Oct 312009

The HI-HICAT (High-High Altitude Critical Atmospheric Turbulence) was a 1966 Lockheed-California design study for a research rocket meant to cruise between 70,000 and 200,000 feet altitude at up to Mach 6, after launch from an F-4. It would, as the name suggests, be used to research clear-air turbulence at those altitudes. Two designs were studied… a lifting body configuration, and a more conventional sounding-rocket configuration, but a sounding rocket equipped with a stowed Rogallo-wing (like an old hang glider). Studies showed that the folding-wing was the preferred configuration, being capable of fulfilling the mission over a wider range of altitudes, although for the mid-altitudes of 100,000 to 150,000 feet, the lifting body would be preferred. The parawing design used pressure-fed rocket engines, while the lifting body design used turbopump-fed engines.
The F-4 would carry the rocket to Mach 2/35,000 feet, and go into a climb until the preset launch angle was reached. The HI-HICAT would then climb to altitude, shut down the booster rocket engines (leaving on a sustainer) and deploy the parawing, and cruise at either Mach 3/70,000 feet or Mach 6/200,000 feet. After sustainer burnout, the vehicle would maintain cruise altitude while deccelerating to Mach 1.5, at which point it would begin descent. The end of the mission would come when it would deploy a parachute and be air-snatched by a C-130.

hi-hicat-1.gif hi-hicat-3.gif hi-hicat-5.gif hi-hicat-4.gif hi-hicat-6.gif

 Posted by at 8:41 am
Oct 302009

I lived in the Denver area from ’96 to ’00, and passed through again a week ago. One of the more obvious features of Denver at night is a giant cross made from very bright lights in the mountains just to the south of the city. All the years I was there, I was never able to find the cross or find anyone who knew anything about it. During daylight is was seemingly invisible, but after nightfall on moonless nights it was blisteringly obvious, and appeared to hang in the sky. Which, I suppose, was the intent.

A recent Google search still doesn’t turn up much,  but did find this:

Colorado’s Mount Lindo Cross

The cross is 393 feet high and 254 feet across, and can be seen from the highway and parts of the city it watches over. It was partially conceived by designer Donald Lee Frees, who also worked on designs for many Olinger buildings, including the Tower of Memories at Crown Hill Cemetery. The cross was first lighted on Easter in 1964.

A few years back I went through Denver, and tried to photograph the cross, with dismal results. My point-and-click was simply unable to get a decent image. But a week ago I had the D5000 and its zoom lens, and a remote shutter release. Those, coupled with a good tripod and a long exposure, allowed me to get some photos of the cross that surprised me in what they showed.

Here’s a wider view with a shortish exposure, capturing the moon behind clouds as well as, I think, Jupiter:


And here’s a small panorama pieced together from two 30-second exposures:


Here’s a closeup of just the cross:


I’ve looked for this thing on Google Maps for a long time, with no success. If anyone can find it in the Google satellite view, I’d appreciate a link.

 Posted by at 10:12 pm
Oct 302009

Off-Duty Cop Charged With DWI In Pedestrian Death

See? There’s absolutely nothing funny about this at all. Nothing.

The victim was later identified as 67-year-old Drana Nikac of 3411 Irwin Ave. in the Bronx. [Note: Police officials had initially identified victim as 62-year-old Drane Mikac, before a correction was later issued.]

If you find any humor in this at all, you are a sick, sad person.


 Posted by at 5:06 pm
Oct 302009

A NASA-Marshall concept for a Nova launch vehicle. Nova began life as a vehicle somewhat smaller and lower-capability than the Saturn V, and quickly grew substantially larger than the Saturn V, ending its run as the “Post Saturn” launch vehicle (with designs such as Nexus). This design features eight F-1 engines on the first stage, and has been, probably apocryphally, referred to as the “Saturn C-8.”

 Posted by at 11:22 am
Oct 282009

Oh, NOW the far-lefties figure it out.

