The International Space Station (ISS) has been in existence since 1969 in some form or the other.  A very quick history of its humble beginnings is given below.  Also, given below is a hyperlink to an absolutely fascinating UTUBE video of the existing ISS and various components of the internal workings of the station.  I do not know what I expected, but the facility is a marvelous combination of hardware, software and electronics.  I suppose when I thought of the ISS, I had in mind the deck of the Starship Enterprise.  Not even close—much more impressive.

A condensed version of the time line is given below but please go to the NASA website to get the extended chronology of the ISS.

  • On January 24, 1984, President Ronald Reagan commissioned NASA to build the international space station and to do so within the next 10 years.
  • On November 20, 1998 the first segment of the ISS launches: a Russian proton rocket named Zarya (“sunrise”).
  • On December 4, 1998, Unity, the first U.S.-built component of the International Space Station launches—the first Space Shuttle mission dedicated to assembly of the station.
  • The first crew to reside on the station was on November 2, 2000.  Astronaut Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev become the first crew to reside onboard the station, staying several months.
  • U.S. Lab Module was Added February 7, 2001.  Destiny, the U.S. Laboratory module, becomes part of the station. Destiny continues to be the primary research laboratory for U.S. payloads.
  • The European Lab Joined the ISS February 7, 2008. The European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory becomes part of the station.
  • On March 11, 2008 the Japanese Lab joined the ISS.  The first Japanese Kibo laboratory module becomes part of the station.
  •  

HISTORY:

The International Space Station (ISS) took ten (10) years and more than thirty (30) missions to assemble. It is the result of unprecedented scientific and engineering collaboration among five space agencies representing fifteen (15) countries. The space station is approximately the size of a football field: a four hundred and sixty (460)-ton, permanently crewed platform orbiting two hundred and fifty (250) miles above Earth. It is about four times as large as the Russian space station Mir and five times as large as the U.S. Skylab.

The idea of a space station was once science fiction, existing only in the imagination until it became clear in the 1940s that construction of such a structure might be attainable by our nation. As the Space Age began in the 1950s, designs of “space planes” and stations dominated popular media. The first rudimentary station was created in 1969 by the linking of two Russian Soyuz vehicles in space, followed by other stations and developments in space technology until construction began on the ISS in 1998, aided by the first reusable spacecraft ever developed: the American shuttles.

Until recently, U.S. research space onboard the ISS had been reserved for mostly government initiatives, but new opportunities for commercial and academic use of the ISS are now available, facilitated by the ISS National Lab.

There is no way I can provide a better description of the ISS than the video I hope you will look at.  That hyperlink is given as follows:  Hope you enjoy it.

HOW IT WORKS: The International Space Station

LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION

June 22, 2019


One of the most gifted engineers in our nation’s history was Mr. Bill Lear.  Lear was born in Hannibal, Missouri on 26 June 1902 and over a forty-six (46) year time period produced one hundred and twenty (120) patents.  He founded the LearJet Corporation.  The Lear jet is without doubt one of the most beautiful aircraft ever conceived.  From one memorable life came one memorable quote, as follows:

“If an airplane looks like it will fly—it will fly”.

He was talking about profile, lines, curvature while imagining the “slip-stream” created by the leading edges and the flight surfaces.  One other airplane that fits that description is the Lockheed Constellation or “Connie” as the design came to be known.  A remarkably beautiful aircraft.

My very first flight was in 1969. My father, sister and I departed Lovell Field in Chattanooga, Tennessee heading to Atlanta.  We flew to Atlanta in a DC-3, twin engine propeller-driven aircraft.  (I’m sure after death I will have to change planes in Atlanta before arriving in heaven.  Some things never change.)  Moving from arrival gate to departure gate during the very early years of commercial aviation took a minimal amount of time.   The Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was not the city within a city that exists today.  Upon arriving at our departure gate, I saw for the very first time a marvelous aircraft meeting all of the descriptive points Mr. Lear had in mind. Let’s take a look

.LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION:

The Lockheed Constellation (“Connie”) was a propeller-driven, four-engine airliner built by the Lockheed Corporation between 1943 and 1958 at the Burbank, California Lockheed facilities. The Constellation’s fuselage is shaped like an airfoil to add lift.   It curves upward at the rear to raise the triple tail out of the prop wash and slightly downward at the front so the nose-gear strut did not have to be impossibly long. Lockheed decided that the airplane’s admittedly large propellers needed even more ground clearance than did Douglas or Boeing on their competing transports, which resulted in the Connie’s long, spindly gear legs.

