Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “frontier is open”

More amazing news from the open frontier of space

Atlas V lifts Cygnus supply ship to ISS. Credit: United Launch Alliance. Used with permission.

It is astounding to ponder the news from the wide open frontier of space. I’m continually amazed by what is happening.

3/7/17 – Space News- NASA seeks information on commercial Mars payload service – NASA issued a Request For Information asking for plans to provide cargo runs to Mars. They are looking for outline of plans in terms of payload mass and weight, nature of vehicle, and timing for start of operations. The RFI indicates 2020 as a start date.

Two companies are described in the article as likely players in Mars cargo runs.

SpaceX would use their new lander Red Dragon as testbed for cargo vehicle. Launch was scheduled for 2018 but has slipped to 2020.

Mars One also has plans for a lander, as an intermediate step for crewed travel. First launch was planned from 2018 but that is now looking like 2022.

3/14 – Behind the Black – SpaceX wins another Air Force launch contract – Ticket price to launch a GPS satellite is $96.5M, up by $14M from the last launch by SpaceX for USAF. Post speculates SpaceX is trying to improve their margin by undercutting ULA less this time around.

Read more…

More amazing news from the open frontier of technology

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more of the amazing things going on in the open frontier of technology:

  • USAF experimenting with anti-drone shotgun rounds that would snag a drone
  • One state considers allowing police to put lethal weapons on drones
  • Amazon building 7th and 8th fulfillment center in Southern California
  • Amazon starts collecting sales tax in last four states it doesn’t already do so
  • 2 terrabyte flash drive
  • computers as smart as humans by 2029 instead of 2045?

3/13 – The Drive – U.S. Air Force Buying Special Drone-Snagging Shotgun Shells – USAF has 600 special 12-gauge rounds on order for testing. If the test goes well, they will buy 6,400 more.

The rounds are used for snagging a drone.

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The space competition heats up. Aaaaand some competitors slow down.

SpaceX SES-10. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX for placing photos in public domain.

The competition to be a commercially competitive space launch provider gets far more serious with SpaceX successfully launching a reused Falcon 9 booster to get SES-10 into a geosync orbit.

On the same day as SpaceX made such tremendous progress, two competitors dropped further behind.

Competition speeds up

SpaceX SES-10. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

I was so fortunate as to check my Twitter feed as SpaceX began its live coverage of the launch. It was such a joy to watch the successful launch and an even bigger thrill to see Main Engine Cutoff, which meant the reused booster did its job.

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Updates on Bakken

Gotta’ get that well back in production. Crew on workover rig working well after dark. Photo by James Ulvog.

Here are four articles providing a bit of background on what’s going on in Bakken.

You have likely noticed I have long relied on The Million Dollar Way for my education on oil in general and Bakken in particular. Just look at the source for the following four articles. That makes it sorta’ cool when on 3/22 MDW recommended my post Scratching my head at the geopolitical impact of fracking. Thanks for the mention!

2/19/17 – The Million Dollar Way – EURs – Bakken 2.0 – EUR means Estimated Ultimate Recovery, which is the total amount of oil expected to be extracted from one specific well.  Article says the EURs in Bakken were 300K early on. At the point I started paying attention, the EURs were in the 500K range with possibilities of 1,000K.

Article says Mike Filloon has been talking about 1.5M instead of 1.0M.

Now the article lists 14 wells with EURs of 1.5M up to 2.0M EURs.

Read more…

Speaking of competition in space, Blue Origin books 6 launches for 2 customers

Illustration of reusable New Glenn lift vehicle from Blue Origin with 3.85M pounds thrust. Credit Blue Origin.

In Behind the Black’s favorite phrase, the competition heats up. Check out the news just this week for Blue Origin becoming a very serious player.

3/7 – Florida Today  Blue Origin books first New Glenn launch contract – Eutelsat Communications has booked the first launch on the New Glenn rocket from Blue Origin. First launch is expected in 2021 or 2022, which is only four or five years away.

Read more…

Another successful launch and recovery for SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Successful recovery of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Successful recovery of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Just watched the recovery of a Falcon 9 booster. I missed the launch. Very cool video from the on-board camera as the booster descended through a cloud bank and landed dead center on the pad.

This mission, CRS-10, will deliver over 5,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. Two really cool things. First, a private company providing supply runs to ISS is a thing. Second, it is almost routine to recover the first stage.

Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule on CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule on CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

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Another 20 billion barrels of oil. What Peak Oil? – #49

We are gonna' see a whole lot more of those things in Texas over the next few decades. Photo by James Ulvog.

We’re gonna’ see a whole lot more of those things in Texas over the next few decades. Photo by James Ulvog.

Oh, by the way, the geology wizards just discovered another twenty billion barrels of recoverable oil where the wizards knew something existed but had no idea how much.

Twenty billion barrels. Billion, with a B.

11/15 – Star-Telegram – Permian’s Wolfcamp formation called biggest shale oil field in US – Estimate from USGS is the Wolfcamp formation in the Permian Basin holds 20 billion barrels of oil. There are four layers of shale that make up Wolfcamp. That puts this find somewhere in the range of three times the size of the entire Bakken formation in North Dakota.

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More on the astoundingly open frontier of mining asteriods

Our solar system with illustrated asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Our solar system with illustrated asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you want to take your mind off the depressing news appearing on the front page of every newspaper every day, stretch your brain to consider the idea of mining asteroids for raw materials to build and fuel spaceships.

11/2 – Visual Capitalist – There’s Big Money to Be Made in Asteroid Mining – The theory is that an entire class of asteroids (the X-type) were once a large asteroid which has gone through several collisions which tore off most of the material leaving a very dense core of valuable metals.  One particular X-type asteroid is thought to hold more platinum that has been mined from planet Earth throughout all history.

The real payoff would be asteroids out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Resources there are staggering.

Read more…

Cool stuff on the open frontier of drone technology

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Three fun articles on drone technology:

  • UND starting classes on setting up a drone business
  • a drone for every Marine squad?
  • drones armed with stun guns
  • autonomous armed drones.

As a bonus, a cool video on how train wheels are made.

Check these out as a refreshing break from the otherwise oh so depressing headlines.

10/19 – Reason – University of North Dakota Offers Class on Starting Your Own Drone Business – Course will have three parts. First, getting pilot certificate and studying FAA regs. Second, studying state of the industry today. Third, develop a business plan for a drone business.

9/30 – Popular Science – Marine Corps Commandant Wants a Drone in Every Squad

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Fun news on the open frontier of space exploration

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

The number of private sector companies working to develop commercial exploration of space is amazing, as is the progress they are making. A few fun articles:

  • Blue Origin’s capsule escape test went well; check out the video
  • Orbital ATK successfully launched a Cygnus capsule on their Antares booster.
  • Lots of companies are working in the small sat market, with lots of competition in all sectors of the open space frontier

10/5 – Popular Mechanics – Blue Origin’s Rocket Test Just Went Better Than Anyone Thought Possible – Blue Origin just successfully completed the crew capsule escape test. The capsule’s emergency rockets fired 70,000 pounds of thrust off angle to the flight of the booster to separate the capsule from the booster.

Speculation on Twitter yesterday is the off angle push would topple the booster and require its destruction.

Instead, the booster survived the capsule’s escape, continued climbing to over 200,000 feet, fell back to earth, and successfully recovered two miles from the launch site.


Check out the video. Jump to the 1:07:00 mark for the launch and escape. Watch another five minutes for the astounding recovery.

Amongst the other fabulous details, keep in mind the camera is tracking the booster at 200,000 feet, down through 100,000 feet, all the way to the ground. Amazing.

10/17 – Space.com – Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket Returns to Flight with Gorgeous Night Cargo Launch Read more…

Still more amazing news from Bakken

Workover rig in October 2014. Photo by James Ulvog.

Workover rig in October 2014. Photo by James Ulvog.

In contrast to the horrible news mentioned yesterday from Venezuela, consider the the amazing news from the open frontier of energy production. The benefits produced by fracking just don’t seem to stop.

9/23 – The Million Dollar Way –Update On The Bakkan – Lynn Helms – A few highlights in the article from a radio interview I found particularly fascinating:

  • Production in North Dakota will drop below 1M bopd but Mr. Helms does not expected to go below 900K bopd.
  • Initial production rates had been 1100 bopd but are now running 1500 bopd.
  • Estimated Ultimate Recovery amounts have increased one-fourth.
  • There are somewhere between 8000 and 8500 wells that are good candidates for refracking because they are initially drilled with old technology.
  • This is astounding – a drilling rig today drills an average of 25 wells in a year compared to only 8 or 9 wells as recently as 2009. Imagine the improved IRR.
  • Drilling efficiencies have come from multi-well pads, new technology for bits, new technology promoters, and new technology for mud. Ponder the impact of technology.
Closeup of workover rig. Photo by James Ulvog.

