Monthly Archives: August 2017

Angola establishes its first space strategy

The new colonial movement: Angola has enacted its first space strategy, aimed at encouraging a new space industry in that nation.

The document is mostly government bureaucratic blather. More important, it seems mostly centered on what Angola’s governmental space agencies will do in the future. The policy makes nice about encouraging the private sector, but offers little to actually accomplish this.

Nonetheless, this action once again shows that more and more countries across the globe want in on the exploration of the solar system. The international competition is going to be fierce.

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Dream Chaser test vehicle completes captive carry flight

Capitalism in space: Sierra Nevada’s engineering test vehicle for testing the glide abilities of its planned Dream Chaser shuttle craft successfully completed a captive carry test flight today.

After a long delay following the award of their cargo contract, it appears they are finally moving forward.

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Evergreen State College faces budget deficit

This is good news: Evergreen State College now faces a significant budget deficit because of a sudden drop in enrollment.

Administrators at The Evergreen State College have announced that the embattled school faces a massive $2.1 million budget shortfall due in part to a drop in enrollment, and the institution has already handed out some temporary layoff notices as officials grapple with balancing the books.

In an Aug. 28 memo to the campus community titled “Enrollment and Budget Update,” officials report that fall 2017-18 registration is down about 5 percent, from 3,922 students to 3,713. But the problem is nearly all of the students they lost are nonresidents, who traditionally pay a much higher tuition to attend, officials explained in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

I can’t understand why anyone at this time would want to go to this college. The administration there was clearly willing to allow mobs of thugs roam the campus, threatening to beat up both students and teachers who dared express any dissent to the thugs political demands. The sooner this school either goes bankrupt, or undergoes a complete change in its administration and staffing, the better.

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Akatsuki finds super-rotating equatorial jet on Venus

Japan’s Venus orbiter Akatsuki has discovered a previously unseen equatorial jet with wind speeds that often exceed 200 miles per hour.

The winds, named “equatorial jet” by the research team, were found from July to August 2016 when an infrared camera captured images of areas about 45 to 60 kilometers above the planet’s surface. The areas are invisible at optical wavelengths due to extremely dense clouds of sulfuric acid. The camera spotted thick clouds traveling at a speed of 288 kph to 324 kph near the planet’s equator.

Based on the news reports, it appears the significance of this discovery is that they identified a particular jet stream at a specific latitude. Previous observations did not have that resolution.

This would have been posted in the morning, but the internet access here in this Torrey hotel is almost as slow as what I experienced in Glacier. I had it written, but I sinply couldn’t get it to post this morning.

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Problems with 6 of 72 cubesats launched by Soyuz

Of the 72 cubesats launched by a Russian Soyuz rocket on July 14, 6 have unexpected problems.

Four of the 72 miniature satellites sent into orbit July 14 on a Russian Soyuz 2.1a rocket alongside the primary customer, the Kanopus-V-IK Russian Earth-imaging satellite, are not responding to commands from their operators and two additional cubesats are not in their intended orbits.

It appears that a variety of causes are behind the problems, not all of which are related to the Soyuz.

Posted from Torrey, Utah, just outside Capitol Reef.

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Global warming and Glacier National Park

One of the main activities for almost everyone visiting Glacier National Park is to drive across the park on Going-to-the-Sun Road, which crosses the mountains and probably has some of the most spectacular scenery of any road in the United States. During our visit this week we entered the park from the west side, spent several days there hiking trails, then took this road across to the east side, where we did more hiking.

The highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road is Logan Pass. The park service has built a visitor center there, where everyone stops to do a short hike and admire the views. The trail head for the more challenging Highline Trail, which we did soon after arrival, is also here.

Outside the Logan Pass visitor center are a variety of displays. One focused on the changing environment at Glacier, and not surprisingly, it made a point of talking about the documented shrinkage of the glaciers during the past century. Below is an image of the pertinent quote from that display:

Display outside Logan Pass visiter center

When I saw this I was quite amused. The glaciers in the park are expected to be gone in only three more years, by 2020? Not a chance. I thought, they are going to have to change this sign soon. In fact, based on my experience with past failed global warming predictions, I was actually surprised they had let this display stay there this long, and hadn’t already made it vanish to be replaced with a new doomsday prediction that was far enough in the future that they could use if for awhile to generate new fear (and funding) before it too turned out to be wrong.

