Dec 312008

Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report (16.2 MB PDF)

Details of the conditions of the astronauts bodies are redacted. This is both to be expected… and wholly appropriate. Those who *need* to know, know. The last thing the familes – and familes of *other* astronauts – need is to see such photos plastered all over by the scumbag media.

Still, a few bits of extreme disturbishment are present. Such as this paragraph describing the conditions of the crews helmets, from page 3-53:

The hold-down cables on each neck ring were severed at the attach points to the cable guide tubes due to
mechanical overload (figure 3.2-24). Most cable guide tubes experienced significant plastic deformation.
The guide tubes display evidence of external contaminants (i.e., melted metal and suit material) and thermal
effects on top of the fractures and localized deformation. This indicates that mechanical loading preceded
exposure to the thermal environment. Rotation of the helmet relative to the normal forward position was
observed on all neck rings varying from 90 to 180 degrees. Major cable guide tube deformation and
helmet rotation indicates that a significant loading event occurred where helmets were removed via
a mechanical (nonthermal) mechanism.

The translation here: something happened *before* the crew were tossed out of the exploding spacecraft into the hypersonic airstream. That something was so bad that it caused helmets to be yanked from 90 to 180 degrees around, and ripped off the space suits.

Draw your own conclusions as to what happened to the crew subjected to forces like that.

One conclusion that can be drawn here is that an escape capsule, no matter how well designed, no matter how automatic, would not ahve done a damned bit of good here. If the forces involved – I’m guessing here, but I’m thinking sudden rotation and decelleration as the Shuttle wing snapped off – are so hard and so fast that they would actually rip helmets from suits, there’s *no* way to survive.

Space is dangerous. This should not be forgotten.

 Posted by at 1:50 am
Dec 302008

The basic issue comes down to this… the Israelies had the poor manners to occupy Muslim territory. Granted, it was Christian territory before the Muslims conquered it, and Roman Pagan territory before the Chistians conquered it, and Jewish territory before the Romans conquered it… but apparently Muslims are real twitchy about Muslim territory being made “not Muslim territory anymore.” The consequence of this is that the Israelies are forever going to be in a state of siege. It doesn’t help that both sides see that little scrap of land as their Rightful Gift From God. When people are convinced that their God wants them to be someplace, they’ll often enough make some effort to actually be there.

So, what to do? I have a suggestion. It would work. It only has one serious flaw.

It boils down to this: give up on the scrap of land currently known as “Israel.” Pull the Israeli people out, put them somewhere else. However, the entirety of land area on Earth, except for Antarctica, is owned by somebody. So, whereever New Israel might be, is currently already somebody else’s. At first blush, that means the problem has not been solved… same issue as with Israel/Palestine. But here’s the thing: most people on Earth are sane enough that they can be bought. This was not the case in the Middle East…. they’s crazy. But there are lots of scraps of land that can be had, if you just know how to bargain. And I have just the scrap of land: northern Mexico. Specifically, a strip along the US/Mexico border, 50 miles wide, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific.

A few questions:

1) How much would this cost? I have no friggen’ clue. Probably a trillion dollars or more.

2) Who would pay for this? I’d suggest a split between the US and Israel, both governmental and private donors. I’d suggest that the bulk of it come from the US, and be paid to Mexico over a period of, say, thirty years. Israel would be on the hook to repay the US over the following thirty years or so.

3) Why would the Israelies want this? They’d have their own spot of land for Nuevo Israel, with an ally on one side, and on the other… someone who at the very least doesn’t really give a rats ass.

4) Why would the US want this? Several reasons. For starters, we could finally tell the Middle East to go piss up a rope. The ME’s troubles are hardly going to go away if the Israelies bug out; the local Arab governments are simply going to have to scramble to find some other bullshit strawgoblin to rattle their populace with. Second, having Israel on the southern border would mean nothing but goodness for the US. Illegal immigration would slow to a crawl; the drug trade would be similarly stymied. Cross-border crime from Mexican drug gangs would be a thing of the past. Any drug gangs on the Mexico/Nuevo Israel border who to tried to cause a ruckus would find out that the IDF is not as hand-tied as the US border patrol. The costs involved in this land purchase would, in the long run, be a pittance compared to the savings to the American penal and health care systems, never mind the economy in general.

5) Why would the Mexican government want this? Buckets of money.

6) Why would the Mexican people want this? Many probably wouldn’t… but again, there’s that “buckets of money” thing. The deal could ladle out large sums to Mexican families currently living in the strip to move south. Mexicans who don’t want to leave could be incorporated into Nuevo Israel, much as many Arabs were integrated into Israel. Those who stay would find that their surroundings would get vastly better. Instead of corrupt Mexican cops and government, there’d be the NIDF forces. Criminals would very quickly find themselves deported to Old Mexico.

