SpaceX Launch Anomaly

I was bummed to hear of the Falcon 9’s launch failure yesterday.

Click here for a frame-by-frame analysis.

The images coincide with the initial clue that “an oxidizer tank in the rocket’s upper stage, which SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said became overpressurized.”

Audi’s Jet-Fighter Mode

Yes, this has been around for a while, but it’s still very cool.


Ukrainian Engines Help Vega Launch

Regardless of the final outcome regarding Sea-Launch and Boeing’s mess (Boeing Co. et al. v. KB Yuzhnoye et al., case number 13-cv-00730, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California), Ukrainian rocket engines are a good alternative to Russian RD-180’s.

The Arianespace Vega launch yesterday (#VV05) was powered by Yuzhnoye’s RD-843 engines, which are good for LEO/sun-synch orbits and earth observation missions. Their technical reliability — combined with Ukrainian honesty — makes them viable alternatives. In fact, they should be encouraged to join the ESA, too!


Hendo Hoverboard

Nice work by Hendo Hover, which people got to try at Smithsonian’s “The Future is Here 2015″ festival last month.

Here’s Tony Hawk’s go at it…


Taco Tuesday in Space!

Putting together a taco on the ISS is not a simple matter. With mackerel, leek cream, dried tomatoes and quinoa salad? Interesting.


LightSquared’s Lawyer Dollars

Sure, it all makes sense now.

LightSquared had a plan to use frequencies for mobile services. That turned into a fight with the GPS industry. They fucked with the farmers, too.

Just before they filed for bankruptcy protection, they paid Dennis Hastert’s lobbying firm $200,000 to keep an eye on GPS legislation. And the science behind the interference issue was real.

All this seems like a waste of money, right? Think again and bring the bankruptcy fees. Case Number 1:12-bk-12080 got their exit financing approved on 2 June 2015, so the end is near. The FCC is asking for comment on the available frequencies.

Who’s involved in this bankruptcy? These are the entities for Reston, VA-based LightSquared:

LightSquared Inc.
LightSquared
Investors Holdings Inc.
One Dot Four Corp.
One Dot Six Corp.
SkyTerra Rollup LLC
SkyTerra Rollup Sub LLC
SkyTerra Investors LLC
TMI Communications Delaware, Limited Partnership
LightSquared GP Inc.
LightSquared LP
ATC Technologies, LLC
LightSquared Corp.
LightSquared Finance Co.
LightSquared Network LLC
LightSquared Inc. of Virginia
LightSquared Subsidiary LLC
Lightsquared Bermuda Ltd.
SkyTerra Holdings (Canada) Inc.
SkyTerra (Canada) Inc.
One Dot Six TVCC Corp.

Are we counting the “lawyer dollars” now? More, please. Here are the people on the other side of the table…

Creditor
ACE American Insurance Company and other members of the ACE group of companies
Represented by:
Karel S. Karpe, KarpeLaw

Creditor
APA Properties No. 10, LP
Represented by:
Patrick J. Potter, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Creditor
ASM Capital IV, L.P.
Represented by:
Douglas Wolfe, ASM Capital, LP

Creditor
ASM Capital, L.P.
Represented by:
Douglas Wolfe, ASM Capital, LP

Unknown
AT&T Corp.
Represented by:
David A. Rosenzweig, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP

Creditor
Ad Hoc Group of LightSquared LP Lenders
Represented by:
Glenn M. Kurtz, White & Case, LLP
Julia M Winters, White & Case LLP

Unknown
Ad Hoc Preferred LP Group
Represented by:

Creditor
Alcatel-Lucent USA, Inc.
Represented by:
Alyse M. Aruch, McCarter & English

Unknown
Donna Pelligrini Alderman
Represented by:
Joel M Melendez, Molo Lamken LLP

Financial Advisor
Alvarez & Marsal North America, LLC
Represented by:
Karen Gartenberg, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Unknown
BDC Parkridge LLC
Represented by:
Anthony D. Boccanfuso, Arnold & Porter

