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News

The IPL 2021, SRH vs RR: Jason Roy, Kane Williamson Star In SRH’s 7-Wicket Win vs Rajasthan Royals

Today Opener Jason Roy and skipper Kane Williamson struck confident half-centuries to shape Sunrisers Hyderabad’s comfortable seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals as IPL Play-offs calculations got a bit more complicated on Monday. Opting to bat, the Royals scored 164 for six on the back of a well-calculated 82-run knock by skipper Sanju Samson on a sticky wicket where stroke-making was difficult. However, the score proved insufficient as Roy (60 off 42) and Williamson (51 not out)-led the team to their only second win of the season.

The loss has dented the Royals’ playoff chances as they remained at the sixth spot with eight points while Sunrisers, remained at the bottom of the table.

Now four teams — Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, Royals and Mumbai Indians — are tied on eight points each and all are alive in the play-offs race in which Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals are firm favourites for the top two places with 16 points each. Chasing 165, Roy, playing his first match for Sunrisers, and Wriddhiman Saha (18 off 11) raced to 57 for no loss. The two plundered 18 runs of the fifth over, bowled by Chris Morris, that included four boundaries. The fine partnership was broken by spinner Mahipal Lomror (1/22).

Williamson and Roy, without taking much risk, continued to milk runs to take Sunrisers to 90 for one in 10 overs. Roy was dropped on 55 by Yashasvi Jasiwal off Rahul Tewatia but was caught off rookie pacer Chetan Sakaria (1/32) soon after. Priyam Garg (0) got out on the first ball as the Royals seem to be making a comeback. But Williamson and young Abhishek Sharma (21) then led the side over the line.

Earlier, Samson produced his second consecutive fifty after conjuring up an unbeaten 70 against Delhi Capitals on Saturday. The captain sent the ball seven times to the fence and three times over it in his impressive 57-ball innings, with which he became the leading run-scorer (433) of the season, surpassing Delhi Capitals’ Shikhar Dhawan (430).

Jaiswal (36) and Mahipal Lomror (29 not out), were the other two batters to provide valuable contributions on a wicket where the ball did not come on to the bat easily for a major part of Royals innings.

Asked to bowl, pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/28) bowled a splendid length ball, on leg stump which worked perfectly for SRH as the dangerous Evin Lewis (6) hit straight to Abdul Samad at deep backward square leg in the second over. Despite snaring Lewis’ wicket early, the Sunrisers bowlers were guilty of bowling wide and short and Jaiswal took the opportunity to counterattack. The youngster, who smashed four boundaries and a six, played some splendid shots with skipper Samson also slowly finding his feet as the two collected 46 runs in the Powerplay. The duo went on to share a 56-run stand before Sandeep Sharma (1/30) got rid of Jaiswal, who had hit a stunning six just a ball earlier.

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To keep the pressure on the Royals, SRH skipper Kane Williamson brought in star Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan (1/31) back into the attack and a mis-hit by Liam Livingstone (4) meant the move was met with the desired result.

With Lomror playing second fiddle to perfection, Samson took over the proceedings. But Siddharth Kaul (2/36) bowled a great last over, dismissing Samson and Riyan Parag (0) to restrict the Royals to 164 after being hit for 20 runs in his third over.

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News

Watch here Ansu Fati scores on return as Barca cruise past Levante

Goals from Memphis Depay, Luuk de Jong and the returning Ansu Fati helped Barcelona claim a much-needed 3-0 home victory over Levante in LaLiga on Sunday.

CAIRO : Egypt’s central bank has approved the granting of licences to allow merchants to accept contactless payments from their customers’ mobile phones, it said on Sunday.

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It did not say how soon the new system would be in place or who would be eligible to receive the licences.

New legislation and regulatory changes in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, are helping to unleash a surge in new fintech investments and change the way the country’s largely unbanked citizens do business.

(Reporting by Patrick Werr; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

The victory, Barca’s first in their last four games in all competitions, sees the Catalans climb to fifth in the table with 12 points from six games, five behind league leaders Real Madrid, who have played one more.

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Having been held to frustrating draws by lowly opposition in their last two league games, Barca were quick out of the blocks and went ahead after six minutes as Depay converted a penalty.

They doubled their advantage just before the quarter-hour as De Jong latched on to a Sergino Dest through ball before finishing past Aitor Fernandez in the visitors’ goal.

Fernandez made a couple of smart stops to keep the scoreline respectable as a dominant Barca pushed on in search a third.

