Dec 312017

While poking around one of my old computers I found the partially finished 3D CAD model of the Martin “Aldebaran” I made some years ago for my NPP book. I’ll use the model to create diagrams for the book, in hopes that someday I’ll finish the damn thing, but I’m curious if there might be interest in physical models of the thing. Let me know. I might take a stab at this with Shapeways or some such.

 Posted by at 1:13 pm
Jul 162017

Every month, patrons of the Aerospace Projects Review Patreon campaign are rewarded with a bundle of documents and diagrams, items of interest and importance to aerospace history. If you sign up, you get the monthly rewards going forwards; the “back issues” catalog lets patrons aid the APR cause by picking up items from before they signed on. The catalog, available to all patrons at the APR Patreon, has been updated to include everything from the beginning of the project back in 2014 on up to February, 2017.

Below are the items from 2016 (and the first two months of 2017):


If you are interested in any of these and in helping to fund the mission of Aerospace Projects Review, drop by the APR Patreon page and sign up. For only a few bucks a month you can help fund the procurement, scanning and dissemination of interesting aerospace documentation that might otherwise vanish from the public.

 Posted by at 12:52 am
Mar 192017

Mini-nukes and mosquito-like robot weapons being primed for future warfare

Most of the article deal with the threat of nanotechnological weapons. I’m personally not terribly concerned about them… in theory they’re nightmares, but in practicality the chances of a mechanism the size of  a bacteria functioning for very long in the wild is low. “Nano-scale” metal is extremely fine dust… dust that will oxidize almost instantly in an oxygen environment. Dust that has such a vast surface area to volume ratio that thermal control would be virtually impossible.

I suspect it’d be possible to design nanites that will function in  specific environments. But The “gray goo” threat seems to me unlikely.

The headline contains a reference to something else that interests me more than nanites: “mini nukes.” But here again, the description seems more sci-fi than practical:

Nanotechnology opens up the possibility to manufacture mini-nuke components so small that they are difficult to screen and detect. Furthermore, the weapon (capable of an explosion equivalent to about 100 tons of TNT) could be compact enough to fit into a pocket or purse and weigh about 5 pounds and destroy large buildings or be combined to do greater damage to an area.

“When we talk about making conventional nuclear weapons, they are difficult to make,” he said. “Making a mini-nuke would be difficult but in some respects not as difficult as a full-blown nuclear weapon.”

Del Monte explained that the mini-nuke weapon is activated when the nanoscale laser triggers a small thermonuclear fusion bomb using a tritium-deuterium fuel. Their size makes them difficult to screen, detect and also there’s “essentially no fallout” associated with them.

The description seems to be a miniaturized version of an inertial confinement fusion system… lasers causing a pellet of fusion fuel to implode. So far in order to get a pellet the size of a grain of sand to fuse has required a laser system the size of a  warehouse; compressing all that down to the size of a briefcase seems… optimistic.

Still, *IF* that compression becomes possible, then these mini-nukes need to be put into production *now.* Not just for the military potential… but more importantly because they would finally make Orion propulsion clean and reasonably cheap.

What causes fear among the author and subjects of this article would cause great joy among people able to envision a wider view.

 Posted by at 3:10 am
Nov 222016

Due to other commitments, progress has been slow on Pax Orionis. Still, a few days ago I posted a new piece, “Birth of the Bomb Part Two,” for Pax Orionis patrons. This is the second of a two-part newspaper article… the first described an event in the 1990s – well after the Great War – that led to Orion spacecraft becoming far more economical. In the second part, a reporter catches up with the people responsible. Excitement! Adventure! Inadvertent multi-kiloton nuclear detonations! Death from above! What’s not to like?

As with all Pax Orionis tales, each part comes with two bonuses: a technical diagram describing some piece of technology important in the Pax Orionis universe, complete with both in-universe and factual descriptions; and a small newspaper or magazine article that, when all put together, tell an important part of the Pax Orionis backstory.

pax-01 pax-02 pax-03 pax-04 pax-05 pax-06

If interested – and why the hell wouldn’t you be – check out the Pax Orionis Patreon:

There are two level of patronage… $1 and $2. At $1, you get a new story when it comes out. At $2, you get the story, the tech diagram and the article.

Any Pax Orionis patrons who have read the most recent story, feel free to leave a comment. Praise or constructive criticism or anywhere in between.

 Posted by at 1:43 pm
Nov 172016

It will, I imagine, come as almost zero surprise that I’ve long been a fan of the various “Star Trek” blueprint sets produced over the years by fans and professionals. They range from the “why did you even bother when you had to know you had neither skill nor talent” to the “I want to frame that and hang it on my wall.” In my opinion, just as a matter of aesthetics, the best ones were produced in the 70’s and early 80’s (the original Franz Joseph “Constitution Class” set, the McMaster “Klingon Book of Plans,” the Dreadnought, etc.). These were drafted by hand. The errors are in evidence, inconsistencies can be readily found, imprecisenesses here and there, a whole raft of unfortunate things that were eliminated when people started doing this sort of thing on the computer. And when vector graphics, CAD systems and 3D modeling came in and cleaned everything up, a little bit of the art seemed to go out of the enterprise. Dunno… maybe it’s just me.

So, promptly after pointing out that I prefer hand0drawn over computer aided…. here’s the beginnings of my own stab at the art form, done entirely on computer.

