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I have successfully finished out one full semester of college. Now it is time to go home for three whole weeks! What a satisfying feeling.
I have learned a lot. Here is a non-exhaustive list:
- FORTRAN is a ridiculous programming language (unless you need to process massive amounts of data).
- I have the ability to keep peace on a team.
- Never leave detergent unattended in the laundry room.
- Sometimes it's a good idea to correct a professor's error, sometimes it is best left alone.
- Polar coordinates are actually easier to work with in many cases.
- Meals are grossly overpriced at ISU.
- Teach a parrot to say "supply and demand" and you've created an economist.
- Though it sounds elementary: if you're stuck, get help.
- I have a surprising tolerance for noise and rowdiness (that's new).
- Sometimes you need gc in your calculations, sometimes you don't.
- If you open the door and face a wall of wrapping paper, don't just charge through.
- The best time for quiet thinking is 6:30-7:00 in the morning.
- To stay on top of things in a hard class, read ahead.
- All about partial derivatives, multiple integrals and vector calculus.
- All about ... chemistry.
- A lot about the love of God.
Today SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 vehicle, to demonstrate its reliability as a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services vehicle (COTS) for NASA. The launch was successful.
Recently, in my "Chemistry for Engineers" class, the instructor was talking about concrete, and how it is ubiquitous in engineering applications. My roommate, who is in electrical engineering, and I, an aerospace engineer, exchanged glances. We were both imagining the use of concrete in our future work.
Okay... So I just have to pull through three weeks of studying and taking final exams. Then it's home again for another three weeks.
I have to work hard now. I've got so much going on at once: Chemistry test; long, drawn out calculus homework; coming up with money to stay in school; very difficult FORTRAN program that does what RockSim does but not half as glamorously... you get the picture.
Concerning NaNoWriMo: I reached the 50,000 word mark the day before Thanksgiving, but my story is far from complete... Maybe I'll pick it up again over Christmas break.
My next USLI meeting will be this Thursday. Things are starting to pick up, so stay tuned for a post on our progress. We submitted our preliminary design review to NASA the day before break, so we should expect some feedback soon. ISU-USLI's website can be found at this address: http://www.isu-usli.com/
I got to have a conversation with the former CEO of Lockheed Martin! It was cool. About eight of us freshmen in aerospace engineering were in attendance, and we asked him questions about his life, his career, his education (he started at Iowa State), and he gave us advice on doing well in the aerospace industry. Just another cool little thing I got to do.
Okay, just kidding. But I can see the end. Only a couple days until Thanksgiving break, and then there are only about three more school weeks until the semester is all over. It's been a long semester, or a quick one, depending on how you look at it. Long, considering all the stuff I've learned and how much life has changed since August. But actually, strictly temporally, it felt faster than a typical high-school semester, probably because the classes go at a much faster pace.
But it's not over yet. Now we have to study for finals.
Due tomorrow is my learning team's technical report for the rocket design project we did in AerE160. We completed the report in about one week, it was a mad dash.
NaNoWriMo continues okay, I'm a little behind schedule though. To reach the 50,000 word mark by November 30th, I should be at 28339 words, and I'm currently at 23216. So it's not terrible. Considering I am capable of doing 10k a day (about average for Nanooks in Pajamas), 1914 a day is NOT an issue in the least.
- Thank you God for a wonderful family to come home to.
- Thank you for giving me a passion for aerospace and your Awesome Creation.
- Thank you for giving me a great situation here at Iowa State.
- Thank you for saving me from destruction.
- Thank you for being my guidance system.
- Thank you for cereal.
- Thank you for helping me through difficult times as you always have in the past.
- Thank you for mechanical pencils.
- Thank you for wonderful fall colors... while they lasted.
- Thank you for bringing cold weather.
- Thank you for getting me through Multivariable Calculus.
- Thank you God for being my God and for being so awesome.
The last flight of the Space Shuttle has been postponed until later this November. The reason is for a major hydrogen leak.
(I'm secretly glad, because I would have had to miss the launch on NASA TV, it would have been coincident with my calculus class).
I'm actually writing a novel again this year. I skipped it last year because I was very busy, and even though I'm just as busy this year, I'm going for it.
This year it's science fiction again. In short, it is about some college students interning at the Dellanop Outpost, which is a space station on a planet ~150 billion light-years from Earth, clear across the Universe. Dellanop is linked to Earth by the AerEon, a mysterious portal that had its beginnings as a project at the end of World War V to develop the Ultimate Weapon. While it failed to produce any amount of kinetic energy usable for destruction, it opened up a window into this other star system.
