Kathryn Bigelow and the International Space Station

Kathryn Bigelow to Build Inflatable Room for the ISS
Kathryn Bigelow to Build Inflatable Room for the ISS

Okay, let’s test your ability to read headlines and determine content. Here is the headline: Bigelow to Build Inflatable Room for the ISS. 

What comes to mind? Bigelow Tea? Kathryn Bigelow? Try Bigelow Aerospace:

SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada—some of the biggest names in aerospace, newcomers or old guard, are competing to build new spacecraft and rockets to carry astronauts to the International Space Station now that NASA no long flies the space shuttle. But Bigelow Aerospace, founded in 1998, actually wants to add on to the station itself.

Bigelow to Build Inflatable Room for the ISS
Bigelow, ISS

The company builds inflatable orbital habitats, more like balloons than the angular metal modules that make up the space station. For years Bigelow has floated the far-out possibility of combining multiple inflatables to create a hotel in space—lodging for space tourists who aren’t content to simply see the great beyond from the cabin of a plane. NASA, however, has recently announced it plans to Bigelow’s inflatable rooms as add-ons for the ISS.

A SpaceX rocket would carry the first Bigelow Expendable Activity Module (BEAM) to the station in 2015.

Kathryn Bigelow, of course, is the director ofNear DarkPoint BreakStrange DaysThe Weight of WaterK-19: The WidowmakerThe Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty.

Jets Collide in Miami

You have maybe/probably have seen this story in the news, the tale of two jets colliding on the runway. In the Navy, especially on aircraft carriers, we don’t have this issue. Every move is micro-managed down to the foot. Or even the half-foot. Real estate is precious aboard the big-decks. And if collisions do occur, they are either crash-landings or the wings scrapping each other. I’ll bet this little boo-boo did not win Air France or Aerolineas Argentinas any customers. For all you turbine-heads, the planes were the 777-300 (Boeing, I believe) and an Aerobus jet of some sort.

Black Dust on the F-22 Raptor

Standby for three posts in a row on birds, this time with the Air Force. The F-22 has a much publicized oxygen problem. Now it is having charcoal issues after the installed charcoal filters caused its pilots to cough up black dust:

The Air Force grounded the Raptor for four months last year after pilots reported blackouts, and a 2010 crash of an F-22 in Alaska killed its pilot. An investigation by manufacturers Boeing and Lockheed Martin was inconclusive. And then the problems got worse. The Air Force attached charcoal filters to On-Board Oxygen Generating System, OBOGS. But then pilots began choking up black phlegm, as the charcoal filters were causing black dust to enter the pilots’ lungs.

An F-22 prepares to refuel during a training flight.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered to the F-22s to restrict travel outside of nearby landing locations where a hypoxia-stricken pilot could make a quick landing. Panetta also ordered the Air Force to begin installing an oxygen backup system. This is while two F-22 pilots, Capt. Josh Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon, blew the whistle on 60 Minutes.

Install a temporary oxygen system and rip the current system out. It is not hard.

The Garden State Diner

CNBC is advertising a spread on the country’s best airport food. And in the teaser, they show a bomber. And I think, great, gotta go check that out. It looks like a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, B-29 (Thanks Jon for the correction!) But no, the plane was just a model:

B-17, Garden State Diner, Newark New Jersey

Eatery: Garden State Diner
Serves: Comfort Food
Popular menu item: Fries

Diners are practically the state restaurant of New Jersey, so it’s fitting that the most popular eatery at Newark Liberty International Airport is the Garden State Diner in Terminal C. Its burger recently drew positive coverage on the Serious Eats blog.

One reviewer called this diner “the closest thing to a ‘destination restaurant’ that an airport. . .

I would not be much of a blogger if I didn’t put up a couple of crew shots of some B-17*s:

Nose detail of Boeing B-17E Typhoon McGoon II of the 11th Bomb Group, 98th Bomb Squadron, taken in January 1943 in New Caledonia.

And this happy quartet, the Pistol Packing Mamas. Yikes, what a intense, fearsome bunch:

These four female pilots leaving their ship, Pistol Packin’ Mama, at the four engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, are members of a group of Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) who have been trained to ferry the B-17 Flying Fortresses. L to R are Frances Green, Marget (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn.

