September 2007


Of course you realize at this point that the great 50th anniversary of Sputnik happens on October 4th. So as a space enthusiast, how can you celebrate the orb that ushered in the space race and birth of the age of rockets? There are several possibilities.

1. Build a Sputnik

2. Build the rocket that launched Sputnik (from my Ultimate Paper Rocket Guide)

3. Buy a model

4. Go out on the night of the 4th and try to observe a current satellite passing over

5. Read a book 1 2 3 4

6. Get a T-Shirt

7. Read about Sputnik in the News

8. Read about Sputnik in Blogs

9. Knit a Sputnik

10. Throw a Sputnik Party

Here are some related video clips:

Universal News Reel

Sputnik 50 years


Return to the current Rocketry Blog post


Part 1 can be found here

The Project Mercury continued with 4 manned orbital flights using the Atlas as the booster. The Redstone was not powerful enough to place a man into orbit and NASA choose the Atlas (America’s first ICBM) to do the job. The Mercury capsule had been designed to be a replacement for the Atlas payload.

Here are the specifications on the Mercury Atlas

Total length 25.0 m
Core diameter 3.1 m
Liftoff mass 116,100 kg
Payload to 185-km low Earth orbit 1,360 kg
Total thrust
boosters (2) 1,600,000 N each
sustainer 280,000 N
verniers (2) 8,800 N each

The Four manned flights were:
Mercury-Atlas 6

February 20, 1962
John H. Glenn, Jr.

04 hours, 55 minutes 23 seconds
Three-orbit flight that placed the first
American into orbit.

Mercury-Atlas 7

May 24, 1962
M. Scott Carpenter

04 hours, 56 minutes, 5 seconds
Confirmed the success of Mercury-Atlas 6 by duplicating flight.

Mercury-Atlas 8

October 03, 1962
Walter M. Schirra, Jr.

09 hours, 13 minutes, 11 seconds
Six-orbit engineering test flight.

Mercury-Atlas 9

May 15-16, 1963
L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.

34 hours, 19 minutes, 49 seconds
Last Mercury mission; completed 22 orbits to evaluate effects of one day in space.

You can start to build your own Mercury Atlas. There are two paper model links located in my Ultimate Paper Rocket Guide. One is Surfduke’s and the other is available using the Internet Archives to go to Precision Paper Space Model’s Atlas 6.

Sheri’s Hot Rocket’s has a 1/24 scale model available!


September 14, 2007 (JST)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Lunar Orbit Explorer “KAGUYA” (SELENE) by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 13 (H-IIA F13) at 10:31:01 a.m. on September 14, 2007 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The launch vehicle flew smoothly, and, at about 45 minutes and 34 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the KAGUYA was confirmed.

We would like to express our profound appreciation for the cooperation and support of all related personnel and organizations that helped contribute to the successful launch of the KAGUYA aboard the H-IIA F13.

At the time of the launch, the weather was clear, a wind speed was 5.9 m/second from the East South East, and the temperature was 29.8 degrees Celsius.” -JAXA PRESS RELEASE

This is another spacecraft that I have my name on. The others have included  Deep Impact, Phoenix Mars Mission, and the Dawn spacecraft.

You can read more on the launch at these locations:
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

The object: Be the first private team to land a rover on the moon. The Rover must travel at least 1640 feet on the surface and return high resolution video and data back to earth.

Google made the announcement at Wired magazine’s NextFest Thurs. Sept 13th. Originally this was supposed to be a prize that NASA was going to offer but NASA backed away and Google has stepped in to offer this prize. This is an exciting opportunity and I hope this promotes the private space sector to try to accomplish the task. It is a bright beacon in an otherwise bleak year for the private space industry. There was the Sea Launch Explosion in January and then the 3 deaths at the Scaled Composites test bed.

An additional 5 million will be added if the rover can travel an additional 5000 meters and/or return pictures of Lunar artifacts like the Apollo mission equipment.

More here

How to win the 20 million

1957satsclick to enlarge

I came across this picture from a 1958 Popular Mechanics. Listed among the rocket configurations was the Farside Rocket. It seem to have a strange box around it and I was totally unfamiliar of its purpose. A little research and I found the following…

In 1957 an attempt to send a rocket to an altitude of 4000 miles. The rocket was the Farside rocket and was launched from an high altitude balloon. Farside is sometimes referred to as a Rockoon (Rocket-Balloon) vehicle.All of the Farside rockets were 4 stage rockets using existing solid fuel technology. There were 6 launch attempts all failed except the 5th and 6th launches which approached the 4000 mile goal.

Video of a Farside launch

Further reading on the Farside Program

Click here for more Rockoon articles on the Rocketry Blog

Everyone is getting excited over the new flying field in Eastern NC. The field located in Bayboro, NC is reportedly huge. Even bigger than Whitakers. The Whitakers field was lost back in early 2006. It was temporarily replaced with the much smaller Battleboro, NC field. The field was a challenge for HPR because of it’s size and orientation. It even came with a nice swamp to swallow up unexpected rockets that decided to drift in it’s direction. Fortunately the search for an appropriate field continued.
This may turn out to be one of the largest fields in the Eastern US. Thanks to the efforts of Alan Whitmore and Lionel Overton. The field is about 3 hours from the Durham, Chapel Hill area….a bit of a drive but certainly inviting. I will not be attending the September launch but plan to be there for the October Sport Launches.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the year.

Sept 22-23      Sat Sport – Sun EX

Oct 13-14       Fall WELD (Whitakers Experimental Launch Days -may need to be renamed BELD)

Oct 27-28        2-day sport launch

Nov 17-18       Sat Sport – Sun EX

Dec 15-16       Sat Sport – Sun EX

official website – hasn’t been updated with this new info yet

Team America Rocketry Challenge registration began Wednesday Sept 5th for the May 17, 2008 TARC. Registration deadline is Friday November 30th.

TARC Website

Have an idea for a new NASA slogan? Write it here.

The Rocketry Forum has been offline since Tuesday Sept 3rd but has finally returned as of 8pm est today.

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