Cool 360-degree video of a rocket launch

Airbus mounted a 360-degree camera on a rocket being launched as part of a microgravity experiment, and the result it pretty phenomenal. Watch the stages separate and the earth's curvature reveal itself as the Maxus 9 pops up through the clouds.

Via Airbus:

Following a successful launch of Maxus 9 the largest European sounding rocket with scientific micro gravity experiments, Airbus is providing a stunning 360° view from space. The spacecraft, launched from the Esrange Space Center in Kiruna, Sweden, was equipped by Airbus with support from their joint venture partner Swedish Space Corporation in order to provide unique 360° footage of the launch from the rocket perspective. Viewers can see spectacular images of the take-off, down to Lapland getting smaller while the rocket soars into the sky, then spectacular views of the Planet and Space once the sounding rocket goes through the atmosphere and reaches its highest altitude of 700km, before the payload falls free back down to earth, and completes its’ parachute-assisted touchdown.

The Maxus programme is a joint venture between Swedish Space Corporation and Airbus, providing access to microgravity for ESA-contracted experiments. Sounding rockets are important to the scientific community as they offer research institutes a one-stop lab in which they can perform micro-gravity experiments. Technicians receive data and can adjust parameters thanks to real-time transmission to ground stations throughout the free fall time. Being able to launch, monitor and retrieve experiments in one day enables researchers to analyze their results almost immediately.

360 degree video of sounding rocket's Maxus 9 launch (YouTube / Airbus Defence and Space) Read the rest

Small space robot launches like a model rocket

This handheld, rocket-powered robot can leap about 30 meters and make a targeted landing. Once it's on the ground, it can then spin up and then abruptly brake its flywheel to jump forward or backward for a bit more mobility. Developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the rocketeer robot could someday liftoff from a planetary or lunar lander or rover. The 450-gram prototype uses an Estes C11 rocket engine like those used in model rocketry! From IEEE Spectrum:

The robot is mounted on an angled rail and when it’s time to fly, it spins up its reaction wheel and sets off the primary rocket. The rocket launches the robot on a parabolic trajectory with a maximum range, in Earth gravity, of up to about 30 meters, which would increase to about 200 meters under lunar gravity. The reaction wheel minimizes the effect of the robot body tumbling during flight, keeping the robot going on a straight line: We held this little thing with the gyro wheel turned on during an interactive session at (the International Conference on Robotics and Automation), and it was impressively powerful: There was a significant amount of resistance to any kind of sideways rotation. Since solid-fuel rocket engines can’t be throttled, the opposing thrust motors are fired when necessary to alter the robot’s trajectory for a targeted landing. It’s a fairly effective technique, and in their tests the standard deviation of a series of launches decreased from 1.2 to 0.29 meters, or four times more precise than without the opposing rockets.

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Lego's new Saturn V/Apollo Mission model rocket set

Lego just announced its new NASA Apollo Saturn V model rocket set. It's based on a Lego Ideas submission by a builder named saabfun, it's a 1:110 scale model of the real thing. Of course the Saturn V was the workhorse rocket that took astronauts to the moon beginning in 1969 and delivered Skylab to orbit in 1973. and The 1,969 piece set will sell for $120 starting in June. It looks fantastic but I'll wait (and hope) for a Voyager Mission set complete with the Golden Record!

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Watch SpaceX's rocket land itself

There's something so uncanny and futuristic about Falcon 9 landing that it triggers the part of our brains trained to be on the lookout for computer graphics. The overcast sky and haze of fog gives it a Simon Stålenhag vibe. Read the rest

Spectacular photos of the nutty high-powered model rocket launch scene

For the last four years, the Rocketry Organization of California (ROC), a club for hardcore model rocket geeks, has hosted the Tripoli Rocketry Association's LDRS (Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships) launch at the Lucerne Dry Lake Bed. These aren't the small Estes rockets you can launch on your local baseball field but rather large High Powered Rockets propelled by engines rated "G" or higher. Photographer Sean Lemoine documented the spectacular scene in a series of photos that made me wish even more that I was there for lift off.

More at Sean Lemoine's LRDS project page.

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This beautiful rocket-shaped fountain pen is just $20,000

Swiss "writing instrument" manufacturer Caran d'Ache and watchmaker MB&F collaborated to create the Astrograph fountain pen, an otherworldly pen with the astronomical price of $20,000. There will only be 99 of them produced and each includes a small, magnetic astronaut. Do not chew the cap.

This writing instrument is fitted with an ink pump, but may also be used with cartridges. The pen nib is made from rhodium-plated 18-carat gold, available in size M...

The rocket-shaped pen body is rhodium-plated and either highly polished or sandblasted matt, or plated in ruthenium anthracite. The chequered pattern is made from anthracite lacquer...

The base of the "engine" is plated with ruthenium. The stabiliser legs, the joints and miniature ladder are polished, sandblasted, satin-finished and rhodium-plated.

