Nah. If this was happening in China it wouldn't be all over the news. They'd just quietly find Assange, put a bullet in the back of his head execution-style, and nobody would ever be the wiser.
> I'm at a bit of a loss at how much better it
> could be to see it through a tiny window.
Just about every astronaut I've heard has said that staring out the window was one of their favorite activities during downtime in orbit, and they'd all jump at the chance to go back for more.
That would be cool and all, if this was actually subsidizing solar power research... the summary says they money is going to companies building production plants, not early-stage research. In other words, just another government distortion of the free market. I'd rather have solar panel producers who can stand on their own commercially instead of giving handouts to yet another industry who will then become dependent on said handouts.
No, engine start takes place at around T-2.5 or T-3.5. If the engines have all built up to the proper thrust levels, and everything else checks out, THEN the computer releases the hold-down clamps at T-0.
You kid, but I remember reading an interview with a high level manager in the JSC astronaut office, wherein he said only half joking that the astronauts under his purview were more than willing to strap into a Shuttle with only one functioning SRB, etc, and a big part of his job was basically to convince them of reasonable safety standards for their OWN lives!