NASA Social Follow-Up (For Nov 19 2014)


  1. I’m going to my third NASA Social, next Monday, February 2nd (it’s a big deal, I’m really excited).
  2. Last November I spent two days at NASA Armstrong (here and here) for my first NASA Social.
  3. In December at JPL, I had the privilege of attend my second NASA Social.
  4. The posts accompanying those events had lots of my Tweets and cell phone pictures, but the better quality pictures were promised for “later.” Now it’s later!
  5. Yesterday (using a completely bland, unoriginal, and non-clever title) I posted the DSLR hi-res pictures from November 18th, the first day at NASA Armstrong.
  6. Tonight, the hi-res pictures from Day Two at NASA Armstrong on November 19th. As I did yesterday, I’ll try not to repeat too much of the material already in the original post.

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To a “space cadet” such as myself, this is a sacred relic. This is the DSKY (Display & Keyboard) from the Apollo 15 mission in 1972. It’s not a replica or a backup — this is the honest-to-god, flew to the moon and back piece of hardware from the Apollo 15 command module. And not only did we get to see it and get close, we got to touch it and push the buttons.

Yeah, I was pretty impressed. It was a highlight.

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In the Flow Dynamics Lab we saw how models are tested in a stream of water. In this case the model has different colored dyes coming out of pinholes at certain places, with a steady, laminar flow of water being pumped past it from the top of this clear column. As the model is tilted (there’s a gauge in the background to show the angle) you can see how the flows are disrupted, forming eddies and swirls in the wake. Critical to know before you go testing something at Mach 2 or so with a pilot aboard.

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In the Flight Load Lab, this model was being tested for balance, weight distribution, and center of gravity. I think we’ll see more about this program on Monday, but it’s similar to Virgin Galactic’s “White Knight Two” carrier, except it will be towed by a conventional cargo plane or commercial jet such as a 747. Much cheaper, easier, and able to scale up (they think) to even bigger gliders and rockets, possibly large enough to carry a rocket designed to send a crewed spacecraft into orbit.

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A huge Robert McCall painting. I LOVE McCall’s work.

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This modified Global Hawk drone can carry atmospheric or meteorological testing packages to anywhere in the world by remote control and stay up for over twenty-four hours.

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Another amazing piece of original hardware, this is the last remaining Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV). You can see the pilot’s compartment on the left. Every one of the Apollo astronauts who landed on the moon trained in one of these, and an accident with one going out of control almost killed Neil Armstrong while he was training for Apollo 11.

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Seen from the other side, the LLRV was just a framework wrapped around a huge jet engine pointed downward. Not very stable, but a great training vehicle. The white box on top of the beam on the right is an analog (not digital!) computer, state of the art for the day – and about a billionth as powerful as your average smartphone of today.

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This is the X-48C small-scale test vehicle, which is being used to test “blended wing” designs. In thirty years, not only might fighters and bombers be shaped this way, but your average commercial jet might be as well.

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In the Edwards Air Force Base Flight Test Museum is this XLR99 rocket engine, used in the X-15 aircraft which took test pilots to the edge of space. In fact, many earned their astronaut wings in the X-15.

Tomorrow, a follow-up with the hi-res pictures from the December 3rd NASA JPL/Armstrong event for the first Orion launch.

For the record, I really, really hate it when after forty minutes of work after 23:00 at night, my browser and WordPress decide to lock up, delete all of my saved revisions, and die. How well can I remember what I’ve just typed? And can I do it in less than thirteen minutes?

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Filed under Astronomy, Flying, Photography, Space

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