Putin: “I Fucking Hate Science”

Chalk up another loss for space/launch insurance underwriters. A Proton/Briz M launch’s 3rd stage failed and lost MexSat-1 (a.k.a. Centenario) — a huge Boeing 702 intended for mobile and fixed services (L- and Ku-band).

What happened? Anatoly Zak gives the best, most-qualified explanation. Probably fuel line problems.

Add this to a Soyuz launch anomaly earlier this month and you would think this may be a pattern. Is it technical or is it systemic? Probably both.

One could argue there’s a lack of enthusiasm and a brain-drain of top Ukrainian engineering talent in the Russian space business. Or it could be the return of the “old Soviet work ethic,” where nobody really cares. People get promoted to positions of authority without really being qualified, just so they can be “controlled” by others at the Kremlin. That’s what I think is happening.

It goes back more than 10 years, around the time Putin started going after complete control of Russia. In 2006, Mario Lemme’s Space Transport Inc. was created to take control of International Launch Services, the joint venture created to market Proton and Atlas launches. Since then, the market for commercial launches has changed (thank you, SpaceX), but the prices for launch services has gone up. But the technical success helps further development of non-commercial and space-exploration systems. With the world still dependent on getting humans to/from the ISS using the Soyuz launcher, we’re in a spot of trouble.

Meanwhile, how are we to substitute our supply source for RD-180 engines? We need to make this a priority. Rather, the big boys in the U.S. are more concerned about corporate headcount (read about the “mothers day massacre”).

Science likes to explain things with facts. Political views tend to use some facts. But outright liars and social manipulators such as Putin and his fellow KGB remnants don’t get along with any facts they don’t like. They just want control. Control of people, money and probably access to space from Russian territory (hence the pressure to build Vostochny).

Succeeding in space will further popularize Putin in Russia and that’s what he’s after. Fuck science: Russia’s space industry is failing due to “moral issues,” according to Rogozin.


Jetman Yves Rossy: Playing With Life

We first noticed Yves Rossy in 2007, then a year later over Switzerland.

Earlier this week, he published a beautiful video over Dubai (shot in 4K).

Amazing footage of a fantastic experience: strapped to a jetpack, flying!

Can you believe how much desert there is in the Arabian peninsula? Dude.


Big Bang Monday: DNS Pulsar

DNS in this case stands for “double neutron star” and a pulsar in the widest known orbit around another neutron star was discovered by two high school students.

In the summer of 2012, during a Pulsar Search Collaboratory workshop, two high-school students discovered J1930−1852, a pulsar in a double neutron star (DNS) system. Most DNS systems are characterized by short orbital periods, rapid spin periods and eccentric orbits. However, J1930−1852 has the longest spin period (Pspin∼185 ms) and orbital period (Pb∼45 days) yet measured among known, recycled pulsars in DNS systems, implying a shorter than average and/or inefficient recycling period before its companion went supernova. We measure the relativistic advance of periastron for J1930−1852, ω˙=0.00078(4) deg/yr, which implies a total mass (Mtot=2.59(4) M⊙) consistent with other DNS systems. The 2σ constraints on Mtot place limits on the pulsar and companion masses (mp1.30 M⊙ respectively). J1930−1852’s spin and orbital parameters challenge current DNS population models and make J1930−1852 an important system for further investigation.

A P–P˙ diagram showing all pulsars in DNS systems (stars/squares) and all other known pulsars (dots). Measured P and P˙ come from the ATNF Pulsar Catalog (Hobbs et al. 2004) and lines of characteristic age and surface magnetic field are shown with dot-dash and dashed lines, respectively. Recycled DNS pulsars (stars) appear between the normal and millisecond pulsar populations and are listed in Table 2. Despite its significantly longer spin period, J1930−1852 clearly belongs in the population of recycled DNS pulsars, unlike J1906+0746 and J0737−3039B (squares) – neither of which have undergone recycling.

With so many astronomers engaged in this type of work, it’s inspirational to find younger ones with no inhibitions and lots of hope continues to reap the rewards of discovery.

 

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Blue Origin’s First Shepard

Gorgeous video production by Blue Origin.


Turkmen Satcom Irony

Nice job by both Thales Space in building a Spacebus 4000C2 in 27 months and by SpaceX for launching it via the Falcon 9 from The Cape yesterday.

The spacecraft is going into a slot allocated to Monaco (52 deg. East). What they plan to do with it, we don’t know. First on the list is always some TV mux for direct-to-home application. It covers Africa, too, so I’m sure they’ll come up with something.

Ironically, the Turkmen government has issued an order to destroy all satellite dishes.

Authorities in Turkmenistan have started a new campaign of demolishing satellite dishes, aiming at fully blocking independent access to international TV and radio in the country, the Civic Solidarity Platform reported on April 19.

The government of Turkmenistan has taken a decision to liquidate all privately owned TV and radio satellite dishes in the country, demanding all of them to be demolished, be they on apartment buildings or private houses, and fully prohibit their use. This information has come from governmental sources.

