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Misc Bits [Jul. 27th, 2007|10:14 am]
Harry Potter:
I'm about 90% of the way through the book, so expect a post about that soon. Thanks to everyone who's been vigilant about concealing spoilers, too! (In fact, it sounds like fans in general have been good about it this time around. Cheers!)

Saw the fifth movie after hanging out with some great now-local friends (bluerain, kevinjdog, and orv). The movie was one of the better ones, though the book had to be cut so heavily to make it fit that it really was a different beast altogether.

A Bad Week for Space Programs:
NASA discovered a sabotaged component bound for the ISS. There were deliberately cut wires in the unit that was to be packed aboard the next shuttle flight. This is so bizarre... It's non-essential and wouldn't have endangered the launch, so it wasn't sabotage against the shuttle astronauts. It's a big mystery, still.

A study was also released revealing that astronauts sometimes have a few drinks before flying. I don't think that should be a surprise to anyone. But the fact that several of them were actually "drunk" on two occassions is worrying.

Finally, the private sector also had a bad time of it. A fatal explosion at Scaled Composites killed three people and seriously injured three others. A tragedy and my condolences go out to the people affected. It was particularly surprising since this was supposed to be a safe test; they were flowing fuel through the rocket motor but it was "cold" -- no planned ignition, no combustion.

Rocketry is so complex that it's easy to lose track of details and think tests are safe when there's actually hidden risk. This wouldn't be the first time, sadly. Yesterday's accident may have been caused by something as simple as a tank valve bursting but it will probably be some time before we know.

Eye-Bending, Block-Dropping Action:
Finally, on a lighter note, someone has made the most insane Tetris variant I've ever seen. And it hurts to see it! It uses a stereogram (SIRDS) to draw the game board. Yes, it's actually playable. :)

Thanks (I think) to porsupah for that link.

[User Picture]From: shockwave77598
2007-07-27 06:11 pm (UTC)
I suspect that Scaled Composites (now Northrop Grumman) used hydraulic flex hoses in places they shouldn't have. The way their hybrid engine works, NOx gas flows over a bed of rubber, which burns and provides quickly expanding gases to propel the vehicle. This is the technique used in the AIM9 Sidewinder missle, btw.

Hydraulic flex hoses are braided metal over a hollow rubber tube.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2007-07-27 06:18 pm (UTC)
Okay, I know the sort of hose you mean. That's certainly possible and the best theory I've heard. It sounds (from what little details are available in the press) that it's likely to be this sort of small human-error accident.
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[User Picture]From: octavius_rodens
2007-07-27 06:57 pm (UTC)
"Why are your eyes crossed?"
"No reason."
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[User Picture]From: p0lecat
2007-07-27 11:49 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, The US has had relitivly few deaths with its space program.
I think China takes the cake. Over 500 deaths in one launch.


Very sad...
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[User Picture]From: patch_bunny
2007-07-28 01:23 am (UTC)
Have never succeeded in seeing those damn things.

Dropped you an email regarding MFT.
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[User Picture]From: mothermonster
2007-07-28 01:51 am (UTC)
thanks for keeping up on the space program--I get most of my info from you. It's really nice to have someone else to do the research
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