German instrument on Chang’e-4 documents dangerous radiation levels

This result is not a surprise: A German instrument on China’s Chang’e-4 lander, located now on the Moon’s far side, has measured the radiation levels there, and found them to be much worse than found on Earth.

DLR radiation physicist Thomas Berger from the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine, who participated in the publication explains: “The radiation exposure we measured is a good indication of the radiation inside a spacesuit. The measurements give us an equivalent dose rate – the biologically weighted radiation dose per unit of time – of around 60 microsieverts per hour. For comparison, during a long-haul flight from Frankfurt to New York, the dose rate is five to 10 times lower than this. On Earth’s surface, it is some 200 times lower. In other words, a long-term stay on the Moon will expose astronauts’ bodies to high doses of radiation.”

“Human bodies are simply not made to be exposed to space radiation,” adds Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber of the Christian-Albrecht University (CAU) in Kiel, whose team developed and built the LND instrument . “On longer missions to the Moon, astronauts will have to protect themselves from it – by covering their habitat with a thick layer of lunar rock, for example. This could reduce the risk of cancer and other illnesses caused by long periods of time spent on the Moon.”

Previous instruments had only measured the cumulative radiation for the entire mission. This instrument took multiple readings lasting one, ten, or sixty minutes, which gives a more realistic measure of what an astronaut would actually experience, once there.

MASCOT’s journey on Ryugu

MASCOT's journey on Ryugu

MASCOT’s German science team has released a summary of the lander/hopper’s results and seventeen hour journey across the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. The image on the right, reduced and cropped to post here, shows the spacecraft approach, landing, and numerous hops across the surface. If you click on the image you can see the full high resolution image.

Having reconstructed the events that took place on asteroid Ryugu, the scientists are now busy analysing the first results from the acquired data and images. “What we saw from a distance already gave us an idea of what it might look like on the surface,” reports Ralf Jaumann from the DLR Institute of Planetary Research and scientific director of the MASCOT mission. “In fact, it is even crazier on the surface than expected. Everything is covered in rough blocks and strewn with boulders. How compact these blocks are and what they are composed of, we still do not know. But what was most surprising was that large accumulations of fine material are nowhere to be found – and we did not expect that. We have to investigate this in the next few weeks, because the cosmic weathering would actually have had to produce fine material,” continues Jaumann.

The spacecraft apparently bounced eight times after first contact, then executed three hops. The rubble pile nature that is observed I think explains why the Hayabusa-2 science team decided to delay its own landing for a few months so they could figure out a plan. It really appears that Ryugu does not have any smooth flat spots, as expect.

United Arab Emirates signs space agreement with Germany

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the German Aerospace Center.

The press release doesn’t say much, other than the agreement will facilitate the exchange of information. Since the UAE can contribute little here but money, and none appears to be offered, I am curious as to exactly what is involved. It could be that Germany is looking at this as a form of inexpensive foreign aid, providing help to the UAE’s nascent space effort in order to establish good will and good relations.

Sierra Nevada and German space center increase ties

Capitalism in space: Sierra Nevada and the German Aerospace Center have signed a new agreement increasing their partnership for using Dream Chaser in space.

The current MOU follows a 2013 Technical Understanding between the parties that initiated cooperation on space activities. This new agreement allows the two entities to establish goals and baseline objectives on future missions, scientific contributions and future space architecture for LEO, Cislunar and lunar operations, and deep space exploration.

It is clear once again that Sierra Nevada is trying to find partners who can pay to keep Dream Chaser flying as much as possible, between its cargo missions to ISS.

Soyuz launches successfully from French Guiana

A Russian Soyuz rocket, built for Arianespace and launched from French Guiana, successfully placed a commercial satellite in geosynchronous orbit on Friday.

The launch has some significance. First, it was the first time a Soyuz rocket placed a payload into geosynchronous orbit. Second, the payload was the first satellite built by a German company in more than 25 years

Finally, and most important, it demonstrated that at least one configuration of the Soyuz rocket is still operational as Russia investigates the corrupt practices at the company that has been building upper stage engines for both its Soyuz and Proton rockets.

Update: Russia has revealed that this on-going investigation will now delay the next Proton rocket launch for 3.5 months. This means that launch will occur sometime in May, and will occur just weeks short of a full year after the last Proton launch on June 9, 2016.

A look at the emerging dark age in California

The coming dark age: Victor Davis Hanson took a journey through California recently and what he learned he found quite depressing.

The state bears little to no resemblance to what I was born into. In a word, it is now a medieval place of lords and peasants—and few in between. Or rather, as I gazed out on the California Aqueduct, the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Luis Reservoir, I realized we are like the hapless, squatter Greeks of the Dark Ages, who could not figure out who those mythical Mycenaean lords were that built huge projects still standing in their midst, long after Lord Ajax and King Odysseus disappeared into exaggeration and myth. Henry Huntington built the entire Big Creek Hydroelectric Project in the time it took our generation to go to three hearings on a proposed dam.

