Return Of The Dustbuster From Outer Space

******************************UPDATE******************************

Touchdown, the crowd goes wild!

Space Probe Returns After 7-Year Asteroid Voyage

A Japanese space probe landed in the Australian outback on Monday after a 7-year voyage to an asteroid, lighting up the night sky and bringing what scientists hope is a rock sample, witnesses said.

The Hayabusa probe blazed a spectacular trail as it came in to hit the ground at a blistering speed, ending a journey to the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa that began in 2003.

An Australian defense spokesman told Reuters scientists monitoring the probe’s return had confirmed it had landed and identified its location, but it would not be retrieved until daylight. Only then would it become clear if a capsule thought to contain the precious sample was intact.

See also:
Space probe returns to Earth from trip to asteroid
Japan’s ‘Falcon’ Returns After Seven-Year Asteroid Mission
Probe returns to Earth after asteroid landing
NASA Aircraft Videos Hayabusa Re-Entry
Hayabusa completes fiery return to Earth
Mission Accomplished For Japan’s Asteroid Explorer Hayabusa

/now we just need to find out exactly what, if anything, Hayabusa brought back

******************************END UPDATE******************************

A long time ago, in a country far far away, the Japanese sent a spacecraft . . .

to land on an asteroid that looks like a giant space turd . . .

and bring back some dirt.

Japanese Probe Set to Land in Australian Outback Sunday, Returning First Asteroid Sample to Earth

A Japanese meteor-investigator probe will become a meteor itself when it returns to Earth over the weekend. The Hayabusa probe is screaming toward Earth at asteroid speed,
according to scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Scientists hope it is carrying samples obtained from a 2005 visit to the small asteroid Itokawa.

The probe’s sample-return capsule will separate from the main probe and reenter the atmosphere at 7.58 miles per second early Sunday. Scientists from NASA, the Japanese Space Agency and other organizations are planning to watch its fiery descent to learn more about how objects behave and break up during high-speed reentry.

When Hayabusa (“falcon” in Japanese) reaches an altitude of 190,000 feet, its heat shield will reach temperatures of more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while the gas surrounding the capsule will reach 13,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hotter than the surface of the sun, NASA says. It is planned to fall over a large unpopulated area of Australia called the Woomera Prohibited Area.

There’s no guarantee of success — actually, scientists don’t even know if Hayabusa is carrying anything. The craft has been plagued with problems for five years.

It made two touchdowns on Itokawa in 2005 to collect rocks and soil, but apparently failed to fire a metal bullet designed to dislodge the samples. Then, a fuel leak left its chemical propellant tanks empty, so engineers had to use Hayabusa’s ion engines to guide it home. Still, Hayabusa was the first spacecraft to land on a celestial object other than the moon and take off again.

See also:
Japan’s “Falcon” Spacecraft Returns—Asteroid Dust On Board?
Japan’s Asteroid Mission Set For Fiery Re-entry Over Australia
Japan Itokawa asteroid mission set for re-entry
Asteroid spacecraft makes its way back to Earth
Japanese space probe returns home Sunday
Japan asteroid probe to make historic return to Earth
Hayabusa just hours from home
Scientists wait in Outback for Japanese spacecraft
Japan’s ‘Falcon’ Set to Land After Seven-Year Asteroid Mission
Ames Research Center
Ames Research Center
JAXA | Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Hayabusa
Hayabusa

Well, I wish JAXA luck and hope they retrieve lots of asteroid dirt to play with. Otherwise, it’ll be a lot like Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault.

/let’s all hope Hayabusa didn’t pick up any cosmic hitchhikers like in The Andromeda Strain

All Aboard!

House to Hold Crucial Health Care Vote Sunday

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to hold a crucial vote on Sunday on sweeping health care reform legislation. President Barack Obama has postponed his planned Asia-Pacific trip to Indonesia and Australia for a second time to be in Washington, D.C. as Congress votes on his top domestic priority after a year of debate and wrangling.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday that President Obama is confident that the health care reform legislation will soon be the law of the land in the United States.

“I think health care is going to pass the House on Sunday. I believe shortly it will pass the Senate, and the president will be able to sign all of it into law,” he said.

The president postponed his planned overseas trip until June to oversee the culmination of a year-long effort to pass health care reform legislation over the united opposition of every single Republican lawmaker in both the House and the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled what Democrats hope will be the last, corrected version of a $940-billion health care reform bill, which will extend health insurance coverage to some 32 million people who are currently uninsured. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released figures Thursday estimating the legislation will reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over its first 10 years.

House Speaker Pelosi, who is still trying to nail down the 216 votes she needs for the bill to pass the House, was very pleased with the CBO numbers, which may help to win over fiscally-conservative Democrats who face tough re-election battles in November.

“For the health and well-being of American people, for the fiscal soundness of America’s budget, for seniors, for our young people, for women, for small businesses and for competitiveness we will make history and we will make progress by passing this legislation,” she said.

If it passes, the massive health care overhaul will re-structure one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and for the first time will require that most Americans carry health insurance and penalize medium-sized and large companies that don’t provide health insurance coverage for their employees. It will also place restrictions on insurance companies, for example by not allowing them to exclude people because of pre-existing medical conditions.

Democrats are using a complicated legislative process to pass the bill. First, the House will have to approve a Senate bill that many of its Democratic members strongly dislike. Then both chambers will need to quickly pass a package of corrections to the bill agreed to in negotiations with the White House.

Republican lawmakers have opposed the health care bill from the outset, saying it is too big, too expensive, and that it inserts government bureaucrats into American’s medical decisions.

House Minority leader John Boehner has vowed that Republicans will “do everything that we can do to make sure this bill never, ever, ever passes”, and some Republicans in the Senate say they have been studying Senate rules to do whatever they can to block the legislation if it arrives back in the Senate next week.

