February 26, 2017

Budget and tax plan details expected on Tuesday in Trump's address to Congress

Preliminary budget outlines are usually little-noticed administrative exercises, the first step in negotiations between the White House and federal agencies that usually shave the sharpest edges off the initial request.

But the Trump preliminary budget plan has gotten attention. It is a product of a collaboration between the Office of Management and Budget director, Mick Mulvaney; the National Economic Council director, Gary Cohn; and the White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.

Trump is demanding a budget with tens of billions of dollars in reductions to the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department, according to four senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the plan. Social safety net programs, aside from the big entitlement programs for retirees, would also be hit hard.

It will have sharp increases in Defense Department spending and drastic enough cuts to domestic agencies. It will leave Social Security and Medicare alone.

There is a 34 page analysis of Trump's tax plan by the Tax Policy Center. The final details of any tax legislation will have to come out of revisions from the House and Senate.

Trump will make his first major policy address to Congress on Tuesday, which is expected to include some details of his infrastructure spending and tax plans.

* expectations are for fewer tax brackets, lower tax rates and simplified deductions

Tesla expects 110,000 model 3s in 2017 and over 265,000 in 2018

Elon Musk said the Model 3 Design Studio will go online shortly before the car officially goes on sale, and first deliveries will be “Founders Series” Model 3 that go to company employees.

“I think it’s probably three to four months away” said Musk referring to the Model 3 configurator. As he’s done in the past with the launch of new vehicles, Musk said the reason first deliveries of Model 3 would go to employees is to keep the feedback loop short.

Musk also shared guidance Tesla is giving Model 3 parts suppliers with volume estimates
* 1,000 vehicles per week in July
* 4,000 per week in August and
* 5,000 per week in September,
* 10,000 vehicles per week sometime in 2018.

This would mean around 110,000 Model 3 vehicles produced in 2017 and 265000 to 500000 model 3 vehicles in 2018.

Carnival of Space 498

The Carnival of Space 498 is up at Urban Astronomer

Universe Today - Juno Will Get No Closer To Jupiter Due To Engine Troubles

Jupiter’s south pole. captured by the JunoCam on Feb. 2, 2017, from an altitude of about 62,800 miles (101,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/John Landino

On July 4th, 2016, the Juno mission established orbit around Jupiter, becoming the second spacecraft in history to do so (after the Galileo probe). Since then, the probe has been in a regular 53.4-day orbit (known as perijove), moving between the poles to avoid the worst of its radiation belts. Originally, Juno’s mission scientists had been hoping to reduce its orbit to a 14-day cycle so the probe could make more passes to gather more data.

To do this, Juno was scheduled for an engine burn on Oct. 19th, 2016, during its second perijovian maneuver. Unfortunately, a technical error prevented this from happening. Ever since, the mission team has been pouring over mission data to determine what went wrong and if they could conduct an engine burn at a later date. However, the mission team has now concluded that this won’t be possible.

The technical glitch which prevented the firing took place weeks before the engine burn was scheduled to take place, and was traced to two of the engines helium check valves.

Planetaria - NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope discovers seven Earth-sized worlds orbiting nearby star

The Evolving Planet - SpaceX Mars Mission 'Red Dragon' Pushed Back to 2020

Bioprinter makes fully functional human skin

Scientists from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), CIEMAT (Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research), Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, in collaboration with the firm BioDan Group, have presented a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin. This skin is adequate for transplanting to patients or for use in research or the testing of cosmetic, chemical, and pharmaceutical products.

This research has recently been published in the electronic version of the scientific journal Biofabrication. In this article, the team of researchers has demonstrated, for the first time, that, using the new 3D printing technology, it is possible to produce proper human skin. One of the authors, José Luis Jorcano, professor in UC3M’s department of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering and head of the Mixed Unit CIEMAT/UC3M in Biomedical Engineering, points out that this skin “can be transplanted to patients or used in business settings to test chemical products, cosmetics or pharmaceutical products in quantities and with timetables and prices that are compatible with these uses.”

