March 4, 2014 at 10:00 PM
The Obama administration released its 2015 proposed federal budget today, including its budget proposal for NASA.
The spending plan supports the Obama administration’s decision to extend U.S. operations of the International Space Station to 2024 with about $3 billion, funds NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule with nearly $2.8 billion, and requests $848 million for development of commercial spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and end U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz vehicles.
The budget proposal of $17.5 billion is essential flat, with a 1 percent cut from last year. It also includes proposals for several Earth science missions as well as a mission to Europa. In addition, it grounds the SOFIA airborne telescope, which has turned out to be as expensive to operate as Hubble while being far less productive.
The $848 for the commercial program is approximately the same number the Obama administration has requested every year. Congress has routinely cut this number, but has cut it less each year as time has passed. I suspect that they will cut even less this year, considering the tensions with Russia right now over the Ukraine. We need our own vehicles to ferry astronauts into space, and commercial space is right now the only way it is going to get done.
March 4, 2014 at 3:17 PM
The competition heats up: Airbus plans to do the first drop test a prototype of its commercial space plane sometime in May.
It appears this space plane is designed for both transportation and space tourism.
March 4, 2014 at 8:02 AM
China finally reveals Yutu’s problem: the failure of a control circuit prevents it from storing its solar panels during lunar night.
A functioning control circuit is required to lower the rovers mast and protect the delicate components and instruments mounted on the mast from directly suffering from the extremely harsh cold of the Moon’s recurring night time periods. “Normal dormancy needs Yutu to fold its mast and solar panels,” said Ye. The high gain communications antenna and the imaging cameras are [also] attached to the mast. They must be folded down into a warmed electronics box to shield them from the damaging effects of the Moon’s nightfall when temperatures plunge dramatically to below minus 180 Celsius, or minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit.
March 4, 2014 at 7:58 AM
“What happens if Russia refuses to fly U.S. astronauts?”
The problem: the situation in the Ukraine. If tension between the U.S. and Russia worsens then Russia might suspend carrying American astronauts to and from ISS.
The fault here belongs with Congress and George Bush, who decided in the 2000s to let the shuttle retire before its replacement was ready. In addition we can blame Congress in the 2010s for forcing NASA to spend billions on the unaffordable Space Launch System rather than focus on getting humans into space cheaply and quickly.
March 4, 2014 at 7:49 AM
Fake but accurate: A retired NASA manager is suing the Discovery Channel for its false portrayal of him in a movie about the Challenger shuttle accident.
The suit says that in the movie’s crucial scene Lovingood is shown testifying falsely that the odds of a shuttle failure were much higher than other NASA engineers calculated. … “The clear statement and depiction was that Lovingood lied about the probability of total failure being 1 in 100,000 when NASA’s own engineers said it was 1 in 200,” the lawsuit says. “This movie scene never took place in real life at any hearing. (Lovingood) was never asked to give any testimony as depicted and he did not give testimony to the question shown in the movie in this made up scene.”
“It makes it look like (NASA leadership) ignored a highly risky situation” in deciding to launch Challenger that day, Lovingood’s attorney Steven Heninger of Birmingham said Friday. Heninger said the movie was the network’s “first attempt at a scripted program … and they took shortcuts because they were writing for drama.” The testimony in the movie was not in the investigation commission’s records or Feynman’s book “What Do You Care What Other People Think?,” both of which were sources for the film, the suit claims.
Though NASA management did consistently claim the shuttle was safer than it actually was, to falsely portray this specific individual as the person who said those lies when he did not is without doubt slander. I hope he wins big.
This is, by the way, a nice example of typical media arrogance. If you are going to fictionalize real events for dramatic purposes, you don’t use the names of real people and put words in their mouth when you do so. It leaves you very vulnerable legally to exactly this kind of lawsuit. That the Discovery Channel did so is good evidence they think they are above the law and do not have to care if they destroy people’s lives.
March 4, 2014 at 7:36 AM
Returning the Falcon 9 first stage safely: More details about the next attempt during the next Dragon launch to ISS on March 16.
