Monthly Archives: June 2014

The competition heats up: European aerospace companies Airbus and Safran have signed an agreement to merge their rocket divisions.

The competition heats up: European aerospace companies Airbus and Safran have signed an agreement to merge their rocket divisions.

The companies said the joint-venture would combine Airbus Group’s launch systems with Safran’s propulsion systems, but hinted at broader integration of public and private activities in an effort to duplicate the success of planemaker Airbus. Europe’s Ariane 5 space launcher dominates the market for large commercial satellites but faces growing concerns over its future due to competition from Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), run by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

To respond to the threat, Airbus and Safran aim to lead a drive towards an integrated European launch firm drawing on the lessons of Airbus’s planemaking unit, which was spurred into turning itself from being a consortium into a single company by the merger of transatlantic rivals Boeing and McDonnell Douglas in 1997. [emphasis mine]

The article, like practically every other report about Europe’s space effort in the past two years, singles out the competitive threat being made to their market share by SpaceX. Increasingly, the price reductions being offered by Musk’s company combined with its repeated success in launching payloads into orbit is forcing Europe to cut its own costs and become more efficent, something they have not bothered to do in decades. As result access to space is about to get signigicantly cheaper.

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The IRS claim that two years of Lois Lerner’s emails were lost when her computer crashed is simply not believeable.

Working for the Democratic Party: The IRS claim that two years of Lois Lerner’s emails were lost when her computer crashed is simply not believeable.

More here. And here a Democrat demands a special prosecutor.

I have been traveling so I missed posting the original story about this absurd claim by the IRS. It is a downright lie and a coverup and should be answered with prosecutions and imprisonment.

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After successfully completing its standard prelaunch static fire, SpaceX has delayed the Sunday Falcon 9 commercial launch at the request of its customer which wishes to do further tests of the six satellites on board.

After successfully completing its standard prelaunch static fire, SpaceX has delayed the Sunday Falcon 9 commercial launch at the request of its customer which wishes to do further tests of the six satellites on board.

A new launch date is yet to be determined.

Posted from Durango, Colorado.

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Is Google negotiating to become an investor in Virgin Galactic?

Is Google negotiating to become an investor in Virgin Galactic?

Several stories today say yes, but neither company is commenting. I suspect that if this is true, it is partly because Branson needs to find more investment capital because of the many delays in getting SpaceShipTwo off the ground.

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Sierra Nevada has announced that it plans to do additional test flights in 2014 of its prototype Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle

Sierra Nevada has announced that it plans to do additional test flights in 2014 of its prototype Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle.

This is the same test vehicle that skidded off the runway during its first flight when one of its landing legs did not deploy. The company has never released any images of that smashup, but has said the craft was salvageable. I imagine this announcement is part of the continuing lobbying campaign by all the companies (SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada) competing in NASA’s commercial manned program. NASA is supposed to down select to two companies, maybe only one, by the end of the summer.

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The test of a new parachute system for Mars landing has been delayed until the end of June due to high winds.

The test of a new parachute system for Mars landing has been delayed until the end of June due to high winds.

The space agency was forced to scrub six launch attempts over the past two weeks — the latest and last planned for this Saturday (June 14) — as a result of unusually poor wind conditions at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The balloon-launched Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) craft is intended to help NASA develop the means to land heavier spacecraft, and eventually humans, on Mars.

“All of the vehicle systems [and] our team were ready and prepared for all of the launch days; we were ready to go,” said Mark Adler, LDSD project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “The only thing that held us up was that none of the launch dates had or will have acceptable weather conditions.”

They have literally run out of their available time at the range, and must let others play through first while they renegotiate for a new slot of time later.

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What Cantor’s loss and Graham’s win mean.

What Cantor’s loss and Graham’s win mean.

I think Trende’s analysis here is the best I’ve seen of this ongoing primary election cycle. These three paragraphs especially pinpoint why things are happening as they are:

We are in a deeply anti-Washington environment, both throughout the country and in the Republican Party in particular. In this environment, representatives who pay insufficient attention to what is going on in their districts are in grave danger of losing. There are two components to this explanation.

First, analysts need to understand that the Republican base is furious with the Republican establishment, especially over the Bush years. From the point of view of conservatives I’ve spoken with, the early- to mid-2000s look like this: Voters gave Republicans control of Congress and the presidency for the longest stretch since the 1920s.

And what do Republicans have to show for it? Temporary tax cuts, No Child Left Behind, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, a new Cabinet department, increased federal spending, TARP, and repeated attempts at immigration reform. Basically, despite a historic opportunity to shrink government, almost everything that the GOP establishment achieved during that time moved the needle leftward on domestic policy. Probably the only unambiguous win for conservatives were the Roberts and Alito appointments to the Supreme Court; the former is viewed with suspicion today while the latter only came about after the base revolted against Harriet Miers.

