Tag Archives: rocket

FLIP turns 50! – The amazing research vessel that lies capsized for science

(Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

You’d think a ship designed after a baseball bat would go over like a foul ball when it comes to seaworthiness, but research ship FLIP has been a hit since its launch 50 years ago.

The bizarre research vessel can go from a horizontal to vertical position while staying afloat and stable in heavy seas, even in 80-foot waves. That allows it to perform oceanographic research measurements with great accuracy.

Operated by Scripps and owned by the U.S. Navy, the 355-foot FLIP was designed by Phillip Rudnick, Fred H. Fisher, and Fred N. Spiess, and first tested in July 1962 as part of an anti-submarine rocket program. It was recently shown off in the Pacific for its 50th birthday.

ViaBizarre ‘flipping’ research ship turns 50

 

 

Every trip aboard conventional ships reminds the oceanographer of the value of a stable platform from which to perform experiments at sea. A ship’s natural motions not only make ocean measurements difficult to obtain with accuracy, but it reduces the effectiveness of personnel and equipment. This driving ocean force, among the most powerful in nature, dissipates rapidly just beneath the ocean surface. Even during severe sea storms rolling over several thousand square miles, a layer of relative calm lies a few hundred feet below the unruly waves. This region has become the domain of submarines during the past half century.

In 1962 they were joined by the research platform FLIP, FLoating Instrument Platform, whose great length lies mainly in the untroubled waters beneath the waves. As a result, she is almost as stable as a fencepost and, for those who study the sea, oceanographers, she offers an opportunity for more refined ocean measurements than they have ever had before.

The Floating Instrument Platform, FLIP, is a 355 foot long manned spar buoy designed as a stable research platform for oceanographic research. FLIP is towed to its operating area in the horizontal position and through ballast changes is “flipped” to the vertical position to become a stable spar buoy with a draft of 300 feet.

Via – Marine Physical Laboratory

China launches it’s first female ‘taikonaut’ into space

Saturday’s launch of a piloted space capsule known as Shenzhou-9 marks China’s breakthrough into the exclusive club once made up only of the United States and Russia.

One of the three astronauts in the capsule is a woman, 33-year-old Liu Yang, the first Chinese woman in space.

Shenzhou-9 was launched at 6:37 p.m (local time) against a vivid blue sky from the Jiuquan space station at the edge of the Gobi Desert. Televised nationally, the launch prompted a round of applause in the command center as the capsule separated from its carrier rocket and entered orbit.

The trickiest part of the mission will come when the capsule docks with the Tiangong 1 space module, a prototype of a space station about the size of a school bus, which is orbiting about 213 miles above Earth.

Learn more, including how the U.S. Congress has banned China from the International Space Station…so they’re building their own:

L.A. Times: China launches rocket carrying its first female astronaut

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In 2011, China sent more rockets into space than the U.S. – first-time ever

For the first time ever, China has launched more rockets into orbit in a year than the U.S. In 2011, the Chinese sent 19 rockets into space. The U.S. sent just 18. Russia, the Walmart of space launches, fired off no fewer than 31 rockets.

…Beijing is not about to catch up to Washington in space. For starters, the U.S. government spends more money than any other country on space launches and spacecraft: nearly $50 billion, compared to just $25 billion or so for all other governments combined…Washington is projected to possess the biggest space arsenal for decades to come.

American launch organizations, which include NASA, the military and several private companies, had a perfect success rate last year. China lost one experimental satellite when a Long March rocket veered off course in August. Russia had the worst record, with four failed launches.

U.S. rockets on average carried more satellites per launch than their Chinese counterparts. Last year, the 18 U.S.-launched rockets placed 28 satellites into orbit. Nineteen Chinese launches placed just 21 sats. Russia’s 31 launches delivered 53 spacecraft.

via Wired

Not to mention that all the American satellites last longer, but that isn’t the most interesting part for me. What is fascinating is the total amount of spacecraft up there. The report says that during the Cold War the U.S. had 400 satellites in orbit.

It’s not crazy to think that number has doubled or tripled since then. Plus, all the other countries (Japan, European Union) launching things these days. I bet the number is somewhere in the 1,000-2,000 range!

 

// Thx to Dave Schroeder, Photo via Jurvetson

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: