Known Johnson

June 26, 2007

Various and sundry: June 16-26, the space/sickness edition

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 11:43 pm

Evil food Somewhere along the line last week, I innocently picked up and ate something that contained some form of vile evilness that stored itself away inside me and then attacked, pretty much eliminating in a very short time any form of nourishment I attempted to take in. In other words, folks, I got food poisoning. I don’t know where, I don’t know how, but I got it, and it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t as bad as the stomach flu over Christmas, but it’s just another event in my life I’d rather not repeat. Two bagels, several cups of rice, and a stack of saltines were my good friends for the past couple of days.

Evil bug While I had that going on, at pretty much exactly the same time Amanda managed to pick up a cold somewhere, too. Children with colds are always so much fun. At least we got her to stop wiping at her nose with her arm immediately after sneezing so we could use a wipe on her and get the mess cleaned up. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: kids have so much snot in them.

Control Alissa did not get sick and so unwittingly performed the roll of “control” in our experiment over the past few days.

/Geek week+ It came to an end Friday with Atlantis successfully touching down at Edwards Air Force base in California, a few days later than planned due to ISS’ situation with the computer malfunctions, the torn insulation blanket, and a bad weather wave-off for a Kennedy Space Center landing. But have no fear, Geek Week will return NET (that’s NASA-speak for “no early than” – you pick up acronyms quickly when you hang out on spaceflight forums) August 7 when Endeavour returns to ISS for more construction.

And why am I a space geek? Looking at pictures like this . . .

. . . has me more than awed in amazement – I have to find out why it looks like that. And I’ll explain: In short, because I won’t bore you with the really technical, aerodynamic-related stuff I don’t really understand, it’s an event that happens just before a vehicle breaks Mach 2. A high pressure wave builds up around certain parts of the vehicle, and areas of low pressure (behind the crew-cabin, the tail, and booster nose cones) cause condensation to build up behind them, resulting in this mist effect. The rainbow-ring is also due to this, or could be the shock-wave itself passing over the vehicle. If you want to be really creeped out, this is also the point at which Challenger disintegrated. This is “max q,” if you remember that term being tossed about, the point at which maximum dynamic pressure is being applied to the vehicle. The shuttles engines are throttled down to something like 65% a little before this to alleviate some of the stresses on the vehicle, then as it passes through max q, the call is made: (and everyone who witnessed the event in some way will remember this) “(Orbiter name), go at throttle up,” and it’s corresponding call back from the shuttle, “Roger, go at throttle up” – the last words heard from Challenger. I still feel nervous hearing those words with every launch today because I know that this is most likely when something could go wrong.

You’ve learned something today, haven’t you. Maybe you’re a little disturbed, but you’ll probably remember this, won’t you?


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