June 2011

Model rocket enthusiast will enjoy this Estes word search.

Can you find the 21 rocket names?

Visible Minotaur Launch 2005

UPDATE : Launch and satellite deployment successful. Launch was seen clearly from NYC, DC and other mid Atlantic locations.

I’m looking forward to possibly seeing the Minotaur launch from Wallops Tuesday 28th. The launch should be visible across a large section of the mid-Atlantic.


“An U.S. Air Force Minotaur 1 rocket carrying the Department of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space office’s ORS-1 satellite is scheduled for launch June 28 from NASA’s Launch Range at the Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia. 

ORS-1 is the Operationally Responsive Space Office’s first operational satellite. Rapidly developing and fielding ORS-1 is an important step to demonstrate the capability to meet emerging and persistent war-fighter needs on operationally relevant timelines. 

The Minotaur 1 rocket, integrated by Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC), is a four-stage vehicle, two stages being refurbished Minuteman II stages and the other two stages being OSC developed. The Minotaur is about 70 feet tall and 5 feet wide. The U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Wing has overall mission management responsibility. This will be the fourth Minotaur 1 rocket launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and the Spaceport since December 2006. 

Based on the approved range schedule, the rocket is set for launch between 8:28 and 11:28 p.m. EDT. The backup launch days are June 29 – July 10 . The launch may be visible, depending on cloud cover and one’s viewing location, in the eastern United States from southern New York to North Carolina. It may be seen as far west from the Atlantic Coast as West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. “

Minotaur at Wallops - photo credit: NASA

“The story began on June 3, 1982, when a camera in an Australian P-3 patrol plane captured images of a Soviet ship recovering a space craft from the Indian Ocean….”

BOR-4 "Space Interceptor"

The craft that was seen was a Soviet BOR-4 vehicle.The BOR-4 was a half scale prototype of a space plane to test the upcoming Buran’s heat shields. Since the vehicle was not equipped with a landing gear it was required to land in water. The flight that was viewed was the BOR-4 #2 Cosmos 1374 flight (details here on flight and recovery). There were 3 more flights that followed.

The BOR-4 was the inspiration and design basis for the American HL-20.


The HL-20 has been a great complimentary design to the Space Shuttle over the years. Much smaller at only 29 feet and weighing 22,000 pounds compared to the Shuttle’s empty weight of 185,000 pounds.

In April NASA awarded the Sierra Nevada Corporation 80 million dollars to continue development of the HL-20 “Dream Chaser” design.

“SNC has been developing the Dream Chaser for 6 years, most recently through a partnership with NASA under the Commercial Crew Development One (CCDev1) program.  During the CCDev1 program SNC successfully completed all milestones on schedule and under budget. During this program in 2010, SNC integrated the efforts of this powerful team of aerospace companies to significantly advance the development of the Dream Chaser.  The team completed hybrid rocket motor test firings, primary structure fabrication and testing, significant aerodynamic analysis and guidance, navigation and control development.  These activities significantly reduced risk associated with the development of a human spacecraft.” -Sierra Nevada Corp.

SNC's Dream Catcher

Does the Dream Catcher offer a viable replacement of the Space Shuttle as a crew transport vehicle? I am looking forward to future flight and milestone developments.

 More from NASA on the Dream Catcher

Details on the HL-20

Details on the BOR-4

The video speaks for itself.

Reason for anomaly given by Armadillo:

“Instability caused by unexpected gas in the fuel inlet led to the engine shearing its supports and creating a significant yaw force on the rocket, leading to the fin section being destroyed by aerodynamic loads.”

Read the full story on the SuperMod flight along with the first flight of STIG and what went wrong.

A new version of the great freeware rocket stability and design software OpenRocket is now available. The new version is 1.1.5.

This release removes support for native printing from OpenRocket, instead printing
is performed through the platform’s PDF viewer.  This should make
printing much more reliable and less bug-prone.  Printing should now
work on all Windows systems.”  -Sampo Niskanen

OpenRocket can be found here

Finally we get to see the pictures from the Soyuz as it left the ISS and positioned itself for pictures of Endeavour docked. Click on images to enlarge.

Endevour Docked as seen from Soyuz photo credit:ESA

Endeavour docked photo credit:ESA

The complete gallery can be seen here at the ESA site

Video taken by Paolo Nespoli from the Russian Soyuz spacecraft :

Click Here to watch in HD

A wicked burn by the Armadillo Aerospace Mod “Dalek” rocket.

“This represents around 180,000 lbs of total impulse, near the upper end of what the FAA defines as a Class 3 Amateur Rocket. In the letter scale used in small rockets, it would be a ‘T’.

The engine runs on liquid oxygen and denatured ethanol. This rocket will be flying payloads for the Nasa Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research program, aka CRuSR” -Armadillo Aerospace

…and if you have a pair of Red/Blue 3D glasses you can watch the same test in 3D!
Click here for 3D version 

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