Not only will this test do more engine burns, they will attempt the first deployment of the stage’s landing legs. The article also gives more details about the last launch test, as well as the Grasshopper tests.
Posted from Tucson, Arizona, at last home!
February 28, 2014 at 4:40 AM
The story of the early history the Russian spaceport at Baikonur.
February 28, 2014 at 4:17 AM
The inspirational life of the oldest Holocaust survivor whose genius for the piano enabled her and her son to survive a Nazi death camp.
It can happen here. We must remember, it can happen here.
February 28, 2014 at 3:43 AM
Finding out what’s in it: After six months of trying and failing to cancel an unwanted Obamacare health insurance plan, a Florida man is now considering shutting his bank account to prevent the plan from automatically withdrawing money from his account.
Remember, the Democrats in Congress and President Obama refused to negotiate any changes to Obamacare in October, thereby forcing the government shutdown. They also were the only ones to vote for Obamacare. These facts must not be forgotten come November.
February 28, 2014 at 12:15 AM
One of the publishers who had published numerous fake peer-reviewed papers generated by a computer program has responded aggressively to fix the problem.
And by aggressive I mean positively. They have removed the fake papers and are reviewing everything they’ve published, with the help of the guy who exposed the fakes, to make sure there aren’t any other fakes not yet identified. They also say they are reviewing their procedures to figure out how this happened and to prevent it from happening again.
February 28, 2014 at 12:06 AM
Working for the Democratic Party: Just hours before she was scheduled to testify about IRS harassment of conservatives at a House hearing, the head of a conservative organization was called by an IRS official, telling her that her organization’s tax exempt status had finally been approved, after waiting more than 3 years.
As she noted, “And this is not political?”
February 27, 2014 at 11:45 PM
The spoiled rotten kids of DC’s elite.
The article documents in great detail how elected officials use their power to get great jobs for their kids. Not surprisingly, since this article is written by a modern journalist who favors this corrupt elitism, it starts out by describing the corruption involved with this favoritism, then shifts into finding excuses for it.
February 27, 2014 at 11:40 PM
Bad news for free speech: A federal appeals court has ruled that schools can ban the American flag in order to prevent violence.
The court’s ruling: School administrators can force you to remove your American-flag tee if the alternative is a classmate punching you in the face. That’s because, per the Supreme Court, students don’t have the same free speech rights at school that adults do on other public grounds. At school, the name of the game is order and instruction; you’re entitled to free expression to the extent you don’t interfere with those goals, but once you do, the school’s entitled to limit your expression accordingly.
In other words, a bully can get the principal’s office to silence you by promising to beat your ass if they don’t.
This is, as Eugene Volokh notes, a classic “heckler’s veto” in that it rewards a violent actor by suppressing the speech that’s irritated him instead of punishing him for being violent.
So, according to this ruling, the only people who will have free speech will be those willing to threaten, and even use violence. A foolish and mindless ruling, if I ever saw one.
February 27, 2014 at 11:32 PM
Working for the Democratic Party: Even as the IRS was admitting last year that its harassment of conservatives was a mistake, the agency was working up its new rules to make the harassment official policy, under pressure from Democratic elected officials.
And what about the new official policy?
The tax agency has floated an outline of new rules that would limit those groups’ ability to host candidates, distribute voter guides or conduct voter registration or get-out-the-vote drives. A three-month period for public comments closed on Thursday, and the IRS had posted more than 115,000 comments. They were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed rules, with both conservative and liberal-leaning groups saying the rules would stifle their ability to participate in important public debates.
One joint comment, filed by a dozen groups ranging from the immigration advocacy America’s Voice and the liberal American Civil Liberties Union to the right-leaning American Conservative Union and tea party-aligned FreedomWorks, asked the Obama administration go back and start over on the rules.
February 27, 2014 at 11:17 PM
The problem with spam in the comments continues. In order to gain some control over the situation until we can get the spam filter working again, I have changed the settings so that comments on every post close after 14 days. While this might force the end to any discussion prematurely, it also reduces significantly the posts to which spam can be sent. This in turn makes it easier for me to approve the legitimate posts while deleting the spam.
Sorry for the inconvenience. I still hope to have things fixed soon.