The conflict comes into the story when these students discover the plans of a covert organization that aims to control the AerEon, thereby controlling passage to and from Earth. There are some more plot twists as the story goes on, but I would never reveal them here! (Especially when it is yet unwritten)
So far I'm up to 6883 words, and going strong!
It was a great day, and lots of fun to see all the rocket designs people came up with. There were a lot of great flights... and a lot of failures too! Our rocket performed well, but its second flight randomly went unstable for some reason. We're not sure what was different about the second flight that resulted in the poorer stability because we did everything exactly the same. As usual, blame it on the wind...
In the middle of the day, they paused the rocket launches to fly a model of the Marston Water Tower on an E9 motor. For some reason the rocket just sat and burned on the pad. I can't imagine that the rocketeer who built it didn't calculate their thrust-to-weight ratio, but you never know. Maybe the launch rod was too tight. Maybe the motor didn't work right.
Thankfully the weather turned out great! It didn't rain, it wasn't very cold, and marvelously the wind stayed in a manageable range.
As fun as the event was, I have to say, it was poorly planned.
Other things: They really needed some sort of loudspeaker setup. I'm sure the guy doing all the announcing can't even talk today. Also, I think that if each team were given a queuing number, the launch would have gone much more efficiently, instead of having each group wait in a long line after each flight.
The altitude tracking setup was a little ridiculous, too. The in-class examples of the triangulation methods were similar to the two-station tracking in The Handbook of Model Rocketry, where there is a baseline between the two trackers, an elevation angle, and an azimuth angle. At the launch, the tracking devices measured only the elevation angle, so we were told to estimate the ground angle with our feet... um... yeah. Highly accurate methodology there. I'm sure lot of people just ended up fudging their data, or making it up completely. We'll be comparing these results to our RockSim simulations, but there really isn't any point when we have a precision of + or - 50% to report!
I really shouldn't complain too loudly though, because the event would probably be a disaster if I were given the task of planning it.
|Our rocket being placed on the pad|
You can watch the Jet Propulsion Laboratory put together the new Mars rover named Curiosity, via continuous live feed from a webcam overlooking the clean room. Check it out!
If the embedded player doesn't work, click this link:
In my AerE 160 class, we are building small model rockets for our final project. Construction approval is tomorrow, so my group pulled a two-hour build session to get it completed. Here is the result:
Yes, it's kind of shabby, but I think it turned out very well for the average skill level of the group. We're going to be building another one just like it, because we need a backup in case this one fails on the first flight.
We opted for a six-fin design, just to differentiate our rocket from all the others in a unique way. Other specs: 17.5 inches long, 29 mm in diameter, and flies on a C6-5 to about 700 feet. We're thinking about painting it red, and maybe another color, like orange or yellow.
It isn't named yet, but I have a sinking feeling it's going to named after our jolly old professor. (He reminds me of Mr. Pendanski from Holes).
Today we had a test on triangulation and do-loops in FORTRAN. The fictional character of choice this time was Iron Man. (He tries too hard to make the exams entertaining).
Okay, enough ramble. Back to the books.
Maybe someone can explain this to me.
If the Universe is 156 billion light years across...
And if the Universe is 13.7 billion years old...
And everything flew into existence from a single point in the Big Bang...
Does that mean that the galaxies at the outer reaches of the Universe traveled at 5.6 times the speed of light??
There is a group within the Iowa State Space Society called CySLI, which is a small club that participates in NASA's University Student Launch Initiative (USLI, I call it "Oozli," but I think I'm the only one). I think that this will be one of the coolest activities I will be participating in this year. Basically, USLI is a contest in which Universities design and build both a scientific payload and the launch vehicle to carry it to as close to one mile as possible. So far we've been talking about what kind of payload we want to design. One option we've been talking about is having a nose-mounted escape pod with a method of controlling the decent, and a live video feed from an onboard camera.
Here's a video about USLI:
(Iowa State's rocket is the big black one with the orange nose cone).
NASA Student Launch Projects Video
A few guys were studying in our dorm the other day, and somehow the following question came up:
Which of the following has more kinetic energy?
(a) A fully loaded freight train traveling at 79 mph across country
(b) The shuttle orbiting at mach 25
The answer wasn't immediately obvious. We started geeking out about it, looking stuff up online and doing some calculations. Some predicted the train, others predicted the shuttle.
A typical freight train weighs about 8,000 tons. It has a kinetic energy of 4,767,000,000J.
