Tag Archives: government

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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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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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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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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Chinese banks cease all business with North Korea

China’s central bank has ordered all Chinese banks to stop all business with North Korea.

Chinese banks have come under scrutiny for their role as a conduit for funds flowing to and from China’s increasingly isolated neighbor. The sources said banks were told to stop providing financial services to new North Korean customers and to wind down loans with existing customers, following tighter sanctions against Pyongyang by the United Nations. The sources said lenders were asked to fully implement United Nations sanctions against North Korea and were warned of the economic losses and reputational risks if they did not do so.

Chinese banks received the document on Monday, the sources said.

It appears that this order only effects new business with North Koreans, which means it can be gotten around, and is somewhat meaningless. At the same time, it appears that China’s is slowly stepping up its pressure on North Korea, which is a good thing.

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More hearings stalling TMT

Stall, stall: After spending 44 days of hearings before a retired judge, Hawaii is now forcing the consortium that wants to build the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea to undergo further hearings before the local land board.

Wednesday’s hearing in a Hilo hotel comes after the retired judge overseeing contested-case hearings for the Thirty Meter Telescope recommended granting the project a construction permit. Riki May Amano issued her recommendation in July after hearing testimony that spanned 44 days. Opponents and supporters are echoing much of the arguments made during those oftentimes emotional days of testimony.

This short article, which really says little, ends by noting that “it’s not clear when the board will make a decision.”

Well, it is clear to me that the authorities in Hawaii, run exclusively by today’s racially-focused Democratic Party, is stalling as much as they can in order to force TMT to go elsewhere. They know it will not be a popular decision to block the telescope, but they also don’t want it because the hustlers of race on the island are against it. And to the Democratic Party today, the only thing that matters is to appease these race hustlers. So, they stall, figuring they can get rid of the telescope that way without ever having to block it outright.

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Why Obama spied on Trump

Link here. The article sums up the evidence that now exists that shows that not only was a Trump campaign manager wiretapped, officials in the Obama administration use national security laws to instigate other spying against their political opponent, and then lied about it repeatedly when caught.

Last week, CNN revealed (and excused) one phase of the Obama spying operation on Trump. After lying about it on MSNBC, Susan Rice admitted unmasking the identities of Trump officials to Congress.

Rice was unmasking the names of Trump officials a month before leaving office. The targets may have included her own successor, General Flynn, who was forced out of office using leaked surveillance. While Rice’s targets weren’t named, the CNN story listed a meeting with Flynn, Bannon and Kushner. Bannon was Trump’s former campaign chief executive and a senior adviser. Kushner is a senior adviser. Those are exactly the people you spy on to get an insight into what your political opponents plan to do.

Now the latest CNN spin piece informs us that secret FISA orders were used to spy on the conversations of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The surveillance was discontinued for lack of evidence and then renewed under a new warrant. This is part of a pattern of FISA abuses by Obama Inc. which never allowed minor matters like lack of evidence to dissuade them from new FISA requests.

There’s more. Read it all. In my youth, people would have quickly gone to prison for this abuse of power, because in my youth, members of both political parties were wise enough to know that to let this kind of abuse go unpunished would expose them to worse evils. And they knew they would be first targets should those evils arrive. Today, the political class is generally corrupt, and doesn’t understand the hell it is building for itself.

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“I am just in shock how no one actually cares about the policy any more.”

The quote above, from this article. is from a Republican lobbyist, and is in reference to the new so-called Obamacare replacement bill being pushed right now in the Senate, not because it will repeal Obamacare but because it will provide Senators a fake vote where they can make believe they repealed Obamacare..

The bottom line: The repeal-and-replace bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy is gaining steam because it has the appearance of gaining steam — not because of the changes it would make. “If there was an oral exam on the contents of the proposal, graded on a generous curve, only two Republicans could pass it. And one of them isn’t Lindsey Graham,” a senior GOP aide told Caitlin.

I could condemn the Republican leadership here, but the fault actually lies with the press, which is allows them to do this. The number of fake insane bills with “feel good” names in the past two decades that the press has accepted with little analysis is legion. This is only another in that long list.

If you want to find out some real details about this new fake bill, read the whole article. It provides enough information to sicken your stomach about any bill our bankrupt Congress writes.

