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News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Regardless of any offhand comments President Trump may have made suggesting his administration wants NASA to fast-track a manned mission to Mars — "We want to try and do that during my first term or, at worst, during my second term," he said during a conversation with astronauts last month — technological and fiscal realities suggest that NASA won't be fielding such a mission any time in the foreseeable future. But if SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has his way, SpaceX could conceivably launch a robotic mission to Mars in 2020 followed by a crewed mission as soon as 2024, before a theoretical second Trump term expires. And that is much sooner than NASA's goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. While experts agree that such an ambitious mission in such a short timeframe is unlikely, Musk and SpaceX have defied consensus before. Given the somewhat unlikely rapport that's developed between the Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and SpaceX founder and President Trump — Musk made two trips to Trump Tower preinauguration, where both Mars and public-private partnerships were reportedly discussed — the idea that SpaceX might be the first to put human footprints on Mars seems less remote than it did a year ago. So why is Elon Musk so eager to colonize the Red Planet? After all, at 95 percent carbon dioxide, its atmosphere is inhospitable to life, and its harsh climate nearly uninhabitable for humans. Getting there is also a dangerous months-long spaceflight gambit. Nonetheless, Musk has said it's essential to become an interplanetary species lest humans face eventual extinction on Earth, and he believes his company can lead the way off our planet. Musk's ultimate vision is a Martian city of thousands if not millions of people — one that will require thousands of round-trips and 40 to 100 years to realize. But he's determined to make this vision a reality, first by sending a Dragon 2 capsule to Mars in 2020 — to test out landing procedures, scout locations for future landings and try out technologies needed to land larger, heavier equipment on the Martian surface — and then again every 27 months as SpaceX transports tons of equipment to the Martian surface. But this vision also presents a unique set of challenges. Before SpaceX can land its first manned mission on the Red Planet, engineers need to develop the company's planned Interplanetary Transport System, a two-part vehicle combining the most powerful rocket ever built, and a massive spacecraft designed to carry at least 100 people to Mars per flight. After hauling the spaceship into Earth orbit, the ITS rocket will return to Earth, where it or another rocket will then carry a fuel tanker into orbit to rendezvous with and fuel up the orbiting spaceship (which will initially launch with very little fuel on board so it can carry more people and cargo). Once fueled, the spaceship will light its own thrusters — nine of the Raptor engines SpaceX successfully test-fired for the first time in September — and blast off toward Mars. Musk expects the ITS spaceship to make the trip in just 80 days, far shy of the six to nine months it currently takes spacecraft to travel to Mars. After making a retro-rocket-assisted soft landing on the Martian surface, this crew would begin constructing habitats and a propellant plant that would allow for the refueling of spacecraft to launch back to Earth, closing the transportation loop and allowing for regular transit to and from the Martian surface aboard the reusable spacecraft. That's the larger idea, anyhow — one that will require SpaceX to make huge strides in propulsion, life support, rocket design, retro-propulsion (for landing) and other technologies. Regardless of those myriad challenges, Musk continues to talk of sending at least a first, exploratory crewed mission to Mars within the next decade. "People can smirk," says Marco Caceres, senior analyst and director of space studies at aerospace consultancy Teal Group. "But it's hard to argue with one success after another." All this will take money, and that's where SpaceX's commercial space business comes in. The company's mission backlog contains roughly 70 missions that have yet to launch worth some $10 billion. Though SpaceX's finances aren't publicly available, a handful of internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal earlier this year showed that the company, though profitable, has been operating with razor-thin margins in an effort to keep costs down. But that backlog and revenue potential could soon change as the company settles into a faster launch tempo, breaks into new markets, and expands its revenue streams. For instance, starting next year, SpaceX plans to begin deploying a constellation of nearly 4,500 satellites that will blanket the world in Internet connectivity, a business the company reportedly believes will bring in $30 billion in revenue by 2025. Meantime, given its ability to consistently undercut its launch industry rivals on price (the current list price for a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is $62 million, roughly half what the competition often charges), SpaceX's dominant position within the commercial—and now military—launch markets is relatively secure for the time being. SpaceX's string of recent successes hasn't come without adversity, however. In September of last year, one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded on the launchpad during pre-flight fueling, incinerating a costly satellite payload along with the launch vehicle. The