A Niche in Time: “One of the Worst Catastrophes in the World”

The Hindenburg on its first test flight.

Part 2 of 5

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For 8-year old Werner Doehner, everything about the airship that floated over the field at Frankfurt looked humongous. The Zeppelin before him stretched 245 meters (803.8 feet) from nose to tail – longer than some of the ocean liners that sailed the North Atlantic. Even the propeller blades on the airship’s four reversible Daimler-Benz diesel engines and the rubber tires on the control car looked enormous to the young boy.

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Blue Origin Signs Geosat Launch for New Glenn

BANGKOK (mu Space PR) — mu Space Corp today announced at the 68th Annual International Astronautical Congress that they have entered into an agreement with Blue Origin to partner on a future launch of a geostationary satellite aboard their New Glenn orbital rocket. The launch is set to happen early in the next decade.

Commenting on the new partnership, mu Space CEO James Yenbamroong says, “We’ve decided to go with Blue Origin because we’re impressed with the company’s vision and engineering approach.”

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Musk’s Mars 2.0 Presentation Might Not be Webcast

Well, that’s the good news. The bad news?

It’s not real clear whether the world will be able to see his presentation on Friday. There were some Tweets suggesting it would be webcast. This was followed by an official tweet from the IAF that it would not be. I’ve seen some grumbling that the reason for not webcasting it involves the state of Australia’s Internet not being especially fast.

I will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as we get them. Now back to your regular Monday programming.

Reaction Engines Receives DARPA Contract for Precooler Tests

CASTLE ROCK, Colo., September 25, 2017 (Reaction Engines PR) — Reaction Engines Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Reaction Engines, today announced that it has received a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct high-temperature airflow testing in the United States of a Reaction Engines precooler test article called HTX.

The precooler heat exchanger is a key component of the company’s revolutionary SABRE air-breathing rocket engine and has the potential to enable other precooled propulsion systems. The primary HTX test objective is to validate precooler performance under the high-temperature airflow conditions expected during high-speed flights up to Mach 5.

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This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, Sept. 25, 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT:: Tonight is a special OPEN LINES show at the 7PM PDT time slot. We talk about the topics that interest you. All space, STEM, STEAM, science calls are welcome. First time callers are welcome.

2. Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: BOB ZIMMERMAN returns for space news and development updates.

3. Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2016:: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, Sept. 29, 2017; 9:30 AM-11 AM PDT, (12:30 -2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT): DR. GIL LEVIN returns for life on Mars discussions, more on the Viking experiments plus additional commentary and information from Dr. Levin

5. Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017: 12-1:30 PM DST (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): MICHAEL LISTNER returns for space legal news updates and more.

A Niche in Time: Human Flight Through the Ages

Montgolfier brothers balloon

During an extended stay in Paris some years ago, I ventured out beyond the Le Boulevard Périphérique to the Le Musée de l’air et de l’espace at Le Bouget. Having made many a pilgrimage to the American museum with a similar name on the National Mall in Washington, DC, I was interested to see how the French interpreted the history of human flight. It was an eye-opening experience.

Having often gazed up at the Wright Flyer suspended over my head in the Milestones of Flight Gallery, I was accustomed to thinking of human flight as a strictly 20th century development. But, the French museum dated it back 120 years earlier to a pair of equally ambitious brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfiers, who launched piloted balloons. A good part of the museum was devoted to this much earlier phase of flight.

I was reminded of the visit some years later watching HBO’s adaptation of David McCullough’s book, “John Adams.” There’s a great scene of the acerbic, candid-to-a-fault founding father watching a Montgolfier balloon launch with his urbane and delightful wife, Abigail, and the equally urbane and delightful Thomas Jefferson.

It’s a terrific scene in a great mini-series. Watching it you get a sense of the wonder that Parisians felt at the time watching something that would have seemed impossible to them not long before. There’s something universal about flying that excites people no matter what century they live in or what technology is used. The same sense of wonder and excitement connects the Parisians of 1793 to early 20th century Americans who saw an airplane for the first time and those who watched Alan Shepard’s launch from Cape Canaveral in 1961.

Despite the differences in time periods and technologies, there are some fundamental things that are required for all major advances in flight regardless of when they are made: imagination, daring, physical courage and financial backing. And luck. No small amount of luck.

Today, Parabolic Arc begins a five-part series looking at three different periods in powered human flight. We will compare and contrast them to see what essential lessons can be drawn from them. If the first two installments appear to have little to do with spaceflight, please be patient. All will be revealed.

The first post takes us not to 18th century France but to a lake in Southern Germany at the turn of the last century where an aristocrat gave the Montgolfier brothers’ invention a major upgrade.

The Series:

Part I: Behemoths of the Sky

A Niche in Time: Behemoths of the Sky

Zeppelin LZ-1 flying over Lake Constance.

Part 1 of 5

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Six months into a new century in an age already known for astounding technological progress, a strange cigar-shaped vehicle slowly rose from a shed on Lake Constance in southern Germany and began to move forward.