It was known as “the world’s best tri-motor” because it had so many engine failures it often flew on three.  There were large numbers of engine fires during the Constellation’s early development, but many airline pilots flew it for years without ever feathering an engine.

The Constellation was one of the first pressurized airliners with the Boeing 307 Stratoliner being the very first.  Cabin pressurization was absolutely required to improve the service ceiling of commercial aircraft and make flying above the “weather” a very welcome reality.  During WWII it was discovered that flying about 10,000 feet required oxygen to preclude issues with dizziness.  It was no different for commercial flying.

Lockheed built 856 aircraft using numerous model configurations—all with the same triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage. Most were powered by four 18-cylinder Wright R-3350s. The Constellation was used as a civil airliner and as a military and civil air transport, seeing service in the Berlin Airlift . It was also the presidential aircraft for Dwight D. Eisenhower.   At the present time President Eisenhower’s Air Force One is resting in a field at Marana Regional Airport.   Dubbed Columbine II in honor of the state flower of first lady Mamie Eisenhower’s native Colorado, the plane was state-of-the-art in its time.  It’s a real shame this early version of Air Force One is not on display.  

The Constellation’s wing design was close to that of the P-38 Lightning, differing obviously in size.  The triple tail kept the aircraft’s height low enough to fit in existing hangars, while features included hydraulically boosted controls and a de-icing system used on wing and tail leading edges. The aircraft had a maximum speed of over 375 mph (600 km/h), faster than that of a Japanese Zero fighter, a cruise speed of 340 mph (550 km/h), and a service ceiling of 24,000 ft (7,300 m). At the time the service ceiling was a significant breakthrough in aviation technology.

According to Anthony Sampson in Empires of the Sky, Lockheed’s Skunk Factory and Kelly Johnson may have undertaken the intricate design, but Howard Hughes’ intercession in the design process drove the concept, shape, capabilities, appearance, and ethos.  These rumors were discredited by Kelly Johnson. Howard Hughes and Jack Frye confirmed that the rumors were not true in a letter in November 1941.

After World War II the Constellation came into its own as a very fast civil airliner. Aircraft already in production for the USAAF as C-69 transports were finished as civil airliners, with TWA receiving the first on 1 October 1945. TWA’s first transatlantic proving flight departed Washington, DC, on December 3, 1945, arriving in Paris on December 4 via Gander, Nova Scotia and Shannon, Ireland.

Trans World Airlines transatlantic service started on February 6, 1946 with a New York-Paris flight in a Constellation. On June 17, 1947 Pan American World Airways opened the first ever scheduled round-the-world service with their L-749 Clipper America. The famous flight “Pan Am 1” operated until 1982.

As the first pressurized airliner in widespread use, the Constellation helped to usher in affordable and comfortable air travel. Operators of Constellations included the following airlines:

CABIN:

For its time, the cabin represented the ultimate in luxury with comfort and room to spare.

Maybe someone can comment on a statement I have heard more than once.  In the early days of commercial aviation, all of the cabin crew had to be registered nurses.  Do you know if that is a fact? 

COCKPIT:

Notice from the digital below, all of the flight systems were analogue. No digital in those days.  Also notice, the aircraft was meant to be managed by a three-man flight crew; i.e. pilot-in-command, co-pilot and flight engineer or navigator.  The right side of the cockpit was designed for a navigator.

Two fairly large fans, one left and one right, kept the flight crew reasonably comfortable.

Times have certainly changed from my first flight in 1969.  No more analogue or two-man flight crew and now air travel is the “new” Greyhound.  It’s affordable, at least to some degree. 