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Egyptian leader demands Palestinians accept Israel in UN speech

While the main buzz in the American press has been President Trump’s UN speech this week, no one has noticed that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in his own UN speech called for the Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel and to co-exist with it.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Tuesday urged Palestinian Arabs to overcome their differences and be ready to co-exist with each other and with Israelis in safety and security. “I tell the Palestinian people it’s extremely important … to overcome the differences and not to lose opportunities and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis in safety and security,” Sisi said in a speech before the UN General Assembly, as quoted by Reuters.

Sisi also had his first pubic meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week. Furthermore, earlier in the week the king of Bahrain endorsed an event at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles by sending his prince as a representative, while simultaneously calling for an end to the Arab boycott of Israel.

[Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center,] told The Times of Israel in a phone interview Monday that he was in Dubai on a mission for his organization when the king personally invited him to visit his palace. While the meeting took place in February, Hier said that he was ready now to discuss its contents after receiving “a clear signal” from the king that the royal meant business. In this case, the signal was that Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa attended a large event for the Weisenthal Center on Thursday, and also visited the unabashedly pro-Israeli Museum of Tolerance, also located in Los Angeles.

There have been other indications recently that the covert cooperation that has existed in recent years between Israel and some Arab nations against Iran and Islamic terrorism is about to become more public. If so, we might be on the cusp of some real positive change in the Middle East. (I realize I am being absurdly optimistic with this statement, but one can always hope.)

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Mitsubishi wins launch contract from Inmarsat

Capitalism in space: Mitsubishi has been awarded a commercial launch contract from Inmarsat.

Recent Inmarsat satellites have launched on Proton, Falcon 9, and Ariane 5 rockets operated by International Launch Services, SpaceX and Arianespace. MHI [Mitsubishi Heavy Industries] has positioned the H-2A as a secondary player in the global launch market, and the Inmarsat 6 F1 contract gives the Japanese company its second commercial telecom launch deal after the Canadian-owned Telstar 12 Vantage satellite lifted off from Tanegashima in November 2015.

Japan has made noises about shifting control of its launch industry from its space agency JAXA to the private sector. This new contract between Mitsubishi and Inmarsat suggests that they are following through with that shift. However, though no specific price was mentioned in the article, the quote below indicates that Mitsubishi will have a big hill to climb to become competitive.

“The reason why we got the launch order from Inmarsat, I think, was not, of course, the cost-competitiveness of the H-2A launch vehicle, but I think our launch record is very good — 35 consecutive successes, high reliability — and another is on-time launch,” [Ko Ogasawara, Mitsubishi vice president] said in remarks last week at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris. “We keep our schedule, and I think they put a high value on that.”

Mitsubishi’s next generation rocket, the H3, is being targeted for a launch price of $50 million, half of what the H-2A charges and more competitive in today’s market.

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Federal bureaucracy prevents satellite launch

We’re here to help you! A suite of 8 private commercial cubesats that the Air Force had agreed to launch as secondary payloads on the August 26 launch of a Minotaur rocket were blocked from launch by FAA bureaucracy.

The “interagency partner” that appeared to raise objections was the Federal Aviation Administration, which issued the launch license for the mission. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not approve Orbital ATK’s request for a license modification to include commercial cubesats on the upcoming ORS-5 launch mission,” Guthrie said. “As a result, Orbital ATK decided not to include commercial cubesats on the launch.”

Asked if the FAA placed any conditions or restrictions on the ORS-5 mission launched on the Minotaur 4, agency spokesman Hank Price said the FAA issued Orbital ATK a license Feb. 10 to launch government payloads on the Minotaur 4 from Cape Canaveral. The launch license contains any and all conditions on the license, Price said, and the FAA does not comment on the “existence or status of launch license applications or modifications until the FAA makes a final decision regarding those requests.”

Industry sources believe the FAA never formally rejected a proposed license modification for the cubesats because it did not go through the official process, but it was informally clear that the agency would have rejected such a modification had it been formally submitted.

Spire officials are trying to figure out why there was any issue at all about commercial cubesats on this launch. “If Spire chose this launch in the place of another commercial offering, I would understand the industry’s concern about fair competition,” Barna said. “But no existing U.S. launch company or new entrant was offering a similar launch. The fundamental intent of the policy is to keep competition fair, and competition just wasn’t a factor here.”

