Sunglider high altitude test flight

HAPSMobile Inc…successfully reached an altitude of more than 60,000 feet above sea level during a 20-hour test flight of the Sunglider™ solar-powered high-altitude platform station (HAPS) at Spaceport America. This is the second successful test flight of the Sunglider at Spaceport America since the company began operations at the site in May 2020.

The test flight began on September 21 at 5:16am (MT) and concluded just after 1:00am (MT) on September 22 following the successful achievement of a series of major test objectives and maneuvers. Sunglider reached an altitude of 62,500 feet (approximately 19 kilometers) and demonstrated the world’s first successful delivery of LTE connectivity from a fixed-wing HAPS autonomous aircraft in the stratosphere. The success of this stratospheric test flight is a major step forward for HAPSMobile as it continues to pursue its mission of bridging the digital divide by building its business in the stratosphere, a new frontier for humankind. HAPSMobile will continue to work to revolutionize mobile networks by leveraging HAPS.

Known as a “cell-tower in the sky,” Sunglider aims to provide better communications to under-served areas, including rural communities. The success of this stratospheric test flight is a major step forward in this mission.

Check out the video up top. This solar-powered drone flew on battery-electric power, recharging from solar panel wing surfaces. Way cool. A classic New Mexico test project. 🙂


Earlier testing in July

Another Flunky Takes Over Another Agency


Thank you for the radio handbook translated into English.

The man appointed by Donald Trump to head the US global media agency that oversees Voice of America and other state-funded broadcasters has carried out a purge of career officials at the top levels of the organisation and installed Trump loyalists.

The action by Michael Pack appeared to confirm fears that Trump wanted to turn the US Agency for Global Media into a loyal state broadcaster of the kind normally found in authoritarian societies.

Pack, a conservative film-maker and ally of right-wing ideologue Stephen Bannon, fired the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund according to CNN, which quoted an official as calling the dismissals the “Wednesday night massacre”. The head of VOA resigned after Pack won Senate confirmation.

Pack has installed Emily Newman, a former adviser to the Department of Homeland Security, as the new chief of staff, according to CNBC.

Newman issued an all-staff memo announcing the new hierarchy and telling them: “Until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval” of the new executives.

Trumpo will borrow “experts” from his buddy Vlad to help rearrange priorities for the new Voice of Fearless Leader.

US Navy wants robot ships to talk


Turn Left and Follow Me!

Concerned that the advent of unmanned surface ships can result in collisions with manned vessels, the Navy wants technology that will enable robot ships that talk like humans…The goal is to enable human bridge crews to converse with robot ships using normal speech over VHF radio.

“The nautical rules of the road (COLREGS) provide clear guidance for encounters between two vessels, but they do not directly specify what should happen when three or more vessels come in close proximity to each other at nearly the same time,”…“Mariners commonly deal with such situations by communicating via VHF Bridge-to-Bridge radio. Current Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) have COLREGS reasoning engines, but they cannot incorporate information from Bridge-to-Bridge conversations, nor can they reply to simple maneuver proposals.”

“The Navy seeks an integrated solution that will enable a USV to act much like a human mariner,”…“In particular, the USV should be able to understand secure Bridge-to-Bridge radio transmissions, incorporate their meaning into its world model, develop appropriate maneuvering plans, and respond via voice on the Bridge-to-Bridge radio.”

Well, duh! Of course.

FCC Chair killed rules which would have helped Hurricane victims


Ajit Pai listening to Trump

❝ The Federal Communications Commission chairman slammed wireless carriers…for failing to quickly restore phone service in Florida after Hurricane Michael, calling the delay “completely unacceptable.”

But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s statement ignored his agency’s deregulatory blitz that left consumers without protections designed to ensure restoration of service after disasters, according to longtime telecom attorney and consumer advocate Harold Feld.

The Obama-era FCC wrote new regulations to protect consumers after Verizon tried to avoid rebuilding wireline phone infrastructure in Fire Island, New York, after Hurricane Sandy hit the area in October 2012. But Pai repealed those rules, claiming that they prevented carriers from upgrading old copper networks to fiber. Pai’s repeal order makes zero mentions of Fire Island and makes reference to Verizon’s response to Hurricane Sandy only once, in a footnote.

Part of the function of good journalism is exposing corrupt practices – whether justified by ignorance or just plain stupid ideology. The Republican Party specializes in both and more – which is how we got to this footdragging on aid for hurricane victims’ communications.

ATT & Verizon rip-off DSL customers


Aurich Lawson/Thinkstock

❝ Tens of millions of people in the AT&T and Verizon service territories can only buy slow DSL Internet from the companies, yet they often have to pay the same price as fiber customers who get some of the fastest broadband speeds in the US.

