Category Archives: Points of Information

What pilots think of the TSA

What pilots think of the TSA. I like this one:

THEY THINK THE AVERAGE TSA WORKER IS AN IDIOT.

If there is one theme that emerges clearly time and again in pilots’ online discussions, it’s disdain for the TSA checkpoint worker. They are “the government equivalent of being a Wendy’s burger flipper,” according to one typical comment from AirlinePilotForums.com. “Barney Fife is more suited for their job,” writes another. Anecdotes frequently portray TSA workers as mindlessly hewing to procedures at the expense of exercising the judgment needed to sniff out the evildoers.

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Why NASA recently pulled the X-34 out of storage

Why NASA recently pulled the X-34 out of storage. Key quote:

The idea to ship the X-34s to Mojave and inspect them originated with a Dryden-based NASA engineer, Brown said. “When he found out this thing still existed … he decided people should take a look to see if it could be refurbished and made flightworthy.” That’s when the contractors came to retrieve the two neglected spacecraft, pictured above en route to the Mojave.

But that doesn’t mean NASA has formal plans to operate the X-34s under its own auspices, now or ever, Brown stressed. Provided they’re in flyable shape, it’s far more likely the space agency will make the X-34s available to private industry. “There are a number of firms interested in these things, developing communications and other technologies,” Brown said. “It would be helpful if they had a vehicle.”

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Saturn moon has thin oxygen and carbon dioxide atmosphere

Saturn moon has a thin oxygen and carbon dioxide atmosphere. Key quote:

“The major implication of this finding at Rhea is that oxygen atmospheres at icy moons, until now only detected at Europa and Ganymede, may in fact be commonplace around those irradiated icy moons throughout the universe with sufficient mass to hold an atmosphere,” said study leader Ben Teolis of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

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Climate change will destroy Thanksgiving

Better stop using that SUV! Global warming will not only destroy the Earth, a food scientist now claims that it will also destroy your Thanksgiving dinner!

Pasty, dry turkey meat along with expensive fruits, vegetables and potatoes could be on the horizon if more variable extremes in regional weather patterns continue as a likely result of climate change, indicates author Neville Gregory.

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Lockheed plans test flight of Orion capsule

The space war continues. Lockheed is now planning a test flight of Orion capsule in 2013. The flight would occur, not on an Ares rocket, but on a Delta IV Heavy. More here.

Specifics of the proposed test flight haven’t been reported before. But those plans may run into flak as Republican lawmakers take control of House committees and subcommittees that oversee NASA, according to industry officials, including competitors, critical of Lockheed Martin’s efforts.

At least some of the incoming Republican panel chairmen and other senior GOP lawmakers, these officials said, may view the proposed test flight as circumventing congressional language to quickly develop a new heavy-lift NASA rocket able to transport astronauts past low-earth orbit. Congress has adopted language strongly favoring space-shuttle derived rockets for this purpose, rather than a version of the Delta IV. The Delta IV is operated by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co.

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Discovery’s launch delayed until December 17 at the earliest

Discovery’s launch delayed until December 17 at the earliest. Key quote:

Shannon said that one of the concerns was that another major crack might liberate a piece of insulating foam large enough to damage Discovery, as happened during the January 2003 liftoff of Columbia. A suitcase-sized chunk of foam punched a hole in Columbia’s wing, dooming the ship and her crew of seven astronauts when they reentered the atmosphere.

Shannon said that teams were also examining the possibility that the tanks have been flying with undetected cracks for years.

Cracks became more common after the 1998 debut of “super-lightweight” tanks built with a more brittle aluminum-lithium alloy. Since then, 29 cracks in stringers making up the ribbed “intertank” section that separates liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks have been found and repaired in 18 tanks, including Discovery’s and a tank scheduled for use by the shuttle Atlantis next summer.

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ISS next expedition main, backup crews to begin exam

This week the Russians will give “final exams” to the main and backup crews for the next expedition to ISS.

Though NASA constantly rates its astronauts, it does not give them “exams.” This whole procedure (as well as how this Russian article is written) gives a nice flavor of the cultural differences between the U.S. and Russia.

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Saving NASA’s astrophysics budget and Webb

The struggle to find $1.5 billion to save NASA’s astrophysics budget as well as the overbudget James Webb Space Telescope. Note that this article once again allows a variety of NASA managers and scientists push the false story that Webb is a replacement for Hubble. It is not. Hubble looks at the universe mostly in optical wavelengths, as our eyes do. Webb will be an infrared telescope. It will do wonderful things, but different things than Hubble.

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Gore admits that ethanol was bad policy

Gore admits that he knew that ethanol in cars was bad environmental policy, but voted for it anyway to win votes in the 2000 election. Key quote:

“One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president,” the former vice president said.

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