H.R. 4872 – Reconciliation Act of 2010

CBO Score


See also:
Democrats Post Health Care Bill Online, Setting Up Possible Sunday Vote
US Congress Waging Fierce Final Battle over Health Care Reform
Health-care reform debate gets more intense with possible weekend vote looming
March Madness
Obama Deploys Personal Presidential Touch in Health Care Push
Holy War Erupts Among Catholics Over Abortion Language in Health Care Bill
Republicans mock ‘tweak’ to new $940 billion health care bill
Republicans Ready Strategy to Scuttle Health Bill, as Democrats Push Forward
What happens if health care reform dies?

/Michael Ramirez

The good news is that Obama and Pelosi still don’t have the 216 votes, as of the time of this posting, and there’s still time for you to act.

Stop Obamacare now!

The bad news is that this massive trillion dollar cluster[expletive deleted] of a Democrat national debt busting boondoggle is not permanently dead yet.

/God help us all if they actually manage to pass this abomination

Caught Pants Down With All Our Eggs In One Basket

Remember less than a year ago when Obama and Robert Gates cancelled the F-22 Raptor progam, the world’s premier air dominance fighter, which was already in service, because it was a “waste [of] billions of taxpayers dollars”? In their infinite wisdom, the dynamic defense duo decided to gamble almost America’s entire air combat future on a single, unproven design, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, that has yet to be put into production and won’t enter service in the foreseeable future.

Well, guess what?

GAO analyst says cost overruns, delays continue to plague F-35 program

A congressional auditor said Thursday that the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, “continues to struggle with increased costs and slowed progress,” leading to “substantial risk” that the defense contractor will not be able to build the jet on time or deliver as many aircraft as expected.

Michael Sullivan, the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s top analyst on Lockheed Martin’s jet fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightning II, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing that the cost of the program has increased substantially and that development is 2 1/2 years behind schedule.

The United States plans to buy about 2,400 of the fighter jets for the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Navy. The projected cost for the program appears to have increased to $323 billion from $231 billion in 2001, when Bethesda-based Lockheed won the deal, according to Sullivan. Eight other countries — Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway — also plan to buy the jets.

The cost to build the plane is now expected to be $112 million per aircraft, according to a GAO auditor.

Sullivan said the program’s “negative outcomes” were “foreseeable as events have unfolded over several years.” He said that the cost increases are largely because Lockheed and the Pentagon are “trying to invent things and build them at the same time,” leading to costly changes in how the plane is being developed, built and tested. That continues to take “more time, money and effort than budgeted.”

He criticized the Defense Department, saying it “does not have a full, comprehensive cost estimate for completing the program,” and noted that it has “fallen short” of its expectations year after year. He said, “Constant program changes and turbulence have made it difficult to accurately and confidently measure progress and maturity of the aircraft system.”

See also:
Pentagon: F-35 fighter jet cost doubles
UPDATE 2-Price of Lockheed’s F-35 fighter soars
F-35 Fighters Now Double the Cost
Cost of F-35 Has Risen 60% to 90%, Military Says
Pentagon tells Senate panel that F-35 is more than 50 percent over cost
DoD: F-35 costs rise at least 50 percent
Joint Fighter Faces Critical Period
Donley: No JSF Alternatives Exist
Air Force: F-35 jet delayed by 2 years
Air Force: F-35 will be delayed, to cost significantly more
Joint Strike Fighter
F-35 Lightning II | Lockheed Martin
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
Joint Strike Fighter Program

It continues to amaze me as to how they fit all those government clowns into such a tiny car.

/as far as birds go, it’s quite clear now that one F-22 Raptor, already in the hand, is worth way more than two F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, still in the bush

Dodging Bullets

Surprise Asteroid Makes Near-Miss of Earth

The rock, estimated to be no more than 200 feet wide, zoomed past our planet at an altitude of 40,000 miles at 1:44 p.m. universal time — or 8:44 EST.

Dubbed 2009 DD45, it was discovered only on Friday by Australian astronomers.

Forty thousand miles may sound like a lot, but it’s only about one-seventh of the way to the moon, and less than twice as far out as many telecommunications satellites.

Had 2009 DD45 hit the Earth, it would have exploded on or near the surface with the force of a large nuclear blast — not very reassuring when you consider humanity had only about three days’ notice.

See also:
2009 DD45
Space Rock 2009 DD45 Buzzes Earth
Asteroid 2009 DD45 Just Buzzed by Earth
Asteroid and Comet Collisions with Earth

/it’s just a matter of time

Jihadis Love Dead Kuffar

Jihadists celebrating Victoria fires; taking joy in the scenes

Terror watchdogs said fundamentalists had blogged on websites across the globe, applauding the lives lost and destruction in the Victoria fires.

Senior analyst at SITE Intelligence Group Adam Raisman said they were posting pictures of burnt homes and devastated victims and “taking joy in the scenes”, the Sunday Herald Sun reports.

One jihadist wrote: “It would be an act of revenge for Australian’s participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Bushfires victims said they were stunned.

See also:
SITE Intelligence Group
Oh Those Wacky Jihadis

/the culturally sick death cult rears its ugly head once again

Oh Those Wacky Jihadis

Islam group urges forest fire jihad

AUSTRALIA has been singled out as a target for “forest jihad” by a group of Islamic extremists urging Muslims to deliberately light bushfires as a weapon of terror.

US intelligence channels earlier this year identified a website calling on Muslims in Australia, the US, Europe and Russia to “start forest fires”, claiming “scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels’ forests when they do the same to our lands”.

The website, posted by a group called the Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network, argues in Arabic that lighting fires is an effective form of terrorism justified in Islamic law under the “eye for an eye” doctrine.

/hey California, you paying attention?