Aurion Mission: Aug 14, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Secret art exhibit on the moon

[via by way of Boing Boing]
It sounds like a hoax or conspiracy theory, but apparently there is a secret art show on the moon. Artist Forrest "Frosty" Myers managed to have a "Moon Museum" secretly installed on a hatch on a leg of the Apollo 12's Intrepid landing module. Myers had tried to arrange for the art through NASA, but when the project was rejected, he enlisted the help of an unnamed engineer at the Grumman Corporation and did it as guerrilla art (let's see you do that, Banksy!).

Myers arranged for Rauschenberg, Warhol, Oldenburg, Chamberlain, and David Novros to contribute drawings in addition to his own. The six drawings were miniaturized and baked onto an iridium-plated ceramic wafer measuring just 3/4" x 1/2" x 1/40", with the assistance of engineers at Bell Labs.

According to the Times via, the artworks are Rauschenberg's wavy line; Novros' black square bisected by thin white lines; a computer-generated drawing by Myers; a geometric mouse by Oldenburg; and a template pattern by Chamberlain. Warhol's contribution, which is obscured by the thumb above, is described as "a calligraphic squiggle made up of the initials of his signature."Actually, it's a drawing of a penis.

For those of you with NY Times subscriptions, or a willingness to spend $3.95, the New York Times has a short article from November 22, 1969 about the exhibit.

The statue of the Fallen Astronaut is better known, institutionally approved moon art.

Moscow's Secret Moon Plan - The N-1 Rocket

Date: 04 February 2011 Time: 08:38 AM ET
See how the former Soviet Union planned to match the U.S. Apollo moon landings with the N-1 rocket in this infographic.
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Lifted like a madman

Another great weight training day.  I did everything and a lot of it.  massive amounts of this, incredible amounts of that.  Everything got bigger, stronger and way more better.   Most of the lifting did in fact take place on the moon at this secret Moon base which was built by the combined space agencies of the former Soviet Union and the USA back in the mid 50s.  That’s how I was able to lift such massive amounts of weight today.


Circling the Moon

In a new autobiography, an Apollo 15 pilot tells what it was like to fly solo.

  • By Al Worden With Francis French
  • Air & Space Magazine, July 01, 2011
Eric Long/ NASM
Apollo 15’s command and service modules appeared in the window of the lunar module Falcon, which was bringing Dave Scott and Jim Irwin back from the moon, before the vehicles docked in lunar orbit.

Circling the Moon

Explore more photos from the story
The fourth mission to land men on the moon, Apollo 15 was also the first of Apollo’s extended science missions. After a smooth journey, which began on July 26, 1971, commander Dave Scott and lunar module pilot Jim Irwin stayed on the moon for 66 hours, longer than the two previous lunar landings combined. While Scott and Irwin explored the terrain with Apollo’s first lunar rover, command module pilot Al Worden, orbiting alone in the spacecraft Endeavour, photographed the moon and operated scientific instruments studying its surface. NASA’s then-administrator James Fletcher compared Apollo 15’s scientific return with discoveries Charles Darwin made on his five-year around-the-world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, but the mission was marred by its crew’s bad judgment: The three men had flown postal covers to the moon, signed them, and sold them to a German stamp dealer. After the business arrangement was discovered, NASA management, embarrassed by the scrutiny the agency was receiving, did not fly the men in space again. In his new book, Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to the Moon, Al Worden recalls the pain of the scandal and recounts the unprecedented adventure of his mission. In this excerpt, Worden writes about his rendezvous with Scott and Irwin after three days of orbital solitude and describes making the first extravehicular activity—EVA—beyond Earth orbit.
—The editors
On my last morning alone around the moon, I woke to a breezy blast of mariachi trumpets. With the serene lunar surface gliding by below me, Herb Alpert’s “Tijuana Taxi” was about the strangest music mission control could pipe up over the radio. But still, it got me awake.
On the lunar surface, Dave and Jim suited up for their final moonwalk before they began preparations to lift off and rejoin me. We all had a busy day ahead. Ed Mitchell, the lunar module expert, was back as CapCom for this critical time. He read up a blizzard of numbers to me, telling me where and when I would need to rendezvous with my moving target.
Later in the day, mission control gave Dave clearance to lift off from the moon. On Hadley plain, Falcon’s engine lit, hurling the spacecraft upward. It quickly pitched over, and zipped along the rille on the curving path needed to reach me.
As Dave and Jim rose in the Falcon, I turned on the cassette player. We were an all-Air Force crew, so I figured it would be fun to play the U.S. Air Force anthem to mission control to provide a stirring background. Bad move. My radio signal was heard not only on Earth: For some reason, mission control also patched it through to the Falcon. Dave and Jim, intently focused on their checklists, now had distracting music in their ears. The ground didn’t tell me; perhaps they didn’t realize what they had done themselves until later.
Had something gone wrong with Falcon at that moment, the music could have been a dangerous diversion. Fortunately, everything went according to plan, and Dave and Jim zipped into an orbit below and behind me. I’d trained extensively to catch them if Falcon lurched into some other, wilder orbit. But I never needed to. I soon had a good radar lock on them. Guided by Ed Mitchell back on Earth, Dave and I flew our spacecraft ever closer, mirroring each other’s moves. “You got your lights on, Jim?” I radioed, watching for Falcon’s flashing tracking light.
I looked through the sextant and the telescope to try to find them, but sunlight in the scopes made it hard to see anything. Finally, in the corner of my eye, I spotted a flash of light in the telescope. I manually drove the instruments over to that point, and there it was: a very bright light. “I’ve got your lights now, Dave,” I told them.
As Falcon steadily rose to meet me, Dave and Jim gave Endeavour an extensive look-over, while I photographed them in turn. Falcon had left its descent stage on the surface of the moon and was now much smaller than when I had last seen it. Falcon was so light, a pulse of its thrusters rattled the lunar module around. So it was easier for me to dock using Endeavour. I slowly slid toward them, so gently that we barely touched. Then, with a touch of my thrusters, I pushed forward into a hard dock.
The rendezvous and docking had been fast—and perfect. “Good show, Endeavour,” Dave radioed to me. “Welcome home,” I replied. That might seem like an odd choice of words—after all, we were still a quarter of a million miles from Earth. But Endeavour had become my home, and Dave and Jim were returning from a great adventure.
I’d kept our home clean and tidy for them. But now, as I opened the hatches between the spacecraft, I saw two grimy faces. Their spacesuits were dirty, and I could smell the moondust. It was a new, peculiar odor—dry and gunpowdery. I kept the hatch closed as much as possible while we began to transfer equipment, hoping the floating dust would not spread. I was mostly successful, but the creep of dust was unavoidable. Dave and Jim floated long sample tubes of lunar dirt and boxes of moonrocks through the hatch, which I stowed inside Endeavour under the couches.
While busily running scientific experiments, I also stored Falcon’s flight plans and checklists, food, film magazines full of priceless photos, and—less priceless to me—Dave and Jim’s used urine and fecal bags. Of all the things to return from the lunar surface, did we really need their crap?
Finally, Dave and Jim floated into Endeavour. I was elated to see them. But Dave didn’t look happy. In fact, while Jim looked away sheepishly, Dave began to loudly berate me about the distracting tune piped into the Falcon during liftoff. Didn’t I know I had jeopardized the whole mission, he thundered, by playing that darn music?
This wasn’t the reunion I had expected. I could only apologize and explain that I had only radioed it to Houston, with no clue they would patch it back to the Falcon. My explanation seemed to satisfy Dave for the moment. I guess he eventually forgave me, because months later at an awards ceremony with the Air Force Association, Dave bragged about playing the tune.
There wasn’t time for me or Dave to dwell on the argument. We had too much to do. Behind in the timeline, we hustled to close the hatches. On the first attempt, the spacecraft hatch did not seal correctly, possibly due to some lunar dust. After more time-consuming checks, we finally seemed to have the problem solved, and Dave and Jim could remove their helmets and gloves. They had started their day with a demanding moonwalk, and they hadn’t eaten for eight hours. They were ready to stop for a while and grab some food.

