How to Keep Extremists Out of Power

Every political reform proposal must be judged by its ability to fuel or weaken extremist candidates.

#alaska, #campaign-finance, #democratic-party, #elections-house-of-representatives, #elections-senate, #politics-and-government, #redistricting-and-reapportionment, #republican-party, #senate, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters


Lessons on Resilience From Dogs and Dog Sledders

The adventurer Blair Braverman has led a team of sled dogs over a 900-mile race in Alaska, seen her skin dissolve in the desert and overcome Covid-19. What makes it all less terrifying? Accepting the unknown.

#alaska, #athletics-and-sports, #braverman-blair, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dog-sledding, #global-warming, #iditarod-trail-sled-dog-race-alaska, #mushing


Covid Restrictions Might Factor Into Avalanche Deaths, Experts Say

In the first week of February, avalanches in the United States killed at least 14 people, an extraordinarily high number. Experts say one explanation might be increased interest in outdoor activities during the coronavirus pandemic.

#accidents-and-safety, #alaska, #avalanches, #colorado, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #skiing


Avalanche Kills Three Hikers in Alaska, Officials Say

The bodies of the hikers were found near Anchorage on Wednesday. An avalanche in Colorado this week also killed three people.

#alaska, #anchorage-alaska, #avalanches, #deaths-fatalities, #hikes-and-hiking


Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Another Alaska Attorney General Resigns

Ed Sniffen’s resignation came less than six months after his predecessor, Kevin G. Clarkson, resigned amid revelations that he had sent hundreds of text messages to a female state employee.

#alaska, #appointments-and-executive-changes, #attorneys-general, #child-abuse-and-neglect, #clarkson-kevin-g, #dunleavy-mike-1980, #sex-crimes, #special-prosecutors-independent-counsel


Rocket startup Astra is going public vis SPAC

Rocket launch company Astra, which just reached space this past December with a test launch from Alaska, will be going public on the NASDAQ via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Holicity. The recent SPAC craze has already extended to the New Space sector, and Virgin Galactic was among the in this wave of a new path to public listing, so there is precedent for space launch in particular, but Astra will be the first to list on the NASDAQ.

The terms of the deal will result in an anticipated $500 million in cash for Astra, from a combined $300 million held by Holicity in trust and a $300 million injection via a PIPE (private investment in public equity) from funds under management by BlackRock. The arrangement sets a pro forma enterprise valuation of Astra at around $2.1 billion – that valuation of the company minus the $500 million in cash the SPAC merger brings in. Astra expects it to complete by the second quarter of this year, after which the company will trade under the ticker ‘ASTR.’

Astra manufactures its own rockets, which are designed to carry small orbital payloads, at a facility in Alameda, California. Thus far, it has then shipped its launch vehicles to Kodiak, Alaska for flight – requiring just a handful of people on the ground at the actual spaceport to mount and launch the rocket, with the majority of the team overseeing the flight operating remotely out of a mission control facility back in California. The company’s model focuses on high output production of relatively inexpensive rockets, which can be responsively shipped and launched virtually anywhere depending on needs.

With its successful test in December, Astra achieved a pay-off of years of quiet work building and iterating its launch model. The startup was originally pursuing a DARPA-funded competition to achieve rapid response launch capabilities, but that contest expired with the prize unclaimed. The successful test in December still proved out the viability of Astra’s model – though it fell slightly short of achieving orbital velocity for actual payload delivery. The company said that this was a relatively easy remaining issue to fix, wholly manageable via software tweaks, and it intends to deliver its first commercial satellites beginning this summer.

Ultimately, Astra aims to be launching payloads on a daily cadency by 2025, and in a blog post accompanying the SPAC news, Astra founder and CEO Chris Kemp said that it’s also intent on “building a platform of space services” that implies ambitions beyond its work today on rockets.

