Meanwhile, Back at My Day Job


We’re testing the performance of the widget I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. It’s being operated over a wide temperature range in a vacuum chamber. This particular test cycle will run 24/7 for next couple of weeks. It’s important to demonstrate the reliability of the equipment prior to launch because I don’t make house calls above the atmosphere.

Explorer 1


Wow! It’s been 60 years. I remember staying up late on a Friday night to watch Shock Theater on WSIX-TV (the monster movie that night was The Invisible Man) and seeing a bulletin about the Army’s launch of Explorer 1 during the newscast just before the station signed off for the night.

And now there is hardware that I designed flying on NASA x-ray astronomy missions.

Whoda thunk it?

Video Credit: NASA

A Profile in Cluelessness


I found this exchange on the Twitterz. Karoli has lived in Ventura County, California, for several years. It’s just down the coast from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the DoD’s main west coast launch facility. The sight of rockets rising from Vandenberg has been quite common in that part of Southern California for decades. She must not look up at the sky very much.

When I lived in Ventura County back in the early ’80s, I occasionally saw the trails from the test launches for the MX missile program during my evening commute from the San Fernando Valley to Thousand Oaks.

Yesterday’s launch was a SpaceX vehicle carrying multiple satellites to Low Earth Orbit.

Almost all launches out of Vandenberg go due South into polar orbit. Polar orbit launches go from California because the next major landfall is Antarctica, whereas a polar launch from Florida would go over populated areas immediately. Only the Kodiak, Alaska, facility has a longer path over water.