(Page 2 of 3)
Then it was finally time to undock from Falcon. “It’s away clean, Houston,” I reported as the lunar module separated with a bang. The separation had taken longer than planned, so instead of our scheduled rest break, we jumped back into our chores.
Jim and Dave would have worked until they dropped, they were so dedicated to the mission. “We’re still trying to get cleaned up in here and get suits put away and all that sort of stuff,” I told the ground. “It’s awfully cramped quarters, and there’s an awful lot of stuff to move around.” The spacecraft seemed very different now that three of us were crammed in again. “I kind of liked it here by myself,” I added wistfully.
By the time we finished everything on the checklist, we were exhausted. We slept deeply for nine hours. The next morning, we all felt much better. With the three of us scrambling to accomplish tasks, my day seemed much more complicated. I was happy to have Dave and Jim back alive, but I began to miss working alone, when we didn’t all have overlapping tasks.
I had enjoyed my time in orbit. There was so much to see that I never grew bored. The sunlit part of the moon shifted as the days went by, so there were always new places to view. I could have happily spent a few more days there—the same feeling I get at the end of a great vacation. But it was time to go home.
Two days after Dave and Jim had rejoined me in Endeavour, I fired the main engine to propel us away from the moon. I could feel the steady acceleration as it burned for over two minutes. I warily watched the gauges that told me our engine was burning smoothly, speeding us on the curved pathway out of lunar orbit.
I settled in for our three-day coast back to Earth. Mission control signed off, reminding us that “our ever-watchful eye will be on you while you sleep.”
When I woke the next morning, I had to carry out some critical navigation. We had one shot to get back home, and I wanted to be on course from the beginning. While Houston kept an eye on us to make sure we didn’t stray out of a general path of certainty, I hoped to prove it was possible to navigate to and from the moon without their help. I was aiming for a narrow sliver of horizon on a planet tens of thousands of miles away, and there was no margin for error. This far from Earth, the tiniest changes in direction could result in huge errors once we had traveled the remaining distance in our voyage.
I used my sextant and measured the angle between Earth’s horizon and my preselected stars. However, I also had to choose the right place on the horizon. Our planet is about 8,000 miles across, and the horizon is only 50 miles deep. That sounds tiny, and it looked tiny from so far away, but 50 miles was too deep for what I needed to do. I needed more accuracy.
In my training, I had calibrated my eye for a specific part of the atmosphere. Between Earth’s surface and the blackness of space, the atmosphere looked like narrow bands of colors, mostly subtly different reds, magentas, and blues. On Earth I had experimented in simulations to identify a thin color line I could find consistently. I looked for a particular light blue within the atmosphere, and this reduced the 50-mile depth to a much smaller path as we left the moon. It worked even better than it had in the simulators: We stayed firmly on track.
We were still much closer to the moon than to Earth, but because our planet is so much larger, its gravity pulled on us more. We were now truly falling to Earth. It meant nothing to us in the spacecraft—there was no physical sensation of our incredible speed as we shot through the black void.
It was time for the three of us to float back into our spacesuits and help each other zip up before I went out for my EVA to retrieve film from cameras in the Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) bay. “You have a go for depress,” mission control told us. We slowly began to let the oxygen out of the cabin through a special valve in the hatch. Everything in the airless spacecraft looked the same, but I knew now that if I took off my helmet, I would die.
“We’re getting ready to open the hatch,” Dave reported. “Okay. Unlatch.”
“The hatch is open,” I announced. I poked my head outside and carefully mounted a 16-mm movie camera on the hatch to film my spacewalk. Then, grabbing the nearest handrail, I soundlessly floated outside.
I paused a moment and waited for Jim to poke his head and shoulders out of the hatchway behind me. He would stay there to keep an eye on me while I made my way down the side of the spacecraft. Other than our service module glinting in the sunlight, it looked really black out there. I looked down the length of the SIM bay. “You ready, Jim?” I asked. “I’ll work my way down.”

