Saturday, June 5, 2010

Whatever Gets You Through the Night

OK, I'll admit it right here, right now. I'm a captive to the weather. Call me a Weather Hostage.

@CorduroyPlanet follows Anthony Watts' excellent Climate Blog, Watts Up With That? This morning @WUWT tweeted: "WUWT at the top of the heap?" I went to WUWT, and the Blog is The Number One Science Blog online!

I read the post, then scrolled down to see what else Was Up. It seems the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued a La Niña Watch Thursday:

•A transition from El Niño to ENSO-neutral is underway.
•Sea surface temperatures are decreasing across much of the Pacific Ocean and have recently become below-average in portions of the eastern half of the basin.
•Although many models predict ENSO-neutral conditions, there is a growing possibility of La Niña developing during the second half of 2010.

This is bad news for yours truly. (Like I need a reason to obsess over the weather) I guess I'll just resign myself to a Summer of Paying Attention.

The CPC issues an Expert Discussion/Assessment every week.
This Product, in .pdf form is 30 pages long this week, and packed with images and data. It's quite the tome for WeatherGeeks, and it's loaded with tangents to investigate.

While reveling in all things ENSO, I had the TV tuned to 24/7News, who were tracking the launch of SpaceX's commercial rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

When did we quit calling it Cape Kennedy? Why?

As always, "busy" Government bureaucrats put too fine a point on the name...officially, it's now "The Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral"

After some short delays for "Sensor Anomalies", the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off in picture-perfect fashion, carrying a dummy Dragon Capsule. SpaceX has been awarded a $1.6 billion contract for up to 12 operational logistics flights to the International Space Station.

"Operational Logistics Flights" is NASA-speak for hauling freight up to the ISS.

Buoyed by today's apparent "Bullseye" performance of the Falcon 9, SpaceX want's to take ISS Cargo to the Station on their next flight, foregoing an extra mission to prove out the cargo ship's rendezvous capabilities.

SpaceX contends the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule could be ready for human passengers by 2013, if NASA awards a contract for the work this year.

All this seems very ambitious to me, given NASA'a stately and deliberately paced flight test history. SpaceX is a Contractor in NASA's employ, and the customer calls the shots, so to speak.

SpaceX isn't the only Commercial Launch Outfit on the scene. More established companies like United Launch Alliance, which oversees Atlas and Delta rocket flights, and Orbital Sciences Corp., SpaceX's main competitor in the market for cargo services to the space station are part of Manned Spaceflight's Future in the Post-Space Shuttle universe.

Back on Earth, a quick look at the forecasts and radar images shows today's event staying far enough to the North to keep the Inland Valley dry. That looks like it for the foreseeable future. Back to the Diggins!

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