GONE IN 30 SECONDS…

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It’s estimated that an average of 8 percent of all commercial rocket launches end in failure.

Multimedia eLearning program by: David A. Johanson © All Rights

David Johanson is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. All content, including photography, graphics and text (unless otherwise noted) was created by the author. To see an alternative graphic format of this program, click on: www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com 

Learning Objectives Of This Program Includes:

≥ Definition and meaning of space law

≥ History and development of space law

≥ History and development of 20TH and 21ST Century Rocket and Launch disasters

≥ How, where and why rocket launch sites and space portals are located on the globe

≥ Potentially life threatening activities and components of rocket launches                           ———————————————————————————————

 

The Antares 110 rocket engines roared as they illuminated their departure from Earth — seconds later, appearing as if mortally wounded, the multi-staged rocket suddenly lost momentum and sank downward, creating an explosive tower of flames. Over the launch site’s PA system an urgent command required all media personnel to leave their equipment and evacuate immediately. It was reported no deaths had occurred — however the total environmental damage, the launch site cleanup and insurance liability issues are yet to be assessed.

Orbital rocket explodes after launch

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Here’s NASA video of the unexpected Antares rocket launch disaster.      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL5eddt-iAo

The referenced video below shows, press journalist and photographers ordered to evacuate as the Antares rocket explodes and unleashes toxic clouds of vaporized solid rocket propellant. Winds should be blowing to the east, so that burning propellant dissipates over the Atlantic Ocean — not heading west towards potentially populated areas, as is indicated happening in this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IclTka711xo

Photograph: Kenneth Brown/Reuters

Photograph: Kenneth Brown/Reuters

On October 31ST, just three days after Orbital Sciences’, Antares rocket launch explosion, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) disintegrates in an upper altitude reentry over California’s Mojave Desert. Unfortunately the space plane’s pilot was killed, as the remaining components of the craft slammed into an unpopulated area.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy1k5s7Fbl0 http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/nov/02/virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-crash-investigators-fuel-warnings

orbital_crs3_launch_milestones_e What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Rocket launch projects have always had to contend with laws of physics, in particular, Newton’s law of gravity. Today, these multimillion dollar programs are governed by another set of laws, involving multinational, liability space laws. These binding laws are for protecting individuals, communities and the environment from impacts caused by, man-made objects launched into space or subsequent damage of corporate or national operations in space.

Case Study: The first record of a space law liability incident occurring was in 1962, on a street within Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Apparently, a three-kilogram metal artifact from the Russian’s 1960, Sputnik 4 satellite launch, reentered the atmosphere unannounced, over an unsuspecting Midwest. The Russian’s denied it was theirs, fearing liability under international law. This event, helped set in motion, the 1963 Declaration on Legal Principals Governing the Activities of State in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space. As an international agreement, it puts forth the responsibility to the State which launches or engages in sending objects into space as internationally responsible for damages caused on Earth. In 1967, the agreement was slightly modified and was titled “Outer Space Treaty 1967.”satellite_crash_bpp_e1070

Earth has water covering 70% of its surface — when attempts fail to guide space debris towards open oceans, the chance for these falling objects to hit a populated area increase. Space Law assesses the liability for damages caused by space debris to the nation or agency responsible for its original rocket launch.

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By 1984, the United Nations General Assembly, had adopted five sets of legal principles governing international law and cooperation in space activities. The principles include the following agreements and conventions.”Outer Space Treaty” – the use of Outer Space, including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies (1967 – resolution 2222.) “Rescue Agreement” – the agreement to rescue Astronauts/Cosmonauts, the Return of Astronauts/Cosmonauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Space (1968 – resolution 2345.) “Liability Convention” – the Convention on International Liability for Damaged Caused by Space Objects (1972 – resolution 2777.) “Registration Convention” – the registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1975 – resolution 3235.) “Moon Agreement” – the agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1979 – resolution 34/68.)

Sky_look_ BPP_ae208Because so many international languages are used for creating these technical agreements — terms and meanings are often misinterpreted. There are linguistic limitations and a general lack of definitions to adequately cover all the specific space concepts and activities using Space Law. Each Nation has its own agenda and vision concerning the development of space, including corporate, cultural and religious interest, adding to the complexity of governing space.

Although most large “space debris” is monitored with top priority for enabling reentry over uninhabited areas such as oceans and deserts — satellites or sections of rockets still have potential for an unexpected re-entry over an inhabited area.

Cuba Gives A New Meaning To A Cash Cow

Case Study: In November of 1960, the second stage of a U.S. – Thor rocket fell back to Earth and killed a cow grazing in Eastern Cuba. The final settlement required the U.S. Government to pay Cuba $2 million dollars in compensation — creating the world’s first “Cuban Cash Cow.”

Dramatic Rocket Launch Failures Associated With Space Exploration

American physicist, Dr. Robert H. Goddard is the father of modern rocket propulsion. Goddard’s published rocket research during the1920s and 1930s, is what German military scientist used to help develop the liquid fueled V2 rocket, which terrorized Europe towards the end of WWll. The V2 (technical name Aggregat-4 or A4) rocket was the first human made artifact to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and reach into space. This basic design of modern rockets has changed little in the 100 years since Goddard was awarded a U.S. patent in 1914 for a rocket using liquid fuel.

It’s estimated since the 1950s, of the nearly 8,000 rockets launched into space related missions, 8 percent of rocket launches ended in some-type of failure (2012 spacelaunchreport.com.) The resulting anomalies have cost the lives of hundreds of individuals, including; astronauts, cosmonauts and civilians, along with billions of dollars of property and payload losses.

Here’s an abbreviated list of eventful, dramatic and tragic events associated with rocket launches.

A modified V-2 rocket being launch on July 24, 1950. General Electric Company was prime contractor for the launch, Douglas Aircraft Company manufactured the second

A modified V-2 rocket being launch on July 24, 1950. General Electric Company was prime contractor for the launch, Douglas Aircraft Company manufactured the second stage of the rocket & the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had major rocket design roles & test instrumentation. This was the first launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A modified V-2 rocket being launch on July 24, 1950. General Electric Company was prime contractor for the launch, Douglas Aircraft Company manufactured the second stage of the rocket & the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had major rocket design roles & test instrumentation. This was the first launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

stage of the rocket & the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had major rocket design roles & test instrumentation. This was the first launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVeFkakURXM

Vanguard TV3, December 6, 1957 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida (U.S.) was the first U.S. attempt at sending a satellite into orbit. A first event of its kind to use a live televised broadcast, which ended with stunned viewers witnessing Vanguard’s explosive failure. Unfortunately, this launch mission was not ready for prime-time and occurred as a reflex reaction to the Soviet Union’s surprise aerospace success of launching the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, on October 23, 1957. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVeFkakURXM

