Hello All,

I wanted to take the time to make one last short post to all of my readers that helped get this website going, and have made an effort to contact and/or compliment me.

It's no secret that a little over a year ago, I landed a job at SpaceX. In fact, based on the subject titles of the numerous messages and comments I've received but have not responded to, I would wager that is the number one Google search term that locates this blog.

Well, that said, I have been having a blast working at SpaceX. It is everything I imagined it would be, and more. However, the one item I did not account for was the large commitment of time and energy working for such a small, up-and-coming company would be. While I fiddle on my various hobbies from time to time (see previous blog posts), and I still ride and maintain my motorcycles actively, I no longer have enough time to document the projects, log them, and discuss them on here.

So this will probably be my last post on my website for a long while. I do not want to remove the site, as, one day, if I get better control over my schedule, I intend to reactivate it. However, for the foreseeable future, these will be my final words here.

Thank you again to all of those of you who have contacted me, linked to my website, told others of my blog, and generally supported me. My sincerest apologies go out to those of you that contacted me but never received a response. Had I the time, I would love to chat with all of you. However, I don't respond to messages when I am too tired to give the message the due attention it deserves, thus, I have failed to reply to many of you. I am sorry.

For all of those looking on advice on how to get a job at SpaceX, all I can tell you is that we hire the best of the best. So show us how much further ahead than all your peers you are, and you'll do fine.

For all of those seeking advice or guidance on mathematics, controls, or some other engineering topic, all I can tell you is that you will never stop learning. 95% of what you need to know is in a book somewhere. You can dig it up if you work hard enough. Don't slouch. Don't slack. Don't just try to find the "right answer." Push yourself to understand whatever it is you are working on and the answers will make themselves evident.

And to my fellow adventures, simply this: embrace that unknown over the horizon.

Best of luck to you all in all of your endeavours.

Sincerely,
Brady C. Jackson
 
 
Christie stumbled along the dirt path in front of her. The smell of dank moss and mushrooms crept into her delicate white nose. The misty forest floor had a sharp, bitter smell to it. She liked the forest, and she knew she was on the right path this time, but the trees were so tall, and it was getting dark.

Still, she had to press on. The fate of the future depended on it. And Christie was never one to let the future down..not while she still existed in the present.

Then, like a rock thrown into the smooth trickling flow of her thoughts, she heard it above. Wings. Large, leathery wings were beating above her head. Wings like nothing of this world donned. Wings that could only mean one thing....

Mothmen....

 
 
I know it's been awhile since I posted anything, but I thought I'd keep this entry short in the interest of humility.
 
 
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I'm riding this great opportunity to space, and beyond!
'Sup Homies!

That's right, you read the title correctly. I landed a job with Space Exploration Technologies this September!
 
 
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Schematic of Ardie with his new rangefinder sensors. The colored triangles are the field of view (FOV) of each sensor.

Introduction

Howdy All,

Today I am going to be talking about some design work I've been doing for Ardie. If you recall, I recently discussed testing two new sensors for Ardie that I would be using for his eyes here. Since the tests went well, my next step was to determine where and how I wanted to mount those sensors on Ardie. In order to do that, I put together some schematics and Matlab code. Laying out the geometry of the sensors in the schematics allowed me to derive the mathematical relationships between where I mounted the senors, and what the field of view (FOV) of the sensors in front of Ardie would be. I could then use this math in Matlab code to vary the sensor mounting locations to determine which positions gave Ardie the optimal viewing field.

Please note, all materials for this project can be found in my dropbox account here.
 
 
The bikes with the lake in the background.

Adventure to Be Had

Howdy Y'all,

So it's about time I got to posting something new on here again. Don't worry non-techies, this one isn't going to be focused on robots or control laws or Ardie's slow but steady evolution. There won't be any algorithms, derivations, or blinking lights (okay, well some of you might miss those). While I have been keeping up on my tech. projects, my documentation of them has been somewhat poor of late. So, instead, I'm going to be talking about a new kind of adventure today, a new kind of quality.

 
 
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Ardie's new eye getting probed for readings.

Introduction

Howdy All,

I know it's been quite awhile since I updated the blog here. Believe it or not, I've actually been pretty busy. That's why I haven't been able to work on many projects or get much blog content up lately. However, tonight I am going to rectify that with a quick description about some of the testing I am doing for my next upgrade for Ardie.

Basically I want to give Ardie a set of 'sight' sensors to help him avoid obstacles. While that sensor suite could, one day, include a full set of cameras, today is not that day. Today, instead, I am going to be testing some ultrasonic rangefinders for Ardie to use in place of actual eyes. Rangefinders work in the same manner that a bat or a dolphin's echolocation does. They bounce a super-high-pitched sound wave off of nearby objects and then process the reflected wave to determine how far away the object is. The result is returned as a digital step wave
 
 
Video 1: For those of you who don't have the time or patience to read through my last two blog entries, this video will serve as a short (10 minute) summmary of the content that follows in the blog.

Introduction

Howdy Again All,

So in my last blog, I discussed the process of modeling and analyzing the attitude dynamics of a rigid, orbital spacecraft via a linearized approximation model. At the end of that blog I remarked on the necessity of modeling the entire spacecraft properly, in a nonlinear fashion. Well, that modeling and analysis is what I hope to discuss in this blog. Essentially, I will be modeling the same spacecraft, with the same moment input at approximately 15 seconds in time while utilizing the three nonlinear equations of motion of our spacecraft. If this sounds interesting to you, or if you just want to numb your brain with some abstract mathematical goodness, feel free to read on.
 
 
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A screenshot of my workspace for modeling an uncontrolled, linearized spacecraft on orbit.

Introduction

Howdy Everyone,

This particular blog entry is going to be a throwback to some of the control systems work I did in my college days. Essentially, control systems engineering involves the design and analysis of the motion of a given system, in this case, an idealized rigid spacecraft. For any given system, or body, there is a set of equations of motion that can describe that system. Usually this involves things like translational velocity, angular velocity, translational accelerations, angular accelerations, and so on. Once the equations of motion of a body are understood, the state of the body, meaning the attitude and motion of it, can be controlled via commands to controlling devices. The process of studying these equations of motion, simulating them, and employing those simulations to develop computer code and hardware specifications is known as control systems engineering.

 
 
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Picture 1: Falcon 9 as it launches from the pad at Cape Canaveral on Dec. 08, 2010. Photo provided by remote viewing cameras operated by Spaceflightnow
Howdy All, 

I know it's been awhile since I posted anything, but due to the holidays and what not, I have been busy. Nonetheless, I want to take some time now to discuss a news story that I consider to be the most exciting published recently. I mentioned on my space page that I would try to provide some commentary and analysis of news regarding the space industry as I became aware of it. This will be my first entry in that series.