Friday, July 30, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Inside a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A Turboshaft Engine

You'll probably never guess the airflow from observing the engine from the outside. Through November 2015, 51,000 of these engines have been delivered, logging more than 400 million flight hours, with an in-flight shutdown rate of around one per 300,000 hours.

Posted at 14:17 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Orbital Tug of War—Nauka Module vs. International Space Station

Yesterday, 2021-07-29, the Russian Nauka laboratory module docked with the Zarya core module of the International Space Station. Several hours later, as the process of opening the hatch was under way, attitude control thrusters on Nauka, which were supposed to have been disabled after the docking was complete, started to fire, rotating the entire space station out of its correct orientation. The station's attitude control system detected the deviation and fired thrusters on Zarya to attempt to correct and, when they proved inadequate, also fired thrusters on a docked Progress cargo ship. At the peak, the station was rotating around half a degree a second.

Nobody knows what caused Nauka's thrusters to fire. What caused them to stop was not a command, but rather running out of propellant, after which the station's thrusters, unopposed, restored its normal orientation. Here is a NASA report on the events.

“This is how we fix problems in Russian space station!”

Posted at 13:01 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: 1953–1983

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CONTEXT: SpaceX: Exploring Lunar Starship Mission Modes

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Thursday, July 29, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Space Plumbers

Posted at 19:16 Permalink

CONTEXT: Intel to California et al.: “Beast Canyon”

Includes a 640 watt power supply, supporting a 65 watt CPU, 64 Gb DRAM, 2.5 Gb Ethernet, and support for 350 watt GPUs.

Posted at 14:07 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Nauka Module Docked to International Space Station

Posted at 13:49 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: RB211—The Engine that Bankrupted Rolls-Royce, then Made it a Global Leader

Posted at 12:10 Permalink

CONTEXT: Vitalik Buterin—Is the Gini Coefficient Appropriate for Measuring Concentration of Asset Ownership?

The Gini coefficient is widely used as a measure of income or wealth distribution among a population. The higher the value, the more income or wealth is concentrated among a small fraction of the population. For example, using World Bank numbers, Mexico has a Gini value of 45.4, while Norway comes in at 27.0. But is Gini a meaningful or useful measure when applied to distribution of an asset, like cryptocurrency, in which concentration of ownership may be more a measure of interest than wealth? This thoughtful essay examines the question and argues that other measures are required in such circumstances.

Posted at 11:42 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Rocket Lab Electron “It's a Little Chile Up Here” Launch

I have cued the video to start at one minute before liftoff. If you wish to see the preliminaries, scroll back to the start. Here are details of the mission, whose classified payload, called “Monolith”, is for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Posted at 11:23 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Lighting Up an Apollo Guidance Computer Display (DSKY) after Half a Century

Plus, a misadventure with copper-clad aluminium wire. “Maybe the wire is bad.”

Posted at 11:12 Permalink

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

CONTINUITY: NASA: RS-25 Rocket Engine “Improved”

Forty years after it first flew as the Space Shuttle Main Engine, the Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 rocket engine, which was originally designed for a service life of 27,000 seconds and 55 starts, has been “improved”, delivering a service life of 1700 seconds (6.8% of the original) and 4 starts (7.3% of the original). Thrust has been increased by 6%, along with “some cost savings”—the cost for the 24 RS-25 engines intended for the Space Launch System (SLS) comes to around US$ 146 million per engine.

The engines, routinely refurbished and reused in the Space Shuttle program, will be discarded as twisted wreckage in the briny deep on each flight of the SLS.

Elon Musk estimates the cost of the SpaceX Raptor engine, which has slightly more thrust (albeit less fuel efficiency) than the SL-25, and is intended to be reused numerous times, at less than US$ 1 million for current engines, and a quarter of that for improved versions in volume production.

Posted at 14:27 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Tiny Electronic Components

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Do It Yourself Challenge—CNC Mill to Automated Gun Turret

Bioshock Infinite automated gun turret

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Who Is an “Astronaut”?

First, it was “What is space?”, now it's who deserves to be called an “astronaut”. (I don't know why Blue Origin's marketing department hasn't seized on my suggestion to call those who fly on Branson's ride below the Kármán line “asterisknauts”.)

As Scott Manley observes, those who fly on vehicles operated by coercive governments, or even those in their employ who do have not yet flown, have been called “astronauts”, including politicians, such as the current NASA administrator, “Ballast Bill”, who went on a taxpayer-funded junket into space. I think the answer is to make the term “astronaut” one of derision, applied to civil service space cadets who have appropriated a noble title rightly belonging to genuine pioneers of space exploration. There's a parallel to this: nobody calls airline pilots or passengers “intrepid aeronauts” these days.

As for those who travel above the Kármán line today, how about “spacers” or, for those who see it as a New Age experience, “space cases”?

Posted at 11:12 Permalink

CONTEXT: A Banana a Day

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

CONTINUITY: Hewlett-Packard 150A Oscilloscope Restoration: Part 1

Here is information about this classic oscilloscope. It used 52 vacuum tubes plus CRT, and was fan cooled, with a furnace filter to clean the air entering the cabinet.

Posted at 14:47 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Dounreay—The Atomic Dream

Britain pioneered the use of a fast breeder fission reactor to generate electricity for the power grid. This is the story of the Dounreay reactor station in northern Scotland, which operated between 1955 and 1994, and is presently being decommissioned, a process whose initial phase is planned to be completed in the year 2036, with removal of all waste from the site by the late 2070s and complete restoration sometime in the 24th century.

Posted at 13:33 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: California and Other Stupid States Ban High-Performance Computers

There is more information about this on ZeroHedge: “59 Million Americans Prohibited From Buying High-End Dell Gaming PCs”.

It's always fun to pop up any of the Official State Media Web sites, type “California ban” into the search box, and see what it suggests.

Meanwhile, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is contemplating banning gas appliances in existing residences. They will be replaced, of course, with electric appliances which use power that, in the U.S., is primarily generated from—natural gas.

File under “AGE OF STUPID”.

Posted at 12:09 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Intel Process and Packaging Roadmap through 2025

In conjunction with this, and its entry into the foundry market, Intel is renaming its processes to be more consistent with the terminology used by competitors Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung.

Posted at 11:24 Permalink