This new human skin is one of the first living human organs created using bioprinting to be introduced to the marketplace. It replicates the natural structure of the skin, with a first external layer, the epidermis with its stratum corneum, which acts as protection against the external environment, together with another thicker, deeper layer, the dermis. This last layer consists of fibroblasts that produce collagen, the protein that gives elasticity and mechanical strength to the skin.

Bioinks are key to 3D bioprinting, according to the experts. When creating skin, instead of cartridges and colored inks, injectors with biological components are used. In the words of Juan Francisco del Cañizo, of the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón and Universidad Complutense de Madrid researcher. “Knowing how to mix the biological components, in what conditions to work with them so that the cells don’t deteriorate, and how to correctly deposit the product is critical to the system.” The act of depositing these bioinks, which are patented by CIEMAT and licensed by the BioDan Group, is controlled by a computer, which deposits them on a print bed in an orderly manner to then produce the skin.

Biofabrication - 3D bioprinting of functional human skin: production and in vivo analysis

Big permanent moonbase by 2021 using Spacex and Bigelow has been the obvious non-corrupt choice for years

Howard Bloom makes the obvious case that if NASA wants to return to the moon they need to ditch the Space Launch System and go with Spacex and the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 launchers.

Nextbigfuture and any other honest source have pointed out that the Space Launch system is a massive waste of money.

The combined development cost of the SLS and Orion will be at least $30 billion -- or about $3 billion a year spread out over at least 10 years. If you consider the operational life cycle of the program will be 30 years, similar to the Space Shuttle, then, assuming just one launch per year, the pro-rated cost is $1 billion a year.

That's just for development - it does not include operating costs.

Again at just one launch per year, the annualized development and maintenance cost of SLS - excluding any development costs for specialized cargo or Upper Stage components -- would be at least $3 billion.

And we're still missing the actual production costs of the SLS launch vehicle and the Orion capsule, estimates of which are around $1 billion each.

Bloom points out that

If NASA ditched the Space Launch System and the Orion, it would free up three billion dollars a year. That budget could speed the Moon-readiness of Bigelow’s landing vehicles, not to mention SpaceX’s Falcon rockets and could pay for lunar enhancements to manned Dragon 2 capsules. In fact, three billion dollars a year is far greater than what Bigelow and Musk would need. That budget would also allow NASA to bring Jeff Bezos into the race. And it would let NASA refocus its energy on earth-orbit and lunar-surface refueling stations…plus rovers, lunar construction equipment, and devices to turn lunar ice into rocket fuel, drinkable water, and breathable oxygen. Not to mention machines to turn lunar dust and rock into building materials.

Bigelow Aerospace has been developing inflatable Moon Base, that would use three of his 330-cubic-meter B330 modules. What’s more, Bigelow has been developing a landing vehicle to bring his modules gently down to the Moon’s surface.

The Space Development Steering Committee—estimate the total cost of Moon landings plus a permanent moon base at ten billion dollars

The most expensive version of the Spacex Falcon heavy will be about $135 million.

It has not been a close comparison. It is over ten times difference in price. The only reason not to do kill the Space Launch System is because of corruption in the funding decision processes.

The Space Launch System program needs to be killed

Unfortunately Game Over for Actor Bill Paxton who played Hudson in Aliens

Actor Bill Paxton, age 61, has died due to complications from surgery.

Bill Paxton had important roles in several of the best movies
Hudson in Aliens
Morgan Earp in Tombstone (1993)
Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (1995)
the lead role in the 1996 hit Twister and
Treasure hunter Brock Lovett in Titanic (1997)
John Garrett in the Shield TV show

Does child survival make for smaller family sizes?

Hans Rosling (1948–2017), physician and epidemiologist, famously upturned assumptions widely held by the public and by the development community — assumptions that, thanks to US President Donald Trump, are back in the spotlight. A recurring theme of Rosling's was that family sizes have been shrinking even though child survival rates have improved.

