“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, November 14, 2011

NASA Has No Rocket to Get Astronauts into Space

NASA is Working on the Problem

Russian Rocket Gives NASA a Lift to Space Station
Published: November 14, 2011 NYT

MOSCOW — A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off amid heavy snow in Kazakhstan on Monday morning, beginning a two-day trip to ferry three astronauts to the International Space Station and opening a new era of American dependence on Russia — and eventually on commercial enterprises — for space travel.

NASA ended its space shuttle program in July. The launch Monday morning, at 10:14 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying an American, Daniel C. Burbank, and two Russians, Anton N. Shkaplerov and Anatoly A. Ivanishin, is the first trip into orbit by astronauts since the last shuttle flight.

The Soyuz TMA-22 is scheduled to dock with the space station on Wednesday, and the three astronauts will join three others who have been on board since June. Those three astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth next week and recent mishaps had raised concerns that the space station would be left empty for the first time in more than a decade.

Monday’s launch, originally scheduled for September, was delayed after the failure in August of a Russian unmanned cargo rocket similar to the one used for manned flights. NASA officials said that they were confident that their Russian counterparts had identified and corrected the problem.

In a separate mishap last week, a Russian craft headed to explore a Martian moon got stalled in low-Earth orbit after its engines failed to fire. The stalled probe, which also launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome, could crash back to Earth within weeks.

On Monday morning, video from the cosmodrome showed the astronauts wearing blue parkas as they headed to board the rocket amid snowflakes swirling in a blustery wind.

The white snowscape around the launch pad briefly glowed bright orange as the countdown hit zero, the boosters fired and the gray rocket quickly accelerated to more than 3,000 miles per hour for a smooth trip into space.

Once safely in orbit, the crew flashed a thumbs up.

Mr. Burbank, a veteran of previous space shuttle flights, will take charge of the space station, and the current commander, Michael Fossum, an American, and flight engineers, Satoshi Furukawa of Japan and Sergei Volkov of Russia, are scheduled to return to Earth on Nov. 22. Another crew of three astronauts are scheduled to travel to the space station on Dec. 21.

In addition to carrying out dozens of scientific experiments, the newly arrived space station team will inaugurate the new era of commercial space expeditions, including the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, built by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation of Hawthorne, Calif., known as SpaceX, which will carry a capsule called the Dragon.

Another commercial resupply ship being built by Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., is also expected to make the trip to the station next year, according to NASA.


  1. From the start, I despised the original concept of an International Space Station. It was conceived in the adolescent mind of someone who spent too much time playing with his Hikaru Sulu and Spock dolls.

    When planned, NASA was already a beaureacratic labyrinth, and the creators of ISS decided to make it more interesting and get in on with the Russian and EU Space agencies. It was originally Reagan’s brain fart but on September 1993, American Vice-President Al Gore, Jr., announced the birth of the enterprise.

    It was and continues to be a costly and worthless endeavor that has accomplished what could have been done for a budget one tenth of the size.

    When President Reagan first proposed Space Station Freedom in 1984, the projected price tag was $8 billion. At the time, Clinton said the international station would cost $17.4 billion.The cost to date is unknown and astronomical, probably over $100 billion and counting.

  2. The '47 had to be one of the sexist bombers ever built.
    Never took the time to see how capable it was:
    Obviously the less sexy 52 has a little more staying power!

    That mess the JATOS and first gen turbines make out of the atmosphere remind me of the glory days RWE reminded us about:

    BOMARC !
    Supersonic Ram Jet w/Nuclear tip!
    Who could ask for more?

    Think whole fleets of Bears being vaporized in mid-air.

    Strangelove could rightly be proud.
    I did my part serving under President Kim armed with Nuke Tipped Tactical Missiles.

    Those were the days.

  3. The ISS served as a rationale for the equally wasteful Shuttle.
    Money burning deathtrap waiting to happen.
    Meanwhile, the Ruskies kicked ass with a 50 year old rocket engine.

