Apr 302015

Blue Origin, the much-more-secretive version of SpaceX, launched their “New Shepard” spacecraft for the first time in west Texas yesterday. The launch vehicle, sure to be popular with sixth-graders everywhere, featured a large booster stage and a dummy capsule; after boosting to an apogee of 58 miles, the capsule was successfully recovered via parachutes. The booster was intended for a vertical recovery a la the Falcon 9R, but that was  *not* a success.  Given the amount of effort SpaceX has put into booster recovery, a recovery failure first time out of the gate for Blue Origin is not unexpected. but unlike SpaceX, booster recovery is *not* a nice bonus at the end of the flight; they’ll really have to make this reliable, or otherwise their costs will be prohibitive.

Bezos’ Blue Origin completes first test flight of ‘New Shepard’ spacecraft

A long way to go yet, but three cheers for progress in developing another manned spacecraft. The New Shepard is *not* a direct competitor against the Falcon 9/Dragon for the simple reason that this vehicle is intended to be a suborbital tourist vehicle, not an orbital transport.

 Posted by at 12:30 pm
Apr 292015

Here’s a short CGI film that’s worth ten minutes of your time:

“Mad Max” but with airplanes, and with the world somehow run out of water rather than fuel. Pretty neat use of a Mohawk.

Every now and then I see some bit of fiction set in a world where the oceans have somehow dried up. And all I can think is “Too bad you schmucks didn’t have a space program, then you could ship water in from the rings of Saturn.”


 Posted by at 6:54 pm
Apr 282015

I’m currently working on a series of Shuttle Orbiter tile “maps” to massage them into a form where they’d look good as cyanotype blueprints. Two are shown below; what I have on hand are about a dozen, covering every surface of the Orbiter. The centerline diagram is sized for 40 inches wide by 160 inches long; this is *way* beyond reasonable size for cyanotyping. But at 18 inches wide, it’d be 72 inches long… just about what I can handle.


Another option might be to stitch the separate views together, rather than two wings and a centerline. Printed out B&W on paper, it’d be pretty durned impressive.


 Posted by at 4:56 pm
Apr 272015

So, the cops in the glittering example of Democrat-controlled Baltimore apparently caused a dudes death by rattling him around in the back of a van without restraints, snapping his neck. This, understandably, annoyed the hell out of the locals. Understandably, they protested. Understandably… the protests have turned into the stock-standard rioting, looting, trashing of police cars… and now, setting old folks homes and churches on fire.

Way to maintain the moral high ground, guys.

Large Fire Raging in East Baltimore Senior Center

According to CNN, the large building fully on fire in east Baltimore was the site of a newly constructed senior home sponsored by a church.


Baltimore Rioters Set Fires, Cut Hoses


CVS got employees out of Baltimore store just before looting and fire

Yup. One more place to avoid.


Whenever there’s trouble, it’s important to look for the root cause.


Gotta go back to 1967 to find a mayor who wasn’t a Dem.

And then there’s this:


Fifteen people. Guess how many Republicans or Libertarians on the current city council. Go on, guess.

So, we’re stuck with the chicken-and-egg quandary. Does overwhelming Democrat control cause a metropolitan area to decay into a blighted hellscape, or does the cultural corruption that results in a blighted hellscape also result in Democrats?

It seems that “everyone in city government is a Democrat” is a warning sign like someone shouting “Allahu Ackbar.” You can’t draw a causal relationship between the signal and the trouble, but you can pretty well assume that if you detect the signal, trouble is surely in the wings.

 Posted by at 7:04 pm
Apr 272015

Just added five more issues to Amazon for $2.99 each. These are Kindle-fied versions of the issues otherwise available as PDFs here.

There aren’t a whole lot of reviews… seven in total, I think. Six on one issue… and three are 5 out of 5, while three are 1 out of 5. It seems that those who went to the effort of reviewing either loved them or hated them. The negative reviews are at least honest – although I can’t makes heads or tails out of one of them. One of the complaints is that the drawings are too small, but I’m thinking that that might be an issue with the reader, dunno.

 Posted by at 6:10 pm