Space tourism – starting to take off !

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Official definition: Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes.

A number of startup companies have sprung up in recent years, such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace, hoping to create a sub-orbital space tourism industry. The one ahead presently in the race to be the first to operate is Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic.

The first space tourist to fund his own trip into space was Dennis Tito, an American engineer and multimillionaire in 2001. He spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crew member of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station.

Recently on Feb 24th Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo aced its third unpowered free flight, a glide test that marked the first time at the new space plane’s controls for one former NASA astronaut.

Hot off the press yesterday was an announcement by SpaceX‘s founder Elon Musk, who stated that they will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018 ! The private spaceflight company will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the two paying passengers into space aboard one of the company’s Dragon spacecraft. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, approached SpaceX about taking a trip around the moon, and have “already paid a significant deposit” for the cost of the mission. The names of the two individuals will be announced later, pending the result of initial health tests to ensure their fitness for the mission.

In the 49 years since the Russian Yuri Gagarin made his pioneering flight into space  512 people from 38 countries have experienced space travel. Some predict that very soon a similar number of space tourists could be traveling in sub-orbital space every year ! This could be a very exciting new business sector to be in – in more ways than one, with the cost per individual ranging between $50 million to $250 million per trip !

Below is a short video link of Virgin Galactica’s 3rd powered flight – enjoy:

Hope you have a great month

All the best,


A little light relief

some more alternative exam answers …  !

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Posted in aerodynamics, AIRCRAFT, business, cad, design, Energy, engine, Engineering, humor, humour, Industry, jet engine, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, power generation, project engineering, quotations, record breaking, research science, rocket engine, space flight, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Should I stay or should I go – the Internal Combustion Engine?

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Electric cars are gaining market share and look to take over from the internal combustion (IC) engine that has been a familiar sight & sound for over 100 years ! It is estimated that electric car sales will over take IC car sales by 2030.

With this in mind, Professor Neville Jackson, Chief Technology Officer at Ricado, told a recent conference that although electrification of cars is the right approach, he believes the industry will need advanced combustion engines for heavier vehicles, such as lorries for haulage. Dr J. Jorg Ruger a President of Bosch’s commercial vehicle division seems to be echoing the same conviction. Both believe the IC engines need to greatly improve their thermodynamic efficiency. Presently  there is heat energy loss of 22% through the cooling system and 34 % through the exhaust pipe ! In addition there is aerodynamic drag by radiator cooling. Maximum thermal efficiency is ~ 50% – a little under par in the world of thermodynamics !

They agree improvements can be made in waste heat recovery systems. Indirect systems  take heat energy wastage from engine fluids and converts it into useful energy that can add power back into the engine, such as a steam turbo – efficiency increase  ~ 5%. Direct system is real time electrical control of superchargers and waste heat recovery devices that optimise exhaust gas re-circulation flow, air flow and general ‘breathing’ of the engine – efficiency increase ~ 20%. Both increase fuel economy and reduce emissions + NOx.

It looks like our old friend the IC engine is here to stay for a few more years yet !

Have a great month

All the best,


A little light relief

some alternative exam answers …  !



Posted in aerodynamics, business, Car, design, electric vehicle, Energy, engine, Engineering, environment, humor, humour, Industry, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, polution, power generation, quotations, quotes, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trust me I’m an Engineer !


A sample of images of how we sometimes get things wrong – enjoy !

Plus below a link to video clip of Peter Kay as a light way to end the year !

Happy & Prosperous 2017

All the best


Posted in architecture, civil, design, Engineering, failure, humor, humour, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, mistakes, project engineering, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vinyl Revival

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When I was growing up in the 70s & 80s vinyl albums and separates hi-fi units including top of the range turntables were essential to life ! I guess we thought it was all over when CDs came in, then later  iTunes and Spotify – but no vinyl is back! There has been strong growth in the market for the last 5 years. On the back of this, specialist turntable manufacturers are enjoying steady growth too. One such company is Rega based in Essex, which was started in 1973 as a hobby by Roy Gandy (ex automotive engineer) and friend Tony Relph. The early 80s saw a peak in the company’s production to 2000 units / month and then to drop down to 500 – today it’s risen to 4500 / month, and employing 120 staff ! Success has also been passed on to their supply chain, where many of the components are manufactured in the UK.

The turn tables themselves are high end products costing up to £3000, backed by intense on going research & design to continually eek out improvements to sound quality output. One area is the turn table platter that needs to be made from a high stiffness material such as phenolic resin, specialist glass or a ceramic called aluminium oxide. Other components under the spot light are the: light weight cartridge, balanced & light weight tone arm, diamond stylus, minimal friction bearings, smooth low noise motor, all meticulously scrutinised to eliminate vibration and friction, and ultimately wow, flutter and drift, to faithfully replicate the original recording.

For more info:

Have a great month

All the best,



“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

– Bob Marley

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

– Albert Einstein

Posted in acoustics, business, design, Engineering, humor, humour, manufacturing, material science, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, music, precision engineering, quotations, quotes, recordings, research science, sound technology, technology, tracking motion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtual & Augmented Reality Design Tool

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Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) is progressing at a steady rate in many sectors but especially in engineering design. VR is often associated with cumbersome helmets and video gaming, but within industry ‘powerwalls’ are used. A projector displays a large 3D image, where multiple users wear 3D glasses, similar to those used in the cinema. The system optically track the position of the user via the glasses, automatically adjusting the position of the image to suit the user’s perspective. Interaction with the image – normally a CAD model – is via a handset control which is also optically tracked.

