First spacecraft from my graduate lab launched!

Just a quick note to share some exciting news: the first spacecraft to come out of my graduate research lab – Cornell University’s Space Systems Design Studio – launched with the SpaceX Falcon 1.1 debut yesterday. SpaceX says that the CUSat technology demonstrator vehicles deployed nominally. You can read more about the launch here. I did only a tiny bit of work for CUSat, but I know other students who did a lot more! Congrats to the CUSat team. It’s been a long wait.

The next launch out of my old stomping ground lab will be KickSat, going up on the next Falcon to carry supplies to the International Space Station.

The inkwash map

I have finally finished off a new map to share with everyone!

The inky islands

This is entire ink and ink washes, applied with both pens and brushes. It’s mostly black ink, with a bit of brick red for those cryptic labels.

These mountains are in a new style, too. Their shapes are more blocky and angular, and I provided all the relief with ink wash rather than hatching. The coastline also departs from my previous maps, where I favored a double line with a thicker landward line. Here, the line is no different from any other, but I drew in some icons for breakers and focused the washes on the water side of the line.


The labels have a sort of funny procedural story to them. They don’t consist of much; simply a few random scribbles with suggestions of ascenders, descenders, and diacritics. I always intended to do something tiny and random rather than making precise characters. What’s funny is that I let this map sit forĀ months between when I finished with the black ink and when I sat down for the quarter hour it took to put in the labeling. In all previous cases, I’ve had something very careful in mind with my labels; this time, I went in wanting to scribble randomly on my map. In ink, that scribbling becomes permanent. (I can scrape off ink with an x-acto knife, but that leaves some slight damage on the paper and isn’t feasible on a large scale.) Eventually, I just had to bite the bullet and see what came out the other side of the process.

Then I could call the map done.