Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Beautiful Astronaut Art by James Vaughan

James Vaughan Made This

   I belong to a group called "Space Hipsters" on Facebook, and the talented artist James Vaughan frequently posts his work there. I was struck by this devastatingly beautiful astronaut he created.

                              Thank you, Mr. Vaughan. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

John Kraus Has The Best Falcon Heavy Pic!

The Falcon Heavy Maiden Launch. February 6, 2018. 
Photo by John Kraus

Starman Is On His Way To Mars

Starman has a much better view now.
Photo courtesy of SpaceX via Twitter

   SpaceX had a PHENOMENAL test flight today with their new Falcon Heavy rocket! CEO Elon Musk said there would only be a 50/50 chance of success, probably to head off any expectations of perfection. Although flight and mission details have not been released or fully completed yet, perfection may have actually been achieved.
   "It was very, very, very impressive," said Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist who has recently retired from NASA. "What he [Elon Musk] did was truly spectacular."
   The two side cores returned to the ground at the Kennedy Space Center and landed in breath-taking synchronized fashion. It was not clear what happened to the central core rocket, which had been scheduled to land on one of SpaceX's floating autonomous barges ("Of Course I Still Love You"), located 300 miles off the coast of Florida. Although visual contact was lost with the core, that does not indicate any type of failure occurred with the landing. 
   And the Falcon Heavy payload, the beautiful midnight cherry Tesla roadster with its passenger "Starman," was shown cruising smoothly into space with a very blue Earth in the background.  

   "We've never seen rockets land like this before," said Hoover. "It [the two side cores] looked like rockets from the 1940s science fiction movies. We've finally got rockets from the 1940s!" Hoover explained that launch scenes in old movies were shown using actual V2 rocket launch footage in reverse, so it would look like a rocket was landing on the Moon. 
   Hoover also commented how significant SpaceX is to the U.S. space program, since they are now very close to providing human launch capability. The U.S. hasn't been able to launch our own astronauts since 2011, when the 30-year-old Space Shuttle program was retired. 
   "You don't sell your old car before you get a new one, and that's exactly what we did," said Hoover. 

  UPDATE Feb 7, 2018: The middle core did not land on the floating barge. It apparently hit the water approximately 100 meters away from the barge at around 300 mph. The booster was heavily damaged.  

TODAY Falcon Heavy Launch TODAY TODAY TODAY!!!!!

    The maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral is TODAY, February 6, 2018, and is currently scheduled to ignite at 2:45 pm, CST. Here is a link to watch the launch live:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Favorite Quote #20

"I love history with both hands."

       -Robert "Bob" Cowie, retired Deacon
and owner of Cowie Wine Cellars and Vineyards

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Starting 2018 Off Right With The Maiden Launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket

   There aren't many things more exciting than witnessing the first launch of a brand new rocket. SpaceX is cocked and ready to deliver such a thrill in January of 2018 with their new Falcon Heavy prototype rocket. Recent images have been taken of the Falcon Heavy in launch position at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL (see below.) 

The Falcon Heavy is already in vertical position at Cape Canaveral's 39A launch pad. Photo by John Kraus,
   The exact date for the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch has not been released yet, but this rocket model represents a significant increase in size and lift-capability when compared to the Falcon 9. The first stage of the Falcon Heavy is made up of three Falcon 9 first stage cores, which collectively contain 27 Merlin engines. (A regular Falcon 9 rocket has nine Merlin engines.)

The south-end view of the Falcon Heavy rocket. 27 Merlin engines will collectively produce at least five million pounds of thrust at lift-off. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press. 

   A Falcon 9 rocket produces 1.7 million pounds of thrust at lift-off, and it can carry approximately 50,000 pounds of cargo to low Earth orbit (LEO.) The Falcon Heavy will produce at least 5 million pounds of thrust at launch, and it can carry more than 140,000 pounds of cargo to LEO. All three first stage components of the Falcon Heavy are scheduled to return to Earth for a triple demonstration of rocket re-usability that has become a trademark of the privately-owned, trail-blazing company. 
   A major item to be launched aboard the Falcon Heavy has already been famously reported; Elon wishes to send one of his Tesla cars to orbit Mars. He posted an image (see below) of a "midnight cherry" Tesla Roadster mounted in what appears to be the payload section of the Falcon Heavy. It is not clear if the car will remain mounted inside the rocket when it reaches Mars, or if the car will be released by itself to begin its everlasting elliptical orbit around the Red Planet. 
   The car is also scheduled to play David Bowie's "Space Oddity" on a continuous loop, although it is also not clear who will be able to hear it. ;)

A Space Oddity for sure. Photo courtesy of Elon Musk via Instagram.