OK, here’s the big, HUGE stumbling block: God. Getting God’s Chosen People to clear off of God’s Chosen Real Estate could be trouble. Still, the majority of the Israelies seem like reasonably reasonable folk… just as reasonable religious folk see Genesis not as literal fact but as allegorical, so could the idea of “Israel is wherever the Israelies are” be spun.

Also, there are a whole lot of Christian and Jewish “holy sites” in the current land of Israel. Well… presumably they’ll still be there, even after the Palestinians sweep in and loot whatever the Israelies leave behind. And once the Israelies are gone, the Arab world (along with the rest of the world) will stop giving a damn about Palestine; after the famine and general pestilence passes through and burns out the whackadoodle element, the tourism trade will be all that’s left, and should do brisk business with Nuevo Israelies visiting the ancient homeland once or twice in their lives. Practically, this should be doable… after all, all Muslims with the means of doing so are supposed to visit Mecca at least once in their lives, but they seem to be fine with going back home to Indonesia or Canada or wherever once the visit’s over.

And hey… if as the Israelies are packing up and leaving they dig up the Temple Mount and ship it across the sea… who’d notice?

Below is a map showing the rough geometry of Nuevo Israel as a 50-mile-wide strip. There’d be some good seashore for ports, both east and west. Off in the Pacific is the current state of Israel for scale. Clearly, Nuevo Israel would be vastly larger. Lots of room to grow… and seeing what the Israelies did with the Negev desert, it would not be shocking if, a century or three down the line, the US/Mexico border is easily seen from the Moon as a verdant belt fifty miles wide.


 Posted by at 11:21 pm
Dec 302008

Seems something is bubbling under Yellowstone:

According to the AP:

Yellowstone National Park was jostled by a host of small earthquakes for a third straight day Monday, and scientists watched closely to see whether the more than 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come. Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it’s very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

“They’re certainly not normal,” Smith said. “We haven’t had earthquakes in this energy or extent in many years.”

For those who don’t know why geological activity in the Yellowstone region might be newsworthy, here’s a hint:

If the Yellowstone supervolcano goes off again, it’ll not only trash the US by dumping potentially several *meters* of ash on the breadbasket… it’ll trash the planet. It’ll set off a “nuclear winter” which will do a dandy job of reversing global warming, and fill the entire atmosphere with a fine mist of silicate dust which will not only cause lung damage on a panetary scale, it’ll also mess up internal combustion engines and turbojets. Retards around the world will go buggo, convinced that this is the wrath of Allah smiting down upon the Great Satan; little realizing that they will soon be thrust into an economic collapse and famine the likes of which they’ve never contemplated. And, while ash makes a mess of airbreathing engines, it doesn’t do jack to stop ICBMs or SLBMs.


 Posted by at 12:40 pm
Dec 302008

As I continued to work on issue V2N2 of APR tonight, I noticed as I pasted in a diagram of the 4,000 ton Orions pulse system loading mechanism that I’ve busted through 100 pages, with more to come. This will probably be the longest issue ever. Oy.

 Posted by at 3:22 am
Dec 292008

“Suicide bomber” is not a phrase guaranteed to put a smile on the face of a reasonable person. But sometimes, the schadenfreude hidden in news stories will brighten your day. From Fox:

A crowd of anti-Israel protesters in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul became a target for a homicide bomber on a bicycle.

 Posted by at 6:20 pm
Dec 292008

One free downloadable issue of APR for the first responder to correctly identify this (and, yes, I know what it is).


 Posted by at 3:10 am
Dec 282008

An early ’60’s (1962-63 timeframe) design for a variable geometry SST based on the NASA SCAT-16 geometry (the drawing appears to be in error in describing it as SCAT-15, which was a substantially different geometry). See HERE for Convairs view of an SST based on the SCAT-16 geometry.

The work was done for NASA. Requirements included a range of 3,200 miles, 125 passengers and a cruise speed of Mach 3.0.






 Posted by at 6:10 am
Dec 282008

The WhiteKnightTwo flew for the first time today. Just a test hop, but here’s to hoping that Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic can make it work… technologically, economically and regulatorily.

Some news sources:,2933,470716,00.html

And Here Are Some Videos.

One of the great Jaw Dropping Moments In Scott Lowthers Aerospace Career: a few months after starting work at ATK, some of the higher-up managers had a rah-rah meeting with a bunch of the relatively newly hired. Myself and one other feller were big fans of space tourism, and pushed here and there at ATK to get the company to work in that direction. The topic of space tourim was raised at the meeting… and smacked down by the migh muckymuck with this nugget of wisdom: “I didn’t get into aerospace in order to fly rich people into space.”

Welllllll…… I did. Rich people are the ones with money. And there are a hell of a lot more rich people than astronauts. So long as spaceflight remains the province of government employees and an extremely small number of super-rich, spaceflight will remain a novelty… and, from the publics point of view, a boring novelty. Not worthy of further development. Which will either leave us stranded on this rock… or will leave the universe open to conquest by the Chinese and Indians, with Western Civ left dead as Babylon.

 Posted by at 12:58 am