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Airplanes, Rocketry, Missiles, Spacecraft and things that go WHOOSH! in the night.
What's flying around my head at the current time.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Flight Date is Announced 

Scaled Composites has announced that the date for SpaceShip One's first X-Prize flight attempt will be Wednesday, September 29th. If successful, the secnod flight will have to be no later than October 13.

The Canadian Davinci team is planning a rolloutof their spacecraft in the very near future , they may be able to give Rutan & co a run for their money.

For more info on the X-Prize competition, go here.


Pictures of one of three flyable Daimler-Benz powered 109s in the world. This one is German-owned and was restored in Britain. All of the rest of the "Me-109s" see on the airshow circuit are ex-Spanish AF Hispanos that are powered by Rolls-Royce Merlins. I'd love to have an audio recording of this bird in flight.

Messerschmitt Me109

Valkyries!- The All-Girl Fighter Squadron 

The Israeli Air force has fielded the first all-female Jet fighter Squadron. First Fighter (aka 101) Squadron, currently flying the F-16C/D, was chsen to be the first fighter squadron in the worls to be completely staffed from pilots to technicians by women. Ten years ago, the first women entered IDF/AF pilot training. Now there are enough qualified female avoators to staff acomplete squadron. The only non-femal positions are the most senior officers, as there are no women with the required experience and time of service, but that will chage as they get more service time.
How will Arab pilots react to being bested not only by Jews but Jewish WOMEN?

Female Fighter Squadron

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Project Apollo Archive 

On the 35th anniversary of the first m\lunar landing, here is a great archive od\f all things Apollo.

The Project Apollo Archive

Journey Through A Jet Engine 

A neat flash animation depicting the passage of a particle through a modern jet engine. Temperature, airspeed, pressure and rpms are illustrated by gauges, as is a button representing the material each section is made of.

Rolls-Royce: Journey Through A Jet Engine

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

More X-Prize News 

Found this on the rec.models.rockets newsgroup:

Canadian rocket team readies for space

July 15 - Canada's Brian Feeney says his Da Vinci Project staff is ready to challenge SpaceShipOne for the Ansari X-Prize and expects to roll out his more conventional-looking rocket (compared to aircraft-like SpaceShipOne) the first week of August. Feeney, who has aerospace and rocket design experience, plans to ride the rocket himself when it lifts off from Saskatchewan later this year. The rocket is powered by laughing gas and paraffin and is launched from a helium-filled balloon after reaching 80,000 feet.

SpaceShipOne to try for space prize

July 14 - Scaled Composites officials say they have found out what caused the trim problem and are ready to make a try this fall for the $10 million Ansari X Prize that goes to the rocket team reaching theedge of space twice in two weeks. Look for an official announcement at Oshkosh concerning the team of Paul Allen, who funds the project, and Scaled Composites. SpaceShipOne will fly with one pilot and lead ballast representing the weight of two additional 198.4-pound people and make the flight to 100 kilometers (62.1 statute miles) twice in a two-week period. The trim problem wasn't really a problem, Scaled Composites officials discovered. A left and right roll due to wind shear got SpaceShipOne off its proper pitch profile, called the pitch schedule. To get the craft back on the proper path, full trim was used that ran the pitch tab against the stops, causing an automatic 3-second time-out. After that it would have worked normally, but ground controllers, thinking it had failed, went to a backup system. In fact it had worked as designed.

They found out the source of the "loud bang" which was heard during the flight, and the cause of the dented panel. The dented panel probably was the source of the bang. Just like anytime you
buckle a curved shape inwards, like say a metal can, you get a big noise out of it. The dented panel was a brand-new fairing that was added between the original blunt end of fuselage and the big red nozzle which was visible in the earlier flights. On the last flight, the red nozzle was not visible, as it was covered over by that new fairing. That fairing’s purpose was aerodynamic, not
structural. It could have ripped completely off at that point and not directly have been a problem. Though if it veered left or right and hit one of the tailbooms that could potentially have been a serious problem (Rutan’s spaceships are no more designed to take significant debris impacts than NASA’s).

The underside of that fairing had buckled inwards (upwards). Looked like it was near where the structural fuselage (inside) ended and the nozzle began. Most likely the pressure during the extremely high angle of attack re-entry phase made it buckle. So they'll probably do something simple like adding an internal brace/stringer/rib or add some extra layers of composite materials to stiffen it up in that region.

Something else could have contributed to the buckling. The heat during the re-entry phase may have temporarily softened the resin enough to allow the underside of the fairing to buckle inwards more easily than normal, and since it is a part that’s meant for aerodynamics than structural they may not have accounted for the stresses on it or its weakened state when hot.

Space Ship One isn't seeing anything like the heat of reentry from orbit, but Mach-3 or so gets things pretty hot for awhile considering it’s an all-composite vehicle (fortunately it’s not going that fast in the atmosphere for very long, and slowing at many G’s once it hits the sensible atmosphere coming down). This may explain the dull red stuff they added to the leading edges, which would seem to be some added form of heat protection.

