Tag Archives: David Johanson multimedia specialist

Will The Next Jet Airliner You Fly Already Be Obsolete, And Ready for Early Retirement?

9 Oct

 

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Multimedia eLearning program by: David Anthony Johanson ©  – All written & graphic content on this site (unless noted) was produced by the author. Add: 2.0  For an alternative graphic interface click here: https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com
This multimedia essay includes an eLearning program for secondary/post secondary education and community learning. Assessment tool: A quiz and answer key is located at the end of the program. Learning content covered:  aerospace/airliner— aerospace engineering, avionics, economics & business, environmental  footprint,  financing, manufacturing, marketing, obsolescence management, technology. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning.  Key: Words or phrases are italicized to emphasize essential concepts or terms for enhanced retention and learning.
[ Disclaimer: David Johanson is a former Boeing scientific photographer and currently has no stock holdings or a financial interest in: Boeing, Airbus or any other companies referenced in this program. Research in this article has been cross referenced using at least three sources, however, all perspectives and opinions represented in this program are those of the author. Subjects covered: aerospace technology, engineering, obsolescence management, marketing, economics and business subject matter. ]

 

Like seeing a mirage in the distance, shimmering sunlight reflects off rows of metal fuselages densely packed in the summer light. A surreal scene of Boeing jet airliners dominates the view, while forming a metallic wall around sections of a regional airport. Boeing_Paine_Field_747_ae3013
Billions of dollars worth of jet airliners are now double parked around Paine Field, Snohomish County Airport, in Everett, Washington. “This development indicates the current success, Boeing is having at landing airliner orders and the result you’re seeing represents a record amount of aircraft production,”said Terrance Scott, a spokesman for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
He said the Company is leasing this space from Paine Field so that planes can have the remaining work completed and be ready for delivery to their customers — also, this isn’t unique to Everett, but is happening at Boeing manufacturing facilities at Renton Field and at Boeing Field in Seattle.
“Boeing has always been a good neighbor and a fine customer for the airport, they are currently leasing areas to park their aircraft and the revenue generated is appreciated.” said Dave Waggoner, Airport Director at Snohomish County Airport — Paine Field.

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The global economy’s steady growth has increased passenger traffic, which puts pressure on the airlines to purchase new aircraft for satisfying  demand. Continued drops in jet fuel prices benefits air travel industry profits, giving further incentives for fleet investments. Additionally, with historically low-interest rates, lending institutions find new opportunities in aviation financing, enabling expansion of corporate sales. However, financing for used planes is another matter. Cash is drying up for previously owned jetliners — which puts pressure to part-out, then scrap relatively newer-used aircraft.
Could The New Normal Be Shorter Aircraft Service-Life For Airliner Fleets?
Recently, published reports noted a shift towards an assumed obsolescence and accelerated scraping of newer airliners — well before structural integrity or air worthiness becomes a problem, middle-aged aircraft are experiencing vulnerability to an early end-of-life. Clearly, accelerated scraping of newer aircraft is not due to any structural concerns, but rather, cyclical conditions of the industry. To appreciate these concerns a review of an airliner’s operational lifespan may help clarify some of the issues.
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Aircraft manufactures use what is known as pressurization cycles to determine an airliner’s operational lifespan. A pressurizing cycle includes distinct aircraft flight activities — takeoff, climbing until it reaches a cruise altitude and then descending to make a landing. During this process, air is pumped into the fuselage to pressurize the cabin for passenger comfort. This repeated pressurization flexes or expands the fuselage — consequently stress is put on various connecting components, including fasteners and rivets, which holds the structural integrity of the plane together. After a certain number of landing pressurization cycles, stress or metal fatigue can begin to develop, eventually causing small cracks around the fasteners. Pressurization/landing cycles mainly concern the life of an aircraft’s fuselage, wings and landing gear.
The interior of fuselage section, showing perpendicular rings, which are called frames.

The interior of fuselage section, showing perpendicular rings, which are called frames.

Maintenance schedules and lifespan of jet engines are measured in the number of flight hoursAircraft engines, followed by landing gear and then avionics are the most valuable components for part-out and dismantling specialist operations. Ultimately, engine condition is the major factor in an owner’s decision to part-out an aircraft.
For short flights, single or smaller double aisle craft is used to carry passengers, which may go through many landing or pressurization cycles for everyday operations. The more takeoffs and landings, means a shorter operational lifespan for the plane. On long overseas flights, wide body or jumbo jets such as 747s experience fewer landing cycles. These larger airliners, especially ones use for cargo operations can have longer lifespans of upwards of 20 or 30 years. In the U.S., the FAA requires an initial inspection on Boeing 737s, which have 30,000 takeoffs and landings using electromagnetic testing. Mandatory inspections are required for finding cracks in the fuselage or metal fasteners.
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Boeing has a history of ‘over-engineering’ components of its aircraft, which is actually a good thing for ensuring passenger safety and for an extended service-life of the aircraft. Historical evidence of this conservative engineering practice is documented in WWII archival film footage of blown-apart B-17s returning from a mission and safely landing. There are more recent examples of Boeing commercial aircraft surviving dramatic inflight catastrophic failures, with most of the passengers and crew landing safely.
Photo-illustration of an aircraft end-of-life center (aircraft boneyard.)

Photo-illustration of an aircraft end-of-life center
(aircraft boneyard.)

Compound Forces Working Against Long-Life-Cycle Aircraft
What are the current forces, which hasten the end-of-life of a commercial jet airliner? Recurring cycles or patterns of economic and technological events influences the commercial aircraft industry on a daily basis.  Various ripple-effects of these cycles can quickly alter new and used aircraft asset valuation. Airline leasing companies have a major influence, in providing their customers with the aircraft assets they need. Unless the buying customer has solid credit, it’s doubtful they can secure financing for previously-owned airliners. Also, tax incentives exist for Airline companies to use depreciation right-offs by decommissioning  all but  the most advance aircraft assets.      Calculator changecphoto illustration
Maintenance requirements are a long-term, yet fluid, financial concern for a company’s airline fleet. The newer designed aircraft are manufactured with significantly fewer parts than previous models. Consequently, reduction in parts has an impact on reducing maintenance expenditures — including smaller service crews, hours spent on inspection and a reduction of overall repairs. Also, spare parts inventories for maintaining the aircraft’s optimum performance can substantially be reduced compared to an older aircraft. The cost savings benefits are compelling incentives for eliminating older, higher maintenance, aircraft assets.
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As mentioned previously, the considerable reduction of parts used in manufacturing newer aircraft provides an immediate benefit of up to 20 percent weight reduction. Without compromising strength or aircraft structural  integrity, the cost savings from less weight begins the day an airliner is put into service. Traditionally, fuel-efficiency  is the “holy grail” used for selecting an aircraft — the amount of fuel-burn affects the daily operational cost of an airline company. After a decade of service an older airliner reaches mid-life, it may require upgraded and modification conversions to the aircraft’s wings (winglets) or need new fuel-efficient jet engines. However, this is a threshold of diminishing returns from such investments. As a result, keeping an older aircraft competitive with newer models may not pay-off at a certain point. That’s when retirement and parting-out the airliner begins to make economic sense and the aircraft’s end-of-life management begins.
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Inevitable Problems Facing Aircraft Electronic Systems (Avionics) Obsolescence
A critical and perplexing problem facing commercial airliners is how to ensure its critical avionics systems,  evolve and stay up-to-date. Avionics provides the central nervous system or a CPU framework for a commercial aircraft. It’s a marvelous matrix of advanced electronic systems technology, which constantly communicates with itself, the pilots and the outside world.  More so than any other components making up an aircraft’s technological system, its management and functionality duties are beyond comparison. Each year avionics systems physically contract in size, yet they expand immensely in functionality and system management.
Cell_Phone_Tlk_BPP_et82Here’s an example to help clarify this dichotomy of physical contraction and expansion of technical functionality. Your smartphone can be used as a basic representational model for avionics obsolescence. The phone you’re holding in your hand has a superior mobile graphics processor and sheer number-crunching power advantage over IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer of the late 1990s. Yet, you can hold your phone in hand, compared to Deep Blue, which was the size of a large refrigerator. However, advanced your smartphone is today, a year from now it’ll be obsolete and two years from now… a quaint antique.  If you grabbed your smartphone and considered the example, you just experienced Moore’s law of observation — ‘over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.’                                                                                   circut_board_watch_BPP_a70
Now, imagine trying to update  a complex system such as an airliner’s avionics bay, in five-years, 10-years or 15-years. The installation and the majority of electronic systems are not made by the Aircraft’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) such as Boeing or Airbus. Moreover, the vendors or suppliers 10 or 15-years from now who were the OEM, could be out of business.  In the meantime, new replacement components may have to substitute the obsolete equipment. However, the aircraft industry is highly regulated by government agencies, which require strict certification of equipment modifications. As a result of these constraints, aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing,  developed obsolescence management strategies to help mitigate these ongoing concerns. But there are always unforeseen obstacles and many moving parts to coordinate before the necessary electronic components are available when needed. Clear, transparent communication is necessary between internal engineering and purchasing departments. Sucessful collaboration at all levels can present major challenges, especially if the objectives and timetables are not each group’s priority.
So aircraft avionics are the vulnerable underbelly of airliner obsolescence — with financial consequences associated with accelerated, technology — necessitating complex and expensive electronic upgrades.
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 Airspace Navigation Service Providers (ANSP), which includes the FAA and the European counterpart EASA — have established new mandate requirements for avionics component upgrades. The purpose of this technology is for enhanced data link digital communication, which interacts instantly with aircraft Flight Management Systems (FMS). These requirements include, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), Controller-Pilot Data Link (CPDLC) and the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) enables text messaging and global position through satellite communications. The new civil aviation mandates are part of  the next generation air traffic computer technology called NextGen, which represents air traffic infrastructure’s future for the next 10 to 15 years.
Used Aircraft Components, Harvested For Premium Returns, Is the Retired Airliners Last Call In Service Before Its Final Destination.
Perhaps aircraft boneyards are flying under the radar as virtual gold mines, as refurbished parts are easily sold at market value. The savings of buying used, over new aircraft parts is incentive for expanding the market. Engines, landing gear and avionics are the most expensive components of an aircraft. These prized components are a highly valued commodity and are quickly snapped up. Specialized systems are not manufactured by companies such as Boeing or Airbus, but by outside OEM. Parts sold brand new by the manufacturer are considerably more expensive than buying used.
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Next Generation aircraft such as the Boeing 737-600 and even a 737-800, which was reported had a hard-landing, reached their end-of-life as scrap.  Also, Airbus has had similar, newer single-aisle aircraft models reached their final destination in the aviation boneyard.  Aircraft Fleet receivable Association (AFRA) estimates 600 commercial jet airliners are scrapped yearly. By 2023 it’s estimated the number of commercial airliners scrapped will reach 1000 per-year.