(Page 3 of 3)
After 11 days in space, I was accustomed to weightlessness. With one hand on a handrail, I could turn my body with my wrist. The SIM bay was slightly to the left of the hatch, so I first needed to swing across the face of Endeavour. I let my legs float up, swung around, and worked my way down the side of the spacecraft, hand over hand, never using my feet.
I floated over the mapping camera, then rotated myself on the handrail, placing my feet in special restraints. I hadn’t really had a sense of where I was until this moment. Standing upright on the side of the spacecraft, attached only by my feet and the umbilical that loosely snaked back to the spacecraft hatch, I had a fleeting sense of being deep under the ocean, in the dark, next to an enormous white whale. The sun was at a low angle behind me, so every bump on the outside of the service module cast a deep shadow. I didn’t dare look toward the sun, knowing it would be blindingly bright. In the other direction, and all around me, there was—nothing. It’s a sensation impossible to experience unless you float tens of thousands of miles from the nearest planet. This wasn’t deep dark water, or night sky, or any other wide open space that I could comprehend. The blackness defied understanding, because it stretched away from me for billions of miles.
But there wasn’t time to ponder it too much. I had work to do. I pulled the cover off the panoramic camera, released the film cassette, and tethered myself to it. Jim waited for me at the hatch. “Would you like to get hold of it?” I asked with a laugh as I passed him the film. Jim tethered it inside and released the tether attaching me to it. While Dave stowed the panoramic camera film deeper in the cabin, I floated back down the side of the spacecraft. “Beautiful job, Al baby!” Karl Henize radioed from Earth. “Remember, there is no hurry up there at all.”
“Roger, Karl,” I replied as I grabbed the handrail again. “I’m enjoying it!”
I floated back down the SIM bay, much faster this time. It was time to remove the mapping camera film cassette and bring that back inside. This time the cover didn’t cooperate, and I had to twist and pull hard three or four times before it came away. I pulled the mapping camera film out and floated it back over to Jim, who grabbed the film and unhooked the tether attaching it to me. As we did this, I saw one of the most amazing sights of my life. Jim was perfectly framed by the enormous moon right behind him. It looked as big as the spacecraft, and was dramatically lit by the sun. It could have been the most famous photo in the space program, if I’d been allowed to take a camera out of the spacecraft.
I’d argued for carrying one on my EVA, but the mission planners had worried I’d be busy enough. Now I really wished I’d had one. Well, if I didn’t have a camera, I could at least take a look at where I was. After all, 12 people would walk on the moon during Apollo, but only three would make a deep-space EVA. I would forever be the first, and to this day I hold the record for floating in space farther away from Earth than any other human.
I realized I had a unique viewpoint: I could see the entire moon if I looked in one direction. Turning my head, I could see the entire Earth. The perspective is impossible to have on Earth or on the moon. I had to be far enough away from both.
It was time to float back inside.
Right away, I wished I had spent more time out there just looking around. We had plenty of time. Those film canisters with their priceless images were now safely inside the spacecraft. But I could have soaked in the scene a little more, just for myself.
If I couldn’t take photos outside myself—and Jim had not taken any stills of me either—I knew that at least the 16-mm movie camera should have picked up some spectacular images. But I was wrong. That camera, we learned later, had jammed. It had captured only one frame, showing me floating away.
After retiring from NASA, Al Worden worked in private industry before becoming chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Francis French is director of education at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
Project X-37B OTV aerospace
The U.S. Air Force into orbit a second X-37B secret mini-Shuttle surrounded by an enormous secrecy. The second minitransbordador unmanned X-37B, Blasted off from Cape Canaveral with a day late after being suspended the launch on Friday March 4, 2011, due to cloudy weather and windy it was at launch.
Although Saturday morning the weather with her, had to postpone release again until 17:46, when the East Coast of the United States, that day when detecting a fault in a valve having to be repaired in the last minute.
aero space
The mission is of a classified, although the leaders of the Air Force stated that the purpose was to test new technologies space. However, the secrecy surrounding the mission and the time the ship remains in orbit has alerted several nations if it could be a space weapon. The spacecraft was put into orbit hidden in the upper cone of a rocket type Atlas VOf disposable type.

The ship is similar to the space shuttles used by NASA but with much smaller dimensions, so much so, that would fit two X-37B aircraft in the hold of a NASA space shuttle. Specifically, the vehicle is about 9 meters long and 4.5 meters wide with a height that is less than 3 meters. Its light weight gives it a body of less than 5 tonnes.
Despite its small size, a powerful engine of 29,341 kN can accelerate the spacecraft to reach more than 28,000 km / h, maintaining its orbit for 7 months, fueled by solar panels with solar cells.
Perhaps most disturbing of all is that no crew thanks to avionics systems similar to those used in the unmanned aircraft RAPTOR. This fact together with the secrecy that has surrounded the project and its launch has been responsible for Russia and China set off alarms.

Development and purpose of the X-37B OTV:
The program of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (Orbital Test Vehicle), has been developed with the participation of government, the arms company DARPA, Air Force and NASA, Boeing remains the prime contractor for the program. Although the original X37 program belonged to the NASA program, which began in 1999 with the aim of creating reusable vehicles, the project was transferred in September 2004 the company DARPA character becoming classified.
The first evidence against the company DARPA during April 2006, when he dropped an X-37 spacecraft called Lifelong Learning, which stands for test vehicle approach and landing, making the first orbital test in December 2010.
The ultimate goal and actual project is still classified, so only expect to fit the statements are true and only case of a program to test new technologies, although it is doubt and fear if the USAF is developing some kind of space weapon or maybe some new type of surveillance system.
The latter is certainly due to the height at which orbits where spy satellites are positioned, and that can take up to four times per hour over the same geographical point. Needless to say the project will continue to matter classified so we can only rely on the truth and we have not reached the age of space wars or the thinking machines.
SAMOS to the Moon - 1.7MB PDF

