Orbital ATK orders second Atlas 5 for launching cargo to ISS

In the heat of competition: Even as it has accepted delivery of two new Russian engines to power its Antares rocket, Orbital ATK has ordered a second Atlas 5 rocket to launch its Cygnus cargo capsule to ISS.

I suspect they want to give themselves some cushion time to test and install these new Russian engines prior to an actual launch. In order to fulfill their contract with NASA, however, they have to launch several times next year, thus requiring more replacements for Antares.

Where is Pluto’s nitrogen coming from?

As New Horizons’ engineers download data and plan future maneuvers to fly past one of two candidate Kuiper Belt objects, the science team today outlined the background mystery of Pluto’s nitrogen.

Pluto’s atmosphere is similar to Earth’s in that it is predominantly composed of nitrogen (N). But Pluto’s atmosphere is ~98% N, while Earth’s is only ~78% N. Pluto’s atmosphere is also considerably thinner than Earth’s with ~10,000 times lower pressure at the surface.

The nitrogen in Pluto’s atmosphere (in the form of N2 gas) is actually flowing away and escaping the planet at an estimated rate of hundreds of tons per hour. We also see what looks like flowing ice on Pluto’s surface in high resolution images made by New Horizons. The water ice (H2O) that we are familiar with on Earth would be completely rigid and stiff at Pluto’s surface temperatures, but ice made out of N2 would be able to flow like a glacier. So where does all of this nitrogen come from?

They have rejected comets as a source, and have predicted that geologic activity on Pluto itself could dredge the nitrogen up from the planet’s interior. (This prediction by the way was made before the New Horizons’ flyby, which has proved it likely.)

If their theory ends up the answer, then they will also prove that Pluto is losing mass, albeit slowly. Nitrogen from within is being processed out of the interior, into the atmosphere as gas, and then into space because Pluto’s gravity is too small to hold it.

July 4th flash flood captured on video

An evening pause: Hat tip to caver Ray Keeler. As noted by Walt Willis, who had tipped Ray off and knows some of the people on this rafting trip,

They were rafting on the San Juan river and camped in a side canyon for the night. It started to rain so they all went under an overhang to stay dry (good decision). The person in blue (doing all the yelling) is my Cousin.

There are obvious lessons to be learned here. One never ever discounts “Luck”. They lost some of their gear but left with their lives. My Cousin was yelling at one of her friends not to go out and try and save anything.“ He thought better of the idea and stayed put. She proved that the sign above my desk is not always correct (“You Can’t Fix Stupid”).

Astronomers chart the universe’s slow death

Using data gathered from more than 200,000 galaxies, astronomers have been able to measure the slow decline in the universe’s energy output since the Big Bang.

The fact that the Universe is slowly fading has been known since the late 1990s, but this work shows that it is happening across all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the infrared, representing the most comprehensive assessment of the energy output of the nearby Universe. “The Universe will decline from here on in, sliding gently into old age. The Universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze,” concludes Simon Driver.

I wish to note the significant uncertainty of this result. While this result is important and does strongly suggest that the universe is dying, 200,000 galaxies is hardly a significant representation of the universe’s galaxy population.

Ten years after the Russians did it, NASA finally produces lettuce in space

Lots of news stories today about yesterday’s lettuce feast on ISS, where a Japanese and two NASA astronauts chowed down on lettuce grown in a NASA-built space greenhouse, ten years after the Russians did it with the American-built and still working LADA greenhouse.

Almost all the stories below, however, fail to note that earlier effort, and instead make the false claim that this NASA experiment is the first to grow lettuce in space.

Only the last article, written at an alternative space news website normally focused on the collection of space memorabilia, gets it right, noting that the Russians did it more than a decade ago and have since then been regularly growing lettuce, peas, and radishes on ISS — and eating them. (They also link to the 2003 Air & Space article I wrote on this very subject.)

Meanwhile, take a scan of all the important mainstream news outlets above, none of whom did the slightest bit of research or fact-checking so they could find out that NASA’s experiment now is not the first, and in fact is more than a decade behind an earlier co-operative effort between the Russians and Utah State University.

This should make you wonder if maybe their other news research is as sloppy.

Update on Boeing’s CST-100

This article provides an update on the status of the construction of Boeing’s CST-100 manned capsule.

It also describes NASA’s lobbying effort with Congress to get the full budget it had proposed for the construction of the commercial crew spacecraft.

I note instead the apparent bureaucratic focus of all the work Boeing seems to be doing.

Following the CBR [Certification Baseline Review], Boeing successfully completed the Ground Segment CDR (Critical Design Review) on 4 December 2014 before moving onto the Phase 2 Safety Review (Part B) in early January 2015. By mid-March, Boeing completed the Phase 2 Safety Review (Safety Technical Review Board Readiness) and moved on to the Delta Integrated CDR, which took place on 27 March 2015.

Since then, Boeing has spent the summer months conducting the Phase 2 Safety review (STRB 80%) as well as producing the CDR for the launch elements of the program and the Qualification Test Article Production Readiness Review.

Moreover, in late July, teams at the Kennedy Space Center began building the Structural Test Article (STA) for the CST-100 capsule inside former Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3 (OPF-3).

Lots of reviews, but notice in the last paragraph they have only begun building the first capsule. As much as these reviews might help them make sure they are doing things right, they seem to create a situation where the company is able to slow-walk construction to help NASA with its congressional lobbying effort, while simultaneously making it sound like they are accomplishing a lot.

Sudden outburst activity on Comet 67P/C-G

jet on Comet 67P/C-G

Cool image time! As Comet 67P/C-G approaches perihelion, Rosetta is detecting and imaging more and more activity coming from the nucleus, including a power outburst lasting less than a half hour.

In the approach to perihelion over the past few weeks, Rosetta has been witnessing growing activity from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, with one dramatic outburst event proving so powerful that it even pushed away the incoming solar wind.

The comet reaches perihelion on Thursday, the moment in its 6.5-year orbit when it is closest to the Sun. In recent months, the increasing solar energy has been warming the comet’s frozen ices, turning them to gas, which pours out into space, dragging dust along with it.

The three pictures above were taken 18 minutes apart. The first shows nothing, and in the last the jet has almost completed dissipated. In the middle image, however, the jet is well defined, and data from the spacecraft indicated that it was so strong that it “had pushed away the solar wind magnetic field from around the nucleus.”

The troubles caused by Obamacare in Colorado

Finding out what’s in it: This excellent article outlines honestly the problems Obamacare is causing for the health insurance business, resulting in one-third increases in premiums in Colorado.

The seeds of RMHP’s current financial strain were sewn in 2014 when all health insurance carriers were required by the Affordable Care Act to sell insurance to anyone, without exception, Salazar said. That brought thousands of sick Coloradans with pre-existing conditions into the new health insurance marketplace. People previously denied insurance could now obtain coverage, she said.

In all, Colorado has added about 600,000 people to the health care system since 2013, including 140,000 people who signed up for individual coverage through Connect for Health, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. At the same time, 450,000 people enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Colorado Trust reported.

Many new enrollees were among the sickest because they failed to seek medical treatment in the past because of a lack of insurance, ErkenBrack said. The ACA prevents insurance carriers from pricing insurance products as traditionally done in the past because it prohibits the exclusion of people with pre-existing conditions, Salazar said. Without the ability to exclude or charge someone more in premiums based on health status, it’s much more difficult for insurance actuaries to establish proper premiums. Accurately anticipating the number of claims and their cost, then setting the right premium, is how insurance companies earn income.

To pay for these sick customers the insurance companies are forced to raise rates. In this case, they need a 34% increase to pay the cost. If they don’t get it, they will lose money and eventually go out of business. And if they do get it, they face ruin anyway because no one can afford these rates.

Thank you Democrats and Obama! Your wisdom in destroying the health insurance industry knows no bounds! It is just what the American people wanted!

The mobile launch building at Vostochny

At their new spaceport at Vostochny, the Russians are building a moveable launch building that will enclose their Soyuz rockets prior to launch.

Painted in elegant blue and white and standing almost 50 meters high, the Mobile Service Tower, MBO (for Mobilnaya Bashnya Obsluzhivaniya), is designed to provide personnel access to the Soyuz rocket during the countdown to liftoff from its launch pad in Vostochny. The structure can be also used to service the pad after launch and to process the rocket in case of an aborted liftoff.

With the tower in place, technicians can easily reach practically any part of the rocket as high as 37 meters above the surface of the launch pad. Internal access bridges of the tower surround the upper portion of the first and second stage, the third stage and the payload fairing.

The article also notes that “for decades, Soviet soldiers and officers and later their Russian civilian successors had to brave winter cold and summer heat preparing Soyuz rockets for launch on open-air gantries in Baikonur and Plesetsk. But in a sign how times have changed, the new generation of rocketeers will be protected from snow and rain with a climate-controlled tower completely enclosing the Soyuz rocket before liftoff from its newest launch pad at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome.”

