Startdown: SpaceW

Other early private space ventures were not quite as successful.

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Shutdown: Why Rush?

When they say the ejection seat is 0-0, I don’t think they mean you have to wait until you touch down to punch out.

Image via highpowerrocketry.


Shutdown: Pig in a Space Blanket

Pigs! In! Spa-a-a-ace!

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Airborne Awesomosity

The Flame Barrier

One of the most fascinating things about aircraft is how quickly these machines progressed. The Wright Brothers made their first powered heavier-than-air flight in 1903. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947. The Germans sent the first man-made object into space during a V-2 test flight in 1944. The breakneck speed at which aircraft and, by extension, spacecraft were advancing began creating problems. Lightweight metals were not strong and were not heat resistant. In the days of subsonic and even up to Mach 2 or so, the heat generated by friction with the air was minimal. However, once we broke the sound barrier and sought to go faster and faster, the materials available became more and more unsuitable.

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Grand Finale – All 135 Space Shuttle launch videos at once.

Grand Finale – 135 Shuttle Launches WOOT

To the Shuttle enthusiast this one is a must not miss. There really isn’t much to say, just sit back, watch, and remember.

Beware of goosebumps, nostalgia, and dust in your eyes. Continue reading Grand Finale – All 135 Space Shuttle launch videos at once.

Airborne Awesomosity

Don’t Be a Spoil-Sport

The prototype YMC-130H Credible Sport 1, firing its forward-facing retrorockets in a test of its STOL capabilities at Wagner Field in 1980.

Have you ever gone to a soccer match, and as you gazed out over the field to the surrounding stadium, wondered how hard it might be to land a C-130 in there? Okay, I will admit, our American readers are probably like me, and glazed over as soon as I said the word soccer. So for us, let’s do a thought experiment, and instead of the word soccer we’ll say football. Actually, that’s probably a better way to go, since then everyone will be roughly on the same page, as the word soccer probably doesn’t mean much elsewhere anyhow.

Back to the question at hand, landing inside a stadium turns out to be not all that hard, nor is taking off, given the quantity of rockets at hand is high enough. Many off us are probably familiar with JATO rockets used for very short takeoffs (the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert used them in shows up until a couple of years ago), but did you know that similar rockets could be used to stop the plane as well?

In 1980, after the failure of the first Iranian hostage crisis rescue mission (Operation Eagle Claw, previously referenced by yours truly in a post about sand filtration), the US government began planning an alternate rescue mission, focusing on eliminating the perceived weak link in the first mission, the helicopters. Under the Joint Test Directorate, a program named Honey Badger conducted projects to develop and validate a variety of capabilities that would be available to special forces units, and one of the projects within Honey Badger was Credible Sport, a joint venture between the Air Force, Navy, and Lockheed to create a ‘super short take-off and landing’ fixed wing aircraft that would be capable of inserting a resuce team and then extracting the team and hostages.

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A Not-So-Holy GRAIL

Last Saturday NASA launched a Delta II rocket carrying two identical satellites. These two satellites will orbit the moon in a tandem orbit and report back what they learn about lunar gravity as well as the structure of the moon from core to crust. The name of this program is Gravity Recovery and […]

User Input

User Input: Cheerios for Exhaust

As engineerd™ points out, Atlantis will soon return to Earth, and the only shuttles being built will be part of an eighth grade science fair diorama. I’m not as up to speed on the space program as I probably should be, but the successor to the shuttle program, named […]

Brainings, Genius Innovators, User Input

User Input: Rare, or Well Done?

Beetle, Medium Rare.

It’s summer, so that means one thing: Barbecues! And mosquitoes. Okay two things. Also bikini babes. So three things. Oh, and sunburns. Four things. Anyhow, that’s not the point. The point is, it’s time for a barbecue. I will be leaving civilization for a few days and heading to the […]


Shutdown: Levitate Me

OK, first, go here and click play. In the mood for love maglev now? You’re looking at NASA’s magnetic launch assist technology demonstrator, using the power of a maglev track to help accelerate this model airplane into flight. The real MLA system would help a hypersonic SSTO (single stage to orbit) spacecraft off […]