Daily Journals


I am happy to see Estes re-release one of my favorite rockets of all time – The Sprint. The new release is a bigger meaner Sprint built on a BT 60 tube and using D and E motors and is a tribute to designer Mike Dorfler.

Last year I used a standard Sprint in several NAR contest and won each of them. The efficiency of the design incorporating the elliptical fins and a boat-tail is legendary.

Link to Estes Astron Sprint XL

Please read my full post from 2007 on the Sprint


Indian President Pranab Mukherjee announced that the Indian Space Research Organisation plans to launch a Mars Orbiter Mission in October of 2013.

The purpose of the mission is stated as ” it will look for signature of life and reasons for loss of atmosphere on the red planet”

India’s major space port is Satish Dhawan Space Centre

It’s not clear what rocket India will use for such a mission. It’s most powerful rocket (still untested – test expected this year) is the GSLV III

SLV, ASLV, PSLV, GSLV, GSLV III - image credit:WDGraham

SLV, ASLV, PSLV, GSLV, GSLV III – image credit:WDGraham

Found this nice graphic of Spacecraft size comparisons. A notable point to the graphic and capsule history are the number of flights of Soyuz in comparison to all others. It has definitely been the most successfully flown spacecraft. Another point is that the Dragon has a capability of 7 astronauts (not 6 as the graphic suggest) and the Rus has 6.

The first crewed flight of the Dragon is expected sometime in 2015. Here is a great graphic on the SpaceX Dragon manned capsule.More info on the Rus or PPTS can be found here and here

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Great behind the scenes video of the Armadillo Aerospace STIG B-1 crew during launch.  Love that slow takeoff.

photo credit:NASA

photo credit:NASA


Sorry for the sparse postings lately but I have been recovering from an illness. I wanted to post a couple of really cool links in the meantime to keep you going.

The first is from the Poker Flats Research Range in Fairbanks Alaska.

Poker Flats Research Range is the largest land-based rocket research range in the world and the only high-latitude rocket range in the United States. Poker Flat launches scientific sounding rockets, performs satellite tracking and is home to a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft.

Poker Flat Research Range is perfectly located in Interior Alaska. From this site, rockets can launch and fly over the sparsely populated tundra hundreds of miles north of the range with special permission from federal, state and tribal landowners. Additionally, the range is situated beneath the auroral oval – a ring across the circumpolar north where auroras typically occur – providing ample opportunities to continue scientists’ examination of the aurora. Most sounding rocket launches occur between January and March and scientists come from around the world to use the facility for their research projects.

The range’s expansion into the burgeoning field of unmanned aircraft began in 2004. Today, the range has more than two-dozen models that range in size from a 2.5-pound quad-rotor Aeryon Scout to the 40-pound fixed-wing Insitu A-20. Personnel dedicated to the unmanned aircraft efforts are deployed across Alaska to assist in projects that are hazardous or difficult for manned aircraft to maneuver in.” -link here

Watch the launches Live! Poker Flats Launch Webcam (check schedules for launch information)


I just re-watched this great documentary called :

Failure is not an Option – A Flight Control History of NASA

I highly recommend it



Just finished adding a new page of LEM development pictures.

Click here to see the new section which is part of a broader Rocket History section I am creating.

Young NASA engineers and  a F-1  photo credit:NASA

Young NASA engineers and a F-1 photo credit:NASA

The mighty F-1 has been revisited. These young engineers having been reviewing how the powerful Saturn F-1 might assist in building heavy lifting rockets. What better way than to rebuild the F-1. In this case they rebuilt the Gas generator.

“This activity provided us with information for determining how some parts of the engine might be more affordably manufactured using modern techniques, such as additive manufacturing,” said Kate Estes, a Marshall liquid propulsion systems engineer.

Link to the story

Great Video of the Gas generator test done by these engineers (Love that roar!)


There is a new petition at the White House “We the People” . “Rapidly develop and deploy a nuclear thermal rocket for both manned & un-manned space missions”

You can view and sign the petition here

Check out what the guys over at http://www.heligraphix.com did. They attached model rocket engines to Helicopters and ignited them during flight. Amazingly most of the flights look remarkably stable..

photo by Steve Jurvetson

photo by Steve Jurvetson

Every year I like to review some of the top post and subjects in Rocketry on my blog for the year. I now have visitors from 172 countries. Here is this years top 10 according to page views.

10.  Inside the Cockpit: Freedom 7

9.   Apollo Lunar Landing Mission Poster

8.   Orbital’s Antares rocket begins testing

7.    Print and build your own paper Dragon Spacecraft

6.   Manned Spaceflight Instrument Panels

5.   Fabulous SpaceX Fan Art

4.   Build your own SpaceX Falcon 9

3.   Apollo 11′s Source Code

2.   Curiosity is on Mars

1.   Teams successful Carmack Prize attempt

Now you can fly and land the SpaceX Grasshopper or actually the SpaceY Grasshopper

Link here

Great poster over at De la Terre a la Lune.

One of the best expanded views of the Saturn V that I have seen.

click to see full poster at De la Terre a la Lune

Expanded Saturn V

…And while you there take a look at these other great French media graphics and posters of the Apollo era.

Media images at De la Terr a la Lune

One of my favorite stories from the Apollo era. Apollo 12′s nearly aborted mission due to a lightening strike.


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