Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Morpheus Hot Fire 5

Morpheus Hot Fire 5 by Morpheus Lander
Morpheus Hot Fire 5, a photo by Morpheus Lander on Flickr.
Had to post a still photo too. Awesome exhaust plume with mach diamonds. I also like the way the background warps due to the heat and fumes.

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Leap day rocketry news

Verna and Randy celebrated leap day by announcing their March blog update.

This month's Fire and Smoke features rocketry Down Under including, among other things, the story the first and only permanent sport rocketry range and high power rocket girl Samantha Termini. As I previously noted, the Australian Rocketry Association Inc's (ARA) Section 6 Spalding Rocket Club worked with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Air Services Australia (ASA) to establish a permanent NOTAM for their field. That is awesome news for sport rocketeers everywhere!  As for Samantha, I couldn't resist posting Samantha and her 'N'-powered Lucky 7.

Finally, their Photo of the Month features a photo of the Spalding launch site.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

JSC's Morpheus Lander Hot Fire #5

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Crap, dynamic views broke my template (update)

I read that Blogger Dynamic Views were supporting sidebar widgets. Well, they weren't supporting mine.  Plus, I made a second change before reverting to my original template.  As a result, my format is FUBAR.  No customizations, widths and colors off.  No time to fiddle with it now. Grrrr.

Update: Well, my blog will look a tad different but the only big thing is there are no scroll bars for my links list.  Methinks I'll put them in a new page under my banner and not worry about it.

Remember the Smithsonian's flying Pterodactyl model?

In 1984, the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum commissioned the construction of a flying mechanical model of a Quetzalcoatlus northropi a.k.a. a pterodactyl.  The project was led by aeronautical engineer Paul MacCready of AeroVironment, Inc and was funded by Johnson Wax. It flew on the National Mall in 1986 (?) in conjunction with the opening of the IMAX film On the Wing.

The model, known as the QNTM, was as a half-scale, 5.5m replica of a pterodactyl.  It was as bio-mechanically accurate as possible given all they had to base it on was the fossil record. It had to be stable and had to propel itself with its flapping wings.  Pretty amazing stuff, especially for the mid 1980's!

The QM was on display at the Joint Services Open House at Andrews AFB.  I snapped the attached shot and one of a headless version.  I think the one shown was a static model and the headless one was the actual QM that was damaged on landing.  The photos of the latter were not that clear so I just scanned this one.

I had no luck finding a reference in the Air and Space Magazine but I did find these:
  1. The Great Pterodactyl Project (1985), Paul MacCready, [Caltech] Engineering and Science, pp 18-24.
  2. Flying Pterodactyl for IMAX Movie “On The Wing” - includes some in-flight photos.
  3. New York Times article (Jan 28, 1986)
  4. AeroVironment's QN page

Monday, February 27, 2012

MDRA'er is one step closer to space

As announced on MDRA's Facebook page:
Folks, one of our members, Savan Becker, made it into the Video Finals for the Seattle Space Needle's Space Race 2012 Contest. He has been told he is currently in 6th place and is looking to get more votes. The grand prize consists of a suborbital spaceflight, up to an altitude of about 62 miles (100 kilometers), the internationally accepted boundary of outer space. The flight, aboard a vehicle provided by Space Adventures and Armadillo Aerospace, will last about 30 minutes from takeoff to landing, with about 6 minutes of zero gravity. Training for the flight will take about two days.

Votes for me can be placed *daily* here: You can vote everyday up to 3/18/12.

Fire Truck (and a glimpse of a plane through the smoke)

Fire Truck by mvonraesfeld
Fire Truck, a photo by mvonraesfeld on Flickr.
Yeah, I know, it's a jet not a rocket.

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

The Space Launch System: "not for the faint of heart"

Or, in my words:  System trade off studies are not for sissies.

Scott Lowther posted a couple of slides from a November 2011 presentation on NASA's Space Launch System.  The first displays the configurations that were considered.  Unless you have worked on a trade study for a  large system, you won't appreciate the work that goes into such a thing. You not only have to quickly put your arms around things like development costs, recurring costs, performance, reliability, etc., etc., etc.  You then have to mash these disparate things together using a mix of analytic and subjective methods.  Finally, someone comes out of the woodwork and asks: "did you consider xyz".  I am just happy the things I worked on never got the Congress-critters attention.  But, all that aside, I love rocket p0rn an think this is most excellent motivation for sport rocketeering.