    Air Force disposables would have provided more capability for a fraction of the cost.

    Using leftover shuttle rocket parts should be cost-effective and highly reliable.
    ...if Obama doesn't bury it.

  4. What's really scarey is how small $100 billion is these days in comparison with the dollars being wasted by Washington on even more wasteful, nay, negative programs down here on terra firma.

  5. Teresita said...
    57. Annoy Mouse: Lesbians I have talked to are very liberal about pedophilia.

    When you talk to women about pedophilia don't they get a little creeped out?

    54. 2009Refugee: The last decade has basically been an exercise in reveling in the glory days, and counting down to milestones.

    Glory days and milestones, in the context of kids dressing up in ersatz military uniforms and playing childish games back and forth on a green playground with balls. Sports are a matter of arrested development. Was Michael Jackson a pedophile or did he honestly feel like a little boy who just wanted to play with the other children?


    Camille Paglia is pro-pedophilia AND pro-football!

    PRO Football

  6. Sergeant Missile, Mobile Launcher

    We'd hall these guys out in the field.
    Now, a giant toll freeway takes up the valley below Camp Colbern.

    The village still looks like shit, prostitution didn't cash in on the Internet bubble.

  7. the Real Wisconsin PatriotMon Nov 14, 09:18:00 AM EST

    Modern versions of the Atlas and Delta should be as inherently reliable as their predecessors. Their specified design reliability is 98%, a value typical of that demonstrated by the best expendable vehicles. If this is achieved, and I believe that it will be, and given a separate escape system with an assumed reliability of even 90%, the fatal accident rate would be 1 in 500 launches, substantially better than for the Shuttle. We need the political leadership and commitment to make the needed corrections.

  8. Deuce said... From the start, I despised the original concept of an International Space Station. It was conceived in the adolescent mind of someone who spent too much time playing with his Hikaru Sulu and Spock dolls.

    The Space Shuttle was Nixon era, sold to us as basically an orbiting truck that would earn millions of dollars with every launch and pay its own way.

    The Russian Soyuz is like a Volkswagen bug you can fix with WD-40 and some duct tape. It's the turtle that wins the race slow and steady. I really dig that old workhorse.

    But what I really want to see a some smaller horizontal take-off and landing (HOTOL) orbiter, piggybacked on a custom 747 maybe, up to 30,000 feet, then separation, the orbiter uses an airbreathing scramjet mixed with onboard liquid hydrogen to get up to mach 6, 80,000 feet, then switches in the onboard LOX for the rest of the way up (Mach 20, 500,000 feet). Both sections then return and land on an airfield, for turnaround in 24 hours or less. Safer'n a Volvo.

  9. Good old non polluting B-47 was a neat plane.

    How many on the crew? Three? Four?


  10. They're working on outreach to our muslim brothers and sisters, striving for greater understanding, per O's directive.

    What's a rocket got to do with this over riding concern?


  11. Re: The previous post:
    Everybody wants the tyrannical Iranian regime out. Most of all the Iranian people. Much harsher and smarter sanctions will accomplish that goal. There is no need for war. The Federation of American Scientists called the IAEA report "hyperbole vs. fact.” The hype is coming from Israeli politicians and their strong arm tactics in the US. Iran’s nuclear program and technology are not a matter of political opinion.

    They are scientific and technological issues. They are governed by clearly spelled out international agreements that are binding on everyone, not just nations like Iran.

    Israel feels that is is special and does as it pleases.

    The rest of the world is giving more credit to Iran's intelligence service's professionalism than what is coming out of the mouths of the director of the White House, Congress, the FBI and the Attorney General of the United States. Use your minds, N. Korea builds the bomb and we are talking to them. No threats. Iran has no nukes, we threaten regime change and Israel is planning to attack.

    Lesson to Iran: Build the bomb.

