Tag Archives: prison

Prison inmates at San Quentin get contract to build satellite parts for NASA

The NASA Ames Research Center is known for establishing innovative partnerships and Pete Worden, the former Air Force general who serves as the Center’s director, is known as a maverick. Still, the latest joint venture to come to light has caught even some longtime NASA observers by surprise.

Under supervision from NASA Ames, inmates working in the machine shop at California’s San Quentin State Prison are building Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (PPODs), the standard mechanism used to mount tiny satellites called cubesats on a variety of launch vehicles and then, at the appropriate time, fling them into orbit.

Worden got the idea for the partnership with San Quentin while he was at a party, talking to the spouse of a NASA employee who happened to work as a guard on the prison’s death row. When the guard mentioned the prison’s critical need to establish innovative education and training programs, Worden, a former University of Arizona professor, said, “How about building small satellites?”

 

Keep reading: Space.com - San Quentin Prison Inmates Build Tiny Satellite Parts for NASA

 

 

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Go inside the Cardington Sheds with Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight Rises

The Cardington Sheds (Tony Crowe)

 

From a distance, Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City sure doesn’t look like much. The “skyline” begins to emerge over the horizon in the rolling green farmlands about 50 miles north of London, but there are no gothic spires or granite citadels, just the slanted, pocked roofs of two boxy metal buildings.

But nearing the complex on a winding two-lane road, the immensity of the filmmaker’s make-believe metropolis comes into focus: The structures that looked squat from afar are actually 15 stories tall — and as long as 81-story skyscrapers lying on their sides. Constructed more than 85 years ago to house Britain’s Royal Airship Works, the giant coffin-shaped sheds sat unused or ignored for years, and waiting for some great undertaking, after the nation’s flagship dirigible went down in flames in a horrific 1930 crash in France.

The field mice had the run of the buildings but after the southern shed was renovated in 1994 it was used by occasional rock stars preparing for tours (U2 and Paul McCartney among them) or Hollywood production. The 525-ton door opened for Nolan in 2004. Cardington has since become a special home base, which is fitting given the fact that illusion, extreme architecture, old-school craft and colossal scale are screen trademarks for the London-born filmmaker best known for his three Batman films and “Inception.”

For 2005′s “Batman Begins” they put in the faux masonry of the Narrows and Arkham Asylum. Nolan’s team added to the indoor cityscape for 2008′s billion-dollar hit sequel “The Dark Knight” and then, for the topsy-turvy fights of “Inception,” special-effect guru Chris Corbould built a spinning corridor that made actors like hamsters in a wheel. More recently, Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley added a cruel and exotic underground prison for “The Dark Knight Rises,” which opens July 20.

 

Keep reading‘Dark Knight Rises’: Christopher Nolan takes Batman to new place