Daily Journals


The Rocket Boys image credit: homerhickam.com

Back in April a Florida student was arrested because she set off an explosion as part of a science experiment on the school grounds. Homer Hickam hearing of the ordeal and relating to the experience is sending the student and twin sister to Rocket camp. Homer Hickam is well known in rocketry circles as the author and true life member of the “Rocket Boys” made famous in the movie“October Sky”. The student was later cleared of all charges but Hickam’s experience being arrested as a Rocket Boy in the 1950s made this NASA veteran relate to her ordeal.

Hickam hearing of the ordeal raised the money to send the student and her twin sister to Rocket Camp.

Read the full story here at ABC News


Press Release from Spaceport America:

Governor Susana Martinez today announced that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport America to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. The company will be a new tenant at Spaceport America, the state-owned commercial launch site located in southern New Mexico.

“I am thrilled that SpaceX has chosen to make New Mexico its home, bringing their revolutionary “Grasshopper” rocket and new jobs with them,” Governor Martinez said today. “We’ve done a lot of work to level the playing field so we can compete in the space industry. This is just the first step in broadening the base out at the Spaceport and securing even more tenants. I’m proud to welcome SpaceX to New Mexico.”

READ the entire Release here



Citing stability issues NASA has announced they will be migrating the ISS laptops and PCs from Windows to Linux. Being a long time Linux user and typing this on a Linux system I am happy to hear about this change. Linux has been used in many of the ISS systems but it nice to see the move to the workstations as well.

It looks like NASA is heavy into Debian but also uses Red Hat and Centos. The ISS workstations will be Debian 6.A quick search for Linux on the NASA website shows that there is a substantial Linux culture at NASA within research and operations. Lets not forget the recent  Robonaut 2 Linux powered robot.

They have contracted with the Linux Foundation to get the astronauts and specialist up to speed with the OS change. Information on this can be found here: Linux Foundation

UPDATE: More now being reported at ZDNet


After a rather long delay, OpenRocket 13.05 has been released.  There are a lot of new features, thanks to numerous contributors.  The most important new features include:

- Realistic 3D rendering with decal support
- Flight configurations replacing motor configurations
- Lower stage descent simulation
- Boosted dart support
- New translations to Portuguese and Japanese

Read more about the new features at http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthread.php?53619-OpenRocket-13-05-released

In order to support decals, the file format was changes to being ZIP-based. This means that OpenRocket versions older than 12.03 will not be able to read files written by OpenRocket 13.05 and later. Nobody should be using that old versions anyway, so this shouldn’t be much a problem. :)  The new versions will read old files without problems.

The software is available as usual at http://openrocket.sourceforge.net/

-Sampo Niskanen


click to enlarge - image tweeted by Elon Musk

click to enlarge – image tweeted by Elon Musk

This Solar Dynamics Observatory Atlas V rocket launch in February 2010 exceeded the speed of sound in a layer of ice crystals, making the shock wave visible from the ground. This occurs around 1:53 in the video.



“History continues to be made in the skies above the Mojave Desert. Hot on the heels of last week’s nitrous venting and feather test, SpaceShipTwo achieved another successful first today with a spectacular “Cold Flow” flight. The test objectives were successfully met, advancing another important step towards powered flight.”

Read the entire story at Virgin Galactic


Another year another great Yuri’s night. Celebrations are taking place all over the world.

Take a look at some of my previous post about Yuri’s night

Yuri’s night official website

and of course….


I really love how Copenhagen Suborbitals has been doing great documentation and almost DIY videos on its rocket building. First we saw their great video on the Tycho Deep Space 1 development  and now the Turbo Pump video.


Merlin 1D test - photo credit: SpaceX

Merlin 1D test – photo credit: SpaceX

Hawthorne, CA – Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) Merlin 1D engine has achieved flight qualification, a major milestone for the next generation Merlin engine. Through a 28 test qualification program, the Merlin 1D accumulated 1,970 seconds of total test time, the equivalent run time of over 10 full mission durations, and is now fully qualified to fly on the Falcon 9 rocket.

The program included four tests at or above the power (147,000 pounds of thrust) and duration (185 seconds) required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch. The Merlin 1D engine was also tested at propellant inlet and operating conditions that were well outside the bounds of expected flight conditions.

SpaceX’s testing program demonstrated a ratio of 4:1 for critical engine life parameters such as firing duration and restart capacity to the engine’s expected flight requirements. The industry standard is 2:1.

