Monthly Archives: February 2018

Cape Town about to run out of water

The coming dark age: Cape Town in South Africa will run out of water on April 16 if it does not rain soon.

Officials estimate that if water levels continue to fall as expected, South Africa’s second most populous city will run out of water by April 16, which has been dubbed “Day Zero.” Experts are keeping a close eye on daily consumption in a desperate bid to avoid the disaster, warning residents tempted to ignore measures that they face fines and the installation of water-management meters if they do not comply.

It may seem unthinkable that a developed city of four million could run out of water but it’s been a slow-burning catastrophe exacerbated by some uncontrollable factors. Cape Town been enduring the worst drought in a century for the past three years. A changing climate and rapidly growing population have made matters worse. And as the crisis has taken hold, Capetonians have not been doing enough to curb their water use, further aggravating the scarcity. Only an estimated 55% of the city’s residents are actually sticking to their allotted water per day, according to last week’s figures issued by authorities.

The city is now working to upgrade its water systems — rushing to build desalination, aquifer and water-recycling projects — and help stretch the current supply, but officials say residents need to step up, too. [emphasis mine]

It is interesting to me that this CNN article seems to downplay the South African government’s lack of planning while instead focusing on the failure of residents to ration themselves. The real scoop here however is this: “Why did the government let this situation get to this point?” Such incompetence should have been the highlight of the article, and in the past would have been. Now, the journalists at CNN feel obliged instead to make excuses for them.

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A SpaceX expansion at Boca Chica spaceport?

SpaceX’s request to the Texas government for an additional $5 million commitment might be because the company wants to expand on its original plans for its Boca Chica spaceport, and needs additional infrastructure work from the local authorities.

State Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, said SpaceX asked legislators to set aside funds to support space-related companies and operations in the state, though the money would not be specifically earmarked for SpaceX or the Boca Chica project. The company also has a rocket development facility in McGregor.

Oliveira, who helped assemble a coalition of key legislators to secure the $5 million in development aid, said some of the money might be used to support rocket operations beyond what SpaceX previously has said it wants to do at Boca Chica. “About a year ago, SpaceX came to me with their concept of a new, larger, expanded plan for Boca Chica Beach,” Oliveira said. “The concept went well beyond conducting launches, and would require new commitments for construction, investment and jobs to support the new operations.”

This could simply be a lobbying technique by Oliveira to get more money. Or it could be because SpaceX has actually decided to expand its plans for Boca Chica, which has the advantage over Florida in that the company would have no scheduling conflicts as the spaceport would be theirs entirely.

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Russia successfully completes first 2018 launch, from Vostochny

Russia today successfully placed two Earth resource satellites plus nine smallsats into orbit, using their Soyuz 2 rocket launching from their new spaceport in Vostochny.

This was the second successful launch from Vostochny, out of three total.

The 2018 launch standings:

5 China
2 SpaceX
2 ULA
1 Russia
1 Europe
1 Rocket Lab
1 India
1 Japan

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