Category Archives: Points of Information

A list of potential Trump staffers

Link here. Once again, providing lists like this with information about the individuals being considered for potential senior White House staff positions is something the press should have been doing prior to the election, not after. They, unfortunately, were too busy campaigning rather than doing their jobs.

The list is interesting, because like the list of cabinet candidates from yesterday it includes people with a range of outlooks. In this case, however, the range has to do with whether they are friends of the Washington establishment or hostile to it. Thus, until Trump makes some decisions we still have no idea what direction his administration will go.

I will add that the general political tone of these people however is conservative, which is a very hopeful sign. So is this story also: Trump plan calls for nationwide concealed carry and an end to gun bans

NASA considers alternatives to Orion

The competition heats up: Faced with long delays and an ungodly budget, NASA is now considering alternatives to replace the Orion capsule.

NASA has initiated a process that raises questions about the future of its Orion spacecraft. So far, this procedural effort has flown largely under the radar, because it came in the form of a subtle Request for Information (RFI) that nominally seeks to extend NASA’s contract to acquire future Orion vehicles after Exploration Mission-2, which likely will fly sometime between 2021 and 2023.

Nevertheless, three sources familiar with the RFI, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told Ars there is more to the request than a simple extension for Orion’s primary contractor, Lockheed Martin. Perhaps most radically, the RFI may even open the way for a competitor, such as Boeing or SpaceX, to substitute its own upgraded capsule for Orion in the mid-2020s.

The article also has this juicy quote:

The new RFI states that Lockheed will continue with development of Orion through a second uncrewed flight set for late 2018 and Exploration Mission-2, the first crewed mission, as early as 2021. However, once this “base vehicle” configuration is established, the RFI signals NASA’s intent to find a less expensive path forward. “This RFI serves as an examination of the market, which is an initial step in pursuing any of the available acquisition strategies, including the exercising of existing options,” the document states.

The end of SLS and Orion is beginning.

““Die whites die”

The hate is real: An anti-Trump protest turned into a riot in New Orleans yesterday, with broken windows and defaced monuments.

Lee Circle was fully covered in graffiti with phrases like “Black Power” and “Dismantle White Supremacy”. Later, an effigy of Trump was burned while glass windows at a nearby bank were shattered. Other phrases like “No Trump, no KKK” were used to vandalize surrounding areas, as well as the threatening phrase “Die whites die” and “F*ck Trump”.

So tell me please, who is exhibiting the most race hatred here?

A list of potential Trump cabinet picks

Link here.

As is usual, the bankrupt press didn’t do this work before the election, when it might have helped voters make their decisions. I tried to dig out some of this beforehand, and was somewhat successful, but I wish I could have seen lists like this prior to election day.

The list is interesting in that it includes an incredible range of political positions. For example, the three names touted for Secretary of State, John Bolton, Senator Bob Corker, and Newt Gingrich, cover the full political range. Bolton would be a solid conservative hawk, as would Gingrich. Corker however was instrumental in making Obama’s bad Iran nuclear deal possible, and would end up more or less continuing Obama’s foreign policy at State. All three, however, have previously been mentioned as possible choices, so as of this moment we still do not know where Trump will be going in this area.

I see the same political range in other positions as well. Even though the list leans heavily to the right, until Trump announces some appointments, we will not really know the direction his administration will take.

Will Republicans and Trump reduce the budget? Maybe not!

Hypocrites and liars: Less than two days after winning the Presidency and retaining control of both houses of Congress, Republican budget cutters are already signaling that they are now more willing to considering big spending projects, now that they are no longer opposing a Democratic president.

Sen. David Perdue (R-.Ga) stood on the Senate floor a little more than one month ago and declared that “we have a budget crisis. We have a debt crisis.” Two weeks ago, he wrote in an op-ed that “President Obama’s budgets ignored fiscally responsible principles, instead leaving an ever-growing mountain of debt for taxpayers down the road,” and he urged the United States to pass a balanced-budget amendment ensuring that the government can’t spend more than it takes in.

