Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Links roundup

Space Shuttle Enterprise - exposed by Sandy

CNN posted the following photo showing the collapse of the tent that covered the Enterprise aboard the Intrepid.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those adversely affected by Sandy!

Credit: Heather Shapiro

Monday, October 29, 2012

Aw hell, the "Hell Boy 50" deserves its own post!

Boris Katan is busy building a booster for his Hell Boy, which is a 19x24mm clustered PoleCat 5.5" Fat Man. The booster will add 31 24mm motors, bringing the total motor compliment to 50. The booster is single use with the 31 motors glued together and butted up to a plywood thrust plate.  The fins, as shown in the attached photo are three large tubes. Read all about it over on TRF.

Links roundup

LDRS 31 on TV

Just watched Discovery Science's LDRS 31 show. Some people have complained that it portrays we sport rocketeers as a bunch of yahoos who love to blow things up and don't care much for safety. That certainly makes better TV, I reckon. However, if you take time to look below the surface you see computer sims, balance checks, sub-scale test flights and large set-off distances. From what I hear, this is the last year of TRA's contract with Discovery Science and the BoD will decline to renew it. I personally like the show and tend to think that any coverage is good coverage. If tons of interested yahoos decide to visit their local launches, I trust the local rocketeers will train them properly.

I personally thought that Steve Eves' grandfather clock rocket should have won the odd-roc contest and was happy to see MDRA'er and Warthog builds session member Mike Mangieri came in 3rd with his upscale FlisKits ACME Spitfire. Way to go Mikey!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lock yourself into your bunker, the Higgs Bos-ombies are coming

I like science and I like zombie movies and I really don't care if the cause of the zombie apocalypse has any basis in reality (as if it could). Enter Decay, a movie made by a group of physics PhD students at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider).  The io9 article sums up my feelings well:
Sure, the premise that the discovery of the Higgs Boson might lead to the zombie apocalypse is a ludicrous one, but if it means we get to watch the undead eat their meat in the CERN facility, we'll take it. 
So, if you're tired of reading about the Frankenstorm, you might want to check out the trailer.  Do it quickly, before the undead rise...or at least before your power goes out.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Links roundup

More from the old news department....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

At the speed of new-space

Eight years after kicking off SpaceShipTwo, ParabolicArc reports that Richard Branson has said, "I’ve stopped counting the days to commercial SpaceShipTwo flights."
By the end of next month, the SpaceShipTwo project will have matched the time between President John F. Kennedy’s proposal that America send men to the moon and the first landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11. - Doug Messier

Friday, October 19, 2012

J Craig Venter wants to teleport DNA from Mars

Last week I heard a talk by J Craig Venter.  He said that all living things are robots with their programming held in their DNA. Further, he proposed sending a DNA analyzer to Mars to sequence the DNA from any life that is found. This would be encoded and transmitted back to Earth where a corresponding machine would re-build the DNA. Interesting stuff but a lot to take in during a 15 minute talk. I see this is being discussed on-line (although I haven't had time to follow the links). Google "j craig venter mars."

Winning the Carmack Prize

Winning the Carmack Prize by jurvetson
Winning the Carmack Prize, a photo by jurvetson on Flickr.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Space in "The Spectacle"

The Spectacle was a multimedia celebration of Rice University's centennial.  This show depicted Rice's history and looked into the future. The images were displayed on three buildings in Rice's Academic Quadrangle, including Rice's 1st building, Lovett Hall. The German artist group URBANSCREEN designed the performance. This image shows one of the big events in Rice's history - President Kennedy's famous 'moon speech', which was given in Rice Stadium. Here's the heart of said speech:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Links roundup

Baumgartner sets skydive record: 128k feet and Mach 1.24

In Internet terms, this should be filed in the 'old news' folder but I decided I should post it anyway.  More info can be found here. This only shows the mission highlights and you can view the longer version here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Links roundup

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Bloodhound SSC's hybrid motor test was successful

The Bloodhound SSC team is reporting that, earlier today, they successfully test fired their hybrid rocket motor.  Here's a synopsis:
At 4 meters (12 feet) long, 45.7 cm (18 inches) in diameter and 450kg in weight, BLOODHOUND’s rocket is the largest of its kind ever designed in Europe and the biggest to be fired in the UK for 20 years.
During the test, which was streamed live to the web, the rocket burned for 10 seconds, generating 14,000 lbs of thrust – 30 – 40,000 equivalent hp. Sound levels at the rocket nozzle reached 185 dB, many times that of a Boeing 747 at take off.
Their hybrid rocket motor uses an HTPB grain and catalyzed high test peroxide. The peroxide is pressurized by the car's Cosworth F1 engine.

