Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Newtonmas!

Well, it is that time of the year again? Oh yeah it is, so Merry Newtonmas folks! May your Apple tree be loaded with some good loots (e.g Space books, Rocket model kits, Space movies ...) :-)

While looking for some data on the Oxidizer and Fuel tank of S-IC (Saturn V 1st stage) I stumbled onto a rather interesting web site (mind you, it's a Work-In-Progress) by Eric Hartwell, the NOT the official Apollo 17 Flight Journal (yet) which follow the same concept than the well know Apollo Flight Journal. The last update to that site seems to have been made last April, let's hope Eric will continue his terrific work.

While I'm on the Apollo subject, I also found during my search two interesting videos (YouTubed) on the assembly of the Saturn V rocket. You will find both linked bellow (Part 1 then Part 2):

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Pneumaticaly yours ...

A bit more than two years ago, I started this wild pursuit of space knowledge using this very blog as the living journal of my studies. Well ... that's what was suppose to happen. Obviously it didn't work out that way since I was abducted by the Dark Side of the Force, and instead spend my time mainly writing code. Now, the true is that even though I haven't really shared all that I learned here, I have assimilated a certain amount of knowledge related to spacecraft and launch vehicle. Sure, I'm still mostly clueless about spaceflight, but it is still on my radar scope ... once I master the system engineering component of our Orbiter's addon work.

Fact is that I'm still rather clueless about a lot of the sub-systems we are hoping to simulate. The pneumatic system is a good example of the struggle that our effort is, for science challenged people like myself. So after a bit of headache and lots of discussion on the best way to approach it, we have decided to black box it and in a way that make the usage of pneumatic similar to an electrical power source. Sure it's an over-simplification, but the basic function of the pneumatic system will still simulated and that's what really matter after all.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Man in Space"

It have been demonstrated before that not all of YouTube is filled with mindless (and often stupid) videos. Thanks to the dedication of many, a great deal of interesting (and often never seen before) videos are now available for anyone to see. Take for example the famed Disney's Man in Space series from the mid 1950 which can now be watched (and not only by kids) online (in 8 parts) by many of us, space enthusiast which were born (way) too late to watch it LIVE on TV (and in the wrong country for me). It's one heck of a good show, a definitive must see. In the same category, there is the Man and the Moon serie, also YouTubed by the very same person.

Now, one show I'd like to see is that Woody Woodpecker's NASA cartoon from the early 1960. I'll have to search for it.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sexy launch!

I have to said that until yesterday, I never paid much attention to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launches. Which is a bit of a shame since that launch vehicle first stage is powered by a Russian RD-180 engine and also since the launches are really beautiful, especially yesterday launch (NRO L-24). They had some very clear close-up views of the rocket during ascent which were brilliant. No on board camera (so it seems) this time sadly. The video is available for download on the's forum (free, but you will have to register to get access to it). I haven't found it anywhere else, but just as a preview, here's a video of the highlights of a previous launch (Hotbird-6) from YouTube:

Quite neat isn't it? Make sure you do watch yesterday launch! :-)


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Evil is in the details ...

Couple of weeks ago, we decided to shift our focus from the spacecraft we were working on, to the launch vehicle. The main drive for that change was to allow for the development of the ascent guidance and control algorithm to go in parallel of the development of the spacecraft. While a launch vehicle is a very complex object, it is only overall a bit simpler than a manned spacecraft. Thus, we hoping to save time by avoiding the development of the most complex part of the launch vehicle from blocking the rest of the development. Sounds like a good plan ... I wishes I had though about it 9_9

Back in January of this year I had started a design document for our launch vehicle addon but didn't go much further than just setting up the very basic contents and layout of it. Since we have shifted to making the launcher before the payload, I resumed this week-end working on it and thus I have dived deep in finding out how a launch vehicle is designed and built. Marvelous yet highly complex contraptions. As common for this type (read country of origin) of addon, we are having an hard time coming up with solid and real data/info, thus I have been spending a lot of time looking at other rocket of the same time period (e.g Saturn, Atlas ...). I'll really like to get my hand on some detailed description of the Gemini-Titan vehicle, but for some unknown reason (maybe this have to do with the fact that Titan was originally an ICBM?) I'm having an hard time finding anything ... In any case, I have been learning a lot about rocket engine, hydraulic systems and other piece of exotic machineries.