Rosling's global statistics on total fertility rate and infant mortality rate do not indicate causality, neither are they necessarily correlated. Although such a correlation holds for Asia, it does not in Africa. The infant mortality rate in Niger, for example, has fallen by two-thirds since the 1980s but the country's total fertility rate has risen slightly, leading to a predicted population explosion from 20 million in 2015 to 72 million by 2050.

The researchers make the case that lack of family counseling or reduced family counseling results in increased abortions.

According to the results of the UN 2015 Revision of world population, the world population reached 7.3 billion as of mid- 2015, implying that the world has added approximately one billion people in the span of the last twelve years. Sixty per cent of the global population lives in Asia (4.4 billion), 16 per cent in Africa (1.2 billion), 10 per cent in Europe (738 million), 9 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean (634 million), and the remaining 5 per cent in Northern America (358 million) and Oceania (39 million). China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) remain the two largest countries of the world, both with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 per cent of the world’s population, respectively.

The Millennium Development Goals was to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. While the MDG Target will not be achieved globally by the end of 2015, progress in reducing under-five mortality has been very significant and wide-reaching in recent years. Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality has decreased by more than 20 per cent in 156 countries, with widespread reductions of 20 per cent or more recorded in Africa (42 out of 57 countries), Asia (43 out of 51 countries), Europe (39 out of 40 countries), Latin America and the Caribbean (24 out of 38 countries), and Oceania (8 out of 13 countries). Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality fell by more than 30 per cent in 86 countries, of which 13 countries saw a decline of more than 50 per cent.

Globally, total fertility is expected to fall from 2.5 children per woman in 2010-2015 to 2.25 in 2045-2050 and to 2.0 in 2095-2100 according to the medium-variant projection. However, in Europe and Northern America, total fertility is projected to increase between 2010-2015 and 2045-2050 from 1.6 to 1.8 children per woman in Europe and from 1.86 to 1.9 children per
woman in Northern America. In Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania fertility is expected to fall between 2010-2015 and 2045-2050, with the largest reductions projected to occur in Africa. Thus, in all major areas of the world, fertility levels are projected to converge to a level at or just below the replacement level by 2095-2100.

In recent years, fertility has declined in virtually all major areas of the world. In Africa, where fertility levels are the highest of any major area, total fertility has fallen from 4.9 children per woman in 2005-2010 to 4.7 children per woman in 2010-2015. Fertility levels have also fallen in Asia and Oceania over the same period, from 2.3 to 2.2 children per woman in Asia and from 2.5 to 2.4 children per woman in Oceania. Recent fertility declines have been slightly larger in Latin America and the Caribbean where fertility has fallen from 2.3 to 2.15 and in Northern America where fertility has fallen from 2.0 in 2005-2010 to 1.86 in 2010-2015. Europe is the only major area that was an exception to this trend. In recent years, total fertility in Europe has increased slightly from 1.55 children per woman in 2005-2010 to 1.6 children per woman in 2010-2015.

February 25, 2017

Less nuclear energy has meant higher costs, less clean energy overall and more deaths

Michael Shellenberger explains how less nuclear energy has meant higher costs and less clean energy overall.

* USA has shutdown nuclear plants prematurely because of lower natural gas costs
* this has increased emissions of CO2 and air pollution
* Overall energy costs have increased in the USA which correlate with lower nuclear energy mix
* Germany has 6 times more carbon intensive energy than France
* Germany shutdown nuclear energy and now is even more reliant on coal and fossil fuel
* France uses 80% nuclear power for electricity
* France has half the cost of electricity compared to Germany
* the global decline in nuclear power (-7.5% of energy mix) has not been replaced by solar and wind (4.5%)
* the global decline in nuclear (most of Japan nuclear shutdown, Germany shutdown, some early shutdowns in USA and Europe) has not been made up by the build in China and Asia and appears like future Europe and USA shutdowns (150 GW) will made up by new nuclear in China and India and Asia through 2030.

In 2016, Germany generated 545 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity at an average rate of approximately 560 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh. By contrast, France generated 530 TWh of electricity at an average rate of approximately 58 grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh.

The analysis is based on German hourly generation data from Franhofer ISE, and French hourly generation data RTE-France, as of February 6, 2017. Conversion of German generation data to Specific Carbon Intensity uses emissions factors of 1150g, 900g, 369 g, and 983 g of CO2 per KWh for lignite (brown coal), hard coal, natural gas, and biomass respectively. Conversion of French generation data to Specific Carbon Intensity Uses RTE-France's emissions factors, which are higher for France's hard coal and gas fleets.

Germany's overall emissions increased in 2016 as a result of the country closing one of its nuclear plants and replacing it with coal and natural gas, an EP analysis last month found.

German emissions would have declined had it not closed a nuclear plant and replaced it with coal and natural gas.

Not only did new solar and wind not make up for the lost nuclear, the amount of solar and wind electricity produced in 2016 actually decreased from 2015 despite new additions of solar capacity and extensive additions of wind capacity.

This will be self-inflicted global, US and California energy policy that will increase costs, environmental damage and deaths from air pollution and delay the meeting of any CO2 goals by years to decades.

Transatomic Power reduced their claims of nuclear fuel efficiency

In a white paper published in March 2014, Transatomic Power proclaimed its molten salt reactor "can generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor."

In a
paper on its site dated November 2016, the company downgraded “75 times” to "more than twice." In addition, it now specifies that the design “does not reduce existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel,” or use them as its fuel source. The promise of recycling nuclear waste, which poses tricky storage and proliferation challenges, was a key initial promise of the company that captured considerable attention.

Oak Ridge National Labs confirmed the Transatomic power work and designs

Deep ocean GPS would revolutionize submarine and naval warfare

DARPA is creating a GPS-like technology that works in the deep ocean called Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation, or POSYDON.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the predominant means of obtaining positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) information for both military and civilian systems and applications. However, the radio frequency basis for GPS also means that its signals cannot penetrate seawater, and thus undersea GPS is effectively denied. The Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation (POSYDON) program aims to develop an undersea system that provides omnipresent, robust positioning across ocean basins. By ranging to a small number of long-range acoustic sources, an undersea platform would be able to obtain continuous, accurate positioning without surfacing for a GPS fix. Phase I of the program focuses on accurately modeling the signal propagation channel, and Phase II focuses on developing the signal waveform. A complete positioning system is scheduled to be demonstrated in Phase III.

DARPA selected BAE Systems to develop POSYDON

DARPA envisions that the POSYDON program will distribute a small number of acoustic sources, analogous to GPS satellites, around an ocean basin.

Underwater acoustic signal propagation channels present a number of challenges:
• Time-varying multipath propagation and multipath delay
• Doppler spread due to platform motion relative to the acoustic source(s) and ocean environment
• Bandwidth-limited signals
• Convergence zones
• Tomographic calibration of a region as a function of time/environmental variability

There are some GPS radio systems that can work in shallow waters, but DARPA wants to go into the deep ocean with submarine drones. Submarine navigation is one of the most complex and dangerous ventures in the military because, to get a precise location on one, the vessel has to eventually emerge from the water to catch a radio signal. Even access to a GPS can be blocked by enemy jamming.

Currently, submarines are outfitted with a “very large and very expensive inertial measurement unit,”Niedzwiecki. says. It basically remembers the submarines last known location and keeps track of its diving depth and forward movement. This, of course, is not the nearly as precise as a GPS system.

Drone subs operating under POSYDON could locate underwater mines, track enemy subs and perform other critical tasks larger manned submarines cannot, according to The National Interest:

* Number of small drones could send out an acoustic ping and then analyze
* Drone swarms update ships and submarines

Future US Navy plans are all about doubling or tripling the missiles they can shoot and how many missiles they can defend against

In World War II, the U.S. Navy made extensive use of small aircraft carriers, ranging from very small carriers escorting convoys (CVEs) to light aircraft carriers (CVLs) that were essentially downsized models of the iconic big carriers (CVs).

CVLs could handle post-WWII jets. However, the Navy concluded super carriers made more sense strategically and economically. Nuclear-powered super carriers (CVNs) could carry a wing of multi-mission, high-performance combat aircraft and pack an array of defensive weapons. They could remain at sea for months.

