Monthly Archives: March 2015

SpaceX schedules its next Dragon launch

The competition heats up: After delaying the launch to inspect its rockets for a suspected helium leak, SpaceX has now scheduled the next Dragon cargo mission to ISS for no earlier than April 13.

They will once again try to land their first stage during that launch. Also, the SpaceX schedule also lists a commercial launch later in April and the first launch abort test of Dragon in May.

Share

Three future targets of the same-sex fascists

Link here. First Shapiro outlines how these gay advocates have been lying to us repeatedly over the decades:

Gay activists and their leftist allies told us decades ago that same-sex marriage wasn’t on the agenda. All homosexuals wanted was the benefits of marriage, but not the title. That, of course, was a lie.

Next, gay activists and their leftist allies told us that same-sex marriage would not threaten anyone; it was simply a matter of equal rights. “How will it affect anyone else if two men choose to get married?” they said. That, of course, was a lie. The same-sex marriage agenda includes with it the desire to force individual religious Americans to accept same-sex marriage. Hence the current attempt to leverage same-sex marriage into legislation forcing religious business owners to participate in activities, like same-sex weddings, that they consider sinful.

So, what’s next on the agenda?

He then outlines their next three targets: the churches, private religious universities, and private religious schools. Read it all. Based on history it is logical that these are the next targets. This quote from the article however especially stood out to me, based on the recent legal effort to punish Christian businesses who refuse to endorse and participate in gay marriages:

Once non-profit status is revoked for churches on the basis of supposed discrimination against homosexuals, those churches become private institutions engaged in commerce. Which means that they are regulated as common businesses under anti-discrimination law. Which means they can be shut down or fined for failure to perform same-sex weddings. The left says this will never happen. Which means we are a few years away from it happening. [emphasis mine]

Anyone who thinks this fascist oppression — to force Christian and Jewish religious institutions to perform same-sex marriages — is not on the agenda is living in a dream world. This movement has already succeeded in redefining discrimination and bigotry as anyone who even hints that they consider gay behavior wrong. They have moved to McCarthyite tactics to destroy such people. Next comes the institutions that disagree with them.

Once again, my disagreement here is not with the gay lifestyle. It isn’t for me, but I have no problem if someone else wishes to live that way. Just don’t force me or anyone else to endorse your choices. Just as you deserve the right to liberty of conscience, so does everyone else.

Share

Opportunity enters Marathon Valley

Opportunity at the mouth of Marathon Valley

For the John Batchelor Show tonight John and I taped this afternoon a two-segment interview with geologist Bill Farrand, who is part of the science team for Opportunity. The image above shows Opportunity’s recent travels as well as its next target. (Click on the image for the full resolution image.) Assuming the rover’s memory problems don’t get worse and Congress decides to reverse the decision of the Obama administration to end all funding for Opportunity, the scientists hope to take the rover east into Marathon Valley, a very distinct break in the rim of Endeavour Crater.

Whether they will continue east into the crater itself Bill could not say. Some scientists have been pushing for that eventual goal, while others would prefer to do more research along the rim.

What is interesting about Marathon Valley is that it takes the rover deep into the crater’s rim. Previously Opportunity has been limited to exploring the rim’s outer edges, since the rim itself is generally too rugged for the rover to traverse.

Share

Rubio and Bush move to extend NSA snooping of Americans

While Jeb Bush said this week that he strongly supports NSA snooping, Marco Rubio introduced legislation in Congress to permanently extend the program.

I consider the Patriot Act and this particular issue a good “canary-in-the-mine” blood test for determining which candidates for President are really conservative. Bush, Rubio, and also Christie have come out in support of warrantless searches by the NSA of your private electronic communications. All three reveal to me that they are not really conservative by this position. However,

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has called for the end of the NSA’s domestic dragnet surveillance program and has indicated he will try to block reauthorization of those core provisions of the Patriot Act later this year. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, meanwhile, was one of just four Republicans to join with Democrats last year in backing the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would have essentially ended the bulk metadata program. The measure fell two votes short of advancing, failing to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.

This is very good information about these candidates.

Share

Iran military chief insists it will retain the goal of destroying Israel

Hey, let’s make a deal with these guys! A militia chief in Iran said yesterday that “erasing Israel off the map” is non-negotiable.

In other words, any deal Iran signs will do nothing to change its goal of killing all the Jews in Israel. This at least makes them consistent with other Arab entities we have negotiated with in the past. Neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority have ever eliminated from their ruling documents their sworn goal of wiping Israel off the map, even when deal after deal has demanded that they do so. Why should Iran be any different?

No wonder Obama wants to make a deal with them. Maybe they have like goals!