The next slide presents the range of proposed and fielded launch vehicles, from Xcor's Lynx to the proposed SLS Heavy.  Yes, I am convinced that NASA's is bigger than yours but, really, does size really matter?  Scott points out that most people don't think SLS will ever happen.  Besides the pesky issue about the lack of money, Scott also points out a potential chicken and the egg condition.  Since there is no identified mission requiring the SLS, then there is no political will to build such a thing.  And since we don't have a suitable launcher, there is no political will for a manned Mars/Moon/asteroid/L2 mission.  I can't help feel that a big piece of the puzzle is that politicians are using NASA as a pawn in their game.  A pawn with a reset button that will likely be pushed every four years.  But, this is another cute slide.  Long live new-space!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oops...add a caption....(updated)

TF-9J 1964 by Kemon01
TF-9J 1964, a photo by Kemon01 on Flickr.
Update: I found more info about this photo, via aeroman.
Trailed by a USAF North American T-28A Trojan, a dummy ejects from the cockpit of a USN Grumman TF-9J Cougar (BuNo 142448) during a demonstration at the U.S. Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility at El Centro, California in 1964.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Liftoff of MUOS-1

Liftoff by Flying Jenny
Liftoff, a photo by Flying Jenny on Flickr.
Featuring the 200th flight of the Centaur upper stage.

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feed reader stars, tweets, and other interesting links

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Failures in physical connections are a non trivial problem in electronic systems: cold solder joints, wire wrap cold-flows (now I'm dating myself), bent pins, over/under tightened connections (electrical and fiber optic).  The latter might have caused physicists to think their neutrinos were faster than light. 

Stiga Flight 2 to 95km by Armadillo Aerospace

We finally get the video footage of Stiga's second flight on Jan. 28th.  The highlights: the upward looking pad cam; skip to about 3:30 in to see some photos of the earth and the recovery gear; the last 30 seconds showing the lawn dart.  More on Armadillo's site, including some major shovel recovery!

What's new with Estes in 2012?

This morning Model Rocket Building discussed the new Estes 2012 catalog (pdf) that just appeared on their site.  Most of the new stuff that interested me has been discussed here and I'm sure all of it has been discussed on TRF and YORF.  The new re-branded AeroTech composite motors are in there.  They are tucked in with the new Pro-Series II kits rather than with the BP motor line and no detailed specs are included.  In the BP arena, the newly certified E12's are listed as are some of the re-issue -0 boosters.  I'm looking forward to the E12's.

As for kits, there are several that interested me. the 3" dia. Leviathan looks good - kind of like a stretched Big Daddy.  They have an air launched set that I may want for my grandson. I like the looks of the arrow-styled Flecher, but have no interest in another mini-motor powered rocket.  Looks cute though. The Android Hunter, if memory serves me, is the kit whose body is constructed from interlocking pieces of balsa.  I am tempted by that one.  On the same page they have a 2.6" V-2.  I definitely want one of these.  I see they don't have the E12 as a recommended motor.  The E9 is there so the stock motor mount should be good to go. There are, of course, a ton of other kits that look great and would be on my list if I totally regressed to low power flying.

What I didn't see were the plastic marking and cutting guides or the 29mm plastic screw-on retainers.  In the spring I have to start dropping by Hobby Lobby, coupons in-hand!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rocket-boosted P-51D Mustang

Retro Mechanix features a report on the evaluation of two P-51D Mustangs that were retrofitted with liquid rocket motors.  The fuel and oxidizer were held in fixed wing tanks (on opposite sides).  The fuel tank held a mixture of analine and furfuryl alcohol and the oxidizer was red fuming nitric acid.  Both were pressurized by compressed nitrogen.  In the attached photo, you can see one wing tank and the nozzle, which protrudes below the trailing edge of the side Air Force marking.  One plane's motor was rated at 1300 lbf for a minute and the other 690 lbf for approximately two minutes.

Both motor configurations were ground tested but never flew.  WWII ended and the conclusion was that the propellants were too dangerous and the rocket motors would adversely affect the flight performance of the P-51.

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Into the heart of the aurora

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Freedom 7 stuff

A few graphics from: Voas, Robert B, (1962), John Glenn's Three Orbits in Friendship 7 - A Minute-by-Minute Account of America's First Orbital Space Flight, National Geographic, 792 - 827 . Poor quality, but what can ya' do?

