OK, if Hornady says it’s so,I guess….

GunsAmerica’s Digest is a good general guns and ammo site picking up articles and topics from all over. Suggested.

The Truth About Ammo – GunsAmerica Exclusive Interview With Hornady

by JORDAN MICHAELS on JANUARY 23, 2021

The emails and social media messages to Hornady’s customer service team haven’t let up in months;

“Where’s all the ammo?”

”Are you still making hunting cartridges?”

“Have you shut down due to COVID?”

“Why are you making T-shirts and not ammunition?”

“Are you hoarding ammunition?

“Are you selling all the ammunition to the government?”

A quick survey of Hornady’s Facebook page reveals of few of these missives.

So I even muttered under my breath, ‘only the Feds have the resources to buy up all the ammo, real people can’t be buying it all.’ Even if I know that’s bat shit crazy.

It was easy to sense the frustration and fatigue in Jason Hornady’s voice when he sat down with GunsAmerica last week. As the vice president of one of the nation’s largest ammunition manufacturers, Hornady has captained the company through the greatest surge in demand in the industry’s history, …

….they increased production by 30 percent last year, when they usually only grow five or ten percent each year. They ran through their entire inventory 18 times in 2020, when a normal year only sees six inventory turnarounds…. “Anything we make yesterday is shipping today,”

“Normally, a guy would buy one or two boxes. Instead, they’re buying cases,” Hornady said.

“Anyone who thinks that ammo companies aren’t trying to make and sell as much as they can, doesn’t understand capitalism,” he said. “We all like money. Nobody wants to ever make less.”

“It’s shipping all the time. We’re all shipping more all the time,” Hornady said. “The biggest thing is, be patient.”

Bottom line? Hornady and other manufacturers are working as hard as they can to meet today’s unprecedented demand.

So there you have it.

There are some supply restrictions on the input side, primer I hear is a big issue. It’s dangerous stuff and a lot is imported because it’s hard to build plant in the US. But even stuff like cardboard boxes are getting hard to get…So…. be patient, soldier on. Don’t burn through your practice stock too fast.

WOW! A cool SETI theory…

Figure: The Wow! Signal. The peak is 32 times the signal to noise ratio of the observations. Courtesy of Sam Morrell. (From the article)

Not much more to be said so I post the intro to the article from Centauri Dreams, about an article/Theory by James Benford. Cool…

Was the Wow! Signal Due to Power Beaming Leakage?

by PAUL GILSTER on JANUARY 22, 2021

The Wow! signal has a storied history in the SETI community, a one-off detection at the Ohio State ‘Big Ear’ observatory in 1977 that Jim Benford, among others, considers the most interesting candidate signal ever received. A plasma physicist and CEO of Microwave Sciences, Benford returns to Centauri Dreams today with a closer look at the signal and its striking characteristics, which admit to a variety of explanations, though only one that the author believes fits all the parameters. A second reception of the Wow! might tell us a great deal, but is such an event likely? So far all repeat observations have failed and, as Benford points out, there may be reason to assume they must. The essay below is a shorter version of the paper Jim has submitted to Astrobiology.

Our space science Economy has assets

An artist’s depiction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at work at the asteroid Bennu. (Image: © NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe could make a 2nd stop at infamous asteroid Apophis, at Space.com, and noted in several space related blogs, eMags. This sounds like a fantastic use of a remarkable space asset.

The Japanese asteroid prospector Hayabusa2 dropped off its samples from Ryugu at Earth and is on its way for more exploration last year: Farewell, Ryugu! Japan’s Hayabusa2 Probe Leaves Asteroid for Journey Home

These craft and others such as craft like the voyagers continue to return immensely valuable data long after their primary mission is complete. One of the things NASA and other space science organizations struggle with is supporting these ships long after the original funding timeline is past. This is a great problem to have and by and large the money is found since these are very cheap deep space projects in the big picture.

So my title, the economy of ‘outer space’ is all about data, science, prospecting right now. These are valuable assets that we need to support to provide returns orders of magnitude greater than the cost in the sense of other ways of getting that data, data that is both live affirming in its fascination and valuable as part of the bedrock of our understanding of the universe.

Cheers

Cool Stars, Kinda Literally

Image: This artist’s conception illustrates what brown dwarfs of different types might look like to a hypothetical interstellar traveler who has flown a spaceship to each one…. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

There are a class of celestial objects much heavier than our systems Jupiter but about the same size. They are not really planets just balls of dense hot gas, but they are not really stars because they lack the mass to collapse and heat their core to ignite sustained fusion. These Brown Dwarves are probably one of the most common objects in our universe but little is known about them because until recently they were essentially impossible to find. With new tools and new techniques this fascinating class of in between are coming into focus.

Another fascinating article from Centauri Dreams.

Mice with damaged spine, enabled to walk again…Faster Please…

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

JANUARY 15, 2021
Designer cytokine makes paralyzed mice walk again

by

“Thus, gene therapy treatment of only a few nerve cells stimulated the axonal regeneration of various nerve cells in the brain and several motor tracts in the spinal cord simultaneously,” says Dietmar Fischer. “Ultimately, this enabled the previously paralyzed animals that received this treatment to start walking after two to three weeks. This came as a great surprise to us at the beginning, as it had never been shown to be possible before after full paraplegia.”

