Sep 162017

Well, I said they’d be available for a limited time only…

I will likely make them available again reasonably soon, but for right now I’ve had to shut down production. The materials I have on hand turn out to be *crap,* with the result that the latest batch of blueprints are just…. terrible. I’ve ordered more supplies, but it’ll take a while to arrive. Plus, the Summer That Just Won’t Let Up suddenly decided a few days ago to let up, turning full sunlight into overcast murk, making production scheduling impossible.

On the plus side, I found the two missing Dyna Soar transparencies.

 Posted by at 6:02 pm
Sep 102017

Recently on ebay were a set of 8X10 glossies, vintage Convair artwork depicting early spacecraft and launch vehicle concepts. I had my bid in… and was sniped in the last few seconds. Oh well. Anyway, one of the more interesting images was this one of the Convair “Helios” developed by or for Krafft Ehricke… a chemical rocket first stage equipped with wings for glide recovering and a nuclear powered second stage with a “tractor” arrangement to separate the nuclear engine from the payload – essentially a small manned laboratory to land on the moon. The second stage would unreel something like half a miles worth of cablingĀ  and drag the payload along behind it, relying on distance rather than physical radiation shielding. The second stage would take the payload all the way to the lunar surface, gently lowering it down at the end of the cables, then land Way Over There Somewhere. A modern design would, I would hope, include electrical cables and would serve as a power generator.

A middling-resolution scan of the same image was posted back in January. One day I shall get a clean high-rez version. If that day is a particularly glorious day, it will come not only with the other images created for the Helios project… but they’ll also be in color.

 Posted by at 1:02 am
Aug 312017

Russia claims new Mach 4+ MiG-41 Interceptor will be able to operate in space

No actual details.

An aircraft capable of Mach 4+? Sure, I suppose. Seems an odd thing to develop these days. Those sort of speed were an aviation fetish in the 50’s and 60’s, but there really isn’t a whole lot of need to go that fast and the penalties for doing so are *harsh.*

Operating in space? Meh. Might be a translation error or a simple misunderstanding. An aircraft capable of going that fast could potentially pop above the sensible atmosphere, perhaps like the X-15. So it would be in space, but nowhere near orbit (which would require Mach 25, not merely Mach 4). if it did so, it would need to have some ability to control its attitude, presumably with attitude control thrusters.

Or it could be BS. That would be entirely unsurprising.

 Posted by at 12:39 am
Aug 232017

Thanks to some APR Patreon crowdfunders, I was able to procure a *giant* blueprint of the Grumman F7F Tigercat from ebay. Today I got it back from the print shop where it was scanned at 300 dpi, resulting in an image more than 29,000 pixels wide. The image was processed a little bit to reduce the file size from 900+ megabytes down to 100, and a half-size version and a B&W version. These files have been provided to the funders. The blueprint itself will now be sent on to a relevant and worthy museum or archive.

If you are interested in getting in on and helping with this sort of thing, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.



 Posted by at 10:57 pm
Aug 192017

In the 1960’s, sending space probes to Mars was a crapshoot; both the US and USSR lost very expensive spacecraft. This was due to one simple fact: spaceflight is hard. But in 1965, JPL engineer (John Casani) jokingly told a reporter that the problem was the Great Galactic Ghoul, a Mars-based monster that kept eating spacecraft. A few years later when Mariner 7 seemingly disappeared, a JPL artist (G. W. Burton) painted the Ghoul chomping down on the probe.

I’ve posted the full-rez scan (from an 8X10 B&W glossy) to the 2017-08 APR Extras Dropbox folder for APR Patrons ($4 and up level).

 Posted by at 11:21 pm
Aug 132017

As a followup to the photos of the H-33 display model, here’s a Grumman report from July, 1971, giving a pretty good and well illustrated description of the H-33 orbiter.

The abstract on NTRS can be seen HERE.

The PDF file can be directly downloaded here:

Alternate space shuttle concepts study. Part 2: Technical summary. Volume 2: Orbiter definition


Support the APR Patreon to help bring more of this sort of thing to light!



 Posted by at 2:23 am
Aug 122017

The H-33 orbiter was designed in early 1971 to be launched atop a reusable manned flyback booster, a truly giant supersonic vehicle. The orbiter itself was similar in configuration to the Shuttle Orbiter as actually built, but it differed in that it had internal liquid oxygen tanks and expendable external hydrogen tanks, rather than a single large ET. The NASM has some good photos of a display model of the full system.

The H-33 was a popular design, at least at Grumman. A number of display models were made of it, including this detailed “cutaway” model made – seemingly – of plexiglas.

I have uploaded the full-rez images to the 2017-08 APR Extras Dropbox folder, available to all $4 and up APR Patrons. If interested, wander on by the APR Patreon and sign up. Lots of aerospace goodies available.


 Posted by at 10:11 pm