England takes a bet on Space

The Sabre air breathing rocket and the Skylon single stage to orbit craft grow more real with time. We should all remember that England was a hot bed of jet engine development in the early years and is still a leader (Rolls Royce.)20130719-091933.jpg20130719-091947.jpg20130719-091955.jpg

The announcement late last month that the Chancellor, George Osborne, is planning to put a chunk of the country’s meagre resources for capital expenditure behind a British project to develop a revolutionary jet engine for a reusable space plane, suggests the government has high hopes of the space engineering sector.
The Chancellor’s interest in Skylon centres on the hybrid air-breathing rocket engine, known as SABRE, which would power it into orbit in a single stage. The engine relies on an entirely new pre-cooling technology that allows it to function at extremely high speeds, at plus Mach 5. The project has no competitor. If successful it would offer a uniquely lightweight and therefore more affordable means of reaching space. It has already completed a series of tests and the next stage is to build a full-scale prototype.

Read more: The Engineer : Career opportunities in the UK space sector
Also the company developing the tech: Reaction Engines 20130719-093143.jpg

Uh, Guys, the ‘scope’s pointed in the wrong direction?!


An artist’s rendering of the proposed telescope on the Malapert crater on the moon. Moon Express/ILOA

Read more at: Wired: The Private Plan to Put a Telescope on the Moon
So yes you need an Earth link but I think Earth would be below the local horizon and a mast with a laser or smaller high frequency antenna would provide that link. I imagine the picture was marketing/art departments idea and it is cool.

The whole mission concept is cool and seems to make a lot of sense.

One thing we forget in this ‘later’ more ‘modern’ age is that historically science and scientific instruments were private, and they were not inexpensive it was a rich man’s game and often rich patron’s egos that got us to to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Looks like a great application of a ‘striped down’ mod of a SpaceX Dragon vertical lander…

To the Moon Gracie!

AWST Staff: Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report : NASA Calls For Private Lunar Lander Partners20130718-210636.jpg

Piggybacking on the Google Lunar X Prize and various commercial endeavors, NASA has offered its expertise and test facilities to potential lunar-lander partners who might be able to help mount scientific missions to the Moon’s surface as early as 2018.

A request for information published July 2 seeks concepts for “an industry-developed robotic lander that can be integrated with a launch vehicle for the purposes of supporting commercial (and potentially future NASA) missions.”

The U.S. space agency is interested in landers that can put two classes of payload on the lunar surface — 30-100 kg. (70-220 lb.) and 250-450 kg. Potential missions “of interest to NASA” include prospecting for volatiles at the Moon’s poles, sample return and setting up geophysical networks.

“U.S. industry is flourishing with innovative ideas based on NASA’s pioneering work to explore space, including low-Earth orbit and the Moon,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations (HEO) in Washington. He suggested that, data from commercial lunar landers, like space station research, could aid the agency’s plans to explore an asteroid and Mars.

“New robotic commercial capabilities on the Moon could extend that research in important ways, just as NASA expertise could help advance commercial endeavors to reach the Moon.”

The HEO directorate is proposing no-exchange-of-funds partnerships under Space Act agreements or other mechanisms, offering its technical expertise, unique test facilities, and some hardware and software to private companies willing to put up funding for lander development.

“NASA envisions that an integrated team comprised of NASA civil servants and the industry partner personnel could work together to design, develop and test landers,” the RFI says.

Responses to the RFI are due Aug. 2. Interest in private lunar landers has soared over the past three years after Google offered $30 million in prizes through the X Prize Foundation to teams that can land a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface, have it move at least 500 meters, and send back video, images and data. Presently 22 teams worldwide are in the running, working against a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015.

