In the news...and selected stories
How Big is the Moon?
"Earth's moon is the brightest object in our night sky. It appears quite large, but that is only because it is the closest celestial body. The moon is a bit more than one-fourth (27 percent) the size of Earth, a much smaller ratio (1:4) than any other planets and their moons. Earth's moon is the fifth largest moon in the solar system.
The moon's mean radius is 1,079.6 miles (1,737.5 kilometers). Double those figures to get its diameter: 2,159.2 miles (3,475 km), less than a third the width of Earth. The moon's equatorial circumference is 6,783.5 miles (10,917 km). "If Earth were the size of a nickel, the moon would be about as big as a coffee bean," according to NASA." Space .com
Mass, density and gravity
"The moon's mass is 7.35 x 1022 kg, about 1.2 percent of Earth's mass. Put another way, Earth weighs 81 times more than the moon. The moon's density is 3.34 grams per cubic centimeter (3.34 g/cm3). That is about 60 percent of Earth's density. The moon is the second densest moon in the solar system; Saturn's moon Io is denser, with 3.53 g/cm3.
The moon's gravitational force is only about 17 percent of Earth's gravity. A 100-lb. (45 kilograms) person would weigh only 17 lbs. (7.6 kg) on the moon. A person who can jump up 10 feet on Earth would be able to jump almost 60 feet on the moon." More from Space .com
The U.S. Officially Says They Are Sending Humans to the Moon
"Earlier this month, NASA said it was prepared to shift its focus away from Mars, and toward the Moon, whenever the current administration gave the “go” for logistical launch. Now the organization will have to put their plans into motion, because the present administration just announced a renewed effort to get back to the Moon, and beyond.
In an op-ed published to The Wall Street Journal on October 4, Vice President Mike Pence explained an executive order had been signed to restore the National Space Council, with him as its head.
On Thursday the council will hold its first meeting in nearly 25 years, and as its chairman, I will deliver a simple message: America will lead in space again,” he said, citing the national space policy’s lack of a coherent vision as the reason the U.S. has been left behind, while countries like China and Russia move forward with their own plans. Pence also explained how desperately the U.S. needs technology of its own in space, to protect its surveillance, communication, and navigation systems from hacking attempts."More here from Futurism
How NASA Plans to Get Humans Back to the Moon (Video)
By Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor
From Space .com
"It has been 45 years since a crewed spacecraft journeyed toward the moon with a "trans-lunar injection," but NASA plans to make that happen again in just a few years. The agency recently released a video showing the profile for the first uncrewed test of its new moon mission profile, called Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1).
The test is scheduled for 2019 (following some delays), and will be the first integrated test of both the Space Launch System — NASA's rocket to bring astronauts into deep space — and the new Orion spacecraft.
The mission will take roughly 25.5 days, and its highlight will be putting the spacecraft in a lunar orbit that will take it farther from Earth than any other crew-capable spacecraft has been. Orion's peak distance will be 270,000 miles (435,000 kilometers) from the planet — about 1,000 times the distance from Earth to the International Space Station. [Exploration Mission 1: A Step-by-Step Return to the Moon in Pictures]
The plan calls for EM-1 to depart Earth, cruise for four days to the moon and then inject itself into an elliptical orbit around the moon. After working in the moon's neighborhood for a week, EM-1 will leave lunar orbit and spend four days returning to Earth. It will re-enter the atmosphere at 24,500 mph (39,450 km/h) and splash down in the Pacific Ocean within sight of a recovery ship.
"This is the first of many missions to come that will use the deep-space exploration system to prepare our team, our ship and our astronauts for human operations in deep space," NASA mission manager Mike Sarafin said in the video. A human test mission is scheduled to follow around 2023.
