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willith (218835) writes "The folks at Bezos Expeditions have confirmed that faintly visible serial numbers on one of the large engine components they lifted from three miles below the ocean's surface match the serial number of F-1 engine F-6044, which flew in the center position on Saturn V number SA-506—Apollo 11. With the 44th anniversary of the first lunar landing coming up tomorrow, the confirmation comes at an auspicious time. The F-1 engine remains to this day the largest single-chamber liquid fueled engine ever produced—although NASA is considering using a newer uprated design designated as the F-1B to help boost future heavy-lift rockets into orbit." Link to Original Source top
How NASA steers the Int'l Space Station around asteroids & other debris
willith (218835) writes "Through a remarkable confluence of backyard engineering and external requirements, NASA has been "hot firing" 40-year old parts of F-1 rocket engines, pulled from storage and museums. The process of resurrecting the old engines has been complex, including a total 3D scan inside and out of the rockets to produce modern CAD files. NASA is considering using a brand new, redesigned version of the F-1, called the F-1B, as booster rockets for its upcoming SLS launch vehicle. I was on-hand for one round of F-1 gas generator test firings and I've written up the story of how a group of young engineers drove the engineering effort to bring the giant back to life.
The F-1 is the most powerful single-chamber liquid rocket engine to ever have existed; putting out 1.5M lbs of thrust, five of these engines powered one Saturn V moon rocket, each gulping 3 tons of fuel per second. The new F-1B would modify the F-1's uprated F-1A variant (extensively tested but never flown) to make it simpler and easier to manufacture, and at the same time even more powerful: 1.8M lbs of thrust per second." Link to Original Source top
Doing shots at the range with a $17,000 Linux-powered rifle
willith writes "Back at CES I wrote up a story about Austin-based TrackingPoint and their "Precision Guided Firearms," a set of high-powered hunting rifles with computer-controlled scopes and "guided" triggers. Last week, I had the opportunity to take the three TrackingPoint rifles out to the range and test their accuracy. How much did they improve my marksmanship? My photographer, who'd never before even picked up a rifle, scored a 1000-yard shot on his very first attempt."" Link to Original Source top
willith writes "I spent two days at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, watching astronauts dive and getting a thorough tour of the facility. The largest indoor pool in the world contains 6.2M gallons of water and is filled with life-size replicas of International Space Station modules (though at 202'x101' and 40' deep, it isn't nearly enough to hold the entire station). Every spacewalk requires a huge amount of rehearsal, and that rehearsal is done right here in this pool. I talk at length with divers, astronauts, test coordinators, and test directors about how the facility works and what it takes to train folks to work in spacesuits. I also get to talk about the NBL's commercial future, and what's next for the big pool. Plus, lots and lots of pictures!" Link to Original Source top
Behind the scenes at NASA's Mission Control Center
willith writes "I was recently given the opportunity to spend several hours on the floor of Historic Mission Operations Control Room #2, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. MOCR2 was used to control almost manned Gemini and Apollo mission, including Apollo 11 & 13. More, my tour guide was none other than famous Apollo mission controller Sy Liebergot, one of the fellows behind the solution that saved Apollo 13. I go in-depth on the role of the flight controller during Apollo, and focus on how and why Mission Control functioned, and I spend a lot of time talking about the consoles and how they worked. The feature includes a ton of anecdotes and stories from Mr. Liebergot about mission control in general, and about what he did during Apollo 12 & 13 specifically. I also put together a supplemental report that goes through each and every station and describes their Apollo-era layout. I wrote this story to be the kind of thing I'd always wanted to read, but could never find online. There are also lots and lots of pictures of MOCR2!" Link to Original Source top
willith (218835) writes "Part one of a two-part in-depth review of the Drobo FS, a near-zero-configuration-required soho NAS box produced by Data Robotics, has been published on Ars Technica. This article appears to be the first deep examination of the Drobo's proprietary "BeyondRAID" data redundancy scheme to appear on the web, and discusses how BeyondRAID works as a mix of block- and file-level techniques. Disclosure: I'm the article's author!" Link to Original Source top
willith writes "Looks like the SF Chronicle is jumping the gun by an hour or so, but they've got an AP article up detailing the results of the International Space Station Node 3 naming contest (previously on Slashdot). Comedian and fake-pundit Stephen Colbert conducted a bombastic write-in campaign and repeatedly urged his show's fan base (the "Colbert Nation") to stuff the ballot box with his name, which resulted in "Colbert" coming in first in the write-in contest with almost a quarter-million votes. Although the Node 3 component will not be named "Colbert"--NASA has instead chosen to call it "Tranquility"--one of the Node 3 components will bear the honor: the second ISS treadmill, which will be installed in Node 3, will be named the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. The formal announcement will be made on air tonight at 22:30 EDT on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central by astronaut Sunita Williams." Link to Original Source top
