Archive for March, 2007

Random thoughts for today

Saturday, March 31st, 2007
  • I am having a lot of contractions this evening, and they’re starting to get a little bit painful. They’re not regular, so I don’t really have anything to worry about yet, but I’ll continue to keep an eye on how frequently they’re happening.
  • Our house currently smells like burnt rice, ’cause we burnt the rice meant for dinner. Simmer is an impossible task on our stove.
  • I really have to empty the compost bucket more often. It was really nasty when I emptied it a few minutes ago. It will happen more often now that I can actually reach the compost pile without feeling like I’m on a trek across Alaska.
  • We got the carpet ripped out of the nursery today. The wood has been ordered, and should be here next week. When it’s going to be installed, we can’t quite figure out.

Spreading the Word

Friday, March 30th, 2007

One of the blogs I read regularly is by Ali Edwards. She is a scrapbook artist whose work is regularly featured in Creating Keepsakes Magazine. She also has written several creative idea books. She is one very talented lady.

Ali has a five year old son named Simon who is Autistic. She has been using her blog and celebrity status to help raise money for Autism Speaks through Kevin Bacon’s 6 Degrees website. There is currently a contest going through March 31st in which Kevin will match up to $10,000 for the top six fund raisers. I am doing my part to help Ali spread the word. If you’re interested in helping out, click the badge below and make a donation, and help Ali get the matching funds. She has already raised over $32,000, which is a truly remarkable feat. I congratulate her on an amazing feat.

DemoFlight 2 Update

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

The other day SpaceX released more details on what probably happened with the DemoFlight 2 launch. Ultimately, the 2nd stage motor shut down prematurely… because it wasn’t getting enough fuel… because the rocket was oscillating… because the fuel was sloshing… because there wasn’t enough damping in the control loop and because there was an impact between the 2nd stage nozzle and the first stage at staging.

You can actually see much of this in the video of the test flight if you watch closely. I recall noting that the staging seemed to be fairly misaligned, and it sure looked like an impact at the time. I was too excited by the cheering from mission control* to pay much attention though. 🙂

Bottom line: The sloshing and the control loop will be easily fixed. The angular rates at separation will have to be looked at more closely I think. They believe they can control this by throttling back the Merlin, 1st stage, motor. This may lead to reduced reuse. I speculate that this may be due to increased pintle wear in the nozzle. Its fairly impressive that their Kestrel, 2nd stage motor, nozzle is tough enough to take a blow from the first stage and still operate pretty much normally. Obviously, having parts of your space vehicle bouncing off of each other is to be avoided.

The details can be found on Elon’s latest update at the SpaceX update site.

* The cheering was audible on the live webcast (along with some amusing remarks after the initial launch abort which are not included and might want to be avoided in the future) and is on the video. In re-watching the staging in writing this post, there is a pretty obvious collision between the 1st stage and the nozzle, and a significant attitude correction shortly thereafter (watch the position of the 1st stage in the background change). Also note the continued rotation of the 1st stage in the background to see how much angular rate the system had before separation (conservation of angular momentum and all that).

Planet Earth

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

I have just finished watching the first two episodes in the 11 part Planet Earth miniseries on the Discovery Channel. The 3rd is recording now and I will watch it later. I have to admit that this is some of the most impressive footage I’ve ever seen in a TV series. Growing up without cable (gasp!), Nova, National Geographic specials and other PBS fare were special treats that we would watch. Some were the campy naturalist shows, but others offered glimpse into the beauty and majesty of the world and universe beyond our daily lives.
Planet Earth takes me back to the wonder I felt as a child watching the amazing scenes of the elephants or penguins living in their (to us) alien habitats. As an adult, the beauty and grandeur of this footage has more than once caused me to gasp, rewind and gasp again. Sometimes I find the narration to be distracting in its self-aggrandizement… “Never before captured on film” and “brand new filming technologies” would be nice for the “Making of…” show, but lets just enjoy the moment. Maybe the DVD will offer a ‘no-narration’ option.

Despite this very minor flaw, if you have have not been watching, catch the encore performances, and set your alarm clocks or recording devices for next week. If you enjoy these sorts of expositions of the world around us, you won’t regret it.

New Pictures

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

There are some new pregnancy pictures up in the gallery. To see them, you’ll have to be a registered user. So pop on over to the Registration page, create yourself an account, then take a look at how large my belly has gotten.