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Efforts Of The Aviation Industry To Leave A Smaller Environmental Footprint.
In 2008, the Boeing Company reached out to Airbus in collaboration, with the goal to vastly improve aircraft recycling technology. Airbus estimates they are recycling 85 percent of the entire aircraft, the remaining cabin interior amounted to 15 percent and was the only materials added to landfills.  World_box_BPP_et424
The best takeaway from the issues surrounding accelerated airliner service-life is that less fuel is consumed by the newer fleets. As older, less efficient aircraft are replaced, a 20 percent reduction in fuel emissions will not enter the atmosphere from the next generation aircraft replacements. If the world’s commercial airline manufactures continue to devote more effort towards efficient recycling of past generation aircraft, we can look forward to clearer skies ahead.                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~

Boeing 747 Euro photo illustration

 

 

 

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Special thanks to The Future of Flight Museum, for allowing photos to be taken from their excellent observation deck.           http://www.futureofflight.org 

 

Airliner Obsolescence Quiz  (Read the entire question before answering)

1. ) What three economic incentives are currently influencing airlines to purchase new aircraft for satisfying travel demand. ________________________________ _________________________________ & ________________________________

2. ) (True or False) Structural integrity or air worthiness of current generation airliners are the main issue why these aircraft are being retired early. _______ If you answered false, give at least one other reason why this is occurring. __________________________________________________________

3. ) Aircraft manufactures use _____________________ cycles to determine an airliner’s operational lifespan.
4. ) What are three distinct aircraft flight activities used to determine an airliner’s operation lifespan? _________________________ __________________________ ____________________________________________
5. ) Maintenance schedules and lifespan of jet engines are measured in the ________________ hours.
6. ) Aircraft _________ followed by ____________ and then ___________ are the most valuable components for part-out and dismantling specialist operations. Fill in the blanks above by selecting the proper order of component value, using the following list: (bulk heads) (wire bundles) (avionics) (engines) (landing gear)
7. ) Selecting from the choices listed below, which aircraft will typically experience more pressurization cycles and why? A or B ____________ explain why _____________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ A. Jumbo jet (larger, multi isle aircraft) which is used for longer, overseas flights. B. Smaller, single isle jet airliners, which are used more for shorter, domestic flights.
8. ) Multi-isle airliners or jumbo jets, used for longer international flights or for cargo operations can have longer lifespans of upwards of ____ – ____ years. Select the best match from these sets: 5 − 15, 10 − 15, 20 − 30, 30 − 40 years.
9. ) Explain why a larger commercial jet airliner, which flies longer over sea routes, would have a longer operational life than a smaller aircraft, which is used on much shorter routes? __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

10. ) What procedure is required by the FAA for a Boeing 737 airliner, which completes 30,000 takeoffs and landings?__________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

11. ) The newer designed aircraft are manufactured with significantly fewer parts than previous models, list at least two reasons why this is an advantage and would make older aircraft obsolete? ________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
12. ) What traditionally has been considered the “holy grail” used by the airline industry for selecting an aircraft? _________________________________________
13. ) When permanent retirement and parting-out the of an airliner begins to make economic sense, what form of management begins for that aircraft? ____________________ Select one of the following: end-of-days, end-of-life, retirement cycle, recycle phase.
14. ) What critical system of an airliner is considered its “central nervous system” or CPU for overall control of the aircraft? ________________________________ Give at least two reasons why this system contributes to a jet becoming obsolete? _______________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

15. ) Approximately how many aircraft are permanently retired or scrapped in a year? __________________ By 2023, how many aircraft are expected to be scrapped? _______________________________________________________________________

16. ) Regarding commercial aircraft recycling technology, what percentage does Airbus estimate it is recycling of the entire airliner ___ 40 %, 65 %, 75 % or 85 % What percent of the aircraft is not recyclable ___ 60 %, 50 %, 25 %, or 15 % What part of the airliner is not recyclable ____________________ and where does it end up? ___________________________
The answer key is at the very bottom, after program sources & related links 

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Sources & Related Subject Matter Links
This link shows live air traffic anywhere in the world. View how congested the sky’s are over the world’s busiest airports.

http://www.flightradar24.com/47.79,-122.31/7

 

Aircraft Bluebook – Used for aviation asset valuation

http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/commercial/aircraft_economic_life_whitepaper.pdfhttp://marketline.squarespace.com 

http://www.boeing.com/boeing/companyoffices/aboutus/brief/commercial.page

http://www.airbus.com/innovation/eco-efficiency/aircraft-end-of-life/

http://www.airspacemag.com/need-to-know/what-determines-an-airplanes-lifespan-29533465/?no-ist

http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/air_software/media/ObsolescenceFinalReport.pdf

http://aviationweek.com/awin/nextgen-obsolescence-driving-avionics-refurbs

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/11/boeing-commercial-planes-double-asia-pacific

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/5740876/

http://avolon.aero/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Aircraft_Retirement_Trends_Outlook_Sep_2012.pdf

Article & photos on U.S. aircraft boneyards

http://www.johnweeks.com/boneyard/

 

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2336804/The-great-aviation-graveyard-New-aerial-images-hundreds-planes-left-die-American-deserts.html
Article, photos & interactive map of U.S. aircraft boneyards
http://www.airplaneboneyards.com/commercial-aviation-airplane-boneyards-storage.htm
Excellent aerial video of Airplane Graveyard (Mojave Airport, California)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RjaoR7Zk2s
Future of Flight Museum -

Future of Flight Museum

Airliner Obsolescence Quiz Answer Key

1. )  Satisfying increased travel demand Fuel cost savings  &  Historically low-interest rates for financing new aircraft
2. )  True Newer aircraft are replacing airworthy, older aircraft due to much less operating cost, including fuel savings and maintenance issues.
3. )  Pressurization or Landing cycles
4. )  Takeoff Climbing to cruise altitude Landing
5. )  Number of flight hours
6. )  Engines  landing  gear avionics
7. )  B Shorter service routes typically involve more landing and takeoffs as the airliner satisfies domestic travel demand
8. )  20 − 30
9. )  An airliner flying overseas route would most likely have fewer takeoffs and landings, due to the longer flight time required to reach its destination
10. )  Electromagnetic testing for finding cracks in the fuselage or related components
11. )  Fewer parts can result in an airliner weighing up to 20 percent less than older models, which can correlate to the same percentage of fuel savings. The maintenance cost is substantially lower allowing for more savings over older aircraft with more component parts.
12. )  Fuel-efficiency
13. )  End-of-life
14. )  Avionics electronic components used for avionics may not be available or upgradeable due to obsolescence upgrading obsolete avionics may require expensive redesign
15. )  Up to 600 1000
16. )  85 %   15 %   Cabin interiors Landfills

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Is Space Law Really That Far Over Your Head?

29 May
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  Multimedia Essay By: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights  
 Part 1 of 2 Editions – To see an alternative graphic view of this story see: Space Law | bigpictureone                                                                 
Students and instructors are encouraged to use the visual cues imbedded within the text to quickly locate key information.
Look upwards toward the sky on the next clear day or cloudless night and behold the new legal frontier unfold before your eyes. A mere 65 miles above sea-level, our atmosphere and gravity dwindles into space, where satellites begin to glide silently over Earth’s thin atmosphere. Only a fraction of human history has passed since man-made satellites were far and few between — but that time has since slipped away, replaced by an ever tightening metal jacket of used and disregarded, celestial artifacts. Almost at the start of the space race, “Space Law” was launched and it has had an uphill battle to catchup with the unforeseen consequences of humanity’s reach for the heavens. 
The German V-2 rocket was a sophisticated liquid propellant rocket, which first entered outer-space in 1942.

The German V-2 rocket was a sophisticated liquid propellant rocket, which first entered outer-space in 1942.

