going to happen.
Smoke spilled from the solid rocket boosters. Shutters began snapping frantically. The crowd noise continued to rise. As the count hit zero and began to climb, we could see the shockwave from the shuttle engines moving across the water at us. It was a wave front of distortion charging through the shallow water, and as it lapped at our causeway, it carried the booster noise.
Crowd noise, which had been loud enough to make me think about covering my ears, just vanished in a vast thrumming. You could see that other peopleâs mouths were open, but whatever noise we were making was inconsequential when compared with the voice of Columbia.
The April 12 launch at Pad 39A of STS-1, just seconds past 7 a.m.,
Earth orbital mission scheduled to last for 54 hours, ending with
unpowered landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
And she rose. She rose from that flat piece of lowland across the water, trailing booster smoke and riding flame. She made, for the first time, that distinctive roll that bent toward the east, to protect us in case of disaster. The sun caught her, and the crowd noise came back. It was as if everybodyâs favorite team has just won the Super Bowl and the World Series and the Stanley Cup, all at once, and then Peace Had Been Declared.
And she raced toward orbit.
Before I knew it, she was gone. Her voice, which had been so commanding at launch, was replaced with hundreds of hoarse human voices, and the mechanical voice of Mission Control, reporting facts that fell upon our no-longer deaf ears again and again.
My camera was out of film. I had no real recollection of images Iâd tried to take. Those prints and negatives are probably somewhere in storage, among the ten or twelve bankers boxes I have of family photos.
We left the Cape right after launch and started back to Wisconsin. The recording went right into the carâs tape player, and we discovered the meaning of âclippingâ. We could hear people shouting and screaming until the roar of Columbiaâs engines hit. The recording became a brown noise hum. It wasnât even particularly loud (the recorder probably had some sort of automatic volume control, or we overloaded the dynamic range of the device). After a while, the human voices just faded back in.
It wasnât nearly as dramatic as the actual event had been.
When we crossed I-10 near Lake City, our car had a serious discussion: should we turn left and try to watch the landing? We decided that it would almost certainly cost us our jobs, and weâd still have to drive back to Wisconsin to get our stuff, and we might not even make it in time, since Columbia was going to land in two days.
Unlike the trip down, where weâd almost always had one driver, one awake, and one sleeping, the trip back was almost always one driver and two sleeping. Whenever a driver couldnât go any further, weâd stop for food. That seemed like it turned out to be every two or three hours, and we were punchy. We actually got asked to leave a restaurant when Erol carefully ate his burger into the shape of a pyramid and left it on his plate. They accidentally locked us in the airlock before letting us out.
I think we got back to Lake Geneva about 10am Monday morning, and went right to work, where we did fuck-all that day.
Twenty-one Years Later
I saw Columbia fly one other time. She was refitted by NASA for the last time between July 1999 and March 2002. She launched 1 March 2002 (the third anniversary of my motherâs death) as STS-109 to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Sara and I had made a trip to Florida for other reasons and took the morning off to drive to Cocoa and watch from a parking lot.
We were a lot farther away. Iâm not even sure they allowed people onto the Cape for launches after 9/11. We couldnât see Columbia very well on the ground. The crowd was a lot smaller, and there was no SRB noise. But she jumped off the pad and made that roll to the east, and the sun caught her, and the crowd cheered her.
And she raced toward orbit.
It was her penultimate flight.
Eleven months later, Columbia broke up on re-entry of STS-107. A piece of insulation from the main fuel tank had damaged the protective tiles on the left wing during launch. The tiles failed catastrophically on re-entry. All seven aboard were killed.
|Hack Train Conductor World iOS Game Cheat No Jailbreak|
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|The 83rd Thing Learned from QM-2||They came for an awesome display of pure propulsive power. They got a lesson in the realities of spaceflight. â¦Followed by an awesome display of pure propulsive power. While engineers in Utah prepared for the second Qualification Motor (QM-2) test of a Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket booster, another team of NASA engineers from Marshall Space Flight Center visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama to give a presentation to Space Camp trainees and museum guests explaining what would be happening during the test, how the boosters work, what the next steps are to get the boosters ready for the first launch, and how Space Launch System will play a key role in NASAâs Journey to Mars. The museum, which is home to Space Camp, is practically in the backyard of NASAâs Marshall Space Flight Center, where SLS is managed. On the morning of the test, museum attendees and Space Camp trainees filled a theater at the museum to watch the two-minute-long firing of the 17-story solid rocket booster, the most powerful ever built for human spaceflight. The firing would provide information to answer 82 questions about how the booster performs, including how it would respond in cold-weather conditions. What they ended up seeing that day was a huge milestone for the Space Launch System and a major step toward human exploration of deep space. The motor performed as anticipated for the burn. The inside of the motor, where the propellant had been cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to simulate a cold day at the launch site, reached nearly 6,000 degrees, and the flames leaving the booster melted sand into glass. The test clears the way for qualification of the solid rocket boosters as ready to fly on the first launch of SLS in 2018. In addition to the test and presentation, they also got a real-life lesson on the challenges in developing and flying space systems. As hundreds of children took their seats, the live NASA TV feed appeared on the giant theater screen, showing the booster mounted in the test stand â and the word âholdâ underneath it. A technical issue had delayed the test â a problem with a sequencing computer. When one listens to the audio feed of a rocket or shuttle launch, you can hear announcements of the steps being taken as the countdown clock nears zero â âvehicle is on internal power,â âmain engines start,â etc. For a rocket to launch, numerous things have to all happen properly, and all in the correct order, one event paving the way for the next. The booster test required that same sort of preparation and precision â many things had to happen properly, and in the proper order, both before and after ignition of the booster. When the computer responsible for managing that sequence failed to function correctly, the test had to be delayed. From a big picture view, the delay was relatively minor â after a discussion on how best to proceed, the software was changed out, the clock was reset, and the test took place just one hour after it was originally scheduled. During the delay, the audience heard the NASA teamâs presentation and got a big-screen viewing of last yearâs first qualification motor test (QM-1) test. But they also got a real-world demonstration of what theyâd been learning in Space Camp â the best word you can hear in the space business is ânominal,â meaning everything is proceeding as expected, but there are sometimes you donât hear that word. You work as hard as you can to make sure that you do, and you work as hard as you can to be prepared for when you donât. When an âoff-nominalâ challenge arose, the NASA and Orbital ATK team in Utah rapidly assessed the problem, identified options for moving forward, evaluated the risks and benefits, and implemented a solution that allowed the test to proceed quickly and successfully. While some of the original attendees had to leave in favor of hands-on activities like microgravity water-tank training, when the test took place, the remaining audience counted down to the firing, and cheered when the booster ignited and extinguished, the giant screen showing the close-up shots at almost life size and the sound system doing its best to do justice to the roar of the motor as it turned desert sand into glass. There was excitement over the observation that the next time a booster like this is lit, it will be powering SLS off the launch pad for its first flight. The one QM-2 solid rocket motor, by itself, produced more thrust than it takes to lift most rockets off the ground and send them into space, and required millions of pounds of concrete in the test facility to make sure it didnât move. Next time, there will be nothing holding it back. Next Time: All Roads Lead to Florida Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. Weâd love to hear your feedback!|
|Behind the Scenes at QM-2: Getting Ready to Test the Worldâs Largest Solid Rocket Motor||By Beverly Perry For two monumental minutes on June 28, the Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters â the largest ever built for flight â will fire up in an amazing display of power as engineers verify their designs in the last full-scale test before SLSâs first flight in late 2018. Each piece of hardware thatâs qualified and each major test â like this one, dubbed QM-2 â puts NASA one step closer on its Journey to Mars. The smoke and fire may last only two minutes, but engineers at NASAâs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and Orbital ATK in Promontory, Utah have been preparing weeks â even months â in advance for the static test of Qualification Motor 2 (QM-2). Hereâs a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into getting ready to fire up the largest and most powerful solid rocket motor ever built for flight. T (for test) minus weeks and months. In the months prior to the test, propellant-filled segments began arriving at Orbital ATKâs Test Bay T-97 after being cast in nearby facilities. Many of these segments are veterans of space shuttle flights. In fact, the various metal case segments that comprise the five-segment QM-2 motor flew on 48 shuttle flights! T minus 14 days. In the two weeks leading up to the test, Orbital ATK engineers begin dry runs that simulate the final test as closely as possible (without the smoke and fire). They put the motor and associated systems through their paces no fewer than 11 times before the big day to ensure not only that all systems are functioning as expected, but also that the test will be executed properly. âWe only get one shot at firing the rocket motor,â says Dr. Janica Cheney, Orbital ATKâs director of Test Operations. âAll the dry runs and other preparations that take place ahead of time are critical to ensuring we get the data we need from this test firing.â T minus 24 hours. For this final full-scale static test, engineers have 82 goals, or test objectives, they need to measure and evaluate. One day before the test, itâs crunch time; caffeineâs flowing as engineers work around the clock the day before the test to ensure all systems function properly and all necessary data can be collected. T minus 8 hours. Game day. Thereâs focus â and excitement. There are two more dry runs leading up to the test. Engineers, technicians and operators are âon station,â â present and accounted for at key locations such as the test bay, the instrument rooms and the control bunker. When you hear âcontrol bunker,â think mission control â a command and control center that directs every aspect of the test, similar to what you see at mission control during a launch. Time flies during the final eight hours before the test. T minus 6 hours. At 4:05 a.m. EDT (2:05 a.m. MDT), engineers and managers at Orbital ATK and NASA will make a âgoâ or âno goâ decision on testing that day. Assuming the testâs a go, technicians âroll backâ Orbital ATKâs specially designed moveable test bay housing and begin running final checks to make sure everything is ready. âWe check the status of all the data and control systems, the test bay, the motor preparation and weather conditions,â Cheney says. Weather is one variable that can halt the QM-2 test. âWe make sure thereâs no lightning in the area; no high winds; no storms,â explains Orbital ATK Fire Chief Blair Westergard. âWe also establish fire breaks. Along with the Box Elder County Fire District, weâre prepared to extinguish any secondary wildfires too.â Engineers also make sure cameras are ready to film and all data recording systems are online and functioning properly. Orbital ATK Security ensures the area around the test is clear. T minus 3 hours. Crowds begin to gather as the public viewing area near Promontory off State Route 83 opens at 7:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 a.m. MDT). Orbital ATK Security directs traffic with the help of the Utah Highway Patrol and provides crowd control support to ensure everything remains orderly â vital when 10,000 people are in attendance. If you do not see the video above, please make sure the URL at the top of the page reads http, not https. T minus 1 hour. The formal countdown commences; the public address system broadcast begins. The crew in the test bay begins final procedures to prepare the booster for testing. T minus 9 minutes. Final system and timing checks are underway. T minus 4 minutes. A âgo for testâ announcement sounds from the public address system. T minus 1 minute. A siren begins; it will blare through T minus 20 seconds. T minus 45 seconds. The âSafe and Armâ system sequence begins, which arms the motor.Â The Safe and Arm device is remotely activated from the âsafeâ position into the âarmedâ position, allowing the motor to ignite when the âfireâ command is given. T minus zero. At 10:05 a.m. EDT (8:05 MDT), two minutes of pure awesome commence as the gigantic motor burns through about five and a half tons of propellant each second during the approximately two-minute test. Inside the control bunker, there will be jubilation â and relief. âThis is serious business â this is rocket science,â Cheney emphasizes. âBut thereâs nothing better than the smoke and fire and the data that comes with it when youâve had a successful day. Our success is NASAâs success â we donât do it alone.â Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. Weâd love to hear your feedback!|
|Three Cool Facts About QM-2||By Beverly Perry The countdown to the last full-scale test firing of the massive Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters has begun. Mark your calendars: June 28, 8:05 a.m. MDT. Expect two minutes of shock and awesome as the flight-like motor burns through about six tons of propellant each second during the test. With expanding gases and flames exiting the nozzle at speeds in excess of Mach 3 and temperatures reaching 3,700 degrees Fahrenheit, say goodbye to some of the sand at Orbital ATKâs test facility in the Utah desert because after the test, the sand at the aft, or rear, end of the booster motor will be glass. The 154-foot long Qualification Motor 2 (QM-2) consists of the five propellant-filled segments in the middle of the booster; the aft skirt is also part of the test, but the forward assembly (nose cap, forward skirt) wonât be. (See our Boosters 101* infographic if you need a refresher on booster parts and assemblies). The test will broadcast live on NASA TV and our Facebook page. We will also live tweet from @NASA_SLS on Twitter. For those watching at home (or work), here are three cool things that might not be so obvious on the screen, in countdown order. 3. This motorâs chill. QM-2âs been chilling â literally, down to 40 degrees â since the first week in May in Orbital ATKâs âtest bay housing,â a special building on rails that moves to enclose the booster and rolls back so the motor can be test-fired. Even though SLS will launch from the normally balmy Kennedy Space Center in Florida, temperatures can vary there and engineers need to be sure the booster will perform as expected whether the propellant inside the motor is 40 degrees or 90 degrees (the temperature of the propellant during the first full-scale test, Qualification Motor 1 or QM-1). 2. This boosterâs on lockdown. If you happen to be near Promontory, Utah on June 28, you can view the test for yourself in the public viewing area off State Route 83. And donât worry, this boosterâs not going anywhere â engineers have it locked down. The motor is held securely in place by Orbital ATKâs T-97 test stand. During the test, the motor will push against a forward thrust block with more than three million pounds of force. Holding down the rocket motor is more than 13 million pounds of concrete â most of which is underground.Â The test stand contains a system of load cells that enable engineers to measure the thrust the motor produces and verify their predictions. Putting out the fire at the end of the test is the job of the quench system, which fills the motor with carbon dioxide from both ends of the test stand. A deluge system sprays water on the motor to keep the metal case from getting too hot so the hardware can be re-used. Both the quench and deluge systems had to be upgraded to handle the heat and size of the big five-segment boosters. 1. Next time, itâs for real. These solid rocket boosters are the largest and most powerful ever built for flight. Theyâve been tested and retested in both full-scale and smaller subsystem-level tests. Engineers have upgraded and revamped vital parts like the nozzle, insulation and avionics control systems. Theyâve analyzed loads and thrust, run models and simulations, and are nearing the end of verifying their designs will work as expected. Most of this work was necessary because, plainly put, SLS needs bigger boosters. Bigger boosters mean bolder missions â like around the moon during the first integrated mission of SLS and Orion. So the next time we see these solid rocket motors fire, they will be propelling SLS off the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center and on its first flight with Orion. For real. Next time: Behind the Scenes at QM-2: Getting Ready to Test the Worldâs Largest Solid Rocket Motor. Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. Weâd love to hear your feedback!|
|Next Generation Wants Its Mars Shot||By Beverly Perry We donât know who will take those first steps on Martian soil, ushering in the age of humans as a multi-planetary species. But we do already know a couple things about those first intrepid explorers: Theyâre taking steps on Earth right now; and they belong to a generation that is tech-savvy, and raised on the internet and social media. But do todayâs students think about exploring beyond this world and into deep space? âEvery day – we canât get enough of that stuff!â said Ben Collins from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on a recent windy morning that was spent launching rockets in a field north of Huntsville. Collins and his teammates were among 51 student rocketry teams that competed in various challenges and sent their amateur rockets soaring during the 16th annual Student Launch rocketry challenge April 13-16. At this yearâs Student Launch, middle and high school students and university computer scientists, physicists and engineers of all stripes (aerospace and mechanical were particularly well-represented) got to tour NASAâs Marshall Space Flight Center, the center responsible for developing the Space Launch System (SLS), the countryâs next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle. While there, the students heard from a member of their generation actively involved in designing and engineering SLS: Marshall engineer Kathryn Crowe, who is part of a generations-spanning workforce blending fresh thinking with years of experience. (See Time Flies: Next-Generation Rocket is the Work of Generations for more about Kathrynâs work.) For some, the competition – and the visit – were a taste of things to come. âMy biggest career goal is to work on the Journey to Mars â to somehow be a part of it,â said Brandon Murchinson, also of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. âI think SLS is incredible. As someone whoâs always been interested in space exploration and travel, itâs why I chose this career path.â NASAâs call for new astronauts earlier this year also made an impact on the future engineers and scientists at the Student Launch. Paul Grutzmacher, a 17-year-old senior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, said that his career goal is to become a pilot for the Orion crew vehicle that will launch on SLS. âSLS excites me because itâs supposed to take us farther than weâve gone before and itâs also our next heavy lifter,â he added. Grutzmacher thinks heâs got the right stuff to fly on SLS, but so does Vanderbilt Universityâs Rebecca Riley, a senior computer science major who plans to continue her education in particle physics. âI think weâre all pretty excited that we might be the right age to be going to Mars. Iâm like, Man, thatâs going to be me going to Mars!â These students recognize the value in missions that build expertise in long-duration spaceflight â and the technological spinoffs that arise from the process. To hear them tell it, long timelines just donât scare them. Auburn Universityâs student rocketry team tracks progress on Americaâs next great rocket by following social media and events like solid rocket booster static test firings and RS-25 main engine tests. âSocial media makes it a lot more tangible,â said Auburnâs Burak Adanur. âAnd I think it gives people something to look forward to,â he said. Vanderbilt Universityâs Andrew Voss has participated in the Student Launch over the past four years. âI have seen a lot of work go down,â he said. âAnd I like seeing the test stands because the work that goes into testing is a feat of engineering.â Check out our recent blog post on Engine 2059 for more about how an engine helped test a test stand. Tech-obsessed students have no trouble spouting off advancements that have arisen from Americaâs space program: cell phone cameras, scratch-resistant sunglasses, memory foam, and the list goes on. Vanderbiltâs Voss said, âThatâs part of what NASAâs always done, and what could come out of SLS is not just spaceflight, but technology that drives the world forward.â âI think thatâs one of the most important aspects to space exploration,â said Auburnâs Adanur. âWe have to go space because itâs a mechanism â itâs a crucible â that will change us as a society and give us new technologies. I think it has more of a ripple effect than most people think.â Chris Lorenz of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said he sees the value of NASAâs proving ground missions to build up for human Mars landings. âIâm a big fan of what NASA does in robotic exploration. Itâs smart to go unmanned and build up infrastructure first before attempting manned missions,â he said. Vanderbiltâs Mitch Masia said that while proving ground missions are necessary, deep space exploration really gets people going. âThe space station is awesome and a huge feat and deep space missions will get people even more excited.â Case in point: Worldwide amazement and wonder at the photos of Pluto NASAâs New Horizons spacecraft has been sending back to Earth. Participants at the Student Launch emphasized that their generation wants its chance to make history. They want their Mars shot. âI think SLS will bring our generation together,â said Michael DâOnofrio, a 17-year-old senior at Sylvania Northview High School in Sylvania, Ohio. âSomething thatâs greater than where we are â going beyond Earth â will bring us together.â Vanderbiltâs Riley said, âIâm excited about SLS in a very patriotic way. SLS and going to Mars is that big goal that we can all get behind and be excited about as an American people.â Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. Weâd love to hear your feedback!|
|The End of an Era - A Personal Look Back at the Shuttle|
Shuttle Endeavour leaves Houston on its final transcontinental flight, September, 2012
The transfer of shuttle Endeavour to California this past month, including several flyovers in Houston I witnessed and videoed, signals the last "flight" of the Space Shuttle era. For us late Baby Boomers and beyond, the Shuttle was a continuous element of our adult lives from its inception. It has also been linked indirected with my own career more than once. The flyovers and public viewing in Houston last month were perhaps not so surprisingly emotive personally, given the link professionally and the link through time. What follows is a personal retrospective on Shuttle history, a reflection on the journey we all, as individuals and as a nation, have taken with the Shuttle for the past 4 decades.
