Author Archive: Matt

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.

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By August 19, 2005 Read More →

Discovery will leave Edwards this morning.

The US Space Shuttle Discovery will leave NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California to begin its ferry flight home to Florida at sunrise this morning (about 1300BST).

Difficulties with alignment of the aerodynamic tailcone with the aft end of the Space Shuttle Discovery lead to the dealy of the departure.


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By August 18, 2005 Read More →

No more shuttle launches until March

Nasa has announced that the shuttle fleet will remain grounded until March at the earliest,

Engineers are searching for a solution that will prevent foam being shed from the external tank and striking the orbiter during launch.

Seven members of an oversight panel also say Nasa’s latest shuttle efforts were tainted by some of the problems that caused the Columbia disaster.

Nasa didn’t look in detail at foam shedding from the tank for 113 flights – and shame on us
Dr Mike Griffin, Nasa administrator said.

“From an overall standpoint we think really March 4th is the time frame we are looking at,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, Nasa’s new head of space operations and the official overseeing the foam fix.

Nasa chief Michael Griffin told journalists at a press briefing in Washington that there had been complacency in the agency in the past. But that there was now a new culture at Nasa.

Space shuttle Atlantis was due to blast off in September. But Nasa engineers will now have to make modifications to the shuttle’s external fuel tank, particularly to an area known as the Protuberance Air Load (Pal) ramp.

Discovery will be used for STS-121 instead of Atlantis, putting NASA in a better position for future missions to the Space Station. Atlantis will fly the following mission, STS-115, carrying Space Station truss segments which are too heavy to be carried by Discovery. By changing the lineup, the program won’t have to fly back to back missions with Atlantis, as was previously scheduled.


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By August 18, 2005 Read More →

Make sure you patch your Windows!

A war has broken out between hackers behind viruses that exploit a recently discovered loophole in Windows 2000.
The viruses written by the competing hacker groups are fighting it out for supremacy on infected machines.

Some of the variants seek out and delete rival viruses they find on machines they manage to penetrate.

The slew of malicious programs exploiting the loophole caused trouble for many organisations early this week as the bugs began infecting computers.

It is important that anyone using Windows 2000 patch their OS as soon as possible using Microsoft Update. The viruses exploit a weakness in the Plug-and-Play component of Windows 2000.

It also looks like the vulnerablilty affects other versions of Windows. Please look at the Microsoft Security Bulletin

Its also worth making sure that your firewall blocks port 445!


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Posted in: Editorial
By August 17, 2005 Read More →

Discovery due back in Florida on Friday

The final preparations for Discovery’s return flight to Florida are underway at Dryden Flight Research Center in California. The orbiter has been attached to one of NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft return ferry flight, currently scheduled to depart in the morning Thursday, Aug. 18. The pair could arrive in Florida as early as Friday afternoon.

According to Nasa the post mission inspection of Discovery has revealed very little damage and one Nasa representative even commented that its one cleanest he has ever seen, stating that there were ‘Less than 100 “Dings” in the heat shield and only about 20 were over an inch or so in size’.

100 “Dings” in the heat shield sounds like an awful lot to me!


(Images: Nasa/Tom Tschida)

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By August 16, 2005 Read More →

748 Days in Space!

The record for the most amount of time spent in space have been broken by the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev. He has clocked up 748 days in orbit as of today.

He beat a previous record of 747 days, 14 hours, 14 minutes and 11 seconds held by fellow Russian Sergei Avdeyev.

Krikalev is currently serving as the commander of the International Space Station (ISS) and will be staying on board until October.

He has also stayed aboard the Mir space station during his 20-year career.

The cosmonaut is serving out a stint on the ISS that began on 14 April. Together with Nasa astronaut John Phillips, he hosted the crew of space shuttle Discovery when they arrived at the station in July.

These guys must be really bored!


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By August 16, 2005 Read More →

Hi-tech screws?

I recently ordered a Bluetooth card for my laptop from Dell. It arrived today in a large box, inside the box was a small plastic bag with the Bluetooth card and the screws to fit it. When I looked more closely I noticed that there was the usual warning about static sensitive parts.