But asked about President-elect Donald Trump’s fiscal plans on Wednesday morning, Perdue sounded much less of an urgent note. “Well, I think there’s a short-term view and a long-term view. What we need is a long-term strategy, and by long-term, I’m talking, you’re going to say, 30 to 40 years to solve this debt crisis eventually,” Perdue said in an interview on CNBC.

,,,Perdue’s comments on CNBC could be one sign of how the politics of debt in Washington may shift when Trump takes office Jan. 20. Under George W. Bush, the nation’s debt exploded with federal spending and tax cuts, often with the consent of Republicans in Congress. But over the past eight years, the Republican establishment has repeatedly excoriated President Obama for plans that don’t immediately balance the budget.

Trump’s liberal roots had him immediately propose a variety of big government spending projects in his acceptance speech, and it appears that the Republican leadership is eager to go along, as they did with Obama, to put those big spending plans in place. Unfortunately, it also appears that that leadership might not get much resistance for bigger spending from its rank and file, who will no longer be fighting a Democratic administration and thus can jump on the bandwagon for more pork in their districts.

The pushback against Trump begins

Articles today in the science journals Science and Nature give us a taste of the upcoming resistance by the science community to any policy changes put forth by the new Trump administration.

Both articles assume that the Paris climate agreement is already the law of the land, despite the basic fact that the Senate has not approved it. In fact, if Trump and Congress decide to cut all American ties with it, they can. Right now it is merely something that Obama has agreed to, and under our Constitution, the legalities binding us to that agreement are weak, at best.

This quote from the Science article outlines how the science community plans to structure its resistance:

With oilmen like Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, and Forrest Lucas, the founder of Lucas Oil, named as potential candidates to lead the Departments of Energy and the Interior, respectively, in a Trump administration, the mostly likely historical analogue for the next few years could be the start of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, when he appointed senior officials who were often hostile to the policies of their own agencies. For example, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, wanted to sell off public lands and reduce forest protections, and his EPA head, Anne Gorsuch, moved to soften clear air and water rules. Some agency staff fought back, and there were frequent leaks, resignations, and lawsuits. Both Watt and Gorsuch ultimately resigned amidst political chaos, and were replaced by less polarizing appointments. If Trump follows a similar path, “there could be a whole lot of churn,” Victor predicts.

Indeed, Trump may quickly learn the limits of the presidency, Victor adds. “The Oval Office will be a lonely place,” he says, if the White House attempts to make radical changes that agency professional staff fiercely opposes. [emphasis mine]

And then there is this quote from the Nature article:

“Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,” says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. “The consequences are going to be very, very severe.”

Calling Trump “the first anti-science president” is the kind of name-calling that is typical of the left and the Democratic Party. Not only is it a silly statement, based merely on the partisan hatred of Republicans by scientists, almost all of whom are Democratic Party loyalists, it has nothing to do with reality. Scientists have no more right to a blank check from the government than anyone else. They need to justify their research, and show that it is worthwhile. Since the 1990s they have not had to do this, which has resulted in blooming budgets and a lot of questionable results. And I say this as a science guy. Unlike these partisans, however, I also recognize that there is a gigantic amount of needless spending in the science budgets of numerous government agencies. Their budgets have grown significantly since 2000, with little to show for it. It is time to bring that spending under some control.

This is only the first shot across the bow. I have no doubt that the science community plans to link up with the partisan mainstream press to create a full-court press against any policy changes or budget cuts that either Trump or Congress may propose. These people do not respect the concept of democracy, and will resist the will of the public in every way they can.

Europe and Airbus Safran ink deal to build Ariane 6

The competition heats up: The European Space Agency and the joint partnership of Airbus and Safran have signed their deal for the development of Europe’s next rocket, Ariane 6, that will replace Ariane 5 and is aimed at competing more effectively against SpaceX in the world’s launch market.

Russians to put first centrifuge on ISS

Russia today announced that they are developing and plan to launch the first small centrifuge ever to fly in space.

The centrifuge would be installed on an inflatable module that Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems, which specializes in studying the medical problems of space travel, is building, and would be used to study the effects of artificial gravity in weightlessness.

Unfortunately, the announcement doesn’t tell us much more than this. Based on previous such announcements from Russia, I would not be surprised if this project never flies.