It finally came in the 91st minute as Fati capped his first appearance since last November following a serious knee injury with a wonderful strike from distance.

Categories
Space

Op-ed | While satellites are cool, military space networks must focus on interoperability

 

How satellites are stitched together needs to be at the forefront of SDA’s Transport Layer discussion dfgdgfdgfd

The Defense Department’s Space Development Agency just issued a request for support to build 144 spacecraft. The agency’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer is expected to be one of the most complex networks the U.S. government has ever deployed in space. 

This layer is the key enabler for moving data across domains for real-time targeting, analysis and decision-making to support warfighter missions. Manufacturing of low Earth orbit (LEO) space vehicles, in some respects, has become commoditized. The differentiation comes from the payload, sensors and communication components that deliver essential data sharing capability.

The ability of these satellites to form an intricate, globally integrated network will impact joint warfighting operations and the safety of U.S. forces on the ground. For that reason, how satellites are stitched together in a highly complex, multi-band and multi-network system needs to be at the forefront of the Transport Layer discussion.

Network and system interoperability in the Transport Layer will be essential to unifying capabilities and ensuring resiliency. It is the glue that will bring space vehicles from different manufacturers together to ensure everything can interoperate seamlessly across the entire network, as well as enable connectivity and data sharing with other space-based networks. 

To achieve interoperability, the U.S. government should look to proven mechanisms to facilitate industry collaboration on a set of standards. Rather than create something new, using existing network standards will help facilitate commercial interoperability. 

In the same way the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has facilitated industry agreement internationally on 5G cellular standards, the government should foster consensus on standards for subsystems that are expected to be common elements across vendors and constellations. 

Another example of an existing, widely accepted standard is Link 16. With the development of the XVI satellite, the first Link 16-capable LEO spacecraft, this long-trusted data link network is now entering the space age.

Creating a common set of validation requirements for Link 16 space nodes will enable multiple suppliers to develop Link 16 space payloads, while ensuring that payloads from different vendors will interoperate with existing terrestrial user equipment and ground segments. 

Done correctly, Link 16 nodes in space and a fully interoperable transport layer can form a foundational element of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct for global, resilient communications.

Embrace a different mindset

Not long ago, just the idea of the military collaborating with multiple vendors to launch a constellation of hundreds of satellites would have sounded impossible. Yet, the Space Development Agency (SDA) as it pursues commercial space solutions has outlined a viable path forward to rapidly deliver innovative space capabilities to warfighters to keep pace with emerging threats. 

The agency has adopted a capabilities-focused mindset, which starts with understanding the desired outcomes, and works backwards to deliver the core systems needed to make it happen. For its national defense space architecture, the SDA has clearly articulated a set of desired warfighting capabilities. The challenge now is staying focused on enabling those capabilities, rather than getting stuck on manufacturing space vehicles to meet a technical spec. 

Simultaneously, embracing military, academic and industry collaboration to leverage the best commercial technologies might mean forgoing ownership of that technology, and potentially some layers of control. 

For the government to quickly build networks from commercial technology, it must focus on owning the outcomes and the interoperability, rather than designing, developing and owning the intellectual property. This frees industry to invest and innovate, and allows the government to benefit from private sector competition.

Looking ahead, we need to remember building an integrated space architecture is more than just the space vehicle in a constellation. The approach must be holistic, and take into consideration the end-to-end capabilities needed to build a truly unified and resilient space network architecture. 

Taking this approach now is how we’ll deliver the information dominance and operational advantage DoD agencies need to deter and, if necessary, decisively defeat adversaries in the modern battlespace. 

Building and launching satellites is exciting. A launch is the culmination of many months, or even years, of work. But the launch is just one step in a process, and the spacecraft is only one link in the chain of a functioning network. 

The real value to end users is when the space vehicle becomes a cohesive part of the network ecosystem: gateways, user terminals, flight operations, and terrestrial networking. The most pressing challenges are not in manufacturing the space vehicles themselves, but in creating the interoperable payloads and the associated network elements that bring the constellation together to serve users. 

That’s why key programs like the SDA’s Transport Layer and other efforts to integrate space networks with wireless, cellular, government-specific and other terrestrial networks, are immensely important for future military operations and national security. 

Craig Miller is president of Viasat Government Systems. Viasat is a provider of commercial satellite-based communications services.