Endeavour flies past the Mercury-Redstone at JSC on its last trip - September 2012
Much of Shuttle history derives directly from its origins. The shuttle program was founded in 1972 as the space agency fought for some sort follow-up to Apollo, lest exploration of space die on the Moon. The high adventure of the Apollo moon landings gave flight to some fanciful and wild dreams for the future of manned space exploration, including orbiting stations, shuttles to orbit, deep space probes to the planets . . . Articles in 1969 frequently featured subterranean Moon-bases and orbital infrastructure not far removed from what we saw on the big screen the year before in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many of these visions had their roots in much earlier dreams, especially those from the 1950's following the War and capture of the german rocket scientists, the chief of those being Werner von Braun. Dreams of space conquest were famously captured in the paints of Chesley Bonestal, and others and in articles in Collier's. The shuttle was hoped to be the beginning of this next era, but the future in space did not quite follow this path. Neither Congress nor Nixon were in a spending mood in space. The result was a vehicle built from compromise, perpetually struggling to justify it existence from the day of its inception.
optimistic tho faded clip from a Buffalo newspaper July 12, 1969 . . .
Despite its triumphant and anguished history, Americans are justifiably proud of their men and women on the Space Shuttle, and we tend to invest a lot of national pride in them, even when flights seemed to be routine, reduced to the mundane of lofting cargo to the Space Station. We often tend to neglect that pride. The Shuttle program took us on a powerful ride to places we didn't anticipate, from exhilaration to despair. It is fitting to pause to reflect on some of those moments.
September 17, 1976
Four years after funding start, the first test Shuttle, Enterprise, rolls out of the assembly building, joined by the cast of Star Trek. Destined for flight and landing tests, it would represent the fleet at the Air and Space Museum until Shuttle retirement 35 years later. It's only trips to the launch pad were integration and structural tests at KSC and the later abandoned Vandenberg Shuttle launch facility in California.
August 12, 1977
Approach and Landing Tests (Enterprise)
Enterprise was taken airborne by its 747 carrier and cut loose for several free-flight and landing tests in southern California. Now largely forgotten, the first of these 5 flights was telecast live on several networks (in the days before Cable, the Internet, cell phones, etc.). The landing tests went very well and there was genuine enthusiasm but development problems continue, especially concerning loose heat shield tiles on the underbelly and with the main engines. The first launch was initially scheduled for 1979. Skylab's orbit decayed, and the Shuttle was not ready to save the laboratory before it entered the atmosphere and crashed into the Australian desert in 1979. Meanwhile the first launch of Columbia slipped, and slipped . . .
April 12, 1981
First Shuttle launch
The launch had been scheduled for April 10 but halted at T-9 minutes when the on-board computers failed to chat properly. Disappointed, we all geared up again for the 7 am (EDT) liftoff two days later, now coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the first manned orbital flight by the Soviet Union's Yuri Gagarin. We watched with curiosity and amazement. This was something new, though far riskier than we knew at the time. We were just coming out of the unsettling 1970's, the oil crises, gas lines, Iranian hostages, Soviet Afganistan invasion, job losses in steel and other key industries . . . The Reagan administration was only a few months old, but the hostages had been released, he had just survived an assassination attempt 2 weeks before (the low point of his popularity swing in 1982 was yet to come), Disco was finally dead, and the 6 year hiatus in manned spaceflight highlighted by continual reports of shuttle construction difficulties was finally almost over. As a happy accident of timing, the shuttle launch became part of a national reawakening out of the angst of the prior decade (the crushing debt load incurred as part of that rebirth would have to be dealt with later).
I was in first year at graduate school in Illinois and listened on the radio during the 7 am launch, disappointed that I couldn't find a TV at that hour. The strapped together tanks and rockets gave Columbia a very different look to the Saturn V, described by some as a "space-age Taj Mahal," it's external tank painted white in those days. The Shuttle also had a more muscular feel to it in contrast to the slower moving Saturn and "leapt off the pad." Astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen became national heroes for a while. A wide frontier of unknown possibilities seem to open before us. The flight captivated us. Here was something new, an engineering marvel, and it all went off perfectly (almost) on the very first flight. Wow.
June 18, 1983
With the shuttle emerging from its test flights into "operational" status, things seem to settle into a routine of sorts, and this opened the doors to some long neglected opportunities. The first major Shuttle highlight and media show after STS-1 was the flight of the first american female astronaut, the late Sally Ride.
August 30, 1983
First African-american astronaut, Guion Bluford, was in fact the first "minority" astronaut of any kind. It was also the first Shuttle night launch and night landing, always a spectacle. The flight also featured the first close call of the program, and a warning sign, as one of the booster nozzles very nearly burned through during launch. This could have caused the entire ascending vehicle to tumble out of control.
This mission produced one of the most famous and iconic images from the Shuttle era, that of Bruce McCandless floating free in space, the first untethered space walk in history. It also marked the clumsy change in flight designation numerology, and the first landing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, marking the first return to launch site and closing one of the last remaining links to the Shuttle's promised reusability.
April 6, 1984
The Solar Max Repair mission was the first to capture and repair a satellite in orbit, fulfilling another of the promised objectives of the program. It did not go smoothly at first, as the attempt to capture the satellite by astronaut Nelson failed and the satellite began to tumble.
June 26, 1984
First launch abort after engine ignition of the Shuttle (and first such since Gemini 6 in 1965). There was also a brief hydrogen fire on the pad shortly afterwards, but it was contained before any damage could occur.
January 24, 1986
First classified DoD shuttle mission. 'nuf said. The military was still building the Vandenberg shuttle launch complex in California at this time.
January 28, 1986
STS-51-L (STS-25, Challenger)
Five years into flight, we had come to think of shuttle launches as somewhat routine, and watched with scorn, frustration, and open mockery as NASA struggled in seemingly futile attempts to launch the thing on schedule. Something wasn't working right but we mostly assumed it would work itself out eventually. One thing was clear, the shuttle wasn't exactly living up to its touted capability of 100 routine launches a year. The machine was already proving much more complex and costly than had been (irrationally) projected.
Still, this seeming irregularity was taking on many of the familiar hallmarks of air travel, with its weather and other delays. This time there was "citizen" astronaut on board, school teacher Christa McAuliffe. After numerous delays, and a hard freeze the night before, launch proceeded over strenuous engineering objections. School children across the country were watching live on CNN. Despite this novelty, many only saw the launch when their programming was interrupted by the news bulletin.
High in the sky for all to see, the familiar rocket plume abruptly blossomed into a large orange cloud as the two solid rockets shot out free and began wandering the sky. The image of the giant "Y" or perhaps a "Why?" in the sky over Florida, formed by the two solid rocket booster exhaust plumes trailing forward, became seared into the memory of anyone old enough to understand its meaning. Those familiar with shuttle launches knew it was wrong but some wondered. The fact that it occurred 1 day after the anniversary of the Apollo-1 fire in 1967 was jarring.
I myself woke late (I was in graduate school studying planetary science at Washington University in Saint Louis) to try and catch any new images from the Voyager 2 Uranus encounter 4 days earlier. Instead I was caught up in the coverage 15 minutes after the explosion. The rest of the day was spent in a mental and emotional haze. Working effectively just wasn't going to happen. The TV coverage (there was no internet) continued throughout most of the day, followed by Reagan's memorable address to the nation that afternoon.
The national shock was enormous, the "JFK" moment of our generation. The New York Times noted the importance of the event with its headline "The Shuttle Explodes," not "a" but "The" shuttle. Quoting Don Davis, "The Challenger Disaster was a mortal blow to the optimistic dreams of widespread access to space such as we still had then." Many felt the shuttle program had only just begun to fulfill its potential and the march into space had been cruelly interrupted. A great determination to pick ourselves up off the ground, dust ourselves off, and get back on our winged horse and resume the great adventure took hold.
Each step in the redesign and testing of the systems components was reported in detail over the next 2 years, as were the finding of crew remains and the hearings that exposed the management weaknesses of NASA and its improper handling of the shuttle system outside its design limits and this launch in particular. It was also by now clear that the Shuttle was much more complex and tempermental than hoped for. Also, the decision to use one vehicle for all our launch services and especially using humans to launch telecom satellites was now obviously seriously flawed and the Shuttle manifest was quietly reshuffled. NASA scrambled to readjust launch manifests but some vehicles could not be moved and exploration vehicles like Galileo, Ulysses, HST and Magellan remained tethered to the shuttle launch system, delayed by years as a result. The effects on Galileo included a 6-year delay and a serious antenna failure, both of which would impact on my own work on the Jovian satellites. Yet it is the kick in the gut that day that lingers.
April 15, 1986
Titan 34D rocket explodes 8.5 seconds into flight
May 3, 1986
Delta rocket explodes 90 seconds into flight
Coming within months of the Challenger accident, these two successive launch failures came as a new shock as our space program seemed to falter. Both vehicles would be launching again within a year but the US seemed suddenly impotent in space, with little if any reliable access to orbit.
September 28, 1988
Return to Flight
The tension and anticipation across the nation and at the JPL auditorium where I watched the countdown was palpable. If the nation could have stood on the pad and pushed the thing skyward I think they might have. At the time, the Reagan era was grinding to its drawn-out conclusion but distractions were few and the entire nation focused on the launch. The drama of launch was hightened further by a false alarm threatening to hold the count at T-0:31. Even the voice of NASA, Jack King, was having a little trouble maintaining coherency, but watching the launch replays (you can see them on YouTube) and hearing that whooping cheer at liftoff can still give one a sense of the relief and exhilaration felt as "american's return to space," in Jack's words, as the long 2 and half year grounding came to an end. Reactions differed but few watching remained emotionally indifferent. I still choke up a little every time I watch the replay.
STS-26 "Return to Flight" CNN coverage
November 15, 1988
This classified DoD mission remains shrouded in mystery but the second post-Challenger flight is also highlighted by unusually severe thermal tile damage, foreshadowing the destruction of Columbia 14 years later.
November 15, 1988
NASA was still wounded by Challenger when the Soviet Union launched their version of the Shuttle, Buran. Many questioned our national choices in space, pointing to the apparent soviet successes on space station Mir, their new launch vehicle Energia and now this new Space shuttle, seemingly a better version of our own. Although motivated by fears of a military gap, their shuttle suffered from similar doubts about purpose and value. Within 3 years the nation that brought forth Buran would itself break apart, and the historic space agency it founded would be brought to the brink of collapse. The Mir space station would later suffer a series of near catastrophic accidents and breakdowns. This would be the soviet shuttle's only flight. Buran itself was destroyed when its hanger collapsed in 2002.
April 24, 1990
Hubble Space Telescope deployment
The HST was to be a great leap forward in astronomy, lifting our sights above the turbulent atmosphere that protects us to see deeper and more clearly than possible from the ground. Great discoveries were expected and the flight was well covered. Designed to be serviced by astronauts, the HST also seemed to embody the stalled hopes of the Shuttle system in which astronauts, in a real-life version of the McCall painting on the walls of the Air and Space Museum, would wander the skies like auto mechanics, servicing a vast space infrastructure. Challenger killed that dream, but part of it lived on in the telescope, and fortunately so when it soon became apparent that the mirror had been ground improperly. NASA and its telescope instantly became cannon fodder to late-night comedians and critics alike.
December 2, 1993
Hubble Servicing Mission
The first scheduled servicing flight to HST became much more than that when it also became a mission to fix the optics and salvage NASA's reputation. The early 1990's were a difficult time as a number of old decisions were coming back to haunt the agency and it's capability to perform was seriously in doubt. The most embarrassing of these was the condition of its flagship space telescope. The telescope was well over budget and beset with technical problems, most of which were not completely solved by launch time. In the 3 years since launch so many of the machines systems had either broken or proven flawed that 5 full days of spacewalks had to be scheduled to repair them all. Gyros, solar panels, magnetometers, etc., all had to be replaced or repaired, the most pressing of these being the perfectly flawed primary optical mirror. The Hubble was in danger of becoming an albatross. NASA's very future was riding on the success of this mission, or so it seemed to many.
The key element in the repair effort was the exceptionally clever set of small precision lenses to be placed in the light path to adjust for the distorted main mirror. The night launch added to what was already for NASA one its most dramatic launches since Apollo. The spacewalks went off with few hitches and NASA's detailed preparations payed off handsomely when the first sharp clear images were released later that month. Their efforts helped make Story Musgrave and his companion spacewalkers folk heroes for a while, the first of their kind since Sally Ride and the crew of STS-1. That week may well have been the high-water mark of the Shuttle program. The fact that the fix came just in time for Hubble to return spectacular images of a comet striking Jupiter in 1994 was a wonderful coincidence and seemed a very good omen indeed. All seemed right with NASA again.
June 27, 1995
The sight of the soviet space station from the shuttle was fascinating from the gee-whiz POV and a foretaste of the International Space Station that replaced it. The 7 flights to Mir marked the beginning of the first true sustained international collaboration in manned space.
John Glenn returns to space
Although widely panned as a publicity stunt, the return to space of the first american to orbit the Earth (the first human was Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen), was widely watched. Those old enough to remember his original flight in 1962 were either happy to see him return or oddly disinterested.
December 4, 1998
First ISS Assembly Launch
At this time, the shuttle began to concentrate almost all of its efforts in support of the Int'l Space Station, beginning with the launch of the Unity component to mate with the previously launched Zarya russian component. The concept of using manned vehicles and their inherent complexity, cost and risk to lift hardware had long been discarded but the Shuttle no longer had (or was given) any other role to play. It was available, and all the hardware had been designed to fit in the shuttle anyway, and it kept the nation "in space". Oddly, the shuttle's next loss would not involve the ISS at all but occur on its last dedicated science mission.
February 1, 2003
STS-103 (Columbia reentry)
When the Columbia broke apart in the skies over north Texas, less than a week after the annual Challenger anniversary, the nation wept again. The TV kept replaying the amateur video of the splitting contrails streaking across the skies of north Texas, as the Shuttle broke apart at 200,000 feet and debris rained down. They were 15 minutes from landing and only a few minutes from the end of atmospheric reentry. This time it was different. With Challenger, we had only begun this new phase of man's journey into space. Loss of Challenger left us with a resolve get back into space but this time the feeling was more of resignation and defeat, like having the wind knocked out of you. We all seemed to say to ourselves "oh no, not again." I was at a retreat in rural central Texas and woke to what sounded like a clap of distant thunder in a clear sky, learning only an hour later that it was the sonic boom of the shuttle 200 miles to the north over Dallas as it began to break apart.
This was also only 18 months after September 11, and in the middle of the run-up to the Iraq war. Israel's first astronaut was also aboard, and they too mourned. We resolved to restore the Shuttle fleet to operations but the shuttle's fragile nature could no longer be ignored (a piece of foam had knocked a hole in the wing, leading to a burn-through on reentry), nor could the return of complacency and the sometimes casual insistence that the shuttle could operate like a city bus. In essence, the rather routine damage that had been occurring at launch due to shedding foam was becoming ingrained as acceptable, leading to the false conclusion that the orbiter could not be seriously damaged. Regardless, the compromises that went into the original shuttle design were now being openly discussed and NASA and the nation finally began to openly debate how to replace the aging fleet, leading directly to the 2004 Bush decision that the shuttle be retired and replaced. That first fact is now upon us. The future course is before us . . .
July 26, 2005
Return to Flight
Different than 1988, this mission signaled the beginning of the end-phase of Shuttle history and we all knew it. There was relief to be flying again but the sense of future was lacking. The irreversible decision to retire the fleet by 2010 had already been taken by Mr. Bush. Each subsequent mission was operated with great labor and care so as to minimize risk, but the remaining focus was almost solely on completion of the Space Station. The fact that foam damage occurred again during launch led to a year-long interruption as the problem was reexamined yet again and largely if not finally solved.
August 8, 2007
The mission featured the flight of teacher Barbara Morgan, after a 21 year battle to get her mission as the back-up for Christa McAuliffe. Although NASA refused to call her a Teacher in Space, not wishing to stir memories of Challenger or disturb Christa's long sleep, it was still nice to see this dream come true.
October 23, 2007
Much of the Shuttle and Space station work went unheralded and unnoticed, even when testing human skill and ingenuity, as they often did. Case in point: the space walk by Parazynski to repair tears in a ISS solar panel at the utmost reach of robotic and human arms.
May 11, 2009
Final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. The joint Shuttle-HST story may be one of the most enduring of the shuttle era.
April 22, 2010
Boeing X-37 Spaceplane
This highly classified mission, a sort-of miniature Space Shuttle, heralds one possible future for space. The need to separate the crew and cargo capabilities of the Shuttle was clear but could the X-37 fill the first of those goals? The air force is mum.
May 14, 2010
February 24, 2011
May 16, 2011
Beginning with the retirement flight of Atlantis, the nation starts a year-long celebration, commemoration, goodbye for its' Shuttle. Each in turn, the 3 remaining spacecraft are taken on their final flights, completing the job of Space Station construction to which they had been assigned for most of the past decade. STS-134 (Endeavour) mission commander Mark Kelly, husband to Congresswoman Giffords, was to be the final Shuttle commander until Atlantis was rescheduled for an additional, final, flight (STS-135).
July 8, 2011
Joy, pride, melancholy, and a few tears, the final flight of Atlantis and of the Shuttle fleet is watched nationwide. Those of us who were old enough to remember the first Shuttle flight 30 years ago that spring (and indeed the difficult 'birthing' process of the development years), could not help but recall with similar emotions those times and the vivid memories of the Shuttle's triumphs and defeats.
So much had changed across our planet and society in the 30 years since 1981, technologically, socially, politically . . . it would take days to review them all. The Shuttle itself also matured technically, with glass cockpits and other improvements, but it remained the same basic space truck, a line of continuity through a quarter of a century of history.
Although dictated by the remorseless logic of aerodynamics and weight restrictions, the Space Shuttle possessed a certain beauty. From the triple stack of the tank and two external boosters, down to the black on white lines along the edge and wing, the Shuttle's design lines gave it an architectural monumentalism, especially when it was painted all white during its first launches, and seen in some of the images posted above. The orbiter itself is a work of engineering art. The sight of the elegant winged vehicle drifting gracefully across the black void, Earth in the background, is one of those scenes that is on my list of must do's but never could and now never will see. The images of the Shuttle in space are some of the prettiest of the space age.
