Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Item(s) shipped on ...

Well, finaly got around shipping part of my order (shipping free of charge, thanks!), I received yesterday Russia's Cosmonauts: Inside the Yuri Gagarin Training Center and flipped quickly throught it and it indeed looks like a good read althought this isn't the book I most needed for that Orbiter add-on project ... Speaking of which , thanks to Zachstar and Rob Conley, we now have a forum dedicated to it. Castorp and I will try to post once in a whiles in it with some update on our progress ... However, don't expect that forum to get as busy as the NASSP one ...

I sent last night a new Developer Release (compiled add-on) to Castorp, it's been a while since the last one. I'm a bit anxious to hear what he'll said about it, as I have been working on it for so long that I can't really tell if it's good or bad .. :-\ Anyhow, here's a couple of screenies for you viewing enjoyment:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Where's my stuff?

Last week I started reading the book co-authored by Astronaut David Scott and Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. Each authorcovers his own career in an interweaved fashion, which realy help getting the feeling of the space race that both superpowers were in at that time. So far (I just finished the chapter on Leonov space-walk during Voskhod 2) so good, it's an enjoyable read. Speaking of books ... I'm still waiting for my Soyuz books to show up ... more than a month after ordering them :-( The delay seems to be due to one of them being marked as pre-order (but it was released 3 years ago!) ... Oh well... In the meantime, castorp and I are continuing working on our Soyuz add-on for Orbiter. Altought we badly need these books, we are still making some progress:

Yeah .. took me a while to equip our Soyuz 7K-T with some thrusters (22 in total) ... But it's finaly there .. altought they need to be adjusted (like I was saying some months ago ... it's hard to find good data on Soviet hardware). The orange/yellow plume visible at the aft of the spacecraft is the exhaust of the backup engine which was part of the KTDU-35, as used on all Soyuz (up to the late 70s). In thoses early days, most (if not all) of the Soviet manned spacecrafts were equiped with backup engines (same propellant, one use, lower thurst/ISP). Modern day Soyuz, use the KTDU-80 which only have one engine.

Needless to said, there is a frame rate hit when the RCS activity is high ... I may want to considere using 2D exhaust (texture) instead of particle stream ...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Yuri's night!

Time to open a bottle or join a party as it is (tomorrow) the 45th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight in space, as well as the 25th anniversary of the first manned flight of the Space Shuttle (STS-1). There have been over the past weeks a lot of coverage on STS-1, especialy at NASA (and on NASA TV), and more to come tomorrow. Space-multimedia is hosting a KSC video from last week where the crew of STS-1 talks about their experience and answers a few questions. In a way it's very similar to the interview posted on collectSpace.

I think John Young is my favorite astronaut. He's most definitly a very interesting person (and according to Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth author quiet anti-social, like any good geek will be) and one of the few to have flew in space 6 times (over 3 different programs). There (AFAIK) haven't been any biographic book yet on him, and even the JSC Oral History Project haven't interviewed him (which is surprising). I do hope we will get both in the not to distant future 'cause sadly time is passing by and no one is getting younger ... :-\ In the meantime, make sure to paid a visit to Mr Young unofficial web site, which hold quiet a set of images.

A way of celebrating, likely to be favored by space geeks around the world, will be to recreate both missions in Orbiter. For STS-1, you will need to download Gazza's addon (10Mb) which contains more than just this mission, and thanks to McDope it is also possible to fly the first manned flight of Vostok (link to download). To add a touch of authenticity, some Orbiter's users have even changed the 2D panel in Cyrillics. Have fun!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Есть Посадка!

Well yeah ... I did spent most of Saturday watching NASA TV for the eventless return from the ISS of expedition 12. To be honest, I won't said that it was a great show ... I know it's not suppose to be a show, but as a space goer I couldn't help but been bummed by the lack of more proper coverage. Having some video feed from inside the SA during the major phase of the return (un-docking, de-orbit burn, separation) will be pretty nice. While I'm dreaming, a later playback of on-board video during the re-entry will be pretty neat .... Speaking of re-entry, Italian cosmonaut Roberto Vittori tooks some very nice pictures out of the windows during his return to earth back in April 2005:

I found these pictures on a web site dedicated to his mission to the ISS ... to bad I can't seems to found a link to it anymore :(

Once again, there is an interesting article by James Oberg over at The Space Review on a communication glitch that occured prior to the orbit insertion of Soyuz TMA-8, back at the end of March.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Like totaly huge

There is a very interesting article on The Space Review (as usual) on the studies done during the Apollo program on an possible on-pad explosion of the Saturn V booster. The combined explosion of all oboard fuel and oxidizer will have come close to be 1/26 of Hiroshima atomic explosion ... quiet the pad explosion! The abort system, intended to lift the Command Module away from the explosition (and fireball) and designed according to these studies, will have given the crew a very rought ride (8-10 Gs), and an even roughter possible ground landing (see Schirra's concerns in From the Earth to the Moon's episode on Apollo 7) at a speed of 8.53m/s (30.7km/h):

By comparaison, the Soyuz re-entry capsule which was designed for ground landing, have a touchdown speed of about 1.5m/s (5.4km/h) thanks to the use of solid propellant thrusters right before touchdown.

To stay on the same Apollo related subject, make sure to check out these special versions of Wikipedia article on the 1st stage of the Saturn V booster :-)

Monday, April 03, 2006


Watching Soyuz TMA-8 docking to the ISS last Friday evening was a very enlightening experience. Especially seeing the RCS of the Soyuz in action, as it look quiet different from what I imagined. If you have missed the action, it is still time to head over Space-Multimedia to see the video, it really is a great show to watch ... for space geeks that is ;-)

As we are getting close to the 25th anniversary of the first Shuttle flight (STS-1), the NASA History Division have put up a rather nice set of pages which presents facts and images of this particular mission.