The application of this design tool is helping companies to design much more efficiently. Bombardier, the train manufacturers, uses VR to demonstrate design modifications to customers, before going on to the next stage of mock ups, saving both time & money. They have found VR & AR is reducing costs in the region of 70% in producing prototypes – quite a saving. Jaguar Land Rover who are also early adopters of this technology, state £8 million was saved in development costs in prototype development in 2010 – again very significant!

VR & AR are making real improvements in engineering design work, and it will be interesting to see where it goes in the next 10 years !

Hope you have a good month

All the best



My computer could be more encouraging. You know, instead of “invalid password”, why not something like, “Ooooh, you’re so close!”?”
– Lisa Porter

AT&T to wed T-Mobile. Following the ceremony there will be no reception.”
– Richard Lerner

The problem with quotes on the internet is you can never be certain they’re authentic.”
– Abraham Lincoln









Posted in 3d, business, cad, COMPUTER SIMULATION, design, Engineering, humor, humour, Industry, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, research science, technology, tracking motion, Uncategorized, vitual reality | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solar Aircraft pioneering transatlantic crossing

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The solar powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 has set a world record by completing the first solar, electric and zero emission crossing of the Atlantic ocean. The plane began it’s 22,000 mile round the world trip in March 2015, but has suffered several set backs along the way. Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the plane at Seville Airport on 23 June, after a 3 day historic flight across the Atlantic from New York.

The plane is built from carbon fibre, a single seater, has a 72m wing span – larger than a Boeing 747 and ways only 2300 kg – equivalent to a family car. The 17,000 solar cells built into the fuselage supply the solar power to the four electric motors (17.5 hp each) that can take the plane to speeds of up to 60 mph.

The Solar Impulse team hope this venture will inspire the adoption of clean energy technology to create a new cleaner world for the future.

The plane will fly on to Abu Dhabi in the UAE, to complete the round the world flight adventure.

Hope you have a good month



The following are broadcasts between pilots and control towers – enjoy …

Tower: “Height and position?”
Pilot: “I am 1,80 m and I’m sitting.

LH741: “Tower, give me a rough time-check!”
Tower: “It’s Tuesday, Sir.”

Pilot: “…Tower, please call me a fuel truck.”
Tower: “Roger. You are a fuel truck.”

Tower: Mission 123, do you have problems?
Pilot: I think, I have lost my compass.
Tower: Judging the way you are flying, you lost the whole instrument panel!

Tower: “Delta Fox Alpha, hold position, Marshall will park you.”
Pilot: “Roger. Looking out for John Wayne.”

Ground Control: “123DG, bear to the left, disabled aircraft on the right.”
Pilot: “123DG, Roger, I have the disabled aircraft in sight, but I don’t see the bear yet.”




Posted in aerodynamics, AIRCRAFT, carbon fibre, design, Energy, Engineering, environment, green power, humor, humour, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, power generation, project engineering, quotations, quotes, record breaking, renewable energy, speed records, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Team GB Bike Design for Rio


This blog is particularly interesting to me as I ride road bikes for a local club, and I am always looking to find ways to go faster !

From what I gather the rapid engineering advancement in bike design began with Dimitris Katsanis (ex aerospace engineer) in 2001, using carbon fibre composites and improved aerodynamics. Chris Hoy used his bikes to win several medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing. He was originally commissioned by the UK governing body for cycling in 2001, a few years after National Lottery funding for sport began in 1997. Chris Boardman then took on the role up to 2013, carrying on the success with several wins in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Today Professor Tony Purnell, the former F1 team principal (Jagaur & Red Bull) heads up the Research and Innovation division at British Cycling – or ‘Room X’ nicknamed ‘Bletchley Park’ – who still teaches one day a week at the university of Cambridge. He has a team of post grad & PhD research engineers, and former rider Jason Queally, who helps with wind tunnel testing. Gains made in overall performance of 5% are considered major, and the cyclists notice the improvement !

A collaborative project between Purnell’s team and Cervélo, has produced the Cervélo T5GB bike for team GB for 2016 Rio games. Tony Purnell states, “This means that, even after the fantastic success we enjoyed at London 2012, we have been determined to work alongside Cervélo to build and improve on the equipment that has served us so well in the recent past. Without question, this bike represents that quest for continuous improvement.”

Investment in UK sport, advancing training knowledge combined with advancing equipment design, has lead to amazing number of medals in Rio – go GB !

Hope you have a good month,

All the best,



“When your legs scream stop and your lungs are bursting, that’s when it starts. That’s the hurt locker. Winners love it in there”

– Chris Mc Cormack (Ironman champion 2007 & 2010)

My biggest fear is that when I die my wife will sell my bicycles for what I told her they cost.”

– unkown

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in aerodynamics, business, cad, carbon fibre, cycling, design, Engineering, humor, humour, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, record breaking, research science, technology, Uncategorized, university | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment