Tag Archives: engineering

Intelsat signs MDA to perform in-space refueling of its communications satellites

Intelsat signs MDA to perform in-space refueling of its communications satellites.

The concept of refueling geosynchronous satellites has been lurking about the aerospace industry for years. According to this deal, we should see an actual mission in about five years.


A detailed explanation of what has happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Check out this detailed engineering explanation of what has happened, is happening, and will happen at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Key quote:

The point is that the nuclear fuel has now been cooled down. Because the chain reaction has been stopped a long time ago, there is only very little residual heat being produced now. The large amount of cooling water that has been used is sufficient to take up that heat. Because it is a lot of water, the core does not produce sufficient heat any more to produce any significant pressure. Also, boric acid has been added to the seawater. Boric acid is “liquid control rod”. Whatever decay is still going on, the Boron will capture the neutrons and further speed up the cooling down of the core.


Putting ISS to use

Putting ISS to use. Key quote:

Under consideration is using the entire station and its six-person crew as an analog for a deep-space human exploration vehicle en route to Mars. An internal team is studying the feasibility and value of such an exercise in the summer of 2012. “We might start with a small window, like a 30-day window, with actual time delays with what we’d expect with a Martian communications system,” Gerstenmaier says. “We may freeze our consumables on station, in the sense of saying that we’ve started our voyage to Mars, and see how well we do in our predictions.”


Maiden flight of the space shuttle Discovery

An evening pause:I had played this video as an evening pause back in November, when I thought the last mission of the space shuttle Discovery would be launched. Now that it has finally landed, completing its final mission, I think worthwhile to once again go back in time and watch a film of the shuttle’s maiden flight, launched August 30, 1984, narrated by the astronauts themselves. Note that the female astronaut on this flight is Judith Resnik, who died a little over a year and a half later in the Challenger accident.


More evidence Penn State’s investigation of Mann was a whitewash

More evidence that Penn State’s investigation of IPCC climate researcher Michael Mann was a whitewash.

The key point is that the Penn State investigators never interviewed a principal who was able to confirm or deny a key charge against “Hockey Stick” lead author of “Hide the Decline” infamy Michael Mann. This individual has now been interviewed, and what he told federal investigators has indicted Mann and Penn State.

I have noted this already, the very week the Penn State report was issued, but it is nice to see there is further evidence to confirm my conclusions.


A hint of what is inside X-37b

X-37b patent image

Want to know what’s inside X-37b? New Scientist dug around in the patent office and got some clues. Key quote:

Boeing reveals in the patent that the solar array has been designed to permit fast folding and stowing. The reason? So the X-37B can fold the solar array away, fire its thrusters and change its orbit to confound adversaries. This would be useful for satellites, too, says Boeing: “The ability to completely re-stow would offer mission flexibility to move the satellite thus making its orbit unpredictable.”


A lean future for U.S. planetary missions

Planetary scientists make their recommendations for the kinds of planetary missions they think the United States should do for the next decade. And it looks like a lean future, as the scientists also note that their primary recommendations, missions to Mars and Europa, should only be built if their budgets can be trimmed significantly:

NASA’s top priority, according to the survey’s recommendations, should be the Mars Astrobiology Explorer Cacher, or MAX-C, which could help determine whether Mars ever supported life and offer insight on its geologic and climate history. It would also be the first step in an effort to get samples from Mars back to Earth. However, the report said this mission should only be undertaken if NASA’s cost is about $2.5 billion, which is $1 billion less than independent estimates provided to the panel. The mission would be run jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency, according to the survey.

A mission to Europa and its subsurface ocean — which might support life — should be the second priority mission, the experts said. But its estimated price tag of $4.7 billion may make it too expensive without an increase in NASA’s planetary science budget or a paring of the mission’s costs. [emphasis mine]

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