Saturday, 13 December 2014

Twelve Years Ago

It's worth memorialising some of the trials and tribulations the FedSat team underwent when it came to building that bird.

Originally, the task was contracted to SIL - Space Innovations Limited
SIL is a space engineering company that specializes in the design and manufacture of satellite products, subsystems and complete small satellites, which generally weigh between 50 and 500 kilograms. This type of Earth orbiting satellite is often used for scientific and remote sensing applications. They could also form the basis of satellites for constellations similar to Teledesic, Globelstar and Iridium.
SIL recorded sales of approximately 745,000 U.K. pounds and profits of 20,800 U.K. pounds according to unaudited company records for the six-month period ended June 30, 1998. Based on current exchange rates, this is approximately $1.25 million in sales and approximately $35,000 in profits.
The wheels fell off though
Jan. 14, 2000 -- SpaceDev Inc. the world's first commercial space exploration and development company, and Space Innovations Limited (SIL), a wholly owned SpaceDev subsidiary in Newbury, England, today announced that SIL management has reacquired the company from SpaceDev. Commenting on the decision, SpaceDev Chairman Jim Benson stated: ``During the past year it became clear to the boards of SPDV and SIL that continued joint operations was not of sufficient long-term benefit to either firm, due primarily to the stringent U.S. State Department restrictions on the transfer of technology-related information implemented about a year ago. At times we found it difficult to discuss basic marketing strategies or product enhancement plans with our own employees.''
Professor Leonard Culhane, chairman of SIL, said: ``We all thought at the time that this acquisition would be synergistic and would benefit both firms, but the environment changed unexpectedly. We look forward now to assisting SpaceDev as a customer rather than one of its subsidiaries.''
In October 1998, SpaceDev acquired 100 percent of SIL via a stock-exchange agreement. The SIL acquisition was one of several strategic moves made by SpaceDev during the past 18 months to position it as a worldwide, integrated provider of affordable, reliable space missions involving small satellites. The decision to rescind the merger agreement was made final on Dec. 17, 1999. Terms of the amicable separation agreement include a re-exchange of common stock and Culhane relinquishing his seat on SpaceDev's board.

SIL found itself in very deep financial trouble. There were severe cash flow problems - they didn't have the money to complete the work they'd contracted to do. It was necessary that they get stuff out of the door, regardless of quality, just to get progress payments to keep the doors open. They could always remediate it later, after the immediate crisis had passed.

But not only did they cut corners, they tried to make the circles rounder. Components that would never have passed even the most basic Quality Assurance checks at the first stage of production went through to the end. What they produced and delivered wasn't just shoddy - it was junk.

What was delivered wasn't usually repairable. It was industrial waste. So we had to build the components ourselves, to SIL's design. You see, before they got into financial difficulties, they produced really good product, both in design and manufacture.

What you see there was made after they fired their highly talented team of competent staff, and got pretty much anyone present on site to attempt Rocket Science. Cleaners, Managers, Apprentices, Trained Monkeys for all I know. But not the SIL scientists who made the company what it had been - a by-word for excellent space engineering.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Monday, 8 December 2014

Satellite Separation


12 years ago... Australia had a Space Programme.

The video shows booster separation of the Japanese H2A at 12:15:40, the Japanese ADEOS-2 at 12:16:20, the Australian FedSat at 12:16:40, the Japanese MicroLabSat at 12:17:00 and WEOS at 12:17:20

That was 35 years since the previous Australian Space Programme, and the previous Australian Spacecraft, WRESAT in 1967. We were world leaders then, just as FedSat is still the most complex and capable MicroSat ever launched. And just as with FedSat, the powers that be decided that our future was in digging holes in the ground, not out in space.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Platygeanism, Biblical Literalism, and Martin Luther

I was recently asked
are you really saying that the flat earth people represent the majority of Christians?
Here's my answer:
No, not at all. Only the ones who take the Bible literally.

Very few do. Many say they do, but ask them if they believe snow and hail come from storehouses in the sky, as clearly stated in the book of Job, and they say "that bit's metaphorical". Yet Adam and Eve is not. Neither is the Great Flood, though that depends on the existence of a Firmament with valves in - the ""Windows of Heaven" to let the Waters Above in.

Martin Luther had it right. Either you can believe in scripture as inerrant and literal, or you can rely on "natural Philosophy" - science -, observable facts and reason. The two ideologies are irreconcilable. He therefore rejected reason and natural philosophy.

Natural philosophy because it was wicked,as it contradicted scripture. Reason because while it sometimes supported scripture, it just as often subverted it, it could never be relied on to tell you what you wanted to hear. It was, he said, a whore in that regard. The greatest enemy Faith has.

    "Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which heaven are the waters...
    It is likely that the stars are fastened to the firmament like globes of fire, to shed light at night... We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding."

- Martin Luther, Luther's Works. Vol. 1. Lectures on Genesis

    “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

- Martin Luther

He was quite right. Reason will only tell you how things are, not how you know them to be through Faith alone.

To take as one example, the facts say that Herod died in 4BC, and that Quirinius became governor of Syria in 6CE, ten years later. The Bible says that Christ was born during Herod's reign, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Reason would point out the contradiction. But Faith says the bible cannot by definition be erroneous or contradictory, so Reason must be abandoned.

Christ was born before 3BC, and also in 6CE, And if ( these facts) are beyond our comprehension we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Senator Leyonhjelm on the Foreign Fighters Bill

For my readers in the USA and Canada... it's getting pretty bad here. It's not just one side of politics, it's both.

We're heading for a National Security Democratic Australia Party state. NSDAP.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Intersex Surgery in the 18th Century | New Republic

Sex-Change Surgery in the 18th Century | New Republic

According to Brand's report, published in 1787, he noticed an “irregularity” in the patient’s “external parts.” After further examination, he concluded that the child’s “part, which had the appearance of the labia pudenda, was in fact the scrotum,” and suggested an “operation to free the penis from its confinement.” He went ahead and made some alterations, enabling the child—whose name is unknown—“to urinate standing up, wear trousers, and enjoy the privileges of being a male.”
The child's wishes were of course deemed irrelevant. As they are all too often today.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Evolution IS a Blind Watchmaker

This is a good illustration of the principles involved in my PhD work.

Only I'm attempting to evolve more efficient settings for mutation rate and population size, so it's about not just genetic algorithms, but meta-genetic algorithms. Evolving more efficient evolution.