Go to the CNBC link to see pictures of the Garden State Diner’s cheeseburger. Your lower lip apparatus will spring leaks and you will be drooling over your keyboard in no time.

* Plane misidentified. The B-17s pics will have to to suffice, however. . .

Boeing’s Giant Flying Tadpole?

Flying Tadpole? Does that strike fear into your heart? Does it even look like a tadpole to you? (Navy Sailors, please resist the urge to say it looks like certain, um, er, microscopic swimmy things responsible for you having your Dad’s dimples.)

Boeing’s Giant Flying Tadpole Makes First Taxi Runs

So uh, yeah. That awkward-looking thing is Boeing’s Phantom Eye high-altitude UAV design doing a 30-knot taxi test at Edwards Air Force Base on March 10.

Usually, we bring you clips and pictures of stealthy, jet-powered drones designed to penetrate enemy airspace and drop bombs taking to the skies for the first time at Edwards. Well, like the Phantom Ray and X-47B, Phantom Eye does represent the future of drones — just the not-as-sexy-to-look-at future of drones.

The hydrogen-powered beast — it’s damn big for a drone, with a 150-foot wingspan — is designed to stay aloft for four days carrying a 450-pound payload at altitudes of up to 65,000-feet.

I just worry with it having a tadpole juvenile form, that it may grow up into a froggy. . .

I Get Mail from a Fisker Dealer

Earlier, I wrote about the Fisker Karma, an interesting car with some serious issues. I received a comment from a gentleman named Kjell Bergh:

I drive the most expensive version of the Karma at $112 000, minus $ 7 500 Federal alternative energy credit. The overwhelming consensus ( try 100 per cent) of everybody who stops to talk about the car is that it is in fact gorgeous. It is great fun to drive, especially in stealth mode (battery only), with impressive initial accelleration.

Fisker Karma

It is a brand new company employing advanced new technology in an all- new vehicle which will probably have some pediatric problems. Recall that it took more than three years fir Boeing to bring the dreamliner to market and they didn’t even have to build a new company at the same time.

In looking at the Karma from other angles, I will admit the car has an intriguing look. In the initial shots I posted, the car appeared clumsy. And unappealing.

But I stand by my other comments. Consumer Reports recently had a disaster with their Karma after it broke down during one of their tests:

Ooooh, that is bad Karma.

A six-figure Fisker Karma electrified sedan broke during Consumer Reports check-in period, before the magazine even could begin testing it, delivering another black eye to the struggling automaker.

“Our Fisker Karma cost us $107,850. It is super sleek, high-tech—and now it’s broken,” the magazine lamented in its blog today in an item headlined “Bad Karma.”

As for Mr. Bergh’s other points, I don’t blame him for arguing in favor of the Fisker. He is the CEO of Borton Fisker of Minneapolis. Thanks for visiting Kjell. I would suggest disclosing who you are when you comment on the Karma. (Yes, I  googled you.) Clearly, you have a stake in the Fisker’s success.

I don’t have a horse in the race. I just don’t like seeing my taxes supporting experimental luxury items without my say in the matter.

The Navy P-8 and Peyton Manning

The new Navy P-8s are being delivered this week. And a nagging story resurfaced. One that I wish would get put to bed. Or, at least, put to the futon. The story of counterfeit parts:

Earlier this year, Boeing and the Navy found that the ice detection system on a brand new P-8 Poseidon was defective. The ice detection system is a critical piece of hardware designed to prevent tragedies by alerting pilots to the presence of ice on an aircraft’s control surfaces. Where did this defective part come from? China.

The new P-8 Poseidon, Peyton Manning’s plane of choice?

A whole batch of a key piece of the ice detection hardware that was sent to the P-8 production line turned out to be used and worn out parts that were badly refurbished and sold to P-8 subcontractor BAE Systems as a new part. . .

In other P-8 news, Peyton Manning caused a stir when milbloggers spied his license plate. It read P8TONMAN. And they anxiously waited near his Porsche, hoping to spy the systems engineer for the mighty P-8 Poseidon. When they saw Peyton, the realization sunk depressingly in. Just Peyton, more than a few of them were heard to mumble. . .