I watched a new show on the Sci-Fi channel tonight that I had seen advertised and thought might be interesting. It’s called Master Blaster. Apparently each week there is a contest between two teams to launch something with high powered rockets. Tonight, the teams launched a play house, with a wicked witch dummy on top and Dorothy on the inside in a re-creation of sorts of the scene from the Wizard of Oz. The requirement was to see which team could launch the house the highest, getting it to spin at least 3 times on its axis, launch the witch off the roof, and then recover the house with Dorothy safe on the ground.
Neither team succeded in launching the witch or in a safe recovery. Both teams had their parachutes fail. What determined the winner was the launch height and since one team sent their house twice as high as the other, that’s the team that won. The loosing team then had to dress up like the characters from the Wizard of Oz and dance across a field.
I found it all rather amusing. Great TV it probably is not. Next week they are supposed to launch giant lawn darts (ten feet long or so) and try to hit bull’s-eyes painted in a field.
Meanwhile, in the world of serious rocketry, NASA has decided to once again ground the shuttle fleet once Discovery returns, until they can solve the problem of stuff falling off the external tank on launch. Apparently a rather sizable chunk fell off this time, though thankfully it didn’t hit the orbiter, so all should be well for re-entry. It is of course best that they be careful and get this issue solved, though it is a disappointment that it remains a problem for them.