Stockholder
Blue Line DZM Corp.
Represented by:
Paul Nii-Amar Amamoo, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP
David M. Friedman, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP

Creditor
Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc.
Represented by:
Todd J. Rosen, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
Bradley Schneider, Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP

Creditor
Cates Strategy Group, LLC
Represented by:
Leon S. Jones, Jones & Walden, LLC

Interested Party
Centaurus Capital LP
Represented by:
Jeffrey S. Sabin, Venable LLP

Claims and Noticing Agent
Kurtzman Carson Consultants LLC, Claims Agent
Represented by:

Unknown
Clerks Office of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Represented by:
Creditor
Raymond Coburn
Represented by:

Creditor
Comerica Bank
Represented by:
Ronald Scott Beacher, Pryor Cashman LLP
Conrad Chiu, Pryor Cashman LLP

Unknown
Covington & Burling LLP
Represented by:
Ronald A. Hewitt, Covington & Burling LLP

Unknown
Crown Castle USA Inc.
Represented by:
Leslie Ann Berkoff, Moritt, Hock & Hamroff, LLP

Creditor
DACA VI LLC
Represented by:

Unknown
DISH NETWORK CORPORATION
Represented by:
Brian D. Glueckstein, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Attorney
DLA Piper LLP (US)
Represented by:
Gregg M. Galardi, DLA Piper LLP (US)

Creditor
Dallas County
Represented by:
Elizabeth Weller, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP

Creditor
Debt Acquisition Co of America V, LLC
Represented by:

Interested Party
Deere & Company
Represented by:
Philip Le B. Douglas, Jones Day

Attorney
Dentons Canada LLP
Represented by:
Karen Gartenberg, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Unknown
Dickstein Shapiro LLP
Represented by:
Shaya M. Berger, Dickstein Shapiro, LLP

Mediator
Robert D. Drain
Represented by:

Interested Party
Charles W. Ergen
Represented by:
James C. Dugan, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Other Prof.
Ernst & Young LLP
Represented by:
Karen Gartenberg, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Lars A. Peterson, Foley & Lardner LLP
John A. Simon, Foley & Lardner LLP

Unknown
FCDB LSQ LLC
Represented by:

Creditor
Fortress Credit Investments I Ltd., Fortress Credit Investments II Ltd., Fortress Credit Funding IV LP, Fortress Credit Opportunities I LP, Worden Master Fund LP, Worden Master Fund II LP, Drawbridge
Represented by:

Unknown
Fortress Investment Group LLC
Represented by:
Kristopher M. Hansen, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP

Other Prof.
Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP
Represented by: Interested Party
Garmin International, Inc.
Represented by:
Philip Le B. Douglas, Jones Day
Paul Bartholomew Green, Jones Day

Unknown
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Represented by:
Michael A. Rosenthal, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Stockholder
HGW US Holding Company, L.P.
Represented by:
Paul Nii-Amar Amamoo, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP
David M. Friedman, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP

Stockholder
Harbinger Capital Partners LLC
Represented by:
Paul Nii-Amar Amamoo, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP
Daniel A. Fliman, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP
David M. Friedman, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP

Unknown
Harbinger Capital Partners LLC, et al.
Represented by:
Ronit J. Berkovich, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Debra A. Dandeneau, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP

Stockholder
Harbinger Capital Partners SP, Inc.
Represented by:
Paul Nii-Amar Amamoo, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP
David M. Friedman, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP

Unknown
Intelsat Corporation
Represented by:
Stephen B. Selbst, Herrick, Feinstein LLP

Interested Party
Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund
Represented by:
Michael S. Etkin, Lowenstein Sandler LLP
Cassandra M. Porter, Lowenstein Sandler LLP

Unknown
STEPHEN KETCHUM
Represented by:
Charles E. Bachman, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Peter M. Friedman, O’MELVENY & MYERS LLP

Attorney
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Represented by:
Paul M. Basta, Kirkland & Ellis, LLP