His analysis is cogent and worth a careful read. I think the most depressing point he makes is how the priorities of liberal elites of California have no connection with the real needs of the general population, and are thus causing the quality of life for those without gobs of money to decline precipitously.

Stranger still, the infusion of hundreds of billions of global tech capital created a new, politically active, multimillionaire elite, completely insulated from the consequences of their own therapeutic ideologies. The reason why California’s gas and electricity prices are among the highest in the nation, why its income, sales and gas taxes are likewise among the steepest, and why the price of housing per square foot soars over $1,000 while nearby tens of thousands of acres of open ground sit sacrosanct—essential open viewing space for those who can afford $1.5 million, 1,500 sq. feet 1970s houses—is this new rich elite.

California is No Place for the Middle Class

Easy money translated into a utopian view of living. Higher taxes were a small price to pay for the psychological reassurance that a millionaire was still liberal. Professions of abstract progressive piety make guilt-free grasping materialism possible. I suppose if you make $800,000, having your legislature outlaw dogs chasing bears and bobcats instead of building a reservoir makes you feel as if you make $80,000.

We are seeing this pattern repeat everywhere across the country. We are even seeing it repeat in Europe, with the ordinary citizens finding their lives destroyed by Islamic immigrants forced on them by pie-in-the-sky elite elected officials.

The last link is very illuminating. It shows a German townhall meeting where an elected mayor tells his citizens that rather than stop the physical abuse of women by Muslim immigrants the women should run and hide. The crowd understandably reacts in horror and indignation. Whether they will move to replace this mayor and his ilk remains an unknown. In the U.S. too many Americans remain willing to accept the rule of similar elitists, which is why we still have a viable Democratic Party.

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.

Sierra Nevada and Germany sign agreement

The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada has signed a new development agreement with Germany in connection with its Dream Chaser reusable mini-shuttle.

The agreement does not appear to involve any money and thus is largely symbolic. Nonetheless, it shows again that Germany is interested in having Dream Chaser built, and is throwing its support behind the manned spacecraft.

Jews attacked in Germany

The evil returns: In Germany a synagogue is firebombed and a rabbi gets death threats merely because they are Jewish.

As one commenter at the website above explained when another commenter asked for an explanation of anti-semitism, “An example of anti-Semitism is where people in the middle east are shooting at each other and an uninvolved Jewish man in Wuppertal gets death threats because of it.”

Reading the comments and the amount of childish hate that exudes from too many of them will certainly depress you.

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.

The European partnership building the new Ariane 6 rocket struggles to keep its costs down to compete with SpaceX.

The competition heats up: The European partnership building the new Ariane 6 rocket struggles to keep its costs down to compete with SpaceX.

Ariane 5 has been a huge triumph, orbiting half of the world’s communications satellites and claiming 60% of the 2012 world market for geostationary launches. But while the rocket is extremely precise and reliable it is also hugely expensive, with a single-payload flight costing €150-200 million. However, even at that price Ariane 5 launches are understood to be loss-making for ESA’s launch operator, Arianespace. Its high cost in in large part blamed on its industrial organisation; while private-sector SpaceX has tailored the Falcon programme for low cost production, the Ariane 5 project is organised in part to satisfy the demands of European multi-national politics.

Speaking exclusively to Flight Daily News, ESA’s Stefano Bianchi, who heads the Vega programme and now spends much of his time dedicated to Ariane 6 development, stresses that the programme is on course as set out by ESA’s member states, and any major change of configuration would require ministerial agreement.

But, he says, he and his colleagues are confident they can bring Ariane 6 to fruition at the target launch cost of €70 million – a level that would match or even undercut SpaceX. [emphasis mine]

This story is in connection with the conflict between France and Germany about how to build Ariane 6. I have specifically highlighted the cost figures to illustrate once again the reality that everyone in the industry knows (except for one commenter on my webpage), that the cost of a SpaceX launch runs in the neighborhood of $60 to $100 million, one third to half the cost of Arianespace and significantly less than the cost of practically every other launch company.

Any company that realistically wants to compete with SpaceX has to be totally honest about these facts. Their customers are honest about them, for certain.

Update: The CEO of ULA admits that the real cost of its military launches averages about $225 million per launch.

He claims they can get the cost down to $100 million per launch, but only if the military makes a bulk buy of 50 launches from them, but even that barely competes with SpaceX’s accepted launch fees ranging from $75 to $100 million, per launch. No need to buy 50 rockets from SpaceX to get these prices.

The battle between France and Germany on how to replace the Ariane 5 rocket continues.

The battle between France and Germany on how to replace the Ariane 5 rocket continues.

To save money and lower cost, France wants to build a rocket that mostly uses solid rocket motors. Germany however has a problem with this.

German government officials have said they will have difficulty supporting the current Ariane 6 design, which features four identical solid-fueled stages — two as strap-on boosters, and two as the vehicle’s first and second stages — topped by the cryogenic upper stage powered by the same restartable Vinci engine that is the main element of the proposed Ariane 5 upgrade. Germany, through its space agency, the German Aerospace Center, DLR, has said it would prefer a liquid-fueled first stage for Ariane 6 as such a stage could be built in Germany and thus assure a large German industrial role in the program. Without such a role, DLR has said, German support for Ariane 6 might not be forthcoming.