At times, defining what Space Law is or does is a nebulous task. This new form of law can be so abstract and full of contradictions that it resembles an art, rather than a science. Like creating a massive sculpture, it’s often a process which involves slow progress — developing overtime through stages of careful analysis and discernment. Space Law will continue to transform itself by maturing, developing refinements and taking on new, dimensions as needed.
There are basically three forms of law, which make up Space Law: 1.) Regulatory Law – sets standards which must be met for securing authority to launch a rocket vehicle.  2.) Tort Law – concerns damages which occur as a result of debris from rocket launch accidents or space and terrestrial impacts from orbital debris. 3.) Common Law – could be applied to circumstances relating to a private entity’s negligence, which causes damage from its orbital debris.
Back To Rocket Science Basics.
The basic blueprint for all modern rockets used in today’s space programs originated from the American physicist, Dr. Robert Goddard, who is considered the father of modern rockets. By the late 1930s, Goddard had tested a liquid propellant rocket — the rocket used vanes or fins attached near the thrust nozzle to help initial launch guidance and a gyro control for flight over the desert in New Mexico. A German scientist, Wernher von Braun’s V-2 rocket borrowed Goddard’s basic design for refinement and increased its scale for later mass production. Used by the German military towards the end of World War II, the V-2 or Aggreat-4 ( A-4) was successfully launched in 1942, making it the first human made object to enter outer space.   http://www.v2rocket.com/start/makeup/design.html
The V-2 was a sophisticated liquid propellant, single stage rocket, which had a top speed of 5,760 km/h (3,580 mph) and could reach an altitude of 83 to 93 km (52 to 60 miles.) At the end of the war, the Americans, British and Russians took possession of all remaining V-2 rockets, along with German engineers, technicians and scientists working on the program. A high priority was placed on researching its capabilities, re-engineering and developing it for national security.
— The Paul Allen Flying Heritage Museum, located at Paine Field, Everett, WA, recently added an authentic V2 rocket for display.
First photograph from space & of the Earth, from a V-2 rocket in 1946 byU.S scientist.

First photograph from space & of the Earth in 1946, from a V-2 rocket at an altitude of 65 miles, by U.S. scientist. Photo: courtesy of U.S. Army

American scientists, James Van Allen and Sydney Chapman were able to convince the U.S. Government of the scientific value for launching rockets carrying satellites into space. A scientific effort in the early 1950s was begun, with the plan to launch American satellites by 1957 or 1958. The Russians surprised the World by launching the first satellite into orbit in 1957 named Sputnik.
A modified V-2 rocket being launch on July 24, 1950. General Electric Company was prime contractor for the launch, Douglas Aircraft Company manufactured the second stage of the rocket & Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had major rocket design roles & test instrumentation. This was the first launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A modified V-2 rocket being launch on July 24, 1950. General Electric Company was prime contractor for the launch, Douglas Aircraft Company manufactured the second stage of the rocket & Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had major rocket design roles & test instrumentation. This was the first launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photo: courtesy of NASA/U.S. Army

Most major space portals or rocket launch site are located next to oceans or remote location to limit legal liability in case of failed launch. It's estimated 10 % of rocket launches end in failure. Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Most major space portals and rocket launch sites are located next to oceans or remote locations to limit legal liability in case of a failed launch. It’s estimated 8 % of rocket launches end in failure. Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

What Goes Up, Must Come Down.
Rocket launch programs have always had to contend with Newton’s law of gravity, today, these programs face new challenges with liability laws, to protect individuals and property from unexpected accidents.
Case Study:  The first time a major issue of liability occurred was in 1962, on a street within Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Apparently, a three-kilogram metal artifact from the Russian’s 1960, Sputnik 4 satellite launch, reentered the atmosphere unannounced, over an unsuspecting Midwest. The Russian’s denied it was theirs, fearing liability under international law. This event, helped set in motion, the 1963 Declaration on Legal Principals Governing the Activities of State in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space. As an international agreement, it puts forth the responsibility to the State which launches or engages the launching of objects into space as internationally responsible for damages caused on Earth. In 1967, the agreement was slightly modified and was titled “Outer Space Treaty 1967.” 
A photo illustration of space debris from a low Earth orbit reentering the atmosphere over a city. Earth has water covering 70% of its surface — when attempts fail to guide space debris towards open oceans, the chance for these falling objects to hit a populated area increase. Space Law sets the liability for damages caused by the space debris to the nation or agency responsible responsible to its original rocket launch.

A photo illustration of space debris from a low Earth orbit reentering the atmosphere over a city. Earth has water covering 70% of its surface — when attempts fail to guide space debris towards open oceans, the chance for these falling objects to hit a populated area increase. Space Law sets the liability for damages caused by the space debris to the nation or agency responsible for its original rocket launch.

By 1984, the United Nations General Assembly, had adopted five sets of legal principles governing international law and cooperation in space activities. The principles include the following agreements and conventions.“Outer Space Treaty” – the use of Outer Space, including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies (1967 – resolution 2222.) “Rescue Agreement” – the  agreement to rescue Astronauts/Cosmonauts, the Return of Astronauts/Cosmonauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Space (1968 – resolution 2345.) “Liability Convention” – the Convention on International Liability for Damaged Caused by Space Objects (1972 – resolution 2777.) “Registration Convention” – the registration of  Objects Launched into Outer Space (1975 – resolution 3235.) “Moon Agreement” – the agreement Governing the Activities of  States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1979 – resolution 34/68.)
Because so many languages are involved with these international agreements, terms used in Space Law often gets lost in translation. There are linguistic limitations and general lack of necessary definitions to adequately cover specific space concepts and activities using Space Law. Each Nation has its own agenda and vision concerning the development of space — then throw in multinational companies and things get really diluted when it comes to working out agreements regarding laws governing space.
Although most large "space junk" is monitored and efforts are made for reentry over uninhabited areas, satellites or sections of rockets can potentially fall anywhere.

Although most large “space debris” is monitored and great efforts are made for reentry to take place over uninhabited areas – satellites or sections of rockets can potentially fall anywhere.

Cuba Gives A New Meaning To A Cash Cow.
Case Study:  In November of 1960, the second stage of a U.S. Thor rocket fell back to Earth and killed a cow grazing in Eastern Cuba. The final settlement required the U.S. Government to pay Cuba $2 million dollars in compensation — creating the world’s first “Cuban Cash Cow.”
Dramatic Rocket Launch Failures Associated With Space Exploration.
It’s estimated since the 1950s, of the nearly 8,000 rockets launched for space related missions, 8 % of rocket launches ended in failure (2012 spacelaunchreport.com.) The resulting anomalies have cost the lives of hundreds of astronauts, cosmonauts and civilians along with billions of dollars in losses. Here’s an abbreviated list of dramatic and tragic events associated with rocket launch failures.
Vanguard TV3, December 9, 1957 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida (U.S.) was the first U.S. attempt at sending a satellite into orbit.  A first event of its kind to use a live televised broadcast, which ended by witnessing Vanguard’s explosive failure. Unfortunately this launch was a rush reaction to the Soviet Union’s surprise success of launching the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, on October 23, 1957. WA Okang SatDshBP_e1103
Vostok rocket, March 18, 1980, launched from Plesetsk, Russia (formerly the world’s busiest spaceport). While being refueled the rocket exploded on the launch pad, killing 50, mostly young soldiers. (Source: New York Times article, published September 28, 1989)
Challenger STS-51-L Space Shuttle disaster, January 28, 1986, launched from Kennedy Space Center (U.S.) marked the first U.S. in-flight fatalities. After only 73 seconds from lift-off, faulty O-ring seals failed, releasing hot gases from the solid propellant rocket booster (SRB), which led to a catastrophic failure. Seven crew members were lost, including Christy McAullife,  selected by NASA’s Teacher in Space Program. McAullife was the first civilian to be trained as an astronaut — she would have been the first civilian to enter space, but tragically, the flight ended a short distance before reaching the edge of space. Recovery efforts for Challenger were the most expensive of any rocket launch disaster to date.
Long Mark 3B rocket launch, payload: American communication satellite, built by Space Systems Loral – February 14, 1996 in Xichang (China) – two seconds into launch, rocket pitched over just after clearing the launch tower and accelerated  horizontally a few hundred feet off the ground, before hitting a hill 22 seconds into its flight. The rocket slammed into a hillside exploding in a fireball above a nearby town, it’s estimated at least 100 people died in the resulting aftermath.    Disaster at Xichang | History of Flight | Air & Space Magazine
Delta 2, rocket launch – January 1997, Cape Canaveral (U.S.) – this rocket carried a new GPS satellite and ends in a spectacular explosion. Video link included to show examples of  worst case scenario of a rocket exploding only seconds after launch (note brightly burning rocket propellant cascading to the ground is known as “firebrand”.)  The short video has an interview with Chester Whitehair, former VP of Space Launch Operations Aerospace Corporation, who describes how the burning debris and toxic hydrochloric gas cloud fell into the Atlantic Ocean from the rocket explosion. Rocket launch sites and spaceports are geographically chosen to mitigate rocket launch accidents .   US rocket disasters – YouTube
Titan 4, rocket launch – August 1998, Cape Canaveral (U.S.) the last launch of a Titan rocket – with a military, top-secret satellite payload, was the most expensive rocket disaster to date – estimated loss of $ 1.3 Billion dollars.
VLS-3 rocket, launch  – August 2003, Alcantara (Brazil) – rocket exploded on launch pad when the rocket booster was accidentally initiated during test 72 hours before its scheduled launch. Reports of at least 21 people were killed at the site.
Global location & GPS coordinates of major spaceports & launch sites. ??? - Do you see any similarities in the geographic locations used for these launch sites? What advantages do these locations have regarding "Space Law?" For most rocket launches, which site has the greatest geographic advantage & why; which has the least advantage & why?

