While many of our interviewees had "front office" jobs in the space program—pilots, astronauts, flight controllers—some of the most interesting interview bits came from the pure engineers. That includes folks like Norman Chaffee, who started his career at NASA in May of 1962 and who, during the course of that career, worked on the Gemini and Apollo programs. Chaffee didn't fly the spacecraft—he helped make them.
Specifically, Chaffee was a propulsion engineer. He helped make the reaction control thrusters on the Gemini capsule a reality. Those are the little thrusters, often fueled by either hypergolic propellants or cold gas, that are used during the mission to change the spacecraft's attitude in roll, pitch, and yaw. After Gemini, Chaffee worked on thruster design for the Apollo command module and then, finally, on the reaction control thrusters for the Grumman-manufactured Lunar Module. (Chaffee's NASA oral history page has some amazing stories in it for readers who want to know more).
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When Blue Origin last flew its New Shepard system, the spacecraft intentionally triggered its abort system 45 seconds after launch. As the spacecraft blasted away from the booster, its escape motor slammed the rocket with 70,000 pounds of off-axis force and hot exhaust. Nevertheless, both the spacecraft and rocket returned safely to the West Texas launch site for a successful test flight.
In the 14 months since that abort-test flight, Blue Origin has been working on an upgraded version of the rocket—to improve its capacity for rapid, low-cost reusability—and the capsule in which six passengers will eventually ride to space inside. For example, the test capsule used during flights in late 2015 and 2016 had painted-on windows. The new variant has actual windows, which at 3.6 feet tall may be the largest of any spacecraft that has flown into space.
While the Apple Watch is seen by many as the ultimate wearable fitness tool, it's somewhat out of place in the gym. The native Workout app has a number of exercise profiles to choose from, including activities that can only be done in the gym. But, in many ways, the Watch is best suited for outdoor activities.
But with the introduction of GymKit, Apple hopes to make the in-gym cardio experience better. Apple's system to connect the Apple Watch to compatible gym equipment started rolling out across the globe earlier this fall, and it just hit the US this week. Below is everything you need to know about GymKit as an Apple Watch user, how you can use it, and what it means for your workouts in the future.What is GymKit?
Apple announced GymKit at this year's WWDC in June as part of the watchOS 4 update. GymKit is a protocol that allows Apple Watches to use NFC and Bluetooth to connect to various pieces of gym equipment. This allows the wearable and the machine to share information so you can glean more information when working out with the Apple Watch.
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