You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.
To the question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”
Atheist: Natural Morals, Real Meaning, Credible Truth

12 January, 2012


I've worked in this building for over 18 years. It just dawned on me this morning.

Risky Rescue for Crippled Air Force Satellite

A couple of more articles on the AEHF save.

Again, no mention of who the real space heroes are, just chest thumping from a space cadet.
This google link to an article in the UK Register is more like it. At least the headline contains the appropriate amount of drama …
Aside from the fact that every time I read this story, it seems to become more and more disconnected from reality.
I was about to make a snarky comment, but realize that everyone in this email can spot the technical errors, distortions and most importantly know the true story of which Lockheed Martin should be extremely proud.

This is the best version and probably the source of the others:

Another version, pretty crappy.
Risky Rescue for Crippled Air Force Satellite
Wired, by David Axe, January 3, 2012
It was an epic space rescue that, in audacity and risk, echoed NASA's campaign to save the astronauts
aboard the doomed Apollo 13 moon mission. The biggest difference between the 1970 Apollo operation
and the 14-month recovery of AEHF-1, an Air Force communications satellite, is that money was the only
thing immediately at stake in the latter.
Granted, it was quite a lot of money: around $2 billion. And the satellite's loss would also set back the
Pentagon's efforts to revamp its communications infrastructure as battle becomes more bandwidth intensive.
The details of AEHF-1′s rescue, completed in October this year, are only now becoming clear as
members of the Air Force team speak out. Saving the pricey, long-in-development comms satellite —
one of a planned six-craft constellation meant to relay data between military forces scattered across the
globe — involved some bold decision-making, a lot of creative engineering, not a little bit of luck and,
last but not least, a steady supply of pizzas delivered to the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los
Angeles Air Force Base, where military and contract space operators worked around the clock to plan
the satellite's recovery.
The brand-new Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite (pictured) was 140 miles
over the Earth's surface before controllers knew anything was wrong. As far as the space operators
knew, the Lockheed Martin-built satellite was functioning perfectly. It was Oct. 15, 2010, just one day
after the 7-ton AEHF-1 had blasted into orbit atop an Atlas rocket. The controllers planned to activate
the satellite's hydrazine engine in order to alter the spacecraft's flightpath, gradually transitioning from
an oblong elliptical orbit to a circular, geosynchronous one allowing steady coverage of the Earth below.
But when the operators ordered the engine to ignite, nothing happened. They tried again, still nothing.
They didn't know it at the time, but a fuel line had become clogged. The blockage "was most likely
caused by a small piece of cloth inadvertently left in the line during the manufacturing process,"
according to the Government Accountability Office.
Repeated attempts to fire the engine very nearly caused an explosion. Just in time, David Madden, who
oversees comms satellites at the Space and Missile Systems Center, consulted with his engineers and
told the operators to stop trying the engine. "We're very, very fortunate that satellite didn't blow up,"
Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, told Air Force magazine.
AEHF-1 was intact but stranded in a slowly decaying and useless orbit.
Madden told his engineers to figure out some way to salvage AEHF-1 — and not to leave their room at
the Space and Missile Systems Center until they did. "We literally were shoving pizza under the door so
that these guys could keep working," Madden recalled.
A week later, they had a plan. Lt. Gen. John Sheridan, then the space center commander, approved it.
The basic idea was to use the satellite's small thrusters, intended for minor course corrections, to shift
the orbit thousands of miles. It would take 450 separate maneuvers, carefully managed over a period of
14 months. "AEHF-1 will be able to get to where it's supposed to go," analyst Mark Stout noted. "It'll just
take a year longer than planned."
It was risky. "There's no instruction manual for how to do that," Madden said of the thruster strategy.
"It's basically an art."
As the controllers inched AEHF-1 towards its correct orbit, Air Force officials began negotiations with
Lockheed, seeking financial compensation. "It should not have happened," Deputy Undersecretary of
the Air Force for Space Programs Richard McKinney said of AEHF-1′s fuel-line blockage.
Soon, three new complications arose with the crippled satellite.
First, with each firing of its thrusters, AEHF-1 was held stationary, exposing it to greater amounts of
sunlight — and potentially overheating the spacecraft. Madden's people had to devise new maneuvers,
periodically flipping the satellite to allow hot components to cool down.
Second, AEHF-1 risked running out of gas. Engineers wrote new software meant "to save every ounce of
fuel," according to Air Force's detailed account of the rescue.
Finally, the orbital shift required crossing paths with scores or even hundreds of other spacecraft. Air
Force controllers from a separate unit handled traffic management while Madden and his people
focused on the fuel and heat issues.
On Oct. 24, AEHF-1 reached its originally planned orbit. Testing began soon afterward. The Air Force
expects to bring the satellite into service in March. Meanwhile, two more AEHFs are slated to launch in
After an initial bout of very bad fortune, the Air Force got "very lucky" with AEHF-1, service
Undersecretary Erin Conaton said.
The space and flying branch might need that luck again very soon. Lacking its own production and
launch facilities, the Air Force has no choice to but to trust Lockheed to get AEHF-1′s sister spacecraft
right, Stout wrote. "While Lockheed is no doubt embarrassed, I don't think they're quaking in their boots
as another five AEHFs are in the queue."
Somewhere in Los Angeles, AEHF-1′s rescuers are no doubt holding their breaths, hoping they won't
have to repeat the yearlong feat of engineering derring-do that saved the Air Force $2 billion and
preserved the Pentagon's space communications systems.

