This afternoon I am going to run the first of a couple of posts that I have been kicking around for quite some time now, but just have never gotten around to. (Be sure to tune in next week for more!) The Professor’s User Input on the question of the current state of NASA and the future thereof reminded me of them. First up, when we remember back to the space race it’s culmination with the Moon landing, I think that we tend to view it as a period of triumph and success. But I think it is important to recall that at the time, the neither the success of these ventures nor the victory over the Russians in the Cold War were in any way assured. When it came to the Moon landing, did you ever wonder what sort of back up plans might have been in place in the event of mission failure?
The possibility had been considered that a problem with the lunar lander could have stranded the intrepid astronauts on the Moon, and a memo outlining actions to be taken and the speech that the president would make if such an unfortunate incident occurred were written. The previously unpublished documents were found by LA Times columnist Jim Mann, in a file titled, “IN THE EVENT OF MOON DISASTER.”
President Richard Nixon would have informed the country that night on television:
Before giving the speech, the President would have made telephone calls to the “widows to be” to offer condolences. After final goodbyes, and perhaps recommendations to the astronauts on how to close their lives, the plans called for Mission Control to “close down communications” with the Lunar Module. In a public ritual likened to burial at sea, clergyman would then have commended their souls to “the deepest of the deep”. (motherboard.vice.com)
Continue reading Mysteries of the Moon
Today we had a bit of a chat here about that odious headcrusher, the forward spring of the clock that accompanies Daylight Saving Time. As a hideous troglodyte northern-dweller, I for one appreciate the sudden appearance of the sun after dinner caused by this artificial construct because it makes me feel like I can stay up past 6pm. Continue reading Shutdown: Timeless
Despite all the amazing technology that exists and currently in development, the beginning of the Cold War always felt to me like the Great Era of American innovation. There’s were piles of government funding available to answer any crazy question… and give us photos like this. What the hell is going on here? My [...]
The Cold War era was often terrifying for those of us who lived through it. But today, from the comfort of a world gone berserk in a somewhat less M.A.D. way, we can sit back and cogitate over the functional beauty of some of the weapons systems designed to rain fiery death on civilian populations. Continue reading Mirage IV
In Soviet Russia, Truck Rockets You!
Image via highpowerrocketry.blogspot.com.
You may remember the SAGE network from such posts as Expand Your Radar Horizons (Parts 1 and Duex), and possibly some other I am forgetting regarding missile defense during the Cold War years. SAGE stands for Semi-Automatic Ground Environment, and essentially was a network of radar installations coupled with what passed for serious computing power at the time, creating a system that combined live radar input with pre-established flight information from commercial airliners that would give operators a live picture of the air traffic in the airspace of the US and Canada. Anything that was out of place could quickly be isolated and intercepted. At the heart of all this was of course the computer, the AN/FSQ-7 (2 computers per SAGE center, 21 such centers around the US), “the largest computer system ever built, each of the 24 installed machines:9 weighed 250 tons and had two computers. The AN/FSQ-7 used a total of 60,000 vacuum tubes (49,000 in the computers):9 and up to 3 megawatts of electricity, performing about 75,000 instructions per second for networking regional radars.” (Wikipedia)
So what do you do with such a powerful computer system, which also happens to be the second ever real-time computer with an electronic graphical display? Why you use the situation display console, a 19-inch cathode ray tube (CRT) display (which drew vector-based lines or alphanumeric characters on any portion of the screen) to display a more, say, entertaining image!
Continue reading Good Use of Government Resources
You may remember the Beriev Be-200 from such Atomic Toasters posts as skitter‘s Meanwhile, in the Ukraine, where it made a brief appearance. This plane is a multipurpose amphibious aircraft and was designed by Beriev Aircraft and is assembled at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant of the Russian-based Irkut company. The first test aircraft flew in September of 1998, and the first production aircraft was delivered in 2003.
The Be-200 mission variants include fire-fighting, search and rescue, freighter, passenger aircraft and ambulance. The fire-fighting variant has a crew of two members, and is fitted with fire extinguishing fluid and water tanks. The aircraft can drop 270t of water on the fire area without refuelling. Water capacity is 12,000 kg (26,450 lb).
The search and rescue (SAR) variant can perform operations within an area of 200 miles for 6.5 hours. The aircraft is equipped with an inflatable rubber dinghy, thermal-imaging and optical search aids and first-aid kit. The SAR variant can be configured to carry 45 passengers.
The transport variant is fitted with floor-mounted cargo-handling equipment to transport loose cargoes, as well as cargoes loaded in standard containers and pallets. The aircraft has the capacity to carry 6.5t payload.
The passenger variant, designated as Be-210, can carry 72 passengers. It has the maximum range of 1,850km.
The BE-200 ambulance version can accommodate ten medical staff as well as 30 injured persons on stretchers. The aircraft feature emergency diagnostics and intensive care facilities. (naval-technology.com)
The firefighting system was developed specifically for this aircraft, and is capable of scooping water while skimming the water surface at 90-95% of takeoff speed. The engines are two D-346TP high-bypass ratio engines. These turbofan engines deliver a higher performance at hot-and-high conditions compared with turboprop engines installed on similar types of fire-fighting aircraft (according to Beriev’s promo material anyhow).
Now that we all know a little about this big flying boat, let’s get to the good stuff–video! And since the only thing better than video of one interesting post-Soviet Russian amphibious aircraft is video of two interesting post-Soviet Russian amphibious aircraft, check out the sweet two ship formation flying!
Continue reading Бериев Бе-200
In 1961, GE proposed using a mildly modified B-52 as a test bed for the the XNJ140E-1 nuclear turbojet. In a wild tribute to asymmetry, the large atomic engine would have been mounted along the left aft portion of the fuselage. The initial plans were for the test aircraft to retain all eight of its conventional turbojet engines, yet be capable of being powered by the reactor for sustained nuclear flight. This testing would wring out the nuclear turbojet before its use in the NX-2 nuclear bomber. There were even alternate configurations of the B-52 test bed that utilized a second atomic engine, and only four conventional turbines. In this configuration, the Stratofortress would have been capable of pure nuclear flight for the entirety of the mission, including take-off and landing.
Continue reading One is the Loneliest Number
Nuclear explosions are known to have some occasional side effects, not all of which could exactly be classified as advantageous. Some of the effects however, don’t really have all that much bearing on the final outcome, and we only know about them thanks to high speed photography. Lightning bolts out of nuclear clouds is just one such effect.
Continue reading Man Made Lightning