private space

sea and space

Sea Shepherd vs. Japan, round 3- now under way:


And looking up a bit, Burt Rutan & co. unveiled their second generation space ship yesterday. This one is supposed to carry actual paying passengers in the next couple of years:


Good science, bad history:

Based on chemical signatures in a piece of calcite from a cave near Jerusalem, a team of American and Israeli geologists pieced together a detailed record of the area’s climate from roughly 200 B.C. to 1100 A.D. Their analysis, to be reported in an upcoming issue of the journal Quaternary Research, reveals increasingly dry weather from 100 A.D. to 700 A.D. that coincided with the fall of both Roman and Byzantine rule in the region.

There are lots of people looking at the role of climate in history these days, and it’s generally a good idea. But this one misses the mark. You could just as easily say that the period of dry climate coincided with the rise of Byzantium as the fall. A much more interesting climatic event that relates to the collapse of Rome in the east is the year without summer, around 535.

Now your daily pirate update:

And this one that ties piracy together into the broader crisis over the international order:

The question is: What if anything can outside powers do to bring the rule of law to these troubled lands? In the 19th century, the answer was simple: European imperialists would plant their flag and impose their laws at gunpoint.

Like plenty of neocons, you don’t have to agree with Max Boot’s conclusions to agree that he’s asking some pretty interesting questions. The current international system doesn’t provide a lot of options that were available to the Concert of Europe, and Boot’s examples of Bosnia and Kosovo are hardly reassuring symbols of stability.

I don’t know why I follow this story so closely. It’s kind of morbid:

And this:

Blue Origin is developing New Shepard, a rocket-propelled vehicle that takes off and lands vertically and is designed to routinely fly multiple astronauts into suborbital space at competitive prices.

Flight tests of the suborbital craft have been staged at a private launch site in Texas.

Blue Origin is now noting that, in addition to providing the public with opportunities to experience spaceflight, New Shepard will also provide frequent opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into space and a microgravity environment.

space news

Mars Lander Starts Winter Shutdown
Weather Hampers Phoenix On Mars

MESSENGER Reveals More Hidden Territory On Mercury
Mercury Flyby Reveals New Oddities

NASA $350,000 Prize Goes to Armadillo Aerospace in Lunar Challenge

Armadillo’s winning vehicle successfully demonstrated some of the technologies needed for a lunar lander capable of ferrying payloads or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the lunar surface. During the first day of competition at Las Cruces International Airport on Oct. 24, the vehicle rose to a height of 50 meters, translated to a landing pad 100 meters away while staying aloft for at least 90 seconds, landed safely and later repeated the flight.

Astronauts Ride in Style in New Moon Truck

US election 2008: Astronauts cast presidential votes from space

Chandrayaan sends Indian space scientists rushing back home

news from space

Moon mission takes India’s space program in new direction

Elsewhere “space programs came as spinoffs of military programs, so the things the space program was expected to deliver were things that could be used in defense,” says S.K. Das, a former ISRO official. “In the Indian space program – because it was so late to develop, it had to be justified in terms of social outcomes.”

The result was a program “designed to help its own people, rather than as a token of national pride,” says Mr. Foust.

Spacecraft blasts off to probe edge of solar system

Congress Withholds Funding for Spysat Program

Sierra Nevada Corp. to buy SpaceDev for $38 million

news from space

Lots of news from space, so let’s start with the good stuff:
Wikinews interviews Prince Christopher I of the Principality of Vikesland on his micronation’s recent space launch

Private company blasts rocket into orbit

“With this key milestone, Falcon 1 becomes the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth,” SpaceX added in a statement from its Hawthorne, California, headquarters.

It was fourth time lucky for SpaceX, whose three previous attempts had met with failure including the launch of a rocket carrying the ashes of Star Trek actor James Doohan and US astronaut Gordon Cooper.

Lots of new images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Mars dust resembles seawater, NASA extends mission
Phoenix Lander sees snow falling on Mars
Wind and Snow Do Strange Things on Mars

China performs its first spacewalk
China’s Space Mission Is A Success, Shenzhou VII Lands Safely

Hubble Space Telescope Suffers Serious Failure

Space congress: Orbiting Glasgow

Some politics from NASA Watch:
Curious Timing: Scientist accused of bribery, aiding China
Congress Update: Congress Puts NASA Bill on Fast Track to the White House

Europe space chiefs elated after freighter completes mission

Europe’s space freighter was destroyed over the South Pacific on Monday, ending a glitteringly successful maiden mission to the International Space Station (ISS), officials said.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said the robot truck had outperformed every expectation, while the aerospace firm which built it urged Europe to back a blueprint for transforming the ship into a manned spacecraft.

yesterday’s news again

What I shoulda told you last night….

Blossom Goodchild’s Predicted Mass UFO Sighting: Will it Force Disclosure to Occur?
Robbie Williams: UFO visited my studio

Last Tree-Sitters Descend From UC Berkeley Grove

SKorean ship seized by pirates off Somalia: sources

All my space news comes from Space Ref today:
Unique animal species can survive in space
NASA Developing Fission Surface Power Technology
SpaceX Receives USAF Operational License for Cape Canaveral Launch Site

Saakhashvili: Georgia has evidence Russia started the war (Extra)
Pentagon set on mission to rebuild Georgian military
Russians seized U.S. equipment
Georgia policeman shot and killed
South Ossetia, Abkhazia get security cover

Nervous EU offers Ukraine hope for the future but no seat at the table
Ukraine PM speaks against conflict over Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

Serbia `Unhappy’ with OSCE in Kosovo

Transdnestr marks anniversary of de-facto independence

NATO ships leave Black Sea after exercises
Hearings in the Romania vs Ukraine dispute on the Black Sea continental plateau continue

news in spaaaaace!

