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Friday Linkzookery – 05 Jan 2007

Mayaguez Incident Tested President Ford’s Mettle
Somebody should have realized that once you start an amphibious landing you just don’t stop it.

Ford’s biggest blunder: Ban on assasination attempts
ACE reminds me that this became policy during Ford’s presidency.

U.S. trainers prepare Ethiopians to fight
“Horn of Africa mission plays role in war against militants”? You don’t say.

Six blind men in a zoo: Aviation Week’s mythical Blackstar
Cross out all of the speculation in the article and you are left with about two paragraphs, and no sources for the information.” And when the first source is unmasked, he will probably be Jamil Hussein, a captain in the Iraqi police force.

Debunking the Self-Esteem Myth
It turns out that studying — rather than artificially raising self-esteem levels — increases a child’s likelihood that she’ll do well on a test.“?!? Who would have thunk it?


  1. Come on, Murdoc. Why link to that loser’s rant? Did you not notice the fact he had nothing to say about the one hard, non-classified fact in the AvWk article? On Oct. 14, 1986, Boeing filed a U.S. patent application for an advanced two-stage space transportation system. Patent No. 4,802,639, awarded on Feb. 7, 1989, details how a small orbiter could be air-dropped from the belly of a large delta-winged carrier at Mach 3.3 and 103,800-ft. altitude. The space plane would be boosted into orbit by its own propulsion system, perform an intended mission, then glide back to a horizontal landing. Although drawings of aircraft plan forms in the Boeing patent differ from those of the Blackstar vehicles spotted at several USAF bases, the concepts are strikingly similar. Now granted, the AvWk guys got a few things mixed up. They mixed some of their Aurora intel with Blackstar which makes the article difficult to follow. Even so, if this is pure fiction, why did Boeing invest first in the research and then in the patent they cite? Do you seriously think the research required to establish a cost optimization curve that tells you the ideal speed for the vehicle is Mach 3.3 is peanuts? They didn’t just pull that number out of their ass. You only write a patent that way if you’re pretty darn sure you’ve located a sweet spot, otherwise why file it that way? To me the more interesting version of this vehicle is the cargo configuration. Instead of a fly-back upper stage, you substitute a Shuttle-C type of cargo container on top of a rocket booster and fuel/oxidizer tank. If you’ve ever run the numbers on what it takes to get to orbit, velocity is everything. Almost all the energy goes into getting up to the required 18,000 mph. Conventional rockets blow because they spend all their time burning at low speed. Hell, the Saturn V spent 1/10th its fuel load clearing the tower.

  2. A little side point. On January 28th 1986 the shuttle Challenger blew up and took with it, a good chunk of the US’s space lift capacity. Everybody immediately went into overdrive to position themselves for the expected emergency space lift funding. I bet if you search the records, you’ll see a spike in patent applications in the 86-88 time frame. One of the best ways to CYA your bid, is to use a patent to bolster your bid, or if you lose, you and use the patent to get a legal bribe (royalties or your patent rights are bought) One of the good points of R&D system built on the theory that no idea can be looked at without a least 4 different feasibility studies is that a moments notice, you can put together a patent application on most any project.

  3. Yeah, those straps were designed for a heavy load. Lucky for her. Being well endowed saved her life. James, a lot of stuff might have, or could have happened. The fact is, the patent was filed. Also I know there was work done beyond what was patented. This I know because I was there. The work showed the futility of the single stage to orbit scheme. Too bad Lockheed’s Skunk Works hadn’t done similar research or they could have avoided soaking us for billions on that abortive X-33 boondoggle. What do we have to show for all that money? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Now NASA continues to sink money into the big disposable booster money pit, because sure they could buy better, but they just can’t spend more. Socialism at its finest.

  4. Proof the USAF should have picked the YF-23: Editorial: No Cold War Vestige, F-22 Is Proving Its Net-Centric Mettle Aviation Week & Space Technology, 1/08/2007, page 58 Apparently the F-22 Raptor, the newest aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory, isn’t the Cold War anachronism its detractors thought it would be. In fact, evidence to date suggests the stealthy fighter is worth more than skeptics expected. At a current flyaway cost of $136 million, the Raptor will never be a bargain. The procurement quantity will be an issue as long as it is in production. But the aircraft’s first large-scale deployment, and its performance in the joint-service Northern Edge exercise in Alaska (see p. 46), show that taxpayers are getting high value for the high cost. After that exercise, the F-22’s advantages of speed, altitude and stealth are undeniable. The Raptor flew 10,000 ft. higher than its ‘opponents,’ and it used its supercruise capability to dash back and forth across a huge battle space. Even when the F-22 moved within visual range to ‘kill’ an F-16 with its cannon–a weapon it may never use in combat–the ‘enemy’ never knew it was there. Raptor pilots never had a chance to show off their J-turns, high-alpha loops and high off-boresight capabilities. But never mind. Virtually no one believes the F-22’s primary role will be mano-a-mano aerial combat against previous-generation fighters. Far more important, the aircraft showed some of its value in intelligence-gathering and surveillance, which kept it over the battlefield long after it had fired its weapons. Loitering at high altitude, F-22s were able to identify targets accurately enough to satisfy the rules of engagement and pass them along to conventional fighter aircraft for precise, long-range kills. The F-22 can perform some surveillance/target identification and signals intelligence missions of AWACS and Rivet Joint aircraft, respectively. But unlike those aircraft, which must stay 150 naut. mi. or more away from many hostile forces, the stealthy F-22 can fly over targets with impunity. It can build a fresh, up-to-the-moment electronic order of battle–the type and location of enemy emitters, in the air and on the ground–as it enters an area. In the future, F-22s will analyze and pinpoint the low-power wireless communications networks that insurgents use to organize and trigger weapons remotely. Using low-probability-of-intercept data links, F-22s will send information they collect to other aircraft and intelligence networks. This auspicious beginning shows the F-22 has much to offer in today’s warfare against insurgents and less-than-superpower forces, not just the future high-tech conflicts it was designed to deter. We’re looking forward to learning more about this versatile aircraft and the roles it can play in transforming more of the last superpower’s combat edge, from the realm of explosives to the world of electronics and networks. ———— The ‘J turns’ and all that crap the F-15 mafia just had to have don’t mean nothin’ to the mission of a stealth fighter. It’s all just really expensive fluff. They would have been much better off with an airplane that was faster, stealthier, carried more ordinance, and had longer legs like the YF-23. Instead we are saddled with this turkey. How can the USAF work if it can’t even pick the best airplane in a side by side comparision?

  5. Defens – I agree with you in part with respect to NASA. One its biggest mistakes was the shuttle and its drive to be a cargo hauler. NASA was supposed to be a space centric version of DARPA. Now a days however, its just reached mid 70’s and stopped advancing. I know that the air force is continuing R&D on at least 4 different orbital vehicles. Focused on the small and mid range cargos. They use the mothership / rocket to orbit concept.

  6. They should take the launcher biz away from NASA and give it to the USAF. They don’t do a great job, but they are a big enough organization so they don’t become completely dominated by that one program. NASA only about one thing, Shuttle. They have been for 30 years. Someone needs to do a Mach 2 mothership/booster vehicle. I tried to talk NASA into doing this as a technology demonstrator for that worthless HSCT program. At least they would have had something to show for all the money they wasted.

  7. As as short term measure – One way to reduce costs is to use an already proven booster – maglev’s or if you were feeling plucky the magtube. Find a reasonable near equator mountain and run up a few km of magtub and you get a reusable launcher and some serious launch cost savings.