Vostok rocket, March 18, 1980, launched from Plesetsk, Russia (formerly the world’s busiest spaceport). While being refueled the rocket exploded on the launch pad, killing 50, mostly young soldiers. (Source: New York Times article, published September 28, 1989) ⇒ http://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/28/world/1980-soviet-rocket-accident-killed-50.html

Challenger STS-51-L Space Shuttle disaster, January 28, 1986, launched from Kennedy Space Center (U.S.) marked the first U.S. in-flight fatalities. After only 73 seconds from lift-off, faulty O-ring seals failed, releasing hot gases from the solid propellant rocket booster (SRB), which led to a catastrophic failure. Seven crew members were lost, including Christy McAullife, selected by NASA’s Teacher in Space Program. McAullife was the first civilian to be trained as an astronaut — she would have been the first civilian to enter space, but tragically, the flight ended a short distance before reaching the edge of space. Recovery efforts for Challenger were the most expensive of any rocket launch disaster to date.   http://www.history.com/topics/challenger-disaster/videos/engineering-disasters—challenger

Long Mark 3B rocket launch, payload: American communication satellite, built by Space Systems Loral – February 14, 1996 in Xichang (China) – two seconds into launch, rocket pitched over just after clearing the launch tower and accelerated horizontally a few hundred feet off the ground, before hitting a hill 22 seconds into its flight. The rocket slammed into a hillside exploding in a fireball above a nearby town, it’s estimated at least 100 people died in the resulting aftermath. This event was most likely the worst rocket launch disaster to date, due to the massive loss of human life. Disaster at Xichang | History of Flight | Air & Space Magazine  ⇒ http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/disaster-at-xichang-2873673/?c=y%3Fno-ist  video of the rocket launch disaster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_EnrVf9u8s

Antares rocket launch explosion with firebrands cascading from solid propellant — NASA photo

Antares rocket launch explosion with ‘firebrands’ cascading from solid propellant — NASA photo

Delta 2, rocket launch – January 1997, Cape Canaveral (U.S.) – this rocket carried a new GPS satellite and ends in a spectacular explosion. Video link included to show examples of worst case scenario of a rocket exploding only seconds after launch (note brightly burning rocket propellant cascading to the ground is known as “firebrand”.) The short video has an interview with Chester Whitehair, former VP of Space Launch Operations Aerospace Corporation, who describes how the burning debris and toxic hydrochloric gas cloud fell into the Atlantic Ocean from the rocket explosion. Rocket launch sites and Spaceports are geographically chosen to mitigate rocket launch accidents. US rocket disasters    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4-Idv6HnH8

Titan 4, rocket launch – August 1998, Cape Canaveral (U.S.) the last launch of a Titan rocket – with a military, top-secret satellite payload, was the most expensive rocket disaster to date – estimated loss of $ 1.3 Billion dollars.                                                        http://www.military.com/video/explosions/blast/titan-iv-explosion-at-cape-canaveral/1137853205001/

VLS-3 rocket, launch – August 2003, Alcantara (Brazil) – rocket exploded on the launch pad when the rocket booster was accidentally initiated during test 72 hours before its scheduled launch. Reports of at least 21 people were killed at the site.                               http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-08-22-brazil-rocket_x.htmvideo of the rocket launch disaster ⇒ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_EnrVf9u8s 

Rocket launch debris fields are color keyed in red & Links to space port's web sites included. (CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE) Quiz ??? - 1.) Do you see any similarities in the geographic locations used for these launch sites? 2.) What advantages do these locations have regarding "Space Law?" 3.) For most rocket launches, which site has the greatest geographic advantage & why? 4.) Which has the least advantage & why?

Rocket launch debris fields are color keyed in red & Links to space port’s web sites included. (CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE) Quiz ??? – 1.) Do you see any similarities in the geographic locations used for these launch sites? 2.) What advantages do these locations have regarding “Space Law?” 3.) For most rocket launches, which site has the greatest geographic advantage & why? 4.) Which has the least advantage & why?

Rocket launch debris fields are color keyed in red & Links to space port’s web sites included. (CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE) Quiz ??? – 1.) Do you see any similarities in the geographic locations used for these launch sites? 2.) What advantages do these locations have regarding “Space Law?” 3.) For most rocket launches, which site has the greatest geographic advantage & why? 4.) Which has the least advantage & why?
Location, location, location is a huge benefit for rocket launch sites.

If you zoom into the above World map with its rocket launch sites, you’ll notice they’re located in remote, uninhabited areas. Another feature most space ports share is their proximity to large bodies of water, which are located in an easterly direction (with the exception of the U.S. Vandenberg site.) Rockets are launched over oceans to minimize   the risk to people or property from catastrophic accidents, which includes falling launch fuel_tank_bpp_e82debris and toxic clouds of burnt fuel propellant. Liability from a launch vehicle is the main reason why all ships and aircraft are restricted from being in water anywhere near or underneath a rocket’s flight path. Rocket’s debris can contain highly toxic forms of unspent fuel and oxidizer, especially from solid propellant fuels.

The majority of rockets are launched in an easterly direction, due to the Earth’s easterly rotation. This procedure gives the rocket extra momentum to help escape the Earth’s gravitational pull. An exception for an east directional launch is a Vandenberg site in California. This site launches most of its rockets south for polar orbits, which is used by a majority of communication and mapping satellites.

Launching rockets closer to the equator gives a launch vehicle one more advantage — extra velocity is gained from the Earth’s rotation near its equator. At the equator, our planet spins at a speed of 1675 kph (1040 mph,) compared to a spot near the Arctic Circle, which moves at a slower, 736 kph (457 mph.) Even the smallest advantage gained in velocity means a rocket requires less fuel (13 percent less fuel required for equatorial launches) to reach “escape velocity.” This fuel savings translates to a lighter launch vehicle, making the critical transition of leaving Earth’s gravitational field quicker.

International space law is emerging from its infancy, attempting to clearly define itself from a nebulous amalgam of; agreements, amendments, codes, rules, regulations, jurisdictions,

Photo-illustration: David A Johanson — of space debris using a NASA photo of Skylab

Photo-illustration: David A Johanson — of space debris using a NASA photo of Skylab

treaties and non-binding measures. There exists today, enough legal framework for commercial interest to move cautiously towards developing outer space. However, with the unforeseen variables and dynamics of space activities, exceptions will be made & rules will be stretched, if not broken to accommodate necessity, justification or exculpation. ~

Part 1 of 2 editions – please check back soon for the conclusion of this essay.

The next edition of the Space Law series includes:

Potential Minefield Effects From Space Debris And The Regulatory Laws To Help Clean It Up.

Will Asteroid Mining Become The Next Big Gold Rush And What Laws Will Keep The Frontier Order?

