Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gagarin not the first?

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
According to the Pravda article below Yuri Gagarin was not the first person in Space just the first to survive.
As 40 years have passed since Gagarin’s flight, new sensational details of this event were disclosed: Gagarin was not the first man to fly to space. Three Soviet pilots died in attempts to conquer space before Gagarin's famous space flight, Mikhail Rudenko, senior engineer-experimenter with Experimental Design Office 456 (located in Khimki, in the Moscow region) said on Thursday. According to Rudenko, spacecraft with pilots Ledovskikh, Shaborin and Mitkov at the controls were launched from the Kapustin Yar cosmodrome (in the Astrakhan region) in 1957, 1958 and 1959. "All three pilots died during the flights, and their names were never officially published," Rudenko said. He explained that all these pilots took part in so-called sub- orbital flights, i.e., their goal was not to orbit around the earth, which Gagarin later did, but make a parabola-shaped flight. "The cosmonauts were to reach space heights in the highest point of such an orbit and then return to the Earth," Rudenko said. According to his information, Ledovskikh, Shaborin and Mitkov were regular test pilots, who had not had any special training, Interfax reports. "Obviously, after such a serious of tragic launches, the project managers decided to cardinally change the program and approach the training of cosmonauts much more seriously in order to create a cosmonaut detachment," Rudenko said.
I'm skeptical, but what do people think?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

MESSENGER at Mercury

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
While the New Horizons spacecraft is still making its way to the frozen realms of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, NASA's MESSENGER space probe has reached hot Mercury.

The car-sized spacecraft zipped past Mercury in a Monday flyby and is relaying more than 1,200 new images and other data back to eager scientists on Earth.

"Now it's time for the scientific payoff," MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington told after the flyby. "It's just a complete mix of results that we're going to get."

In one new image, released today, the planet's stark surface is shown peppered with small craters, each less than a mile (1.6 km) in diameter and carved into an area about 300 miles (482 km) across. MESSENGER used its narrow-angle camera to photograph the scene, which is dominated by a large, double-ringed crater dubbed Vivaldi after the Italian composer. While the crater was last seen by NASA's Mariner 10 probe, MESSENGER's camera observed it with unprecedented detail, researchers said.......

MESSENGER, short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, trained its seven instruments on Mercury on Monday for the first of three planned flybys to guide itself toward a March 18, 2011, arrival into orbit around the small, rocky planet. The mission is the first to visit Mercury since 1975, when Mariner 10 made its third and final swing past the planet. ......

Being so close the the Sun makes it difficult for Earthbound astronomers to study Mercury. I remember being thought that Mercury had one hemisphere constantly facing the Sun. This was latter discovered to be completely incorrect, Mercury does in fact rotate with a 59 day Sol. Its still a world of mystery its denser then any other planet and there may be ice at the poles. If there is water ice there may be a remote chance of finding some sort of life but I doubt if anyone will ever go sailing with the insect men of Mercury.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Flying Cars

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
Videophones, holidays in Space and flying cars were all expected treats 20th Century kids looked forward to when they reached the 21st Century. Well, its the 21st Century and although I have a videophone and could go on a space trip if I was really, really rich, theres no flying cars.

Its not from lack of trying, inventors have been developing aerial vehicles for some time. The most famous was Paul Moller. He has been promising Skycars for as long as I can remember but I have yet to see one.

Perhaps the most successful inventor was Moulton Taylor. His Aerocar was a small road car that could be converted into a light plane. He constructed several prototypes and for a while it looked like actually going into production. Sadly it never did.

Flying cars have a great enemy: gravity. If a car breaks down on a road it will still stay there. If a flying car breaks down it may end up on your head. To put it mildly having tens of thousands of flying cars would cause head aches for air traffic controllers.

Not thats going to stop people from trying. The latest flying contraption to hit the news is the European PAL-V. Its a cross between a motorbike and gyro copter. I suppose cattlemen would find it useful during muster.

I'll believe it when I see it.