As always, I welcome your comments. 


Okay, there will be a test after you read this post.  Here we go.  Do you know these people?

  • Beyoncé
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Mariah Cary
  • Lady Gaga
  • Ariana Grande
  • Katy Perry
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Karen Uhlenbeck

Don’t feel bad.  I didn’t know either.  This is Karen Uhlenbeck—the mathematician we do not know.  For some unknown reason we all (even me) know the “pop” stars by name; who their significant other or others are, their children, their latest hit single, who they recently “dumped”, where they vacationed, etc. etc.  We know this. I would propose the lady whose picture shown below has contributed more to “human kind” that all the individuals listed above.  Then again, that’s just me.

For the first time, one of the top prizes in mathematics has been given to a woman.  I find this hard to believe because we all know that “girls” can’t do math.  Your mamas told you that and you remembered it.  (I suppose Dr. Uhlenbeck mom was doing her nails and forgot to mention that to her.)

This past Tuesday, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced it has awarded this year’s Abel Prize — an award modeled on the Nobel Prizes — to Karen Uhlenbeck, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The award cites “the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics.”   Uhlenbeck won for her foundational work in geometric analysis, which combines the technical power of analysis—a branch of math that extends and generalizes calculus—with the more conceptual areas of geometry and topology. She is the first woman to receive the prize since the award of six (6) million Norwegian kroner (approximately $700,000) was first given in 2003.

One of Dr. Uhlenbeck’s advances in essence described the complex shapes of soap films not in a bubble bath but in abstract, high-dimensional curved spaces. In later work, she helped put a rigorous mathematical underpinning to techniques widely used by physicists in quantum field theory to describe fundamental interactions between particles and forces. (How many think Beyoncé could do that?)

In the process, she helped pioneer a field known as geometric analysis, and she developed techniques now commonly used by many mathematicians. As a matter of fact, she invented the field.

“She did things nobody thought about doing,” said Sun-Yung Alice Chang, a mathematician at Princeton University who served on the five-member prize committee, “and after she did, she laid the foundations for that branch of mathematics.”

An example of objects studied in geometric analysis is a minimal surface. Analogous to a geodesic, a curve that minimizes path length, a minimal surface minimizes area; think of a soap film, a minimal surface that minimizes energy. Analysis focuses on the differential equations governing variations of surface area, whereas geometry and topology focus on the minimal surface representing a solution to the equations. Geometric analysis weaves together both approaches, resulting in new insights.

The field did not exist when Uhlenbeck began graduate school in the mid-1960s, but tantalizing results linking analysis and topology had begun to emerge. In the early 1980s, Uhlenbeck and her collaborators did ground-breaking work in minimal surfaces. They showed how to deal with singular points, that is, points where the minimal surface is no longer smooth or where the solution to the equations is not defined. They proved that there are only finitely many singular points and showed how to study them by expanding them into “bubbles.” As a technique, bubbling made a deep impact and is now a standard tool.

Born in 1942 to an engineer and an artist, Uhlenbeck is a mountain-loving hiker who learned to surf at the age of forty (40). As a child she was a voracious reader and “was interested in everything,” she said in an interview last year with Celebratio.org. “I was always tense, wanting to know what was going on and asking questions.”

She initially majored in physics as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. But her impatience with lab work and a growing love for math led her to switch majors. She nevertheless retained a lifelong passion for physics, and centered much of her research on problems from that field.  In physics, a gauge theory is a kind of field theory, formulated in the language of the geometry of fiber bundles; the simplest example is electromagnetism. One of the most important gauge theories from the 20th century is Yang-Mills theory, which underlies the standard model of elementary particle physics. Uhlenbeck and other mathematicians began to realize that the Yang-Mills equations have deep connections to problems in geometry and topology. By the early 1980s, she laid the analytic foundations for mathematical investigation of the Yang-Mills equations.

Dr. Uhlenbeck, who lives in Princeton, N.J., learned that she won the prize on Sunday morning.

“When I came out of church, I noticed that I had a text message from Alice Chang that said, Would I please accept a call from Norway?” Dr. Uhlenbeck said. “When I got home, I called Norway back and they told me.”

