March 28, 2015

Innovations from Three Russian Prototype Tanks and T95 were merged into the Armata Tank Design

Object 477, Object 775, and Object-640 (Black Eagle) were three experimental Russian-built tanks that never went into mass production. Nevertheless, the unique innovations used in them form the basis for development of the Russian army’s modern combat vehicle – the Armata Universal Combat Platform.

* Object-477 Molot (Hammer). Mid-80s design. Had an unmanned turret and a 152-mm cannon.
* Object-775. Did not fire conventional tank shells but had a 125-mm missile launcher. Had a hydro-pneumatic suspension that kept it low to the ground. 1960s design
* Object 640 – Chyorniy Orel (Black Eagle). Mid-90s design that had modular armour and the “Cactus” dynamic protection system

Object 640

Object 775

Russia's New Armata Tank has been revealed in a short Video

A video allegedly shows Russia’s brand new T-14 Armata tank. The Armata tank will be officially revealed to the public during the Victory Day parade on May 9.

It has the T-14's seven wheel design and 125mm extended length smoothbore gun.

20 Armata units have been manufactured and issued to troops for practical training.

Armata tanks have been included in Russia's 2015 defence order, with 2,300 to be ultimately deployed over several years.

Russian and US space agencies talk about a joint space station successor to the ISS

Moscow's space officials are talking with their NASA counterparts about building a new space station after the current one has run its course, in 2024 or later. But there's no indication of a formal agreement, even though some of the comments make it sound that way.

The comments came after discussions between NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Igor Komarov, timed to coincide with Friday's launch of three new crew members to the International Space Station from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Nextbigfuture thinks this is a terrible idea. The International Space station was way too costly and the cooperation with Russia was not worth the cost.

Ruscosmos CEO Igor Komarov said "It will be an open project: it will feature not only current members of the ISS," - said Komarov during a press conference at Baikonur. He also said that the term of the existing ISS extended until 2024 , however, the number may vary depending on the progress of work on the new station.

Carnival of Space 399

1. Chandra Xray Space Telescope - In Hollywood blockbusters, explosions are often among the stars of the show. In space, explosions of actual stars are a focus for scientists who hope to better understand their births, lives, and deaths and how they interact with their surroundings.

2. Chandra Xray Space Telescope - Dark Matter is Darker Than Once Thought

3. Meridiani Journal - Cassini finds evidence for hydrothermal activity on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

Hydrothermal vent on the ocean bottom on Earth, an oasis for various life forms. Similar vents are now thought to exist in the ocean inside Enceladus as well. Photo Credit: NOAA/PMEL

US Air Force and Navy designing FA-XX sixth generation fighter jets to replace F22 and F 18 E/F

The Navy and the Air Force could team up for their early look into their next crop of fighters (FA-XX program) due out in 2030, the Navy’s director of air warfare told USNI News.

In 2016, the US Navy and US air force are in a position to set out on a joint analysis of alternatives (AoA) for the follow on to Navy’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter, said Rear Adm. Mike Manazir.

As part of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, the Navy has set aside $5 million to start the F/A-XX work — planned to replace the Super Hornets in the 2030s.

The AoA — for the Navy — will focus replacing the capabilities of the fighter with a wide-range of options.

So what we would look at is everything — from an airframe, to a family of systems, to continuing something we already have flying, to capabilities that we already have in the air wing or the joint world — to assess what we really need to replace the Super Hornet,” Manazir said.

“We’re advancing engine technology. We’re working with academia, industry, other services — the weapons labs in the services to advance that technology. We’re also advancing technology in outer mold lines for airframes for faster air speeds from traditional airframes — trying to make them go faster for the fight. Obviously broadband stealth and IR stealth, the capabilities we could put into coatings, ways you could use electromagnetic energy, ways that you could dominate the EM spectrum a little better,” Manazir said.

China News Roundup - x-ghost cities, over 13 million unregistered ghost children, booming mobile commerce and US bungled policy

Nextbigfuture will be bundling news that relates to China or India to make articles on these topic less frequent and easier to skip for those not interested in this topic. We will still have standalone articles on China and India where appropriate. Here we hae four topic related to China.

