Sphider Search Tool

A long time ago, WorldSpaceFlight had nothing but html pages. Indexing the site was a pretty easy task using a simple perl script, and a user search was pretty easy.

Time passed, and the first php pages were introduced, pages which could not be indexed by the perl script. What started as a minor problem with a few pages grew into a MAJOR problem with nearly ALL the pages as we progressed towards a complete (almost) use of php pages.

Then enter Sphider. This is a tool from www.sphider.eu which allowed php pages to be parsed an indexed. Things were great. But time passed, the state of PHP and MySQL advanced, but alas, Sphider did not. With only one security update, Sphider has remained the same for the last 6 years. Security problems, deprecated code, things that just plain no longer worked…

Sphider became useless. Looking for a suitable replacement proved fruitless.

So, we did what any practical person would. If the tool was broken, FIX IT! And we did, but just for ourselves. We had a Sphider that worked, but it was still a huge security risk, highly vulnerable to SQL injection or remote code execution attacks. We protected ourselves the best we could, but finally decided that just wasn’t enough!

The result was Sphider 1.4.1. Sphider was considerably hardened. But that wasn’t enough for us. We wanted more, and since we had already dug into Sphider’s code, we did more. We added a wildcard search and some new templates. The default “standard” was, yawn, boring! And the “dark” template was, well, dark! And since the PHP was up to date, we made all the HTML up to date, HTML5. We also made it possible to index pdf files in a Windows environment, and not just in Linux. We threw in a few bug fixes while we were at it. Thus was born Sphider 1.4.2.

Not satisfied with what we had, we have been working on yet ANOTHER update. The suggest function, which USED to work way back when, had become rather finicky, working for some browsers, not for other. So we reworked the whole”suggest” feature. Then we converted all queries to use prepared statements. This virtually eliminates SQL injection attacks. More bug fixes, a couple enhanced features here and there. The code has been cleaned up considerably. This will be Sphider 1.5.0. It is a MAJOR change from 1.4.2. We are still testing, as we made SO MANY changes we want to be sure nothing got broken in the process. When it is ready, there will be a User’s Guide to go with it, something which has been lacking. Searching the forums can only go so far.


The following is excerpted from a NASA publication, “The Vision for Space Exploration”, dated February 2004:

“The Space Shuttle will be critical to completing assembly of the Space Station. With Space Station assembly complete at the end of this decade, NASA will retire the Space Shuttle and put crew and cargo on different launches, a safer approach to crew transport.

NASA will initiate Project Constellation to develop a new Crew Exploration Vehicle for future crew transport. This vehicle will be developed in stages, with the first automated test flight in 2008, more advanced test flights soon thereafter, and a fully operational capability no later than 2014. The design of the Crew Exploration Vehicle will be driven by the needs of the future human exploration missions described in this document. The Crew Exploration Vehicle might also supplement international partner crew transport systems to the Space Station.”

Leap forward over ten years to 4 December 2014. The Constellation project is history. The Ares I, which had already seen its first test launch, has been scrapped. Now it is the as yet to fly (maybe 2017) Space Launch System and the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (aka, Orion, a spin off of the original Orion). The FIRST flight of Orion, originally slated for today, hopefully will take place tomorrow. The NEXT test flight will happen in 2018. The first MANNED flight is planned for 2021, another 6 to 7 years off! That is plenty of time for the date to slip even further.

Does seventeen years of development seem realistic? It was recently announced that the heat shield will be redesigned. The current one, consisting of 330,000 individually filled honeycomb cells that takes six months to fabricate is being judged as “not practical”. What genius finally figured that one out? Orion is already obsolete. The as yet to be built service module is to be built in Europe using much of the design from the soon to be defunct Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

Any resemblance of the 2014 NASA to the NASA that landed men on the moon is purely coincidental. NASA needs to turn it’s “Air” responsibilities over to the FAA and its “Space” responsibilities to the likes of SpaceX and close shop. It has become nothing more than a political football and money pit.

NASA. We can’t build it quick, but we can do it expensively! (Provided we don’t get close, trash can it, and start all over.)

Welcome to the NEW blog!

Worldspaceflight.com has just moved to a new hosting provider. Since the old blog was mainly used to post page updates and changes, it was considered rather pointless to import the old posts. New blog, new posts, new look.

We may not post very frequently, but you are welcome to share comments on any space related subject at any time. Don’t spam. We aren’t kind to spammers.