SpaceX successfully launches its second rocket in three days [Updated]

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-25 16:45:00 Source: arstechnica

4:40pm ET Sunday update: The Falcon 9 rocket took off amid a dense canopy of fog on Sunday, but nevertheless it successfully delivered a payload of 10 Iridium satellites into a good orbit. Then the first stage booster fired its engines for home. SpaceX founder Elon Musk had warned that landing conditions were marginal due to extreme weather, and that the droneship had had to be relocated as a result. But no matter, the first stage booster hit the mark on Just Read the Instructions all the same. Also, it appeared the new grid fins performed well, with little evidence of charring.

Original post: Chances are, if you're a SpaceX employee, you've had a busy weekend. On Friday, the company successfully launched its second "used" Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now, two days later, the company will attempt to launch a new Falcon 9 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:24pm ET.

This is a fairly conventional launch for SpaceX except for one novelty, revealed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday night. After lifting 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to return to a droneship with a new, more durable set of grid fins, which help to stabilize the rocket as it descends back to Earth.

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Watch live: SpaceX to test “significantly upgraded” grid fins Sunday

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-25 16:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Chances are, if you're a SpaceX employee, you've had a busy weekend. On Friday, the company successfully launched its second "used" Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now, two days later, the company will attempt to launch a new Falcon 9 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:24pm ET.

This is a fairly conventional launch for SpaceX except for one novelty, revealed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday night. After lifting 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to return to a droneship with a new, more durable set of grid fins, which help to stabilize the rocket as it descends back to Earth.

During prior missions these grid fins, manufactured from aluminum with added thermal protection, have caught fire due to atmospheric heating. To address this problem the company has forged new grid fins from titanium. "Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins," Musk tweeted. "Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding." The new fins are a bit heavier, but are designed for multiple re-uses as SpaceX seeks to more toward rapid reuse of its first stage booster.

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SpaceX Livestreams Sunday's Rocket Launch

science - Posted On:2017-06-25 15:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes Space.com: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the 10 satellites for Iridium Communications is scheduled to liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:25 p.m. PDT (4:25 p.m. EDT/2025 GMT). The live webcast is expected to begin about 1 hour before the opening of the launch window, and you can watch it on SpaceX's website, or at Space.com. This is the second of eight planned Iridium launches with SpaceX. The launches will deliver a total of 75 satellites into space for the $3 billion Iridium NEXT global communications network. "Iridium NEXT will replace the company's existing global constellation in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space," according to a statement from Iridium. "It represents the evolution of critical communications infrastructure that governments and organizations worldwide rely upon to drive business, enable connectivity, empower disaster relief efforts and more." After the mission the booster rocket will attempt to land on a droneship. The droneships name is "Just Read The Instructions." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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For Sunday’s launch, SpaceX to test “significantly upgraded” grid fins

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-25 11:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Chances are, if you're a SpaceX employee, you've had a busy weekend. On Friday, the company successfully launched its second "used" Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now, two days later, the company will attempt to launch a new Falcon 9 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:24pm ET.

This is a fairly conventional launch for SpaceX except for one novelty, revealed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday night. After lifting 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to return to a droneship with a new, more durable pair of grid fins, which help to stabilize the rocket as it descends back to Earth.

During prior missions these grid fins, manufactured from aluminum with added thermal protection, have caught fire due to atmospheric heating. To address this problem the company has forged new grid fins from titanium. "Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins," Musk tweeted. "Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding." The new fins are a bit heavier, but are designed for multiple re-uses as SpaceX seeks to more toward rapid reuse of its first stage booster.

