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25 October

Life After Concorde?

End of the Supersonic Jet Transport

The Concorde is now history without a successor in sight. Boeing's Sonic Cruiser was stillborn. While more efficient than the Concorde and faster than conventional airliners, the Sonic Cruiser became too hard a sell after 9-11, with the airline industry in recession and increased security delays reducing the benefit of the time savings. Boeing is now focused on using some of the same technology to make a more conventional, but much more efficient airliner.

I never flew on the Concorde, but it's departure is still a loss to me. Just knowing that it flew the skys was a good thing. I have had the privilege of flying supersonic on occasion, though in a hard ejection seat rather than a comfy airline seat. Fighter jocks have a saying. "Speed is life!" This applies to other areas than air combat. While at times the journey is more important than the destination, there are many times that getting there faster really is better.

The X Prize offered by the X Prize Foundation could lead to faster intercontinental travel. The focus of the prize is to foster innovative, low cost methods for getting into space, but the same technologies could produce sub-orbital, space craft for terrestrial transport. The X Prize requires getting three people into space and returning them safely twice in a two week period with the same vehicle. This could lead to space tourist excursion craft carrying a dozen or so passengers for short flights. Such vehicles could lead to passenger and express cargo transport from New York to London in an hour and Los Angeles to Tokyo in perhaps two hours. So maybe there is life after Concorde.

Posted by shrogers at 18:49 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 October

Unsettled Solar Weather

From Northern Lights to Blackouts

The northern lights have been reported as far south as Texas. I haven't seen any of this since Singapore is only about three degrees north of the equator and it's the rainy season here. See this SPACE.com article for a complete rundown.

Posted by shrogers at 17:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 November

Lunar Eclipse


I saw the tail end of today's Lunar eclipse. We had a thin cloud deck obscuring the moon on the way to dinner, but it had cleared away by the time we finished eating. The moon was about 80% shadowed at the time we started watching and moved out of the shadow as we watched. Nice.

Posted by Steve at 20:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
04 January

Spirit has Landed

The Spirit Mars Lander is safely down on the Red Planet. Everything seems to be OK as mission scientists begin several days of checkout before sending the rover off to explore the surrounding area. In the mean time, they're already getting some good imagery.

Posted by shrogers at 19:39 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
15 January

Lyons Moon Rising

I had some nice moon rises for accompaniment while walking the dog recently.

Posted by Steve at 05:17 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 January

Bush's New Space Policy

Will it Work?

Jerry Pournelle thinks that the Bush administration's new space policy is bisnaak. Other pro-space writers like Glenn Reynolds also have concerns about the plan. They fear that, without major reform, NASA isn't up to the job and see no indication that will happen.

Only time will tell, but I'm more optimistic. Yes NASA is too bureaucratic, inflexible, and political, but I think that with a clear vision and concrete goals, the organization can rise to the occasion.

Posted by shrogers at 08:24 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 February


Remember Columbia!

Posted by Steve at 19:43 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Mars Rovers

We now have two operational Mars rovers. Spirit is back to normal operation after a bunch of files were deleted. It seems that it had accumulated more files in its flash memory than it could manage. Opportunity has found hematite, possibly a sign of water in previous eras.

Posted by Steve at 20:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
04 February

NASA's Space Prizes

It looks like there's hope for Bush's space plan. His budget proposal includes money for prizes to be awarded to the first group to accomplish specific space milestones. Hat tip to Glen Reynolds.

Posted by shrogers at 18:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 March

Priceless in Afghanistan

This was forwarded to me via a friend of a friend and I can't verify it's authenticity, but it sounds genuine. When I was flying F-4s the Army used to ask us for this sort of "show of force". It's a morale builder for our guys and no doubt makes those on the other side think twice.

 Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
 From Afghanistan

Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 9:43 AM Story of the week; So we are up in the mountains at about 0100 hrs looking for a bad guy that we thought was in the area. Here are ten of us, pitch black, crystal clear night, about 25 degrees. We know there are bad guys in the area, a few shots have been fired but no big deal. We decide that we need air cover and the only thing in the area is a solo B-1 bomber.

He flies around at about 20,000 feet and tells us there is nothing in the area. He then asks if we would like a low level show of force.

Stupid question. Of course we tell him yes.

The controller who is attached to the team then is heard talking to the pilot. Pilot asks if we want it subsonic or supersonic. Very stupid question.

Pilot advises he is twenty miles out and stand by.

The controller gets us all sitting down in a line and points out the proper location.

You have to picture this.

Pitch black, ten killers sitting down, dead quiet and overlooking this about 30 mile long valley.

All of a sudden, way out (below our level) you see a set of four 200' white flames coming at us.

The controller says, "Ah-- guys-- you might want to plug your ears".

Faster than you can think a B-1, supersonic, 1000' over our heads, blasts the sound barrier and it feels like God just hit you in the head with a hammer". He then stands it straight up with 4 white trails of flame coming out and disappears.

Cost of gas for that: Probably $50,000

Hearing damage: For certain

Bunch of insurgents thinking twice about shooting at us: Priceless

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Posted by Steve at 19:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 April

SS1 Launch License

Another milestone has been passed by Scaled Composites with the FAA granting a license for SS1's suborbital launch.

Posted by Steve at 04:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 April

SS1 Completes Second Powered Test Flight

SpaceShipOne has completes it's second powered test flight. It reached an altitude of 105,000 feet and a speed of Mach 2.

Posted by Steve at 14:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
24 April

XCOR Launch License

X Prize Compettion Heats Up

It looks like we have horse race. Yesterday, XCOR received a launch license from the FAA, making it the second company to reach this milestone in the X Prize competition. Scaled Composites was licensed the first of April. Of about twenty teams aspiring for the $10 million prize, a dozen have full scale test articles.

Posted by Steve at 05:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 May

Extra-terrestrial Land Grants

Glen Reynolds' latest Tech Central Station column discusses the potential for land grants on extra-terrestrial bodies to facilitate space resource development. Big government is a pretty blunt instrument and can't do everything itself. Private companies and groups of individuals can try a lot of things that a government wouldn't.

Posted by Steve at 18:03 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)