Share

China’s first reusable shuttle?

On Monday China launched the first of a new generation of GPS satellites using a secretive new upper stage they call Yuanzheng-1 (“Expedition-1” in English).

The first article describes Yuanzheng-1 as follows:

The Yuanzheng-1 (“Expedition-1″) uses a small thrust 6.5 kN engine burning UDMH/N2O4 with specific impulse at 3092 m/s. The upper stage should be able to conduct two burns and has a 6.5 hour lifetime. It will be adapted for use on the CZ-3A/B/C series mainly for direct MEO/GEO insertion missions (mostly for the navigation satellites of the Beidou GNSS).

This description make it appear that Yuanzheng-1 is nothing more than a typical upper stage, capable of bringing its cargo to the appropriate orbit.

The second article, however, has a concept picture of Yuanzheng-1, a shuttle-like craft that looks to me to strongly resemble the X-37B. Nothing in the second article however contradicts the first, which leaves us with a mystery. Is this upper stage capable of returning to Earth after it deploys its cargo? The fact that the Chinese were unusually secretive about the launch itself suggests that there was definitely something unusual about the rocket itself.

If the Chinese have made their upper stage reusable they have taken a big step to reducing costs in a way that will allow them to compete with SpaceX, should that company succeed in returning its first stage so that it can be reused.

Share

Musk invests in Musk

Is this throwing good money after bad? Elon Musk’s SpaceX has invested $90 million in Elon Musk’s SolarCity solar panel company.

I suspect that the solar panel company is not doing so well, and Musk decided to send some of this profits at SpaceX to it to help it out.

Share

Ants in space!

By studying the behavior of eight colonies of ants sent to ISS, scientists have discovered that ants can adapt to weightlessness, though they do not do quite as well as their gravity-bound counterparts.

To start the experiment, a barrier was removed that allowed them to explore a new area. After a few minutes, a second barrier was lifted, expanding the available territory even further. “The idea is to ask the ants to search a small space – and then provide more space and see what will happen when the same number of ants have to use a larger space,” Prof Gordon explained. Equivalent experiments were also run back on Earth, for comparison.

Down on ground level, adding extra space and dropping the “density” of ants caused them to adjust their paths, covering more ground and spreading out much more. In this way, nearly every corner of the container was visited by more than one ant within five minutes. The ants in space still did their best to search, moving out into the expanded area as expected – but they were nowhere near as effective as their counterparts on the ground, which had the luxury of normal gravity.

Share

X-37B to fly again!

The May 6 Atlas 5 launch will carry one of the Air Force’s two X-37B mini-shuttles on a new mission in space.

The Air Force won’t yet confirm which of the Boeing-built spaceplanes will be making the voyage. The first craft returned in October from a 675-day mission in space following a 224 day trek in 2010. OTV No. 2 spent 469 days in space in 2011-2012 on its only mission so far. “The program selects the Orbital Test Vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives,” said Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesperson. “Each OTV mission builds upon previous on-orbit demonstrations and expands the test envelope of the vehicle. The test mission furthers the development of the concept of operations for reusable space vehicles.”

There are indications that the Air Force wants to attempt landing the shuttle at Kennedy this time.

Share

Opportunity has another brief memory loss

Less than a week after engineers had rebooted the rover’s memory and thus thought they had solved its flash memory problems, Opportunity has had another brief bout of amnesia.

They didn’t loss any data, and the event was much smaller than the problems that had shut down use of the memory banks in December. Nonetheless, they do not know what caused it.

Accumulative problems like this are what will likely end Opportunity’s life. It appears we might be seeing the arrival of old age in the rover.

Share

New study finds fracking does not contaminate drinking water

The uncertainty of science: A new study, using data from more than 11,000 drinking water wells in northern Pennsylvania, has found no evidence that fracking causes contamination.

The new study of 11,309 drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania concludes that background levels of methane in the water are unrelated to the location of hundreds of oil and gas wells that tap hydraulically fractured, or fracked, rock formations. The finding suggests that fracking operations are not significantly contributing to the leakage of methane from deep rock formations, where oil and gas are extracted, up to the shallower aquifers where well water is drawn.

The result also calls into question prominent studies in 2011 and 2013 that did find a correlation in a nearby part of Pennsylvania. There, wells closer to fracking sites had higher levels of methane. Those studies, however, were based on just 60 and 141 domestic well samples, respectively.