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A pigeon-piloted bomb, odd powders, and cryptic science—Ars goes to NIST

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-25 10:14:56 Source: arstechnica

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—Visiting the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is always immeasurably fun. The agency’s headquarters—a green and sprawling 234-hectare campus, just a jaunt from Washington, DC—is studded with scientific wonders. There’s the building in which scientists repeatedly build other little buildings and then try to destroy them in blazing infernos. There’s the net-zero energy house. There’s a decades-old wall just for studying how different types of stone ages. And there’s the bunch of laboratories 12 meters below the ground on a structurally isolated floor that is cushioned by pneumatic air-springs which prevent any geological jostling from disturbing super-sensitive scientific instruments and the assembly of atomic structures. Last but not least are the scads of scientific gadgets, doodads, and data that scientists use to measure, study, and standardize our natural and manufactured world.

On a recent sweltering day in June, I headed to the administration building. It might sound boring, but this building houses the agency’s rich archive and museum of NIST treasures. Since that agency was founded in 1901—then called the National Bureau of Standards—NIST has amassed a collection of scientific instruments, objects, and historic artifacts unlike any other.

Perhaps the largest and most striking piece sits in the building’s lobby: a warped steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center. It’s overwhelmingly tall and as emotionally heavy as one might expect. But it’s also very curved. The once perfectly straight beam was sent to NIST so the agency’s scientists could help figure out why it lost its shape. It’s common for NIST to receive bits and pieces of national tragedies to understand and prevent them; the agency also has a critical piece of the Silver Bridge, which collapsed during rush hour in 1967, killing 46.

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FCC Grants OneWeb Approval To Launch Over 700 Satellites For 'Space Internet'

science - Posted On:2017-06-24 03:14:57 Source: slashdot

OneWeb has been granted approval from the FCC to launch a network of internet-beaming satellites into orbit. FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement: "Humans have long sought inspiration from the stars, from the ancient Egyptians orienting the pyramids toward certain stars to the Greeks using constellations to write their mythology. In modern times, we've done the same, with over 1,000 active satellites currently in orbit. Today, the FCC harnesses that inspiration as we seek to make the promise of high-speed internet access a reality for more Americans, partly through the skies..." The Verge reports: OneWeb plans to launch a constellation of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) technology in order to provide global, high-speed broadband. The company's goal has far-reaching implications, and would provide internet to rural and hard-to-reach areas that currently have little access to internet connectivity. Additionally, OneWeb has a targets of "connecting every unconnected school" by 2022, and "bridging the digital divide" by 2027. According to OneWeb, the company plans to launch an initial 10 production satellites in early 2018, which, pending tests, will then be followed by a full launch as early as 2019. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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'Chiropractors Are Bullshit'

science - Posted On:2017-06-23 20:14:58 Source: slashdot

From an article on The Outline, submitted by two readers: If you're one of the approximately 80 percent of Americans who have suffered from back pain, you may have been referred to a chiropractor for medical help. In the modern-day internet landscape, you'll find chiropractic celebrities like Dr. Josh Axe (1.7 million Facebook followers), Dr. Billy DeMoss (20,000 Facebook followers), and Dr. Eric Berg (472,000 YouTube subscribers) giving advice that goes beyond managing spinal issues. Both in their offices and on social media, chiropractors have adapted to a marketplace that's demanding more than just pain management: they extol the virtues of an "alkaline diet," tell you how to manage stress with detoxing, and wax scientific about the adrenal gland. [...] Chiropractic care, I'm sorry to say, is little more than the buffoonery of a 19th-century lunatic who derived most of his medical theory from seances. It has not evolved much since its creation. Chiropractic beliefs are dangerously far removed from mainstream medicine, and the vocation's practices have been linked to strokes, herniated discs, and even death. Chiropractors can't replace your doctor, and I'm amazed that they're still even allowed to practice. [...] Though some chiropractors are now making an effort to introduce evidence-based practices into their treatment, chiropractic as a whole hasn't evolved like other areas of medicine -- with hypotheses, experimentation, and peer review. Instead, it was birthed by a strange combination of hocus pocus, guesswork, and strongly held religious beliefs. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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SpaceX Successfully Launches and Lands a Used Rocket For the Second Time