February 27, 2014 at 11:13 PM
On Thursday Japan successfully launched the NASA-built Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory (GPM), designed to track the climate’s rain and snowfall.
This Earth observation satellite will supplement TRMM, which has been tracking rainfall in the tropics since 1997.
February 27, 2014 at 1:06 PM
The Obama administration’s Interior Department has decided to let the people in a remote Aleut community die rather than risk the lives of the birds in a wildlife refuge.
The Aleuts have tried for three decades to get permission to build a 11 mile long gravel road to connect their village with the nearest hospital. The federal government has repeatedly denied them permission because part of that road would go through a wildlife refuge. During that time 19 people have died because they couldn’t get to adequate medical facilities due to the lack of transportation. The quote below from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is quite amazing, revealing starkly how little she (and the rest of the Obama administration) cares about the lives of others.
During an August visit to Alaska, Jewell was told that building a road that connects King Cove and Cold Bay was vital. But in December, Jewell rejected the road saying it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge. “She stood up in the gymnasium and told those kids, ‘I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals,” Democratic state Rep. Bob Herron told a local television station. “You could have heard a pin drop in that gymnasium.” [emphasis mine]
The comments about this story on this webpage are right on the money. The Aleuts should build that road anyway, and dare the federal government to do something about it.
But I like this comment the best: “I’ve been saying for years that progressives LOVE humanity–they just hate actual people.”
February 27, 2014 at 11:44 AM
The archeological discovery of a gladiator school in Austria has revealed many details about their daily lives.
Discovered at the site of Carnuntum outside Vienna, Austria, the gladiatorial school, or ludus gladiatorius, is the first one discovered outside the city of Rome. Now hidden beneath a pasture, the gladiator school was entirely mapped with noninvasive earth-sensing technologies. The discovery, reported Tuesday evening by the journal Antiquity, makes clear what sort of lives these famous ancient warriors led during the second century A.D. in the Roman Empire. “It was a prison; they were prisoners,” says University of Vienna archaeologist Wolfgang Neubauer, who led the study team. “They lived in cells, in a fortress with only one gate out.” The discovery shows that even outside Rome gladiators were “big business,” Neubauer says. At least 80 gladiators, likely more, lived in the large, two-story facility equipped with a practice arena in its central courtyard. The site also included heated floors for winter training, baths, infirmaries, plumbing, and a nearby graveyard. …
“They weren’t killed very often, they were too valuable,” Neubauer says. “Lots of other people were likely killed at the amphitheater, people not trained to fight. And there was lots of bloodshed. But the combat between gladiators was the point of them performing, not them killing each other.”
The article unfortunately doesn’t explain the last quote. If the gladiator battles did not end in death — as movies portray them — what then was the nature of their performances?
February 27, 2014 at 9:26 AM
Working for the Democratic Party: The harassment of conservatives by the IRS was instigated by Democratic elected officials in Congress and the White House, in plain sight for all to see.
Read it. The author documents numerous examples of Democrats from 2010 to 2013 demanding the IRS do exactly what it ended up doing, harass and shut down the activities of their opponents. And they did it publicly, with pride. And they are still doing it.
February 27, 2014 at 2:08 AM
Modern cop to person filming him: “You just lost your free speech rights!”
Watch the video at the link. Quite offensive.
February 27, 2014 at 1:21 AM
The treasure trove of gold coins found by a California couple on their property might be the gold coins stolen from a 1901 heist of the San Francisco mint.
This article also explains why the couple has remained anonymous, as they fear the federal government is now going to step in and steal their find from them.
February 27, 2014 at 12:54 AM
The war of space names continues: Despite the disapproval of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the space company Uwingu has announced another private commercial naming project for the craters of Mars.
Starting today (Feb. 26), anybody with an Internet connection and a few dollars to spare can give a moniker to one of the Red Planet’s 500,000 or so unnamed craters, as part of a mapping project run by the space-funding company Uwingu. “This is the first people’s map of Mars, where anybody can play,” said Uwingu CEO Alan Stern, a former NASA science chief who also heads the space agency’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. “It’s a very social thing.”