Stretching 128 meters (420 feet) from bow to stern, the LZ-1 (Luftschiff Zeppelin, or “Airship Zeppelin”) consisted of a cylindrical aluminum frame covered in fabric with two gondolas suspended below it. Lift was provided by 17 gas bags made of rubberized cotton that contained 11,298 cubic meters (399,000 cubic feet) of flammable hydrogen. The LZ-1 was propelled forward by a pair of 11 kW (14 hp) Daimler engines.

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NASA Small Satellite Promises Big Discoveries

Dr. Reyhan Baktur, a co-investigator from Utah State University, poses with a glass component of UF-Radsat’s solar array. (Credit: Utah State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Small satellites provide a cheap, responsive alternative to larger, more expensive satellites. As demand grows, engineers must adapt these “nanosatellites” to provide greater data returns. NASA, in collaboration with educational partners, targets 2021 for the launch of an innovative CubeSat that addresses these challenges.

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Australia to Establish Space Agency

CANBERRA, Australia (Australian Government PR) — The Turnbull Government has committed to establishing a national space agency to ensure Australia has a long-term plan to grow its domestic space industry.

Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the establishment of a space agency is one of the key issues being examined by the Expert Reference Group appointed to review Australia’s space industry capability.

“The global space industry is growing rapidly and it’s crucial that Australia is part of this growth,” Minister Cash said.

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ULA’s Atlas V Launches NRO Satellite

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying NROL-42 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 on Sept. 23, 2017. (Credit: ULA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Sept. 24, 2017 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off  from Space Launch Complex-3 on Sept. 23, at 10:49:47 p.m. PDT. Designated NROL-42, the mission is in support of national security.

“Congratulations to the entire team for overcoming multiple challenges throughout this launch campaign. From Hurricane Irma schedule impacts to replacing to a first stage battery this week – the team maintained a clear focus on mission success,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. “NROL-42 marks the 25th ULA-launched NRO mission, building upon our legacy of partnership with the NRO in providing reliable access to space for our nation’s most critical missions.”

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BoldlyGo Institute Signs Space Act Agreement with NASA

NEW YORK (BoldlyGo Institute PR) — The BoldlyGo Institute (BoldlyGo) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have signed a Space Act Agreement to cooperate on “Project Blue,” a mission to search for potentially habitable Earth-size planets in the Alpha Centauri system using a specially designed space telescope.

“We’re pleased to be working with NASA on this ambitious public-private partnership,” said Dr. Jon Morse, CEO of BoldlyGo. “Much of the coronagraph imaging technology needed for Project Blue to take direct images of exoplanets from space has been developed through NASA-funded programs. Having access to NASA’s scientific and technical expertise throughout the mission lifecycle is invaluable,” Morse continued.

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VP Pence to Visit NASA Marshall on Monday

Mike Pence

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Vice President Mike Pence will visit NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Monday, Sept. 25. The Vice President will tour Marshall to get an update on the progress of the Space Launch System rocket and International Space Station science operations as the agency prepares for missions to deep space, around the Moon and ultimately to Mars.

The Vice President will tour Marshall’s Payload Operations Integration Facility, where all scientific research aboard the station is managed around-the-clock, 365 days a year. This research is helping people learn how to live and work in space for long periods. The Vice President will see a test with the engine section of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage –the largest rocket stage ever built for the world’s most powerful rocket. The four RS-25 engines and the two solid rocket boosters that attach to the engine section will produce more than 8 million pounds of thrust to help send the Orion crew vehicle farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever travelled before.

While at Redstone Arsenal, where Marshall is located, Vice President Pence will visit the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center for briefs from Army leaders on current missile defense projects and Army initiatives. Redstone Arsenal is an Army installation with a workforce of around 41,000 active duty military, government civilians and contractors. The arsenal is a Federal Center of Excellence, hosting components of more than 70 government organizations, including NASA, Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, FBI, and Department of Justice.

Get more information about Redstone Arsenal at:

https://www.garrison.redstone.army.mil

Get more information about how Marshall Space Flight Center is hard at work building the SLS rocket and the technologies and systems needed to send astronauts into deep space at:

https://www.nasa.gov/marshall

ATLAS Space Operations & NASA Partner to Advance Commercial Space Technology

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (ATLAS Space Operations PR) — ATLAS Space Operations, Inc. announced today that it has entered a collaborative partnership with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This partnership, as a part of the Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO), will work to support the development of advanced commercial space telecommunications capabilities, industry wide.

ATLAS is revolutionizing space-to-ground communications with their proprietary data management platform – ATLAS Freedom and a scalable satellite ground station technology, ATLAS LINKS Electronically Steered Array.

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SSL to Help U.S. Air Force Test & Validate Hosted Payloads Scenarios

PALO ALTO, Calif. SSL, a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it was selected by Innoflight, Inc., a veteran-owned business specializing in electronics systems for Defense & Aerospace, to provide a high fidelity simulation environment for testing the security of hosted payloads on commercial satellites.  The capability, which is being developed for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) as part of its Secure IP Payload Accommodation Demonstration Project, will enable SMC to demonstrate cybersecure payload hosting scenarios, concepts of operation, and cybersecurity controls.

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