The dominant angle on China's ghost cities is that four decades of overzealous growth is starting to catch up with China. China is accused of irresponsible development. The so-called ghost cities are shown as irrefutable evidence of an imminent economic meltdown. But when a Chinese “ghost city” does fill up with people and businesses it inconspicuously falls off the radar of the dominant international media. It becomes a regular city, mashed into China’s broader urban matrix — a success story that few seem interested in hearing about. We are amused by empty streets, vacant shopping malls, and barren financial districts in China, not budding new cities steadily coming to life. Ex-ghost cities are rarely news.

Standard Chartered had 2014 report on the ghost cities.

Our travels reduced our worries about ghost cities but raised our concerns about credit supply across the sector.

We believe ‘ghost’ cities are a temporary phenomenon for a country such as China that pursues continuous urbanisation. This is because of the long development cycle of new districts – typically divided into three main stages: the initial phase, the rapid growth phase and the mature phase – which normally lasts for 10-15 years.

The occupancy rate for the first few years typically tends to be low and then gradually rises during the second phase, when infrastructure and economic activity continues to improve. The occupancy rate could reach 70-90% levels when the area is fully developed and mature.

Occupancy rates were apparently higher than media reported in the four cities we visited. For example, the occupancy rate for Zhengdong New City in Zhengzhou has improved to 50-60% currently from only 20-30% several years ago. The occupancy rate for the other three ghost cities have also improved in comparison to two to three years ago.

City               Residential occupancy 2012         2014       Inventory
Dantu, Zhenjiang      10%                              40%        18-20 months
Wujin, Changzhou      20%                              50%        18-20 months
Zhengdong, Zhengzhou  30%                              60%        15-18 months
Sky City, Hangzhou    30%                              50%        15-20 months
Pudong, Shanghai                                    70-90% 

Milton Friedman criticized Pudong in 2001, but Pudong bounced back in 2005 and now has high occupancy rates.

Even in China it takes 11-20 years to get a new city or large scale new urban development area to mature.

March 27, 2015

Will Saudi Arabia get a nuclear bomb ?

There are reports that Pakistan would sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, if the United States succeeded in negotiating an Iranian nuclear deal. The US and Iran may be preparing to sign an agreement at the end of March.

The UK Independent states that western intelligence agencies believe that the Saudi monarchy paid for up to 60% of Pakistan’s nuclear programme in return for the ability to buy warheads for itself at short notice, the Guardian newspaper reported in 2010.

Eurasia Review says that it is ridiculous to believe that Pakistan would sell Saudi Arabia the bomb. Muhammad Umar case at the Eurasia Review is that Pakistan would never offer Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons, because of the political, strategic, and normative consequences. Saudi Arabia would never want to obtain nuclear weapons because it is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Adel Al-Jubeir, said the subject [of Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear weapons] was “not something we would discuss publicly.

In 2012 the Saudi Arabian government threatened to acquire nuclear weapons were neighbouring regional power Iran ever to do so.

“Politically, it would be completely unacceptable to have Iran with a nuclear capability and not the kingdom,” a senior Saudi source told The Times newspaper at the time.

Nextbigfuture believes the Independent UK and that Saudi Arabia has the money and resources to go nuclear if they so desired. However, this would be done in a deniable and secretive way to avoid sanctions.

Time indicates that Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have nuclear weapons programs. However, the article confuses nuclear power with nuclear weapons programs. Civilian nuclear power is not the short path to nuclear weapons.

Pakistan nuclear missile

Saudi Arabia invades Yemen with 150,000 soldiers, 100 fighter jets and 76 fighters from partners

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday night launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed Shiite rebel forces in Yemen, responding to distress calls from the U.S.-backed Yemeni president who was fleeing the country in the face of relentless advances by the rebels.

The intervention brings the risk that Yemen will become ground zero for a proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states against Iran, the region’s largest Shiite power, and signals a marked escalation of complexity in the evolving war gripping several nations across the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia deployed 100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and other navy units on Thursday, after it launched its operation against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. The UAE contributed 30 fighter jets, Bahrain 15, Kuwaiti 15, Qatar 10 and Jordan 6 in the operation.

Yemen's beleaguered government said Saudi-led airstrikes against its Houthi militia opponents would not last long on the second day of a Gulf Arab-led campaign against the Iranian-allied militia that could escalate a proxy conflict spreading through the region.

