* Posts by Vulch

347 posts • joined 28 May 2008

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Europe's Earth-watching sat rides Soyuz to orbit

Vulch

Don't know about the rail gauge, but basically yes. The Soyuz units are shipped in and assembled horizontally as at Baikonour, Peseltsk and (soon) Vostochny, then wheeled out and the payload added when vertical.

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Romania suffers Eurovision premature ejection

Vulch

The Big Five countries (UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy) are the largest contributers to the EBU overall, not the Song Contest. Most of the money goes towards things like the news exchange which would cost the BBC far more to try and replace directly.

(Ex-BBC engineer 228622A)

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Inflatable space podule set for orbital trial

Vulch
Happy

Re: Falcon 9

Ah, that's how they're going to get reliable video of the landing. Cunning!

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Vulch

Re: Falcon 9

Supposed to be going for a barge landing again, I can't see anything about the ship having set sail yet though.

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Vulch

Bigelow have launched two inflatable modules already, Genesis 1 was still fine when the electronics failed 2.5 years after launch, as was Genesis 2. Both are still up there and are big enough to be visible when they pass overhead.

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Sick to death of mighty rocket launches? Avoid these dates

Vulch

Further ahead

http://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/ is a handy resource for reserving time to watch things go up. They'll also quite often have the live coverage, though it can be useful to find where they're sourcing it and go there directly.

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Russian rocket roll-out and raising revealed

Vulch

Manual docking

Used to be the crew got a bonus payment for carrying out a manual docking. I believe that stopping that turned out to be the fix for a series of automatic docking problems...

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Heads up, rocket fans: Soyuz launch tonight

Vulch

Re: Pink Owl

It's traditional. Each crew picks their own thing to hang there, toy rockets, fluffy owls and giraffes, R2D2... I don't think anyone has used a pair of fluffy dice, but it's probably only a matter of time...

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Western Digital spins up a USB disk just for the Raspberry Pi

Vulch

Re: The price baloons. To what exactly?

Also...

40 quid and a small number of pence for the drive, case and cable when I ordered one last night.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 grounded by 'sledgehammer' winds

Vulch

Re: Why super-cooled fuel?

Using denser fuel means the pumps can push more of it through the engine without having to redesign all the plumbing for larger bore pipes. The engines have had an upgrade but not that extensive.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 set for fourth launch attempt

Vulch

Easy

Two Lancasters and a Spitfire in close formation.

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Ukraine has a Eurovision pop at Russia

Vulch
Megaphone

Ah, Billy Bragg to do the UK entry then?

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Brits unveil 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car

Vulch

The cutaway looks better than the actual car. Leave the doors off, put Lotus 7 style mudguards over the wheels instead of extending the bodyshell and make the top over the gubbins at the rear a flat deck with some tie-down points so you've got a bit of load carrying capacity and you've got a decent fair-weather run-about.

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Bank fail: Ready or not, here's our new software

Vulch

Re: Nobody wants...

The guys that built it are the last ones that should be testing. They (I...) know how it works, what you need is testers who haven't seen the code and have the devious sort of mind that tries all sorts of "unusual" inputs the original coders (and spec?) never considered.

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13 CubeSats to ride mighty US lifter

Vulch

Just like at lift-off in an actual flight, there's a water deluge system running to stop the test stand melting.

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Test burn on recycled SpaceX rocket shows almost all systems are go

Vulch

"Unfortunately, we are not standing upright on the drone ship at the moment"

First stage made it to the barge, but landed hard and broke a leg.

Oh well, next launch due in early February...

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Vulch

Re: Good point worth highlighting

"While the firm's upgrade cycle means the rocket will never be used for another commercial launch..."

There has been talk of this one being used for the in-flight abort test of the Dragon later in the year if it comes down in one piece.

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Vulch

It's the "Not going anywhere" is the problem with that idea, you'd need a lot of them to cover all the different launch inclinations from a particular launch site. With a barge you just sail it to the right place each time.

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SpaceX makes rocket science look easy: Falcon 9 passes tests

Vulch

Re: Cost

Replying a week later but at least I'll be able to find it next time...

Actually, if that 16 million is for the first stage rather than the whole F9 it does fit with advertised rates. A standard launch is being priced at 60 million, a Heavy launch 90. It has been suggested that the first stage makes up two thirds of the hardware cost so with a fixed cost per launch (y) plus a hardware unit cost (x) we have F9R as 3x + y = 60 and F9H as 7x + y = 90. Solving that gives x = 7.5 making each first stage 15 million, 22.5 million (15 + 7.5) for a complete F9R and 52.5 million (3 * 15 + 7.5) for the F9H. It also means there's an overhead of 37.5 million for each launch going into range payments, pad rent, payload integration and company profits.

