Nov 152017

A while ago an ebay seller had a display model of a maneuverable re-entry vehicle, a warhead for an ICBM.There was apparently no documentation to go with it, so details are pretty much utterly lacking. Still, it does look reasonably likely to have been a “real” display model built by or for the USAF or a defense contractor. It’s simple… a cone with four sides shaved off with four added flaps for control. This basic geometry has been popular for maneuverable warhead concepts for decades; McDonnell-Douglas used a similar shape (explicitly stated as having been derived from their maneuverable MIRV studies) for their Delta Clipper SSTO, and an even closer shape for their X-33 and follow-on concepts.

 Posted by at 11:27 am
Nov 112017

A few weeks ago, some artwork was put on ebay showing an alternate concept for the Lunar Roving Vehicle. This one was apparently sold as being optionally manned, which would certainly be a useful feature. Especially if it could be teleoperated from Earth after the crew has gone home. Note that one of the illustrations shows the unmanned rover towing a two-wheeled cart loaded with nuclear power generator (an RTG); similar RTGs are shown hanging off the sides of an unmanned LRV, and two RTGs are shown in the distance in the illustration showing unmanned-to-manned conversion. What *may* be intended here is that the unmanned version would drive around under RTG power and charge up batteries; for manned use the RTGs are left in the distance and the things operates purely under battery power. If returned to RTG/unmanned prior to the crew leaving, then the LRV would have virtually unlimited range. With enough time, an LRV could even drive to another landing site and be there in time for a new crew to land and make use of it.

 Posted by at 10:16 pm
Nov 052017

Currently being sold on ebay is a display model of a missile, a “Martin ASM.” ASM almost certainly means “Air to Surface Missile,” but otherwise there’s no further info. Seller seems to think it’s related to the Assault Breaker project, but it looks vaguely like a Skybolt-ish air-launched ballistic missile.




 Posted by at 4:56 pm
Oct 222017

A rare piece of color art depicting an early Dyna Soar being dropped from a B-52. The Dyna Soar is equipped with two rocket engines used to boost it to higher altitude and higher speed (supersonic, though not very supersonic… think the test flights of the M2-F3 and the HL-10). Note that this shows the Dyna Soar having been tucked into a modified bomb bay in the B-52’s fuselage; planning would soon move the Dyna Soar to under the wing, using the same attachment point used by the B-52 to carry the X-15 and the lifting bodies.


 Posted by at 7:22 pm
Oct 152017

An apparently pre-Mercury “space capsule” design from Rocketdyne. I am somewhat dubious, though… I suspect it might be less “space capsule” than “high altitude capsule.” Nothing about it screams “re-entry vehicle;” rather it look like something that might have been hauled to the edge of space by a large balloon. The pressure suits worn by the occupants look like something to be worn by a U-2 pilot; there sure is a whole lot of wasted volume in there and it would be odd for a capsule meant to operate in zero-g to have a ladder in it.

 Posted by at 11:04 am
Oct 112017

The Space Review has an interesting piece that attempts to figure out how much BFR might cost to fly. My own estimate: I dunno. Done the old fashioned way, you’d go through a thousand pages of calculations, totaling up all the palm-greasing and bonuses and regulatory hoop-jumping and congresscritter bribes and extraneous R&D and sub-sub-subcontractor troubleshooting… and only then try to figure out what the actual manufacturing and testing and propellant and operations and maintenance will cost. And then tack on an extra zero, because of course you will. But here, SpaceX is operating in a whole new environment. Ten years ago I would have said the BFR would have been a ridiculously, laughably optimistic concept; now… you know, I bet they can pull it off, even if they need to slip the schedule some.

Estimating the cost of BFR

They come up with a conclusion that $240,000 per ton delivered to the surface of Mars is achievable. They also come up with a cost per seat of $1,200 for a point-to-point ballistic transport version stuffing 853 passengers on board, but here I become distinctly dubious. I’d bet real money that even if the technology works fantastically, the regulatory banhammer will come down on SpaceX SpaceLines the moment they try to actually fly passengers. Heck, I bet the US FedGuv will drop ITAR on SpaceX like a ton of white-hot bricks the moment SpaceX seriously proposes to launch  a BFR upper stage to some darned furrin country like Japan or Australia, never mind China or Dubai. Plus there will be practical issues which I think stand a *very* good chance of torpedoing an affordable ballistic transport system… passengers keeling over due to acceleration (or being ejected from the boarding line because a doctor says “no”), the sort of delays that space launch systems would find trivial would be monumental for a system meant to operate for only 30 minutes, difficulties getting passengers loaded on board, bad weather at the launch or landing site making it impossible for the vehicle or its booster to safely land… these can all cause a serious headache.

I am much less interested in the global transport aspect than I am in the orbital and interplanetary aspect. Sure, it’d be great to have a half-hour-to-antipodes transporter… but that wouldn’t have one percent the impact that a colony transport to Mars would have.

 Posted by at 11:54 pm
Oct 102017

Posted to a NASA Flickr page is this illustration of a 1984 space station concept:

This is the Johnson Space Center’s 1984 “roof” concept for a space station. The “roof” was covered with solar array cells, that were to generate about 120 kilowatts of electricity. Within the V-shaped beams there would be five modules for living, laboratory space, and external areas for instruments and other facilities.

This would probably be a very heavy station for the volume and usable surface area provided. However, once that truss structure is in place, it seems like it would be possible to keep adding on to it without overly stressing the structure, with the possible result of a very capable station. It should also be possible to keep tacking on new truss elements.

The design would necessarily keep most of the station elements shadowed by the solar arrays.

 Posted by at 10:15 pm
Oct 082017

Got them done a little early this time, so here’s a review of what the APR Patrons will be receiving:

Patrons will receive:

A proposal brochure on the C-135A cargo transport

A brochure about the Shuttle-C

A well illustrated NASA-produced booklet from the mid 1980’s describing the space station as them conceived

A large format diagram showing a wind tunnel model of the Titan III/Dyna Soar

A CAD diagram of the ca. 2001 Russian TsAGI Integrated Wing Body large passenger transport jetliner

If these are of interest, please consider signing on to the APR Patreon.

 Posted by at 12:32 pm
Oct 062017


Boeing-backed, hybrid-electric commuter plane to hit market in 2022


It’s a small plane, seating only 12, designed to go about 700 miles at an airspeed of about 340 miles per hour. It is to use two electric motors running off batteries, with a backup jet fuel powered generator to extend range and keep the craft airborne when the batteries run dry. Improvements in battery technology would allow the plane to be fully electric and to eventually extend range. As a small aircraft it is meant to operate from smaller non-hub airports, theoretically shaving hours off actual trip time due to avoiding the nightmare that is modern airport security theater.


 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Oct 062017

I have a number of new aerospace cyanotype blueprints available. Until I can repave the catalog page, I have slapped together a PDF catalog of the new items. Until Wednesday, I’m making these new 12X18 prints, as well as the earlier 12X18 prints, available. The earlier 12X18s are viewable HERE. The new items are in the following PDF file:

Cyan catalog addition 2017-10

If any are of interest, Paypal to the email address in the PDF file, and add a note in the order which items you want…. AND what your mailing address is (PayPal doesn’t automatically add the address to payments like this).

After Wednesday the prints will be again unavailable for a little bit while I retool and work on some things.

UPDATE: over for now. After some retooling I hope to have all the cyanotypes, small and large old and new, available for regular sale.

 Posted by at 10:07 am