Yuri’s Night in Phoenix

The Phoenix, Arizona space advocacy societies held a joint Yuri’s Night event on Sat. April 12, 2014 on the campus of Arizona State University (ASU). The event was hosted by the ASU chapter of the Student for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). Besides SEDS members, attendees included members of the local NSS and Moon Society chapters as well as others brought in via the MeetUp social network. There were over 30 people in attendance. The local AIAA Section provided financial support for the refreshments.

The evening started off with pizza, wings, and soft drinks set up in a well-equipped conference room in the space science building. A Mars landing video game kept folks entertained, and foam rockets that Mike Mackowski brought from Orbital Sciences proved to be a hit, as missile battles ensued all across the room. There was much socializing and networking amonst the students, educators, and professionals in attendance. To cap it off, there was a showing of the original Star Wars movie (episode 4, if you must) in the building’s main auditorium.

This was a great evening of celebrating Earth’s first venture into manned spaceflight.

Yuri’s Night 2014

LogoYurisNight_BLACKring_TRANSPARENTbackground

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth. To celebrate the anniversary of this milestone in space exploration, the Phoenix aerospace community is having a Yuri’s Night event on Saturday, April 12, 2014. This will be a fun evening of entertainment, food, and and socializing.

For the past few years, the Phoenix chapters of the National Space Society and the Moon Society have held a Yuri’s Night event in conjunction with the Space Access conference. That conference is not occuring this year, so we are all joining up with the YN event hosted by the ASU chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). The event will be free and open to everyone. No advanced registration is required. You can sign up on the event’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1407954946126455/) if you want.

The fun starts at 7 pm and will be held at the ISTB-4 building on the east side of the campus. Parking is available at the surface lot immediately south of the building or the Rural Road parking garage just east of ISTB-4. Parking is generally free on weekends in these lots.

This primary sponsor of this event is the ASU chapter of SEDs, with with additional support provided by the Phoenix Section of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the local chapters of the National Space Society and the Moon Society.

For more info on the international YN movement, see http://yurisnight.net

 

Field Trip to Lava Tube Cave near Flagstaff on Oct. 26

As most of you may know, lava tubes exist on the Moon and Mars (and Arizona!) and have been proposed as habitat locations for future off planet settlements. To get an idea of what these lava tube caves look like, the Phoenix chapters of the Moon Society and NSS are joining up with the local chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA – an engineering society) for a field trip to the cave near Flagstaff.

Please sign up at the link so they can get a sense of how many people are coming.  There is also a flyer attached. Here is the info:
Saturday, October 26th, 2013
7:00 AM (Meet at Park N Ride)
10:00 AM (Lava Tour)
Please join for a family friendly hike, 1.5 miles roundtrip through the lava tube in Flagstaff, AZ. These tubes symbolize lunar lava tubes. Explore the depths of Northern Arizona’s volcanic past with an underground hike.  This very unusual hike will take you down a 700,000 year old lava tube discovered by lumbermen around 1915.

cave

Lunar lava tubes are sub-surface tunnels on the Moon that are believed to have formed during basaltic lava flows.  When the surface of a lava tube cools, it forms a hardened lid that contains the ongoing lava flow beneath the surface in a conduit-shaped passage. Once the flow of lava diminishes, the tunnel may become drained, forming a hollow void.  Lunar lava tubes may potentially serve a role as enclosures for manned habitats. These natural tunnels provide protection from cosmic ray radiation,meteorites, micrometeorites, and other impacts. They are shielded from the variations in temperature at the lunar surface, which would provide a stable environment for inhabitants.

Location: About 14 miles north of Flagstaff on paved highways and graveled Forest Roads.
Access: Drive 9 miles north of Flag
staff on US 180 and turn west (left) on FR 245 (at milepost 230). Continue 3 miles to FR171 and turn south 1 mile to where FR 171B turns left a short distance to Lava River Cave.

Please remember to bring flashlight, closed hard-soles shoes, water, warm clothes (cave can by 35-45 degrees year round). If you want to carpool we can meet at the Happy Valley Park-and-Ride (24725 N. 29th Ave) at 7:00 AM

This will just give us an idea of how many people will be attending.
Thanks,
Mike Mackowski

Orbital Sciences Launches a New Rocket

ImageUp until now the word Antares has had only one meaning in our language, the given name of a star, but not anymore.  Sure, it is still the name of a giant red binary star, the brightest in the constellation Scorpio, about 424 light-years from Earth. The word Antares has its roots in ancient Greek meaning simulating Mars.  It looked red to them, just like Mars.

However, things change.  On Sunday, April 21, from a beach on Wallops Island Virginia, our own Orbital Sciences launched its newest horse in its extensive stable of rockets, the Antares. And for the first time in my memory, a first launch of a new rocket didn’t end prematurely in a puff of smoke or debris cloud. It went so smoothly that almost no one heard about it. That’s success in the rocket industry but a marketing failure.

