The Anonymous Widower

Russians Board International Space Station In Ukrainian Colours

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Russian cosmonauts have arrived at the International Space Station wearing Ukrainian colours, in what appears to be a statement opposing the invasion.

Who do you think, you are kidding, Mr Putin!

March 19, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shetland Blasts Off Into Space Race As Britain’s First Rocket Launch Pad Skyrora

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This second paragraph, explains what Skyrora are doing.

Skyrora, a technology company with its headquarters in Edinburgh, has agreed a deal for scores of rocket launches over the next decade from a site on Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland islands.

This Google Map shows the most Northerly part of Unst.

There’s not really much there, except birds, trees and the most northerly house in Britain.

Enlarging to the West of the house, gives this second Google Map.

Note the Remote Radar Head Saxa Vord, which has a Wikipedia entry as RAF Saxa Voe.

  • It is now a fully-operational radar station again, after closure in 2006.
  • It is at the same latitude as St. Petersburg and Anchorage.
  • In 1992, it measured a wind speed of 197 mph, before the equipment blew away.

The Wikipedia entry is worth a read, as it gives a deep insight into radar and its tracking of Russian intruders in the Cold War.

This third Google Map shows a 3D closeup of the radar.

No staff are based at Saxa Vord, although maintenance staff do visit.

According to The Times, the space port will be at Lamba Ness, which is to the East of the most northerly house in Britain.

The peninsular in the South-East is marked Lamba Ness.

It may seem a very bleak place, but it could have one thing, that rocketry will need – rocket fuel!

In Do BP And The Germans Have A Cunning Plan For European Energy Domination?, I introduced Project Orion, which is an electrification and hydrogen hub and clean energy project in the Shetland Islands.

The project’s scope is described in this graphic.


  1. Project Orion now has its own web site.
  2. A Space Centre is shown on the Island of Unst.
  3. There is an oxygen pipeline shown dotted in blue from the proposed Sullom Voe H2 Plant to the Fish Farm and on to the Space Centre.
  4. I suspect if required, there could be a hydrogen pipeline.

The Space Centre on Unst could be fuelled by renewable energy.

Who Are Skyrora?

They have a web site, which displays this mission statement.

Represents a new breed of private rocket companies developing the next generation of launch vehicles for the burgeoning small satellite market.

The Times also has this paragraph.

At the end of last year, the company also completed trials of the third stage of its Skyrora XL rocket, including its orbital transfer vehicle which, once in orbit, can refire its engines 15 times to carry out tasks such as acting as a space tug, completing maintenance or removing defunct satellites.

The company seems to have big ambitions driven by innovation and a large range of ideas.


I shall be following this company.


October 12, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jack Kinzler


Read his obituary in the Washington Post. This is the introductory paragraph.

As chief of the all-purpose machine and tool shop at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Mr. Kinzler specialized in down-to-earth solutions for beyond-the-stratosphere problems.

They don’t make them like him any more!

March 26, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Voyager Has Boldly Gone

In the past week or so, the Voyager-1 space probe has left the solar system. The story is reported here on the BBC.

The probe is expected to still be transmitting data back to earth until possibly 2025.

Who said that 1960s technology wasn’t any good and thoroughly unreliable?

September 24, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Richard Feynman

I’d never heard of Richard Feynman, before tonight, when BBC2 had a program about his work on the Enquiry into the Challenger Disaster and a profile of his life. Wikipedia says this about the report on Challenger.

He warned in his appendix to the commission’s report (which was included only after he threatened not to sign the report), “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

It’s a wonderful quote and all politicians should have it tattooed on their bottom.



May 12, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 4 Comments

My Son Gets In The Times Again!

I had a letter published in The Times today about the birth of our first son, as Neil Armstrong set off for the moon.

Sir, My late wife gave birth to our first son on July 16, 1969, in the Middlesex Hospital in London, as the astronauts left for the Moon.

From the time of his birth until the Eagle landed, no babies were born in the hospital. Perhaps mothers had something more important on their mind. But after the successful landing, all hell broke loose and there were babies everywhere.

The compositors in The Times may have been in a similar emotional state, as our son’s birth announcement was out of order.

I’ve never seen another birth announcement out of order. But then there were two editions of the paper that night; one said they’d landed and the other said they’d walked on the moon.

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Farewell Neil Armstrong

It’s all very sad that he’s passed away, but then we all have to go at some time.

Our eldest son was born in the Middlesex Hospital in London, as they left for the moon and was in the births column of The Times on the day they landed. I still have a copy of the paper.

The strange thing was that from the time our son was born to the time they landed on the moon, no babies were born.  But when they landed all hell broke loose and they came one after another. Everybody had more exciting things to watch, than give birth.

I remember they asked a mother, if her baby born just after the landing would be called Neil.  She said no! He’s being called Paul.

Today would also have been C’s sixty-fourth birthday. But tomorrow is also our middle son’s forty-second.

August 25, 2012 Posted by | News, Transport/Travel | , | 2 Comments

Made In Stevenage and Congleton

The Times today has an article about how a large proportion of the satellites we need are made in Stevenage.

Our space presence may be small in media terms, but in the bits that matter like jobs, money and technology it’s rather large.

The paper also has an article about how a company called Senior is doing rather well, by selling high-tech bits and pieces to Boeing, Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

So don’t write-off the manufacturing sector of the economy.  Find out the truth!

April 27, 2012 Posted by | World | , , , | 4 Comments

A Swiss Proposal To Clean Up Space

The Swiss has put forward a proposal for a satellite to clean up space junk.  Read about it here.

I can remember reading a similar proposal in the Meccano Magazine over fifty years ago.

A lot of ideas are not new, but just recycled using better technology. Perhaps the designer was clearing out his loft or wherever the Swiss put their junk and found the magazine.

February 16, 2012 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Analogue Computing at the Science Museum

There were reports in the papers this week about James Lovell selling the checklist that he used to correctly setup the lunar module to get them back home.

What is always missed out in these discussions, is that all of the calculations for the Apollo moon landings were done on a simulator, built using two PACE 231R analgue computers linked together.

At the Science Museum, they did have Lord Kelvin’s differential analyser, but although it was impressive, with lots of impressive engineering and brass gears, there was little to indicate, what this type of machine grew into by the 1960s. Without analogue computers to solve the complicated dynamics of the moon landings, the Americans wouldn’t have been able to get there when they did. Digital computing didn’t have the capability to match a PACE 231R to solve the simultaneous differential equations involved until the mid 1970s.

I was lucky enough to work with a PACE 231R and there are pictures of the one I used here.

There doesn’t appear to be a working PACE 231R anywhere in the world.  But to get one to work would be a lot easier than say to get an early digital machine working.  An analogue computer is basically a peg board that links a series of amplifiers together.  Now I know that these amplifiers are thermionic valve and not transistor, but a typical machine would have a hundred or so of them. And as they use something very akin to  1960s audio technology, finding someone to fix them would not be difficult. Our machine at ICI Plastics in Welwyn Garden City, was carefully looked after by one Eddie Kniter, a Pole, who walked his way to Switzerland to escape the Nazis.

I wonder if the Science Museum has one of these machines in its reserve collection. Getting it working, would really show kids how differential equations are useful in real  life.

Returning to Apollo, I remember that the magazine, Simulation, published by Simulation Councils Inc., had a detailed description in one issue of all the simulators and simulations done in connection with the project.

I’d love to get hold of a copy.

November 26, 2011 Posted by | Computing, News, Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment