Musk’s swarm of Starlink microsatellites to light up UK skies this weekend


15-05-20 05:23:00,

Elon Musk’s artificial constellation of Starlink microsatellites will stream across the night skies above the UK twice this weekend, providing some fodder for amatuer astronomers but some frustration for the pros.

Musk’s SpaceX designed the fleet of microsats to provide cheap broadband internet to neglected areas of the globe.

While this is a noble goal, the swarm of microsatellites has divided the astronomy community: amateurs have added them to the list of casual targets for a night of stargazing while professionals and researchers bemoan the additional light pollution, lampooning Musk for ‘destroying’ the night skies.

as much as i love the way you are connecting the world to the internet, i’m really concerned about the long term effect on the sky seen from the ground, if your plan is to indeed deploy thousands of them

— Florent Derue (@florentderue) April 22, 2020

Regardless of the controversy, the artificial constellation flyby will be visible tonight on Friday May 15 at approximately 9.35pm London time (GMT +1), and again at 10.11pm on Saturday May 16.

There are currently 422 Starlink satellites in orbit which will be visible as small, fast-moving streaks across the night sky, provided stargazers are far enough away from ground-based sources of light pollution. 

Starlink’s website provides a real time map of its location over the Earth to better help fans catch up with the commsats, though time may be running out to catch a glimpse of the little space-based sprites.

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Arms Firms Swarm Decision Makers – Global Research


05-03-20 07:36:00,

More politically dependent than almost all other industries, arms manufacturers play for keeps in the nation’s capital. They target ads and events sponsorships at decision makers while hiring insiders and military stars to lobby on their behalf.

Activist and academic Tamara Lorincz recently posted a photo of an F35 ad in a bus shelter in front of Parliament Hill. US weapons giant Lockheed Martin is pushing hard to win a $19 billion contract to supply the Canadian air force with a fleet of new fighter jets.

To gain a share of the public funds on offer arms companies target ads at political and military leaders, promoting their products in washrooms and bus shelters where Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Forces (CF) officials congregate. Rideau Institute founder Steven Staples pointed out that “you can’t walk around in Ottawa without tripping over some arms dealer on Spark Street.”

Arms sellers also sponsor talks and exhibits attended by Ottawa insiders. They promote their brand at the Canadian War Museum, Gatineau-Ottawa airshow, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, Conference of Defense Associations, etc.

Beyond promoting their wares in the nation’s capital, companies advertise aggressively in publications read by Ottawa insiders such as iPolitics, Ottawa Business Journal and Hill Times. “Today’s Morning Brief is brought to you by Canada’s Combat Ship Team,” noted a regular iPolitics ad. “Lockheed Martin Canada is leading a team of BAE Systems, CAE, L3 Technologies, MDA and Ultra Electronics to deliver the Royal Canadian Navy’s future fleet of surface combatants.” Their ads also foot much of the bill for journals read by military officials such as the Canadian Defence Review, Canadian Naval Review and Esprit de Corps.

Arms companies’ constantly lobby MPs and DND officials. In a “12-Month Lobbying Activity Search” of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada Lockheed Martin, CAE, Bombardier, General Dynamics, Raytheon, BAE, Boeing and Airbus Defence were listed dozens of times. Lockheed Martin’s name alone appeared 40 times in a recent search.

To facilitate access to government officials, international arms makers maintain offices in Ottawa. Lockheed Martin,

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The Navy Wants Swarm Weapons That Can Do Something Amazing


14-12-18 01:50:00,

The U.S. Navy wants to develop drones that are powered by harvesting “battlefield energy.”

Which is a more charitable way of describing a drone that flies by stealing electricity from power lines.

The problem is that future conflicts are likely to feature clouds of small drones, whether operating in swarms to overwhelm an enemy, or a mini-drone carried in a soldier’s pocket that flies ahead to scout out a building. But tiny drones have tiny batteries measured in thirty minutes or so of flight, and the battlefield is not the place to search for an electrical outlet to recharge.

“The infrastructure to manage a future fleet of sUAS [small UAVs] in the field under austere conditions may be daunting considering the magnitude of battery recharging needs,” the navy notes. “It is also desirable to simultaneously increase mission duration and persistence; therefore, the ability to scavenge power directly from the battlefield would be an important military technology with other dual-use civilian applications.”

But what if the fighting is in a city, where there will likely be plenty of electrical poles and power lines?

This would allow a drone “to ‘dock’ on a power line in an urban environment, scavenging magnetic energy as a means to trickle-charge its onboard batteries prior to mission continuation, could provide significant tactical benefits,” according to the navy research solicitation , which is looking for answers from industry and academia. “If the energy scavenging source is collocated at the mission area, full mission persistence might be achieved and the micro- and small UAS may never need to return to base.”

Remarkable is the amount of energy that’s floating around a battlefield. “The types of energy harvesting that fall into this category are broad, and include vibrational energy, simple mechanical energy, and electromagnetic energy,” says the navy. “Sources of electromagnetic energy that is abundant and available for harvesting and conversion include high-voltage substations, transformers, and alternating current transmission line (i.e., power lines).”

High-voltage substations on the power grid generate AC electric field strengths that are “comparable to solar panels operating on a cloudy day.” As if that wasn’t tempting enough for drone designers fretting over how maximize the juice that keeps their progeny flying, the navy also suggests that wireless sensors could be placed around these power nodes to also siphon off energy to keep their batteries topped off.

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