Puppies and Magic


Joel went outside the other morning with Rebecca, and encountered a creature he’d not met before right there in his backyard.

It was much smaller than Joel and walking around, and he decided he needed to go meet it.

He took a few steps toward it, and it took a few steps away. He took a few steps faster, and it ran faster away.

Joel started started running toward it, and IT LEFT THE GROUND! This creature was suddenly IN MIDAIR, with nothing underneath it! JUST IN THE AIR! With no ground under it! It just took off as if that were a perfectly normal thing to do! Not on the ground! In the air!

Joel turned back to Rebecca with this “Did you see that!?!?” look on his face, and then stared, dumbfounded, at the thing until it was gone.

He’s never going to understand, the way we do, concepts like gravity and lift and drag and airfoils and aerodynamics and the low-density of hollow bones.

But he’ll get older and kind of figure out that the world works in consistent ways, and everything he witnesses generally meshes with those consistent rules and there’s not really any magic.

But right now, there is.

And, really, it’s not a bad perspective to have.

More Rocket in the Rocket City

In the past week, without most locals being aware of it, more rocket arrived in the Rocket City.
The core of NASA’s Space Launch System will be the largest rocket stage in history. One of its fuel tanks alone, the liquid hydrogen tank, holds as much as maybe 20 average backyard swimming pools. The liquid oxygen tank is “smaller,” but that’s a very relative term. When they’re full, they get kind of heavy. In between them is an empty cylinder that’s sole job is to keep them from bashing into each other during launch, because that would be what the technical folks call “a bad day.” There’s over seven million pounds of pressure pushing up on several swimming pools worth of a substance that really likes to burn, and millions of pounds of pressure pushing down on more swimming pools of another substance that really really likes to make things burn. And there’s one empty cylinder, the intertank, taking the combined force to make sure that doesn’t happen.
It’s kind of important that cylinder work. That’s why, the other day, a test version of that cylinder arrived in Huntsville to undergo unimaginable stress (seriously, stop and try to imagine it in a way that provides any real understanding) to ensure that, when the day comes, the real thing will do its job.
The intertank test article joins both more test hardware and actual flight hardware of the world’s largest rocket here in Huntsville. Over the course of the year, it will be joined by even more test articles, including those giant fuel tanks, while being accompanied by less flight hardware – while it’s cool to have giant rocket parts in Huntsville, it’s even cooler to have them in Florida, and way cooler still when they leave there.