Friendship 7, re-created on Twitter

The Sprocket Rocket and other lomographic cameras

I do a fair amount of Internet trolling for rockets and rocket related subjects.  One thing I am always getting hits for is the Sprocket Rocket.  I could tell this was off topic in spite of having 'rocket' in its name so I had ignored it until fairly recently.  What I find is that the Sprocket Rocket is a fairly new, inexpensive film camera.  It is quite unique compared to the film cameras I was familiar with.  It has a very wide angle lens, two film knobs so you can rewind the film to get multiple exposures and, as the name implies, uses the entire film strip.  (The image encompasses the films sprocket holes.)

Film?  Say what?  I found this interesting given that digital photography appeared to be killing the film market. Kodak quit making film a while a go and is now in bankruptcy.   Still, there appears to be a fairly large number of these specialty cameras.  All are minimalistic but feature a variety of interesting functions like fish eye lenses, color filters, and even up to eight lenses.  The latter are tiggered in sequence and divide each frame into an action sequence. seems to be a good place to start if you are curious.

I'd be interested if I didn't have to fiddle with film.  I wonder how long it will be until there is a digital version?  (Film addicts need not replay to that off-the-cuff statement.)  I couldn't decide on a example of a photo taken by the Sprocket Rocket so I'll just refer you to Flickr.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Friendship 7

"On February 20, 1962, Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, he completed a successful three-orbit mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Glenn's "Friendship 7" Mercury spacecraft landed approximately 800 miles southeast of KSC in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. Mission duration from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds." - John Glenn's official bio from JSC.

There is no lack of related videos on YouTube, so I just grabbed the first one that Spaceports posted.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Warning...time sensitive tweet alert! Your Cellphone May be Smarter Than Mars Science Lab - NASA Watch - Keith quotes a NASA employee who notes his cell phone has 12x more computing power than the Curiosity rover. Back in the late 90's I heard the lines of code that went into a cell phone back then. I wish I remembered the number but I do remember we were amazed. That was well before phones were 'smart'. Keith also (slightly) bashes NASA for being too conservative in the tech used their flight hardware. I also remember a meeting with the head R&D guy for Intelsat. They were doing some neat stuff. He noted, however, that whatever they flew in their satellites was several generations old, because the older tech was more proven. Still, R&D pressed on. Just some observations.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ham the astrochimp - a real Trailblazer

(seen via High Power Rocketry)

Kármán Vortex Street

Science fiction site io9 features an interesting article on the phenomenon known as the Kármán Vortex Street. This phenomenon manifests as a repeating pattern of turbulence as a fluid flow passes a body. The attached video is a pretty example and the io9 article includes some cool photos of Kármán Vortex Streets forming in clouds and behind an island in the ocean. This turbulence has brought down building and is responsible for things like 'singing' telephone lines. Uneven pressures on the object in question causes periodic oscillations. Combine this with a natural frequency and you can have problems.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shuttle Mock-up on the move

I got this photo as part of a slide-show provided via a private email list. Evidently, the Space Shuttle Mock-up is being  moved from the KSC Visitors Center to Space Center Houston.   It will travel to JSC by barge into Clear Lake and be offloaded onto NASA Parkway for transport to Space Center Houston.  I want to see the photos at the receiving end!

The cover email noted: "... at least we got some crumbs ...."

Photo credits: Jeff Haught or Willie Tolleson.

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links (updated)

A XOMBIE/GENIE free flight and a peek at XEUS

Here's a video of Masten's XOMBIE under control of Draper Lab's GENIE control system.

Dispatches from the Final Frontier wasn't the first to post this, but it was the first to discuss the proposed XEUS lander (at least the first I've seen of it). The XEUS would be a multi-engine, dual-thrus-axis lander. It would mate a ULA Centaur upper stage rocket (RL-10 engine) with four of Masten's 3,500 pound thrust propulsion modules. The XEUS would minimize dust plumes, which would be a big problem for moon bases, by allowing an horizontal approach and touch down.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

The Shadow flies to 947 and 1017 feet

Air Command has posted a detailed report on the flight of their large, all fiberglass, water rocket.  This thing is amazing.  It looks like, and is constructed like, your typical level-1 class HPR rocket.  Here's the video detailing the flights.  It includes ground and on-board videos both in real time and slo-mo.  Unfortunately, the 2nd launch ended with a lawn dart and shovel recovery.  I'm sure George takes the same attitude as we pyro guys: If ya' can't afford to lose 'em, don't fly 'em!  I'm confident we'll see The Shadow 2.0 by Spring.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Are you a patriot or a vampire?

2012 will be packed with movies I want to see, including a couple of interesting alt.history flicks.  The space/rocket blogosphere has been all over Iron Sky.  The premise here is that the Nazi's built a moon base back in 1945 and have been awaiting their revenge, which they unleash in 2018. That sounds pretty awesome but the one I really am excited about is Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

Vega qualification flight

Here's a nice video of the launch. When the optical track is lost, the coverage switches to a simulation of the mission. (found via ParabolicArc)

Project Pluto on Discovery Wings

R2K ran across a set of videos on one of my favorite subjects, the Project Pluto nuclear ramjet cruise missile. I'll embed a YouTube video as a teaser, but he has the whole show.  As he points out, the following video is truncated and the sound track isn't synced with the video.  However, it was still good.  I'll have to watch my cable line-up.  The first half is cold war history leading up to Project Pluto.  This will mostly be interesting to you old farts who participated in the 'duck and cover' drills in grade school.  (I resemble that remark.)  While there, check out the two other videos (other subjects) he posted.  I may post them here too when I get around to looking at them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

Flight of the Shadow

Air Command is teasing us with news that the all-fiberglass Shadow flew a couple of times.  Can't wait for the flight details and videos.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Always wanted your own regen rocket motor?"

Rocket Moonlighting has designed a small liquid motor around a stainless steel printed chamber and is offering to add to his next order.  As with most hardware, the price drops as the quantity increases.  At 11 lbf, it seems this would only be suited for demonstration and educational purposes. And at 'low four digits', it still seems like a pricey toy. I'm also not sure what facilities would be required to safely fire one of these. Despite all these doubts, I'm happy that such a thing exists.

  • Propellants - self pressurized N2O and commercial Propane 
  • Design Thrust - 11 lbf @ 125 psi 
  • Injector Type - Fuel centered pintle 
  • Ignition - Direct spark using NGK-R847 spark plug and AC Delco D514A ignition module 
  • Construction - regeneratively cooled with oxidizer, printed using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) process in 15-5 stainless steel

  • Ad for the new Klima motors (updated)

    The new line of the Klima composite (secret formula) motors were presented at the International Toy Show at Nuremberg, Germany. These will supposedly be marketed in the US by Quest. That's the good news. The bad is that they likely won't be out in Europe this year. And you know the availability here will lag. That's long enough that they could easily be vaporware.

    UPDATE: Now with the full image showing a Quest rocket.  Note the designer's name. Rokitflite is international.

    Feed reader stars, tweets and other interesting links

    - Hiller VJ-100 - Unwanted Blog - Scott is thinking about kitting this retro-futuristic space ship (plastic model, probably in resin). This design isn't flyable without some copious amounts of clear fin stock, but it would be a cool project. The VJ-100 was a serious proposal v. a sci-fi craft. See my earlier post.

    - Think we faked it? - Fuck yeah, space exploration

    Armature Icelandic rocketry: Design X

    High Power Rocketry posted about a rcandy-based project conducted by students at Reykjavik University.  The have their own website but R2K's post is easier to follow, even with your translator running. He posted photos and  the YouTube of their 2008 flight to 1400 meters.  I couldn't tell if any of the material is much newer than that video.

    I don't want to diminish this very built-from-scratch project but the one thing I was reminded of is that a woman's place is in the kitchen....the propellant kitchen, that is :D

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Xaero kicks out the jams in a successful free flight

    Space Launch System: NASA's Giant Rocket Explained (Infographic)

    Source: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration 

    Seen via The Bayourat

    Landmark launch in rocketry: Centaur set for Flight 200

    I borrowed my title directly from Spaceflight Now, which features a nice article on the 50-year history of the venerable Centaur and its Pratt and Whitney RL-10 powerplant.

    The history of the Centaur reads like the history of American unmanned spaceflight.  The first successful Centaur flew in November 1963 (see the NASA press kit).  The next 50 years saw 199 flights, 188 of which were successful. The Centaur was used in the 7 Surveyor Moon missions, the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, the Mariners 6 and 9 missions to Mars, Pioneers 10 and 11 which explored the outer planets, Mariner 11's exploration of Venus, the Viking Mars missions,  Cassini to Saturn, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Science Laboratory,  New Horizons to Pluto, Juno to Jupiter, and it slammed LCROSS into the Moon. It was used on the X-37B spaceplane and four RL10's were used on the DC-X Delta Clipper. (The latter were not Centaur's but I had to throw them in. See PW's RL-10 Fact Sheet).   The Centaur was also used for Intelsat, NOAA's GOES and the Navy's FLTSATCOM comm satellites.  Next Thursday, the Centaur will be used to orbit the Navy's MUOS-1 mobile communications satellite.  

