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  1. #101
    euston has flown

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    I suspect that the missions were numbered in the order their missions were conceived. The launch dates were determined by planetary alignments which through gravitational slingshots created the direction and velocity that took the craft to their destinations.
    Its quite likely that at the time they were numbered, the final launch dates would have not been unknown.
    Last edited by hazz; 21-03-2013 at 07:19 PM. Reason: missing 'not'

  2. #102
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    The Voyager probes are a huge success by any standard. Just savour the fact that they were launched in 1977 and are still functioning and transmitting data from that distance. Voyager 1 is expected to function until 2025. By that time the fuel for the small rocket engines will run out. Voyager needs to keep a controlled attitude in space so the antenna can be pointed to earth. If that control is lost, no more transmission of data is possible.

    BTW I already mentioned in the Curiosity thread that the same kind of power source is used in Curiosity as in the Voyager probes. A mass of Plutonium that produces some heat that is converted to electricity by thermo elements. That plutonium is of another isotope than what we know and decays much faster so produces a lot more heat per kg. For Voyager so far away from the sun that heat is as important as the electricity to keep functioning.

    BTW this isotope has not been produced for decades and Curiosity consumed much of the remaining stock. So recently production has been restarted. New probes especially for beyond Mars missions will need it.

    The Russians have a few still in stock. I think they even used a few to power small lighthouses in remote areas. But they no longer do that.
    "don't attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence"

  3. #103
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    A picky of some it in action



    not quite the stuff you want to hold in your hand. The russians made extensive use of the suff and have piles rusting all over the place... often forgotten about

  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazz View Post
    not quite the stuff you want to hold in your hand.
    Believe it or not, you CAN safely hold plutonium in your hand. Not that I'd want to.


    ONE FUN THING ABOUT PLUTONIUM, WHEN YOU HOLD A LUMP OF IT IN YOUR HAND IT FEELS ODDLY WARM. THIS IS BECAUSE IT IS EMITTING ALPHA PARTICLES ( JUST HELIUM NUCLEI ). THE ALPHA PARTICLES DON'T HAVE ENOUGH ENERGY TO PENETRATE THE LAYER OF DEAD SKIN ON THE SURFACE OF YOUR HAND, SO IT IS HARMLESS.

    According to the Nuclear Weapons FAQ (Nuclear Materials) , Plutonium is relatively safe as long as you do not ingest it:

    Plutonium's toxic properties are due to the fact that it is an active alpha emitter. Alpha particles are hazardous only if they are emitted inside the body (i.e. the plutonium has been ingested). Although plutonium emits gammas and neutrons that penetrate the body from outside, the emission rate is too small to be a significant hazard. If, however, PU enters your lungs or circulatory system, it's bad news. Increased risk of lung and bone cancer, respectively.

  5. #105
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    I want to show you this photo. It is the test stand where they testfire whole first stages of their Falcon 9 rockets. On top you see the first of the new Falcon 9 1.1. It is the one planned to launch in June. For reference the stage itself up there is 12 storeys high.



    What really amazes and shocks me is the fact that the photo is taken from a public road. You get that close to a rocket that may testfire any moment. And look at the perimeter fence. Just left of the gate you see something that looks like a cattle fence. Posts and a few barbed wires spanned between them.

    The site is McGregor, the military test site where SpaceX has rented some space for their test facilities.

  6. #106
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    Ever heard of cube sats? They are miniature satellites that ride to orbit as secondary payloads when larger satellites are lifted. They are built at low cost by private groups or universities or in this case even by NASA. They are called cube sats because they are volume 1 liter 10x10x10 cm or multiples of that 10x10xntimes 10 cm.

    That standardized size makes it easy to integrate them as secondary payloads on launchers so they can ride at very low cost.

    NASA Successfully Launches Three Smartphone Satellites

    WASHINGTON -- Three smartphones destined to become low-cost satellites rode to space Sunday aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

    The trio of "PhoneSats" is operating in orbit, and may prove to be the lowest-cost satellites ever flown in space. The goal of NASA's PhoneSat mission is to determine whether a consumer-grade smartphone can be used as the main flight avionics of a capable, yet very inexpensive, satellite.

