A 1986 NASA artists impression of a hypersonic aircraft, showing heating along the leading edges. This *appears* to be a hypersonic transport (as opposed to a military or research vehicle). Likely part of the “Orient Express” concept for an HST derivative of X-30 NASP technologies.

C-1986-3888 HST


With the recent cat illnesses, serious dropoff in business and increase in vet bills, stress levels hereabouts have been at near-historic levels. But hey, at least I haven’t yet contracted a life threatening case of bronchitis in 2014 (that’s me, always looking on the bright side). One of the consequences of stress is a decrease in lesser creativity… I might still be able to creatively think myself out of some emergency situation, but art? Feh. Gone.

Fortunately, things are starting to crawl back towards the normal only-slightly-apocalyptic level of DOOM stress, and creativity is starting to slooowly return. So, some updates:

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I’ve posted another PDF review over at the APR blog, this time on NACA wind tunnel testing of a swept-wing X-1 configuration.


swept wing X-1 2

*So* close to being entirely awesome…

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YouTube Direkt


I’ve always wondered if putting the M-61 Vulcan Gatling gun right directly in front of the pilot might be a little distracting at night. Turns out…

A Royal Mace FA-18E pilot activates the hyperspace drive…not really, night strafe practice– “trigger down!”


From 1973, a magazine ad for the Garrett Corporation (avionics manufacturer) showing Robert McCall paintings of the Space Shuttle system as then envisioned. At that point, the basics of the Space Transportation System were worked out, but the details were up in the air…

1973 garrett shuttle ad

As shown here – which appears to represent a Rockwell design – the Orbiter features a “ridge” down the centerline of the cargo bay doors. This was originally where the manipulator arm (or “arms” as shown here) was supposed to go. The cargo bay was a cylindrical volume, and when filled with a cylindrical payload there would obviously be no room for an arm. So the arm had to fit *outside* that cylindrical volume.

Additional details: it was originally thought that exposed RCS thrusters on the sides of the nose would get roasted on re-entry, so they were hidden behind doors in earlier designs. The proboscis at the front o the ET was a solid rocket motor, used to de-orbit the tank. As originally envisioned, the tank would make it to orbit, or nearly so; it would need to be propulsively de-orbited so that it would come down over the ocean and cause no damage. In the end, the role of the orbital maneuvering system was bumped up so that staging off the ET was carried out just a bit below stable orbit; as a result the ET would naturally re-enter over the Indian Ocean without further effort.

And a lot of early art depicted the Shuttle with lots and lots of paint. Not only on the External Tank, but on the *underside* of the orbiter. I assume that this is just artistic license rather than anyone actually believing that white paint would survive re-entry.

An official NASA photo of the Space Shuttle Atlantis landing for the last time in 2011. This was a night landing; consequently the lighting was artificial. It appears that the light came from close to directly behind the camera, resulting in some interesting reflections, such as off the injector plates inside the SSME’s.

The condensation trails forming off the low-pressure regions above the wingtips are pretty nifty too.

The full-rez uncropped photo is available at the link above.



2011-5841 crop

The first Dream Chaser spaceplane is under construction:

Airframe Structure for First Commercial Dream Chaser Spacecraft Unveiled

Higher rez at the link:


The rewards for my Patreon patrons have now been released. This months selections include:

Diagram: a very large, very nice layout of the Avro Arrow. This was voted on by the top-level patrons.

Document: a report on the Vought Regulus II cruise missile which includes some very nice layout and inboard diagrams of both the operational and test missiles. This was voted for by the top-level patrons.

Document: “Introduction to Kistler Aerospace Corporation,” a full-color brochure from 1995 describing the K-0 sorta-SSTO launch vehicle (which would use an “launch platform”).

Additionally, for the higher-level patrons ($5 and up) there are three all-new CAD diagrams:

1) The Boeing “Big Onion” SSTO from the 1970s, meant to launch Solar Power Satellite components

2) The Space Shuttle Main Engine

3) The Northrop Tacit Blue stealth testbed. This is, so far as I’m aware, the first time that a clear and accurate three-view of this aircraft has been released publicly.

I’ve changed things a little bit from last month. At each patronage level, there are different levels of rewards. Each level has its own message under the “Creations” tab just above the APR logo at my Patreon page. And in the upper righthand corner of each message is a little gray rectangle with “Zip” in it. This is the link to the ZIP archive containing the files for that specific patronage level. If you are a higher-level patron, this may not include all the files you are entitled to. You should be able to download everything from the lower-level patron messages.


2014-06 regulus 2014-08 CAD 2014-08 arrow 2014-08 kistler



Boeing begins program to produce aviation biofuel from hybrid tobacco plants

Boeing is teaming with some South African companies to turn a type of tobacco plant with almost no nicotine into aviation fuel. It’s an interesting idea: unlike ethanol from corn, here if a farmer converts over to raising a fuel crop he’s not wiping out a food crop, but rather something of a “pest” crop. There are a whole lot of tobacco farmers around the world who might be just as willing to raise this type of tobacco as any other; the end result would theoretically include:

1) Less reliance upon fossil fuels (and the support-for-scumbags that goes with it)

2) A bit more of a “carbon neutral” fuel

3) The price of tobacco for smoking purposes might well begin to climb due to natural market forces

The advantage of #3 is that it would have the same effect on pricing smokers out of the habit as government taxes have, but without the societal burden of actually paying money into a government bureaucracy.

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