Spaceheads

Take a Little Trip

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NASA wants us all to get out and see the worlds! And by way of encouragement, they have created some travel posters to showcase some of those worlds! (No word on how to actually get there, but I am sure PanAm is working something up.)

Continue reading Take a Little Trip

Moments in History

Things Are About To Get Weird

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For those of you following along on Facebook, you may have noticed our fearless leader’s caveat that posts may not be as frequent due to real life commitments. We all have those and, until recently, most of us have been able to find time to post a celebration of technology fairly regularly. However, life changes and sometimes it changes due to a new life.

Continue reading Things Are About To Get Weird

User Input

User Input: Prepare to Hate

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A new year is upon us, and with that shall come store shelves stocked to overflowing with all kinds of new gadgetry and technobaubles. Things that go “boop”! Things with flashy lights! Stuff from Apple that everyone will say they hate because it’s from Apple!

And, inevitably, somewhere in that giant mess, there will be those few ubiquitous items that everyone will have, and everyone will become outrageously obnoxious with, and we will all grow to hate. Some may even reach the point where we irrationally hate the person using the gadget, just because they’re using the gadget we hate. My leading candidate to cross that boundary in 2015 is the Selfie Stick. It’s an awesome invention when used properly by filmmakers, documenting their round the world trip, or something such as that. It’s obnoxious when it’s being used by a half-dozen tourists in Banff to stand in the middle of the road and document the surroundings, including all the traffic they’ve stopped to take their pictures.

What will be the most-hated new bit of technology for 2015?

Spaceheads

Digital Monkeys

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Unless you have been living under a rock, or perhaps have a cold empty heart devoid of emotional excitement for space adventures (coincidentally, space is also a cold empty void), you probably noticed NASA very recently conducted a successful test launch and recovery of the new Orion capsule. (Still not to be confused with this other, more atomic Orion.) Once upon a time, such tests would have been conducted using happy, energetic little monkeys, but now we live in a digital, monkey loving world, a world where we could likely take bets on who will receive sentient being legal status first, a computer or a monkey. NASA went the computer route, sending a robo-monkey to shoot video out the Orion window. Most of that was streamed ‘live’, but not the critical phase involving superheated plasma during re-entry. Luckily the digital monkey had a nice steady hand, so hit the jump and check out some plasma!

Continue reading Digital Monkeys

Spaceheads

Watch $200 Million Burn

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The Orbital Sciences Antares rocket is a new rocket system. During a launch last night from the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport at Wallops Island, VA, only its fifth, something failed causing this spectacular explosion. Luckily, no one was injured, but it does appear there is significant damage to the launch facility.

The explosion occurred approximately 15 seconds into the flight.

Continue reading Watch $200 Million Burn

Startup

Startdown: Worse Than a Bad USB

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Maybe he is White Hat, using his powers for good.

Image via the Green Box.

Airborne Awesomosity

Betting Man

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Last week marked 58 years since a relatively unknown yet undoubtedly impressive stunt was pulled off in New York City (and this week is 56 years since it was pulled off again, but we’ll get to that momentarily). On the late evening of September 30, 1956, the young Thomas Fitzpatrick, whilst enjoying some tasty beverages in a Washington Heights barroom, found himself engaging in a bit of a friendly wager. The wager in question, according to third-hand retellings, was that Mr. Fitzpatrick could, or could not, make it back to the bar in 15 minutes from New Jersey.

Being challenged so, the only recourse was to take the trip to New Jersey, and prove it. The solution he had to this dilemma was relatively simple–‘Mr. Fitzpatrick, then 26, took a single-engine plane from the Teterboro School of Aeronautics in New Jersey and took off without lights or radio contact and landed on St. Nicholas Avenue near 191st Street.

The New York Times called it a “fine landing” and reported that it had been widely called “a feat of aeronautics.”’

There were some in the city that were mildly displeased about this stunt, and Mr. Fitzpatrick was initially charged with the theft of the plane. The plane owner, perhaps out of admiration for the impressive feat of strength, declined to press charges, so instead the charges were reduced to the lesser crime of ‘landing a plane in the street’, which was (and perhaps still is) specifically against city code. Once the landing fees of $100 were paid to the city, the whole matter seemed settled.