The irony here is profound. Big moveable buildings is how NASA has been doing it since Apollo. It is also what Boeing’s Delta family of rockets uses at Vandenberg in California. It is also why the Saturn 5 was and the Delta is so expensive to launch.

SpaceX abandoned such complicated structures in designing its Falcon 9, and instead decided to copy the old Soviet method of simple buildings for horizontal assembly and the simple horizontal transport to the launchpad. This appears to save a lot of money while simplifying rocket assembly.

That the Russians are now copying NASA’s more expensive but fancy mobile building approach means that, once again, their government is making decisions not based on efficiency but the prestige their political decisions can give them. From a competitive perspective, this is not going to benefit the Russia space effort, in the slightest.

But their workers will be more comfortable while they assembly those rockets!

Mauna Kea visitor center reopens

The visitor center on Mauna Kea was reopened this weekend after a month closure that supposedly forbid access by the public.

And yet, for that entire month, the state has allowed the protesters opposing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to remain camped across the street.

To me, this illustrates where the state’s loyalties lie. They might talk a tough game, but they are really doing nothing to enforce the law and the legally negotiated agreements between the astronomical community and the various Hawaiian cultural institutions that had agreed on the conditions for building TMT. By allowing the protesters to continue to break the law and set up house on the mountain, the state is saying they really want construction to cease.

I say, maybe the time has come for astronomers to agree, and move lock, stock, and barrel south to Chile. In addition, maybe tourists should consider other places to visit, rather than a place that exhibits such hostility to outsiders.

Houston trying to steal land from two churches

Fascists: Having failed to intimidate religious leaders when the city of Houston tried to subpoena their sermons, the city is now trying to use eminent domain procedures to shut down two churches.

The fifth ward is located just outside of downtown. Property values in the area have skyrocketed and continue to climb. The City of Houston offered to purchase the churches. When the churches refused, the city came back with threats of using eminent domain to acquire the property as part of an urban development plan.

More here. Texas state law, written and passed after the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v New London, expressly forbids this kind of eminent domain taking. Moreover, the taking appears to specifically violate the first amendment rights of these two churches.

Quick! Guess what to which political party the Houston mayor belongs!

Scientists narrow the next Mars rover candidate landing sites to 8

Jezero Crater

For the next Mars rover, scheduled to launch in 2020, scientists have now narrowed their candidate landing sites to eight, with Jezero Crater (pictured on the right) the favorite choice.

The top vote getter was Jezero crater, which contains a relic river delta that could have concentrated and preserved organic molecules. “The appeal is twofold,” says Bethany Ehlmann, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. “Not only is there a delta, but the rocks upstream are varied and diverse.”

The image clearly shows the scientific attraction of Jezero Crater, with an obvious meandering river canyon opening out into an obvious river delta. The crater in the delta will also give them an opportunity to do some dating research, since that crater had to have been put there after the delta was formed.

The choice however illustrates the difference in goals between scientists and future colonists. Scientists are looking for the most interesting locations for understanding the geological history of Mars. Future colonists want to find the best places to establish a home. Jezero Crater, as well as the other eight candidate sites, do not necessarily fit that settlement need. For a colonist it might be better to put a rover down on the flanks of Arsia Mons, one of Mars’ giant craters where scientists have evidence of both water-ice and caves. None of the candidate sites, however, are aimed anywhere close to this volcanic region, because scientifically it is not as interesting.

This is not to say that the candidate sites might not be good settlement sites. It is only to note that the focus of these scientists is research only. Furthermore, it is probably premature anyway to look for settlement sites. We need to know more about Mars itself.

Footage of the Red Baron from 9/17/17

An evening pause: No music this time, only some history. Hat tip Tim Biggar, who notes “Couple of interesting things: The Fokker used a 9 cyl radial (clearly seen when they prime the cyls before takeoff). Unlike most modern designs, the crankshaft was bolted to the frame and did not rotate. The prop was bolted to the engine case and the entire engine case rotated. Lots of gyroscopic force made it hard to maneuver.

“The ‘flight suit’ and the gauntlets are worth noting.

“I think that may be Goering on the left (plain uniform with Iron Cross) at the 3:05 mark.

“At the end we see a Sopwith he shot down and the Brit pilot who lived.”

I note the sense of comradarie between these pilots at the end. In World War I there still was a sense of behaving civilly (as in civilization) even during war.

