Thunderbirds are Go review type thing: slingshot

this episode was not that good: it’s directed by david scott who’s directed everything but spacerace, unplugged and EOS. his only good episode has been crosscut and that had 2 writers, his worse episode: the tokyo fat train failhouse of absurdity. it was written by Rob Hoegee who also worked on the pilot

so you have a terrible writer and a terrible director. oooh boy this is gonna be fun…

the plot is… well here is a quick synopsis:

an asteroid (identified as 21 Lutetia, but as we’ll see later it’s 21 Lutetia in name only) is shot into the sun because a clumsy miner, who’s gone space crazy enough that his accent can’t decide whether it’s yorkshireish or scottish, drills through to it’s molten core and then megatron shows up to tap it’s pow… oh wait wrong show. a solar flare goes off and… google geomagnetic storm. then feel cheated that in this episode it sucks. so the asteroid is somehow shot off into the sun (more on this later) john holograms himself into alan’s room and wakes him, alan flies up to try and save the miner dude, bringing along kayo, but decides not to take his character development and and they rush off to save the day, some arbitrary solar flare related problems cause tb-3 to lose power and sadly not life support but alan fires the continuity advisors and shoves some radioactive batteries in to tb-3, completely contradicting crosscut’s “radioactives have been banned in the future” stupid as it is.

then he morse codes to the miner dude, morse code being a system that was discontinued in 1999 for sea ships, let alone space ships, and then goes inside the asteroid. but it’s to late and they’re too close to the sun that they can’t fly out safely.

john flies down to tracy island for no reason using that claw from last episode as a space elevator, tb-5 seems to have been established to be in LEO so that wouldn’t work and also as the last episode has established john’s AI daughter EOS lives up there and leaving her alone is not only a bad idea but also somewhat of a dick move considering her backstory but he doesn’t even ferraming mention her. continuity guy we need you, please come back.

miner dude gives them nukes to set off… they really need to reinstate the continuity guy, and they slingshot around the sun, but because they mixed this real science with the arse-pull science that they use in the rest of the episode they get shot off out towards interstellar space with hardly any fuel!

what will they do? attempt a slingshot round Jupiter like in that episode of stargate with the x-301? no, they just shoot themselves out of the asteroid with the last nuke, well the 4th one out of the pile of around 8 but they decide to be overly dramatic, what the guy was doing with “asteroid cracking” nukes when his mining base supposedly has no engines (it’s a plot point in the episode) to relocate is anyone’s guess.

then because they shot it off at the right angle the day is saved and they make it back to earth. alan goes to sleep and because they don’t bother to wipe transition john warps back up to tb-5 in 10 seconds and holograms him to wake him up instantly. I believe that that falls under director error.

this plot on it’s own is bad, and ka.. oh wait i remember how stupid that name sounds… tin-tin really does nothing, she doesn’t even act. there’s a scene where she wants to read over some asteroid techspecs and alan wants to play video games. and who remembers that the asteroid dude is required to know morse? alan. what was the point. she could have contributed and solidified a more by the book character, i’m not sure if that’s her character but it’s better than the nothing she has.

the asteroid guy is space damn crazy, valuing the opinion of his plant above that of others, which no-one makes a big deal of. you’re not gonna call him seymore? come on guys, kids aren’t stupid, they can google references.

but i digress… the main reason i’m doing this is to give you all a little science lesson on asteroids, orbits and sundives. and Mr. Hoegee  i dare to hope you’re taking notes.

word of warning: this is very sciencey.

21 lutetia is a 1.700×10^15 ton asteroid, it is listed as being at a chilly 170–245 kelvin (in context that’s below -28 degrees c, Fahrenheit? i don’t use it, google it), and scientists claim that “The existence of linear fractures and the impact crater morphology also indicate that the interior of this asteroid has a considerable strength ” (source wikipedia) this is it’s orbit way out in the main asteroid belt:


to go from there to diving into the sun, using thrust ejected from a molten core it doesn’t have with no reason for it to fly out of would be… absurd, especially if they were to burn towards it.

let’s do the maths:

now there is a way to work out orbital velocity, but it isn’t working for me right now, if you want to find out more check out these vids by KSP youtuber scott manley:

fortunately for me wikipedia provides lutetia’s average orbital speed is 18.96 km/s, meaning that if we caught it at the right moment it would take about 18.96 km/s of deta V (change in velocity)(give or take any vertical velocity, seeing as it’s orbit is an ellipse it goes up and down a bit) to make it dive down towards the sun, which is almost impossible to do by buring towards the sun, it would simply swing the orbit round, bringing it closer to the sun, only if you had ludicrous potential delta-v would you be able to make that sideways velocity mean nothing.

now if we wanted to decelerate a mass the size of lutetia then according to the Tsiolkovsky (no, not the moscow art school guy, or the composer, or dan/van Johnson spelled backwards.) rocket equation:

potential delta V is equal to the exhaust velocity times the natural log (yeah, no clue either but it's on my calculator) times the total mass over the dry mass (mass without fuel)

potential delta V is equal to the exhaust velocity times the natural log (yeah, no clue either but it’s on my calculator) of the total mass over the dry mass (mass without fuel)

the exhaust velocity? in the show the plume is half the length of the asteroid (it’s the long side so 121/2 km) and refreshes every half a second. so 121 km/s

or 18.96 km/s = 121km/s * ln(1.7/x) where x is the dry mass in 10^15 tons. because when working with ratios you don’t need to be precise.with an x of 1.45  you get a delta V of 19.25 using only a quarter of a ton… times 10^15 of the roid’s mass as fuel. wait what!? that actually works!! well now i feel stupid. you win this time writing staffwell at least you learned your science lesson for today, so science wins again.and besides it still wouldn’t work cos 21 lutetia doesn’t have a molten core, couldn’t decelerate properly pointing towards the sun and spinning. it’s also positioned wrong in the show, inside mercury’s orbit

by the way using nukes as propulsion is totally a thing, google project orion. it’s totally badass.


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