Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
It was a seemingly perfect launch
, that went bad suddenly at MECO.
After the webcast cut out due to the anomaly, 23+ people gathered in the #spacex channel on irc.freenode.org to grieve.
Within minutes, more information flowed in from alternate sources.One person
got on his cell to friends at Marshall Space center, and got the altitude of the anomaly. 45km. Another
tuned us all into Tosca Musk's twitter feed
. A complete flight video was posted
, speculation commenced over at Nasa spaceflight
and on arocket
I'm glad to not have to go through pain like this alone, not like I did years ago
And as always, I am impressed and encouraged by Elon Musk's determination to succeed.
I will never give up and I mean never. - he wrote, only minutes after the end.
Still a little piece of me, and a lot of other people, floats as ashes over the pacific tonight.
The wake on irc was a good thing - Spider Robinson was right - pain shared is lessened.
Labels: alt.space, space, space08, spacex, trailblazer
Falcon 1 launch soon with the Trailblazer sat
The last major software project I worked on was Spacedev
's Trailblazer satellite bus. It wasn't called that then, it was a part of the much more elaborate DSE
, and later, broken out and renamed/refocused as the MMB-100
, and now, renamed and refocused once again, to be Trailblazer.
Although I spent over a year (part time) supporting the Spacedev team, I never bothered putting the project on my resume as Trailblazer was first canceled about a year ago, and I left to go around the world at about the same time.
I am also under a pair of non-disclosure agreements... but, today, I can't help but write a little
about the project... Imagine my surprise when I learned early last month that they'd pulled it out of mothballs and it was actually going to fly!??
Trailblazer had a long and twisted development history, filled with interesting things that I can't talk about due to those pesky NDAs. I can only recap what's in the public domain already: it's got one of the most powerful computers ever flown on board - the principal processor runs Linux - it has all sorts of standard busses for the connection of peripherals, like RS-422, USB and ethernet - and it costs an estimated 10 m dollars - cheap as such things go.
Trailblazer is NOT a satellite except in the broader senses of the term. More correctly, Trailblazer is an in-orbit test of a satellite bus - a smart interconnect for a wide range of potential USB, RS-422, and ethernet based peripherals - on a communications platform that can talk to earth. What happens when these designed-for-earth interfaces are exposed to vacuum, g forces, and radiation is what is under test.
Just as Spacex is trying to cut costs for access to space with their Falcon series of rockets, a standard set of busses like those in Spacedev's Trailblazer could cut costs for satellite development by a huge factor, opening up many new possibilities for smaller organizations to be able to loft new instruments and spacecraft, cheaper.
There's all sorts of geeky details to this enabling concept that I hope Spacedev will reveal with some upcoming papers. A paper about their use of TCP/ip in the system was published in the 2006 smallsat conference and another in the 2008 IEEE Aerospace but I haven't been able to find copies online (yet).
Me, I went to bed every night with the refrain of an old filk song in my head - "You can build a spaceship from the things you find at home
", because you could attach any of zillions of devices that talk over USB or ethernet and send them into space with a minimal amount of testing. Need a camera? An old webcam will do... heck, plug in 3 if you want - need GPS? go for garmin... etc.
So theoretically the Falcon 1 rocket that Trailblazer is on launches Saturday
. (webcast here
) If it achieves orbit, and Trailblazer achieves start and separation... it's cleared by the FCC for operations for the next 6 months, and will hopefully be in orbit for over 18 months before it falls back to earth.
I have a much larger article on my musings about all that it takes to put a satellite in orbit - all the people involved - etc - that I just can't put any love into until after a successful launch. I tried to write, once upon a time, about what a launch feels like, here
: Spacex has officially announced that they are shooting for today, August 2nd, for the launch. More details here
. Also onboard is Nanosail-D
Labels: falcon1, space, space08, spacedev, spacex, trailblazer
How to write when happy?
The surf has been consistently good, the wind lightly offshore.
I'm losing weight and gaining muscle mass. At the rate I'm going I'll be in the best shape I've been in 4 years by November. I'm dark brown from head to toe, except for the parts that are typically covered by baggies.
Not one, but two local bars are starting up open mic nights and with any luck a band or three will congeal out of that over time. I'm playing at Coquitos tonight with Aaron.
The youth hostel I help run now and then, La Casa Feliz
, has been packed with interesting visitors from all over the world for months now. (Last year, the year they started, they weren't). I have met more people in the past year than in my entire life prior, and gained insight into many viewpoints. I've been sharing my office with writers from 5ones.com
, Shaun chills out here a lot - and Cameron just did a wonderful writeup of his trip to Nicaragua
. Kelly Ann Thomas of Picasso Dreams
writes of Nicaraguan politics
and white woman's guilt
A couple days back I met a bunch of folk visiting a friend in the peace corps, one of them writes a darn good blog about everything from the rights of primates to robots
... Tom Trumpinski
now has his first book, The Hellbound Train
, available for sale from lulu, Brian Clapper has resumed writing
about everything from python
- and Cubic Dog
's been posting about environmental issues and has up a nice rant about responsibility
continues writing profoundly on everything from Lyndon LaRouche
(on his birthday, no less) to the memery
, to opening the cellular infrastructure
and me... I sit here with 30,000 words stacked up and don't care
... I've been through dry periods before, but this one is different...
I'm happier and calmer than I've been for a really long time, and although I have frustrations - like deciding to never own anything that can be easily stolen again - I'm happy
... and... although I'm surrounded now by writers... I don't have any driving urge to write!???
I have several big articles on important subjects (stuff that angers me) stalled out, I don't have the drive to finish
any of that. I poke a paragraph here, a sentence there, and quit. I've spent a little time organizing things so people can go through my old threads on space
, the 2008 election
, and my assaults on the framing issues the mainstream media has
, but that's it.
I find English slipping away more and more often as I attempt to operate in Spanish. I keep thinking that I could exit the internet with nary a backward glance, and use up the time for something else.
Wordlessly, I have an urge to paint - and instead of words, music fills my head. Music has always filled up my head, I have no idea how it gets stored, but I always used to ignore it, now it is louder than it has ever been....
I keep thinking - is that bad? It's not like I make a living from writing. Why should I subject myself to the pain of exposing truth
or bias in the media
, when there's a living, breathing world all around, with fun things to do, friends to hang with, and good things to eat and music to be made? - And everybody else, actively writing, doing such a great job?
Perhaps, today, I'll finish something. In my grabbag, fed by the prolefeed
, are subjects like stagflation
, the pending decline of Australia's economy
, the saga of Terry Childs
, and some stuff on corporate governance that all tie together... somehow.
Perhaps I can just serve as an amplifier
for a while.
Labels: civilization, happiness, nicaragua, writing