Oct 302012

An illustration I found somewhere online showing a spaceship drawing for “Amazing Stories,” 1938. At first glance, it’s pretty much the stereotypical spaceship from the 1930s… bullet-shaped, with curved tailfins, lots of rivets or bolts, rocket “tubes” and a dearth of adequate propellant volume. On closer examination, it has some interesting features.

The rocket engines use hydrogen and oxygen for propellants. Onboard storage volume is tragically pathetic, but the propulsion system is otherwise interesting. Instead of a steady-state rocket engine of the type normally used, this vehicle uses a pulse detonation system, sort of a chemical Orion. Such a system would have notably higher specific impulse than the conventional rocket, at the expense of lower average thrust, greater dead weight and a rough ride. But even with that higher Isp, performance is going to be pathetic with those few small propellant tanks.

The interior include a centrifuge that takes up a good deal of the volume of the craft. Much like the centrifuge on “2001: A Space Odyssey’s” USS Discovery, this would allow the crew to operate more or less normally on long duration trips. Unlike pretty much every centrifuge ever, this one include massive magnets used for… something. Additionally, it’s not entirely clear that the artist had a good grasp of the acceleration vectors… it would seem that the tables and chairs in the “dining room” are on the walls, not the floor.

It has what look like turreted cannon, but these are in fact “steering rocket tubes.” They would provide adequate degrees of freedom for proper attitude control.

 Posted by at 12:21 am
Oct 292012

Backup Generator Fails; NYU Medical Center Evacuated

An entire hospital evacuated because the main power went off, followed by the backup generator failing. Let me repeat that. The backup GENERATOR failed. Not, perhaps surprisingly, the backup GENERATORS, plural. Because, gee, why would a hospital need any sort of redundancy in something as trivial as electricity?

Generator redundancy is clearly such a wacky notion that Bellvue Hospital was also losing backup generator power when the story was written.


 Posted by at 11:53 pm