January 31, 2009

Another Job For Debris Section

Oh wait....we don't HAVE a debris section...that's just a cartoon.
More is the pity

Steeljaw Scribe posts on the unsavory fate of Cosmos 1818 an old soviet era nuclear powered satellite that has had what NASA euphemistically refers to as "a fragmentation incident".

It seems that the satellites reactor coolant system either ruptured due to wear and tear, or the satellite was hit by debris, possibly from the infamous Chinese ASAT test....in any event the satellite has excreted a cloud of stuff....most likely hardened coolant (it used a liquid metal coolant) forming a cloud of metallic pebbles of various sizes on various courses.

This satellite is causing some people concern because is a later version of the well known Cosmos 954 that rained radioactive scrap over several hundred miles of Canadian taiga back in 1978. However, the radioactive threat is limited. Actually it is negligible given that the vehicle is not in a decaying orbit.

Image of COSMOS1818 via Encyclopedia Astronautica

What is worrisome is the fact that Cosmos 1818 is still up there and is in lots of little hard to track pieces on different vectors. This greatly adds to the navigational hazards of an orbital torus already very full of dangerous debris, and it can only add to the overall threat of collisions from orbital fragments.

 If this was due to a debris strike then it is a mini example of the sort of thing that could easily lead to something called the Kessler Syndrome. That is debris hit satellites and other structures..thereby causing more debris...which in turn cause yet more collisions....this leads to a geometric increase in the generation of hyper-velocity projectiles orbiting in random directions until it is simply impractical due to the high likelihood of catastrophic collisions to continue in space. This sort of thing needs more attention...As it is, we are reinforcing the walls to our own prison.

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January 28, 2009

20 Years Ago

Due to the presence of Christa McAulliffe, the first teacher in space, it was watched with rather greater interest than most launches, and around the country, thousands, if not millions of schoolchildren witnessed the explosion and death of 7 brave men and women.

This is a somber week for space enthusiasts.Yesterday was the anniversary of the deaths of Grissom, White and Chafee in  Apollo 1 fire...

.... and 3 days from now will mark the anniversary of the deaths of Columbia's final crew.

17 of our best have risked and lost everything to open up for us a frontier of limitless opportunity. No words I can write will do these people justice.

There are choice words however for the visionless mandarins in congress and the federal bureaucracy whose venal machinations and lack of foresight have  ensured that 20 years after the Space Shuttle Challenger we have done next to nothing to get us farther along in opening the frontier these brave people died to explore.

These same malevolent mandarins chose this somber day to virtually bankrupt the nation, and their priorities revealed in the stimulus package show that investments in our future and moving the nation forward rank far below their greed and visions of power.

It is not by accident that I call these people Mandarins, for the story we see unfolding before us has happened before, as I wrote in a previous post of what happened to China...

...In possession of the largest merchant fleet in history, the oldest and most advanced civilization  on earth decided in the early 1400's to stop exploring and engaging the world. The nation rapidly lost the applicable technologies and did not become a world power again until the 1960's...and was not a serious economic power until the early 90s.

The lead in economics and power the US currently enjoys is infinitesimal in comparison to the lead in technology, knowledge, and both hard and soft power that China enjoyed in the 1400s. Other nations were literally centuries behind, and yet a group of visonless bureaucrats, for reasons of both well intentioned but short sighted idiocy, and the most venal self interest, stymied through legislation (or simply outlawed) not only emerging technologies, but existing ones as well. China was leapfrogged and became the plaything of the nations who had put her inventions to good use. In a last fit of bureaucratic group think, the descendants of those who had brought this about, ended the modernization efforts of the Tang Dynasty solely because they feared that the new ministries and corporations focused on technological development  would threaten their power and relevance. The result was 70 years of blood, culminating in the worst mass murder humanity has ever seen.

We are very close to repeating one of the most calamitous mistakes any nation has made. We have leadership that does not like free enterprise and due to today's events, we face a generation or more of severe parsimony on the government side as well....if we are not to completely bankrupt the nation.

There is hope of course.

Like a farmer facing drought we can muddle through this and prosper in the end, but only if we don't eat our seed corn. Technology investment is the seed corn of a modern nation. We would do well to remember that and see to it that future leaders encourage rather than stymie it.

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January 23, 2009

Battlewagon Blogging

CDR Salamander has a weekly feature called Full Bore Friday that deals with maritime heroism of both individuals and units. It's always worth a read. This week he focuses on the battleship USS Washington.

Washington saw more action than any other US Battleship in history and was for a time the only operational allied Battleship in the Pacific theater.
 CDR Salamander has fine overview as well as the after action report of the second battle of Savo Island where Washington sent the IJNS Kirishima to the bottom.

Go read the whole thing and add CDR Salamander to your link list.