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SpaceFest V

Autograph seekers line up for famous astronauts at the 2013 Spacefest in Tucson.

Autograph seekers line up for famous astronauts at the 2013 Spacefest in Tucson.

With the work being a bit less hectic, I’ve been able to take some time off to attend a couple of space-related events in Arizona. I recently commented on the Space Access Conference. Over the Memorial Day weekend I was on a panel at Spacefest V in Tucson.
Spacefest is a unique event, combining space science, astronaut autographs, space art, and collectibles. It offers a gathering of Apollo astronauts where (for a fee) you can get an autograph of a Moon walker (Alan Bean, Gene Cernan, Dave Scott, etc.). There are two tracks of presentations, most focusing on recent developments in planetary exploration (Carolyn Porco, Richard Cook [Curiosity], Marc Rayman, Dan Durda, etc.) as well as an assortment of journalists and writers (Brian, Cox, Andrew Chaikin, Kim Stanley Robinson, Colin Burgess, Leonard David, Phil Plait, Emily Lackdawalla, etc.). Vendors offer art prints (and some originals), books, meteorites, minerals, and spacecraft models.

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NSS May Meeting

NSS May Meeting

The turnout for the May meeting was very good. I counted over twenty. They all enjoyed the video and had a good time before and after socializing. They clapped and laughed and was very engaged in what the seven people in the video was saying and doing. All in all, it was a fine meeting.

The 2013 Space Access Conference

Commentary by Michael Mackowski

Part One – The Conference

Space Access 2013I finally had the opportunity to attend the Space Access Conference, an event run by Henry Vanderbilt, a long-time space advocate from Phoenix. The conference’s focus is on “New Space” launch vehicle developers and the burgeoning suborbital market. I had been aware of this conference for some time, and despite that it is held in my home town, the conference content and my personal or business interests never overlapped sufficiently to motivate me to take time off work and attend. This year, things were quiet at work and I decided to see what it was all about.

The conference ran for three days (April 11-13) and I attended most of the first two. The nice thing about the program is that Henry limits it to a single thread so you don’t have to choose between parallel sessions. There was an interesting mix of speakers. Most were related to launch vehicles but there was also a good mix of astronomy (asteroids), history (DC-X), and far term concepts (space settlements).

The rocketry presentations were on varied levels. Some were from the more well-known companies like XCOR, while quite a few were folks doing this as a hobby or as students, some barely a step above high-powered hobbyist rocketry.

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The Celestial Shooting Gallery

by Michael Mackowski

APTOPIX Russia Meteorite

Outer space may literally be mostly empty space, but our solar system is full of large and small chunks of rocks. A few days ago, a couple of these rocks made a close pass to our home planet. One object, called asteroid DA14, was large enough to be detected about a year ago. It came within 17,200 miles of the Earth’s surface, within the ring of geostationary communications satellites we all rely on. There was enough information on this object to know in advance that it would come close, but miss us. Still, this asteroid was the closest large object to pass by the Earth that we saw ahead of time.

Meanwhile a smaller object, perhaps the size of a school bus, whizzed over Russia, and when it exploded several miles above the ground, the shock wave was strong enough to smash windows over a large area, injuring over a thousand people from flying glass. This object was too small to be detected in advance, at least with the technology we are using today.

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Yuri’s Night Photos

yurisNightFriday April 12, 2013

We had a fun time at our Yuri’s Night party!  It was an evening of entertainment, networking, and socializing, held in conjunction with the Space Access Conference at the InnPlace Hotel Phoenix North. The Phoenix AIAA sponsored a hotel suite and we hosted a very fine party which drew many local NSS, Moon Society, and AIAA members as well as Space Access attendees. Not to mention the Lindenwood College volleyball team. The trivia contest was a blast and we gave out a lot of goodies and posters and other neat space stuff.

See more photos here:  http://yuriphx.net/photos/index.html

Thanks to all who attended and helped out!

General Atomics Blitzer Railgun

In 2007, building upon knowledge gained under an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Innovative Naval Prototype contract, GA initiated development of the Blitzer™ system using internal funds to accomplish two major objectives:

  • Demonstrate the technical maturity of tactically relevant railgun technologies in a proving-ground environment.
  • Generate interest in the viability of smaller Electromagnetic (EM) gun systems for use in a broader set of missions, including integrated air and missile defense (IAMD)

GA accomplished both of these objectives by demonstrating the launcher and power system technologies to full design levels in 2009 during testing with non-aerodynamic rounds, followed by testing of aerodynamic rounds during the fall of 2010.

The tests demonstrated the integration and capabilities of a tactically relevant EM Railgun launcher, pulsed power system, and projectile. The projectiles were launched by Blitzer at Mach 5 with acceleration levels exceeding 60,000 gee, and exhibited repeatable sabot separation and stable flight.