Going Nowhere Not So Fast

I think the old girl is trying to tell NASA something, she doesn’t want to fly.

Space shuttle Discovery’s mission delayed again

Space shuttle Discovery’s final flight keeps getting delayed.

The space station delivery mission is now off until the end of February. NASA had been aiming for an early February liftoff, but managers decided Thursday to take more time to complete repairs to Discovery’s external fuel tank.

Following a failed launch attempt in early November, cracks were found in metal struts of the massive tank. More cracks were discovered last week, after the shuttle was returned to its hangar. NASA is considering reinforcing all 108 struts on the central part of the tank for extra safety, NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said Friday.

The initial cracks were so big that the insulating foam on top of the damaged struts, or so-called stringers, split open. That’s NASA’s main concern: Cracking could cause foam to break away during liftoff and slam into Discovery. Columbia ended up being destroyed in 2003 after a slab of foam gouged a wing.

See also:
Discovery To Miss Early February Launch
Repairs Delay Discovery Launch as Shuttle Program Winds Down
Shuttle Discovery’s launch delayed for further repairs
US Shuttle Launch Delayed Again
Safety probe delays space shuttle launch until late February
NASA Pushes Space Shuttle Discovery Launch to Late February
NASA Rules Out Early February Launch for Discovery
Fuel tank woes delay space shuttle launch again
More delay for space shuttle Discovery launch
Shuttle Discovery’s launch postponed
Discovery launch delayed
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
STS-133 Mission Information
STS-133

Discovery is more than 25 years old and even when these space shuttles are in perfect shape they’re the most inherently unsafe manned spacecraft the U.S. has ever flown. Personally, I say pull the plug now, Discovery belongs in a museum, not on a launch pad. She obviously doesn’t want to fly, why tempt fate?

/is it really worth risking another shuttle crew to deliver some equipment to a space station that’s probably going to be abandoned within ten years anyway?

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The 2010 Aftermath

Not total victory, but all in all, it was a very good day for Republicans.

After GOP landslide of Election 2010, what next for Obama?

The Republican Party has swept the Democrats out of power in the House and gained seats in the Senate, sending a strong message of voter discontent to President Obama on the economy.

Republicans scored at least a 60-seat gain in the House, the biggest partisan shift since the Democrats lost 75 House seats in 1948. In the Senate, the Republicans fell short of the 10 they needed to take control, and failed to capture their most-hoped-for quarry: the seat of Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, who defeated tea partyer Sharron Angle by five percentage points. It is the first time in 80 years that the House has changed hands without the Senate following.

The historic wave that makes Rep. John Boehner (R) of Ohio the expected next speaker of the House also hands Mr. Obama the biggest challenge of his political career. Suddenly, the president has no choice but to work toward his unfulfilled 2008 campaign promise of greater bipartisanship. The alternative is gridlock and the appearance of ineffectiveness. But if Obama concedes too much to the Republicans, he risks losing the support of his Democratic base when he runs for reelection in 2012, as expected.

Maybe even more impressive and certainly just as important was the Republican near sweep at the state level. Republicans will now be in charge of redistricting in the majority of states, which will set legislative boundaries for the next ten years.

Forget D.C., look what Republicans won in state legislatures

This is especially important in years ending in ’00 because these newly elected governors and state legislators will (with the exception of California) be the ones redrawing legislative and congressional district lines that will stand for the next decade until the 2020 census. And occupying the governor’s mansion puts that party in control of an immense statewide political apparatus to help its presidential ticket two years hence.

Come January, Republicans will now run crucial governors’ offices in….

…major presidential battleground states like Florida (Rick Scott), Ohio (John Kasich), Pennsylvania (Tom Corbett) and Iowa, where former Gov. Terry Branstad returns. New Mexico voters elected their first female governor, Republican Susana Martinez, a Latino. Sometimes-maligned South Carolina voters chose Nikki Haley, who is not only the state’s first female governor but only the nation’s second of Indian American descent (Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal being the other.) Oklahoma also picked its first female governor, Republican Mary Fallin.

According to the authoritative Stateline.org, the country’s contests for governor and lieutenant governor cost $850 million. Heading into 2012, the GOP will control at least 29 of the 50 governor’s suites.
Perhaps more importantly, the Republican wave at the national level was also felt at the grass-roots level, where Republicans gained control of at least 19 more state legislative chambers, possibly two dozen as vote-counting continues.

The GOP will have a majority in at least 54 of the 99 state legislative chambers, including a minimum of 53% of state legislature seats (about 3,900). That’s the most the party has controlled in 82 years — and up about 700 seats from Monday.

Of course, we didn’t win them all and this one personally sticks in my craw. If it wasn’t for third party spoiler candidate Tom Horner (former Republican), Republican Tom Emmer would already easily be the next Governor of Minnesota. Mark Dayton should send Horner some flowers or candy or a tip or something.