Categories
Space

Op-ed | While satellites are cool, military space networks must focus on interoperability

How satellites are stitched together needs to be at the forefront of SDA’s Transport Layer discussion

The Defense Department’s Space Development Agency just issued a request for support to build 144 spacecraft. The agency’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer is expected to be one of the most complex networks the U.S. government has ever deployed in space. 

This layer is the key enabler for moving data across domains for real-time targeting, analysis and decision-making to support warfighter missions. Manufacturing of low Earth orbit (LEO) space vehicles, in some respects, has become commoditized. The differentiation comes from the payload, sensors and communication components that deliver essential data sharing capability.

The ability of these satellites to form an intricate, globally integrated network will impact joint warfighting operations and the safety of U.S. forces on the ground. For that reason, how satellites are stitched together in a highly complex, multi-band and multi-network system needs to be at the forefront of the Transport Layer discussion.

Network and system interoperability in the Transport Layer will be essential to unifying capabilities and ensuring resiliency. It is the glue that will bring space vehicles from different manufacturers together to ensure everything can interoperate seamlessly across the entire network, as well as enable connectivity and data sharing with other space-based networks. 

To achieve interoperability, the U.S. government should look to proven mechanisms to facilitate industry collaboration on a set of standards. Rather than create something new, using existing network standards will help facilitate commercial interoperability. 

In the same way the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has facilitated industry agreement internationally on 5G cellular standards, the government should foster consensus on standards for subsystems that are expected to be common elements across vendors and constellations. 

Another example of an existing, widely accepted standard is Link 16. With the development of the XVI satellite, the first Link 16-capable LEO spacecraft, this long-trusted data link network is now entering the space age.

Creating a common set of validation requirements for Link 16 space nodes will enable multiple suppliers to develop Link 16 space payloads, while ensuring that payloads from different vendors will interoperate with existing terrestrial user equipment and ground segments. 

Done correctly, Link 16 nodes in space and a fully interoperable transport layer can form a foundational element of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct for global, resilient communications.

Embrace a different mindset

Not long ago, just the idea of the military collaborating with multiple vendors to launch a constellation of hundreds of satellites would have sounded impossible. Yet, the Space Development Agency (SDA) as it pursues commercial space solutions has outlined a viable path forward to rapidly deliver innovative space capabilities to warfighters to keep pace with emerging threats. 

The agency has adopted a capabilities-focused mindset, which starts with understanding the desired outcomes, and works backwards to deliver the core systems needed to make it happen. For its national defense space architecture, the SDA has clearly articulated a set of desired warfighting capabilities. The challenge now is staying focused on enabling those capabilities, rather than getting stuck on manufacturing space vehicles to meet a technical spec. 

Simultaneously, embracing military, academic and industry collaboration to leverage the best commercial technologies might mean forgoing ownership of that technology, and potentially some layers of control. 

For the government to quickly build networks from commercial technology, it must focus on owning the outcomes and the interoperability, rather than designing, developing and owning the intellectual property. This frees industry to invest and innovate, and allows the government to benefit from private sector competition.

Looking ahead, we need to remember building an integrated space architecture is more than just the space vehicle in a constellation. The approach must be holistic, and take into consideration the end-to-end capabilities needed to build a truly unified and resilient space network architecture. 

Taking this approach now is how we’ll deliver the information dominance and operational advantage DoD agencies need to deter and, if necessary, decisively defeat adversaries in the modern battlespace. 

Building and launching satellites is exciting. A launch is the culmination of many months, or even years, of work. But the launch is just one step in a process, and the spacecraft is only one link in the chain of a functioning network. 

The real value to end users is when the space vehicle becomes a cohesive part of the network ecosystem: gateways, user terminals, flight operations, and terrestrial networking. The most pressing challenges are not in manufacturing the space vehicles themselves, but in creating the interoperable payloads and the associated network elements that bring the constellation together to serve users. 

That’s why key programs like the SDA’s Transport Layer and other efforts to integrate space networks with wireless, cellular, government-specific and other terrestrial networks, are immensely important for future military operations and national security. 

Craig Miller is president of Viasat Government Systems. Viasat is a provider of commercial satellite-based communications services.

Categories
Space

Op-ed | While satellites are cool, military space networks must focus on interoperability

How satellites are stitched together needs to be at the forefront of SDA’s Transport Layer discussion

The Defense Department’s Space Development Agency just issued a request for support to build 144 spacecraft. The agency’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer is expected to be one of the most complex networks the U.S. government has ever deployed in space. 