  12. I am inclined to estimate that not more than 10 or 15 people in all of Israel know all the varied information that is essential for a level-headed decision on the Iranian issue, including the prime minister, defense minister and two or three advisers and professionals. This leads me to a difficult but unavoidable conclusion: History is presenting Israel with a critical challenge in which the very few are likely to greatly affect the future of very many. Such a situation is not desirable from the perspective of democratic values, and it also entails some danger. Such situations are rare, but they are not unique in history, especially in light of weapons of mass destruction. (Just recall U.S. President John F. Kennedy's response to the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba.)

    Fortunately, notwithstanding all the justified criticism of this country's leaders on issues like the peace process and the social welfare policy, there is no doubt about their total commitment to Israel's security, expertise in the Iranian issue and reasoning ability. In any case, the decision is necessarily in their hands. One can only hope that the public debate, which will certainly not help matters, will at least do no harm.

    - Yehezkel Dror

  13. - Spanish government bonds fell Monday, putting the country back in the spotlight as the 10-year yield moved back above the 6% level and the premium demanded by investors to hold Spanish government debt over 10-year German bunds rose to a level unseen since the launch of the euro.

  14. The yield on Italian 10-year bonds rallied early on Monday afternoon to 6.7pc, while equivalent Spanish bond yields hit 6.03pc, up from 5pc five weeks ago.
    It is the first time Spanish bonds have breached the 6pc line since the European Central Bank resumed debt purchases on August 8.
    It leaves Spain with borrowing costs closer to those of Italy as the ECB's purchases fail to cap yields, and reveals investors' scepticism as to whether eurozone leaders will be able to push through reforms to end the debt crisis.
    Italian bond yields fell from a record high of 7.48pc last week as Silvio Berlusconi made his way for the exit, but jumped again today before Mario Monti, the new technocrat leader, had even named his ministers or laid out a timetable to form a government.

  15. Anon, do you seriously believe that everyone is to suspend a judgement and an opinion on attacking Iran while 10-15 "level- headed” people figure out what to do? Sorry, but that is dangerous nonsense.

    If there is such compelling information, demonstrate it, don’t tell us ... there is no doubt about their total commitment to Israel's security, expertise in the Iranian issue and reasoning ability. In any case, the decision is necessarily in their hands. One can only hope that the public debate, which will certainly not help matters, will at least do no harm.

    Talk about condescending arrogance!

  16. The whole thing is interesting from another point of view. Israel right now is on one of the crests of the waves of it national existence. Babylon, Assyria, Rome, 2,000 years in dispersion, all troughs, then the holocaust, then....then miracle of miracles they recover their national home, a rise back to the current crest in this ongoing wave action of a narrative. What will happen next? Will the story end, as the Iranians wish? Israel off the map? This time the terms are changed. The Israelis are nuclear armed, and the surrounding monster kingdoms unlike of old will at least pay a hell of a higher price for fucking with zion.


  17. How the Jewish people carried their culture through 2000 years of dispersion is something almost of a miracle, often commented on by folks that write about such things. Maybe the dispersion had something of a safety net built into it so to speak, when they were getting clobbered in country A they were able to hang on and do alright in some other area.


  18. I can't believe it, Newt is on a big surge, tied with or ahead of Romney in a couple of polls. Had counted him out long ago. He wasn't even on the radar screen a month or more ago. 2% something.


  19. Anonymous said... How the Jewish people carried their culture through 2000 years of dispersion is something almost of a miracle, often commented on by folks that write about such things.

    You've got cause and effect turned around 180 degrees Bob.

    All of the Israelites were deported from the Holy Land at one time or another. Ten of the tribes were deported in 720 BC, by the Assyrians. When these were settled in Medea, there was no literate culture to be absorbed by the Israelites by osmosis. They intermarried and disappeared from history forever.

    But when the Benjaminites and Judahites and Levites (known collectively as the Jews) were deported by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, they went to Babylon, which was a very literate culture, and the Babylonian writings crossed over to the Jews by osmosis.