Warplanes targeted Houthi forces controlling Yemen's capital and their northern heartland on Friday and, in a boost for Riyadh, fellow monarchy Morocco said it would join the rapidly-assembled Sunni Muslim coalition against the Shi'ite Muslim group.

Quantum computer resistant version of public key encryption from modified knapsack code

- Washington State University mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer.

Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

Quantum computers operate on the subatomic level and theoretically provide processing power that could be exponentially faster than classical computers. Several companies are in the race to develop quantum computers including Google and Dwave Systems.

The currently popular internet security algorithms are nor resistant to quantum computers. Online transactions ranging from buying a book on Amazon to simply sending an email would need to be upgraded with new algorithms if quantum computers are successful.

A new public key code

Looking to protect future online information, Hamlin and retired mathematics professor William Webb turned to the long-abandoned knapsack code. To bring it up to quantum level - and possibly use it as a new type of public key encryption - the researchers first engineered new numbering systems for the code.

"We used alternate ways of representing numbers," said Hamlin.

In effect, they created new digital systems with much greater complexity than society's day-to-day decimal and binary systems.

"By using very complicated number strings, we produced a new version of the knapsack code that can't be broken by the usual cyber attack methods," said Webb.

As a result, Hamlin and Webb believe the redesigned knapsack code could offer a viable alternative for public key encryption with quantum computing.

Arxiv - A Knapsack-like Code Using Recurrence Sequence Representations


We had recently shown that every positive integer can be represented uniquely using a recurrence sequence, when certain restrictions on the digit strings are satisfied. We present the details of how such representations can be used to build a knapsack-like public key cryptosystem. We also present new disguising methods, and provide arguments for the security of the code against known methods of attack.

Boeing patents temporary plasma forcefields that will reduce shockwaves from explosions

Boeing has a patent for temporary "forcefields" against shockwaves. The blast shockwave would be attenuated by creating a plasma.

An arc generator may be configured to generate a focused microwave beam or a focused laser beam. The focused beam rapidly heats the air in the selected region and changes its temperature, density and composition, the latter the result of the creation of free electrons.

The arc generator may be adapted to create a conducting path for the electric current. Accordingly, the arc generator may be configured to generate one or more of a laser-induced plasma channel (LIPC) from converging laser beams, ionizing tracer pellets fired along converging paths, and projectiles trailing fine electrical wires fired along converging paths. In each of these embodiments, an electric arc may be generated to travel along a conducting path created by dielectric breakdown of ionized ambient air at the selected region.

The plasma would alter electric and magnetic properties and other conditions to reflect, refract, absorb and deflect at least a portion of the shockwave.

The New Aircraft carriers for UK, Japan, USA, China and India by 2020

The estimated cost for the UK of building the two large aircraft carriers has almost doubled to more than £6bn. The F-35 programme, meanwhile, has faced serious technical problems and the cost of the aircraft has spiralled to an estimated £70m each.

HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier under construction for the Royal Navy, with plans for active service from 2020. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are unique among world aircraft carriers in having two islands, the forward one housing the main bridge for ship control and the aft island is for air control.

Britain’s order of 14 planes is expected to cost £2.5bn if running costs are included. The original plan was to buy 138 F-35s. To save money, the MoD dropped plans to buy the “cats and traps” – catapult launch and arrester wire landing – version of the F-35.

The Queen Elizabeth class (70,600 tonnes) can carry up to 40 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II multirole jets, but a more likely airwing is 12 or 24 F-35B and a helicopter group of anti-submarine AW101 Merlins and troop transport helicopters.

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is finashed construction

Prince of Wales Dec 1, 2014 under construction

Russian plans building a dozen new guide missile destoyer and then a supercarrier

Deputy Commander of the Russian Navy Admiral Igor Kasatonov recently announced that Russia would build its first aircraft carrier – although construction will begin only after 2025.

The National Interest, citing Itar-Tass News Agency, reported that the proposed carrier would be able to hold about 100 aircraft and would use a catapult take-off system.