This layer is the key enabler for moving data across domains for real-time targeting, analysis and decision-making to support warfighter missions. Manufacturing of low Earth orbit (LEO) space vehicles, in some respects, has become commoditized. The differentiation comes from the payload, sensors and communication components that deliver essential data sharing capability.

The ability of these satellites to form an intricate, globally integrated network will impact joint warfighting operations and the safety of U.S. forces on the ground. For that reason, how satellites are stitched together in a highly complex, multi-band and multi-network system needs to be at the forefront of the Transport Layer discussion.

Network and system interoperability in the Transport Layer will be essential to unifying capabilities and ensuring resiliency. It is the glue that will bring space vehicles from different manufacturers together to ensure everything can interoperate seamlessly across the entire network, as well as enable connectivity and data sharing with other space-based networks. 

To achieve interoperability, the U.S. government should look to proven mechanisms to facilitate industry collaboration on a set of standards. Rather than create something new, using existing network standards will help facilitate commercial interoperability. 

In the same way the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has facilitated industry agreement internationally on 5G cellular standards, the government should foster consensus on standards for subsystems that are expected to be common elements across vendors and constellations. 

Another example of an existing, widely accepted standard is Link 16. With the development of the XVI satellite, the first Link 16-capable LEO spacecraft, this long-trusted data link network is now entering the space age.

Creating a common set of validation requirements for Link 16 space nodes will enable multiple suppliers to develop Link 16 space payloads, while ensuring that payloads from different vendors will interoperate with existing terrestrial user equipment and ground segments. 

Done correctly, Link 16 nodes in space and a fully interoperable transport layer can form a foundational element of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct for global, resilient communications.

Embrace a different mindset

Not long ago, just the idea of the military collaborating with multiple vendors to launch a constellation of hundreds of satellites would have sounded impossible. Yet, the Space Development Agency (SDA) as it pursues commercial space solutions has outlined a viable path forward to rapidly deliver innovative space capabilities to warfighters to keep pace with emerging threats. 

The agency has adopted a capabilities-focused mindset, which starts with understanding the desired outcomes, and works backwards to deliver the core systems needed to make it happen. For its national defense space architecture, the SDA has clearly articulated a set of desired warfighting capabilities. The challenge now is staying focused on enabling those capabilities, rather than getting stuck on manufacturing space vehicles to meet a technical spec. 

Simultaneously, embracing military, academic and industry collaboration to leverage the best commercial technologies might mean forgoing ownership of that technology, and potentially some layers of control. 

For the government to quickly build networks from commercial technology, it must focus on owning the outcomes and the interoperability, rather than designing, developing and owning the intellectual property. This frees industry to invest and innovate, and allows the government to benefit from private sector competition.

Looking ahead, we need to remember building an integrated space architecture is more than just the space vehicle in a constellation. The approach must be holistic, and take into consideration the end-to-end capabilities needed to build a truly unified and resilient space network architecture. 

Taking this approach now is how we’ll deliver the information dominance and operational advantage DoD agencies need to deter and, if necessary, decisively defeat adversaries in the modern battlespace. 

Building and launching satellites is exciting. A launch is the culmination of many months, or even years, of work. But the launch is just one step in a process, and the spacecraft is only one link in the chain of a functioning network. 

The real value to end users is when the space vehicle becomes a cohesive part of the network ecosystem: gateways, user terminals, flight operations, and terrestrial networking. The most pressing challenges are not in manufacturing the space vehicles themselves, but in creating the interoperable payloads and the associated network elements that bring the constellation together to serve users. 

That’s why key programs like the SDA’s Transport Layer and other efforts to integrate space networks with wireless, cellular, government-specific and other terrestrial networks, are immensely important for future military operations and national security. 

Craig Miller is president of Viasat Government Systems. Viasat is a provider of commercial satellite-based communications services.

Categories
Space

How Special Are We? New Clues to the Formation of Our Solar System ymax

Nearby star-forming region yields clues to the formation of our solar system.

The radioactive elements could have been blown onto the nascent solar system by a nearby exploding star (a supernova) or by the strong stellar winds from a type of massive star known as a Wolf-Rayet star. The presence of radioactive material at the birth of the Solar System has been a giant puzzle for the last 50-years. Does the formation of planetary systems like our own require a Goldilocks situation, not too close, not too far from a source of radioactive material?

