Archive for September, 2004

SF Babes Poll Number 3

September 30, 2004

This week, the lovely ladies of Battlestar Galactica.
Last week, we had a close finish, with no single lady receiving more than 50%. Your vote counts!
Update: Although Yeoman Rand won last week’s poll, I think an Honorary SF Babe of the Week Award, Special X-Prize Edition should go to Anousheh Ansari, entrepreneur, benefactor of the X-Prize foundation, and, I should add, a real babe:
ansari.jpg
Results (Posted 7 October 2004):

SF Babes – Battlestar Galactica
sheba.jpg Sheba
26 Votes
46%
athena.jpg Athena
12 Votes
21%
Cassiopeia.jpg Cassiopeia
5 Votes
9%
serena.jpg Serena
13 Votes
23%

With a special honorable mention to Flight Corporal Rigel (whom I forgot to include):
corporalrigel.jpg

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X-Prize Attempt (Liveblogging)

September 29, 2004

I have the webcast running on my screen (follow the “Webcast” link from this page) and plan to update as time permits today.
Update 08:17 CDT (GMT -6): Via Rand Simberg, HobbySpace provides this schedule of events:

1. White Knight with the SpaceShipOne will taxi to the runway at California’s Mojave airport at 6:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EDT; 1330 GMT).
2. Airborne around 6:45 a.m. PDT (9:45 a.m. EDT; 1345 GMT).
3. About an hour later White Knight will reach an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet where SS1 is dropped at 7:45 a.m. PDT (10:45 a.m. EDT; 1445 GMT) and SS1 ignites its rocket engine
4. Powered flight of about 80 seconds
5. SpaceShipOne coasts up to an altitude of at least 62 miles and then reenters the atmosphere
6. Glides to a landing on the Mojave runway by 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT; 1530 GMT)

Update 08:19 CDT: The live webcast is quite congested. If it keeps up, I’m not sure how much of this I’ll get to see “live”.
Update 08:23 CDT: Space.com is running an update page, too.
Update 08:44 CDT: Mike Melvill will be the pilot for today’s flight. Webcasters reporting he has flown more Rutan prototypes than any other pilot.
Update 09:02 CDT: White Knight is pulling out now, preparing for takeoff.
Update 09:15 CDT: White Knight is airborne.
Update 09:24 CDT: As White Knight gains altitude, the webcast cuts to a video recapping the conditions necessary to win the Ansari X-Prize and gives some background on the X-Prize history and concept. Good information for the casual observer.
Update 09:31 CDT: I just noticed the Virgin logo on SS1. Surely a result of this deal announced two days ago.
Update 09:37 CDT: White Knight/SpaceShipOne Separation to occur in about 40 minutes. No updates expected until then.
Update 09:43 CDT: X-Prize benefactor Anousheh Ansari is speaking. I think I’m going to award her a special X-prize-edition-honorary-SF-Babe prize (this is Science Fiction coming true, after all!)
Update 09:47 CDT: NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe speaking now. (Personal comment: “Regards to Captain Dunsel.”)
Update 10:10 CDT: Separation! Godspeed, Mike Melvill!
Update 10:11 CDT: Rocket firing – SS1 is in a roll — “Uh-oh… unscripted maneuver” — engines shutdown.
Update 10:13 CDT: SS1 is in its “shuttlecock position” made it to 338,000 feet (~102 km). They made it!!! (Update in an update: awaiting official confirmation).
Update 10:17 CDT: Transition from shuttlecock to normal wings-locked flight — SS1 is now a glider on the way home!
Update 10:18 CDT: Sonic boom in Mojave. Mike’s on the way… green for landing … descending.
Update 10:33 CDT: Flanked by chase planes, SS1 is making its final approach…
Update 10:34 CDT: Touchdown! Rutan and company now have two weeks to make another attempt (assuming official certification of the altitude).
Update 10:38 CDT: The White Knight carrier plane has just touched down safely.
Update 10:50-52 CDT: Nice views of SpaceShipOne being towed by the bandstand. Nice touch with American flag waving. “This magic day when super-science mingles with the bright stuff of dreams…” Melvill emerges from cockpit. Greeted by Burt Rutan. Lots of pictures for posterity.
Update 10:56 CDT: Melvill called the unscripted maneuver a “victory roll.” SS1 “flies like a dream.” He shut off the engine about 11 seconds earlier than automatic shutoff.
Update 11:02 CDT: “Major New Announcement” coming up shortly. Developing…
Update 11:09 CDT: Diamandis announcing the “X-Prize Cup” — similar to a “Grand Prix” of space vehicles, to take place once a year in New Mexico. Marketing the concept of live TV coverage, corporate sponsorship, etc. This was announced several months ago, so I don’t know if this really counts as a major “new” announcement.
That wraps up my live coverage for today. Check back tonight for additional commentary and links. Thanks!
Update 12:51 CDT: Since I won’t be updating for the rest of the workday, be sure to check SpaceFlightNow and Space.com throughout the day for updates.

