Tuesday, March 23, 2010

VSS Enterprise Captive Flight Tests Begin

This blogger has been more distracted by the disaster of Obamacare and the effect it is having on this nation. However, I would be remissed in NOT observing a milestone in civilian spaceflight history.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo (aka VSS Enterprise), completed its first captive flight test on March 22nd, attached of course to its mothership, White Knight Two.

Reports say that it was a success and the flight returned to earth at Mojave Air and Spaceport without incident.

ref. National Space Society Blog (http://blog.nss.org/?p=1767).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

As the KC-X soap opera turns...

Until recently, American bad boy Boeing thought they had finally gotten rid of their opposite number in Northrup Grumman/EADS while going after the fair USAF KC-X tanker bid contract. Northrup said enough of this BS and pulled out on March 8th.

But, from across the north pole on the opposite side of the world. From the land of Vladimir Putin, current Russian Prime Minister; has toss his hat (and shirt to expose his manly chest) into the KC-X Tanker contest.

Speaking with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a recent trip to Russia, the offer was pitched about greater access to the US economy and vice versa.

Reportly, Putin told Clinton, "As far as our economic cooperation is concerned, certainly our major companies are very much interested in such a cooperation and they're expecting us to support them. A message should be sent that they (the Russian companies) are welcome both in the economy of the United States and of Russia."

The Russian-American joint venture known as United Aircraft Corporation would be based in Los Angeles, but the aircraft could be built anywhere in the country.

Secretary of State Clinton respond favoribly to the idea saying, "We would very much like to get into specifics about how to remove barriers and open opportunities."

The Russian/United Aircraft Corporation(UAC) offering would be based upon the Russian Ilyushin II-96, a four-engine commercial airliner.

Well now, hearing that Russia might get into the act somehow EADS, minus its Northrup partner, has asked the Department of Defense to extend the proposal deadline by 90 days. DoD is thinking about doing just that.

Thus concludes this epsiode of the KC-X Tanker soap opera as it turns. Stay tuned for more hijinks to follow.

Ref. CNN.com, March 19, 2010. By Mike Mount.(http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/03/19/us.russia.refueling.tanker/index.html?eref=rss_latest&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+rss/cnn_latest+(RSS:+Most+Recent))

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EAA Pilot Building 1/3rd scale B-17 Homebuilt

Some guy by the name of Jack Bally of Dixon, Illinois, loves B-17s (love him already for that). He likes them so much that he decided to build his own B-17 homebuilt aircraft.

Startign with a set of 1/9th scale radio control B-17 model plans, he then spent the next 10 years of his life building his very own B-17.

Power will be provided by four four-cylinder, air-cooled 80-hp Hirth F-30 two-stroke engines. That engine would fit inside the 20" diameter engine nacelles. The aircraft itself is all aluminum, 34'7" wingspan, 24-foot long fuse whihc makes it slightly bigger than a Cessna 152.

For more information, please use the url link below to read the fine article by Patrick Panzera.

Ref. Experimenter, Patrick Panzera. EAA.org(http://www.eaa.org/experimenter/articles/2009-06_womb.asp). picture from same article.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spaceplanes - Why the Long Wait?

Some very interesting reading for those who are interested in doing so...

Why did we turn away from the progress that was being made by test projects such as the X-15? David Ashford goes into detail in his article posted on Spacefuture.com.

Quote: Present designs are sub-orbital in that they can fly fast enough to zoom up to space height for a few minutes but not fast enough to stay in orbit. Orbital spaceplanes need some six times the speed of sub-orbital ones and will cost some ten times more to develop. This cost is at present beyond the means of the private sector. The best way ahead is probably a public-private partnership. Government would pay for developing prototypes adequate for their own purposes. The private sector would then take over commercial exploitation. Governments would save money on present space programmes alone. Their reluctance to become involved in such a programme is little short of scandalous. End quote.

David Ashford goes on with the projects that are underway in Great Britain such as the Ascender. For more details,please visit both website articles listed below.

1. Spacefuture.com. "The Great Space Scandal" by David Ashford. March 7, 2010.(http://www.spacefuture.com/journal/journal.cgi?art=2010.03.07.the_great_space_scandal).
2. Bristol Spaceplanes Limited website. "Ascender" by David Ashford(http://www.bristolspaceplanes.com/projects/ascender.shtml).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ice Discovered at Lunar North Pole

NASA announced on Monday that the Mini-SAR instrument mounted on India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter discovered some 40 craters of various sizes from 1 mile up to 9 miles in diameter have water ice in them near the lunar north pole.

Water ice is of course important when it comes to colonizing the moon. It would be a source of oxygen and water for the base as well as a source for rocket fuel to be manufactured there on the surface.

Read the full article on Space.com. Use the link below to visit that site.

Ref. Space.com, March 1, 2010. "Tons of Water Ice Found on the Moon's North Pole" by Tariq Malik (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/water-moon-north-pole-100301.html).