Archive for Aerospace

Orville and Wilbur Day 2018

Wright Flyer

The 115th Anniversary of Powered Flight is today, December 17, 2018. This marks one of, if not the most, important technological achievements of the 20th Century. Aviation spawned an age of unprecedented achievements not only in aircraft-related, but in myriad support technologies. I am thankful to God that I was born in an age where emerging technology, my aptitude and education were responsible for a long and happy career in aerospace.

Co-incidentally, today is the 80th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. They were married on this day in 1938 in Long Beach, CA, where I was raised. They were present for the booming aviation industry in Southern California, another reason I was born into the right place at the right time. It’s too bad that I can no longer say that about what Kalifornistan has become.

From the National Air and Space Museum:

The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world’s first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright Flyer was the product of a sophisticated four-year program of research and development conducted by Wilbur and Orville Wright beginning in 1899. After building and testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights’ first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds.

The Wrights pioneered many of the basic tenets and techniques of modern aeronautical engineering, such as the use of a wind tunnel and flight testing as design tools. Their seminal accomplishment encompassed not only the breakthrough first flight of an airplane, but also the equally important achievement of establishing the foundation of aeronautical engineering.

Image and text borrowed from this Smithsonian Link.

Comments (4)

SpaceX Satellite Launch

SpaceX Satellite Launch

As Damsel and I were relaxing last evening, we were startled by a knocking at the back porch. It was the UPS delivery guy with a package we ordered from Amazon. But the package drop-off wasn’t the end of it. The driver said “Come out here and look at this!”

We walked down the driveway looking west and we pretty much saw the image depicted above, although we’re in a darker location than the Phoenix area where the photo was taken.

The phenomenon was attributed to a SpaceX Iridium Satellite launch:

At 5:30 pm on Dec. 22nd, SpaceX launched a 2-stage rocket from Vandenburg Air Force Base near the California coast.

The rocket launched 10 communications satellites to low-Earth orbit, adding to the growing Iridium NEXT constellation. This is the fourth such mission that SpaceX has flown for Iridium. Moreover, the rocket used for this mission had been used before. The Falcon 9 previously flew in June for the second Iridium mission.

It was quite spectacular as we watched the rocket move across the sky with its trail of gas lit up by sunlight high in the atmosphere. We’re glad that the UPS guy alerted us to this unusual event.

Comments (2)

Cassini: The Grand Finalé

Cassini Spacecraft

Early yesterday, I awoke to news that the 20-plus year mission of the Cassini Saturn-probe spacecraft has come to an end. The durable spacecraft, launched in 1997, had more than tripled its four-year scientific mission’s original timeline plan. Early on September 15, 2017, the spacecraft executed it last command to dive into the atmosphere of Saturn and disintegrate.

Since Cassini arrived on station thirteen years ago, we watched the marvelous discoveries and monitored the experiments performed with eager anticipation to see what new facts about the Saturnian system of moons, rings and the planet itself might be revealed. We were not disappointed.

So, adios to Cassini. We look forward to seeing the next explorations planned not only by NASA/JPL, but also by other commercial space exploration entities.

There is considerable information about the now completed mission at the Cassini Grand Finalé toolkit page.

Comments off

ISS and SpaceX Dragon Sighting

SpaceX Dragon

One of our regular activities in retirement in our desert place is to watch for overflights of The International Space Station when they are visible. Tonight’s flyover was the last in the current series of visible passes in our area and included a special treat of which we were unaware until after the pass.

As the ISS soared across the sky, Damsel noticed a fainter speck of light following in trail of the brighter space station. We both saw it and wondered what it could be. I suggested that it might be a cargo resupply or something of the sort. We continued to watch the pair as they swooped out of sight towards the southern horizon.

I came back in the house and got on the computer to see if I could find out what we were seeing. It turns out that the fainter dot of light was a SpaceX Dragon CRS-12 resupply ship with 6400 pounds of “stuff” on board to deliver to the ISS on Wednesday morning.

