* Posts by Mike Richards

4367 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Huawei's supply chain squeeze tightens, as SK Hynix and Samsung set to stop selling chips to the Chinese bogeyman as of next week

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Counterproductive

Are there any estimates how far China is behind the US, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea in developing its own processors, memory, graphics doohickeys and the like?

Northrop Grumman wins $13.3bn contract with US Air Force to kick off Minuteman III ICBM replacement

Mike Richards Silver badge

BAE must be weeping

‘...Boeing selected as the prime contractor back in 1958. Full operational capability of the Minuteman III was declared in 1975,’

17 years of development cheques from the Pentagon that probably had to be printed on extra-wide paper to hold all the zeroes. Surely not even the masters at BAE have been able to take so long in delivering something.

Tech ambitions said to lie at heart of Britain’s bonkers crash-and-burn Brexit plan

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State aid

The US has no problem with state aid to tech industries if they can put it in the defence or 'national security' troughs.

Everything's falling apart. The Moon is slowly rusting up – and it's probably Earth's fault

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Re: "1.5x10^27 oxygen particles [..] annually"

(why didn't they say molecules ? Is the word not hip any more ?)

A lot of the oxygen will be delivered to the Moon as atomic oxygen.

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: How long before.....

The Moon isn't exempt - it falls under COSPAR (COmmittee on SPAce Research) planetary protection guidelines which are linked to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. COSPAR guidelines go from zero (essentially missions to the Sun) which require no special biological contamination protections through to Category V which is reserved for sample return missions to bodies where there is a serious risk of contamination by Earth microorganisms.

Since the Moon is blasted by UV, the Solar Wind, has a massive temperature range and no atmosphere, it is highly unlikely that any organisms or complex organic molecules will be found there. Under COSPAR, missions to the Moon are considered Category II - destinations which might contain information about the origin of life but where terrestrial contamination is unlikely to interfere with data.

As for the COSPAR II requirements - basically fill out a form saying what you plan to do and any potential risk of contamination; then another form if you should do anything bad when you were there. The probes themselves don't need any particular sterilisation before launch.

TLDR - crap on the Moon if you want, but fill out the paperwork afterwards.

Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck talks to The Reg about crap weather, reusing boosters, and taking a trip to Venus

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Venus is under appreciated

The Soviet Union included a couple of balloon probes in their two Vega landers. These explored the upper Venusian atmosphere for a couple of days before their batteries died. The two balloons were made of PTFE-coated plastic to protect them from sulfuric acid (and the hydrofluoric acid they discovered) and floated at just about the altitude you suggested, not just because it is a good pressure, but because it has the strongest winds. More info here:



A shame there haven't been any further missions along these lines; if only to try and pin down whether Venus has lightning and perhaps to listen for infrasound from any volcanoes that might be grumbling away down there.

Two out of four ain't bad: It's been a weekend of mixed emotions for rocket fanciers

Mike Richards Silver badge


'While planning approval has already been given, consent is needed since the facility will be on grazing land, meaning crofters with livestock would need to move their animals during the periods around launches.'

Think Cape Canaveral with cattle grids.

Facebook apologizes to users, businesses for Apple’s monstrous efforts to protect its customers' privacy

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: You mean Facebook has adverts?


Oh I remember that - then I blocked its domains on my Pi-Hole and life got better.

What would you prefer: Satellite-streamed cat GIFs – or a decent early warning of an asteroid apocalypse?

Mike Richards Silver badge

The Falcon 9 doesn’t have that big a payload fairing which limits its ability to throw telescopes into space. This is one reason why NASA is going to use an Ariane 5 to fire the James Webb into orbit - if and when it is ever finished. If you want an all-American rocket for your telescope either the Delta IV Heavy or the Atlas 5 are the ones for putting mirrors into space.

UK national debt hits 1.46 Apples – and weighs as much as 2 billion adult badgers

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Lateral thinking

Does this mean badger culling is a debt-reduction strategy?

US govt proposes elephant showers for every American after Prez Trump says trickles dampen his haircare routine

Mike Richards Silver badge

Ah well...

...the Colorado River was overrated anyway - much better that all of its water ends up sluicing geriatrics in Phoenix than running wastefully to the ocean.

British Army does not Excel at spreadsheets: Soldiers' newly announced promotions are revoked after sorting snafu

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: "To err is human, to really fcuk things up requires a computer".

