Thursday, July 18, 2019

Lanai drone project to continue without 5G

Someone said they canceled the 5G part due to public pressure


Flight operation plans on Lanai for a drone as wide as a football field are still on; however, the project will continue without testing for 5G advanced wireless airborne services to people on the ground, the project manager said.
The unmanned aerial system (UAS) flies independently at about 22 mph and is powered by electrical and solar energy. It can potentially fly 65,000 to 85,000 feet for as long as a year.
“No more 5G to the project because it was overshadowing the solar power, electric aviation part,” said George Purdy Wednesday afternoon. “That was the whole root to the program. . . . That will be part of my speech tonight.”
Clarifications were announced at Wednesday night’s Lanai Planning Commission meeting. Purdy is the co-owner of Drone Services Hawaii and was instrumental in bringing the Hawk30 program to Lanai. 
The Hawk30 program is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration Test Range, which oversees the Pan Pacific Unmanned Airspace Test Range complex of which the University of Hawaii is a part.
UH Research Organization has a support agreement with program sponsor HAPSMobile Inc. to perform the test project on Lanai. SoftBank Corp., Loon LLC and AeroVironment also are involved in the project.
The program’s goal is to develop and test a high altitude platform drone to maintain flight over deep valleys, remote land areas and the ocean, solely powered by solar and electricity.
Only one launch is still anticipated on the island.

ConEd Starts to Shed Light on Why NYC Got Plunged Into the Dark

(Bloomberg) -- It started with a broken cable.
Sometime before 6:47 p.m. on Saturday, a 13,000-volt underground power line at New York City’s West 64th Street and West End Avenue burned, according to Consolidated Edison Inc. One spokesman for the utility said casing along the line had cracked. Another said the company hasn’t determined the cause of the failure.
Whatever the reason, it triggered a relay protection system nearby that’s designed to detect electrical faults and keep them from spreading. Except, ConEd spokesman Sidney Alvarez said, this one was “overly sensitive.” Instead of just isolating the burned cable, it took down entire parts of ConEd’s network, leading to a cascading failure that plunged much of Manhattan’s west side into darkness and left tens of thousands of people without power for as many as five hours.
Now New York’s top lawmakers are calling for probes of the utility company. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, called it “entirely preventable” and said the U.S. Energy Department should work with city and state officials to investigate. Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have also demanded an explanation for why 73,000 customers lost power.
While investors have largely shrugged off the incident (shares slipped 0.5% Monday), Saturday’s blackout is the latest in a string of incidents that have disrupted power service in New York City, adding to the pressure on ConEd. And the disclosure of a faulty relay system on Monday is raising even more questions.
“They have hundreds if not thousands of these relays, so obviously, this raises the question of what’s the status of the others?” said Michael Tobias, a principal at the engineering consulting firm New York Engineers that provides electrical services. “Could this happen again?”
Tobias said ConEd should check its other relays and ensure that they’re being replaced near the end of their expected life spans as opposed to being “run to failure.”
That could prove to be a daunting task. Alvarez pointed out Monday that New York is home to one the most complex energy systems in North America, an intertwined web of electrical wires, steam pipes and natural gas systems. “You basically have infrastructure upon infrastructure -- you rarely see that in major metro cities,” he said.
The networked nature of the grid makes the city more susceptible to significant outages, said Joseph Eto, a staff scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The system is built with many redundancies, but if a problem isn’t quickly contained, he said, “You can have these larger effects.”
Saturday’s blackout affected much of Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Rockefeller Center and the lower reaches of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It took out the lights in Time Square, forced the evacuation of Madison Square Garden in the middle of a Jennifer Lopez concert and brought parts of the city’s subway system to a screeching halt.
Substation Explosion
Cuomo said over the weekend that he had sent his “top power team” to probe the incident. De Blasio, who cut short a presidential campaign trip to Iowa, called on city agencies to “get to the bottom” of the incident. After ConEd disclosed the burned cable on Monday, he pointed out that the utility had initially said the power-line fault wasn’t related to the outage. “Our city cannot be left in the dark like this ever again,” he said.
As ConEd investigates why its relay system overreacted, the Energy Department in Washington said it’s ready to assist in efforts to determine the cause. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it’s “closely monitoring” efforts of the organization that oversees reliability on the grid, the North American Electric Reliability Corp.
“A root cause analysis of the outage is underway but, at this time, there is no evidence of suspicious activity or long-term impacts to infrastructure,” Kimberly Mielcarek, a spokeswoman for NERC, said Monday. “The bulk power system remained stable and unaffected by the outage.”
Just over six months ago, ConEd faced an investigation after an electrical fire at a substation turned New York City’s night sky blue, temporarily disrupting flights and subway services. In July 2018, it was the subject of a probe after an asbestos-lined steam pipe ruptured in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. And a power failure in 2017 led to significant delays on the subway during a morning commute, triggering an investigation that cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
--With assistance from Stephen Cunningham, Amanda Albright, Shoko Oda, Christopher Martin and Joe Ryan.
To contact the reporters on this story: Will Wade in New York at;David Baker in New York at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at, Rebecca Keenan
For more articles like this, please visit us at

