Blue Origin inks deal with satellite company to use New Glenn

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin has signed a deal with the satellite company mu Space to use its as yet unbuilt New Glenn rocket to launch a satellite sometime in the next decade.

This isn’t really a contract, since I am sure that mu Space will have the option to switch to a different rocket. Nonetheless, it signals faith in Blue Origin. It also indicates that, though no price was mentioned, Blue Origin is probably providing the satellite company with a significant price break to encourage them to make the deal, thus demonstrating the growing competitiveness of today’s launch industry. This is also the third contract deal for New Glenn.

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UC-Berkeley’s chancellor orders removal of posters, starts investigation

Fascist Berkeley: Following the cancellation of “Free Speech Week” at the University of Berkeley, the university’s chancellor ordered the removal of posters detailing the terrorist connections of certain students and teachers, calling them “hate speech” and starting an investigation into the conservative organization that posted them.

The posters in question name Kumars Salehi, Judith Butler, and Hatem Bazian and nine other individuals as supporters of terrorism on the consciousness-raising posters that UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ ordered torn down.

According to the Canary Mission website, Salehi is a graduate student in German literature and culture at Berkeley. Salehi supports the dissolution of the State of Israel and is a member of the terrorist front group Students for Justice in Palestine and the BDS movement. He agrees with the absurd claim of Columbia University professor Joseph Massad that “Zionism and white nationalist anti-Semitism have historically been allies.”

Butler is the Maxine Elliott Professor of Comparative Literature at Berkeley, a BDS movement leader, and a member of the anti-Israel Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) advisory committee. Butler has charactered Muslim terrorist groups as legitimate political players, saying she sees “Hamas [and] Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left [that are] very important.”

Bazian co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine to wage a campus war against Israel on behalf of Hamas. Bazian is chairman of the board of the Hamas organization “American Muslims for Palestine,” and is on record calling for the destruction of the Jewish state and its Jews in so many words. The founding charter of Hamas, by the way, speaks of “the Nazism of the Jews” and asserts that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” It claims that peace initiatives “are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement”; that “there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad”; and that “war for the sake of Allah” is a noble enterprise that requires the faithful to “assault and kill” on a massive scale. [emphasis mine]

You can’t support freedom of speech if you tear down posters and investigate the people who post them. Such actions are that of tyrants, and we now know that Chancellor Christ’s claims that she supported free speech were lies.

Note that the posters were put up as part of the “Free Speech Week” event that Milo Yiannopoulos attempt to put on there, which ended up getting cancelled. Note also that they were written and posted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative organization focused on supporting freedom and opposing oppression.

Update: Leftist protesters at Berkeley this week also acted to block reporters from reporting on their protest.

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Mangalyaan passes three years in Mars orbit

India’s Mangalyaan orbiter has passed its third anniversary operating in Mars orbit.

The spacecraft could last as long as five more years before running out of fuel. Though it has five instruments and has taken more than 700 images, its importance so far is not in the science it has done but in what it has taught Indian engineers for running future more sophisticated missions.

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Sputnik for sale!

Capitalism in space: Sputnik’s engineering test replica is going up for auction, and you can buy it!

Like the Sputnik-1 that flew into orbit on October 4, 1957, the test replica is a polished aluminum sphere 23 in (58 cm) in diameter with four spring-mounted external whip antennas. It consists of an outer shell to protect the satellite against heat and an inner pressurized shell to protect the pre-solid state electronics made up of a simple radio transmitter and a 12-V battery. The replica includes a 57-in (1,448 mm) manganese brass stand and an anti-static o-ring. All together, satellite and stand weigh about 100 lb (45 kg) and stand 78 in (1,981 mm) tall.

The Sputnik was previously part of the collection of Heinz Miller of Austria and was originally built for electromagnetic compatibility and electromagnetic interference testing. Only three of the original Sputniks remain in private hands. Of the other two, one is outside Moscow at the Energia Corporate Museum, while the other is at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The asking price for the Sputnik is US$100,000 to US$150,000.

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The kittens of Saturn’s rings

The scientists who used Cassini to identify about 60 transient clumps in Saturn’s rings have dubbed them “kittens” and have been naming them appropriately.

