Witness the popcorning and wholesale foam shedding on NASA’s latest launch for yourself: RTF launch video.
News and Commentary on Space
Witness the popcorning and wholesale foam shedding on NASA’s latest launch for yourself: RTF launch video.
The Orlando Sentinel has what is apparently a draft of NASA’s roadmap for the VSE.
Perhaps unavoidably, given that it’s a government program and it’s being run by an agency with an aversion to both risk and new thinking, the VSE is looking more and more like Apollo II…even down to the Apollo-like capsule (capsule?) riding on a Saturn-like rocket and crew access to the surface with a LEM-like lander.
Unlike Apollo, however, the crew is larger, the planned surface stays longer, the planned activities on the surface more constructive and interesting, and there is a follow-on destination as part of the package. So, perhaps it would be more accurate to think of it as a “back to the future” Apollo redux, picking up where Apollo 17 left off and forgetting the long national nightmare that has been the Shuttle program.
Added Brian Dunbar’s Space for Commerce.
I only bother to challenge Bruce Gagnon on his ignorance on space issues — Brian, on the other hand, has much broader tastes in this regard, even challenging Mr. Gagnon on his own site (sadly, but predictably, without response).
Brian’s email exchange with Mr. Gagnon is particularly illuminating, confirming my suspicion that the man is not merely anti-space but anti-human.
Richard Branson and Burt Rutan have launched a spaceship company, titled — appropriately enough — The Spaceship Company:
Branson told the Oshkosh crowd that the commercial spaceship can carry 7 paying passengers, along with a two-person flight crew. ?We hope that we can get those spacecraft built roughly two and a half to three years from now,? he said.
Once the fleet of suborbital craft is built, a base from which to operate the spaceships is to be set up within the United States. ?We still haven?t decided on which state the base will be,? Branson said, adding that the space tourist-carrying vehicles could rocket spaceward from the Mojave, California desert, Las Vegas, New Mexico, or possibly Florida.
?That?s all to be decided,? Branson said…
At present, seats onboard Virgin Galactic spaceships are price tagged at $200,000 each.
But Branson hopes that this seat price will drop over time. ?Our aim is to bring the price down,? he said.
?Our principal aim behind this is not to make money. The principal aim is to reinvest any money we make into space exploration,? Branson said. ?We expect to double, triple, quadruple the number of astronauts in the next few years that have currently experienced space,? he said.
To date, Branson said, about a 100 pioneers have been willing to pay $200,000 to be the first people to go into space via Virgin Galactic. ?These are the kinds of people who are going to enable us to bring the cost of space travel down,? he stated.
I think I like this guy.
The hypothetical locations make a lot of sense, given the tourism focus of Virgin Galactic — what better place to cater to the space travel urges of tourists than the tourist meccas of Las Vegas and central Florida? Interestingly, launching from Florida would put the operation within a few hours’ drive of Miami, notable for both its hip style and its wealthy residents. It certainly couldn’t hurt marketing efforts if wealthy, trend-setting South Beachers started taking rides on SS2.
NASA has a few new images online, showing some significant foam shedding from the ET during yesterday’s launch.
The larger loss, and the one shown on a stillframe from the ET Cam feed, is a piece of the PAL ramp (the foam fillet along the cable tray at the forward end of the LH2 tank). Two other comparatively small foam loss areas are visible by the port (left) bipod fitting — and yes, that is the same area from which the foam that doomed Columbia originated (and which was subsequently redesigned).
The blackening at the aft end of the ET is due to radiant heating from the engine plume, and does not appear unusual.
UPDATE: This problem appears to have caused enough concern at NASA that the fleet has been grounded again until it can be resolved.
Looks like NASA’s back in the spaceflight business.
Watched the launch on NASA TV at work with about two dozen other engineers. The highlight of the launch was (naturally) the ET Cam — every time the live feed switched to it, an appreciative murmur went through the crowd, and ET jettison was met with a chorus of awestruck “Ooohs” and “Aaahs”.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t 100% picture perfect, as there is apparently some cause for concern:
A 1 1/2-inch-wide bit of tile captured on camera appeared to fly off the shuttle’s belly, on the edge of a door that encloses the nose landing gear. It was not clear if the tile had been struck by anything. Pieces of tile, which protect the shuttle from searing heat on return to Earth, have been lost on past flights without preventing a safe homecoming.
“We’re going frame-by-frame through the imagery,” said John Shannon, a NASA operations manager.
Also, NASA video revealed what appeared to be a sizable piece of material – maybe a chunk of insulation – coming off the shuttle’s external fuel tank two minutes into flight. It did not strike the orbiter that carries the seven astronauts, the NASA manager said.