Much has changed since the first launch in 1981. Over the next three decades we witnessed the Internet, DVD, the cell phone explosion, music CDs followed by MP3 players, iPods and iPhones, two Gulf Wars, September 11, and all that followed. Part of our present difficulty stems from the virtual national bankruptcy inflicted on us as a result of the gross mismanagement of the second of those wars. It is important to remember here also that the decision to retire the Shuttle is entirely a G.W. Bush legacy. The decision for retirement was a direct result of the loss of Columbia over the skies of Texas, and the final realization of the Shuttle's inherent limitations in safety and capability, with a shift of funding and resources toward the building of a new and more versatile space vehicle. Whether that will now happen depends ongoing debates. Oddly enough, the Shuttle program began with a 6 year hiatus in manned flight, and we look to repeat that again.
|A long fall to Earth and a short tumble downhill||In the history of manned spaceflight, there have been only two high-altitude rocket accidents. In 1986, an o-ring seal failed at launch, allowing pressurized gas to escape one of Challengers's solid rocket boosters. The leak compromised the integrity of the solid rocket booster and the external fuel tank. Challenger, its rockets, and the fuel tank broke apart just 73 second after launch. All seven astronauts aboard died.|
The crew of Soyuz 18a, Cosmonauts Oleg Markov and Vasili Lazarev, experienced the other high-altitude rocket accident in April 1975. Less than five minutes into their flight to Salyut 4 (one of the Soviet Union's early space stations) the second stage of the craft's rocket failed to fully separate from the third stage. The third stage fired with the second still attached, straining the booster and causing the Soyuz to fly off course. This triggered an automatic abort, detaching the launch/re-entry capsule from the service module, orbital module, and rocket, and sending the capsule straight back down to Earth.
An abort early in Soyuz flight is a rough ride under ideal conditions. Typically cosmonauts would experience 15Gs on their ride back to Earth. But Soyuz 18a's capsule was pointed straight down at Earth when the abort was triggered, making the descent even more severe. During the worst of it, the two cosmonauts experienced 21.3 Gs (which I wouldn't have thought survivable...). Amazingly, both men lived through the G-forces, the parachute worked, and the capsule landed in one piece. The G-forces were enough to break their ribs, though, and Lazarev in particular was pretty badly hurt. Markov went on to fly in space again several more times after Soyuz 18a, but Lazarev never did.
If its flight to Salyut 4 had gone as planned, Soyuz 18a's crew would have spent 60 days in space and then landed on the empty plains of central Kazakhstan. The aborted mission ended up landing hundreds miles further west than this intended target, though. The capsule impacted on a snowy mountainside in the Altai Range. It had fallen 90 miles in about 15 minutes, and Sir Isaac Newton wasn't quite done yet.
Upon landing, the barrel-shaped spacecraft began to roll down the mountainside! Luckily, its parachutes got snagged on surrounding trees; otherwise Soyuz 18a it would have rolled right off a 500 foot cliff that was just downhill from the spacecraft's impact site!
Even though the spacecraft came to a stop, the danger wasn't quite over yet. The wildly off-course flight could have landed Soyuz 18a in Western China instead of Eastern Kazakhstan. That would mean trouble for Markov and Lazarev. In 1975, Sino-Soviet relations were icy. The cosmonauts would most likely have been imprisoned by the Chinese government.
Markov later recalled that the injured crew was joined after landing by curious folks from a nearby village who'd seen the capsule parachuting down. He knew they were finally safe when he heard the approaching crowd shouting at them in Russian, not Chinese. Soyuz 18a stop short of plummeting down a cliff, and stopped short of crossing the Chinese border.
A few months ago I wrote about another Soyuz mission that encountered high drama after landing. But I don't want to give the impression that Soyuz spacecraft are particularly dangerous- they've flown over a hundred times, and haven't experienced a fatal accident in over 40 years! Launching and falling to Earth in a capsule has proven safer than flying in a shuttle. A serious rocket accident during a Soyuz launch may well be survivable, since each Soyuz has a launch abort system. A rocket accident during a space shuttle launch would not be survivable. Even with the escape system added to shuttles after Challenger, astronauts could only survive bailing out of the shuttle during a controlled glide below 50,000 feet and travelling slower than 230 miles per hour.
Good thing NASA's replacement for the space shuttle is a capsule, featuring a launch abort system!
Sources: Christ Jones, Too Far From Home; The Once and Future Moon; Wikipedia; CollectSpace.
|A Moonwalker Invents a Mars Cycler||Before he traveled to the moon, Dr. Buzz Aldrin completed a PhD thesis exploring how to dock spaceships in the event of instrument failure. Since returning from the moon, Dr. Aldrin has been working to get humans to Mars...|
There are many, many, many obstacles to establishing a human colony on Mars. One huge challenge is the cost of ferrying people and the supplies they'll need between the two planets. Another challenge is the length of the trip to Mars. It took four days for Dr. Aldrin to travel from the Earth to the moon; it took the Curiosity Rover nine months to travel from the Earth to Mars.
Dr. Aldrin's "Mars cycler" plan comes in handy in addressing both of these challenges. Dr. Aldrin formulated this plan in the mid-1980s. He called for the establishment of a permanent human base on Mars, supplied by a fleet of of uniquely tasked spaceships. Some of these spacecraft would be used to ferry people and supplies between the surface of Earth and Earth orbit; some would transport people and supplies between the surface of Mars and Mars orbit. Meanwhile, traveling between Mars and Earth there would be a continuous cycle of interplanetary spacecraft: "cyclers."
These cyclers would essentially be space stations orbiting a path that would take them between Earth and Mars every few months. They'd be similar to the international space station, but with heavy-duty rockets attached, more radiation shielding, and maybe a big centrifuge creating artificial gravity. You could have two of these cyclers, with one always going towards Earth and one away. Or you could launch even more cyclers, allowing for more frequent trips between the two planets.
One upside to the cycler is that it makes a faster trip to Mars than traditional spaceships. In contrast to Curiosity's nine month trip to Mars, the cyclers could make the same trip in just five months. Cyclers are faster because they take advantage of a gravity assist. Meaning, they are aimed for a close encounter with Earth and then Mars, hurtling around each planet before shooting out back towards the direction they came from, picking up a bit of the planet's momentum as they go. Gravity assisted spacecraft (like the Voyager spacecraft) can build up much higher speeds than just firing a rocket.
The cyclers have other advantages. You don't have to pay for the fuel to repeatedly accelerate or decelerate the spacecraft when they reach Earth or at Mars, and you aren't constantly building giant spaceships capable of leaving Earth's atmosphere and landing on Mars. In these multi-stage spacecraft, almost every stage gets discarded after accelerating and decelerating between Earth and Mars.
Are there downsides to the Mars cycler? Yes... maintaining the Mars-Earth orbit requires more than just the occasional course correction boost that the International Space Station gets to maintain its Earth orbit. As Dr. Aldrin acknowledges, "moderately large" maneuvers are required at irregular intervals to keep cyclers from smashing into a planet or zipping out of orbit into empty space. But, that said, the cycler is still essentially an orbiting space station: it is not having to expend massive amount of propellant to escape Earth or Mars gravity every time it flies to those planets.
Another problem is actually reaching the cycler from vehicles launching from Earth or Mars. The launch craft must catch up as the cyclers make their once-every-five-months pass by the Earth or Mars. The cycler could be travelling as fast as 27,000 miles per hour as it encounters Mars. That's close to the fastest speeds that the Apollo spacecraft ever traveled. So, a rocket leaving Mars attempting to rendezvous with the cycler would expend a great deal of energy. Or, alternatively, you could significantly slow down the cycler when it reaches Mars (by aerobraking- dipping into and out of the Martian atmosphere, with the friction of Martian air slowing the craft down). Then, it would be easy for a spaceship leaving Mars to rendezvous with the slowed cycler... though the cycler would need a big rocket boost to speed up and travel back to Earth.
Will humans ever hitch a trip to Mars on a cycling interplanetary space station? Nearly thirty years after he first proposed it, Dr. Aldrin's cycler idea still seems like a doable approach to establishing a long-term human presence on Mars. So, whether Mars Cyclers come to pass probably depends on our dedication to exploring the solar system.
Sources: Next Big Future; March 2000 Scientific American; buzzaldrin.com; NASA; D.V. Burnes, J.M. Longuski; B. Aldrin, Cycler Orbit Between Earth and Mars, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets (1993); Buzz Aldrin et al.; Evolutionary Space Transportation Plan for Mars Cycling Concepts.
|adidas rocket boost prezzo|
|1/144 Space Shuttle Atlantis with Solid Rocket Booster|| This is a plastic model kit, which comes unassembled and unpainted. So glue, model paints and other basic modelling tools are additionally required.
|1/144 Space Shuttle Discovery w/Solid Rocket Booster||
|1/200 (Snap-Tite) Space Shuttle|| Assemble Guide: This is a snap-together kit, no cement required. No painting required, but will look better when painted. |
Skill Level: 1
Developed by NASA as the first reusable U.S. space vehicle, the entire Space Shuttle system consists of a winged orbiter, two solid-rocket boosters, and an external fuel tank. After four orbital test flights (1982-82) of the space shuttle Columbia, operational flights began in November 1982.
- Includes payload module and display stand
- Cargo bay doors open
- Peel 'N Stick decals
- Molded in white with black stand
|1/144 Launch Tower and Space Shuttle with Booster Rockets|| The Kennedy Space Centre in Florida containing Launch Complex 39 is the largest and most famous Space Centre in the Western World. It is located within a Nature Reserve at Cape Canaveral and provides more facilities than just a launch platform. A new era of space transportation arose with the use of Space Shuttle technology which allowed a variety of payloads to be economically carried into orbit. The U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Agency (NASA ) operates Launch Complex 39 at the northern end of Cape Canaveral within the grounds of the John F. Kennedy Space Centre (KSC). It has two identical Launch Pads, LC-39A and LC-39B. Nearly all of NASA's manned Space Flight Missions were launched from here using Saturn rockets. After the Apollo program was concluded the facilities were converted in order to support the Space Shuttle program between 1981and 2011. On both reinforced concrete launch pads stand the 81 meter high steel supply towers with all necessary cables, cranes, stairs, elevators and a horizontal swivel arm - the Rotating Service Structure (RSS). As soon as the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) supporting the external tank, two boosters and the Orbiter mounted in its launch position is resting on the pillars of the launch pad, the RSS is rotated towards the Shuttle. It served to protect the Shuttle from the weather, to supply power, loading of the transport hold and final refuelling. The Orbiter access hatch was accessed at a height of 45 meters above the launch pad from the RSS via a pivoting access arm. The Mobile Launch Platform holding with the Space Shuttle was moved from the assembly building to the launch site using a tracked transporter unit. The tracked transporter unit was propelled by two powerful 2,750 hp (2023 kW) diesel engines and reached an average speed of 1.6 km/h. Now the Space Shuttle Program has come to an end, these facilities are currently being rebuilt in order to launch future rockets.|
- Detailed lattice construction
- Fixed supply unit with 12 working platforms
- Lighting gantry
- Moveable access arms for supply systems
- Moveable steel lattice gangway with the White Room for Astronaut access
- Rotatable hammer-head crane
- Pivoted moveable Supply Unit
- Payload reception area with authentic decal markings.
Space Shuttle & Booster Rockets:
- Detailed Tailplane
- External fuel tank with two solid rocket boosters
- Mobile Launch Pad
- Three fully detailed final stage rocket motors
Authentic NASA decal set:
- Orbiter Atlantis , Enterprise , Discovery , Endeavour before 1988
- Orbiter Atlantis , Discovery and Endeavour after 1988
|1/72 Apollo 9 Command/Service Module (CSM) w/Launch Escape System & Lunar Module Adapter|| Features:|
- 1/72 true-to-scale precision model
- Displayable die-cast spacecraft with high collectable value
- Aesthetically pleasing color finish with delicate imprinted markings
- Elegant metail stand for easy display
Following Apollo 8's successful orbit of the Moon late in 1968, the next mission linked the Command/Service Module (CSM) and Lunar Module (LM) together as a complete Apollo system. The LM had not been ready in time for the preceding flight, but on March 3 1969 it took off on a ten-day low Earth orbit, propelled into space by a Saturn V SA-504 rocket booster. This particular mission was significant in that it was the first manned flight of an LM, the first docking took place, and it featured the first two-man spacewalk. This mission was able to test various procedures such as backpack life support systems, docking maneuvers and the LM engines in preparation for the eventual Moon landing of Apollo 11. Apollo 9 thus proved that orbital rendezvous was feasible, something essential for a Moon landing.
|Powerful ILS Atlas V Launches High-Speed Mission to Pluto||CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 19, 2006--An Atlas V vehicle provided by International Launch Services (ILS) successfully propelled NASA's New Horizons spacecraft today on a 9-and-a-half-year mission to Pluto.
The Atlas V-551 model lifted off at 2 p.m. EST. The vehicle's RD-180 main engine plus five solid rocket boosters provided more than 2 million pounds of thrust, enabling the New Horizons observatory to leave Earth orbit nearly 45 minutes later at a speed ...|
|ILS to Launch Inmarsat Satellite on Atlas V||Payload: Inmarsat 4-F1
Geosynchronous multi-use communications
Separated mass: Approx. 5,945 kg (13,106 lbs)
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V, 431 configuration, designated AV-004
-- 4-meter diameter (13.75 ft) Extra Extended
Payload Fairing (13.8 m/45.4 ft)
-- 3 strap-on solid rocket boosters, built by
|What's the Frequency Kenneth?||One of the most amazing things about this past year for Hunter has been his development of friends. I don't mean the kind of friends a 3 year old has because his mommy tells him to, but real friends, that come over and play, like a 4 year old.|
Hunter has really grown up this year. We are past all those gooey moments of baby's firsts and on to the phase where Hunter knows what he thinks is cool. He put on his Addidas with rocket boosters and went right past Mickey Mouse and immediately to Iron Man, Super Heroes, Indian Jones Wii games and all things Star Wars. Mind you, he has never scene any of these movies but he knows older boys like these things.
This made for an interesting Halloween when Hunter decided to be Optimus Prime but also wanted to be Iron Man, Thor and Luke Sky Walker. I thought at one point we were going to have to go to four parties so he could dress in each costume but eventually he settled on the one costume. Definitely the most exciting moments came when Hunter went over to his friend JoJo's house to trick or treat.
Last year's Halloween, festooned with a Giant's World Championship, was overshadowed by the orange glow of baseball and we only went out for a short period of time. I don't think Hunter really understood what it was all about anyway. But this year he clearly gets it (and the huge bag of candy) because he really wanted to be with his friends more than anything. Watching he and Jo along with some kids from school dart in and of houses and up and down the street they looked like a pit crew at the Indianapolis 500 that someone had dipped in sugar. But there was nothing saccharine about his smile. You could see how proud he was to have friends to yell trick or treat with and sing silly songs about Bat Man's underwear.
Really I think that joy of friendship started at his birthday where we had the official transition from inviting our friends over to our house for some beer and pizza to having Hunter invite his friends over so they could play at his house. We rented a Bouncy House style Water Slide and let me tell you I had a great time. But it was so cool watching Hunter and Jacob and Parker and Kenneth and all his real friends play. I remember so many of my birthdays when I was younger were centered around the 49ers because they were winning so many Super Bowls during my formative years and the best ones were when my friends came over and we played games. It is so much fun watching him play like that.
He has had friends his whole life, of course, but these are friends he has had the chance to pick.
One great example of the former we got to visit over the summer when we visited Maddie and Meat in Spokane where we celebrated Maddie's birthday and went to Priest Island. There we got to go camping, boating and get sandy. Earlier in the year we had visited St. Thomas with Heather's family and he got to swim in an infinity pool and play cards and games on a beautiful deck of an amazing house on top of hillside over looking the water.
We began the year with a great trip skiing with Hunter's good friend Kenneth. Hunter took to skiing like he does everything else, with such ease it is if he were born playing sports. Kenneth and Hunter are such good buds now we hear from Kenneth's parents about excited Kenneth is to see Hunter on days when they are not planning to see each other. And then when they are together they smoothly play with Cars cars or whatever toys they can find. It is fun to see them wrestling or laughing at Cars 2, or to hear Hunter yell: Awesome!
We also got visit Heather's family in Minnesota for an early Thanksgiving where we had a wonderful time which we will cherish forever. Hunter got to play with his grandparents' neighbor kids and he showed them how to play baseball and they played basketball and he showed he can anything the big kids can do. He got to be with his grandparents and see their family traditions.
We will cherish this trip forever because shortly after tragedy struck and we lost Heather's dad Ron forever. I will always be indebted for the kindness Ron showed me and my family. He also showed her an undivided devotion that established Heather's expectations of what it means to be loved. These expectations she (and I) are passing on to Hunter, so his legacy will be strong.
And as the year has passed Hunter has gone from being a shy toddler to a very confident little boy who asks if his friends can come over. He and JoJo are inseparable at school, even sometimes getting in "trouble" because they want to play together. He says who he is going to invite to his birthday and he wants a number of his friends from school to come over to his house. Every parent wants their kid to have friends and be liked so it is wonderful see him developing a voice.
Therefor it is so much fun to hear him tell me when he grows up he is going to do all the sports I do and coach at my same school. I am so glad he gets to see me coach and be part of a varsity sports program because I know he sees me working hard and I can see how he is taking all of this in. I know these memories and lessons will be with him forever so he can have his own friends and pass on the legacy he is learning from both sides of family to take the best of us and become an incredible success. It all starts by being able to say what he wants and who wants to be with. And I know he will make great choices, have real friends and continue to make us so proud.
|Amazing Video: Riding the Shuttleâs Booster|
A movie from the point of view of the Solid Rocket Booster with sound mixing and enhancement done by the folks at Skywalker Sound.
|The Last Rockets|
This is the first of what is sure to be a series of articles noting a series of "lasts" for the shuttle program. This one hits especially close to home for me, because the Solid Rocket Boosters were at the center of the plot of The Time It Takes to Fall (both literally and figuratively), and the journey they take by railway to get to Florida is one of those randomly beautiful facts that novelists could never make up and can only be grateful for. In Dolores's words, from the epilogue:
I still think about that O-ring. Iâve learned that it was manufactured in 1985 in Brigham City, Utah, cleaned off like a newborn, inspected and measured and inspected again before being packed and shipped to Florida. That O-ring made an American journey by railway, across deserts and mountains, across the width of the American South to arrive at the coast of central Florida on October 11, 1985, at the marshy wildlife refuge, the improbable spaceport. There it waited to be unloaded into the Vehicle Assembly Building, unpacked and reinspected and remeasured and reinspected again, by my father.
Never again will a Solid Rocket Booster make that journey. Unless, of course, the retirement of the space shuttle is extended for a few more years...
|Artz de Scrap Altered Toilet Paper Tubes into Saturn V Rocket|
My son wanted me to make a rocket ever since he became fascinated with spaceships. Last summer, he was introduced to the Saturn V Rocket, after seeing a demonstration of the 3-stage rocket booster separation in a Singaporean Aerospace Museum. Given that Artz de Scrap's Guest Designer Timi Mercado challenged us to alter toilet paper rolls, I decided to give in to Galo's whim to make a Saturn V Rocket.