In his statement, Kasatonov noted that Russia would gain experience in constructing and operating of large modern ships while completing the ocean-going destroyer ship “Leader,” which would become the “theoretical basis and the foundation for the construction of an aircraft carrier.” In mid-February, the chief of naval aviation of the Russian Navy, Major General Igor Kozhin said that technically everything is ready and the aircraft carrier may be built in 8-10 years.

Russia’s new destroyers are entering the design stages in 2015. The lead ship, the chief military purpose of which is to establish supremacy on the open sea, will become operative no sooner than 2025. It is presumed that the destroyer will be equipped with the Caliber cruise missile system and the Prometheus ZRK (anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system).

The construction of the first of the series of 12 ships – half a dozen for the Northern and Pacific fleets – is not expected before 2023-2025.

March 26, 2015

Sakti could mass produce next generation solid state battery for around $100 per kwh

Sakti3, a startup with $15 million of investment by billionaire James Dyson and $50 million from other sources, claims to have already generated twice the energy density of the most advanced lithium ion battery on the market today with a new solid state battery.

Toyota has a battery roadmap showing power and energy densities expected for selected battery technologies suggests that all solid-state batteries are an important step in the evolution of batteries for electric vehicles, but are not the ultimate solution.

Sakti3, Inc. ( announced that in mid-2014 that they had produced a battery cell on fully scalable equipment with over 1100 Watt hours per liter (Wh per l) in volumetric energy density. This translates to more than double the usage time in a wearable device like a smartwatch, from 3.5 h to more than 9 h. It also translates to almost double the range in an EV like the Tesla Model S, from 265 mi to 480 mi.

Sakti3 reports that it demonstrated over 1000 Wh per l in 2012, and has since moved to a pilot tool, using all scalable materials and equipment. The technology development was guided by mathematical simulations, starting with materials, and continuing to full scale plant layout to avoid any high cost materials, equipment or processes.

”Our [Sakti's] target is to achieve mass production of cells at ~$100 per kWh,” said Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3. “Our key patents on the technology have been issued, we are up and running on larger tooling, and can now speed up processing. Our first market will be consumer electronics, and after that, we’ll move to other sectors.”

Global sand use for building a larger Singapore, construction and fracking

A conservative estimate for the world consumption of aggregates (sand and gravel) exceeds 40 billion tonnes a year. This is twice the yearly amount of sediment carried by all of the rivers of the world making humankind the largest of the planet’s transforming agent with respect to aggregates.

Desert sand is no good for construction because the wind erosion makes the sand too round to bind in cement.

Extracting sand is a $70 billion per year industry.

Sand prices are now about $70 per ton and sometimes can be as high as $200 per ton. There is global criminal activity related to the sand trade and there are environmental effects. The average price of sand imported by Singapore was US$3 per tonne from 1995 to 2001, but the price increased to US$190 per tonne from 2003 to 2005

Singapore only imported about 517 million tons over 20 years out of 40 billion per year but this is a major part of imports because big countries can get sand from elsewhere in their own country

Large Hadron Collider upgraded to 13 Trillion electron volts, could get 10 times more luminosity then a 100 TeV successor

In 2015, CERN has detailed planning for a large-scale upgrade to increase luminosity and thereby exploit the LHC to its full potential. The HL (High Luminosity) LHC is CERN’s number-one priority and will increase the number of collisions accumulated in the experiments by a factor of ten from 2024 onwards. The High Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC; formerly SLHC, Super Large Hadron Collider) is a proposed upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider to be made after around ten years of operation. The upgrade aims at increasing the luminosity of the machine by a factor of 10, up to 10^35 cm−2s−1, providing a better chance to see rare processes and improving statistically marginal measurements.

In 2015, the LHC has been upgraded to operate with an energy of 13 TeV, almost double its previous maximum energy.

Even though the LHC programme is already well defined for the next two decades, the time has come to look even further ahead, so CERN is now initiating an exploratory study for a future long-term project centred on a new-generation circular collider with a circumference of 80 to 100 kilometres. A worthy successor to the LHC, whose collision energies will reach 14 TeV, such an accelerator would allow particle physicists to push back the boundaries of knowledge even further. The Future Circular Collider (FCC) programme will focus especially on studies for a hadron collider, similar to the LHC, capable of reaching unprecedented energies in the region of 100 TeV.