willith writes "James Oliver Rigney Jr, author of the long-running fantasy series The Wheel of Time and better known to millions of fans by the pen name Robert Jordan, died on 16 Sept 2007 from cardiac amyloidosis. Jordan announced he had been diagnosed with the disease in March 2006 and vowed to beat the odds, but determination and gumption sometimes just aren't enough in the face of a disease with a median survival time of just over two years. Jordan was in the process of writing the twelfth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, A Memory of Light, but the book was not slated for release until 2009 and is still incomplete. While there is hope that the book will still be finished from Jordan's notes, this is devastating news to all of us who have been reading the series since 1990." Link to Original Source top
willith writes "Apple has placed threeiPhonecommercials on their web site today, and each of them end with a tag: "Coming June 29". This puts to rest the question of when the thing will hit the streets, but there are still worries about allocation — some sites are reporting that the allocation of iPhones to Cingular/AT&T stores will be relatively tight. The adverts do however shed light on another previously-unanswered question — the iPhone will only be available with a new two-year contract." Link to Original Source top
willith writes "Guitar Hero 2 has already begun arriving in some stores, and though it won't be on sale until November 7, an enterprising Wal-Mart employee has taken home a copy and posted screenshots on the official Guitar Hero forum showing the track names and descriptions of all twenty-four bonus tracks. Returning Guitar Hero alumni are the Acro-Brats, Freezepop, the Breaking Wheel (formerly Artillery), and Honest Bob & the Factory to Dealer Incentives. The songs look to be pretty shredding, and include stuff from Voivod, DETHLOK, and, quite unexpectedly, the Brothers Chaps — one of the unlockables is THE TROGDOR SONG!" top
willith writes "IGN has posted the official list, straight from RedOctane, of the 40 licensed tracks in Guitar Hero 2. There's a great mix of songs, running the list from "stuff my parents like" (Allman Brothers) to "music to kill people by" (Megadeth). You can get an early start with the GH2 playable demo in this month's Official Playstation Magazine, which contains four songs (Strutter, You Really Got Me, YYZ, and Shout at the Devil). For those about to rock, we salute you!" top
willith writes "Space buffs (and people like me whose continued employment depends on it) should keep their eyes pointed at NASA TV today at 15:00 CDT, as NASA announces the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, nee CEV, NASA's next human spacecraft.
The competing teams are Grumman/Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. Orion itself has been described as "Apollo on steroids" — it will be a four- or six-person capsule spacecraft which in its Block 1 incarnation will serve the ISS as the primary crew transfer vehicle and also the docked escape vehicle, taking over the role of the STS and Soyuz. The Block 2 version, when paired with the J2X-powered Earth Departure Stage, will transport four people (and a new lunar surface access module named Artemis) to the moon and back, and, when coupled with the other components of Project Constellation, to Mars and back.
The other two key pieces of the puzzle are the Ares-class rockets. Ares I will loft the Orion spacecraft and her human occupants to orbit, and will be have a first stage composed of a 5-segment solid rocket booster (STS technology) and a second stage composed of a liquid-fueled J2X engine (heavily modified from its original role as the stage 2 & 3 engines on the Saturn V) and a modified STS-style external tank to complete the boost to orbit. Cargo and EDS/LSAM launches will be done with the Ares V, which has a first stage powered by two external solid rocket boosters (STS technology) and five RS-68 engines (heavy lift motors currently used in the Delta IV rocket) behind a large STS-style external tank. Second stage will use J2X engines and push the cargo into orbit. Ares V will be the same approximate size as a Saturn V, and ought to look mighty impressive on the pad.
(As an aside, the Wikipedia article on Launch Complex 39 has some interesting info on how pads 39A and 39B will be used in the CEV era.)
For moon missions, the two launches will occur a few days apart, cargo first, and the mission will have an EOR phase where the two spacecraft dock, an the missions will follow an Apollo-style profile — TLI, LOI, spacecraft separation and landing, LOR, TEI, and then atmospheric re-entry, and then a parachute-assisted soft touchdown, either on land or in the ocean.
Mars missions will follow a similar profile, but there will be more modules in the stack — instead of just Orion & Artemis, there will be several habitat and lab modules to support the crew during the multi-month transit to Mars.
Anyway, the announcement on who gets to build it happens this afternoon. Cross your fingers for my continued employment and my job site's continued existence!"