India plans to change all electricity meters to prepaid smart meters by 2022

This comes in the backdrop of a power sector package, comprising a new tariff policy and structural reforms, being in the offing.
  • - The plan comes at a time when the new government is trying to step up its efforts to supply 24x7 power to all
  • - The government believes that the plan will increase distribution substation capacity by 38% by 2022

New Delhi: In what will help improve the fortunes of India’s beleaguered power sector, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government plans to convert all electricity meters into smart prepaid meters by 2022.
The strategy is part of the government’s electricity distribution plan prepared by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), India’s apex power sector planning body, and comes at a time when the new government is trying to step up its efforts to supply 24x7 power to all.
Creating a smart meter architecture minimises human intervention in metering, billing and collection process and helps in reducing theft by identifying loss pockets. It requires a two-way communication network, control centre equipment and software applications that enable near real-time gathering and transfer of energy usage information.
“The draft plan is the first ever plan at Distribution level which has been prepared by CEA, under the guidance of the ministry of power. Till now, the central government has been preparing Perspectives Plans for Generation and Transmission Sectors under the aegis of the National Electricity Plan (NEP). The Distribution plan keeps the needs of consumers at the center of its focus," the power ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
This comes in the backdrop of the ongoing crisis in discoms due to poor financial health, which has led to delayed payment to generation utilities.
Discoms have so far been the weakest link in the electricity value chain. Poor payment records of state-owned discoms have not only adversely affected power generation companies, but have also contributed to stress in the banking sector.
The power sector is reeling under bad loans worth about Rs1 trillion, with around 66 gigawatts (GW) facing various degrees of financial stress.
“Smart metering would empower consumers with tools to help them conserve energy and plan their electricity usage in an efficient and optimum manner," the statement said.
The government believes that the plan will increase distribution substation capacity by 38% by 2022. During the review of the plan, power minister Raj Kumar Singh directed a core group of power ministry officials to “study the power sector ‘Reforms 2.0’, which would be integrated with Distribution Perspective Plan before it is released."
This comes when a power sector package, comprising a new tariff policy and structural reforms, is in the offing, according to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden budget speech.
The Centre is looking to introduce several reforms in the proposed national tariff policy, including penalty on gratuitous load-shedding, not allowing losses of more than 15% as a pass-through in tariff, and limiting cross-subsidies. The policy also proposes suspension of licence in case of non-availability of adequate power supply arrangements and imposition of penalty in case of disruptions in supply.
It also plans to introduce distribution sector reforms such as separating the “carriage and content operations" of power distribution companies (discoms), and letting people and firms buy electricity from a firm of their choice.

EU's Galileo satellites have been down for days

Good luck to anyone who's relying on the global navigation satellite system.

The European Union's Galileo global navigation satellite system hasn't worked since last Thursday. This is apparently due its ground infrastructure suffering technical problems
service status page lists 24 of its 26 satellites as "not usable" or "not available," while the remaining two are "testing" -- which our sister site ZDNet reports means they aren't usable. Only the search and rescue service, which is used to find people who get in trouble at sea or in the mountains, is still operating, the European GNSS Agency noted.