Closeup of workover rig. Photo by James Ulvog.

9/23 – The Million Dollar Way – FAQ: How Much Oil Can One Reasonably Expect That A Bakken Well Will Produce Over The Lifetime Of That Well? – Astounding information.

Read more…

Applying discernment to interpret news reports on crude oil

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

After spending several years trying to get my little brain wrapped around energy issues, I’m to the point where I can interpret news reports and figure out for myself what to believe and what reports are just blowing smoke.

Consider the two following articles as illustrations of an article to believe and one that, um, well, ought to be taken with a large grain of salt.

10/2 – Wall Street Journal – An OPEC Output Cut Not Likely to Alter Oil Imbalance – Author cites “many” analysts who think that OPEC cutting production by a mere 700K bopd is not a large enough cut to resolve the oil oversupply, nor will the cut take place quick enough to have any impact.

Previous expectation was oil demand and supply would balance out by the end of 2016. Now the guessing is it will take until mid-2017.

The money quote is from Daniel Yergin (so you know my perspective, I have learned to pay close attention to him anytime he is mentioned):

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More cool news on the open frontier of space

Drawing of our possible ride to Mars. Credit: Flickr, SpaceX has placed this in public domain.

Drawing of our possible ride to Mars: Interplanetary Transport System Credit: Flickr; SpaceX has placed this in public domain.

Fun articles lately on the wide open frontier of exploring space:

  • More details on SpaceX’s framework for how they plan to get people to Mars.
  • Bidding for GPS 3 launches and purchase price for two more satellites of the GPS III constellation.
  • What criminal law will apply in space?
  • China’s moon rover, Jade Rabbit, finally dies after 31 months, which is in contrast to its expected 3 month life.

9/29 – Space.com – Feasible or Fantasy? SpaceX’s Mars Plan Draws Expert Reactions – Author pulls in a variety of initial reactions to SpaceX’s outline of how to get colonists to Mars. My summary of comments is the plans have a lot of technological, funding, and timing hurdles to clear. In addition, a lot of work needs to be done to develop how the technological, food sourcing, economic, and energy systems would work on the planet to support long-term residency.

One hurdle has already been cleared – the technology for a soft landing on Mars is already in place as demonstrated by the successful recovery of boosters.

9/29 – Space.com – SpaceX’s Mars Colony Plan: By the Numbers – Tidbits I found interesting:

Read more…

Still falling off a cliff, newspaper edition


Graph from Carpe Diem used with permission.

If you want a picture of what utter collapse in an industry looks like, check out the graph above from Professor Mark Perry on employment in the newspaper industry.

From a peak of 457,800 in 1990 to 180,100 in July 2016 is a drop of 60.7%.

Advertising dollars are doing the same thing. On 4/30/15, Prof. Perry published the following graph in his post, Creative Destruction: Newspaper ad revenue continued its precipitous free fall in 2014, and it’s likely to continue:

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More on the open frontier of space; cool info from The Economist

Imagine one of those providing enough bandwidth to allow merchant ships to operate without a crew. Imagine scaling that down to show-box size to allow a company to sell daily images of every spot on the earth. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Drawing of cubesat, courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Technology Quarterly issue from The Economist for August 27, 2016 described the open frontier of space. Check out Remaking the sky. I think that’s behind their paywall, so you may need a subscription.

Here are a few cool things I learned.

A sudden light – Nice description of the SpaceX launch when they recovered a booster back at the original launch site. Puts into context what an amazing step it is to recover a booster.

The small and the many – There are four major players in the world of communication satellites: Eutelsat, Inmarsat, Intelsat, and SES.

The typical cost for SES satellites range from $100M up to $300M. The launch cost is in ballpark of $100M. At those prices the entire satellite industry is very risk-averse. I get it. You cannot take a big chance when somewhere between $200M and $400M is on the line.

Tiny satellites, called cubesats, are built in multiples of blocks measured in “1U”, meaning a box 10 cm by 10 cm by 11.5 cm.

Cubesats are revolutionizing the satellite world by dramatically reducing cost and risk. The cost to develop a cubesat is small. One launch can lift a lot of cubesats which drops the cost. They don’t have the power to last very long and don’t have any propulsion, with both factors making it cheaper to experiment and not as risky to something trying something new.

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