Saturn’s kittens are a group of small clumps and baby moons, or moonlets, that occupy the planet’s F ring. Like the rest of Saturn’s rings, this thin outer ring is made up of countless particles that range in size. When enough of those particles bump into one another and stick together, they aggregate into larger clumps — and become eligible for a kitten name.

So far, the list of Saturn’s kitten names includes several classics, like Fluffy, Garfield, Socks and Whiskers. These are unofficial nicknames for more-complicated (and less adorable) official titles like “Alpha Leonis Rev 9” (aka, Mittens). The technical names for these features come from events called stellar occultations, during which Cassini was able to detect the little clumps. In a stellar occultation, a star passes behind Saturn’s rings from Cassini’s point of view.

Most of these clumps will likely never be found again, so their unofficial kitten names are essentially just for fun.

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Behemoths of the Sky

Link here. This article by Doug Messier, about the German attempt to create an industry around rigid lighter-than-air airships, is the first of a five part history series that he will use to illustrate some fundamentals about new industries.

Despite the differences in time periods and technologies, there are some fundamental things that are required for all major advances in flight regardless of when they are made: imagination, daring, physical courage and financial backing. And luck. No small amount of luck.

Today, Parabolic Arc begins a five-part series looking at three different periods in powered human flight. We will compare and contrast them to see what essential lessons can be drawn from them. If the first two installments appear to have little to do with spaceflight, please be patient. All will be revealed.

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Australia to create its own space agency

The new colonial movement: The Australian government has announced that it plans to create a space agency.

Despite persistent calls for a national space agency, the current government took no steps until last July, when Arthur Sinodinos, the federal minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, set up an expert review group to study the country’s space industry capabilities. To date, the group has received nearly 200 written submissions and held meetings across the country.

Facing calls for action last week from the participants at the Adelaide meeting, Acting Industry Minister Michaelia Cash announced that the working group will develop a charter for the space agency that will be included in a wider space industry strategy.

Australian space policy as mirrored Great Britain’s for the past half century, in that both countries refused to spend any government money for space. However, creating a new government agency is not the same as creating a thriving private space industry. It will be the strategy here that will matter. In Great Britain the strategy initially for its new space agency was for the government to run everything. Soon however it shifted instead to encouraging private competition. We shall see what Australia does.

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ULA successfully launches surveillance satellite

Capitalism in space: It appears that ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket has successfully launched a National Reconnaissance Office surveillance satellite into orbit.

The reason I am qualifying the success of the launch at this moment is that, because of the national security nature of the payload, they will only release details about the success of the final orbital maneuvers long after they have been completed. Right now these details are blacked out. Update: the launch was successful.

ULA has another launch of an NRO satellite scheduled for October, a date not yet determined. Right now, the U.S. has had 20 launches in 2017, far more than any other nation, with SpaceX’s 13 launches comprising the bulk.

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UC-Berkeley student group backs out of free speech event

Academic fascism: The student group at the University of California-Berkeley that was sponsoring the “Free Speech Week” event that was scheduled to begin this coming week has withdrawn their sponsorship.

The student organizers of the “Free Speech Week” at the University of California, Berkeley have announced that they will no longer be hosting the event due to pressure from school administrators. Milo Yiannopoulos, however, insisted during a Saturday press conference that the event would begin as planned on Sunday, though he said Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon would have to be rescheduled.

It is presently unclear exactly what happened. The university denies that it was pressuring the student group to cancel the event, and is instead claiming that they were doing all that they could to make the event happen. Meanwhile, this story paints a bad picture of Milo Yiannopoulos’s methods for organizing the event.

My inclination now is to believe the student organizers, based on Berkeley’s recent track record supporting censorship and violence against conservatives. However, it is also possible the organizers were not very organized, as suggested by the university and the last link above. Either way, the real source of the problem here is the fascist intolerant culture of Berkeley itself, which encourages violence against conservatives or anyone else who happens to dissent from leftwing orthodoxy. That thuggish culture has made it very difficult to schedule any conservative speaker, since everyone knows that these speakers will require a fortune in security to protect them.

Yiannopoulos meanwhile says he still plans on speaking there, regardless. We shall see.