Something I have been working on for quite some time is a series of 2D diagrams of the “Messiah” spacecraft from Deep Impact. This is an outgrowth of the 3D CAD model of the Messiah I made for Fantastic Plastic (I gather there were some hiccups in the process, but I understand that things are back on track) a year and a half ago. This is the very definition of a “back burner” project; it’s not a secondary effort, not even a tertiary effort. There are paying gigs ahead of it. Still, going in and tapping away at it from time to time is a good way to destress from the other projects.

I’d spent a long time considering what to do with “Messiah.” Options included some sort of book/magazine/thing, or one or more large format (24X36, say) prints, or even cyanotype blueprints (I did in fact make a grand total of two *very* large Messiah blueprints, quite a while back… a year and a half, as it turns out). But I’ve decided to adopt the “Book Of General Plans” format. In this case,a  set of prints, say, 11 inches by 36, folded and in an envelope. Retro!

The Messiah would cover about half a dozen sheets, plus or minus. A lot depends on scale. The image below (purple coloring just a drawing aid, will go to black before printing) shows the 2D diagram in 1/200 scale… which is a quite large sheet. Below that you can see a rectangle, 24X36 inches, subdivided into two 11X36 strips. At 1/200, the plan view of the ship will just fit. Thus, there’d be one sheet for the top view, one for the bottom, one for the side, one for the fore/aft. There are also a number of scrap views…the Shuttle/lander in both flight and landing configuration, details of the Orion booster section, an inboard profile, others.


Here’s a quick look at a small fraction of the illustrations created of the lander:


Along with the diagrams there’d also be “in universe” text and data, with my best efforts to rationalize the design. In the case of Messiah… it’s powered by a wandwavy form of nuclear pulse that uses bomblets that are more akin to “nuclear hand grenades,” with explosions that are slightly oblate rather than spherical… justifying the elliptical pusher plate. The large chemical boosters are liquid systems filled with high-energy space-storable propellants… FLOX burning with a kero-boron slurry. The aft boosters look like Energia boosters; the forward boosters look like Ariane V boosters, but in both cases they are much larger than the originals. This was done because… ummm… well, they were in a hurry (so they copied what they had), and they were working in secret (so they made the boosters look like things people had seen before, so if they were photographed at a distance they could be passed off as the more mundane boosters… yeah, that’s it…).


I’m doing this (veeerrry slowly) because I’m just that much of a geek. Anybody else interested? If I have ’em printed off in quantity, I’m thinking of selling them for around $20 a set, on a print run of *maybe* twenty.

After Messiah, there are a number of other designs I’d like to do the same with. 10-meters USAF Orion (real design). 4,000 ton Orion Battleship (Pax Orionis). Helicarrier (Avengers). USS Ascension (from the miniseries of the same name… oy, the monkeymotions to rationalize that).

 Posted by at 8:20 pm
Oct 302016

I’ve been running the Aerospace Projects Review Patreon project for a bit over two years now. Every month, Patrons get rewarded with sets of aerospace history stuff… currently, one large-format diagram or piece of artwork, three documents and, depending on level of patronage, an all-new CAD diagram of an aerospace subject of interest. More than two dozen such packages have been put together so far and distributed. Given that you can get in on this for as little as $1.50 a month (for 125-dpi scans… $4/month for full-rez 300 dpi scans) and you get at least four items, that’s a pretty good bargain compared to the individual aerospace drawings and documents.

Patrons who signed up after the process got underway can now get “back issues” of the previously released rewards packages. A catalog of more than the first years worth has just been posted; each month will see an updated catalog posted for Patrons to order from. So if you are interested, check out the APR Patreon page to see how to sign up; if you are already a patron, check out the catalog here.

 Posted by at 2:58 pm
Oct 172016

The History Channel has a new series, “Doomsday: 10 Ways he World will End.” Each episode describes some scientifically possible doomsday scenario… the first episode had a dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, the second had the Earth swallowed by a supermassive black hole. (One of these is more likely than the other…). The third episode, aired just a few days ago, has a rogue planet with the mass of Neptune plow into the Earth.

At the end of the last episode, discussion was made of the possibility of mankind surviving Earth getting steamrolled by an interstellar interloper by sending an emergency colonization mission to Mars. It was only a couple of minutes, mostly illustrated with stock footage of modern launch vehicles being assembled. But one of the talking heads suggested that the means of getting to mars would be via Orion nuclear pulse vehicle. A *very* brief shot of the Orion vehicle zipping past was included. The Orion CG model was obviously rather quickly slapped together. It was pretty generic, but on the whole looked reasonable enough. But for some reason the craft was given an unnecessary and impossible to justify rocket nozzle smack in the middle of the pusher plate. I took a few snapshots of the TV screen with my cameraphone… seemed good enough under the circumstances.

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 Posted by at 3:12 am
Aug 262016

Currently on eBay is a vintage Greek “Biscuit Card” featuring a simplified artwork replicating an internal-detonation nuclear pulse rocketship illustrated by Frank Tinsley. The original artwork was for a magazine ad for Arma Bosch in 1959 and is *not* any sort of official engineering design, just a magazine artists impression.

I’ve never seen the biscuit card version. I’ve no idea if this was a local Greek production, or the card was published in multiple languages.

Here’s the biscuit version:

ebay nuclear rocket tinsley 2 ebay nuclear rocket tinsley 1

Here’s the Tinsley original.


 Posted by at 10:42 pm