ArianeSpace and Rocket Report

  • ArianeSpace Flight VV14/PRISMA: A much better launch broadcast than last one I watched, with fewer self-congratulatory political speeches, none of the weird political ads, and a CGI render of the flight track that at least puts them on par with NASA TV; it would be nicer to have camera views of the stage separation and deployment. That's a high polar orbit they launched into, usually you see high geosynch or low latitudes; they're not good at explaining why, but PRISMA is an Earth mapping satellite, so it needs a continuous loop around the poles to see every inch eventually.

    English subtitling is only by translation software, though, and it's ludicrously wrong on technical terms where you most want it; I can puzzle out enough French to figure out where the nouns are and those are usually companies or English-y scientific terms, but the German and Italian and Euro-English is hard to follow. How do these people get anything done in a tower of Babel?

  • ArsTechnica's Rocket Report is always interesting. Note related to this launch:

    "A competitive market ... The Vega rocket competes with India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, and the Vega C rocket will be slightly more powerful as it seeks customers for small satellites and rideshare missions."

Arianespace Flight VA247

Interesting differences from a SpaceX or NASA launch video.

NASA does a terrible job of broadcasting their launches, they do good in-space video on NASA-TV, but the launches will usually show a burn and then some infographics and then cut off. NASA's public relations is the bare minimum, lowest-bidder attempt required by Federal disclosure laws, and it shows.

SpaceX is halfway to being a media company, just because they instrument and record everything, so they have great photography of the launch, flight, then on-rocket cameras showing second state separation, and landings, and cool synthwave music before and after. Even when they're not launching a car into deep space, they always put on a cool show.

Arianespace is like NASA-TV, only showing a burn and then CGI renders of what they think is happening, and slightly better live tracking info than NASA-TV. But half their audio & text is in French, German, or Spanish, they haven't standardized on English and some Russian-pidgin like NASA or SpaceX. They spend an inordinate amount of time explaining their political/economic structure, because it's a horrible bureaucratic compromise between countries that barely tolerate each other; they have to launch from French Guiana, one of their last conquered colonial holdings/penal colonies (remember the movie Papillon? That's French Guiana; they really made prisoners catch rare butterflies for the warden's profit); Charles De Gaulle demanded a spaceport be built there in the '60s, which is a bit of a boondoggle but it's still their best spaceport.

Hey, let's interrupt the flight to show an ad promoting Seville for some political thing.

There's a moral question hanging over this like the Sword of Damocles: Should you be launching satellites for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with its known-murder-conspirator "prince"? Well, the next two in-flight ads don't even argue that, they just say it's great that the Saudis have paid Arianespace for these launches, and thank the murderer prince by name. I suppose it's rude to say "he should be hung by the neck until dead" to your paycheck's medieval aristocracy.

Another ad for Lockheed/Martin, who made one of the satellites being launched, and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), who made the other.

One final bit of actual launch news, explaining their telemetry gaps, but repeating "perfectly normal" sounds apologetic, rather than factual. I trust nothing the bureaucrat says by now.

Finally bureaucrats give each other handshakes and blowjobs all around. No sign of the engineers or scientists who do the actual work.

Maybe 10, 15 minutes of actual launch content in 85 minutes of airtime.

Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship

Search ahead to "Part V" to see the paper summaries and reviewer comments! These are ridiculous, and should never, ever have been accepted.

“This is a wonderful paper – incredibly innovative, rich in analysis, and extremely well-written and organized given the incredibly diverse literature sets and theoretical questions brought into conversation. The author’s development of the focus and contributions of the paper is particularly impressive. The fieldwork executed contributes immensely to the paper’s contribution as an innovative and valuable piece of scholarship that will engage readers from a broad cross-section of disciplines and theoretical formations. I believe this intellectually and empirically exciting paper must be published and congratulate the author on the research done and the writing.” -Reviewer 1, Gender, Place, and Culture
—comment on "Dog Park"

It's tragicomic watching ULA, classic WWII to Cold War baby-killers turned NASA teat-suckers, desperately try to compete with SpaceX and Blue Origin at a tiny fraction of the cost to orbit or deep space.

Why doesn't Boeing brag that the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, will appear from time travel, tractor-beam a crew compartment into orbit, warp to Mars, and land astronauts for a day-trip? It's just as real and plausible as the "SLS Block 2", and much cheaper.

What I'm Watching: The Titan

In grim future world, LA is uninhabitable (is funny joke: LA's been the Hellmouth since the 1960s), and Earth is dying, except for the nice wooded river and pristine forests they keep visiting in this dumpster fire of a movie. Soldier boy Rick is gung ho to be converted into a genetic superman so he can colonize Titan.

Saturn's moon, Titan. Which yes has an atmosphere, but there's 0% Oxygen, not the 5% this dumb movie says. It's so fucking cold -179°C your flesh would crystalize and shatter. There's no Sun or even Saturn itself visible under the atmospheric haze, we know because we dropped the Huygens probe in and saw a muddy haze! No energy for plants, and if there's life it'd be cold, slow, alien microbes or fish. Titan is not a place you can just bioengineer a person for. Mars might be dry and cold, but it's a sunny day in Antarctica in comparison.

Actual Landscape of Titan:
Titan-Huygens View

Mystical Wonderland Titan at end of movie:
the-titan-mystic-wonderland

The military base at the end of the world looks an awful lot like a suburb with a couple nice houses the filmmakers rented, and some industrial ugly office building. Zero set decoration effort.

Everyone walks around spouting short technical phrases learned from Wikipedia, but clearly neither the writers nor the walking meatstick "actors" know what they mean. When anything goes wrong, these supposed mid-21st C scientists & soldiers all turn to prayer. To what god?

The "what went wrong" meetings after the soldiers start going wrong are hilariously bad, unlike any conversation you'd have about a failing project. "Catch up or stop holding me back!" "Nature is unpredictable. Everyone evolves in a different way." 😡 Evolution works on populations, not individuals, you stupid stupid, STUPID writers.

Then suddenly the soldiers are all freaky Abe Sapien mutants with tentacle fingers and flying squirrel membrane wings, and it turns into a half-assed and joyless slasher flick.

★☆☆☆☆ and I wish I had the chemical lobotomy drug from the movie so I could unsee this.