The Shuttle Orbiter has a mass of 99,318 kg. At mach 25 it has a kinetic energy of 3,579,000,000,000J. So it turns out that the freight train only has 0.13% of the kinetic energy of the Shuttle. Shuttle wins, hands down.
And it makes sense when you think about it. Just think how much fuel the Shuttle has to take on as opposed to the relatively small tanks in the diesel engines. (Not to mention that the energy is proportional to the square of velocity, and not the square of the object's mass.)
College is funny.
P.S. Will it ever stop raining??
Due to the recent flooding in Ames, IA, the Engineering Career Fair at Iowa State University had to be moved from its usual location in Hilton Colosseum to giant white tents outside Schemann. The fair took place on the 21st, a day of solid rain. Determined students vying for internships braved the weather and showed up professionally dressed but soaked to the bone. It was fun.
XCOR Aerospace completed extensive supersonic wind tunnel tests for their commercial sub-orbital spacecraft, Lynx. The tests were conducted at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The vehicle was shown to be a safe and stable design under mach conditions, with only a few minor design changes.
I am looking forward to the completion of this spacecraft. I like to see the private space industry emerging.
Basically, what PrISUm does is enter a new car every two years into the American Solar Car Challenge. Apparently I joined at just the right time, because if I stick to it all four years of college I will see the complete design, construction, testing, and competing of two complete cars before I graduate.
There are three sub-teams that comprise PrISUm: the Mechanical Team (that's what I'd be in), the Electrical Team (that's what my roommate will be in), and the Business Team (somebody's got to manage this quarter-million dollar project!!). There are also several sub-sub-teams that comprise the Mechanical Team: the suspension team (responsible for the suspension), the frame team (responsible for the frame), and the aero team (responsible for the aerodynamics)[duh]. Each of these groups that comprise the Mechanical Team will have at least three or four individuals in them, give or take.
We just had our first meeting tonight, so I don't know a whole lot. I wanted to wait until the first meeting before I decided if it was something I was really interested in and post about it on my blog, but now it definitely sounds worth it.
After the meeting I hung around and talked with the directors (who are students themselves), which was probably a good idea, because now they know my face, and I got more personalized information!
Tomorrow is the Clubfest (where student clubs and organizations on campus showcase their clubs), and I volunteered to help out for an hour or two to represent the Solar Car Team. This is the same strategy I employed for Tripoli MN Rocketry Club. In order to really get to know the club, volunteer to represent it.
More details will follow.
By the way, I'm also looking at ISSS (say I triple S, it's easier), which stands for Iowa State Space Society. It's is a club that does astronomy and high-power rocketry and a whole bunch of other space-related activities. The first event for that is on Thursday.
More details will follow.
Scientists would be out of a job if there weren't any engineers in the world. What would be the use of striving to understand nature if nobody took the initiative to harness its power? Certainly science is awesome and cool in its own right; but without engineering, it doesn't produce anything (for propriety).
Just a thought.
College is going to be AWESOME!!
It took me two days to pack and half an hour to unpack. My dorm room is really nice and my roommate is even nicer. I'd post pictures, but I forgot to reinstall my camera software after my hard drive crashed so... no pictures yet.
All is going well. I got my books today. Chemistry and Multivariable Calculus look the most challenging, but fun. Classes start next Monday.
A good thing to know about one's self is one's identity, especially when said identity will be challenged by the world when one moves to college.
So here's mine:
Above all, I identify myself with Christ. Since he saved me from sin and God's unbearable wrath, I am pleased to live my life following him.
Everything beyond that is just detail:
- I am exceedingly fascinated by all things that fly, and the giant expanse of the sky calls to me.
- So I study rocket science.
- I was born into a wonderful, Christian, home-schooling family.
- I have been lucky enough to live on a sod farm (rocketeer's envy!)
- I used to hate math, but now I love it.
- I am currently stepping up to the 2nd and 3rd rungs in my Ladder to Space.
Thou hast given me understanding to compass the earth,
measure the sun, moon, stars, universe,
but above all to know thee, the only true God.
I marvel that the finite can know the Infinite,
here a little, afterwards in full-orbed truth;
Now I know but a small portion of what I shall know,
here in part, there in perfection,
here a glimpse, there a glory.
To enjoy thee is life eternal,
and to enjoy is to know.
Keep me in the freedom of experiencing thy salvation continually.
