LADEE impact site located

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted the impact crater formed when engineers sent the probe LADEE crashing into the lunar surface in April 2014.

Compared with asteroid and meteoroid impacts on the moon, LADEE was actually traveling pretty slow, ‘only’ 3,800 miles per hour (1,700 meters per second). That combined with the relatively low mass and density of the spacecraft, a fairly neat crater of only 10 feet (3 meters) across was created. The crater barely registered in LROC’s image resolution, making it a very difficult task to identify the fresh man-made divot.

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Doctors flee Obamacare

Finding out what’s in it: Because of low reimbursements, complex paperwork and regulations, and requirement that doctors treat patients even if they don’t pay for treatment, almost a quarter of a million doctors have opted out of Obamacare.

Remember, it was the Democratic Party and Barack Obama that gave us Obamacare, and only them. They got no help from anyone else, and actually were not interested in anyone else’s advice. They knew better, and the result has been this disaster. Remember this on election day.

Antares launch failure

Immediately after lifting off from the launchpad this evening, Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket exploded, falling back onto the launchpad.

We will have to wait for more details, but regardless this is bad news for Orbital Sciences. The bidding for the second round of cargo contracts to ISS is about to begin, and they will have competition from Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser. This accident will hurt them.

I’ve embedded footage of the launch failure below. The damage to the launchpad itself could be the worst aspect of this, as it will cost Orbital Sciences a great deal of money and time to get the pad rebuilt.

Rosetta begins maneuvers for November 11 Philae landing

Rosetta today successfully completed an 82 second engine burn to adjust its position relative to Comet 67P/C-G, both to get better pictures of the Philae landing site as well as begin the maneuvers for getting into position for that landing.

Obamacare forces actors’ union to drop older members from healthplan

Finding out what’s in it: Actors’ Equity Association, the union for stage actors, is dumping its older members from its health insurance plan because of the rising costs of Obamacare.

I guarantee to you that more than 80 percent of the members of this union voted for Obama and support Democratic policies blindly. Now those policies are blind-siding them cruelly, as this quote from the article demonstrates:

“They keep saying there’s a comparable Obamacare option, but there’s not,” one actor said. “I won’t be able to afford to go to [my doctor] anymore.”

Will these liberal actors change their votes? I am pessimistic. From the late seventies to the mid-nineties I worked in the movie industry, and during that time I observed a strong hostility and close-mindedness among this community for any political ideas not labeled “Democratic.” They are the most partisan people I have ever met, and will probably carry that partisanship to their graves — which is likely to happen sooner now that Obamacare is there to “help” them.

The Grand Tetons used as the Obama adminstration’s private playground

The law is for the little people: Obama administration officials, including Vice-President Joe Biden, have been routinely using a closed lodge in Grand Teton National Park for their personal and family vacations.

Vice President Biden and several top White House officials have vacationed with their families at the same log cabin in Grand Teton National Park. Located on Jackson Lake, the rustic getaway is the perfect escape from the fast-paced Washington grind. The cabin also happens to be owned by the federal government, and was banned 20-some years ago by the National Park Service for anything other than “official use.”

This abuse is really not restricted to just elected officials. Park officials also often take advantage of their positions of power to use park facilities for their own pleasure that they ban the public from using.

Engine failure forces emergency landing of Russian cargo plane with European satellite

A Russian plane carrying a European commercial satellite was forced to make an emergency landing today when one of its engines failed.

The plane landed safely without mishap. The incident does once again raise questions about the quality control standards within the Russian aerospace industry.

Obamacare website easy to hack

It appears the wrong people can find out what’s in it: The Obamacare website, which has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions if not a billion dollars (depending on who you ask), turns out to be very easy to hack.

The website requires those enrolling for ObamaCare to supply their first and last name, home address, social security number and paying information — including credit card data. Lamar Smith, chair of the committee looking after the security of the website, said there had been hearings on the “lack of security” around the website. He told Fox News: “What we”ve discovered is that it seems to be easy to be hacked, the security is not secure.

It appears the site was hacked on July 8 but the hack wasn’t discovered until August 25. That gave the hackers almost two months to rummage through the personal files of Americans. How nice.

NASA treats Congress like a doormat, again

Stupid: More than a month after publicly awarding commercial crew contracts to SpaceX and Boeing, NASA has yet to brief Congress on the reasons for its decision.