science - Posted On:2017-06-23 16:44:59 Source: slashdot

SpaceX has successfully launched and landed a recycled Falcon 9 rocket for the second time. "The rocket's first stage -- the 14-story-tall core that houses the fuel and the rocket's main engines -- touched down on one of the company's autonomous drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after taking off from a launchpad at nearby Cape Canaveral, Florida," reports The Verge. From the report: This particular rocket previously flew in January, when it was used to put 10 satellites into orbit for communications company Iridium. The rocket then landed on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX retrieved the rocket and spent the next few months refurbishing it in preparation for today's launch. This afternoon, it was used to launch Bulgaria's first communications satellite for TV service provider Bulsatcom. The landing wasn't easy, though. Because the rocket had to push BulgariaSat-1 to such a high orbit, the first stage experienced more force and heat during reentry than any other Falcon 9, according to a tweet from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Musk even warned that there was a "good chance [the] rocket booster doesn't make it back." Shortly after the landing, though, Musk returned to Twitter to add that the rocket booster used "almost all of the emergency crush core," which helps soften the landing. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Medical records join revenge porn, credit card numbers for Google removal

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-23 16:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Alphabet Inc.'s Google has now added personal medical records to the list of things it’s willing to remove from search results upon request.

Starting this week, individuals can ask Google to delete from search results “confidential, personal medical records of private people” that have been posted without consent. The quiet move, reported by Bloomberg, adds medical records to the short list of things that Google polices, including revenge porn, sites containing content that violates copyright laws, and those with personal financial information, including credit card numbers.

The policy change appears aptly timed. Earlier this month, a congressionally mandated task force—The Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force report—reported that all aspects of health IT security are in critical condition. And last month, the WannaCry ransomware worm affected 65 hospitals in the UK.

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SpaceX completes first half of its weekend doubleheader

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-23 15:44:59 Source: arstechnica

3:30pm ET Update: Under nearly perfect skies in Florida, SpaceX successfully launched the BulgariaSat-1 on its way to geostationary transfer orbit Friday afternoon. The "flight proven" booster made its second flight, and provides further indication that reusable rocketry isn't going to be an aerospace fad. It is, rather, likely the future.

The company also demonstrated its increasing proficiency with regard to booster landings. Although Elon Musk didn't provide technical details, he said the reentry force and heating faced by this booster would be greater than that of any previous flight. Despite this technically challenging, three-engine landing, the rocket made it back to a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

The first-stage booster was singed, smoking and listing—and near the edge of the droneship. But the rocket had made it home in one piece. "Rocket is extra toasty and hit the deck hard (used almost all of the emergency crush core), but otherwise good," Musk tweeted a few minutes following the landing.

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Watch live: SpaceX goes for first half of a doubleheader launch weekend

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-23 14:45:00 Source: arstechnica

2:30pm ET Update: During preparations for today's launch, SpaceX engineers decided to run additional ground system checks, although the company reported that the Falcon 9 rocket and its payload are in good health. This reset the estimated liftoff time to an hour into the launch window, 3:10pm ET. The webcast below should go live about 15 minutes before that time.

Additionally, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has interjected a little bit of intrigue into this afternoon's launch by noting on Twitter, "Falcon 9 will experience its highest ever reentry force and heat in today's launch. Good chance rocket booster doesn't make it back." We should soon find out.

Original entry: It's a big weekend for SpaceX, the California rocket company that has already had a big year. On Friday, the company will attempt to launch BulgariaSat-1, a commercial communications satellite, to a geostationary orbit. On Sunday, the company will attempt to launch a second batch of Iridium satellites into low Earth orbit. If successful, this weekend would put the company on pace for a record-smashing number of missions this year.