That’s the conclusion of a new white paper written by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), a broadband advocacy group.

❝ “[I]n recent years, the nation’s two largest telco ISPs, AT&T and Verizon, have eliminated their cheaper rate tiers for low and mid-speed Internet access, except at the very slowest levels,” the NDIA wrote. “Each company now charges essentially identical monthly prices—$63-$65 a month after first-year discounts have ended—for home wireline broadband connections at almost any speed up to 100/100 Mbps fiber service.”

RTFA. Consider hollering at your elected representatives in Congress to support you and your peers fight for better treatment, affordable access to the Web. It’s overdue and criminally corrupt.

Military communications may have accidentally formed a protective bubble around Earth


Click to enlarge

❝ When the Navy wants to send a message to an underwater submarine, it sometimes uses very low frequency (VLF) radio waves. These long wavelengths, beamed from large towers on the ground, are unique in their ability to travel through salty water. But some end up in space instead. There, according to a new report, they may be forming a protective bubble around Earth’s atmosphere.

The discovery comes from the Van Allen Probes — two spacecraft, launched in 2012, that patrol the radiation belts surrounding Earth. The Van Allen radiation belts are zones where charged particles streaming from the sun get stuck in Earth’s magnetic field. These high energy protons and electrons can destroy a satellite’s electronics, which is a constant concern because the belts don’t always stay in one place…

During an intense geomagnetic storm in 2015, a large solar storm knocked back the plasmasphere, but surprisingly the outer Van Allen belt didn’t come any closer to Earth. “The plasma retracted but the belt didn’t follow,” says Erickson. But he and his colleagues noticed something else: “The edge of where these very powerful radio signals stop is the same place where the electrons stop coming in.”

❝ In addition, data from the 1960s suggests that the belt’s inner boundary was much closer to Earth back when VLF transmissions were less common. The team thinks that, nowadays, when electrons shooting out from a solar storm approach Earth, VLF waves deflect them, knocking them off their trajectory and pushing them into the atmosphere, where they get lost.

“The edge of where these very powerful radio signals stop is the same place where the electrons stop coming in.”

“At least in the first hours to a couple of days into a solar storm, the waves seem to halt the electrons from coming in further,” says Erickson. “If you wait longer, the story gets more complicated because they gradually diffuse in…”

❝ Sometime this year, the U.S. Air Force plans to launch the DSX satellite, which will test the feasibility of using VLF waves to deflect space radiation. If it works, humanity may be able to harness these waves to help protect against solar eruptions that dump giant clouds of charged particles into the solar system.

Not a perfect cure for a rare happening. Still, science happening upon a collateral solution is always welcome. Except to beancounter$, of course.

NASA Receives First Audio From New Planets

BREAKING NEWS, WORLD NEWS

❝ RADIO signals emerging from the newly-discovered ‘TRAPPIST-1’ planetary system have been decoded by linguistic experts at NASA, confirming the existence of extraterrestrial lifeforms who want ‘no part of Earth’s bullshit’.

❝ There was great excitement from astronomy enthusiasts earlier this week following the discovery of seven planets in the ‘habitable’ zone of a nearby solar system; planets which seemingly had all the criteria for supporting life.

However, this was eroded somewhat today when NASA announced that lifeforms on the third of these planets seemed to be ‘standing very still as if not to be noticed’, much like how someone would hide behind the sofa in their house if a TV licence inspector or debt collector came to the door.

❝ …A signal from the planet was received and later translated, and appears to show that the alien lifeforms were well aware of the existence of Earth.

“The transmission begins ‘Oh fucking bollocky bollocks’” said a spokesperson for NASA…

❝ “‘They’ve found us, well that’s just tickety-fucking-boo’. The conversation then breaks down into a series of back-and-forth arguments where the aliens appear to blame each other for being found, with one very vocal creature appearing to be furious that Earthlings may now attempt to travel to the new planet. ‘Why did you have to have the telly on so fucking loud?’, they say”.

Click through to the article. Sounds like they really don’t care to have anything to do with Earth cultures. Hmmm.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

The Machine is Calling…listen carefully


Click to enlarge

Soft City, by the Norwegian graphic artist Hariton Pushwagner, is something of a miracle. Not only for existing in the first place, but for surviving at all. It languished in obscurity for decades and was very nearly lost before finally being issued in book form, following a messy legal dispute involving the artist and his former dealer. Most pointedly, however, it is a miracle of its native medium — the comic strip — for its startling and disquieting vision in a form that had never seen anything like it.

Cue the theme from Twilight Zone. Read on.