accident grounded SpaceX's fleet for several months while engineers sought to isolate the cause, marking the second time the company has had to suspend launches after an accident. Despite that setback, SpaceX has managed to thrive over the past 12 months. It has launched six successful missions since returning to flight in January. With a seventh launch slated for June 1, the company is on pace to launch more than a dozen missions this year—potentially quite a few more than the one-per-month it was averaging in 2016. It has also brought more than 10 of its first stage boosters safely back to Earth after launch, normalizing a feat that seemed insurmountably difficult just a few years ago. It has successfully refurbished and reused one of those boosters on a second mission, a development that could drastically impact the economics of space launch going forward. And it has successfully broken into the lucrative military launch market, sending its first classified payload for the U.S. Air Force skyward earlier this month. The latter two developments are particularly relevant to SpaceX's future ambitions for one simple reason: spaceflight is expensive. By breaking into the military satellite space—the one segment of the satellite launch market SpaceX had yet to disrupt—the company has a new $1.9 billion market from which it can draw revenue. Reusability on the other hand could drastically reduce the costs associated with each launch, allowing SpaceX to improve its margins while cutting its prices further. "The degree to which they have visibly demonstrated return and reuse, that's quite significant," Carissa Christensen, CEO of aerospace consultancy Bryce Space and Technology, says. "That's been a long-targeted industry objective, and SpaceX is the first to do it commercially." The second payload to ride atop a recovered and refurbished rocket booster will launch next month, and the company could begin seeing significant cost reductions as a result of its reusable rocket technology within two or three years. "If you can recover those engines and they're fine, you can save an awful lot of money," Caceres says. "By the time you get to maybe 10 of these kinds of missions, it becomes routine. You start to realize some cost savings, which allows you to start noticeably dropping the price of your missions. And if you can get the price down to 30 or 35 million [dollars] per mission, nobody else can come close to that." What does all this have to do with sending astronauts to Mars? For one, such an interplanetary mission will be extremely expensive, likely measured in trillions rather than hundreds of billions of dollars, Caceres says. One way to enable such a mission is to reduce the cost of space access, spurring economic activity in orbit and beyond which in turn will help create economies of scale that drive costs down further, a point to which Musk has spoken at length. SpaceX has already succeeded in this regard, cutting the average cost of launch in half with its $62 million Falcon 9 rocket and forcing others in the industry like United Launch Alliance to slash their own prices while also investing in newer, less-expensive launch technologies. If savings from its reusable rocket technology begin to manifest themselves as expected, Caceres says, "theoretically SpaceX could be launching dozens of times per year and at prices maybe one-fourth their competitors'." More from CNBC Disruptor 50: Uber vs. Lyft: A race that isn't anywhere near over Why Warren Buffett is betting on this software start-up Forget Silicon Valley, this is the red-hot market US start-ups are flocking to While continuing to drive down cost, SpaceX can also work toward its Mars ambitions by honing technologies and capabilities that position the company to assume a larger workload with its partners in government. In the near-term, two such technologies/capabilities to watch are the company's test of its far more powerful Falcon Heavy rocket later this year and its first crewed missions to the International Space Station aboard its Dragon crew capsule, likely beginning in 2018. If SpaceX can successfully demonstrate both of those capabilities, Caceres predicts that NASA will come under Congressional pressure to explain why it needs to continue pouring money into the $18 billion Space Launch System, NASA's own super heavy-lift rocket and space capsule. If Congress decides NASA doesn't need to keep funding the Space Launch System, SpaceX would arguably be the best-positioned commercial company to step into its place, making it the de facto launch partner for any federally-funded future Mars mission. "The name of the game these days is public-private partnerships, because it's clear now that unless Congress dramatically increases NASA's annual budget of just under $19 billion a year, NASA cannot come close to doing the things that it would like to do or that Congress would like it to do," Caceres says. "So you need to find a way to partner with companies that have the technology, the ambition, and the vision, and the only company like that out there frankly is SpaceX." "I think SpaceX arguably is positioning itself to be the partner of choice for any federally funded or internationally-backed Mars mission," Bryce Space and Technology's Christensen says. That could change as competitors like United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin bring new rockets and new competition into the commercial launch market at the end of the decade. But with an enviable head start, rapidly growing market share, and an increasingly lucrative launch services business bankrolling SpaceX's ambitions—not to mention a President with a penchant for the grandiose in the White House—Musk's optimism surrounding a future manned Mars mission seems less extreme than it did last year. While it may happen during Trump's presidency, there's no indication that Musk and company will stop pushing for it—potentially dragging NASA and the U.S. government along with them if necessary, Caceres says. "There doesn't seem to be anything they're not willing to tackle when it comes to space," he says. "They're not just going to sit back and get a bunch of contracts. That's too boring for Elon Musk." The balance of power has shifted from Wall Street to Silicon Valley The race to zero in endless online brokerage-fee war