I used several toilet paper rolls, some smaller in girth. I simply unrolled the cardboard, rolled it to make it tighter and taped it well. After getting the desired height and basic shape, I covered the whole rocket with several layers of strips of toilet paper and white glue, like in paper mache. To make the fins and line definitions, I used different lengths of wooden toothpicks which I glued to the side of the rocket. I then covered them with layers of toilet paper and glue as well. I also made 8 small cones, painted them in black and glued them as fuel nozzles at the bottom of the rocket. Afterwards, I painted the whole rocket with gesso white, then painted the black designs, the US flag and words "USA" all over the rocket using acrylic paint and Whispers Strokes pens. Lastly, I made white checked designs on the body of the rocket using a white textured textile glue. For displaying, since it couldn't stand very well with the black nozzles glued at the bottom, I used a metal paper stake which I inserted in between the nozzles. This, I had to put away for safety when I gave the rocket to Galo.
Except for not being not scaled to size and not very straight, it still turned out quite well. My son couldn't wait to play with it!
Materials used: toilet paper rolls; toilet paper strips; toothpicks; Delta Ceramcoat Gesso; Semco acrylic paint black; Whispers Strokes Pens; Pebeo Touch Textile white.
Techniques used: paper mache; painting; drawing; doodling with puff glue.
|ATK & NASA Unveil Ares I First Stage Five-Segment Solid Rocket Booster||Ares I First Stage will be Tested August 25 at ATK's Facility
(Promontory, Utah, July 20, 2009) -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) marked a major milestone on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, signifying the next steps in space travel to the moon and beyond, as they unveiled the first completed Ares I first stage five-segment solid rocket booster.
The unveiling commenced as the movable structure that houses the booster was rolled off to reveal the Ares I first...|
|Landsat 8 Launches Successfully!||The title of this post could actually be "Live video of Landsat launch blows my mind". Landsat was launched atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket with live video coverage from aboard the rocket throughout the various stages of the launch streaming to the web for anyone to watch. The best part of the coverage was the end, when a camera on the rocket booster showed the separation of Landsat 8 from the booster, with a backdrop of the rising sun above a crescent Earth. See for yourself, and just try to hold your jaw closed:|
Those flashes visible in the lower right hand corner as the satellite drifts away are not UFOs, as some might think, but are likely tumbling space junk catching the light of the rising Sun.
NASA reports that the satellite began communicating with Earth and charging its batteries shortly after separation from the booster rocket, and is doing well. However, the mission has been having issues with its remote ground stations in Fairbanks, AK and Sioux Falls, SD, which pose little threat to the spacecraft and will hopefully be sorted out soon.
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission will be renamed to Landsat 8 and handed off to the US Geological Survey after the satellite has been commissioned. The Landsat program has been imaging the entire globe every 8 days since 1972 at a 30 meter resolution, providing beautiful and informative pictures and enabling scientists to track the evolution of the Earth due to both natural and unnatural causes. Here are a couple of my favorite Landsat pictures:
|Can Constellation Rise from the Ashes?||Back in 2010 the Obama administration canceled Constellation, Bush's space program that would have sent US astronauts back to the moon, and eventually to Mars and beyond. I do not agree with President Bush on very much, but his ambition and vision for NASA was laudable, and I was sad when they cancelled Constellation. Despite being âover budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologiesâ according to the White House's budget plan, Constellation did provide an exciting and inspiring goal: Mars. The same cannot be said of Obama's replacement plan to focus on "building block technologies" and eventually send US astronauts to an asteroid. The goal is not nearly as romantic, and half the US population thinks it has already been accomplished. Moreover, with the recent explosion of Planetary Resources onto the public stage, we now see that there are market forces sufficient to propel private sector missions to asteroids; the same cannot be said of missions to Mars. In this new age of privatized space, NASA's main goal should be to fund innovative research and missions that would not otherwise be funded due to a lack of immediate profitability. But I digress. |
I'm glad to see that the billions of dollars and thousands of hours of hard work already poured into Orion and Ares may not have been for naught, but I have reservations about the frankenstein nature of Liberty. Rand Simberg, in a great summary of the program, pointed out that using the Ariane V as a second stage (rather than as a first stage, as it has been used by the ESA) will mean coordinating in-flight ignition of the very complex combustion engine. The difficulty of pulling this off is one of the reasons that the Space Shuttle's SSME was abandoned by NASA's Constellation team for the J2-X.
I also can't imagine that integrating 3 different rocket stages, built by three different companies, will yield an elegant, cost-effective, or scalable result. The Ariane 5 brings 15 years of ESA heritage technology with it, the Ares rocket undoubtedly possesses the marks of 60+ years of NASA history, and the Orion capsule is being developed by Lockheed Martin, which has its own hefty share of heritage. The plan greatly undervalues the benefits of in-house design. SpaceX, for example, built their entire system (rocket and capsule) from scratch in-house. The mechanical engineers building the Falcon engines eat lunch with the electrical engineers designing the Dragon capsule and the systems engineers building the operational plans (I saw this with my own eyes when I visited SpaceX headquarters in 2010). While an ATK systems engineer will have three sets of clumsy and likely incomplete documentation to sift through, and none of the original designers to help with the task, a SpaceX engineer who wants to know why something was built a certain way merely has to find the person who designed it and ask. ATK's kludged-together rocket might be cheap and fast now, but I doubt that it will be scalable or easily updated in the long-term.
In any case, it is likely that Liberty - which will require support from the Ares team - will receive support from members of Congress who championed Constellation and would like to see those jobs return to their districts. It will be interesting to see how Liberty changes course once it enters the political sphere.
|World Weather Challenger and The Polar Surge||The polar front is an area on the earth located at approximately 60 degrees north and south where warm air circulating from the tropics meets cold air plunging from the poles. The difference in temperature of these masses of air causes the warm air to rise and most of this moves back towards the equator and sinks at around 30 degrees north and south, adding to the high pressure systems at these latitudes.|
The rest of the air that rises at the polar front continues to move towards the poles and as it cools it sinks and returns back towards 60 degrees north and south. However these flows of air do not move in a direct north-south route. They are altered by the rotation of the earth. This rotation will cause any freely moving object to appear to move to the right of the direction of motion in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern. This is known as the Coriolis Effect and explains why winds travel clockwise around high pressure systems in the northern hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the southern, with low pressure winds travelling in the opposite direction.
Jet Streams are formed at high altitudes where warm and cold air masses meet. Therefore the polar jet stream is located at 60 degrees north and south approximately along the polar front. During winter when the temperature difference is at its greatest the jet streams will shift towards the equator, and during summer move back towards the poles.
A satellite view of the North Pole shows clouds carried from west to east around the rim of the Arctic by the polar jet stream. This ring of clouds will fluctuate north and south depending on the pressure variances of the polar front below. However trapped inside this loop of clouds is the cold and clear air that sits over the arctic ice. This huge volume of air is very stable and has a key role in dictating the weather further to the south. It is an air mass and with the long cold winter darkness and the extreme cooling caused by the ice beneath, this air mass becomes ever more stable and progressively colder. The air mass has now formed a huge high pressure dome over the arctic which remains until a change in the jet stream causes part of this mass to slide southwards.
Over the North American continent there is nothing to stop the southerly movement of this extremely cold air as there is nothing but flat, open land. This movement south is known as a polar surge. This blast of icy cold air is huge and over North America can reach as far south as Florida and Texas, devastating crops and freezing land sometimes overnight. In 1983-84 a polar surge left almost 90 percent of the USA covered in cold air for nearly two months. In Utah a record low temperature of -54 degrees C (-65 degrees F) was measured.
Unfortunately it was a polar surge in 1986 that caused the destruction of the space shuttle âChallengerâ. On the morning of 28th January 1986 large quantities of ice coated the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. NASA decided to go ahead with the launch despite the warnings from the manufacturers of the solid rocket boosters that the âOâ rings might not perform their function of sealing possible fuel links at such cold temperatures. Sadly the engineers were proved right as the world watched Challenger explode shortly after lift off.
Mark Boardman BSc dip.hyp is a leading author and expert on World Weather. For more information about the world's weather extremes, feel free to visit this site.
|NIKKO TMNT Raph's Ooze Booster 10" B/O - 70315|
|Could Russia Veto America's Space Program?|
Russian rocket engine export ban could halt US space program
Published time: August 27, 2013 17:48
Edited time: August 28, 2013 05:45
Russiaâs Security Council is reportedly considering a ban on supplying the US with powerful RD-180 rocket engines for military communications satellites as Russia focuses on building its own new space launch center, Vostochny, in the Far East.
A ban on the rockets supply to the US heavy booster, Atlas V, which delivers weighty military communications satellites and deep space exploration vehicles into orbit, could impact NASAâs space programs â not just military satellite launches.
An unnamed representative of Russiaâs Federal Space Agency told the Izvestia newspaper that the Security Council is reconsidering the role of Russiaâs space industry in the American space exploration program, particularly the 2012 contract to deliver the US heavy-duty RD-180 rocket engines.
Previously, Moscow has not objected to the fact that Americaâs Atlas V boosters, rigged with Russian rocket engines, deliver advanced space armament systems into orbit. If a ban were to be put in place, however, engine delivery to the US would probably stop altogether, beginning in 2015.
Over the last decade, most of NASAâs Atlas V heavy rocket launches performed by the United Launch Alliance (a Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture) were carried out using Russian RD-180 dual-nozzle rocket engines, a legacy of the Soviet Buran space shuttle program and its unparalleled rocket booster Energia, which could put 100 tons worth of spacecraft or satellite payloads into orbit.
It is widely believed that many Atlas V launches carry a military payload. Such Lockheed Martin-designed military spacecraft include the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) series of communications satellites launched for Air Force Space Command, the mysterious Palladium at Night communication platform designed for the US Navyâs Ultra-High Frequency (UFO) Follow-On program, and most certainly all three launches of Boeingâs X-37 unmanned demonstrator spacecraft. These are only a part of the military space missions undertaken by Atlas V rockets, boosted by RD-180 engines
A ban could also affect the USâs non-military space exploration launches, which are also highly dependant on the Atlas V rocket and RD-180 engines. The most famous and challenging among these exploration missions are NASAâs New Horizons spacecraft, now traveling to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt (launched in 2006), and the Curiosity Mars rover (launched in 2011) currently operating on the Red Planet.
A number of experts told Izvestia that termination of the rocket engine contract would not be a good idea commercially for NPO Energomash, which produces the rockets, as at the moment it exclusively makes RD-180 engines for the US space industry. The rockets typically take Energomash 16 months to produce.
If production of the RD-180 engine is halted, the enterprise would have to find other contracts to keep its production line and experienced staff busy.
âIn my opinion, stopping the export of rocket engines to the US is stupid, as we would suffer financial and reputational losses,â Ivan Moiseyev, scientific head of the Space Policy Institute, told Izvestia. âThe US would not suffer much and would definitely continue with military space launches, while Russia would have to stop production of the RD-180, because no one else needs the RD-180 engine.â
Many space experts believe that the US would find it difficult to quickly replace the Russian-made rocket boosters.
Meanwhile, Energomash could soon find other orders elsewhere. Russia plans to start space launches from its new, multibillion-dollar Vostochny cosmodrome in the Far East in 2015. Vostochny will host a heavy rocket class launch pad, which means the producer of worldâs most powerful rocket engines will be kept busy for many years to come.
The RD-180 is equivalent to half of the Soviet-era Energia booster, the most powerful liquid rocket engine ever made. With 20 million horsepower output, the Soviet-era RD-170 was about 5 percent more powerful, yet 1.5 times smaller, than Americanâs F-1 first stage rocket engine made for the Saturn V booster of the Apollo lunar program.
Reportedly, when the Energia booster with the Buran space shuttle was launched in November 1988, the massive concrete bays paving the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan were flying around like dry leaves, due to the immense power coming from the four RD-170 engines, which blasted the 2,400-ton rocket booster into space.
In the post-Soviet era, Russian-US rocket engine cooperation started back in 1996, when Americaâs General Dynamics Company bought exclusive rights for use of RD-180 in the US, later selling it to Lockheed Martin for its Atlas rocket program. NPO Energomash, the producer of unique engines based in Moscowâs suburb Khimki, signed a contract for production of 50 RD-180 engines and an option for the production of another 51 units.
A specially created joint venture, RD-AMROSS, between NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, has already delivered 63 engines to the US worth $11-15 million apiece, reportedly 40 of them have already been used. In December 2012, a new contract was signed to deliver another 31 engines. But this contract is now being reconsidered by Russiaâs Security Council, according to Izvestia.
Rocket engines: space at stake
The RD-AMROSS joint venture has always been controversial for Russiaâs military.
In 2011 Russiaâs Audit Chamber announced that the RD-180 rocket engines delivered to the US according to the 1996 contract were sold for only half of their real production value. The total loss in 2008-09 reached 880 million rubles (about $30 million) or 68 percent of all financial losses of NPO Energomash at the time, the Audit Chamber said.
In an interview, the general director of RKK Energia Corporation, Vitaly Lopota, estimated that at the time of the RD-180 first launch in the late 1980s, USSR was âat leastâ 50 years ahead of Americaâs liquid fuel rocket engine technology.
In the 1990s Russia agreed not only to sell unique engines to the US, but also provided the Americans with full documentation on the engineâs design specifications. But the US space industry opted to buy ready engines instead of trying to make them on their own, because of the technological and material engineering gap between the two countriesâ space industries. And today, the situation appears to be pretty much the same.
In December 2012, the head of Roskosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, Vladimir Popovkin, commented to Izvestia on the engines: âAmericans are buying RD-180 engines and are negotiating to buy promising new RD-193 engines, because theyâve learned that weâre making a quality product, the best liquid-fueled rocket engines in the world. For them itâs easier to buy than to make up with us, [while] for us it is important to ensure the development of the NPO Energomash enterprise.â
In June 2013, the US Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust investigation into United Launch Alliance, which was accused of âmonopolizingâ the rocket engine market and thus barring its direct rival, Orbital Sciences Corporation, from obtaining RD-180 engines for its Antares rocket booster to break into the lucrative market for US government rocket launches.
Experts say that the fact that Orbital Sciences Corporation is battling for the RD-180 could only mean that the company has so far failed to acquire anything similar on either the American, or the international space industry market.
Orbital Sciencesâ Antares rocket is powered by Aerojet AJ-26 engines, which are actually Soviet NK-33 engines produced for the super-heavy N-1 rocket booster of USSR lunar program. Orbital Sciences once managed to buy 43 NK-33 engines stored for decades in Russian space corporationâs depots, and then adopted them for their needs. Now Orbital Sciences would like to restart production of the NK-33, but Energomash announced that this engine is out of production for the time being. In this situation, Orbital Sciences is taking ULA to court for the right to buy Russiaâs RD-180 rocket engines.
SpaceNews reported earlier this month that NASAâs internal agency audit is warning that the Orion deep-space manned spacecraft program faces a âdifficult budget environmentâ that ultimately could cause delays and cost increases. The Orion capsule could be launched with various rockets, including ULAâs Atlas V and Space Exploration Technologiesâ Falcon 9.
In spring of this year, Amazon founder and space enthusiast Jeff Bezos, owner of the Blue Origin space exploration startup, financed a successful expedition recovering two F-1 engines for Apollo projectâs Saturn V rocket from the Atlantic sea bed near Floridaâs Kennedy Space Center. Bezos said that his fascination with space began back in 1969 with the Apollo program, when he saw astronaut Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon.
The rocket engines still remain property of NASA and the US government, and Bezos has promised NASA the units to place them on display at a museum in Seattle as âtestament to the Apollo program.â
|Video Game Expendables: Constructing the Dream Team|
I read an article by mikeerik here on IGN recently about his choices for an Expendables-like team of video game characters which would make for an awesome movie or game. This inspired me enough to shamelessly rip it off and make my own, so below are my choices for the video game expendables and why. Enjoy!
All credit for the concept goes to mikeerik of course, his original blog can be found here:Â http://www.ign.com/blogs/mikeerik/2013/09/07/video-game-expendables#disqus_thread.
Be warned, there are very mild spoilers for the plots of the games some of these characters are involved in.
1. Leon S. Kennedy - Resident Evil
Â I don't care what they say, formal shoes are the ideal wear for zombie fighting.
I don't particularly like the Expendables movies, but I do like Resident Evil, and Leon S. Kennedy is one of the main reasons.
Perhaps the embodiment of "awesome zombie hunter ladies man", Leon is never afraid to spout inappropriate one-liners at zombies, horrific bio-organic weapons, parasitically infected eastern Europeans or Ada Wong, all whilst being the only person in the world capable of rocking the emo cut and still get the ladies. The thing that solidifies Leon as the first member of my team is not his expertise with firearms, ability to quip at zombies hours into a hellish biological apocalypse nor his inherent stylishness. It is simply that bit in Resident Evil: Damnation when he goes "Tsch... women". A line so good they named an RE6 achievement after it.
2. The protagonist - Persona 4
His official name is Yu Narukami, but any of you who have played Persona 4 or, as I have, its Vita remake Golden, will know him by whatever name you chose. Forget both of those.
His real name is Bastian Hidatchi and anyone who disputes it thus will receive an immediate slap to the face. My hand will come out of your monitor and slap you. In the face.
That aside, this guys oozes coolness. He invented it. If you look up swag in the dictionary you will find a picture of his face. He is fully capable of transferring to a remote Japanese village where no one's heard of him and go out withÂ every girl he knows,Â at the same time,Â within the year.Â He will do all this while wearing a pop collar, using a hidden side of himself to fight shadow monsters inside a TV world, improving the lives of numerous people in the town, and being a 17 year old who has grey hair. Calm down.
And those piercing grey eyes.
In short, no bitchin' gaming team would be worth its salt without him, but it can be a burden as his presence makes everyone else look bad.
3. Agent Spin - Elite Beat Agents
There's very little I have to say to describe this guy that isn't immediately apparent from the picture. He wears sunglasses, upside-down over-ear headphones and a suit, and he's incredible. This is a government agent who responds to a crisis which has reached breaking point by dancing, dancing so smooth that he can motivate someone to overcome any obstacle, be it asking out a potential boyfriend whilst trying to handle some troublesome toddlers or saving a young boy from a giant fire-breathing golem in a theme park. No matter what trouble my team finds itself in in their numerous movies they can rest assured that Spin will have the perfect tune and the perfect moves to help them beat anything.
4. A Monster Hunter - Monster Hunter
Flame sword! Point invalid!
Monster Hunter is one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time, and it's certainly my most cherished. Only problem is I'm not sure which part of the series resonates with me the most. Is it dressing up a pig and hugging it until it loves you? Employing cats to cook your food for you? Having a cat with you to help you fight? Or perhaps it's the fighting giant, awesome monsters with the most totally awesome armor and weapons ever conceived in a video game? I'll never know the answer, but what I do know is a Monster Hunter is a must have on my team. By my logic, if you can fight a giant dragon dinosaur and win, you can be in the team.
Or just, you know, tame the dragon. Whatever.
5. Mikasa - the Attack on Titan fan game
I'm starting to dread looking up images of these characters. The results are mostly disturbing.
Before I start on this one I want to point out that the Attack on Titan fan game is totally awesome, totally free and you can play it here: http://fenglee.com/game/aog/.
