September 2010

Robert Truax

Robert Truax

Rocket Scientist and champion of civilian space endeavors has died at the age of 93. Robert was one of the great rocket scientist of the 20th century. He is originator of the idea of long range missiles on submarines and it is even believed that the Polaris program stemmed from his work. However he will probably best be remembered for his steam Rocket Skycycle that Evel Knievel used in his attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon. Champion of civilian aerospace his Volkrocket project was precursor to many of the X-Prize contenders.

NY Times article on Robert Truax’s death

Build Eric Truax’s paper model of the Skycycle


Evel Knevel’s SkyCycle      Page 1Page 2

It looks like SpaceX is targeting Nov. 8th for the first launch of the Dragon Spacecraft. This will be 5 months after the inaugural launch of the Falcon 9 vehicle. The flight is labeled “COTS-1″. Currently the COTS contract has three test flights that are to prove that the Dragon spacecraft can deliver to the ISS and return items to earth.

Dragon Spacecraft

SpaceX website

Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov

On September 26th 1983 a Soviet scientist saved the world from nuclear war. It’s really a quite extraordinary story.

“On September 26th, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was the officer on duty when the warning system reported a US missile launch.  Petrov kept calm, suspecting a computer error.

Then the system reported another US missile launch.

And another, and another, and another.

…The policy of the Soviet Union called for launch on warning.  The Soviet Union’s land radar could not detect missiles over the horizon, and waiting for positive identification would limit the response time to minutes.” – from Less Wrong’s blog

The story goes that Petrov preferred not to destroy the world that day. He was the right man at the right time.

I have provided links below to sites that have a great coverage of the whole story.

LessWrong – 9/26 is Petrov Day

Gimundo -Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World by Doing Nothing

A excerpt from the documentary The Red Button and the man who saved the world

After a 6 month stay aboard ISS and a delay due to a hatch sensor, the Expedition 24 crew lands safely at  1:23 am in Kazakhstan.

Last stages of Soyuz descent

Last stages of Soyuz descent

The crew:

Expedition 24 Commander Alexander Skvortsov

Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson

Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko

More at NASA

Looking for some great reading in the field of Aeronautics. These free E-Books from NASA will get you started.

“NASA’s Contributions to Aeronautics, Volume 1″ NEW!
Edited by Richard P. Hallion

“NASA’s Contributions to Aeronautics, Volume 2″ NEW!
Edited by Richard P. Hallion

“Modeling Flight”
by Joseph R. Chambers

“Apollo of Aeronautics: NASA’s Aircraft Energy Efficiency Program, 1973-1987″
by Mark D. Bowles

“Ikhana: Unmanned Aircraft System, Western States Fire Missions”
by Peter W. Merlin

“X-15: Extending the Frontiers of Flight”
by Dennis R. Jenkins

Click here to access the download page.

All books available in various E-Book formats and PDFs

“Now, as any one of the scientists, CEOs and teachers here will tell you, this kind of innovation isn’t born in the boardroom or on the factory floor.  It doesn’t begin in a basement workshop or a research laboratory.  That’s where the payoff happens.  But it starts long before.  It starts in a classroom.  It starts when a child learns that every star in the night sky is another sun; when a young girl swells with accomplishment after solving a tough math problem; when a boy builds a model rocket and watches it soar; when an eager student peers through a microscope and discovers a whole new world.  It’s in these moments that a young person may discover a talent or a passion that might lead to a career.  It’s in these moments every day that our nation — our promise as a nation is realized.  And it is in these moments that we see why a quality science and math education matters, why it is absolutely critical to us.”

read in it’s entirety

from Virgin Galactic


National Aerospace Week  09/12/10 – 09/18/10

(click to enlarge official poster)

HAWTHORNE, CA – Today Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astrium announced a commercial agreement to provide dedicated launch services to the European institutional small satellite market.

Under the agreement, Astrium intends to work with SpaceX to market Falcon 1 launch capabilities to various space agencies and other institutional customers in Europe for launches to take place through 2015.

With dedicated launch services, customers with very small payloads can launch independently to low-Earth orbit, giving them greater control over launch and launch schedule. With the Falcon 1, these services can be provided at the world’s lowest cost per flight when compared to any other launch service provider.

“I am proud that such a prominent European leader in space transportation, satellite systems and services would choose to team with SpaceX,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO. “Our agreement with Astrium opens exciting new doors for SpaceX. Together we will meet the growing demand for reliable, low-cost and dedicated launch services for very small Earth observation and scientific payloads for European institutional customers.”

Falcon launch vehicles are designed to provide breakthrough advances in reliability, cost, and time to launch. The primary design driver is reliability — nothing is more important than getting a customer’s spacecraft safely to its intended destination.

Another entry into the “Who the heck is seriesof often forgotten rocketry pioneers.

A Young Josef Stemmer

Josef Stemmer was an early Swiss space pioneer. At the early age of 11 years old he began to design spaceship based on some of his heroes of the day including Oberth and Goddard. Around 1930 he began building small solid propellant rockets and began experimenting with liquid fuel in 1938. Soon after he stopped his experiments and began publishing on the subject. In 1944 and 1945 he published booklets on rocket propulsion. These were some of the first “How To” publications on the subject. His publications also contained details on the German war rocket developements.
In 1950 Stemmer founded the Schweizerische Astronautische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (Swiss Astronautical Study Group). In 1951 he served as the president of the new International Astronautical Federation (IAF).He gave talks on spaceflight and rocket propulsion at this time. Even though he was often ridiculed he stood fast to his beliefs of space travel.

When you have a low budget you come up with creative ways to solve specific problems. Unfortunately this creative solution did not work and has postponed the launch until 2011.

You need to keep LOX from freezing. This particular solution used a hair dryer. Unfortunately the hair dryer wasn’t getting enough power and the LOX valve froze up preventing ignition.

Hair Dryer to LOX valve

Hair Dryer to LOX valve (click to enlarge)

Just came across a great video of the Little Joe II and the Apollo Launch Abort System test.

Another view from a ground camera

..and the onboard view

other Pad Abort and Little Joe links on the Rocketry Blog:
My Little Joe II
Orion Pad 1 Abort Test

Site for Manned Space Center -Houston 1962

NASA has just launched a photo archive in the Flickr Commons.

There goes my evening….

NASA on The Commons - Flickr

NASA on The Commons - Flickr


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