Anyway, in driving east and down from Logan Point, Diane and I eventually reached the east entrance to the park, where there was another visitor center. Like Logan Pass, this center also had a collection of outdoor displays, with one display once again focused on the park’s changing environment. Below is the pertinent quote from that display:
» Read more

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SES flips satellites between SpaceX and Arianespace launches

Capitalism in space: In order to accelerate the launch of a needed satellite, SES
to flip the satellites between contracted SpaceX and Arianespace launches.

Their ability to do this now demonstrates the wisdom of SES’s policy in the past decade of aggressively supporting SpaceX. The result is that the company now has a much greater flexibility in how it gets its satellites into orbit.

Posted as we drove through Bynum, Montana.

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Dream Chaser engineering vehicle completes tow tests

Capitalism in space: Sierra Nevada’s engineering test vehicle for testing its Dream Chaser design has completed tow tests at Edward Air Force Base in California and is now being prepared for flight tests.

Posted on the back roads of Montana during our drive from Glacier to Capital Reef.

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Russia and China to team up to explore Moon?

Russia and China appear ready to sign a cooperative agreement involving the joint exploration of the Moon from 2018 to 2022.

The deal is expected to be signed this October and will bring significant benefits to both nations, particularly in manned and future missions to the moon….

The bilateral agreement will cover five areas including lunar and deep space exploration, developing special materials, collaboration in the area of satellite systems, Earth remote sensing, and space debris research.

No details yet. Moreover, the deal itself has not yet been signed, so this might all vanish into the ether. It does appear however that Russia’s financial problems are forcing it to partner with others, and China presently has a very sophisticated but inexperienced space program and lots of cash. Russia’s experience would be a great help to China, until they don’t need it anymore. Thus, the logic of the agreement.

Posted from the lobby of the Swiftcurrent hotel at the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park. Diane completed a 10 mile hike today early, so we have the afternoon to relax. Tomorrow we make the long drive south to Capital Reef.

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North Korea launches another missile

North Korea has launched another ballistic missile.

Not much information yet about its range or capability.

Update (now that I am off the mountain and back in the lobby, able to post): It appears North Korea successfully launched three short range ballistic missiles on Saturday.

Initial reports had suggested that all were failures. Now it appears that all were successful, flying about 150 miles.

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Firefly emerges from bankruptcy

Capitalism in space: Firefly Aerospace, the company that was forced into bankruptcy when it lost a Virgin Galactic lawsuit for stealing their proprietary engineering, has emerged from bankruptcy.

The full article is behind a paywall, but it appears that the company includes its same management staff under a new owner.

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Astronomers produce best image yet of a star

The uncertainty of science: Astronomers have produced the best image so far of the surface face of a star.

The star is Antares, and it provides some details of the star’s complex outer layers. If I was home and had good internet access, I’d post it here.

At the same time, it should be noted that this is not a real image. It is recreated from four telescopes, using interferometry to combine the images, and also includes it a great deal of assumptions and uncertainties in its creation.

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Private Japanese company to test fly again by December

Capitalism in space: Interstellar Technologies, the private Japanese rocket company attempting to enter the launch market with a low cost suborbital rocket, will attempt a second test flight before the end of the year.

Their first test flight failed to reach space when they had a communications problem and had to terminate the mission early.

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SpaceX’s flight suit for manned trips to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this week unveiled the flight suit that passengers will wear during their Dragon flights to and from ISS.

This is not strictly a spacesuit. It has limited capabilities, and can essentially only be used during the ferry flights. Nonetheless, I guarantee it as well as Boeing’s were developed for far less and much quicker than anything NASA could have come up with.

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SpaceX launches commercial satellite, lands 1st stage

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched Taiwan’s first homemade commercial satellite.

They also landed the first stage successfully on their barge.d

After a short hike this morning Diane and I decided to relax the rest of the day. Time to catch up on other stuff.