07 January, 2012

Obama is destroying America?

I was reading some comments (trolling) at CNSNews (yeah, what was I thinking?  The stupid! It burns!) and kept seeing the comment "Obama is destroying this country".  Really?  How so?  The right has been saying this for years and I finally wanted to try to understand why they think that.  It wasn't hard to find some blogs and articles but the paragraph below from seems to nail a basis for the fear.

"Liberals think that the U.S. is arrogant and needs to be taken down a notch or three. Liberals think that U.S. history is filled with nothing but evil and any attacks on the U.S. are richly deserved. Liberals think that theU.S. was founded by evil, selfish, hateful white men who were only interested in their own power and didn’t want to empower others. So, liberals want the founder’s memory eviscerated. Liberals think that ourcapitalist system needs to be eliminated. In short, liberals value nothing about the U.S. except its tradition of self-actuation, liberty, and its freedom to re-make itself and they want to use that capacity to erase everything that makes the U.S.A. the U.S.A. Once that is done they want to build a U.S. to their own liking using the very freedoms they used to lay her low."

So, I want to take this apart.   My opinion here as a liberal, not doing any research.

  • The US is arrogant and needs to be taken down a notch:  I think the US has made some mistakes and backed some bad people for purely selfish reasons.  We have done and I expect we will do much good in the world and want to continue to do more good with fewer mistakes.
  • US history is full of evil:  No, we have done many good things and we do not deserve punishing attacks like 9/11 or whatever they imagine.  We do deserve criticism like any other country.  Because we are the most influential, we are the biggest target and get more than other countries.  Are we perfect?  No.  Can we improve?  Yes.  
  • US was founded by evil selfish white men:  It was founded by white men, yes.  Evil?  Not at all!  Jefferson, Pain, Madison, Adams, Franklin and others weren't evil!  No liberal thinks that!  The Constitution has got to be one of the greatest documents ever written.  Certainly greater than any holy book.  The fact that this is a capitalist country is not evil in itself, but it is evident that capitalism requires control by government.  The trick is to balance the control properly.  Don't want to empower others?  If I like the Constitution and don't think corporations are people how is that not wanting to empower others?  This makes no sense.
  • Liberals want the founders memory eviscerated:  Wow.  I think he is making stuff up out of his own fears.  Where has a liberal said that?
  • Our capitalist system needs to be eliminated:  No.  It needs controls to prevent corporations from abusing the power they have over people.  Unchecked capitalism has no morals.  Again, the power of government is a tricky thing and in this country, we haven't succeeded in getting it right and because of the fears the right has about government, it is hard to get consensus in this divided country.  Capitalism isn't perfect but I know of no better economic system.
  • Liberals value nothing about the US:  No, not at all!  What makes the USA the USA?  Is it the fact that health care is a for-profit industry?  That corporations are people?  That education is mediocre? That corporate profit is all important?  That most wealth and wages are concentrated in 1% of the population?  I don't think so.  I think these things need to change because they are not American values and goals and certainly not the America the founders were founding.  I do value highly my rights to opinion, not to have religion, freedom of speech, freedom to pursue my way of life and ability to go where I want.  Fearful right wing policies have done more harm to these freedoms and rights than anything Obama has ever done.
So Obama is destroying America?  If you really believe the above is what liberals think and want, then you would think Obama is doing this.  The things the right thinks he is doing to accomplish this is mostly exaggerated and fear based.  Like growing government.  Santorum said Obama is "expanding federal government" out of control.  Really?  Federal employment has been dropping for years.  The budget has been falling with respect to GDP.  How is government expanding?  Regulations?  Is that it?  Then say it.  But that is what capitalism needs.  Uncontrolled capitalism has no morals.   If this is what Obama  and liberals are against, then so be it.  But uncontrolled capitalism is not America.

05 January, 2012

Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | The fight to save AEHF 1 produces remarkable rescue

Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | The fight to save AEHF 1 produces remarkable rescue

Yes it was... oh... well... Lockheed caused the problem and performed the rescue. Must be why Lockheed wasn't mentioned. 

-1 + 1 = 0

"The best option was using the craft's much smaller hydrazine thrusters to lift the orbit a bit, then rely on the exotic electric thrusters in a way never planned -- firing them for days, weeks and months as their whisper-like push eventually accumulated to propel AEHF 1 where it was supposed to go.
It was an unprecedented rescue campaign, like no other in recent memory for Air Force spacecraft. But after 14 months and nearly 500 maneuvers, AEHF 1 finally reached a circular geosynchronous orbit on Oct. 24, 2011.
"The tremendous demonstration of engineering excellence, superior teamwork and remarkable creativity truly is what saved this vehicle," said Madden.
The craft unfurled its antenna wings in the final days of October before commencing four months of in-orbit testing that is expected to last through March."