Although the test has been in the works since the Obama administration — it was framed as a stepping-stone to bring astronauts to Mars — it has a different significance for the Trump administration. Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the United States will target human moon landings as well as Mars missions; the last human crew to the moon departed from there in 1972." More here from Space .com
Old Movies and Flying Machines
You Only Live Twice
Remembering Atomic's International
"Atomics International was a division of the North American Aviation company (later acquired by the Rockwell International company) which engaged principally in the early development of nuclear technology and nuclear reactors for both commercial and government applications. Atomics International was responsible for a number of accomplishments relating to nuclear energy: design, construction and operation of the first nuclear reactor in California (1952), the first nuclear reactor to produce power for a commercial power grid in the United States (1957) and the first nuclear reactor launched into outer space by the United States (1965).
Atomics International undertook the development of nuclear reactors soon after being established: a series of commercial nuclear power reactors beginning with the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) and a range of compact nuclear reactors culminating with the Systems for Auxiliary Nuclear Power SNAP-10A system. Both efforts were successful, despite nuclear accidents at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, but overall interest in nuclear power steadily declined. The division transitioned to non-nuclear energy-related projects such as coal gasification and gradually ceased designing and testing nuclear reactors. Atomics International was eventually merged with another division of the same parent company. As of 2010, All of the Atomics International facilities, except for the few remaining facilities located in the Area IV test area at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), have been demolished, cleaned and reused, or awaiting final cleanup." Wiki
"At Edwards, in fact, it was every bit as spirited – and far more immediate – between many of the Air Force and NACA pilots. Everest assigned Maj. Chuck Yeager to take over the X-1A envelope expansion program and Yeager and his long-time sidekick and flight test engineer, Maj. Jack Ridley, devised a flight program they dubbed “Operation NACA Weep”to steal the NACA and Navy’s thunder before the 17 December anniversary." More here...
"The Bell X-1 was a rocket engine–powered aircraft, designated originally as the XS-1, and was a joint National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics–U.S. Army Air Forces–U.S. Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived during 1944 and designed and built in 1945, it achieved a speed of nearly 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 km/h; 870 kn) in 1948. A derivative of this same design, the Bell X-1A, having greater fuel capacity and hence longer rocket burning time, exceeded 1,600 miles per hour (2,600 km/h; 1,400 kn) in 1954.The X-1, piloted by Chuck Yeager, was the first manned airplane to exceed the speed of sound in level flight and was the first of the X-planes, a series of American experimental rocket planes (and non-rocket planes) designated for testing of new technologies and often kept secret." Wiki
From Here to Eternity- The Northrop Flying Wing (s)
The XB-35, the Flying Wing
"Like many smaller aviation firms, Northrop found his company contributing to the war effort by building components of other companies’ aircraft while only managing a handful of its own projects. But that changed on November 22, 1941, when the US Army Air Force (AAF) initiated Project MX-140. The idea was to develop a high altitude, long range, heavy bombardment aircraft. Northrop won the contract, and it was exactly the project Jack Northrop needed to get his flying wing off the drawing board.
The aircraft was called the XB-35, and it was a flying wing; it was designed without the familiar central fuselage and rear tail. It was also massive, its 172-foot wing span promised to dwarf the wildly popular B-17 Flying Fortress, which was just over 104 feet across. And it included a host of new technical developments. Northrop’s flying wing boasted power operated elevons and rudders, which necessitated attaching springs to the control wheels and under the rudder pedal to give the pilot a “feel” for his control surfaces. Ram air pressure in a bellows attached to the control columns gave the pilot the same "feeling" of his elevator control. On the plane’s exterior, trim flaps, elevons, landing flaps, and split flaps for rudders were arranged along the trailing edge, the rear width of the wing. It also used wing tip slots with automatically controlled covers for increased longitudinal stability at high angles of attack." Popular Science Article here...
"The original 1941 contract had called for one XB-35, but it was amended before long to include a second aircraft as a backup. In late 1942, thirteen service test models designated YB-35s were added to the contract, and by June, the final number of production XB-35 bombers was raised to 200. But Northrop couldn’t meet this demand, even when the Army Air Force brought the Glenn L. Martin Company in to help with the program. The partnership proved more of a hindrance than a help. There was confusion over the “X” and “Y” designations, a marked lack of coordination with other ongoing programs by both companies, and an overall loss of engineers to the draft. When the AAF reviewed the program in May of 1944, the decision was to cancel it." Popular Science
"While the XB-35 program moved forward, the AAF decided to pursue an experimental jet-powered version of the flying wing. And in an attempt to keep production costs down, the decision was made to convert existing aircraft to their jet-powered versions rather than build completely new aircraft. And so two B-35s then under construction were converted to YB-49s. Eight jet engines replaced the four propellor engines, vertical fences and fins were added for stability, and two of the bomb bays were converted to fuel tanks.