It would definitely have cost more and the system would still be processing battlefield promotions from the Falklands War.

Aviation regulator outlines fixes that will get the 737 MAX flying again

Mike Richards Silver badge

Good luck

Given the current political tensions, good luck to Boeing getting the MAX certified in China.

Doctor, doctor, got some sad news, there's been a bad case of hacking you: UK govt investigates email fail

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: There but for...

Good question.

Given there is an ongoing criminal investigation, I hope one of the lines of inquiry is whether Fox has broken the OSA?

Mike Richards Silver badge


Fox has spent decades demonstrating his unwavering loyalty to Washington and it turns out he was an asset for Russian intelligence.

Virgin Galactic pals up with Rolls-Royce to work on Mach 3 Concorde-style private jet that can carry up to 19 people

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‘ The engine became unique as the only power plant in aviation history to use an afterburner on a civilian airliner.’

The Soviet Union’s Tu-144 used afterburners as well and needed them to maintain high speed flight unlike Concorde which could cruise without afterburners.

Mike Richards Silver badge

The point

So Hollywood celebrities can get to their destination faster and spend more time lecturing us on how to save the planet.

Boeing confirms it will finish building 747s in 2022, when last freighter flies off the production line

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Flying wings/bodies

A real problem with flying wings as passenger aircraft is that people sitting some distance from the central access will experience relatively large vertical accelerations and decelerations as the plane banks. Apparently those sorts of motion are linked to serious barfage - so I'm guessing we'll see them round about 'never' - unless the airlines take the next step in making air travel more 'efficient' by anaesthetising people at check-in and stacking them like cordwood.

Mike Richards Silver badge

That's all folks!

No more four-engined airliners.

It doesn't seem that long ago that the thought of crossing the Atlantic on only two engines was novel and a little bit scary.

UK intel committee on Russia: Social media firms should remove state disinformation. What was that, MI5? ████████?

Mike Richards Silver badge


'For example, the Foreign Secretary has responsibility for the National Cyber Security Centre, which is responsible for incident response, while the Home Secretary leads on the response to major cyber incidents. To add to the confusion, the Defence Secretary has overall responsibility for cyber techniques as "warfighting tools" and for the National Offensive Cyber Programme, while the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) leads on digital matters'

So that would be:

Foreign Secretary - Dominic Raab

Home Secretary - Priti Patel

Minister of Fun - Oliver Dowden

You'd be hard-pressed to find three less suitable people to oversee intelligence matters. Though Gavin Williamson probably comes close.

The volcanoes on Venus aren't dead, say astroboffins, they're merely resting, pining for the planet's lava fjords

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Makes sense

A lot of this will boil down (ahem) to how much water is in the Venusian Mantle. Water has a major effect on lowering the temperatures at which rock undergoes partial melting to produce magma. Add a few percent water to the Mantle and the lowest temperature minerals melt and separate from the solid residue. If water is absent, then the high pressures of the Mantle can prevent any significant melting.

The lack of plate tectonics on Venus has been used as an argument that there is very little water in the Venusian interior which means melting is extremely limited compared to what is going on down here.

Magellan's data has raised the possibility that the Venusian interior accumulates heat over hundreds of millions of years until temperatures reach a point where massive partial melting occurs all across across the planet and the whole surface is resurfaced in a very short period of time by catastrophic volcanism. The evidence is that Venus has relatively few observable craters compared to the Earth, Moon and Mars even allowing for its thick atmosphere; but if there are no plate tectonics there should be a long record of major impacts. In this theory the whole of Venus was remodelled at some point between 300 and 500 million years ago.

When Apollo met Soyuz: 45 years ago, Americans and Russians played together nicely... IN SPAAAAACE

Mike Richards Silver badge

Milk Stool

The precarious contraption used to align the much-smaller Saturn 1B with the launch platform designed for the Saturn V was known as 'The Milk Stool'. Presumably someone had the enviable job of explaining to senior management that it was just fine to put a fully-fuelled rocket on top of a 40m tower and then get three men to climb into the pointy-end before lighting the blue touch paper.


