The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Mar 2013

SpaceX Launch Runs Into Difficulty

Elon Musk's private spaceflight company SpaceX launched its resupply vessel, Dragon, into orbit this morning, but while the launch went off without a hitch, three of the four sets of thrusters failed to kick in nine minutes into the flight. This is the first time a SpaceX rocket has encountered major issues. Two previous launches had no problems reaching the space station.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for unmanned commercial shipments to the space station and is planning a manned flight in 2015. The SpaceX commercial arrangment is part of NASA's long-term hopes to focus more on deep-space missions.

The rocket is scheduled to make berth at the space station on Saturday, where it will spend three weeks before parachuting into the Pacific Ocean carrying used supplies and research data.


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Utah Brothers Face Fraud Charges After Failed Ski Resort

A pair of brothers in Utah have been arraigned on charges relating to their failed attempt to raise money to turn a Southern Utah ski area into an exclusive resort. Earlier this week, the brothers, Marc and Stephen Jenson, pleaded not guilty to both money laundering and fraud charges stemming for their “plan” to transform the Mount Holly ski area, which had been closed for eight years, into the gated Mount Holly Club.

The Jensons have been accused of shuttling the investor funds they raised for the resort between various accounts, but they maintain they were trying to build a legitimate business, which only failed when a big investor dropped out. 

At one point, the Jensons were promoting a $3.5 billion development plan with a Jack Nicklaus-commissioned golf course, on a scale dwarfing the total property value of rural Beaver County by seven times. To join the club, buyers would have had to pay a one-time $250,000 fee and dues of $10,000 a year plus millions of dollars for a mountain home.

Marc is currently being held at a Beaver County jail for failing to pay $4 million from a different fraud, and his lawyer withdrew from the case, claiming that he wasn’t getting paid.

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California Great Whites Now Protected

Starting March 1, great white sharks will be protected under the California Endangered Species Act, making it illegal to hunt, pursue, or kill the majestic fish anywhere off the California coast. Environmental groups began petitioning for the sharks’ status at the beginning of February, claiming their diminished numbers merited protection. Estimates place their Northwest Pacific population around 340.

Commercial fishing of the ocean’s most magnificent predator has been banned off the California coast for 20 years, but exceptions still exist for research purposes. Under the new protections, researchers will have to obtain new permits from the Fish and Wildlife Department to study the perfectly constructed killing machines.

Fish and Wildlife will conduct a status review of the silvery sea gods in 2014 to determine whether the entire species should be labeled as endangered.

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FAA Investigating Harlem Shake Video

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether a Frontier Airlines crew violated safety rules last month when they allowed the Colorado College frisbee team to film a version of the viral "Harlem Shake" video during a flight. The video, shot by the university's ultimate frisbee team during a flight from Colorado Springs to San Diego, shows passengers dancing in the aisle while the hit song by electronic musician Baauer plays.

While the FAA is concerned about what stage the flight was in when the video was recorded—the agency wants to make sure that the fasten seatbelt sign was off—a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board says that he doesn't see anything wrong with the video. "As long as the seatbelt sign wasn't on they are free to move around," Al Yurman told Colorado College's Catalyst newspaper.

Sophmore Matt Zelin said that team asked the flight crew for permission before filming. "I don't see any reason why this should cause any trouble. We asked the staff and they said it was safe."

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The New and Improved Targhee Ski Pack From Gregory

Seven years ago, Gregory introduced its Targhee ski pack. At the time it was the only pack to integrate the ski/board carry system directly into the suspension. Two stays were used to distribute the weight of the skis or board to the suspension system. Now, Gregory has re-launched the Targhee, with upgrades and improvements.

The 2013 Targhee uses a new suspension that Gregory built just for this pack. Called Vertflex, it’s vertically stable to make your load feel balanced and secure, but it has torsional flex, which means that when you move side to side, compressing at the hip when you’re skiing or riding, the pack accommodates. Also, access to your gear is easier than ever and more efficient in an emergency.

The Targhee has a molded and firm back panel with a thick lumbar pad for optimal load transfer to the hips. A rear barn-door entry to the main compartment makes it easy to find anything you’ve jammed in there, and also made carrying a padded bag full of cameras a cinch for a couple of ski photographers who tested this pack. The front zippered avalanche tool compartment is accessible whether you’re carrying your skis A-frame or vertically, and the ski carry is Hypalon-reinforced and can accomodate skis up to 130mm in the tails. The carry system keeps ski tails away from your calves when you’re walking, and it keeps the tips away from your head.

The Targhee has a main compartment (complete with a low-profile, insulated hydration sleeve with an entry port on the shoulder harness), a shove probe pocket with organizer sleeves, an oversized top-access goggle pocket, and a hip belt pocket big enough for a point-and-shoot or a handful of snacks.

Bonus: The clean design sheds snow on the front and rear of the pack. And, if you want to use this pack for a more technical outing, it’s set up for it. Use metal toggles to attach one or two ice tools. Whether you’re skiing or climbing, the stowable helmet carry system will keep your lid accessible. Available fall 2013, $179;

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