Guv’s race: Long ride, no end in sight

A seismic shift in Minnesota’s political landscape unfolded Wednesday as the most game-changing election in a generation sent Republicans and the DFL scrambling for the last undecided prize — the governor’s office.

DFLer Mark Dayton unofficially leads Republican Tom Emmer by 8,856 votes — a margin so slight that it could trigger a hand-ballot recount for the second election cycle in a row.

Officials began the tedious, nerve-wracking task of locking up ballots, which both parties may guard around the clock.

The day’s events placed the state, yet again, in political suspended animation, awaiting the prospect of another recount brawl that could take months to resolve and get tangled in the courts.

See also:
2010 Elections Exit Poll Analysis: The Political Price of Economic Pain
Election Day 2010 and its aftermath
Exit polls Election 2010
Karl Rove, U.S. Chamber Amass Winning Record in 2010 Elections
Tea Party Top 10 biggest winners and losers
Statehouse wins put GOP in redistricting driver’s seat
Vote 2010 Elections: What’s Your Reaction to Republicans’ Big Win?
With 2010 Behind Us, A Look Ahead To 2012
Republicans celebrate, outline legislative goals
In Social Media Election, The GOP Capitalizes
How will Obama react to GOP gains?

Tuesday’s vote was an absolute thumping repudiation of Obama and the Democrats and their big government, far left agenda. Now that the Republicans have a tight leash on the Democrats, will the Democrats learn to play ball in the poetical center? Will the Democrats learn to at least read the destructive legislation they vote to cram down the throats of the American taxpayers, over the vociferous objections and protestations of the electorate.

/because, if the Democrats don’t learn their lesson this time, they’re going to get thumped even harder in 2012, the American people have spoken and they’ve had enough of Obama and the Democrats’ progressive socialism

Meet The World’s Most Dangerous Dishwasher

Oh look, it’s yet another American Muslim gone bad.

From dishwasher to al Qaeda leadership: Who is Adnan Shukrijumah?

He was born in Saudi Arabia and spent much of his youth in New York and south Florida. Then he vanished.

Investigators now allege that Adnan Shukrijumah has risen to a key position in al Qaeda’s leadership.

The FBI says that after he left America, Shukrijumah started off as an al Qaeda dishwasher, doing menial tasks at training camps.

But he’s much more than a dishwasher now, according to investigators.

“It’s like any other business. He would be equated with being the chief of operations,” says Brian LeBlanc, a special agent for the FBI.

As the alleged director of al Qaeda’s overseas operations, investigators believe he is “extremely dangerous,” LeBlanc says.

“He may not be someone who’s going to come into the United States to conduct the attack, but what makes him more dangerous is he’s out there plotting the attacks and recruiting people to actively do that,” LeBlanc says.

The breakthrough came when LeBlanc, an FBI counter-terrorism agent, linked Shukrijumah to the thwarted New York subway suicide mission last fall — the biggest post-9/11 terror investigation.

Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay admitted they planned to blow themselves up using homemade bombs.

Prosecutors say it was Shukrijumah who called the shots — probably from somewhere along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

“[Shukrijumah] was the one that convinced … them to come back to the United States and conduct the attack here,” LeBlanc says.

But Shukrijumah’s mother — who did not wish to be named in order to protect her privacy — says authorities are using her son as a scapegoat.

“That is not my son. My son is not a violent person. He is very kind, generous,” she says.

Shukrijumah — the eldest son of a Saudi Imam — came to America as a young child.

See also:
Al-Qaeda’s new ‘planning chief’ lived in US for 15 years
FBI rates US man as major terror figure
New Al Qaeda leader is former US resident
Top al-Qaida Plotter Lived in US
Rising Al-Qaeda leader spent youth in US: report
AP Exclusive: New al-Qaida leader knows US well
Fla. mom says son is not a high-ranking al Qaeda terrorist, but a kind boy
Adnan Shukrijumah’s Mother Breaks Her Silence
Terror’s new face: Hunt down new Brooklyn-bred Al Qaeda big
FBI: Former Brooklyn Resident Now Leads Al-Qaeda Operations

Hopefully, he’ll soon be permanently retired by drone strike, just like his predecessors.

/and remember, Islam is the religion of peace!

32nd Time’s A Charm?

So far, so good, Atlantis is less than twelve days, reentry, and a touchdown away from a well deserved retirement after two and a half decades of service.

Shuttle Atlantis streaks into orbit on final planned flight

The shuttle Atlantis blasted off on its 32nd and final planned mission Friday, closing out 25 years of service with a 12-day flight to deliver a Russian docking module and critical spare parts to the International Space Station.