Turkish researchers make nanotechnology breakthrough

HDN image
A group of Turkish researchers at an Ankara university have manufactured the longest and thinnest nanowires ever produced, by employing a novel method to shrink matter 10-million fold.
The invention, discovered at Bilkent University’s National Nanotechnology Research Center, or UNAM, is set to appear on the cover of Nature Material magazine’s July edition.
“At this moment, we may not even be able to predict what things will be produced [in the future] using this method,” said Associate Professor Mehmet Bayýndýr who led the research team.
The new method could provide advancements in many fields, including the production of more effective cells for solar panels, DVD’s with massively enhanced capacity, electronics and other novel applications that could be used in medical imaging technologies, according to the Anatolia news agency.
The research team was trying to obtain a patent for their invention, as well as preparing to apply to the Guinness Book of Records for producing the world’s longest and thinnest semiconductor nanowire.
The new technique includes a new thermal size-reduction process to produce indefinitely long nanowire and nanotube arrays with various materials, Bayýndýr said Friday.
“We are enjoying [the fact that] we are getting higher amounts of projects than scientists in developed countries, despite the global economic crisis,” he said.
The project was funded by the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBITAK, the Turkish Academy of Sciences, or TÜBA, and the State Planning Organization, or the DPT.
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USAF robotic shuttle marks first autonomous spacecraft landing

USAF X-37B Robotic Space Shuttle
A miniature robotic space shuttle wrapped up a 224-day classified military mission and made an unannounced landing in darkness on a California runway on Friday, Air Force officials said.
The Orbital Test Vehicle, or X-37B, touched down at 1:16 a.m. PST at Vandenberg Air Force Base, becoming the first U.S. spaceship to land itself on a runway.
The former Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttle accomplished a similar feat in 1988.
“We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission,” program manager Lt. Col. Troy Giese said in a statement.
The project, which was started by NASA in the late 1990s and later adopted by the military, is intended to test technologies for a next-generational space shuttle.
Rather than carry people, however, the military is looking at the spaceplane as a way to test new equipment, sensors and material in space, with the intention of incorporating successful technologies into satellites and other operational systems.
Another key point of the project is to see if the costs and turnaround time between flights can be reduced from months to days.
The Air Force imposed a news blackout on the X-37B’s activities while in orbit, though it was tracked by amateur satellite-watchers throughout its nine-month mission.
The X-37B looks like a space shuttle orbiter, but is smaller, with a similar shape and payload bay for cargo and experiments. But it measures 29 feet, 3 inches in length (8.9 metres) and has a 15-foot (4.5-metres) wing span, compared to the 122-foot (37-metres) orbiters with wing spans of 78 feet (23.8 metres).
Unlike NASA’s space shuttles which can stay in orbit about two weeks, X-37B is designed to spend as long as nine months in space, then land itself on a runway.
The Air Force plans to fly its second X-37B vehicle this spring. The spaceplanes were built by Boeing’s advanced research lab, Phantom Works.
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Carbon Nanotubes 1 KM Long

Carbon Nanotubes 1 KM Long
New manufacturing process produces yarns and sheets of carbon nanotubes millions of times the size of previous nanotubes.
The thought of being able to use carbon nanotubes in future projects excites most engineers, but the current size at which they can be produced, renders them pretty much useless. That is until now.
Thanks to Nanocomp Technologies of Concord, New Hampshire, researchers and engineers can now utilize ‘yarns’ and ‘sheets’ of the material.
When carbon nanotubes first entered the spotlight back in 1991, the technology world began brainstorming endless ways the material could be used. The structural, thermal, and electrical properties of these cylindrical-shaped carbon molecules meant that, in theory, they could be used for extremely compact and fast digital computers, rugged electronics, and super strong structures such as a space elevator – a 62,000 mile elevator stretching into space.
However, researchers have found it difficult to mass produce nanotubes long enough to accomplish any break-through technologies.
Now Nanocomp Technologies, based in Concord, New Hampshire, is bringing the future closer by producing yarns and sheets of nanotubes, in bulk.
On an atomic level, carbon nanotubes look like rolled-up tubes of chicken wire. The tubing is made from a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms and measures approx one nanometer (one billionth of a meter) in diameter.
Currently, nanotubes are commonly produced in segments about 10,000 nanometers long, to the eye, this looks like a black powder. At this size, the carbon nanotubes full potential is far from utilized, but Nanocomp says it can now produce 18-square-foot sheets and 1 km long yarns of nanotubing.
Nanocomp is using its nanotubing to make lightweight antennas, cables, and electromagnetic interference shields for the military and aerospace markets. Nanocomp is also working with the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Center to develop better body armor.

How It Works

Nanotubes are made by feeding a gas containing a carbon-based feedstock – the raw material – into a long cylindrical furnace. The gas is swept along the furnace until it meets a heated, porous block that is coated with a catalyst.
As it squeezes through the pores, the gas is forced into contact with the catalyst, and carbon nanotubes begin to form. A temperature gradient between the porous block and the open end of the furnace supports the tubes as they grow, absorbing material from the reaction gas.
Eventually the nanotubes leave the cylindrical furnace, looking like a wispy, black mass of tube-shaped cotton candy. A rotating anchor or conveyor belt captures the nanotubes as they emerge, turning them into yarns and sheets.
Project Orion: unpublished documents
Arabic printing of George Dyson's book, "Project Orion."
Arabic printing of George Dyson's book, "Project Orion."
Previously "classified" documents related to Project Orion, the now-aborted plan to send nuke-propelled spaceships to Mars and other planets. Details in this BoingBoing post and podcast.
Prior to this web upload on Flickr, these documents had never before been publicly released.

Tech historian George Dyson collected these papers, and he is the author of "Project Orion," a book which chronicles the project and the lives of the scientists behind it -- including his own father, Freeman Dyson.

