Lift Off

I spent a little while this weekend making a compressed air rocket launcher. I’ve had a stomp rocket for quite a while but this was something that I used to have but lost in time gone by. So, for about a year or so I’ve been thinking of making a new one. The first of these I created after a week’s training at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. There I got simple plans and used them with parts that I suspect I carried on a motorbike although how I got the tubing home I don’t know. There are photos of this somewhere, but I’ve had a quick look and couldn’t find them.

Here are most of the bits I bought.

Some Plumbing Bits
Some Plumbing Bits

These need to be put together using the compression joints.

Elbow Joint
Elbow Joint

The trickiest part of this build is drilling the end plate so that the car tyre valve fits it snuggly. Once you’ve spent a little time you get this wonderment:

Not Quite Finished
Not Quite Finished

Once the tyre valve is fitted you get a beast that looks like this:

Launcher Ready
Launcher Ready

I don’t have any video yet, I will endeavour to get some ready and will add it to this page or my YouTube area.

I pumped the tube up to about 4 Bar and then opened the gas tap. I reckon I got about 5 seconds of flight time. I’m happy with that. I don’t really want to increase the pressure too much because I don’t want the thing to blow itself apart and kill someone!

ISS Pass 2

Don’t think I’m going to see the ISS tonight as there is 8/8 cloud cover at the moment. I’m very glad I managed to fleetingly see it last night.
I have signed up for emails from NASA informing me when the ISS is going to pass over this part of the Kent countryside. Hopefully I won’t miss the next opportunity to see it.
I need to spend more time star watching later in the summer. I could do with a decent telescope. Maybe one that connects to my phone or computer to automatically track the celestial body I find interesting.
I’ve seen Jupiter and Saturn through telescopes in Florida and Australia. It’s awe inspiring to see these bodies of our solar system. It really brings home how far science and human knowledge has come in the last 400 years.
We are still in the infancy of human scientific verifiable knowledge. I hope that one day we leave our superstition and fairy stories behind.
This communication went somewhere I wasn’t expecting!

DC Day Two

The second communication in a series of not many giving you the highlights of my trip to DC during the Easter break 2013.

This being the USA and me being a big eater of food, I decided to bring my running stuff, just in case I wanted to go for a jog. As it happens DC is a wonderful place to run and I might one day start a business doing jogging tours [not going to happen!].
On the sunday morning I woke up early and so went for a jog. The plan was to head through the woods down to the Potomac and then turn left and see where I would end up after about 2.5 to 3 miles. I jogged past the Watergate hotel and could then see the Lincoln Memorial, so I just decided to get there and attempt to run back. If I run more than 10k my body starts to break so I was a little worried about the distance I was going. It was well worth the effort and time.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRun


After showering and breakfast, Rich and I headed to Nasa Goddard, aware it was Easter Sunday but according to the website they should be open. The weather was not brilliant but it was nice to be chatting and seeing more of the city. The car park at Goddard seemed rather empty and so it proved that the place was shut. Bugger. So we headed to Arlington.

Arlington Cemetery is one of those places that are fascinating to visit but leave you feeling bad about humanity and what we do to each other. We saw JFK’s grave and also the Lee house on the hill. The Pentagon was just peeking through the mist and rain now and then it it is HUGE. A reasonable walk took us to the United States Marine Corps Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the size of that is breath-taking. Just incredibly large. All of the places we saw are huge. I think everyone feels so comfortable with Washington DC because they have seen it on TV and film that they don’t realise just how much space and how big everything is. That and I come from quite a small island just off Europe which has no space and small twisty roads even in the cities.

We drove back home via Safeway and Barnes and Noble, where I bought my postcards and then we had lasagne for dinner. The evening was filled with Guitar Hero and Rock Band playing. Nice to have someone to share a game with. We mostly played Metallica guitar hero.