31 January 2006
27 January 2006
Also joining the NH tool canon, this little graphic, which will update as you refresh:
It's courtesy of the author of this webpage, which will tell you how far New Horizons is from practically everything.
21 January 2006
19 January 2006
Nothing new to report, except I've switched to Trader
Joe's green tea.
In the down time I've also ordered some new Mate Latte
tea from the Republic of Tea...for those not in the
know, it's the finest, tastiest tea in the world, and
I'm fresh out.
I got a full pound, plus the storage tin. Some other
I've earned it. I'll wish I had some around midnight
tonight when I'm still here. Mate is naturally
At T+ 00:44:55, New Horizons separated from the Boeing
spinning third stage. This followed the expending of
5 solid rocket boosters, the Kerosene/LOX first stage,
and the LOX/LH2 Centaur second stage.
It's now spinning at approximately 70 rpm and hurtling
towards Pluto by way of Jupiter.
We'll find out if it's talking to us soon.
1825 GMT (1:25 p.m. EST)
The cloud rule at issue here in the ceiling limit.
Range Safety requires that it can track the rocket
unobstructed through the first 6,000 feet of flight.
1829 GMT (1:29 p.m. EST)
Range is 'go' for launch! The cloud conditions are now
acceptable, safety officials have determined.
1831 GMT (1:31 p.m. EST)
Range is 'no go' now!
So YAWRD. New launch time: TBD.
Talked to mom, apparantly she and dad are kicking back
with the co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy, Dr.
Levy. Shoemaker-Levy broke up and plunged into
Jupiter a few years back in pretty spectacular
fashion. I'm not saying that's a dark omen or
something, but it's an interesting connection, since
New Horizons will be visiting Jupiter as well if it
The rocket is fueled and being topped off continually
(LOX and LH2 boil off pretty quickly) You can see
where the cryogenic fuel tank ends on the
rocket...there's a clearly delineated line between
frost and bronze. I believe below the bronze is all
of the refined kerosene.
Almost time to kick this pig.
Clearly Mattatiyahu is further up-to-date on these
things than I am:
--- Mathias Dill <mathiasdill@XXXXXXXX.net> wrote:
> 1624 GMT (11:24 a.m. EST)
> Forty percent of the Centaur liquid oxygen tank has
> been filled so far.
> YES.. The Centaur Liquid is at 40%!!!!!
For those watching, as the stages fill with ultracool
propellant (anywhere from -200 to -400 degrees
Fahrenheit, the bronze skin of the rocket will turn
white with frost.
I've got a good feeling for today. Maybe it's my
freshly-laundered New Horizons polo (of course, in my
laundry-doing zeal I managed to wash and dry a few
items in Barbie's wardrobe that shouldn't go into the
dryer...but whose fault is that, really?)
Also, it's mom and dad's last day down at KSC, so I'd
like them to see a good show.
Turns out my aunt, who also was there on day one, and
share the same last name as New Horizon's Principal
Investigator, was mistaken for a relative of his
(probably not a stretch, as we Jews are about as
genetically diverse as British royalty) and was
offered a VVIP pass to attend the launch with Tom
Hanks and Jeb Bush. She turned it down, as she wanted
to be with the rest of the family there. Can't say
I'd've done the same thing.
Won't be much blogging today, as our internal network
is being hammered by outside folks visiting the NH
website (http://pluto.jhuapl.edu) and we've been asked
to keep the internet access down.
Go to spaceflightnow.com for regular updates. Come
here for irregular ones.
For now...weather is good, power is on, and shirt is
18 January 2006
Depending on the power situation, we'll try to make history tomorrow. More news after a 4pm meeting.
17 January 2006
The first stage is almost full with oxidizer, 50,000
gallons of Liquid Oxygen (LOX). Its fuel, kerosene,
was loaded yesterday (25000 gallons worth). The
second stage, a Centaur, is now loaded with 4300
gallons of LOX and almost loaded with 13000 gallons of
Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) fuel.
Winds have hit 35 knots...
The rocket's copper-colored midsection is glittering
in the Florida sunshine as it sits on the launch pad.
We'll be making history today. I find myself looking
past the launch, though. First contact will be the
most exciting thing that happens today. It's just
like in the movies, when the capsule has passed
through the Earth's atmosphere and we wait for some
sign, any sign, that someone's still alive.
When that data stream starts flowing, then we're in
Turns out I lied a bit the other day when I said no
cameras in the MOC. DC's Fox affiliate is here in the
situation room, watching the MOC through the window.
Feel free to check it out if you're in the area.
You're unlikely to see me unless I'm wandering around,
since the MOC is L-shaped, and I'm at the farthest
point of the L from the cameras.
While I can't post directly, I can blog by email, so
enjoy what will surely be some sporadic posting
this lovely launch morning.
Got my New Horizons polo shirt and hat yesterday
(fortunately UPS works on MLK Day), so I'm all spiffed
out in proper NH gear. The hat will come in handy
after 12-14 hours here -- I'm on station until
midnight EST assuming we launch on time. I'm also
decked out in the custom tee that mom had made up
which was far nicer than the official NH T-shirt.
I'll see if I can get a picture online at some
point...basically it's the NH spacecraft above Pluto
(the planet) with Pluto (the dog) in space suit
filling up the night sky. She does good work.
I've also got an Dunkin' Donuts XL Hazelnut Coffee
with skim and Splenda as my morning companion. All is
good, or green in today's parlance.
First health check at T-5:00:00, in about 5 minutes.
16 January 2006
Fortunately, for Helios 1 and 2, we have those here. We've also got some fellow Illini who've done the calculation for Helios 2 so I can check my math.