The article outlines in detail the many disagreements and uncertainties of both the old studies and this new one. It also however contains this one key quote about the earlier studies, buried in the text, that illustrates the politics influencing the reporting of the anti-fracking research:

The two papers seemed to show that fracking was leading to increased concentrations of methane in drinking water. Dissolved methane is not toxic, and drinking water often contains significant background levels of the gas from natural sources. [emphasis mine]

The earlier studies were blasted everywhere by the media. They were used to show the harm fracking does, and were the justification for the banning of fracking in New York. Yet, the methane they found was not necessarily caused by fracking, and isn’t even a health concern anyway.

I wonder if the press will give this new report as much coverage. It might not be right, but it sure does indicate that the science is unsettled, and that the risks from fracking are, as usual in these days of doom-saying environmentalism, overblown.

Share

Seed from ancient extinct plant planted and brought back to life

Israeli scientists have successfully gotten a 2000-year-old seed of an extinct date plant to grow and now reproduce.

Methuselah sprouted back in 2005, when agriculture expert Solowey germinated his antique seed. It had been pulled from the remains of Masada, an ancient fortification perched on a rock plateau in southern Israel, and at the time, no one could be sure that the plant would thrive. But he has, and his recent reproductive feat helps prove just how well he’s doing.

For a while, the Judean date palm was the sole representative of his kind: Methuselah’s variety was reportedly wiped out around 500 A.D. But Solowey has continued to grow date palms from ancient seeds discovered in the region, and she tells National Geographic that she is “trying to figure out how to plant an ancient date grove.” Doing so would allow researchers to better understand exactly what earlier peoples of the region were eating and how it tasted.

Share

NASA denies new space station partnership with Russia

NASA officials today denied they were negotiating a partnership with Russia to build a space station replacement for ISS, as suggested yesterday by the head of Russia’s space program.

I am beginning to suspect that the misunderstanding here comes from NASA head Charles Bolden, who is in Russia right now. Knowing Bolden, who is a nice guy who likes to make others happy, he probably said some nice feel-good, kumbaya things to the Russians during conversations with them, things like “We want to keep working together,” and “We will support your plans for your future space station whole-heartedly.” None of this was meant as a commitment, but the Russians might have taken these statements more seriously than Bolden realized.

Share

Iranian defector claims U.S. negotiating for Iran in nuclear weapon talks

Whose side is Obama on? A media aide for the Iranian President has defected, noting as he did so that in the negotiations the U.S. team has mostly been taking Iran’s side.

In his television interview, Mr Mottaghi also gave succour to western critics of the proposed nuclear deal, which has seen the White House pursue a more conciliatory line with Tehran than some of America’s European allies in the negotiating team, comprising the five permanent members of the UN security council and Germany. “The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” he said. [emphasis mine]

Words fail me. Either Obama and Kerry are incredibly naive and incompetent, or they have no loyalty to the U.S. and wish to provide aid and comfort to those who wish to destroy us. In either case the citizens of the U.S. and the rest of the world are in serious trouble.

Share

Florist fined $1000 in Washington in same-sex refusal case

A Washington judge has issued a $1000 fine to the florist who refused to sell flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom’s order on Friday also bars Stutzman and her Richland shop, Arlene’s Flowers, from offering goods or services to straight couples that aren’t also made available to same-sex couples, the statement said. Stutzman was also required to pay $1 in court fees.

This is is after Stutzman had already rejected a settlement offer of $2,001. Expect her to fight the smaller fine, along with the judge’s order as well.

Note also that the judge could have hit her with far greater sanctions, but did not. I suspect the political heat for this fascist prosecution is being felt by both the judge and the prosecutor who brought the case.

Share

U.S./Russian deal on space cooperation past 2024?

Russian news sources today described a news conference in Russia where it was announced that NASA and Roscosmos have come to an agreement about extending ISS until 2024, establishing common standards for manned vehicles, and to work together on building a new space station to replace ISS after 2024.

It appears that NASA head Charles Bolden is in Russia right now as part of the start of the year-long mission on ISS, and he has negotiated some agreement with Russia. If these reports are accurate, then it means that Russia has decided to work with the U.S. rather than go it alone on their next station.

All this assumes that future presidents and Congress agree with this proposal, a very big assumption indeed.

Share

Republicans pass the first budget resolution in six years

For the first time in six years both Houses of Congress, now controlled by the Republicans, passed budget resolutions outlining their plan for the 2016 budget.

The Senate and House plans still have to be reconciled. Also, they call for eventually balancing the budget in 10 years, hardly my idea of good fiscal policy, though certainly an improvement from past budget battles.

The most important aspect of this however is this fine detail:

In addition to aiming to eliminate deficits within 10 years, both documents seek to ease the path for a repeal or replacement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law. … [D]ifferences between the two documents still need to be worked out and a combined budget passed next month by both chambers. Doing so would allow Republicans to invoke parliamentary rules to repeal “Obamacare” with a simple majority in the Senate rather than a tough-to-achieve 60 vote threshold.

