Stories tagged rockets

This could be the coolest moment of your Monday. The video above shows the test firing of the Grasshopper rocket on Oct. 7. The 10-story tall rocket is designed to lift off and return to Earth intact. In this test, the rocket reached a height of 744 meters (about 2,230 feet). It was filmed using a drone-like hexacopter. Here's a link to the youtube site set up by the rocket-testing agency.

Feb
03
2012

Why is that spaceship covered in flamethrowers?!: Oh. Maybe they're rockets.
Why is that spaceship covered in flamethrowers?!: Oh. Maybe they're rockets.Courtesy SpaceX
With the closure of NASA’s flamethrower program, flamethrower enthusiasts have expressed concern that America would fall behind the rest of the world in flamethrower exploration, and that it would ultimately be a loss to flamethrowers and humanity in general.

Fortunately, government and private industry partnerships have continued to pursue flamethrower development, and, as it happens, a prominent company in this field, FlamethrowerX, has just recently begun testing what looks to be a pretty sweet flamethrower.

Oh … man, I just realized something. I re-read those last two paragraphs, and it seems like I made multiple typos. I don’t believe in editing electronic documents (frankly, I find it to be egregious JGordon on JGordon censorship, and it makes me sick), so I’ll just walk you through the last couple sentences.

Where I wrote “flamethrower” at the beginning of this article, I meant to type “space shuttle.” And immediately after the first comma, where it says “flamethrower,” it’s actually supposed to read “space.” Near the end of that same sentence, the term “flamethrower appears two more times, and it should read “space” and “science,” respectively.

Now, in the second paragraph, you might have noticed that I wrote “pursue flamethrower development”—of course I meant to say that they’re pursuing “spaceflight development.” And when I wrote “FlamethrowerX,” I should have written “SpaceX,” because SpaceX is actually the name of the company I was referring to.

Finally, when I referred to “a pretty sweet flamethrower,” I really meant “a pretty sweet flamethrower.” Unless I meant, “rocket.” Making the flamethrower/rocket distinction can be pretty tricky sometimes.

See, SpaceX has already developed a huge rocket, called “Falcon 9,” which can propel a cargo capsule (the “Dragon capsule”) into orbit. When the Dragon capsule returns to Earth, it has to do so the old-fashioned way; straight up falling like some stupid rock in a parachute. I mean it works fine and everything—it was good enough for the Apollo astronauts returning from the moon—but what if you wanted a soft landing on, say, the moon or mars, where there aren’t convenient oceans there to catch you? Well, shucks, in that case you’d probs want some pretty sweet rockets (or flamethrowers?) on your capsule.

That’s what SpaceX is testing. They have developed a rocket for the capsule (each capsule would have 8 rockets) that will allow it to land gently and with “pinpoint accuracy” on Earth and other potential destinations. These “SuperDraco” rockets would serve another purpose as well: they could function as a launch abort system for the capsule. If something were to go dangerously wrong with a payload rocket (like the Falcon 9) while it was launching a capsule full of astronauts into space, the SuperDraco rockets could fire with enough force to cause the capsule to safely separate from the larger rocket. And the whole system would be reusable, too. Pretty slick.

And, for scrolling all the way through this nonsense about flamethrowers, here’s a video of the rocket test for you, complete with sweet canned rock and roll:

(It looks kind of like a totally awesome flamethrower, doesn’t it? Although I suppose you wouldn’t really want a flamethrower that would crush you to pieces, and send you flying into the upper atmosphere. Or would you?)

As a kid, I had a great time building and firing off those popular Estes model rockets. The acme of my modeling experience was getting a Saturn V, two-stage rocket that looked just like the ones used for the Apollo moon shots. It was so proud of the mini-missile that stood about two feet tall. On Saturday in Maryland, the mother of all model rockets was launched, another Saturn V model, but this one stood 36 fee tall, weighed nearly a ton and soared eight-tenths of a mile into the sky. Cost of the mission: about $30,000. Click on the video below to see its launch. Obviously, they had no trouble keeping the electrodes connected to the rocket engine wires; and the rocket also did not get tangled in powerlines upon descent – the two banes of my young rocket launching career.

Ever mess around with model rockets, you know those temermental things that never would ignite when you pushed the launch button, and when they finally did (usually when you weren't expecting it) they'd find their way into the closest tree or flat-roofed structure? Here's a tale of one heck of a model rocket launch. Get the kid who made it signed up to work for NASA right now.

For those of us who remember NASA's moon shots of the 1960s and 70s, here's a blast from the past, kind of, as the Saturn V takes to the skies again. I especially like the fact that the rocket had most recently been the home to raccoons and other vermin.