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July 8, 2021 Archives

Thursday, July 8, 2021

CONTINUITY: Construction of Hoover Dam

This 1937 U.S. Department of the Interior film, which in some ways resembles Stalin-era Soviet industrialisation propaganda, refers to the dam throughout as “Boulder Dam”. The present Dear Leader must not, of course, name anything after the previous Dear Leader. The dam was officially named “Hoover Dam” by an act of Congress in 1947.

Posted at 15:52 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Dubai Port Explosion Visible from Space

Posted at 14:54 Permalink

CONTEXT: Don't Leave Your Bicycle Outside—at the South Pole

Posted at 14:19 Permalink

THE HAPPENING WORLD: What Is Chia, and Why Is It Devouring Solid State Drives?

Posted at 12:39 Permalink

CONTEXT: Hand-Flying a Rocket to Space

Both the Apollo command module and Space Shuttle had the ability for the crew to take over manual guidance during the ascent to orbit, but this was a backup mode never used in a mission. One question I've tried to answer for many years is whether crews were actually trained on this mode. Anybody know a pilot-astronaut who remembers?

While manual control of rocket flight is possible (and, as mentioned in the video, people can do a pretty good job of it), for pure rocket flight I'd argue that an “autopilot” is still necessary to provide closed-loop stability augmentation by thrust vectoring. I doubt that human response time is adequate to keep the pointy end up and flamey end down on an inherently aerodynamically unstable vehicle in the rapidly-changing centre of mass and centre of pressure environment of a rocket ascent.

For a humorous aside, see my “Landing by Hand on the Moon”.

Posted at 11:36 Permalink