* Posts by Vulch

527 posts • joined 28 May 2008


Russia's ISS Multipurpose Laboratory Module launches after years sitting on a shelf, immediately runs into issues


As it's not raining (yet)

There's an ISS pass due over the UK starting just after 22:50* this evening. Watching last night I saw the ISS itself with two objects chasing it, one of those was Nauka and I suspect the other was the second stage of the Proton.

* Use something like Heavens Above to get exact timings for your location.

Try placing a pot plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together



The ITV company I worked for once upon a time hired summer work experience students. One summer the maintenance department were contemplating putting calibrated markings on the floor by the monitor repair bench so they could estimate the EHT voltage by how far their student jumped/got thrown back when he touched the internals in an inadvisable manner. You'd think he'd have learnt after a couple of shocks, but this went on for weeks...

Richard Branson uses two planes to make 170km round trip


His Elon-ness was actually at the site watching yesterdays flight apparently.

Revealed: Perfect timings for creation of exemplary full English breakfast


Re: Lost me in the first paragraph.

Turn off the gas, flip the eggs, count 12 and turn onto the plate. Yolk stays runny inside but the top of the white is proper.


Pah, what does a tabloid know...

The bacon needs to go in a frying pan, and the mushrooms go in the same pan at the point where you flip the bacon over. That way they soak up all the smokey salty goodness from the bacon that would otherwise drip away...

Wanna feel old? It is 10 years since the Space Shuttle left the launchpad for the last time


As I've mentioned in past comments, I worked on the BBC coverage of the first shuttle orbital flight...

New Yorkers react to strikingly indifferent statue of Elon Musk with cheerful hostility



Now we know what the payload will be for the SpaceX Starship orbital test flight...

FYI: There's a human-less, AI robot Mayflower ship sailing from the UK to US right now


Re: Units

Well the colonials still use short measure units they call tons where that conversion may work, but in proper historic British tons it translates as 4.5.

China launching first crew to its own space station on Thursday


Re: Better not be claustrophobic

Similar in size to the Mir core module, with the resupply ship being larger than a Progress but smaller than the FGB modules that were used for the Mir extensions. Skylab is a whole different and much roomier thing.


Re: Better not be claustrophobic

More or less the same size as a Salyut with attached Soyuz and FGB.


Re: Uncomfortable

How incremental do you think they should be? They've already done a month long flight so three months feels reasonable to me, and is comparable to the way others have gone about things.

The Starship has landed. Latest SpaceX test comes back to Earth without igniting fireballs


Re: Thunderbirds are go!

Definitely Gerry Anderson, but more the Fireball XL5 look.

Spent Chinese rocket stage set to make an uncontrolled return to Earth


Re: If you can

It's in a 41.5 degree inclination orbit so can't hit outside the range of 41.5 degrees latitude north and south. If your garden is inside that band, keep a hard hat handy.

The station module, Tianhe, only gets about 10 degrees above the horizon from the UK.

Elon Musk's SpaceX bags $3bn NASA contract to, fingers crossed, land first woman on the Moon


Re: To do list

The contract is to do one unmanned test landing followed by the crewed one.

It is 60 years since the first cosmonaut reached orbit and 40 years since the Shuttle first left the launchpad


Some time ago...

The delay on the first shuttle launch meant that the studio booking at Televison Centre for the BBC's coverage had run out. The only spare (BBC) studio available was in Bristol so all but one of the production team had headed down the M4, but Bristol had no videotape machines free. As a freshly minted VT engineer in the dungeons of TV Centre I was known to be a bit of a space enthusiast, and myself and a housemate got the job of feeding the inserts from machines in London to the studio in Bristol (and even editing some of the packages ourselves) for the duration of the mission, along with the remaining member of the production team who had been in her job about as long as we had in ours. We even got a day or two of overtime out of it as it was going to be tricky enough without the Bristol end having to deal with multiple sets of London engineers.

UK's National Rail backs down from greyscale website tribute to Prince Phil after visually impaired users complain


Re: Optically challenged

I realise that I have not been on a train for over a year.

A bit over two years ago I qualified for a Senior Railcard, 30 quid a year or 70 quid for 3 years and gets you a third off most tickets. Bargain thinks I. HoHum...

The JavaScript ecosystem is 'hopelessly fragmented'... so here is another runtime: Deno is now a company



Beat me to it!

New systemd 248 feature 'extension images' updates immutable file systems without really updating them


Re: Errr but...

"Something must be done. This is something, therefore we must do it"

Sierra Nevada Corporation resurrects plans for crewed Dream Chaser spaceplane


It has been a while...

Since Bigelow Aerospace had any employees, everyone got laid off in March last year.