The actual warning ready “Screws: Attention, Static Sensitive Devices”. Wow, this thing must be good, even the screws are static sensitive and were separately wrapped in a pink static bag!!

Apparantly the Bluetooth card itself isn’t static sensitive, that was lose in the main plastic bag. Luckily it worked ok!


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Posted in: Editorial
By August 15, 2005 Read More →

Atlantis flight date scrapped

The space shuttle fleet will remain grounded until November at the earliest, Nasa officials have said.

The September launch scheduled for the Shuttle Atlantis has now been canceled while Nasa tries to come up with a way to prevent pieces of foam insulation breaking free from the shuttle’s external fuel tank.

A large foam chunk fatally damaged the Columbia shuttle in 2003, causing it to burn up on re-entry, and smaller pieces were shed during Discovery’s launch.

Solving the problem is likely to be expensive especialy when you consider that the shuttle fleet is due to retire in 2010. Nasa already spent more than $1bn (£552m) on investigating the problem following the Columbia disaster, which killed all seven astronauts on board.

This brings into question whether or not the Shuttle Programme will be scrapped ahead of the 2010 deadline.

I personally hope that Nasa do continue to fly the Shuttle, it would be a shame to see the programme end on such a low note. I would imagine that this problem has existed for sometime but its only now that technology has existed where launches can be more closely monitored. How about wrapping the ET in Duct Tape?


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By August 15, 2005 Read More →

Discovery to fly home soon

The space shuttle Discovery could fly back “home” to her Florida base by the middle of the week, Nasa is currently making final plans to fly it back from California on a specially modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). Preparing and loading the shuttle has gone ahead of schedule according to Nasa.

The preperation and return flight will cost Nasa upwards of $1,000,000!

Persistent bad weather at Discovery’s intended landing site in Florida forced Nasa to bring it down at Edwards Air Force Base, California, last week.

Nasa officials said this “ferry flight” is now expected to occur no earlier than 16 August, but added that this could change.

After a perfect landing on 9 August, Discovery was towed to Nasa’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base.

There, the shuttle was placed in its Mate-Demate Device, a large gantry-like structure used to service the vehicle and eventually mount it atop the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA) that will fly it home.

The technicians spent Friday drying the main engines and their associated plumbing to purge them of residual liquids.

They spent the rest of the weekend draining the shuttle’s liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel tanks and removing hazardous monomethyl hydrazine fuel from the shuttle’s propulsion system.

Meanwhile inspections of heat shield tiles, panels and protective blankets that protect the shuttle, are on-going. The section of damaged themal blanket has now been removed for analysis.

Last week, the agency said it was unlikely to complete the fix in time for a scheduled September flight of shuttle Atlantis. I’m not sure if this means that Atlantis will launch without the fix or that the launch will be put back until suitable fix can be made.


(Images: SpacePIX)

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By August 14, 2005 Read More →

MRO Launch third time lucky

After several false starts over the past week NASA’s Multipurpose Mars Mission Successfully Launched on Friday 12th August, leaving two days later than planned due to a potential gyro fault on the 10th August and a software problem on the 11th August.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) rode on top of an Atlas V launch vehicle, 19 stories tall and departed from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Its powerful first stage consumed about 200 tons of fuel and oxygen in just over four minutes, then dropped away to let the upper stage finish the job of putting the spacecraft on a path toward Mars. This was the first launch of an interplanetary mission on an Atlas V.

Mission control were able to establish radio contact with MRO 61 minutes after launch, just 4 minutes after separation from the upper stage of the Atlas V. 10 minutes later the orbiter finished unfolding its solar panels to begin charging her internal batteries.

Mars is 72 million miles from Earth but MRO must travel almost 4 times that distance in order to intercept with Mars. The journey will take about 7 months, arriving in orbit on the 10th March 2006.


(Image credit: Nasa/KSC)

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By August 13, 2005 Read More →

We’re back!

We finally have our main internet connection back up and running. It’s taken about 34 hours for EasyNET to resolve the exchange problems that kicked us offline.

So here we are, back with more meaningless dribble!


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