Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Potpourri CIX

Spent a couple days hanging with the incomparable Dr. OZMG. Not nearly enough, but I'll survive. Meanwhile, the inbox continues to fill up with other, less important items that still require my attention. Let the good times roll...

New from Hu: This was a surprise to me, but Orion Propulsion (run by my friend Tim Pickens) has been bought by Dynetics (a company that now employs two former customers of mine, former Marshall Space Flight Center Director Dave King and former Ares Projects Manager Steve Cook. Huntsville and the space business really are a small world.

If you scroll down on this page, the YouTube video on this page is kinda fun. Fighter jocks doing what they do best--showing off in their pretty airplanes.

Here's a picture of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner's first flight, which has been delayed a bit due to technical issues. The 787 isn't that far different from other commercial airliners you'll see, but its fuselage has more composites than any previous model, making the plane 20% lighter that it would be if it were made of metal. Cool concept, but I'll be interested to see what the long-term effects of pressurizing and repressurizing an all-composite airframe are. Unlike metal, apparently composites are harder to check for fatigue. This bears watching, especially with an airliner that is being built across multiple sites worldwide.

NASA has a new website that allows teenagers to have access to mission data for school papers and so forth. Pretty cool!

Speaking of Dr. OZMG, she's registered for the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland this coming August. The Down Under Defense Expert (DUDE) recommended checking both the regular Icelandair web site, but also the site for locals to see about getting the best rate for air fare. Yes, the site's in Icelandic, but as the DUDE put it, "The res pages for most airlines look alike."

The DUDE also suggested a couple of novels by an Icelandic author: Yrsa Siguoardottir, Last Rituals and My Soul to Take.

From Lin, with the comment, "This seems like further justification for space exploration." Four planets found circling other stars? Yes, indeedy. That sounds like justification to me. But we're having trouble funding stuff flying within this solar system...good luck finding money for something orbiting another star if there aren't Vulcans involved.

Another reason the U.S. needs to maintain the ability to fly humans into space: Russia just isn't that dependable as a partner on some things. For instance, it has recently reneged on an agreement to provide NASA with plutonium needed to power exploration vehicles. Once the Shuttle is retired, the Russians will be able to charge whatever they like for their services, especially if SpaceX or United Launch Alliance don't have their collective acts together yet.

From Doc, a new poster, with a suggestion that I restrain him from ordering this item for his cube.

Found during my morning environmental scanning, "a crisis of confidence for aerospace careers." It's getting difficult to be a professional space geek, unless you REALLY want it.

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