Behind The Black Postings By Robert Zimmerman

Points of Information Archive

The competition heats up: SpaceX has signed a deal to have its new Raptor engine tested at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

This is a good use of these government facilities, providing a service and also making money for the government.


Two American astronauts successfully completed a spacewalk Wednesday to repair the backup computer that operates ISS’s robot arms.

The spacewalk went so smoothly it was completed in half the scheduled time.


Surprise, surprise! Russia has noticed literally no change in cooperation with NASA since the U.S. government announced two weeks ago that all such cooperation, excluding ISS, was being cut off.

Russia’s Roscosmos space agency has yet received no official notifications from NASA on curtailing cooperation, and working contacts continue, Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko said in an interview with Vedomosti newspaper Wednesday. “Roscosmos has received no official notifications on suspending cooperation, we continue working contacts with NASA and other space agencies,” Ostapenko told Vedomosti adding: “Recently I held talks with the NASA leadership and European colleagues.”

More info here.

I had said that so-called NASA cut-off was all show and aimed not at Russia but at Congressional budget negotiations over NASA’s commercial crew program. This story only proves it.


Penny wise, pound foolish: Budget issues continue to threaten a number of successfully functioning science spacecraft, including Opportunity on Mars and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter circling the Moon.

Don’t be surprised if NASA announces soon that they are shutting down these spacecraft so they can save some money. Or as the article notes, “Money not spent on these extended missions will probably slide into [the Science Mission Directorate's] Black Hole of Funding (the James Webb Space Telescope) or be dissipated on new paperwork, committee meetings and concept studies.”


According to a new study, Chelyabinsk-scale meteorite impacts happen more often than we have been aware.

The bright flare of the Russian meteor was hard to miss, and left 1,200 people injured in February 2013. What the human eye missed was two separate high-altitude explosions that occurred over Argentina and the North Atlantic Ocean just months later. That’s according to data from an infrasound network used to track nuke tests, released Tuesday by the B612 Foundation.

The data shows that there were 26 comparable events since 2000.


What Israel’s new surveillance satellite, Ofek 10, is doing.


Fascist: A Democratic prosecutor has waged a fifteen year campaign of harassment against a gun range and its owner because the owner publicly disagreed with that prosecutor.

More here.

The bottom line here is that this power-hungry bastard has to be voted out of office immediately.


Feel the love: Liberals on twitter call for the murder of the Bundy family in Nevada by the federal government.


Fascist: The Democratic comptroller of New York City does not like the political opinions of a Texas business and the conservative causes to which it contributes.

The next step: Investigate them and put them in prison for daring to support such causes.


Typical government: The Health & Human Services department spends an average of $146 per month per employee for email services.

Considering the number of employees, 70,000, you would think the government could get a discount making the cost less that what an ordinary citizen pays for home service. Instead, they pay about twice as much.

Which means we must of course give them control over 1/6 of the nation’s economy. How else can we rein in costs?


A balloon spaceport for Arizona?


Arianespace struggles to schedule its customers for launch.

The editorial describes the juggling act the company is often forced to perform organizing the duel payloads required by the Ariane 5, with the launch of some customers’ satellites delayed because of the late arrival of other customers. From this information it is clear that the competition coming from SpaceX is not limited only to price. Arianespace’s requirement on Ariane 5 that there be two satellites means that sometimes they have to do harm to one of their customers by delaying their launch, even if that customer delivered on time. I can imagine some of those customers quite willing to go elsewhere should this happen too often.


Fascists: The BLM is considering taking advantage of an obscure legal dispute to confiscate 90,000 acres of privately owned land on the Texas-Oklahoma border.

The last thing a just government would want to do is to steal land from the citizens. The legal issues need to be settled, but that is not the way to do it.


Having completed more than 3,000 orbits around Mercury, Messenger’s orbit is now being lowered to just under 125 miles from the surface.


A bill introduced in Congress would require numerous government agencies to study the role of telecommunications in the encouragement of hate crimes.