The Astrograph (via Uncrate)

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Retro raygun coffee mug

The 12 oz, dishwasher/microwave safe Retro Raygun Rocket Mug is $9.72 and ships worldwide. (via Geeks Are Sexy) Read the rest

Photos of Russia's Rocket Town

For Air & Space Magazine, photographer James Hill visited Russia's "Rocket Town," the city of Baikonur in Kazakhstan, where, he says, "everything you see is related to space." Read the rest

Boing Boing launches model rockets at NASA Ames

SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev

When asked what we are here for, Beat writer William S. Burroughs famously answered, "This is the space age, and we are here to go." We can't easily grab a seat to orbit but model rocketry is an excellent space age maker hobby that's stood the test of time. For a good time, call the LUNAR hotline! LUNAR is the Livermore Unit of the National Association of Rocketry, the northern California hub for model rocketry enthusiasts. Every month, LUNAR hosts a legal "sport launch" at NASA's Ames Research Center on the Moffett Federal Airfield in Silicon Valley. Everyone is invited to bring their model rockets, engines, and get ready for lift-off! It's a wonderful, supportive scene for new and old rocket buffs and families. One recent weekend, our sponsor Toyota loaned us a Toyota RAV4 EV and we decided the LUNAR launch was the perfect destination for a new electric car. And we're counting down... Read the rest

Rocket launch filmed by drone

The SpaceX Grasshopper's latest launch—and graceful descent!—captured by a drone-mounted camera. Grasshopper was most recently seen terrifying the cows. Read the rest

SpaceX's futuristic rocket design toolkit

Demonstration of SpaceX's experimental rocket design tools melding gestural interfaces, 3D design, virtual reality, and 3D printing. Read the rest

The search for a greener rocket fuel

Hydrazine has powered rockets since WWII. Unfortunately, it's also highly toxic. Researchers in the U.S. and Sweden are working to create a better alternative, and may have a couple new fuels that could do the same job with less risk. Read the rest

The trouble with Wernher

Amy Shira Teitel has a nice essay about how we grapple with (and awkwardly avoid) the full legacy of Wernher Von Braun — father of the American space program and a Nazi whose rockets were once built by prison laborers. Read the rest

Help fund a documentary about art and rocket science

Ed Belbruno is a mathematician who worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1980s. While he was there, he devised a way to use chaos theory to help change the course of spaceships and put satellites into orbit for far less fuel than had ever been used before. His inspiration came from painting. Painting the Way to the Moon is a documentary, currently raising money on Kickstarter, that hopes to tell Belbruno's story and help people understand the links between art and science. Read the rest

Some planets are harder to leave than others

At his Psychology Today blog, Michael Chorost delves into a question about exoplanets that I've not really thought much about before — how easy they would be to leave.

Many of the potentially habitable exoplanets that we've found — the ones we call "Earth-like" — are actually a lot bigger than Earth. That fact has an effect — both on how actually habitable those planets would be for us humans and how easily any native civilizations that developed could slip the surly bonds of gravity and make it to outer space.

The good news, says Chorost is that the change in surface gravity wouldn't be as large as you might guess, even for planets much bigger than Earth. The bad news: Even a relatively small increase in surface gravity can mean a big increase in how fast a rocket would have to be going in order to leave the planet. It starts with one equation — SG=M/R^2.

Let’s try it with [exoplanet] HD 40307g, using data from the Habitable Exoplanet Catalog. Mass, 8.2 Earths. Radius, 2.4 times that of Earth. That gets you a surface gravity of 1.42 times Earth.

... it’s amazingly easy to imagine a super-Earth with a comfortable gravity. If a planet had eight Earth masses and 2.83 times the radius, its surface gravity would be exactly 1g. This is the “Fictional Planet” at the bottom of the table. Fictional Planet would be huge by Earth standards, with a circumference of 70,400 miles and an area eight times larger.

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Religion, space, and the power of cultural connections

That's a picture of an Orthodox Christian priest, blessing the launch of a Soyuz spacecraft.

It seems like a weird and outdated pairing: Religion and space exploration. But they're actually a lot more intertwined than you might think, writes Rebecca Rosen at the Atlantic. A lot of astronauts are religious. A lot of astronauts that aren't really religious seem to have an urge to carry the cultural traditions of religion into space. And religion returns the favor. For instance, The Book of Common Prayer now includes an astronaut option in its prayer for travelers: "For those who travel on land, on water, or in the air [or through outer space], let us pray to the Lord."

I'm sorry. I'm an atheist and that just kind of gave me the shivvers. Basically, being out in space, so far from your fellow humans and in such an alien environment, makes for a really good example of the way religion (and ritual) can serve as a tie binding us to the rest of humanity. For some people, it's a connection to a bigger sense of history. And when they look the future (and/or the vast emptiness of space) full in the face, they need that connection to humanity. It doesn't work for everybody. But the relationship between religion and space travel is a good place to start when you want to have a conversation about the fact that there really don't have to be conflicts between religion and science. (Really, people. For serious.)

Here's the scene: It's Christmas Eve, 1968.

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Second attempt for SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon launch: Tue. May 22, 3:44am ET

A second launch attempt for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for 3:44am EDT, Tuesday May 22. Weather is currently 80% go. Watch it live here. For background, watch Miles O'Brien's PBS NewsHour feature, and SpaceFlightNow's QA with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. SpaceFlightNow will also have live coverage from Mission Control, with streaming video. (Image: SpaceFlightNow) Read the rest

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