Monthly Archives: March 2012

SpaceX test fires the new SuperDraco propulsion engine

SpaceX successfully test fires SuperDraco, a powerful new engine that will play a critical role in efforts to change the future of human spaceflight.

These engines will power a revolutionary launch escape system that will make Dragon the safest spacecraft in history and enable it to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy.

In a series of tests conducted at SpaceX’s Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, the SuperDraco sustained full duration, full thrust firing as well as a series of deep throttling demonstrations.

 

Learn more about SpaceX:

SpaceX introduces team to test Dragon for manned space flight

Recently, SpaceX “announced it has assembled a team of independent experts to help the company create a safe spacecraft for NASA astronauts.”

And, one of them, Edward Lu, is on Google+:

“I’m looking forward to peeking under the hood of the SpaceX Dragon, and helping them successfully launch humans into orbit!”

More on the company’s initiatives:

The company is already building its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon capsules to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and has a $1.6-billion contract to do just that for NASA.

SpaceX plans to send its unmanned Dragon capsule to dock with the International Space Station on April 30 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in a demonstration flight for NASA. If successful, SpaceX would be the first private company to accomplish the feat.

Now that the space shuttle is retired, SpaceX wants in on the potentially multibillion-dollar job of ferrying astronauts to and from the station. To do that, SpaceX needs to make sure its capsule — which is built to fit up to seven people – is safe.

The independent “safety advisory panel” is composed of leading human spaceflight safety experts:

  • Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut, former International Space Station commander.
  • G. Scott Hubbard, former director of NASA Ames Research Center, Stanford University professor of aeronautics and astronautics, sole NASA representative on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
  • Dr. Richard T. Jennings, former chief of medicine for NASA Johnson Space Center, University of Texas Medical Branch professor at the Aerospace Medicine Center.
  • Capt. Mark Kelly, former NASA astronaut, former Space Shuttle commander, retired Navy captain.
  • Edward Lu, former NASA astronaut.

 

via LA Times

 

More about SpaceX, including their manifesto: “transparency, low prices, and worldwide dominance for the future of space travel.”

 

Test crew included (from top left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: Roger Gilbertson / SpaceX
In 2010, the second flight of Falcon 9 orbits the first operational Dragon spacecraft under the NASA COTS program, and SpaceX becomes the first private company to recover a spacecraft from Earth orbit—a feat previously only accomplished by a few nations.

 

// Photos via SpaceX Updates

Winner of the NCAA Dunk Content – 5’9″ James Justice

From ESPN:

5’9″ James Justice from Martin Methodist College wins the NCAA Dunk contest with this incredible between the legs slam.

Number 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10. The judges, Bobby Hurley, John Salley, Pierre Thomas and Jimmy Graham didn’t even put up scores, it was over!

Covered in brilliant spots – The Obliteration Room

Yayoi Kusama’s interactive Obliteration Room begins as an entirely white space, furnished as a monochrome living room, which people are then invited to ‘obliterate’ with multi-coloured stickers.

After a few weeks the room is transformed from a blank canvas into an explosion of colour, with thousands of spots stuck over every available surface.

TateShots have produced this timelapse video of the first few weeks of its presentation at Tate Modern. It was conceived as a project for children, and was first staged at the Queensland Art Gallery in 2002. The Obliteration Room at Tate Modern is free, and is open to the public until 18 March 2012.

 

Thx to Guy Kawasaki

Isaac Newton Digital Library – 4,000 pages of his notebooks, drawings, and manuscripts

The largest collection of Isaac Newton’s papers has gone digital, committing to open-access posterity the works of one of history’s greatest scientist.

Among the works shared online by the Cambridge Digital Library are Newton’s own annotated copy of Principia Mathematica and the ‘Waste Book,’ the notebook in which a young Newton worked out the principles of calculus.

“Anyone, wherever they are, can see at the click of a mouse how Newton worked and how he went about developing his theories and experiments,” said Grant Young, the library’s digitization manager, in a press release. “Before today, anyone who wanted to see these things had to come to Cambridge. Now we’re bringing Cambridge University Library to the world.”

Approximately 4,000 pages of material are available now, and thousands more will be uploaded in coming months.

via Wired Science

 

From the Digital Library:

Cambridge University Library holds the largest and most important collection of the scientific works of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Newton was closely associated with Cambridge. He came to the University as a student in 1661, graduating in 1665, and from 1669 to 1701 he held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics. Under the regulations for this Chair, Newton was required to deposit copies of his lectures in the University Library.

A number of videos explaining aspects of Newton’s work and manuscripts are available from the Newton Project’s YouTube site.

 

One of his myriad accomplishments include a theory of light -- pictured above are notes on optics (prism) -- and his construction of the first reflecting telescope.

Best Buy to close 50 stores in the U.S. and 11 in the U.K.

Selling consumer electronics isn’t as easy as it used to be for Best Buy. The big-box retailer is closing 50 stores and compensating employees based on customer service after its fiscal fourth-quarter sales fell short of expectations.

The company today reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of $1.7 billion, on revenue of $16.63 billion, up 3 percent from a year ago.

Best Buy’s problem: Amazon. Best Buy has been trying to grow its e-commerce business to compete better, but the big-box approach to selling consumer electronics isn’t what it used to be. That reality has Best Buy thinking small.

The company outlined the following moves:

  • It will cut $800 million in costs by fiscal 2015.
  • Close 50 big-box stores this fiscal year.
  • Open 100 Best Buy Mobile and small stores this year.
  • Boost online revenue by 15 percent.
  • And Best Buy will change its employee compensation model to revolve around customer service and business goals.

“The company is gradually becoming a physical showroom for online retailers,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

via c|net – Business Tech

 

The company is also closing 11 stores in the UK, and:

As part of the plan to fix its troubles in Europe, Best Buy says that it will bring its “Wireless World” experience to some of the 2,500 small box mobility stores it currently operates in Europe.

via c|net – The Digital Home

 

// Photos via Kevin Dooley & MJ/TR

Life on Mars is possible – for cave dwellers

A study of the biology and geology of Mars, from the Australian National University, shows there is plenty of room for life on Mars.

Granted, much of that room is in caves just below the planet’s surface, and much of that life will likely be microbes rather than little green men. But here’s the kicker — fully 3% of Mars has the right conditions to support life, the researchers say.

…if you run the same numbers on Earth, just 1% of the planet’s volume can support life.

The average surface temperature on Mars is minus 63 degrees Celsius (AFP/HO/File)

Mars’ surface is too cold and too low-pressure to support liquid water…But Lineweaver’s study looked at geological data from decades of Mars missions — and concluded that it would be warm and pressurized enough for life to live just below the surface. Warmth from the planet’s core provides the heat, and soil packed in from above creates the necessary air pressure.

So are there vast empires of microbes — or even something bigger — lurking just below that dusty red surface? We should know more next August when NASA’s Curiosity Rover arrives on Mars. This next-generation space robot comes equipped with a laser beam that can blast rocks, and a robotic arm that can examine the results.

via Mashable

 

More about Mars:

 

// Photo via AFP & thx to Amelia S.