Aircraft Cheesecake – Special X-Prize Edition

September 28, 2004

cap_car_sunrise_800.jpg

SpaceShipOne Haiku

September 28, 2004

In slightly less than 10 hours, Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne should be making its first official qualifying flight for the Ansari X-Prize.
Since Haiku seems to be the preferred form of Munuvian poetry, I thought I would offer up a single haiku for the occasion:

Fall. Desert morning.
Composite skin gleaming white.
SpaceShipOne takes flight.

If you hear a muse whispering in your ear, leave the whisperings in comments or post them at your own site and track back to here.

Real Escher Structures

September 28, 2004

Via GeekPress, a couple of pages featuring 3-D models of some of Escher’s “impossible” objects.
Of course, each 3-D model only works when rotated so that the 2-D cross-section looks like the Escher drawing. From other angles, they look nothing like Escher’s drawings.
Very cool stuff.

Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (F4U Corsair)

September 26, 2004

This week’s entry is the Chance Vought F4U Corsair:
F4u.corsair.750pix.jpg
I remember this plane as the “star” of the TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep, which I enjoyed as an eight-year old boy. The show was based on the experiences of American WWII ace, Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, related further in his autobiography.
This page has some links to the F4U Corsair’s training films.

Russian Tank Museum

September 23, 2004

From Gravity Lens, a link to a Russian Tank Museum.
Be sure to check out the photogallery of armored trains. Amazing.

SF Babes Poll Number 2

September 23, 2004

This week’s poll is among the three lovely ladies of Starfleet from the original Star Trek: Uhura, Nurse Chapel, and Yeoman Rand.
For the results of the first SF Babes Poll, click here.
Vote early, vote often, and have fun. Comments (the more smart-assed, the better) are encouraged and welcomed.
Results (Posted 30 September 2004):

SF Babes – Star Trek TOS
Uhura.jpg Uhura
19 Votes
38%
NurseChapel.jpg Nurse Chapel
9 Votes
18%
Rand.jpg Yeoman Rand
22 Votes
44%

Good News For Spirit and Opportunity

September 22, 2004

NASA has extended the missions of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for another 6 months.

Five Questions To Bloggers

September 22, 2004

Here’s a new viral thread working its way through the DNA of the blogosphere:
1. Why did you start a blog?
I’d flirted off and on with the idea of being a writer, and wanted to force myself to write regularly (unfortunately, I’ve been more of a linker than a writer recently).
2. Do you have a blogmother/blogfather?
Not really, though my first permalink came from Prof. Chris Hall.
3. Has it helped/hurt/had no effect on your professional life?
It has had little effect on my professional life. I did remodel my law department’s website using the html and css skills I learned blogging, so maybe it helped more than hurt.
4. Do your ‘real world’ friends know that you blog?
Many, but not all. Few read it.
5. Do you have a blog crush?
No.
(First seen at Ted’s site, where I answered them in comments).