#aerospace, #alaska, #astra, #blackrock, #california, #cars, #ceo, #chris-kemp, #kodiak, #nasdaq, #spac, #space, #space-launch, #special-purpose-acquisition-company, #tc, #transportation, #virgin-galactic


Archaeologists Discover Spot in Alaska Where Indigenous Fort Once Stood

The location of the fort, which was used by the Tlingit people to ward off Russian invaders in 1804 and was destroyed by the Russians, has eluded researchers for decades.

#alaska, #alaska-natives, #archaeology-and-anthropology, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #national-park-service, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #russia


Finding a Foothold for Nordic Skiing in Rural Alaska

The harsh wind-hammered tundra sometimes complicates the prospect, as do the polar bears. But the children are enthusiastic pupils.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #arctic-regions, #kaktovik-alaska, #nulato-alaska, #photography, #polar-bears, #rural-areas, #skiing, #travel-and-vacations


Marc Lore leaves Walmart a little over four years after selling for $3B

Marc Lore, the executive vice president, president and CEO of U.S. e-commerce for Walmart, is stepping down a little over four years after selling his e-commerce company to the country’s largest retailer for $3 billion.

Lore’s tenure at the company was a mixed bag. Walmart instituted several new technology initiatives under Lore’s tenure, but the service was shuttered last May and other initiatives from Lore, like an option to have customers order items via text, was also a money-loser for the Bentonville, AK-based company.

“After Mr. Lore retires on January 31, 2021, the U.S. business, including all the aspects of US retail eCommerce, will continue to report to John Furner, Executive Vice President, President and Chief Executive Officer, Walmart U.S., beginning on February 1, 2021,” Walmart said in a filing.

Walmart has continued to push ahead with a number of tech-related initiatives, including the launch of a new business that will focus on developing financial services.

That initiative is being undertaken through a strategic partnership with the fintech investment firm, Ribbit Capital and adds to a startup tech portfolio that also includes the incubator Store N⁰8, which launched in 2018.

“Reflecting on the past few years with so much pride – Walmart changed my life and the work we did together will keep changing the lives of customers for years to come. It has been an honor to be a part of the Walmart family and I look forward to providing advice and ideas in the future,” Lore said in a statement posted to Linkedin. “Looking forward, I’ll be taking some time off and plan to continue working with several startups. Excited to keep you all up to date on what’s next.”




#alaska, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #financial-services, #jet-com, #linkedin, #marc-lore, #retail-ecommerce, #retailers, #ribbit-capital, #tc, #united-states, #walmart


Sale of Drilling Leases in Arctic Refuge Fails to Yield a Windfall

Just half of the 22 available tracts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge got bids, and big oil companies stayed away.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #bureau-of-land-management, #drilling-and-boring, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline


Genie Chance and the Great Alaska Earthquake: An Update

The story of the biggest earthquake ever recorded in North America and the voice that gave Anchorage’s account in the aftermath.

#alaska, #anchorage-alaska, #books-and-literature, #chance-genie-1927-98, #earthquakes, #mooallem-jon, #ohio-state-university, #research, #the-daily-radio-program, #university-of-delaware


Sale of Arctic Drilling Leases Draws an Unusual Taker. It May Be the Only One.

With a deadline looming and weak interest from oil companies, the state of Alaska may step in and buy leases in the hope of reassigning them later. Some analysts saw that as a long shot.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #arctic-regions, #environment, #global-warming, #murkowski-frank-h, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #united-states-politics-and-government


Launch startup Astra’s rocket reaches space

Rocket launch startup Astra has joined an elite group of companies who can say their vehicle has actually made it to orbital space – earlier than expected. The company’s Rocket 3.2 test rocket (yes it’s a rocket called ‘Rocket’) passed the Karman line, the separation point 100 km or 62 miles up that most consider the barrier between Earth’s atmosphere and space, during a launch today from Kodiak, Alaska.

This is the second in this series of orbital flight tests by Astra; it flew its Rocket 3.1 test vehicle in September, but while that flight was successful by the company’s own definition, since it lifted off and provided a lot of data, it didn’t reach space or orbit. Both the 3.1 and 3.2 rockets are part of a planned three-launch series that Astra said would be designed to reach orbital altitudes by the end of the trio of attempts.