“To date, the Committee has not been briefed on the source selection, nor has it received the source selection statement, despite the fact that the offerors have been briefed, details were released to the press, the [Government Accountability Office] is now involved; and NASA has decided to proceed with the contracts,” Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) wrote in a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden dated Oct. 21. Smith and Palazzo chair the House Science Committee and House Science space subcommittee, respectively.

“We hope that NASA will not expect taxpayers to blindly fund billion-dollar programs absent any information related to the procurement or contract,” wrote Smith and Palazzo, who are ardent supporters of the Space Launch System, major contractual details of which were only finalized this year and have not yet been made public.

These elected officials are not NASA’s allies when it comes to commercial space, so giving them too much information is probably dangerous. At the same time, the choice of Boeing was certainly done to ease their concerns, and keeping them out of the loop is only going to turn them against the commercial space contracts. It serves no purpose. NASA should instead be trying to show them why picking SpaceX and Boeing made sense, and how these two multi-billion dollar contracts will bring many jobs to their districts.

If NASA doesn’t do this basic political massaging, these guys are simply going to try to cut commercial space out when it comes time to negotiate the budget, as they have already tried to do several times in the past.

But then, when it comes to politics this behavior by the Obama administration is par for the course. They might have the right idea, farming out space exploration to the private sector, but their political implementation has often left much to be desired.

Third launch for China in a week

The competition heats up: China today launched its third spacecraft in a week with the launch Monday of a military satellite.

Monday’s mission was the third Chinese space launch in a week, coming after the Oct. 20 liftoff of the Chinese military’s Yaogan 22 reconnaissance satellite and the Oct. 23 launch of a demonstrator probe on a looping flight around the moon and back to Earth to verify technologies for use on a planned mission to retrieve and return lunar samples. Overall, the launch of Shijian 11-08 marked the ninth Chinese space launch of 2014.

Hubble gives Jupiter a giant eye

Jupiter's Giant Eye

By timing things perfectly, scientists have used the Hubble Space Telescope to take a very cool image of Jupiter, with the shadow of its largest moon Ganymede cast into the planet’s Giant Red Spot.

The science from this image is somewhat limited, but damn, it sure is a neat demonstration of our modern ability to do amazing things with technology.

Click on the link for the full image.

Largest sunspot in a quarter century spews flares

The largest sunspot seen in about a quarter century produced another powerful X-class flare today, the sixth in less than a week.

This was the sixth X-class solar flare from NOAA 2192, a record for the number of X-class flares generated by a single group so far this solar cycle. It was also the fourth X-class flare since last Friday, continuing a period of intense flaring activity. This sunspot group has grown again a bit, and maintains its magnetic complexity. A degradation of the HF radio-communication was observed over South-America, the Caribbean, and West-Africa.

The last sentence is referring to some radio communications blackouts that have occurred in these areas because of the flares. For more information about the sunspot itself, go here.

And in case you hadn’t noticed, as predicted by many doomsday fear-mongers in the science community, our technological civilization was destroyed by these flares and we are now all dead.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats are all Obama rubber-stamps

A vote for Obama: Every single one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for the Senate voted with Obama more than 96 percent of the time.

As senior writer Shawn Zeller writes in this week’s CQ Weekly cover story, Democrats … have been distancing themselves from Obama on the campaign trail not in votes on the Senate floor — whether it be Mark Udall of Colorado, Mark Pryor of Arkansas or Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana: “Udall disagreed just once, on a Pennsylvania state judge’s nomination to a federal district court. Pryor parted with Obama three times, and Landrieu four, but only one of those votes was on a policy matter. In July, Landrieu voted against Obama’s request for $2.7 billion to deal with the surge of Latin American children entering the U.S. illegally.” Indeed, all of the most vulnerable Democrats voted with President Obama at least 96 percent of the time on the 120 votes on which Obama has urged a “yes” or “no” vote.

There are many take-aways you could get from this story, but I want to emphasis one: These Democratic candidates are all liars and consider the voters stupid. By claiming in their campaigns and debates that they are independent of Obama they are telling us that they think you are too stupid to see through their lies and will vote for them anyway.

Bottom line: a vote for a Democrat this election is a vote for the policies that Barack Obama has foisted on this country the past six years. Is that what we really want?

Note: Sorry for the lack of posts today, but up until now I have honestly not seen anything in the news that I consider worth posting.

Obamacare causes AIDS drug prices to skyrocket

Finding out what’s in it: Because Obamacare has forced AIDS patients off their old health plans, their cost for drugs has skyrocketed.

I wonder how many of these patients, most of whom are gay and thus mostly liberal and supporters of the Democratic Party, will continue to vote Democratic. I wonder if they will finally begin to connect the dots, and realize that their loyalty to the Democratic Party might literally be killing them.