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First manned SLS/Orion flight officially delayed to 2022

Government in action! The first manned flight of SLS/Orion has now been officially delayed one year until 2022, and that date remains questionable.

In addition, the first unmanned test flight of SLS/Orion has now also been delayed until December 2019, something that had been under consideration but is now official. Even with this delay, there are doubts whether that flight can take place then, which is why the 2022 launch of the first manned flight is questionable.

The article outlines in detail the Byzantine scheduling issues that NASA must fulfill to meet these launch dates, including a long timeline of deliveries that seems absurd when compared to how private companies operate.

Assuming that these new dates occur as announced (something I sincerely doubt), the first unmanned launch of SLS/Orion will occur almost 16 years after President Bush first proposed it, with the first manned flight occurring more than 18 years after his proposal. In that time NASA will have spent about $43 billion for this one manned mission. Let me repeat: $43 billion and almost two decades to fly one manned mission. Quite absurd.

The article also details NASA’s proposal for a third SLS/Orion mission, the second manned, to occur in 2023, which would begin assembly of a space station in lunar orbit. I suspect that this mission is going to be announced in what will be President Trump’s version of the typical Kennedy-like speech that Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama have all given, announcing big plans in space by such-and-such deadline.

Whether Congress funds it remains to me an open question. Right now I would predict they would, since they love the pork that SLS/Orion provides. In two years, when Falcon Heavy has flown several times and is likely becoming operational, and New Glenn is getting close to its first test launch, I am not so sure. Both will be flying before SLS’s first flight and both will have been developed for a tenth the cost with equal if not greater capabilities. And both will be able to fly more frequently for practically nothing, when compared to SLS.

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Enrollment at University of Missouri continues to drop

This is good news: The enrollment at the University of Missouri continues to fall since the violent demonstrations in 2015 instigated by race hustlers and leftwing radicals that shut the campus.

Now, The Dothan Eagle reports that the university is facing the lowest levels of enrollment since 2008, with official numbers showing that enrollment is down 12.9 percent. Additionally, the Eagle notes that, with the exception of the senior class, every incoming class is smaller than last year’s, and even international enrollment fell by 12.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the madness at Evergreen State College continues.

Until there is a significant change in administrations and facility at both these institutions, they deserve nothing better than bankruptcy.

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Aerospike engine ready for ground tests

Capitalism in space: A demonstrator aerospike rocket engine being developed by ARCA Space is now ready [pdf] for ground tests.

The system will perform a series of ground tests that will ultimately qualify the engine for flight. After the ground tests, the same engine will be integrated into the Demonstrator 3 rocket that will perform a suborbital space flight up to an altitude of 120 km above the New Mexico desert. It will be the first ever flight of a linear aerospike engine and the first ever space flight of an aerospike engine.

Based on the results from these tests the company then intends to build a single-stage-to-orbit small rocket that they hope to fly by 2018.

Go to the company’s news website here to see some good images of the engine and the aerospike nozzle. It does not look like any typical rocket engine. If this effort is successful it will as significant a technological improvement to rocketry as SpaceX’s recovery and reuse of its Falcon 9 first stage.

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Private company makes first phonecall using smartphone and nanosats

Capitalism in space: The private smallsat company Sky and Space Global has successfully used its three test nanosats to transmit a phonecall and text messages sent to these satellites using an ordinary smart phone.

During the testing, Sky and Space Global engineers also sent text messages, images and voice recordings via the company’s three nanosatellites, dubbed the 3 Diamonds. The satellites, launched on June 23, circle the Earth in a sun-synchronous orbit at the altitude of 500 kilometers (310 miles).

Eventually, Sky and Space Global envisions building a constellation of 200 nanosatellites that would provide seamless communication services to people living in tropical regions where no communication capabilities currently exist.

They also plan to test the streaming of data through these nanosats from an airplane’s black box. If all goes well, their satellite constellation will be operational by 2020.

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Scientists finally image SMART-1 lunar impact site

SMART-1 impact site

Eleven years after the European SMART-1 probe was sent crashing onto the Moon’s surface, scientists have finally identified in a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image that crash site.

The image is shown on the right, reduced and cropped to post here.