Anime has never been a staple of my TV diet. True, I've always liked the art style and am a big fan of Studio Ghibli's movies, but my viewing experience outside of those has previously been limited to a brief fascination with One Piece and whatever crap 4kids used to edit. Nevertheless I decided to try Attack on Titan after hearing good things about it from you guys on IGN and was immediately hooked. The main thing that does it for me is the fact that the 3D-maneuver gear used by the soldiers in the show is perhaps the most brilliant (and hilariously impractical, as you quickly find out playing the game) way of moving anywhere, ever. Couple this with the dual swords used to attack the aforementioned titans and you have the recipe for a great, super difficult and super addicting game.
As for Mikasa, she is easily my favorite character in the show (and the default character in the game) for many reasons, the main ones being:
If Leon's shooting everything, Hidatchi's swagging it out with a katana, Spin's bustin' a move and the Monster Hunter is hunting Monsters, Mikasa will be shooting around everywhere at blistering speeds, calmly and coolly cutting the necks out of anything that moves and is over 6 metres tall. And has a neck. She's also the first female team member, which proves I'm not a sexist.
6. Ada Wong - Resident Evil
Â No, she will not marry you.
I spent a while (read: 5 seconds) trying to decide whether to pick Leon or Ada as my Resident Evil member, and ended up picking both. The fact of the matter is I feel equally awesome running at zombies and kicking them in the face as Leon as I do suavely strolling up to them and putting an arrow through their head as Ada. In Resident Evil 6 (my only experience playing as her) Ada is an enigmatic, elegant and mysterious agent who spends most of her time being condescending to the bad guy, deliberately not explaining things to people and playing hard-to-get with Leon. What's not to like?
When I play as Ada in Resident Evil 6 the character turns around and gives me disapproving looks whenever I move faster than a stroll. She is so insanely dignified and intelligent that I feel I have personally let her down when I miss a shot. Her idle animation is crossing her arms and rolling her eyes at everything. You get the point. In fact, the only time she's not being super elegant is when she's unconscious in Leon's arms, which is surprisingly touching for a game featuring a man who turns into a dinosaur.
Despite her numerous douchey traits Ada still gets a spot in the team because dammit, she's Ada Wong and despite being somewhat over-sexualised in the games it's kind of cancelled out by the fact that she's effortlessly more intelligent and cool than any other character in RE6 and, in fairness, Leon shows just as much cleavage as she does. Seriously, scroll up.
Also, she has a cube as a phone.Â
7. Isaac Clarke - Dead Space
Not pictured: Plasma Cutter aimed at your crotch.
Dead Space is one of my favorite games of all time. It embodies what I love about sci-fi: the terror of the unknown, deep space exploration, the nostromo-like USG Ishimura and the ancient, horrific alien menace. It was one of the first horror experiences I ever had in my life, before I watchedÂ AlienÂ or any of the numerous sci-fi classics which inspired it and it scared the crap out of me. It was brilliant.
Being the main protagonist of one of my favorite ever games, you can tell in how high a regard I hold Isaac Clarke. In the original Dead Space he was an everyman, a (mostly) faceless guy scared out of his mind whom the player could relate to and sympathize for as more and more things went horrifically wrong for him. In the sequels he's brought to life by the excellent voice acting and mocap of Gunner Wright. He becomes a real person who, despite now having a story, character arc and two love interests (only one of which is a apparition of his mind!) is still relatable and sympathetic.
Most importantly though, Isaac Clarke is a badass. He is an intergalactic badass. You can throw him inside the bowels of hell itself with nothing but a RIG and a torch and he'll get out of there with a fully loaded chain gun he built himself from wood and power nodes and only mild dementia to say for it. He is a survivor, and an awesome one at that.
"Three narrow eye slits are all I need toÂ cut your arms off."
8. Siris - Infinity Blade
Very rarely does a platform have an undisputed "best" game among gaming aficionados, but somehow Infinity Blade managed to do it on IOS. I played it near-constantly. I loved the unique premise, beautifully rendered environments, atmospheric soundtrack, intuitive gameplay and awesome armor and weapons. Then Infinity Blade 2 came out and somehow managed to be better than the original in every way. I still don't know how they did it.
In the transition from the last best game on IOS to the current best game on IOS the main character of the game went from "nameless bloke what is the son of the nameless bloke who just died" to "Siris, immortal badass who also happens to be a master swordsman". He can wield pretty much any weapon and be able to smash a giant's face in with it, and still pull a cool pose immediately afterwards. Every time.Â Needless to say he's great, and has some pretty cheesy lines to boot.
"WHAT HAVE I DONE!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"
9. Rocket Racer - Lego Racers
Lego Racers is one of the first games I ever played, which makes Rocket Racer one of the first final bosses I ever faced in a game. To reach this guy you have to race that asshole vampire with all the bats, the douche bag alien who constantly rocket boosts and the damnable pirate who constantly shoots cannons at you. Then there's Rocket Racer.
Imagine playing a racing game where one of the ai constantly teleports in front of you, all the time. That's exactly what happens when you race him, and the feeling of "screw you" when you win is palpable. So Rocket Racer is the final member of my Video Game expendables team because he has a teleporting rocket car (which looks awesome) and he's the embodiment of a douche. Sorted.
So what do you guys think? Any characters you agree with or would change? Who would you have in your Video Game Expendables? Greatly interested to hear other people's ideas, and don't forget to check out mikeerik's team as well.
|Space Launch System Solid Rocket Boosters 'on Target' for First Flight||
Huntsville AL (SPX) Aug 09, 2017|
Production of the five-segment powerhouse motors for the Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters is on target at prime contractor Orbital ATK's facilities in Utah, with 10 motor segments cast with propellant and four of those segments complete. Following propellant casting, the finished segments were evaluated using non-destructive techniques, such as x-ray, to ensure they met qual
|Lil' Red Pocket Sketchbook 2013-2014|
The front cover. This Sketchbook is 2 inches by 3 inches.
An explanation of the contents:
This Doodle Book + Stick-Figures may include: Robots, Monsters, Beetles, Bugs, Angels, Demons, Dinosaurs, Stick-Men, Space Ships, Aliens, Octopi, Jellyfish, Fish, Ogres, Goons, Gremlins, Goblins, Squares, Circles, Cyclopes, Monkeys, Dragons, Abstract Designs, Shapes, Tanks, Planes, Cars, Creeps, Cred, Weirdos, Freaks, Bats, Cats, Dogs, Rats, Mice, Cheese, Ducks, Bees, and Ghosts...
Frogs with wings and scarab beetles.
Angel and Robot
Robot, Three Aliens, and Matt Cowley
Random Shapes, Robots and Aliens and Smiley Faces
Alien Designs and Robot
Electro Tessla Coils
The Chicken-Footed Tiggle-Swank of the Land of La-De-Da (Monster)
Random Microbes or Crop Circles
Random Robots and/or Aliens
Ancient Mask and Random Monsters
Crying Monster and Random Monsters
Octopus Monster by Kelani Andersen
My brother Tim, as a monster
Awesome One-Eyed Zig-Zag-Legged Bug Monsters!
Possibly inspired by Mega-Man.
A genie from a lamp.
My Neighbor Totoro? Or Toe-Toe-Roe?
More of SHINY-MAN 3000. Rocket Boosters and Gun-Arm.
A jellyfish alien/monster thing.
Notes from Church:
"The Savior will make up for what I can't."
"I will continue to strive, trusting in His Atonement to make up the difference."
"I will always have shortcomings in this life - that is what the Savior is for."
A Cyclops Robot with several antennas.
Left Page: A Cyclops Robot with several antennas.
Right Page: Random Shapes, Alien Dog and other random aliens.
Long-Legged Alien Stick Figure Dudes.
On this bookmark, some new words I learned: obfuscation, ostention, bivouac, petulant.
A few attempts at a poem:
"Riled with Iron Ire"
"A rhino, riled with iron ire, charged and stamped out a fiery pyre."
"The Land of Bland is full of sand,
and you can stand where you planned
with your hands on the sand,
but you can't do a handstand,
or you'll land unplanned,
with your hands in the air,
and your head in the sand!"
"A ton of tongue twisters you can tell to your sisters."
Some other poem attempts:
"Run One Red Light"
"An appalling apparition appeared to appeal an ape for an apple which he apparently peeled."
"An appraising (surmising) young sir praised a surprising prize for a surprise party of surmizable size."
"A goat with a coat lived deep in a moat where he smote all who poked him with smoke from his throat."
Beetleships Flying and Shooting
I enjoy drawing these giant, spotted marshmallow-man-like monsters. They have a great feeling of weight to me, like an ogre or a troll, but with a softer side. smile emoticon
Note From Church:
"Other people have been on this path. I can see where they're at. I can accomplish this, too."
- John Stavast
The Mushroom Kingdom? Definitely inspired by Mario. I love the simplistic designs of the original Super Mario Bros. I believe that's what made the game so iconic. Plus, it was fun to play and had great music.
Left Page: Another drawing of "The Chicken-Footed Tiggle Swank of The Land of La-De-Da."
Right Page: Subatomic Particles or Planets? YOU be the judge.
Shiny-Man 3000 in different poses, using different types of gun-arm weapons! Reminiscent of Mega Man (1990), anyone?
More Awesome One-Eyed Zig-Zag-Legged Bug Monsters!
Notes From Church (1-19-14):
"You don't have to continue in pain and guilt before you repent. Repent now, and the burden will be lifted."
"Turn to your Savior."
|Addenda to my December 21 collection of "the Year's Best Movies" lists:|
Also not surprisingly, you'll find some titles shared across both of those lists.
Meanwhile, Julie at Misfortune Cookie offers the Best overlooked and underappreciated performances of 2011 and Roger Ebert declares They wuz robbed.
The winners of the Vertigoed contest â In response to the foofaraw (given a wobbly rocket boost by Kim Novak) over that pivotal scene in The Artist scored to a distinctive Bernard Herrmann cue from Hitchock's Vertigo, the Press Play staff launched a contest among their readers. Rule #1:
Take the same Herrmann cue -- "Scene D'Amour," used in this memorable moment from Vertigo -- and match it with a clip from any film.... Is there any clip, no matter how silly, nonsensical, goofy or foul, that the score to Vertigo can't ennoble? Let's find out!
And so they did. The results are in. Click here for the full scoop on the contest, its criteria, and the judges, followed by the Grand Prizewinner â STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, by Jake Isgar â the four finalists, and some special awards (e.g., Citation for Homoerotic Grandeur: TOP GUN by De Maltese Valk).
My glowering assessment of that Vertigo cue in The Artist is here.
NPR: Movie Titles That Might Have Been â From Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made for Under 10 Million Dollars, That Your Reader Will Love But the Executive Will Hate to (wait for it) American Pie.
How many movies will we watch over a lifetime? AD Jameson is keeping track of his own number â 1,925 so far:
That doesnât sound like too many, not after fifteen years of avid cinephilia. But to put it in some perspective, thatâs roughly 128 feature films/year, or about one every three days. ... We found last week that there have been at least 268,246 features made. (Since then, the IMDbâs count has grown to 268,601.) So Iâve seen little more than .7% of themâand remember, I think that IMDb count far too low.Why he has given so many poor ratings to contemporary movies:
The more you watch from the present day, the more garbage youâre bound to seeâbut your conclusions will be your own. Conversely, the further back you go, the more youâll be guided by the opinions of others. (If nothing else, whatâs available will be largely determined by whatâs remained popular.)
"What if..." Movies reimagined for another time & place â Artist Peter Stults asks "...what if movies we were all familiar with were made in a different slice of time? Who would be in it? Who would direct it?"
|Lucid Fly: Go for Launch||The history of how and why I started FEMALE FRONT Radio has been told so many times, it has now become the stuff of legend. Except for the "stuff of legend" part. But I will re-tell it now to provide a bit of context for the band I will mention in a moment.|
One day in the late 1990's, the Modern Rock/Alternative FM station of which I was a frequent listener decided to stop playing female artists. This was a station which, up to that point, had regularly played such artists as Hole, No Doubt, Elastica, Fiona Apple and many, many others. But suddenly, the women were out and rape-rock bands like Limp Bizkit were in.
Fortunately, the Limp Bizkit era didn't last long; but when the programmers came to their senses and started adding innovative artists back into the mix, they left out one very big category: Innovative female artists (actually, female artists of any kind). That was offensive enough. But what finally drove a stake into their last surviving sliver of credibility, was when one of their DJ's said that they would be happy to play female artists -- if there were any out there worth playing.
Thus, FEMALE FRONT was born, to prove the obvious: That there are so many outstanding female artists out there, one guy could hand-pick a 24-hour-long playlist of his favorites, and barely scratch the surface. The rise of internet radio, iTunes and Myspace, and the commensurate decline of commercial radio & record companies, all serve as neat little facts that support my main point -- which is that I was right, and commercial radio programmers are ignorant dickheads.
True, the FEMALE FRONT playlist includes many genres other than Modern Rock; but to be honest, I start getting antsy when I haven't added any real rockers in a while. I like to prove the point again and again that female musicians and vocalists can rock just as hard as the dudes.
Enter Lucid Fly.
Based out of Orlando, FL, this Progressive Hard-Rock quartet -- founded by guitarist Doug Mecca and virtuosa vocalist Nikki Layne -- make an impressive debut with their self-released EP, Adapting to Gravity. The production values are strong, and the project as a whole benefits from a sense that this was an intellectual venture as much as a musical one.
Layne's vocals really soar, something that perhaps is better appreciated upon repeat listenings. Overall, the seven songs on the EP are thoughtful and well-structured, and there isn't a line of rap in any of the 27:44 running time.
Being Orlandoans (Orlandoers? Orlandites?), Lucid Fly displays the obvious influence of the Space Coast all over the place: in the album title, band name (after astronaut Shannon Lucid), songwriting and even in their unique branding, which extends from the album art to the band's website. All of this is something that the geek in me finds deeply satisfying. (OK, so it's more like I'm the geek, and the rocker in me finds the music deeply satisfying; anyway, same net result.)
Adapting to Gravity doesn't necessarily break new ground in Rock; but Lucid Fly are every bit as good as their multi-platinum peers, which only goes to highlight the inherent sexism of commercial radio. But by purchasing their CD, you can help ignite the solid rocket booster that Nikki Layne and Lucid Fly will ride right through the glass ceiling.
Neal Stephensonâs new novel, Seveneves, begins: âThe Moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.â Scientists realize humanity has roughly two years to come up with a survival strategy before millions of lunar bits start hitting the Earth and ignite the atmosphere in a biblical rain of fire. The first half of the novel concerns our frantic efforts to launch as much stuff and personnel into space as possible, turning the International Space Station into a jury-rigged ark. But itâs not all heroics: The ensuing dickering, wasted effort, and celebrity cameos make it clear that this world is more or less our own.
The harrowing story of the early years leaves us with just seven survivors to propagate the species from the relative safety of orbit: seven eves who each make major decisions about what to keep and what to tweak in the human genome. From there the novel leaps 5,000 years into the future, when humanityâs descendants are just beginning to recolonize the battered surface of Earth.
Seveneves is a sweeping future history in the Stephenson tradition, tackling the politics and practicalities of space travel, genetics, and what it means to be human through the simple expedient of detonating the moon like an orbiting cherry bomb. I spoke with him about the novel, humanityâs resilience, and more. (Slightly complicated disclosure: Neal Stephenson is the founder of Project Hieroglyph, an effort to foster technically grounded, optimistic thinking about the future. Ed Finn helps run Hieroglyph at Arizona State and is the co-editor of an anthology featuring optimistic science fiction by Stephenson and others. ASU is a partner with Slate and New America in Future Tense.)
You begin the novel by blowing up the moon. Why?
Well, there is an established subgenre of science fiction, the premise of which is that something terrible happens. The Earth is going to become uninhabitable, but conveniently the people of Earth have a warning to prepare for it, because otherwise there wouldn't be much of a story.
When you start engineering a book like that, you need a premise toward disaster that can credibly kill everything on Earth and force people to build an ark. But there can't be any loopholes, and it has to be kind of predictable enough and obvious enough that people can't deny that it's happening. A global climate change is an example of a slow, rolling disaster that people are able to argue about and find excuses not to take action about. There is a pretty stringent set of requirements to write an ark book. I had happened upon this idea a long time ago of an exponential increase in orbital debrisâon a much smaller scale. It's all the old, dead satellites and rocket boosters banging into each other in orbit. Thatâs actually a real problem that people worry about. And so I went, OK. If I put these things together, I might have the finely calibrated global disaster that is needed in order to write a space ark book.
What have you got against the moon?
When I was working on this, I discovered âThe Fucking Moonâ on the Awl. Itâs basically a series of articles talking about how stupid the moon is, so I need to get in touch with them.
No, the moonâs been up there for a long time. I think we're all a little tired of it, and it was time to make some changes.
How did you think through the nonmaterial resourcesâthe psychological and genetic resourcesâthat humanity would need to survive for millennia in space?
The thing I'm playing with here a little bit is the set of tropes that science fiction uses and has used for a long time. There's lots of big science fiction worldsâStar Trek, Star Wars, and so onâwhere there's a range of aliens. Some of them are really weird looking and very different from us, but a suspiciously high percentage of aliens in these universes are very humanlike.
In the case of Star Trek, theyâre so humanlike that humans can have babies with Vulcans even though the Vulcans have copper-based blood and came from a different planet. But they speak English, and theyâve got a slightly different physical look, coloration, hair, facial features, whatever, and theyâve got particular behavior traits. There's back-filling that had to be supplied in order to explain why thatâs possible in that universe.
What I'm doing here is basically saying, OK, if thatâs the game that we're going to play, let's play that game, and let's play it by some legitimate scientific rules. If we're going to have a bunch of alien races that aren't really all that alien and that can interbreed and all speak the same language, then let's have a decent backstory that explains how that came about and why these people have these different cultural personality traits. Then once that kind of scaffolding is in place, you can start talking about how a civilization comprising of these different races would go about organizing itself and trying to solve problems.
At one point in Seveneves, the characters decide not to attempt to reconstruct âroot-stock humanity,â as you phrase it, but instead proceed to reinvent the species. That seemed like a profound decision about what humanity should be, as opposed to what it is now.
Well, we see this now. For example, among deaf people there's a movement based on the idea that deaf people constitute a legitimate independent culture of their own. It might seem obvious to those of us who arenât deaf, that we should âfixâ deaf people if we can: use cochlear implants or whatever technology we can come up with in our very different mode of thinking, to âmake them better.â Some intellectuals in that community are making a pretty interesting and not obvious point, which is that that amounts to devaluing and then sort of eradicating a culture as legitimate as any other.
To me it's pretty clear that this is what would happen in the scenario I've described, when the population recovered to the point where they have the leisure to imagine restoring root-stock humanity.
The human race depends on seven women, the eves, to resurrect the species. How did you think through the gender politics of this future?
So how did you end up with these seven women deciding what humanityâs most valuable traits are?
