Jawas Invade Singapore

April 14, 2011 at 10:53 am | Posted in 501st, Star Wars News | 2 Comments

Lucasfilm is building a new overseas production facility in Sinapore. The new construction has been dubbed the “Sandcrawler Building” since its design closely resembles a Jawa Sandcrawler. The Sandcrawler Building will be located in the Fusionopolis research and development complex. Construction of the eight story Sandcrawler Building should be finished in late 2012. According to The Straights Times the building “will boast a 100-seat theatre, state-of-the-art production facilities and of course, Star Wars-themed decor.” The new building will serve as the “home for Lucasfilm’s TV and feature film arm Lucasfilm Animation, its special effects arm Industrial Light & Magic Singapore, and its LucasArts video games unit.”

You can check out the article which also includes some nice pictures of the 501st Singapore Garrison in action.

Posted By: Skuldren

Yuri Shmuri – The Soviets Were Space Sissies

April 14, 2011 at 8:17 am | Posted in Miscellaneous, Regular Feature, Science News | 4 Comments

Well April 12TH was the 50TH anniversary of manned space flight on planet Earth and everyone got a case of the warm fuzzies for Yuri Gagarin and the Vostok I mission. I suppose it was actually a momentous feat in the history of mankind. It took some pretty hefty cojones to jump in a giant trash can and then let an organization such as the Soviet Space Agency, that proved time and again that it had a less than exemplary safety record or regard of any kind for it’s pilots, light a giant fire under it and spit you off the Earth.

"One more bowl of chilli and I'll be ready to launch!"

Let’s just say an awful lot of Soviet canines breathed a sigh of relief in the motherland that day when they saw a biped in a pressure suit walking toward the Vostok I module. Yuri was cool, calm and collected as he set to take off and even asked to stop to “take a leak” on the way to the launch pad. A tradition that is still carried out today by astronauts and cosmonauts of all nationalities.

There was a lot about that first manned space flight that the Soviets didn’t want you to know. Foremost was the fact that Yuri didn’t even land with the craft. He ejected some four miles above the ground and drifted in by way of parachute. This wouldn’t be a big deal but at the time there was a special emphasis during the so called “space race”  to develop a rocket that could both send a man into orbit and return him safely to the Earth. While Col. Gagarin did achieve the first sub orbital trip into space the whole mission would have been considered somewhat less than successful by the world press had that been known.

So if Yuri was this brave fellow and hero to his countrymen and the world, how then might I come to call the Soviets “space sissies” you ask? Well, I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. For as chiseled and brave as Yuri Gagarin may have been, he was no Joseph Kittinger.

"Yeah, I know Joey K. He umm.... isn't here is he?"

Col. Joesph Kittinger was a United States Air Force pilot and an argument could be made that he was either the bravest or the craziest man to ever wear the uniform; a bad ass on the Chuck Norrian scale of measure. He was an avid balloonist in addition to his skills as a combat pilot in an age when fighting startlingly even matched Soviet MiGs was a very real possibility at any time. He pulled of some of the craziest stunts in Air Force history in the name of science and exploration as well.

In 1954 he was transferred to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and the Air Force Missile Development Center (AFMDC). He flew the observation/chase plane which monitored flight surgeon Col. John Paul Stapp’s rocket sled run of 632 mph (1,017 km/h) in 1955. It was shortly after Col. Stapp’s record breaking rocket sled run that the two hatched the scheme for what would later be known as Project Excelsior. What was Project Excelsior? You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Please watch the short video below for an explanation, and then we’ll carry on from that point.

Did that lady from The Discovery Channel just say Joe Kittinger was actually the first man in space? I think she did. She said it with a British accent too so it has to be true.

Joe Kittinger just decided it was time to go kick some Romulan ass!

That’s right, Kittinger took off in a helium balloon, wearing a pressure suit and a parachute and shooting super 8 home movies from the hip, ascended to a height of just under 103,000 feet in the upper stratosphere where sky meets the endless void… and jumped. He jumped out of the balloon. He reached speeds over 900 miles an hour before the atmosphere itself slowed him down enough for him to pull his parachute without tearing him apart. Pressurization for his right glove malfunctioned during the ascent and his right hand swelled up to twice its normal size. I like to believe at that point Joe decided that if the swelling in his hand was permanent he may as well try being the first gloveless catcher in Major League baseball. Kittinger was recovered by his mates on the ground and the data he was able to collect with regard to high altitude bail outs was not only invaluable in it’s day but is still commonly referenced when designing modern aircraft.

As if that wasn’t enough to earn Joe Kittinger a special exhibit in the BAMF hall of fame, Kittinger later served three combat tours of duty during the Vietnam War. Near the end of his third combat tour he was shot down by the North Vietnamese but didn’t bail out of his F-4 until he had inflicted sufficient damage on the MiG he’s been fighting to see it go down, despite the catastrophic damage to his own craft. He was captured and spent eleven months being tortured in the little slice of hell known as “The Hanoi Hilton” prisoner of war camp. Kittinger was returned to the Americans in 1973 and after all he endured for his country… he still served five more years in the U.S. Air Force before retiring a full Colonel in 1978.

"I must admit I consider Colonel Kittinger an idol of mine."

Joe Kittinger continues ballooning and is still alive and well and living in Orlando, Florida. He is 87 years old now but I suspect whatever mutant healing factor that has kept him alive thus far will continue to provide him with good health for years to come. His list of awards and accomplishments is an embarrassment of riches for any one man and can be viewed by visiting his wiki here. I would encourage you dear reader to look him up on the wiki and on Youtube as well. If you watch the extended video of the recovery, once Col. Kittinger hit the ground, you will see that the first thing he does when they peel him out of the pressure suit is light an unfiltered cigarette. It’s priceless. They don’t make them like this guy anymore, that’s for sure.

Oh and remember how Yuri Gagarin had to stop to take a leak before his 108 minute adventure into space? Col. Joe Kittinger had to go on his way to the launch pad too. He held it.

by Revmacd

Real Life Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot

April 14, 2011 at 8:10 am | Posted in Science News | Leave a comment

You want a piece of me, meatbag?

Ever wanted a robot that could kick your ass? Well you are in luck because Kris Tressider invented a robot that can do precisely that (well it actually can’t kick you because it doesn’t have legs, but it can pound your face in with its fists). Kris is a structural engineer in Australia who built a robot utilizing a couple windshield wiper motors, some boxing gloves, and a few other miscellaneous items. The sole purpose of his creation was to give him someone he could fight with. The robot throws random jabs and hooks and also has a berserk mode. Kris calls it Punching Pro, and hopes to sell them at a $1000 each.

You can learn more about Punching Pro by visiting Kris’ site which includes pictures and videos.

Posted By: Skuldren

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