Moore accused of telling tales over tequilas with Chavez

The documentary-maker has caused outrage among Hugo Chavez’s supporters by using a late-night chat show to tell a humorous anecdote about meeting Venezuela’s socialist President in a luxury hotel suite during the recent Venice Film Festival.

But there was a problem with the story. A big one. The meeting that Moore so confidently described never happened.

“Michael Moore is a most unfortunate coward,” declared blogger Eva Golinger. She dubbed him “the worst of yellow journalists, a liar and storyteller on the big screen”, and said his yarn was “offensive and insulting” and a clear sign of his “hypocrisy and lack of ethics”. Franz JT Lee, a Marxist academic and blogger, claimed that the film-maker’s comments were “part of the United States’ ‘war of ideas'” against Venezuela, and said similar “propaganda” led to the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.

Heh. But at least someone in Venezuela truly gets it:

Critics of Mr Chavez have called the level of invective against Moore – some of which was aired on Venezuelan state television – disproportionate. They believe his anecdote was intended to be a harmless, tongue-in-cheek joke. The socialist movement failed to grasp the nuances of his intended irony, they claim, because they lack a sense of humour

No kidding.

 Posted by at 6:10 pm
Oct 282009

Another painting (I believe from Rockwell) showing a Shuttle Orbiter floating next to a giant Solar Power Satellite. Artwork likely from the late 1970’s. While most SPS concepts called for launching componants with giant boosters and/or flinging aluminum from the surface fo the moon with magnetic catapults, there were also ideas about building SPS demonstrators using Shuttles and Shuttle Derived launch vehicles. The SPS’s would be built in low Earth orbit, so that the Shuttle could get to them, then dragged to much higher orbits, such as geosynchronous. This was generally proposed to be accomplished by means of ion-engine powered thruster units which would be bolted to the SPS, using energy generated by the SPS’s solar cells.

While a slick idea, ion engines are low thrust, thus the SPS would move on a slow outward spiral taking weeks or months to get from LEO to GEO. Not really a problem, except for one detail: the Van Allen radiation belts. Passing quickly through the belts presents no real problem. But if you lurk there long enough, the ionizing radiation can cause damange to fine integrated circuits… and solar cells. Take too long going through, and you might wind up with a big aluminum piece of garbage floating dead’r’n disco in the radiation belts.


 Posted by at 5:46 pm
Oct 282009

Via Topless Robot:

Barbie Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken Doll

Cool sophistication in breezy Palm Beach! Sporting a dashing jacquard-patterned jacket with a light pink polo shirt and crisp white pants, Ken doll is ready for Palm Beach social season, sunning by the pool and a stroll with his little companion. Fashion designed exclusively for the Silkstone Barbie doll body. Includes Ken doll, jacket, pink polo shirt, white shoes, dog with leash, swim trunks and accessories, doll stand and certificate of authenticity.


Ye gods. Mattel…

 Posted by at 12:46 pm
Oct 282009

Asteroid Impactor Reported over Indonesia

On October 8, 2009 about 03:00 Greenwich time, an atmospheric fireball blast was observed and recorded over an island region of Indonesia. The blast is thought to be due to the atmospheric entry of a small asteroid about 10 meters in diameter that, due to atmospheric pressure, detonated in the atmosphere with an energy of about 50 kilotons (the equivalent of 100,000 pounds of TNT explosives).

Based on these initial reports, a detailed examination was made of all International Monitoring System (IMS) infrasound stations of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). From this initial examination, a total of 11 stations showed probable signals from a large explosion centered near 4.5S, 120E, with an origin time near 0300 UT on Oct 8, 2009, consistent with the media reports. This signal was notable for having been (a) detected at many IMS stations, including five at ranges over 10,000 km (and one at a nearly 18,000 km range) and (b) being confined to very low frequencies. Both of these observations suggest the explosion source was of very high total energy. All signal motions were between 0.27 – 0.32 km/s, consistent with stratospheric signal returns.

 Posted by at 11:57 am