Stratolaunch shifts to the small sat market

The competition heats up: Even as Vulcan Aerospace, the company building the Stratolaunch air-launch system, considers its options for the second stage rocket that it will use, it has decided to shift its focus towards the small satellite market, including cubesats.

In a sense, they are now aiming at the same cubesat/smallsat market that Virgin Galactic wants with its LauncherOne air-launched rocket. Whether they can build a system cheap enough for these small satellites to afford, however, remains the big question. Their shifting focus, like Virgin Galactic’s, does not bode well for them.

Stratolaunch of Huntsville, Alabama, has already gone through two earlier iterations of its launch vehicle. When Stratolaunch unveiled its plans in December 2011, it planned on using a variant of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Less than a year later, though, Stratolaunch announced it was ending that agreement because SpaceX wanted to focus on the standard version of its Falcon 9.

Stratolaunch then teamed with Orbital Sciences Corp., now Orbital ATK, to develop a launch vehicle. That rocket, called Thunderbolt, featured two solid-fuel stages provided by ATK and an upper stage powered by RL-10 engines from Aerojet Rocketdyne. Like the earlier SpaceX design, Thunderbolt was designed to launch medium-class payloads.
Chuck BeamesChuck Beames. Credit: Vulcan Aerospace

Stratolaunch, though, has set that design aside as it seeks to launch smaller satellites, where the company sees a burgeoning market.

One wonders if the cost of building Stratolaunch will be more than this smallsat market can bear.

The bog bodies of Europe

Link here. The peat bogs preserve the bodies, providing scientists a window into the past. However, the bodies exhibit one mysterious tendency: violent death.

Since the 18th century, the peat bogs of Northern Europe have yielded hundreds of human corpses dating from as far back as 8,000 B.C. Like Tollund Man, many of these so-called bog bodies are exquisitely preserved—their skin, intestines, internal organs, nails, hair, and even the contents of their stomachs and some of their clothes left in remarkable condition. Despite their great diversity—they comprise men and women, adults and children, kings and commoners—a surprising number seem to have been violently dispatched and deliberately placed in bogs, leading some experts to conclude that the bogs served as mass graves for offed outcasts and religious sacrifices. Tollund Man, for example, had evidently been hanged.

Read it all. It is a fascinating combination of history, archeology, and forensics.

Russia delivers to Orbital ATK the first two new Antares engines

Even as Orbital ATK begins to wrap up their investigation into the October launch failure of their Antares rocket, Russia delivered on July 16 the first two new replacement engines.

The RD-181 motors will be used in the first stage of the rocket. They will replace aging AJ-26 engines the company decided to stop using after one of them exploded during a launch last October. The AJ-26s are revamped NK-33 engines left over from the Soviet Union’s manned lunar program.

The first launch of the revamped Antares booster is set for next March. The rocket will carry a Cygnus cargo ship bound for the International Space Station.

Though these Russian new engines will allow Orbital to get Antares back into operation, they do limit that rocket’s marketability in the U.S.

Finger Rock Fire update

During the night the fire seemed to subside somewhat, and today it is raining. I can still see smoke, but no flames. However, the cloudy weather, plus morning is a poor time of day to observe details in the Santa Catalinas because of the angle of the sun, means that this is not a certain observation.

The Forest Service has sent crews up to check on the situation and will report an update later this morning. This news report says nothing about the fire spreading into Ventana Canyon, as it appeared to do to me last night. Hopefully I was wrong and the fire only appeared larger than it was.

Auschwitz commandant outraged over Mengele video


Rudolph Hoess, family man and commandant of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, has been desperately trying to restore the camp’s reputation after some damaging remarks by one of its doctors, Joseph Mengele, were caught on tape and posted online.

Dr. Mengele, who oversees medical services at the camp, was recorded casually speaking of a girl who was suffering complications as a result of HitlerCare. The girl, Eva Mozes Kor, complained of fever, trembling, and swollen limbs that resulted from a series of five free government-funded injections. Mengele is seen on the tape laughing off the matter saying, “Too bad she is so young. She has only two weeks to live.”

To Hoess, such behavior is unacceptable. “I want to be clear,” said Hoess, “that I find the tone of Dr. Mengele’s remarks inappropriate, and that he has been properly reprimanded. Furthermore, I wish to emphasize that nobody on the staff at this concentration camp in any way profits from the clothing, valuables, cash, and gold fillings that are reallocated from our guests. While some evidence, which was tragically burned, may have indicated an occasional impropriety, we nevertheless pride ourselves in offering compassionate care at this facility, no matter what.”