This decision is aimed at fully blocking access of the population of Turkmenistan to hundreds of independent international media outlets which are currently accessible in the country only through satellite dishes, including all leading international news channels in different languages. The main target of this campaign is Radio Azatlyq, the Turkmen-language service of Radio Liberty/Free Europe. It is the only independent source of information about Turkmenistan and the world in the Turkmen language and is widely listened to in the country.

Overwhelming majority of the Turkmen public is able to listen to independent radio and watch foreign television through satellites; all houses in the cities of the country are equipped with dishes, legally bought by people in the last 20 years.

The demolition campaign started in the end of March. There have been earlier attempts in the course of the last few weeks when the local authorities at the level of communal management demanded that people take down the dishes or they will be demolished. However, residents refused, relocating the dishes from the walls to the roofs and collectively organising neighborhood watch groups on the roofs to protect their property from demolition. When local authorities demanded that people uninstall the dishes they did not present any legal grounds and did not produce any official documents, just citing a decision of the superior authorities. Now the government has started to use a new tactic: seasonal workers hired by municipal authorities come during the day when residents are at work and destroy the dishes, breaking the equipment. In Ashgabat the satellite dish demolition campaign is going full speed now, and thousands of satellite dishes have been already destroyed in many districts of the city in the last two weeks.

As a “replacement” for the demolished satellite dishes, the authorities offer “cable TV packages”, which include mostly entertainment channels produced by Russia, Turkey, and India. All TV and radio channels offering news are excluded from these “packages”.

The main argument used by the authorities to justify demolition of the dishes is that they “distort the architectural-urban image of the city.”

Experts believe that the authorities are now aiming at solving the problem of independent access to information through the satellite dishes for the third – and the last – time in anticipation of the next presidential elections scheduled for the beginning of 2017 to ensure full control over information.

You can’t be a modern country if you don’t allow free speech.


“We No Worky” at Vostochny

In space exploration, global cooperation is the name of the game — it’s the only way to get the best people working together. Keep politics out of it. The International Space Station is the perfect example.

However, with Vladimir “No Truth” Putin running Russia like a tyrant-dictator, it’s become risker. Seeing everyone as an enemy and/or threat to his power, gaining control of access to space is key. Hence his pledging billions of rubles to finish the Vostochny Cosmodrome in record time. Since then, besides rubles losing most of their value, there seems to be a terrible shortage to said rubles to pay the contractor doing the work — or the contractor has none to pay their workers. They haven’t been paid in months and they’ve gone as far as painting a message on the roof to “save the workers.”

Last month, Rogozin said he would “rip their heads off” for embezzling the people of Russia.

If all the leaders blatantly lie to their people, and every boss is stealing money from big contracts, how does anything ever get done?

Putin’s kleptocracy is bound for spectacular failure.


NDT Says “Jump” Dyslexia


A Message to Space

This is absolutely brilliant.

An astronaut’s daughter sends her father a message — physically, in writing — while he’s orbiting in the ISS.

It’s emotional, social and very cool. Good marketing on Hyundai’s part, too.

Hyundai made a little girl’s wish come true for the whole world to see.
A team of eleven Genesis cars united to create “the largest tire track image” on the Delamar Dry Lake in the Nevada desert, United States. (Image size : 5.55 sq. km.) This extraordinary message has made it to the Guinness World Records® 2015.

I hope they sell a bunch of cars to rocket scientists!


Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet at NASM

Brilliant blog post today from our friends at The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in presenting Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet in the Milestones of Flight Gallery.

Looks great, doesn’t it?


Sabrett’s Satellite

This week’s news that traces of nitrates were found by SAM on Mars — and the Fark headline linking it to hot dogs — reminded me to ponder the one decent rumor to come out of the Satellite Show in Washington last week: Apple is buying a spacecraft from Boeing.

You might as well sell one to Sabrett’s to connect all their hot dog carts around the world. Hey, they’re selling branded merchandise, so why not?

Google, Facebook or Amazon might buy one, too. Does anybody at Reuters check this stuff? One call to anybody in the business would tell you “you’re way off on this one.” This is link bait.

Designing, building, launching and operating a spacecraft takes a long time and costs a lot of money. Understand this. This cannot change.

You can have all the bandwidth and high-throughput possible on the spacecraft’s payload, but it means absolutely nothing if you can’t make use of it on the ground. One-to-many distribution is where this technology makes sense — not point-to-point or multipoint-to-multipoint. That’s why TV loves satellite. This network topology can’t change much. Higher frequencies need better antennae for reception — and transmit has its own challenges. If you plan on using mobile frequencies such as those used by Thuraya in Asia and the Middle East, you’d be planning on coordinating with terrestrial and mobile telecoms for more years than it would take to build the spacecraft.

Get over it, people. Building a new satcom network isn’t worth it. It’s like selling hot dogs on Mars: who are you going to sell it to?

With O3b Networks actually operating and building out globally, get in that space and figure out how you can work with it. Latency is minimized on the tech side, and terrestrial connectivity is being added for “the other 3 billion people” inhabiting this planet who are without Internet access.

And put some mustard on it.