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Vulch

Re: F9 Heavy

How much of that is for the hardware and how much goes to things like paying for the Air Force range tracking and rent on the pads though? There will be a fixed cost per launch that is independent of the number of first stages involved. Still sounds like a bit of a bargain mind you.

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Cocky SpaceX will try another sea landing with next rocket launch

Vulch

Ah, and of course it's using the last of the basic Falcon 9 v1.1 first stages so is more restricted on fuel and thrust for an RTLS.

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Vulch

They've got permission for RTLS at Cape Canaveral on the east coast. The Jason 3 launch is going from Vandenberg on the west coast though which may not be covered yet.

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Getting metal hunks into orbit used to cost a bomb. Then SpaceX's Falcon 9 landed

Vulch

Re: Real numbers would be interesting

making throwaway rockets as efficiently as possible without the agenda of the space agencies or defence contractors

Military involvement as it was originally designed as a very large ICBM, but it's thought the Russian Proton takes a team of around 50 people just under a year to build. It's assembled horizontally (the first stage is put together from 7 components which are the largest size that will fit a standard Russian railway tunnel) when it reaches the launch site. All pad services run through a single set of umbilicals at the base of the first stage and the pre-launch checkout is highly automated. That's probably as cheap as you can get. Buying a Proton launch if you aren't Russian isn't that cheap as there's a lot of middle-men taking a cut.

It's the people needed to build, inspect and launch a rocket cost a large chunk of the money. The more of a particular model you can launch, the less the standing army adds to each one. Elon Musk has mentioned that during the stand-down they've got the first stage production rate to one every three weeks. Start adding in reflights of recovered stages and they could hit a launch a week which gets them to the point where they need another shift at the assembly and launch point.

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Vulch

Re: Real numbers would be interesting

You end up with a much bigger, and hence more expensive

Rocket cost only weakly scales with size, complexity affects it far more. This Falcon 9 had around 30% more capability than the baseline v1.1 model at the cost of a bunch of engine improvements and a few feet extra on the tanks. No significant added complexity, and an extra ring of aluminium welded in during manufacture.

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SpaceX launch is a go for Sunday after successful static fire completed

Vulch

Launch scrubbed for tonight, rescheduled to tomorrow. More time to look at the liquid oxygen problem that delayed the static fire and better conditions for the RTLS attempt.

"Monday's launch time is set for 8:33 p.m. EST (0133 GMT Tuesday) with a 60-second launch window."

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Brit 'naut Tim Peake thunders aloft

Vulch

Re: Major Tim blasts off

Or not paying attention for the last couple of years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

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Feeble Phobos flaking as it falls to Mars

Vulch

Deimos is a better bet for a Martian space elevator, Phobos gets in the way though...

(Fountains of Paradise - Arthur C Clarke, Red/Green/Blue Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson)

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Lithium-air: A battery breakthrough explained

Vulch

Re: Oxygen makes things burn brightly

As pure oxygen is toxic above 0.5 atmospheres, it seems unlikely it was both "pure" and "high pressure"

And you'd be wrong. The spacecraft cabin was pressurised to 16.7psi with pure oxygen, the idea being that during launch the pressure would be reduced to around 5psi when in space. The crew were fully suited and breathing from a different supply.

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Doctor Who's The Zygon Invasion shape-shifts Clara and brings yet more hybrids

Vulch

"THIS IS A POST-UK BROADCAST REVIEW "

Not at 20:25 GMT it's not...

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Made you jump! Space to give Earth an asteroid Halloween scare

Vulch

"That's the nearest asteroid flyby since 2006"

Ummm, no?

There has been at least one bigger and closer in November 2011, and at least a dozen have come inside the moons orbit since then. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/15/2012_de14_asteroid_fail/ for instance a day or two after Chelyabinsk.

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Reg lecture asks what’s so scary about 1.5 tonnes of metal with a mind of its own?

Vulch

Re: I love driving, but...

leading to even longer commutes?

Except if they're driverless the vehicles can adjust speed to get best throughput.

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MYSTERY PARTICLE BLASTS from Ceres strike NASA probe Dawn

Vulch

Re: Slump?

One possibility is that the crust is a thin layer of rock over a layer of ice. The impact blasted out a normal crater but the ice underneath has crept back to nearer level and is mostly covered over again by dust and rubble.

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Bletchley Park remembers 'forgotten genius' Gordon Welchman

Vulch

Welchman was recruited from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and in turn recruited several colleagues and former students from there.

http://www.sid.cam.ac.uk/life/news/800/sidney-and-the-codebreakers-of-bletchley-park.html

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Doctor Who storms back in fine form with Season 9 opener The Magician's Apprentice

Vulch

I suspect Mr Davis had a lot less, erm, "guidance" for his little revival of a minor science fiction series that had been cancelled years before, and was better placed to resist the increased level of "advice" as it returned to being a flagship programme. Hopefully Stephen Moffat is managing to shake off some of the barnacles that attached when he took over. Scripts like Blink and The Girl In The Fireplace along with his work on Sherlock show he can produce excellent work when he's allowed to get on with it.