                                                                                                                                                             Global location, GPS coordinates of major spaceports & launch sites. Rocket launch debris fields indicated & Links to space port’s web sites included.  (CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE)   Quiz ??? – 1.) Do you see any similarities in the geographic locations used for these launch sites? 2.) What advantages do these locations have regarding “Space Law?” 3.) For most rocket launches, which site has the greatest geographic advantage & why 4.) which has the least advantage & why?

Location, Location, Location Benefits Rocket Launch Sites.
If you zoom into the above World map with its rocket launch sites, you’ll notice all the locations gravitate toward remote regions. Another feature most spaceports share is large bodies of water located to the east, with the exception of the U.S. Vandenberg site. Less likely hood of people or property being threaten by a rocket launch, which could experience a catastrophic failure is why oceans are used as a safety barrier. Legal liability from a launch vehicle is a reason why all ships and aircraft are restricted from being anywhere near a rockets flight path. The rocket debris fields are marked with red highlights, this fallen debris is a highly toxic form of unspent fuel and oxidizers.
Most rockets are launched towards an easterly direction due to the Earth’s eastern rotation, which aids the rocket with extra momentum.  An exception for an east directional launch is Vandenberg site in California, which launches most of its rockets south for polar orbits used by communication and mapping satellites.
Launching rockets closer to the equator gives a launch vehicle one more advantage — extra velocity gained from the Earth’s rotation near its equator. At the equator, our planet spins at a speed of 1675 kph (1040 mph,) compared to a spot near the Arctic Circle, which moves at a slower, 736 kph (457 mph.) Even the smallest advantage gained in velocity means a rocket requires less fuel to reach “escape velocity.” This fuel savings translates to a lighter launch vehicle, making the critical transition of leaving Earth’s gravitational field quicker.
The next edition of the Space Law series includes:
Potential Minefield Effects From Space Debris And The Regulatory Laws To Help Clean It Up.
Will Asteroid Mining Become The Next Big Gold Rush And What Laws Will Keep The Frontier Order?

Surprise space mission featured videos: Click → http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfVfRWv7igg →    Boards of Canada – Music is Math (HD)

→     Boards of Canada – Gemini – Fan Video on Vimeo
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Links And Resources For Space Law And Related Issues.

The Space Review: International space law and commercial space activities: the rules do apply Outlook on Space Law Over the Next 30 Years: Essays Published for the 30th … – Google Books “SPACE FOR DISPUTE SETTLEMENT MECHANISMS – DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISM” by Frans G. von der Dunk Asteroid mining: US company looks to space for precious metal | Science | The Guardian Planetary Resources – The Asteroid Mining Company – News 5 of the Worst Space Launch Failures | Wired Science | Wired.com Orbital Debris: A Technical Assessment NASA Orbital Debris FAQs ‎orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/library/IAR_95_Document.pdf A Minefield in Earth Orbit: How Space Debris Is Spinning Out of Control [Interactive]: Scientific American SpaceX signs lease agreement at spaceport to test reusable rocket – latimes.com Earth’s rotation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Space Review: Spacecraft stats and insights Space Launch Report V-2 rocket – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Billionaire Paul Allen gets V-2 rocket for aviation museum near Seattle – Science Germany conducts first successful V-2 rocket test — History.com This Day in History — 10/3/1942

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/billionaire-paul-allen-gets-v-2-rocket-aviation-museum-near-1C9990063 

International space law is emerging from its infancy, attempting to more clearly define itself from a nebulous amalgam of; agreements, amendments, codes, rules, regulations, jurisdictions, treaties and non-binding measures. There exist today, enough legal framework for commercial interest to move cautiously towards developing outer space. However, with the unforeseen variables and dynamics of space activities, exceptions will be made & rules will be stretched, if not broken to accommodate necessity, justification or exculpation. ~
Part 1 of 2 editions – please check back soon for the conclusion of this essay.
Photo illustration of space debris by: David Johanson Vasquez, using a NASA photo of Skylab.

Photo illustration of space debris by: David Johanson Vasquez, using a NASA photo of Skylab.

 WA Okang SatDshBP_e1103

Will the Last People Remaining In America, Turn the Lights Back On?

19 Dec

 

ScienceTechTablet provides periodic updates on solar activity . The essay begins below the lead photo .

Prepared jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,

Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force.

Updated 2013 Jul 19 2200 UTC

Joint USAF/NOAA Solar Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast
SDF Number 200 Issued at 2200Z on 19 Jul 2013

IA.  Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 18/2100Z to
19/2100Z: Solar activity has been at very low levels for the past 24
hours. There are currently 7 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.

IB.  Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is likely to be low with a
slight chance for an M-class flare on days one, two, and three (20 Jul,
21 Jul, 22 Jul).

IIA.  Geophysical Activity Summary 18/2100Z to 19/2100Z: The geomagnetic
field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar
wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of
674 km/s at 19/1650Z. Total IMF reached 12 nT at 18/2100Z. The maximum
southward component of Bz reached -9 nT at 19/0122Z. Electrons greater
than 2 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 2710 pfu.

IIB.  Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected
to be at unsettled to minor storm levels on day one (20 Jul), unsettled
to active levels on day two (21 Jul) and quiet to unsettled levels on
day three (22 Jul).

III.  Event probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
Class M    15/15/15
Class X    01/01/01
Proton     01/01/01
PCAF       green

IV.  Penticton 10.7 cm Flux
Observed           19 Jul 114
Predicted   20 Jul-22 Jul 115/115/115
90 Day Mean        19 Jul 121

V.  Geomagnetic A Indices
Observed Afr/Ap 18 Jul  016/015
Estimated Afr/Ap 19 Jul  011/014
Predicted Afr/Ap 20 Jul-22 Jul  014/020-011/015-008/010

VI.  Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
A.  Middle Latitudes
Active                35/30/25
Minor Storm           20/10/05
Major-severe storm    05/01/01
B.  High Latitudes
Active                10/15/15
Minor Storm           25/30/30
Major-severe storm    50/40/30

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Multimedia essay & images by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved

Part 1 & 2 of the series

To fully appreciate this story you’re encouraged to view two earlier multimedia essays on solar storms at: There’s nothing new under the Sun « Science Tech Tablet  Will the current solar storms hitting Earth, lead to lights-out for us all by 2013? « Science Tech Tablet  As a likely threat to ending our modern global civilization — a severe solar storm is unmatched as a natural disaster and yet it’s vastly underreported. An alternative graphic format of this essay is at: www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com 

 

Now that we’ve moved beyond December 21, 2012 and you know, the Mayan prophecy wasn’t about the end of the world, there’s some truly sobering news about what really does threaten our civilization. A powerful, natural solar event, which affects everyone living today, is now reaching the peak of a violent cycle. Documented by history and science, this event threatens our civilization by destroying the essential technology we rely on and throwing us all back into the “dark ages.” The key to avoiding this global catastrophe is within our grasp — if  we and our National leaders are prepared to be aware of the problem and act by using the correct resources  for defending our National power grid.

A Shocking Glimpse of Things To Come…                                                               Aurora_Bor_BPP_il_0011

To understand what we’re up against, you only have to go back a short distance of time, to March 13, 1989A chain-reaction near the surface of the sun was triggered by a solar flare on March 9. Thousands of miles of magnetic arcs collided, causing violent high-energy explosions, which were instantly hurled into space. A plasma cloud from the event was observed heading directly towards earth at a million-miles per hour. As the sun’s radiation particle penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere, short-wave radio signals became disrupted, indicating our planet’s protective magnetic field was being overwhelmed.  And the brilliant, surreal light-shows from the“northern lights” heralded the solar storm to astonished viewers in Florida and even Cuba.

A cascading wave of technical glitches, involving electronic components suddenly occurred globally and beyond! The monitoring systems on the U.S. Space Shuttle were sending corrupt signals to mission controllers, while a host of satellites began malfunction and a Japanese satellite was damaged beyond repair.

At 2:44 a.m., after only 90 seconds of detection, the massive Hydro-Quebec power company was knocked offline by surging geomagnetic energy caused from the aggressive solar storm. Moments later, hundreds of utilities within the Eastern U.S. were suddenly blacking out. As a result of the blackout six-million people were now without power on a winter’s day. Within 40 minutes of the geomagnetic current’s detection — the force continued to build  like a Tsunami as it surged through the entire continental U.S. power grid, nearly collapsing all the Nation’s electric utilities in its path. The event’s speed and power led some to believe we were under attack from a Soviet nuclear electromagnetic pulse “EMP.”                 

Particle energy shock wave From solar storm is mostly defelcted by Earth's magnetic poles

Particle energy shock wave From solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic poles

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The Achilles Heel of Our Technology.

Teams of scientist, engineers and physicist began piecing the 1989 events together and realized it was first, large scale, solar geomagnetic storm to hit during the postmodern digital electronic era. As powerful as the solar storm was in creating a rogue like wave of, geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which saturated the entire planet — it was only one-tenth the strength of the earlier 1921 “super solar storm.” Our electric infrastructure back in the 1920s was in its infancy and we didn’t have voltage sensitive microelectronics, which we now depend on to facilitate all our electronic devices. Today’s complex and overstretched power grids, with their high-power transmission lines are susceptible to geomagnetic energy created from solar storms.