Co-pilot crashed commercial jet shows need for emergency remote override and crash alert

The chief Marseille prosecutor handling the investigation of the crash of a Germanwings jetliner said on Thursday that evidence from the cockpit voice recorder indicated that the co-pilot had deliberately locked the captain out of the cockpit and steered the plane into its fatal descent.

How to get Emergency Remote override

In the case of the Germanwings jetliner. The sane pilot or a stewardess would activate a commercial aviation grade Crashalert. Lifealert is famous for the "I have fallen and cannot get up" commercials.

This would have ground control institute an emergency override and first put the plane into safe flight mode. Where it could no longer have a rapid descent and would have crash avoidance systems active. Video cameras would be broadcast the interior of the plane to the remote center. The situation could be investigated and when in doubt just put the plane in for a safe landing at the nearest suitable airport.

This would deal with 9-11 situations and the Germanwings situation.

Passengers, stewardesses and airmartials could register and pre-certify themselves and be given the suitable level of permissions to crashalert. Even uncertified people could call in but would not have total priority until sanity investigations are conducted. But activating cameras and checking instrumentation remotely could be done.

The systems could also feed information for general automated remote monitoring. This could put a plane into more active monitoring when unusual activity is detected.

Thousands of trained remote pilots

The Defense Department planned to spend about $5 billion on unmanned systems in fiscal 2015, the vast majority for unmanned aerial systems, or UAVs, according to a report. The Pentagon has more than 200 Predators and more than 100 Reapers, which can also be used for strike missions and are made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., based in San Diego.

There are nearly 1,000 active-duty pilots for Predators and Reapers, though more than 1,200 such pilots are needed.

The Air Force currently trains about 180 remotely piloted aircraft operators a year, but needs about 300 of them and loses about 240 due to attrition, Welsh said. Even the training units are chronically understaffed because many trainers are pulled from operational units, he said.

The service is considering following the Army in allowing non-commissioned officers fly unmanned aircraft.

Have a remote piloting center and separate oversight of remote piloting activity. Make sure no one crazy at the remote center can do something bad either.

March 25, 2015

Ceres bright spots could be active icy plumes or other active geological features

A pair of bright spots glimmering inside an impact crater on the dwarf planet Ceres, mystifying scientists, could be coming from some kind of icy plume or other active geological feature.

New images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft show the spots, known as ‘feature number 5’, at changing angles as the dwarf planet rotates in and out of sunlight. The pictures reveal the spots even when they appear near the edge of Ceres, when the sides of the impact crater would normally block the view of anything confined to the bottom. That something is visible at all in this circumstance suggests that the feature must rise relatively high above the surface.

“What is amazing is that you can see the feature while the rim is still in the line of sight,” said Andreas Nathues, a planetary scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany. Nathues, who leads the team for one of the Dawn cameras, revealed the images on 17 March at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA. The Dawn spacecraft captured this image of Ceres' twin bright spots on 19 February.

Russia plan improbable supersonic mach 1.6 heavy lift transport plane

Russia is planning to make a fleet of 80 heavy transport aircraft that will reportedly for moving a strategic unit of 400 Armata tanks, with ammunition, to anywhere in the world. The PAK TA program envisages an order of 80 new cargo aircraft to start serial production in 2024. There are also plans to make smaller planes as well.

The current AN-124 "Ruslan" has a load capacity of 165 tons in some versions.

According to a new design specification from the Military-Industrial Commission in Moscow, the PAK TA transport aircraft, will fly at mach 1.63 (supersonic speeds of up to 2,000 km/h) and move a payload of up to 200 tons. It will also have a range of at least 7,000 kilometers.

The PAK TA freighters will be multilevel, with automated cargo loading and have the capability to airdrop hardware and personnel on any terrain. Externally the new aircraft follows a blended wing body (BWB) design with three turbofan engines and a rear cargo door.

Being able to create such a supersonic transport plane would also mean a supersonic superheavy bomber would also be possible by modifying the transport to drop bombs or fire cruise missiles.