The name "Project Orion" is now being used by NASA for a new project, this one not powered by nuclear bombs. This time around, they're trademarking the name.
25 photos | 21,906 views
items are from between 01 Nov 2003 & 17 Oct 2006.
Project Orion: nuke-powered rockets in flight.
Project Orion: (Arab version) pulse unit cutaway
Project Orion: a Martian excursion.
Project Orion: cutaway of 10-m vehicle
Project Orion: Test vehicle (1960)
Project Orion: "Deep Space Force"
Project Orion: hard numbers
Project Orion: do the math.
Project Orion documents
Project Orion: NASA pulls the plug in 1960
Project Orion: DoD letter, 12-29-61
Project Orion: 7-22-64 Air Force document
Project Orion: 6-9-64 Air Force document
Project Orion: the letter that ended it.
Project Orion: "Typical Acceleration Profile."
Project Orion: explosion 4
Project Orion: explosion 3
Project Orion: explosion 2
Project Orion: explosion 1
Project Orion: Super-Orion chart.
Project Orion: Redacted (USA version) pulse unit cutaway
Project Orion: report cover, General Atomics
Project Orion: declassified document, General Atomics
Project Orion: "Containment"  (Freeman J. Dyson)

Project Orion: more classified, unpublished space nuke docs

George Dyson, our guest for this week's edition of the Boing Boing Boing podcast (link to BB post with podcast audio urls and story background) shares another batch of documents from Project Orion.
This was America's abandoned plan to send nuclear bomb powered spaceships to other planets. Most of these documents have never before been published, and were classified for many years.
Images -- Above Left: Dyson explains, "This document is really provocative, it's from the Arabic edition of Project Orion, and includes this cutaway of a pulse unit that is still classified."
Above Right: Cutaway diagram of 10-m vehicle.
Lower Left: redacted USA version of the pulse cutaway diagram (the unredacted version in Arabic is shown above).
Link to complete set of scanned "Orion" documents, on Flickr.
Update: BoingBoing reader Samir M. Nassar emails a translation for the Arabic text (after the jump).
Xeni, Here is a translation of the "Orion" Project scan you posted. Translation Start:
Pulse unit of the Orion craft with a diameter of 10 meters: The output is approximately 1 kiloton and the weight is approximately 933 kilograms. Between 2000 and 3000 charges are enough for a roundtrip from Earth to Mars. When the bomb explodes the initial release of energy is contained in the radiation shield and directed toward the propellant.
Translation End.
I have tried to use the english labels instead of direct translation of the text to the best of my abilities.
George Dyson replies:
The weight of the pulse unit is way, way less that 933 kg. Must be a typo somewhere. 93 kg is in the ballpark. They are watermelon size.
Samir responds:
I am tickled pink that I even get to be corrected by George Dyson. In any case, regarding the translation. I should have been more careful. In the colloquial use in Palestine the unit of weight used means 3 kilograms. I used that. In the use of Modern Standard Arabic it means 'pound' so the modified translation should be:
Translation Start:
Pulse unit of the Orion craft with a diameter of 10 meters: The output is approximately 1 kiloton and the weight is approximately 311 pounds Between 2000 and 3000 charges are enough for a roundtrip from Earth to Mars. When the bomb explodes the initial release of energy is contained in the radiation shield and directed toward the propellant.
Translation End.
This still comes to about 141 kilograms.

USAFs X-37B Returns Autonomously To Earth Video

USAFs X-37B Returns Autonomously To Earth Video
The USAF's classified space craft returns safely to earth…

The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B, developed by Boeing, has successfully completed its first mission after returning to Earth from a 220 day journey in space.
After more than 7 months in orbit, the USAFs X-37B experimental space plane finally returned to Earth at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, early in the morning of December 3rd.
usaf beoing x-37b returns to earth
USAF Boeing X-37B Space Plane
The X-37B is Boeing’s solution to an Air Force request – made in the 1990’s – for a reusable space vehicle that could reach the Earth’s orbit with the help of a space shuttle or booster rocket. The program was handed over to the Department of Defense in 2004, at which point it became classified.
After years of being kept under wraps, we still don’t know the main applications of the space craft. However a press release from the Air Force did say this:
“[It’s] a flexible space test platform to conduct various experiments and allow satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be efficiently transported to and from the space environment. This service directly supports the Defense Department’s technology risk-reduction efforts for new satellite systems. By providing an ‘on-orbit laboratory’ test environment, it will prove new technology and components before those technologies are committed to operational satellite programs.” [Wired]
The X-37B was launched from an Alas V rocket on April, 22nd. The video clip below shows the X-37B landing safely 220 days later at the Vandenberg AFB. Because the landing took place during the early hours of the morning the video was filmed in FLIR thermal vision.

Now the X-37B has landed safely, tests will be conducted to figure out if the craft is truly reusable. It will then be prepared for another flight, hopefully in 2011. When that happens, perhaps we’ll be graced with a few more specifics.


  1. Graham Warwick: USAF's X-37B Spaceplane Returns to Earth. Ares Defense Blog, Aviation Week, 2/12/2010.
  2. Jason Paur: Air Force Launches Secretive Space Plane; ‘We Don’t Know When It’s Coming Back’. Wired, 04/23/2010.
  3. Photos by : US Air Force, Via Ares.

On The Moon found a human skeleton?

