Issue Date: October 2, 2006
Sugar Shot to Space
About 50 model-rocket enthusiasts are planning to launch a 27-foot-tall, 10.8-inch-diameter rocket 62 miles above Earth's surface. The propellant will be a mixture of sorbitol and a solid oxidizer, such as potassium nitrate.
If the Sugar Shot to Space team is successful, they will give new meaning to well-known aphorisms popularized by comedian Jackie Gleason on his "Honeymooners" television series: "How sweet it is!" and "Bang, zoom, to the moon, Alice!"
The group, made up mostly of Americans, also includes a sprinkling of Europeans and Australians. At the end of July, the team, led by Canadian mechanical engineer Richard Nakka, managed to test fire a quarter-scale ballistic-evaluation motor in California at the Columbiad Commercial Test Range.
The first phase of the motor fired flawlessly, but a hitch prevented the second phase from igniting. So it's back to the drawing board for further evaluation and testing.
If they are successful, it won't be the first time that an amateur group has managed to fire a rocket into space. The Civilian Space Exploration team gets that distinction with the firing of their GoFast Rocket on May 17, 2004. But what is unique about the Sugar Shot team is their choice of fuel. The first team used an ammonium perchlorate propellant-the same that is used by military and other rockets now fired into space.
Interestingly enough, the Columbiad testing range has an odd distinction of its own. The owner of the range, Columbiad Launch Services, also offers a service it calls Starburst Memorials, which provides a "low-cost, hassle-free means of launching one's cremains into space."
Enterprise never flew in space
When newscripts recently commemorated the 40th anniversary of the television series "Star Trek," it pointed out that in 1976, NASA named its first space shuttle Enterprise after the spaceship from the TV series.
Jeremy Salter, one of three authors of a book due out later this month, "The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived" (HarperCollins), wrote us to say that Enterprise was not a space-certified shuttle. Enterprise was the influential space shuttle that never flew. Instead, NASA launched Enterprise as a full-scale working glider to prove that future space shuttles would be able to land.
The space shuttle Columbia initiated the space shuttle program in April 1981. According to NASA, other vehicles named Columbia included one of the first ships of the Navy to circumnavigate the globe, and the command module for the Apollo 11 lunar mission. Those who follow "Star Trek" lore know that Columbia was also the name of an NX-class space ship launched in the year 2154.
Man's best friend
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of more than 40 mummified dogs in Peru's southern Ilo Valley. They were buried with blankets and food alongside their human Chiribaya masters.
According to a BBC report, the discovery indicates that the Chiribaya people, who lived in the Ilo Valley between 900 and 1350, believed that the animals had an afterlife. Such was the case too for ancient Egyptians who were known to inter pets in their owner's tombs.
Beer shortage feared
Thieves are stealing so many beer kegs that London's Sunday Mirror reports pubs could run out of beer at Christmas time. Rising aluminum and stainless steel prices make the kegs attractive to robbers, who abscond with a million containers annually, which is equivalent to about 14% of the industry's stock.
U.S. brewers have a similar problem, according to a March article in the Wall Street Journal. But the problem is not just limited to the beer industry. In the U.S., metal scroungers have also gone after highway guardrails and plumbing pipe from construction sites. And in Beijing, concrete plugs have replaced 25,000 missing manhole covers.
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
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