Music video portal of rocket launches (nostalgia enriched content):

Boards of Canada – Dawn Chorus  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfVfRWv7igg

Boards of Canada – Gemini – http://vimeo.com/68087306

Boards of Canada – Music is Math http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7bKe_Zgk4o

Links And Resources, For Space Law And Related Issues

http://definitions.uslegal.com/s/space-law/

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2588/1

https://www.gwu.edu/~spi/assets/docs/AGuidetoSpaceLawTerms.pdf

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/spacelaw/38/

 

The Space Review: International space law and commercial space activities: the rules do apply Outlook on Space Law Over the Next 30 Years: Essays Published for the 30th – Google Books “SPACE FOR DISPUTE SETTLEMENT MECHANISMS – DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISM” by Frans G. von der Dunk Asteroid mining: US company looks to space for precious metal | Science | The Guardian Planetary Resources – The Asteroid Mining Company – News 5 of the Worst Space Launch Failures | Wired Science | Wired.com Orbital Debris: A Technical Assessment NASA Orbital Debris FAQs ‎orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/library/IAR_95_Document.pdf A Minefield in Earth Orbit: How Space Debris Is Spinning Out of Control [Interactive]: Scientific American SpaceX signs lease agreement at spaceport to test reusable rocket – latimes.com Earth’s rotation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Space Review: Spacecraft stats and insights Space Launch Report V-2 rocket – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Billionaire Paul Allen gets V-2 rocket for aviation museum near Seattle – Science Germany conducts first successful V-2 rocket test — History.com This Day in History — 10/3/1942

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/billionaire-paul-allen-gets-v-2-rocket-aviation-museum-near-1C9990063

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Will the Last People Remaining In America, Turn the Lights Back On?

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Multimedia essay & images by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved

Series 1 of 2

For background on solar storms please view the previous essays:  Will the current solar storms hitting Earth, lead to lights-out for us all by 2013? | bigpictureone    There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There? | bigpictureone    As a likely threat to ending our modern civilization —a severe solar storm is unmatched as a natural disaster and yet it is vastly underreported. An alternative graphic format of this site is at: http://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com/

Now that we’ve moved beyond December 21, 2012 and you know, the Mayan prophecy wasn’t about the end of the world — there’s some truly sobering news about what really does threaten our civilization. A powerful, natural solar event, which affects everyone living today, is now reaching the peak of a violent cycle. Documented by history and science, this potential event could cripple our civilization by destroying the essential technology we rely on and throwing us all back into the “dark ages.” The key to avoiding this global catastrophe is within our grasp — if  we and our National leaders are prepared to be aware of the problem and act by using the correct resources for defending our National power grid.

A Shocking Glimpse of Things To Come                                                               Aurora_Bor_BPP_il_0011

To understand what we’re up against, you only have to go back a short distance of time, to March 13, 1989. A chain-reaction near the surface of the sun was triggered by a solar flare on March 9. Thousands of miles of magnetic arcs collided, causing violent high-energy explosions, which were instantly hurled into space. A plasma cloud from the event was observed heading directly towards earth at a million-miles per hour. As the sun’s radiation particle penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere, short-wave radio signals became disrupted, indicating our planet’s protective magnetic field was being overwhelmed.  And the brilliant, surreal light-shows from the“northern lights” heralded the solar storm to astonished viewers in Florida and even Cuba.

A cascading wave of technical glitches, involving electronic components suddenly occurred globally and beyond! The monitoring systems on the U.S. Space Shuttle were sending corrupt signals to mission controllers, while a host of satellites began malfunction and a Japanese satellite was damaged beyond repair.

At 2:44 a.m., after only 90 seconds of detection, the massive Hydro-Quebec power company was knocked offline by surging geomagnetic energy caused from the aggressive solar storm. Moments later, hundreds of utilities within the Eastern U.S. were all suddenly blacking out. As a result of the blackout six-million people were now without power on a winter’s day. Within 40 minutes of the geomagnetic current’s detection — the force continued to build  like a Tsunami as it surged through the entire continental U.S. power grid, nearly collapsing all the Nation’s electric utilities in its path. The event’s speed and power led some to believe we were under attack from a Soviet nuclear electromagnetic pulse “EMP.”

Particle energy shock    wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth's magnetic field.

Particle energy shock wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic field. Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Titanic burst of charged particles created from a solar flare. Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Titanic burst of charged particles created from a solar flare. Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

The Achilles Heel of Our Technology          Silhoute_Bldg_BBP_et204

Teams of scientist, engineers and physicists began piecing the events together and realized it was first large-scale, solar geomagnetic storm to hit during the postmodern digital electronic era. As powerful as the solar storm was in creating a rogue like wave of geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which saturated the entire planet — it was only one-tenth the strength of the earlier 1921 “super solar storm.” Our electric infrastructure back in the 1920s was in its infancy and we didn’t have voltage sensitive microelectronics, which we now depend on to facilitate all our electronic devices. Today’s complex and overstretched power grids, with their high-power transmission lines are susceptible to geomagnetic energy created from solar storms.

The 1921 solar storm was what scientist classify as a one-in-hundred year storm. Many scientist from NOAA, NASA and the National Academy of Scientist “NAS” predicts a 10 to 12 percent probability of this super solar storm happening within the next 15 years and 100 percent likely some time beyond that time period.

The 2013 solar cycle is now entering its 11-year, peak phase known as solar maximum, this critical phase is of a grave concern as the sun begins to reverse polarity and creates the potential for a super solar storms. History reveals over the decades of time a consistent pattern in the approximate 11 year solar cycle… put the pattern together and it may reveal how little time we have to prepare. This is the pattern from three of the largest storms in recent history:  1989 Quebec-Power geomagnetic storm, the 1921 super solar storm event arrived and the greatest of them all — the 1859 Carrington Solar Storm event all taking place within the 11-year solar maxim.

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

Satellites, The Holly Grail of Telecommunications.

Solar storms and geomagnetic energy presents a spectrum of threats to satellite operations. Scientist, physicists and aerospace engineers have realized the challenges solar storms present to satellites since they were first launched into orbit. The geomagnetic energy caused from mass solar energy interacting with the Earths magnetic field, can cause satellites to lose their orientation and if not corrected… can end their lives or even send them hurling back to Earth. Geomagnetic energy is similar to the static electrify you create when walking on a carpet and then is discharge by touching a grounded object. In satellites there’s no way to discharge the electricity, so it will continue to buildup energy and can fry the tightly packed circuits or damage one of the orientation gyros within it. Another problem created from a GIC is the magnetic energy it contains, which can erase the memory in your computer or any memory storage device. The list of essential industries and services relying on archived records that are threatened by CIGs, goes well beyond the banking and financial institutions.

Telestar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and an consortium of international enterprises

Telestar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and an consortium of international enterprises

Even though this subject is well know in the satellite industry, it’s not a topic journalists will have much luck in finding someone to go on the record for in interviews. Satellite companies don’t like admitting reasons for technical problems experienced with their products. The military is even less forthcoming with satellite information. It’s understandable why the armed forces maintain a proprietary stance on its satellites, but commercial satellite companies could benefit themselves and the entire industry by sharing their experiences with solar storm related activity.

If you have cable television, you’ve probably noticed at some time, the satellite transmitting your program being disrupted by solar storm radiation. An indicator for solar interference is digital tiling, which momentarily appears like a frozen video frame, before breaking up into smaller digital tiles. The last few times I’ve noticed digital tiling on my television, I verified it was from solar interference by going to NOAA’s space weather site, which in fact, confirmed elevated solar storm activity was happening.

Was It My Question On Satellite Solar Vulnerability,  Which Brought An Abrupt End To An Interview With U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell?

Senator Cantwell  sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

Senator Maria Cantwell sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

This past July, I arranged a phone interview with Washington State, Senator Maria Cantwell.  Senator Cantwell serves on the U.S. Senate committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation, satellites are a topic this committee holds hearings on. Cantwell also is the committee Chairman on Energy, for the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, which deals directly with the Nation’s electric grid.

The interview began with Senator Cantwell and her advisor as they were traveling to an event. After I gave a brief intro to the interview topics, Cantwell was asked to share what updates the Senate had in regards to hardening our satellite systems against solar storms — particularly relating to the aging GPS satellites, which are now being replaced. There was silence for a moment,  it sounded like the Senator and her advisor had covered the phone for a discussion. Senator Cantwell said she would like to get back to me on that subject — I sensed in that moment, the satellite topic should have been brought towards the end of the interview, so I quickly changed gears and followed-up with — why the Senate was taking so long in approving a Bill, which would help protect the National electric grid? Again, I didn’t get a direct answer and the Senator asked if we could finish the interview at another time.

Our latest technology in the  transmission of electric power uses GPS satellites to help regulate the flow of high voltage electricity through power lines. Also used in the control and monitoring of the electric power is shortwave radio and phone lines all of which can be seriously interrupted by severe GIC caused from a solar storm.

A full spectrum of communication modes can disrupted by a GIC.

A full spectrum of communication modes can disrupted by a GIC.

As it turned out, the Senate later that month approved 84-11 to move forward with advancing the proposal for Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which includes protecting the electric grid. As an example of taking one step forward and then taking two steps back — the Senate voted down in August and again in November the Cybersecurity Act. Part of the reason for the Bill not being approved appears because of a legislative tactic which attached unrelated or conflicting objectives to the Bill, so that opposing the side feels they can get more out of the negotiations.  It’s seems startling in this era of politics, when the Congress or Senate is able to come together quickly and pass any new law without using this protracted tactic.

In the event of a super solar storm, individual homes, neighborhoods and communities could be isolated with no electricity for months or  years.

In the event of a super solar storm, individual homes, neighborhoods and communities could be isolated with no electricity for months or years.

It has to be noted, this was a phone interview, it wasn’t face to face, it’s possible a more pressing matter came in while the interview was in progress. Also, the Senator was in the final months of her Senate election campaign and probably was advised not to comment on anything which could be perceived as politically damaging.

The interview illustrates how challenging it is to help inform the public, along with government officials on what we all are facing from an impending 100-year solar storm event. I have contacts within the electric power industry, including the Bonneville Power Administration, which have been helpful in providing their own perspective on geomagnetic storms, but they’ve all asked to speak off the record. Unfortunately there’s too much pressure to play down the GIC issue from inside the power industry. It’s not pleasant realizing how poorly prepared we are for a potential natural disaster on this scale — that’s why I believe, “mainstream corporate media” has neglected to inform us on the consequences solar storms can have on society. There is industry and government precautions which could be used to help protect the power grid — but it requires courageous political leadership to  enact these safeguards, unfortunately our current politicians are too preoccupied with partisan gridlock to enact the necessary safeguards.

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An Overstretched, Electric Power Grid Creates the Mother of All Antennas!

Government regulators, private and most public power companies have missed critical opportunities to invest in, strengthen and protect our electric power infrastructure from solar geomagnetic storms. Since the wake-up call of the 1989 Hydro-Quebec solar storm, our nation’s electrical grid has been overburdened with higher demand and added thousands of miles of high-voltage power lines. The vast network of power transmission lines stretching over the continent creates the mother of all antennas, for channeling geomagnetic energy into the electric grid.  The lack of investment in transformer security and overuse of the grid, makes it much more vulnerable than it ever was in 1989. An impending solar storm could produce the “perfect geomagnetic super storm,” which in a matter of minutes… decimates most of the nation’s ability to transmit power for several months or even years.

Recently there were comments in an open online physicist forum, regarding threats from geomagnetic storms to the National grid. One thread mentioned a possible way to stop a serious GIC event from destroying high-voltage transformers, is to physically cut the power lines to the transformers. Another physicist replied that the plan just might work, however, he wasn’t sure anyone would be willing an attempt to physically interrupt the electricity collecting behind a continent of power lines.

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Underground pipelines and rail lines are also perfect conductors for channeling GIC’s electric current and have their own issues relating to damage from electromagnetic energy.

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In the 1989 Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm, there were only 90 seconds to make a decision on what action to take. Today, it is assumed, power utilities are more prepared with an action plan, however deciding to shut down any section of the grid is an extreme responsibility for an individual. To give an example, last November I was Honolulu, Hawaii, meeting with a friend who works for the Core of Army Engineers. She mentioned, earlier in the year on the Island of Oahu, a serious problem occurred with the transmission of electricity. A plant operator realized something was critically wrong and made the decision to disconnect the power, which caused large sections of the Island to lose power. The initial response from the public and local media was anger and criticism towards the operator, for shutting down the power without notification to thousands of people. It turned out the utility operator actually saved the system from being severely damaged by deciding to act quickly. If the power was allowed to remain on, it could have caused severe system damage and extremely expensive to repair. So in reality this operator’s quick decision and courageous action saved the day for thousands of customers.

Image courtesy of NASA.
Image courtesy of NASA

Deregulation of the Power Industry, Combined With No Centralized Authority over the National Grid In An Emergency  — Potentially Jeopardizes the Economy and Our Safety.  

Deregulation of the power industry has been an adopted policy since the 1980s. It was supposed to encourage industry competition, for creating greater profits for the utilities, allow for steady improvements in infrastructure and lower cost for consumers. In reality deregulation has failed to deliver on its stated objectives.

