Aug 4, 2011

What Is Japan Doing Now With Space?

I think of this as a continuation of this article about the dawn of Japanese space exploration, so you might want to read it if you haven't yet.

Decades after Japan's first satellite, it came by a long way.
Last year, the space probe Hayabusa returned a sample of the rock in an asteroid, Itokawa (told you it would come up later! It was named after the scientist.) and brought that back to Earth! It was a first in the history of mankind, to bring back sand from another asteroid. Not only did it complete a nearly impossible task, it also put to use the newly-developed ion engine and tested its capabilities. They're even making movies about Hayabusa, it was really a nationwide sensation.

There is also the HTV(H-2 Transfer Vehicle) launched from Japan with the H-2B rocket, which is an unmanned resupply spacecraft to the ISS. For now, all the HTVs have performed flawlessly in space. (well, not to mention they have launched only 2 of them yet...)

I think JAXA, the space agency in japan, is ready to develop manned capsules. They have most of the technology needed already at hand. I hope Japan will keep its position as one of the leading nations in space exploration for decades, maybe centuries.

Aug 3, 2011

How Japan Put a Satellite into Space

Japan's involvement with rockets started in 1954 with the "pencil rocket", which is... a pencil sized rocket.
The development of the rocket was supervised by Hideo Itokawa.(remember that name, it will pop out later on!)

(you might want to skip to 1:58)
It was launched horizontally most of the time, because it was made just for tests. Not very exciting.
Then came the "baby rocket" which was slightly long than a meter.
second rocket by japanOh, and that guy is Itokawa.

After that, the rockets got bigger and bigger, and with the L-4S rocket, Japan's first satellite, Osumi, was launched and put in orbit.
l-4s rocketjapan's first satellite

The weirdest thing about the L-4S rocket is that it doesn't have guidance, navigation and control (GNC) built in! It was because some people in Japan said that the technology like GNC could be put into missiles, which they couldn't accept. (the Japanese constitution prohibits the act of war.)
And the engineers did come up with a way. The 1st and 2nd stages used the aerodynamic effects of the tail assembly. The 2nd(again) and 3rd stages used a motor to spin the rocket like a giant gyroscope, thus holding the rocket steady. The 4th stage stopped the spinning, and before it lit the engine did a little bit of maneuvering to put it steady,(and the boosters weren't firing at that time so it wasn't really GNC.) then made the rocket spin again, then finally, put it to orbit.

All this hard work paid off, and Japan became the 4th country(following Russia, America and France) to put a satellite into orbit.

Aug 1, 2011

How to Re-Create a Zero-G Environment in Your House

I went to the martial arts club's 4-day trip a week ago. It was pretty fun. There was this bag with 7 candies in it, and 6 of them were okay, but one was like, really hot and spicy. And when I say hot, I mean it.
There were 7 people in my grade who were there, so as you can guess, we popped one into our mouths on the count of 3. And yes, a few seconds later one of my friends started to choke out "I got the one...."

So be careful on those sort of candy, you might have a 1 in 7 chance of getting sick.

ANYWAY, we used a bus to and from the hotel, and just as I thought, I got a bit of motion sickness on the way. I was all right after a few minutes or so, but I wondered how it felt to be like that in space.
You know, even astronauts get sick from zero-G.

So I got this info from a book that lets you get a feel of being in zero-G.

disclaimer: It doesn't make you float around, and I am not responsible for the health problems induced by this exercise. It might make you look like a fool doing it, and it looks suspiciously a lot like planking.

This is it.

Told you, it looks like planking.

You can do this on a bed or a desk or anywhere you can plank.

It lets you experience the movement of the body fluids in a microgravity environment.

I tried this out, and it felt like a lot of blood was going into my head than usual.

Guess that's why astronauts become "moon-faced" after a few months on the ISS
Not to mention I felt like a fool doing the planking thing.

Jul 31, 2011

The Space Shuttle; before and after it (part 2)

space shuttle launch
part 1, which talks about the "before" and "now" of the space shuttle is here.

So, NASA discontinued the shuttle fleet. But what will come after the shuttle?

I think the retirement of the shuttle will draw a line between 2 types of space exploration- government-led before it and private company-led after it.

Of course NASA will still lead the whole thing, but it's time companies start exploring the final frontier.

They might have creative ideas and years of know-how in engineering, which will lead to safer, more efficient spaceships. There could be competition among the companies, as a result creating low-cost spacecrafts.
red dwarf