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. plans to send two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year as it continues to work with NASA for a planned crewed mission to the International Space Station. The passengers, who each paid a “significant deposit,” will undergo health and fitness tests and begin initial training later this year, the company said in a blog post Monday. SpaceX didn’t identify the two citizens or say how much they spent to book the trip that will use the Falcon Heavy, a new rocket in development that SpaceX has yet to fly. “It’s a pretty big mouthful to take two private citizens to orbit the moon,” Marco Caceres, a senior space analyst with Teal Group, an aerospace and defense market researcher, said in an interview. “It’s pretty risky; these are private citizens, which is different from an astronaut.” Pulling off a trip around the moon would mark SpaceX’s first foray into space tourism, which Musk has warned will be both dangerous and expensive. Musk estimated in the fall that initial fares will start at about $200,000 apiece for 100 or more passengers to take a journey to Mars. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are among competitors vying for lead position in the nascent recreational space travel market. How the Moon could lead to Mars: Read more in this QuickTake “This is about marketing SpaceX and generating excitement, though to be honest, the company could use the revenue," Luigi Peluso, an aerospace and defense consultant at AlixPartners, said of Monday’s announcement. “The challenge is that Falcon Heavy hasn’t even flown its first voyage yet.” The Falcon Heavy rocket will complete its first test flight this summer, according to SpaceX. In addition to the civilian mission, SpaceX also said it will launch an unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station this year and fly its first crew there in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX has contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration valued at $4.2 billion to resupply the Space Station using its unmanned Dragon spacecraft and ultimately to ferry astronauts to the station from the U.S. using what’s known as Crew Dragon. “By also flying privately crewed missions, which NASA has encouraged, long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions,” the company said in the blog post. NASA said in a statement it “commends its industry partners for reaching higher.” The Government Accountability Office said in a report earlier this month that SpaceX and competitor Boeing Co. may not be approved to transport astronauts until 2019 because of potential safety hazards. “Elon Musk is trying to keep up the excitement,” said Caceres. “But it comes with huge risks when you are talking about launching private citizens on a rocket that has yet to be certified.” President Donald Trump has indicated support for a more-ambitious space program, saying in his inaugural address that the U.S. is “ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” NASA hasn’t sent people beyond low-Earth orbit since the final moon missions more than 40 years ago, although it did continue manned flights until the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. Musk, who’s also the CEO of Tesla Inc. and a member of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, founded SpaceX 15 years ago with the stated goal of creating a human colony on Mars. The closely-held company makes rockets at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and has contracts to launch commercial satellites as well as fly missions for NASA and the U.S. military. SpaceX suffered a setback in September when a fireball destroyed a rocket and its payload on a Florida launchpad. The company returned to flight in January following the completion of an investigation into the mishap.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. plans to send two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year as it continues to work with NASA for a planned crewed mission to the International Space Station. The passengers, who each paid a “significant deposit,” will undergo health and fitness tests and begin initial training later this year, the company said in a blog post Monday. SpaceX didn’t identify the two citizens or say how much they spent to book the trip that will use the Falcon Heavy, a new rocket in development that SpaceX has yet to fly. “It’s a pretty big mouthful to take two private citizens to orbit the moon,” Marco Caceres, a senior space analyst with Teal Group, an aerospace and defense market researcher, said in an interview. “It’s pretty risky; these are private citizens, which is different from an astronaut.” Pulling off a trip around the moon would mark SpaceX’s first foray into space tourism, which Musk has warned will be both dangerous and expensive. Musk estimated in the fall that initial fares will start at about $200,000 apiece for 100 or more passengers to take a journey to Mars. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are among competitors vying for lead position in the nascent recreational space travel market. How the Moon could lead to Mars: Read more in this QuickTake “This is about marketing SpaceX and generating excitement, though to be honest, the company could use the revenue," Luigi Peluso, an aerospace and defense consultant at AlixPartners, said of Monday’s announcement. “The challenge is that Falcon Heavy hasn’t even flown its first voyage yet.” The Falcon Heavy rocket will complete its first test flight this summer, according to SpaceX. In addition to the civilian mission, SpaceX also said it will launch an unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station this year and fly its first crew there in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX has contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration valued at $4.2 billion to resupply the Space Station using its unmanned Dragon spacecraft and ultimately to ferry astronauts to the station from the U.S. using what’s known as Crew Dragon. “By also flying privately crewed missions, which NASA has encouraged, long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions,” the company said in the blog post. NASA said in a statement it “commends its industry partners for reaching higher.” The Government Accountability Office said in a report earlier this month that SpaceX and competitor Boeing Co. may not be approved to transport astronauts until 2019 because of potential safety hazards. “Elon Musk is trying to keep up the excitement,” said Caceres. “But it comes with huge risks when you are talking about launching private citizens on a rocket that has yet to be certified.” President Donald Trump has indicated support for a more-ambitious space program, saying in his inaugural address that the U.S. is “ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” NASA hasn’t sent people beyond low-Earth orbit since the final moon missions more than 40 years ago, although it did continue manned flights until the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. Musk, who’s also the CEO of Tesla Inc. and a member of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, founded SpaceX 15 years ago with the stated goal of creating a human colony on Mars. The closely-held company makes rockets at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and has contracts to launch commercial satellites as well as fly missions for NASA and the U.S. military. SpaceX suffered a setback in September when a fireball destroyed a rocket and its payload on a Florida launchpad. The company returned to flight in January following the completion of an investigation into the mishap.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — In President Donald Trump's estimation, the U.S. border isn't merely porous, it's "wide open." Darkness and danger are everywhere, even Sweden. American infrastructure isn't just in need of improvement but it's in "total disrepair and decay." The health law is not only flawed, but it's an "absolute and total catastrophe." His apocalyptic view of everything he intends to fix leaves no nuance, but that's where reality often resides. For example, Trump himself actually likes parts of former President Barack Obama's health overhaul, such as the extended coverage for older children. And the U.S. remains an economic powerhouse able to transport goods in a stressed system of roads, bridges and ports that are not in total decay. But the president is one to overreach for superlatives, whether describing the state of things as he found them or what he plans to do about them — or claims to have done already. Some statements from the past week: THE FACTS: That's only true if you consider more than 20 million people to be "very few." That's how many are covered by the two major components of the law: expanded Medicaid and subsidized private health insurance. The Medicaid expansion, adopted by 31 states and the District of Columbia, covers about 11 million low-income people, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The other, more visible, component is HealthCare.gov. The federal website and state-run online insurance markets have signed up 12.2 million people for this year, according to an Associated Press count this month, based on federal and state reports. Altogether, since Obama's law passed in 2010, the number of uninsured people has dropped by about 20 million and the uninsured rate has declined below 9 percent, a historic low. For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android. TRUMP, repeating a week-old assertion that Sweden is an example of violence and extremism due to immigration: "Take a look at what happened in Sweden. I love Sweden, great country, great people, I love Sweden. But they understand. The people over there understand I'm right." THE FACTS: Trump was ridiculed in Sweden after he warned at a rally in Florida that terrorism was growing in Europe and something terrible had happened in Sweden the previous night. But there had been no extraordinary trouble that night in Sweden, a country welcoming to immigrants. Two days later, though, a riot broke out after police arrested a drug crime suspect. Cars were set on fire and shops looted, but no one was injured. Attacks in the country related to extremism remain rare. The biggest surprise for many Swedes was that a police officer found it necessary to fire his gun. TRUMP: The U.S. is providing security to other nations "while leaving our own border wide open. Anybody can come in. But don't worry, we're getting a wall. ... We're getting bad people out of this country." THE FACTS: His wide-open border claim is bogus. The number