The C-5M Super Galaxy, America’s largest military transport plane, tops out at 518 mph. The PAK TA’s planned 200-ton capacity will enable it to carry one or two more tanks than the Super Galaxy

March 24, 2015

MagLIF with DT cryo layer could achieve ten thousand times net gain nuclear fusion and it would be very good for fusion space propulsion

The cheapest, smallest reactors will emerge from the so-called magneto-inertial fusion (MIF) parameter space. This physics regime is a hybrid between the low density magnetic confinement and beyond solid density inertial confinement. Many of the smallest proposed fusion propulsion systems are in fact MIF systems, consistent with this recent study. (The Case and Development Path for Fusion Propulsion by Jason Cassibry, Ross Cortez, Milos Stanic)

Among the various MIF confinement schemes, we observe that pulsed z-pinch based approaches have potentially solved many of the perceived problems associated with instabilities, and that breakeven systems may require only ~60 MA of current. Such a current level is only a factor of 3 away from current capabilities at the Sandia Z Machine and a factor of 30 away from a new pulsed power facility being reassembled at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in collaboration with NASA MSFC and The Boeing Company. We offer a potential development path to a TRL 9 flight system, including potential side experiments that can be done to help pay for the development and upgrades to facilites.

* Magnetic fields can make laboratory fusion easier
* Magnetically driven targets driven by pulsed power drivers are energy efficient and could be a practical and cost effective path to significant fusion yields over 100 megaJoules per pulse.  Z today couples ~0.5 MJ out of 20 MJ stored to MagLIF target (0.1 MJ in DD fuel)

The pulsed z-pinch approach is perhaps the most direct route to development of fusion propulsion.

Z-pinch yields have been found to scale as ~I^4, where I is the current supplied by the pulsed power system.

5 to 10% of the implosion energy will be transferred to the central hotspot.

Giant Lunar Lava Tubes could hold one quarter of Manhattan

Lava tubes large enough to house cities could be structurally stable on the moon, according to a theoretical study presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference on Tuesday (March 17).

The volcanic features are an important target for future human space exploration because they could provide shelter from cosmic radiation, meteorite impacts and temperature extremes.

Lava tubes are tunnels formed from the lava flow of volcanic eruptions. The edges of the lava cool as it flows to form a pipe-like crust around the flowing river of lava. When the eruption ends and the lava flow stops, the pipe drains leave behind a hollow tunnel, said Jay Melosh, a Purdue University distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences who is involved in the research.

Sinuous rilles are large channels visible on the lunar surface thought to be formed by lava flows. The sinuous rilles range in size up to 10 kilometers wide, and the Purdue team explored whether lava tubes of the same scale could exist.

David Blair, a graduate student in Purdue's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, led the study that examined whether empty lava tubes more than 1 kilometer wide could remain structurally stable on the moon.

"We found that if lunar lava tubes existed with a strong arched shape like those on Earth, they would be stable at sizes up to 5,000 meters, or several miles wide, on the moon," Blair said. "This wouldn't be possible on Earth, but gravity is much lower on the moon and lunar rock doesn't have to withstand the same weathering and erosion. In theory, huge lava tubes - big enough to easily house a city - could be structurally sound on the moon."

The city of Philadelphia is shown inside a theoretical lunar lava tube. A Purdue University team of researchers explored whether lava tubes more than 1 kilometer wide could remain structurally stable on the moon. (Purdue University/courtesy of David Blair)

Downtown Philadelphia

March 23, 2015

Ceres the main base and hub for future asteroid belt mining

NASA now has the Dawn spacecraft in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres.

Ceres has one-tenth of the total water in Earth's oceans. The solar irradiance of 150 W/m2 at aphelion, one ninth that on Earth, is high enough for solar-power facilities. The total volume of water on Earth is about 1.4 billion cubic kilometers, around 41 million of which is fresh water. If Ceres' mantle accounts for 25 percent of the asteroid's mass, that would translate to an upper limit of 200 million cubic kilometers of fresh water (5 times more fresh water than Earth).

Ceres has about one third of the mass of the whole asteroid belt and is the sixth-largest body in the inner Solar System by mass and volume. The inner solar system includes the asteroid belt and every thing closer to the sun than the asteroid belt. Ceres has a round shape, and a surface gravitational acceleration about 2.8% that of Earth. It has a surface area approximately 1.9% of Earth's dry land, slightly larger than the total land area of Argentina.