Colorado voters reject single payer Obamacare clone by 80%

Knowing what’s in it: Eighty percent of Colorado voters yesterday soundly rejected a single payer Obamacare clone government health system that would have been funded by a 10% payroll tax.

As the author at the link so nicely puts it:

Allow me to read the tea leaves on this one for a moment. Even the pot smoking, Clinton loving Coloradans can read the writing on the wall if the letters are large enough. The first thing they no doubt noticed was that “free health care” isn’t free at all. It was going to be paid for with a whopping ten percent cut out of all their paychecks. Unless you’re quite well to do, most of you would probably at least notice 10% suddenly disappearing from your income if not winding up crippled by it. So there’s that.

But on a broader palate, this proposal can be easily viewed as the next natural progression beyond Obamacare. The people in Colorado must have access to newspapers or cable news networks is all I can figure. They might have caught wind of how people were losing their doctors, losing their number of available choices in providers, the exchanges around the country were breaking down and their rates were about to go up massively yet again. Having had a taste of all that government medicine goodness might just have put them off their feed when offered an even more government centered plan.

When the Democrats forced Obamacare down our throats in 2010, I said that it more than anything else the left has done in the past century was going discredit their government-run philosophy. It sure appears to be doing exactly that.

Anti-Trump protesters vandalize Richmond Republican headquarters

The hate is real: Anti-Trump protesters today vandalized Richmond Republican headquarters while also blocking roads.

I could also add that this is only the beginning. You see, the left doesn’t really believe in democracy, whereby you accept the will of the majority. To them, the only ones who are qualified to rule are themselves, or their leaders, and any other choice by the rest of the population must be destroyed, by any means necessary.

Clinton supporters issue death threats and riot

The hate is real: In response to Donald Trump’s victory, Clinton supporters in California and Oregon rioted, with others issuing death threats on social media.

I could also list several dozen stories detailing the horror and disbelief of the intellectual community, in Washington, in the major cities, and across academia. They will not accept this election, and are right this second starting to plan their resistance to any policy Trump or the Republicans may put forth.

Using the X-37B as a space ambulance?

Researchers have proposed using the Air Force’s X-37B as an ambulance in space.

Halberg said that an effective astronaut taxi should, among other things, be able to stay at the ISS for two years or more at a stretch; be capable of getting people back to Earth rapidly, within three hours or so; impose minimal G-loads on occupants; have the ability to land close to a hospital; and allow patients to lie in a supine position. These requirements all point to a space plane rather than a capsule, Halberg said — meaning SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Boeing’s CST-100 capsule, which are scheduled to start flying NASA astronauts to and from the ISS within the next year or two, wouldn’t make the grade as ambulances.

Another private crew-carrying vehicle that’s currently in development, Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Dream Chaser space plane, is an intriguing option that bears further investigation, Robinson and Halberg said. But their initial concept study focused on the robotic X-37B, chiefly because the 29-foot-long (8.8 meters) military space plane has already racked up millions of miles in orbit, while Dream Chaser has yet to launch.

Makes sense, though once Dream Chaser is flying it will have the potential to provide the same service with far greater capabilities.

Orion faces more delays

Faced with looming schedule problems for Europe’s effort to build the service module for the Orion capsule, NASA has created a working group to attack the problem.

The European Service Module (ESM) element of Orion has been classed as a major schedule driver for the program for some time. The Service Module for Orion was originally going to be an all-American system, under the control of Lockheed Martin. However, a deal back in 2012 resulted in an alliance with the European Space Agency (ESA) to utilize hardware associated with its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

The deal made sense. NASA’s goal of international collaboration is deemed to be an essential formula for spreading the costs and increasing the viability of NASA’s exploration goals, building on the success of the partnerships that built the International Space Station. Also, the ATV is proven technology, having already proved its worth via a string of successful resupply missions to the orbital outpost.

However, the challenge of combining the technology into what is essentially an American vehicle has resulted in schedule pressures.

Let me once again point out that Orion was first proposed by President George Bush in 2004. Its first official flight, with service module, is now scheduled for 2018. That means it took NASA 14 years to build and launch a unmanned single complete capsule, assuming they can get the service module built in time. That it took that long to build this is shameful. That there is even the slightest possibility that 14 years won’t be enough time to build the service module is downright disgusting, and is another illustration of the complete failure of the federal government.