of arrests of illegal border crossers — the best measure of how many people are trying to cross illegally — remains at a 40-year low. The U.S. government under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama roughly doubled the ranks of the Border Patrol in the past decade or so. In addition, the number of people expelled from the country since Trump took office Jan. 20 has not been disclosed. No available data support his claim, made Thursday, that immigrants in the country illegally are being expelled at a rate "nobody has ever seen before." Deportations were brisk when Obama was president. Altogether in January, 16,643 people were deported, a drop from December (20,395) but a number that is similar to monthly deportations in early 2015 and 2016. This month, Homeland Security officials have said 680 people were arrested in a weeklong effort to find and arrest criminal immigrants living in the United States illegally. Three-quarters of those people had been convicted of crimes, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said. The remaining 25 percent were not. The government has not provided information about who was arrested in that roundup, so it's impossible to determine how many gang members or drug lords were in that group. It is also unclear how many of those "bad people" have actually been deported. That roundup was largely planned before Trump took office and was alternately described by the Trump administration as a routine enforcement effort and a signal of his pledge to take a harder line on illegal immigration. During the Obama administration, similar operations were carried out that yielded thousands of arrests. TRUMP: "We have authorized the construction, one day, of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. And issued a new rule — this took place while I was getting ready to sign. I said who makes the pipes for the pipeline? Well, sir, it comes from all over the world, isn't that wonderful? I said nope, comes from the United States, or we're not building it. American steel. If they want a pipeline in the United States, they're going to use pipe that's made in the United States." THE FACTS: It's not that straightforward. Trump's executive order leaves lots of wiggle room on how much U.S. steel is actually used. The order states new, expanded or repaired pipelines in the U.S. must use U.S. steel "to the maximum extent possible" and allowed by law. That's not an all-USA mandate. What's judged possible in the Keystone XL project remains to be seen. Pipes are already purchased. Contrary to his statement, Trump has not approved the project. Rather, he revived it by asking TransCanada to resubmit its application. TransCanada did so in late January while saying it needs time to review how any buy-American plan would affect the company. It has said the majority of steel would be from North America, but that includes Canada and Mexico. Trump's Jan. 24 order on U.S. steel has little effect on the Dakota Access project because it is nearly complete. TRUMP on arrests of people in the country illegally: "It's a military operation because what has been allowed to come into our country, when you see gang violence that you've read about like never before and all of the things, much of that is people who are here illegally. And they're rough and they're tough, but they're not tough like our people. So we're getting them out." THE FACTS: He was wrong in calling immigration enforcement a military operation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, responsible for finding and deporting immigrants in the country illegally, is a civilian law enforcement agency. Military personnel were not responsible for recent raids that resulted in the arrests of 680 people. Planning for that roundup had been underway during the previous and was in step with large, periodic raids when Obama was president. Kelly contradicted Trump on the nature of plans to step up border enforcement: "There will be no use of military forces in immigration," Kelly said. "There will be no — repeat, no — mass deportations." TRUMP again claimed credit for a $700 million savings in the military's contract with Lockheed for the F-35 fighter jet. Speaking to the defense contractor's CEO Marillyn Hewson, he said: "Over $700 million. Do you think Hillary would have cost you $700 million? I assume you wanted her to win" — referring to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. THE FACTS: Cost savings for the F-35 began before Trump's inauguration and predate his complaints about the price tag. The head of the Air Force program announced significant price reductions Dec. 19 — after Trump had tweeted about the cost but weeks before Trump met about the issue on Jan. 13 with Hewson. "There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of additional F-35 cost savings as a result of President Trump's intervention," said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the aerospace consulting firm Teal Group. He said Trump appears to be taking credit for prior-year budget decisions and for work already done by managers at the Pentagon who took action before the presidential election to reduce costs. Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell, Matthew Daly and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report. EDITOR'S NOTE _ A look at the veracity of claims by political figures