Read it all. His outrage at the way the video was obtained will tell you who the real villains are in this story. How dare someone slander the reputation of these fine individuals!

Big fire in the mountains above Tucson

At sunset tonight I went out into my back patio to enjoy the evening air and noticed smoke trailing off from the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. Taking a closer look with binoculars I discovered a major forest fire blazing on the front range of the Santa Catalina mountains, about a thousand feet above the city.

To give the layout, our home is on the west side of town, on a hill that overlooks the city. The Santa Catalina Mountains border the north side of Tucson, about ten miles away. (Below the fold is a short video showing the mountains and the smoke, taken today from the west side on one of the overpasses above the interstate, slightly south of my home. The video shows a view similar to what I can see.)

The fire, dubbed the Finger Rock fire after the canyon in which it started, was originally ignited by lightning last week, smoldered for a week, then re-ignited today and is spreading fast. While Diane and I watched this evening we saw the flames leap across from Pontatoc Ridge to the opposite wall of the adjacent valley, Ventana Canyon, which Diane and I last hiked in 2013. I saw flames that were easily 100 feet high.

We have hiked on Pontatoc Ridge. That trail is certainly badly damaged or destroyed. The lowest parts of the fire now appear to be burning at about 500 feet above the nearest homes in the foothills below. When it jumped into Ventana Canyon it appears to move uphill, so at the moment no one’s home is threatened. This is a very very rugged area. It will be difficult for fire crews to get there, no less work to control the blaze.

As the evening progressed and darkness set in the extent of the fire became easier to see, as the flames now stood out in the darkness through the smoke. Though the Forest Service seems sanguine about it, this is not a trivial fire. It threatens the entire front range of the Santa Catalinas, which is one of Tucson’s major recreation areas. Worse, it is close enough to the city that it poses a threat to the homes in the foothills.

Stay tuned for updates.

» Read more

NASA extends Russian crew ferry contract through 2019 for $490 million

Lobbying Congress: Claiming that the unwillingness of Congress to fully fund its effort to build commercial manned space ferries, NASA announced today that it has extended its contract with the Russians through 2019, at a cost of $490 million.

For the next fiscal year, House Republicans have proposed allocating nearly $250 million less than the request, while Senate Republicans would offer $300 million less. If Congress doesn’t increase the allocation, Boeing and SpaceX likely will receive orders to immediately suspend all operations either next spring or summer, Bolden said. And if those orders are issued, Bolden said the existing contracts “may need to be renegotiated, likely resulting in further schedule slippage and increased cost.”

According to this article, the extension has also increased the cost per astronaut flight from $71 to $82 million.

The irony here is that I do not believe Congress’s cuts to this program have slowed SpaceX’s effort down in the slightest. I expect that, barring more flight failures or orders from NASA to stop work, they could fly their first manned Dragon flight by 2017.

Boeing however is probably dragging its feet, since it really isn’t that much interested in achieving manned flight as much as squeezing cash out of Congress. It is probably thus eagerly working with NASA in this lobbying effort.

Meanwhile, the Republican idiots in Congress are claiming — falsely — that these cuts are forced on them by sequestration. This is a lie, as they have, at the same time they have cut commercial crew, increased the budget for SLS. If they were really interested in serving the needs of the nation they would have cut SLS, which can’t accomplish anything and is a terrible waste, and sent the money to commercial crew instead.

But then, who said they were interested in serving the needs of the nation? It doesn’t appear that way to me.

TMT protesters gather outside IAU conference in Hawaii

Two quotes from the article I think clarify what is going on here. First, one of the protester signs illustrated very clearly the level of ignorance and foolishness of the protesters;

“We don’t want your big toy telescopes on our sacred mountain.”

Then there was this significant point noted in the article:

The demonstrators are a diverse group but are generally led by men and women in their twenties who were educated in modern Hawaiian-language immersion schools. Decades ago, children were beaten for speaking the language; today it is a source of cultural pride and a touchstone for Hawaii’s burgeoning sovereignty movement.

In other words, for the past few decades the public schools in Hawaii have been focused on teaching young Hawaiians to hate American culture and whites. Instead, race and ethnicity come before concepts of freedom and individual rights. How nice. (If you don’t believe me spend just a little time studying what these native peoples courses teach. I’ve seen it here in Arizona as well as in New York. They really do teach anti-Americanism and a hatred of whites.)

However, considering that Hawaii has been controlled exclusively by leftwing Democrats for decades, no one should be surprised.

The sunspot decline continues

On Monday NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity in July. As I have done every month since 2010, I am posting it here, below the fold, with annotations to give it context.