It was far from a perfect aircraft. Though sleek and manoeuvrable, the YB-49s range was far less than the original flying wing contract specifications. Another problem was its relatively small bomb bays. The XB-35 had been designed to hold WWII era bombs, not larger post-war versions. The larger bombs demanded the bay doors remain partially open in flight, adding significant drag, the very thing Northrop had been keen to eliminate with the flying wing design.
In spite of these issues, production moved forward and the first YB-49 was rolled out in Hawthorn on September 29, 1947. A month later on October 20, Max Stanley was again at the controls for the first taxi test. The very next day, the pilot took the jet-powered wing on its maiden flight, another run from Hawthorn to Muroc. It was an uneventful 34 minutes in the air." Read the entire article
"The YB-49 and its modern counterpart, the B-2 Spirit, both built by Northrop Grumman, have the same wingspan: 172.0 ft (52.4 m). Flight test data collected from the original YB-49 test flights was used in the development of the B-2 bomber.
Thirty years later, in April 1980, Jack Northrop, then quite elderly and wheelchair bound, was taken back to the company he founded. There, he was ushered into a classified area and shown a scale model of the Air Force's forthcoming but still highly classified Advanced Technology Bomber, which would eventually become known as the B-2; it was a sleek, all-wing design. Looking over its familiar lines, Northrop, unable to speak due to various illnesses, was reported to have written on a pad: "I know why God has kept me alive for the past 25 years." Jack Northrop died 10 months later, in February 1981, eight years before the first B-2 entered Air Force service." Wikipedia
Remembering the Blackbird...
"The original Blackbird was designated the A-12 and made its first flight on April 30, 1962. The single-seat A-12 soon evolved into the larger SR-71, which added a second seat for a Reconnaissance Systems Officer and carried more fuel than the A-12. The SR-71's first flight was on December 22, 1964". More
"The SR-71 was designed for flight at over Mach 3 with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the forward cockpit and the Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO) operating the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear cockpit, and directing navigation on the mission flight path. The SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design. Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue, almost black, to increase the emission of internal heat and to act as camouflage against the night sky. The dark color led to the aircraft's nickname "Blackbird". More here...
"The records set are many: The Blackbird was and remains the world’s fastest and highest-flying manned aircraft. On its retirement flight from Los Angeles to Washington in 1990, to its final resting place in the Smithsonian Air & Space collection, the plane flew coast to coast in 67 minutes.
Most importantly, the aircraft delivered on its strategic responsibilities, providing the United States detailed, mission-critical reconnaissance for more than two decades. Only a select few know the true extent of the role the Blackbird’s intelligence played in the Cold War. But its legacy as a game-changer will be admired for generations". Lockheed Martin
Hypersonic SR-72 Demonstrator
Reportedly Spotted at Skunk Works
Hypersonic Research and Development
"SR-72 is not the first hypersonic Skunk Works® aircraft. In partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, engineers developed the rocket-launched Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2). The HTV-2 research and development project was designed to collect data on three technical challenges of hypersonic flight: aerodynamics; aerothermal effects; and guidance, navigation and control.
The SR-72’s design incorporates lessons learned from the HTV-2, which flew to a top speed of Mach 20, or 13,000 mph, with a surface temperature of 3500°F.
A hypersonic aircraft will be a game changer." Lockheed- More here
"Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs, better known as Skunk Works, might be further along in the development process for the SR-72 than it has let on. A proposed hypersonic reconnaissance and strike aircraft, the SR-72 would serve as a replacement for the famed SR-71 Blackbird, which was retired by the Air Force back in 1998. In June, Lockheed announced early progress on the program, and now a source told Aviation Week that they spotted a small demonstrator aircraft landing at Skunk Works facilities in Palmdale, California, possibly associated with early tests for the unmanned SR-72 program." Popular Mechanics
Lockheed Air Mobility
More on the SR-72...
