Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lunar Module Instruction Manual & STS-127

Many years ago, my neighbor, Wynne Trenholme, who's now in his mid 90s, gave me several lunar module training manuals. Tonight, I scanned one of manuals into a PDF (Introduction to the Lunar Module programmed text, March 1969). This manual introduces the student astronaut to the LM's electrical power and environmental controls along with explosive devices and propulsion & reaction controls as well as some other lunar module systems.

The other two manuals I have which are equally as fascinating:
1. Self Instruction Programmers Study Guide Lunar Module, October 1968.
2. Untitled, April 1969. This manual contains mostly diagrams of the LM-5 (Eagle).

Diagram from Introduction to the Lunar Module

Click to enlarge

I've always been fascinated by the Apollo program. Especially the lunar module since it was built where I grew up (Long Island) and it was the first spacecraft designed to work entirely in the vacuum of space.

Over the past few weeks, my interest in the space program has been re-energized for two reasons. First, because of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Second, because a college classmate of mine, Chris Cassidy, is currently in orbit on the space shuttle Endeavour (STS-127). I travelled to Florida to watch Chris's launch. It will probably be the only shuttle launch I'll see since there are only seven more planned before the space shuttle is retired.

Click to enlarge photos below.

Lift off of Endeavour (15 July 2009)

Presenting Cassidy with a USNA 1993 ball cap to bring into space.

Cassidy's first EVA lasted 5 hours 59 minutes. (22 July 2009)
Image Credit: NASA

Save the Seals

Save the Seals
Seals at the historic kiddy pool in La Jolla were kicked off the beach, again, and then their eviction was stayed, again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Should they stay or should they go?

Adam Fitch aptly described the scene at the kiddy pool, complete with photos:
mrfitch: Media circus for the seals at La Jolla's Children's Pool.

As a matter of fact, nearly all Twitterers aren't happy that the seals are being kicked out. Some are "up in arms" and ready to protest:
buffynerdgirl: I am fully prepared to stand arm in arm with my fellow San Diegans in protest of the forcing out of the La Jolla seals. People suck.

It was hard to find anyone in favor of removing the seals. Who would want these cute little guys to be kicked to the curb? For starters, swimmers and triathletes who train there are not particularly fond of their presence since the seals bring sharks, looking for a snack, closer to shore.

But, if you "listen" closely enough, you'll find some people willing to speak their mind in favor of removing the seals. John Kelly, from San Francisco, tells San Diegian Rachel Kaplan a few of his reasons:
JohnHedge: @Rachieheather IMO [in my opinion] the seals should be removed. They are a health hazard and their fanatic supporters take things too far. Try diving there.

JohnHedge: @Rachieheather My problem with the seals is that Children's Pool is a manmade public beach and they are polluting it. It is not a sanctuary.

The decision hasn't been finalized - meanwhile, the seals continue soaking up the Southern California sun oblivious to the legal battle surrounding them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Entrepreneurs Connecting In San Diego With Springboard

Thinking of starting a high tech or bio-medical business in San Diego and need some help? might be what you need.

Steve Hoey, a program manager at CONNECT for the past two years, says that the organization is “designed to engender and support innovation in San Diego through a culture of collaboration.” CONNECT, which was founded in 1985, has several programs and most entrepreneurs start with the free Springboard program, which first began assisting entrepreneurs in 1993.

Even in the current economic downturn Hoey points out the fact that innovation doesn't slow down. More and more entrepreneurs have taken the plunge since many people have recently found themselves out of work.

To apply for the Springboard program, which typically lasts three to five months, an entrepreneur simply fills out the application form on their website ( Applications are then reviewed and matched to CONNECT's subject matter experts known as Entrepreneur's in Residence (EIRs).

Each year, 50 companies go through the Springboard program and about 35 complete it. These companies range in size from one or two founding entrepreneurs, with just an idea, to companies that have raised millions of dollars in funding. Two recent success stories, which Hoey mentioned, are Benchmark Revenue Management, which helps make hospitals more effective and efficient, and Biomatrica, which stabilizes biological samples at room temperature.

EIRs will coach entrepreneurs and help them refine their business plan and fill in the gaps. For example, if an entrepreneur is technical and their plan needs help with the financial forecasts then interns can be brought in from UCSD’s Rady business school to help.

The Springboard program consists of several phases. Beginning with filling out the online application and an initial meeting with one of the 80 to 90 EIRs to ensure that the Springboard program can support the applicant’s goals. Once this match has been made, the entrepreneur will meet with their EIR several times in order to solidify their plan. The entrepreneur then refines his or her business plan by conducting a dry run in front of one or two panels of experts leading up to their final presentation panel.

The final panel consists of three groups; CONNECT sponsors, investors, and domain experts. It begins with a 20 minute presentation by the entrepreneur followed by a 30 minute question and answer period and then it concludes with about 30 minutes of feedback and constructive criticism.

Once the graduation panel has been completed, most entrepreneurs usually hope to close a round funding from investors. Since this is naturally the next step, CONNECT launched a new program in December 2008 called the Deal Network where Springboard graduates now have a second opportunity to present to investors.

The most important traits that Springboard applicants require are “coachability” and a willingness to complete the entire program. If that sounds like you and you are a San Diego based entrepreneur then CONNECT's Springboard should be your first step.