    The Centaur and RL-10 have certainly evolved over the years, adding 2 engine versions and restart capabilities.  The MUOS-1 mission will make history with the 200th flight but will also see another step in the Centaur's evolution.  To get 1000lb more lift capability, the Centaur will perform three burns.  You can follow Thursday's launch in Spaceflight Now's Mission Status Center.

    Found via:

    Thursday, February 09, 2012

    Test - embedding Tweets

    Chrome 17 broke Blogger (updated)

    Update: Had to tweak the cookies exceptions. Don't know what happened in Chrome 17 that required this but all's well that ends well.

    Any page that allows me to comment on my own posts doesn't recognize that I'm signed in.  So...if I don't respond to a comment, don't take it personally.  If something for some reason seems really important, I could go back and try Firefox.  But it seems every time I have to use FF, I just get pissed off.

    Sascha - It appears all the animals down there are badass.

    R2K - Hey, you're right.  I didn't notice that there are no videos from the latest Stig flight. Maybe when Armadillo updates their news page?

    Wednesday, February 08, 2012

    XF-91 Thunderceptor

    XF-91 Thunderceptor by Kemon01
    XF-91 Thunderceptor, a photo by Kemon01 on Flickr.
    Via Wikipedia:
    The Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor was a mixed-propulsion prototype interceptor aircraft, developed by Republic Aviation. The aircraft would use a jet engine for most flight, and a cluster of four small rocket engines for added thrust during climb and interception. The design was largely obsolete by the time it was completed due to the rapidly increasing performance of contemporary jet engines, and was built to the extent of two prototypes only. One of these was the first US fighter to exceed Mach 1 in level flight.

    4 × Reaction Motors XLR11-RM-9 rocket, 1,500 lbf (7 kN) each [LOX?Ethyl Alcohol]
    Versions of the XLR11 motor also powered the Bell X-1, the Dryden Lifting Bodies, and the first X-15.

    Feed reader stars and other interesting links

    A sport rocketeer and his space toys

    VC (venture capitalist) and avid sport rocketeer Steve Jurvetson has the desire and means to fill his workspace with space artifacts.  Follow the link above to see the photos or visit his Flickr album.

    Here's the latest, "... the red hotline Gemini / Apollo interphones used by the USAF frogmen after capsule spashdown to communicate with the astronauts inside."

    CBS-c|net Photo Essay

    Tuesday, February 07, 2012

    Feed reader stars and interesting links

    X-1-3 Being Mated To EB-50A Superfortress

    Click through for the history behind the photo.

    1st US jet in service to fly Mach 2

    This was sent to me by Brian via Twitter:

    1954: Lockheed F-104 Starfighter makes 1st flight. 1st US jet in service to fly Mach 2.

    Click [here] to see a bigger version.

    Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

    Johns Hopkins Long Range Ram Jet Missile Study (1946)

    Retro Mechanix features a 9-page summary of a ram-rocket study performed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab.  They studied four configurations in three sizes.  A diagram of the internal configuration of each design is included.  Here's a diagram depicting the general external configuration, which is most important to we modelers.

    Monday, February 06, 2012

    Feed reader stars and interesting links

    Sunday, February 05, 2012

    Q: So, where's my Mach10+, scramjet-powered transport?

    A: On the Aerospace Projects Review Blog

    Triple Trick of Disaster

    2011-06-10-NSL2011-0004.jpg by InDanaPt
    2011-06-10-NSL2011-0004.jpg, a photo by InDanaPt on Flickr.
    NSL 2011...A L850 to staging to three parallel H128s. Click through for more photos including the launch.

    Feed reader stars and interesting links

    Saturday, February 04, 2012

    Interesting variants of classic missiles

    RB24B RB24J RB27 RB28 by AdurianJ
    RB24B RB24J RB27 RB28, a photo by AdurianJ on Flickr.
    From the attached description:
    From the left: AIM-9B, AIM-9J, AIM-26B, AIM-4C.