Astra is a small satellite launch startup that builds its rockets in California’s East Bay, at a factory it established there which is designed to ultimately produce its launchers in volume. Their model uses smaller craft than existing options like either SpaceX or Rocket Lab, but aims to provide, responsive, short turnaround launch services at a relatively low-cost – a bus to space rather than a hired limousine. They compete more directly with something like Virgin Orbit, which has yet to reach space with its launch craft.

The view from Astra’s Rocket 3.2 second stage from space.

This marks a tremendous win and milestone for Astra’s rocket program, made even more impressive by the relatively short turnaround between their rocket loss error in September, which the company determined was a result of a problem in its onboard guidance system. Correcting the mistake and getting back to an active, and successful launch, within three months, is a tremendous technical achievement even in the best of times, and the company faced additional challenges because of COVID-19.

Astra was not expecting to make it as far as it did today – the startup has defined seven stages of reaching orbital flight for its development program; today it expects dto achieve 1) count and liftoff; and 2) reaching Max Q, the point of maximum dynamic pressure undergone by a rocket in flight in Earth’s atmosphere. Third, they were looking to achieve nominal main-engine cutoff for first stage – and this is where they would’ve pegged success today, but the “rocket continued to perform,” according to CEO and founder Chris Kemp on a call following the launch.

Rocket 3.2 then performed a successful stage separation, and then the second stage passed through Karman line, reaching outer space. After that, it went further still, achieving a successful upper stage ignition, and a nominal upper stage engine shut off six minutes later. Even then, the rocket reached 390 km which is its target orbital height, but then reached a velocity of 7.2 km per hours, just one half km/hour less than the 7.68 km required for orbital velocity.

Astra emphasized that the mix for the propellant for this stage is basically only able to achieve while testing in situ in space, so they say this will just require some upper stage propellant mixtures to achieve that extra velocity, and Kemp said they’re confident they can do that in the next couple of months, and start reliving payloads early next year. This won’t require any hardware or software changes, the company noted, just a tweak in the variables involved.

View of Earth from Astra’s second stage spacecraft on orbit.

He added that this is a big win for the underlying theory behind Astra’s approach, which focuses on using significant amounts of automation in order to reduce costs.

“We’ve only been in business for about four years, and this team only has about 100 people today,” Kemp said. “This team was able to overcome tremendous challenges on the way to this success.” had a member of the team quarantining, and tested positive on the way to Kodiak, which meant they had to quarantine the entire team, and then sent an entire backup team to replace them – possible because they only use five people on the launch team.”

“We now are at a point where just five people can go up, and set up the entire launch site and rocket, and launch in just a couple of days,” Kemp said. The team is literally just five people – including labor, rocket unloading, setup and everything on-site – the rest is run remotely from mission control in California via the cloud.

Now will do some tuning for Rocket 3.3, which is currently in California at the Astra factory, before soon attempting that final orbital test flight with a payload on board to deploy. After that, they intend to continue to iterate with each version of its Rocket launched, focusing on reducing costs and improving performance through rapid evolution of the design and technology.

#aerospace, #alaska, #astra, #california, #east-bay, #elite, #kodiak, #outer-space, #rocket, #rocket-lab, #rocket-launch-startup, #science, #space, #spaceflight, #spaceport, #spacex, #startups, #tc


She Was Stranded in Canada. A Stranger Drove Her 1,000 Miles to Alaska.

Lynn Marchessault was driving her children and pets from Georgia to Alaska when she got stuck in whiteout conditions in British Columbia. Gary Bath, a Canadian veteran, came to the rescue.