The 1921 solar storm was what scientist classify as a one-in-hundred year storm. Many scientist from NOAA, NASA and the National Academy of Scientist (NAS) predicts a 10 to 12 percent probability of a super solar storm happening within the next 15 years and 100 percent likely beyond the referenced time  period.

The 2013 solar cycle is now entering its 11-year, peak phase known as solar maximum, this critical phase is of a grave concern as the sun begins to reverse polarity and creates the potential for a super solar storms. History reveals over centuries, a consistent pattern in the approximate 11 year solar cycle… put the pattern together and it may reveal how little time we have to prepare. Here’s a sample pattern from three of the largest storms in recent history:  1989 Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm, the 1921 super solar storm event arrived and the greatest of them all — the 1859 Carrington Solar Storm event all taking place within the 11-year solar maxim.   

Satellites, The Holly Grail of Telecommunications.

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solar storms and geomagnetic energy presents a spectrum of threats to satellite operations. Scientist, physicists and aerospace engineers have realized the challenges solar storms present to satellites since they were first launched into orbit.  The geomagnetic energy caused from mass solar energy interacting with the Earths magnetic field, can cause satellites to lose their orientation and if not corrected… can end their lives or even send them hurling towards Earth . Geomagnetic energy is similar to the static electrify you create when walking on a carpet and then is discharge by touching a grounded object. In satellites there’s no way to discharge the electricity, so it will continue to buildup energy and can fry the tightly packed circuits or damage one of the orientation gyros within it. Another problem created from a GIC is the magnetic energy it contains, which can erase the memory in your computer or any memory storage device. The list of essential industries and services that are threatened by CIGs, goes well beyond the banking and financial industries.

Telstar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and a consortium  of international enterprises

Telstar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and a consortium of international enterprises

Even though this subject is well know in the satellite  industry, it’s not a topic journalists will have much luck in finding someone to go on the record for in interviews. Satellite companies don’t like admitting the reasons for technical problems experienced with their products. The military is even less forthcoming with satellite information. It’s understandable why the armed services maintains a proprietary stance on its satellites, but commercial satellite companies could benefit themselves and the entire industry by sharing their experiences with solar storm related activity.

If you have cable television, you’ve probably noticed at some time, the satellite transmitting your program being disrupted by solar storm radiation. An indicator for solar interference is digital tiling, which momentarily appears like a frozen video frame, before breaking up into smaller digital tiles. The last few times I’ve noticed digital tiling on my television, I verified it was from solar interference by going to NOAA’s space weather site, which in fact, confirmed elevated solar storm activity was happening.

 

 

Was It My Question On Satellite Solar Vulnerability,  Which Brought An Abrupt End To An Interview With U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell?

Senator Cantwell  sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

Senator Maria Cantwell sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

This past July, I arranged a phone interview with Washington State, Senator Maria Cantwell.  Senator Cantwell serves on the U.S. Senate committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation, satellites are a topic this committee holds hearings on. Cantwell is also the committee Chairman on Energy, for the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, which deals directly with the Nation’s electric grid.

The interview began with Senator Cantwell and her advisor as they were traveling to an event. After I gave a brief intro to the interview topics, Cantwell was asked to share what updates the Senate had on hardening our satellite against solar storms — particularly in respect to the aging GPS satellites, which are now being replaced. There was silence for a moment,  it sounded like the Senator and her advisor had covered the phone for a discussion. Senator Cantwell said she would like to get back to me on that subject — I sensed in that moment, the satellite topic should have been brought up last, so I quickly changed gears and followed-up with — why the Senate was taking so long in approving a Bill that would help protect the National electric grid? Again, I didn’t get a direct answer and the Senator asked if we could finish the interview at another time.

Our latest technology in the  transmission of electric power uses GPS satellites to help regulate the flow of high voltage electricity through power lines. Also used in the control and monitoring of the electric power is shortwave radio and phone lines all of which can be seriously interrupted by severe GIC caused from a solar storm.

A spectrum of telecommunication may be lost during severe solar and geomagnetic storms.  Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

A spectrum of telecommunication may be lost during severe solar and geomagnetic storms. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

As it turned out, the Senate later that month approved 84-11 to move forward with advancing the proposal for Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which includes protecting the electric grid. As an example of taking one step forward and then taking two steps back — the Senate voted down in August and again in November the Cybersecurity Act. Part of the reason for the Bill not being approved is because of a legislative tactic, which attached unrelated or conflicting objectives to the Bill, so that opposing side feels they can get more out of the negotiations. It’s seems startling in this era of politics, when the Congress or Senate is able to come together and quickly pass any new law without using this protracted tactic.                      

EWA FARM 108.2

It has to be noted, this was a phone interview, it wasn’t  face to face, it’s possible a more pressing matter came in while the interview was in progress. Also, the  Senator was in the final months of her  Senate election campaign and probably was advised not to comment on anything, which could be perceived as politically damaging.

The interview illustrates how challenging it is to help inform the public, along with government officials on what we all are facing from an impending 100-year solar storm event. I have contacts within the electric power industry, including the Bonneville Power Administration, which have been helpful in providing their own perspective on geomagnetic storms, but they’ve all asked to speak off the record. Unfortunately there’s too much pressure to play down the GIC issue from inside the power industry. It’s not pleasant realizing how poorly prepared we are for a potential natural disaster on this scale — that’s why I believe, “mainstream corporate media” has neglected informing on the consequences solar storms can have on society. In reality, there are  precautions which can be used to help protect the grid and society — but it requires courageous political leadership, which is almost as big as the problem its self.

SubS_BPP_70926_bt84

An Overstretched, Electric Power Grid Creates the Mother of All Antennas!

Government regulators, private and most public power companies have missed critical opportunities to invest in, strengthen and protect our electric power infrastructure from solar geomagnetic storms. Since the wake-up call of the 1989 Hydro-Quebec solar storm, our nation’s electrical grid has been overburden with higher demand and added thousands of high-voltage transmission lines. The vast network of power transmission lines stretching over the continent creates the mother of all antennas, by channeling geomagnetic energy into the electric grid. Like a lighting rod in a thunder-storm, the grid’s high-power transmission lines will channel the solar storms converted energy. The lack of investment and overuse of the grid makes it much more vulnerable than it ever was in 1989. An impending solar storm could produce the “perfect geomagnetic super storm,” which in a matter of minutes… decimates most of the nation’s ability to transmit power for several months or even years.

Recently there were comments in an open online physicist forum, regarding  threats from geomagnetic storms to the National grid. One thread mentioned a possible way to stop a serious GIC event from destroying high-voltage transformers, would be to physically cut the power lines to the transformers. Another physicist replied that the plan just might work, however he wasn’t sure anyone would be willing an attempt to physically interrupt the electricity collecting behind a continent of power lines.   IND MTS Clouds BPP_E116

OilWell_BPP__034

Underground pipelines and rail lines are also perfect conductors for channeling GIC’s electric current and have their own issues relating to damage from electro magnetic energy.

Envirn Indust_BPP e1007

In the 1989 Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm, there were only 90 seconds to make a decision on what action to take. Most likely, power utilities today are more prepared with an action plan — however deciding to shut down any section of the grid is an extreme responsibility for an individual. To give an example, last November I was in Honolulu, Hawaii, meeting with a friend who works for the Core of Army Engineers. She mentioned, earlier in the year on the Island of Oahu, a serious problem occurred with the transmission of electricity. A plant operator realized something was critically wrong and made the decision to disconnect the power, which caused large sections of the Island to lose electricity. The initial response from the public and local media was anger and criticism towards the operator, for shutting down the power without notification to thousands of people. It turned out the utility operator actually saved the system from being severely damaged by deciding to act quickly. In this event if the power was allowed to remain on, it could have caused severe system damage and  with repairs extremely expensive. So in reality the operator’s quick decision, and courageous action saved the day for thousands of customers.

Image courtesy of NASA.

Image courtesy of NASA

Deregulation of the Power Industry, Combined With No Centralized Authority over the National Grid In An Emergency  — Potentially Jeopardizes the Economy and Our Safety.  

Deregulation of the power industry has been an adopted policy  since the 1980s. It was supposed to encourage industry competition, for creating greater profits for the utilities, allow for steady improvements of infrastructure and lower cost for consumers. In reality deregulation has failed to deliver on its stated objectives.

Independent and comprehensive cost/benefit studies were not completed before deregulation was adopted. Joseph Swidler, former chair of the Federal Power Commission, stated in 1990 editorial of The Electricity Journal — While there is bitter disagreement over … changes, there can be little argument these are occurring haphazardly without the benefit of comprehensive analyses at a national level.” A specific example is the absence of an analysis of the decrease in benefits from coordination as mentioned above, since competition typically results in decreased coordination. [A. CasazzaAllan J. Schultz and Joseph C. Swidler A brave new world: Let’s look before we leap The Electricity Journal, 1990, vol. 3, issue 9, pages 40-43]                                             Money_int _BPP_a223

Engineering originally defined the qualifications and standards used for policy and management in the power industry.  After deregulation regulated the industry, marketing and finance became the policy and management standard.

Environmental stock photography for a New Dawn.

While the original standards used in the power industry were not perfect, it was more reliable and efficient than the current system — which has overstretched the National grid with higher capacity transmission lines and not sufficiently updated key infrastructure needs. Deregulation is what allowed for large-scale fraud and market manipulations to take place. This created unethical opportunities to gouge private consumers and large corporate customers by the former Enron Company in the early part of the 21st Century. 

The Issue of High Voltage Transformers.