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Glacier: Why I am not posting this week

The picture below will help explain why I am not posting much this week. My wife Diane and I are in Glacier National Park, and today we did a 12 mile hike on the Highline Trail, considered by many to be one of the best trails in the U.S. I’ve done a lot of hiking in my life, and I have to agree.

I hope good internet access will return next week, and I will be able to post regularly again. Until then, make sure you look real close at the picture. On the right, at the end of the trail line, is a person. This will give you a sense of the scale here.

Highline Trail

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The Eclipse

The eclipse approaching totality

Just arrived at Glacier, where the internet access is bad, and there is no cell service. Thus, this might be my last post for the week. I will try to post in the evening, but this is a vacation, so it will not be my first priority. If I could do it in my room that would okay, but I have to go down to the lobby of the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Anyway the image to the right was taken by me by holding my hand filter out at arm’s length, blocking the sun, and snapping a picture with my camera. It came out far better than I expected, as you can actually see the sun in the filter, partly blocked.

Totality was amazing. I was amazed by two things. First, how quiet it became. There were about hundred people scattered about the hotel lawn, with dogs and kids playing around. The hotel manager’s husband set up speakers for music and to make announcements, but when totality arrived he played nothing. People stopped talking. A hush fell over everything. Moreover, I think we somehow imagine a subconscious roar from the full sun. Covered as it was, with its soft corona gleaming gently around it, it suddenly seemed still.

Secondly, the amazing unlikeliness of the Moon being at just the right distance and size to periodically cause this event seemed almost miraculous. Watching it happen drove this point home to me. And since eclipses themselves have been a critical event in the intellectual development of humanity, helping to drive learning and our understanding of the universe, it truly makes me wonder at the majesty of it. I do not believe in any particular religion or their rituals (though I consider the Bible, the Old Testament especially, to be a very good manual for creating a good life and society), but I do not deny the existence of a higher power. Something made this place, and set it up in this wonderous way. Today’s eclipse only served to demonstrate this fact to me again.

Posting will be light for the rest of the week. If I get a chance I will add some more pictures to this post tomorrow.
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Democratic staffer signed off on computer theft by foreign IT workers

New evidence in the scandal surrounding the computer staff used by Democratic congressmen shows that the chief of staff for Yvette Clark (D-New York) apparently okayed the loss of $120,000 worth of missing computer equipment, thus hiding the loss from investigators.

Clarke’s chief of staff at the time effectively dismissed the loss and prevented it from coming up in future audits by signing a form removing the missing equipment from a House-wide tracking system after one of the Awan brothers alerted the office the equipment was gone. The Pakistani-born brothers are now at the center of an FBI investigation over their IT work with dozens of Congressional offices.

A senior House official with knowledge of the situation provided TheDCNF with new details about how exactly the brothers are suspected to have stolen the equipment and possibly data from Congress, raising questions about the members or staffers who were signing the checks on equipment purchases.

The $120,000 figure amounts to about a tenth of the office’s annual budget, or enough to hire four legislative assistants to handle the concerns of constituents in her New York district. Yet when one of the brothers alerted the office to the massive loss, the chief of staff signed a form that quietly reconciled the missing equipment in the office budget, the official told TheDCNF. Abid Awan remained employed by the office for months after the loss of the equipment was flagged.

It is not clear who actually did this, as there was a change in staffing at the time. Either way, it once again appears as if the Awan family had some dirt on the Democrats, and was using it to compel their cooperation in a variety of illegal acts.

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Trump administration to end climate panel

The Trump administration has decided to not renew a pro-global warming climate panel set to expire this week.

The panel is part of the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping officials and policy makers integrate the US Government’s climate change analysis into their long-term planning. A mandate for the 15-member Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment is set to expire on Sunday, and will not be renewed.

The press will paint this panel as an objective collection of climate scientists put together to provide the president with good advice on the climate. In truth, it is a part of the propaganda machine for the global warming part of the climate science community, designed to push their conclusions while excluding any skeptical input.

Once again it appears that while Trump might be wishy-washy on many issues, on climate he is serious about dismantling the corruption that has worked its way into that field while eliminating the over-regulation that this corruption has imposed on American society.

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