Kid makes interception and scores and is punished

Sick world: An 8-year-old boy took an interception in for a touchdown in a kid’s football game and his team is fined and his coach is suspended.

CBS 46 reports the Lawrenceville Black Knights were winning against their opponents, 32-0, in the fourth quarter. Burrell then intercepted a pass and went through with the touchdown, failing to comply with the league’s mercy rule. That six-point score caused the Georgia-based team to surpass the 33-point rule, which earned the coach a week-long suspension and the team a $500 fine.

Burrell’s mothers, Brooke Burdett, told CBS 46 that she and her son were “beyond excited” at first, before learning of the fine. “He had no idea” Burdett said. “This is his first year. This was his first touchdown. He is an 8-year-old boy making a pick-six.”

Heaven forbid we have an 8-year-old boy achieve something cool, get thrilled about it, and think he can do great things in the future. Noooooooo, we have to squelch that sense of worth and achievement so that the failures in life won’t have hurt feelings.

These idiotic parents and the people who run this league obviously don’t remember what it is like to play kids’ sports. Boys aren’t crushed by these kinds of defeats. Instead, most boys use the experience to figure out how they can win the next time. By denying them this lesson in life you act to cripple them.

The IRS steals property and cash

Theft by government: The IRS admits to seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars of private assets, without any proof of illegal activity, merely because there is a law that lets them do it.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up and settle the case for a portion of their money. “They’re going after people who are really not criminals,” said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. “They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”

The article describes several specific cases, all of which are beyond egregious and are in fact entirely unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights is very clear about this: The federal government cannot take private property without just compensation.

ISS data lowers radiation risk for humans in space

Good news: Data collected on ISS for the past decade now suggests that the human body does a better job of shielding its internal organs from space radiation than previously believed.

For an astronaut working inside the space station, the overestimate was about 15 percent — a fairly close correlation given that the station’s exterior shell provides much of the protection needed.

But for astronauts working outside the station, the radiation absorption measured was substantially less than what had been registered by the personal dosimeters worn by astronauts. “Measurements of a personal dosimeter dramatically overstate the exposure of an astronaut, in the worst case by a factor of three,” according to a summary of the results by a Euro-Russian team. “[I]n an outside exposure the self-shielding of the human body is very effective. … [T]he effective dose equivalent is less than 30 percent higher than in an inside exposure.”

In other words, humans could fly 30 percent longer in space with the present shielding and suffer far less exposure than expected. Though this data is for operations in low Earth orbit, it still provides a strong counter to the bad news recently released about the high amounts of dangerous radiation expected in interplanetary space due to the Sun’s recent low sunspot activity. Even if radiation levels are higher, the human body is more resilient than expected. Interplanetary space travel is still possible.

Lawsuit could delay Cygnus cargo flight in April

A lawsuit between Orbital Sciences and one of its subcontractors threatens to delay the planned April launch of Antares/Cygnus to ISS.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 21 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, centers around a roughly $2 million contract Orbital Sciences awarded in 2013 to defendants Integrated Systems and Machinery of Smithtown, New York, and its owner, Kevin Huber. The contract called for Huber’s company to build new gimbals and cylinders for the hydraulic system used by the slow-moving, truck-like Transporter Erector vehicle that hauls Orbital’s Antares cargo rocket and Cygnus space freighter out of their Wallops Island, Virginia, hangar and raises them vertical at their Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch pad over a kilometer away.

Orbital’s third cargo run to the ISS — which at press time was still slated to launch Oct. 27 — can proceed without the withheld hardware. However, Orbital is obligated under an agreement with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s host state to upgrade the Transporter Erector before launching its fourth contracted cargo run, the debut of a bigger, heavier Cygnus cargo tug.

I don’t really expect this dispute to delay the April launch. What we have here is a case of hardball negotiations, with the subcontractor using the situation to try to squeeze more money out of Orbital Sciences. In the end they will come to an agreement and the upgrade will be installed.

Falcon 9 first stage to land on floating platform

The competition heats up: During an event at MIT on Friday Elon Musk revealed that SpaceX will to try to land first stage of the next Falcon 9 launch on a floating platform.

“We actually have a huge platform that’s being constructed in a shipyard in Louisiana right now,” Musk said in the interview, which was webcast live. He described the platform as about 90 meters long by 50 meters wide. “We’re going to try and land on that on the next flight.”