The authors of the new study used multi-wavelength observations of the Ophiuchus star-forming region, including spectacular new infrared data from the Vienna-led VISIONS Survey currently ongoing at the ESO survey telescope in the Chilean desert, that reveals the interactions between the clouds of star-forming gas and radionuclides produced in the nearest cluster of young stars. Their findings indicate that supernovas in the previous generation of stars are the most likely source of short-lived radionuclides in the star-forming clouds.

“Our solar system was most likely formed in a giant molecular cloud together with a young stellar cluster, and one or more supernova events from some massive stars in this cluster contaminated the gas which turned into the sun and its planetary system,” says co-author Douglas N. C. Lin from UC Santa Cruz. “Although this scenario was in the past, the strength of this paper is to use multi-wavelength observations and a sophisticated statistical analysis to deduce a quantitative measurement of the model’s likelihood.”

L1688 Star Forming Stellar Cluster

L1688: the nearest star forming stellar cluster to Earth. This is color composite of near infrared images taken by the Viennese VISIONS Survey. Credit: © João Alves

The Ophiuchus cloud complex contains many dense protostellar cores in various stages of star formation and protoplanetary disk development, representing the earliest stages in the formation of a planetary system. By combining imaging data in wavelengths ranging from millimeters to gamma rays, the researchers could visualize a flow of aluminum-26 from the nearby star cluster toward the Ophiuchus star-forming region.

“The enrichment process we see in Ophiuchus is consistent with what happened during the formation of the solar system 5 billion years ago,” says John C. Forbes. “Once we saw this nice example of how the process might happen, we set about trying to model the nearby star cluster that produced the radionuclides we see today in gamma rays. We now have enough information to say that there is a 59 percent chance it is due to supernovas and a 68 percent chance that it’s from multiple sources and not just one supernova,” says Forbes.
This type of statistical analysis assigns probabilities to scenarios that astronomers have been debating for the past 50 years, Lin notes. “This is the new direction for astronomy, to quantify the likelihood,” he says.

“There is nothing special about Ophiuchus as a star formation region,” says João Alves from the University of Vienna. “It is just a typical configuration of gas and young massive stars, so our results should be representative of the enrichment of short-lived radioactive elements in star and planet formation across the Milky Way. We are not that special after all, and we should expect many other Solar Systems like our own floating in the Milky Way.”

The new findings also show that the amount of short-lived radionuclides incorporated into newly forming star systems can vary widely. “Many new star systems will be born with aluminum-26 abundances in line with our solar system, but the variation is huge – several orders of magnitude,” says Forbes. “This matters for the early evolution of planetary systems, since aluminum-26 is the main early heating source. More aluminum-26 probably means drier planets.”

The team also used data from the European Southern Observatory VISTA telescope, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory, the ESA’s Planck satellite, and NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

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Categories
Space

NASA Seeking Help on Artemis Lunar Terrain Vehicle Solutions

NASA is asking American companies for additional input on approaches and solutions for a vehicle to transport Artemis astronauts around the lunar South Pole later this decade.

The lunar terrain vehicle (LTV), an unenclosed rover that astronauts can drive on the Moon while wearing their spacesuits, will need to last at least 10 years, spanning multiple Artemis missions.

Through a request for information, NASA is addressing challenges associated with the LTV’s lifetime, including surviving the long, cold lunar night and options to transport the vehicle to the lunar surface. Responses to the RFI are due October 1.

“Most people do a lot of research before buying a car,” said Nathan Howard, project manager for the LTV at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “We’re doing extensive research for a modern space vehicle that will be provided by industry. As we plan for long-term exploration of the Moon, the LTV won’t be your grandfather’s Moon Buggy used during the Apollo missions.”

NASA is asking if American companies are interested in providing the LTV as a commercial service, or as a product NASA would purchase and own. Working with industry to inform the LTV design for Artemis is part of an expansion of commercial partnerships from low-Earth orbit to the Moon. The agency successfully uses commercial partnership model today for crew and cargo transportation services in low-Earth orbit and similarly plans to buy astronaut transportation services for Artemis surface missions.

The next-generation LTV will greatly expand human reach and scientific activity on the Moon for future surface missions – even farther than Apollo. The LTV RFI invites industry to provide information to help shape the evolution of the Artemis mobility plans and ultimately achieve the greatest scientific and exploration value across at least a decade of missions.

“We are trying to encourage advances in electric vehicle capabilities that could result in the most capable rover ever built,” said Howard. “The Artemis LTV will be the ultimate terrain vehicle, with advanced power management, autonomous driving, and extreme environment technologies.” The LTV could also be teleoperated to transport cargo or science payloads between crew missions, enabling significant science returns by combining the best of human and robotic exploration.

Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV)

The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), built by Boeing Co., enabled extended travel, speed, and greater scientific activity on the Moon during the Apollo era. Credit: NASA

The original lunar roving vehicle (LRV), or more commonly called a Moon Buggy, was introduced on the Apollo 15 mission. The LRV allowed astronauts to explore miles of diverse geological features, increasing the scientific return of each new mission, and collecting more than 10 times the number of samples on Apollo 17 than on foot during Apollo 11.

NASA previously sought industry input in early 2020, encouraging companies to identify the latest innovations in electric vehicles that could be applied or developed for LTV. The feedback from both RFIs will inform the agency’s future commercial solicitation strategy for the LTV.

The LTV is part of the agency’s lunar surface sustainability concept, which calls for building an Artemis Base Camp at the lunar South Pole and includes other infrastructure to support long-term exploration of the Moon with astronauts including a surface habitat, pressurized rover, power, and much more.

NASA’s Artemis missions include landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, and establishing a long-term presence. The agency will leverage its Artemis experience and technologies to prepare for humanity’s next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

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Categories
Uncategorized

Prairie State coal plant at center of high-stakes Illinois energy debate


A standoff over forcing Illinois’ largest coal plant to reduce emissions could ironically prevent the passage of a comprehensive energy bill and lead to significant increases in carbon emissions, as some stakeholders see it. 

The Illinois Senate passed an omnibus energy bill (SB 18) late at night on August 31, the latest move in a political drama that has dragged on for several years and threatened to devastate the state’s nascent solar industry, since the legislation is needed to restart solar incentives. 

Several powerful coalitions earlier this year found common ground on clean energy targets and how to meet them, but over the summer the state’s largest coal plant, Prairie State Energy Campus, became a key sticking point in the sweeping legislation. 

The bill passed by the Senate calls for Prairie State (and all other fossil fuel plants) to close by 2045, a deadline Gov. J.B. Pritzker has endorsed. Clean energy and environmental groups say Prairie State, Illinois’s largest carbon emitter by far, should be forced to meet declining emissions caps in the meantime. A statement from Pritzker’s office, published by Capitol Fax, said the office is “in discussions with stakeholders to ensure” that Prairie State and a municipally-owned coal plant in Springfield achieve “real interim emissions reductions” leading up to 2045. 

But some lawmakers and stakeholders are pushing back against such a mandate, with the disagreement putting the bill’s future still in doubt.

Nuclear tipping point 

If the bill doesn’t pass in the coming days, Exelon has promised to initiate the closing of two of its Illinois nuclear plants, which it says cannot keep operating without subsidies included in the bill. Renewable energy industry leaders and others advocating for the Senate bill’s adoption say that if the nuclear plants close, the state will have to import coal-fired power from non-unionized plants in neighboring states, and total carbon emissions will go up by more than 20 million tons a year, according to a 2020 report by the Brattle Group that Pritzker used to guide his proposed nuclear subsidies. 

An analysis that backers of the Senate bill have circulated to legislators cites the Brattle Report in noting that 480 million additional tons of carbon dioxide will be emitted by 2045 if the Byron and Dresden nuclear plants close — since the energy would be replaced largely by coal-fired power. If the bill passes, enough solar will be built in Southern Illinois to offset 96 million tons per year of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted, according to that analysis. 

Meanwhile Prairie State emits 12.7 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, as noted in an investigation by Inside Climate News and the Chicago Sun-Times, for a total of more than 300 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2045. 

That means passing the Senate bill without emissions reduction targets would still be a net win on carbon emissions compared to no bill at all, backers argue, by a margin of more than 200 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2045. 

Another battleground 

The bill passed by the Senate includes many of the ambitious clean energy, equity and job creation components promoted by the Clean Jobs Coalition of environmental and community groups for several years, previously enshrined in a bill called the Clean Energy Jobs Act. 

Solar and wind industry players had previously backed a different bill called Path to 100 that lacked the in-depth equity, job training and just transition components of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. But in recent months those two coalitions came together on funding and other mechanisms directly related to clean energy, and controversy over subsidies for the nuclear plants also dissipated. 

Prairie State created a new schism between the Clean Jobs and Path to 100 coalitions, as the Clean Jobs Coalition doesn’t want legislation to pass without emissions limits, whereas the industry coalition is desperate for legislation to pass immediately, with or without limits for Prairie State.

