Friday, November 30, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
"Project A119, also known as "A Study of Lunar Research Flights", was a top-secret plan developed in the late 1950s by the United States Air Force. The aim of the project was to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon to boost public morale in the United States after the Soviet Union took an early lead in the Space Race. The existence of the project was revealed in 2000 by a former executive at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Leonard Reiffel, who led the project in 1958. A young Carl Sagan was part of the team responsible for predicting the effects of a nuclear explosion in low gravity.
Project A119 was never carried out, primarily because a moon landing would be a much more acceptable achievement in the eyes of the American public. The project documents remained secret for nearly 45 years, and despite Reiffel's revelations, the United States government has never officially recognized its involvement in the study."
PDF copy of article.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
"The objective of the Rockoon Project is to build a fully reusable, economic, lightweight and stable sounding rocket to be assisted by a high-altitude balloon. The rocket will be launched near the stratosphere, to an altitude of at least 140,000 ft."
See the whole plan at A Continuous Upward Climb.
SRNL Deploys Innovative Radiation Mapping Device AIKEN, S.C. –
The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), EM’s national lab, has made strides with remote technology designed to reduce worker exposure while measuring radiation in contaminated areas. Building on a successful collaboration with the United Kingdom’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), SRNL completed successful deployments of RadBall, a radiation-mapping device, after testing at the Lab’s shielded cells. The device provides technology to remotely perform characterization needed for deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) of radioactively contaminated facilities.
A single RadBall can be positioned in a highly contaminated area, glove box, or hot cell and left alone to passively collect data, instead of personnel spending valuable time and incurring potential exposure carrying out manual scanning and surveying. The device consists of a colander-like outer shell that houses a baseball-sized sphere made of a radiation-sensitive polymer. Those areas of the polymer sphere that are exposed react to the radiation, becoming increasingly more opaque, in proportion to the absorbed dose.
At the DOE photostream.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Clearly the team needs to continue working to confirm any discovery before releasing the information. It is pointless to speculate at this point, but also fun. Here are my guesses in order from most likely/least exciting to most exciting/least likely:
Biological molecules like RNA, DNA, proteins, fixed nitrogen (ammonia)
I think a smoking gun for life, such as RNA, would not have been announced in this way at all, instead it would have fallen on the president to announce it. Also, I do not know if this device is capable of identifying RNA. Similarly, I think the methane discovery may not be important enough to generate this kind of buzz. So I will settle on amino acids, though they would most likely be from space rather than a biological source.
Any other ideas? Post a comment if you have a guess.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Friday, November 16, 2012
"A few of us were sitting around lunch one day, discussing another 'to 100K' project, when we decided 'Hey, we can do that!' Then Cliff asked Wedge to borrow a 'P' motor, and he agreed. Then James turned a nozzle, and started doing Burnsim work. Then I started using RockSim and WRASP to see how high this would go. Then we got a fin can for the sustainer. Then I ordered $1300 worth of stuff from Performance Rocketry, and eventually it showed up - including an ISC that's to die for.
Well, we're started, and it's a huge, exciting project. A truly scary and awesome project."
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Monday, November 5, 2012
Note: This is a giant 100 foot tall rocket! I understand this is an early prototype for a reusable first stage. Getting a rocket this heavy (and boy, this thin?!) to land vertically is rather scary. SpaceX is bound for great things, I think. In no small part because Musk is a really great inventor and futurist.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
Needless to say, I was not bored for a moment while reading through these 100 pages of documentation. This is exactly what one would hope to have for every significant high altitude flight. A team that worked carefully, tested different configurations, and then documented their work with videos and this article. The efficiency of this flight is most impressive; the rocket broke 100,000 feet (despite flying many miles down range, far from vertical) with only 21,000 newton seconds of impulse installed. In the process, they beat the performance of many P, Q, and R flights from the past. Clearly the slow-burning booster and sustainer, combined with the efficiency of a two-staged rocket, is capable of more still. For example, it can be safely said that this rocket configuration is capable of 120,000 feet if nearly vertical during the flight of the sustainer.