#alaska, #british-columbia-canada, #canada, #canadian-armed-forces, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #defense-and-military-forces, #yukon-territory


Arctic Seismic Work Will Not Hurt Polar Bears, Government Says

The announcement removes a major hurdle to approving a plan to hunt for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, part of a push to allow drilling there by the Trump administration.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #bears, #drilling-and-boring, #environment, #federal-lands


Sale of Arctic Refuge Oil and Gas Leases Is Set for Early January

The Trump administration, hastening its last-ditch effort to allow drilling there, said the sales would happen 30 days after an announcement is published in the Federal Register on Monday.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #bureau-of-land-management, #drilling-and-boring, #environment, #land-use-policies, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #united-states-politics-and-government


Six People Missing After Heavy Rains Cause Mudslides in Alaska

The landslides crushed at least four houses in Haines, Alaska, which is home to about 2,500 people about 90 miles north of Juneau, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

#alaska, #haines-alaska, #landslides-and-mudslides, #rain, #united-states-coast-guard


Dr. Michael Davidson, Who Studied Infectious Disease, Dies at 77

He told a friend that he would have relished the chance to help end the coronavirus pandemic, had he not been retired. The virus claimed him instead.

#alaska, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-obituaries, #dr-michael-davidson, #research


Good News for Salmon, Bad News for Prospectors

Denying a permit for the Pebble Mine in Alaska is a commendable move, finally, by the Trump administration.

#alaska, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #bristol-bay-alaska, #carbon-caps-and-emissions-trading-programs, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #executive-orders-and-memorandums, #fishing-commercial, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #land-use-policies, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #presidential-transition-us, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government


6.4-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Off Southern Alaska

The earthquake was reported near a sparsely populated area of the Aleutian Islands, a seismically active area.

#alaska, #aleutian-islands, #earthquakes


Astra targets December for next orbital launch attempt

Astra is set to launch it’s next orbital rocket, with a window that opens on December 7 and lasts for 12 days following until December 18, with an 11 AM to 2:30 PM PT block each day during which the launch could occur, depending on weather and conditions on the ground. This is the startup’s Rocket 3.2, a slightly revised and improved version of the Rocket 3.1 launch vehicle it flew in September.

Alameda-based Astra is a startup focused on building a small, relatively cheap-to-build launch vehicle that can carry small payloads to space at a rapid clip, with flexible launch location capabilities. It’s founded by former NASA CTO Chris Kemp, and backed by funding including Mac Benioff, Innovation Endeavors, Airbus Ventures, Canaan Partners and others, and it already has an active rocket assembly factory operating in the East Bay.

The company was originally founded with the goal of winning DARPA’s Launch Challenge, though the deadline for that has since passed. Astra still aims to essentially satisfying the functional requirements of that competition, by creating a launch vehicle that can be launched essentially on-demand when needed by clients looking for more responsive and mobile spaceflight capabilities, including the U.S. Department of Defense.

The goal of this next flight is similar to the goal of Rocket 3.1 in September: Essentially to study the startup’s rocket and boost its efficiencies while building its effectiveness. Actually reaching orbit isn’t a primary goal yet, but is a secondary, nice-to-have aim of this launch, which will take off from Kodiak in Alaska. The company already learned a ton from its first launch, including lessons that led to changes and improvements made to Rocket 3.2. It has always aimed for a three-flight initial orbital launch test series, and will also fly a Rocket 3.3 after this one incorporating additional lessons learned.

#aerospace, #airbus-ventures, #alaska, #astra, #canaan-partners, #chris-kemp, #east-bay, #flight, #launch-vehicle, #outer-space, #private-spaceflight, #rocket, #science, #space, #tc


Why is Trump Still Pushing to Drill in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge?

Also this week: Solutions for cities, and a Times investigation

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #drilling-and-boring, #global-warming, #land-use-policies, #natural-gas, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wildlife-sanctuaries-and-nature-reserves


‘Are We Getting Invaded?’ U.S. Boats Faced Russian Aggression Near Alaska

Russia has escalated its provocative encounters in the North Pacific this year, harassing boats in U.S. fishing waters and sending bombers toward Alaska’s shores.

#alaska, #arctic-regions, #bering-sea, #defense-and-military-forces, #fishing-commercial, #north-american-aerospace-defense-command, #russia, #united-states-coast-guard, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces


Training Facial Recognition on Some New Furry Friends: Bears

In their spare time, two Silicon Valley developers aided conservationists in developing artificial intelligence to help keep track of individual bears.