    The AIM-9J or RB24J in Sweden was first built in the US as an AIM-9B and delivered to Sweden.  In the 1970's the front parts of these missiles where returned to the US to be upgraded into AIM-9J standard. The Swedish sidewinders where hence built in the US but the AIM-9J has later gotten a Swedish built laser proximity fuse.

    The Falcon missiles where all built under license in Sweden

    Friday, February 03, 2012

    Tonopah Test Range

    Tonopah Test Range by NCReedplayer
    Tonopah Test Range, a photo by NCReedplayer on Flickr.
    Nike booster, don't recognize the sustainer.  Here what I found (via's Tonopah page):
    Thanks to the efforts of rec.aviation.military usenet readers, the consensus is this missile is a combination of a Nike Ajax booster (bottom half) and a B57 bomb (top half). It probably never flew as shown, but rather was put together because it looked cool.

    Feed reader stars and interesting links

    The viral Blue Marble 2012

    "A 'Blue Marble' image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite - Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed 'Suomi NPP' on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin."

    Click through for more info and a higher resolution version.

    Here's a photo of the flip side.

    And, here's an infographic on how the image was formed.

    (I used the term 'viral' in the title because, in one day, this became the most viewed image on GSFC's Flickr stream.)

    Thursday, February 02, 2012

    STIG-A ballute in space

    ARMADILLO PR — Following detailed analysis of the downlinked telemetry and audio/video recordings from both ground based cameras and a camera that was recovered from the rocket, Armadillo Aerospace has determined that the maximum altitude attained by the STIG-A rocket in the January 28th mission was approximately 82-km MSL (~50 miles). 

    A failure of the ballute (balloon-parachute) recovery system meant that the GPS steerable main parachute could not be deployed as intended. The vehicle was recovered within the predicted operating area and the nose cone and ballute were separately recovered intact on the Spaceport property.

    The next incremental step for Armadillo Aerospace will be a 100-km (~62 miles) plus “space shot” with the successor vehicle STIG-B which is provisionally scheduled to launch in early spring from Spaceport America.

    (See more description and photos on ParabolicArc.  There is even more at Spaceport America)

    Reader stars and interesting links

    • More Winter? Punxsutawney Phil Sees His Shadow, Live Science - I wonder what 6 more weeks of winter means when you hardly have had any already?  My prognostication is that we'll have 9 extra days of coldish temperatures and the rest will be unseasonably warm.  Further, there will be one non-shovelable snow event.
    • Artwork transferring - painting tutorial #6 - This one is worth filing away...and it might be worth your time to find #s 1-5.  I now remember doing this as a kid (and probably when my kids were kids).  However, I totally forgot about it and never used it on a rocket.  Note: you still have to be able to paint within the lines.
    • A Swarm of nano Quadrotors (Video) - I had ignored the latest video from the world of quadrotors until a friend poked me about them.  What popped to mind was a remake of Hitchcock's The Birds with the  birds being replaced with a huge swarm of errant quadrotors. 
    • Martin Orbit Project (1946), Retro Mechanix - The rocket is a refinement of the earlier High Altitude Test Vehicle and appears to be V-2 derived.  The latter is my thought only since I didn't read much of the article. File under "for future reference."
    • NASA | Riding on a Sounding Rocket - Ground to 178 miles and back in four and a half minutes. YouTube video found via R2K (check his post for a description an two other videos).

    Wednesday, February 01, 2012

    NASA'S Orion Spacecraft Lands in Alabama

    Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 8:00am - Sunday, February 5, 2012 - 5:00pm
    A test version of NASA's Orion spacecraft soon will make a cross-country journey, giving residents in three states the chance to see a full scale test version of the vehicle that will take humans into deep space.
    The crew module will make stops during a trip from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The planned landing at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala will be from Feb 2-5. Engineers, program officials, astronauts and NASA spokespeople will be available to speak with the media and the public.
    The full-scale test vehicle was used by ground crews in advance of the launch abort system flight test that took place in New Mexico in 2010. Orion will serve as the vehicle that takes astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, and the first orbital flight test is scheduled for 2014.
    To see photos of the pad abort test, click here

    SpaceX SuperDraco static test

    Telescope size comparison

    Size does matter.

    Feed reader stars and interesting links (UPDATE)

    Had to add that Verna and Randy have their February updates up. (See the Photo of the Month, and Fire and Smoke in the sidebar.)