According to industrial insurer’s publications, deregulation has forced the majority of power utilities to survive on a slim profit margin, which does not provide adequate reinvestment for infrastructure or necessary research and development. Many of the high voltage transformers still functions today are at the edge of their life expectancy. It typically takes three years to order, install and have a transformer ready for service. High voltage transformers are no longer manufactured in the U.S.. On average, these industrial transformers weigh 100 to 200 tons and are too large to be sent by aircraft. Ironically these transformers require massive amounts of energy to manufacture.     

A severe geomagnetic storm creates geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which transfers massive electric energy through the path of least resistance. This energy travels through water, earth and especially through metal such as underground pipes, rail line and electric power lines. The GIC saturates transformers, which distorts the voltage in the system and violently disrupts the entire process of transferring electric power. 

                                                                              SubSt_BPP0709_bt73             

As a critical component in the distribution of electric power, transformers have proven vulnerable to geomagnetic energy and their survivability is a major concern to engineers and scientist.  It’s likely a majority of the high voltage transformers would be at risk from the geomagnetic energy caused from a super solar storm. The transformers and the Nation’s electrical grid are more vulnerable on the East coast due to how overstretched the system is there. In the Western part of the U.S. the power utilities have been more proactive in protecting transformers and the grid is not as densely connected as it is in the East (at least in theory.) The further south in longitude a power grid’s location is a factor in lessening the effects of a geomagnetic storm. Also a location’s geology is a factor, some rock compositions conduct geomagnetic energy more efficiently than others.

According to leading engineering experts in the power industry, a practical strategy to protect the high voltage transformers is to install a surge protector like component on each transformer. The devices are about the size of a washer machine and would cost from $ 500 million to $ 1 billion dollars for the entire coverage. That’s probably the best value  of an insurance policy which would cover the Nation’s electrical grid, especially compared to the alternative of replacing  several hundred industrial size transformers.

http://www.lloyds.com/~/media/lloyds/reports/emerging%20risk%20reports/solar%20storm%20risk%20to%20the%20north%20american%20electric%20grid.pdf 

 

A Comprehensive Study, With Extensive Geomagnetic Storm Computer Modeling.

In 2010, The Oak Ridge National Laboratory produced an extensive report titled: Geomagnetic Storms and Their Impact on the U.S. Power Grid. The Metatech Corporation was contracted to produce extensive computer modeling on various solar and geomagnetic storm scenarios. The report has been presented to both the U.S. Senate and  House Congressional subcommittee hearings. Here’s a link to see for yourself how severe and extensive solar storm impact is likely to be using computer modeling.  

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/ees/etsd/pes/pubs/ferc_Meta-R-319.pdf

 

The Prospect of 400 Chernobyl’s

                                                                                                               400_chevnob_4E103

 

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Russia’s Chernobyl and the United States’ Three Mile Island, are considered two of the greatest nuclear power plant disasters in history. Their legacy was clouds of lethal radiation, which caused mass evacuations and contaminated areas still not safe for people to inhabit. When these nuclear accidents occurred, there were no earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes to blame. The cause was a combination of technological failure and human error, which prevented the reactor’s cooling system to function, ultimately causing the nuclear disasters.

On March 11, 2011 the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan  experienced a violent 9.0 earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami. This time it was a natural disaster which caused a failure of the reactor’s cooling system. The backup electric generators to the reactor’s cooling system also unexpectedly failed, causing the reactors to begin overheating. The reactor released a  substantial radioactive cloud, which forced a 20 mile radius evacuation.

There are federal disaster relief agencies, scientists and engineers questioning if a super  geomagnetic storm would burn out the backup generators for cooling a nuclear power plant’s reactor. Another question is, will the trucks used for hauling diesel to backup generators, even work after waves of geomagnetic energy travel through a vehicles microelectronics. Any type of car transportation or truck transport  will be extremely limited, if electricity is not generated to pumping gasoline and diesel from service stations.

In Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, a number of hospital’s critical backup generators failed to operate. It’s uncertain if backup generators will survive a severe geomagnetic disturbance from a solar storm. With over 400 nuclear power plants throughout the world, a serious geomagnetic storm, could potentially lead to loss of all electrical power to reactor core cooling systems, which would release radiation contamination on a global scale.

 

 

The Tragic Events of the RMS Titanic Serves As A Cautionary Analogy

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This past April marked the 100 year anniversary of the “unsinkable” Titanic ocean liner’s maiden voyage. The once modern looking, massive ship was state of the art technology in 1912 — today it represents human arrogance and hubris towards over reliance on technology. The  captain of the Titanic,  Edward J. Smith, was quoted, of ‘not conceiving any disaster which could happen to his vessel’ — after all, no major passenger ship had been lost for nearly 50 years before the launch of the Titanic.

882 feet (269. meters) long -maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.

882 feet (269. meters) long maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.

White Star Line of Liverpool, England was the premier shipping company at the beginning of the 20th Century. White Star commissioned the construction of RMS Titanic – an Olympic class steam liner.  The passenger ship was outfitted with twin colossal, coal-fired reciprocating turbine steam engines, and the ship’s electric generator produces more power than an average city’s power-plants at that time. It also featured the latest wireless communication technology, capable of sending and receiving signals 1,000 miles away. Owned and operated by the Marconi Company, the radio room was operated 24/7 using two technicians. The radio’s functions were primarily for commercial passenger telegram services, but it also served an operations function for the Titanic as it received useful weather reports and ice warnings.

A functional, forced air heating system used electric fans to push warm air through a ventilation network. The Titanic could in an emergency, produce its own fresh water from seawater using a desalination process. Many new living improvements and conveniences on this marvelous, “floating city” employed advance technology created during the late industrial era.

RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.

RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.

220px-Titanic_cutaway_diagram

 

 

 

 

Full Speed Ahead Into the Night and Unseen Ice Fields

On April 14, 1912, three days into its maiden voyage the Titanic with its 1,317 passengers and 885 crew members moved swiftly across the North Atlantic. The ship averaged an efficient, 21 knots per hour (24 mph; 39 km/h) through the icy cold waters and was less than 1000 miles from its New York destination. As the streamliner approached the coast of Newfoundland, the skies were clearing over an unusually calm Atlantic Ocean. Throughout the day, Titanic’s radio operators received warnings from various ships in the route ahead of where they would soon enter — the captain responded by charting a 10 mile precautionary adjustment to the south for the ships heading. Throughout the day, warnings in Morse code reached Titanic’s radio operators in increase numbers and with more alarming urgency. The Captain assured the concerned operators — their ship had nothing to fear from icebergs and they should  attend to the passengers’ important communication needs. As the late afternoon melted into –,  Titanic was cruising at full-steam ahead and virtually blind in the calm featureless night.  

Comparison of Morse Code.

Comparison of Morse Code.

Two ship’s lookouts climbed the long later attached inside the steamship’s smoke stack to reach the crow’s nest for the last time. Unfortunately, the bridge’s binoculars were missing, so the men were forced to rely on their plain eyesight to see any impending danger. The Titanic cruised effortlessly through the flat calm ocean, creating a false sense of security to the crew and passengers — but with icebergs in the water, on a moonless night meant no splashing waves to help warn a watchful lookout. Just before midnight, Fred Fleet, the lookout  in the crow’s nest spotted the Titanic’ s dreadful rendezvous with destiny — a massive iceberg looming dead ahead. The bridge responded immediately by skillfully turning the ship away from the iceberg, the quick maneuver nearly was successful — but then… a horrible sound of solid ice scraping against sheets of steel plates and the profound, deep shutter delivered to the ship — telegraphed the Titanic was mortally wounded. Five watertight compartments were breached just below the waterline by the jagged ice, if just one-less compartment would have torn open, this story wouldn’t be told. The largest ship in the world, this floating world with its community of families, workers and wealthy aristocrats, now had less than three hours before the unthinkable end would happen.

IND MTS Clouds BPP_E20

The Captain and the Star Line management on board must have fallen into total shock and denial of what was happening to their Titanic, technological wonder. These individuals in charge with the responsibility for the ship’s operations and ultimately the passengers safety, were steeped in overconfidence, as they never conducted drills or consider necessary emergency contingencies and procedures. Fortified with hubris that the Titanic could withstand any act of nature, they lost sight of their most important duties of safe operations and procedures — after all, they believed in the myth their ship was built to be unsinkable.

In the same way the Titanic’s symbolizes a mythic system of indestructible technology, which can withstand anything nature can throw at — our civilization and specifically our Nation is repeating some of the basic errors regarding — an over reliance, complacency, and trust in life supporting technologies.  We’ve been so fortunate to have built a civilization, which harnessed electrical technology to run our industry, heat our homes and provide our security.  For decades, with few exceptions, we’ve had uninterrupted, reliable electric power that is now, taken for granted. Most of us have become shortsighted, with blind-faith in assuming we’ll have reliable electric power, whenever or wherever we need it.

Recorded history has demonstrated solar storms are a real threat to our technologies and civilization. Solar cycles,flares and storm events are a regular occurrence — a super geomagnetic storm will happen again, creating potential for catastrophic effects beyond any scale humanity has ever faced. Reliable, national and international scientific institutions and governmental agencies in charge of safety and security, increasingly  warn us of these real threats to the electric grid. 