⊆ 12:00 PM by grek

"I have documents and letters showing that human footprints on the lunar surface was fresh and the skeleton unquestionably belongs to the man" - China's leading astrophysicist Mao Kang.
American newspaper The New York Times published a sensational: on the moon found the skeleton of a man. This stunning news does not look like an ordinary newspaper "duck" as a solid body refers to a recognized authority - leading Chinese astrophysicist Mao Kang. And reject this scientist with the threshold can not: namely Mao Kang winter of 1988 brought a shock to the whole scientific world by publishing a conference in Beijing on human pictures bare foot on the lunar surface. And said here that got these shots from "a reliable source in the United States. " According to Mao Kang, photograph of the skeleton - of the second batch pictures obtained from the same source.
On the technical side there is nothing impossible. Modern optics is such that clearly captures from orbiting satellites headlines, spread out on the ground. And on the moon has no atmosphere, can be read newspaper text. The only question is whether or not to walk on the moon, a man who then died and turned into a skeleton, and why the Americans are holding the photographs in no hurry to share them with the scientific world.
In the second half of the question to answer easily. Space - a strategic area, and whoever owns it secret - more potential adversaries. Not for nothing the Americans nearly half a century conceal the truth about the alien spaceship who died in South America. Much harder to answer the first half of the question. But let's look at the not so distant past.
In the first 70 went around the whole world a sensational photograph, taken from an American satellite, the Viking-1? to orbit Mars - Pyramids and the Sphinx. In the photo is clearly visible a few cone-shaped buildings, obviously artificial, and not far away from them - carved into the rock a giant human face. The trunk did not differ, so it can be assumed that the rock is carved a head.
This is so not knitting with generally accepted notions that the scientific world has come to a unanimous conclusion: the phenomenon of nature - a fun game of light and shadow. Obviously, the same thought and American secret services, and therefore did not object to the publication of this photo. And scientists minds gleefully giggling, reading the newspapers idle thoughts of journalists that we are not only intelligent beings in the solar system that we control the higher civilization.
I must say, journalists do not fantasized from scratch. Were based on science. Back in the late 60's an American researcher a Nobel Prize Pollack entered into the computer all the data about the Earth - the composition of the atmosphere, soil, solar and cosmic radiation, all physical parameters, and all that science was aware of living things. And asked the question: can the protein life on the planet with such conditions? The answer was clear: impossible. On a planet where there is a strong oxidizer - oxygen, an abundance of absolute solvent - water, which over time break down, even glass and metal, a protein substance, with its extremely narrow life "corridor " could not have arisen. And even more can not naturally occur is the diversity of living creatures. Nature is much more economical in their accomplishments. Later, this experiment was repeated at the Kiev Institute of Cybernetics with the same result.
But Pollack is not just asked the question the computer. A little earlier traveled around the world a sensational discovery: all living beings on Earth - from bacteria to elephants, including humans - have a common biological code. And in light of all the established theories of the origin and evolution of life is simply impossible. But it is. And the most daring minds have come to the "crazy" idea: life on Earth is of artificial origin. Our Planet - Research Laboratory, where a Supreme Mind is experimenting with all sorts of variants of evolution. This and such a variety and life, and natural conditions, surprising for a small planet. So, perhaps, the scientific minds in vain giggling over the fantasies of writing fraternity.
But very distant retrospective gives a stunning enigma. In the first place - and what the moon itself? How does it come on the earth's horizon? After another 20 thousand years ago, it was not, astronomers have come to believe that she went from somewhere in the depths of the galaxy. Perhaps descended from its orbit by a space accident and hit the Earth's gravity field. It is unlikely that such an explanation can be someone to meet. Until now, astronomers have not met the wandering planets. Comets - yes. Meteorites - indefinitely. But the planet ... the more "alive", which are raging volcanoes. Not for nothing that there was "crazy idea" that the moon - controlled spaceship. That's why, and she stands on such an orbit, and rotates around its own axis, so that we could see only one side. Here Armstrong and saw alien ships on the other, hidden from our side.
"Americans are complicit in concealing the secrets of the global, and possibly criminal nature - said Mao Kang. - They are kept from the public images of the trace of human foot on the moon 20 years, and a picture of a human skeleton - even longer. What is found on the Moon, is a stunning fact. "
This statement was a blow for space and intelligence services in the U.S.. They flatly refused to comment on his hard-bitten journalists. One of the intelligence experts even went into hiding after reporters besieged him in a restaurant. Other services, too, a word not responded to this accusation, even after the Chinese scholar said that has more than 1000 pictures imprints NASA bare feet and a skeleton on the moon. But it is noteworthy that, refusing to comment on the report, none of the American decision-makers decided not to refute him.
As I have said, modern space optics allows us to consider even the smallest details. And they make this story even more mysterious. So, the man whose skeleton is shown in the picture, apparently, during the lifetime of wearing jeans. And because the skeleton is missing some parts, the death of this man was violent. It can be assumed that he was killed elsewhere and then, much later, moved to the moon. If he was killed on the moon would not be preserved skeleton, and the whole body: in the airless atmosphere of the moon decomposition of body tissues is impossible.
You can build a lot of guessing who the man was and how he got to the moon. Involuntarily reminded of the many rumors about people who had been abducted by aliens and disappeared without a trace. But if we do not have now the approaches to this puzzle? Anyway, Dr. Mao Kang confident in it and announced it to the world:
"I have documents and letters showing that human footprints on the lunar surface was fresh and the skeleton unquestionably belongs to the man. The question is, how the human footprint and a human skeleton were on the moon. This is due, obviously, the intervention of extraterrestrial beings, but we'll never know until the Americans will not make publicly available all information they have classified information".