Helios 1 Aphelion = 0.985 AUNow we need some equations:
Helios 1 Perihelion = 0.309 AU
Helios 1 Period = 190 days = 16416000 seconds
Helios 2 Aphelion = 0.983 AU
Helios 2 Perihelion = 0.290 AU
Helios 2 Period = 187 days = 16156800 seconds
That leaves µ, the standard gravitational parameter. Fortunately we have Wikipedia. For the sun, µ = 132,712,440,018 km3s-2 Now plug this into Excel or you favorite calculator:
Helios 1 Semimajor Axis = 96759926 kmSo these suckers were zoomin', even when furthest from the sun. These check well enough with the Aerospaceweb speed numbers. Any differences are from slight inconsistencies in our input parameters.
Helios 1 Eccentricity = 0.522
Helios 1 Aphelion Speed = 20.7 km/s = 46382 miles/hr
Helios 1 Perihelion Speed = 66.1 km/s = 147851 miles/hr
Helios 2 Semimajor Axis = 95738701 km
Helios 2 Eccentricity = 0.544
Helios 2 Aphelion Speed = 20.2 km/s = 45218 mph
Helios 2 Perihelion Speed = 68.5 km/s = 153273 mph
15 January 2006
Second, it turns out that New Horizons, which after the Jupiter gravity assist will be travelling at 47,000 mph, is not the fastest spacecraft ever. It's third. For that matter, it's the third-fastest manmade object ever. Helios 1 and 2, launched into solar orbit in the mid-70s, had perihelion (closest to sun) speeds of 148,000 and 153,000 miles/hour respectively. (Thank you Frank for forcing me to calculate Helios 1's speed for completeness sake.) So they win. Voyager 1 will slide down to fourth at 38,600 mph assuming all goes well and we do the Jupiter flyby.
Third, that Mission to Pluto show is really good. Be sure to catch it.
12 January 2006
For those of you who have wondered what I've been up to since I started at APL, the moment, as they say, is at hand. The launch is currently slated for Tuesday, 1/17 at 1:24 pm EST. Unfortunately, I won't be down there to watch it go up, as I'll be on station here at the Mission Operations Center at APL.
If you want to see the rocket go up, and it should be quite a sight, it will be broadcast on CNN; although I imagine they'll cut in at close to the last minute. You can also watch on NASA TV, if you get that, or on the web at:
I recommend Channel 3, with the 5-way split screen. That's what I'll be watching. You can also follow along with mission updates as the clock counts down at:
Velocity after Jupiter Gravity Assist: 47,000 mph
You can also watch the show Passport to Pluto on NASA TV and Discovery Science Network, starting this weekend.
09 January 2006
08 January 2006
Probably the most original take on Superman I've ever read. This is more of a Harvey Pekar-type of self-exposition, but it really works. I had an old biology teacher who was predisposed to Huntington's Disease (onetime called Chorea)...don't know what ever happened to him. That observation is actually related to the book.
07 January 2006
In the last couple months, I've cruised through:
Y: The Last Man, Volumes 1-5, by Brian K. Vaughan
These were some quick reads, provocative, well-written, great art. Highly recommended.
Punisher MAX, Volumes 1-4, by Garth Ennis
I prefered Ennis's earlier Punisher work, both in terms of artwork and story. His earlier Punisher series was still lighthearted, if viciously violent. Now that he's MAX'd out, he's lost his sense of humor. Fortunately that wasn't the case with
Thor: Vikings, by Garth Ennis
Still horrifically ultraviolent, but more fun. More my style.
Gotham Central: Volumes 1 and 2, by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
Good stuff here, focusing on the Gotham PD rather than Batman's exploits. Brubaker's a hard-boiled type of guy, and he brings his distinctive style to Gotham. Greg Rucka does just fine with his tales of Det. Renee Montoya.
Batman: Hush, Volumes 1 and 2, by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee
Jeph's skill with the Bat is legendary, and no one draws a sexier Catwoman than Jim Lee. Top notch stuff.
Artemis Fowl, Books 1 and 2, by Eoin Colfer
Lest you think all I'm doing is reading comics, I've worked some novels in as well. Artemis is mainly kid stuff, Harrypotteresque, but I still liked it. So there.
His Dark Materials, Book 1, The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
His Dark Materials, Book 2, The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman
Pullman mostly gets press lately for his loathing of C.S. Lewis, but he spins quite a tale of a multiverse dominated by the theocratic Authority.
The Chronicles of Narnia, Books 1-3, by C.S. Lewis
Suck on it, Pullman!
Cinnamon Kiss, by Walter Mosley
A year without Easy Rawlins is like a year without sunshine.
That's all I can think of right now, outside of a few short story collections that I've had forever and read on airplanes and left there...no need to mention them. I'm in the middle of at least a half-dozen more. I'll keep ya posted.
06 January 2006
I only had two teams in action this week, and, for once in the playoffs, they actually won. This secured two, count 'em two, 3rd place trophies among the five leagues I'm in. Not exactly barnburning, but things could be worse. I finished at or above .500 and in the top half in every league I was in. Given how things went in the postseason, I'll take better-than-average.
AnyGivenSunday: Philly Phalanx (14-2) feasted on the Vancouver Mad Orcas 100-67
asdf: Olney Ocelots (9-7) cancelled Hollywood Hogwash 77-57
The Phalanx actually scored the highest in the league this week, which obviously would've secured the championship trophy if they'd won last week. But wish in one hand; crap in the other; and see which one fills up first...
Philly Phalanx (14-2): 3 of 18
Olney Ocelots (9-7): 3 of 10
The Senators (9-7): 4 of 12
Philadelphia Phizz (10-5): 4 of 10
Philadelphia Phrenzy (8-8): 6 of 12
Now, the playoffs. Only 7 months until the next draft.
I'll try to talk about something else now.