Who said women can’t do math?


With the federal government pulling out of manned space flight, it gave private companies ample opportunity to fill in the gaps.  Of course, these companies MUST have adequate funding, trained personnel and proper facilities to launch their version(s) of equipment, support and otherwise that will take man and equipment to the outer reaches of space.  The list of companies was quite surprising to me.  Let’s take a look.

These are just the launch vehicles.  There is also a huge list of manufacturers making man-rovers and orbiters, research craft and tech demonstrators, propulsion manufacturers, satellite launchers, space manufacturing, space mining, space stations, space settlements, spacecraft component manufacturers and developers, and spaceliner companies.   I will not publish that list but these companies are available for discovery by putting in the heading for each category.  To think we are not involved in space is obviously a misnomer.

 

CONCEPT CARS FOR THE FUTURE

February 9, 2019


On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) unveiled a landmark resolution cementing the pillars of an unprecedented program to zero out planet-warming emissions and restore the middle-class prosperity of postwar America that the original New Deal helped spur.

Just three months after calls for a Green New Deal electrified a long-stagnant debate on climate policy, the Democratic lawmakers released the six-page document outlining plans to cut global emissions forty (40) to sixty (60) percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and neutralize human-caused greenhouse gases entirely by 2050.

The joint resolution stakes out a “ten-year national mobilization” plan to build “smart” grids and rapidly increase the share of American power generated from solar and wind from ten (10) percent today to as close to one hundred (100) percent as possible over the next decade. The plan reframes tired talk of repairing the nation’s crumbling bridges, highways and ports as a crisis in a new era of billion-dollar storms. It gets local, demanding upgrades to “all existing U.S. buildings” to “achieve maximum” efficiency with energy and water use.

These are tremendously ambitious goals and quite frankly somewhat misguided.  The time line is NOT realistic.  We are, at the present time, not anywhere close to achieving those goals.  No programs in action to achieve those goals and one thing the “gentle” congresswoman misunderstands—the American love for fast cars, slow cars, electric cars, hybrid cars, etc. You surely must get my drift. Our entire economy has been built on fossil fuels.  That will continue using carbonaceous fuels until viable and cost-efficient alternatives are realized and commercially available.

The automotive industry thinks that time is down the road and they are operating with that belief. Let’s take a very quick look at what the automotive industry thinks is in store for our future “rides”.  The digital pictures below will give you some idea as to the concepts the industry is working on for future sales.

The E-Legend is an all-electric modern reinterpretation Peugeot’s 1969 -504 coupe. The automotive industry is making across-the-board moves to electric vehicles, and French manufacturer Peugeot isn’t about to be left behind. Ahead of the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Peugeot has released its E-Legend concept EV with a design that harks back to the classic 504 coupes of the 60s and 70s. In a world where aerodynamics leaves automotive design with a feeling of sameness across the industry, the E-Legend breaks from convention with a classically proportioned exterior and sharp features. The interior is nearly a modern masterpiece, with seats that could be at home in a modern office and a rectangular steering wheel. Peugeot claims 456 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque from the electric powertrain and a range of 373 miles, putting it right in line with current EV offerings. With its good looks and solid specs, the E-Legend is begging to see production.

Mercedes has unveiled the Vision EQ Silver Arrows Concept, and it is a stunner. The concept is a feast for the senses, a product of Mercedes’ masterful use of its own heritage and reinventing it with a futuristic electric-jolted twist. As it is, the EQ Silver Arrow is a showcase concept — and what a concept, it is — that we’ll never see in production form. The good news is that the concept isn’t just a muscle-flexing design exercise, too. Parts of the concept will appear in Mercedes’ new electric brand offshoot, EQ. As to what those parts are? We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Porsche has announced that it will put the Cross Turismo into production as a variant of the upcoming Taycan EV, creating 300 new jobs at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen headquarters. The reports of the wagon’s death have been greatly exaggerated, and the Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo concept is the latest proof that the body style is alive and well. Following the path blazed by the raised ride height and plastic-clad wheel arches of its corporate cousin, the Audi A4 All-road, the Mission E Cross Turismo is an all-electric, off-road-ready wagon that’s nonetheless claimed to be capable of blasting to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds and to 124 mph in less than 12 seconds.That’s right, Porsche is hinting that boxer engines won’t be the only characteristic its vehicles share with Subarus, and the Mission E Cross Turismo reveals the brand is, at the very least, considering an Outback-like variant of its upcoming Mission E sedan. Presumably, such a model will accompany a lower-riding, cladding-free, and non-knobby-tired Sport Turismo wagon version of the Mission E, as well.

