Tag Archives: engineering

The first spacewalk

An evening pause: Forty-six years ago today Alexei Leonov became the first man to walk in space. This Soviet-era film shows practically the entire event, using footage from two cameras. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Russian and it is not subtitled. I’d love it if someone out there could provide a translation.

Several things to note as you watch:
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The situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to stabilize

Here’s some good news: The situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to stabilize.

The article has a lot to say about the panicky overreaction of much of the press and political class over this incident. For example:

In summary it appears more and more that health consequences from reactor damage will be extremely minimal even for workers at the site. It will now be a surprise if anyone who has not been inside the plant gates this week is affected by the situation at at all – apart from all the people worldwide who have been taking iodide pills or eating salt unnecessarily. There may also be measurable psychological health effects from the global media-driven hysteria surrounding the situation, of course.


Satellite Builders express contempt for MDA’s refueling plans for Intelsat

Sour grapes: Satellite builders express contempt for MDA’s refueling plans for Intelsat orbiting satellites.

No surprise here. If Intelsat can extend the life of its satellites, than it won’t have to buy them as often from these builders, something the builders clearly don’t want.


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.”

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