~A puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision
|I set the altimeter to deploy only the main. The drogue was deployed with the motor based ejection charge. The black powder goes into the pvc section on the forward bulkhead.|
|I taped the rocket hunter right to the nose cone, with the antenna up inside it.|
Tomorrow is my one shot at certification until next year. I hope to use Stinger for my L1 cert on a Cesaroni I285. If I pass L1, I'm hoping to try L2 on a J285. If everything goes correctly, I should go from level 0 to level 2 in just one day! If I pass, I'll come back next year with an L motor!
I've been doing a lot of ground testing, since I've never tried altimeter based ejection charges before. Today I put one gram of black powder in the ejection charge, used a longer shock cord, and a lot more wadding. I think that one gram was just a bit too weak, and somehow the parachute still got a wee bit singed. What I need is Nomex cloth. Too bad I don't have any.
I HOPE I PASS!!!
You can expect a very peppy launch report tomorrow.
I think I've been doing pretty well on YouTube. My 27 uploaded videos have been viewed cumulatively over 50,000 times now, and I have attracted 34 subscribers. My highest viewed video has over 15,000 views (and unfortunately isn't even one of the rocketry ones). I hope to continue my work on YouTube to promote aerospace engineering and amateur rocketry.
2 grams of black powder is a bit much.
6 feet of shock cord is a bit short.
For the past several months I have been toying with the idea of renaming my blog. There is a reason for that. "Exploring Creation with Aerospace" sounds suspiciously similar to Apologia's "Exploring Creation with _____" series of science textbooks. I want my blog to sound more original.
However, I still want it to mean the same thing. This blog is all about, well, exploring creation with aerospace! So I got out a thesaurus and started brainstorming.
Exploring the Universe through Rocket Science
Exploring the Universe through Aerospace
Adventuring in Aerospace
Adventure is Aerospace
Aerospace is Adventure
Adventurous Aerospace Endeavors
An Adventurous Exploration of Aerospace
Aerospace to the Glory of God
A Continuous Upward Climb
Ladder to Space
The Adventures of a Rocket Scientist
The Adventures of a(n) [insert adjective here] Rocket Scientist
Rocket Science, A Big Universe, and an Even Bigger God
That's why they call it brainstorming.
If you have any ideas, don't hesitate to post a comment.
This has been one of my last years in 4H. I always enter my latest rocket projects in aerospace, and they tend to do pretty good. This year was no different: Stinger got the purple award and High-5 got an award of merit. I also whipped together a computer program that calculates stability, and that received a purple as well. I normally take my best rocket project on to the the State Fair, but this year I will be in college the day of the aerospace judging. It might, however, work out for me to take my computer project. More on that later.
You'd think I'd make sure I pass level 1 and level 2 before even thinking about level 3, but I can't help it. I might pass L1/L2 this August. Then I would want to start working on L3 pronto so I can get certified when I turn 21. I was looking at the costs involved, and it ain't cheap. I was estimating ~$1600. So if I start saving now, I should have enough money and resources by the time Level 3 is attainable. So I got a canning jar, a post-it note, and a sharpie marker, and made a piggy-bank.
From left: Min-Q (It's a joke. Like Max-Q, only Min-Q. No one got it), Unfinished Thing that is Grossly Overpowered and Wanting a Nose Cone, Exporter 3000, Double Trouble, High-5, Stinger, and (last but not least) me.
Ideally I would like to get a radio transmitter for tracking my high-altitude rockets (like Stinger, my high-power L1/L2 certification rocket) but unfortunately I don't know anything about it (even though I have my ham license now). In the meantime, I think the chances of successful recovery could be greatly increased using tracking powder. This can be as simple a stuffing flour or crushed up chalk into the drogue 'chute bay.
I recently tested this idea in a small low power rocket. I think it worked. I never would have seen the deployment if it weren't for the bright white puff that appeared out of no where in the sky:
|What kind of a rocketeer works out of a Smart Car?|
I only have one month before my summer ends. I only have one month before I move away to college. I only have one month for high-power rocketry. I only have one month...
Despite my glum attitude about having to move away, I am excited about where I'm moving to, if you know what I mean. It's an extraction from one good thing and an implantation into another good thing. This leads to some interesting emotions, varied by two extremes.
I CAN'T WAIT!!!
I am hoping to get certified with as little difficulty as possible, that's why my certification rocket is just a basic 3FNC rocket.
So far I have glassed the air frame, cut out the fins and centering rings, constructed and glassed the motor mount, purchased the motor case and spacers, ordered the tube couplers, nose cone, parachute and rail buttons, and generally have just been having a great time.
I need to order a good altimeter for deploying the chutes. I'm thinking about ordering the Parrot Featherweight, but I'm still deciding. What altimeters do my rocketeer readers use?