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is giving himself too much credit for sending criminal foreigners out of the country and saving money on fighter planes. He's getting too much credit from one of the few women with a top White House job for elevating women in the administration. A look at some statements Thursday by Trump and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway: TRUMP: "We're getting gang members out, we're getting drug lords out, we're getting really bad dudes out of this country, at a rate nobody has ever seen before. ... It's a military operation because what has been allowed to come into our country, when you see gang violence that you've read about like never before and all of the things, much of that is people who are here illegally. And they're rough and they're tough, but they're not tough like our people. So we're getting them out." THE FACTS: Trump is broadly embellishing his brief track record on immigration and wrongly branding the deportation effort a military operation. The number of people expelled from the country since Trump took office Jan. 20 has not been released. No available data supports his claim that immigrants in the country illegally are being expelled at a rate "nobody has ever seen before." Deportations were brisk when Barack Obama was president. Altogether in January, 16,643 people were deported, a drop from December (20,395) but a number that is similar to monthly deportations in early 2015 and 2016. This month, Homeland Security officials have said 680 people were arrested in a weeklong effort to find and arrest criminal immigrants living in the United States illegally. Three-quarters of those people had been convicted of crimes, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said. The remaining 25 percent were not. The government has not provided information about who was arrested in that roundup, so it's impossible to determine how many gang members or drug lords were in that group. That effort was largely planned before Trump took office and was alternately described by the administration as a routine enforcement effort and a signal of Trump's pledge to take a harder line on illegal immigration. During the Obama administration similar operations were carried out that yielded thousands of arrests. The 680 arrests were not carried out in a military operation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, responsible for finding and deporting immigrants in the country illegally, is a civilian law enforcement agency. Trump plans to increase enforcement, but Kelly contradicted him Thursday over the nature of that initiative: "There will be no use of military forces in immigration," Kelly said while visiting Mexico. "There will be no — repeat, no — mass deportations." TRUMP, at a White House meeting with manufacturers, again claimed credit for a $700 million savings in the military's contract with Lockheed for the F-35 fighter jet. Speaking to the defense contractor's CEO Marillyn Hewson, he said: "Over $700 million. Do you think Hillary would have cost you $700 million? I assume you wanted her to win." THE FACTS: Cost savings for the F-35 began before Trump's inauguration and predate his complaints about the price tag. The head of the Air Force program announced significant price reductions Dec. 19 — after Trump had tweeted about the cost but weeks before Trump met about the issue on Jan. 13 with Hewson. "There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of additional F-35 cost savings as a result of President Trump's intervention," said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the aerospace consulting firm Teal Group. He said Trump appears to be taking credit for prior-year budget decisions and for work already done by managers at the Pentagon who took action before the presidential election to reduce costs. CONWAY at a conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee: "He has been promoting and elevating women in the Trump Corporation — in the Trump campaign, in the Trump Cabinet, certainly in the Trump White House. It's just a very natural affinity for him." THE FACTS: No such elevation of women has taken place, when Trump's choices for the Cabinet and top White House aides are compared with those of other presidents in recent decades. Indeed, there's been backsliding. — Cabinet: Trump has nominated four women for Cabinet or Cabinet-level jobs. That's fewer than Democrats Barack Obama (seven) and Bill Clinton (six) had for their first Cabinets, and the same number as Republican George W. Bush chose out of the gate. As well, women chosen by Trump are in less senior positions — both in prominence and in the line of succession to the presidency — than some of the women nominated by his predecessors. For example, Obama's first secretary of state, a top-tier post, was Hillary Clinton. Bush made Condoleezza Rice his secretary of state in his second term. Clinton's first Cabinet had a woman as attorney general. Trump's top four Cabinet positions — secretary of state, attorney general, treasury secretary and defense secretary — are all filled by men. Looking more broadly, women occupied as much as 35 percent of Obama's Cabinet at their maximum numbers, compared with the historic high of 41 percent during Clinton's second term, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Women make up 17 percent of Trump's Cabinet choices, the center found. At their height, women comprised 18 percent of Ronald Reagan's Cabinet, the same percentage under George H.W. Bush and 30 percent under George W. Bush, the center found. Trump chose Elaine Chao for Labor, Betsy DeVos for Education and Linda McMahon for the Small Business Administration. As for jobs that are not traditionally part of the Cabinet but considered Cabinet-level, Nikki Haley is ambassador to the United Nations and Trump has not named someone to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. — White House: The percentage of women in top White House jobs is shaping up to be lower than during at least five of the last six presidential terms, according to an analysis Monday by USA Today. The high for women in senior West Wing jobs was 52 percent under Clinton in 2000, the analysis found, while the percentage dipped to 28 percent in 2008, under George W. Bush. For Trump, it's 23 percent of known staff. The White House quarreled with USA Today's findings, saying the percentage is actually 31 percent, but refused to back up its figure by giving names or titles for those it considers senior. As for White House staff overall, the percentage is "nearly the same" as for past administrations, the White House told the paper. Associated Press writer Jim Drinkard contributed to this report. EDITOR'S NOTE _ A look at the veracity of claims by political figures