Note that the previous unmanned Orion test flight in 2014 really doesn’t count. That capsule was a engineering test capsule, designed to test the capsule’s heat shield, even though NASA had already decided before the flight to abandon that heat shield design. In other words, it was a complete waste of money.

Decline in sunspots continues

Late Sunday NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, covering sunspot activity for October. As I do every month, I am posting it here with annotations to give it context.

October 2016 Solar Cycle graph

The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community. The green curves show the community’s two original predictions from April 2007, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The red curve is their revised May 2009 prediction.

The sunspot decline continued in October, dropping the sunspot number for the month to below the 2007 low prediction. Though the decline continues to track that low prediction, the sunspot count for November has been even lower, suggesting that the ramp down to solar minimum will continue to under perform that prediction and will arrive at minimum sooner than expected. As I noted last month, this fast decline will also mean that the ending solar cycle will be a both a weak and a short cycle, two phenomenon that in the past never went together. In the past, a short cycle meant the maximum was strong, while a long cycle would correspond with a weak maximum.

The Sun continues to behave in a manner that is unprecedented, and suggests the possibility that a Grand Minimum might be coming.

Musk predicts mid-December return to flight

In a cable news interview today, Elon Musk reiterated recent reports that SpaceX expects to resume launches by the middle of December.

That the head of Inmarsat, one of SpaceX’s satellite customers, has confirmed this plan and appears to have no problem with it, suggests to me that SpaceX is on solid ground and that they have pinpointed a solution to the launchpad explosion that will not require any major re-engineering.

Jury rules against Rolling Stone in gang rape story

A jury today declared Rolling Stone magazine guilty of defamation in its retracted and debunked University of Virginia gang rape story.

The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its publisher responsible for defaming Eramo.

The $7.5 million lawsuit centered on Erdely’s 9,000-word article titled “A Rape on Campus.” The article appeared online in late Nov. 2014 and on newsstands in the magazine’s December 2014 issue. The story opened with a graphic depiction of a fraternity gang rape that went viral online and sent shock waves across the U-Va. campus community. But within days of the article’s publication, key elements of the account fell apart under scrutiny. The magazine eventually retracted the story in April 2015.

The magazine and the reporter had a leftwing feminist agenda, centered on confirming the false leftwing narrative that rapes were rampant on college campuses and that oppressive anti-female male-dominated administrations were doing nothing about it. This narrative is entirely false, a lie created to provide a platform for the left to gain power. The magazine though bought into it, publishing a vicious story that was a complete lie and that defamed a lot of innocent people. As a result it now faces the strong possibility that this decision will bring about its bankruptcy, a bankruptcy well deserved.

IRS harassment of conservatives continues

Working for the Democratic Party: The IRS harassment of conservatives and any opponents of the Democratic Party continues, despite assurances by the Obama administration and IRS head John Koskinen that it has ceased.

The key here is that absolutely no one at the IRS has been punished for this behavior, and in fact, the Obama administration has made it clear that they will reward people for stonewalling the investigations as well as continuing the harassment. The result, which this article details, has been blatant obstruction of justice at all levels at the IRS. Moreover, the harassment tactics have now spread to other government agencies, all dominated by partisan Democrat employees eager to help their party politically.

If Clinton wins the election expect this brutal abuse of power by the federal government to accelerate. And even if she should lose, do not get your hopes up that the abuses will be dealt with by Trump. They are deep, entrenched, and would require a mass clean-out that I doubt Trump would be willing to do.

Largest Texas meteorite ever found by accident on dude ranch

The largest Texas meteorite ever, weighing 760 pounds, has been found on a Texas dude ranch.

The owner found it entirely by accident. It apparently had been there for a long time, but no one had noticed it, mostly because of its weathered appearance that made it appear much like any other boulder. Tests proved beyond doubt, however, that it was a meteorite, an L4 chrondite. It has now been sold to a meteorite collection at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth.