Given the fact that foam has typically fallen off the ET on ascent, I have to wonder how much what concern there is over the insulation is motivated by new data: being able to actually see the problem happening for once, instead of only seeing the effect of foam shedding post-landing. Perhaps the ET routinely sheds cable-tray foam (or whatever it ends up being identified as) with no ill effects.
Losing a tile around the nose gear door, however, is a little more concerning. It’s hard to tell from the picture and the data provided so far how serious it is, or whether it too is in-family with prior tile damage. It should be very interesting to see how this develops — especially with all the neat new gizmos aboard to test for (and potentially repair) such damage.
Interestingly, I was talking with a non-engineer friend this evening who was quite enthusiastic over today’s launch. Out of the blue, she said that she herself wanted to fly into space, if it were possible someday to do it (which, of course, may be possible sooner rather than later) — the salient point here being that while she was excited about NASA resuming the civil space program, she clearly did not consider NASA the end-all, be-all of space travel. It made me wonder just how many laypeople’s minds are moving in the same direction.
On the other hand, I caught the first few minutes of Rush Limbaugh while driving between offices this morning, and his guest host Mark Belling seems to have had his head in the sand with respect to space exploration for the past year and a half. He spent about ten minutes talking about the launch and NASA in general, congratulating NASA on the safe launch before launching himself into a rant about the problem with NASA being its lack of focus: NASA hasn’t had big public support since Apollo, he reasoned, because it hasn’t had an organizing goal since Apollo, and what it really needs is something tangible to strive for…like, say, a return to the Moon and possibly sending humans to Mars.
It was truly bizarre, as if I were somehow tuned in to radio signals from a parallel universe, one in which the VSE had never been proposed and NASA was not now reorganizing itself around the very goals this guy was advocating. It seemed to be the flip-side of my friend’s reaction to the launch — here someone I wouldn’t have guessed to be interested in space was inspired to want to take her own trip someday, while someone I would have expected to be up on Bush Administration policies was embarrassingly unaware of a quite significant policy relevant to the subject he was discussing.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to listen to any more of the show to see how many listeners called in to point out his error.
All they can talk about in the article (sadly) are the applications to public-space advertising, but this looks very interesting.
– Features an image memory function that enables continuous display of the same image even when electricity is turned off therefore no electricity is required for continuous display.
– Screen image can be changed using minimal electricity consumption equivalent to the weak radiowaves used in contactless IC cards.
– Fujitsu’s new technology significantly conserves energy by consuming only one one-hundredth to one ten-thousandth the energy of conventional display technologies…
– The new electronic paper is constructed of three displaying layers – red, blue, and green. Since no color filters or polarizing layers are required, it features color that is significantly more vivid than conventional reflective-type LCDs.
– Proprietary Fujitsu technology ensures that screen color is unaffected even when the screen is bent or pressed with fingers.
– Because the screen image does not require repetitive updates to be maintained, the screen does not flicker.
So…it uses little electricity, retains images, doesn’t flicker, doesn’t “shadow” or “flow” when pressed, has more vivid colors than other LCDs, is thin and flexible and lightweight. What’s not to like?
I imagine this would be quite useful in laptops, where the power consumption by the screen could be further reduced, extending battery life. One could even envision a different form-factor for the personal computer, namely a roll-up touch-screen based on this technology which interfaces wirelessly with an integrated PC-cellphone-PDA device.
The brave radicals of Indymedia Chiapas are exposing the truth about yet another gringo space project: El Impacto Profundo:
The arrogantly named “Rods from God” weapons from space weapons of mass destruction “WMD” program is well underway and has received a substantial boost from the successful trial attack on comet Tempel-1. The NASA probe “Deep Impact” provided military observers with significant data and analysis concerning the proper design for kinetic energy weapons configured to slam into an Earth ground target, releasing an explosion similar to an atomic weapon but without the radiation…
Capping a series of other recent planetary death weapons tests such as the failed space mirror test conducted by the Planetary Society, the NASA probe “Deep Impact” provided military observers with significant data and analysis concerning the proper design for kinetic energy weapons configured to slam into an Earth ground target, releasing an explosion similar to an atomic weapon but without the radiation.
Demasiado tequila y marijuana a parecerse han hecho el Chiapas Indymediots un poco loco en la cabeza. Quiz?s algunos sombreros del papel de esta?o ayudar?an a silenciar las voces extra?as.
A young girl sets out to prove herself by resolving a long-forgotten mystery. But when she gets close to the truth, what she thought was a harmless adventure becomes a threat to the future of the independent commercial settlements on Mars.