Links roundup

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Links roundup

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Sound of Earthsong

The 'chorus' (a.k.a. dawn chorus) is an  electomagnetic signature generated by the Earth's radiation belts and which can be converted to audio by radio receivers. Now, the EMFISIS (Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science) instruments aboard NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes are recording chorus from inside the radiation belt. It reminds me a little of a whale songs.  (via io9)

Launch Report 2012-15

Location: The 'hood
Weather: mid-60's, wind 0 mph, clear
Total flights: Today - (7) -; YTD - 80
Total motors: Today - -; YTD - 95
Motors by class YTD: 
(Air-25); (H2O-4); MicroHybrid-1; MMX-6; A-6; B-5; C-32; D-7; E-23; F-6; G-9

Since the there wasn't a hint of any wind, I stayed in the neighborhood for a few test flights. The rockets I flew (pictured) included: A 2-L water rocket based on Quest components, my old Hydro-1L, the Guillows Shuttle and a modified Mike Bauer stomp rocket. On the latter, I trimmed down the upper fins to increase its stability. As a note for future reference, the double sided tape assembly method appears to work great on fins but the tape tends to come loose on the nosecone section. 

Here is a run-down on the operation of the Quest water rocket launcher:

  1. The assembly is easy, the stake down is secure and the release mechanism works easily.
  2. Unfortunately, with the direction of the pull string and with the launcher tilted (a feature on the stake), the rockets will naturally angle over your head. They'd be easier to watch and there would be less chance of you getting wet if the release was actuated from the other side. This could be accomplished with stakes on 2 legs.
  3. You either have to unhook the launcher from the stake or plan to spill a little water. No biggie.
  4. The kit includes a second washer, which was required for my 2-L bottle.
  5. The kit is only intended for up to 80 psi  and is intended to leak above that.
  6. The recommended water volumes are 100mL for 1-L and 200mL for 2-L. These sound low for optimal altitude, but I forgot what I read so long ago. This will be easy to research on-line.
  7. At 60psi and with 200 and 400mL, the 2-L rocket is unstable. I'll have to look for a longer, skinnier one and try again.
The results follow:
  1. Quest water - I only had one washer in the screw-on nozzle and it leaked like a sieve. I pulled the release at an unknown pressure with an unknown amount of water and it anemically lobbed off the pad.
  2. Quest water - The 2nd washer was installed. I used 200 mL and launched at 40 psi. Unstable.
  3. Quest water - 400 mL and 60 psi. Unstable. At least the water rockets pressurize quickly.
  4. Hydro-1L - 400 mL and 60 psi. Stable but not that impressive. I need to see if I can find some notes on the previous flights.
  5. Guillows Shuttle - I flew it at 30 psi and pointed it at a low angle. It looped over and landed nearby. I don't know how to add more nose weight without killing its glide unless I modify the wings. This was pretty much expected but I had hoped the laws of physics would have been on a lunch break.
  6. Guillows Shuttle - 40 psi and a steep angle. Same results.
  7. Paper stomp - 40 psi. With the trimmed fins, it had just a hint of a barrel roll. High flight with a nice lawn dart in the rain-soaked ground. No nose cone damage but the 2-sided tape on the nose cone's shoulder released. It stuck back but undoubtedly is getting less secure with each flight. 
Update for future reference: I found some information about the Hydro-1L thanks to the Wayback Machine.  I used a simple, low-tech, automatic mechanism to release the water rocket (via James Yawn). Here, a tire valve was inserted through a hole in the bottle cap. When the pressure builds sufficiently, it is pressed through and the rocket launches.  Because I had to set the electric pump going and back off, I never saw the launch pressure. I should have set the pump at an angle and used a set of binoculars...but I didn't. Here are two examples.

Nozzle opening/water volume/results (alt. is a WAG)
13/32" / 500ml / ~45' alt., launch at ~45 sec
13/32" / 300ml / ~85' alt., launch at ~45 sec