China as an emerging space power

Looks like China is making huge strides towards a the launch of a manned space station. 


Some thoughts on Strategic Planning for 2011

As we near the fourth quarter, my thoughts have started to turn to planning for next year.  2010 has been, and continues to be, a year focused on organizational/information technology infrastructure.  There has been good progress in these areas, enough that I would like to see Mach 30 use 2011 to begin working on hardware projects, specifically the very small scale engineering projects I have started to call "kites".  This idea has started to gel as the Incorporation Task Force works to complete the IRS 1023 application for 501(c)3 status.  

The 2011 budget forecast we have prepared for the 1023 includes funding for three Tier 1 kites, which begs the question, what kind of projects might those be, and how will we go about building and flying them.  Here are some random thoughts on those questions.

  • Given the need for both skill in practical rocketry and the importance of safety, all crew working on Mach 30 kites should be NAR certified.  The exact level required will depend on the scale of the current project.
  • The three kites for 2010 should focus on building organizational experience with tools and technologies instead of on testing configuration options for RLVs.  Example tools/technologies to work with include:
    • Side mounted recovery system for horizontal landings
    • Stored telemetry collection and recovery
    • Down linked telemetry collection
    • Remotely piloted gliding operations after burnout
    • Rehearse ground and flight operations
    • Using reusable motors in place of expendable motors

One more question that bears looking at is how do we know when we have learned enough from a given kite, and how do we know we are ready to move to the next tier of kites?


Steven Colbert: proponent of human spaceflight

I've been thinking about how to get more information for the public about becoming a spafecaring nation.  Here's one good source that is making space and spaceflight relevent and interesting. 

I found an outstanding series of videos from an unlikely advocate of human spaceflight.  Steven Colbert's series called "Fall Back Position: Astronaut" chronicals his experience as he goes through "astronaut training" at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.  Colbert has also contacted the astrnauts onboard the ISS during a live press conference.  here's the links to some videos:

Selected NASA related clips from The Colbert Report:

Fall Back Position: Astronaut - part 1
Fall Back Position: Astronaut - part 2
Fall Back Position: Astronaut - part 3
NASA node naming contest, write in candidate
Democracy in orbit
Node 3 naming contest results

Colbert has done many other interview segments with space related individuals.  Check out all of his other space related segments too!


Minutes from Requirements Meeting

Committee Name: Web Devel Team


  • Review general needs/requirements of ODE
  • Map requirements to redmine and determine roadmap (v0, v0.1, v0.2)

Meeting type/How called: Special/Called by J.

Notice: Email

Location: Phone bridge

Meeting started: 13:35

Meeting ended: 15:00

Next Meeting: TBD

Attending: J., Greg, Van


  • Review general needs/requirements of ODE
    • Need Statement: Develop a for openly licensed hardware projects
    • Host Projects with sub-projects as needed
    • Document, file (analyses, drawings, etc), source code storage (templates for creating/managing these materials?)
    • Users should be able to configure features used in the project
    • Project "home page" should be wiki-like as well to let project owners "sell" their projects, including posting rich media (videos, pics, etc)
    • Need to support systems engineer workflow(s)
      • Need to store the evolution of a design decision and the supporting conversation/analysis
    • Need to have a way to discretize and advertise the available volunteer opportunities (maybe something like stack overflow?)
  • Map requirements to redmine and determine roadmap (v0, v0.1, v0.2)
    • v0 - features directly supported by redmine or plugins
      • built in features
        • projects with sub-projects
        • Version control support (by way of web front end for svn, cvs, mercurial, darcs, bzr, git - select VCS system based on support for lots of large files, and ease of use)
        • wiki for document creation
        • general file storage for docs (how is this different from VCS?)
        • per project feature selection
      •  plugins
        • graph/math syntax support -
        • insert issue info into wiki -
        • (eval only)
    •  v0.1
      • features that are missing from v0 - priority in front of issue
        • #3 - better wiki support (syntax, templates?, co-editing?)
        • ** project and site homepage enhancements - probably small amount of work
        • #2 - engineering workflow
        • #1 - discretize volunteer opportunities
      • to implement
        • homepage enhancements
        • discretize volunteer opportunities


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