Unlike RMS Titanic’s captain, whose hubris and over reliance on the technological engineering of his steam liner, lead to the tragic loss of his passengers and the world’s largest ship  — our elected officials and top power industry executives, need awareness of our technology’s fatal weakness and decisively act now to defend it! If our Nation, like the Titanic waits until the impending disaster is upon us to act… It will be too late — the  majority of our population, like those on the doomed infamous ship a 100-years ago will be scrambling for lifeboats that aren’t there. The millions of lives depending on electricity to transport food, medicine and provide security will have no safety-net for years to come. The threat from a natural continental or global catastrophic event is a known reality. It’s time for everyone to educate themselves and have an open dialogue with their families and communities regarding what precautions are necessary to minimize their effects. ~

Particle energy shock wave From solar storm is mostly defelcted by Earth's magnetic poles

Particle energy shock wave From solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic poles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A most beautiful video time-lapse of the Aurora Borealis – click →  http://vimeo.com/11407018

 

 

Government Agencies Which Are Warning Of Solar Storm Potential Dangers

Severe Solar Storms Could Disrupt Earth This Decade: NOAA

Scientists warn solar storms could be “global Hurricane Katrina” | Homeland Security News Wire

Testimony Given to  the U.S. Congress Regarding Threats to the National Grid from Solar Storms

http://www.solarstorms.org/CongressSW.html

SHIELDAct.com / Read H.R. 668 – The SHIELD Act

Testimony Given to the  U.S. Senate Regarding Threats to the National Grid From Solar Storms

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20110505082259-Testimony McClelland (5-3-11 Final).pdf

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20120717100957-7-17-12-FERC-Testimony.pdf

Who Is In the Lead For the Darwin Award Between the U.S. Senate or Congress

Here are some links for your review to inform your own decision on who deserves the Darwin Award.

Feds and Utilities battle over Solar EMP threat in 2014 | SpaceBattles.com

Senators debate security of electricity grid – Washington Times

Senate dumps strategy to prevent EMP damage | The Total Collapse

Murkowski Blocks Effort to Protect US Power Grid

 

 

 

What Can We As Citizens Do To Protect the National Grid

 

 

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Please check back to view the complete story — new content is being added daily, including an interview with Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell and comments from government agencies and electric power grid representatives.

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Solar Storm  & Electrical Power Portal  [Editorial Links Government Links Industry links & Resources]

Solar Storms & Solar Weather

Space: NOAA Watch: NOAA’s All-Hazard Monitor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: U.S. Department of Commerce

NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Solar Storm Warning – NASA Science

SpaceWeather.com — News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

Active Solar Regions – HAMwaves.com

Solar Satellites Research

Solar Shield–Protecting the North American Power Grid – NASA Science

Electric Power Industry Related to Solar Storm Issues

Disputes Dog Efforts to Protect Transmission Grid From ‘High-Impact, Low-Probability’ Threats – NYTimes.comEmergency Preparedness & Societal Concerns Related to Solar Storms & EMPs

Coming solar storm not likely to affect power grid – Technology & Science – CBC News

Are We Smart Enough to Survive … Or Will Humanity Win a Darwin Award? – Washington’s Blog

Editorial Articles, Media, Blog – Links & 

Not Ready for a ‘Solar Sandy’ – NYTimes.com

Guarding Against Solar Storms – NYTimes.com

Impacts of Severe Space Weather on the Electric Grid by the MITRE Corporation, 11-2011.

Lawrence E. Joseph: The Solar ‘Katrina’ Storm That Could Take Our Power Grid Out For Years

Scientist Concern, Massive solar flare storm may occur before warning system is complete | The Guardian Express

Solar storm sparks dazzling northern lights | World news | The Guardian

Solar Storm’s Auroras May Dance Above Mid-U.S. This Weekend | Wired Science | Wired.com

Solar storm incoming: Federal agencies provide inconsistent, confusing information – Capital Weather Gang – The Washington Post

Blinded By Light, In The Middle Of Night

16 Aug
Multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights  — Second Edition
For an alternative formatted view of this essay, please visit — http://www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com

My photo wingman, Rick Wong and I headed into the heart of darkness in quest of the Perseid meteor showers. Mount Rainier National Park—was our ultimate destination. We chose the iconic, volcanic landmark for framing an infinite field of stars, which we believed was far from the glare of city lights. Traveling at night in Rick’s new Ford Fusion, using the hybrid’s voice recognition, made it easy to arrive at the park without using a map. Reaching our destination, luminous sparkling stars lit up the still night, but we were surprised with some uninvited competition, which nearly stole the show.

A stunning view of Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lake, with the summer stars overhead. The pink and orange glow on the left side of the mountain is light pollution emitted from the City of Tacoma, approximately 65 miles northwest.

 

We found an ideal location above Reflection lake, with the Cascade Mountains’ most famous stratovolcano in the background. An unexpected warm light was glowing behind Mount Rainier, which I reasoned, was a faint remnant from the earlier sunset. However,  the sun had set at least four hours earlier, so it couldn’t be the source of the illumination. Rick suggested “its light coming from the City of Tacoma,” located about 65 miles away. During a 20-second long exposures used to take images of the snow-capped mountain, I began thinking about the effects caused by light pollution.  

With a bright moon rising, we worked fast to keep up with the changing light, until its intensity eventually overpowered the stars.

With the moon steadily rising behind us, it too was causing us to shift focus on what to photograph. Like a giant diffuse reflector, the moon projected soft filtered sunlight onto a previously dark, formless landscape. As the moonlight overwhelmed the intensity of the starlight, it removed the opportunity for crystal clear views of the Milky Way, as well as faint meteor sightings. Being photo opportunist, we used the moonlight opportunity to reveal shadow-detail  on the south face of Rainier.    

The photographer appears in the dark, like some sorcerer conjuring an intense red light before Mount Rainier and her crown of stars above.

A Peaceful Paradise Lost

There’s a tranquil feeling while in the process of taking long exposures at night; it’s normally quiet with minimal distractions to overwhelm the senses or interrupt your focus. I personally enjoy these rare opportunities of solitude, to visualize an image using a minimal—Zen like perspective.

Distractions can be disruptive during these in-the-now-moments, as when cars coming around corners with intense, high-beam headlights.  More than once, clusters of cars with high beam lights appeared… just as the moon illuminated the mountain’s reflection onto a perfectly still lake. I quickly used my hands, in an attempt to shield the lens from light flare. Finally, the cars diapered into the darkness with no approaching vehicles until dawn.

Photo-illustration of the multiple effects of light sources which can cause light pollution by unintended distraction or spill-light.

Moving above the lake to find new angles for interesting compositions, I began to notice something, which I had not noticed before.  Lights of various colors, were coming from photographers bellow me, created by their digital camera’s preview monitors and infrared sensors for auto focusing. With the low light-sensitive Nikon cameras I was using, their monitor lights appeared like a bright flare in my long exposure photos. Now, I had one more unwelcome light source to deal with, which required strategic timing in making exposures to avoid the glare. 

Again, my thoughts returned to the issues of light pollution. I remembered back home when I wanted to photograph a full-moon  at night and a neighbor’s floodlight lit up the backyard. Their floodlight forced me to find the last remaining isolated shadowed corner of the yard.

My reminiscing was cut short by a distant, but bright, pinpoint of light flashing from bellow Mount Rainier’s summit.  Flashlights from mountain climbers near Camp Muir shined bright like lighthouse beacons in the semi-darkened rocks and glacier fields. Even the faintest light can shine bright at night as documented in World War II. Warships were forbidden from having any exterior lights on at night, including a lit cigarette, otherwise they could be spotted from great distances by enemy submarines.  

Lights from mountain climbers on the approach to the summit of Mount Ranier.

Encountering the Universe’s Brilliance

The improper, overuse of outdoor lighting has erased a fundamental and connecting human experience—encountering the universe’s brilliance with its galaxies and stars shining in the night sky! Making a visual contact with our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of the greatest shows seen from Earth.

In less than a century of civilization’s reliance on electric technology: two-thirds of the U.S., half of Europe and a fifth of people in the world—now live where they cannot see the Milky Way with the unaided eye. You can appreciate how we lost our stellar view by seeing aerial photos taken from orbiting spacecraft and the International Space Station. These startling images taken of Earth at night, reveals a man-made galaxy of artificial light, which cancels out much of the real ones in the sky above.  

Some years back, I was a part-owner in a small recreational ranch, in Eastern Washington’s, Okanogan County. Brining friends over from Seattle, it was often nighttime when we arrived. The instant of exiting the cars, was a startling event as the Milky Way’s intensity of light overwhelmed your senses. The “ranch” was remotely located, at about 5,000 feet in the mountains, near the Canadian border and 30-miles from the closest town. Days would go by where we didn’t see a car or even hear a small airplane go overhead… it was one of the most refreshing experiences of my life, to perceive nothing except wind going through trees and seeing only starlight at night for hours at a time.

Image courtesy of NASA

 A television interview with the director of a major observatory in Southern California recounted when Los Angeles had its last electrical blackout —people were calling 911 and his observatory, reporting of strange, bright objects in the night sky. Actually what the callers were seeing for the first time, was the natural light from intensely shining stars of the Milky Way.

Image courtesy of NASA.

 

Besides forfeiting a life inspiring, wondrous view of the cosmos, there’s tangible losses associated with light pollution. Conservative estimates are 30 % of U.S. outdoor lighting is pointed skyward in the wrong direction, which wastes billions of dollars of electricity. The unnecessary practice of lighting clouds, burns more than 6 million tons of coal, which adds harmful greenhouse gas emissions, along with toxic chemicals into our atmosphere and water.

