Friday, December 31, 2010
The Awesome Space Shuttle
It's hard to believe that there are now only two or three space shuttle flights left and that these amazing machines will be retired by the middle of 2011. Despite the tragic losses of Challenger and Columbia, this ahead-of-its-time space plane has had an incredible career with 132 space flights since 1981. I've spent a lot of time with shuttle simulations the last few weeks - in the F-SIM Space Shuttle landing app on the iPod Touch, as well as in Orbiter, working to update my free Go Play In Space e-book to a third edition (probably will be ready by early March 2011). One change will be to the rendezvous/docking chapter which will use the included Atlantis shuttle model instead of the futuristic Deltaglider that is used in the rest of the examples.It will follow a tutorial flight recording done by Martin Schweiger, Orbiter's author. It also shows off Orbiter 2010's new Lua scripting capability with the shuttle launch to orbit controlled by a Lua script autopilot.
I found the video shown here through the free NASA App on the iPod Touch - it's a great way to keep track of missions and to find pictures and videos on NASA's various sites. This narrated video consists mainly of video clips from various high-speed cameras that NASA uses for engineering diagnostics on shuttle launches. Because of the high recorded frame rate, they play back in slow motion, so you can see many of the intricate events that take place in seconds on every shuttle launch. They are always impressive and sometimes beautiful.