It is more energy-efficient to transport resources from the Moon or Mars to Ceres, than from Earth. Transportation from Mars or the Moon to Ceres would be even more energy-efficient than transportation from Earth to the Moon.

Zachary V. Whitten wrote "Use of Ceres in the Development of the Solar System"

Ceres has a very low escape velocity (0.51 km/s) and the great amount of water on Ceres would not only be a resource for a colony's own use, but would also be an exportable resource, supplying fuel, oxygen, and water for ships going through and beyond the main belt. This water, together with metal structures built in zero gravity from asteroidal materials, would allow colonists to trade for raw materials and refined products that are needed but not available in the main belt.

NASA vision of the spacecraft and base for a human mission to Callisto

NASA examined revolutionary aerospace systems concepts for human space exploration of the solar system beyond Mars orbit and identified critical technology requirements for the realization of these systems concepts.

Due to its distance from Jupiter's powerful radiation belt, Callisto is subject to only 0.01 rem a day. When NASA carried out a study called HOPE (Revolutionary Concepts for Human Outer Planet Exploration) regarding the future exploration of the Solar System, the target chosen was Callisto. It could be possible to build a surface base that would produce fuel for further exploration of the Solar System. Callisto has long been considered the most suitable place for a human base for future exploration of the Jovian system.

- Callisto is the fourth moon of Jupiter: mostly outside of radiation belts
- About the size of the planet Mercury, surface at 1/8 G
- Most heavily cratered place in the solar system
- Covered with ice and asteroid dust

Planned Great Japan Anti-tsunami Sea Wall would be 1/50th the length of China's Great Wall

Four years after a towering tsunami ravaged much of Japan's northeastern coast, efforts to fend off future disasters are focusing on a nearly 400-kilometer (250-mile) chain of cement sea walls, at places nearly five stories high.

Opponents of the 820 billion yen ($6.8 billion) plan argue that the massive concrete barriers will damage marine ecology and scenery, hinder vital fisheries and actually do little to protect residents who are mostly supposed to relocate to higher ground.

The main Great Wall of China stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi)

If India can consistently outperform China on GDP growth by 3% per year then should catch up on per capita GDP in about 40 years

HSBC and rating agency Fitch have forecast India’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at 8.3 per cent in 2016-17. China is likely to have GDP growth at 6.5-7.0% in 2016 and 2017.

The IMF has China having per capita GDP on a purchasing power parity basis of $13993 in 2015 and India with $6167. China as 2.27 times the per capita GDP PPP than India.

On exchange rate GDP per capita basis China has about $7500 to India's $1500. China is five times higher than India.

If India outperforms China by a consistent 3% per year, then over 40 years India will catch up on per capita GDP basis. India will have about 1% more population growth, so the overall GDP growth would need to be 4% more than China to get 3% more per capita.

March 22, 2015

China and US molten salt nuclear reactor cooperation

A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, between ORNL and SINAP focuses on accelerating scientific understanding and technical development of salt-cooled reactors, specifically fluoride salt-cooled high-temperature reactors, or FHRs. The project will draw on ORNL’s expertise in fuels, materials, instrumentation and controls, design concepts, and modeling and simulation for advanced reactors, as well as the lab’s experience in the design, construction and operation of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, the only molten salt reactor ever built.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has provided resources for research, technology development, design, and construction of an FHR test reactor in China. This initial test reactor will have a maximum thermal power of 10 megawatts. A second, 100-megawatt test reactor is also planned. Both FHR test reactors will use low-enrichment uranium fuel.

FHRs are an emerging class of salt-cooled reactors that feature low-pressure liquid fluoride salt cooling and solid coated particle fuel. This design provides a high-temperature power cycle that improves efficiency and a passive safety system designed to handle potential accident conditions without human intervention. FHRs have the potential to economically and reliably produce large quantities of carbon-free energy (both electrical and thermal), but technical challenges remain.

China's timeline was presented in 2013.

