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

Man flies like a bird for 100 meters – using “selfbuilt wings”

Subtitles from Dutch

  • I was running…and…(breathing heavy)
  • At one moment you see the ground moving away, and then suddenly you’re free, a really intense feeling of freedom.
  • The true feeling of flying. A **cking magical moment!
  • The best feeling I have felt in my life.

 

From the project website, humanbirdwings.net –

Right here, on this blog I share everything about my crazy plan to build my own wings. My goal? To fly with it! Something Leonardo DaVinci, my grandfather and I dreamed of for a long time. But this summer I decided to really start building it.

 

There was some discussion about the authenticity of this video, but the MythBusters team tackled that:

The video of Jarno Smeets’ flight is cool, and I don’t see evidence that it was faked. It seems reasonable to accomplish, and is something I have wanted to try for a long time.

The still photos of the parts on a table are helpful and the components are appropriate to what the item does in the air. The motors are rare earth magnet low RPM, high torque, outrunners that look in the neighborhood of 3000 watts or so each. So you could have an output of just under 10hp there. The speed controllers look to be appropriate to those motors, and the batteries are lithium ion. This is all appropriate…

via Tested

 

Thx to Don Burke

My Guide To The Sundance Film Festival


The first thing you need to know about Sundance is that it’s cheaper than you think. If you are like me then you imagined the event being all exclusive and haughty. On the contrary, the festival is low cost, lodging is plentiful, and the flights and car rentals are among the cheapest in America.

The only thing you will end up paying for is the skiing, but you get what you give. The slopes around Park City, Utah are top notch. As a former Winter Olympics site Park City has everything you will need.

The Sundance Film Festival

The Festival runs over two weekends with a slower tempo during the week, from January 20th-30th. Opening weekend is when the stars come out and the crowds reach their peak. By closing weekend the crowds have left and there is still a full range of events. Most people tend to favor one weekend over the other. While we have friends who favor the celebrity, “seen and be seen” vibe of opening weekend, we prefer the “down to the movies” vibe of closing weekend.

This is especially exciting for those of you movie buffs. Each screening has on hand an ensemble of cast members and crew, though it is most often the director and/or producer in attendance. After the movie “screening” is over they offer you a personal in-depth behind the scenes followed by a Q/A session. Considering the movie list this can range from topics about LGBT to terrorism to Rock n Roll and more. To me it represents an experience like no other and has forever turned me on the to idea of a movie festival.

Tickets to each show are $15. You can pre-buy or purchase the day-of. This part is probably the most confusing since it’s cold and your in a strange new town and the thought of waking up early to get a ticket is strange. Yet, that is what everybody does and it works this way because of the nature of the festival. All year Sundance accepts movies then in mid-December releases the one’s they will be showing at the festival. At this point they are still unknown, never-before-seen, pre-critic, and so on. This means that everyone has a blast guessing which ones will win Oscar nods and which ones will sit on a dusty shelf for a 1,000 years.

These guesses quickly culminate into a few sold out shows weeks before the festival and before anyone has seen the actual movie. These mostly gather around well known actor/director combos. As the festival draws nearer more clips are released, press segments done, and even a few pirated releases. Eventually culminating in the Festival where everyone, including the insiders and well-informed, are still unsure of the best movies. All are stuck buying tickets the day-of. At first I found this the most confusing but after attending the festival I found it enjoyable to get caught up in the mystery.

The thing is that all the films are personally selected to be amazing (something like 200 out of several thousand) so it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, each movie will be playing several times at several locations. Park City has movie theaters and screening locations all over (like the Library) so you won’t miss anything. I say give up on planning and just have some fun playing critic!

Park City Lodging

Finding a place to stay is the most challenging part of the trip. It’s not because places are hard to find but because there are so many options. Stay downtown and rely on the free public transportation. Choose a lodge next to a ski resort and get the benefit of easy skiing. Pick a spot outside of town next to the Whole Foods and get around by rental car.

I favor the rental car option because it makes getting from the Salt Lake City airport to Park City easy. The cost of a shuttle is about $40 and the trip is about 40 minutes. Whereas the rental car is $40/day and split amongst 3-4 people it makes for some nice, warm rides to/from everything.

My favorite spot is with All Seasons Resorts which are these new townhouse resorts built for the Winter Olympics. They have every amenity you need and some even look like a Winter Cabin. They offer a 2-for-1 deal and so for 4 nights and 6 people it ends up costing us $200/person. A slick deal for a party cabin 🙂

The Sundance.org website offers many deals too but they all boil down to the three options presented above.  Closest to downtown is most expensive, ski resorts high to medium, and our just outside of town medium to low pricing. But, did I mention the last option is very close to a Whole Foods, can you tell I obsess about food..

Flights, Transportation, Other

The only place to fly into (unless you’re loaded) is Salt Lake City airport (SLC). Flight are reasonably priced since Salt Lake is a western hub for most airlines. The drive is about 40 minutes through snow filled mountains (possibly a favorite part of the trip). Getting around Park City is relatively easy. They have free shuttles running everywhere. The only hiccups are when rain/snow get involved which makes waiting outdoors for a ride a slushy cold event.

Parking a rental car can sometimes be a pain. There are limited spaces available and they do try to discourage everyone from driving. Still I never have any problems and usually find it more convenient (as long as I carpool!). Especially, considering that the theaters are not in one place and well, it’s cold out.

Other than the movies there are salons and parties. Downtown there are talks with experts and the like. On opening weekend is an opening party and closing weekend has the awards show and the closing party. All are fun but ticketed events (sometimes hard to find). If you’re interested in these events it is best to purchase a ticket package that includes these events.

Well, that is pretty much it. The only other recommendation I have is to try and visit the actual Sundance Resort. It’s about 30 mins away from downtown and exists as a ski lodge and artist retreat. It was rescued by Robert Redford decades ago and serves as the home and inspiration for the festival. The scenery is beautiful and the creative vibe is awesome!

photos from sundance.org and allseasonsresortlodging.com