(oh, I should mention that registration is not immediate…Chris or I have to activate it before you can use it.)

Quick update

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Happy Spring everyone! It’s beginning to feel a little bit like spring here…the weather here today is 55 and raining, which is a bit dreary. We still have quite a bit of snow on the ground, but it won’t last long if the weather stays like this, and it looks like it’s going to. Just had to buy these tulips when I saw them in the grocery store on Tuesday to help brighten things up a little.

I watched the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End today. It looks like it’s going to be good, but I’m a little bit leery ’cause the second movie looked good in the trailer, but I was very disappointed with it. Don’t know if I’ll be able to see this one in the theater…will have to wait and see how things go I guess.

I finished reading Running With Scissors yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree completely with the reviewer who called it “Disturbingly Hilarious”. I think I will pick up his book Dry: A Memoir the next time I’m at Barnes and Noble.

The kid is getting stronger and stronger. There’s been a whole lot of movement going on the last week or so. Tuesday night it was so bad it got to the point of being painful, and I didn’t get any sleep. S/he has been having a lot of hiccups recently too, which is a very interesting sensation. As for me, I’m doing pretty well, although I’m starting to be tired all the time, and nights without much sleep don’t help any. I’ve finally passed Chris on the scales, weighing in at 161 when I was at the doctors yesterday. I’m hungry all the time, and not much seems to satisfy my appetite for long. I can’t wait to see how much I weigh in May if I keep eating like this.

Alright, I need to go do a little more work on the closet doors before heading out to pick up Chris for our Childbirth Prep class tonight.

Space-X Results

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Apparently the 2nd Stage reentered the atmosphere after reaching a 300km altitude. No reason has been announced yet. If you missed the launch you can download a video of Falcon 1 DemoFlight 2 Launch. Additional information at Spaceflight Now.

I also love this quote on Space Pragmatism:

That was awesome. I watch from T-16 minutes without moving. It was like watching the Superbowl. It was up, the first stage fell away, the second engine started and the fairing fell away. It was unbelievable.

All I can say is thank God for the Internet and all the best to Elon Musk and SpaceX. This is the beginning of a new era in rocket launches.

Oh, I did find evidence that live webcasts of rocket launches (live from the rocket) is precedented by at least one experiment several years ago.

Space-X Launches!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

So after the initial retry, the Falcon 1 launched from Kwajalein Atoll. From what I could see on the live webcast (which Eric noted may actually be unprecedented), the vehicle launched, stage separation occurred, the fairing separated and the second stage burn was well underway…. then the webcast cut off. So I don’t really know what happened in the end.

Space-X Launch Webcast

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Many of you have probably noticed the link to Space-X on the main page. I’ve been following this company for some time. They are one of a small list of companies attempting to prove that spaceflight is not limited to governments and large defense contractors.

We’re 15 minutes from launch on their second orbital attempt. You can watch the launch live.

Update 8:10 PM:
You can now watch the terminal abort procedures live… No announcement to what happened, but clearly the usefulness of a completely reusable ignition source has once again been demonstrated. They got to ignition start, burned for about 2-3 seconds and shut it down. You can read about the Falcon 1 at Space-X’s site, but in short it is a 2-stage kerosene/LOX liquid fuel rocket. Each stage has a single engine which is fully throttled and reusable. Edit: The first stage is recovered and reused, the second stage is not, but the motor is restartable.

One of the many advantages of this technology over solid fuel is that you can ignite the engine prior to launch release, check that everything is green, and THEN release the clamps and allow liftoff. Although this is another aborted launch, it was a safe halt, and in many cases can be made ready for launch again in a few hours.
It was quite interesting to listen to the safe-ing procedures: Bring up the gantry (or “safeback”), drain the LOX, drain the fuel, return to ground power and try again….

Update: 8:20 PM:
They’re now talking about doing a reset and refuel for another attempt. Try that with a solid rocket booster!

Nursery Progress 3

Monday, March 19th, 2007

We have finally finished with the paint in the nursery! And saturday we also got the chair rail up (except for one small piece, cause Home Depot didn’t have enough). Finally feels like we’ve accomplished something on it 🙂 I’m thrilled with how it’s turning out. It’s going to look really nice with the crib bedding we’ve picked out.

Next on the list to finish the room up is:

When that’s done, I think the room will be ready for the furniture.