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Comment Re:Holy Jebus (Score 1) 220 220

It is one thing to use such techniques to test something in a quiet area like a testing chamber, and something completely different to use this technique not only in a rocket that is accelerating at 32 m/s^2 but also has a whole bunch of other noise going on from nine operating turbo pumps, the rocket engines themselves, and other things rattling around tied to that whole system. In addition, to be able to locate a cause while the whole rocket is undergoing massive unplanned disassembly (aka an explosion releasing as much energy as a small nuclear bomb). Also doing that remotely off of recordings made on less than ideal microphones sharing bandwidth with many other more critical data functions over 30 miles away from where you are at.

As something SpaceX can and perhaps should be doing as a part of their Q/A analysis, no doubt using some sort of sound probing to detect faults is going to be done. I just don't know if this has been done on something like a black box of an airliner to perform fault analysis post-mortem on a vehicle failure.

Submission + - SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 Failure: Broken Strut on Helium Tank->

Teancum writes: In a press conference held by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, he released some findings about what caused the explosion of the launch vehicle carrying the CRS-7 Dragon spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station.

Apparently a Helium tank was held in place inside of the Liquid Oxygen tank on the 2nd stage that failed while it was under going the nearly 32 m/s^2 acceleration (about 3.2 time Earth's gravity acceleration). This part was manufactured by an undisclosed 3rd party contractor for SpaceX and was rated to being able to hold up to 10,000 PSI, but failed at 2000. In the past week, SpaceX has been "testing an enormous number" of this exact strut that is currently in their inventory intended for future flights, and confirmed that at least one of them failed in a similar fashion where metallurgical analysis has been performed trying to identify potential defects.

It was also confirmed in this press conference that the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was tracked after the explosion and remained intact until it could no longer be followed by the tracking station due to it falling below the horizon. The Dragon could have survived the explosion and been recovered, except that the on-board guidance computer was not programmed to deploy the parachute during ascent. In the future, SpaceX plans on having this parachute deployment as a standard procedure even on cargo missions in the event of a rocket failure.

Link to Original Source

Comment Re:What could possible go wrong? (Score 5, Informative) 120 120

I'd like you to point out any launch site for orbital rockets that is anywhere even remotely close to tall buildings or even aircraft flights? The FAA routinely makes a pretty large exclusion zone around any launch activity. With the recent launch disasters from SpaceX and Orbital-ATK, I think such warnings should be well heeded even for ordinary Kerosene fueled rockets, much less something with an exotic propulsion system like this. It sure isn't going to be launched out of Central Park or any other urban center.

Besides, the CEO addressed this specific issue in an interview recorded a few months ago. Not only is the launch going to be far from cities, it will also need to happen in an arid region in part due to the microwave power being absorbed by water in the atmosphere. In other words, it is likely that this won't be launched from KSC in Florida either.

Comment Re:Better get those lobbyists ready, Comcast (Score 1) 98 98

When Comcast is looking as a wonderful alternative to me right now compared to the absolutely miserable experience I have with Century Link, I can see at least for my community that this will indeed be some realistic competition for terrestrial ISPs. All they have to beat is $100 per month for more than 800 kilobits/s of service to be economically viable for my family.

Yes, where I live internet service is that crappy. The data gets through, but it is insanely slow and often is far less than 800 kilobits in terms of typical bandwidth... so much so that even dial-up modems seem to have more throughput. I don't exactly live in a major metro area, but it is still a minor city with a population of about 200k people that has fiber optic links into the area that can sustain much higher bandwidth to ordinary households than currently is the case.

I am pretty certain that these terrestrial carriers will be finally upgrading their equipment and be competitive once these alternative networks start to become common place as well.

Comment Re:Fuck the FCC (Score 1) 98 98

And it is through the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that most countries coordinate the usage of global spectrum usage. This includes the USA, particularly with regards to almost anything having to do with spaceflight where you have spectrum usage that crosses international boundaries... like will most definitely happen in the case of this satellite constellation.

In the USA, you work through the FCC to make those ITU filings though.

Comment Re:4000 (Score 3, Interesting) 98 98

I'd wager that financial market trading traffic alone could pay for a significant portion of this bill at super premium rates, especially overseas traders. Not to mention traffic from ships, planes, rural 1st world locations all paying a premium. They can implement zone pricing pretty easily because they will always be able to able to triangulate a transmission down to the inch. With a network that dense it would greatly surpass the accuracy of the existing GPS constellation.

I had not thought of that idea before in terms of a potential customer for this set-up. That is an excellent point. Iridium could have been used for something like this (which also has a digital data component), but given the technology capabilities available at the time Iridium was being built, they could only get about 4800 baud for individual customers... something that makes the bandwidth latency sort of irrelevant. High bandwidth and low latency combined with global coverage would indeed be a good customer.

The major competitor to this concept in that regard is an even older technology though, mainly the 19th Century concept (updated to using 21st Century materials) of the cable laying ship. An awful lot of fiber cable has been laid down across all of the oceans of the world between major cities. It is only when you can't access that fixed terrestrial network that something of this nature really becomes useful (as you've mentioned).

As a means to deliver that last mile architecture, it really opens up possibilities.

Comment Re:To all you Obama supporters (Score 2) 165 165

The net result of appealing to the FISA Court in this situation more or less means that the issue will be forced into the U.S. Supreme Court. That is one place where even the FISA Court must follow precedent, or else be taken for what it has become as an extra branch of the government answerable to nobody.

To me, that even risks the potential of having the FISA Court itself ruled unconstitutional and a whole can of worms that the Obama administration really doesn't want opened. While I think it is unlikely that SCOTUS will go that far (no matter how I would love to see that happen) it could very well be that some strong oversight by SCOTUS might happen, which has the ability to run the judiciary.

