The Flying Saucer Seen in Houston: in Fact a Flying Saucer

There have been a ton of reports of flying saucers over Houston, which in and of itself is no news. The news is that many of the reports are accurate. Houston-based NASA has built a supersonic flying saucer known as a Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, part of an effort to get larger payloads—as heavy as 100 tons—to Mars in support of human missions.

The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator first flew on June 28 at the Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

A high altitude balloon raised it, releasing it at 120,000 feet.

At that point the saucer fired its own rocket traveling it higher still, at about Mach 3.8.

[illustration]

[illustration]

For more information, see NASA's site. IF you think NASA is just part of the government conspiracy to cover up the existence of aliens, TexasUFOsightings.com.

Related: My True Area 51 UFO Story

Personal Submarine Buying Guide

Shopping for personal submersibles for yourself or as a gift for Author's Day (more on that holiday in a moment)? Good call! Innespace's Bionic Dolphin is capable of 20 mph while submerged and can reach 50 on the surface. It can also leap out of the water like a dolphin, up to 18 feet. A potential bummer: If you go more than a few feet deep, it stalls. Also available in killer whale and shark (see below). At $50,000, it is, as you will see, a relative bargain.

DeepFlight's Super Falcon Mark II has a pressurized cockpit that balances out atmospheric pressure as you go deeper, as deep as 1,600 feet. It cruises at 2-6 knots—typical in this class—with room for two. But the Mariana Trenches of the world are out, with a depth limit of just 400 feet. Which is why it's only $1.7 million.

DeepFlight is also taking orders on two more models. Note: They probably will not be ready by Author's Day (in the event you don't know, it's the holiday on which readers show their appreciation for writers), but here are the pix anyway:

DeepFlight Dragon

DeepFlight Dragon

DeepFight Black Hawk

DeepFight Black Hawk

The Scubster, a French made pedal-powered sub, will be significantly cheaper than the previous models (price tbd). Things is, you have to bring your own air supply. Not sure what advantage the guy in the Scubster has over the guy out of it.

Hammacher Schlemmer's Personal Submarine. Like the DeepFlight but slower, not as cool-looking and about $300,000 more expensive. But if you are a Frequent H-S catalog customer, your order may qualify you for a free Talking Chewie (below).

The Triton 36,000/3's vertical configuration permits a high rate of descent and ascent. The deepest spot in the ocean is 35,800. With this sub, you're there in two hours. Its sticker price is $25 million…

…which makes the Triton 3300/3, a bargain at $3 million. It can take you and two friends down 3,300 feet for as long as 10 hours.

There's also an economy class Triton, the 1000/2 ($970,000).

Seamagine's Ocean Pearl and the C-Quester 3 are the Hyundais and Kia of personal subs, the former a two-person sub with a depth rating of 150m-1000m for just $900,000, the latter will get three of you down about 330 feet for only $500,000.

C-Quester 3

C-Quester 3

Both are capable and reliable, and would make awesome gifts for Author's Day (Saturday, November 1, by the way).

Related Link: 7 Grams of Lead

How to Keep Your Car from Getting Towed

Getting towed for a parking violation is a massive waste of time and money. This week in London, a driver came up with an ingenious solution: Climb onto the tow truck, get in your car, put it in reverse and back away. And here's the best part: This technique is not illegal, albeit probably because nobody thought to outlaw it. London police determined that it's a civil matter, i.e. the private towing company has to deal with it.

Related Link: 7 Grams of Lead

The One-Winged Eagle

This is a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter that is, to say the least, durable. During a 1983 training exercise in Israel, an Israeli Air Force F-15 collided midair with an A-4. The A-4 burst into a fireball instantly. The F-15 flew away with one wing. But could it keep flying with one wing? Let alone land?  Physics says no. But truth is stranger than physics.

Here is a History Channel clip with pilot Zivi Nedivi's account:

In the subsequent investigation, McDonnell Douglas officials believed the plane to have been involved in a taxiing accident. A flight with just one wing was impossible, they said.

Then they were shown video. The official conclusion: The damaged Eagle had been able to return to base and land on account of the lift generated by both its engine intakes and its fuselage.

They put on a new wing and the Eagle returned to work.

Related Links: The B-52 that Lost its Tail;   Amazing F/A-18 Crash

Unbelievable Glider Landing ;   Once a Spy

 

Formerly the World’s Largest Land Vehicles

In the market for a transporter to get your rocket or space shuttle to the launch pad? Meet "Hans" and "Franz," the crawlers delivered to NASA in 1965 by Marion Power Shovel Company of Marion, Ohio, for $14 million apiece.

Immediately they ranked as the largest land vehicles on the planet—each is 131 feet long by 113 feet wide, stands 26 feet high and weighs 2,750 tons. The lost the title in 1978 to the 13,500-ton Bagger 288 excavator.

Hans and Franz still in good condition, each with only about 3,400 miles. Despite sixteen traction motors powered by four thousand kilowatt generators driven by a pair of 2,050 kW V16 Alco diesel engines, they only go about two miles per hour, and get 42 feet per gallon of diesel fuel (125.7 gallons per mile), or 125.7 gallons per mile. Not great, but try carrying a Saturn V on the top of your Prius.

The World’s Most Valuable Coin?

The 1933 Double Eagle sold at auction for a record $7,590,020 in 2002. But is it the world's most valuable coin?

How about this coin, also American, minted in 2011?

It's made of nothing special, metal-wise, just some copper and nickel. On the front is a red X. The back bears a date: MAY 1, 2011 . That's U.S. time, not incidentally, as opposed to Abbottabad time. These limited-edition coins were given to CIA officers who were instrumental in finding Osama bin Laden. Priceless?

 

Related link: Once a Spy