Spire’s problems here demonstrates the difficulties smallsat companies have getting their satellites in orbit, which explains the emergence of a new smallsat rocket industry. The company’s difficulties also illustrates why the launch industry should always be opposed to giving too much regulatory power to government. In this case it really appears that the launch license was denied merely because the bureaucrats involved with approving it at the FAA simply didn’t want to bother dealing with it.

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Navy removes top management in response to recent ship collisions

The Navy has removed the two top commanders of its largest operational force in response to the four recent incidents in the Pacific, involving three collisions and the ship’s grounding.

A third man has also requested retirement in order to “to step aside to allow for new leadership.”

The important question is whether the Navy is really instituting real management changes, or is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We shall see.

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Oh no! Climate panel might include skeptics!

According to this Washington Post article, the Trump administration is considering naming some skeptical climate scientists to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, something that the newspaper, the global warming crowd, and some EPA employees apparently consider a horrible taboo.

[T]he inclusion of a handful of climate contrarians has caused early concern among environmental groups and some employees at the agency. “We should be able to trust that those who serve the EPA are the all-stars in their fields and committed to public service,” said Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He said the upcoming round of appointments will test whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is “remotely interested” in independent scientific advice. “He already has a parade of lobbyists and advisers providing him with the perspectives from oil, gas, and chemical companies. The Science Advisory Board is a check on political influence and can help the agency determine whether the special interests are telling it straight.”

What I find really hilarious in reading the article is its description of the various skeptics, almost all of which are qualified climate scientists. The article quotes their skeptical positions as if these positions are the insane ravings of an idiot, but everything these skeptics say is accurate and well documented by research over the past century. For example, there is this quote:

Another scientist, Craig Idso, is chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, where he has written that “the modern rise in the air’s CO2 content is providing a tremendous economic benefit to global crop production.”

Yet another scientist, Richard Keen, is a meteorologist and author who traveled with the Heartland Institute to Rome in 2015 for a “prebuttal” to Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change. There, he argued that “in the past 18 years and how many months, four months, there has been no global warming.” Another candidate, Anthony Lupo, is an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Missouri. In 2014, he told a local Missouri media outlet, KOMU 8, that “I think it is rash to put the climate change completely on the blame of humans.”

Idso is correct. Crops benefit from more carbon dioxide. This is common knowledge in the agricultural community, and has been amply proven by numerous studies.

Keen is also correct. In 2015 there had been no warming for almost two decades, and that pause only ceased last year because of El Nino, and appears now to have resumed.

Lupo is also correct. The theory that human behavior is the sole cause of global warming has not been proven, and if anything, the failure of every computer model based on this theory to predict the pause in rising temperatures suggests it is wrong.

If anything, the article illustrates the ignorance of its author and the newspaper, both of whom appear completely unaware of the actual uncertainties that exist in the climate field.

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NASA’s international outreach continues

Barack Obama’s demand that NASA focus on teaching international students, especially Muslims, on how to get into space is continuing in the Trump administration.

The list of countries participating, available here, is not confined only to Muslim countries, and seems reasonable: Australia, Brazil, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). At the same time, it is a reasonable question whether this should really one of NASA’s focuses.

Note one interesting detail. The European Space Agency is listed as one of these nations, but its program is presently on hold for reasons that are not explained.

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ArianeGroup’s transition to Ariane 6 rocket

Link here. It appears that this transition not only includes replacing Ariane 5 with Ariane 6, but also the phase out of Russian Soyuz rockets by 2022. This loss of business is going to hurt Russia, as the government there desperately needs cash with the drop in oil prices.

The article also noted that ArianeGroup will charge two prices for Ariane 6, depending on configuration and payload, $85 million and $130 million per launch. These prices seem high, but because they likely cover the launch of two satellites, customers will be charged half these amounts, $40 million and $65 million, which is competitive in today’s market.

Will these prices be competitive in 2020s? I have my doubts. I estimate, based on news reports, that SpaceX is charging about $40 million today for a launch with a reused first stage, and $62 million for a launch with an entirely new rocket. Give them another five years of development and I expect those prices to drop significantly, especially as they shift to entirely reused first stages for almost every launch and begin to demonstrate a routine launch cadence of more than one launch per month.

This quote below explains how ArianeGroup really intends to stay alive in the launch market:

The price targets assume that European governments — the European Space Agency, the European Commission, Eumetsat and individual EU nations — agree to guarantee the equivalent of five Ariane 62 missions per year, plus at least two missions for the light-lift Vega rocket.

In other words, ArianeGroup really doesn’t wish to compete for business. It wants to use government coercion to force European space agencies and businesses to buy its product. They might get that, but the long term result will be a weak European presence in space, as everyone else finds cheaper and more efficient ways to do things.

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India hopes to resume launches before December

Despite an August 31 launch failure, India is still planning to resume launches before December.

On Friday, Mr Kiran Kumar [head of ISRO] was optimistic that the workhorse rocket would resume flights within a couple of months. “We have identified what the problem is, and we are going through simulations to make sure what we are concluding, is what has exactly happened (during the unsuccessful flight on August 31). The committee, which has been set up to go through the report is having detailed discussions and the report will come out very soon. After the committee gives its final report, we will resume the launches by November-December,” he said, on the sidelines of silver jubilee celebrations of Antrix Corporation Ltd, the corporate arm of ISRO.

They might not meet this goal, but that they are trying to resume launches in less than four months indicates that they are emulating the private sector and not most typical government agencies like NASA in this matter. Both NASA and ISRO have in the past sometimes taken years to recover from a launch failure. After SpaceX’s launchpad explosion in September 2016 they vowed to launch in less than four months, and managed to do it in five months. That ISRO is now trying to do the same indicates that the competition has forced them to up their game.

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The Worst Part of Losing Cassini Is That It Has No Replacement

Link here. This article is an honest review of the current lack of concrete plans by anyone to send a new probe to Saturn. While there are some tentative missions in the works, nothing is certain.

[I]f looking back on Cassini’s major discoveries at Saturn, Titan, and Enceladus have left you thirsty for more, we have some bad news: That thirst is going to go unquenched for a while. Talks of Uranus and Neptune missions are tentative at best. The best hope for Saturn now comes from NASA’s New Frontiers program, which looks for excellent medium-cost missions has spawned spacecraft including Jupiter’s Juno and Pluto’s New Horizons. This round of New Frontiers missions must launch by 2024, and there are two Enceladus proposals, a Titan proposal, and a Saturn atmospheric probe under consideration. We may hear word about those proposals by the end of the year “Hang tight, we’re going through the evaluations now and we’ll be announcing at the end of the year what some of the finalists will be,” Jim Green, NASA Planetary Science Director, said at the Cassini press conference Friday morning.

This list of possible Saturn missions sounds great, but they are all competing against each other and a number of other equally (and possibly more) interesting missions to other places. And with the federal budget out of control and mired in debt, there isn’t really a lot of money to go around.

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Big news: Free speech is allowed in Berkeley

Last night conservative Ben Shapiro was able to give a speech before about 700 people on the UC-Berkeley campus with no disruptions or violence, mostly due to a major security effort by the city and university.

Outside, as many as 1,000 people were gathered — some protesters, others onlookers — and a group of up to 50 students occupied a breezeway at the ASUC Student Union, where they’d put up a sign, “Students Against Fascism and War,” and interacted with the crowd. They exited the building calmly just before the Zellerbach event ended at 9 p.m. “There’s a sense of relief and satisfaction that the event was able to go forward without disruption, that those who chose to protest did so in largely nonviolent ways and that, overall, things went as well as could be expected,” said UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Dan Mogulof, at a media briefing later that night.

UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennett said the event was “orderly,” attended by people who were “respectful and interested” in the speaker and that it concluded peacefully.

Only a few arrests were made, and no violence occurred.

While the success of this event shows progress compared to previous events where violent thugs rioted, it is still damning to California and Berkeley and the liberal/leftist community of Berkeley that we are all surprised that no violence occurred. Instead, the need for security illustrates the intolerance of this community and its willingness to silence dissent.

In two weeks conservatives will be holding a major event on the campus, with a whole slate of speakers. It will be another opportunity for the Berkeley community to show us how tolerant they are to free speech and the open marketplace of ideas.

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Orbital ATK begins assembly of first orbital repair satellite

Capitalism in space: Orbital ATK has begun the assembly of Mission Extension Vehicle 1, (MEV-1), designed to attach itself to commercial satellites and extend their life.

Controlled by the company’s satellite operations team, the MEV 1 uses a reliable, low-risk docking system that attaches to existing features on a customer’s satellite. The MEV-1 provides life-extending services by taking over the orbit maintenance and attitude control functions of the client’s spacecraft. The vehicle has a 15 year design life with the ability to perform numerous dockings and repositionings during its life span.

