Monday, October 27, 2008

My visit to San Francisco

Click on the pics to see the larger version...

Today we flew into San Francisco to shoot video at a company that is working on oscillation mitigation for the Ares I...that will be tomorrow.

Today we were tourists and after landing, we drove out to the Golden Gate Bridge. My co-worker, Anthony, suggested that we walk across the bridge...

I thought that sounded like a cool was really neat to walk all the way across the bridge and then walk all the way back!

Downtown San Francisco...


A port-a-potty for the bridge workers was painted the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge!

I am smiling, even though I realize we still have to walk all the way across the bridge to get to our rental car...

After the long walk, we drove up the mountain to get some high definition video of the bridge...

After all of this walking (almost 4 miles...) and driving up mountains, we decided that it was time for some dinner. Where better to get fresh seafood than the world famous Fisherman's Wharf!

All in all, it was a great day. Anytime you fly across the country with no delays and all of your luggage and equipment arrives, I consider it a success. Throw in the Golden Gate Bridge and fresh fish and chips and it takes it to a "whole nother level!"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Replacing the Space Shuttle...

Because I shoot video for NASA, I am always thinking about rockets, engines, avionics, ullage motors, friction stir welding, aluminum lithium panels, load cells, etc. I don't understand 99% of what I shoot, but I do try to have a basic understanding...I think it helps me do a better job capturing whatever test I happen to be documenting.

That being said, I am amazed and saddened by the number of people who have no idea what will be replacing the Shuttle. Why replace the Shuttle? Well, the design is over 35 years old and was never intended to leave low Earth orbit. It was designed to perform multiple roles, launching both cargo and people while at the same time conducting microgravity experiments and repair and maintenance missions. However, because of this "all in one" approach, the cost of launching 1 pound into orbit is still about $10,000, well below other countries who just launch satellites for less than half of that.

The Shuttle will be retired in 2010 and in the meantime, a new family of rockets is being developed.

The rocket on the left is the Ares I and it will be used to launch the crew to orbit.

The rocket on the right is the Ares V and it will launch everything that is not an astronaut to orbit.

You may not hear much about these rockets right now, but NASA has been working on the Ares I for the last 3 years.

During that time, we at Marshall TV have been documenting the development and construction of the Ares I rocket. We have traveled from coast to coast, north to south, shooting high definition video and producing Ares Quarterly Progress Reports (quarterly as in every 3 months...)

Here is the most recent Ares QPR...

Ares Projects Quarterly Progress Report #9 from AresTV on Vimeo.

Here is a little about the Ares I will launch from the Kennedy Space Center, just like the Shuttles...

The Ares I will carry 6 astronauts to the International Space Station or 4 astronauts to the moon. They will be in a capsule called Orion and it will sit on top of the more worry about foam damage.

The Ares I is divided into 2 basic parts...the First Stage and the Upper Stage.

The First Stage is a 5 segment solid rocket (the shuttle uses two 4 segment solids...) with a liquid fueled Upper Stage. The Upper Stage engine is a J-2X, which is derived from the Apollo era J-2 engine, which powered the second and third stages of the Saturn V.

After launch, the First Stage will separate from the Upper Stage...and the single J-2X engine will power the Upper Stage to orbit.

Pretty simple, huh?

Here is a comparison of the Saturn V, the Space Shuttle and the new Ares I

Last but not least, here is some NASA animation of what the Ares I launch will look like...

The Ares V is not currently under construction...all of NASA efforts are being used to get the Ares I flying as quickly as possible to reduce the gap between the Shuttle being retired and Ares I starting. That way, we will be depending on the Russian Soyuz for a shorter time to get to the International Space Station.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

States 40 & 41...North Dakota and South Dakota.

Click on the small pics to see the bigger pics...

Well, we wrapped up our shooting in Minnesota and today was a full day of driving.

As you can see, we drove from Duluth, MN to Fargo, ND to Brookings, SD...a total of 433 miles.

While driving across Minnesota, we crossed the Mississippi at a point not too far from where it begins...

At this point the Mississippi is not much wider than a little river...see the little fishing boat in this picture?

After a short 4 1/2 hour drive we arrived in Fargo, North Dakota...

This city was very was clean, everyone seemed nice and the downtown was very cool!

While in Fargo, we ate at a place called Hodo, which is the restaurant of the Hotel Donaldson.

I just HAD to have the bison burger since we were in North tasted very good. It was similar to beef, except that it was a bit..."earthier"? Is that a word? It was different but delicious.

After lunch, it was time to make the final push to South Dakota...

The following 2 photos were taken at the South Dakota welcome represents the spartan living conditions of the native Indians in South Dakota and the other one was just a cool picture of the American flag flying in the breeze

Tomorrow, we will shoot more video of the 2008 NASA Space Exploration Experience in Watertown, SD...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The drive to Canada...

Please click on the pics to see larger versions...

After enduring 4 days of overcast, rainy and cold days, I awoke this morning to only a cold day...The skies were finally clear and the sun was shining bright!

The drive up the Minnesota coast was awesome...the fall colors were so brilliant.

It was about a 4 hour drive to Thunder Bay, Canada and the road we drove on followed along the coast of Lake Superior the whole way. At various times I was able to just park the car, cross the street and take these pics...

After a while we arrived at the Canadian Border and had to answer questions like "why did our rental car have Georgia plates?" (don't know), "where were we going in Canada", "did we have weapons like guns, knives or pepper spray?". Of course we didn't, so we were off to Thunder Bay.

Well, I wish I had lots of cool pics from Canada, but I really don't. It's weird, as soon as we crossed the border, the trees were almost bare of leaves and we couldn't see the lake anymore. We wanted to go see Thunder Bay's most famous attraction, Fort William historical park (a re-creation of a fur trading post from 1815) but it was closed for some unknown reason.

We drove around and really weren't very impressed...sorry Thunder Bay! It sort of reminded me of Decatur, Alabama in the sense that there wasn't really a cool downtown area and the businesses seemed, well, exactly what we'd see in Alabama.

We ended up at a place that was sort of a cross between Target and Sams Club...

That's right, "The Real Canadian Superstore"! Lots of deals in there, eh?

Finally as we were leaving Canada, I stopped to take a pic of this lonely old Canadian barn...

Tomorrow we will be driving west through Minnesota to Fargo, ND. Then from Fargo, we will head south to Watertown, SD...should be a long day of driving, but I bet I will take lots of pics!

Monday, October 13, 2008

State #39, Rainy Wisconsin

We were going to drive to Thunder Bay, Canada today, but because the weather was so rainy, we decided to take the shorter drive to Wisconsin. That was fine with me because now I can scratch Wisconsin off my list of states I have never been to...

Here is a sort of photo journal of our day, with comments as always, click on the pick to see the larger version.

This is my serious look...

That's right, we see only the biggest attractions!

The lake Superior water is so COLD!

Cornucopia, Wisconsin...I don't want to be here when you can actually park your snowmobile here.

It was so quiet out here...the only sound was the rain hitting the leaves on the trees.

Red Cliff, Wisconsin...I thought this was someone's boat, but it was full of sand!

Bayfield, Wisconsin

Tomorrow, we will be driving to Thunder Bay, check back for more adventures!