News Article | November 17, 2016
Site: phys.org

The plane was approaching Heathrow Airport on July 18 and flying at nearly 5,000 feet (1,525 meters) when the pilot spotted a 50-centimeter (20-inch) drone off the right flight deck window. The UK Airprox Board report says "chance played a major part" in avoiding a collision and called it a "very near-miss." "The crew estimated it probably passed above the right wing and horizontal stabilizer," the report said. The review published last week cited several safety incidents in Britain involving drones over summer, including a near-miss on July 12 with an A319 passenger plane at Liverpool Airport. "The captain noticed a large black-and-yellow drone in the right 2 o'clock position," the report said. "As the A319 climbed through the drone's level, it passed down the right side, about 5 (meters) from the wingtip." The incidents underscored the fears of many aviation experts about the growing popularity of drones and their danger to planes. Under British rules, a drone operator must be able to see the drone at all times—so such a flight above the Shard would be too high for an operator on the ground to see the drone and thus illegal. Drone operators are also supposed to keep them away from planes, helicopters, airports and airfields. "The proliferation of (small unmanned aircraft) and the difficulty in policing the regulations in terms of operating areas and altitudes, continues to raise considerable concern within the military flying community," the report said, adding that while the police were notified, "unless the drone operator is found at the time of occurrence, little can be done." In another incident, the report said a pilot on an A319 plane making an approach to Heathrow watched a DJI Phantom drone pass within 100 meters (yards) of the left-hand side of the aircraft. The pilot said he recognized the drone "because his son had the very same model." A King Air pilot conducting training also spotted a white drone in the radar pattern of RAR Cranwell near a windfarm. Near Oxford, a DA42 pilot had to bank 30 degrees to avoid hitting a square four-prop drone flying at 2,300 feet (700 meters) and going in the opposite direction. The review also said another A320 pilot descending to Heathrow on July 16 also spotted a drone that passed just above the plane to the left. "The drone operator could not be traced," the report said. It's not clear how many drones are operating in Britain, as small drones bought for private use often don't have to be registered. That said, the market is growing fast as drones become cheaper and easier to operate. Experts at an aerospace research firm, The Teal Group, estimate there are several million drones in the United States alone. Explore further: UK investigating reported near-miss between drone and plane


News Article
Site: www.asminternational.org

The International Titanium Association, Northglenn, Colo., announces that the Titanium 2016 conference and exhibition will focus on the global titanium industry. The event will be held September 25th - 28th at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Golf Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, providing nearly 1000 attendees with valuable insights, timely information and networking opportunities in the global titanium industry. The conference will host numerous speaker sessions to address titanium business trends and manufacturing technology innovations, along with presentations by a number of accomplished individuals.  Special guest speakers include Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group; Allan McArtor, the chairman and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc.; award-winning author, journalist and international correspondent Robin Wright; American inventor and electrical vehicle pioneer William Morrison (Chip) Yates, who serves as vice president of marketing for Norsk Titanium; and pilot, author and photographer Brian Shul, one of only 93 men in history to fly the legendary, titanium-intensive SR-71 spy plane, the fastest jet ever built. Henry Seiner will deliver a presentation on "Trends in the Defense Market: A Titanium Perspective," as a member of the World Titanium Industry Demand Trends segment.  Henry will address aerospace, marine and land-based titanium applications and their market drivers. Seiner will frame his remarks in the larger scope of defense budgets and increasing global tensions. China and United States continue to have the world's two largest defense budgets. However, the gap is closing as the U.S. defense budget declined for the fifth consecutive year in a row and its ratio of outspending China has dropped from 10:1 to 3:1 in the last decade. The decline in value of the euro, the ruble and the price of oil has caused a shake-up of ranking for the remaining top 15 military spenders.