The images show a linear gouge in the surface, about four metres wide and 20 metres long, cutting across a small pre-existing crater. At the far end, a faint fan of ejecta sprays out to the south. Foing said: “The high resolution LRO images show white ejecta, about seven metres across, from the first contact. A north-south channel has then been carved out by the SMART-1 spacecraft body, before its bouncing ricochet. We can make out three faint but distinct ejecta streams from the impact, about 40 metres long and separated by 20-degree angles.”

Stooke said: “Orbit tracking and the impact flash gave a good estimate of the impact location, and very close to that point was a very unusual small feature. It now seems that impacts of orbiting spacecraft, seen here from SMART-1, and also in the cases from GRAIL and LADEE, will form elongated craters, most of whose rather faint ejecta extends downrange”.

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Mob at Howard University attempts to silence Comey lecture

The new fascists: A group of about twenty students screamed and yelled and prevented former FBI director James Comey from speaking during a lecture at Howard University.

It doesn’t matter whether you think Comey is corrupt, this new college tradition of students shouting down every speaker is the antithesis of civilization and freedom of speech. The trouble is that it appears that no one in authority, at either the college or the local governments, seems willing to do the things necessary (expulsion, arrests) to stop it.

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A detailed look at the new Republican Obamacare revision

Link here [pdf]. This is worth a read, as it provides the best most detailed look at the Senate’s proposed bill I have seen so far.

While the bill has many good things, overall it really is no different than Obamacare. It is a bureaucratic mess, it leaves many of Obamacare’s worst rules in place (such as the requirement that everyone, male or female, pay for maternity care), and it continues the inappropriate micromanaging of Congress in this private sector industry.

It might pass, but if it does, all it will accomplish is to stain the Republicans with this monstrosity of a law, as premiums will surely continue to rise, as will medical costs. Up until now, the Republican Party has been saying it had nothing to do with Obamacare and its consequences, and for one rare time, these politicians were not lying when they said that. If this bill becomes law, however, they will no longer be able to deny their part in Obamacare, unless they lie. And the public will know they are lying when they do.

Update: Heritage Foundation releases its own analysis which says this bill will encourage the growth of government.

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Scientists oppose changes to fishing ban around Pacific islands

Link here. The article, from the journal Science, is devoted entirely to pushing the perspective of the scientists, who do not want the size of the fishing ban around eight Pacific islands reduced in any way. They claim that it will be a disaster for science if any commercial fishing from Hawaiian fisherman is allowed within 200 miles of these islands.

Marine scientists are warning that if the Trump administration rescinds fishing protections around eight Pacific islands, the United States will lose one of its best laboratories for measuring how a warming climate affects marine life. “We need baselines,” says Alan Friedlander of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu. “We need pristine reefs to see what we’ve lost elsewhere, to better manage damaged reefs and to isolate the effects of climate change.”

To understand that this is really only a power play by these scientists is revealed by the following quote from the article:

In 2009, President George W. Bush designated the islands, lying south of the Hawaiian chain, as national monuments. All but Wake, which hosts a military base, were already National Wildlife Refuges before attaining that status. As refuges, commercial fishing is banned within 12 nautical miles, which preserved the health of the reefs even in the face of rising temperatures. In the rest of the islands’ Exclusive Economic Zone—waters out to 200 miles from shore—they were fished by long-line tuna boats from Hawaii.

Bush’s designation banned fishing within 50 nautical miles of shore; in 2014, President Barack Obama extended the ban to 200 miles for Wake, Johnston, and Jarvis. President Donald Trump is expected to try to change the rules by executive order or by a new Antiquities Act proclamation. Any such move will be challenged in court, says Michael Gravitz, director of policy and legislation at the nonprofit Marine Conservation Institute in Washington, D.C.

The real issue here is the expansion of the ban by Bush and Obama. It probably impacted the livelihood’s of Hawaiian fishermen, and this change being considered by the Trump administration is part of its overall effort to reconsider certain past presidential designations of national monuments that appear to have exceeded the intention of the law. The original intention was that any presidential declaration of a monument would be kept to “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management.” In recent decades presidents from both parties have made designations that far exceed this limitation.

