Jan 292011

Somehow I suspect this ad didn’t air. But I also suspect that if it had, business at Ralph Williams’ Bay Shore Chrysler Plymouth might have gone up a bit.

Very slightly NSFW audio. My suggestion: crank up the volume to 11 and let the whole office hear how a *real* salesman sells a 1966 Ford Country Squire station wagon.

[youtube 0hjgIF71lio]

Not to be confused with this scene from the movie “Used Cars:”

[youtube zqHZWdFVyyQ]

 Posted by at 12:24 pm
Jan 292011

Yesterday I uploaded the first cut of the “Bell D-188A” booklet to MagCloud and ordered the proof. It should get here within a week. When it arrives, I will make some adjustments to the issue, up to and including passing it along to a graphic artist who may greatly change it to make it less dull-looking. In any event, I’ve decided to make this first draft available… until the proof arrives. When the proof arrives, the draft will be permanently withdrawn from availability. So think of this as an opportunity to buy a collectible.


 Posted by at 9:03 am
Jan 282011

The late 1970’s gave the world Star Wars, the Iranian Revolution and an incompetant boob for a US President. The early 2010’s, so far, is giving the world an Egyptian revolution and an incompetant boob for a US President, but nothing akin to Star Wars seems on the horizon. “Avatar” just ain’t the same.

Due to the last incompetant boob of a President, the Iranian revolution turned into an international nightmare… spurred on by Carter’s boobery, the revolution committed an act of war against the US, did not get beat down for it. It became a permanent fixture in the region, leading to the repression of Iran, in part the Iran-Iraq war, decades of state-sponsored terrorism, and very likely nuclear armed Islamic nutjobs. What will the Egpytian revolution bring? Maybe it will bring true democratic reform to the country. Normally that’d be a good thing, but the middle east has shown that when democracy is allowed to flower, the people there tend to vote for Islamist whackos.

After WWII, the US spent a great deal of time and treasure de-Nazifying Germany and de-Emperorizing Japan. By dragging those countries out of the mires they’d gotten themselves into, they became nations where democracy could work. After Iraq, the US spent *some* effort on de-Ba’athification, but none on de-Islamisimification. And so Iraq became a nation where democracy *kinda* works. But if Egypt falls… chances are good that it’ll be taken over by Islamist nuts, and become another Iran.

Somehow I suspect the alert level in Israel is a bit elevated these days.

Some good photos out of Egypt: http://totallycoolpix.com/2011/01/the-egypt-protests/

 Posted by at 8:21 pm
Jan 282011

… the space shuttle Challenger exploded. I was sitting in history class, when all of a sudden the PA system came alive as someone in the main office put the microphone up to the TV speaker, and we heard that the Challenger has apparently exploded. About four of us looked up at the teacher, who gave us the tiniest nod, and we dashed out of the room to the library, the nearest place with a  TV.

That day *sucked.*

In many ways, that marked The End Of The Dream. Prior to Challenger, the Shuttle system was not living up to its promise of cheap and fast space transport. But we could at least entertain the hope that it *could.* After Challenger, it was clear that NASA would never even try to make spaceflight anything other than a boutique industry for the extremely few, and would probably never try anything more daring than low Earth orbit milk runs.

 Posted by at 9:28 am
Jan 262011

Someone is selling a display model of Rocketdyne’s NASP concept:


This is obviously not the final X-30 NASP design, but an earlier concept when the engine manufacturers and airframe builders were still doing their own separate designs. This dates it to about the 1985-1987 timeframe.

The design itself, while representing the mid-1980’s state of the art, was by no means new. The basic shape of the vehicle was already well established by 1966 or so as one of the Lockheed CL-655 variants; that would be used as either a hypersonic single-stage long range vehicle, or a hypersonic first stage for a rocket powered (and Convair designed) second stage. The engines for the CL-655 were to be advanced air-breathers developed by Marquardt… but the exact engine layout, and even engine *type,* do not seem to have been finalized.

This is the same designl that I built a display model of for the Marquardt program manager. The model is now on display (well, as of 2004 or so) somewhere at NASA-MSFC.

By 1967 Lockheed had released more artwork of geometrically similar hypersonic manned vehicles, one a research vehicle, the other apparently a passenger transport.

Note the rocket engine at the tail for boost (probably a toroidal aerospike).

The same basic geometry was used at McDonnell-Douglas in 1973 for a hypersonic test vehicle:

And was used again by McDonnell-Douglas in their early NASP/hypersonic transport efforts:

And which was shamelessly stolen by me to help me flesh out the “Aurora” concept model that I mastered for Fantastic Plastic:

And finally, some Rocketdyne artwork of their NASP concept. Note that the leading edges of the wings are curved rather than straight:

The repetition of this same basic shape does not mean that aircraft designers are just lazy. It just means that this is a good shape for this sort of vehicle.

 Posted by at 1:36 pm