Christopher Marcus, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Joshua Sussberg, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Unknown
Kurtzman Carson Consultants LLC
Represented by: Interested Party
L-Band Acquisition, LLC
Represented by:
Brian D. Glueckstein, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Rachel C. Strickland, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Unknown
Latham & Watkins LLP
Represented by:

Debtor
LightSquared Inc.
Represented by:
Matthew Scott Barr, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
Paul M. Basta, Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Karen Gartenberg, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Christopher Marcus, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Alan Stone, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP
Mitchell S. Bigel, Myers Bigel Sibley & Sajovec, P.A.

Creditor
Liquidity Solutions, Inc.
Represented by: Unknown
MAST Capital Management LLC
Represented by:
Philip Dublin, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP
Lawrence S. Robbins, Robbins Russell Englert Orseck Untereiner

Interested Party
Melody Business Finance, LLC
Represented by: Attorney
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Represented by:
Matthew Scott Barr, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy

Creditor
Missouri Department of Revenue
Represented by:
Steven A. Ginther, Missouri Department of Revenue

Financial Advisor
Moelis & Company LLC
Represented by:
Karen Gartenberg, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Unknown
New York State Department of Labor
Represented by:

Creditor
One Beacon Street Limited Partnership
Represented by:
Douglas B. Rosner, Goulston & Storrs, P.C.

Creditor
Oracle America, Inc.
Represented by:
Shawn M. Christianson, Buchalter Nemer Fields & Younger
Amish R. Doshi, Magnozzi & Kye

Creditor
James Paull, IV
Represented by:
Lawrence A. Katz, Leach Travell Britt PC

Creditor
Jay Paull, IV
Represented by:
Lawrence A. Katz, Leach Travell Britt PC

Creditor
John Paull
Represented by:
Lawrence A. Katz, Leach Travell Britt PC

Unknown
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Represented by:
Bruce D. Jacobs, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Brandon Johnson, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Matthew J Oliver, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Patrick J. Potter, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Dania Slim, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Unknown
Providence TMT Special Situations Fund LP and TMT Debt Opportunity Fund II LP, investment funds managed by affiliates of Providence Equity Partners LLC (collectively, the “Providence Funds”)
Represented by:
Emanuel C. Grillo, Baker Botts L.L.P.

Creditor
SBA Structures Inc. and SBA Towers III LLC
Represented by:
Lucian Murley, Saul Ewing LLP

Interested Party
SIG Holdings, Inc.
Represented by:
Nicholas E. Baker, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Sandeep Qusba, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Interested Party
SP Special Opportunities, LLC
Represented by:
James C. Dugan, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Tariq Mundiya, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Rachel C. Strickland, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Interested Party
Lili Schad
Represented by:
Scott D. Cousins, Bayard, P.A.
Kevin D. Galbraith, Zamansky & Associates LLC
Jacob H. Zamansky, Zamansky & Associates, LLC

Unknown
Sandeep Singh
Represented by:

Unknown
Solus Alternative Asset Management LP
Represented by:
Malek Schiffrin LLP, Malek Schiffrin LLP

Interested Party
Sound Point Capital Management, L.P.
Represented by:
Charles E. Bachman, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Peter M. Friedman, O’MELVENY & MYERS LLP

Unknown
Special Committee of the Board of Directors of LightSquared Inc. and LightSquared GP Inc.
Represented by:
Paul M. Basta, Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Joshua Sussberg, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Interested Party
TR Capital Management, LLC
Represented by: Creditor
Tennessee Department of Revenue
Represented by:
Marvin E. Clements, Jr., Office of the Tennessee Attorney General

Unknown
The Law Office of John T. Whelan, LLC
Represented by:
John T. Whelan, The Law Office of John T. Whelan LLC

Interested Party
The U.S. GPS Industry Council
Represented by:
Philip Le B. Douglas, Jones Day

Interested Party
Trimble Navigation Ltd.
Represented by:
Philip Le B. Douglas, Jones Day