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Soyuz docks with ISS, delivers trio of fresh 'nauts

Vulch

Re: Nice pics ! A bit blurry though.

But what's with all the numbers ?

The pictures are from part of the KURS docking system (over on the right, 6 lines down "KYPC") giving distances, velocities and angles between the station and the Soyuz. eg bottom left quadrant gives the distance, 208m with a relative velocity of 0.1m/s in the first pic and 40m out closing at 0.14m/s in the second. If a manual docking is needed the crosshairs are lined up with a target beside the docking port on the station which gives a visual indication of whether you're on line and at the right angle.

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Falcon 9 fireworks display grounds SpaceX

Vulch

Re: Relying on subcontractor self-assessments

They were testing a selection of the struts, and it so happened all the ones they had tested passed. Part of what SpaceX is doing is finding out where the balance point between testing and cost is.

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Antiques in spaaaaace! Retired space shuttles cannibalised for parts

Vulch

It's actually got some clever stuff like bellows inside to make sure you can get the water back out again and sensors to tell how full it is so not just a tank.

According to an ex-shuttle worker commenting on http://spaceflightnow.com/2015/08/19/photos-water-tanks-removed-from-shuttle-for-new-use/ the manufacturer for these tanks went out of business and this is a lot easier than trying to source suitable new tanks.

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Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?

Vulch
Happy

Re: The end of any driving pleasure

" take the train if you want to nail 600 miles in a single trip."

Speed up main line electrification and bring back Motorail. Your self driving electric car takes you to the station, drops you off at the ticket hall, pootles round to the loading bay and hops on the train itself, recharges on the journey, and is outside waiting for you at the far end.

How to deal with changing platforms in a hurry and cars that decide to go to Aberdeen when their owners were heading to Cardiff are left as an exercise for the software engineering team...

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EU clears UK to give £50m to SABRE space launcher engine

Vulch

we get awesome black space planes

Awesome black space planes called Anastasia even. Proper classic references.

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SpaceX's blast shock delays world's MOST POWERFUL ROCKET

Vulch

Re: OK Say you get to Mars

It's one of the minor reasons for switching to Methane for the fuel. It's not hard to process the Martian atmosphere into Methane and Oxygen which you can use to refuel your lander for the trip back up. Takes power and time but saves a huge amount of payload lifted from Earth.

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Boffin: Will I soon be able to CLONE a WOOLLY MAMMOTH? YES. Should I? Hell NO

Vulch

Wrangel Island

Had mammoths living on it around 4000 years ago. By the time the last one died the pyramids were over a thousand years old...

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KRAKKOOM! SpaceX Falcon supply mission to ISS EXPLODES minutes after launch

Vulch

Re: Third time lucky?

Press conference said something about a filter bed for the water recycler being a replacement for one that was lost in the Antares boom. I think they also said the Dragon was due to bring the old one back so they could check what it had been filtering out...

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Vulch

Re: Motoring along...

A tweet from Elon Musk suggested it was an over-pressure event in the second stage oxygen tank. So probably something like tank burst causing debris which took out the first stage.

At the press conference that has just finished Gwen Shotwell of SPaceX said she wasn't aware of the range safety being used. There were also comments that telemetry from the Dragon carried on after the event.

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Vulch

Re: It was the cabbages, I say!

Lightning protection. Lots of thunderstorms in the area year round and you really don't want your rocket being the tallest conductive thing in the area.

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SpaceX gets ready to crash barge-land ANOTHER rocket

Vulch

"What????????? Thunderbird 3 was ORANGE"

On a 1960s black and white television it was Red!

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Vulch

Deary me, no. It should lower itself down through the hole in the middle of the Round House.

Mind you, it should also be painted pillar box red...

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Hubble spots Pluto's moons are a chaotic mess of tumbling rock

Vulch

Re: Never mind the orbits

It's a guess. There's enough evidence to tell they're not spherical and none of the four small moons have enough self-gravity to make them that way, so they're going to look like mid-sized asteroids.

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NASA hands Boeing first commercial crew contract for SPAAAACE

Vulch

Re: CST-100's schedule looks interesting

Presumably an in-flight abort test will happen in March

Boeing don't feel the need to do a live in-flight abort test, their simulations are considered adequate.

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PHOTON SPACE SAIL successfully Kickstarted into orbit

Vulch

Interplanetary

The Japanese launched Ikaros five years ago next week.

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