His second component notes that the politicians who understand this environment win, while those who do not lose. Read the whole thing. It will help clarify not only what has happened but what will happen in the coming months.

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A petition signed by 87,000 people wants George Will fired by the Washington Post because he wrote a column saying things they don’t like.

Fascists: A petition signed by 87,000 people wants George Will fired by the Washington Post because he wrote a column saying things they don’t like.

The petition drive was put together by a group called UltraViolet led by Nita Chaudhary.

Who is UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary? In 2004, she was the Democratic National Committee’s first director of online. And she is the former campaign director at MoveOn.Org. … Chaudhary is also the wife of Jesse Lee, the White House’s director of progressive media and online response.

The author then asks this blunt but totally valid question:

And so I ask a genuinely scary question: does the broader progressive movement, which includes the White House media team, believe in free speech? By that I mean the actual kind of free speech, not the increasingly common progressive view where you profess fealty to the First Amendment as an anachronistic legal technicality solely so you can deflect criticism when someone calls out your totalitarian impulses. Real free speech means a culture of free speech, where we all confront opinions that bother us, in the understanding that regularly challenging our assumptions makes us a more thoughtful, cohesive, and, yes, tolerant people.

I think we can safely conclude that Chaudhary and Lee don’t believe in the meaningful kind of free speech.

And Lee is part of the team that runs the White House media operations. What does that tell us about the Democratic Party and the left?

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For half a billion dollars Google has purchased satellite company Skybox Imaging.

The competition heats up: For half a billion dollars Google has purchased satellite company Skybox Imaging.

Google plans to use Skybox’s satellites to make better maps with “up-to-date imagery,” the company said in a statement. “Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief—areas Google has long been interested in.” Skybox has only a single satellite in orbit right now but plans to fly a fleet of them to cover the entire globe at all times. Constantly updated satellite images would be of interest to everyone from agricultural companies and hedge funds to hardware stores. A demonstration earlier this year showed how Skybox satellites could be used to monitor oil reserves from space.

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The investigation into the failure of a Proton launch several weeks ago has been completed.

The investigation into the failure of a Proton launch several weeks ago has been completed.

The May 16 crash of the Proton space rocket was due to a failed bearing in the steering engine’s turbo pump, the chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Oleg Ostapenko, told ITAR-TASS. “The final version agrees with the preliminary findings made at the first stage of the inter-departmental probe. Telemetry and analytical information indicate that apparently a bearing in the turbo pump failed.

The information so far released is still a little vague in details. Whether the Russians will be more forthcoming is also not clear.

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On Monday Boeing unveiled a full mockup of its CST-100 manned capsule.

The competition heats up: On Monday Boeing unveiled a full mockup of its CST-100 manned capsule.

In September NASA will select one or two companies to build manned spacecraft to ferry humans to and from ISS, which explains the recent spate of press shows by these companies each pushing their spacecraft design.

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Engineers have returned to full operation the x-ray instrument on the Swift gamma-ray burst space telescope.

Engineers have returned to full operation the x-ray instrument on the Swift gamma-ray burst space telescope.

They are still investigating what went wrong this week, but have figured out how to get the instrument back in full automatic robotic mode so that it can gather x-ray data on gamma ray bursts within seconds of their occurence.

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For the past four years the glaciers in Glacier National Park have stopped shrinking.

The uncertainty of science: For the past four years the glaciers in Glacier National Park have stopped shrinking.

“We had this sort of pause,” Fagre said of shrinking at Sperry Glacier and, by extrapolation, other glaciers. “They pretty much got as much snow as they needed.” Sperry covered 0.86 square kilometers in 2005, 0.83 in 2009 and 0.82 in 2013, illustrating the “pause” in its retreat as there was a 0.03 square kilometer loss from 2005 to 2009, but only 0.01 in the last four years, from 2009 to 2013, Fagre said.

The article spends a lot of time talking about how the shrinkage is about to resume and the glaciers are certain to disappear, but this pause in glacier shrinkage corresponds nicely with the 17 plus year pause in warming that has been going on.

And then there’s this: Great moments in climate forecasting.

And this, also from Steve Goddard: In 1971 the world’s top climate scientists said fossil fuels would cause an ice age by 2020.

I especially like the quote from the last article, where these experts say that there is “no need to worry about the carbon dioxide fuel-burning puts in the atmosphere.” These are the same experts who have have spent the past three decades since 1988 telling us that CO2-caused global warming was going to kill us all.

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There is an ongoing rescue of a caver in one of Europe’s deepest cave.

Breaking: There is an ongoing rescue of a caver in one of Europe’s deepest cave.