‘Nuff said, really cool stuff

It proves I’m a geek to say I want one even if I’m not quite sure what I’d do with it

Read more at: FPGAs, LEDs, tools and wearables, new products in the Maker Shed

…FPGAs are intimidating beasts to most makers, including myself. Thankfully, Justin Rajewski’s insanely popular Kickstarter project caught our eye. The entire goal of the Mojo is to make getting started with FPGA and digital design as easy as possible. An FPGA allows you to design digital circuits (basically a bunch of logic gates connected together to perform a specific task). The designs that you create can range from something as simple as a counter to blink an LED to something as complex as a multi-core processor (or an Audio Visualizer).
With a microcontroller (like an Arduino), you write software that gives you control of the the built-in peripherals but is limiting in that you can often only complete one action at a time. With FPGAs you are not creating software; you’re designing the hardware. Instead of writing code to run on a fixed processor with fixed peripherals, you get to design your own circuit.
Justin’s done a fantastic job of releasing new tutorials for getting started with Electronics, Logic and the Mojo on the Embedded Micro website. He’s also began work on an IDE specifically for the board, to make it even easier to develop for. Read more about this flexible, powerful board and pick one up from the product page. …

…and the other stuff they highlight is cool to!

Fences MAY improve neighbors but Walls, however ‘great,’ DO NOT

20130713-174112.jpgThe Atlantic: The Great Wall of Texas: How the U.S. Is Repeating One of History’s Great Blunders
Great little piece, good use of references to Rome, China and Great Britain’s Empire. The title is a bit ExcelaCorridor sneering but that’s the editors fault. I am proud to have been born in Britain and be a Naturalized US citizen. I’m also a wonk-geek-nerd-intellectual-libertarian I think the sealing of the border is fantasy/pandering/bunk, a channel for more neo graft cronyism.

We need immigration reform and border security but in a nation the size of the US, physical barriers are a boondoggle. Reform immigration and border security becomes easier since the vast huge immense majority of folks coming will want to come through the check points and follow the rules. The guys out in the desert, at sea or in the booneys looking to cross without being checked will be much easier to spot.

Too complex an issue you say? Not so say I:

  • 3 types of entry visas, you to apply in person, provide a little information, name, age, place of birth, current residence, phone/cell phone/eMail address, one or two people of some repute who will vouch for you ( if you apply for citizenship up front it’s a bit more complicated, see below.)
  • Visitor: One year, do anything you want, report your location via web when you move, pay taxes, work if you want using your visa # in lieu of SSN. SocialSecurity/WorkersComp ‘fees’ held in accounts with no interest, returned to you as lump sum after you exit and apply for it through US consulate in your country of citizenship. Subject to immediate deportation on conviction of a felony, if you are incarcerated in the US in full you are still subject to deportation. You can convert to a work visa or ask for a citizenship review at any time. If you overstay without upgrading it is an automatic felony and deportation, you are not a citizen though basic constitutional law applies you do not get trial by jury.
  • Work: unlimited stay, once a year report your location in person at any government office state or federal, use your visa number in lieu of a SSN pay all taxes. SS, MC, etc, fees go in a holding account with no interest, convert to regular SS, MC if you retire in the US or if you become citizen, otherwise returned to you as lump sum after you exit and apply for it through US consulate in your country of citizenship. Subject to immediate deportation on conviction of a felony, if you are incarcerated in the US in full you are not subject to deportation. You are not a citizen though basic constitutional law applies you do not get trial by jury regarding deportation. Time on a work visa does not lead to citizenship, you can ask for a citizenship review at any time.
  • Citizenship: you can ask for a citizenship review at any time, when applying for a visa in your country of origin or once in the US. Once approved for a citizenship track visa you are still effectively on a working visa but after seven years you can apply for citizenship and after a second review (same process as the first one) you will be approved for naturalization. The process is fee based and administrative, you will pay a fee for a background check to be carried out by US Immigration not a contractor. A US state or federal judge will be chosen at random in your state of residence, to review your case and approve disapprove. You can apply more than once, after a one year wait, you always pay the fee. If you object to a negative ruling you can pay for a court hearing with another Judge and a lawyer from immigration (two hours of J&L, a one hour hearing and a letter response, Yes/No), you can have a lawyer as well at your own expense, only one review a year. Have to be eighteen to ask for citizenship in your own right. A minor less than 12 becomes a citizen if one or both parents become one and ask for it. A minor over 12 cannot become a citizen until he/she is eighteen but if one or both parents have become naturalized citizens in that interim the child can ask for and immediately receive citizenship as long as they pass the administrative hurdle
So what about large number of illegals in the US, what have you done to discourage illegals:

  1. make it illegal to be in the us without a valid visa#
  2. Most folks come to work and want to be treated fairly, as a legal you have most of the protections of a citizen
  3. Those already in the US will be able to apply for a work visa and will have limited immunity since it is currently not illegal to be in the US without a visa. However you will be required to return to your country of origin ( or if you are a refugee apply for asylum ) before you can apply for citizenship track
  4. require employers to use eVerify for SSN, Visa#, for employees or contractors, make the system extremely simple to use. For example: as an employer or employers agent, you enter your number, it flashes your picture on the screen and the employee taps in his/her number and their picture flashes up, you hit confirm, you are done.
  5. failure to eVerify is subject to stiff fines and public shaming

What about quotas, dumping, the hoards who will flood in, all those aliens? You wail…and let’s get this right this what helps give zombie flicks their grist these days….

  • I would get rid of quotas fo awile and see what happens, but keep the quotas for those coming by boat or plane if you must but simply enforce the visa at the land boarders
  • no this won’t stop all the tramping across the boarder but will make it much less prevalent and industrialized
  • most immigrants come to work and plan on going home, it was more than a decade before my parent’s realized they didn’t want to go back, and it was near run a few times
  • Immigrants (other than a tiny fraction of a sliver) want to make a better life for themselves
  • if they stay it is to make America their home and a better place for their children
  • make it easier to come and go and you will find the flow goes both ways
  • population growth drives economic growth, US natural pop. growth is nearing zero even with lots of youngish immigrant, more would be better for us not worse
I’m not sure why a law implementing the above takes more than five to ten pages, the regulation details will be much longer that’s what bureaucracies are for, but with a simple law comes simple administration. In general a WVisa holder should be treated as a US citizen get rid of layers of special rules make it easy to comply, make it worth complying. But over all – KISS – keep it small and simple…

An Electric Air about them


Flying hybrid: This two-seater electric-gas airplane may be the first of many to take to the skies

Read more at MIT TR :Once a Joke, Battery-Powered Airplanes Are Nearing Reality20130709-183958.jpg

UVa’s Sustinere design for a 50-seat jet eschews batteries in favor of a turboelectric distributed propulsion (TeDP) concept – two 2,500shp turboshaft engines under the wing generating electrical power to drive six 3,300lb-thrust fans arrayed in a duct that wraps around the upper fuselage.

Read more at AWST: Battery or Superconductor – FAA Picks Hybrid Winners20130709-184659.jpg

The EADS IW concept uses a single large turbine engine to generate electricity to power six ducted fans that provide thrust. This allows propulsive and thermal efficiency to be optimized separately. The turbine engine can be optimized for thermal efficiency (turning fuel into shaft power) while the ducted fans increase effective bypass ratio and therefore propulsion efficient (turning shaft power into thrust).

Read more at AWST : eConcept – EADS’s Hybrid-Electric Airliner20130709-185351.jpg

Two years after Honeywell and Safran announced plans to develop an electric-drive system, the team is preparing to demonstrate a proof-of-concept system on an Airbus A320 at this year’s Paris air show.

Read more at AWST : Electric Taxi Puts On A Show At Paris By Guy Norris20130709-190343.jpg

The result of close collaborations with Finmeccanica companies – Selex ES, Ansaldo Breda, and Ansaldo Energia – and partner companies from Italy, UK, U.S. and Japan, the aircraft embeds some unuque features: aesthetically pleasing styling and aerodynamically unique tiltrotor configuration; carbon graphite exterior surfaces; High-Integrity Flight Control Computer and Actuator Control Unit; custom produced electric motor inverter and motor control algorithm; axial flux permanent magnet electric motors.