    The four "evil days" of the Babylonian Shabbatu (8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the lunar month) were reversed to became the Shabbat. The 11th scroll of the Gilgamesh epic was incorporated into Jewish writings as the Noah myth, and the Adam myth, etc. The Yahwhist stories (native to the Jews, written by a learned woman in the court of Rehoboam, son of Solomon) were merged with the Elohist stories from the northern kingdom, together with the ordinances of the priests from the time before the temple was created, and before you knew it, Ezra the Scribe had a Torah on his hands.

    These five books were credited to the pen of Moshe (neat trick, since he gets buried in the fifth one) and they created a common "history" and culture and law that forged a persistent people. With the Torah, each community could live in total isolation from each other, yet retain the same common identity, century after century. The book made the Jews.

  20. "Israel recently got information that Pakistan was supporting the nuclear weapon program of Syria by supplying it some of the key components."

    We were told by the true believers here and elsewhere that the Weapons of Mass Destruction that were the casus belli of the Iraq War (the yellowcake from Niger, the weapons-grade anthrax, the 155mm dum dum howitzer rounds with nerve gas inside them) were all conveniently transported over the border to Syria (beyond hope of falsifiability) just as the Thunder Runs were taking place in Baghdad. So it doesn't surprise me to see the same Hail Mary pass thrown again, once more into Syria, this time Pakistani centrifuges or triggers.

    Brig Gen (retd) Shalom Harari says Israel got this information? If he's retired, how did he get it? If the information is valid, why isn't Israel sticking him in the same hole they stuck Mordechai Vanunu? Give me a break, how dumb do they think we are?

  21. Romney seems stuck in the 20 - 25% range, meaning 75% of pubs are anybody but Romney? and are floundering around looking for an untarnished winnable candidate. Cain gets slandered, Perry muffs up, Newt looks at least competent in his answers in the debates.


  22. The former boyfriend of a woman who accused Republican presidential contender Herman Cain of inappropriate sexual behavior said Monday that he and this then-girlfriend met the businessman in the late 1990s.


    Zuckerman also said Bialek told him that Cain inappropriately touched her later that year when she sought help finding a job after being fired from the trade association that Cain led at the time.

    All Met

  23. In the first televised interview that Herman Cain gave two weeks ago to respond to allegations that he had sexually harassed and settled with two women while he was president of the National Restaurant Association, he played “the wife card,” revealing that his wife, Gloria Cain, would sit for an interview.

    Scheduled to air Monday night at 10 p.m. Eastern time on Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record,” (Fox News), the interview will add another voice, another layer, and another news cycle to a narrative that for two weeks has defined, yet not derailed, Cain’s quixotic campaign for president.


    “I think some people will ask themselves why it took so long for her to come out,” said Judy Smith, a crises management expert who helped Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick, among others. “The public is a little more cautious of what it means when a wife comes out and how much credibility to give what she says.

  24. Accepting appeals from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta — the only appeals court to say the law was unconstitutional — justices said they would consider:

    • Whether Congress was acting within its constitutional powers by requiring all Americans have at least a basic form of health insurance by 2014. Those who do not would be required to pay a penalty on their 2015 income tax returns.

    • Whether other parts of the law can go forward if the so-called individual mandate is found unconstitutional. Lower courts have differed on the question, but the administration says the law’s more popular features, such as prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions, cannot work financially without the mandate that all join the system.

    • Whether Congress is improperly coercing states to extend Medicaid, the subsidized health care for the poor and disabled, to those with incomes of 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Medicaid is a shared expense of the federal and state governments, and the federal government would pay 100 percent of the additional cost through 2016. The percentage would decline after that.

  25. Coming to a community in France in 2012 The First Tidal Power Farm

    even a video

  26. Element Power US has announced its Macho Springs Wind Project has completed construction. Output from the project will be sold to Tucson Electric Power under a long-term power purchase agreement.