    Transmissions from all three PhoneSats have been received at multiple ground stations on Earth, indicating they are operating normally. The PhoneSat team at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will continue to monitor the satellites in the coming days. The satellites are expected to remain in orbit for as long as two weeks.

    "It's always great to see a space technology mission make it to orbit -- the high frontier is the ultimate testing ground for new and innovative space technologies of the future," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington.

    "Smartphones offer a wealth of potential capabilities for flying small, low-cost, powerful satellites for atmospheric or Earth science, communications, or other space-born applications. They also may open space to a whole new generation of commercial, academic and citizen-space users."

    Satellites consisting mainly of the smartphones will send information about their health via radio back to Earth in an effort to demonstrate they can work as satellites in space. The spacecraft also will attempt to take pictures of Earth using their cameras. Amateur radio operators around the world can participate in the mission by monitoring transmissions and retrieving image data from the three satellites. Large images will be transmitted in small chunks and will be reconstructed through a distributed ground station network. More information can found at:



    NASA's off-the-shelf PhoneSats already have many of the systems needed for a satellite, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers and several radios.

    NASA engineers kept the total cost of the components for the three prototype satellites in the PhoneSat project between $3,500 and $7,000 by using primarily commercial hardware and keeping the design and mission objectives to a minimum. The hardware for this mission is the Google-HTC Nexus One smartphone running the Android operating system.

    NASA added items a satellite needs that the smartphones do not have -- a larger, external lithium-ion battery bank and a more powerful radio for messages it sends from space. The smartphone's ability to send and receive calls and text messages has been disabled.
    Each smartphone is housed in a standard cubesat structure, measuring about 4 inches square. The smartphone acts as the satellite's onboard computer. Its sensors are used for attitude determination and its camera for Earth observation.

    For more about information about NASA's Small Spacecraft Technology Program and the PhoneSat mission, visit:


    The PhoneSat mission is a technology demonstration project developed through the agency's Small Spacecraft Technology Program, part of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. The directorate is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in future science and exploration missions. NASA's technology investments provide cutting-edge solutions for our nation's future. For more information about NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit:



  7. #107
    euston has flown

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    ^As I remember, these rockets are designed to launch a very precise weight or a limited set of weights into orbit. If the primary satellites are below this weight... the difference is made up with ballast.

    These cube slots were created to allow that ballast to be something more useful and interesting than a lump of concrete or what ever they use. there have been quite a few instances where they have simply given a slot free to a deserving cause, such as AMSAT

  8. #108
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    Ballast will not usually be needed. Exceptions, if a new rockets first flight gets no valuable payload or the payload will be severely under the rockets maximum load.

    However it is true, that cubesats may get a free ride. Most primary payloads will not have the maximum weight the launcher can lift so there is spare capacity. Fuel is so cheap as part of the total cost that the rocket will usually be fully fuelled even if not necessary so there is spare lift capacity to give away for non commercial payloads. At todays prices fuel will make only 0.5% or less of launch cost.

    There are also smaller commercial satellites that need a ride as secondary payloads and those have to pay. The smaller rockets that might fit the needs of these smaller payloads are much more expensive per kg so the commercial company launching the satellite will prefer to go as a secondary payload even if it means waiting until a lift is available.

    The cubesats I mentioned were really the only paylod as it was a testflight of the new Antares rocket. Most of the load was ballast in this case, I have heard it was concrete.