Independent and comprehensive cost/benefit studies were not completed before deregulation was adopted. Joseph Swidler, former chair of the Federal Power Commission, stated in 1990 editorial of The Electricity Journal — While there is bitter disagreement over … changes, there can be little argument these are occurring haphazardly without the benefit of comprehensive analyses at a national level.” A specific example is the absence of an analysis of the decrease in benefits from coordination as mentioned above, since competition typically results in decreased coordination. [A. CasazzaAllan J. Schultz and Joseph C. Swidler A brave new world: Let’s look before we leap The Electricity Journal, 1990, vol. 3, issue 9, pages 40-43]  SubSt_BPP0709_bt73

Engineering originally defined the qualifications and standards used for policy and management in the power industry.  After deregulation took hold, the industry became beholden to marketing and finance, which de-emphasized engineering standards.

While the original standards used in the power industry were not perfect, it was more reliable and efficient than the current system — which has overstretched the National grid with higher capacity transmission lines and not sufficiently updated key infrastructure needs. Deregulation is what allowed for large-scale fraud and market manipulations to take place. This created unethical opportunities to gouge private consumers and large corporate customers by the former Enron Company in the early part of the 21st Century.

According to industrial insurance underwriters publications, deregulation has forced the majority of power utilities to survive on a slim profit margin, which does not provide adequate reinvestment for infrastructure or necessary research and development. A critical component  of major concern is high voltage transformers.

Environmental stock photography for a New Dawn.

The Issue of High Voltage Transformers

According to industrial insurer’s publications, deregulation has forced the majority of power utilities to survive on a slim profit margin, which does not provide adequate reinvestment for infrastructure or necessary research and development. Many of the high voltage transformers functions at the edge of their life expectancy. It typically takes three years to order, install and have a transformer ready for service. High voltage transformers are no longer manufactured in the U.S.. On average they weigh 100 to 200 tons and are too large for aircraft to transport.

A severe geomagnetic storm creates geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which transfers massive electric energy through the path of least resistance. This energy travels through water, earth and especially through metal such as underground pipes, rail line and electric power lines. The GIC saturates transformers, which distorts the voltage in the system and violently disrupts the entire process of transferring electric power.

Electrical power infrastructure (electrical grid) is vulnerable to major Solar storm's Coronal Mass Mass Ejections (CMEs), Geomagneticly Induced Currents (GMIs) and man made Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP's.)  Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights-

Electrical power infrastructure (electrical grid) is vulnerable to major Solar storm’s Coronal Mass Mass Ejections (CMEs), Geomagneticly Induced Currents (GMIs) and man made Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP’s.) Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights-

As a critical component in the distribution of electric power, transformers have proven vulnerable to geomagnetic energy and their survivability is a major concern to engineers and scientist.  It’s likely a majority of the high voltage transformers would be at risk from  the geomagnetic energy caused from a super solar storm. The transformers and the Nation’s electrical grid are more vulnerable on the East coast due to how overstretched the system is there. In the Western part of the U.S. the power utilities have been more proactive in protecting transformers and the grid is not as dense as it is in the East. The further south in longitude a power grid’s location is a factor in lessening the effects of a geomagnetic storm. Also a location’s geology is a factor, some rock compositions conduct geomagnetic energy more efficiently than others.

According to leading engineering experts in the power industry, a practical strategy to protect the high voltage transformers is to install a surge protector like component on each transformer. The devices are about the size of a washer machine and would cost from $ 500 million to $ 1 billion dollars to protect all of the Nation’s transformers. That’s probably the best value  of an insurance policy which would cover the Nation’s electrical grid, especially compared to the alternative of replacing  several hundred industrial size transformers.

Power

Transformers a risk to keeping the power on – 360 News – Lloyd’s

A Comprehensive Study, With Extensive Geomagnetic Storm Computer Modeling.

In 2010, The Oak Ridge National Laboratory produced an extensive report titled: Geomagnetic Storms and Their Impact on the U.S. Power Grid. The Metatech Corporation was contracted to produce extensive computer modeling on various solar and geomagnetic storm scenarios. The report has been presented to both the U.S. Senate and  House Congressional subcommittee hearings. Here’s a link for you to see for yourself how severe and extensive solar storm impact is likely to be using computer modeling.

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/ees/etsd/pes/pubs/ferc_Meta-R-319.pdf

The Prospect of 400 Chernobyl’s   400_chevnob_103

Russia’s Chernobyl and the United States’ Three Mile Island, are considered two of the greatest nuclear power plant disasters in history. Their legacy was clouds of lethal radiation, which caused mass evacuations and contaminated areas  still not safe for people to inhabit. When these nuclear accidents occurred, there were no earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes to blame. The cause was a combination of technological failure and human error, which prevented the reactor’s cooling system to function, ultimately causing the nuclear disasters.

On March 11, 2011 the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan experienced a 9.0  violent earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami. This time it was a natural disaster which caused a failure of the reactor’s cooling system. The backup electric generators to the reactor’s cooling system also unexpectedly failed, causing the reactors to begin overheating. The reactor released a  substantial radioactive cloud, which forced a 20 mile radius evacuation.

There are federal disaster relief agencies, scientists and engineers questioning if a super  geomagnetic storm would burn out the backup generators for cooling a nuclear power plant’s reactor. Another question is, will the trucks used for hauling diesel to backup generators, even work after waves of geomagnetic energy travel through a vehicles microelectronics. Any type of car transportation or truck transport  will be extremely limited, if electricity is not generated to pumping gasoline and diesel from service stations.

In Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, a number of hospital’s critical backup generators failed to operate. It’s uncertain if backup generators will survive a severe geomagnetic disturbance from a solar storm. With over 400 nuclear power plants throughout the world, a serious geomagnetic storm, could potentially lead to loss of all electrical power to reactor core cooling systems, which would release radiation contamination on a global scale.

The Tragic Events of the RMS Titanic Serves As A Cautionary Analogy

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This past April marked the 100 year anniversary of the “unsinkable” Titanic ocean liner’s maiden voyage. The once modern looking, massive ship was state of the art technology in 1912 — today it represents human arrogance and hubris towards over reliance on technology. The  captain of the Titanic,  Edward J. Smith, was quoted, of ‘not conceiving any disaster which could happen to his vessel’ — after all, no major passenger ship had been lost for nearly 50 years before the launch of the Titanic

882 feet (269. meters) long -maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.
882 feet (269. meters) long -maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.

White Star Line of Liverpool, England was the premier shipping company at the beginning of the 20th Century. White Star commissioned the construction of RMS Titanic – an Olympic class steam liner.  The passenger ship was outfitted with twin colossal, coal-fired reciprocating turbine steam engines, and the ship’s electric generator produces more power than an average city’s power-plants at that time. It also featured the latest wireless communication technology, capable of sending and receiving signals 1,000 miles away. Owned and operated by the Marconi Company, the radio room was operated 24/7 using two technicians. The radio’s functions were primarily for commercial passenger telegram services, but it also served an operations function for the Titanic as it received useful weather reports and ice warnings.