"Experts are working to restore the situation as soon as possible," the agency wrote in its release.
The problem may lie with the Precise Timing Facility, a ground station in Italy that gives each satellite in the system an accurate time reference, Inside GNSS said.
The Galileo program launched its first satellite in 2011, so that the EU wouldn't have to rely on the US Global Positioning System, or GPS, for commercial, military and other applications like guiding aircraft.
The agency didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

SpaceX has lost contact with three of its Starlink satellites

On May 23rd, 2019, SpaceX launched the first batch of its Starlink constellation, a fleet of satellites that will fulfill Elon Musk's promise to provide broadband satellite-internet access to the entire planet. The deployment of these 60 satellites was the first in a series of six planned launches that would see around 720 satellites orbiting at an operational altitude of 550 km (340 mi).
Over the course of the past month, SpaceX announced that all 60 of the satellites were responsive, but recently indicated that contact had been lost with three of them. According to a statement issued by a company spokesperson on June 28th, these three satellites pose no danger as they will deorbit "passively" and burn up in the atmosphere.
When the first batch was launched in May, they rose to an altitude of 440 km (273 mi) before powering up their onboard propulsion rockets to raise their orbit to an operational altitude of 550 km (340 mi). After deploying from their Falcon 9 , observers noticed that some of the Starlink satellites had not initiated orbit raising.
According to the statement issued by the SpaceX spokesperson, the rest of the satellites are functioning well and almost all of them have successfully reached their operational orbit. In the near future, two will deorbit along with the three non-functioning ones in order to test the satellite's ability to propulsively deorbit:
"Three satellites which initially communicated with the ground but are no longer in service will passively deorbit. Due to their design and low orbital position, all five deorbiting satellites will disintegrate once they enter Earth's atmosphere in support of SpaceX's commitment to a clean space environment."
So far, 45 of the satellites have completed raising their orbit, five are still in the process of doing so, and another five are completing system checks before engaging rockets. Once they are all operational, these satellites will test the signal speed and capacity of the Starlink network, as well as its ability to deliver reliable low-latency, high-bandwidth internet services from space.
The plan for the proposed constellation has evolved considerably since Musk announced it back in 2015. Originally, the plan was to deploy 12,000 satellites to  (LEO) by the mid-2020s that would be capable of broadcasting in the Ka- and Ku-bands. However, in recent years, SpaceX decided to expedite things and opted to launch an initial batch of satellites to a lower orbit of 550 kilometers (340 mi).
These satellites also had a simplified design that was smaller, lighter, and which broadcast in the Ka-band alone. The modified nature of this batch of satellites was also indicated in the company statement issued on June 28th:
"SpaceX implemented slight variations across the 60 satellites in order to maximize operational capability across the fleet. While we are pleased with the performance of the satellites so far, SpaceX will continue to push the operational capabilities of the satellites to inform future iterations."
The purpose of sending these satellites to a lower operational altitude was apparently made to reduce the risk of space junk. This is a growing problem as far as missions to LEO are concerned, and is only expected to get worse with all the next-generation satellites scheduled for launch in the coming years.
However, the lower altitude has benefits that go beyond orbital clutter. At 550 km (340 mi) above the Earth's surface, signal lags (latencies) of around 15 milliseconds will be possible, unlike geostationary satellites that often have a half-second or more of signal lag. Last, but not least, a lower operational altitude also means SpaceX can send more satellites up sooner, which favors their expedited schedule.
Based on their current schedule, SpaceX plans to deploy the first half of their Phase I constellation (1,584 satellites) by April of 2024, followed by Phase II (another 2200 satellites) by November of 2027. In the meantime, SpaceX is facing competition from telecom providers that are ramping up their efforts to establish orbital internet constellations.
These include the U.K.-based company OneWeb and Canadian startup Kepler Communications. While the former launched the first six of its proposed 650- constellation back in February of 2019, the latter launched two of its planned 140 a year prior. Jeff Bezos, not to be left behind, is also committed to creating an Amazon constellation, while airlines like Delta and American are also interested.