Above article in MedicalXPress via Phys.org

Let’s hope this paves the way for human treatment. Not that I don’t love cyborg exoskeletons in their place, but this is far better.

Lethal load out

U.S. Navy Amphibious Warship To Deploy With Anti-Ship Missiles Next Year
Containerized missile launchers would give amphibious warfare ships a new way to protect against hostile warships, as well as engage other threats.
BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK JANUARY 11, 2021

Article in The Drive’s WarZone.

So the Naval Strike Missile, a middle weight anti ship missile will be mounted on an Amphib to provide integral defense and a little bit of offense capacity. The main purpose of this deployment is for experimentation with the fleet, to see if it changes the nature of the game when at sea. The Amphib is a big ship but is in essence a sea going ferry for the marines, a fast freighter. But these ships are big and impressive and sometimes used to show the flag. They have defensive weapons but nothing to ‘shoot the archer’ usually that is left to an escort. Having some rounds on board would change the dynamics and utility perhaps in a positive way.

While the preliminary deployment will have the missile amidships like a warship might. But the missile could be mounted on a truck that is being transported, just drive it out onto the flight deck, lock it down and shoot. With all sorts of truck mounted ordinance such as Hellfire, 155mm Cannons, HIMARS GPS Guided Rockets, there are a lot of options that this could provide for protection or force projection.

With the continued growing cost of specialized warships this sort of flexible tactical utilization looks like a good use of modern precision weapons. One can and should argue that it does not provide any kind of one for one replacement for a warship. But is a warship; a frigate, destroyer, cruiser… really what we need? Maybe its a combination of gnat weight autonomous missile slingers supporting heavy flex fighters like this Amphib.

Statite

I follow Centauri Dreams closely, it is a very good source on fascinating articles about what might be called the near universe and our ability to explore it. Dealing with the outer solar system and beyond, near future realistic interstellar exploration in all its technical gore.

A recent article (A Statite ‘Slingshot’ for Catching Interstellar Objects by PAUL GILSTER on JANUARY 5, 2021) dealt with how to intercept/flyby interstellar objects (ISO) like ‘Oumuamua’ the icicleoid. This is very much in line with Arthur C. Clark’s classic (and my near all time favorite Science Fiction) Rendezvous with Rama, about the passage of a vast interstellar space ship through Sol system and a desperate dangerous mission to intercept and explore.

With current technology this appears impossible, you’d have to plan and launch a mission with a Falcon Heavy class craft in a few months to have any kind of chance. But there is a near term possible technology that makes it almost easy. The Statite is a ‘satellite’ that uses a solar sail to ‘hover’ instead of kinetic energy to orbit. Essentially this is storing energy and either the main vehicle or a cube sat sized sub satellite can be dropped straight down the gravity well to gain the velocity required to get the flyby in time. This is REALLY COOL stuff….

From the article, A Statite ‘Slingshot’ for Catching Interstellar Objects.

Icy moons, exciting targets of exploration

The Interior of Enceladus Looks Really Great for Supporting Life
Article in UniverseToday on one of Saturn’s moons

In the early days of space exploration it was the rocky planets, particularly Mars and Venus that held some hope of significant life. Though those with the tools of observation and analysis were pretty negative and life in the rest of the solar system looked impossible. But as our knowledge and tools expanded the icy moons quickly became of interest because as cold region natives know, ice is not a bad insulator and a couple of miles of it would protect a lake. These days it seems pretty clear that Icy Moons often have oceans, seas or lakes inside, and the heat that melts the ice from underneath (from orbital stresses and or radioactive decay) could quite conceivably support life.

The article linked discusses model based research based on data from earlier orbiters and flybys. It shows that notionally their are several mechanisms that could be feeding nutrients and energy sources into the ocean of Enceladus, at a rate suffient to support a significant biome.

There are lots of other interesting articles on space at universe today website, take a look.

Artificial…uh, dance partners?

Two items run across recently the emphasize the huge progress that robotics and Artificial intelligence has made in the last couple of years.

From Robot Reports a somewhat frightening video:Watch Boston Dynamics Robots Tear up the Dance Floor.

Boston Dynamics Atlas doing parcur from an article in The Verge

The Boston Dynamics robots are at the point that they can do most things a human can in regards to locomotion. It is unclear how much beyond balance and moving is local to the robots as the thoroughly bounded arena makes clear but the basics of the body frame is there. Ability to manipulate the environment other than in the most basic way has not been demonstrated by Boston Dynamics but other companies are making huge strides in manipulators. Ability to sense and understand the environment is another huge step. Except that the sensors exist (autonomous cars etc). Leaving understanding the environment beyond a very limited ‘world.’ And that takes a brain, and that seemed a long way off….except is it?

Hat tip Maggies Farm, in Towards Data Science: the article; GPT-3: The First Artificial General Intelligence?