You put Marmite where? Google unveils its latest AI wizardry: A cake made of Maltesers and the pungent black tar


Ah, school dinners

My mum once got a phone call from my primary school, "We told him he couldn't leave until he's finished his dinner. It's 3 o'clock and he's still sitting there, what do we do?". Cue laughter from my mother and a response along the lines of "Your problem, you deal with it".

Gummy bears as a unit of measure? The Reg Standards Soviet will not stand for this sort of silliness


A measure of difficulty

As anyone with a Prusa 3d printer knows well, the Gummy Bear is a unit of difficulty. For instance assembling one of their Mk3S printers involves steps ranging from a mere four bears right up to eight.

NASA to have another go at firing Space Launch System engines because just over a minute of data won't cut it


Re: Schedules

There's another problem in that the tankage is only certified for something like nine fuelling cycles. They've already used up two, the repeat will use a third, and they'll need at least one when it gets to the Cape to prove all the pad facilities work. A couple of last minute problems during launch attempts and they're looking at the possibility of having to take it all apart and use a new core stage.

Police drone plunged 70ft into pond after operator mashed pop-up that was actually the emergency cut-out button


Re: Touch screen emergency shut off?

Many years ago I had a removeable pack disc drive that would pick three questions from a pool of around six to make sure you really wanted to format a pack. Half the questions in the pool needed an answer of "No" rather than "Yes" so just clicking the "Yes" button three times usually wouldn't work.

SpaceX wins UK regulator Ofcom's approval for its Starlink mobile broadband base stations


From what I've seen that is the business model, small communities with little or no broadband access get a single unit and install it somewhere they can all see using standard wifi for the last bit.

Dodgy procedures doomed Arianespace's Vega before it even left the launchpad


Re: plug it in right or you're going to get a melted component

Well, it does contain the tracks "Death Trap" and "We like to be frightened"...


From an interim report a while ago I think it wasn't so much a plug put in upside down as the plug that was supposed to go to unit 1 of something was plugged into identical unit 2 and vice versa. This meant that when the flight computer said "Left hand down a bit" the wrong unit responded and it screaming "No! Your OTHER left!" just made things worse. Splitting the routing of control and sensor feedback would be a sensible solution if it isn't done already, a test of "Left hand down a bit" with the feedback going through a different route would need at least two wiring errors to not give a result of "Left hand moving up a bit".

China's Chang'e-5 lands on the Moon to scratch surface


Re: May I be the first to say

The crew Dragon unmanned DM-1 last year was the first I could find, just beat the MEV docking in GEO where both participants were unmanned.


Re: May I be the first to say

China may be far behind the Soviet/Russian space programme when it comes to automated docking, but it appears they beat the USA by a few years.

(Russia 1967, ESA 2008, China 2011, USA 2019. Corrections welcome, NASA did try an automated docking earlier but it failed and I can't spot a reflight)

It may date back to 1994 but there's no end in sight for the UK's Chief customs system as Brexit rules beckon


Re: Still. The Farage Garage will be open for business on time.

Maybe if UK members of the EU fisheries committee had bothered to turn up to meetings, and voted in favour of better policies when they did, and the UK government hadn't decided to put no restrictions on fishermen selling their quotas to foreign boats?

When even a power-cycle fandango cannot save your Windows desktop


Re: a perfectly understandable error

Probably why a lot of them in Oxford and Cambridge particularly have a small bedroom as part of their office...

ISS air leakage fixed in time for crew handover, thanks to floating teabag


Re: A Nimrod Variation

Given the usual state of so called tea in the colonies, one would hope the Russian side has a decent samovar installed with appropriate supplies.

We know there are a lot of, er, distractions right now but NASA's got some sweet video of its asteroid rubble raiser


Re: descend under parachutes, it is hoped

Instead it would have to carry a lot of additional fuel there and back, and by a lot I mean a multiple of what the heatshield and associated equipment weighs.

England's COVID-tracking app finally goes live after 6 months of work – including backpedal on how to handle data


Source available

The source code for the apps and the back end was uploaded to the NHSX account on GitHub this morning. Not much in the way of activity between the original upload and this one.

What would you prefer: Satellite-streamed cat GIFs – or a decent early warning of an asteroid apocalypse?


Hmmm... Take half a dozen Starlink frames and bolt them together, keep the command and control bits, propulsion system and solar array from one of them, and you've got a nice bus for a 1m telescope that could be launched along with a batch of actual Starlinks. Feels like a nice student project to sort out a design that could be easy to manufacture and put several into orbit.


And even if it does get finished, it needs to be ready not too long after the Ariane 5 goes out of service. ESA don't want to be storing one final booster and keeping the launch pad in useable form for too long.

Fresh astro-underwear, anyone? Orbital shenanigans as Progress freighter has last-minute ISS docking wobble


Re: Only 3 hours?

