Tuesday, November 18, 2014

These things happen in threes don't they ?

Disasters I mean ?

Take the space programme's latest events :

The Orbital Sciences Antares launch system gets an abort after horrible things happen to one of its boosters. Result - rocket blown up 10 seconds into flight scattering bits of itself over the landscape and damaging the launch pad.

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two has a pilot error exacerbated by a mechanical/design problem that results in the loss of the craft, loss of one pilot and severe injuries to the other pilot.

Hope they get to the bottom of that one soon, what seems to have happened is a failure of a lockout for the reentry system. The pilots are supposed to do two things to activate that reentry system. They did one ridiculously early (the pilot error) but the system should not have activated without the second lever being used (the mechanical/design error).

The Rosetta comet mission and its lander Philae. It's a miracle of maths that they managed to do the intercept, orbital mechanics are insanely complicated with massive numbers of variables to factor in. I totally applaud them for managing a mission success with everything that happened to the lander. It's a miracle it actually settled on the surface.

Philae has 3 systems that facilitate the landing. It has a thruster which pushes it down (comet gravity is miniscule so you can't depend on it). There are harpoons which are supposed to fire into the surface. And there are drills in the lander's feet. The thruster and harpoons both failed ... But it looks like the lander did what it was supposed to do scientifically.

Two and a half disasters ?

Moving a bit closer to home ...

My dad's doing much better now. After getting a partial hip replacement on Sunday, he's already able to get out of bed (partially assisted) and can move around with a frame. Hopefully he'll get his strength back quickly and be able to satisfy the ageing puppy's need for walks. We're hoping he'll escape the hospital by the end of the week.

My disaster came tonight ...

I needed to a) replace my mouse because it's left clicking too much (spurious double clicks) and b) needed supplies. So it's off to the Mall. Long story short ...

I do the shopping and put everything in the boot. All normal. Except when I grab the door handle to get in. My car has smart entry, where you keep the key in your pocket and sensors in the handle tell the locks to open. Nothing happened when I grab the handle.

Dead Car. No signs of life whatsoever ... Oh dear.

After an hour and a half wait for the AA man (I was able to get in with the mechanical key and stay reasonably not-cold), it turns out a locking nut had managed to work its way off the battery terminal and the terminal popped off. Probably as I closed the boot. This could have happened at any time ... So glad it didn't happen last night - "I'll save you from the buses and give you a lift home" "Erm - why won't the car let me in ?" Haha - woulda been embarassing.

My car is a bit weird with the battery too. It's another hybrid, so it has two batteries. There's a small (by car terms) 12 volt battery that starts everything else up. There's the 220 (ish) volt battery that drives the motors. The big one is under the boot, the little one is to the side of the boot but you need electrical power (you can attach jump leads under the bonnet) to open the boot. The terminal had popped off the little battery.

Last night was good fun. Our little Cupid's Gift lady seemed to be entertained by the jokes (I'm never quite sure) and we were chatting non stop until it was time to go home. She even suggested midnight cruises (she liked what she saw of the songs listed in the phone) where we could listen to the music. I like that idea. I like even more the idea of cruising out to somewhere out of town, away from light pollution where we can look at the stars.

I've never seen the stars properly. There's always been light pollution that blocks the full beauty of the cosmos.

I shall have to look up places we could go. And this time of year, investigate getting a thermos for the coffee and plenty of stuff to keep us warm. It's not full winter but it's still pretty chilly out there ...

Back to disasters - what's number 3 I wonder ?

I shall keep my eyes and ears open and awares.

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