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January 20, 2009

Good Luck and Godspeed President Obama!

Fair winds and following seas President Bush.

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January 19, 2009

More Heroes

Much has been written about the recent astounding landing and rescue of flight 1549 and with good reason. It should be remembered that on a smaller scale heroes do there deeds all the time.

Case in point two USN petty officers stationed in Yokuska who recently saved a Japanese citizen who had fallen onto a busy Yamanote line track with the oncoming train already in view.

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Some Quick Thoughts on the Outgoing Administration

My feelings on the outgoing administration are rather mixed to say the least. His actions have left us with a large deficit, a huge government intrusion into the private sector (though in fairness he did try to prevent the financial debacle, and was ignored).and he expanded government more than any president since Johnson.

He also was dealt several terrible hands which he played as well as could be expected. He did not have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight when making tough decisions with no happy solutions available. He recognized that a huge part of Americas vulnerability stemmed from the fact that we had given the impression that we had a glass jaw or would not fight at all. He has put that at least to rest.

I am largely alone amongst conservatives in concluding that Bush was right on the immigration reform idea and path to citizenship for those illegals willing to learn the language and integrate. (Where he failed on immigration IMHO was not there but in border enforcement.)

Bush also did more on the soft power front than any previous president, ranging from fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa to sending Hospital ships and Amphibious ships around the world to provide aid. He gets no credit for this as he is one of the most unfairly maligned Presidents in history.

There is much to disagree with this guy about, but the venomous, insane, fanatical hatred and contempt directed at him by the left is disgraceful, and very nearly as creepy as the near cultlike adoration and worship many of these same people have for his successor.

A mixed bag indeed but his failures can be fixed. If , on the other hand, he had not kept the country as safe as he did these last 8 years the cost would have been far greater than any of his missteps have been.

More thoughts, some rather less qualified in their praise, from the Anchoress, AJ Strata, CDR Salamander, Gay Patriot and....the Dali Lama.

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South Korea on Alert

While everyone else is awaiting the inauguration, Information Dissemination points out some troubling developments in the vicinity of the 38th parallel.

In From the Cold has more here.

 The Korea Herald reports that there have been Naval engagements...
Naval ships from the two Koreas have engaged in a number of bloody clashes in the West Sea on North Korean provocation.

 ...though is unclear if this is referring to recent events. There have been several clashes at sea between the two countries over the last few years.

Coming as it does during the potential disruption of the Presidential transition this is an even more worrisome development than it would normally be. This is most likely bluster by the Hermit Kingdom, but it certainly bears watching.

 Note that the US and South Korea are still technically at war with the North. The armistice is still in effect but no peace treaty has ever been signed.

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The Reason for the 3 Day Weekend

In 15 or so hours Barak Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of this republic. I did not vote for the guy and although he has pleasantly surprised me with some of his appointments as well as many of his statements I am very concerned about the direction he will take this nation.

That being said, he is going to be the president...our president...and it is our job as citizens to give him a chance and to give him support as he faces the crushing set of challenges and dreadful options that our chief executives are confronted with.

There will no doubt be all sorts of things to bang ones head against ones keyboard over and policies that those of us on the right will oppose on principle. However, whatever misgivings many of us may have, the fact that a person of color has achieved the highest elected office is surely a cause for celebration.

Today is more than an extra day off. It is a day to reflect upon how far we have come as a nation. Because today is not only the day before this inaguration. It is the day we celebrate one of the great civil rights leaders of this country.

Dr. King's dream, far too long in coming, has finally been fuffilled.

He was a visionary who anticipated some of the best aspects of America today...but he did not live to see it....Hours after giving this speech he was assasinated.

I was born in 1970, so many of the injustices the civil rights movement was about are hard to comprehend. I encounter bigots of various flavors from time to time, but I frankly can't get my head around such absurd and alien notions as segregated water fountains, toilets, and restaurants or anti miscegenation laws...but for over a hundred fifty years, they were the reality.  Dr. King stood up to that awful reality, and he did so peacefully and with dignity.

Some perspective on that time can be gleaned from one of the more important documents of our nation, The Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which is quoted in its entirety below the fold.....

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January 18, 2009

The Home Stretch

Apologies, my first post in a week and it focuses on my Walter Mitty lifestyle...so here is an unrelated picture of a Vespa as compensation.....

Vespa study is by Haku

Banality blogging is tastefully below the fold....

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January 10, 2009


Fabius Maximus has a bleak series of posts on the deteriorating situation in Mexico.

The prospect of a failed state on our southern border is a grim one and is going to require considerable attention as this is a huge potential security as well as humanitarian problem.

Worse, there is little proactive we can do...The incoming administration is going to be faced with a series of choices that are  pretty much all varying degrees of bad. 

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