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Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop $120 'Bio-Frequency Healing' Sticker Packs Get Shot Down by NASA

science - Posted On:2017-06-23 14:14:59 Source: slashdot

From a report: Goop had claimed the costly "Body Vibes" stickers were "made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut's vitals during wear" and because of that were able to "target imbalances" of the human body's energy frequencies when they get thrown out of whack, reports Gizmodo. The thing is, NASA confirmed to Gizmodo that they "do not have any conductive carbon material lining the spacesuits" of astronauts. Further reading: The unbearable wrongness of Gwyneth Paltrow - The Outline. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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A short exercise in middle school sets minorities on a path to college

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-23 11:30:01 Source: arstechnica

In the US, a college education makes a huge difference for most people. It opens up lots of career opportunities, many of them at higher than average pay. The better economic opportunities it provides are associated with things like better health and a longer life expectancy.

Unfortunately, the US population doesn't have equal access to college. Black people attend the most selective colleges in the US at one-fifth the rate of whites and Latinos at a third the rate of whites. There are a lot of systemic reasons for this gap—persistent poverty, poor access to good preparatory schools, discrimination, and more. A poor family moving to a wealthy neighborhood is enough to improve their children's college attendance rate.

But a team of psychologists has now found there may be an easier way of boosting kids' chances of attending a good school. It's a simple exercise that can be done a few times over the year during middle school. Despite their simplicity, these exercises stay with minority students for years and help them get to college at the same rate as whites.

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SpaceX goes for a launch doubleheader this weekend

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-23 09:44:56 Source: arstechnica

It's a big weekend for SpaceX, the California rocket company that has already had a big year. On Friday, the company will attempt to launch BulgariaSat-1, a commercial communications satellite, to a geostationary orbit. On Sunday, the company will attempt to launch a second batch of Iridium satellites into low Earth orbit. If successful, this weekend would put the company on pace for a record-smashing number of missions this year.

The BulgariaSat-1 launch was delayed from earlier this week due to a payload fairing issue, but that appears to have been resolved. The flight is notable because it marks only the second time the company has flown a "used" rocket back into space. The five-month turnaround on this booster has been much shorter than SpaceX's first reflight in March—this first stage was last used during a January 14th launch from California.

Friday's launch will occur at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where weather conditions appear to be nearly ideal for a rocket launch. The launch window opens at 2:10pm ET (7:10pm BST), and will remain open for two hours. Following stage separation, and about eight minutes after today's launch, the Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt a landing on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship.

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Researchers optimize a powered exoskeleton to cut energy used in walking

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-23 07:14:57 Source: arstechnica

Exoskeletons are a common feature in the natural world. But in recent years, scientists have started experimenting with adding them to humans. Powered exoskeletons hold the prospect of helping people with mobility problems resume a normal life. And there's always the prospect of giving ourselves super-human strength, like Ripley in Aliens. Even without power, an exoskeleton can redistribute the energy from our normal motions more efficiently.

But no two people are quite the same—they differ not only in physical proportions, but they often have different strides or styles of walking. So how do you match your exoskeleton to a user's peculiarities?

The answer, according to a team at Carnegie Mellon University, is the combination of a genetic algorithm and a treadmill. After a few rounds of optimization, a powered ankle assist had most users walking in an energy-efficient manner. And, by changing the conditions, it learned how to help people walk uphill or carry heavier loads, too.

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ESA Approves Gravitational-Wave Hunting Spacecraft For 2034

science - Posted On:2017-06-23 03:14:58 Source: slashdot

The European Space Agency has approved the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna mission designed to study gravitational waves in space. The spacecraft is slated for launch in in 2034. New Scientist reports: LISA will be made up of three identical satellites orbiting the sun in a triangle formation, each 2.5 million kilometers from the next. The sides of the triangle will be powerful lasers bounced to and fro between the spacecraft. As large objects like black holes move through space they cause gravitational waves, ripples which stretch and squeeze space-time. The LISA satellites will detect how these waves warp space via tiny changes in the distance the laser beams travel. In order to detect these minuscule changes, on scales less than a trillionth of a meter, LISA will have to shrug off cosmic rays and the particles and light from the sun. The LISA Pathfinder mission, a solo probe launched in December 2015, proved that this sensitivity was possible and galvanized researchers working to realize the full LISA mission. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Scientists Discover How To Stop Luggage From Toppling On the Race Through the Airport

