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North Korea has declared the successful firing of a long-range rocket and flouted international condemnation of the launch by promising “many more”.
In defiance of international warnings, North Korea fired the rocket on Sunday morning in what it said was a mission under the direct orders of lead Kim Jong-un to put an Earth observation satellite, the Kwangmyongsong-4, into orbit.
But the United Nations deplored Pyongyang’s move, widely seen as part of its program to develop intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles (ICBMs).
North Korea beamed a special announcement live on state-run television claiming the launch as a success, and trumpeted the beauty of the “fascinating vapor of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky”.
It came just weeks after Pyongyang’s widely-disputed claim that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, and is the latest evidence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s willingness to ignore international pressure as tensions on the Korean Peninsula heighten.
Washington has persistently called on Beijing, a key trade partner on which Pyongyang relies heavily, to do more to rein in its neighbor. But China has resisted calls to leverage its economic relationship with North Korea, fearing it would back an already volatile Kim Jong-un further into a corner.
“China expresses regret that North Korea, in spite of the pervasive opposition of the international community, insisted on using ballistic missile technology to carry out a launch,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
North Korea sees its rocket and nuclear tests as crucial steps toward its ultimate goal of achieving a nuclear-armed long-range missile arsenal – necessary, it says, to defend itself against what it describes as decades of US hostility, and part of Kim Jong-un’s “byungjin” policy of developing North Korea’s nuclear program and economy simultaneously.
Pyongyang had initially told UN agencies it planned to launch its rocket sometime between February 8 and 25, before bringing the window forward to between February 7 and 14 on Saturday. It launched two hours into the revised window.
This is the sixth long-range missile test by the North in its program to develop nuclear-loaded ICBMs. It is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs as well as an array of medium-range missiles but has yet to demonstrate the capability to produce nuclear warheads small enough to attach on a missile.
A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, an American and a Dutchman to the International Space Station blasted off flawlessly from Russia’s launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Mission commander Oleg Kononenko and his colleagues, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers are to dock with the space station on Friday.
The blastoff from the snowy launchpad in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, took place without a hitch and the spacecraft reached Earth orbit about nine minutes later. Video from inside the craft showed the three crew members gripping each others’ hands in celebration as the final stage of the booster rocket separated.
The three aboard the Russian spacecraft will join three others already on the ISS, NASA’s Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin. The six are to work together on the station until March.
The launch came amid a period of trouble for Russia’s space program, which provides the only way for crew to reach the space station since the United States retired its space shuttle program in July.
The launch of an unmanned supply ship for the space station failed in August and the ship crashed in a Siberian forest. The Soyuz rocket carrying that craft was the same type used to send up Russian manned spacecraft, and the crash prompted officials to postpone the next manned launch while the rockets were examined for flaws. The delayed mission eventually took place on Nov. 14.
Just five days before that launch, Russia sent up its ambitious Phobos-Ground unmanned probe, which was to go to the Phobos moon of Mars, take soil samples and return them to Earth. But engineers lost contact with the ship and were unable to propel it out of Earth orbit and toward Mars. The craft is now expected to fall to Earth in mid-January.
Last December, Russia lost three navigation satellites when a rocket carrying them failed to reach orbit. A military satellite was lost in February, and the launch of the Express-AM4, described by officials as Russia’s most powerful telecommunications satellite, went awry in August.
Just in time for the holidays, the residents of the International Space Station will welcome three new crew members:
Flight Engineer Don Pettit (NASA)
Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko (Rosscosmos)
Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers (European Space Agency)
They are set to launch in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:16 a.m. CST on Wednesday, Dec. 21 (7:16 p.m. local time).
NASA Television will air video of prelaunch activities at 5:45 a.m. and provide live coverage of the launch beginning at 6:30 a.m
On Dec. 23, the trio will dock to the Rassvet module of the station at 9:22 a.m. The new crew will join station Commander Dan Burbank of NASA and Russian Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who have been aboard the orbital laboratory since mid-November. NASA TV will provide live coverage beginning at 8:45 a.m. Hatch opening and the holiday welcoming ceremony will occur about three hours later.
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Today virtually every large liquid rocket that flies into space takes advantage of the performance-enhancement techniques we pioneered in conjunction with the Apollo moon flights. NASA’s reusable space shuttle, for example, employs modern versions of optimal fuel biasing and postflight trajectory reconstruction. However, more of the critical steps are accomplished automatically by the computer.
Russia’s huge tripropellant rocket, which was designed to burn kerosene-oxygen early in its flight, the switch to hydrogen-oxygen for the last part, yields important performance gains for precisely the same reason the Programmed Mixture Ratio scheme did. In short, the fundamental ideas we pioneered are still providing a rich legacy for today’s mathematicians and rocket scientists most of whom have no idea how it all crystallized more that 40 years ago.
Illustration 1. below summarizes the performance gains and a sampling of the mathematical procedures we used in figuring out how to send 4700 extra pounds of payload to the moon on each of the manned Apollo missions. We achieved these performance gains by using a number of advanced mathematical techniques, nine of which are listed on the chart. No costly hardware changes were necessary. We did it all with pure mathematics!
In those days each pound of payload was estimated to be worth five times its weight in 24-karat gold. As the calculations in the box in the lower right-hand corner of Illustration 1. indicate, the total saving per mission amounted to $280 million, measured in 2009 dollars. And, since we flew nine manned missions from the earth to the moon, the total savings amounted to $2.5 billion in today’s purchasing power!
We achieved these savings by using advanced calculus, partial differential equations, numerical analysis, Newtonian mechanics, probability and statistics, the calculus of variations, non linear least squares hunting procedures, and matrix algebra. These were the same branches of mathematics that had confused us, separately and together, only a few years earlier at Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky, UCLA, and USC.
Illustration 1. Over a period of two years or so a small team of rocket scientists and mathematics used at least nine branches of advanced mathematics to increase the performance capabilities of the Saturn V moon rocket by more than 4700 pounds of translunar payload. As the calculations in the lower right-hand corner of this figure indicate, the net overall savings associated with the nine manned missions we flew to the moon totaled $2,500,000,000 in today’s purchasing power. These impressive performance gains were achieved with pure mathematical manipulations. No hardware modifications at all were required.
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