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Here's the latest on space, and my opinions on it...
This is the legacy site, with blog entries from November, 2004 through June, 2011.
Updates after June 9, 2011 can be found at

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reason to have a YouTube Video Always Posted
I like the format of the page better when the YouTube frame makes the center section wider. I'm sure there's another way to set it that way, but the YouTube video will work just fine...
8:15 pm est

SpaceX Announces their CCDev 2 with Flair
7:09 pm est

One seat Available at $150,000,000.00
For a trip around the moon in 2015. The other ticket is already sold, to someone whose name we'd recognize.

My son said he'd rather circle the moon than go to college. I said it didn't matter.
5:24 pm est

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jeff Greason Explaining why Some of us do what we do 4:50 pm est

Reaping what we've Sown
The Russians are starting to sound like NASA did (like when they stonewalled Dennis Tito's flight) a while ago and Congress does now.

It's possible that we are missing some detail in this pronouncement. Europe's ATV only had to prove itself by flying alone and maneuvering for a time before first docking with ISS. Japan's HTV had similar constraints. This may be what they mean, and the press overblew it. I hope that's what the Russians mean.
12:15 pm est

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Upgrades to GPS?
This article talks about the now-flying (well, one up, eleven more to come) block IIF satellites in the GPS constellation and speculates about some of the improvements that satellites will allow. They're off a bit. Here are some corrections:
  • The timeline: the article discusses improvements coming after the full fleet of IIF spacecraft are launched. This is selectively true. As long as you have 3 or 4 of the IIF vehicles visible over your location at a particular time, any benefits would be noticed (especially with a new receiver in your car), but I'm thinking there are more important places in the world where the military could use that accuracy...
  • Indoor augmented reality: Even if the reported accuracy levels are reached, GPS signals don't reliably reach indoors. While a building could choose to put GPS repeaters inside to carry out such actions, the satellite signals themselves would not be players.
  • Cell phone accuracy: Most cell phone applications use the term GPS because it's what people think of for electronic navigation, but use cell towers for actual position determination.
3:04 pm est

Friday, April 22, 2011

Of Politics and Space Shuttles
It's been a weird time for the space program and its links to national news. Jeff Foust has a summary.
8:53 pm est

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In case there was any doubt...
The majority of America's space program is just about spending money in the right places. I think the article is overly generous talking about the "handful of powerful lawmakers are so eager to see an American on the moon — or even Mars" when the most important part of the sentence is "they effectively mandated NASA to spend “not less than” $3 billion for a new rocket project and space capsule in the 2011 budget bill signed by the president last week"
6:29 pm est

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Spacecraft in Work
Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) 2 announcements are out. I like Clark Lindsey's take on it. SpaceX is using their share to advance their work on a crew escape system.

We continue to live in interesting times in so many facets...
8:30 pm est

Monday, April 18, 2011

WISE Images now Public
Haven't tried the web interface yet, but based on the instructions, you have some pretty impressive powers to create images based on component colors.
6:54 pm est

More Cool Stuff from "Amateur" Astronomers
Blinking asteroids with video here and an eclipse involving Jupiter's moons with video here.
6:52 pm est

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Everyone can Relax, now
I haven't monitored the politics and publicity involved in lobbying for retired space shuttles too much, but the assignments are made. I think one (most likely Atlantis, because it did most of the classified missions) could have gone to The National Museum of the US Air Force in Ohio. It would put one closer to the center of the country.

Update: Ooops. spoke too soon
4:57 pm est

Friday, April 8, 2011

ISS and Mars
I had a little too much going on in other parts of my life to attend the conference, but Alan Boyle talks about it.
4:27 pm est

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Potential Soyuz Flyaround Next Shuttle Flight
More details about the reason the last mission to ISS didn't include a Soyuz flyaround for the complex here, as well as the plans underway to doing one during Endeavor's upcoming flight.
6:49 pm est

This IS Big
The word is out. The announcement was about the launch of their Falcon Heavy, but much more came from it. The most interesting part for me is the large payload capability. It sounds like they're doing it by crosslinking the propellants between the boosters and core stage. All 27(!) engines use the boosters' propellants until those propellants are exhausted. The boosters can fall off earlier than they would if they didn't share kerosene and oxygen, lightening the load for the still-full main stage, now significantly lighter.

I'm very curious about the pluming for the crosslinked flow, and how they'll keep center propellants from being used. The only thing I can think of is higher pressure in the boosters.

The payload fairing is a bit small, though. A quick calculation showed me that, given the payload fairing size, a heavy version wouldn't even be necessary to launch that volume of liquid hydrogen. Of course, liquid oxygen is much denser, and would overload the rocket with a payload fairing full. Custom fairings are available, so maybe they'll get larger. The likely dimension to increase is length, though, where the real volume payoff comes with diameter increase.

More details at Clark Lindsey's place. Including stunners like:
  • Profit possible with 4 launches per year, but SpaceX expects 10
  • Next year they'll produce more engines than the rest of the world combined
  • Could support a Mars sample return mission carrying return fuel
When it flies, it will change the game.
6:37 pm est

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Asteroids Using Falcon 9s and Depots
Here is some discussion about a paper where a group of people looked at the costs of flying to an asteroid using multiple flights of Falcon 9s instead of developing a super-heavy launch vehicle.

A counter point expressed here, talking about using depots, but building a lunar-refueling infrastructure first. The argument is based on a study (linked in the blog post, but inactive when I tried to access it) showing that a lunar-refueling depot can be built for a comparable cost to an asteroid mission. I need to see the analysis before rendering any judgment.
5:55 pm est

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