Key quote: "It is clear SpaceX envisions a rocket far more powerful than even the fully evolved Block 2 SLS – a NASA rocket that isn’t set to be launched until the 2030s."
The SpaceX rocket hinges on whether the company can successfully build its new Raptor engine. If they do, they will have their heavy lift rocket in the air and functioning far sooner than NASA, and for far far far less money." top
schwit1 (797399) writes "Because of an increasing number of computer resets on the Mars rover Opportunity, engineers plan to reformat the rover’s computer.
The resets, including a dozen this month, interfere with the rover’s planned science activities, even though recovery from each incident is completed within a day or two.
Flash memory retains data even when power is off. It is the type used for storing photos and songs on smart phones or digital cameras, among many other uses. Individual cells within a flash memory sector can wear out from repeated use. Reformatting clears the memory while identifying bad cells and flagging them to be avoided.
Obviously there is a risk, though small, that this action will not work and the mission will end here."
schwit1 (797399) writes "Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.
"Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal," a Microsoft statement notes. "Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."
On Friday, however, she lifted that suspension after prosecutors successfully convinced her that her order was not appealable. The removal of the suspension legally requires Microsoft to hand over the email immediately.
This is the first time a technology company has resisted a US search warrant seeking data that is held outside the United States.
In the view of Microsoft and many legal experts, federal authorities have no jurisdiction over data stored outside the country. It says that the court order violates Ireland's sovereignty and that prosecutors need to seek a legal treaty with Ireland in order to obtain the data they want." Link to Original Source top
The Air Force is believed to have only two X-37B space planes. These space planes have flown at otal of three missions, which are known as OTV-1, OTV-2 and OTV-3. (“OTV” is short for Orbital Test Vehicle.) The first mission blasted off in April 2010, and the craft circled Earth for 225 days. The second X-37B vehicle launched in March 2011, performing the OTV-2 mission. This spaceflight lasted 469 days, ultimately landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in June 2012. That was the same landing site OTV-1 used after completing its mission.
The current OTV-3 mission is reusing the first X-37B space plane from the OTV-1 flight, showcasing the reusability aspect of the program.
schwit1 (797399) writes "A report today in Russia says that the investigation into the Soyuz launch failure last week that while the Russian Fregat upper stage fired correctly in attempting to place the two Galileo GPS satellites into orbit, its software was programmed for the wrong orbit." top
The federal government wants to know what you are saying
schwit1 (797399) writes "What could go wrong? The federal government is spending almost a million dollars to make it possible to track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.
The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online. The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.” The university has received $919,917 so far for the project.
They claim that this data could be used to provide drivers with a warning if their vehicle might be getting too close to another vehicle. It will also be necessary to make driverless cars more reliable.
I wonder what other uses this information could have." top
schwit1 (797399) writes "A comparison of the raw climate data with the adjusted numbers released by Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology shows that the adjustments have routinely turned the trends from cooling to warming.
This is the same finding that Steven Goddard and others in the U.S. found when they did the same comparison of NASA and NOAA numbers. In every case the adjustments either cooled the past or warmed the present in order to accentuate the appearance of a warming trend, sometimes in complete contradiction of numbers that had been accepted by scientists for decades.
So, does this mean the climate isn’t warming? No. What it means is we haven’t the slightest idea what’s happening, since the data has now been corrupted so badly that it is almost meaningless." top
Russianspaceweb suggests that the problem was caused by the rocket’s Russian Fregat upper stage. (Scroll down about halfway to read their report on this launch.)
Multiple independent sources analyzing the situation suggested that the Fregat upper stage had fired its engine for the right duration, however the stage’s orientation in space during the second or both maneuvers had probably been wrong. According to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a veteran space historian, the Fregat’s angular orientation error during engine firing could reach as much as 145 degrees.
This failure is a triple whammy. It hits both Arianespace and Russia since the Soyuz was part of a partnership between the two. It also hits Europe’s Galileo GPS satellite, which after many years of development was beginning to move towards full operation."
schwit1 (797399) writes "Corporate welfare: The Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.
Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: “What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?” Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies.
In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]
The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing’s Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. For the government to fund this new engine is nothing more than corporate welfare, at a time when the federal government is swimming in debt and is essentially bankrupt."
Any honest read of this article will conclude that this very expensive rocket system is an absurd waste of money. It has no mission now, and will never get one considering the cost. Instead, NASA will spend billions to fly two test flights, both unmanned, and then the money will run out." top
Arianespace and ESA sign contract for three launches
schwit1 (797399) writes "Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a contract on Thursday for the Ariane 5 rocket to launch 12 more of Europe’s Galileo GPS satellites on three launches.