“The Illinois House has an opportunity to pass the strongest clean energy, pro-climate legislation in the country,” says a statement from the Path to 100 coalition released after the Senate passed the omnibus bill. “We urge the House to act quickly to resolve any outstanding issues while preserving the critical renewable energy policies in SB 18 that all parties agreed to after years of negotiations.”

Prairie State is owned by a consortium of nine public power agencies that made controversial and in some cases economically devastating binding deals with more than 300 municipal utilities and electric cooperatives across eight states. 

Critics say that ratepayers in these communities are being forced to subsidize unnecessary and overpriced carbon-intensive power, and that forcing Prairie State to close or ramp down earlier could provide both environmental and economic relief. 

“Illinois now has a path to transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy,” said J.C. Kibbey, Illinois clean energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Clean Jobs Coalition member, in a statement. “It’s glaring that the bill still lacks near-term standards for the biggest polluter in Illinois, the Prairie State coal plant. Science tells us we cannot wait decades to reduce emissions from coal if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change. We look to House leadership to add this simple but crucial missing piece and to pass a bill that our state can be proud of in the next few days.”

In addition to the stalemate over declining emissions limits for coal plants, Pritzker is concerned that union-backed provisions in the Senate bill could violate federal law and lead to a court invalidating the entire bill, as reported by Capitol Fax. The bill calls for union labor to be used on many utility scale renewable projects, including on some transmission lines used to carry that energy. Text from the governor’s office quoted by Capitol Fax said: “The Governor’s office recommended that [these] problematic provisions be removed and the Senate refused.”

Without a bill, many companies and experts say, the Illinois solar industry will continue the precipitous decline that started when Renewable Energy Credits funded by the 2017 Future Energy Jobs Act expired over the past year. New funding that would be created by the Senate bill is seen as crucial to restarting and expanding the wildly popular community and residential solar incentives created by FEJA. 

To add insult to injury, in late August utilities began returning money to customers that had already been collected for renewable energy development, because of a timetable enshrined in FEJA that turned out not to be realistic. 

Barely hanging on 

Michelle Knox founded WindSolar USA in Springfield, Illinois in 2008, one of the state’s relatively few woman-owned solar companies. As Knox describes it, she “built something from nothing,” having “fully built and financed the start up of this business on my own with hard work and passion.”

In 2019 with FEJA incentives in full swing, Windsolar USA had its best year ever with net income of $272,491 and 948 kilowatts of solar installed, Knox said. She had four teams working, including union electricians. In 2020, with the pandemic and a portion of incentive funding expiring in December, net income dropped to $34,911. With all incentive funding depleted this year, net income has been just $6,412. 

“What small business can remain operational for any length of time with a negative net income?” Knox asked. “Not many. The only reason I can is because of the years of being in business and saving excess funds for unforeseen catastrophes like this.” 

Knox has been sending state legislators charts of her company’s metrics and data visualizations showing the urgency of decarbonization. She, like other solar industry stakeholders, is concerned that standoffs over emissions reductions and labor provisions could derail the legislation. 

“The time is now for a bill to be finalized and small businesses like mine to continue providing or even expanding clean energy jobs, contributing to local economies through sales tax revenue and financing of solar projects through local banks, and moving Illinois towards renewable portfolio standard goals,” Knox said. “I am asking legislators to hear my plea on behalf of small businesses across the state.”

Categories
Space

Firefly Alpha explodes during first launch

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. — Firefly Aerospace’s first launch of its Alpha rocket ended in failure when the rocket exploded two minutes after liftoff Sept. 2

The Alpha rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 2 here at 9:59 p.m. Eastern. A first launch attempt at 9 p.m. Eastern was aborted in the final seconds of the countdown for unspecified technical reasons.

About two minutes after liftoff, the rocket appeared to tumble and then explode. “Alpha experienced an anomaly during first stage ascent that resulted in the loss of the vehicle,” Firefly tweeted. The company said it would provide more details later.

Company executives emphasized before the launch that the flight was primarily a test. “Our really big goal is to get Alpha to space. If we can get to orbit, even better,” said Lauren Lyons, chief operating officer of Firefly, during a Sept. 1 tour of the company’s launch control center. “Our goals are to collect as much data as we possibly can and take Alpha as far as it can go.”