With its three hydrogen-fueled main engines roaring at full thrust, the shuttle’s twin solid-fuel boosters ignited on time at 2:20 p.m. EDT, instantly pushing the fully fueled 4.5-million-pound spacecraft away from pad 39A.

Accelerating through 100 mph–straight up–in just eight seconds, Atlantis wheeled about its long axis and lined up on a trajectory paralleling the East Coast. Liftoff was timed for roughly the moment Earth’s rotation carried the launch pad into the plane of the space station’s orbit, the first step in a two-day rendezvous procedure.

Atlantis quickly arced away to the northeast, putting on a spectacular afternoon sky show for area residents and tourists who gathered along Florida’s “Space Coast” to witness the shuttle’s final planned flight.

Commander Kenneth Ham, pilot Dominic Antonelli, and flight engineer Michael Good monitored the shuttle’s computer-controlled ascent, joined by Stephen Bowen, a former submariner, Piers Sellers, and Garrett Reisman, who spent three months aboard the space station in 2008.

“We’re going to take her on her 32nd flight and if you don’t mind, we’ll take her out of the barn and make a few more laps around the planet,” Ham radioed launch director Mike Leinbach a few minutes before takeoff.

The shuttle’s ascent appeared normal with no obvious impacts from external tank foam insulation. Video from a camera mounted on the side of the tank showed a few bits of insulation separating and falling away, but by that point the shuttle was out of the dense lower atmosphere where debris impacts pose a more significant threat.

See also:
Space shuttle Atlantis soars on final voyage
Space Shuttle Atlantis Blasts Off on Final Mission
Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off for Final Planned Flight
Shuttle Atlantis launches on its last mission
Space shuttle Atlantis soars on final voyage
Space Shuttle Atlantis: A View from the Launch
View of Atlantis launch from over 22,000 miles up
No rookies allowed on Atlantis’ last flight‎
Space Shuttle Atlantis: 25 years of service
STS-132 Begins On-Orbit Operations
STS-132 Mission Information
STS-132
Atlantis
Atlantis (OV-104)
Space Shuttle Atlantis

Godspeed Atlantis, perform your last mission flawlessly and bring your crew home safely.

/and then there will be only two shuttle flights remaining before the United States manned spaceflight program is grounded indefinitely on Obama’s orders

Misdirection, Always Watch What The Left Hand Is Doing

While everyone was busy watching the classified launch of the X-37B in Florida, the Air Force was up to even more classified hijinxs in Califiornia.

New Minotaur rocket launches on suborbital flight

A new Minotaur launch vehicle derived from retired missile parts successfully blasted off from the California coast Thursday, but officials lost contact with a hypersonic glider testbed for a U.S. military quick-response global strike system.

The Minotaur 4 booster, flying in a downsized three-stage configuration, launched on a suborbital mission at 4 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT; 2300 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 8 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The three-stage version of the launcher uses retired Peacekeeper missile motors. The configuration is called the Minotaur 4 Lite.

A small winged glider designed by Pentagon researchers was the payload for Thursday’s launch. The craft, called the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2a, apparently did not complete all of its planned maneuvers to demonstrate new hypersonic flight systems.

“Preliminary review of technical data indicates the Minotaur Lite launch system successfully delivered the Falcon HTV 2 glide vehicle to the desired separation conditions,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a statement. “The launch vehicle executed first of its kind energy management maneuvers, clamshell payload fairing release and HTV 2 deployment.”

See also:
Air Force launches hypersonic glider over Pacific
DARPA confirms mission’s failure
U.S. Air Force launches back-to-back secret missions – coincidence?
Unmanned military space planes usher in new weaponry era
Hyperfast missile to hit anywhere in an hour
A weapon that can strike anywhere on Earth in 30 minutes
5 Ways to Kill Osama Bin Laden in 2 Hours or Less
DARPA’s Mach 20 Hypersonic Glider and Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Make Their Debuts
First Minotaur IV launches with Hypersonic Test Vehicle
Obama administration spending billions on new global strike weapons
US moving towards ‘high-altitude’ weaponry era with Falcon, X-37B launches
DARPA Falcon HTV-2: Frequently Asked Questions

Taking the high ground with space weapons.

/hmmm, a Mach 20 glider, payloads anywhere on earth within an hour and there’s nothing you can do about it

His Own Private CIA?

What the hell is up with this?

Adviser linked to Afghan deaths, St. Pete firm ran Socom unit

When Mike Furlong was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, he headed up a unit charged with breaking the will of enemies, not by dropping bombs or firing missiles but by messing with their minds.

Now he is the center of a controversy about misusing information gathered for educational purposes. The New York Times reported Monday that Furlong set up a network of private contractors to hunt down and kill militants.