In other words, the Republicans have set the situation up where they can use reconciliation to pass an Obamacare repeal, the exact same legislative sleight-of-hand that the Democrats used to pass Obamacare in 2010.

No one in favor of shrinking the power of the federal government and its budget should be too enthused by this budget, however. All it is is a start. Or as Churchill once said, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

What we have now running Congress is a Republican leadership that wants to balance the budget in as painless a way as possible, so they will not upset any of the DC bureaucratic special interest groups, including the leftwing press. What we will eventually need is a Congress being run by people who don’t care if that DC bureaucracy and its water-carriers in the press get upset, and instead acts to make the rest of the country happy. We are moving in that direction, but we have a long way to go to get there.

Share

Obama about to make deal with Iran

Whose side is Obama on? Kerry today informed the Israel government that the U.S. and Iran are close to a deal that Israel calls “incomprehensibly” bad and will do nothing to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Earlier Friday, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel that the terms of the looming agreement were “incomprehensibly” bad and rejected the Obama administration’s contention that it would keep the regime a year away from accumulating enough fissile material for a bomb.

Estimating that a framework deal would indeed be signed soon, and that a full agreement would follow in June, this official lamented the US-led negotiators’ apparent readiness to remove sanctions without Iran being required to halt its global terrorist activities, and listed a host of areas in which Tehran was working against American, Israeli and moderate Arab interests without being made to pay a price. “The deal is bad because of its readiness to remove sanctions without any American demand from Iran to stop the terror,” the official said. “I estimate that we will have a framework deal soon, and after that a full agreement in June. This is incomprehensible.” [emphasis mine]

The interesting thing here is that both parties in Congress have express loud opposition to this deal and have voted repeatedly to continue sanctions against Iran.

Share

NASA cuts Opportunity and LRO from budget

The 2016 budget proposed by NASA shuts down continued operation of either the Mars rover Opportunity or Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

As the article notes, both these missions continue to provide us a great deal of scientific bang for the buck. To shut them down, only to spend far more later to replace them, seems incredibly stupid.

Share

A photo tour of Vandenberg Air Force Base

Yesterday, as part of my visit to Vandenberg Air Force Base to give a space history lecture to the local section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, I was given a short tour of these west coast launch facilities. While Kennedy is used for launches that circle the equator, Vandenberg, with its southern-facing coast, launches rockets that head south over the ocean for a polar orbit.

We only had time to go inside one launchpad, where unfortunately I was not permitted to take pictures. However, the images I did get will give you a reasonable sense of the layout for this spaceport, which is increasingly becoming a spaceport for private launch companies like ULA and SpaceX. Though the bulk of business for both companies here might be military and government payloads, the future is still going to include a lot of private payloads. The images also help to highlight the differences between these two companies, as well as some past history, as one of these launchpads was once intended for the space shuttle, though never used for that purpose.
» Read more

Share

UN finds that only Israel violates women’s rights

Time to pull out of the UN: The women’s rights panel of the United Nations has declared that only one nation in the entire world oppresses women, and that nation is Israel.

As the article notes, this UN propaganda panel for attacking Israel somehow couldn’t notice any abuse in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and China, all of which have clearly known policies that persecute women in the worst ways.

Why we keep funding this travesty only suggests to me that our elected leaders approve of this and want to see Israel attacked while letting the real persecutors get away with it.

Share

Air Force subsidies to ULA to end

The competition heats up: Because it has concluded that they make it impossible to have a fair competition for contracts, the Air Force has decided to phase out the subsidies it has been paying to the United Launch Alliance (ULA).

The specific amounts of these subsidies have been effectively buried by the Air Force in many different contracts, so we the taxpayers really don’t know how much the are.

Nonetheless, this decision, combined with the military report released yesterday that criticized the Air Force’s over-bearing and restrictive certification process with SpaceX indicates that the political pressure is now pushing them hard to open up bidding to multiple companies, which in turn will help lower cost and save the taxpayer money.

Share

How scientists are using the Kelly twins during Scott Kelly’s year-long mission to ISS to learn how weightlessness effects the human body

Link here. Scott Kelly launches today to the station to begin the flight.

The article’s headline and initial focus on how the Kellys’ privacy rights might interfere with the research seems inappropriate. It is as if the author and Nature wanted to spin the story to force the Kellys to reveal private medical data they would prefer to keep private.

The real story the article tells is that an incredible wealth of knowledge about microgravity will be gained by this flight, because the Kellys are both participating. And depending on what is learned when their entire genomes are sequenced, we might also be able to study that fully as well.

Share
1 2 3 7