May 312010

Near to two years ago I posted some scraps of information about the Convair NEXUS super booster and a few of it’s gas-core nuke derivatives. At the time, I said, and I quote, “in the case of Nexus I was only able to get some surface details… the final Nexus reports have continued to elude me.” Well, them there days is done. And it only took me a dozen years! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAA!


Anyway, one of the designs that I had previously only seen a postage-stamp sized scrap on was a winged nuclear powered booster. Now I know it’s one of a myriad of competing concepts Convair put forward. Specifically, this was a “Helios” concept, a catch-all designation for boosters using combined chemical and nuclear propulsion. Two similar designs were put forward, one using gas-core nukes, and this one, using water moderated solid core nuclear thermal rockets. To be more precise, it employed 18 nuclear engines, each with 250,000 pounds of thrust. The fuselage diameter was a hefty 70 feet. An additional chemical booster would be attached. While not described for the solid-core concept, the variant with the gas core engine had a reasonably complete description of the chemical booster… a series of eight expansion-deflection engines of 1.34 million pounds thrust each arranged in a ring around the central nuclear engine. After burnout, the engines and their toroidal oxygen tank would fall off much like the booster engines on the original Atlas ICBM, and the vehicle would continue on to orbit under nuclear power. Payload would be one and a half million pounds.

After delivering the payload to orbit, the solid-core nuclear vehicle would lurk there for a while, waiting for the engines to cool off. Also, the trailing edge flaps would split and be locked into position. Once the engines had cooled sufficiently, the vehicle woudl de-orbit and essentially lawn-dart into the ocean. What looks like wings are in fact just stabilizing fins. The nature of the engines and their thrust structure at the aft of the vehicle meant that it was very tail-heavy, and required a whole lot of stabilizing. After splashdown, the ocean would serve as a heat sink for the *still* hot engines.


And as for the previously mentioned “Super NEXUS:” The payload was not delivered either to the lunar surface nor lunar orbit. Instead, the vehicle would launch from the Earth’s surface, park itself in a temporary Earth orbit, boost itself to the moon, park itself in a 20-mile altitude lunar orbit, then de-orbit to an altitude of 2000 feet, where it would hover. The payload woul;d then separate and land itself; the Super NEXUS would then boost itself back to Earth and put itself in Earth orbit.


 Posted by at 6:18 pm
May 302010

Apart from it’s deplorable lack of aerospace projects, Hyperbole and a Half is just plain awesome. Puts my little piece of crap to shame.

It’s filled with some of the lamest, cruddiest Microsoft Paint illustrations you’ll find anywhere… and they are damn near the best things I’ve ever seen.

I’ve had me one hell of a shitty day (bad enough to cause me to open up a can of expletives right up front here, something generally attempt to avoid), and this has nevertheless made me laugh.

Perhaps the single finest thing on the Internets is the proposed new Pain Rating Scale. If I were able to crank out that kinda wit, I’d consider my life to have meant something.

 Posted by at 6:15 pm
May 302010

You know, I’m good at designing stuff. Real, practical, working mechanisms, tools, test equipment, vehicles, whatever. But I seem to lack the spark of the divine lunatic that would allow me to come up with the 38 Caliber Pocket Shrine .

It’s truly the perfect size to put in your pocket, measuring just 30mm x 13mm. The outer jacket is made of gold polymer clay that’s been coated with PearlEx powder and polyurethane. I’ve tucked a tiny silver oxidized Our Lady of Lourdes charm inside which I’ve set into a removeable poly clay base. The tiny Tibetan silver cross completes the outside of the shrine. This is the perfect gift for anyone who’s on the go and for whom space is at a premium.

Damn. This has got to be where the real money is.

Side note: Odin don’t go for anything less than .50 BMG in his pocket shrines.

 Posted by at 1:01 am
May 302010

In support of their Model 225 fighter design, an entry into the VFX program (eventually to become the F-14), McDonnell built a test rig mounted to an F-4 Phantom II. Their Model 225 carried the Phoenix missiles semi-submerged; missile ejection was carried out by pnematic “ramps” that, at full extension, served as doors to cover the holes left by the missiles. Thus the missiles were carried in an aerodynamically clean configuration, and left an aerodynamically clean surface behind them after they left. To prove out the concept, the centerline tank from an F-4 was modified to carry a single missile and the associated pneumatics and doors and such. Without the radar system used on the F-14, the F-4 would have been a poor carried for the Phoenix; this was simply a test program to demonstrate the missile ejection system. Sadly all the info I have on this comes from a brief writeup early in the process, and the two attached photos. I don’t know if any ejection tests were carried out.



 Posted by at 12:47 am
May 292010

From THIS POST, I have four copies of 2010-05-25-pano-1-b.jpg and two copies of 2010-05-25-pano-2-b.jpg on hand… the former in 24X36, the latter in 24X~46. They all came out looking great, but the latter illustration also came out a lot more expensive than I’d hoped… they didn’t charge by the linear inch, which would’ve made the 46-incher 28% more expensive than the 36-incher, but instead simply 50% more expensive. Hummmph.

 Anyway, If’n you want a copy of either, Paypal or mail me money, to the tune of $90 for “pano-1” or $130 for “pano 2” plus postage (call that $6 US, $8.50 non-US). Paypal to this address:

I knda shot my wad of cash on getting these so if they don’t sell, the cats are gonna have to go on half rations. Only YOU can prevent kittens from starving!

Since there are only these six copies in existence, you can rest assured that you’ll probably have the only one on your block.



 Posted by at 2:53 pm
May 292010

So, due to a gastrointestinal issue that precluded several days in an automobile, Mark was not able to go to the midwest, so I let him back out into the world. He disappeared for most of a day… my assumption is, he had a whole lot of territory-marking to do. Today he came back and demonstrated on at least three occasions that one of the new cats is, in fact, female. The photos below show the immediate aftermath of one such encounter. Normally two cats goin’ at it would not inspire to to take mictures… but this was the first time I’d ever seen two cats using the missionary position. Hell, I’ve never even *heard* of that happening.




 Posted by at 2:10 pm
May 292010

From 1962… 6,000,000 pounds thrust, LOX/RP-1 propellants, 2000 psia chamber pressure, expansion ratio 14:1, Isp 283 sec at sea level, 304 sec vacuum. Sized for eas of transportation and manufacturing… which means it’s the small engine in the design study. More to come.


Note: the drawing came to me in B&W, like this:


But that’s boring, so I blueprintified it. Now it’s better.

 Posted by at 1:55 pm
May 292010


Translation: pump some monkeys full of Ebola Zaire, one of the scariest viruses on the planet, then give ’em the product of Science for a few days… and the monkeys are fine. Obviously more testing is required, but if this pans out… woo hoo! Once again, science bitchslaps natures attempts to mess with us!

What will eventually have to happen is human trials. That’ll be fun. What I would like to see after that, assuming the human trials work, is a second round of human trials: take 100 people, pump 50 of them full of Ebola, 50 full of placebo. Mix ’em up, then pump 50 of them full of the cure, and then pray real hard for the other fifty. I’m sure nobody’d have any problem with that test…

 Posted by at 12:28 pm