Many scientists today however have become nothing more than petty dictators. They demand that everyone kowtow to them, even if that results in the loss of their jobs or property. This article illustrates this.

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UAE announces its second student space competition

The United Arab Emirates space center in charge of its Mars mission has announced its second student competition for designing future missions to Mars.

Explore Mars Competition targets university undergraduate students in science or engineering disciplines. The students will need to propose an innovative mission design to Mars and highlight a novel approach in either engineering design or in the science mission. The competition is geared towards identifying and solving a scientific or engineering challenge in planetary exploration.

The competition is divided into two categories, the first is focused on introducing a scientific project, and the second focuses on developing an idea to design a mission to Mars. Students who are interested in the first category about Mars Science can suggest a topic related to the Martian atmosphere or Mars geology. Furthermore, in Mars mission category, topics can address unique concepts and designs for space missions to Mars, new designs for scientific instruments for Mars science, or innovative spacecraft.

This is the second year in the row they have run such a contest. The winners for the first contest are supposed to be revealed at a science conference in late September.

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Soyuz launches Russian GPS satellite

A Russian Soyuz-2 rocket today successfully placed one of that country’s GPS satellites in orbit.

Russia now has the lead over SpaceX in the 2017 launch race, having completed 14 launches, one more than SpaceX. It however trails the U.S.’s total (19) by 5. That U.S. total did not rise yesterday because a scheduled Atlas 5 launch by ULA was delayed because of a battery problem. Its new launch date is tomorrow.

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Post-hurricane update from Arecibo radio telescope

USRA, the university consortium that operates the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, has released an update on the observatory’s condition following Hurricane Maria.

Currently, we have no contact with the Observatory. One observatory staff member located in Arecibo Town contacted via short-wave radio reports that trees are down, power is out, houses damaged and roads impassable. We have no reason to believe that staff sheltered at Arecibo Observatory are in immediate danger since they have generators, well water and plenty of food. This is a rapidly changing situation, and we are trying to do the best we can to contact USRA employees and find out their status.

Essentially, they don’t know much at this point.

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In new Obamacare vote, Republican leaders offering bribes

Finding out what’s in it, part 2: The Senate Republican leadership is offering Senator Lisa Murkowsky (R-Alaska) specific rewrites favoring just Alaska in order to buy her vote on their new attempt to revise Obamacare.

The bribe includes three provisions, but this one I think is most corrupt:

Alaska (along with Hawaii) will continue to receive Obamacare’s premium tax credits while they are repealed for all other states. It appears this exemption will not affect Alaska receiving its state allotment under the new block grant in addition to the premium tax credits.

There are also some indications that this secret bill for which no text has been made public, as far as I can tell, also keeps the Obamacare requirement that insurance companies will not be allowed to deny anyone insurance no matter how sick they are. This is the provision that is essentially bankrupting the industry and forcing premiums to skyrocket. By keeping it, these Republicans reveal their overall support for Obamacare.

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Significant evidence found of double voting

voter fraud study

Testimony at one public meeting of Trump’s election fraud commission revealed significant evidence of several thousand individuals who have voted twice in elections.

Ken Block of Simpatico Software Systems gave a stunning report on the comparison that his company did of voter registration and voter history data from 21 states. He discussed how difficult and expensive it was to get voter data from many states—data that is supposed to be freely available to the public. According to Block, “the variability in access, quality, cost, and data provided impedes the ability to examine voter activity between states.”

Yet using an extremely conservative matching formula that included name, birthdate, and Social Security number, Block found approximately 8,500 voters who voted in two different states in the November 2016 election, including 200 couples who voted illegally together. He estimated that “there would be 40,000 duplicate votes if data from every state were available.”

Of those duplicate voters, 2,200 cast a ballot in Florida—four times George W. Bush’s margin of victory in 2000. His analysis “indicates a high likelihood [of] voter fraud” and that there is “likely much more to be found.”

The image on the right is one of the powerpoint slides used by Block during his presentation. which can be found here.

The public meeting included additional testimony from many other investigators, all of whom showed that if voter fraud is not widespread, the situation is such that it could easily become so. One recommendation that would prevent double voting as shown above would be to allow the states to more easily access each other’s databases in order to compare them.

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