“In our striving for efficiency, have we lost empathy for the traveler?” These words, from Volvo’s launch video for its new 360c fully autonomous concept car, hit home with me. I fly a lot, so I’m fully familiar with efficient but unsympathetic forms of travel, and Volvo’s idea is to help people like me through the design of its future cars. The Volvo 360c is, like most concepts of our time, all-electric, fully autonomous, and covered by a big sweeping glass dome. What distinguishes it, though, is Volvo’s vision of how it fits into the broader scheme of city infrastructure, short-haul flights, working commutes, and environmental concerns.

The PB18 e-tron concept embodies a fundamentally driver-centric sports car — there are no piloted driving systems to add weight, and its relatively lightweight construction helps propel it to speeds above 186 mph. It features a large-format cockpit which is a freely programmable unit and can be switched between layouts for optimal racetrack- and road-driving. The driver’s seat and cockpit are integrated into an inner monocoque shell that can be slid laterally to accommodate for one- or two-person seating.

The all-electric I.D. Vizzion will have a production version with a steering wheel and Level 4 autonomy on board, but the concept being shown off on the Geneva floor was the one with full autonomy and no human controls. To look at the expansive opening created by the Vizzion’s vast doors and the carpeted interior and contoured seating inside, you’d be reminded of Aston Martin’s similarly grand Lagonda concept car. But where the Aston Martin is sumptuous and enticing, VW’s carpet is made out of an unpleasant synthetic material, and the entire interior feels cheaper than it looks.

There’s not much in the way of features on the inside of the I.D. Vizzion: like most concepts, it’s minimal and stripped down, with only a shelf at the front of the car for tossing your sunglasses onto. There are wireless charging pods for phones, which are increasingly becoming a standard feature even in current production models.

CONCLUSION:

As you can see, the automobile industry is planning on a long and continued future although all-electric and autonomous vehicles are definitely in the future.  Please let me have your comments. See if you and I agree at all.

BENDABLE BATTERIES

February 1, 2019


I always marvel at the pace of technology and how that technology fills a definite need for products only dreamt of previously.   We all have heard that “necessity is the mother of invention” well, I believe that to a tee.  We need it, we can’t find it, no one makes it, let’s invent it.  This is the way adults solve problems.  Every week technology improves our lives giving us labor-saving devices that “tomorrow” will become commonplace.  All electro-mechanical devices run on amperage provided by voltage impressed.   Many of these devices use battery power for portability.   Lithium-ion batteries seem to be the batteries of choice right now due to their ability to hold a charge and their ability to fast-charge.

Pioneer work with the lithium battery began in 1912 under G.N. Lewis but it was not until the early 1970s when the first non-rechargeable lithium batteries became commercially available. lithium is the lightest of all metals, has the greatest electrochemical potential and provides the largest energy density for weight.

The energy density of lithium-ion is typically twice that of the standard nickel-cadmium. This is a huge advantage recognized by engineers and scientists the world over.  There is potential for higher energy densities. The load characteristics are reasonably good and behave similarly to nickel-cadmium in terms of discharge. The high cell voltage of 3.6 volts allows battery pack designs with only one cell. Most of today’s mobile phones run on a single cell. A nickel-based pack would require three 1.2-volt cells connected in series.

Lithium-ion is a low maintenance battery, an advantage that most other chemistries cannot claim. There is no memory and no scheduled cycling is required to prolong the battery’s life. In addition, the self-discharge is less than half compared to nickel-cadmium, making lithium-ion well suited for modern fuel gauge applications. lithium-ion cells cause little harm when disposed.