The story above says that France is willing to negotiate with Germany over this, but if they do, they guarantee that Ariane 6 will be a costly rocket to build, making it very unattractive to satellite customers.

The German-built comet lander Philae has been successfully reactivated on Rosetta.

The German-built comet lander Philae has been successfully reactivated on Rosetta.

Philae will be ejected from the Rosetta mothership in November to latch itself onto the comet’s icy surface with harpoons and screws. The lander has its own suite of science instrumentation to take the first-ever photos and measurements from a comet’s surface. Engineers plan a four-week commissioning phase for Philae to check on its health and activate the lander’s 10 instruments.

Germany has funded a study to look into using Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser for its space operations.

The competition heats up: Germany has funded a study to look into using Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser for its space operations.

Named DC4EU (Dream Chaser for European Utilization), the project is to explore ways in which the Dream Chasercan be used to cover German and European requirements for the transportation of payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and for deployment as a manned or unmanned space vehicle allowing German and European scientists to conduct research under weightless conditions over extended periods of time. Given the capability which the Dream Chaser has for reaching orbits at a substantially greater altitude than the ISS, the study will determine the extent to which it is able to supply satellites or remove decommissioned satellites from their orbits.

All hail competition and private enterprise! Sierra Nevada designed it. Sierra Nevada built it. Sierra Nevada owns it. If NASA decides it doesn’t want to buy it, there is no reason the company can’t sell it to someone else, for profit.

France and Germany in the European Space Agency are at loggerheads about the best way to compete in the launch market.

The competition heats up: France and Germany in the European Space Agency are in serious disagreement about whether to replace the Ariane 5 or upgrade it.

The French space agency, CNES, quietly backed by Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium, has argued that the current Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle has only a fragile hold on its current 50 percent commercial market share. Just as important, according to the French reasoning, is that the entire Ariane 5 system, including its ground infrastructure, is expensive to operate and likely to remain so. Because money is short in Europe, it would be preferable to move immediately to a next-generation vehicle that would carry payloads ranging from 2,500 kilograms to 6,000 kilograms — with an extension to 8,000 kilograms — into geostationary transfer orbit, one at a time. This modular vehicle ultimately would replace not only today’s Ariane 5, but also the Russian Soyuz rocket that is now operating from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Set against this reasoning are industrial policy issues raised by the German space agency, DLR, and by Astrium, which is Ariane 5’s prime contractor. They say Europe needs to complete development of an upgraded Ariane 5 — at a cost of about 1.4 billion euros ($1.8 billion) — before embarking on a decade-long development of an Ariane 6 whose cost and industrial work-share distribution are unknown. [emphasis mine]

It is very clear that ESA has recognized that once Falcon 9 becomes completely operational, it will be difficult to get anyone to buy tickets on the very expensive Ariane 5. From the article it appears the battle centers on the fact that the French realize this, while the Germans are willing to look the other way.

Germany announced yesterday that it has approved funding for the design of an in-orbit test of a robot satellite servicing mission.

Germany announced yesterday that it has approved funding for the design of an in-orbit test of a robot satellite servicing mission.

The DEOS project will for the first time demonstrate technologies for the controlled in-orbit disposal of a defective satellite. In addition, DEOS will practice how to complete maintenance tasks – refueling in particular – that extend the service life of satellites. DEOS consists of two satellites, a ‘client’ and a ‘servicer’. The client acts as the satellite requiring maintenance or disposal. The servicer carries out the necessary work on the client. The two satellites will be launched together and brought into orbit at a height of 550 kilometers. According to current planning, DEOS will be ready for launch in 2018.

Sunspots and climate

Scientists have found new evidence that the solar sunspot cycle has influenced the Earth’s climate in the recent past.

Sirocko and his colleagues found that between 1780 and 1963, the Rhine froze in multiple places fourteen different times. The sheer size of the river means it takes extremely cold temperatures to freeze over making freezing episodes a good proxy for very cold winters in the region, Sirocko said.

Mapping the freezing episodes against the solar activity’s 11-year cycle — a cycle of the Sun’s varying magnetic strength and thus total radiation output — Sirocko and his colleagues determined that ten of the fourteen freezes occurred during years when the Sun had minimal sunspots. Using statistical methods, the scientists calculated that there is a 99 percent chance that extremely cold Central European winters and low solar activity are inherently linked.

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Criminal charges have been filed against a German rabbi for performing circumcisions.

Criminal charges have been filed against a German rabbi for performing circumcisions.

A doctor from Hesse filed a criminal complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, who serves in the community of Hof, in Upper Franconia (northern Bavaria), according to the Juedische Allgemeine weekly newspaper. The chief prosecutor of Hof confirmed that charges had been filed against the rabbi. The charges are based on the controversial decision of a Cologne district court, which ruled in June that circumcisions for religious reasons constitute illegal bodily harm to newborn babies.

The article does not tell us anything about the doctor who filed the complaint. I wonder what that doctor’s motives are.

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