  9. #109
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    By Tariq Malik, Space.com
    The annual Lyrid meteor shower will peak Sunday night and early Monday, but the moon's bright light may spoil the celestial fireworks display.
    The Lyrid meteor shower occurs each year in mid-April when the Earth passes through a trail of dusty debris from the Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), which orbits the sun once every 415 years. Humans have been observing this particular meteor shower for at least 2,600 years.
    Typically, the Lyrid meteor shower is a relatively faint stargazing event, though observers with clear dark skies away from city lights can usually spot up to 15 or 20 meteors an hour. The meteors appear to radiate out of the constellation Lyra (hence their name), which can be found in the eastern night sky tonight. [Amazing Lyrid meteor shower photos of 2012]
    The moon is expected to spoil much of this year's Lyrid meteor display because it is currently in its bright gibbous phase, with the lunar disk nearly 85-percent illuminated, according to SPACE.com's stargazing columnist and meteorologist Joe Rao. That means that moonlight will likely wash out fainter Lyrid meteors, with only the brightest streakers being visible.
    The best time to seek Lyrid meteors is actually in the wee hours of Monday morning after the moon has set, but before the sun rises. This observing window opens at about 4 a.m. your local time and can close by about 4:30 a.m. At that time the Lyrids will radiate nearly directly overhead in the night sky, Rao explained.
    Starry Night Software
    This sky map shows where to look in the eastern night sky on night of April 21 and the predawn hours of April 22 for the 2013 Lyrid meteor shower.


    Here are some tips to view the Lyrid meteor shower:
    Don't stare directly at Lyra: Focusing on the radiant point of the meteor shower sounds like a good idea, but the Lyrid that tend to occur there appear to have short tails and look more like unimpressive dots, NASA scientists have said. A better technique is to lie on your back (or a comfortable reclining chair) and look straight up.
    Get comfortable: It can be a long, cold night without warm clothes or a blanket, depending on your location. Also, don't expect to just step outside and see some meteors. Make sure to give yourself at least 40 minutes to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
    Get away from city lights: They really can spoil a meteor shower, and this year that potential is doubled since the moon is already interfering with the display.
    The Lyrid meteor shower is not the only celestrial event occuring this week. On Thursday (April 25) the moon will pass through part of the Earth's shadow in a partial lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be primarily visible in its entirety from parts of eastern Europe or Africa, central Asia and western Australia, according to NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak.
    Editor's note: If you snap a great photo Lyrid meteor shower that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.
    Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

  10. #110
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    A new rocket with old engines.

    I mentioned the new Atares rocket by the manufacturer Orbital Sciences in my last post. Some info about Antares you may find intriguing:

    Do you remember the Soviet N1-Rocket? It was strictly secret at the time but info was released after breakdown of the Soviet Union. It was the rocket built to compete with the NASA Saturn 5 for the flight to the moon. The N1 was a monster.

    N1 (rocket) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



    It had 30 engines and was much bigger than Saturn 5 but had less payload as it was inefficient. That is if it had ever flown. 4 of them were built and all 4 exploded on the pad or few seconds after launch, destroying the pad and killing a lot of people. After 4 attempts the program was stopped. But over 30 engines were still in store until Orbital Sciences bought them and is now flying them more than 40 years later on their Antares.

  11. #111
    euston has flown

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    Quote Originally Posted by Takeovers
    Ballast will not usually be needed. Exceptions, if a new rockets first flight gets no valuable payload or the payload will be severely under the rockets maximum load.
    good job that I qualified what I said with an as I remember . no rockets are not certified to carry a persific weight and the ballast these cube sats represent is not used to make up the weight. The ballast is needed to balance of mass of the payload and presumably the rocket as a whole.

    If you Google water bottle rockets, you will find people who take these coke bottles very very seriously and have gone into great detail about the issues affecting the bottles flight including center of mass issues.
    whilst it sounds seriously sad, if you look carefully its a interesting way to introduce children to some quite sophisticated and challenging maths without their eyes glazing over

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    Quote Originally Posted by hazz
    If you Google water bottle rockets, you will find people who take these coke bottles very very seriously and have gone into great detail about the issues affecting the bottles flight including center of mass issues.
    whilst it sounds seriously sad, if you look carefully its a interesting way to introduce children to some quite sophisticated and challenging maths without their eyes glazing over
    or mouse trap cars!

  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takeovers View Post
    A new rocket with old engines.

    I mentioned the new Atares rocket by the manufacturer Orbital Sciences in my last post. Some info about Antares you may find intriguing:

    Do you remember the Soviet N1-Rocket? It was strictly secret at the time but info was released after breakdown of the Soviet Union. It was the rocket built to compete with the NASA Saturn 5 for the flight to the moon. The N1 was a monster.