The bills require a report within one year by the NTIA (The National Telecommunications and Information Administration) with the assistance of the DOJ, the Commission, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to be submitted to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate on the role of telecommunications in hate crimes. … The report, according to the bill, “shall analyze information on the use of telecommunications, including the Internet, broadcast television and radio, cable television, public access television, commercial mobile services, and other electronic media, to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate, as described in the Hate Crime Statistics Act.”

The bill leaves the definition of “hate” entirely up to the government, and would produce a report that would be a great tool in the hands of politicians to squelch speech they don’t like.


Finding out what’s in it: To avoid the cost of Obamacare ski resorts are being forced to shorten their seasons.


The uncertainty of science: A new study claims that biofuels made from corn produce more greenhouse gases than ordinary gasoline.

The EPA disagrees. If you read the article you will see that the EPA might be right, but either way it appears to be a case of scientists arguing about statistical details. The bottom line is that the corn biofuels aren’t significantly different than ordinary gasoline, and in fact this whole debate forgets the original reason for backing biofuels, which had nothing to do with global warming. Biofuels can be harvested here in the U.S., and were thought an excellent way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Whether that is true, however, also remains very much uncertain.

One quote in the article, however, demonstrated to me once again the foolishness of using legislation to mandate sales in a market.

Last year, for the fifth time, the EPA proposed reducing the amount [being produced as] required by law. It set a target of 17 million gallons for 2014. The law envisioned 1.75 billion gallons being produced this year.

The law demanded that manufacturers ramp up production to billions, regardless of economics or demand. Such mandates are the stuff of fantasy, and never work.

Posted from Tucson, Arizona.


Red tape appears to be preventing the U.S. military from releasing meteorite data obtained by its nuclear test monitoring system.

Details of atmospheric meteor explosions, as recorded by U.S. military spacecraft sensors, were posted on a publicly accessible NASA website run by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. In fact, the military-civil cooperation was spurred by the details of the February 2013 fireball explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia — termed a “superbolide” event. The website postings are designed to assist the scientific community’s investigation of bolides, or exceptionally bright fireballs.

However, multiple scientists noted that the JPL website had not been updated recently. That presumably meant that there was some sort of delay, as some fairly big events were detected by infrasound in the last year. “Because of budget and personnel reductions on our military partner, they ran into workforce issues to accomplish this task,” said Lindley Johnson, NEO program executive within the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

In other words, it looks like everyone in the military is saying “Ain’t my job, man!” so it doesn’t get done. They need to assign someone the job and be done with it.


The competition heats up: Data now suggests that SpaceX successfully achieved a controlled landing of its Falcon 9 first stage on Friday.

The stage itself has not yet been recovered due to heavy seas, but all evidence points to a soft splashdown in the ocean. While I expect them to continue to do this over the ocean, until they get good footage of the landing as well as recover the stage, the next real step is to land the thing over land. The link above also has video of the vertical take-off/landing of Falcon 9R on Friday, which proves they are beginning to prove this capability as well.

In related news, Dragon was successfully berthed to ISS today.

Posted from Boulder, Colorado.


The shot heard around the world: The American Revolution began today at Concord and Lexington in 1775.

At about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

The history is very well known to anyone who has done the slightest reading about American history. Nonetheless, considering the events in Nevada this past week this paragraph struck me as especially profound:

When the British troops reached Concord at about 7 a.m., they found themselves encircled by hundreds of armed Patriots. They managed to destroy the military supplies the Americans had collected but were soon advanced against by a gang of minutemen, who inflicted numerous casualties. Lieutenant Colonel Frances Smith, the overall commander of the British force, ordered his men to return to Boston without directly engaging the Americans. As the British retraced their 16-mile journey, their lines were constantly beset by Patriot marksmen firing at them Indian-style from behind trees, rocks, and stone walls. At Lexington, Captain Parker’s militia had its revenge, killing several British soldiers as the Red Coats hastily marched through his town. By the time the British finally reached the safety of Boston, nearly 300 British soldiers had been killed, wounded, or were missing in action. The Patriots suffered fewer than 100 casualties.

At some point, when our federal government becomes as oppressive and as arrogant as the British government was in the 1770s, emotions will spill over and we will see the same thing happen again. And events will be similar, because Americans are armed and are becoming increasingly armed. They will defend their freedoms, their property, and their families, should the government in Washington continue attacking them. This is what happened in Nevada this past week. I expect it to happen more in the coming years.