Between August 2005 and February 2008, Furlong was deputy director of the Joint Military Information Support Command at MacDill. As head of the unit, which used to be known as the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, Furlong was responsible for “military and civilian personnel whose mission is to plan, coordinate, integrate and execute transregional psychological operations to promote U.S. goals and objectives for overseas operations,” according to Maj. Wes Ticer, spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command headquartered at MacDill.

At the time, Furlong was a much-lauded military veteran. He served as an arms control negotiator at the Pentagon. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was an operations officer with the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He commanded the 6th Psyops Battalion and Joint Psyop Task Force in Bosnia. He won a Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters and a number of other medals and commendations.

After retiring from the military, Furlong became a vice president and director of the Strategic Communications and Information Operations Division of Science Applications International Corp., a key government and military contractor. He served in a similar capacity at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Then he came to MacDill, where Furlong’s command served “as a key contributor” in the Defense Department’s “ongoing efforts to erode adversary power, will and influence,” according to the U.S. Special Operations Command fact book.

What happened after Furlong left MacDill, particularly in the areas of power, will and influence, was the subject of a front-page story Monday in the New York Times.

In February 2008, Furlong became a strategic planner and technology integration adviser at the Joint Information Operations Warfare Command at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

The Times wrote that in mid-2008, “the military put Mr. Furlong in charge of a program to use private companies to gather information about the political and tribal culture of Afghanistan.”

The paper said that under this “benign government information-gathering program” Furlong hired contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help track and kill militants. Those activities “seemed to accelerate” in the summer of 2009. According to one contractor the Times interviewed, Furlong referred to his contractors as “my Jason Bournes,” a reference to the fictional American assassin created by novelist Robert Ludlum and played in the movies by Matt Damon.

Furlong did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

His network ultimately ran afoul of military brass. It was dismantled, and he is under investigation, the Times reported.

See also:
Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants
Outsourcing intelligence
Pentagon probes alleged ad hoc spy ring
Senior US official Michael Furlong questioned over private security contractors
Official: Pentagon probing alleged spy operation
Contract killers
Afghanistan Spy Contract Goes Sour for Pentagon – Part 1
US official estalished private spy network: report
Booz Allen Hamilton: A Strategy and Technology Consulting Firm
SAIC: From Science to Solutions

Mike Furlong is obviously an extremely skilled operator and an American patriot, well qualified to be running the type of operation he’s alleged to have been running. That it’s possibly illegal is certainly poking around in a gray area of U.S. law. By definition, the CIA breaks foreign law all over the world, every day, that’s what they do. In today’s reality of global conflict, the official line between military, civilian contractor, government agent is blurry almost to the point of imperceptibility.

/anyway, Furlong tried to do the right thing, perhaps in the wrong way (or maybe with tacit, plausibly deniable permission), I hope he doesn’t get in any trouble over this

Obama Adds Astronauts To The No Fly List

No Shuttle plus no Constellation program equals U.S. manned space flight grounded.

White House won’t fund NASA moon program

NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there, if President Obama gets his way.

When the White House releases its budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was to return humans to the moon by 2020. The Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to return to the moon. There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases.

“We certainly don’t need to go back to the moon,” one administration official said.

Instead, according to White House insiders, agency officials, industry executives and congressional sources familiar with Obama’s plans, NASA will look at developing a “heavy-lift” rocket that one day will take humans and robots to explore beyond low-Earth orbit. That day will be years away.

The White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change — and on a new technology research and development program designed to someday enable human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system.

See also:
Obama aims to ax moon mission
Obama to End NASA Constellation Program
US plan to return to moon ‘is dead’: administration advisor
White House killing NASA’s moon mission, reports say
President Obama to Propose Abandoning NASA’s Moon Plan
Obama to suggest end of NASA moon program
Speculation about NASA’s future swirls in advance of Obama’s budget request
Battle brewing over Obama’s NASA plan
NASA Workers Anxious About Obama’s Commitment to Space
Rebel Engineers Sit With NASA to Chart Future of Manned Space
Good Night Moon
Obama Says, No Moon For You!

To put things in perspective, Obama and the Democrats are now talking about wasting another $80-200 billion on another unnecessary, worthless “stimulus” after already wasting $1 trillion on the first worthless “stimulus”. Just yesterday, Obama announced that he was passing out $8 billion for unprofitable choo choo trains!

NASA’s annual budget is less than $20 billion, yet these out of control, tax and spend peons can’t dig in our taxpayer pockets for a few measly billion dollars more to fund something worthwhile, U.S. manned space flight. I guess they can’t figure out how funding space exploration translates into buying Democrat votes.

/the moral of this story is, if any of your children are dreaming of growing up to be an astronaut, they’d better learn how to speak Chinese and/or Russian