Hitching a Ride on a Missile

Before the Saturn V rocket carried men to the moon, a number of smaller rockets carried men on suborbital and orbital flights around the Earth. These rockets weren’t purpose-built for this task, though. In fact, the first rockets that carried people into outer space were repurposed ballistic missiles, originally designed to carry weapons.

While it might seem like an arduous task to make a ballistic missile safe enough to carry a human, the path from a weapons delivery system to passenger vehicle was remarkably quick. Although there was enough safety engineering and redundancy to disqualify the space program as a hack, it certainly was a clever repurposing of the available technology. Read on for the full story.

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Using Missile Tech to See Like Predator

[Artem Litvinovich] wanted to see by heat vision like in the Predator movies. He not only succeeded but went on to see in color, medium-wave IR, short-wave IR, and ultraviolet using a very unique approach since his effort began back in 2009.

He started with a box based on the basic pinhole camera concept. In the box is a physical X-Y digitizer moving a photodiode to collect the thousands of points needed to create a picture. First all he got, due to the high signal amplification, was the 60 cycle hum that permeates our lives. A Faraday cage around the box helped but metal foil around the sensor and amplifier finally eliminated the noise. Now he had pictures in the near infrared (NIR). Continue reading “Using Missile Tech to See Like Predator”

Retrotechtacular: History of the U.S. Antiballistic Missile Systems


On this installment of Retrotechtacular we’re taking a look at the history of the United States Antiballistic Missile System. The cold war was a huge driver of technological development, and this missile defense is a good example. At its most basic this is a radar system capable of tracking objects in three dimensions. It utilizes separate transmitters and receivers which are synchronized to rotate at the same time.

The movie, which is about forty-five minutes, came to our attention because of [Dammitd’s] interest in the Luneburg Lens used by the system. At about 11:10 into the video after the break this component is discussed. Inside a dome like the one seen above is a reflector made of blocks of polystyrene foam which has been laced with bits of metal. This lens is stationary, with the receiver rotating around it to collect the transmitter’s waves as the echos bouncing off an object in the sky are focused by the lens.

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DIY Guided Missile (…err model rocket)

Hackers [Navic] and [K.o.D] have fitted an Arduino Pro Mini and an array of components into an off the shelf rocketry kit to create a guided model rocket, taking the whole idea of Arduino-based space technology to another level

The Arduino reads signals from internally mounted accelerometers, and adjusts balsa fins (via 4 micro servos) to correct the rocket’s flight path. Due to the nature of model rocketry, the active guidance is limited to the 3 seconds that the rocket is traveling upwards. A valiant effort nevertheless. Videos of the rocket’s maiden voyage, and a system check after the break. Continue reading “DIY Guided Missile (…err model rocket)”

Missile hack taunts your cat

[Atlantageek] sent in a missile launcher project that he threw together. For Christmas he received a Chumby One and a ThinkGeek USB Rocket Launcher as gifts (lucky dog). Neither of these toys are “played with” in the traditional sense as much as they become centerpieces of your next hack. In that spirit, [Atlantageek] immediately wrote a widget to control the launcher via the Chumby. The side effect of driving his cat bonkers was an unexpected bonus.

Missile launcher, iPhone interface

[Pedram] Sent us his USB missile launcher interface project. He happened to have some of the USB missile launchers lying around. having lost their initial draw, he wanted to do something to spice it up. He wrote an interface in python so he could control the launcher via his iPhone. We don’t see how this is any different than controlling them by the computer, but he seems to have put a decent amount of work into it.

ToorCamp 2009 to be held at missile silo


After running a successful hacker convention for ten solid years, the people who brought you ToorCon are planning a new event to shake up the US hacker scene. ToorCamp will be held July 2nd-5th, 2009 at a former missile silo in central Washington state. Hackers will camp on-site for two days of talks followed by two days of workshops. Art and music events are planned for every night. Camps like this are already help biannually in Europe: What the Hack in 2005, Chaos Communication Camp 2007, and Hacking at Random 2009, coming this fall. The complex is one of three Titan 1 missile complexes in the Moses Lake area. The sites were in operation less than three years between 1962 and 1965. The former missile command center has been converted to a secure data center run by Titan I, LLC. ToorCamp promises to be a very unique experience and we’re looking forward to attend this and future years.