Feb 272014

And here’s the tail end f the UA-1205 motor, showing details of the thrust vector control system. On this motor, TVC was by fluid injection: a bit downstream of the throat there were a multitude of small injection ports in the nozzle. Valves would, on command open some and close most of the others, allowing pressurized N2O4 to be injected. The temperature increase would cause the fluid to flash to a gas, forming something like a “bubble” over the injection port; this would cause a disruption in the exhaust flow, causing the thrust vector to be shoved around. And thus, no moving parts needed in order to achieve the effect of a nozzle that can be slewed around. Of course, this was at the expense of a big tank of TVC fluid hanging off the side.

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 Posted by at 11:36 am
Feb 262014

So, a number of years ago I started working on “Nuclear Pulse Propulsion,” which was to be the End All Be All tome on this topic. Sometime into it, someone suggested that I take a page from Tom Clancy and add a little fictional vignette of a few paragraphs to the start of each chapter, to try to bring some aspect of the designs to life. It was a good idea, I thought, so I took a crack at it… and realized with my first attempt that it just wasn’t working. At least, not the way I was going about it. I started writing a yarn featuring the 4,000 ton “space battleship” pitched to the USAF. But several pages in, it became clear that I wasn’t doing well on keeping it to “a few paragraphs.” Also… it was getting fairly dire. Just as there are few stories you can tell about a Ohio-class boomer or a Minuteman III missile silo that feature them doing the jobs they were designed for, there seem few to tell about a spacecraft designed to fight an all-out nuclear war. And while, if written well, it could be an exciting yarn… it ain’t gonna be too damn cheerful, unless global annihilation is something you think is pretty awesome. So… I just sorta gave up on the idea.


In the past week or three I’ve gotten back into working on NPP, and dug up the Orion Battleship tale. And because why not, I’m posting a PDF of it. Keep in mind, this isn’t a polished piece. It’s not even a rough draft; it’s half a rough draft. There is no dialogue, there are no human characters. I had an end in mind, but just never got to it.

So, if’n yer interested in such things, HERE YA GO.

batlleship tale


And because I just got the plumbers bill for replacing the pressure tank and suddenly find myself in some need of cash…


Fiction Tip Jar

 Posted by at 11:46 am
Feb 262014

Another drawing of the United Tech UA-1205 solid rocket motor. This depicts the forward end of the motor including the closure, the igniter and the booster separation motor structure. Everything here could, with relatively little effort, be compared closely with the Space Shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motors. The RSRMs were entirely new designs, but the design concepts were by and large taken from the UA-1205.

Not depicted here are the thrust termination ports that the earliest motors had. These ports were a feature designed in due to the fact that the Titan IIIC was originally designed to be a manned launch vehicle (for the Dyna Soar program). In the event of an abort after launch, the ports would be blown out by way of externally mounted linear shaped charges; the ports would provide escape paths for the pressurized gas in the motors. These would not only provide thrust to counteract the thrust coming out the nozzle at the aft, but the sudden increase in port area would mean that the chamber pressure would plummet. And as chamber pressure plummeted, the propellant burn rate would also plummet. Combustion could have been completely stopped, depending upon conditions; in any event, the motors would cease to provide meaningful thrust in a split second and could be safely jettisoned… or the manned portion could eject without fear of being run over by the boosters.

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 Posted by at 2:13 am
Feb 252014

As anyone who has read the blog for more than a few minutes knows, I’m fond of cats and try to make my property a reasonably safe and welcoming place for them. I am, at least so far, not a whackjob about it… not a cat hoarder, nor do I try to provide for all the needs of all the cats in the region. Just a place where they won’t get chased and can get a bite to eat from time to time.

I’m a cat-guy. I’m not a horse-guy. Still, I have several acres of farm-yard that weren’t going to be used for farming, and I have several neighbors with more horse than property, so I have allowed my property to be used as a grazing/socializing/running-around spot for local horses. It’s been sufficiently successful that a half-dozen or more times I’ve been awakened late at night by the sound of a horse (sometimes a bunch of horses) running flat-out down the road out front and turning into my yard to go hang out back with the the others.

And so… today this Shetland pony was dropped off. The four horses that were already there had clearly never seen a Shetland pony like this before… they initially clustered around it like rubes at the freak show. Within an hour or so, they had all become friends.

Img_3673 Img_3685 Img_3683



Well, THAT didn’t last. Within a few hours, the pony found one of the several gaps in the fence big enough to allow it to escape… and it escaped. But even though it made it over the wire, it stayed right there, communing with the Big Horses. A trio of local girls tried to round it up, with my dubious assistance. PROTIP: two feet is all a Shetland pony like this needs to build up a head of steam sufficient to plow into a sizable guy and knock him right on his ass.



When the Smallest Horse On The Planet steamrollered me, the only bit of me that was hurt was my pride… it was slightly embarrassing to get centerpunched and pitched in front of three giggly teenager females. But no physical damage  was detected apart from a small cut of no consequence. Until several hours later. My shoulder is now quite impressively painful. Apparently something got tore up. Yay. You’d think I’d learn… no attempt at a good deep goes unpunished.

 Posted by at 2:18 pm
Feb 252014

A scan from a bit of United Tech propaganda from the 1960s, a big and surprisingly high-quality large format book describing the UA-1205 solid rocket motor used as a zero-stage booster on the Titan IIIc.

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 Posted by at 1:03 am
Feb 242014

Holy crap:

Inside The Army’s Spectacular, Hidden Treasure Room

Usually when a headline uses words like “spectacular,” you can bet that the one thing the subject of the article is NOT going to be is… “spectacular.” In this case, though… wow.

In short, it’s a vast warehouse with carefully and properly stored and cataloged goodies from  a magnificent weapons collection, to battlefield bits and pieces (clothing, drums, bugles, flags, etc.), to one hell of an art collection… including a bunch of Hitler Originals.

And you can’t get in to see *any* of it. Because it’s all in storage awaiting a museum whose construction has not been funded.

Lots of amazing photos and anigifs at the link.

 Posted by at 10:21 pm
Feb 242014

Finally heard back from Analog about the story I submitted back in September:


Sigh. One more failure to add to the pile.



Because why the hell not, here are the first five pages (out of 23) of the story “Mass Disappearance” in PDF format. Let me know if it sucks, or if you’d like to read the rest of it. Many people have suggested that I self publish on Amazon. There seem to be a wide range of different ebook formats… none of which I have the slightest experience with, as I’ve never paid any attention to ebooks. If you have such a thing and would like to see this stuff in your chosen ebook format… let me know what that is AND, if at all possible, how to convert from Word to Whatever.

MASS DISAPPEARANCE – Draft 5 excerpt

 Posted by at 11:42 am