'Dog Days' of Summer End With Dog Star's Sky Return

Date: 12 August 2011 Time: 05:34 PM ET
Sky map for dog star Sirius as it rises before the sun at 6 a.m. local time in the eastern sky in mid-northern latitudes.
This sky map shows the location of Sirius, the Dog Star and brightest star in the night sky, as it appears before sunrise at 6 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2011 in mid-northern latitudes.
CREDIT: Starry Night Software
The so-called "Dog Days" of summer in the Northern Hemisphere officially came to an end this week, when the Sirius, the bright Dog Star, returned the night sky.
Everyone talks about "Dog Days" but few may know what the expression actually means. Some might suggest it signifies hot, sultry days "not fit for a dog." (If during you live in Dallas or Oklahoma City this summer, you may probably more than agree with this particular definition.) Others, meanwhile, may say it's the weather in which dogs go mad.
But the actual Dog Days, or "Canicular" days as they're known, are defined as the period from July 3 through Aug. 11 when the Dog Star, Sirius, rises in conjunction (or nearly so) with the sun. As a result, the classical Greek and Roman belief was that the combination of the brightest luminary of the day (the sun) and the brightest star of night (Sirius) were responsible for the extreme heat that is experienced during the middle of the northern summer. Other effects, according to the ancients, were droughts, plagues and madness.
A more sensible view was put forward by the astronomer Geminus around 70 B.C. He wrote: "It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the Dog Days, but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun’s heat is the greatest." [The 9 Hottest Places on Earth]
The sky map of for the star Sirius here shows where it currently appears in the predawn sky.
Dog star's night sky legacy
In ancient Egypt, the New Year began with the return of Sirius. It was, in fact, the "Nile Star" or the "Star of Isis" of the early Egyptians. Interestingly, some 5,000 years ago, this star's "heliacal rising" (appearing to rise just prior to the sun) occurred not in August, as is the case today, but rather on or around June 25. 
When the ancient Egyptians saw Sirius rising just before the sun, they knew that the "Nile Days" were at hand. Its annual reappearance was a warning to people who lived along the Nile River. The star always returned just before the river rose, and so announced the coming of floodwaters, which would add to the fertility of their lands. People then opened the gates of canals that irrigated their fields. 
Priests, who were the calendar keepers, sighted the first rising of the Dog Star from their temples. At the temple of Isis-Hathor at Denderah is a statue of Isis, which is located at the end of an aisle lined by tall columns. A jewel was placed in the goddess’ forehead. [Skywatching Events for August 2011]
The statue was oriented to the rising of Sirius, so that the light from the returning Dog Star would fall upon the gem. When the priests saw the light of the star shining upon the gem for the first time, they would march from the temple and announce the New Year.  In the temple appears the inscription: "Her majesty Isis shines into the temple on New Year’s Day, and she mingles her light with that of her father Ra on the horizon."
The Dog Star returns this week
This week, just before sunrise, Sirius can again be glimpsed rising just above the southeast horizon for those living in mid-northern latitudes. At more southerly latitudes, Sirius is already conspicuous, twinkling above the horizon at dawn. 
Sirius is the brightest star of the constellation Canis Major, the "Greater Dog" in Latin. According to Burnham's Celestial Handbook other names for it include "The Sparkling One" or "The Scorching One."
The star appears a brilliant white with a tinge of blue, but when the air is unsteady, or when it is low to the horizon as it is now, it seems to flicker and splinter with all the colors of the rainbow. At a distance of just 8.7 light-years, Sirius is the fifth-nearest known star. Among the naked-eye stars, it is the nearest of all, with the sole exception of Alpha Centauri. 
So regardless of how hot your local weather is, or has been, this appearance of Sirius — a star we most associate with the winter season — now rising just ahead of the sun, is a subtle reminder that the hottest part of the year is now behind us and a promise that a change toward cooler weather is only weeks away. 
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York

Joseph Stalin's occult knowledge and experiments


Joseph Stalin's occult knowledge and experiments. 44721.jpegThe occult background of the Soviet rule has been discussed no less than the legendary occult of the Third Reich. What role has Joseph Stalin, who ruled the country of "victorious socialism" for nearly 30 years, played in it? Was he an ordinary tyrant, or did he have the unknown forces behind him? Unfortunately, we only have some random facts at our disposal.
It is known, for example, that Stalin attended Tiflis Theological Seminary, along with the future famous magician, philosopher and occultist Georgi Gurdjieff, and at one time was friends with him. There is also a theory that Joseph Dzhugashvili was a part of some kind of an occult "eastern brotherhood" that consisted of Gurdjieff and his followers.
The sources talking about Gurdjieff mention a mysterious figure, prince Nizharadze. This was a pseudonym of the man whose essence was replaced on an energetic level, which turned him into a zombie. Gurdjieff describes an expedition to the Persian Gulf, whose members included him and Prince Nizharadze. He mentions that the "prince" on the way fell ill with fever, which made the travelers stay for a month in Baghdad. It is known that in 1899-1900 Dzhugashvili worked in Tiflis geophysical laboratory, so in theory he could have taken part in this expedition. The leader's face was covered with pockmarks - could it be a side effect of the "Persian" fever?
The party leader's nickname - Koba - also raises some questions. Translated from Old Slavic Church, it means "sorcerer" or "prophet." This was the name of the Persian king Kobadesa, who at the end of the 5th century conquered Eastern Georgia. Byzantine historian Theophanes says Kobades was a great magician and head of the sect with the ideals close to those of the communism, for example, division of property into equal parts to eliminate rich and poor.
In the Stalin's era the state security services created an entire department dedicated to the search for the signs of extraterrestrial civilizations and ancient cultures. The Bolsheviks needed knowledge and technology that could make their power invincible.
They also say that in 1941 Stalin secretly visited the famous Moscow blessed Matrona (Matrona Dmitrievna Nikonova). According to one theory, Matrona said to Stalin: "The Red Rooster will win. Victory will be yours. You are the only boss who will not leave Moscow." According to another theory, she slammed the leader with her fist on the forehead with the words: "Moscow does not give up, think, think, and as soon as Alexander Nevsky comes, he will lead everyone behind."
The government at the time used a famous hypnotist Wolf Messing. They say that once Stalin summoned him and ordered him to get 100,000 in a bank using a clean piece of paper. He had to convince the cashier that he sees a check for 100 thousand, but when the experiment was completed, and the cashier saw a blank sheet instead of a check, he suffered a heart attack. Messing's other task was to go to Beria's office without a pass, bypassing security guards. He performed it without difficulty.
There is also evidence that the "leader of the people" possessed magical knowledge and extraordinary abilities. Parapsychologists say that the majority of portraits depict Stalin with a pipe because the tobacco smoke was Stalin's magical defense that did not let the "others" into his aura.
Daniel Andreev in his "Rose of the World" claimed that Stalin was able to enter into a special state of trance - hohha - that allowed him to see the deepest layers of the astral world. The leader used to go to bed just before dawn, because he could only get into his astral body at certain times, when the night was running out. In these moments even the appearance of Stalin would change - his wrinkles would disappear, his skin would smooth out, and his cheeks would blush.
Stalin needed Hohha to get energy, as well as to predict future events. This way, Stalin found out what kinds of trouble or danger might threaten him, and tried to prevent them. According to Andreev, during a trance, Stalin also communicated with spirits and demons. Mass executions were no more than sacrifices to these astral beings. This is why Joseph Stalin managed to stay in power longer than any other Soviet ruler.
Margarita Troitsyna
Rare Arctic Helium-3 Discovery Provides Pristine Snapshot of Earth Billions of Years Ago

Last year, Arctic scientists discovered a new window into the Earth's violent past. Geochemical evidence from volcanic rocks collected on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic suggests that beneath it lies a region of the Earth's mantle that has largely escaped the billions of years of melting and geological churning that has affected the rest of the planet. Researchers believe the discovery offers clues to the early chemical evolution of the Earth.