I do not write this with joy. It would be much better if cooler heads prevailed and our government returned to serving the people instead of putting its boot on their head. I just don’t expect that to happen.


Crying wolf! A history of global warming “Tipping Points” where it was declared that doomsday was certain in only a few years if we didn’t act now.

The article is quite hilarious. Again and again and again and again the climate fear-mongers have announced with absolute certainty that, unless we pass draconian government regulations, the climate was going to go crazy and we were all going to die. Sometimes they declared we only had hours, sometimes months, sometimes years, sometimes even decades, but every time they were certain they knew what was going to happen and thus we had better obey them. And anyone who dared question their certainty was worse than a fool and should be imprisoned!

Of course, none of these predictions have proven true. The climate might yet warm and even go wild, but none of these doom-sayers have done any of us any good. If things do start going bad in future years, it is now going to be very difficult to convince anyone of this fact.

Posted from Tucson International Airport. I am on the way to Denver to tape two television interviews with George Noory of Coast to Coast for his television show, Beyond Belief. Should be fun.


A list of some incredibly useful webpages.


Fascists: A SWAT team in Florida decided to test their new military equipment by breaking into someone’s home on Friday.

After conducting surveillance and gathering information for a judge to sign a search warrant, LPD called in its SWAT team to execute the warrant at a house on Empress Way in the neighborhood near Kelly Recreation Center, Sgt. Mike Lewis said. “We did not know if anyone was inside and we had information that the persons involved were armed,” Lewis said. “It was a safety issue.”

It was an opportunity for police to see how well their newly acquired Lenco BearCat armored vehicle would perform. City commissioners last year approved the purchase of the 22,000-pound bullet-resistant vehicle to replace a 1967 armored vehicle. The BearCat features new technologies, air-conditioning, cameras and seating for 12 officers instead of six.

On Friday, the SWAT team drove the BearCat down Lakeland streets and onto the front lawn of the house. The officers crouched behind and inside the vehicle, unsure of what was inside the house. The officers used tactical maneuvers to blow out the front windows, leaving curtains lying in the yard, and they gained entry into the attached garage.

From the story, it is very unclear whether they found any incriminating evidence at all. Mostly, it sounds like a bunch of stormtroopers getting a chance to play with their toys at the expense of an innocent private citizen.


The Forest Service has seized the property and cattle of a New Mexico rancher.

Read the story. It will remind you of the Bundy fight in Nevada, with the same elements of government overreach to destroy a rancher. The Forest Service might have the law on its side, but it sure sounds like the law is quite unjust in this case.


Some additional details about SpaceX’s effort Friday to bring the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket back to Earth gently.

They have not yet released a full report, but it appears that the company has made progress. They were able to control the stage’s spinning as it descended, and it apparently was still functioning after it hit the water.


Orbital Sciences is considering three different bids to provide the company new engines for its Antares rocket.

The engine presently used is from a stock of refurbished Russian engines first built in the late 1960s for the Soviet Union’s N1 rocket, designed to send humans to the Moon.


Dragon has successfully reached orbit.

No word on the attempt to bring the first stage down to the water under controlled conditions. One announcement during launch said the video was good and that the stage’s first burn was successful.


The competition heats up: SpaceX has successfully completed the first vertical flight of the Falcon 9R landing test rocket.

Reports have been confirmed that SpaceX’s Falcon 9-R development vehicle made its first free flight today at McGregor — taking off, hovering, moving sideways and landing.

Falcon 9R is the successor to Grasshopper, carrying more engines to more accurately simulate a Falcon 9 first stage.

Meanwhile, today’s launch of Dragon and the second attempt to bring the first stage back to Earth in a controlled manner remains iffy because of weather.


LADEE hits the Moon.


We have consensus! When asked if Arizona’s gun laws need changing, 86% chose the answer “We have too many laws, and most of them should be eliminated.”

Only 5% of those polled thought stronger gun laws were necessary.

The irony here is that the story at which this newspaper poll is being taken is about a protest by a Tucson gun control group. They might be noisy, but these gun control protestors are very much in the minority, despite any claims they might make.


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