A functional forced air heating system used electric fans to push warm air through a ventilation network. The Titanic could in an emergency, produce its own fresh water from seawater using a desalination process. Many new living improvements and conveniences on this marvelous, “floating city” employed advance technology created during the late industrial era.

RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.
RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.

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Full Speed Ahead Into the Night and Unseen Ice Fields

On April 14, 1912, three days into its maiden voyage the Titanic with its 1,317 passengers and 885 crew members moved swiftly across the North Atlantic. The ship averaged an efficient, 21 knots per hour (24 mph; 39 km/h) through the icy cold waters and approximately 900 miles from its New York destination. As the streamliner approached the coast of Newfoundland, the skies were clearing over an unusually calm Atlantic Ocean. Throughout the day, Titanic’s radio operators received warnings from various ships in the route ahead of where they would soon enter — the captain responded by charting a 10 mile precautionary adjustment to the south for the ships heading. Throughout the day, warnings in Morse code reached Titanic’s radio operators in increase numbers and with more alarming urgency. The Captain assured the concerned operators — their ship had nothing to fear from icebergs and they should  attend to the passengers important communication needs. As the late afternoon melted into the twilight,  Titanic was cruising at full-steam ahead and virtually blind in the calm featureless night.

Comparison of Morse Code.

Comparison of Morse Code.

Two ship’s lookouts climbed the long later attached inside the steamships smoke stack to reach the crow’s nest for the last time. Unfortunately, the bridge binoculars were missing, so the men were forced to rely on their plain eyesight to see any impending danger. The Titanic cruised effortlessly through the flat calm ocean, creating a false sense of security to the crew and passengers — but with icebergs in the water, on a moonless night meant no splashing waves to help warn a watchful lookout. Just before midnight, Fred Fleet, the lookout  in the crow’s nest spotted the Titanic’ s dreadful rendezvous with destiny — a massive iceberg looming dead ahead. The bridge responded immediately by skillfully turning the ship away from the iceberg, the quick maneuver nearly was successful — but then… a horrible sound of solid ice scraping against sheets of steel plates and the profound shutter delivered to the ship — telegraphed it was mortally wounded. Five watertight compartments were breached just below the waterline by the jagged ice, if just one-less compartment would have torn open, this story wouldn’t be told. The largest ship in the world, this floating world with its community of families, workers and wealthy aristocrats, now had less than three hours before the unthinkable would happen.

The Captain and the Star Line management on board must have fallen into total shock and denial of what was happening to their Titanic, technological wonder. These individuals in charge with the responsibility for the ship’s operations and ultimately the passengers safety, were steeped in overconfidence they never conducted drills or consider necessary emergency contingencies and procedures. Fortified with hubris that the Titanic could withstand any act of nature, they lost sight of their most important duties of safe operations and procedures — after all they believed in the myth their ship was built to be unsinkable.

IND MTS Clouds BPP_E20

In the same way the Titanic’s symbolizes a mythic system of indestructible technology, which can withstand anything nature can throw at — our civilization and specifically our Nation is repeating some of the basic errors regarding — an over reliance, complacency, and trust in life supporting technologies.  We’ve been so fortunate to have built a civilization, which harnessed electrical technology to run our industry, heat our homes and provide our security.  For decades, with few exceptions, we’ve had uninterrupted, reliable electric power that is now, taken for granted. Most of us have become shortsighted, with blind-faith in assuming we’ll have reliable electric power, whenever or wherever we need it.

Recorded history has demonstrated solar storms are a real threat to our technologies and civilization. Solar cycles, flares and storm events are a regular occurrence — a super geomagnetic storm will happen again, creating potential for catastrophic effects beyond any scale humanity has ever faced. Reliable, national and international scientific institutions and governmental agencies in charge of safety and security, increasingly  warn us of these real threats to the electric grid.

Unlike RMS Titanic’s captain, whose hubris and over reliance on the technological engineering of his steam liner, lead to the tragic loss of his passengers and the world’s largest ship  — our elected officials and top power industry executives, need awareness of our technology’s fatal weakness and decisively act now to defend it! If our Nation, like the Titanic waits until the impending disaster is upon us to act… It will be too late — the  majority of our population, like those on the doomed infamous ship a 100-years ago will be scrambling for lifeboats that aren’t there. The millions of lives depending on electricity to transport food, medicine and provide security will have no safety-net for years to come. The threat from a natural continental or global catastrophic event is a known reality. It’s time for everyone to educate themselves and have an open dialogue with their families and communities regarding what precautions are necessary to minimize their effects. ~

Particle energy shock    wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth's magnetic field.

Particle energy shock wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

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Government Agencies Which Are A Warning Of Solar Storm Potential Dangers

Severe S

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olar Storms Could Disrupt Earth This Decade: NOAA

Scientists warn solar storms could be “global Hurricane Katrina” | Homeland Security News Wire

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Testimony Given to  the U.S. Congress Regarding Threats to the National Grid from Solar Storms

http://www.solarstorms.org/CongressSW.html

SHIELDAct.com / Read H.R. 668 – The SHIELD Act

Testimony Given to the  U.S. Senate Regarding Threats to the National Grid From Solar Storms

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20110505082259-Testimony%20McClelland%20(5-3-11%20Final).pdf

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20120717100957-7-17-12-FERC-Testimony.pdf

Who Is In the Lead For the Darwin Award Between the U.S. Senate or Congress

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Here Are Some Links For Your Review To Inform Your Own Decision On Who Deserves the Darwin Award.

Feds and Utilities battle over Solar EMP threat in 2014 | SpaceBattles.com

Senators debate security of electricity grid – Washington Times

Senate dumps strategy to prevent EMP damage | The Total Collapse

Murkowski Blocks Effort to Protect US Power Grid

What Can We As Citizen Do To Protect the National Grid

Please check back to view the complete story — new content is being added daily, including an interview with Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell and comments from government agencies and electric power grid representatives.

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Solar Storm  & Electrical Power Portal  [Editorial Links Government Links Industry links & Resources]

Solar Storms & Solar Weather

Space: NOAA Watch: NOAA’s All-Hazard Monitor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: U.S. Department of Commerce

NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Solar Storm Warning – NASA Science

SpaceWeather.com — News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

Active Solar Regions – HAMwaves.com

Solar Satellites Research

Solar Shield–Protecting the North American Power Grid – NASA Science

Electric Power Industry Related to Solar Storm Issues

Lawrence E. Joseph: The Solar ‘Katrina’ Storm That Could Take Our Power Grid Out For Years

Emergency Preparedness & Societal Concerns Related to Solar Storms & EMPs

Are We Smart Enough to Survive … Or Will Humanity Win a Darwin Award? – Washington’s Blog

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Luminous Beauty of Low-light Photography

Multimedia eLearning by: David Anthony Johanson  © All Rights

David A Johanson is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and former Boeing scientific photographer. All images and text were created by the author.

All photographs featured in this photo essay were taken in the Pacific Northwest during the winter season, using low-light, natural illumination. The camera used was a Nikon D700.

As a filmmaker and photographer who uses many forms of light, low-ambient-light has always been a rare delight.  “Magic hour” also know as golden hour, is a term cinematographer’s originated for the holy grail of eye-candy lighting. This dramatic, low-angle light begins minutes before sunset, then dramatically merges into dusk, before entering the realm of twilight.

An enchanting view of Snoqualmie Falls during a record deep freeze. HDR photo technique using a Nikon D700

Magic hour was the gateway for me to explore and develop a passion for this wonderful transcendental light. After sunset, the busy activity of the world begins to wind-down… becoming still, before renewing itself for a new day. When twilight arrives, it presents opportunities to observe and record subtle events, which many of us are not aware of as we dream part of the night away. Digital technology has recently entered a new threshold by producing a select breed of cameras, capable of capturing this marvelous luminosity.

Low angle view of Snoqualmie Falls using HDR technique.

What I relied on before the recent advance in low-light digital imaging is a process termed: HDR photography (High Dynamic Range.)  Basically the technique requires a steady tripod for a camera to take a series of images; typically three to eight exposures are taken of a scene.  At least one image of the scene is under exposed; another exposed for what the camera or light meter indicates as a “correct” exposure, and at least one final, over-exposed image completes the HDR series. The intent is to record the entire range of tonal values, from the subject of interest.

Unlike the human eye, which is our unique window for visualizing the world — most camera light sensors lack the sensitivity to record a wide range of tones within the frame. Typically, if only one exposure is used to record a scene with normal or high contrast, the Camera’s light sensor will compress some tonal values, with tones being lost either in the high or low-end of the scale. HDR photography attempts to solve this limitation by combing multiple exposures to record a more dynamic range of tonal values, which later can be combined to create one image in post-production. The results produced with the HDR process are vivid photographs, which present an image closely resembling our initial impression of a scene. 

Iconic Snoqualmie Falls, encased in ice. HDR photo technique.

Of photo pros I know using HDR applications, Photomatix, has been popular for the past few years. It’s a powerful tool, with flexibility and control to help produce impressive results.  Another favored choice for a HDR app, is found bundled within Adobe’s Photoshop.

An acquaintance recently sent me a YouTube link for promoting Nikon’s HDR software. What I saw featured in Nikon’s video was over processed, over-the-top HDR images.  Perhaps it’s a good app, but the promotion relied on too much eye-candy for my taste. In conversations with fellow photographers and multimedia producers the question becomes — at what point does a skilled technique turn into a gimmick?  Some viewers go gaga for the over processed look, with an image appearing unbelievably surreal, and more suited for an illustration or painting.  As with most pursuits, moderation offers the best results at the end of the day. Taste is all subjective, however, for photography, I prefer an image which retains a photo quality character, versus an over-saturated illustration. Perhaps in our contemporary digital media environment, which presents a constant tsunami of image content, there’s a perceived need to push the limits of effects. Okay, I’m finished with my soapbox moment, of the good, the bad, and ugly use of HDR photography.

I still enjoy using HDR technique, but now more sparingly, since I found a camera capable of producing a dynamic tonal range image,  from a single exposure of low-light environments.

 

 

A parade of snow storms blankets the Pacific Northwest. In-between snow showers, ice sculptures glisten beneath the night stars. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

Occasionally we’ll have powerful snowstorms roar through the Puget Sound area, which presents some exciting, low-light photo opportunities. One evening, at midnight the conditions were perfect for night photography, with crystal clear visibility. Graceful, fast-moving clouds were gliding overhead, then suddenly, an opening appeared to reveal a splendid shimmering of stars from above.

These featured “night snow images” were delightful to capture, as they revealed an enchanting, dreamlike quality to them. The reflective character of snow, also creates a subtle luminosity on the surrounding frozen landscapes. A blend of moon and starlight filtered through shifting openings of clouds, which merged with street lighting to create an infrared-photographic look. All these snow scenes were created from one exposure, made possible by using my low-light Nikon D700 camera.

The night’s stillness sparkles with reflected light.

Winter snow clouds mix with the deep blue night sky. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

Here’s some technical photographic information about low-light photography. Nikon’s D3s is the current leader in high ISO for low-light environments, using the second-generation of full frame, FX sensors. The Nikon D3 and D700 produce the same image quality as each other, with both featuring Nikon’s first-generation full frame, FX sensor cameras.  Surprisingly, Nikon designed the D3s with the same 12+ megabyte resolution as the D3, instead of doubling the amount of mega-pixels. By not inflating the pixel count, it allowed for the same pixel size or “pixel pitch” as the D3 and D700.  Apparently, this matrix extensively increases sensor sensitivity. Currently, FX sensors are the masters of low light by out performing DX sensors by 3 stops.

  If you decide to try low-light night photography, be prepared for challenging conditions and dress to keep warm. Whether you choose to use HDR techniques or single image capture, get ready to discover the wondrous illumination, that low-light photography will reveal to you.

Luminous winter stars prevail and shine through another set of passing clouds. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

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The Day-After 9/11…Ten Years After

Photos and text by: David Johanson Vasquez  © All Rights Reserved

Probably anyone reading this essay will never forget what they were doing on the day of and the following day-after the World Trade Center attack of 9/11.

An early start on a tragic morning—On September 11, 2001,  I got up early at 5:00 a.m. to begin packing for my fiancé and I’s flight from Seattle to Honolulu. After feeding the cats I made a cup of coffee, while listening to the morning news. It took a moment to register that there was a serious event taking place in New York City. I changed the channel… just to make sure there wasn’t some misreporting of what was happening.  In shock, I moved to wake my fiancé—informing her of something really bad was going to the east coast. We held each other while watching the news, then we began making phone calls to family and friends to see if they were watching what had just happened.

My memory accelerated into reverse, towards my first trip to New York City in 1998.  A cousin had taken me on a well planned tour of Lower Manhattan, where we visited the ‘”Twin Towers” to gain a most fantastic view of the City. Now… I kept wondering if my family and friends were okay in Manhattan… what was going on in their lives at this moment? More news reports of other horrible attacks, then a FAA directive announcement to recall and ground all flights in transit immediately. The information was approaching sensory overload. This situation was escalating into something extremely serious, chances were our wedding plans would be forced to hold, perhaps even indefinitely.

The eerie sound of silence—As evening approached, the directive to ground all aircraft began to create an eerie feeling. Our home, which we purchased just a few months before, is located north of Seattle in the city of Everett. Paine Field, a major regional airport is within a couple of miles of our home and Boeing assembles commercial aircraft there, including the Jumbo 747 as well as its 767 airliner, which were used in the terrorist attacks earlier that day.