It's a pretty straightforward setup. Itâs just thinking through the mechanics of the genetics of it and how we all practically work, the basic idea of humanity being reduced to a very small number of people and having to restock from there was central. It's based on historical precedence. There's been at least one bottleneck in the history of the human race where the population was reduced to a few tens of thousands of humans. For storytelling purposes, it gets better if it's a lot smaller than 10,000. You then get into questions of the inbreeding problem if the population is too small.
I talked to Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan, who have been working on de-extinction. There is a species called the black-footed ferret that was reduced to very small numbers and is being brought back, but they can't really do it without finding ways to increase heterozygosity as a new gene pool artificially. It's all there. It's basically a simple and straightforward setup to our story of the world.
You launch the narrative from a universe thatâs very similar to the world we live in now. There are a number of characters in that early section who are reminiscent of some of our current nerd celebritiesâpeople like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk. Do you think of the novel as a commentary on the world as it is?
Well, I think one of the essential features of an ark book or a big global disasterâtype story is that you, the reader, are always asking yourself, What if this really happened? What if today the moon blew up or some kind of global disaster came upon us, what would I do? What would my friends do? What would the leaders of our society do? We've got certain types of people who would be conspicuous. It would be conspicuous if they failed to show up in this book. Your eminent scientists would have something to do, the science popularizers, politicians, the military, the billionaire nerds. If you didnât put those people in to this book and show them reacting to the situation, it would feel weirdly empty.
Seveneves has all of the above. We've got the pope. It's not that often that you just get to bring in the pope as a minor character in one scene. He's part of the fun of writing this kind of book.
Did you find yourself struggling to decide what was most important about our planet to save?
In the book, they can't send out Michelangeloâs David, but the Magna Carta can make it up. So a lot of that is just simply figuring out how much things weigh. In a way that that problem is simplified quite a bit, just by the scope of the disaster, so if they had had 10 years or 100 years to get ready, it might have been different, or if they had a super-duper new rocket or a space launch technology ready to go, and then it might have been different. But if we take the constraint that theyâve got two years and theyâve got the rockets we have today, a lot of decisions kind of get made automatically, and the focus becomes almost entirely on preserving the genome.
In contrast to an ark story written 50 years ago, we can send up nearly infinite amounts of data. The ark story when I was a kid, they probably would have been feverishly microfilming encyclopedias and phone books and stuff. Probably not phone books, but they would have had to worry about how to save the printed word, and in this case that problem just disappears.
You devote a lot of time in the novel to orbital mechanics and the logistics of space travel. Why did you settle on this particular scenario for how it might play out?
I wanted to use the kinds of launch technologies and options that really exist at this point in history, which is to say, a mix of government-built boosters and new private-industry spacecraft. I didnât want to posit any sort of super technology that would be game-changing.
I wanted to make a lot of use of the idea of in situ resources, which is to say, asteroids, comets, material thatâs already up there, which is, to me, the most exciting thing going right now in space exploration. I thought: Here's a scenario in which people would have no real alternative but to make use of those kinds of resources as aggressively as they could.
The story is a meditation on existential threats to the species. Having not so long ago founded Hieroglyph, a project dedicated to optimism, what do you think we should be most worried about and how do you see our chances?
Well, aside from the threat of a big asteroid impact, the thing that we should be worried about is climate change, which is going to happen. Thereâs no way to make it not happen now. I think that dwarfs everything else.
Do you see yourself as essentially an optimist in the long-range survival of the species?
Yes, I think that we've got the prerequisites that we need in the way of technical know-how and resources. Thereâs a lot of energy. There's a lot of stuff for us to work with. Solving problems has become a kind of routine operation, and so now it's really a matter of organizing people in some way that doesnât have terrible side effects.
The one thing that I was hoping for and that must now be addressed in the fan fiction instead is: How you raise babies in zero or almost zero gravity?
It will be messy.
There are not Ziplocs enough in the universe.
No, you learn that gravity is your friend when you have a baby.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, visit the Future Tense blog and the Future Tense home page. You can also follow us on Twitter.
|Check out the Glitch X Machine56 - 1/6th scale Bonehead: Rex 12-inch Action Figure pictures||I first discovered Bonehead during my media coverage of the STGCC (Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention) 2015 - see my toy blog post HERE - and actually came away from the show with a Test Subject 56 figure. Check out the action figure review posted HERE, HERE and HERE.|
Now Glitch has teamed up with Machine56, and is proud to introduce the next figure in their highly stylish "BONEHEAD" series - Rex, after the previous successful releases (Test Subject 56, Black Death). Glitch X Machine56 - Bonehead: Rex 1/6th scale Action Figure Contents will include: 1 (one) Authentic REX figure in 1/6th scale, 3 (three) pairs of interchangeable hands, 1 (one) Titan Fist, 1 (one) Rocket boost effect. Material: PVC, ABS, PUR and fabric clothing.
Scroll down to see all the pictures.
Click on them for bigger and better views.
Coming Q4 2017
Apparently, "wearable arts" is a thing now - see link HERE
|5 Foods to Give You Long-Lasting High Energy|
You need lots of energy to get through every day as a medical/healthcare professional and food can be your secret weapon. Eating the right foods in the right way can be a rocket booster for strength and stamina. Here are the five foods you need to incorporate into your diet so you can fuel your […]
|Crunching the ca$h...|
I remember when I used to borrow money from my mom back-in-the-day. The amounts would vary and I'd always pay her back, usually on payday. When I'd drive over & hand her the cold hard cash, she'd respond in the same way every time. She'd say: "Ohhh, here we are, Ang... with our high finance again!" and she'd chuckle & take the money from me. I'm not quite sure what that meant but it always struck me as funny too so I'd laugh as well.
I've been thinking a lot about those days since the beginning of this new year. We had a lot of medical bills come up from Oct'09 through Oct'10, the biggest two being my abdominal surgery in Dec'09 (~$34,000) & my bat bite with subsequent rabies vaccination series ending in Oct'10 (~$8,000). Yes, we have insurance but boy, it's not nearly as good ($4,000 deductible) as it used to be & we're paying more for it now than in years gone by. The same ole story for most things we purchase, I suppose. It seems the gap in agreement between insurance companies & medical providers is getting larger & more cavernous by the year. Regardless, when the bottom line is stated it's stated & that's what you owe. Period. The nice thing is that most hospitals have a timed payment plan with no interest accrued. See, there really IS a silver lining to most clouds!
Add the medical bills to the fact that my husband didn't get a raise (no one did, at his place of employment) in 2008. His bonus (which is supposed to compensate him for the miriad of overtime he works on a weekly basis & which we use every year to play "catch up" on any medical bills or outstanding charge card balances) in 2007 was used for our oldest daughter's wedding... then there was no bonus either (in addition to no raise) in 2008... and both the 2009 & 2010 bonuses were used to pay off my mother's funeral (in 2008).
All these things added together mean only one thing: it's time to crunch the numbers & go down to "bare bones" to try & have some $$ leftover at the end of the month to begin to chip away at the outstanding bills that have accumulated. So that's been one of my main focuses, as chief cook & bottle washer & money manager around here, since we rang in the new year of 2011.
The ideas I've come up with & things I've started incorporating into our home & my routine are really nothing foreign or new to me. I had just sort-of laid some of them aside, for various asundry reasons. Luckily I didn't forget where I put them :-) so they were very easy to find once again. I'll share a few of these things with you, in case you might like to try them yourselves. WARNING: some of these things are really rather 'back to the land' - type stuff, which may appeal to you or may not. Take what you can use & let the rest blow away in the wind. Someone who lives downwind will catch what you've cast aside & use it for themselves, so don't worry.
1. I'll get the most shocking one out of the way first... I've stopped driving! *gasp* I drove one time this year & that was January 3rd. I haven't driven since. I am simply at home. Our youngest daughter went from being homeschooled to attending a church-based learning co-op (which uses A.C.E. paces for their curriculum) from Sept'10 - Dec'10. The co-op being unsatisfactory in every aspect of education, we switched her over to a parochial 'regular' school in the middle of Dec'10 & which she continues with today (& loves). But with the switch from homeschooling to out-of-the-home schooling, my hypertension (which I've had almost all of my adult life) went caflooey with my blood pressure skyrocketing & my head feeling like a solid rocket booster waiting for take-off! Too much tension, too much running, too much everything... and my body began sending out a warning that something had to give. I discussed it with my husband (who works from home - same company for 29 yrs & does same work but from home now instead of at the division building that closed back in 2008) and so now either my husband or our 23 yr old son has taken over transportion of Caboose. They also do any shopping I need done or any errands I need run. Which basically means that only the very minimum of trips are made, off the homestead here, because I don't know about your men but my men don't like going anywhere with a list in their hands. With gasoline over $3/gal now, that translates to less gas used than when I used to drive and also less $$ spent. The men get what's on the list: no more & no less. If they're sent on an errand, it's to accomplish that errand & get home. Period. Which leads to....
2. I'm back to using food & supply storage, buying staples in bulk, making the majority of our food solely from scratch, using dehydrated fruits & vegetables rather than fresh, always eating at home, etc. I was first introduced to this way of living back in the 1980s, when it was most popular for my generation. There were many magazines being published, at that time, that helped women learn to do such things as bake bread, store flour & sugar bought in #25 bags, and find beef by the quarter or half steer for the deep freezer kept in the garage. I soaked up the information like a sponge & never released it, even though I may not have always used it. I had indeed forgotten though the joys of: a.) eating good bread whose number of ingredients you can count on one hand b.) always having toilet paper in the house rather than running out after using the 4-roll pack just purchased a week ago c.) not going into a panic because we're down to the last quart of milk (in the middle of a snow storm) and just whipping up another gallon from the milk powder on the shelf d.) simply having the safe & secure feeling of knowing that my family has everything they need under our roof, to exist comfortably for quite awhile, without having to run to the grocery store first and e.) being self-sufficient in a small sense. Which leads to...
3. Since my men (I think like most) don't particularly relish being sent on errands with l-o-n-g lists in hand, I've been using Amazon.com quite a bit for my bulk buying. If some of you haven't tried them yet, for groceries, I sure wish you would. The bargains are tremendous (much cheaper than the grocery store, for most things I order and, if not cheaper, then exactly the same) and your groceries get delivered right to your door... for free. They have a beautiful organic section too. I still belong to a food co-op (that uses United National Foods Inc.) which I get many perishable items from like eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, 25# bags of flour & sugar, etc. But for the other things such as dish soap, bar soap, laundry soap, toilet paper, paper towels, cereal, tea, coffee, waxed paper sandwich bags, shampoo and many other things, I use Amazon exclusively. For my dehydrated fruits, vegetables & milk powder I use Emergency Essentials. Their Provident Pantry-brand of powdered milk is the best we've ever tried! Our 23 yr old son, who is the milk expert in the household, can't tell the difference... and went out of his way to tell me so.
4. Back in the 1980s I learned how very important it is to drink fresh, clean, pure water. If our nation's water supply was polluted back then, imagine what it is now! *sigh* We have well water where we are, out in the county, that I refuse to drink out of the tap. I don't think drinking water out of the ground is good for anyone living anywhere these days. So for the last several years we've been drinking distilled water through a delivery service, which comes to the house here every 2 weeks with 5 gallon containers. It's good water & I feel good about myself & my family drinking it... but it's
5. We're in the process of deciding what to do about these cell phones of ours. Yes, they're handy but are they necessary? Are they worth the cost? I've never seen any statistics that show how many adolescent or adult children have been saved from their kidnappers by being able to use their cell phones from their captor's car truck (which is the scenario we envision when we see our son heading out for the evening or learn of our married daughter walking out to the parking lot after working late). All I ever hear on the news is that police have tracked the cell phone "pings" to specific areas and then lost them, after the person is kidnapped, or they've found that the victim's cell phone has been turned off & therefore is no use to those searching. The only thing we use our cell phones for is to text our youngest, from us in the living room to her in her bedroom, telling her it's time to get ready for bed... or hubby to call me from the grocery store because he can't find the specific item I have on the list he's holding on to for dear life... or son to text me about a song that just played on the radio that he's sure I would absolutely love... or Facebook to update youngest daughter with the lastest news on which one of her friends updated their status last. The only time I can honestly say I was grateful to have my cell phone with me was when I spun out on the highway in Jan'09, with 4-month-old grandbaby in the car, & we were buried deep in a ditch in the median. I called my husband, barely able to talk but physically unharmed (as was grandbaby), and he in turn called the police. I suppose though, if I hadn't had my cell phone, I would have simply done what I would have done before cell phones even existed: I would have rolled down my window, waved a white napkin retrieved from the glove compartment, and waited for a trucker to call the police on his CB radio. The weather was horrible that day, with multiple spin-outs, so the chances are good that a policeman going by would have seen me before the trucker would have even had the chance to call. Our monthly cell phone bill is $145 (no internet, no apps, no games... just plain phone with unlimited texting, free incoming calls, free evenings & weekends, $10 per line after the 1st line) & it kills me every month when I pay it. Our house phone is $32/mo., including tax. Why do we need anything more than that?!
That's where we're at for the time being. We're only 3 weeks into the new year so I'm sure I'll figure out more ways to "cut the fat" around here. For now this is enough. Maybe I'll hunt up my "Tightwad Gazette" books. I know they're around here somewhere. I love those things... and I love Amy Dacyczyn!
|Real Estate Round Up March 2016||Do you like reading exceptional real estate content from around the web? Take a look at some of the terrific articles from multiple authors you may have missed. Each of these articles are jam packed with great advice for buyers, sellers and real estate agents alike.Why Open Houses Aren't NecessaryThere probably isn't a more polarizing topic in real estate than open houses. Ask the question of whether open houses are worthwhile and you are bound to get to very different camps. Those that say open houses are fantastic and others who say they are completely worthless. Each will be extremely passionate about their position.My question is always this one. Open houses are good for who? Are they good for real estate agents or are they good for home owners? When a sellers asks this question I am very clear in my response. There is far more benefits of an open house to a real estate agent than a seller.The reason for this is simple. Serious buyers schedule showings on homes they are interested in. TheÂ Internet proves this everyday of the week. In other words it is not necessary for a seller to have an open house.For real estate agents however, the answer can be very different. Open houses can be great places to pick up prospects for other homes or even meet a neighbor considering selling their property. They offer significant value to a real estate agent and their prospecting efforts.Many real estate agents have a hard time admitting this and they would rather just tell a seller that an open house works to sell a home. They may even go as far as to say it is a vital part of marketing. This folks is patently false and one of my biggest pet peeves. In fact many agents will fail to explain that many buyers coming through won't be qualified or could even be there for nefarious reasons like stealing.Price a home properly, market it well and you will NEVER have to do an open house. Period -Â end of story.Some real estate agents however will go out of their way to say things like "my market is different than everyone else's!" Open houses work here. Again what does work mean? Does it mean that if you don't have an open house the property won't sell? Of course not!Rocket Boost Your Business With FacebookFacebook is the largest social network in the world. From a marketing perspective it is super smart for a real estate agent to have a presence there. What if I told you it was possible to get far more real estate business from Facebook than you are currently getting? One of the best ways of doing so is by targeting those in your own local market.Wouldn't it be better when you are sharing your latest blog post to the world that it reached those who are in your local area? Of course it would!In this article you are going to learn about re-targeting which will part your real estate articles in front of more people that matter!By following the instructions in the article you will stand a far better chance of someone calling you and saying "I just saw your post on Facebook. I am thinking of selling my home and would like to have you come over to take a look."Bingo this is what every real estate agent should be striving for when it comes to social media marketing.Â Best Spring Home Selling TipsSpring is just around the corner which means one thing. Real Estate markets around the country will be heating up big time! Some in fact already have. In many places the market is in full swing with buyers coming out of the wood work.One of the most important aspects of selling a home is your presentation. As the saying goes a few impression really matters. Luke Skar of Inlanta Mortgage has put together a compilation of great tips from top real estate agents around the country offering some of the best home sellling tips for spring.From the outside to the inside it makes sense to have your home looking it's absolute best. When you are done reading this article you will know exactly how to make your property stand out from the crowd.Pitfalls of Selling FSBOWithout a doubt selling a home as a for sale by owner is a tough proposition. There is a reason real estate agents get aÂ healthy sum of money to move property. It is not easy. Some sellers however think it is a breeze or a real estate agent gets too much money. They will insist on trying to give it a go on their own.The national statistics say that a for sale by owner will fail over 80 percent of the time in their quest to sell without the use of a real estate agent. There must be some circumstances where a for sale by owner can increase their chances of success? In fact there is. When a real estate agent is marketing a home in the same neighborhood, their marketing efforts are bound to bring traffic by all the home. A for sale by owner canÂ capitalize in this situation as long as they have their home priced correctly.Getting the buyer interested however is only a small part of the battle. In the article you will see all of the pitfalls of selling as a for sale by owner. As long as a FSBO knows going in what they are up against it is possible for success in some circumstances. Some for sale by owners however don't have the luxury of being is a well traveled area where an agents marketing can help them. It is these sellers who will suffer and probably not have much luck.Print Real Estate Media That WorksIf you ask most real estate agents if print media works they will look at you like you have four heads. They will proclaim theÂ Internet is the place to be and don't bother with print. This would be a mistake to listen to.The reason why print media does not work anymore for real estate is because people don't go to the newspaper anymore to find homes. TheÂ Internet has in fact taken care of that. This doesn't mean that a newspaper cannot be an effective place for a real estate agent to brand themselves and be remembered.This is the key to making print media work for real estate. If you run the typical real estate agent ad where there are 4-6 pictures of homes for sale then yes you will fail. Nobody is going to look at that or remember who put the ad in the paper.In order for print media to be effective you must be memorable! The National Association of Realtors in fact did a story recently featuring my memorable print real estate marketing. Take a look and you will see a few example of ads I run in my local newspaper. IÂ guarantee these will be ads you probably have not seen the likes of before. What do you think? A little better than seeing some houses for sale right?These kind of ads bring me new listings every year. I have about forty of them that I run on a rotational business. People have actually told me they look forward to the paper coming each week just to see my latest ad. So if someone tells you print is deadÂ they're wrong!Final WordsSo there you have it - some of the best real estate articles you may have missed from around web for March. Take a look at each of the articles and if you enjoy them please consider sharing them to your social networks!Connect with me on Google+|
|Remembering Challenger||On 28 January 1986, people watched in horror as Challenger, one of America's four space shuttles, erupted into a ball of flames just over a minute after lift off, killing everyone on board. Sue MacGregor looks back on one of Nasa's darkest tragedies with Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle commander Richard "Dick" Scobee; Steve Nesbitt, Nasa chief commentator; astronaut Norman Thagard; and Allan McDonald, former Morton Thiokol director of the Space Shuttle Rocket Booster Project.|
|Targit Rocket Booster|
|THE CORRELATION BETWEEN SUNSPOT ACTIVITY AND ET VISITS|
We currently have at least three indications that 2016, and the years immediately following, have the potential to bring another chance for open Contact between extraterrestrials and humanity. If world governments donât repeat the insane mistakes they made during the 1940âs and 1950âs â a big if â and we can get a grip on our rapidly declining geopolitical situation, the door may open again for humanity to meet at least some of the Visitors we know are out there.