    "As TEP's first dedicated source of wind power, the Macho Springs Wind Farm will complement our expanding array of solar energy projects, helping us develop a diverse portfolio of cost-effective renewable resources for our customers," said David Hutchens, Executive Vice . . . . . .

    Now, they're getting ready to begin construction on the accompanying Solar Farm. This is the perfect "make sense" solution in the Southwest.

    Macho Springs - around the clock energy for Tucson

  27. Occupy Wall Street leaders announced today their plans to rachet up their wild antics — vowing to wreak havoc on Thursday by shutting down Wall Street and the subways to mark the renegade group’s two-month takeover of Zuccotti.


    The MTA will also be on alert.

    “We’ll work closely with the NYPD as we always do and report any unusual activities to them,” said Charles Seton, an MTA spokesman.

  28. In other cities over the weekend:

    — In Salt Lake City, police arrested 19 people Saturday when protesters refused to leave a park a day after a man as found dead inside his tent at the encampment.

    — In Albany, N.Y., police arrested 24 Occupy Albany protesters after they defied an 11 p.m. curfew in a state-owned park.

    — In Denver, authorities arrested four people as they forced protesters to leave a downtown encampment.

  29. There's an 'Occupy Adelaide' encapment that just sprung up yesterday in the small park next to my office.

  30. "Occupy Adelaide" Now, that could get interesting. Adelaide would have to beat the hell out of NYC in January. :)

  31. Link: (via

    From Mat, all about economic stuff and occupying stuff


  32. I had Fox on mute in the background, and saw Newt come on. I turned the volume up, and watched him give another Great interview.

    It was first mentioned on this blog a month, or so, ago, that Newt might be able to slip in the back door while everyone else was blowing it in the debates.

    It's starting to look like we might have been prescient.

  33. Newt Gingrich's foreign policy statements are superb. He's a lot smarter than Obama. What Gingrich has said about Iran is very clear and strong. I know the EB is divided on this but when Newt is chosen as the nominee and proceeds to beat Obama to a pulp in the general election, he will acquire such enormous power as the greatest modern day US President.

    For example, During Saturday's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley arrogantly argued with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich about the "rule of law" concerning killing American born terrorists overseas.

    By the end of the exchange, Pelley, with a smug, condescending expression on his face, looked quite foolish as the audience applauded and one of Gingrich's opponents on stage actually commented, "Well said. Well said"

  34. I have Fox on mute. As a matter of principle. I never turn it up. fuck

  35. First it was the Turks, now it’s the Jordanians “asking” the good Dr. to leave

    What happened to that Muslim unity that was going to swallow up the Zionist entity?

    What happened to the Turkish naval escort for the American kids trying to run the blockade?

    When Syria falls, Iran is going to face a Lucy moment.

  36. Just got back from my lunchtime walk. Camper wearing a 'Che' t-shirt.

  37. The toxic combination of slow growth and high unemployment in the world's largest economy is expected to persist until 2013 at the earliest, according to a survey of professional forecasters released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Monday, with analysts noticeably more pessimistic than they were just a few months ago.


    Respondents to the study saw, on average, the unemployment rate dipping modestly to 8.8 percent in 2012, then to 8.4 percent in 2013. Expectations for a stronger economy are seen helping push unemployment below eight percent in 2014, the forecasters noted.

  38. "Dreadlocks, hippies"

    Hey, my daughter has dreads.

    Oh, and my BFF told the teacher that we buy our Thanksgiving turkey from the Gap.

  39. Now that the angel lady from Alaska is not in the race I'm not under any pressure and haven't much dog in the fight, being just more of a witness than anything else. Most of the pub candidates seem pretty good to me, especially considering the alternative. Keeps the blood pressure lower, a new experience of kinda looking in, curiously, from the outside, so to speak.


  40. That's dreadful.


  41. My daughter's horse risky has dreads too sometimes, when she does his tail and mane up that way.


  42. Cain's not a political robot like Romney or Gingrich, both of whom have been at it so long the answers come out automatically.

