Thursday, October 26, 2006

Any ... Progress?

There was a bit of tension in the air earlier today when one of the Kurs' antenna located on the aft of the Progress failed to report been retracted. The automatic Soyuz derived spacecraft docked to the ISS earlier without any other incident. This antenna has to be fully retracted before hard docking can be achieve ... More on this morning (live) frenzyness on I'm hoping the pictures taken by the crew earlier today will appears soon on the Expedition 14 photo gallery ... which so far have been anything but interesting .. 9_9 A video of the event is available (as always) on

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

├╝ber coolness!

Orbinaut Reverend have setup a live page of his Orbiter Shuttle mission. The page sporting a screenshot of the simulation is updated frequently (every minute or less) ... and was showing earlier Atlantis closing in on the ISS then docking with it ... this is so cool! Once this is adopted by many other Orbiter users this is gonna make things quiet interesting ... maybe I'll setup such a feed when testing our addon :-)

Speaking of which, work is continuing at the usual (read slow) pace, the collision detection have turned out to be quiet more involving that it looked at first (surprise 9_9) ... there's a fair amount of work which needed to be completed in order to support the collision detection, mainly the sub-division of each meshes into parts (and each parts into pieces), so that we can easily find out which pieces is in contact with what (e.g: docking probe and docking female cone). At the same time, I'm adding to our engineering addons (Soyuz 7K-OK, 7K-OKS and 7K-T) support for dynamic bounding boxes as visible in the following screenies (the 4 red balls marks the position of the corners of the vessel bounding box):

If you enjoy this blog (No way! Seriously?) you ought to check out Kodiaks Space Contraptions which lately have been working on some cool looking Soviet area space probes. Looking pretty good aren't they?

Friday, October 13, 2006

6 + 1 = lucky (seven)

Few days ago, the Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced its latest selection of cosmonauts candidates. The six men and one woman (most younger than me! :-\ ) will start their 2 years training early next year at the Yuri Gagarin center. As always, the Russian space program is kept in a shroud of secrecy so biographical data on each of the candidate is pretty much non existent (well aside of their names and affiliation, five Air Force officers and two Energiya engineers). BTW, if you are looking for more info on the current (or past) cosmonauts, make sure to visit Suzy's web site, she got a nice (and up-to-date) section just for that.

Late last week, I was working on having the Vzor (periscope) break free (if it wasn't jettisoned earlier) in the early stage of the SA (reentry module) reentry. It was working fine, but seeing it flying trought the body of the SA was bugging me a bit (Orbiter doesn't come with collision handling, but there is a 3rd party solution).So I decided to get sidetracked a bit and work on the collision detection and handling for our addon(s) ... Like we didn't have enough to do already! 9_9 ... It's definitely quiet interesting and challenging to do ... I just hope it won't be too much over my head ... especially the Rigid Bodies part of it (right now I'm still working on the collision detection). This should make docking quiet interesting and a bit more realistic ... docking probes will glide down the docking female cone ... too much delta-V will put strain on the docking apparatus ... possibly damaging it (e.g Soyuz 10) ... Obviously, this is a important thing to have in an add-on, definitely worth the headaches I have been suffering for the past few days ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Minority report?

I forgot to mention yesterday that a certain consensus was reached on the's forum regarding the imagery from Soyuz TMA-8 reentry showing the 3 modules that compose a Soyuz spacecraft reentering in the atmosphere .... and it appears that the less bright dot on the left side is, as I was guessing, the reentry module (SA), while the brighter dot is the service module (PAO) burning is way down the surface.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"we have lift-off, lift-off at 7:51 a.m. Eastern Standard Time." #2

As the only regular reader of this blog, you probably already know that 4 days ago was the 1st anniversary of this very (boring) blog! ... Me, myself and I, had a terrific party over the week-end to celebrate the event ... it was a lot of fun, wishing you were there :P I think this is a good time to have a look at the original goal of this blog:

So, what can you expect to see here? Well ... my goal is to use this blog to chronicle my progress in learning basic Astronomy and spaceflight mechanics (as my maths and physics skills need to be seriously brushed-up, it's going to take some time ...) and in learning and mastering the Apollo spacecraft (Crew and lunar module) as it is simulated within Orbiter. So don't expect to see a report on my own Apollo XI mission anytime soon ;-)

Not quiet what it turned out to be eh? :D Yeah ... What happened is that I got interested in the Russian space/lunar program, and that eventually lead me into joining forces with Castorp on an addon for Orbiter ...

In other (and more interesting) news, today was the relocation of Soyuz TMA-9 on the ISS. I watched part of it live on NASA TV and there was some really pretty neat views of the spacecraft performing the maneuver. If you missed it, I'm sure a recording will be available soon on the usual places (e.g: Space Multimedia). Another interesting bit is the latest update of the JSC Oral History Project which have added a couple more interviews, including one (95 pages long) of Bob Crippen, pilot of STS-1. I have to admit that I haven't read it yet, but I'm sure that it won't be 265kb of bandwidth wasted ;-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moving on (sort of)

Been a bit too busy to blog lately, but yes, I did follow the return to earth of Soyuz TMA-8 last week. I was somewhat impress to see that the NASA TV coverage had improved since the last time. The views of the plasma trail both from the ISS and from the ground were amazing .... first time I have seen that for a Soyuz spacecraft. I'm not too sure which one of the 3 fireballs was the descent module (SA), but I'm guessing it's the less bright one ... well at least it make sens as it's the only module that isn't been destroyed during the reentry. That leave the brighter one to be the service module (PAO) which at that point should still have some propellant, thus burn brighter? ... Hmm ... well I'm not so sure anymore now ... better ask more knowledgeable folks ...

Work on the OctoberSky addon for Orbiter have been progressing nicely lately. Over the week-end we added a new Soyuz variant to our (small) fleet, the 7K-OKS (used only for Soyuz 10 and the ill fated Soyuz 11):

The latest patch (released last week) for the 2006 edition have not only fixed the animation bug which was crippling us, but also introduced a couple of new API calls which are making our life much easier (adding and removing meshes on the fly and changing the Center of Gravity) :-) Nice going Dr Martin!

While castorp, my partner in crime, is busy meshing away, I'm going to be reworking on the reentry sequence ... obviously the whereabout of the thermal blankets (EVTI) will be once again a subject of this blog ... X-