If the stage successfully lands on the platform, Musk said, it could potentially fly again. He put the odds of success at no greater than 50 percent for this particular attempt, but was more optimistic about the company’s chances of landing on the platform on a future mission. “There’s at least a dozen launches that will occur over the next 12 months,” Musk said. “I think it’s quite likely — probably 80 to 90 percent likely — that one of those flights will be able to land and refly.”

Based on everything this company has promised and later actually delivered, I would be willing to bet that they will do exactly as Musk says, and that sometime in the next year they will successfully recover the first stage of their rocket, an achievement that will shake the entire launch industry to its foundations.

Democrats demand the right to regulate internet speech

Fascists: The Democrats on the Federal Election Commission on Friday called for the heavy regulation of speech on the internet.

In a surprise move late Friday, a key Democrat on the Federal Election Commission called for burdensome new rules on Internet-based campaigning, prompting the Republican chairman to warn that the Left wants to regulate conservative political sites and even news outlets like the Drudge Report.

Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.

And if you vote for these thugs, you identify yourself as someone supporting fascism.

New sky-diving record by Google executive

The competition heats up: A Google executive successfully set a new sky-diving record on Friday, diving from 135 thousand feet as part of an engineering effort to build “a self-contained commercial spacesuit that would allow people to explore some 20 miles above the Earth’s surface.”

After nearly three years of intense planning, development and training, Eustace began his ascent via a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon just as the sun was rising. It took more than two hours to hit a record altitude of 135,908 feet, from which he separated himself from the balloon and started plummeting back to Earth.

Wearing his specially designed spacesuit, Eustace hit a top velocity of 822 mph during a freefall that lasted 4 1/2 minutes. Jim Hayhurst, director of competition at the United States Parachute Association, was the jump’s official observer. He said Eustace deployed a drogue parachute that gave him incredible stability and control despite the massive Mach 1.23 speed reached during the freefall. Eustace didn’t feel it when he broke the sound barrier, but the ground crew certainly heard the resulting sonic boom, Hayhurst said.

This flight suggests that the technology for doing these kinds of sky-dives from the very edge of space is beginning to mature, and might even be available soon for passengers on tourist flights.

Heath insurance premiums skyrocketed because of Obamacare

Finding out what’s in it: A new study has confirmed that Obamacare caused dramatic cost increases in health insurance premiums in 2014.

Read the article. Its facts are indisputable and quite depressing. Obamacare is destroying the health insurance industry, which in turn will eventually destroy the health care industry.

Why anyone would vote for the people that gave us this law is beyond my comprehension. Unfortunately, millions are going to, and based on my analysis of the trends of recent polls, the Republicans might get a majority in the Senate but just barely. In a sane world (as used to happen in the past), this would instead have been a landslide election, the voters kicking the Democrats out of power and thus forcing that party to clean house and find better people to run as their candidates.

Sadly, too many Americans instead seem to be as disconnected from reality as their leaders, and increasingly choose party over reality and bankruptcy over competence when they vote.

More brainlessness from Ebola experts and government operatives

Disconnected from reality: A liberal doctor, having just returned from Guinea where he was frequently exposed to ebola, wandered about New York City for days, thus ignoring government protocols that required him to limit his contact with outsiders.

Lo and behold, 9 days after his return he is diagnosed with Ebola. But that’s okay, he meant well! He cared!

However, this isn’t the worst of it. The police, after securing the doctor’s apartment, removed their gloves and masks used to protect them and dumped them in an ordinary street trash container on a public street.

Check out the pictures at the website. As stupid and unbelievable as it seems, it’s true. Don’t they see how insane this is, how completely disconnected from reality they are? Sadly no, they don’t. Expect more madness like this in the coming days.

Sierra Nevada announces an X-37B version of Dream Chaser

The competition heats up: In a press release today, Sierra Nevada has announced plans to build a version of Dream Chaser optimized for science research.

The Dream Chaser for Science, or DC4Science, spacecraft is designed to fly independently for short and extended durations to provide customers in such fields as biotech and pharmaceuticals, biology and life science, and material and fluid science with a flexible and evolvable vehicle easily suited for individual mission requirements.

More details here.

I call this version of Dream Chaser a variation of the X-37B because that is essentially what it would be, an unmanned reusable robot vehicle capable of taking experiments into space for periods of time and then bringing them safely back to Earth on a runway.

What Sierra Nevada is doing by announcing this now, shortly after the landing of the X-37B, is selling the concept in an effort to drum up customers who will then invest in the vehicle and thus help fund its construction.

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