From an interview on pilot Mike Melvill gave on Today:

NORVILLE: There was, as you said, one little problem. And I gather it had something to do with the solid rocket in the fuel, where there was a big boom and for a moment you didn‘t know what had happened.

MELVILL: That‘s correct. There was a loud explosion and a large vibration as part of the fuel that‘s in the rocket motor went out through the nozzle and jammed the nozzle for a split second and then the pressure built up and blew it out.

So there was a very loud explosion, a lot of shaking going on, and I wasn‘t sure I hadn‘t lost part of the aircraft at that point. So that was scary for me.

Most of this was written by George Gassaway, and added to by others.


Remind me again, just why would somebody want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Although most of these mishaps involve heavy gear, there are a few individual mishaps. I especially like the truck that came off its pallet during a LAPES drop and just kept right on going.


Is There Something Going On? 

With little fanfare, the Navy has flushed the major part ot the fleet to sea. The word is that it is a "surge exercise" to see if it can be done, but it doesn't make sense to put 92% of the surface fleet and 91% of the subs out to sea at once for an exercise? It must be playing bloody hell with the normal deployment cycle. Do they know something they aren't telling?
Is the Deployment Surge Just an Exercise?

DUH! Moments 

A list of the dumbest moments in recent SF films. Can you add any others?
10 Dumb Moments in
Sci-Fi Cinema

Comrade Pac Man 

An working example of an East-German arcade game has surfaced in a museum in England. One of only two or three remaining in the world, it offers an insight into what passed for consumer goods in the communist bloc in the late 80's.

I remember the best model kits were old Frog molds that were exported out of England when that company closed down in the 70's. Most of the boxes were cheap; rough cardboard, flimsy and poorly printed with decals that were just about unusable. The kits themselves were, well, if the basic shapes were there, the rest had to come out of the spare parts box. The parts tended to fit where they touched and that's about all.

East Germay's VEB Plasticart along with the various Russian and Polish kits were really crude. The only other ones that were half way decent came out of a Czechoslavakian company called Kozavody Prodechev(?) (most of us just called them KP), and they were fairly good, but still not of western quality.

The Czechs and Poles have come a long way since, and some outfits out of the former Soviet republics have started to rival the standard of model kit makes such as Tamiya and Hasegawa as well as Airfix and Revell/Monogram.

BBC - Wiltshire - Features - Fancy a game, comrade?

Red Primer 

A child (or politician)-level reader to go along with my copy of What To Do When the Russians Come. So simple that even a liberal could get through it (;-^})

Red Primer for Children and Diplomats

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Dictator's Ultimate Fashion Accessory 

Nothing like a Golden Gun to set off your combat fatigues when you're out repressing your people.

Today Was A Good Day: I Didn't Have To Use My Gold-Plated AK

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Check Out "The Boneyard" 

One of the most interesting military aviation sites in the United States is the Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Center (AMARC) at Davis Monthan AFB, outside of Tucson, Arizona. This is where the US military stores its surplus aircraft. This non-official site covers AMARC, the Pima County Aerospace Museum, one of the biggest Aviation museums in the country, and the various aviation scrapyards that surround the base. There are also lists of aircraft residing at, or moved in or out of the sites detailed. Lots of airplane pictures and aerial photos of AMARC and the surrounding scrapyards.

The AMARC Experience

Warbird Restorations 

Warbird restoration group based at Norfolk International Airport, Norfolk, VA. Works in relation to the Tidewater Tech Aviation Maintenance School. Many of the planes can be seen on the airshow circuit. Good work on some interesting birds. Early, late, and post war aircraft. Good stuff.

Fighter Factory

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Cassini Enters Saturn's Orbit 

The Cassini spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn today after maneuvering between two of Saturn's rings. Another triumph for mission controllers at JPL.

Cassini Orbits Saturn

See the raw images here: Cassini-Huygens: Multimedia-Images-Raw Images

Latest mission News here: NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Arrives at Saturn

Spy Cola? 

I had not heard of this, but it is really going on. The Coca-Cola company is running a contest promotion where 120 High-tech "cans" containing a GPS transponder and a cell phone are distributed across the country. These "cans" are considered a security risk and cannot be taken into DOD-secure areas. In fact, until ALL 120 of these things are located, ALL cases of Coke products brought into any of these secure areas must be broken open and checked for the contest cans. As I have said before, truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense.

On the other hand, what does it say about our technology when we can make devices like these as essentially disposable just for a contest?
Al-Queda Cola

SpaceShipOne Video 

A short video clip of the flight. This silent video shows ignition and climbout from chase planes, including the unusual roll input anomaly, Astronaut Mike Melvill releasing the M&Ms, and some external camera footage of boost and reentry phases. Major cool. Also a link to a short AP video report on the flight.

Flight Video

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