Further scientific studies indicate wildlife is suffering the ill effects of excessive urban lighting.  The City of Chicago has taken measures to turn off or dim its high-rise lighting to enable migrating birds to continue normal migration patterns. An increase in species of insects attracted to light, along with rodent attraction to bright city lighting is a growing concern to many scientists. 

Heavy equipment product shots never look quite this good. Scheduled improvements to the viewing area above Reflection Lake, had some equipment taking a nap, before going to work when the sun came up.

Education Is the Solution to Light Pollution

The reason light pollution has continued to multiply is, we have grown accustomed to its seemingly benign expanding presence. After all, probably no one can point to a single case of a person killed from overexposure to light pollution?  However, there is a correlation to growing health risk associated with overexposure to artificial light in the form of physical fatigue and damage to eyesight. In 2009, the American Medical Association established a policy, which supports the control of light pollution.

Municipal lighting codes are beginning to help define and eliminate unnecessary light pollution. Lighting enforcement can create a more pleasing environment, by reducing excessive urban lighting, which causes fatigue from glare and cuts down on unnecessary electric utility cost. Redirecting outdoor lighting away from the sky where it is needlessly wasted is a simple and easy solution.

Installing motion detector security lights are another efficient and productive mitigation strategy. For security purpose, a light which is triggered by motion is much more effective for crime prevention than a continuous floodlight. Motion detector lights have a clear advantage of focussing our attention onto an area where there’s a sudden change from darkness to bright-light.

The Milky Way is what we should be able to see at night if it was not for unrestricted light-pollution. You can see the Andromeda Galaxy in the right 1/3 of the frame. Nikon D700 – Nikkor 28mm lens @ F3.5 @ 20 seconds August 11 11:48 p.m.

The encouraging news is… the key to reducing light pollution is a simple matter of basic education and action. Public awareness of over-lighting requires a minimal expenditure, which will quickly pay for itself in energy savings and perhaps return the opportunity to experience one of the greatest shows seen from earth. ~

Light pollution glossary:

Urban Sky glow: the brightening of night skies over municipal and communities. Caused primarily from collective reflected light and poorly directed light, which is pointed upward.

Light trespass: light falling or spilling into areas where it is not intended. Also know as “spill light” such municipal streetlights, which go beyond indented illumination of street signs and sidewalks and lighting residential homes.

Glare: A direct, bright or harsh light, which causes discomfort or pain. The effects of glare can be reduced or eliminated with the use of a shield or filter.

Uplight: Light angled inappropriately upward towards the sky and serving no purpose. Uplift washes out the night sky and reduces opportunities for astronomers and stargazers to enjoy the beauty of the planets, moon and stars.

Clutter: Poorly planned, confusing and unpleasant use of multiple lights usually associated with urban or retail lighting. Retail business sometime competes by using overly bright, multicolored or pulsating light

Links to articles & related resources on light pollution:

 http://www.darksky.org/assets/documents/is001.pdf

http://www.njaa.org/light.html

http://www.skymaps.com/articles/n0109.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_pollution

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Light_Pollution

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Is there a greater champion for keeping America viable as the World leader in technology and science, than Senator Maria Cantwell?

6 Jun

Late 1990’s photo-illustration to promote Real Audio and its affiliates. At that time: RA Vice President of Marketing , Maria Cantwell hired my multimedia services to create this futuristic, virtual reality view of Seattle.

Photos and essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights   Second—  Addition

The U.S. is in a must-win race, to continue as the clear leader of global competitiveness  in technology and science. No other stakes are higher or ensure greater returns for our nation’s security, economic health and cultural way-of-life.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State has a proven record of properly managing the resources of public and private sector technology.  Global leadership requires well-informed oversight, which can fully employ, the most recent developments of  science and technology.  Ms. Cantwell’s earlier career as a successful executive in an emerging media technology company, gave her exceptional tech industry qualifications. A functional knowledge of computer engineering provided her a proactive view of emerging, 21st-century Information Technology (IT).  The Senator serves on five Senate Committees; perhaps the most critical for the nation’s position in world leadership is the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee.

Washington State is fertile ground for producing world leading, innovative technology companies.  Software development, Internet commerce, biotechnology and aerospace industries are the primary economic engines of the Pacific Northwest.  It’s fortunate for the State of Washington and the Nation, to have a representative who clearly recognizes the economic and technical potential of these dynamic industries.

Electricity, is, the lifeblood, which our current technologies rely on.  Electrical energy is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for our way-of-life, which society society takes for granted.  Vigilance from our national leaders is essential for protecting our crucial resources from natural and manmade disasters.

Cantwell’s first major accomplishment as a U.S. Senator began taking shape within the first days of being in office; by her focussing a national spotlight on deceptive energy market manipulations.  In December 2001, Enron—a onetime energy giant— filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while laying-off thousands of its employees.  Enron had taken extreme advantage of deregulation within the energy industry.  Without legislative oversight the company was on a rampage of manipulating energy markets, while overcharging businesses and households millions of dollars.

In the 2005 Energy Bill, Senator Cantwell helped author provisions, which made it a federal crime to manipulate electricity or natural gas markets.  Cantwell also helped uncover evidence, which proved, ongoing deceptive schemes were used by Enron traders to target customers. With the energy company’s blatant deception made public, Senator Cantwell successfully stopped the bankruptcy court from forcing customers  in Washington State, to pay millions of dollars in “termination fees” for electricity which hadn’t been delivered.

Boeing 747 at Everett manufacturing facilities.

Affordable, reliable electricity was and remains today the essential resource, which allows dynamic industries to thrive in the Pacific Northwest.  Boeing aerospace, is a prime example, which could not exist without massive amounts of dependable electricity for its airline manufacturing.

Boeing’s flight line at Everett’s Paine Field.

The Senate’s Commerce, Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness, has few Senators capable of engaging computer industry experts as Senator Cantwell demonstrated, with her IT background.  During hearings on High–Performance Computing Vital to America’s Competitiveness, Cantwell was able to facilitate important questions on supercomputing architecture and applications. The Senator also had the opportunity to introduce two industry witnesses from the Washington State, who gave examples of how these technologies were advancing research & development to support manufacturing.

High-performance computing are the latest concepts for maximizing the power of supercomputers and networks for advance scientific research and it’s rapidly being embraced by a variety of key industry sectors. These powerful computer systems reach trillions of calculations per second, enabling discoveries not possible with standard computers. High-level computers are now used in a number of applications such as: accurately forecasting weather fronts, DNA modeling and  National Security.

 Internet2, which is a next-generation Internet Protocol and optical network, has the bandwidth performance needed for transferring high-volumes of  data produced by supercomputers.  A new national network, Level 3 Communications can now transfer 100 Gbit/s, which is a 100-percent improvement over Internet2. These high-speed secure networks are primarily used by academic and medical research for universities, in many cases the collaborative R&D will eventually  find an industry application.

At the Senate’s subcommittee, witness, Michael Garret, Director, Airplane Performance for the  Commercial Airplane Division of the Boeing Company, described to Cantwell and the other Senators how high-performance computing dramatically changed Boeing’s aerospace design process. In one example, Garret shared how Boeing had saved 80-percent, in the number of wing designs for the new, 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing 787-Dreamliner preparing for its first “maiden flight,” at Paine Field, Everett Washington.

If our intention for the Nation is to remain a leader in science, technology and commerce, we need more representatives in the Senate,  such as Senator Cantwell.  Our national elected representatives must understand the current and future potential of these advanced computer systems—to keep America technologically, economically, and militarily viable.  Fortunately, we and our  Nation’s Senate have Cantwell to help enable critical question on how to retain our leadership through high-performance computing and a new spectrum of technologies. ~

Senator Cantwell at one of her fundraiser, sharing her views on technology and education.

It’s important I share with you that Maria Cantwell and I have been friends for many years.  She hired me to photograph her when she first ran for congress and generously credits my photography for helping her get elected.  When she latter became an IT executive, she again hired my multimedia services to help promote and market Real Networks in Seattle. I’ve included some photos of Ms. Cantwell at a May fundraising event with campaign supporters and close friends.

Ms. Cantwell being introduced by Jim Johanson at a fundraising event in Edmonds, Washington.

Senator Cantwell has agreed to answer a series of interview questions from me, on science and technology related issues. The format for the interviews has yet to be confirmed, but there will be at least a text version and possibly, a  video one as well on the ScienceTechTablet and BigPictureOne multimedia sites. The interviews will take place sometime over this summer. One of my questions will be related to a photo-essay I wrote this year on the current Solar Storm cycle, which will be peaking by 2013.  Specifically. her views will be asked of how ready we are—in comparison to the 1989 Solar Storm, which caused Hydro-Quebec’s power grid to crash and leave millions of its customers with no electricity.

I mentioned to  Cantell that the Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) Advisory for Edmonds School District, which I volunteer as a committee members, will launch a STEM Magnet school at Mountlake Terrace High School for 2012 -2013. The Senator was very enthusiastic with the news, as she is a big supporter of the education program. MLTH was also in her former district when she was a state representative, living in Mountlake Terrace. Questions on how we can attract and support more programs, such as STEM, will be on the interview list.

If you have a science or technology question which relates to the United States for Senator Cantwell, please write it down in the response section bellow this story or email me with your interview question. I will do my best to ask your questions with the time available for the interviews.

A gathering of friends and supporters with Senator Cantwell. From left to right: Jim Johanson. Patrick MacDonald – former Seattle Times music critic, Maria Cantwell, Carmen lisa Valencia, David A. Johanson

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