Monday, May 25, 2009
Air Canada Flight 143 shows that the Space Shuttle isn't the only large object that has done a lot of gliding. Sometimes 767s are pressed into that mode of operation.
The Gimli Glider is the nickname of an Air Canada aircraft which was involved in an infamous aviation incident. On 23 July 1983, a Boeing 767-200 jet, Air Canada Flight 143, ran completely out of fuel at 41,000 feet (12,500 m) altitude, about halfway through its flight from Montreal to Edmonton. The crew was able to glide the aircraft safely to an emergency landing at Gimli Industrial Park Airport, a former airbase at Gimli, Manitoba.
Above link is for a 60's spacecraft program called Ranger. Ranger missions crashed into the moon while making live television transmissions toward the end. Idea being that even "standard definition" TV (I don't have frame rates and resolutions for this yet) was superior to the earth-based telescopic observations of the day.
Now, Ranger 3 carried a "hard lander" built of -- get this -- ordinary balsa wood.
I am going to have to check this out.
Friday, May 22, 2009
You also get a good explanation of the genesis of the Apollo Hardware. Provided I remember some earlier late night reading sessions, the hardware has heritage in a computer intended for a Mars mission. The packing techniques were from guided missiles (makes sense). I'd heard that before. And the software (which was considered something of an afterthought at first) did a lot of simulating analog solutions to problems. This section of the book is something I want to go back over in greater detail sometime. Most other versions of this story concentrate on the word width, memory size, clock speeds, so on and so forth, but not what needed to be done.
Also inside, some good discussion on the X-15 and how much intervention the astronauts wanted. Should the astronauts literally fly the ship or just supervise systems ? Some folks thought you'd use stick and rudder and fly the rocket off the pad, literally. Another camp was for fully automatic (Ranger, Surveyor) operation. What happened was a mix of the two, a sort of semi-automatic mode. Really, I think the Apollo flight software would have been smaller / simpler if the pilot didn't have so much control over the trajectory. Why? Because a lot of points had to be coded into the software where you gave the operator (oops, astronaut) the chance to change control, or edit a setting, so on and so forth. Maybe two separate programs (each on a computer) with a big toggle switch (auto, manual) would have been worth looking at ?
Anyway, it's a fun book if you're into technical history.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Okay, use above link to check out these 'tiny trailers'.
What do we need to make one of these an off-grid power station (wind turbine parts, batteries inside, solar panels on outside surfaces ?) then another trailer to camp in, etc. ? Maybe keep the radios in it ? Could be interesting...
Friday, May 01, 2009
Okay, so in recent posts I talked about ancient and contemporary homebrew rocket efforts. There is an X-Prize (called N-Prize) effort out there to help organize and encourage this mess.
Above link discusses a hybrid approach to an orbital payload using rockets and balloons.
Ham radio folks and the homebrew microprocessor sets have been working in the high altitude balloon area for a while now.
Let's see where this goes !
If you haven't heard by now, Steve Eves just set a 'model' rocket record with a 1700 lb. Saturn V. Check out the above link. This project reminds me of the old BIS Lunar mission that I talked about earlier in the year.
The homebrewers are starting to catch up with the NASAs of the world.