The mantle "reservoir," as it is called, dates from just a few tens of million years after the Earth was first assembled from the collisions of smaller bodies. This reservoir likely represents the composition of the mantle shortly after formation of the core, but before the 4.5 billion years of crust formation and recycling modified the composition of most of the rest of Earth's interior.
"This was a key phase in the evolution of the Earth," says co-author Richard Carlson of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. "It set the stage for everything that came after. Primitive mantle such as that we have identified would have been the ultimate source of all the magmas and all the different rock types we see on Earth today."

The team targeted the Baffin Island rocks, which are the earliest expression of the mantle hotspot now feeding volcanic eruptions on Iceland, because previous study of helium isotopes in these rocks showed them to have anomalously high ratios of helium-3 to helium-4. Helium-3 is generally extremely rare within the Earth; most of the mantle's supply has been outgassed by volcanic eruptions and lost to space over the planet's long geological history.

In contrast, helium-4 has been constantly replenished within the Earth by the decay of radioactive uranium and thorium. The high proportion of helium-3 suggests that the Baffin Island lavas came from a reservoir in the mantle that had never previously outgassed its original helium-3, implying that it had not been subjected to the extensive chemical differentiation experienced by most of the Eath's mantle.

The researchers confirmed this conclusion by analyzing the lead isotopes in the lava samples, which date the reservoir to between 4.55 and 4.45 billion years old. This age is only slightly younger than the Earth itself. The early age of the mantle reservoir implies that it existed before melting of the mantle began to create the magmas that rose to form Earth's crust and before plate tectonics allowed that crust to be mixed back into the mantle.

Many researchers have assumed that before continental crust formed the mantle's chemistry was similar to that of meteorites called chondrites, but that the formation of continents altered its chemistry, causing it to become depleted in the elements, called incompatible elements, that are extracted with the magma when melting occurs in the mantle.

"Our results question this assumption," says Carlson. "They suggest that before continent extraction, the mantle already was depleted in incompatible elements compared to chondrites, perhaps because of an even earlier Earth differentiation event, or perhaps because the Earth originally formed from building blocks depleted in these elements."

Of the two possibilities, Carlson favors the early differentiation model, which would involve a global magma ocean on the newly-formed Earth. This magma ocean produced a crust that predated the crust that exists today.

"In our model, the original crust that formed by the solidification of the magma ocean was buoyantly unstable at Earth's surface because it was rich in iron," he says. "This instability caused it to sink to the base of the mantle, taking the incompatible elements with it, where it remains today."

Some of this deep material may have remained liquid despite the high pressures, and Carlson points out that seismological studies of the deep mantle reveal certain areas, one beneath the southern Pacific and another beneath Africa, that appear to be molten and possibly chemically different from the rest of the mantle.

"I'm holding out hope that these seismically imaged areas might be the compositional complement to the "depleted" primitive mantle that we sample in the Baffin Island lavas," he says.

Casey Kazan via the Carnegie Institution

Three giant spaceships to attack Earth in 2012?

UFO encounters became especially frequent in the middle of the 20th century, when it became impossible to disregard incidents of UFO sightings anymore. Special services started establishing special departments for air defense troops, secret laboratories were organized to study the phenomenon. It is not ruled out, that secret services have already had chances to study fragments of alien spaceships or even aliens themselves.
It is about time science should say its word regarding the problem, and it did. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), an independent non-commercial organization, released a sensational statement.
Three giant spaceships are heading towards Earth. The largest one of them is 240 kilometers wide. Two others are smaller. At present, the objects are beyond the orbit of Pluto.
The spaceships were detected by HAARP search system. The system, based in Alaska, was designed to study the phenomenon of northern lights. According to SETI researchers, the objects are nothing but extraterrestrial spaceships. They will be visible in optical telescopes as soon as they reach Mars's orbit. The US government has been reportedly informed about the event. The ships will reach Earth in December 2012.
The date of the supposed space contact with extraterrestrial civilization brings up thoughts about the Mayan calendar, which ends on December 21, 2012. Is it just a coincidence? Most likely, though, SETI researchers mistake the wish for the reality: fifty years of constant monitoring of space have not yielded any results.
Nevertheless, mankind only begins to explore space. We are just newcomers in this huge and unexplored world. Many believe that there are many other civilizations in space beside our own civilization.
Rumor has it that the Americans classified a lot of information about findings on the Moon. In 1988, a prominent Chinese official, a member of the nation's space program, unveiled pictures of human footprints on the lunar surface. The official stated that he had received the information from a reliable source and accused the Americans of concealing that information. The photos were dated from August 3, 1969 - two weeks after Armstrong and Aldrin stepped onto the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969. Therefore, the materials of the lunar mission were studied and classified by NASA.
On March 15, 2009, The New York Times produced another sensation. The same Chinese official, Mao Kan, stated that he had obtained over than 1,000 secret NASA photographs depicting not only human footprints, but even a human carcass on the surface of the Moon. Some of the bones in the carcass were missing, the official said. The human corpse must have been dropped on the Moon from an alien spaceship, whereas the extraterrestrials kept some tissue samples for research.
The photos were taken by a lunar probe. The absence of air makes it possible to capture minute details from the lunar orbit. The pictures of the carcass were very clear.
Dr. Ken Johnston, former Manager of the Data and Photo Control Department at NASA's Lunar Receiving Laboratory, said that US astronauts had found and photographed ancient ruins of artificial origin on the Moon. Supposedly, US astronauts had seen large unknown mechanisms on the Moon. The data were classified by the US government.
Is all of that just spam or is it fantastic truth? Will we ever know?