If we look at advantages and disadvantages, we see the following:

Advantages

  • High energy density – potential for yet higher capacities.
  • Does not need prolonged priming when new. One regular charge is all that’s needed.
  • Relatively low self-discharge – self-discharge is less than half that of nickel-based batteries.
  • Low Maintenance – no periodic discharge is needed; there is no memory.
  • Specialty cells can provide very high current to applications such as power tools.

Limitations

  • Requires protection circuit to maintain voltage and current within safe limits.
  • Subject to aging, even if not in use – storage in a cool place at 40% charge reduces the aging effect.
  • Transportation restrictions – shipment of larger quantities may be subject to regulatory control. This restriction does not apply to personal carry-on batteries.
  • Expensive to manufacture – about 40 percent higher in cost than nickel-cadmium.
  • Not fully mature – metals and chemicals are changing on a continuing basis.

One amazing property of Li-Ion batteries is their ability to be formed.  Let’s take a look.

Researchers have just published documentation relative to a new technology that will definitely fill a need.

ULSAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:

Researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Korea have developed an imprintable and bendable lithium-ion battery they claim is the world’s first, and could hasten the introduction of flexible smart phones that leverage flexible display technology, such as Samsung’s Youm flexible OLED.

Samsung first demonstrated this display technology at CES 2013 as the next step in the evolution of mobile-device displays. The battery could also potentially be used in other flexible devices that debuted at the show, such as a wristwatch and a tablet.

Ulsan researchers had help on the technology from Professor John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois, researchers Young-Gi Lee and Gwangman Kim of Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, and researcher Eunhae Gil of Kangwon National University. Rogers was also part of the team that developed a breakthrough in transient electronics, or electronics that dissolve inside the body.

The Korea JoongAng Daily newspaper first reported the story, citing the South Korea Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, which co-funded the research with the National Research Foundation of Korea.

The key to the flexible battery technology lies in nanomaterials that can be applied to any surface to create fluid-like polymer electrolytes that are solid, not liquid, according to Ulsan researchers. This is in contrast to typical device lithium-ion batteries, which use liquefied electrolytes that are put in square-shaped cases. Researchers say this also makes the flexible battery more stable and less prone to overheating.

“Conventional lithium-ion batteries that use liquefied electrolytes had problems with safety as the film that separates the electrolytes may melt under heat, in which case the positive and negative may come in contact, causing an explosion,” Lee told the Korean newspaper. “Because the new battery uses flexible but solid materials, and not liquids, it can be expected to show a much higher level of stability than conventional rechargeable batteries.”

This potential explosiveness of the materials in lithium-ion batteries — which in the past received attention because of exploding mobile devices — has been in the news again recently in the case of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has had several instances of liquid leaking lithium-ion batteries. The problems have grounded Boeing’s next-generation jumbo jet until they are investigated and resolved.

This is a very short posting but one I felt would be of great interest to my readers.  New technology; i.e. cutting-edge stuff, etc. is fun to write about and possibly useful to learn.  Hope you enjoy this one.

Please send me your comments:  bobjengr@comcast.net.

THE MOST UNRELIABLE

November 7, 2018


One of the things I like to do with my posts is deliver information you can use in your daily life. “Stuff” that just mike make a difference.  I certainly hope this one does.    Some of the information you will read is taken from Consumer Reports Magazine and Design News Daily Magazine.

Consumer Reports recently published information regarding the reliability of automobiles offered for sale in the United States.  They drew their conclusions from owner surveys of more than five hundred thousand (500,000) people. The surveys look at numerous problem areas including engine, transmission, suspension, cooling, electrical, climate, brakes, exhaust, paint, trim, noises, leaks, power equipment, and in-car electronics, among others.  We will highlight now those automobiles considered to be the most unreliable.  This list may surprise you as it did me.

I would say that if you are looking for new wheels you heed the information given by Consumer Magazine.  They accept no advertisements and generally conduct their research by interviewing consumers and actually testing the products they report on.

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