Read more at : http://theaviationist.com/2013/03/21/project-zero-images/


SpaceX continues to drive down the barriers like the aggressive but rationale organization they are and the world needs to move us to the next level of Earth to orbit operations. And having a dream and stretch goals are required elements.

From NASA Spaceflight: Dragon Roadmap: From domestic crew independence to humans on Mars
July 5, 2013 by Chris Bergin
20130706-222213.jpg20130706-222206.jpgGrasshopper reaches a thousand feet in new nav test. Read more at: SpaceX shows off new nav gear with latest Grasshopper rocket launch-and-landing (video)
By Timothy J. Seppala posted Jul 6th, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Rudimentary Liver from Stem Cell, 3D Printed Ear and 3D Printed micro Battery ? What does the future hold

Theres a huge amount of research going on in fields that don’t at first appear to have much to do with each other that could in the next few years to few decades lead to a world where the possibility of building new organs either as replacements or upgrades is possible, even common.

Read more at: MIT TR // A Rudimentary Liver Is Grown from Stem Cells
Read more at: Princeton Nano Letter // 3D Printed Bionic Ears
Read more at: MIT TR // A Battery and a “Bionic” Ear: a Hint of 3-D Printing’s Promise
From ViaMeadia:

Those worried about the future of employment in America—for themselves or for the country as a whole—should look to this data. As of now, many of the jobs of the future are going to be health care jobs, and that will only become more true if Obamacare stands and the pool of insured patients expands dramatically. To understand what the jobs of the future will be (or to land one), go where the money is: services, and especially, according to this data, health services.
For those unlikely to take up health jobs, this graph might seem discouraging. After all, more doctors and health workers points to more health care costs, in a system that’s already vastly too expensive. As the Atlantic points out on its piece on the graph, “There are a couple stories that branch off from this graph. One is the unchecked growth in health care prices over the last few decades, which has made the medical industry the one truly recession-proof job engine of the economy.”
But there’s also a case of optimism here. The Atlantic notes that the two kinds of health care jobs most likely to grow in coming decades are personal health aides and home health workers. This is good news even on its own; achieving a better balance between hospital care and home care is an important task for health care reformers. Moreover, it means there’s a lot of room for entrepreneurial individualse to come up with new and creative ways to cater to a growing demand for personalized health care.

Read more at: Jobs of the Future in One Astounding Graph

Motley Fool // Is Sony the Next Apple?

Is Sony the Next Apple?
By Leo Sun – June 26, 2013

There is a lot of evidence suggesting that Cook doesn’t know where to go from here – Apple’s stock buyback, dividend, and bond sale all indicate that the company could become a slow-growth tech stock like Microsoft and IBM. The iPad Mini and iOS 7 also suggested to investors that the road ahead would be reactionary, rather than revolutionary.

… Sony has expanded into is the phablets category, … a 6.4-inch screen …seriously pushing the acceptable size limit of a smartphone.

Although the Ultra seems like a goofy attempt to capture some of the phablet market from Samsung, I believe that it could gain some serious ground when used in tandem with the SmartWatch 2 and a Bluetooth headset. Many consumers could stow the Ultra in a bag, while using the SmartWatch to check on basic information and tasks while using a Bluetooth headset to make calls or listen to music. To view movies, make video calls or games, the Ultra could be brought out and used like a normal tablet.

I’m no sure Apple has lost it’s mojo but I agree there is evidence of it.

I think that the latest iteration of blue tooth and general tech advances definitely plays to the padPhone+smartWatch+headSet combo and maybe, maybe Apple missed it.

Apple IMO also has missed the stylus revolution, pads of all sizes need sophisticated hand writing, sketch, art input capability to jump another level of ubiquitous usefulness.

I hope Apple is looking at things like 3D Printing, scanning and model manipulation and creation, in the same way they took on the 2D Printing world, there would be a real break out stroke.