#alaska, #artificial-intelligence, #bears, #british-columbia-canada, #computer-vision, #computers-and-the-internet, #conservation-of-resources, #ecology-and-evolution-journal, #facial-recognition-software, #katmai-national-park-alaska, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science


Yes, Your Kids Can Play Outside All Winter

Hardened athletes and explorers weigh in on how to keep your kids warm.

#alaska, #coats-and-jackets, #colorado, #mountaineering, #parenting, #reykjavik-iceland, #shoes-and-boots, #snow-and-snowstorms


A Podcast Answers a Fast-Food Question That Nobody Is Asking

Intentionally inane, “Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s?” satirizes the business of podcasting.

#advertising-and-marketing, #alaska, #bering-sea, #darnielle-john, #fast-food-industry, #indiegogo-com, #los-angeles-calif, #mcdonalds-corporation, #mountain-goats-music-group, #ohio, #pizza, #podcasts, #trump-donald-j


White House Releases New Plan for Seismic Tests in Arctic Refuge

The survey would bring heavy trucks looking for signs of oil reserves into one of the most remote and pristine parts of the United States.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #arctic-regions, #drilling-and-boring, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #polar-bears, #wilderness-areas


Worried About Covid-19 in the Winter? Alaska Provides a Cautionary Tale

The state is seeing record case numbers, adding to evidence that the virus is poised to thrive as the weather grows colder.

#alaska, #contact-tracing-public-health, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #winter-season


Voters in Two States Report Threatening ‘Vote for Trump’ Emails

One of the emails, obtained by The Times, seemed to suggest that it was sent by an American far-right group, but its metadata showed that it originated from an Estonian server.

#alaska, #computers-and-the-internet, #e-mail, #estonia, #florida, #presidential-election-of-2020, #proud-boys, #threats-and-threatening-messages, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters


A 30-Mile Canoe Trip Through Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

The Honker Divide Canoe Route draws intrepid travelers through the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest. But the lifting of logging restrictions may indelibly alter its character.

#alaska, #canoes-and-canoeing, #forests-and-forestry, #geese, #islands, #juneau-alaska, #roads-and-traffic, #tongass-national-forest-alaska, #travel-and-vacations, #travel-warnings, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wilderness-areas


Alaska Is More Competitive, but Republicans Still Lead

A fondness for minor-party candidates injects some uncertainty, making the state an unlikely late-stage battleground.

#alaska, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #elections-house-of-representatives, #elections-senate, #gross-al-1962, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2020, #sullivan-daniel-scott-1964, #trump-donald-j


Anchorage Mayor Admits to ‘Inappropriate’ Relationship With TV Anchor

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz apologized for engaging in a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship” with a local news anchor after she posted a photo on social media.

#alaska, #anchorage-alaska, #ethan-berkowitz, #social-media


Trump Administration to Announce Plan to Open Tongass Forest to Logging

The effort to open the Alaskan wilderness area, the nation’s largest national forest, has been in the works for about two years.

#alaska, #environment, #forest-service, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #logging-industry, #tongass-national-forest-alaska, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wilderness-areas


Chief Executive of Embattled Alaskan Mine Project Resigns

The executive made “offensive” remarks about the state’s political leaders, the company said, in meetings recorded by an environmental group.

#alaska, #appointments-and-executive-changes, #collier-tom-1951, #mines-and-mining, #northern-dynasty-minerals-ltd, #pebble-mine-bristol-bay-alaska, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #united-states-politics-and-government


Hoverboard-Riding Dentist, Found Guilty of Fraud, Is Sentenced to 12 Years

In their case against Seth Lookhart, Alaska prosecutors included video of the dentist on a hoverboard and pulling a tooth. Mr. Lookhart was convicted in January of fraud, unlawful dental acts and other charges.