    That's what I don't like about those two - can't we get something a little new in there? I'd take Bachmann.


  43. Deuce had that video up for a sec, but it seems to have "disappeared."

    Tried to watch it, but it was just too painful.

  44. .

    The OWS says that the 1% controls the other 99% and this may be confirmed by a study published in PLoS One that indicates it may be a mathematically inevitable consequence of the way networks self-organize.

    The Big Red 1

    But there may be practical proof of one of the reasons networks tend that way.

    Insider trading is illegal — except for members of Congress.

    On Sunday night, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” looked into this form of “lawful graft.”The “60 Minutes” story exposed, among others, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for participating in a lucrative initial public offering from Visa in 2008 that was not available to the general public, just as a troublesome piece of legislation that would have hurt credit card companies began making its way through the House (the bill never made it to the floor). And it showed how during the 2008 financial crisis, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) — then-ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee — aggressively bought stock options based on apocalyptic briefings he had received the day before from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson...

    Perhaps the most disturbing revelations come from Schweizer’s investigation into the Obama Energy Department and its infamous “green energy” loan guarantee and grant programs, a program Schweizer calls “the greatest — and most expensive — example of crony capitalism in American history.” The scandal surrounding Solyndra — the now-bankrupt, Obama-connected solar power company that received a federally guaranteed loan of $573 million — is well known. But Solyndra, Schweizer says, is only the tip of the iceberg...

    What's a Little Graft as Long as It's legal?


  45. .

    JERUSALEM — Israeli Cabinet ministers decided Monday to hold on to about $100 million in taxes owed to the Palestinians, an official said, despite warnings from Israel’s Defense Ministry that the measure could threaten the stability of the Palestinian government in the West Bank.

    Israel stopped transfer of tax funds as punishment for the Palestinian’s successful bid for admission to UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, which was part of a larger effort to gain admission as a state in the world body...

    The official did not explain the rationale. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the contents of the closed meeting of ministers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with security responsibilities...

    Israel to hold $100 million in taxes owed to Palestinians


  46. "The Occupy Wall Street claim that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy."


    What's a "self organizing economy"?

    The economy is organized by the laws passed by the representatives of Joe and Jane that created the economy in the first place and keep it in being in its current form.

    Joe and Jane can reorganize the self organizing economy as they see fit, if they wish to do so.


  47. There will always be a 1%, and a top 1/10th of 1%. It's simple mathematics. However, it's what the top 0.1% are being allowed to do with their power that's pissing the rest off.

    For ex:

    In Silicon Valley, Bullis elementary school accepts one in six kindergarten applicants, offers Chinese and asks families to donate $5,000 per child each year. Parents include Ken Moore, son of Intel Corp.’s co-founder, and Steven Kirsch, inventor of the optical mouse.

    Bullis isn’t a high-end private school. It’s a taxpayer- funded, privately run public school, part of the charter-school movement that educates 1.8 million U.S. children. While charters are heralded for offering underprivileged kids an alternative to failing U.S. districts, Bullis gives an admissions edge to residents of parts of Los Altos Hills, where the median home is worth $1 million and household income is $219,000, four times the state average.

    “Bullis is a boutique charter school,” said Nancy Gill, a Los Altos education consultant who helps parents choose schools. “It could bring a whole new level of inequality to public education.”

    The growing ranks of U.S. charter schools in affluent suburbs are pitting neighbor against neighbor and, critics say, undercutting the original goals of the charter movement. Families who benefit cherish extensive academic offerings and small classes. Those who don’t say their children are being shortchanged because the schools are siphoning off money and the strongest students, leaving . . . .

    Taxpayers Billed for Millionaires' Kids at Charter Schools

  48. .

    Joe and Jane can reorganize the self organizing economy as they see fit, if they wish to do so.

    If so, why can't Joe or Jane use insider info like Congress allows itself to do?

    Naivte thy name is b.


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