From the article
The picture above shows an inverted dome with a waterfall at is base pouring water into another circular waterfall. An interesting visual metaphor for the reinforced learning of many modern AI systems.

GPT3 would appear to be on the threshold of general purpose artificial intelligence. In the article it is noted that GPT3 is a brain in a box with no ability to sense or manipulate the environment without human intervention. But ‘wrapping’ those abilities ‘around’ GPT3 appears all but trivial. Given its ability to learn on its own would a Boston Dynamic’s wrapped GPT3 become something close to the robot of our dreams and nightmares. It certainly appears so.

Atlas’s is battery powered, I think, to the tune of an hour or so. GPT3 is instantiated on a huge computer network but both of those limitations are receding every day as computing power and battery storage continue to improve driven by their broad application across the tech scene.

Five years from now it would seem likely that the general purpose android robot will be a real thing. If built in quantity like say a Tesla 3 are you looking at $30K a pop? What does that lead to?

I want to make sure they understand that I for one welcome our dancing robot overlords.

Point to point sub orbital

Preparing for “Earth to Earth” space travel and a competition with supersonic airliners From NASASpaceFlight.Com an important and fun source on space activity all around the world not just NASA/US

So this seems crazy but in all honesty it has actually been a thing for a long time. It is mentioned in a lot of sixties/seventies SF not focused on space flight. It was seriously studied several times as a sort of replacement for parachute insertion of military force. And like most of those sorts of efforts there was a commercial concept to support the technology since the folks in the defense industry understood that military programs cannot support a robust industry on its own.

Just look at nuclear power, there was a reason that nuclear power stations evolved as the Navy came to realize they wanted nuclear ships. And there is a reason that small aircraft carriers and non nuclear submarines are anathema to certain parts of the Naval establishment. They know that if non nuclear CVs and SSs became common the industry required to support the nuclear fleet would become unaffordable.

https://thehighfrontier.blog/2016/03/20/straight-back-down-to-earth-a-history-of-the-vertical-takeoffvertical-landing-rocket-part-1/

People have already talked about the DoD buying Starships and using them as bombers / hypersonic weapons platforms. This is just turning the model above around.

Back in medieval times freighters and warships were the same thing, they just tacked on some fighting platforms and went at it with bows, crossbows, catapults, swords, etc. Even the Vikings probably started out as traders though always ready to ‘raise the black flag and slit a few throats’ if that looked like the right business strategy.

Anyway…sorry for the side commentary, it’s evening and I had a good dinner so I’m wandering a bit.

So, again anyway…if you look at it, a craft like the Starship, which has the performance as a single stage vehicle to haul 100 tons 10,000 miles in less than an hour has some attraction on its face….but in reality?

  • To my mind the most value dense time sensitive cargo is people but that’s years out at the least.
  • In the meantime are there cargos that are so time sensitive that something like a starship might make sense?
    • Couriered documents. Maybe
    • Mail. Does not seem like it.
    • Medical supplies only if the ship could land almost anywhere and take off again.
    • High value tech like chips? Maybe but 100 tons is overkill.
    • In fact most of the above are not 100 ton class cargos and frequency and flexibility of landing seem critical.

So dead on arrival? No there are customers who might pay for a a limited 100 ton capability. I think it would need to be anywhere in the world which is more than 10,000 miles but is probably within the capability of a modified Starship with more fuel and less cargo…or maybe an extended tank Starship could do 100 tons out to 18,000 miles (my wag of anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world.)

A somewhat smaller starship could do 10 tons 18,000 miles and probably land at just about any port or airfield as long as you can supply LOx and LNG, which is not that uncommon.

Go back to the start. If you burn a couple of hundred tons of LOx/LNG what is the cost? Does it make economic sense? Is it safe, is it going to be acceptable?

  • Economics:
    • LOx/LNG are in the same $/ton range as Jet fuel, you are burning a couple of times the fuel since you have to haul up the oxidizer with you and pay for that as well so say 4x the fuel bill.
    • The hull is in line with a modern airline.
    • If you can do a trip a day or so with support costs in the same range as a jet, it would appear to me that for the right cargo you could make it work.
  • Is it safe?
    • Well not right now but once the tech is wrung out ?? I think so.
    • the big difference is much higher energies than a jet.
    • But…your exposure time is a fraction of that of a jet over the same range. Accidents in mid flight are rare but generally lead to complete loss. Exposure time is probably the most important difference…advantage Point to Point
    • Ok so the major threat time is when you are near the ground around take off and landing, Those are shorter for the Point to Pointer.
    • And to me the difference in energy involved is immaterial…dead is dead and most of the time accidents of any magnitude in those phases are not survivable.
    • Accidents on the runway often have survivors but that is eliminated in the Point to Point case…up and down…no in between…
  • Acceptable?
    • Only time will tell, my guess is YES.
    • It will be a bit like the glamor days of the early airliners I would expect point to point for certain segments to be a real elite punch card
    • Especially as near earth space becomes an exotic but achievable location.

Exciting times indeed.