The teal dear: essentially an American Soyouz capsule, with a recoverable "capsule" put into orbit by a fully disposable launch system. Nobody seems to know just what the hell the SLS's orbital vehicle will be, or look like - a brief perusal of the wiki articles makes it look more like a desperate attempt to keep as much of the old shuttle program infastructure and supply chain alive as possible (big suprise.) Be it porkbarreling or SpaceX that wins out on the boost vehicle, what will be the orbital vehicle?
There's wide consensus that the Shuttle program was a costly underperformer, but despite its failures it did give us tremendous amounts of data and experience with recoverable, re-usable spacecraft. If we combined a rather large vehicle meant to return with a shuttle-type profile (ceramic heat shield and glide control) with a fully disposable launch and orbital engine system (instead of keeping a costly chunk of it on the vehicle and having to lug it about, like the orbiter's main engine) you could get the best of both worlds - a vehicle larger than what parachute landings and albative heat shields allow for, but small enough to fit on top of a disposable booster (and inside a fairing) and allow for a true launch escape system rather than the very dicey launch setup the shuttles used.
It is refreshing to see some scientists recognizing that a practical, significant counter to global warming that is feasible within the economic and political world we live in will require bigger thinking and more drastic measures. This is of course anathema to the enviromentalist movements behind much of the AGW awareness push, who view enviromental quality as an end unto itself, people be damned.
Unfortunately, this isn't happening. Its JPL and SpaceX that are breaking new ground making all the significant progress in space technologies while the government races to shut them down because of district-based porkbarreling and similar bullshit. I don't think NASA can ever become what it once was; a military/civilian/industrial complex with funding and drive provided by the macropolitical situation. Now space is a vauled economic and strategic commodity; anyone with interest in it (the Air Force and private buisnesses both) will find and develop their own reliable access, with or without NASA. I doubt there are many more Elon Musk's out there willing to fight costly political and PR battles to get NASA using their systems when so many other clients, intelligent ones with cash and launch-ready payloads are lining up - and unlike NASA their coffers and need for services aren't declining steadily.
How hard is it to build one of these damn things, strap it to a lab bench, and test it? And then test it in a vacuum, underwater, upside down, in a house, with a mouse, with green eggs and ham, etc? Isn't that what scientists are paid to do? Test things? Over and over, under every conceivable scenario? The test these fellows did is great and all, but it should have been done years ago. If the EmDrive and its permutation(s) are bullshit, then why wasn't it killed and buried years ago, with the inescapable power of repeatable experiments and test results? We spend millions trying to detect cosmic particles that aren't there, and then spend MORE millions to NOT detect those cosmic particles to a greater degree of accuracy, but nobody can be fucking arsed to strap a microwave gizmo to a lab bench, flip a switch, and see if this is a world-shaking breakthrough or just another sad data mistake? Thanks for nothing, poindexters.
Have you got flaky plugins installed?
Everyone does. It's called Java.
What performance characteristics make a rocket defense effective? To successfully intercept an artillery rocket of the type Hamas has been firing, an Iron Dome interceptor must destroy the warhead on the front end of the rocket. If the Iron Dome interceptor instead hits the back end of the target rocket, it will merely damage the expended rocket motor tube, basically an empty pipe, and have essentially no effect on the outcome of the engagement. The pieces of the rocket will still fall in the defended area; the warhead will almost certainly go on to the ground and explode."
tl;dr: Terminal intercept is hard. This is something we already know. For boost-phase or midcourse intercepts, however, destroying the rocket booster is more than enough to screw up the warhead's ballistic trajectory, bringing it down well short of the mark (entire cities) where they explode harmlessly in the wilderness. Unfortunately, after a half-hour of searching Google, I was unable to find any concrete data or information on the common intercept profiles of Iron Dome launches, the interceptor missiles capabilities, or likewise. One of the best civilian sources (i.e. people who sell technical information on military weapons to journalists, like Janes,) globalsecurity.org, has a sparse article long on general information and completely lacking hard data or numbers. This indicates to me that the data is simply highly classified and not being published, which makes perfect sense for a new defense system currently being employed against attackers who are actively adapting to it.
This means that, in addition to the ratio of boost-phase/midcourse/terminal intercepts Postol is making very free assumptions about the interceptor's warhead weight, their blast profile, the composition, density and thickness of their fragmentation jackets, density of the resulting fragmentation cloud, the exact range, detonation parameters and capabilities of the proximity fusing systems and the position of the Iron Dome batteries vis-a-vis the launch sites. If interceptors are indeed making frequent "tail chases," this would imply the rockets are flying over the batteries on their way to their targets, and the rockets are in fact performing mid-course intercepts - if they were located near the target area, intercepts would much more frequently be coming in from the front quarter. The latter is highly undesirable because (as Postel notes) its much harder to guarantee a "hard kill" of a warhead as opposed to simply shooting down the entire vehicle, but also because the combined closing speed of front-quarter intercepts drastically reduces the interception window, and thus accurate intercepts. The more time the interceptor has to track the target, compute solutions and make course-corrections, the better its chances of getting as close to the mark as possible.
Finally - and this should go without saying - Postel's entire argument is predicated on (apparently) a handful of contrail pictures with no context, frame-of-reference, or further data, this appears to constitute his "proof." If he has, in truth, analyzed gazillions of contrail images, then he should be presenting his portfolio of images, each one with as much contextual data as is available, along with his analysis. This is what actual, paid military analysts who know what they're doing would do, and indeed what most scientists know to do - document, document, document. If Postel wishes to idly theorize, then by all means, let him theorize: but to post such drivel as an actual argument is an insult to anybody with half a fucking brain.