Back during the 2019 Superconference in Pasadena, I had the chance to go to Northrop Grumman’s Redondo Beach campus to get a look at the James Webb Space Telescope. There is the high-bay class 10,000+ cleanroom in building M8, my wife and I along with fellow space nerd Tom Nardi got a chance to look upon what is likely the most expensive single object ever made. The $10 billion dollar space observatory was undergoing what we thought were its final tests before being packaged up and sent on its way to its forever home at the L2 Lagrange point.
Sadly, thanks to technical difficulties and the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be another two years before JWST was actually ready to ship — not a new story for the project, Mike Szczys toured the same facility back in 2015. But the good news is that it finally has shipped, taking the very, very slow first steps on its journey to space.
Both the terrestrial leg of the trip and the trip through 1.5 million kilometers of space are fraught with peril, of a different kind, of course, but still with plenty of chances for mission-impacting events. Here’s a look at what the priceless and long-awaited observatory will face along the way, and how its minders will endure the “30 days of terror” that lie ahead.
Continue reading “30 Days Of Terror: The Logistics Of Launching The James Webb Space Telescope”
This piece of engineering is so simple and elegant, you’ll want to build a pretty serious water rocket just so you can try it out. It’s an automatic parachute deployment system that you build into the nose-cone of your rocket. The main portion of the build is made out of plastic soda bottles (2 liter size) to end up with a chamber to store the chute, as well as a friction joint that holds the thing together.
The video after the break shows a complete tutorial on how to build one of these. It starts by tracing out a sine-wave-like pattern on the wall of the bottle. The staggered tongues that are left after cutting along this line make up the friction joint. After gluing a cone (the blue thing) to the bottom of the bottle, it receives the parachute and is then slipped over another bottle that makes up the body of the rocket. The rubber band wraps around the outside of the chassis, holding those plastic tongues in place. The loose end of the rubber band is hooked around the horn of a servo motor, which can then be triggered remotely, or by using a sensor of your choosing. There is even a spring made out of a loop of plastic bottle — you can see it just on top of the chute in the image above.
Need a launching system that is as fancy as the parachute system? Here you go.
Continue reading “Nose Cone Parachute Deployment From A Soda Bottle, Rubber Band, And Servo”