“The Merlin 1D successfully performed every test throughout this extremely rigorous qualification program,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief designer. “With flight qualification now complete, we look forward to flying the first Merlin 1D engines on Falcon 9’s Flight 6 this year.”

The Merlin 1D builds on the technology of the Merlin engines used on the first five flights of Falcon 9. With nine Merlin 1Ds on the first stage, the Falcon 9 rocket will produce nearly 1.5 million pounds of thrust in a vacuum. The Merlin 1D has a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding 150, the best of any liquid rocket engine in history. This enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built, while still maintaining the structural and thermal safety margins needed to carry astronauts. Additionally, the new engine is designed for improved manufacturability by using higher efficiency processes, increased robotic construction and reduced parts count.

Testing took place at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.” -SpaceX Press Release



“The Rocketry Golf Organization (RGO) Aimed its First Contest with Golf Pro, Shawn Kelly, vs. Doug Frost, at The Ridge Golf Course, Auburn, Ca., March 19 and 26, 2013
Rockets with plastic golf balls, replace driver clubs, as they fly to the green no matter how far. Shawn Kelly, golf pro, will compete against these rocket machines. Doug Frost, rocketry golfer, will have to putt out with a real golf ball and club.” -PRNewswire

On the official Rocketry Golf site it mentions that

“The Merger of Two World-Wide Sports. This Sport was designed to be played on any field with a flag, a pole, and a hole in the ground. However, it was also designed to be played on a Golf Course !”

I can imagine the decisions on a hole. I wouldn’t be looking at what club but I would be picking what motor. Hand me a “D-12″…

Understanding thrust will become more important than improving your swing.

“…..the world’s first rocketry golf game.  In the historic first game, Doug Frost, the inventor of Rocketry Golf, played the Game against two veteran Golf Pros who played Regular Golf.  Jack Guio, the head Pro at the Shoreline Golf Links, Mountain View, CA, and John Lowe who had 18 years of experience in golf behind him.”

Kits are available on the Rocketry Golf site.

More Links:

The official Rocketry Golf Site


“SpaceX’s Grasshopper doubled its highest leap to date to rise 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet) today, hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control.  Grasshopper touched down with its most accurate precision thus far on the centermost part of the launch pad.  At touchdown, the thrust to weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one, proving a key landing algorithm for Falcon 9.  Today’s test was completed at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.” – SpaceX

This thing is huge so pulling this off is quite incredible and SpaceX continues to push this technology in its test. I looking forward to one day seeing the Falcon 9 return this way.

Grasshopper, SpaceX’s vertical and takeoff and landing (VTVL) vehicle, continues SpaceX’s work toward one of its key goals – developing fully and rapidly reusable rockets, a feat that will transform space exploration by radically reducing its cost.  With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are testing the technology that would enable a launched rocket to land intact, rather than burning up upon reentry to the Earth’s atmosphere.” -SpaceX

* Notice the Cowboy dummy riding on the strut platform. It is especially easy to see at the end of the video.

March 8, 1926, in Auburn, Massachusetts after failed launch attempt

March 8, 1926, in Auburn, Massachusetts -a failed launch attempt that day led to a successful launch on March 16th

and then on March 16th

The BE-3 is a liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen(LOX/LH2) 100,000 pound thrust engine. The BE-3 is designed to be part of the RBS(Reusable booster system) that powers the Blue Origin Space Vehicle.

In 2011 Blue Origin received a 22 million commitment from NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Development phase 2.

BE-3 Test Video

more on Blue Origin

Official Web Site

UPDATE: Successful Launch at 10:10 am

image: SpaceX

Liftoff of Falcon 9 on CRS-2 mission – image: SpaceX


Be prepared for the mission.

The launch will be webcast live, with commentary from SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, California, at spacex.com/webcast, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at www.nasa.gov/nasatv. Pre-Launch coverage will begin at 8:30 EDT on NASA TV (40 minutes later on the SpaceX site)

SpaceX is targeting launch for 10:10 AM


After SpaceX’s successful first official resupply mission to the International Space Station last October, SpaceX is set to launch its second Commercial Resupply (CRS) mission to the orbiting lab. The SpaceX CRS-2 mission is targeting launch at 10:10AM EST Friday, March 1 from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

If all goes as planned, Dragon will arrive at station on Saturday, March 2, where it will be grappled and berthed to the complex for an expected three-week visit. Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth on March 25 for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Baja California. Dragon is the only cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies from station to Earth, including experiments. – SPACEX”

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