Archive for March, 2010


New Info on What Might Have Been with Apollo 13

March 27, 2010

The real crew, not the guys from the movie!

Everyone assumed that, had the Lunar Module engine not started to provide the burn needed to bring the crew of the crippled Apollo 13 home, the crew would have been lost in space for all of eternity. A recent simulation shows that would not have been the case. (Hat tip to Mark Whittington.)


Cold Fusion is back!

March 23, 2010

It’s possible that cold fusion is for real – or that there are several different reactions at the atomic level that could be considered cold fusion. If the scientific community hadn’t made so much fun of it when Fleischmann and Pons presented their original paper, we might have production models by now…but we know that the scientific community never gets it wrong, do they?


Oh, that lovable old Joe Biden…

March 23, 2010

"Fezzik, you did something right." "I did?"

Good ole’ Joe did it again today…I think he’s the only one in this Administration who can tell the truth. Apparently he spoke into the President’s ear, unaware of a hot mic (as usual), “This is a big f—ing deal.”

Joe rarely realizes when he speaks the truth. I’m not really sure what Joe does realize. In this case, though, he was correct. Parse that sentence: this is a big deal, leading to the f—ing of the American people.

Sorry kids, this is usually a PG-rated blog. I just couldn’t let this one go by.



March 22, 2010

I didn’t say much about this…the conservative pundits have said it all. If you think this health care bill isn’t a problem, check out this.

Maybe the Senate can still derail this thing. If not, we need to vote in Congresscritters who will repeal it and vote out those who were for it – or were willing to sell their souls to pass it.

Oh, and Michele Bachmann is the best!


OK, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…that’s enough!

March 20, 2010

I hooked up to Twitter, or however you say it, a couple of months ago. Kind of interesting, especially when I have to kill a few minutes waiting for something. LinkedIn I did a while ago, but I don’t check it. I probably should. I just registered on Facebook…I’m not really sure why. A lot of the Central States Judges guys I know are on there. I guess I wanted to see what I was missing. I’m not really sure at the moment. Am I too old for this stuff? I just don’t see the fascination…

Anyway, on Twitter I’m @jdwaggoner. I have little to say, usually.


So…what’s NASA’s “Plan B”?

March 14, 2010

So did Major General Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, direct Michael L. Coats, director of the Johnson Space Center, to create a “Plan B” to preserve some orbital and heavy-lift capacity within the confines of the Obama NASA budget? Bolden says no, in this NY Times article. A Wall Street Journal article says different.

Is it the “Plan B” that was being developed over a year and a half ago?

Side-mount cargo shuttle, derived from the old "Shuttle C" design

In any case, I would expect there are some efforts being made to push some other designs out there and make the budget numbers. Before that, all NASA had was the Augustine Commission – which said NASA needed more money, not less.

I’m partial to the DirectLauncher design:

DirectLauncher Jupiter 130 design

But even this guy has an interesting idea:

Might have a couple of stability problems, though...

I don’t know. I DO know that the NASA budget is miniscule compared to the other crazy stuff that gets billions and billions of dollars of tax money every year. Giving them an extra billion to finish the job – even ten billion – when we’re throwing around trillions of dollars in “recovery” money seems incredibly silly. If they want the commercial companies like SpaceX to move faster, then throw the money at them. They are all run on a shoestring because it takes so much R&D and so many tests before they could ever begin to show a profit.

I also know that there are a bunch of smart people out there. They are looking for other places to go than NASA, because they see their jobs disappearing. Some have already left. The “brain trust” will be gone. The guys who designed Apollo are mostly all retired or dead. We will have no new spaceflight engineers in another generation.

Jay Barbree, a long-time NBC space reporter, says this budget reduction didn’t come from Obama but from bureaucrats several levels below. I would sure like to know who – and why.

Heinlein said we will eventually go back to the Moon, but we may have to learn to speak Chinese to do it. (At least, if my memory serves, that was the quote.) I pray he wasn’t right.


Falcon 9 test firing successful

March 14, 2010

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle test-fired all nine first stage engines yesterday for 3.5 seconds, validating a variety of launch procedures. The program is now on track to launch the vehicle with a test version of the Dragon spacecraft in the next few weeks.


OK, next best thing to a flyin’ car!

March 14, 2010

The Martin Jetpack

Finally, somebody invented a practical jetpack. It’s not a rocket pack, but uses a proprietary jet engine design. It’s inherently stable by design, so if you go “hands off” it goes into a hover. Technically it’s a “gas turbine-powered ducted fan,” but runs on regular gasoline. It has a range of 31 miles at 60+ miles per hour – a flight time of a half hour, instead of the fifteen to thirty seconds of the rocket packs that run on catalyzed superheated steam, like the 1960s Bell Rocket Belt.

Bell also built a prototype jet engine-powered belt, shown here with the “classic” rocket belt:

(By the way, the definitive site on the history of this stuff is here.)

So the Martin version seems highly manueverable:

It will be interesting how it works outdoors. While it’s obviously larger than the old rocket packs  – and apparently not something you’re going to walk around with – it will still have some applications besides sport flying. The folks in New Zealand building it are comparing it more to an untralight aircraft than anything else. Smart.


Happy Pi(e) Day!

March 14, 2010


Just some images today

March 8, 2010

I haven’t had much time or pithy content to post, so here are some gems from and related sites: