A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘space travel

[LINK] “What’s the matter with Russia’s rockets?”

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The Planetary Society Blog’s Jason Davis reports on speculation that a string of failures of Russian rockets indicate serious problems afoot in Russia’s space industries.

[This latest incident] marks the fifteenth failure of a Russian rocket in 6 years. Of those, all but two were related to upper stages. Seven were tied to the Proton’s Briz-M, while Soyuz stages have been implicated five times. Three Soyuz failures involved the rocket’s native third stage, and the other two were related to the Fregat.

The current version of the Proton has been around since 2001, and it’s often associated with the word “workhorse.” Soyuz dates back to the dawn of the space age, when an ancestor of the stalwart launcher sent Sputnik into space in 1957. Both rockets have evolved, but in terms of recent history, Russia’s core launch fleet has remained relatively unchanged.

[. . ]

Earlier this this year, Russia approved a 10-year, $20 billion space budget. That’s barely more than NASA receives in a single year, and represented a 64 percent slash from what was originally proposed in 2014.

“The Russian space sector is short of funding, and may be having difficulties maintaining its quality control standards,” said John Logsdon, a Planetary Society board member and professor emeritus of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.

Additionally, Russia’s workforce is shrinking. Since the 1990s, the country’s population has steadily declined, despite an influx of more than 9 million immigrants. Those migrants have filled some of the country’s job vacancies, but the overall effect, according to the Brookings Institute, is that Russia faces a sharp decline in labor quality.

Worse yet, due to larger economic pressures, the country isn’t able to make large-scale education investments, said David Belcher, an analysis manager at the Washington, D.C.-based Avascent consulting group.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 2, 2016 at 9:35 pm

[LINK] “China’s Big Year in Space Sparks Excitement and Speculation”

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Scientific American‘s Leonard David describes the noteworthy ongoing improvement of China’s reach in space.

Floating back under parachute from outer space to Inner Mongolia on November 17, China’s Shenzhou-11 astronauts brought to a close the nation’s longest piloted space trek, which lasted 33 days. The mission capped off a year that saw a series of noteworthy successes in China’s blossoming space program, including the country’s sixth manned space mission, the launch of a new space lab module and the inaugural use of a new spaceport. China also opened a world-class radio telescope this year, signaling the country’s growing involvement in space science. These advances, experts say, establish China as one of the top-tier spacefaring nations on Earth and the one with perhaps more momentum than anyone—a status that excites scientists and could inspire other nations to step up their own plans.

Most of the Shenzhou-11 mission had the two crew members, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, safely tucked inside the live-in space lab Tiangong-2, which just launched in September. The duo’s work was dedicated in large part to honing expertise required to develop China’s own large space station. That station is due to come online by the mid 2020s—around when the International Space Station is due for retirement—a fact that Chinese space planners have emphasized.

The year’s Chinese checklist also included the first use of a new Kennedy Space Center-like spaceport, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast. The sprawling facility saw the maiden liftoffs of two rockets this year: the Long March-7 and a heavy-lifter, the Long March-5. Both boosters are essential to an expansive space agenda, with the latter dedicated to lofting the nation’s multi-modular space station and possibly, quite literally, shooting for the moon.

China is building upon earlier robotic lunar exploits, including unmanned orbiters and a lander that dispatched the nation’s Yutu moon rover in December 2013. Now their multi-pronged plan calls for the robotic spacecraft Chang’e 5 to launch in the second half of 2017 atop a Long March-5 rocket, land on the moon and collect several pounds of lunar samples, then hurl the specimens back to Earth. And on tap in 2018 is the launch of a lander headed for the far side of the moon, which would be a space first for any country. Looking beyond the lunar landscape, China is also busy at work on a Mars rover that is slated for a 2020 liftoff.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 2, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Politics, Science

Tagged with , , , ,

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes Niagara Falls’ new light show.
  • Body Horrors reports on a 1980 epidemic of MRSA among Detroit drug users.
  • Centauri Dreams describes the final orbits of Cassini around Saturn.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting Tabby’s Star is being star-mined.
  • Language Log looks at an element of Chinese slang regarding telecommunications.
  • The LRB Blog argues against blaming migrants for problems on the left.
  • The Planetary Society Blog discusses the continued Dawn mission around Ceres.
  • Savage Minds talks about the need to slow down in a time of crisis.
  • Seriously Science notes research suggesting whales jump out of the water for purposes of communication.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, in the United States, flag burners cannot be stripped of their citizenship.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russians would like the West to make up on Russia’s terms and looks at the embassies and delegations of Russia’s component regions.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blgoTO notes how the Guild Inn was once a popular resort.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the import of real scientists in Arrival.
  • Crooked Timber notes that anti-Trump Republicans did not seem to matter in the election.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at cutting-edge options for studying exoplanets.
  • False Steps notes a proposed American spacecraft that would have landed on water.
  • Far Outliers notes the pointless internment of foreign domestics in Second World War Britain.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the potential impact of a Michael Bloomberg presidential run.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the development of apps which aim to find out the preferred songs of birds.
  • Steve Munro and Transit Toronto look at ongoing controversy over the 514 Cherry streetcar line’s noise, including upcoming public meetings.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer suggests the election of Trump could lead to the election of a similar populist to the presidency of Mexico.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy deals with the odd and seemingly meaningless distinction made by Americans between “republic” and “democracy”
  • Window on Eurasia wonders if Trump’s negotiating style might lead to worse Russian-American relations and looks at his business history in Russia.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO notes that York University is slated to have an architecturally interesting student centre.
  • Centauri Dreams reports on new imaging of various protoplanetary disks.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on observations finetuning what is known about HD 209458b.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the happiness of at least one white supremacist leader with the Trump victory.
  • Language Hat reports on medieval prejudices about collectors of books.
  • Language Log explains its silence over the Trump election.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money celebrates Doctor Strange.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests anxiety over technological change gave Trump an advantage over Clinton.
  • The NYRB Daily considers when it is proper to put a work through a new translation.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the week’s activities in the solar system.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is alarmed by the description of the nascent California separatist movement in an article, as the mechanisms are described.
  • Peter Rukavina shares of a map about Internet accessibility on Prince Edward Island.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy praises Obama’s recent statements.
  • Window on Eurasia argues Trump’s policies might hurt Russia and notes Ukrainians who hope his government will not be hostile to Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Beyond the Beyond notes an upcoming exhibition of photos of Vaclav Havel.
  • blogTO notes a local controversy over the demolition of a community-built skate park.
  • Centauri Dreams considers how advanced starfaring civilizations might deal with existential threats.
  • Crooked Timber looks at how presidential debates could be used to teach logic.
  • Language Hat examines the origins of the evocative Slavic phrase “they perished like Avars.”
  • Language Log notes how “Molotov cocktail” was confused by a Trump manager with “Mazel tov cocktail”.
  • The LRB Blog notes Brexit-related insecurity over the rule of law in the United Kingdom.
  • The Map Room Blog notes an exhibition in Maine of Acadian-related maps.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at how the Hong Kong press has been influenced by advertisers.
  • The NYRB Daily looks an exhibition of abstract expressionism.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at what we can learn from Rosetta.
  • Savage Minds considers the place of archeology in anthropology.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Belarus’ commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution and considers the dispute in Kazakhstan as to whether the country should be known as Qazaqstan.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith talks about his upcoming session at the Naked Heart literary festival here in Toronto.
  • blogTO notes that Metrolinx is set to kill Bombardier’s LRT contract.
  • Centauri Dreams talks about the discovery of planets in the system of HD 87646, one not unlike Alpha Centauri.
  • Dangerous Minds talks about a documentary on skinheads.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers about the discovery of planetary debris in orbit of white dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper speculating if the primordial atmosphere of Titan was ammonia.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog talks about the vote and immigrants.
  • The LRB Blog notes the worrying state of Brexit rhetoric.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a digital atlas of Mi’kmaq names in Nova Scotia.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at China’s powerful new Long March 5 rocket.
  • Towleroad notes Kim Davis’ large legal bill.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr supports Hillary, another noting how Utah can save the US from Trump.
  • Window on Eurasia argues Putin’s Russia is more dangerous than the Soviet Union and suggests that the official definition of the Russian nation is brittle.