Monday, March 24, 2008

Sea Launching

Just in time for last week launch of the DirectTV-11 satellite, MajorTom and his team have released their first version of a long overdue Sea Launch addon for Orbiter. I have been playing a bit with it and enjoying it. The launch platform could use more detailing (it's planned for next release), but the automatic guidance works well in both delivering the payload to a parking orbit then boosting it (thanks to its 3rd stage Block DM-SL) into a Geosynchronous orbit. Haven't been follow much before the Zenit-3SL launches, I had in mind that the 3rd stage was used to insert the payload into its definitive orbit, but in fact it is not the case since the payload is inserted into a elliptical orbit with an apogee at Geosynchronous altitude and a low perigee (<200km) . It is then up to the satellite to raise its perigee over the course of several burns.


Monday, March 17, 2008

From STS to Jupiter 120

Once again, the DIRECT 2.0 folks have come-up with some great visual to help folks (like myself) better understand what this project means in term of evolution from the Space Shuttle to Constellation. This time, it's not some neafty wallpapers, but a great video taking the current STS stack and modifying it into a Jupiter 120's stack. Check this out:

Big kudos to extracripsy75 for putting the video on YouTube!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The lure of 3D cockpit #2

Few weeks ago, I was talking in a blog entry on the latest AMSO release, of a hybrid concept for the 3D cockpit (I prefer to call them console than cockpit, 'cause they are not necessary cockpit). Since I have finally managed to get the concept advanced enough to have anything to show, here's a screenshot of an hybrid console in action:

What you are seeing, here is a test panel located in a part of a 3D console. The idea, if you recall, is to render 2D panels on 3D surfaces, and allow the player to interact with them (e.g clicking on a button) directly from the 3D view, while supporting the possibility to open a panel simulatenously in a 2D view (as shown above), where the rendering and interaction capabilities will be better. Needless to said, both the 3D and 2D version of the same panel are linked so that any actions in one is reflected in the other. Since the Windowed version of the panel can be resized, it is then possible to have it only showing a small part of it (e.g the clock), allowing the player to keep an eye on important controls/displays while changing the view mode to external, to another vessel, or more simply looking somewhere else.

I have put a lot of hope and efforts into this, I sure hope it's going to turn out as good as it sounded (to me at least) ...


Monday, March 10, 2008

Was it worth it?

Right after I closed Windows Media Player Saturday night, following over two hours of streaming, my wife asked me if it watching that launch had been worth missing a party ... I hesitated a moment, then replied that yes it have been worth it. Sure, those darn clounds had not allowed us to follow Ariane 5 in it's climb to orbit for more than a couple of second following launch (27s to be precise), but even with that, the coverage was interesting and overall it was exciting to watch it the launch of the first ATV. Also an Ariane 5 launch is a rather impressive event ... the SRB ignition is, I found, alway mighy impressive ... the shock wave from it is enough to knock the camera. Here's a YouTube video of the (most exciting part) of the launch, in case you missed it:

One thing I do miss, it's on-board cameras. I think I ahve talked about this in a previous blog, but I can help to wish they had some. A view of the ATV floating away from Ariane upper stage will have been pretty darn sweet ...


Thursday, March 06, 2008

ATV fever

With only a couple of days to go before the launch of the first European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) on top of an Ariane 5 rocket, the excitement in the Space geek community is starting to build-up, with the help of various interesting documents which were recently released, such as a Launch Kit (PDF, 6Mb) from EADS. As usual for an Ariane launch, Arianespace will be broadcasting the launch, but this time NASA TV will also cover the launch, live! We were suppose to visit some friends Saturday evening, but since the launch was postponned by 24h and is now happening that particular night, I had no choice by to cancel (the invitation, not the launch). Since they know that I'm a big Space geek, I think they understand ... However, my wife isn't too happy about staying home to watch another boring (night) launch on a tiny Window on my computer screen ...

To mark the event, ESA have started a few days ago a blog, to follow live the first mission of the ATV.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Conversations With Apollo

I'd like to promote a bit something I stumbled (can't recall how now) on last week, a weekley podcast dedicated to the Apollo program, called Conversations with Apollo. Most of the episodes (8 in total to this date) features an interview with a person having participated to the project, such as Flight Director Gerry Griffin. None of the missions crew have participated yet, I sure hope they will do, eventually ...