Berkeley and others have FHR reactor designs

There was a Jan, 2014 Current Status of the UCB PB-FHR Mark-1 Commercial Prototype Design Effort presentation

Current FHR Development Efforts
• DOE Integrated Research Project (IRP) – Collaborative university effort with MIT, UCB, and UW – Includes commercialization strategy, commercial prototype and test reactor pre-conceptual design effort, and assorted technology development efforts
• Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Ongoing FHR development work on technology roadmap and reactor design (plate fuel)
• ANS Standards Committee 20.1 – Currently developing FHR-specific GDCs and design standards
• Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) – Currently developing FHR and MSR technology – 10 MW FHR test reactor deployment planned for 2017

Fitch Ratings and HSBC both forecast India GDP growth will be 8.3% in 2016-2017

China, India and Russia have supersonic cruise missiles and are nearing hypersonic cruise missiles

The Chaoxun-1 (CX-1) is a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) built by a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), a major Chinese space and defense company. According to CASC, the CX-1 is a two-stage ASCM with a range of up to 280 km while carrying a 260-kilogram warhead. The missile also has a circular error probability of 20 meters, and high-altitude speeds of Mach 2.8-Mach 3.

India and Russia have Russian-made Novator 3M-54 Club supersonic terminal-stage ASCMs and Zvezda Kh-31 supersonic anti-radar/ship missiles. But China has also purchased or otherwise acquired the technology to produce its own versions, the larger and longer-range YJ-12, now in Chinese service, is based on Zvezda technology and the YJ-18 is believed to be a shorter range version of the 3M-54. So CASC’s CX-1 is likely China’s third “Russian” supersonic ASCM.

Several China's Spratly Islands are several times larger than largest natural Spratly island

Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba Island and by various other names, is the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The island is elliptical in shape being 1.4 kilometres (0.87 mi) in length and 0.4 kilometres (0.25 mi) in width, with an area of 46 hectares (110 acres). The Taiping Island Airport is the most prominent artificial feature on the island.

Woody Island largest in South China Sea but part of the Paracel Islands and not Spratly Islands, has a major military airstrip, navy harbors and a town with thousands of residents

Woody Island is the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The island has an artificial harbor capable of docking vessels of 5,000 tonnes. It was 2.13 square kilometers in size. The Yongxing Island Airport was completed in July 1990, with a 2,700-metre runway that is capable of handling any fourth generation fighter aircraft of the PLA Naval Air Force such as the Chengdu J-10AH, Shenyang J-11BH,Xian JH-7A, or SukhSukhoi Su-30MK2.

At the end of 2014, a set of aerial photos show that the size of disputed Woody Island (aka Yongxing Dao) in the South China Sea has increased by 40% since 2013, due to China's land reclamation projects on the largest of the Paracel Islands. Rocky island, located northeast of the island, has now merged with Woody island. The airstrip in the island's airport has increased its length from 2700 meters to 3000 meters and is expected to accommodate heavy carriers. China has built up significant infrastructure on Woody Island, which it calls Yongxing and which it administers under the Hainan provincial government, including building banks, post offices, grocery shops, hospitals and small department stores catering to the 1,500 residents on the island.

In late August 2013, the ROC government announced that it would spend US$112 million on upgrading the island's airstrip, and constructing a dock capable of allowing its 3,000-ton Coast Guard cutters to dock, due to be completed by 2016. The Taiping Island Airport features an airstrip which caters for C-130 transport planes of the ROC Air Force, with one sortie arriving every two months; there are no re-fueling facilities. Depending on sources, the runway is 1150 or 1200 metres long, 30 metres wide, and has a large hard-standing area capable of accommodating two C-130 aircraft; there have been a number of plans to lengthen the runway.

Runway dimensions vary from
* 245 meters (804 ft) long and 8 meters (26 ft) wide in smaller general aviation airports
* 5,500 meters (18,045 ft) long and 80 meters (262 ft) wide at large international airports built to accommodate the largest jets
* huge 11,917 meters × 274 meters (39,098 ft × 899 ft) lake bed runway 17/35 at Edwards Air Force Base in California – a landing site for the retired Space Shuttle.

The US Gerald Ford super aircraft carrier has a 330 meter long runway and has special electromagnetic launchers and arresting gear. Jets are sped up and slowed down on the smaller runway.

China is currently reclaiming land on at least nine reefs —
1. Fiery Cross
2. Johnson South
3. Gaven
4. Hughes
5. Cuarteron
6. Subi
7. Mischief
8. Eldad Reef
9. McKennan

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