Apr 192018

Taco Bell Space Station? It’s possible, panelists say

The panelists in question are at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, and they are discussing the concept of corporate owned and corporate sponsored space stations. *NOT* rebranding the ISS, but paying for their very own space stations, and naming them after the corporation that owns them. And… guess what. Prepare to be amazed.

A number of the panelists actually understand that if you pay for something, you own it, and you’re not beholden to anyone else for what you supposed to do with it or even call it. Huzzah!

I’m in favor of a Taco Bell branded space station. And Wal Mart. And Exxon. And Weylan-Yutani. And Tyrell Corp. And Facebook. And PETA. The more the frakin’ better.

 Posted by at 10:25 pm
Apr 192018

For the APR Patreon I try to acquire as much interesting aerospace documentation as I can, and these items fall into two categories:

  1. Stuff that I can afford. This stuff winds up in the APR Patreon catalog of potential monthly rewards for patrons.
  2. Stuff I can’t hope to afford.

There’s a lot of the latter category of stuff. Sometimes it’s because the item has a ridiculously high Buy It Now price or starting bid, or because the item will be popular among bidders, or because it’s *really* good/big and thus worth every penny. But unaffordable is unaffordable.

However, there is an option for “stuff I can’t afford:” crowdfunding. I’ve done this a number of times with considerable success, and I’ve just done so again, winning a trio of General Dynamics documents describing a 1965 program to develop a logistics system for extending the Apollo lunar exploration program:

This set of documents was just much too expensive for an individual (well, I’m sure Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk wouldn’t have flinched), but with a group of like-mined funders it came in at $30 per person. So what happens now:

1: I wait for it to show up in the mail.

2: I make a complete set of scans in 300 DPI grayscale (and color, where appropriate) and convert to PDFs

3: I make the scans and PDFs available to funders, generally via Dropbox

4: I find an appropriate archive for the documents, and then donate the originals to them.

5: And that’s it. The files are shared with the funders, but do not appear on future APR Patreon catalogs or as purchasable, downloadable “Diagrams and Documents.” What the funders choose to do with their scans & PDFs is up to them.

APR Patrons get alerted to each of these occasional “crowdfunding opportunities.” So if you’d like to participate, please considered signing up for the APR Patreon.


 Posted by at 12:11 pm
Apr 182018

SpaceX has launched the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) planet-hunter satellite and recovered the first stage booster on a recovery barge out at sea. TESS will be put into an unconventional orbit with a perigee of 108,000 km and an apogee of 375,000 km. if it works, it should find a *lot* of exoplanets, around the order of 20,000 of them.

Note: When I first entered college, there were *nine* known planets. There are currently 3800 or so. There may soon be 24,000 or so.

 Posted by at 8:21 pm
Apr 152018

Sure, bombs, poison gas, cruise missiles, threats, nuclear war, blah, blah, blah. But then this:

Russian Lawmaker Says Russia Should Halt Space Cooperation With U.S.: RIA

It’s not news that, *insanely,* the US is dependent upon the Russians to send our astronauts to the ISS. If the current situation gets bad enough that the Russians no longer will launch US astronauts, then there are two possible outcomes:

  1. NASA pulls its thumb out and hurries up with launching astronauts on Dragon, the CST-100, the Dream Chaser… whatever.
  2. NASA finally abandons the ISS. In which case: good riddance. Either turn it over to the State Department, which is where funding for it has long belonged (ever since it stopped being “Space Station Freedom”), or turn it over to the DoD for target practice. Either’s good. NASA can then contract with Bigelow and SpaceX to orbit a bigger, better space station with artificial gravity and blackjack.
 Posted by at 1:26 pm
Apr 122018

This music video by Nigel Stanford takes vintage NASA and military footage, does some clever and effective computer tinkerage, and produces something entirely new. And it mostly works really, really well. I think I’d almost like to see this given a full movie treatment. And as this video shows, it need not be all that expensive. Does it make a whole lot of sense? Well… no, not really. But as “2001” showed, a good sci-fi movie doesn’t really need to, so long as it’s compelling.


 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Apr 082018

I estimate I’m about halfway through the process of cleaning up the 3D printed parts. Still visible here and there are the stepped layers that result from the printing process, steps that are being laboriously cleaned away. The parts are just taped together here. It’s shown next to a Diamond Select TOS Enterprise. They aren’t the same scale, but they are pretty close to the same size.

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Apr 062018

As shown in the autoplaying video news story in the link below, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum has built a full scale replica of the “hotel room” from the end of “2001.”




It’s an interesting thing to be sure. But for *me,* they could have chosen other sets that would have been more interesting and compelling. Of course, there are problems with most.

The Aries 1b passenger compartment would be easy. Nice and flat. The Space Station V habitat area would be possible but the built-in curvature of the floor would make it challenging, as well as potentially enormous. The Clavius Base conference room? Easy, but boring. The TMA-1 dig site? Oh, my, giggitty yes, but challenging.

Pod bay? Cool, but cluttered. Centrifuge? Terribly expensive and difficult to actually do anything with… you couldn’t really put people in it, it would not be compelling from the outside; the best you could do is split it in half and have people walk between the to halves as they rotate. Discovery bridge or moonbus interior? Too small.

There is one set that I’ve wanted to build since I was a kid during the 1970’s: the passenger compartment of the Orion III spaceplane. Why? Dunno, shut up. This would be a relatively easy set to construct.But here’s the thing; don’t construct it inside some Smithsonian museum building. Built it – or perhaps several, if they’ll fit – inside a widebody jetliner. There are two possible things you could do with this set:

  1. Use it as an actual jetliner interior for long distance (transoceanic) flight. Notice how it seems like it might actually be comfortable?
  2. Say, “alright, let’s shoot for awesome” and send that jetliner onto vomit comet parabolic trajectories. for thirty seconds at a time, the passengers could ride in the replica of a spaceplane and actually *feel* like they were in a  spaceplane.

Silly? Perhaps. Expensive? Oh, you betcha. More compelling than a strange hotel room? Hell yes.

Look what the future used to have! Spaceplanes! Commercial space travel! Atomic-powered pens! LEGROOM!

 Posted by at 4:56 pm