This is from the NASA blog about the SpaceX Dragon Launch:

Crew members aboard the International Space Station can expect a special delivery Wednesday morning. A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft loaded with more than 6,400 pounds of supplies, equipment and science materials is heading their way after the successful liftoff of SpaceX CRS-12 at 12:31 p.m. EDT from NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

The on-time liftoff marked a spectacular conclusion to a countdown that proceeded like clockwork throughout the morning, aided by cooperative weather conditions across the launch site. With a sonic boom sounding across Florida’s Space Coast, the first stage returned to SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station while the rocket’s second stage finished the task of propelling Dragon to orbit.

Read more at the link above the quote. Damsel and I feel very fortunate to have witnessed this extraordinary extra-terrestrial event.

Damsel remarked earlier this evening regarding that she’s glad to see SpaceX, rather than Russians, supplying the ISS these days. I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Comments (4)

Seventh Anniversary of Retirement

seven.png

Another year of retirement has passed. As we head into our eighth year, we have generally good health (only a couple of minor issues), our financial situation is quite manageable and we have been traveling to keep in touch with family and to explore in the motorhome.

The forecast for the year is to continue with our retirement routines here at home and to venture out to do more family contact as well as go and observe the August 2017 eclipse in Wyoming. We actually have been planning for the eclipse since we heard about it several years ago.

We consider ourselves blessed by God to be in our situation and look forward to the future with optimism and enthusiasm. Our dreams are still coming true.

Comments off

May 9, 2016 Transit of Mercury

My efforts to photograph the Mercurial transit of the sun today were less than optimum; the diminutive disk of the small planet did not resolve well with my Canon SL1, 300mm lens and a $10 solar filter. Moreover, looking at the sun through Eclipse Shades was a bust; you couldn’t resolve the planet at all.

But, all was not lost - thanks to the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s images on the internet, I captured several screen shots to combine into the animation below. The sequence starts when Mercury is almost at mid-transit (I did not want to get up at 4 AM) and continues to the point where the shadow is barely touching the east limb of the sun. I find it very interesting that the sunspots at and above the equator move to indicate the solar rotation over the few hours it took for the transit.


Comments off

A Twentieth Century Icon - Howard Hughes

Howard R. Hughes, Jr. 1904-1976Between 1965 and 1980, I was employed at Hughes Aircraft Company, generally at the Culver City Facility that contained both the Hughes Aircraft Company (which developed and built electronics systems) and the Hughes Tool Company (which developed and built aircraft and a few oil drilling tools). Sort of backwards, I know, but so were a lot of things in the Hughes Empire.

I found the long-lost poster seen at the right today when I was opening a picture frame to scan in a certificate I earned in my Ham Radio activities (DXCC for those who know) and found the poster was in the same picture frame. Frankly, I cannot remember putting it in there, but there it was in near-perfect condition. I scanned in my certificate (for another purpose) and also this poster, since I was scanning.

IMAGE: Iconic Howard Hughes portrait along with some of the Hughes legacy icons. Click on the image to enlarge to poster size.

Since I was suddenly dropped into the topic of the famous Howard Robard Hughes, Jr., I went out to Wikipedia and looked him up. I found an extremely interesting entry about Hughes’ life and times, much of which I had been previously unaware. It was intriguing and I was riveted to reading it all the way through, disregarding the references, of course. I can’t attest to all of it being true, but since I was there towards the end of Hughes’ life, I know some of it is gospel.

I never met the man, but others I knew and trusted told me of times when they had seen him come to Culver City for various visits in which they had caught a glimpse or two of the man. He had mostly gone full reclusive after I had been there a year or two.

If you’re interested in icons like Hughes, I recommend reading the Wikipedia Article (disclaimer - I can’t guarantee any of it is true, but it IS interesting). Bonus - Click here for some Spruce Goose coverage.

Comments (4)

« Previous entries

-->