Monday, September 1, 2014

NASA Developing New Space Rocket

Although its activities seem to have been curtailed during the last few years, NASA has been developing a rocket that, if completed, will be taller and more powerful than the Saturn V, which propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the moon.  Like the recently-retired Space Shuttle, the new Space Launch System includes two solid booster rockets, which will be attached to the sides of a four-engine liquid-fueled "Core Stage".  From The Verge:
NASA has worked on some inspiring interplanetary projects in the last few years, but few have been as ambitious as the simply-named Space Launch System, a new rocket that will be the largest ever built at 384 feet tall, surpassing even the mighty Saturn V (363 feet), the rocket that took humanity to the moon. It will also be more powerful, with 20 percent more thrust using liquid hydrogen and oxygen as fuel. Last week, NASA announced that the Space Launch System, SLS for short, is on track to perform its first unmanned test launch in 2018. The larger goal is to carry humans into orbit around an asteroid, and then to Mars by the 2030s. After that, NASA says the rocket could be used to reach Saturn and Jupiter.
At the moment, even getting off the ground would be progress: since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, NASA has been left without any domestic capability to launch American astronauts into space; instead it has been purchasing rides for them aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft at high cost. While SpaceX and other private companies are working furiously to provide their own human passenger spacecraft for travel into Earth's orbit, NASA wants to go even further. The agency has begun testing models of the SLS and initial construction of some the major components. It says the first test flight will have an initial cost of $7 billion. The SLS will also be reusing some leftover parts from the inventory of the retired Space Shuttle, including its engines.
Read the full story, and in this case, look at the pictures, too.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

U.S. Capitol For A Day, Part 2

As mentioned in Part 1, Brookeville, Maryland has conducted a festival during the past two days to commemorate the brief stay of President James Madison, after he fled Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812.  In the center of town is Brookeville Academy, which started out as a one-story building, before being expanded over the years.

U.S. Capitol For A Day, Part 1

As I mentioned a few posts ago, when the British burned government buildings in Washington DC during the War of 1812, President James Madison fled into Virginia and the Maryland, to arrive at Brookeville.  Yesterday and today, Brookeville has commemorated Madison's arrival with a festival.  He spent the night at this house on Market Street.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Two Days After Crash, Fallen Pilot Identified

This past Wednesday, around 9:00 a.m., an F-15C fighter jet crashed near Deerfield, Virginia, a small town located in a mountainous part of Augusta County.  After two days of searching, investigators have determined that the pilot, Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr. of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, did not eject and was killed in the crash.  He had been a "squadron commander at multiple locations" and had served in "numerous deployments to the Middle East", before joining the Massachusetts ANG this past February.

Read the story at News Leader and WDBJ.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ukrainian Officer: Russia Has Invaded

Will anyone who said "war is not the answer" when the United States invaded Iraq make any protests in front of the Russian embassy?  I won't hold my breath.  From CNN:
A top Ukrainian army officer said a "full-scale invasion" of his country was under way Thursday, as a U.S. official said up to 1,000 Russian troops had crossed Ukraine's southern border to fight alongside pro-Russian rebels.
U.S. officials said Russian troops were directly involved in the latest fighting, despite Moscow's denials.
Rebels backed by Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers fought Ukrainian forces on two fronts Thursday: southeast of rebel-held Donetsk, and along the nation's southern coast in the town of Novoazovsk, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Russian border, said Mykhailo Lysenko, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Donbas battalion.
Read the full story and watch the video:


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Second American Dies Fighting For ISIS?

From USA Today:
The Obama administration is investigating reports from Syria that a second American was killed over the weekend while fighting alongside Islamist State extremists.
The news comes a day after U.S. officials confirmed that 33-year-old Douglas McCain, who had lived in Southern California and Minnesota, died in a battle between the Islamic State and other Syrian opposition groups.
The other American was not identified.
Both McCain and this second as-yet-unidentified fighter reportedly died in the vicinity of Aleppo.

Read the full story.

UPDATE:  According to Fox News, sources have identified the second American as Abdirahmaan Muhumed, of Somali origin, who lived in Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

American Dies Fighting For ISIS In Syria

An American named Douglas McArthur McCain (whose name is just dripping with historical irony) was killed in Syria while fighting for ISIS against another rebel group, the Free Syrian Army.  McCain, who called himself "Duale ThaslaveofAllah", was born in Illinois, grew up in Minnesota, and later moved to California.  According to his Twitter feed, he converted to Islam in 2004.

Read the story at NBC News.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Florida College Gets Library Without Books

It may seem like a contradiction, but bookless libraries do indeed exist.  Earlier today, Florida Polytechnic University, the newest college in the state, opened for its inaugural class of students, who will be able to access over 135,000 ebooks on their electronic devices.  They will be able to print material from the ebooks, but are "discouraged from using [the library's] printers too much".

Read the story at MSN News.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

200 Years Ago, Washington Burned By British

On August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces marched into Washington, DC and burned down the White House, Capitol and other government buildings, after defeating American defenders at Bladensburg, MD.  President James Madison, after convening a war council near the Navy Yard, had armed himself with two pistols and rode out to Bladensburg, but after the battle fled to Virginia before turning northward back into Maryland, staying the night at Brookeville.  First Lady Dolly Madison rescued a painting of George Washington from the White House.  The city's defenders burnt the Navy Yard to keep its ships and supplies from falling into British hands.  A British naval force made its way up the Potomac, but instead of attacking Washington from the river, captured and occupied Alexandria, VA before leaving a few days later.  The fires set by the British burned though the following night, but a rainstorm the next day helped put them out.

The above is but a brief summary of the day's events.  Read more at The Washington Post.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Washington Post Editors To Avoid The Name "Redskins"

First, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the Washington Redskins' trademark registration.  Then, the University of Minnesota, whose stadium will host Minnesota Vikings football games until the NFL team's new stadium is completed, decided "to keep the Washington Redskins’ name from being used when the two teams play on campus in November."  (No word on whether the Vikings' name, which like "Redskins" has ethnic overtones, will be permitted.)  Now, The Washington Post editorial board has decided not to use the name "Redskins", "except when it is essential for clarity or effect".  The paper's news-gathering operation, which is separate from the editorial board, will continue to use the name.

Read the full story.