From 'Queen of the Skies' to Queen of the Scrapheap: British Airways chops 747 fleet as folk stay at home

Mike Richards Silver badge


I finally got to fly in the little upstairs cabin on the 747 last year. Decades after seeing drawings of one in a kiddies' magazine, the spiral staircase had long gone, but just 14 or so seats and excellent service was a nice change from the usual row upon row of seats. A shame BA let their 747s get quite so tatty though - an overnight flight back from Vancouver in 'premium' economy late last year was a wretched experience with what must be some of the most unpleasant seats ever designed, moth-eaten trim and a screen that didn't work - almost put me off these handsome beasts.

Cornish drinkers catch a different kind of buzz as pub installs electric fence at bar

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Great idea

Does it have *letters* of one syllable?

The world's nonsense keeping you awake in middle of the night? Good news. Go outside and see this two-tail comet

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: So many comet flops

It was visible to the naked eye in SE England about midnight last night even despite some low haze and the inevitable sky glow. It was sitting very low on the horizon and quite easy to spot.

No of course I didn't have my camera with me! I got home, charged it and now that the forecast for the next few days is cloudy.

Heir-to-Concorde demo model to debut in October

Mike Richards Silver badge

It's Branson

So I'm setting my expectations to [LOW].

I fully expect to see a model plane and a whooshy logo (whalesong optional) - actual hardware and entry into service TBD.

You may be distracted by the pandemic but FYI: US Senate panel OK's backdoors-by-the-backdoor EARN IT Act

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Not Good.

Australia got there first:

“The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia,” Bill Turnbull, then Prime Minister of 'The Lucky Country'

July? British government could decide to boot Chinese giant Huawei from the UK's networks by this month

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Trade Deal

Chinese funding of Hinkley Point C was purely on the understanding that the UK would approve China General Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corporation's Hualong One PWR for installation at Bradwell B.

The Hualong One is a copy of a 900MW French reactor design with slightly higher power output and largely Chinese components replacing those licensed from France. Approval is expected next year unless politics intervenes.

Baroness Dido Harding lifts the lid on the NHS's manual contact tracing performance: 'We contact them up to 10 times over a 36-hour period'

Mike Richards Silver badge

Now come on, without her expertise TalkTalk, Woolworths and Thomas Cook wouldn't be what they are today.


Mike Richards Silver badge

“We contact them up to 10 times over a 36-hour period."

Gosh, that's nearly as many calls as the scammers who benefitted from Harding's time at TalkTalk.

E-scooter fanboy so hyped for Teesside to host UK's first trial

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Here's an idea...

Sounds very much like Peachtree City in Georgia which has laid out something like 100km of lanes especially for golf carts and where there are about 10,000 of these things trundling round replacing cars on short journeys.

Tom Scott has a video:


The Moon certainly ain't made of cheese but it may be made of more metal than previously thought, sensor shows

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Density

The Moon appears to have an iron-rich core, but we're not sure exactly how big. There is very limited seismic data from the Apollo missions in part because the Moon isn't very active and partly because we didn't crash nearly enough Saturn V third stages into the Moon. So not many earthquake waves have ever been recorded passing through the deep lunar interior - which appears to be very weird and sort of slushy deep down (stop me if I get too technical).

In 2010, a paper* reprocessed the Apollo data and suggest the Moon has a solid core with a radius of 330km +/- 20km. The mass of this core is uncertain because its composition is also unclear, but the usual iron-nickel alloy seems likely with up to 6% dissolved sulfur by weight.

* Weber, R. C.; Lin, P.-Y.; Garnero, E. J.; Williams, Q.; Lognonne, P. (2011). "Seismic Detection of the Lunar Core" (PDF). Science. 331 (6015): 309–312.

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Funny you should say that...

Most lunar mascons are caused by thick deposits of relatively-dense basaltic lavas erupted during crater forming episodes rather than ore bodies.

Well bork me sideways: A railway ticket machine lies down for a little Windoze

Mike Richards Silver badge

Some of the modern ones are amazing too - Gare de Lyon and Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Milan for all of its inherent fascist architecture is simply breathtaking.

Rental electric scooters to clutter UK street scenes after Department of Transport gives year-long trial the thumbs-up

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Trials?

Most of the scooters are on the 'deckles' model where you pick them up from wherever you find them and leave them as close to your destination as possible. This is apparently more convenient for the people who want to zoom along pavements on a scooter than leaving them in a stand a few tens of metres from where they are going.

