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SpaceX revealed their new Dragon II capsule complete with emergency rocket landing mechanism this week. The company also received approval to launch from a new facility many of my colleagues in NewSpace have been working for:

The spaceport would be constructed at Boca Chica Beach (TX), an area used mostly for recreation and surrounded by over 50 acres of undeveloped sand dunes and wetlands. Texas state officials have been making efforts to sway SpaceX toward the location in order to create new jobs and attract tourism. The Texas legislature has proposed tax breaks and passed a law allowing for nearby beaches to be closed off for safety during launches.
This region is at the southern tip of the Lone Star State. Because it's closer to the equator than Kennedy Space Center, it provides even more "free" velocity for orbit-bound spacecraft and still has a big, mostly empty ocean region to the east to handle lower stage or early abort recovery.
  • Ants vs Google: Ants win.
  • Bacon!
  • Neil dygrasse Tyson was on All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC this week, good stuff if you can catch a clip. The teaser was, he'd be talking about climate change denialists and creationist with Hayes this next Monday evening.
  • Speaking of interviews, the Snowden spot with Bryan Williams is just incredible. Quality trad med journalism imo. And while I, like many, feel conflicted, his demeanor appears earnest, his concerns are well stated, and some of his conclusions sound highly plausible, at least to to me. See, it's not just that everything you do is being recorded ...


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Comment Preferences

  •  Spacex already does rocket development here (5+ / 0-)

    (in Mcgregor) and our Dear Leaders are also trying REALLY HARD to get that Tesla GigaFactory.

    Maybe -- just maybe, somebody is re-thinking the fact that Tesla cars cannot be locally sold?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:44:14 AM PDT

  •  Thanks DarkSyde (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alx9090, DarkSyde, RiveroftheWest

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:45:30 AM PDT

  •  Best part of unveil: "THIS is how a 21st century (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran, eztempo, RiveroftheWest

    spaceship should land"


    Where would our economy be if every CEO had the pride and passion that just oozes out of Elon Musk?

    BTW -- did you catch the part about the printed SuperDraco?

    To hell with printing some funky plastic gun that may explode when it fires. These guys are printing rocket engines!

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:47:24 AM PDT

  •  For the record: I deny climate change. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran, kovie, eztempo

    I also deny gravity, but that doesn't seem to be helping me reach the moon.

    Darn. And I was really hoping for some green cheese.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:49:24 AM PDT

  •  That SpaceX is linked to Tesla Motors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is so fitting. I'm currently reading a biography of Nikola Tesla, the late 19th and early 20th century electrical inventor and engineer, genius, visionary, and in some ways mad scientist eccentric, after whom Tesla Motors was named, and his MO of rejecting prevailing assumptions and ways of doing and looking at things and going it alone as per his vision and instinct (backed by evidence and theory of course), financed up by the venture capital of forward thinking investors, is completely in line with how these companies operate.

    Thankfully, though, these companies have learned from his and other lone inventors' mistakes and appear to be more methodical and systematic in how they pursue their goals and visions, and put ego on the back burner.

    I wonder if there's a lesson there for progressives?

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sat May 31, 2014 at 07:03:45 AM PDT

    •  I like how they share technology (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, RiveroftheWest

      The advanced battery technology developed by Tesla Motors is used in the batteries on board the Dragon.  And the big display screen used in the Tesla S is the same one used in the Dragon V2, benefiting from all that vibration and human factors testing.

      And those Dragon seats had an automotive look about them.  I am not sure how practical they are under 3G acceleration, but flashy for a press roll-out.

  •  climate denialists (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eztempo, ybruti, RiveroftheWest

    I enjoy fighting the climate denialists at the blog Climate Etc. Right now they are on about the fact that chaos rules climate, and therefore all climatologists are spinning their wheels trying to make sense of it.

    The only thing astonishing is the deniers lack of awareness of basic physics.

    Take the case of ENSO …. ENSIO stands for El Nino / Southern Oscillation. The fact that it is an oscillation is stated right there in the name. So let’s deconstruct ENSO. First consider that since it is an oscillation, it must obey some sort of wave equation. The solution of the simplest wave equation is a sinusoidal waveform.. This comes about as the second derivative is a scaled version of itself with a sign change.

    If the ENSO and particularly the standing wave phenomenon characterized by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was a simple sinusoid, it would be a concise solution. In actuality, the oscillation is only quasi-periodic with erratic peaks and valleys. The fundamental period is there but it is buried in the waveform, and difficult to discern.

    The way this can come about is due to perturbations to the ideal wave equation, which will then modify the sinusoidal solutions. One common perurbation is called the Mathius equation. This is essentially a wave equation with a sinusoidal modulation in time applied to the characteristic frequency, falling into the class of nonlinear differential equations. This can come about in any number of ways and must exist due to the modulation of the ocean both seasonally and over multiple years.

    The Mathieu equation basis functions are analogous to the sine and cosine functions but they show the erratic peaks and valleys that we are looking for. So far, so good.

    As the solution to the Mathieu equation is known and well-characterized we can evaluate the SOI with respect to a parameterized Mathieu equation forced by a running boundary condition. As it is well known that the Quasi-Biennial Oscillations of atmospheric wind speed is known to impact ENSO, we use that as a starting point.

    Then we can evaluate for a solution and compare that to the historical SOI time series:

    Contrary to the special pleadings of the chaos fanboys, this solution is NOT sensitive to initial conditions, but instead it is guided by the much stronger boundary conditions of the QBO forcing.

    The idea that chaos rules is a butchery of science. What we actually have with ENSO is a rather mild perturbation of an ideal wave equation (which would nominally generate a sine wave) giving instead an erratic quasi-periodic waveform that is very amenable to further analysis.

    By amenable to further analysis, I mean it can be evaluated for long term stability, mean value, excursions, and even used for prediction at some point in time.

    Consider further that this approach is in the class of the simple solutions that climatologist Isaac Held supports. It is actually so simple that a diffEq representation of SOI can be typed in a Wolfram/Alpha box and it will return with a chart of the time series.

    Yet this is in stark contrast to the scientific defeatists such as the Cheef and Tomas. I refer to them as defeatists because they can’t get over the fact that the earth’s lithosphere is not some unwieldy object immune to further analysis. It’s in fact just basic physics that we can apply a perturbation and get back interesting results that can aid in our intuition. Their defeatist attitude would suggest that nothing is humanly possible to gather any further understanding and that any confidence in CFD computations is misplaced. Well … just the fact that we can get close in modeling ENSO with a one-liner lays waste to this defeatism.

    Further, its absolutely nuts that Cheef and company they propagate the FUD that a butterfly flapping its wings can change the natural process of the earth with its huge built-in inertia. This is not that kind of chaotic system. Climate is a system subject to boundary conditions, not initial conditions.

    •  Wrong Question (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We should not be arguing whether climate change is real or not.  97% of scientists agree -- as close to consensus as you'll get in my lifetime.

      We should be arguing about what we should do about it.

      Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

      by Helpless on Sat May 31, 2014 at 07:22:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a good starting point for us is, energy is really important, literally the fuel of our lives. We can't exist as we do without cheap available energy. I advise wingers, and that includes several old and cherished friends, the best way to talk to us about energy is to get us to admit we have to have it. In turn they should offer up: it's just possible CO2 could have the same effect on the atmosphere we know it has everywhere else in the universe. Then proceed to compare and contrast existing and promising sources of new energy to what is currently consumed in the world and how and why it is consumed.

        •  OK (0+ / 0-)

          It seems to me wind, solar (like the panels on my roof) and tides have much potential, but we'll never solve the problem without some form of nuclear power, imo.  I'd like to see more work done on liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors.

          Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

          by Helpless on Sat May 31, 2014 at 07:48:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Understanding (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ... is the key.

            We have to be able to understand our natural environment inside and out so as to be able to leverage the non-renewable energies that the earth can provide.

            The problem with denialists is they are anti-science and deliberately obfuscate any advancements we can make in climatology.   They are nothing more than impediments to progress.

            •  But as Stephen Colbert says (0+ / 0-)

              it's too late.  He knew if he denied climate change long enough there would come a time when it would be too late to do anything about it.  And now that we find that we can't stop Antarctic glaciers from sliding into the sea and sea levels WIL RISE 10 feet, it's too late to do anything.

              Best to invest in air conditioners.  ;)

              Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

              by Helpless on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 08:28:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Really glad to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson... (6+ / 0-) taking on the climate denialists head-on.  This is one place where "TV viewers love conflict and controversy" might work in our favor.  The more eyeballs Cosmos II gets, the better.

    And the Dragon hardware looks awesome.  Like an engineering dream - the sort of thing you can accomplish when you're not beholden to Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing and a passel of defense contractors.  (Contrary to popular opinion, NASA probably could accomplish very similar things were they not yoked to all the defense contractors.  It's essentially privatization vs. outsourcing and thus far, the former is winning).

  •  Undeveloped sand dunes and wetlands. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What a perfect place for a privately held company to launch a spaceship. NOT.

  •  This is the Voice of Colossus Worm...... (0+ / 0-)

    This is the voice of Worm Control.

    The latest on the attempt to 'build' a virtual copy of a real lifeform down to the molecular level.
    May be good news, one day, for those against animal experimentation. And neuro researchers, drug researchers, and a lot of other sci.

  •  DS, did anyone ever look at spaceport america (0+ / 0-)

    for orbital launch?

    It was competing for X-33 launches back in the day.

  •  Elon Musk sells Paypal for $165 million and... (6+ / 0-)

    ...builds Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City. Steve Ballmer inherits $20 billion from Microsoft and... buys a basketball team.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:16:07 AM PDT

  •  Conflicted about Snowden? (4+ / 0-)

    I must really be more radical, than I think of myself.

    For my whole long life the US government has been lying to its citizens, under Presidents and Congresses of both parties, from the U2 to WMD. (And since then too, but we don't know which claims are fabricated yet).

    That lying destroys democracy.

    How anyone can be conflicted about Snowden's exposing the secret infrastructure of spying on us all is beyond me.

  •  I am not conflicted (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuck utzman, RiveroftheWest

    Edward Snowden is brave and patriotic.  The NBC interview showed an intelligent, passionately concerned citizen.  What has he gained?  What can he loose?  It was an act of conscious and I thank him.

  •  Dragon II does have parachutes, but they are a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    backup recovery system in case of engine problems.
    Wow--3D laser sintered printing of combustion chambers! Is that cool or what?

    Warren is neither a Clintonesque triangulator nor an Obamaesque conciliator. She is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition, and her candidacy is a test of whether that approach can still appeal to voters.-J. Toobin "New Yorker"

    by chuck utzman on Sat May 31, 2014 at 12:05:18 PM PDT

  •  The Snowden interview raised questions: (0+ / 0-)
    Does Snowden have copies of the whistleblower emails in there among the extensively indexed document trove he turned over to reporters in Hong Kong?
    Odds on: of course. Indirectly through Greenwald/Poitras/WaPo/Guardian, but of course. And that damned silliness of the Brits destroying Guardian computer drives still goes LOLZ. The fuzz didn't understand backups.
    Will Snowden return to the United States to be locked up for the rest of his life or executed?
    Does Snowden love the Espionage Act? Has he forgotten Lyndh and Manning? And John Walker Lyndh was out there fighting in a U.S. financed War on Drugs army.
    What is your prediction for will be in the next "blockbuster" release promised by Glen Greenwald?
    Let's go for naming names. Who's on the personal surveillance list, both in the U.S. and abroad. Big news will be that it's not a short list. If it's fewer than 10,000 people, surprise!
    How did the NBC News interview with Edward Snowden change the perceptions of Americans toward his actions?
    Guessing, generally, that in the short term there's not much change. The various White Room grandees of the intel world will be supported by our political careerists.

    The NSA looks to have a top management cult. And nobody wants to screw with an entrenched cult. This one also involves FBI, because they're the ones installing the domestic equipment and doing the domestic info grabs.

    Consider how the Federal government has backed off Scientology over the years. Going after the NSA Cult would carry similar risks. The cults use everything they have and go after you personally.

    Long term, Snowden is speaking truth. That tends to have a certain persistence. The old "stubborn things" Adams characteristic. And there's a long tradition of "Don't Tread On Me" to Americans, so there's hope of these truths coming out on top.

    Baker and Nixon redux: What do the Russians know and when did they first know it?
    A small item but in its way astonishing: Snowden stated unequivocally that he had not been approached by Russian intelligence. No effort had been made to question him or get his information.

    That simple. And then you consider that NSA had no security in place to prevent large-scale downloads. No document vault. No sign-out limits.

    Best bet is that Russia already had everything off those NSA computers. Everything. And their team has had years to analyze the information.

    What Russia wants is quiet, so NSA doesn't fix things.

    Not that the Russians are lax at getting people to spy on America: Robert Hanssen, Edward Howard, Robert Soblen, Aldrich Ames, Harold Nicholson, Ronald Pelton, David Boone, Richard Miller, Earl Pitts, Christopher Boyce. There's dozens more who also got caught. There's got to be even more who didn't get caught.

    Assume that what Snowden did had already been done for Russia.

    Russia doesn't talk to Snowden? Ask for help to protect themselves? That means they've got everything. 100 times, 1,000 times what Snowden walked off with. Their spies used NSA's data jukebox to steal everything.

    That includes operational data, which Snowden didn't touch.

    The Russians are good at this shit. (Kudos, guys.) The Kremlin under Putin has pushed their economy ahead by 20:1 vs. Yeltsin and they did it all without losing the old edge for spying and disinformation. (Give Anna Chapman a hug for me. Please. Love that gal.)

    Why did James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, described Snowden’s actions as the “most massive and damaging theft of intelligence” to date?
    Russia doesn't count. For Clapper, they couldn't possibly have new spies in place.

    "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

    by waterstreet2013 on Sat May 31, 2014 at 12:16:32 PM PDT

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