Thursday, November 25, 2010
L2 or Bust!
9:52 pm est
's deep thinkers are back at it, proposing an Orion mission
to the far side of the moon. Some advantages:
- Astronauts on an L2-Farside mission would travel 15 percent farther
from Earth than the Apollo astronauts did - and spend almost three times longer in deep space.
- Each flight would prove
out the Orion capsule's life support systems for one-month duration missions before attempting a six-month-long asteroid mission.
would demonstrate the high speed reentry capability needed for return from the moon or deep space 40 percent to 50 percent
faster than reentry from low-Earth orbit.
- The mission would measure astronauts' radiation dose from cosmic rays and solar
flares to verify that Orion provides sufficient protection, as it is designed to do. Currently the medical effects of deep
space radiation are not well understood, so a one-month mission would improve our understanding without exposing astronauts
to excessive risk.
Morning Update: There's a fine line here. I think this sort of mission is cool, as long as the Orion
does not serve to compete against commercial spacecraft doing the 'milk run' deliveries to the ISS and other LEO destinations.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Physics and Engineering, Easy. Bureaucracy, not so Much
9:24 pm est
In a few weeks, SpaceX
will launch its first operational Dragon
spacecraft into Earth orbit. The launch will get a lot of attention (more if something goes wrong), but the much bigger
news, in my opinion, came on Monday
, when the FAA issued its first license for a commercial company to return something from orbit. A successful launch is simply
a triumph over physics and engineering which, while they are difficult, are predictable at their core. Bureaucracy, with
its paperwork and approvals, is inherently unpredictable. Fly Dragon, blaze a path for others to follow.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Earth as Art 3
5:19 pm est
The US Geological Survey has published another batch of images taken of our planet's surface, chosen for their artistic flair.
It's called, somewhat unimaginatively, Earth as Art 3
Another Castle Episode, Another Firefly Reference
5:17 pm est
reference to Nathan Fillion
's old show is what got me interested in his new show. The most recent episode
("Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind", no permalink) had a scene that involved Castle suddenly breaking into Chinese.
Becket asked him "Semester abroad?" His response: "No, just an old TV show I love."
Monday, November 15, 2010
Coming Train Wreck in Commercial Crewed Spaceflight
7:07 pm est
Optimistic companies wanting to supply rides into orbit for NASA astronauts are about to collide with a 260 page (draft, with
links to 74 other documents) requirements document according to Wayne Hale
. More discussion here
Update: Posted in haste?
>50% of Photography is Location
6:27 pm est
deserves some serious recognition. While it appears to have been enhanced a bit from the original
, the sci-fi theme of an astronaut looking at their home will always have appeal.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Where Multimission Modular Spacecraft have gone Before
8:43 pm est
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Blazing new Bureaucratic Frontiers
9:08 pm est
SpaceX moved the launch date for their first Dragon flight into December. In the article
, they say that Discovery
's delays play a part, but that the FAA hasn't granted them a license for the reentry part
of their demonstration flight yet. I'm assuming that future applications will go smoother, and thank SpaceX for their patience
to blaze the trail.
6:48 pm est
I'd very much like to see the raw footage of the event
that has a bunch of people worked up. My initial impression is that it's much more likely to be a contrail
than a missile The Pentagon didn't know about. While there's talk about 'bright exhaust' (could be a reflection of the plane)
and 'moving way too fast' (appears to move faster when zoomed in) at this blog
, without seeing the whole video, along with its zooms and changing angles, it's hard tell.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Rediscovery: Project Gemini History
7:29 pm est
I was reminded of a good book I read once: On the Shoulders of Titans: A History of Project Gemini
. Luckily, it's also available online
. The history is part of a more involved Gemini history page
To me, Project Gemini is one of the great unsung moments of human spaceflight, when a small group of people took a project
from idea through completion in about 5 years for about $1.2B then-year dollars (about $6B of today's dollars...that's just
the NASA portion of the budget, but it's still less than NASA spent on Ares I alone before it was cancelled). Who thinks
that could be done today? Of course, there were some shortcuts taken, in that the capsule design was called an extension
of the Mercury capsule, allowing McDonnell Douglas
to build it without a formal competition, and the Titan II
was available, and could launch the capsule with minor improvements. Amazing what some smart buying can do!
Update: In a recent trip to the National Museum of the United States Air Force
, I came across this display
of a Blue Gemini
. Wikipedia says that Blue Gemini and Gemini-B are different programs...may have to look into that. It was supposed to be
part of the Manned Orbital Laboratory
, and actually demonstrated the idea of piercing the heat shield of a capsule with a hatch. I think that technology would
make the design of spacecraft much simpler, so that a crew capsule could actually fly atop their living quarters.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
7:24 pm est
Looks like a fuel leak
will keep Discovery
's last mission from starting for a few weeks. With the additional mission up in the air due to
, that leaves one or two missions left for shuttles. So, the sunset mission patch
might have been drawn too early.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
All These Peanut-Shaped Worlds are Yours...
3:57 pm est
spacecraft just completed its flyby of Comet Hartley 2, and it's sending back images
. The "contact binary" seems to be a common shape for comets and asteroids.