A team is trying to rescue a 52-year-old man injured in a rock fall in a 1,000m-deep (3,280ft) cave in Germany, in an operation that could take days. The Riesending cave is Germany’s deepest and it took one of the man’s companions up to 12 hours to return to the surface to raise the alarm. Some 200 people are involved in the operation, near Berchtesgaden in southern Germany. The first rescuers reached the man in the vertical cave on Monday.

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Obamacare has caused a significant spike in emergency room use.

Finding out what’s in it: Obamacare has caused a significant spike in emergency room use.

That 12 percent spike in the number of patients — many of whom aren’t actually facing true emergencies — is spurring the Louisville hospital to convert a waiting room into more exam rooms. “We’re seeing patients who probably should be seen at our (immediate-care centers),” said Lewis Perkins, the hospital’s vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer. “And we’re seeing this across the system.”

That’s just the opposite of what many people expected under Obamacare, particularly because one of the goals of health reform was to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by expanding Medicaid and giving poor people better access to primary care. Instead, many hospitals in Kentucky and across the nation are seeing a surge of those newly insured Medicaid patients walking into emergency rooms.

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Orbital Sciences has announced a further delay to July 1 for the next Antares/Cygnus cargo mission to ISS in order to complete its investigation into the failure of a Russian engine during testing.

Orbital Sciences has announced a further delay to July 1 for the next Antares/Cygnus cargo mission to ISS in order to complete its investigation into the failure of a Russian engine during testing.

The total delay is now about a month. The press release provides no information as to the status of the investigation, so why it is taking longer than originally expected is unexplained.

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Why Japan (and Germany) really lost World War II.

Why Japan (and Germany) really lost World War II.

The article also illustrates with facts why Russia would have lost to the U.S. as well if we had fought them then, before they got the bomb.

Read it. The facts are quite astonishing. Moreover, I have read a number of histories of World War II from the perspective of the Japanese and the Germans, and in both cases their experience matches the facts laid out by this article: The depth of the U.S. manufacturing capability — created by freedom and property rights and small government — was beyond anything the Axis powers could match. As the war continued it overwhelmed them.

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Mississippi’s new voter ID law went into effect and there were no problems.

The biggest non-event in this past Tuesday’s election: Mississippi’s new voter ID law went into effect and there were no problems.

As Sid Salter from the Clarion Ledger put it, the voter ID law was a “non-event” and “voters expressed little, if any, inconvenience at the polls due to the new law.” So how is the new law being covered by the media? Instead of reporting that the voter ID law is “sailing through,” the mainstream media has instead elected to remain silent.

The media did not report this non-story because it didn’t serve the partisan fear-mongering of the Democratic Party, which has been claiming since 2000 that voter id laws are designed to suppress the black vote — as if black voters are too stupid to have ID. The truth is that these laws only suppress one thing: voter fraud, something that it appears the Democratic Party depends on all too often to win elections.

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Dozens of Veterans Administration whistle-blowers have been punished by their management for reporting management problems.

Transparency! Dozens of Veterans Administration whistle-blowers have been punished by their management for reporting management problems.

The retaliations included suspensions, demotions, and reassignments.

The VA scandal continues to reveal the kind of future we face with Obamacare.

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Oklahoma today joined Indiana and South Carolina in rejecting the Common Core education standards that have been imposed by the federal government.

Oklahoma today joined Indiana and South Carolina in pulling out of the Common Core education standards that have been imposed by the federal government.

All told, seventeen states are pushing back against the federal standards, with four states, Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia, refusing to participate at all.

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A new analysis of Apollo lunar rocks provides strong new evidence for the theory that the Moon was formed when the Earth was hit by a Mars’ sized planet.

A new analysis of Apollo lunar rocks provides strong new evidence for the theory that the Moon was formed when the Earth was hit by a Mars’ sized planet.

The abstract from this just released science paper summarizes the scientific problem.

Earth formed in a series of giant impacts, and the last one made the Moon. This idea, an edifice of post-Apollo science, can explain the Moon’s globally melted silicate composition, its lack of water and iron, and its anomalously large mass and angular momentum. But the theory is seriously called to question by increasingly detailed geochemical analysis of lunar rocks. Lunar samples should be easily distinguishable from Earth, because the Moon derives mostly from the impacting planet, in standard models of the theory. But lunar rocks are the same as Earth in O, Ti, Cr, W, K, and other species, to measurement precision. Some regard this as a repudiation of the theory; others say it wants a reformation. Ideas put forward to salvage or revise it are evaluated, alongside their relationships to past models and their implications for planet formation and Earth.

The new analysis has found that lunar rocks do differ from Earth in certain ways. Not surprisingly, however, the results have uncertainties.

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Some additional details about Airbus’s spaceplane, its recent successful drop tests, and the company’s future plans.

Some additional details about Airbus’s spaceplane, its recent successful drop tests, and the company’s future plans.

The design has similar to XCOR’s Lynx. It would take off and land from a runway and do a suborbital flight without the need of a mother ship.

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