science - Posted On:2017-06-22 23:44:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists have worked out why suitcases tend to to rock violently from one wheel to the other until they overturn on the race through the airport. This most pressing of modern mysteries was taken on by physicists in Paris, who devised a scale model of a two-wheeled suitcase rolling on a treadmill and backed up their observations with a pile of equations and references to holonomic restraints, finite perturbations and the morphing of bifurcation diagrams. Fortunately for non-physicists, the findings can be reduced to simpler terms. For the suitcase to rock it had to hit a bump or be struck in some other manner; the faster the suitcase was being pulled, the more minor the bump needed to set it off. So far, so obvious. But Sylvain Courrech du Pont wanted to know more. Why did a rocking suitcase swerve and make such violent movements that it might eventually topple over? After more treadmill tests and more equations, the answer popped up: because a suitcase's handle pulls from the middle and the wheels are at its sides, the suitcase swerves inwards whenever it tilts up on one wheel. If the rocking overcomes the dampening effect that happens when each wheel touches the ground again, the suitcase will keep on rocking or eventually flip over. In conclusion, the researchers discovered that "when a suitcase starts to rock out of control, the correct response is not to slow down but to pull it faster." The scientists have published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Unexpected Viking toilet discovery leads to controversy

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-22 20:44:59 Source: arstechnica

Archaeologists excavating at an ancient Viking settlement in southeast Denmark thought they were dealing with a typical country town from the Middle Ages. Then a single toilet changed everything.

Museum of Southeastern Denmark archaeology researcher Anna Beck was digging up what she thought was a semi-subterranean workshop, only to find that she was knee-deep in... yeah, you guessed it. She'd found a layer of medieval poop.

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Shareholders fail to oust Mylan board, but down-voted massive salaries

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-22 18:59:59 Source: arstechnica

Mylan shareholders today did not unseat the drug maker’s board of directors, despite calls for an ouster over the EpiPen pricing scandals and remarkably large executive salaries.

In a vote during an annual meeting in Amsterdam, shareholders approved all incumbent nominees, including Chief Executive Heather Bresch, President Rajiv Malik, and Chairman Robert Coury, who earned a nearly $100 million salary last year amid intense backlash over EpiPen price hikes. The majority of shareholders did, however, reject such executive compensation plans—in a nonbinding vote.

In recent weeks, a group of shareholders had campaigned to overthrow the board for what it called “significant reputational and financial harm” and “new lows in corporate stewardship.” The disgruntled shareholders were backed by an influential advisory firm, the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which agreed that the EpiPen price increases and eye-popping executive salaries caused “significant destruction in shareholder value” and “long-term reputational damage.”

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Mylan board survives shareholder vote, but gets pushback on its compensation

Scientific Method - Posted On:2017-06-22 18:44:59 Source: arstechnica

Mylan shareholders today did not unseat the drug maker’s board of directors, despite calls for an ouster over the EpiPen pricing scandals and remarkably large executive salaries.

In a vote during an annual meeting in Amsterdam, shareholders approved all incumbent nominees, including Chief Executive Heather Bresch, President Rajiv Malik, and Chairman Robert Coury, who earned a nearly $100 million salary last year amid intense backlash over EpiPen price hikes. The majority of shareholders did, however, reject such executive compensation plans—in a nonbinding vote.

In recent weeks, a group of shareholders had campaigned to overthrow the board for what it called “significant reputational and financial harm” and “new lows in corporate stewardship.” The disgruntled shareholders were backed by an influential advisory firm, the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which agreed that the EpiPen price increases and eye-popping executive salaries caused “significant destruction in shareholder value” and “long-term reputational damage.”

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