News Article | November 4, 2015
Site: chicagobusiness.com

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Poor maintenance, overcrowding and lax safety standards likely contributed to the Wednesday crash of a Soviet-era plane in South Sudan, experts said. Soldiers and civilians were on board the Antonov 12 B turboprop plane when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Juba International Airport, killing more than 30 people, the New York Times reported. The Antonov 12 is a commonly used cargo plane around the world, analysts said. The plane that crashed had been in service since 1971, according to the Aviation Safety Network. A presidential spokesperson told CNN that engine failure may have caused the crash, but that had not been confirmed, and an investigation was underway to determine the official cause. “It’s the worst possible set of circumstances,” said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group, an aerospace and defense industry think tank based in Fairfax, Virginia. “It’s a recipe for trouble,” he added, citing the age of the plane as well as likely poor oversight and procedure on the ground. The air routes above the African nation South Sudan are not highly traveled, according to Aboulafia, who said the region is not a main economic transportation artery. The Antonov 12 aircraft can be reliably used for more than 40 years, but it requires “proper care and maintenance,” Aboulafia said. A flight map from Wednesday shows the airspace activity above South Sudan.  Flightradar24.com The flight likely had too many people on board, said Kenyi Galla, a manager for a company that operates chartered flights in South Sudan. “Normally [this flight carries] 12 people, but the problem is they added more people," he told the Associated Press. “This plane is just for cargo, not for passengers. It was just chartered for goods.” A South Sudanese military spokesman told the New York Times that officials were still trying to determine the exact number of deaths and that it was common for additional people to board planes when a flight was available in the country. Eighteen people were onboard the aircraft, including 12 South Sudanese, five Armenians and one Russian, and only three survived, according to a government spokesperson. It remained unclear how many people on the ground had been killed by the plane crash, but Reuters reported as many as 41 people were killed in total. The plane was en route to the northern oil-rich town of Paloch when it crashed close to the White Nile River. The plane belonged to Allied Services Ltd., a logistics and freight company. “It [the crash] has more to do with regulation and safety standards in third [party] countries such as South Sudan,” said Alex Kokcharov, an analyst focused on Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States for IHS, a global economics and risk analysis firm, when asked about the Soviet-era aircraft. Several Sudanese airlines have been banned from flying into the EU due to safety standards. Officials investigate the wreckage of a cargo airplane that crashed after take-off near Juba Airport in South Sudan, Nov. 4, 2015.  Reuters/Jok Solomun South Sudan became the world’s newest state in 2011 and has been mired in conflict since 2013. The conflict began when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, leading to attacks among Dinkas and Nuers. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of thousands and the internal displacement of more than 1.5 million people. The United Nations reported that 34 humanitarian workers have been killed in South Sudan since 2013. There have also been reports of civil aircraft being fired on during the conflict. The crash in South Sudan comes a few days after the crash of a Russian plane flying from Egypt to St. Petersburg. The Saturday crash of Metrojet flight 9268 in Egypt killed all 224 people on board and has put the spotlight on the Russian aviation industry. Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the crash, with Egypt’s president strongly denying that terrorists were responsible for the downing of the plane. Russia’s domestic aviation industry remains fragmented with approximately 150 airlines, although fewer than half fly outside the country, Kokcharov said. “Smaller airlines in Russia don’t have sufficient safety standards,” Kokcharov said, noting that Russian legislators have proposed an industry consolidation in the wake of the Sinai crash.


News Article | April 17, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

A human mission to Mars is one step closer due to facilities housed and managed by companies based in Colorado. Currently, NASA plans sending people to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030's. The Journey to Mars would provide a means to bring human space travelers to the Red Planet and back to Earth. As mission engineers design the equipment and procedures needed to ferry a human crew to Mars, they will need to overcome several obstacles. Among these are protecting space travelers from radiation, providing fuel and life support, and designing spacecraft capable of landing on the Red Planet and taking off again for Earth. "A fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers already are on and around Mars, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover measured radiation on the way to Mars and is sending back radiation data from the surface. This data will help us plan how to protect the astronauts who will explore Mars," NASA officials report. Several companies based in Colorado are assisting NASA in developing the technology needed to bring humans to Mars. Among these are Sierra Nevada Corp., Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and Lockheed Martin. For a mission scheduled for liftoff decades in the future, it is vital for NASA to continue receiving funding to carry out operations. Frequently, presidential administration alter the goals of the space program to suit their own needs and desires. "The idea of going to Mars is a long-term vision that really needs to be sustained over a period of numerous administrations... NASA doesn't want to (promise) something unless they believe they have the money to do it. It really is an effort to continue to build public interest, particularly at a time when the private efforts are gaining so much interest," Marco Caceres of Teal Group Corp said. As private space developers such as SpaceX continue missions to the International Space Station, some aerospace officials are becoming concerned the American public may lose interest in NASA. The national space industry could seize the publicity of a human mission to Mars in order to drive interest in space, mission engineers suggest. However, to put boots on the ground on the Red Planet, the agency will likely require a significant increase in funding over its current budget of approximately $18 bllion a year, scientists report. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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