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270 – Nuclear Weapons


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(average: 4.57)
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In this episode we chat about the science and engineering involved in nuclear weapons. Our guest is Alex Wellerstein of the Stevens Institute of Technology. We talk about atomic bombs as well as hydrogen bombs, how to refine the necessary fuels as well as a little bit of history.

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267 – The Quantum Tron UAV


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(average: 4.65)
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Quantum Systems designs, builds and sells unmanned air vehicles for professional use. Their particular specialty is VTOL designs, i.e., UAVs that take off and land vertically, but then switch to airplane mode for airplane-like speed and range. In this episode we chat with Quantum’s CEO Florian Seibel about their primary drone, the Tron. We focus on the motivation for developing the aircraft, the use cases, as well as design decisions and technical aspects.

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266 – Secondary Surveillance Radar

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(average: 4.68)
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Secondary surveillance radar (SSR) is the radar technology used in aviation to query transponders; it forms the backbone of today’s air traffic control infrastructure. Our guest in this episode is Mike Sharples who has been part of the development of the technology and is intimately familiar with the details. We discuss the importance of SSR today, the details of the protocol, the difference between and evolution from Mode A/C to S as well as the relationship to ADS-B.

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258 – The History and Technology of Spy Satellites

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(average: 4.74)
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In this episode we speak with David Baker, who wrote a fascinating book about spy satellites. We cover the political and military context that drove their development, their (known and suspected) capabilities, methods of recovering the images, as well as typical orbits and the sartellites’ ability to change that orbit for quick repositioning.

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257 – Flight Research at NASA Armstrong, Part 2: Fullscale


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(average: 4.34)
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As part of my trip to the US earlier this year I visited NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. I conducted six interviews over two days, those concerning full scale (“real”) aircraft are in this episode. We start out with Kevin Weinert, with whom we talk about the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge project, essentially a flap made of flexible materials to save fuel and reduce noise. Next up is Jim Less, one of NASA’s F-15 and F-18 pilots; we chat about his flying and various research projects where the jets are utilized (you can see this part as a continuation of Episode 73, where we chatted with Dick Ewers). Finally, we talk about flying the MQ-9 and RQ-4 unmanned aerial vehicles with the pilots Scott Howe and Hernan Posada.

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