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Archive for February, 2018
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 20, 2018 @ 04:58 PM | 5,005 Views
Hands-On with Skydio R1 Autonomous Drone! (22 min 3 sec)

Really impressive demos from Skydio in Redwood City. Quad copter startups have been hit or miss & it looks like the same pile of plastic scrap that every startup besides Apple produces, but what they showed here was exactly what I wanted to do for years, with ground vehicles. It looks like it could really navigate most of the mobs I have had to navigate manually. They showed it briefly flying in front of the athlete, despite not having prior information about where the athlete was going. The flight time is undoubtedly very short & the $2500 is almost 1 month of rent.  As a $2500 consumer quad copter, it has no chance, but it would have a chance as a kit allowing developers to add autonomy to ground vehicles.

They're the 1st to consolidate a lot of the bits of research that were done in the vicon rooms for the last 10 years, into a complete product. They emphasized the demo of the fixed wing flying in a parking garage.  It's the 1st time anyone has shown the NVidia TX1 doing anything besides raising its stock price.

Not sure how well it would translate to a ground vehicle, because a ground vehicle needs to stay on a certain path. Prior knowledge of roughly where the athlete was going & where the path was might allow it to do the job. Suspect GPS has not improved enough to stay on a path without some other input.

It wouldn't translate well to a Casey Neistat application. His interest is...Continue Reading
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 20, 2018 @ 04:08 AM | 5,184 Views
Obsolescence has been a big problem for reusability. They haven't been able to recover any more Falcon 9's lately, because of the plan to switch to block 5. If a product evolves too fast, there's no need to ever reuse it. They'll retire the 1st reusable Falcon 9 after only 26 launch attempts.

In 4 more years, they want to have the BFR doing all the satellite launches, but after Falcon Heavy launched, Elon sounded eager to continue improving the old Falcon 9. So maybe in another year, it'll be a Falcon 9 with longer 2nd stage that replaces block 5 & makes recovering block 5 worthless because of obsolescence.
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 17, 2018 @ 02:45 PM | 5,384 Views

Can imagine the interview there would go like "Why do you want to work here instead of SpaceX?" followed by "Can you handle not getting into SpaceX?" But there are a lot of people who just want to build rockets for the sound, the power, & the thrill of putting anything in space rather than to solve problems or change the world, or be a viable business. In this case, it's probably good enough to get any employment they can find.


Of course, searching for the Astra rocket gives you the Ad Astra startup which has been trying to develop new engine technology for 20 years. Apparently, the biggest problems with this kind of engine are manetaining a vacuum to test it in & generating enough power to feed it.
There is no affordable space platform with the generating capacity or way to reach orbit cheaply enough to try many prototypes. Just reaching a 5 minute firing took half a century of extremely slow iterations. It's another example of what a revolution a rapidly & fully reusable rocket would be. If launching a 1/2 million lb nuclear reactor & daily iterations of engine hardware suddenly took a rational amount of money, engines like this could be tested in years rather than centuries.
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 12, 2018 @ 12:17 AM | 5,831 Views
Despite the billions of other videos, there was still room for improvement.

Falcon Galactica (1 min 1 sec)

Falcon Heavy compositing (0 min 35 sec)
...Continue Reading
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 07, 2018 @ 06:32 PM | 6,089 Views
The final shot as he heads to the asteroid belt. If I did it, it would have been a star heroine, but it shows how in times of giant leaps for mankind, just like in dating, we are all conservative.
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 07, 2018 @ 12:12 AM | 4,683 Views
A bit ironic that the thousands of useless animations you have to watch to get a phone to turn on were written in Silicon Valley while the utilitarian firmware which brought us affordable access to space was written in LA.
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 06, 2018 @ 05:26 PM | 4,641 Views
Maybe someday after the humans have all destroyed themselves, aliens will discover a Falcon 9 upper stage with a car orbiting between the sun & Mars, with a likeness of Earth's inhabitants in the driver seat, seemingly trying to achieve some vicarious trip. They'll wonder what we could have possibly wanted so bad.
Posted by Jack Crossfire | Feb 05, 2018 @ 02:55 AM | 4,785 Views
Just amazing how much effort went into mounting cameras & painting kapton covers black. They just put kapton bags where the tires used to be. The rumor is all the employees signed 1 of the panels. Most of the effort will never be seen by the public. It definitely wasn't tested in a vacuum chamber. We have a rare look at the pneumatic actuators for fairing separation. Each has its own gas tank to ensure it absolutely fires.