Archive for the ‘Space Technology’ Category

Are Cellphones More Important Than Astronomy?

November 28, 2009

I noticed that many science fiction writers of the past way overestimated technology progress. Read some 20 year old books and according to them we should be in space by now, conquering other planets and have personal helicopters instead of cars. In reality not much had changed. Yes we have faster cars and smaller phones, but that’s about it.

The thing is that money is ruling our current world and science is very expensive. Look around and notice where do we have the biggest technology progress: cars, electronics, pharmaceutics. All those areas are driven by businesses and consumers who buy all that stuff. By the way, if you haven’t seen the story of stuff I highly recommend it. So consumers pay big money for science development in these areas.

What about astronomy and space exploration. Sure it’s cool to watch satellites smash into the Moon and astronauts walking on Mars, but that’s about it — regular people don’t get any immediate benefit from it. Your bed is not softer, your car is not faster, your food is not tastier, so you don’t have a wish to pay for this kind of science, as simple as that.

While I like to talk about science, but there is no way we going to see any cool things in general science in the nearest future, not until our society is driven by money and looks like this is not going to change too. I am not telling that hungry scientists slaving 20 hours a day on a new spaceship is a good idea, just when you make your decisions in life don’t let money drive you. Money is a means, not a goal.

Space Technology Comes to Households

September 17, 2009

Sorry, I did not post any educational articles for some time, because I was busy with my new site. Alternative energy is my second passion beside astronomy. Spacecrafts rely on solar panels for a long time already. I know only one current spacecraft which uses nuclear power generator — Cassini, it’s too far from the Sun to supply enough solar energy, but the rest use solar. For example International Space Station gets all it’s energy from solar panels:

ISS is powered by solar panels. Click for slightly bigger image. Image credit: NASA, ESA

ISS is powered by solar panels. Click for slightly bigger image. Image credit: NASA, ESA

Problem with solar panels is that they still have to go some way to become a bit cheaper. For sure this technology has a good potential. For example solar cells which you currently can buy for your needs have about 16% efficiency, while solar panels used by Mars rovers are about 40% efficiency!

Solar energy is a very broad topic and unfortunately I don’t have too much time on my hands, so I decided to make a smaller website about RV solar panels. I think it is better to cover the small topic completely than have a never finished website. I believe solar panels is a good choice for RVs — you don’t need a big system to power it, so it’s not that expensive like the household solar system.

Space Shuttle Gas Tank

August 26, 2009

Honestly I never thought about that big thing as a gas tank. For me it was another little discovery today after watching this video:

Not painting this thing saves about 600 lb (272 kg) in weight. Is this how much paint weights? It’s probably some super heavy duty pain, so should be pretty big amount saved in dollars too. When you watch Space Shuttle launches on TV news, you rarely think of such stuff.

Cariann says that color was changed from white to orange on STS-3 mission, I am not lazy, I checked it out, so you don’t have to ;-) This is true, on YouTube you can find STS-1 and STS-2 launches, both of them have white external tanks, while STS-3 is orange. The latest STS-127 is orange as well.