Friday, May 27, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rockets Red Glare

As dawn splashed it's morning hues of red and orange, behind the wispy cloud cover over Kennedy Space Center, Space Shuttle Endeavor stood majestically on Pad 39A, waiting for someone to light the fuse. This was Endeavor's final flight.

I am always in awe as I see the plume of steam that begins to boil from the millions of gallons of water that are poured onto the launch pad. This, in anticipation of the first spark of flame that begins to bloom, growing ever bigger; the shuttle slowly lifts off the pad, gaining speed enough to escape the earthly bonds.

The view was short lived because of a low bank of clouds, but I've seen it enough to know what happens next.

Nine seconds into the flight, the shuttle begins to roll. The roll is designed to immediately put the shuttle on a trajectory to meet up with the International Space Station (ISS). At 18 seconds the roll ends... the shuttle is in position. At this point, the shuttle is travelling 284 mph, at an altitude of 3500 ft.

At the 36 second mark, the shuttle throttles down to about 72% thrust, to lower the external pressure on the fuel tanks and shuttle while in the denser lower atmosphere.

At approximately 49 seconds into the flight, Capcom gives the order, "go at throttle up". Hearing that order from the ground, the Shuttle Commander replies, "Roger, go at throttle up." The engines are throttled up to 105%. The shuttle is now travelling at approximately 800 mph, at an altitude of 25,000 feet, and they have reached a little over Mach I.

The 60 second mark reveals that the shuttle has reached Max Q, the point of maximum dynamic pressure, the point at which aerodynamic stress on a spacecraft in atmospheric flight is maximized (712 psf).

This is the point where it becomes extremely personal for me. The roar of the engines finally makes it's way and fills your ears with the sound of Humanity's quest for our destiny in the Universe. Before the sounds fades away, the ground begins to rumble under your feet as the shock wave gently caresses you from head to toe. This moment never fails to fill my extremities with goose bumps.

One hundred and twenty five seconds SRB Staging occurs, where the Solid Rocket Boosters are jettisoned. The shuttle is now travelling at a cool 3000 mph, and has reached Mach IV.

Everything that happens next is beyond naked eye viewing.

At about 500 seconds or a little over 8 minutes, the shuttle has reached a cruising speed of 17000 mph, at an altutude of around 65 miles. The shuttle will eventually triple, or quadruple that altitude to catch the ISS. The ISS orbits between 173 miles and 286 miles.

As you can tell, I take space flight seriously. I was there for the very first shuttle flight. I've witnessed about 12 or 15 shuttle launches... even caught a night launch. I will try my best to be there for the very last shuttle launch.

I'm concerned where we, as a country, will "land" as far as space flight goes...


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Alias Beware the Aspergantus

I deleted my other blog because my wife was being harrassed by people that have no life.

I became very "anti blog" and went into hiding...

I hide no more...


alias Aspergantus