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Tested at NASA-MSFC, a LOX/LH2 rocket of 20,000 lbs thrust with a 3d printed injector head.

Using traditional manufacturing methods, 163 individual parts would be made and then assembled. But with 3-D printing technology, only two parts were required, saving time and money and allowing engineers to build parts that enhance rocket engine performance and are less prone to failure.

I can see pluses and minuses here. The obvious plus is that a printed part can be hideously complex, geometrically, and thus performance can be high and weight very low. But the parts count thing *might* work against it. Especially if the goal is a reusable engine. Because if there’s any damage… well, ya gotta toss the whole thing.

Years ago I designed and tested a series of increasingly capable liquid rocket engines that used off the shelf spray nozzles in the injector. Weighed more, sure. But the injector head itself was, eventually remarkably simple to design and machine out of simple aluminum, and the injectors could be simply threaded in and out. Easy.

But had I been able to simply 3d print a regen-cooled nozzle and/or combustion chamber… wow, would that have been handy!

An RCA concept from some time in the 1960′s for an astronaut maneuvering unit that was to use voice controls. This would negate the need for hand controls, but it seems unlikely that 1960′s technology was quite up to the task. Image from HERE. Note that while the backpack is depicted in some detail, the Apollo spacecraft in the background is quite inaccurate and minimally detailed.


OK, this one probably wouldn’t separate people based on personality type, but on age:


And yes, I laughed. And then I felt old. But there’s nothing really new there. Well, except for the laughing.


Who else gets it?

Fingers looking down upon me with all the concern and fascination I’ve come to expect:


And because why not, here’s a bonus Chemistry Cat:

2014-08-29 chemcat

For a long time – centuries, really – people have noticed that sizable rocks (the so-called “sailing stones“) sometimes slide across Death Valley leaving long “racetracks” in their wake. But nobody had actually seen this happen. It was a mystery as to just what was going on… theories included the rocks being shoved by wind after the playa had been rained on and, of course, ghosts and spirits and aliens and all the other nonsense that people like to invoke for anything not immediately explicable.

A series of tests involving rocks with built-in GPS locators and long-duration fixed cameras have finally solved the mystery.

At rare times in winter, shallow ponds will form. The dirt and salt and whatnot that gets dissolved into the occasional rainwater doesn’t flow away, but is simply left behind when the water evaporates; this results in a very flat, uniform “floor.” When a pond forms, the water will be broad but very shallow. And if it’s cold enough, it will of course freeze on the surface. During a thaw, the ice will break up, first into large sheets. These sheets will be thin, just a few millimeters, but very broad, and the wind can use the low, broad sheets as sails to push on any rocks projecting above the dirt.

Nothing magical or supernatural or even that conceptually difficult. It’s just that since the population density is so low, apparently nobody was actually there to see it before until recently.

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The aurora is, according to, doing it’s thing tonight, so I went out to see if I could photograph it. No such luck, though… doesn’t seem to be getting down this far south. But I did get some other halfway interesting night shots.

These two vertical panoramas were taken sequentially and differ only in one being somewhat longer than the other, and by having different white balance. The top one was balanced for incandescent lighting; the bottom one for sunlight. The cause of the orange overall glow in the bottom one is the vast light pollution put out by ATK, not filtered out in the lower shot.

2014-08-29 pano 2a

2014-08-29 pano 1a


These were taken looking off to the north, hoping to glimpse aurora. No aurora visible, but there is a slight greenish airglow, along with farm lights *miles* away.




And looking west across the neighborhood:


Saw this service dog today.

WP_20140828_001 WP_20140828_002

A 500-round backpack for the M240 machine gun:

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A few ideas promptly suggest themselves. First, integrate this into the LockMart HULC exoskeleton:

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And then replace the standard M240 with a Knight’s Armament Chain SAW:

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In the innumerable CAD diagrams I’ve created and will – presumably – continue to create, I often include a simple human figure to provide a sense of scale. But the same figure, repeated over and over… well, that’s kinda boring. So, who has alternates? I’m looking for simple line drawings (DWG or DXF or some other vector format would be easiest, but GIF/JOG/whatever would be fine too) of human figures that would look good standing next to aircraft, spacecraft, launch vehicles, ordnance, etc. Please feel free to post pics and links on the comments.

I’ve posted another “PDF Review” over at the APR blog, this time on a 1967 Convair publication on the Atlas family of launch vehicles. This document was originally found on NTRS… but it doesn’t seem to exist there anymore. I’m guessing it was a victim of the March, 2013, lobotomy that NTRS underwent.

PDF Review: “Advanced Atlas Launch Vehicle Digest”

I have the full PDF file available for download over yonder. If this proves of interest and/or value, please consider participating in my Patreon campaign.

YUNoDonate “Only people who hate cats refuse to donate to the APR Patreon. You don’t hate cats… do you?”

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