We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Heroes and cowards

Over a period of years we at Samizdata have noted cases of cowardice in those who are paid to rescue fellow humans in mortal danger. At least one organization maintains that level of bravery. The US Coast Guard motto is: “You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.” This is why I have no sympathy whatever for those who follow ‘regulations’ and hide behind them rather than do their jobs. If they did not wish to put their life on the line to save others, they should have found a different line of work.

If you want to see what real courage looks like, watch the early part of this documentary about an airline crash in DC. It was caught on camera and it shows a standard to which all rescue personnel should aspire.

Incidentally… I was working on a job in Falls Church at the time and I believe I had been across that bridge earlier the same day.

ULA is not going down without a fight

The ULA (United Launch Alliance) press conference is worth viewing if you are interested in the space industry. Their upper-stage engine design is quite interesting, partly because they are looking at the ability to store propellants in orbit for long-ish periods of time. They have now pushed the rest of the camel of orbital refuelling depots on to the national scene.

From a business perspective, they have taken pages out of SpaceX’s play book. The new rocket will be done with IR&D funds and once built it will have a published price schedule. Both are considerable breaks with the past.

A number of the big players have tried hard to down play this idea. A few years ago NASA tried to deep-six their report that showed such depots were better for deep space than the ‘program of record’. The effort failed and the report got out anyway and I have it.

I am considerably less excited by other elements of their vehicle and their time scale. They may have to do better than partial reuse by 2023 to survive in what is rapidly becoming a ferociously competitive market for cheap launch.

Private asteroid search telescope rises from the ashes

Last fall when the Orbital Sciences Corporation rocket blew up in spectacular fashion, one of the payloads that went with it was the Arkyd space telescope nanosat.

Unlike their giant billion dollar big brothers, the Arkyd group use modern technology and methods to the fullest. They have the flexibility of a small company and they do things faster, better and cheaper. So much so that they have a replacement nanosat not just built, but ready for launch on Monday’s SpaceX CRS-6 flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

From there, it will be ejected from the Japanese Kibo module at some point in the coming months when ISS crew time is available. Here is Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki giving the details. Just for full disclosure, I put a hundred dollars where my mouth is during their Kickstarter about two years ago.

The Los Angeles County Air Show

At long last I have managed to scrape out a half hour of free time to bring you some samples of a marvellous event. Although it was the LA County Airshow, it was no where near LA the city. LA County is probably the size of some small countries and certainly contains more environments.

The Bitcoin L-39 shows they are doing well and are my kind of people!

The Bitcoin L-39 shows they are doing well and are my kind of people!

The BitCoin L-39 pilot seemed to have a penchant for flying upside down and spent a lot of his time in that attitude.

The BitCoin L-39 pilot seemed to have a penchant for flying upside down and spent a lot of his time in that attitude.

→ Continue reading: The Los Angeles County Air Show

An Armstrong Whitworth Argosy?

I have not had time to process the photos I need for a good photo blog of the LA County Airshow from about ten days ago, but I am going to push this photo ahead of the bunch. The aircraft in question was not a part of the show; it was parked way back where you need your maximum lens extension to get a fair look. It sits behind a C-97 and not far from a C-119, so I was of course looking for something USAF or USAAF from that era even though I knew of no aircraft of this format in American service. It looked somewhat Russian or British so I tried that approach. The match to the Argosy seems conclusive to me, but I have no idea what one of those is doing at Fox Field outside Lancaster, California.

A C-97 and an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy at Fox Field In Lancaster, California

A C-97 and an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy at Fox Field In Lancaster, California. Copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved.

Yet another reason to look forward to pilotless civil aviation

This is too nightmarish to write about at length, but it suggests yet another upside to taking the human out of the loop: avoiding a CFIT of the worst kind possible.

The effable sadness of the left

The left has gone so far down its own black hole that it has become a caricature of itself. Read it and laugh.

SLS cathedral building

Rand Simberg points out yet more reasons why the Space Launch System is nothing but a cathedral building jobs program.

I would disagree. Cathedral building at least produced something of beauty that lasted for centuries. SLS is more like a strip mine where there are no resources to be had. It keeps loads of people working digging the hole… until the public catches on to the fact that there is nothing there.

Samizdata quote of the day

Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho.

Elon Musk

The correct response to this is…

The correct response to this is…

“I should give a shit why exactly? But please leave your name, address and accomplishments so I can critique your sartorial style in the unlikely event you are ever involved in something never done before in human history.”

But Matt, listen to me buddy… never apologise. Seriously, your friends do not need it and your enemies will still hate you regardless, so either ignore your detractors, or better yet, tell them to shove it.

hat tip: Darryl Watson

Another kind of creative destruction: the technology driving drones-as-an-industry is…

…mobile phone technology!

VICE has a very interesting report, looking at at how the US military is adjusting to the astonishingly rapid proliferation and deployment of cheap drone technology. Faced with using multi million dollar weapons platforms firing munitions costing hundreds of thousands of dollars against these things, they are seeking more feasible ways to counter air threats costing thousands or even mere hundreds of dollars. And the threat is not hypothetical: even the daesh Islamic State claims fairly plausibly to be using cheap reconnaissance drones right now, and Hezbollah appears to have fairly sophisticated armed drones (fast forward to 1:25 or thereabouts to see the boom and hear the invocations to Admiral Ackbar or whatever). We really are entering a new era not just commercially but also militarily.

I want one of these!!!

I want one of these!!!