Space Weather and ET Visitation
Recently, TOR posted links to information regarding 1991 VG, including Clifford Stoneâs comments. According to Stone, the âasteroidâ NASA has classified as 1991 VG behaves unlike any other known asteroid ever discovered:
â1991 VG will make its next closest approach to earth toward the end of 2016. At present there are three theories as to what 1991 VG could be:
1. A very unusual asteroid (the first of its kind to ever be observed),
2. An overlooked or forgotten rocket booster from an early space launch,
3. An extraterrestrial probe from another solar system that entered our solar system around 1947.Â
The first two theories are considered very unlikely, leaving only the third theory (extraterrestrial probe) being a strong possibility.
In 2016 the scientific community will be watching closely as 1991 VG once again makes a close approach to earth for an answer as to what 1991 VG really is.â
Secondly, TOR Agents are keeping a close watch on the information coming from biotransmissions via meditation from specific channelers and their information points toward 2016 as being the year for first Open Contact.
For example, according to Tom T. Moore, author of First Contact, the process of Contact will begin in 2015 and will likely be complete in 2025. The process will be âslow and gentleâ so as not to frighten Earthâs population as well as to give our governments the time they need to finally acknowledge that most governing bodies have been aware of the extraterrestrial presence on our planet for decades and have hid this knowledge from their populations.
Our third and most recent indication comes from researcher Steve Pearse who, after studying over 100 cases of Contact and UFO waves, has discovered a correlation between sunspot activity and extraterrestrial visitation. According to Pearseâs findings,
â...itâs the lack of sunspot activity that ultimately opens the door to extraterrestrial visitationâ¦.the results clearly proved that over 90 percent of the well known documented case histories occurred during the Solar Minimum years, and the UFO waves recorded were directly linked to this window of calmer Sunspot activity. I did a second batch of new cases to see if they would match the same results as the first test group, and they ended up having an even higher percentile correlation. This updated report [Space Weather and ET Visitation] combines them together.â
Guess what year the next Solar Minimum phase begins? According to Steve Pearse,
âThe next UFO wave has left already and is scheduled to arrive in 2016-2020 as our Sunspot activity drops down to acceptable levels to permit visitation to Earth.â
We encourage you to read Space Weather and ET Visitation because it not only proves that a correlation between solar activity and ET visitation exists, but also because of the excellent Contact cases outlined in Pearseâs report about which everyone should be aware. Continue by reading Space Weather and ET Visitation to Earth.
Article continues here: http://alienjigsaw.com/anomalies/Pearse-Solar-Sunspots-UFOs-ET-Activity.html
|California-Based SpaceX To Attempt A Do-Over Of Failed Rocket Booster Landing||The SpaceX company will take a second stab this weekend at landing a rocket booster on a platform floating off the Florida coast.|
|Reviews and Ratings are Rocket Boosters for Local SEO Marketing Strategies|
As any business owner is aware, your companyâs reputation is one of its most important and valuable assets. Fortunately, we live in a time when happy customers can post reviews online using platforms like Yelp, Google Maps, Facebook and various others. While there are some pitfalls when it comes to people leaving negative or unfair […]
The post Reviews and Ratings are Rocket Boosters for Local SEO Marketing Strategies appeared first on ProPRcopy.
|Alert Notice 175: Further update on ORFEUS mission AND Request to monitor Perseid meteors AND Request to monitor cataclysmic variable 2023+43 V503 Cygni AND Reminders|
THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF VARIABLE STAR OBSERVERS
AAVSO ALERT NOTICE 175 (August 4,1993)
FURTHER UPDATE ON ORFEUS MISSION and REQUEST TO MONITOR PERSEID METEORS
The launch of NASA's space shuttle Discovery carrying the ORFEUS mission was canceled on July 24, 19 seconds before the launch, due to "abnormal behavior by a hydraulic pump controlling thrust vectoring of the right Solid Rocket Booster." The launch date for Discovery has been moved to August 12. The decision to move the launch to August was due to the upcoming Perseid meteor shower in Earth's upper atmosphere, which is predicted to take place during the evening of August 11-12. This year is one of the rare times that the activity is expected to be extremely high as the Earth passes through the thickest part of the dust cloud of Comet Swift-Tuttle: The maximum, if there is one, is expected to last about an hour, but the uncertainty of time of arrival is about Â±4 hours. At present, the best guesses are that Western Asia, Eastern Europe, and possibly the east coast of the United States will be facing the stream when it arrives. The guesses assume that the maximum will occur before the Earth passes through the plane of the comet's orbit, which will occur at Ol hour Universal Time on August 12. Since this year's Perseid activity is a unique event, it is not completely predictable. Increased chances of a spacecraft in Earth orbit being damaged by a piece of debris led the shuttle managers to decide to wait until after the Perseid meteor shower event to launch Discovery. Our assistance has been asked by NASA Astrophysics Division to monitor the Perseid meteor activity closely, starting August 9. Pleasce call in to AAVSO Headquarters, using the charge-free number 800-642-3883, if the meteor activity is very high, i.e., more than 2 Perseid meteors per minute, on the evening of August 11-12. I will be checking the AAVSO answering machine regularly that evening for your messages. (For a detailed and very informative article on the Perseids, see Sky & Telescope, August 1993, pp. 43-49).
Once Discovery is launched, the ORFEUS mission will be deployed from the shuttle and the observations of cataclysmic variables with ORFEUS will start 2 to 3 days after the launch (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).
Please continue to monitor closely the stars that are the primary observing targets during the ORFEUS mission, i.e., 0058+40 RX And, 0409-71 VW Hyi, 0814+73 Z Cam, 0813+49 AM Her, 2138+43 SS Cyg, and 2209+12 RU Peg. Monitor them between now and the end of the 9-day mission, and call in your observations of them to AAVSO Headquarters. Please also remember to call in if any of the brighter dwarf novae go into outburst, i.e., magnitude brighter than 12.5 at outburst, as these stars may be observed during the ORFEUS mission.
Your observations of the Perseid meteor shower and also of cataclysmic variables, and your phone calls to AAVSO Headquarters of their behavior, are vital to this mission. Astronomers at NASA Astrophysics Division appreciate and extend their sincere thanks to you for your valuable astronomical contributions to this and other NASA missions.
REQUEST TO MONITOR CATACLYSMIC VARIABLE 2023+43 V503 CYGNI
The dwarf nova V503 Cyg, varying between photographic magnitudes 13.4 and 17.0, is a very interesting and unusual system, in which humps in the continuum are observed both at quiescence and during outbursts. While the amplitude of the humps is as much as 1 magnitude during quiescence, during outburst it decreases to 0.2 to 0.3 magnitude. Another interesting feature is that the period of the photometric humps is a few percent longer than the radial velocities of the emission lines and fluxes.
Humps seen in the optical both during quiescence and during outbursts show different behavior in the ultraviolet region. Thus, in order to investigate the hump temperature and location and the overall disk structure, astronomers at the University of Washington and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have an observing run with the IUE satellite to observe V503 Cyg during outburst. They have asked our assistance to keep a close eye on this system and inform them when V503 Cyg goes into outburst.
Accompanying is an AAVSO preliminary chart of V503 Cyg. Please note that this chart, issued 6/89, has the position of V503 Cyg corrected (after the star was observed in outburst in August 1988 - see Letter to the Editor by J. Griese and C. Scovil, JAAVSO, Vol. 17, p. 148; 1988). Please use this chart and not the AAVSO charts issued at earlier dates. Observers with moderate- to large-aperture telescopes are requested to monitor this star closely, and phone in to AAVSO Headquarters when the star goes into outburst. The observations in the AAVSO International Database indicate that the maximum outburst brightness is between visual magnitudes 13.4 and 13.8, and at minimum the star is fainter than 16.0.
Please continue to monitor VW Hyi and SS Cyg throughout the rest of 1993 and inform us of their outbursts (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).
Please keep us informed of the brightness and behavior of AM Her (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).
Also, continue to monitor V348 Sgr and inform us when it becomes brighter than 13.5 (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).
Thank you very much for your close monitoring and notification of your observations to AAVSO Headquarters, and for your valuable contributions to variable star research.
Clear skies and good observing!
files: V503 Cyg preliminary chart dated 6/89
Information on submitting observations to the AAVSO may be found atâ:â¬
ALERT NOTICE ARCHIVE AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION
An Alert Notice archive is available at the following URLâ:â¬
Subscribing and Unsubscribing may be done at the following URLâ:â¬
Please support the AAVSO and its mission -- Join or donate today:
|I Bit the Dust on Monday, February 18, 2008||I was near the end of a near perfect ride, when I bit the dust off Andi. Mom and I left for a trail ride this morning. Her horse had ants in his pants, so we took the wash trail which has deeper sand, hoping it would slow him down some. But the sand is not as deep in the winter because of the moisture in winter. Mom was getting pissed at her horse which was making him worse, and Andi was being his perfect Andi self, so I told mom to park her horse behind Andi. We rode like that off and on (mostly on) for 4 1/2 miles. A couple of times, Andi shook and Fireman would bump into him. Andi was OK with that. Boy, was I ever proud of Andi.|
We were within a mile from home, and mom came out from behind us, and sure enough, Fireman started prancy dancy towards home, so she put him back behind Andi. I **think** Fireman pinned his ears, or lunged at Andi (don't know for sure because I was looking ahead and he had been fine). Anyway, Andi shot forward like a rocket, and when I one-reined him,I got off balance, and hit the dirt (well, sand in my case). I sat there in the sand and watched my Andi Pandi head for home as fast as his legs could carry him. Then mom got off Fireman before he decided he needed to join Andi. As soon as we rounded the corner for home, I saw a car in front of my house and people coming down the driveway. My neighbor had put Andi in my corral, then was coming to look for us. I thanked them, and I'm OK, but I have a very sore shoulder where I landed first. At least it is my left shoulder and I'm right handed. Poor Andi was scared and jumpy when I got him out of the corral, so we did some easy clicker work like getting next to the mounting block and trailer loading before I put him up. Other than the rocket boost, Andi was a very good boy and acted like the old been there, done that horse. That's why I am pretty sure Fireman did something towards Andi that last time he got behind him. He has been knownto pin his ears at Andi before. I think I just was expecting too much of my green boy, even tho he is99.9% of the time the perfect horse.
Oh, and I decided he has Tina Turner hair going down the trail!
|An Extremely Goofy Movie||An Extremely Goofy Movie (assumed make known A Goofy Movie 2 and A Goofy Movie 2: An Extremely Goofy Movie), is a 2000 American concord gone-to-video dynamic comedy film made by Walt Disney Pictures, produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, and directed by Ian Harrowell and Douglas McCarthy. It is the film is a sequel to the 1995 film A Goofy Movie, and the featuring the reward of characters from the film adaptations, which was based a propos the live television series Goof Troop. The relation follows Max's freshman year at scholastic, which is compounded by his father's presence along with Goofy arrives at the connected scholarly to profit a degree because of his failure to hermetic conservatory. This is also serves as the television's series finale of The Disney Afternoon television series of Goof Troop.|
Max Goof, now on the order of 18 years old-fashioned, departs for military institute behind his best links P.J. Pete and Bobby Zimeruski. He strives to impinge on an feat together once his links to become the intensity team at the scholastic X Games, blazing to finally be avow not guilty of his overbearing and embarrassing father. Upon arriving, Max is met by the improper and pompous "Gamma Mu Mu" fraternity, who are the reigning X-Games champions, including their leader, Bradley Uppercrust III. Bradley invites on your own Max to member his fraternity, but Max refuses to depart his connections astern. A rivalry starts along furthermore Max's team and Bradley's Gammas, and they arrange a bet that whoever loses in the finals will be towel-guy to the auxiliary.
Meanwhile, Goofy doesn't permit Max's leaving astern each and every one accurately and suffers from blank nest syndrome. His depression causes him become careless at his assembly stock job, and eventually causing a gigantic explosion at the factory. Out of a job, Goofy is bothered to finish his 4th and last year of theoretical to obtain your hands on a degree in serve he is responsive to locate subsidiary employment. Much to Max's horror, Goofy joins the same learned as Max to utter his degree, all the even if sporting clothing and behaviors from the 70s, gone Goofy last attended moot. Goofy frequently bothers the boys at the dorms, waking them happening unnecessarily in front, accompanying them everywhere, and forcing them to attain chores. In order to designate him and his team some perky room, Max talks his father into joining the Gammas, whom Goofy had accidentally impressed by interrupting Max's practice. Additionally, at Max's urging to profit a library card, Goofy meets and befriends the speculative librarian, Sylvia Marpole, who shares his nostalgic adulation for the 1970's. Romance soon blossoms together in the midst of Goofy and Sylvia, and they pay for a ruling to go for a date that coming Saturday, which becomes a spectacular do its stuff subsequent to them creating a throwback theme at the club and dominating the dance floor.
Although Max is initially in contract of Goofy's "distractions", tensions begin to rise along with them as soon as Goofy beats Max in the first round during the X-Games qualifiers, effectively stealing Max's fanbase and limelight, even even if his attainment is due to cheating by Bradley, who placed a rocket booster very practically the subject of Goofy's skateboard. Bradley plus distracts Max's own focus as he skates by blinding him taking into account a mirror. Max's team barely makes it into the semi-finals. After the qualifiers, Max, mad at mammal unable to estrange himself from Goofy, selfishly disowns Goofy as his dad and telling him to "depart [him] alone and profit [his] own activity!". Goofy, even more unhappy, loses his focus, forgets his date gone Sylvia, and fails his first round of midterm exams.
Goofy returns habitat and begins to find dropping out, but after unintentionally getting some advice from Peter Pete, he regains his focus and returns to military institute. Meanwhile, Max, touch that people now lonesome believe him through his father, considers transferring, thinking he had submission his teammates down, but after some protection from PJ and Bobby, he regains his point of view. Goofy returns to campus and reconciles as soon as Sylvia, who in addition to helps him scrutiny for his as well as-door tribute of exams, which he passes later all As. Additionally, Goofy quits the Gammas, not wanting to compete adjoining Max at all. The Gammas have emotional impact to this as an manipulation and literally throw him out. When Goofy as soon as suggestion to-enters the Gamma in flames to compensation his pledge anchor, he overhears the bureau plotting to cheat in the unadulterated X-Games trial, connected to they always have. Arriving at the locker room, Goofy tries to inform Max along bearing in mind Bobby and PJ very roughly the Gammas' intentions, but Max angrily refuses to receive him.
At the X-Games semi-finals, Bradley and the Gammas repeatedly cheat in various ways unnoticed, eliminating each and every one the teams even though irritating to eliminate Max's, albeit unsuccessfully. Just into the future the unmovable race is to creation, Bradley activates a rocket mechanism in P.J.'s skates that blasts him away, leaving Max's team in the back unaccompanied two players: himself and Bobby. Without enough teammates, Max and Bobby will point disqualification unless they can locate a replacement performer. Realizing that Goofy was right approximately the Gammas' cheating, Max calls for Goofy on the Jumbotron and asks him to partner his team; Goofy crashes in in the nick of become primeval.
In the unmodified race, Slouch, one of the Gammas, is removed from the race subsequent to Goofy crashes into him, and Bobby is removed bearing in mind one of the Gammas loosens the screw upon the stomach wheel of his bike. Goofy is after that removed taking into account he accidentally crashes into Bradley. Bradley is angered gone Tank, his right-hand man, ignores his orders to concur out Max and on the other hand tries to win the race in Bradley's place, and activates a rocket booster placed onto Max's skateboard. Goofy's intend to fade away Bradley fails, and Max, along taking into account Tank, crashes into the inflatable X-games logo. It falls upon them and goes ardent. Ignoring the calamity occurring happening, Bradley skates attend to to finish the race to have the race won for himself, but Max and Goofy sponsorship Tank run away the wreckage. Despite the setback, Max manages to catch going on to Bradley and wins the race by a nose and receives the grand-prize trophy. Conceding wipe out, Bradley shakes hands subsequent to Max showing fine sportsmanship and will become his towel-guy as certainly, but Max calls off the bet because Bradley has to merger considering Tank. Tank later turns upon Bradley for betraying him and slingshots Bradley into the X-Games blimp up overhead, effectively taking on summit of the fraternity.
Once the term is anew, Goofy early pupils and Max gives the trophy to him as an apology faculty for his disownment from in the in front, assuring the former that he will always be his son. Goofy forgives Max, bids leave-taking to the organization, and drives away as well as Sylvia into the sunset for their adjacent date.
Max goes to scholastic, but to his embarassment his father loses his job and goes to his son's campus.
It's a big mature in Max's dynamism. He's university bound past his associates and finally clear of his embarrassing father as he strives to be a extremity contender for the X-Games. Unfortunately, Goofy loses his job and learns that he cannot acquire irregular job without a military institute degree. To his son's mortification, Goofy decides to colleague him in his campus to get hold of that degree. Desperate to distract his daddy, Max talks him into joining the competing Gamma Fraternity team and introduces him to a fantastic librarian who shares his nostalgic veneration for 1970's pastimes. Unfortunately, things realize not go according to take hope as deeds put this father-son attachment to the test.
|3 Great Rockets Moments||Watching the SpaceX March 7th (2013) Grasshopper test, I realized that this was one of the best rocket video moments I had seen. Now, the minimum I could do was to list my [new] top 3. This list is not chosen based on the historical importance of the event but on the emotional impact of seeing a rocketry rare and amazing moment. |
Apollo 11 landing sequence
This one may sound like an easy choice but, having read so much about the Apollo program and understanding the level of complexity of the events leading to a moon landing, this video makes me sit at the edge of my seat every time. Especially with the added stress of the 1201-02 alarm that almost forced them to abort the landing. (info about the 1201 alarm)
Space Shuttle SRB Flight
This is a long one to watch but it's worth it. The camera is attached to the top of one of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB). The strange feeling of seeing the ground 'fall' away at this ridiculous speed is hard to beat. After the noisy first part of the takeoff, there is a change in the sound while the rocket leaves the dense atmosphere followed by the silence after the separation. But the most awesome part is when the booster enters back into the dense air with the eerie moaning-sound of the empty cylinder growing into a full roar while the rocket is slowing down to terminal velocity.
SpaceX Grasshopper test
This video just climbed into my top three list for the simple reason that it is filmed from the air. This was done probably by using a sort of radio controlled camera platform (e.g. Quad-copter). It is a strange feeling, to virtually be there and float next to this monster while it just stands in mid-air. You expect a rocket to either do nothing on the pad or go full throttle but to see this delicate precision, now that is crazy cool. SpaceX made it look like they do this every day... but wait.. they ARE doing this every day. Go SpaceX!
|Toy Review: Bandai Chogattai Kingrobot Mickey and Friends|
When it comes to Japanese toys, I have a weakness for the strangely cute. I could easily lose a fortune buying up vintage chogokin from companies like Popy or Takatoku. These manufacturers excelled at making toys that caught the eye with brightly-colored, surrealistically cartoonish designs. In my opinion, there is an overabundance of hyper-realism in the robot toys created these days, but every now and then a toy comes along that seems to fit the mold of toys from those bye-gone days. The subject of this review is one of those toys.