The Alpha was carrying about 92 kilograms of payloads on what it called the Dedicated Research and Educational Accelerator Mission (DREAM). That included several cubesats, technology demonstrations of a plasma thruster and drag deorbit sail, and “non-technical” payloads like photos and memorabilia.

The missions was designed to fly to the west, rather than to the south as is typical for polar-orbit launches from Vandenberg. While that reduced the payload performance for the mission, it made range safety simpler for an untried rocket.

“If we were flying due south, we’d have a very tight corridor we’d have to go down though,” said Tom Markusic, chief executive of Firefly, in a Sept. 1 interview at the pad. “Here, we have a very wide corridor so that, if the vehicle’s not tracking quite right, it gives us an opportunity to get back on track without having to terminate the mission.”

“It’s a flight test, so getting data is success,” he said. “The more data we get, the better.”

Categories
Space

FAA grounds SpaceShipTwo after problem on July flight

LOMPOC, Calif. — The Federal Aviation Administration will not allow Virgin Galactic to resume flights of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane until it completes an investigation into a problem on the vehicle’s previous flight in July.

In a Sept. 2 statement, the FAA said it is overseeing a Virgin Galactic mishap investigation into the July 11 flight of SpaceShipTwo, called “Unity 22” by the company, which appeared to go as planned but in fact suffered a problem that caused it to stray from its restricted airspace.

“Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety,” the agency stated.

The statement came a day after the publication of an article by The New Yorker that revealed that the two SpaceShipTwo pilots ignored an “entry glide cone warning” during the July 11 flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The flight took them and four others on board, including Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, to the edge of space and back with no indication at the time of any problems.

That warning indicated that the vehicle was outside the volume of space known as the glide cone where it had enough energy to glide back to a runway landing at the spaceport. The warning appeared late in the powered portion of the flight, indicating that the vehicle was not climbing steeply enough.

Company sources cited in the article said that, in the event of such a warning, SpaceShipTwo’s hybrid rocket motor should have been shut down, aborting the flight. Instead, the pilots, David Mackay and Mike Masucci, let the motor fire for the full duration. An abort could have prevented SpaceShipTwo from reaching the 80-kilometer altitude that the company defines as space, thwarting Branson’s bid to get to space before Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos did so on his company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle July 20.

During SpaceShipTwo’s glide back to the runway at Spaceport America, it flew for a time outside of its designated airspace, according to flight tracking data. The vehicle landed safely.

In a Sept. 1 statement, Virgin Galactic said it disputed “the misleading characterizations and conclusions” of the article. However, it did acknowledge that SpaceShipTwo “did drop below the altitude of the airspace that is protected for Virgin Galactic missions for a short distance and time,” which it estimated at 101 seconds.

Virgin Galactic blamed high winds at upper altitudes for the deviation in trajectory that triggered the warning. “Our pilots responded appropriately to these changing flight conditions exactly as they were trained and in strict accordance with our established procedures,” the company said. “Although the flight’s ultimate trajectory deviated from our initial plan, it was a controlled and intentional flight path that allowed Unity 22 to successfully reach space and land safely at our Spaceport in New Mexico.”

The former director of Virgin Galactic’s test flight program criticized the company. “The most misleading statement today was @virgingalactic’s,” tweeted Mark “Forger” Stucky. “The facts are the pilots failed to trim to achieve the proper pitch rate, the winds were well within limits, they did nothing of substance to address the trajectory error, & entered Class A airspace without authorization.”

Stucky, who piloted SpaceShipTwo on its first suborbital spaceflight in December 2018 and had been an internal critic of some flight test practices at the company, was let go by Virgin Galactic a week after the July 11 flight.

Hours before the FAA statement, Virgin Galactic announced plans for its next SpaceShipTwo flight. The Unity 23 flight will be a dedicated flight for the Italian Air Force carrying three Italian researchers and one Virgin Galactic employee in the cabin. The flight will be piloted by Masucci and CJ Sturckow. Unity 23 is the last before the company goes into a maintenance period for both the spaceplane and its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft scheduled to run to the middle of 2022.

“Being selected by the Italian Air Force to support their microgravity research is a testament to the unique scientific capabilities of our spaceflight system,” Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said in a Sept. 2 company statement. “This flight will be remembered as an important milestone in unlocking the transformative potential of repeatable and reliable access to space for years to come.”

The Virgin Galactic announcement made no mention of the mishap investigation, but stated it expected to perform the Unity 23 mission in late September or early October. The FAA did not disclose when it expected to give its approval for the company to resume flights.