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China plans a solar power play in space that NASA abandoned long ago



Michael Byers, a professor in the department of political science at University British Columbia Vancouver says the biggest problem for this concept may be a matter of time. Space-based systems might well be possible several decades from now, but Earth-based systems are already catching up to fossil fuels in terms of cost and efficiency. “You can put solar panels just about anywhere. Rooftops are the most obvious location, and in some jurisdictions all new buildings must have solar arrays. Lots of small projects are better than a few big ones, since they provide greater resilience to equipment failures and weather events,” Byers said.

Hopkins said price competition from Earth-based utility generation is a real issue, but not an insurmountable one. As prices fall for solar technology on the ground, they fall for solar that would be used in space as well. And space-based solar — because it can beam electricity anywhere in the world — can take advantage of the big price differential in the utility market.

A space-based solar system can target places like Japan or Hawaii, where electricity prices can be four to five times prices in the mainland U.S. and then can move to lower-cost electricity markets later once the solar project has paid for itself. “That’s the military thinking. The money you are sending to remote military bases can pay for the technology later. There is a return on investment in the future that doesn’t require sending the electricity to Los Angeles today.”

But the detractors remains convinced it is an idea that will remain in the world of Asimov’s stories.

“The concept of space solar power is and will remain in the realm of science fiction for a long time, maybe forever. Even if China or any other nation decides to build an SBSP demonstrator, it does not mean that it is a good idea and that it makes economic sense to do so,” L de Weck said.

National Space Society director Hopkins said that kind of thinking — coupled with the U.S. government’s inability to think long-term in its planning — may be the biggest risk of all. He said that current views in the U.S. on the topic tend to fall into one of two camps.

“People in the U.S. tend to look at it as, ‘At least the Chinese are doing it, and if the Chinese are doing it, then we are likely to do it at some point because we don’t want them to lead.’ Others are saying, ‘If they get this right and we don’t, we are in big trouble.'” Hopkins added, “One thing the Chinese are really good at is thinking long-term, unlike U.S. thinking, out 50 years about this stuff. They have no problem thinking like that. When I talk to NASA about anything more than 10 years out, they sort of look up in the air and roll their eyes, and I’m not invited back.”

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After two fatal Boeing plane crashes, the world turned on the US



Some pilots said they did not know the MCAS system existed until after the Lion Air crash.

“It blew us away. It absolutely shocked us,” said Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines Boeing 737 pilot an a spokesman for the airline’s union, the Allied Pilots Association.

Switching from previous models of the 737 to the 737 Max entailed a 56-minute iPad training session, Tajer said. The FAA did not require additional training under the certification of the plane.

On an earnings call in April 2017, Boeing’s CEO Muilenburg was asked how deregulation early in Trump’s term affected the company.

Muilenburg replied that “the administration has been very engaged across government agencies and with industry to find ideas and ways and opportunities to simplify and streamline.

“Things like FAA certification processes is one place that we’re seeing some solid progress,” he said. “That’s helping us more efficiently work through certification on some of our new model aircraft, such as the Max, as it’s going through flight test and entering into service.”

The FAA had signed off on the 737 Max 8 planes in March 2017.

Boeing met with American’s pilots as well as with their counterparts at Southwest after the Lion Air crash to discuss the system.

Boeing told the pilots they were working on a fix to the plane’s software, which the FAA confirmed when it had said on Tuesday that the planes were still airworthy. Tajer said pilots felt renewed confidence following the Boeing meeting in November.

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Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank go public on merger talks



While the banks had not publicly commented on merger talks until Sunday, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz last Monday confirmed that there are negotiations.

On Thursday, the supervisory boards of both banks are scheduled to hold long-planned meetings, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The status of merger negotiations is expected to be discussed. The merged bank would have roughly 1.8 trillion euros in assets, such as loans and investments, and a market value of about 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion), based on Friday’s closing stock prices.

It would have one fifth of the German retail banking market and together the banks employ 140,000 people worldwide.

Germany’s Verdi labour union has objected strongly to a possible merger between the two banks, arguing that the merged group would be a more attractive target for a hostile foreign takeover and saying that at least 10,000 jobs are at risk.

Some major shareholders have privately said they were against a merger, but the U.S. investor Cerberus, a large investor in both banks, has favoured talks, a person familiar with the matter has told Reuters.

Deutsche, the largest bank in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, emerged unscathed from the financial crash but later lost its footing.

In 2016, the International Monetary Fund called the bank the world’s biggest potential risk among peers to the financial system because of its links to other banks.

German officials fear that a recession or big fine, for example, could derail the bank’s fragile recovery.

Other than Deutsche, Commerzbank is Germany’s only remaining big publicly bank, after a series of mergers.

Commerzbank, like Deutsche, has struggled to rebound, and German officials say it is vulnerable to a foreign takeover. If an international rival snapped it up, that would increase competition for Deutsche on its home turf.

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand formally launches presidential campaign



On March 24, Gillibrand will deliver a launch speech in her home state in front of Trump International Hotel in New York City, to take “her positive, brave vision of restoring America’s moral integrity straight to President Trump’s doorstep,” her campaign said.

The launch video released Sunday morning alludes to several policy debates, including immigration, gun control and climate change.

“We launched ourselves into space and landed on the moon. If we can do that, we can definitely achieve universal health care,” Gillibrand said in the video.

“We can provide paid family leave for all, end gun violence, pass a Green New Deal, get money out of politics and take back our democracy.”

Gillibrand has sought to position herself as a unifying figure who can appeal to rural voters.

Some in the Democratic party believe an establishment figure who can appeal to centrist voters is the way to victory. Others argue a fresh face, and particularly a diverse one, is needed to energize the party’s increasingly left-leaning base.

Gillibrand was a member of the centrist and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition while in the House of Representatives. Her positions became more liberal after she was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton in New York when Clinton became former President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Gillibrand then won the seat in a special election and was re-elected to six-year terms in 2012 and 2018. She has attributed the ideology shift to representing a liberal state versus a more conservative district.

As a senator, Gillibrand was outspoken about rape in the military and campus sexual assault years before the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault first arose in 2017.

In late 2017, as she pushed for a bill changing how Congress processes and settles sexual harassment allegations made by staffers, some prominent party leaders criticized her for being the first Democratic senator to urge the resignation of Senator Al Franken, who was accused of groping and kissing women without their consent.

During the same period, Gillibrand said Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, should have resigned from the White House after his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment by the House.

Some criticized the senator for attacking the Clintons, who had supported her political career.

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