    N1 (rocket) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



    It had 30 engines and was much bigger than Saturn 5 but had less payload as it was inefficient. That is if it had ever flown. 4 of them were built and all 4 exploded on the pad or few seconds after launch, destroying the pad and killing a lot of people. After 4 attempts the program was stopped. But over 30 engines were still in store until Orbital Sciences bought them and is now flying them more than 40 years later on their Antares.
    Fuck... Who really won the cold war.

    The Bolsheviks space program is still running and the seppos is out to pasture..

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    Quote Originally Posted by socal
    Fuck... Who really won the cold war.
    Well, the main carrier of the US Air Force military satellites is the Atlas V which uses russian engines on the first stage. What else is there to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by socal
    The Bolsheviks space program is still running and the seppos is out to pasture..
    That program is now however running into deep trouble. It was continuing successfully on inertia after the end of the Soviet Union. Now the workforce is overaged and the factories are run down. As a result there have been serious troubles and launch losses recently after a long history of high reliability. New developments would be needed as all the old stuff is very labour intensive. And quality staff is not as cheap as it used to be even in Russia. They don't get the best at the wages they are willing to pay. Unless there is VERY major investment the Russian space program is running into the ground.

    They are still producing better first stage engines than the US though with the possible exception of SpaceX who are up and coming.

    The US has always been better on the high energy hydrogen engine second stages than the Russians. That plus better electronics makes the big successes on interplanetary science missions where the Russians have miserably failed.

    At the same time the US space program is run into the ground by the Government. The new NASA heavy lift rocket, the SLS (which is supposed to mean Space Launch System) is dubbed Senate Launch System for a reason. Its only purpose is to channel huge amounts of money into the pockets of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the producer of the Solid Boosters. SLS will be so expensive when its finished its 30 Billion Dollar development that NASA cannot afford using it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Takeovers View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by socal
    Fuck... Who really won the cold war.
    Well, the main carrier of the US Air Force military satellites is the Atlas V which uses russian engines on the first stage. What else is there to know?

    Quote Originally Posted by socal
    The Bolsheviks space program is still running and the seppos is out to pasture..
    That program is now however running into deep trouble. It was continuing successfully on inertia after the end of the Soviet Union. Now the workforce is overaged and the factories are run down. As a result there have been serious troubles and launch losses recently after a long history of high reliability. New developments would be needed as all the old stuff is very labour intensive. And quality staff is not as cheap as it used to be even in Russia. They don't get the best at the wages they are willing to pay. Unless there is VERY major investment the Russian space program is running into the ground.

    They are still producing better first stage engines than the US though with the possible exception of SpaceX who are up and coming.

    The US has always been better on the high energy hydrogen engine second stages than the Russians. That plus better electronics makes the big successes on interplanetary science missions where the Russians have miserably failed.

    At the same time the US space program is run into the ground by the Government. The new NASA heavy lift rocket, the SLS (which is supposed to mean Space Launch System) is dubbed Senate Launch System for a reason. Its only purpose is to channel huge amounts of money into the pockets of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the producer of the Solid Boosters. SLS will be so expensive when its finished its 30 Billion Dollar development that NASA cannot afford using it.
    Russia has substantial oil and nat gas money. Why wouldn't they invest some of it into the space program ?

    I know NASA is a cesspit of money waste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by socal
    Russia has substantial oil and nat gas money. Why wouldn't they invest some of it into the space program ?
    They will keep a space program for their military. They do have far reaching plans for nuclear drives and other projects and they would have the scientists to make them happen. I am not sure if the money will be there for interplanetary/manned exploration. Maybe yes, maybe no, I think no but not sure about it. They do state that they will maintain a SpaceStation evenif the US pull out. Certainly they will not subsidize launches for com sats. So they won't be competetive with SpaceX

    Quote Originally Posted by socal
    I know NASA is a cesspit of money waste.
    Agree, though it is not all NASAs fault. It is mostly Congress who channel the money into useless projects. NASA is brilliant at scientific missions even at excessive high prices.