Unknown
U.S. Bank National Association
Represented by:
Philip Dublin, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP

John W. Weiss, Alston & Bird LLP

Creditor
UBS AG
Represented by:
Adam J. Goldberg, Latham & Watkins, LLP
David S. Heller, Latham & Watkins

U.S. Trustee
United States Trustee
Represented by:
Susan D. Golden, Office of United States Trustee SDNY

Unknown
United States of America on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission
Represented by:
Alicia M. Simmons, U.S. Attorney’s Office, SDNY

Creditor
Universal Service Administrative Company
Represented by:
Michael L. Schein, Vedder Price, P.C.

Unknown
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Represented by:
Debra A. Dandeneau, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP

Interested Party
Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB
Represented by:
Darren T. Azman, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Unknown
Wilmington Trust, National Association
Represented by:
David S Forsh, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP


Big Bang Monday: Huge Plasma Tubes

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Sir Arthur Clarke

What Sir Arthur said many years ago is certainly true today. So many wonderful ideas come from younger generations of scientists, marketers, writers, etc., that we sometimes forget to open our minds to new ideas and ways of thinking. This was certainly the case in Australia.

As an undergraduate student in astrophysics at Sydney University, Cleo Loi came up with an idea for using radio telescopes to “see” something noone has ever been able to visualize.

Via Fairfax Media’s WA Today

A Sydney University student has for the first time used radio telescopes like a giant pair of electronic eyes to locate huge plasma tubes in the atmosphere that interfere with astronomy observations and which could affect some civilian and military navigation systems.

Scientists have long thought that the interaction of the earth’s magnetic field with energy from the sun would create huge tubes of plasma. But they have never been able to directly observe them over large scales or determine their shape. Until now.

While still an undergraduate, Cleo Loi, 23, used the Murchison Wide Field Array in the Western Australia desert in a way that no other radio telescope has been used before.

The wide field array consists of 128 antenna “tiles” over a seven-square-kilometre area. Ms Loi divided the array’s tiles into two halves using the western half like a right eye and the eastern half like a left eye. Similar to the way humans use sight, she used triangulation to build a three-dimensional dynamic map of the plasma tubes over a large area.

Ms Loi, who graduated in March, had to overcome the initial scepticism of senior colleagues who thought her observations were too good to be true.

Her undergraduate supervisor, Dr Tara Murphy, said: “It is to Cleo’s great credit that she not only discovered this but also convinced the rest of the scientific community. As an undergraduate student with no prior background in this, that is an impressive achievement.

“When they first saw the data, many of her senior collaborators thought the results were literally ‘too good to be true’ and that the observation process had somehow corrupted the findings. But over the next few months, Cleo managed to convince them that they were both real and scientifically interesting.”

The tubes are in the earth’s upper atmosphere, known as the ionosphere, which largely consists of ionised oxygen. The ionosphere is so called because photons from the sun dislodge electrons from otherwise neutral atoms in this layer of the atmosphere, creating a soup or plasma of electronically charged particles. This plasma interacts with the earth’s magnetic field, creating field-aligned ducts of the plasma.

The free electrons also interfere with astronomers’ observations and can potentially affect satellite navigation systems.


EELV ♥ SpaceX

greavesGreat news! The U.S. Air Force has certified SpaceX for national security space missions.

This milestone is the culmination of a significant two-year effort on the part of the Air Force and SpaceX to execute the certification process and reintroduce competition into the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The Air Force invested more than $60 million and 150 people in the certification effort which encompassed 125 certification criteria, including more than 2,800 discrete tasks, 3 certification flight demonstrations, verifying 160 payload interface requirements, 21 major subsystem reviews and 700 audits in order to establish the technical baseline from which the Air Force will make future flight worthiness determinations for launch.

Yes, it’s important to have competition in the marketplace. It’s more important to be rid of our reliance on Russian RD-180 engines.

Suck it, Putin.


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.