#alaska, #anesthesia-and-anesthetics, #embezzlement, #frauds-and-swindling, #lookhart-seth, #malpractice, #sedatives, #self-balancing-two-wheeled-boards, #teeth-and-dentistry


Targeting Conservative Terrain, Democrats Look to Independent Challengers in Alaska

The bids of two congressional candidates are shaping up as crucial tests of whether a centrist label can overcome resistance to Democrats in a conservative-leaning state.

#alaska, #democratic-party, #elections-house-of-representatives, #elections-senate, #republican-party, #sullivan-daniel-scott-1964, #united-states-politics-and-government


Rocket startup Astra’s first orbital launch attempt ends early due to first-stage burn failure

Alameda-based rocket launch startup Astra finally got the chance to launch its first orbital test mission from its Alaska-based facility on Saturday, after the attempt had been delayed multiple times due to weather and other issues. The 8:19 PM PT lift-off of Astra’s ‘Rocket 3.1’ test vehicle went well – but the flight ended relatively shortly after that, during the first-stage engine burn and long before reaching orbit.

Astra wasn’t expecting to actually reach orbit on this particular flight – it has always said that its goal is to reach orbit within three test flights of Rocket, and prior to this first mission, said that the main goal was to have a good first-stage burn on this one specifically. This wasn’t a nominal first-stage burn, of course, since that’s when the failure occurred, but the company still noted in a blog post that “the rocket performed very well” according to their first reviews of the data.

The mission ended early because of what appears to be a bit of unwanted back-and-forth wobbling in the rocket as it ascended, Astra said, which caused an engine shutdown by the vehicle’s automated safety system. That’s actually also good news, since it means the steps Astra has taken to ensure safe failures are also working as designed. You can see in the video above that the light of the rocket’s engines simply go out during flight, and then some time later there’s a fireball from its impact on the ground.

It’s worth noting that most first flights of entirely new rockets don’t go entirely as planned – including those by SpaceX, whose founder and CEO Elon Musk expressed his encouragement to the Astra team on Twitter. Likewise, Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck also chimed in with support. Not to mention that Astra has been operating under extreme conditions, with just a six-person team on the ground in Alaska to deploy the launch system, which was set up in under a week, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Astra will definitely be able to get a lot of valuable data out of this launch that it can use to put towards improving the chances of its next try going well. The company notes that it expects to review said data “over the next several weeks” as it proceeds towards the second flight in this series of three attempts. Rocket 3.2, the test article for that mission, is already completed and awaiting that try.

#aerospace, #alaska, #astra, #ceo, #elon-musk, #outer-space, #peter-beck, #rocket, #rocket-lab, #rocket-launch-startup, #science, #space, #spaceflight, #spacex, #startups, #tc


When the Otters Vanished, Everything Else Started to Crumble

Against the backdrop of climate change, the delicate underwater ecology of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands is hurting from declines in otters.

#alaska, #aleutian-islands, #algae, #carbon-dioxide, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #otters-animals, #reefs, #research, #science-journal, #sea-urchins, #seaweed, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science


You, Me and 53 Dogs

Liz Raines met Matthew Failor, a champion dog sledder, just before the start of the 2018 Iditarod race in Alaska, where she was on assignment as a TV reporter.

#alaska, #dog-sledding, #dogs, #iditarod-trail-sled-dog-race-alaska, #weddings-and-engagements


Kevin Clarkson Steps Down as Flurry of Text Messages Are Aired

“So what are you doing sweet lady?” A flurry of 558 messages was sent by a senior state official over 27 days.

#alaska, #anchorage-daily-news, #clarkson-kevin-g, #government-employees, #propublica, #sexual-harassment, #text-messaging, #women-and-girls, #workplace-environment


New Conditions on Alaskan Mine Could Delay Vast Project That Donald Trump Jr. Opposes

The Army Corps of Engineers will impose new mitigation conditions on the developers of the proposed Pebble Mine, potentially pushing approval past the election.