Some pretty pictures from space today, but first: required reading.
Internal NASA email from NASA Administrator Griffin regarding Space Shuttle, ISS, Russia, Ares, Orion, OSTP, OMB and Budgetary Issues

In a rational world, we would have been allowed to pick a Shuttle retirement date to be consistent with Ares/Orion availability, we would have been asked to deploy Ares/Orion as early as possible (rather than “not later than 2014″) and we would have been provided the necessary budget to make it so.

The rational approach didn’t happen, primarily because for OSTP and OMB, retiring the Shuttle is a jihad rather than an engineering and program management decision. Further, they actively do not want the ISS to be sustained, and have done everything possible to ensure that it would not be. They were always “okay” with buying Soyuz/Progress, and if it didn’t happen, well, that was okay too….

…The Russians are not going to back out of Georgia any time soon, certainly not prior to the election. If they don’t, INKSNA is DoA, despite Sen. Mikulski’s and Nelson’s favorable comments in support of a “bipartisan solution”. We might get relief somewhere well down the road, if and when tensions ease, but my guess is that there is going to be a lengthy period with no U.S. crew on ISS after 2011. No additional money of significance is going to be provided to accelerate Orion/Ares, and even if it were, at this point we can;t get there earlier than 2014, so it doesn’t solve the basic problem. Commercial solutions will ultimately emerge, but not substantially before Orion/Ares are ready, if then. The alternatives are to continue flying Shuttle, or abandon U.S. presence on ISS.

…Practically speaking, the Russians can sustain ISS without US crew as long as we don’t actively sabotage them, which I do not believe we would ever do, short of war. So I will not make the argument that “dependence” works both ways. We need them. They don’t “need” us. We’re a “nice to have”….

Sorry for the long quote, but this is the future of American manned spaceflight. Now, politics aside…

Rosetta probe flies by ‘diamond in the sky’
Spacecraft flies by remote asteroid, camera stops

ESA: Rosetta

Cassini Images Ring Arcs Among Saturn’s Moons

It’s all about the unexplained growths on that strut on the left:
Underneath Phoenix Lander 97 Sols After Touchdown

An Icy Discovery on Mars, but Where’s the Water?
Mars Phoenix Will Bravely and Passionately Twitter Until the Final Beat of Its Adorable Electronic Heart

And finally this. No idea how seriously to take this project, but you never know until they get off the ground. If they ever do.
Prototype orbital seaplane in Texan blimp-base blast

headlines- pirates space arctic enviro

Hermes Spacecraft Looking to Bring Personal Space Travel to the Masses

Pirates seize two more ships off Somalia

Here’s an update, or maybe a retraction, to a story I had yesterday:
NYC mayor spins back his turbine idea for city

Nope, never saw this one coming:
1998 Missile Strikes on Bin Laden May Have Backfired
It’s a declassified DOE report, courtesy of the National Security Archive.

15 Photovoltaics Solar Power Innovations You Must See
Solazyme: Millions of Gallons of Algae Biodiesel Within 3 Years
Climate Change Negotiations

Iceland to offer oil-drilling licenses in Arctic
China’s Arctic expedition team sets up temporary research station on ice

New Guidelines Would Give F.B.I. Broader Powers

Is war in air in the Gulf?

headlines from saturn

The world’s too beautiful to blog about war every day. I thought I’d cover the Bigfoot story, but it was pretty lame. Google it if you care. So here’s a cool picture that Cassini took of Saturn’s moon Enceladus:

Cassini Pinpoints Source of Jets on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

In a feat of interplanetary sharpshooting, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has pinpointed precisely where the icy jets erupt from the surface of Saturn’s geologically active moon Enceladus.

New carefully targeted pictures reveal exquisite details in the prominent south polar “tiger stripe” fractures from which the jets emanate. The images show the fractures are about 300 meters (980 feet) deep, with V-shaped inner walls. The outer flanks of some of the fractures show extensive deposits of fine material. Finely fractured terrain littered with blocks of ice tens of meters in size and larger (the size of small houses) surround the fractures.

“This is the mother lode for us,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. “A place that may ultimately reveal just exactly what kind of environment — habitable or not — we have within this tortured little moon.”

Here’s raw images from Cassini.

Here’s one from Mars:
NASA Mars Phoenix Microscope Takes First Image of Martian Dust Particle

And one from little old Earth:
Photo Gallery: WhiteKnightTwo unveiling

OK, I may not be here again until Monday. Maybe I will. Have a good weekend either way.

news stories- home for lunch quickie edition

Russia vows to defend S Ossetia
Georgia and rebels cease fire, call talks
Many wounded in S Ossetia fighting

Fire-hit Azeri-Turkish oil pipeline to remain closed for 1-2 weeks

Research backs Canada’s Arctic claim

There will be no flag-waving or patriotic chest-thumping, but Canadian scientists are quietly set to make one of this country’s most important assertions of Arctic sovereignty in decades tomorrow at a geology conference in Norway.

A year after Russian scientists planted their nation’s flag on the North Pole seabed — a controversial demonstration of their country’s interest in securing control over a vast undersea mountain chain stretching across the Arctic Ocean from Siberia to Ellesmere Island and Greenland — the Canadian researchers have teamed with Danish scientists to offer proof that the Lomonosov Ridge is, in fact, a natural extension of the North American continent.

SpaceX Determines Cause of Falcon 1 Launch Failure

When the Superyacht Scares the Pirates…