The SpaceX crew Dragon deliberately went on a slow journey so the systems and habitability could be properly tested, in fact after the first launch attempt was aborted for weather the next opportunity was skipped because the flight would have been too short. Future Dragons may well take a quicker route if the timings are right.

All launches to the ISS from whatever launch site are timed to go up as the ground track of the ISS orbit passes over the launch site, but the ISS can be at any point along the orbit. This means the station and craft land up in the same plane but have to wait until the Soyuz/Dragon/Cygnus/Whatever catches up before they can dock. The different rockets can cope with different amounts of off ideal timing by doing a small (it costs fuel and payload) dogleg manouevre, and the latitude of Baikanour means the ground track gives a lot more flexibility in exact launch times when combined with the Soyuz capabilities. The Russians are thus able to pick launch times and dates to minimise the flight time, NASA and JAXA could pick launch dates that would give a 2 orbit 3 hour trip, but that would drastically reduce the number of possible launch windows.

Psst: Want to know who else has their snout in the Copernicus trough? (spoiler: it's not the UK)


Next Starlink

The next Starlink launch is currently on for tomorrow, July 8th, at 15:59 UTC. Weather is 60% favourable, recovery fleet is on its way out.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future


Re: The future is behind you ....

It's also a lot harder to run up a homebrew DAB multiplex for unlicenced purposes than it is to build a functioning AM or FM transmitter.


Re: Radio 4 LW?

It is said that the Royal Navy's finest submarines have similar tuned to R4 LW...

UK government shakes magic money tree, finds $500m to buy a stake in struggling satellite firm OneWeb


Re: It Could Be Made to Work ???

It appears to be important to know exactly what is meant by "It can be made to work". I've been poking around reading various articles and papers as I think up new keywords to look for. Best paper I've found so far involved using the Iridium satellites and suggested a likely accuracy (CEP) of around 10km, with various post-processing (which seemed to be mostly a case of waiting a while to collect more data) that could be reduced to around 400m. So yes, it can be made to work, but...

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram


Handily, if you take the Flanders and Swann London Omnibus* and fill it with concrete the result is near enough to 100 ton(ne)s to visualise the Chelyabinsk meteor as being comprised of such Monarchs of the Road.

* 30ft long by 10 ft wide. Not mentioned in the lyrics is 15ft tall making it easy to create a cube using 6 of them. NB Dimensions of actual buses may not be the same.

Machine learning helps geoboffins spot huge beds of hot rocks 1,000km across deep below Earth's surface


Deep structures?

Just hope they haven't found Callastheon.

(Arthur C Clarke - The Fires Within)

Watch SpaceX's Starship SN4 prototype accidentally self-destruct in a rocket test burn


Ground equipment

Apparently a comment from Elon as he was leaving KSC last night runs "Unfortunately what we thought was going to be a minor test of a quick disconnect ended up being a big problem," so not a problem with the rocket directly.

NASA's Human Spaceflight boss hits eject a week before SpaceX crew launch


Did or didn't

Elsewhere speculation is split between him having rejected proposals from Boeing for both Lunar Gateway resupply and the Lunar Lander and them leaning on people, or for having included the Blue Origin bid for the Lander and the Orange One getting upset because Bezos is so supportive of the White House occupant.

Baby Diesel? Little d'Artagnan? There is another child of Musk in the world


If he'd read the script

As a billionaire heavily invested in space he ought to be calling this one Walter or Donald as he'd already have used Scott, Virgil, Gordon, John and Alan.

NASA signs deals to put a rocket under Artemis flights until 2029


Re: They

But that's why it's so much cheaper than developing everything from scratch would be!


SpaceX's Elon Musk high on success after counting '420' Starlinks in orbit and Frosty the Starship survives cryo test


Re: This may be a really obvious question.

Guesses have said $80 a month, Elon has mentioned $90 recently. Aimed at anyone with no sensible broadband.

Airbus and Rolls-Royce hit eject on hybrid-electric airliner testbed after E-Fan X project fails to get off the ground


2.5MW would make a respectable railway locomotive by the look of it.

Apollo 13 set off into space 50 years ago today. An ignored change order ensured it did not make it to the Moon...



Strictly speaking it was Apollos 15 and 19 were the second batch of cancellations, with 16-18 being renumbered to become 15-17. In the original schedule Apollo 16 was going to be the first to carry an LRV so the less capable all-walking version of 15 was the one that got the chop.

Could WFH web traffic topple a Brit telco? Pfff, scoff operators. This has nothing on Liverpool v Everton streaming



IT Admins/support group concensus on tickets for VPN problems seems to be "Are you using wifi? Yes? Then I'm closing this ticket, open a new one if you're still having problems with a wired connection".

Lots of interference with everyone, their kids and their dog all trying to use wireless connections in multiple adjacent premises on a limied number of channels.



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