Sunspot counts continue to decline at a rate faster than predicted or is usual during ramp down from solar maximum. Normally the ramp down is slow and steady. This time it has so far been more precipitous. While the 2009 prediction of the solar science community (indicated by the red curve) suggests minimum will occur sometime after 2020, the actual counts suggest it will occur much sooner.

» Read more

Curiosity looks ahead at its future travels

The future terrain at Mt Sharp

Cool image time! The above image is a cropped version of a full resolution image taken by Curiosity of the terrain the rover will be traveling in the coming years.

I have also enhanced the contrast slightly to bring out the details. The terrain is rugged and very diverse, from rounded buttes to rocky outcrops.

Gravel and sand ripples fill the foreground [not shown in my cropped version above], typical of terrains that Curiosity traversed to reach Mount Sharp from its landing site. Outcrops in the midfield are of two types: dust-covered, smooth bedrock that forms the base of the mountain, and sandstone ridges that shed boulders as they erode. Rounded buttes in the distance contain sulfate minerals, perhaps indicating a change in the availability of water when they formed. Some of the layering patterns on higher levels of Mount Sharp in the background are tilted at different angles than others, evidence of complicated relationships still to be deciphered.

Traversing this rugged terrain will be a challenge but it is necessary to obtain data that will help decipher its origins. The immediate goal will be to reach the light brown terrain in the distance. In the full image, that region gently slopes upward to the left to the mountain summit, providing a route to the rover’s eventual goal.

Texas government officials kidnap 11 children illegally from parents

Fascists: Because of a single false report to Child Protection Services (CPS), government officials illegally kidnapped the eleven children from their parents, and are now imposing their rule on the family.

The mother was in the hospital for three days being treated for pancreatitis. During that time period, her husband came to visit twice, bringing their youngest baby with him while leaving the remaining kids under the care of the oldest kids, 16, 14, and 12 years old, a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Members of a church the family formerly attended reported this to CPS. CPS then lied to a visiting judge, claiming the children had been left alone for three days, in order to get the court order to remove them. Moreover,

The order for the removal of the children was signed by visiting Judge Curt Henderson, while the sitting judge was on vacation. The sitting judge had reportedly previously denied the removal. According to protocols, the visiting judge reportedly should not have signed the emergency removal order without notifying the parents’ attorneys first. The apparent violation is believed to be the reason that the children were returned home.

In addition, they now have less than a week to find a new place to live.

They also have to find a house to move to, and move, by August 8, because a police officer who accompanied the social worker decided to phone the Rembis’ landlord and allegedly accused them of violating their lease. They received the eviction notice the day after the children were seized. When no lease violations were found, the landlord reportedly decided not to renew their lease. They still have to move. [emphasis mine]

Worse, even though the removal was illegal, CPS now has its claws in the family. If the parents do not do exactly as the government demands it will then steal the children again, and will be in a better position to make that removal stick.

Read the whole story. It will make you ill.

Airbus patents design for a supersonic ramjet airplane

The competition heats up: Two Airbus engineers have gotten a patent for a supersonic jet that would use suborbital space engineering, including hydrogen-oxygen engines as well as a ramjet, to fly at 20 to 30 miles elevation.

On a typical flight, it would take off like a conventional plane using ordinary turbojet engines, but once in the air, an open door in the stern of the plane reveals a rocket motor. When this fires, it sends the aircraft into a near vertical trajectory, accelerating it to supersonic speeds.

As the airplane approaches Mach one, the turbojets shut down and retract into the fuselage. On completion of the acceleration phase the plane is now flying at anywhere from Mach 4 to Mach 4.5 at an altitude of 30,000 to 35,000 m (100,000 to 150,000 ft). The rocket motor shuts down and is again concealed as the aft door slides shut to reduce drag. A ramjet now kicks in and the aircraft cruises along its flight path and can cover a range of 9,000 km (5,600 mi) in three hours – the equivalent of Tokyo to Los Angeles or Paris to San Francisco. Meanwhile, the wing fuselage design dissipates the sonic shock wave over 110 to 175 km (68 to 109 mi) and angles it at 11 to 15 degrees so it doesn’t reach the ground. At the end of the journey, split flaps reduce speed and the turbojets take over for approach and landing.

As the article notes, it is unlikely this jet will ever be built, as patented. The patent however illustrates the growing interest by commercial operators of these radical aerospace designs. While this specific design might never fly, many aspects of it are going to start appearing in flying ships in the next few decades.

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