Sounds fun, and a clever way for this company to raise capital. Whether these names stick is an entirely different thing. Uwingu has as much right to assign names to objects as the IAU, but so far the IAU’s fake authority in this matter carries more weight.
February 27, 2014 at 12:48 AM
An image of North Korea taken from ISS illustrates starkly the failure of a state-run top-down dictatorial society.
As is typical for today’s leftwing political correct journalism, this reality is attributed not to communism but to vague generalities. North Korea is a “rogue state” or “North Korea stands alone as an unusually isolated nation, where residents live under a familial dictatorship,” statements that embarrassingly avoid the truth. The rulers of North Korea, like Cuba, refused to reject communist when the Soviet bloc fell in 1991 and have thus left their countries and the people trapped within them poor and bankrupt.
Aren’t you glad that today’s Democratic Party here in the United States considers leftwing dogma the height of progress and a goal worthy of emulation?
February 27, 2014 at 12:32 AM
An investigation into the dangerous leak of water into a spacesuit during a spacesuit last July has found that NASA engineers had missed an earlier failure of the same suit.
The leak had first happened in a spacewalk a week earlier, and engineers misdiagnosed the problem. In addition, it appears they didn’t look closely enough at it.
Meanwhile, the investigation has pinpointed the cause of the leak as a clogged filter, but still could not trace what caused that clog.
February 27, 2014 at 12:26 AM
Using archived Kepler data combined with statistical modeling, scientists have proposed the discovery of another 715 exoplanets.
This announcement is neat, but despite the many news stories about it today, it should be taken with a grain of salt. What the scientists have really done is pinpoint 715 stars where further research is likely to produce good exoplanet results. It is not guaranteed, however, that a scientist looking at these stars will actually see an exoplanet.
February 26, 2014 at 3:58 PM
The comment problem continues. I am sorry to say that even our temporary solution, where previously approved commenters would continue to be able to post, has not worked. At the moment I am periodically scanning the unapproved comments, most of which are spam, and manually approving valid comments as I find them. Please accept the possibility that if your comment has not yet appeared, it will do so eventually, but it might take a couple of days for this to happen. The good news is that new commenters will be able to post, though it will take time to get approved.
I apologize for this problem. Hopefully all will fixed in a couple of days.
February 26, 2014 at 12:10 PM
“So we do live in a jackboot society.”
The video, also below the fold, is long but worth watching to the end. It will send chills up your spine. You will also never want to visit Electra, Texas.
February 26, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Layers and layers of peer-review: Two publishers of scientific journals have withdrawn 120 papers which they have discovered were nothing more than computer-generated gibberish.
Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labbé, say that they are now removing the papers. …
Labbé developed a way to automatically detect manuscripts composed by a piece of software called SCIgen, which randomly combines strings of words to produce fake computer-science papers. SCIgen was invented in 2005 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge to prove that conferences would accept meaningless papers — and, as they put it, “to maximize amusement” (see ‘Computer conference welcomes gobbledegook paper’). A related program generates random physics manuscript titles on the satirical website arXiv vs. snarXiv. SCIgen is free to download and use, and it is unclear how many people have done so, or for what purposes. SCIgen’s output has occasionally popped up at conferences, when researchers have submitted nonsense papers and then revealed the trick.
The real story here is that many of these gibberish papers were peer-reviewed by actual scientists who are supposedly experts in their fields and should have spotted the fakery immediately. That they didn’t suggests another level of corruption. Either they don’t really bother to peer review the papers they are asked to peer review, or they knew what was going on and were part of the game.
That this kind of stuff happens repeatedly in many fields of science should make us all very skeptical of any controversial scientific claim that carries with it any political component. This doesn’t mean that all published material is fake, only that we must not take anything on faith. Controversial results had better be bomb-proof before we accept them willingly.
February 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Modern American intellectualism: Harry Reid insists in a speech on the Senate floor that the Obamacare horror stories being reported daily “are all untrue.”
He then attacks the sick patients themselves for telling these stories, calling them liars.
I call this modern American intellectualism because it jibs with the typical level of open-mindedness seen in modern intellectuals when it comes to climate science and any data that throws doubt on the theory of global warming.