The scientific tourist #367 — Agena-B Upper Stage

On display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Washington D.C., it’s an Agena-B:

Agena-B Upper Stage

I told you most of the Agena story ages ago, but let’s talk a bit more about the Agena-B here.

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The scientific tourist #366 — Corona

Some ages ago, I posted a photo showing a diagram of a Corona satellite — the world’s first photo-reconnaissance system.  This time, you get some actual photos.  First, a reconstruction of a Corona satellite (on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.):

Corona film system

From the placard:

The camera system displayed here is a reconstructed KH-4B, which was used in the last five years (1967-1972) of the Corona program. The KH-4B was the most advanced Corona camera system developed, and objects as small as 2 meters on a side could be seen in its photographs.

Each of the two (stereo) cameras exposed a different roll of film. After half of each roll wound onto the two reels in the outer film return capsule, a blade cut the film and the capsule separated from the satellite and returned to Earth. The remaining half of each roll wound onto the two reels in the inner capsule, which also separated from the satellite after the reels were full.

Note that this reconstruction only includes one (shiny, gold-plated) return capsule — the outer one.  The inner one would originally have been roughly where the blue framework is in the center of the above photo, about midway between the cameras and outer capsule.

Meanwhile, over at the NASM’s Udvar-Hazy Center, you can get an up-close look at one of the film return capsules (a.k.a., “buckets”):

Corona Film Return Capsule

This was actually the inner portion of a return capsule — it would originally have been wrapped in a heat shield, with a closure plate and parachute system on its aft (here, top) end.  If you’d like a nearly hands-on encounter with Corona, the NRO now has an online interactive model of the system you can play with.

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Carnivalia — 7/29 – 8/04/2015

The past week’s selection of (mostly) science-related blog carnivals for your reading enjoyment:

Carnival of Space #417

Friday Ark #530

History Carnival #148

Math Teachers at Play #88

Morsels for the Mind — 31/07/2015

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The scientific tourist #365 — TKS manned spacecraft

On display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., it’s a TKS manned spacecraft:

TKS Manned Spacecraft

This obscure little gem is a rarely discussed part of the old Soviet human space program.  One constant of that program was that it was bedeviled by internal rivalries and fights over prestige and funding.  So, the TKS was one set of hardware (designed by Vladimir Chelomei) that was developed for human flight, tested, then defunded in favor of another (designed by Sergei Korolyov).

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Carnivalia — 7/22 – 7/28/2015 (plus a bit)

The past week’s selection of (mostly) science-related blog carnivals for you:

Carnival of Space #415

Friday Ark #529

Health Wonk Review: Hot Summer Nights, Cool Summer Drinks

Morsels for the Mind — 24/07/2015

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The scientific tourist #364 — Inca Tern

Seen at the Denver Zoo, it’s an Inca Tern:

Inca Tern

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The scientific tourist #363 — Corporal missile

Here, you see a Corporal missile, on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center:

Corporal Missile

The Corporal missile (not to be confused with the WAC-Corporal sounding rocket) was the U.S.’ first operational guided (vs. ballistic) missile, and the first U.S. guided missile system to be approved to carry a nuclear warhead.  It was a rushed, stop-gap weapon, intended for tactical use to defend against a feared Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Continue reading

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Carnivalia — 7/01 – 7/07/2015

The past week’s crop of (mostly) science-related blog carnivals for your reading pleasure:

Carnival of Space #412

Friday Ark #527

History Carnival #147

Math Teachers at Play #86

Morsels for the Mind – 03/07/2015

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The scientific tourist #362 — the Ne-20 jet engine

On display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, it’s an Ishikawajima Ne-20 jet engine:

Ne-20 Jet Engine

This little jet engine has an amazing (if short) history.   Continue reading

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The scientific tourist #361 — Feejee Mermaid

Brought to you by the “Mythic Creatures” traveling exhibition (seen at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science), it’s an odd concoction called a Feejee Mermaid:

Feejee Mermaid

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