"In fact, an SR-72 could be operational by 2030. For the past several years, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® has been working withAerojet Rocketdyne to develop a method to integrate an off-the-shelf turbine with a supersonic combustion ramjet air breathing jet engine to power the aircraft from standstill to Mach 6. The result is the SR-72 that Aviation Week has dubbed “son of Blackbird,” and integrated engine and airframe that is optimized at the system level for high performance and affordability." More here...
A reusable suborbital spaceplane the size of a business jet being developed by Boeing and the Defense Department’s research and development arm could be launching and landing at Cape Canaveral in 2020, officials said after the defense contractor won a competition last month to design and test the vehicle.
Designed for rapid reusability, the XS-1 spaceplane will take off vertically like a rocket — without a crew — deploy an upper stage after traveling beyond the edge of space, then return to landing on a runway for inspections and reuse.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, selected Boeing to finish designing the spaceplane last month. Boeing beat competitors Northrop Grumman and Masten Space Systems to win the $146 million contract." More here...
Rockwell/North American Aviation Retirees
People Who Make A Difference
Early Southern California Aviation
Hover over image for caption
by Denham S. Scott
Frank H. Beckman
February 17, 1923 - October 9, 2017 Celebration of Life Memorial will be held Friday, November 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm at the Cornerstone Lodge No 659 1701 W. La Habra Blvd. La Habra, CA 90631 "WHAT A RIDE".
"Frank H. Beckman, Jr. son of Frank H. Beckman, Sr. and Laura Newhall Evans-Beckman. Born and raised in a farm house in Seabrook, New Hampshire. As a kid he would spend hours making model airplanes from scratch in the front room of the family farm house. His father would send him outside to play, saying to him go out and explore. This idea increased his imagination to explore new idea's like making a parachute from a sheet and jumping off of the barn. That idea didn't land well nor did he. Then when he got the idea to make a make shift sea diver's helmet. This idea also didn't go well and he nearly drowned. Frank was always a kid with a vision and spent nights looking up at the stars. After Navy WWII this vision turned into a reality, which brought him into the Space Age..North American Aviation, which became his next vision to explore. Projects included the X-10, X-15, Navaho Project (black), Satellites, Saturn, Gemini, Atlas, Apollo, GPS, Space Shuttle, Space Station just to name a few. Yes, this vision became a reality for him with a few idea's that sometimes didn't land well. Frank is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Marjorie Beckman, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and many friends."
Celebration of Life Memorial to be held on Friday, November 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm at the Cornerstone Lodge No 659 Free & Accepted Masons 1701 W. La Habra Blvd. La Habra, California 90631
Charles B Livergood
"My 71 Year Affair with Aviation - Charles B Livergood. For the last 71 years I have owned 7 general aviation airplanes. I progressed from private pilot up the ladder to Airplane Transport Pilot (ATP). I also obtained an FAA mechanic certificate (A&E) and an FAA IA certificate. I worked for North American Aviation for 34 years and did some test flying in the Sabreliner Business Jet and became manager of technical publications for the B-1B Bomber with 160 people reporting to me. In February 2002, the FAA awarded me the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic award. Charles Taylor was the mechanic who designed and built the 12 HP engine that powered the Wright Brothers' plane. This award was presented to me for 50 years of dedicated service in aviation safety. Since my retirement in 1985, Stacy and I have flown our 1963 Beechcraft Debonair all over the western part of the United States and we have the fondest memories of all of our adventures."
NAA retiree (1985), Chuck Livergood, passed away 29 August 2017 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He retired in 1985 as Manager of Technical Publications, B-1B Program".
Courtesy- Stacey Livergood
Aerospace Legacy Foundation
Preserving Our Past, Focusing On The Future
Southern California / America's Aviation and Aerospace History