Here in MK we've got two bike hire schemes - one red sponsored by Santander, and one green by Lime. The Santander system is docked and you don't find their bikes littering the pavement (those few bikes that haven't been thieved by the local scallywags that is); the Lime bikes get dumped everywhere and the company appears to be completely incapable of recovering them.

So I expect we'll have their wretched scooters to deal with next.

Two out of three parachutes... is just as planned for Boeing's Starliner this time around

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: As long as this isn't the final abort test

A second flight is scheduled for October or November this year using a new 'Spacecraft 2' capsule. Spacecraft 3 which made the first flight has been renamed Calypso after Jacques Cousteau's ship and will make the first manned flight.

One does not simply repurpose an entire internet constellation for sat-nav, but UK might have a go anyway

Mike Richards Silver badge

I'm not a rocket scientist

Or even a satellite scientist.

But does anyone have a clue how this *could* work? I'm assuming that OneWeb's satellites don't have the ultra-precise atomic clocks found in other navigation systems.

Answers on the back of a fag packet to Number 10.

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Full-blown kakistocracy

It was on glossy paper and they used HP ink.

Mike Richards Silver badge

So if the UK spends on a 20% stake in OneWeb

Who will own the other 80% of a piece of infrastructure with potential national security implications?

Because I'm pretty sure the PRC/US/France would have no problem putting £4.5 billion into the system if only to spoil it for a rival.

Come glide with me: Virgin Galactic gives Unity some fresh air, looks forward to rocket-powered flight

Mike Richards Silver badge

Arianespace - long term plan?

Arianespace pretty much created commercial space and has had a sizeable chunk of the market for decades now - but what is the long-term plan? Obviously, there is going to be a political demand in Europe to have its own access to space for defence, science and the like so those launches will continue, but what about the ones that put food on the table? SpaceX is much cheaper than anything Arianespace has right now and will be cheaper than the Ariane 6 which is supposed to cut costs over the Ariane 5.

Have they said anything about trying to compete with SpaceX for the commercial market?

Apple said to be removing charger, headphones from upcoming iPhone 12 series

Mike Richards Silver badge

I always assumed Mercedes charged a premium to give you the opportunity of browsing through their accessories catalogue.

Yes, Prime Minister, rewrite the Computer Misuse Act: Brit infosec outfits urge reform

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Good

The later amendments to the CMA are especially poor. Most notably, The Police and Justice Act 2006 Section 37 (Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in computer misuse offences) created a new section 3A in the CMA which effectively makes a lot of cyber security tools illegal in the eyes of a well-motivated prosecutor.

It's National Cream Tea Day and this time we end the age-old debate once and for all: How do you eat yours?

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Hmmm

Having grown up in Cornwall, may I suggest blackberry jam (or jelly if you don't like pips) as an alternative to strawberry? All the better if you picked the blackberries yourself in the last few days of the summer holidays before going back to school.

Another Cornish alternative - thunder and lightning. In this case the cream goes on the scone and then you drizzle it with either treacle or golden syrup.

CompSci student bitten by fox after feeding it McNuggets

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If there was one country where I thought everyone knew that all the wildlife is out to kill you...

Sorry to drone on and on but have you heard of Ingenuity? NASA's camera-copter is ready to head off to Mars

Mike Richards Silver badge

Were they perhaps testing it at Gatwick late last year?

Mike Richards Silver badge

Logical next step

After (somehow) pulling off the whole Skycrane contraption, NASA had to really think of something even more amazingly outlandish to try on Mars - I wish them all the very best of luck with this bonkers-brilliant whirlybird.

Fasten your seat belts: Brave Reg hack spends a week eating airline food grounded by coronavirus crash

Mike Richards Silver badge

'raspberry custard-filled almond croissants'

Why only a passing mention of what sounds like an Antipodean delight? Please tell us more!

Trump's Make Space Great Again video pulled after former 'naut says: Nope

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Nuts

He was elected by the electoral college not by the electorate. Trump received fewer votes than Clinton, but those votes aligned with the college better than hers.

Boeing brings back the 737 Max but also lays off thousands

Mike Richards Silver badge

There seems to be a widespread opinion that this change all goes back to the takeover of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing. The engineering-led culture of Boeing was replaced with MDD's corporate culture and the move of Boeing HQ to Chicago further separated the engineers from the people making the decisions.

Mike Richards Silver badge

“more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality”

Is definitely something you don't want to see when several hundred of these planes have already been delivered.


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