This contract is a perfect example of European pork. Europe’s Galileo system might provide competition to the U.S. GPS and Russian Glonass systems, but I am not sure what additional capabilities it provides that will convince GPS users to switch to it. Instead, building it provides European jobs, while using the Ariane 5 rocket to launch it gives that increasingly uncompetitive rocket some work to do. In fact, this situation really reminds me of the U.S. launch market in the 1990s, when Boeing and Lockheed Martin decided that, rather than compete with Russia and ESA for the launch market, they instead decided to rely entirely on U.S. government contracts, since those contracts didn’t really demand that they reduce their costs significantly to compete.
Europe now appears to be heading down that same road." top
Two additional Russian rocket engines arrive in the U.S.
schwit1 (797399) writes "Despite tensions over the Ukraine, a Russian cargo plane on Wednesday delivered two more Russian rocket engines to Alabama for their refurbishment and use in ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.
This delivery gives ULA some additional breathing room. It the additional deliveries scheduled for later this year and early in 2015 happen, they will have even more breathing room for more Atlas 5 launches. Even so, their dependence on Russian engines is something that limits the company’s competitiveness in the emerging aggressive launch market." top
Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.
However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons (about 43,000 U.S. tons) per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect. "We are not supposed to be seeing this at all," said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. "It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources."
Note: CCI4s were previously referred to as CFCs, which is to the public the more familiar abbreviation.
That there seems to be an unknown source of CFCs suggests strongly that the entire theory of CFCs destroying the ozone layer is faulty. If CFCs were being produced naturally in the past then the ozone layer should not exist based on this theory. That it does exist says the CFCs are not harmful to it and were banned unnecessarily."
schwit1 (797399) writes "An experiment of taking samples from illuminators and the ISS surface has brought unique results, as scientists had found traces of sea plankton there, the chief of an orbital mission on Russia’s ISS segment told reporters.
Results of the scope of scientific experiments which had been conducted for a quite long time were summed up in the previous year, confirming that some organisms can live on the surface of the International Space Station (ISS) for years amid factors of a space flight, such as zero gravity, temperature conditions and hard cosmic radiation. Several surveys proved that these organisms can even develop.
He noted that it was not quite clear how these microscopic particles could have appeared on the surface of the space station." Link to Original Source top
Boston PD Tested Facial Recognition SW by Recording All Faces At Music Festivals
schwit1 (797399) writes "Concertgoers at last year’s annual Boston Calling music festivals weren’t just there to watch the show — they were watched themselves as test subjects for Boston police’ new facial recognition technology, which reportedly analyzed every attendee at the May and September two-day events.
Employees at IBM — the outside contractor involved in deploying the tech alongside Boston Police — planned the test of its Smart Surveillance System and Intelligent Video Analytics to execute “face capture” on “every person” at the concerts in 2013. Targets were reportedly described “as anyone who walks through the door,” according to company memos obtained by Dig Boston.
Using 10 cameras capable of intelligent video analysis, police and IBM captured thousands of faces and scanned individuals for details including skin color, height and clothing to screen for possible forensic identification. The tech also watched traffic and crowd congestion, searched for suspicious objects and monitored social media in real-time.
Attendees and promoters were wholly unaware of the test, which was conducted amid a slew of media and photographers regularly in attendance and during a public event where the expectation of privacy is at a minimum. Sensitive documents detailing the program were found unsecured online, where they’ve reportedly been accessible for more than a year.
It is a long article, worth reading in its entirety, but this quote will give the essence:
As a NASA engineering co-op student at Johnson Space Center, Hoffman trained in various divisions of the federal space agency to sign on eventually as a civil servant. She graduated from college this year after receiving a generous offer from NASA, doubly prestigious considering the substantial reductions in force hitting Johnson Space Center in recent months. She did have every intention of joining that force — had actually accepted the offer, in fact — when she received an invitation to visit a friend at his new job with rising commercial launch company SpaceX.
Hoffman took him up on the offer, flying out to Los Angeles in the spring for a private tour. Driving up to the SpaceX headquarters, she was struck by how unassuming it was, how small compared to NASA, how plain on the outside and rather like a warehouse.
As she walked through the complex, she was also surprised to find open work areas where NASA would have had endless hallways, offices and desks. Hoffman described SpaceX as resembling a giant workshop, a hive of activity in which employees stood working on nitty-gritty mechanical and electrical engineering. Everything in the shop was bound for space or was related to space. No one sat around talking to friends in the morning, “another level from what you see at NASA,” she said. “They’re very purpose-driven. It looked like every project was getting the attention it deserved.”
Seeing SpaceX in production forced Hoffman to acknowledge NASA might not be the best fit for her. The tour reminded her of the many mentors who had gone into the commercial sector of the space industry in search of better pay and more say in the direction their employers take. She thought back to the attrition she saw firsthand at Johnson Space Center and how understaffed divisions struggled to maintain operations.
At NASA young engineers find that they spend a lot of time with bureaucracy, the pace is slow, their projects often get canceled or delayed, and the creative job satisfaction is poor. At private companies like SpaceX, things are getting built now. With that choice, no wonder the decision to go private is increasingly easy."