#alaska, #army-corps-of-engineers, #ayers-nick-1982, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #fishing-commercial, #mines-and-mining, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government


The Dangerous Allure of ‘Normal’ This Pandemic Summer

A fishing trip is a reminder of the impulses that stop us from protecting ourselves.

#alaska, #camps-and-camping, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #fishing-sport, #news-and-news-media, #quarantines, #salmon, #social-media, #summer-season


Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Oil Drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Refuge

The decision sets up a fierce legal battle over the fate of a vast, remote area that is home to polar bears, caribou and the promise of oil wealth.

#alaska, #arctic-national-wildlife-refuge, #environment, #federal-lands, #interior-department, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #united-states-politics-and-government


Canada to U.S. Visitors: Please Don’t Sneak Across the Border

Some Canadian citizens, concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, are taking matters into their own hands and reporting illegal American visitors.

#alaska, #banff-alberta, #canada, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #fines-penalties, #travel-and-vacations


Alaska Midair Collision Kills 7, Officials Say

Gary Knopp, a Republican member of the State House of Representatives, was among those killed. He was piloting one of the planes.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #alaska, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #caleb-hulsey, #david-rogers, #deaths-fatalities, #gary-knopp, #gregory-bell, #heather-hulsey, #kirstin-wright, #mackay-hulsey, #soldotna-alaska, #state-legislatures, #united-states-politics-and-government


Rocket launch startup Astra readies for orbital test flight as early as Sunday

Rocket launch startup Astra is readying for its first orbital flight test, set to take place either this weekend or next week, weather permitting. The company will launch its ‘Rocket 3.1’ from Kodiak, Alaska – and while these are technically classified as orbital test flights, the company was quick to caution journalists on a press call on Thursday that it doesn’t necessarily believe each the three initial launches it has planned will make it all the way to orbit proper.

“We don’t intend to get a hole-in-one here,” said Kemp. “It’s a par three course. We intend to really accomplish enough to ensure that we’re able to get to [orbital] flight after three flights, and for us, that means a nominal first stage burn, and getting that upper stage to separate successfully. After that, pretty much everything that we learn is additional upside, and will be just delighted if that upper stage lights and we’ll be delighted if the upper stage teaches us something so that so that our next flight can even be more successful.”

Astra’s approach to building and launching rockets differs somewhat from its competitors. The startup only incorporated three years ago, and it’s building its rockets in Alameda, California – not far from Oakland. The Rocket 3.1 is a roughly 40-foot launch vehicle that carries a small payload, roughly equivalent to one of the small sats that make up the large constellations currently being launched for operation in low Earth orbit by a number of companies (for reference, SpaceX launches 60 of these on each of its Starlink missions).

When I spoke to Kemp ahead of their original attempt to win a DARPA launch challenge (since ended with the prize unclaimed), he stressed that they’re looking to build in volume at low cost, with the expectation of a higher tolerable margin for failure than other new space launch companies like SpaceX and Rocket Lab.

“Rather than trying to spend many years doing it first time, we’re iterating towards orbit,” Kemp said during Thursday’s conference about their debut attempt next week.

This is a do-over after the original planned attempt which suffered an anomaly that led in a total loss of the vehicle. That was a ‘Rocket 3.0’ model, and the company has upgraded the design and worked out a number of issues, including the one that led to that failure, with the ensuing time. The gap between now and that attempt at the end of March includes delays resulting from COVID-19, though Astra was eventually declared one of very few companies still allowed to maintain a staffed office since it’s considered important to national security.

These three initial test flights won’t carry any payload, in part because Astra fully expects to lose at least the first vehicle. But Astra’s model actually allows for some operational failures in exchange for economics that allow much less expensive individual launch costs than are currently possible with either SpaceX or Rocket Lab’s rideshare missions as options for small satellite operators.

The first Astra test launch is currently targeting sometime between a window that spans August 2 to August 7, between the hours of 7 PM and 9 PM PDT (6 and 8 PM local time in Kodiak) . So far, weather isn’t looking great for Sunda, but the company notes the weather shifts quickly and plans to keep a close watch and adapt accordingly.

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