When it was first announced sometime last year that Bandai was going to be releasing a Super Sentai-inspired combining giant robot toy based on Disney characters, I was strangely entranced. I've never much cared for Disney creations, and because of that I was tempted to not pay much attention to this release. But my mind kept coming back to it, and I kept seeing all the shiny promotional photos and information from the Bandai hype machine. I love weird toys, and It was just too weird to pass up.
Chogattai Kingrobot Mickey and Friends is a truly ambitious piece of work. The Bandai designers successfully found a way to merge classic Disney characters into the world of transforming robots, creating both a cool new item for Disney collectors, and a very credible gattai robot. Disney and Bandai each have a legacy of attention to detail, and this toy is no exception. This review will not go into exacting detail about the full transformation process, as I prefer to focus on the look and feel of this unique release. Kingrobot Mickey is not without its flaws, but the overall effect is fantastic.
First up in the set of characters involved is Pluto, Mickey Mouse's pet mutt. Each of the figures that comprise Kingrobot Mickey and Friends is essentially a piloted giant robot in and of itself. In this case, Pluto himself drives "Dash Pluto," which forms the lower left leg of the larger robot. He's about four inches long and maybe two and a half inches high.
Dash Pluto is rendered in trademark yellow-orange color, with highlights of silver, black, , and green. The tail is a metallic aqua, and the tongue a bright red. Pluto is mostly hard plastic, though the chest region is nicely painted diecast metal. A quibble here is that the tail and moveable ears are also hard plastic and I feel very self-conscious about manipulating these parts due to fear of breaking them. I'd much rather have had these made out of a more flexible material. Bandai frequently includes alternate sets of parts in their other toys so that the collector can make the choice of how to display the item. That would have been a neat addition to this set.
Each of the six individual robots sports a pale blue transparent visor which reveals mechanical detail and eyes visible beneath. There's also a surprise relating to this visor area, but I will reveal that feature later in the review.
None of these figures are exactly brimming with articulation, but Pluto can at least look like he's "dashing" around.
A few twists and turns and Pluto's ready to help his friends get a leg up.
Next comes Goofy, piloting "Land Goofy." He's the tallest of these figures, reaching about five inches high. Nicely rendered in black, butterscotch, blue, and brown plastic with silver, black, and green painted highlights. The majority of the torso is diecast, making Goofy the heaviest of the individual figures.
The same sort of visor arrangement can be seen here. Panel lines and various mechanical shapes adorn each of these figures, and the effect is striking. Bandai did a marvelous job translating these familiar characters into robotic form.
One issue I have with this figure is that the feet and legs connect in such a way that Goofy must lean forward a bit in order to stand upright. The promo pictures that Bandai released show Goofy standing up much more straight than the actual toy does. The small hair-like protrusions on his forehead and his floppy ears are also hard plastic. Again, a softer material might have worked well to reduce the possibility of damage.
Land Goofy does have enough articulation to pull off basic poses.
Unlike Pluto, Goofy forms an entire leg and foot. The weight of the diecast in Goofy's torso helps aid in the stability of the entire piece.
Not every part of Kingrobot Mickey is formed from a character robot. In this case, the hips and upper left leg are converted out of Pluto's doghouse.
This staff featuring the mouse ears must be removed from the doghouse. The paint applications here are really crisp and do a great job of highlighting the various details.
The sides and roof form a shield of sorts. In the center is a fairly clear piece of mirrored plastic.
On the back side is a black plastic handle that can be inserted into either of the combined form's hands.
The yellowish plastic here matches Dash Pluto's coloration, and the red and green plastic of the hips and knee parts are highlighted with black, gold, and silver paint.
Next in the lineup is everyone's favorite irascible white duck, Donald. He makes his might known in "Diver Donald." It's a close tie between Donald and Mickey for my favorites from this set, and the colors and shapes really pop here. Crisp black, silver, gold, and green paint detailing adorns the blue and white plastic on Donald. As usual, the torso is diecast, while the bowtie is bright red plastic.
A rear view shows where the hands for the combined mode are stored.
A cool detail is the inclusion of transparent blue panels in Donald's shoulders.
Some minor articulation allows Donald to mildly assert himself.
Diver Donald is ready for action as Kingrobot's Mickey's right arm.
Daisy Duck pilots "Aqua Daisy" which forms the left arm to Donald's right. The figures are highly similar, with identical transformations and articulation, though there appears to be very little in the way of shared parts.
Aqua Daisy features white, pink, and lavender plastic, highlighted in silver, gold, orange, green, and black. The torso is again made of nice hefty metal.
Daisy's bow helps tie up her feathers in a short pony tail. She seems to have twin turbines on her head, perhaps for underwater travel.
Daisy and Donald feature identical articulation.
As the left arm, Aqua Daisy is ready to help shoulder whatever burdens Kingrobot Mickey must bear.
Minny Mouse comes next, driving "Sky Minnie." She's mostly pink and black plastic, with silver and gold highlights. The heart on her forehead is red plastic with the smaller pink heart painted in. The rocket booster pods attached to her arms are removable.
Like the others, Minnie sports wonderful details, such as the bolts on the ears and her vent-like mouth. A small section of the torso is diecast.
A pair of feathery wings adorn her back. The heels of her shoes are cleverly integrated with a transformation joint.
It's not immediately clear what Sky Minnie is when transformed into her component part, but she primarily forms the back of Kingrobot Mickey's torso. When combined with the others, Minnie actually faces to the rear.
This section provides connection points for other parts, and faces forward. Each "M" pictured here is gold-chromed plastic. Despite the somewhat exploded look of Minnie in this mode, there is nothing that immediately feels as if it will break easily.
The star of the show is, of course, Mickey Mouse. He pilots "Jet Mickey." He's rendered mostly in black, red, and white plastic, and highlighted with silver, black, green, and gold paint. The M on his chest is gold-chromed plastic. Most of his torso is glossy black-painted diecast metal.
These gold wings are adjustable. Note the very small clips at Jet Mickey's elbows. These really are very small and fragile-seeming.
Jet Mickey's got tremendous facial detail. There are major differences between components of Mickey and Minnie's faces, including the shape of the nose, which is boxy on Mickey and rounded on Minnie.
I'm quite impressed with the design of these gold-painted feet. It's just a really nice look, and Bandai's paint applications are so very consistent! There are no swirls or oddities present.
Jet Mickey features a bit more articulation than the others, so you can get a decent action pose out of him.
And now, here's that special feature I mentioned before. Each of these figures includes an alternate visor view of the individual character piloting their robot! A slider on the back of the head rotates a sort of drum inside the head that pivots to reveal either the standard robot eyes, or a miniature version of the pilot peering out from behind the clear visor. Pretty neat!
Jet Mickey's transformation into the chest of the combined robot is not particularly complex, but it does include manipulating a number of small and/or thin pieces that feel very fragile, so use caution.
Last of all the components of Kingrobot Mickey is this very small boat from the original Steamboat Willie cartoon. It's molded from black plastic with silver, gold, green, and brown highlights.
The boat is only about an inch long, but still features a lot of molded detail packed into such a small space, including paddle wheels and a tiny mouse ears logo on the smokestack.
The boat splits at the bow, which allows the robot mode face to flip down. Despite the mouse ears and golden helm wheels, the face actually conveys a sense of purpose and power. It's not unlike many Brave Series robots in its look.
In combined mode, Kingrobot Mickey and Friends is a pretty imposing robot even though it's really just a bunch of dogs, ducks, and mice thrown together. There's a lot to look at there and yet it all hangs together. Over the years, the lion-chested robot (Daltanious, Predaking, GaoGaiGar, among others) has been a standard of Japanese toy design, but in this case a Mouse will have to fill in for a cat. Micky does a pretty good job, I'd say!
An issue with the toy is that combined mode wants to lean backward. Careful display will be required to avoid possible shelf-diving.
Minnie provides a lookout for anyone foolish enough to attack Kingrobot Mickey from the rear. Behind every good mouse... Really, in what world would this robot engage in combat without an enemy dying of laughter?
That is, until they got a gander at the steely glare emanating from this mighty cartoon war machine.
After a long day of fending off his foes, I guess Kingrobot Mickey's dogs might be barking.
The only "option parts" that this set comes with are two pairs of hands. One molded in fists, which are the default installed on the toy. The other pair are capable of holding the Kingrobot's staff and shield. These are made of a flexible material, and can be swapped by popping them on and off a ball joint at the end of each arm. The swap is a bit fiddly, though, and is another area that feels ready for damage unless one is careful.
The combined mode does have a modicum of articulation. The head is on a ball joint and so can swivel side to side and look up and down slightly. The arms swivel at the shoulders up and down and out to the sides. There is a bicep swivel, elbow joint, and ball joint at the wrists. Unfortunately, due to the combination, there is really no articulation from the waist down.
The shield's mirrored surface could be used to blind a foe as well as for defence. It really is pretty darn shiny.
I guess as guardian of the Magic Kingdom, Kingrobot Mickey probably would have to wield a sorcerous weapon, right? What powers could be concealed in those shiny green orbs?
Chogokin fans usually hold on to the boxes their toys come packaged in, sometimes coveting the box art even more so than the objects within. There are plenty of bright graphics here, but it's just a photo of the toy, rather than some fantastic artist's rendition. The box is quite large, and in a nod to old-fashioned diecast robot toys, a styrofoam tray protects the various parts.
Overall, I really like the Chogattai Kindrobot Mickey and Friends toy. But, with the delicate parts and transformations, one really ought to refer to this as an adult collectible. I doubt this would survive more than a few minutes with an actual child handling it. At only around eight inches tall, it's a bit smaller than anticipated, but for the 13,000-ish yen price point you do get a lot of robot for the money. Any issues aside, there's a lot of fun to be had here with fantastic design work, and really eye-popping detail and color. The paint work is flawless, and the toy can look great displayed either in combined mode or as individual Disney characters. This is a one-of-a-kind weird toy, but that's just my kind of thing.
As a final note, this post has been mirrored over at CollectionDX. They've got loads of great reviews and information on the latest kaiju and robot toys there, so check them out!
|Hopes and Dreams|
Greyson gets a minute to 'talk' about whatever he wants after his bedtime story. Most times with Luke, he quizzes Luke on what kinds of spaceships have made it to outer space or how rocket boosters work. With me, we talk about his 'Teddy' wanting or not wanting to go out to the cabin (b/c if you don't know; Teddy was left at the cabin for a few months!). Other times, he wants to know, in detail, all about my jobs or whatever I know the most details about (which is not much!).
But tonight, he was so cute. He wanted to cuddle; and we do this too instead of using a talk minute. The difference tonight was that I told him that I wanted to talk about our hopes and dreams. Our conversation proceeded like this:
Me: My dream is to travel the world with you and Daddy.
Greyson: My dream is to go to outer space.
Me: My dream is to see the Chiefs play in every stadium in the US.
Greyson: My dream is to climb to the top of a mountain and start an avalanche.
Me: Really, you want to start an avalanche? That's dangerous!
Me: My dream is to be more patient with you.
Greyson: My dream is to have Andy's every night after dinner.
|Function over form: NASA's Space Launch System gets a new paint job||Last week, NASA revealed an updated design for the Space Launch System, featuring black-and-white checkerboards streaking down each of the vehicle's solid rocket boosters.|
|If you want to repeat Apollo, do it right||NASA's two new launchers are increasingly in big trouble, and may come to a bad end.|
Ares I, the small launcher designed to lift a crew capsule, is the centre of the problem. The original idea was to start with a shuttle solid rocket booster (SRB), and top it off with a small upper stage using a shuttle main engine (SSME). This plan had some flaws, but if it could be done easily and quickly, it looked passable if not ideal.
Unfortunately, it hasn't been easy or quick. First the upper-stage engine was changed to the J-2S, the Apollo-era engine being revived for the big launcher, Ares V. This wasn't as fuel efficient, so the upper stage got fatter to hold more fuel. That was too heavy for the SRB, so Ares I would have to use the stretched "five-segment" SRB also planned for the big launcher.
Soon, the crew capsule, called Orion, got heavier. And instead of being a revived J-2S, the upper stage's engine had to be an improved version, the J-2X. Before long, even that wasn't enough, so the flight plan changed: the Ares I would boost Orion almost into orbit, and Orion would have to do the last little bit with its own engine.
Most recently, the upper stage has gotten fatter yet again. And we haven't seen the end of it yet; this rocket is still a long way from flight, and it's running out of upgrade options.
Nor is Ares I alone in this. Off in the shadows, Ares V has been going through its own series of awkward design changes, as it too struggles to meet a requirement that it's not really up to.
Of course, all of this hasn't been good for the schedule or the budget.
The Apollo programme of the 1960s had some weight problems too; in particular, the lunar lander needed some fairly drastic weight-reduction work. But the rockets didn't see any of this: their development went forward pretty much in a straight line, hewing closely to the original designs. Why?
The key difference was Wernher von Braun, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center (then as now, NASA's rocket-development centre). Early in Apollo, he met with the crew capsule people to get their final decision on how much the Apollo spacecraft was going to weigh. They told him that the final number, including all margins, was 75,000 pounds (34 tonnes). The Apollo spacecraft definitely would weigh no more than that.
And he quietly decided that he simply didn't believe them.
He'd seen their weight estimates growing by the month, and he simply didn't believe that this one wouldn't grow too. So he went back to Marshall and told his team that the real requirement was 85,000 pounds (39 tonnes). He later raised that number still further. As it finally turned out, the Apollo 11 spacecraft weighed roughly 100,000 pounds (45 tonnes). The only reason that Apollo flew on schedule was that von Braun had been so cautious.
So why didn't that happen this time?
Partly, NASA has lost its experienced rocket designers. Marshall hasn't built and flown a large rocket in many years, so nobody there really knows what the development process is like. Von Braun and his team had been building and flying rockets continuously for decades.
And partly, it looks to me like the early development process for Ares was more closely supervised by upper management. In von Braun's day, NASA centres were practically independent kingdoms, and none more so than Marshall. Von Braun didn't even tell upper management about his private safety margin, much less have to justify it in detail. Now, with everyone working together under close supervision, the rocket designers had no choice but to accept the spacecraft designers' weight estimate.
An experienced designer with more freedom to act might have realised that there was just too much optimism in the Ares I concept, that a shuttle SRB was simply too small as a first stage for a rocket carrying the relatively heavy Orion spacecraft. There were several ways to handle the situation, but in my opinion the best was to just forget about Ares I entirely: build Ares V, or something like it, right away and use it for all the launches.
With a big launcher, there would be plenty of margin for weight overruns in development. Using the big launcher for Earth-orbit missions would obviously permit much heavier payloads there. Moreover, the lunar missions would get greater margins too, because they'd be done with two big launches rather than a big one and a little one, so they could weigh almost twice as much.
There is also an important pragmatic issue: the biggest threat to NASA's return to the Moon is the possibility that Congress will delay or cancel development funding for Ares V. Doing Ares V right away, and using it for the Earth-orbit missions as well as the ones to the Moon, would have ensured that this crucial element of NASA's plans actually gets built.
The main objection to using Ares V for everything was that it would be more expensive. But would it? Historically, the US's big launchers fly seldom enough that their costs are dominated by annual upkeep of facilities and staff, not by the actual cost of each launch. The expensive part is maintaining the launch capability, not actually conducting launches.
So adding a few more launches of the big launcher would cost almost nothing, and eliminate the development and annual upkeep costs of the smaller launcher. I think it would actually be cheaper to use Ares V for everything. If it has more payload than needed to send routine supplies to the space station, just adding ballast is cheaper than building a second type of launcher.
Alas, it's probably too late for that now. Technically and financially it might still make sense to give up on Ares I and simply write off the money spent on it, but politically that's probably impossible. (The time to do that would have been when Ares I first hit difficulties, which would have made a perfect excuse for a change of strategy.)
If it's politically impossible to force a major redesign of either Orion or Ares I, what to do? If NASA tries to just forge ahead, the budget and schedule are going to suffer badly. Trying to squeeze a little bit more out of a system whose margins are already thin is very expensive.
The dark horse in all this is the COTS programme, which is trying to create a commercial resupply capability for the space station. If COTS works out well and Ares continues to blunder on, I expect that Congress will quickly run out of patience and force NASA's hand by cutting off Ares funding.
The one ray of hope for NASA is that with the White House about to change hands, there will almost certainly be a new NASA administrator next year. Immediately upon assuming office, he or she might declare the Ares programme a write-off and order a major change of direction, blaming the problems on the previous administration. But this would have to be done quickly, while it's still plausible to blame his or her predecessor.
Will it happen? Wait and see.
Henry Spencer, computer programmer, spacecraft engineer and amateur space historian (Illustration of Ares V: NASA/MSFC)
|Knight Riderâs 15-Second Clip Released|
Finally the long wait is over. NBC network in America has released a 15 second clip of the upcoming remake of the 1980âs iconic television show Knight Rider. The 540 horsepower Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR is officially the new KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand) with the artificial intelligence voice provided by Will Arnett. NBC network will air the Knight Rider TV movie at 9pm ET on February 17, 2008 Sunday.
Knight Industries Three Thousand: 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
Vehicle Type: Front engine, on-demand all-wheel drive, two-door coupe
Engine Type: Aluminum block/titanium heads 5.4-liter V8 internal combustion with Whipple supercharger and Knight Industries liquid air cycle auxiliary turbine engine. 540 hp in Hero mode. Power output canât be measured in Attack mode.
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission with infinite power band
Price New: $45.6 million, as tested
Acceleration: 0 to 60 mph: 1.77 seconds. Standing quarter mile: 3.87 seconds
Braking (300 to 0 mph): 12 ft.
Fuel Economy: Not testable
Special Features as KITT:
Knight Industries 2000 microprocessor: Version 2.3
Auto Collision Avoidance
Audio/Video In-Dash Functions
Infrared Tracking Scope
Range: 20 miles
Electromagnetic Field Generator
Microwave Ignition Sensor
Electronic Field Disrupter
Ultra Magnesium Charges
Ultraphonic Chemical Analyzer
DNA Analysis Equipment
Targeted Electromagnetic Pulse
3D Heads-Up Display
Laser Weapons System
Keyless Entry and Ignition
Personal Safety System
360-Degree Video Surveillance
Laser-Guided Missile Defense
Mini-KITT Reconnaissance Drone
24-Hour Roadside Assistance
1000-Watt Quadraphonic Stereo System
In-Seat Medical Diagnosis
|PEPCON Disaster - The Greatest Chemical Explosion in American History|
The PEPCON disaster was an industrial disaster that occurred in Henderson, Nevada on May 4, 1988 at the Pacific Engineering Production Company of Nevada (PEPCON) plant. The chemical fire and subsequent explosions claimed two lives, injured 372 people, and caused an estimated US$100 million of damage. A large portion of the Las Vegas metropolitan area 10 miles (16 km) away was affected, and several agencies activated disaster plans.
Pepcon was one of the only two American producers of ammonium perchlorate, an oxidizer used in solid fuel rocket boosters, including the Space Shuttle and military weapons. The fire and explosions were caught on videotape by television engineer Dennis Todd, who was on Black Mountain performing maintenance on a television tower.