  17. #117
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    A billion euros and they only got 4 years out of it ? waste

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    Quote Originally Posted by socal
    A billion euros and they only got 4 years out of it ? waste
    It's a real problem. An infrared telescope needs deep cryogenic cooling which is very hard to get. They used precooled Helium which is consumed and cannot be replaced. It is a major achievement to keep it that cool until it was consumed.

    Active refrigeration would be better but is very difficult to do long term reliable in space. Especially for the extremely low temperatures Herschel was using.

    NASA is building a new infrared telescope that will not rely on this type of cooling. It will not reach quite as low as Herschel but has other abilities.

    James Webb Space Telescope - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), previously known as Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), is a planned space telescope optimized for observations in the infrared, and a scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The main technical features are a large and very cold 6.5-meter (21 ft) diameter mirror, an observing position far from Earth, orbiting the Earth–Sun L2 point, and four specialized instruments. The combination of these features will give JWST unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength visible to the mid-infrared, enabling its two main scientific goals – studying the birth and evolution of galaxies, and the formation of stars and planets.
    It will be placed in the earth-sun lagrange point 2. That is a semi-stable point where it will keep a position at constant distance to the earth but farther away from the sun to help cooling it to app. 40° Kelvin by using a sun shade so will not be as restricted in its life span as Herschel was.



    To show the size of that telescope, this picture. The mirror is much larger than that of famous Hubble space telescope.



    Unfortunately, being a NASA project JWS faces extreme cost overruns and extreme delays in development, to an extent where it runs the risk of being cancelled after many billions have been spent on it. That risk is not too high though at the moment but with the budget situation no one really knows for sure.

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takeovers
    Active refrigeration would be better but is very difficult to do long term reliable in space. Especially for the extremely low temperatures Herschel was using.
    active refrigeration involves lots of refrigeration steps each with its own compressor, valves and piping. If a single stage fails the whole chain fails. They considered this deign, calculated the MTBF and decided that risk of failure early in the program was just too high.

    You also have to consider the hideous inefficiencies of this kind of active cooling. Ive been to cern and was told that the LHC magnets present a cooling load of about 20kW at 1.9k, 200kW at 4.5k and so on, ultimately they consume 4MW of electricity running all the machinery necessary to remove 20kW of heat from the magnets. And power is space is expensive.

    on top of that the early demise of the machine is not too much of an issue as its going to take them 5-10 years to work though all the data they have already

  21. #121
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    The eye of Saturn's epic hurricane is 2,000km wide

    Could just as well have gone in the 'Amazing Pictures' thread.



    Spinning vortex of the storm, with red highlighting low clouds and green high clouds NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    The eye of Saturn's epic hurricane is 2,000km wide (Wired UK)
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

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    Virgin Galactic spaceship has first rocket-powered flight

    Excellent advertising



    SpaceShipTwo during its first rocket-powered flight
    MarsScientific.com/Clay Center Observatory

    Virgin Galactic spaceship has first rocket-powered flight (Wired UK)

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    Another picture from my favorite rocket company, SpaceX. they have released the first picture of the landing leg they plan to use on their reusable first stage, that is supposed to fly back to the launch site after the second stage is deployed.



    There will be four of those legs to support the landing stage. Gives some idea of the size we are dealing with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    Could just as well have gone in the 'Amazing Pictures' thread.



    Spinning vortex of the storm, with red highlighting low clouds and green high clouds NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    The eye of Saturn's epic hurricane is 2,000km wide (Wired UK)
    Neo, I check out APOD every day and they had that exact photo a few days ago. Always interesting.

    Astronomy Picture of the Day

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    Quote Originally Posted by thailazer
    I check out APOD every day
    Me too!

    Quote Originally Posted by thailazer
    ould just as well have gone in the 'Amazing Pictures' thread.



    Spinning vortex of the storm, with red highlighting low clouds and green high clouds NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    The eye of Saturn's epic hurricane is 2,000km wide (Wired UK)
    it did.

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