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Daily archives "October 19, 2016"

2 Articles

How much wind load did the Vehicle Assembly Building withstand during Hurricane Matthew?

The setting sun illuminating the side of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Curt Godwin

The setting sun illuminating the side of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Curt Godwin

Let me start by stating, in no uncertain terms, that I am not a structural engineer. I am also not a genius (hush, peanut gallery). I didn’t even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. So, super smart brainiac-types, you can sheath your slide rules and programmable calculators — I know that I might not have this exactly right.

What I am, however, is a person who took some publicly-announced information, and plugged it into some formulas meant to determine wind loads on various structures. Yay, spreadsheets!

If you read my piece about how Kennedy Space Center (KSC) fared after being battered by Hurricane Matthew, then you’ll know that both KSC Center Director Bob Cabana and KSC Damage Assessment and Recovery Team Chief Bob Holl stated that Hurricane Matthew’s winds at ground level were 75 knots, and a blustery 118 knots above 100 feet (30.48 meters).

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NASA’s JPL hopes to improve nuclear batteries used on spacecraft

DOE contractor guides the removal of the cask protecting Curiosity's MMRTG. Credit: NASA

DOE contractor guides the removal of the cask protecting Curiosity’s MMRTG. Credit: NASA

Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) have been the power source for many of the most ambitious exploration missions in NASA’s history, powering spacecraft in areas too remote, or too impractical, for solar panels to provide sufficient electricity. A new development to this power-generating workhorse may soon substantially improve the capabilities of the RTG, possibly benefiting both interplanetary missions and daily life here on Earth.

In an Oct. 13, 2016, releaseNASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) outlined the potential to increase the efficiency of the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), and make it hardier in the process.

“NASA needs reliable long-term power systems to advance exploration of the Solar System,” said Jean-Pierre Fleurial, supervisor for the thermal energy conversion research and advancement group at JPL.

To that end, JPL engineers look to make use of a class of materials known as skutterudites. These minerals…

Read more in my full article at SpaceFlight Insider –>