High school student suspended for wearing “Hillary for Prison” t-shirt

The new fascism: A high school student in Florida was suspended from classes merely because she wore a “Hillary for Prison” t-shirt to school.

The 18-year-old posted a video on Facebook on Tuesday saying the school’s assistant principal had admitted there were no rules against clothes with political slogans on them but said she faced in-school suspension (ISS) because of the disruption it was causing.

She refused to change her clothes, and so was suspended from classes. Watch the video at the link. Essentially, some other students caused a disruption because they didn’t like her opinion, and rather than punishing those students for misbehavior, the school is trying to squelch this girl’s freedom of speech.

Vector teams up with private company for low-cost launch tracking capability

The competition heats up: The new smallsat rocket company Vector Space Systems has signed a deal with Atlas Space Operations, a private company focused on providing low-cost launch and satellite tracking capabilities.

As early as 2018, Vector Space Systems will be able to provide a space-to-ground communication network from the Galactic Sky division to its customers through ATLAS LINKS™ – the world’s first mobile, rapidly deployable, and electronically steered array RF ground system that is revolutionizing the space industry. Designed for communications with both low-earth orbit and deep space missions, and capable of rapid deployment anywhere on the globe – ATLAS LINKS™ arrays will enable Vector Space Systems to simultaneously track signals over multiple frequencies, effectively eliminating high civil engineering costs associated with the installation of other systems that require expensive antennae and pedestals. Satellite ground architecture and data services will support Vector Space Systems’ launch operations from the ground and in-orbit, transforming satellite telemetry tracking and command systems (TT&C) and ground operations for space startups.

In other words, Atlas is in direct competition with the antenna network of NASA’s Deep Space Network, and is designed to be cheaper and more flexible.

Luxembourg invests $28 million into asteroid mining company

The competition heats up: In its continuing effort to make money from space, the government of Luxembourg has invested $28 million in the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources.

As part of the deal, Planetary Resources is establishing a European headquarters in Luxembourg that will conduct research and development activities. Georges Schmit, a member of the Space Resources advisory board to the Government of Luxembourg, wil join Planetary’s board. “We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry,” said Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources chief executive.

As with Luxembourg’s other deals, the investment has required the company to shift many of its operations from the U.S. to Luxembourg.

Midland spaceport approved as Dream Chaser landing site

The spaceport in Midland, Texas has been approved as a potential landing site for Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser reusable mini-shuttle.

Midland is pushing to have Sierra Nevada make it the company’s main landing site for the spacecraft. So far, that decision however has not been made.

Atlas 5 to launch Cygnus in March

NASA has ordered Orbital ATK to use ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket for its next Cygnus cargo run to ISS in order to maximize the cargo that the capsule can deliver.

A Cygnus reached the station last month with over 5,000 pounds of supplies after launching atop Orbital ATK’s own Antares rocket. It was the first such flight for the booster in two years, a lull instigated by the 2014 explosion of an Antares and Orbital ATK’s decision to replace the main engines with a different design. But the more-powerful Atlas 5 rocket can launch over 7,700 pounds of provisions inside a Cygnus, and the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday night that NASA has pushed Orbital ATK to buy another Atlas 5 for its greater lift capacity and reliability record.

Sources told Spaceflight Now that the Atlas 5 would launch the OA-7 mission in March and that Orbital ATK was working with Kennedy Space Center to book facility time to process the Cygnus.
It was not immediately clear if NASA or Orbital ATK would pay for the extra costs associated with the Atlas 5 rocket.

This decision by NASA to favor Atlas 5 here over Antares illustrates some of the commercial weaknesses of Antares. Orbital ATK’s decision to launch the rocket from Wallops Island in Virginia had some political advantages, putting their launch facilities in the state and congressional district of legislators whose approval they were soliciting. The decision, however, limited the cargo capacity of the rocket because of the site’s higher latitude. This might also help explain why Orbital ATK has as yet failed to find any other customers for Antares, besides NASA.

I also wonder whether some political pressure from other legislators who favor ULA also helped influence this decision. The political game is brutal these days in Washington and almost nothing connected to the federal government is done anymore without some crony and corrupt political maneuvers in the background.

1 2 3 4 423