It also opens civil litigation opportunities if somebody wants to be a real jerk about this, again depending on whatever the nine justices want to see done. While perhaps the weakest of the three branches of government, they do have some bite and can demonstrate to Obama and in particular set a precedent for future presidents that he shouldn't dismiss judicial actions so casually.

Comment Re:New Mexico already has a newspaceport (Score 2) 57 57

Because SpaceX is using the New Mexico spaceport.... too!

That facility is mainly going to be used for R&D testing of their recoverable rocket systems, such as what they've been doing at their Waco facility with the Grasshopper series of flights. At the moment, they are hoping to use one of the rocket cores built for a regular flight and doing the reuse testing in New Mexico... with the much higher altitude flight clearance they can get in New Mexico which simply isn't permitted in central Texas.

Besides, the spaceport in New Mexico is mainly built for sub-orbital flights and doing stuff like launching the Virgin Galactic space planes. Who said it isn't in use?

Comment Re:Compare an expected cost, to an actual cost? (Score 3, Insightful) 57 57

left the US with no manned launch capability and no heavy lift rockets Let's hope history will not repeat itself.

What is to compare here? This is a private launch facility that will likely never see any crews launch from this location, as it will be mainly commercial communications satellites and a few other commercial payloads that will be flying from Texas. It is also being built with mostly (but certainly not exclusively) private funds with the idea that the company building this facility will use it to earn a healthy profit from its activities.

There is no history to actually repeat in this situation, other than following the history of other commercial launch endeavors that simply went bankrupt. SpaceX, on the other hand, seems to be profitable and doesn't show signs at the moment of even struggling to make payroll. Far from struggling to make ends meet, they are doing some serious capital expenditures to expand their existing business. This launch facility in Texas is proof that SpaceX plans on increasing their launch rate considerably over the next decade or more.

Submission + - The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden - journalist Seymor Hersh tells a different story

zedaroca writes: Pulitzer-winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh wrote on London Review of Books a 10.000 words piece on the killing of Osama Bin Laden, quoting American and Pakistani officials. According to his piece, the US had intelligence and operational help from Pakistan (by getting out of the way).

It began with a walk-in. In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad.

(...)

Kayani eventually tells us yes, but he says you can’t have a big strike force. You have to come in lean and mean. And you have to kill him, or there is no deal,’ the retired official said. The agreement was struck by the end of January 2011, and Joint Special Operations Command prepared a list of questions to be answered by the Pakistanis: ‘How can we be assured of no outside intervention? (...)

So far, at least NBC has backed up part of Hersh's report.

Submission + - Rand Paul Will Filibuster PATRIOT ACT Reauthorization-> 1 1

SonicSpike writes: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said this week that he intends to mount a fight against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the post-Sept. 11 law that gives the National Security Agency much of its authority to conduct surveillance programs.

"I'm going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward. We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us," Paul told the New Hampshire Union Leader on Monday.

The Patriot Act expires June 1, but Congress must effectively renew the law by May 22nd because of a scheduled weeklong break. Paul, a civil libertarian who hopes to capture the 2016 Republican nomination for president, has consistently spoken against reauthorizing the law, going so far as to oppose a 2014 bill that would have ended controversial NSA phone record collection because it left the government's broad authority to conduct surveillance intact.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - World's Most Dangerous Driving Simulator->

agent elevator writes: Lawrence Ulrich at IEEE Spectrum has an interview with the maker of a simulator for professional racers, the $54,000 Motion Pro II from CXC Simulations. It conveys amazingly fine sensations including: the feel of the car's tires wearing out or the car lightening as its fuel dwindles. It also has the kick to make you really feel a crash: “If you hit the wall in an Indy Car and don’t take your hands off the wheel, you’ll break your wrists... Our wheel is a one-to-one replication of that, but we don’t turn it up that high. It’s the first time we’ve been able to replicate racing forces so high that it introduces liability questions.”
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:misquote (Score 2) 117 117

SpaceX happens to have another barge for the Vandenberg launches. It still is a big deal in terms of landing in a desert, as you have the option of either trying to fly laterally to Mexico (with some international arms control problems with ITAR) or overfly Los Angeles and/or San Diego with that rocket.

Vandenberg happens to be located at a point where California sort of turns off to the east, and is used for polar orbits explicitly because there is a whole lot of nothing except for ocean between Santa Barbara County and Antarctica. Try to look at a map sometime and answer this question: Which city is further west: Los Angeles or Reno?

There is a landing pad being constructed both at KSC (in Florida) as well as at Vandenberg. Right now both NASA and more significantly the USAF (for Vandenberg especially) are waiting to see the results of landing on the barge first before formal approval for landing at the pads is going to be authorized.

It should be pointed out too that SpaceX does have a landing pad with several dozen square miles of desert to work in at Spaceport America in New Mexico. There was some construction work going on there at least in the recent past, and so far as I know the tests to be conducted there haven't been canceled although most of the current effort seems to be work on the revenue flights like this CRS-6 flight rather than the proposed test flights in New Mexico that were to be suborbital flights mainly going up really high and then coming back to the Earth with possibly a flight over White Sands (which is adjacent to Spaceport America and is both restricted airspace and ground access due to it being a military base). Flight clearance at that location is such that they can go much higher there than they can at their Texas test facility.

As long the launches are at KSC or Vandenberg, however, the recovery at the moment will simply need to be at sea. Physics also plays a part as other than returning to the original launch site, down range from either launch site is simply ocean as far as you can go in the general flight path.

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