Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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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: http://spacerace.herokuapp.com/entries/103 You can vote everyday up to 3/18/12.

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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

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

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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.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

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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.

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.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

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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

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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.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

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.

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.

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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

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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

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Sunday, February 05, 2012

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.

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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 lazygranch.com'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.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

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  • 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

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.)