Smaller carriers currently are used to carry harrier jump jets and/or helicopters.

China has been a leader in long-range anti-carrier missiles. China has deployed the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). The DF-21D is clearly designed to target and sink the US Navy large nuclear aircraft carriers.

The US US Navy officers is worried that just having big carriers is putting too many eggs in too few baskets.

The new plans are for two or three small carriers to go with the large carriers. There would be the addition of drones and F35 jets put onto the small carriers and also stronger drones onto every ship.

Arsenal ship - missile filled ship controlled by other airplanes and ships

Arsenal Ship concept art, via Globalsecurity.org.

MITRE's future navy plan has a concept called the "Magazine Ship." The MGX would carry up to 4 railguns, 1,000 missile silos, or 96 Pershing-III intermediate range ballistic—or some mix.

Three new navy plans all are focused on more ships, with more missiles, more drones and more planes. Lethality is increased with more missiles, more planes and more drones. The total number of weapons are increased and they are put on more ships.

Adding three small carriers would double the number of planes and drones in a carrier group.

The current missile destroyers are armed with about 90-100 missiles.

A carrier strike group (CSG) is an operational formation of the United States Navy. It is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, a destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft.

MGX ships could bring 3 to 5 times the number of missiles in a carrier group.

Adding railguns and lasers if about being to defend against more enemy missiles. Drones can shoot missiles and anti-missiles.

Each of the 100 or so page plans for the future US Navy boil down to being able to shoot a lot more missiles and being able to defend against more missiles.

580 ton Mobile high speed rail and bridge construction machine

A Chinese company has built a machine that has a creative way of setting girders into place for high speed rail bridges.

The SLJ900/32, made by the Beijing Wowjoint Machinery Company, is a 580 ton, 300 foot long and 24 foot wide mega machine that looks more like a train than a crane Instead of using a stationary or crawler crane to lift the girder of a bridge from the ground and drop it into its place, the SLJ900/32 drives the girder onto the previously placed girder, slowly extends its arms to the next support platform, pushes the girder towards the front of the machine and then lowers it into place.

February 24, 2017

China's J-20 stealth fighter spotted with four extra fuel tanks for extended range

China's J-20 stealth fighter has been seen with four auxiliary fuel tanks (aka, drop tanks or "bags") under its wings.

Although cumbersome external fuel tanks sap the J-20's low observable (stealth) qualities and maneuvering performance, it is likely that they can be jettisoned along with their pylons in a similar manner as the F-22. This allows the aircraft to recapture a large degree of its low observability, and is clearly useful if increased kinematic performance is needed. The tanks will also allow J-20s to reach stations hundreds of miles beyond what they are capable on external fuel alone. They will make the J-20 more independent of aerial tankers for certain missions, and even with four tanks, the J-20's baseline internal weapon carriage capability is not disturbed.

The J-20, or a least some of them will carry weapons under their wings. China's new very long-range air-to-air missile.

J-20s could work cooperatively. For instance, a devision (flight of four) J-20s could work in two sections, one section of two jets in stealth configuration, and the other two carrying four long-range air-to-air missiles. The stealthy pair can venture forward to quietly (electronic emissions silent) obtain targeting information while the J-20s carrying the long-range missiles can act as weapons magazines, leveraging the targeting data obtained from their stealthy wingmen. These are similar to tactics being developed by the USAF for the F-15 and F-22 air dominance team. For instance, the stealthy J-20s can use their passive sensors (electronic support measures and infrared search and track) to silently stalk targets far in front of the non-stealthy configured J-20s. Meanwhile the other non-stealthy J-20s operating many dozens of miles to the rear can use their radars freely, providing enhanced situational awareness to the stealthy J-20s ahead by sharing their radar "picture" via data-link. In doing so these non-stealthy configured J-20s also act as bait, drawing in enemy fighter aircraft, and leaving them vulnerable to ambush by their stealthy and silent counterparts.

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