What was so strange, was the silence of not hearing any aircraft sounds going overhead.  This somber stillness created a feeling straight out of a science fiction movie—in fact I notice a sustained absence of  any sounds; no car noise or people outside talking — as if the world was standing still within a vacuum. I forced myself from thinking… the years when I was a Boeing photographer, if I had photographed one of the 767 aircraft during its production cycle,  which had been used in the terrorist attacks.

Suspended animation — As the afternoon turned into evening, fighter jets appeared in the sky, pacing back and forth like a cat waiting to pounce on its pray. Later as night approached we could hear the steady high altitude drone of bombers and military transport aircraft flying towards Canadian airspace—heading north for an apparent polar route to reach intended deployments; it was obvious now, our nation was going to war.

I stayed up late to see if there would be other information, to let us know if airline flights were to resume. Having slept very little, I got up before light, preparing to depart for our pre-wedding flight to Honolulu.  As dawn arrived there was no definite news as to if flights would be resuming again; so we picked up my stepdaughter Dena, her husband Dave and son to go to the airport.

On the drive to Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, I recall our grandson Jacob asking why was our nation attacked, but none of us had an answer to offer which made sense.  Arriving at the airport was that returning feeling of, stepping into a set of some sci-fi feature, troops and police packing machine guns were on sentry;  just about everyone we saw looked like they were in a daze. One of my best friends I had known since we first met as Boeing photographers, came up and gave us the airline flight status. Rick and his wife Kathy had arrived the day before, to fly out for our wedding, but the 9/11 attacks halted all flights before they could board their plane.

It now was clear, no one would be flying for the foreseeable future, so we had our party of family and friends meet us at a nearby restaurant for a dialogue on an action plan. We decide to try postponing our wedding for one month, then, hopefully all of us would be able to fly out to Hawaii for our planned ceremony.

The resumed flight to paradise — In October we followed through with our wedding plans.  Our ceremony took place outside of Honolulu, on a beach, which was used in a famous kissing scene in the 1953 classic: “From Here to Eternity,” — starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. A month after the 9/11 attacks, we were some of the first travelers to arrive in Hawaii from the mainland.  The hotel’s front desk shared with us — how for the first few days following the attacks, most tourist did not leave their rooms for days… they just wanted to watch any news updates from television.

The shadow of judgement—The weeks following 9/11, I recall experiencing some undue scrutiny from a few strangers who gave hostile stares at me, due to my “Mediterranean appearance.” Part of my family heritage is Panamanian and the other Swedish; so if someone was judgmental and didn’t know anything about my background  — they might ignorantly try to project they’re suspicious spotlight onto me. We often forget of this misguided act of— “terrorism in the name of religion” — no one has suffered more wrongful deaths and injury than innocent Arab people, from many nations of the world.  The terrorist attacks were carried out by an extremely small group of people… representing their own narrow, hate consuming judgments towards the United States.  Blind-ignorance about our Nation’s true values, misguided the terrorist to believe attacks would succeed in crushing our will and faith. Actually, the 9/11 attacks created the opposite effect of what the Islamic Fascist’s intended goals were— it challenged us as a Nation to become a united people and use our collective-will to counter the terrorist’s misanthropic agenda.

Tour of tower two—In my 1998 tour of the World Trade Center’s tower two, I was first impressed with a beautiful water fountain sculpture at the base of the towers. Looking directly upwards, over a thousand feet towards the blue sky, the vertical lines of the twin towers appeared to merge together.

          

My cousin, Randy and I entered the towers to register for a trip to the Top of the World Observatory… we were clustered together with a group of about 20 people. All of us were going to the top floors, but first, a digital photo was taken of our group. Three uniformed security personnel were focused in on the monitors, studying the biometric photos, which were just taken of our group. Five years before, in 1993 the first terrorist attacks on the twin tower were carried out.  Since those previous attacks, the port authority used digital biometric surveillance in efforts for spotting terrorist attempting reconnaissance for another attack.

A community within itself—Once we de-boarded from a  thousand foot elevator ride to the 107th floor, I was impressed with a feeling of energy created by simultaneous activity and interaction. It was like a community within itself, with so many people of different nationalities speaking a variety of languages. I also recall a splendid collection of art on the walls, gift shops, information kiosk and exhibit displays.  Wonderful aromas of gourmet food wafted through the hallways from the famous “Windows of the World” restaurant, which had until the 2001 attacks, the highest-grossing revenue in the United States.     

A view from top of the world— Stepping onto the 110 floors “Top of the World” observation deck gave a feeling of sensory overload—a stunning, 360 degree panorama view of the surrounding mega metropolis was a powerful encounter. Just the week before, as I flew over New York City’s Manhattan districts, I experience something totally new from flying over an urban center. My impression was the city of New York is literally, a living entity in its own right. The metropolis’ massive size, density and texture appeared to have a unique personality… a consciousness of its own, which I wasn’t expecting to encounter.  Back on the observation deck, it was a photographer’s paradise for incredible aerial views of the City’s iconic architecture.

Twin towers architectural design—Completed in 1973, the twin towers were designed by a Seattle born architectMinoru Yamasaki was a first-generation Japanese American, whose innovative architecture style was used to design—The Pacific Science Center, for “The Century 21 Exposition/1962 Seattle Worlds Fair,” which shares similar design elements with the twin towers. Yamasaki also designed one of Seattle’s most daring pieces of architecture— the Rainier Tower, which is supported by a gravity defying, inverted pedestal! One more connection with the twin towers and Seattle is the architect’s, IBM Building design, which was used as a model for the NYC twin tower design. The twin towers architectural style is gothic modernism which can be seen used in most of Minoru’s designs (please see examples of gothic modernism elements in the photographs below.)

          

Inspiration found from the rising phoenix— It’s nearly 9:00 p.m. PDT on September 10th, as I’m finishing up my writing for the photo essay; “The Day After 9/11 – Ten Years After.”  I just finished watching an unexpected, major fireworks display, from our home’s second story window. It was coming from the town of Mukilteo, which is on Puget Sound, next to the Boeing Plant and Paine Field Airport.  Watching the pyrotechnic display, the words of our national anthem came to mind. In an instant, came an insight for me… a silver lining taken from our nation’s tragic sacrifice—illuminating a message from the darkness, like a powerful roman candle roaring upwards to the heavens as it releases spectacular multicolored content.

Despite a tragic attack, which Francis Scott Key refers to in tribute anthem for our country—  we, as in the spirit of our nation’s flag, are still here, firmly remaining strong and defiant.  Now, as New York City’s Freedom Towers are nearing completion, with their foundation next to the footprint of those former shinning twin towers, the spirit of our Nation is rising from the tragic ashes… to reach towards the heavens, once again.  ~

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