Until just over two years later. That’s when, in another bar in the same neighborhood, Mr. Fitzpatrick now found his truthiness in question. ‘On Oct. 4, 1958, just before 1 a.m., he took again a plane from Teterboro and this time landed on Amsterdam and 187th Street in front of a Yeshiva University building after having “come down like a marauder from the skies,” in the words of Ruben Levy, the magistrate at Mr. Fitzpatrick’s ensuing arraignment. Newspapers reported that Mr. Fitzpatrick jumped out of the landed plane wearing a gray suit and fled, but later turned himself in.

Mr. Fitzpatrick told the police that he had pulled off the second flight after a bar patron refused to believe he had done the first one.’

Via the New York Times, who owns the lead image.

Airborne Awesomosity

BAC TSR-2: When An Aircraft Plays (Political) Football

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The aeronautical landscape is littered with the rotting shells and mylar prints of cancelled aircraft programs. Setting out to push the boundaries of man’s capability often goes hand in hand with rising costs and lengthened schedules. These two things also give opponents of said programs leverage to do away with them at their first opportunity. Such is the story of the British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2.

Continue reading BAC TSR-2: When An Aircraft Plays (Political) Football

A-T Whatsit

Name That Plane!

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Some time ago, I signed up for access to the government’s surplus auction website, which had changed a little since then but is now govliquidation.com. What hasn’t changed are the fun emails that they send me daily highlighting newly posted auctions. I have actually yet to purchase anything just yet, despite want to bid on probably 80% of the surplus, just because it is cool! Last night, I got an email titled “Mixed Metals & Burning Slag Available Now“, which doesn’t sound all that compelling, but I was curious just what burning slash might be, so I clicked on to read the whole email. Lo, what do I discover but this as one of the items: “53,000lbs Mixed Metals Flight Simulator“.

Couple that with a tiny thumbnail of the picture you see above, and now you have my interest! The text of the ad reads: “53,000 lbs. (approx.) demilitarization required Flight Safety Services Corp. & CAE Electronics Ltd. PN MA140500-01-2-845 flight trainer simulator SN 0001WST has ABB mdl unknown hydraulic power pack control panel, lot includes catwalk, shelving, interface cabinet units, electric cable wire, hydraulic lines, leveling pads. Main simulator dimensions 264″ x 164″ x 136″, power panel dimensions 80″ x 96″ x 74″. NSN 6930015558064. All scrap under this contract requires mutilation by the buyer prior to removal and must be witnessed by DOD personnel. Title to the material does not pass to the buyer until the scrap has been mutilated. Buyer agrees to allow USG personnel to witness destruction. Removal and processing of property will begin no later than 5 days from the date of receiving paid invoice. **Please open surveillance plan for all mutilation guidance**

The question is, what plane is it? Since we still have the comment drama, you’ll all just have to have self-satisfaction on this one, but hey, it should still be fun!

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[As a side note, this post carries the same title as last night’s Hooniverse Last Call, which is purely coincidental, but makes me think it is all the more appropriate!]

Spaceheads

By the Light of the Moon

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The passion that those who feel ‘the Apollo record is full of anomalies and inconsistencies’ still surprises me at times. The idea that it is easier to believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of folks involved with NASA and the Apollo program pulled off the greatest hoax in history and managed to keep the secret, even to this day, than it is to believe those same hundreds and thousands put forth their best effort and took risks and accomplished one of the biggest technological challenges of the last century, well it quite honestly astounds me.

Yesterday I came across a video from computer graphics company NVIDIA that purports to: “Explore the truth behind the iconic Buzz Aldrin moon landing photo. See how modern graphics innovations can shed new light on a 35-year-old conspiracy theory.
Learn more about Maxwell, the new GPU architecture powering the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970.”

It is a piece of advertising for their new gear, but I think re-creating a 45 year old scene rock by rock digitally is quite an interesting tech accomplishment, and if they get a little bit of advertising by aiming the ad at a controversy that has arguably gained traction in the age of the internet, well there you go. The video has been on YouTube for less than a week, and the amount of comments, many of which argue very strongly against the assumptions made by NVIDIA and discussing how it in no way proves anything, are quite impressive. Even more fascinating to me, the first comment links to a site, aulis.com, that has quite the discussion about those Apollo program ‘inconsistencies’. One of the recent posts is also a discussion of how NVIDIA attempted to rope a skeptic in for exploitation, for one assumes just this video advertising campaign. But the skeptic in question was not fooled, oh no. Conspiracies within conspiracies, Egad!

Hit the just to see the video, and decide for yourself if you want to believe!

Continue reading By the Light of the Moon

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