They hope to launch before the end of 2018. Meanwhile, the legal battle between Orbital ATK’s effort to build this satellite repair mission and DARPA’s effort to subsidize SSL’s own satellite repair mission continues in Congress with the introduction of two amendments favoring Orbital ATK.

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Wasserman Schultz’s IT guy Imran Awan funnelled data to illegal secret server

Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT guy who is now charged with bank fraud, was initially banned when it was discovered that he was funnelling data and emails of numerous Democratic congressmen to a secret server and to Dropbox — against House rules — and then tried to hide this fact from investigators.

Now-indicted former congressional IT aide Imran Awan allegedly routed data from numerous House Democrats to a secret server. Police grew suspicious and requested a copy of the server early this year, but they were provided with an elaborate falsified image designed to hide the massive violations. The falsified image is what ultimately triggered their ban from the House network Feb. 2, according to a senior House official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The secret server was connected to the House Democratic Caucus, an organization chaired by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. Police informed Becerra that the server was the subject of an investigation and requested a copy of it. Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, the senior official said.

Data was also backed up to Dropbox in huge quantities, the official said. Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network.

Awan had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress who are listed below. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects.

It appears that Awan might have been blackmailing these Democrats. There is also the strong possibility, though no direct evidence has as yet been found for this, that he and his co-workers were working for foreign powers in the Islamic world.

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“Taking the red pill”

Link here. The article gives us a hint that the oppressive, thug-like, brownshirt behavior coming from many on the left is actually backfiring, and backfiring in a big way.

The term “taking the red pill” derives from the movie “The Matrix,” the trippy sci-fi classic. Morpheus, the resistance leader played by Laurence Fishburne offers Neo, the movie’s hero played by Keanu Reeves, a choice: He can take the blue pill and remain in the repressive artificial world known as the Matrix where “you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.” Or he can take the red pill and tumble down the “rabbit hole” where he will come to realize that everything about his life was a lie.

The left’s intensifying war on free speech has produced a surge of red pill videos. Some take Owens’ in-your-face approach. Others are meandering, hipster confessionals delivered with the wordy earnestness of characters in a Duplass brothers movie.

Read it. It provides a lot of examples of former leftists suddenly realizing that they have little in common with the modern left.

Is this happening? I suspect it is, but it is doing so very far below the radar of the mainstream press and our bankrupt intelligentsia.

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Trump administration shuts down NIH anti-gun research

The NIH has quietly shelved all funding for gun research, most of which had been instigated under the Obama administration as a propaganda tool to promote gun control.

The article from Science is remarkable — coming from a mainstream academic source — in that it provides a fair description of the perspective of the NRA and gun-owners.

Note: Reader Kirk noted my error in originally crediting this article to Nature, when it truth it was Science that published it. Post corrected. Sorry!

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An oral history of the Cassini mission to Saturn

Link here. Those who have read my book on the building of the Hubble Space Telescope will recognize many of the same people and political maneuvers used to get the project off the ground and funded.

Note too that the idea of Cassini was first proposed in 1982, but it didn’t actually launch until 1997. Fifteen years. While today I think such a spacecraft could go from concept to launch much faster, this timeline gives us a guide on when the next Saturn orbiter might launch. At the earliest do not expect another mission to Saturn to launch before 2025.

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Obamacare collapse in Virginia

Finding out what’s in it: With the departure from Virginia of the last insurance companies because of Obamacare’s unworkable rules, in 2018 people will be unable to buy individual health insurance in more than half the state.

Should nothing change before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Sept. 27 deadline for insurers to participate, parts of Virginia, including the Roanoke and New River valleys, will be the only places in the U.S. without at least one insurer, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 for policies that take effect Jan. 1.

This year, three insurance companies offered individual policies in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

But this spring, Aetna announced that it would no longer participate in the marketplace. Last month, Anthem followed suit. And Optima Health said last week that it would no longer offer individual policies in areas of Virginia where its parent, Sentara Health, did not have hospitals and providers. Although Optima covered only a small percentage of people in western Virginia, the company had been expected to fill the void after Anthem announced its departure, meaning it would have been on track to sell 100 percent of the individual policies in the region.

Of course, the blame falls on the Republicans, who had nothing to do with writing or passing Obamacare and have tried endlessly to either get it repealed or revised but have had all these actions blocked by the Democrats and a handful of fake Republicans who really are Democrats in sheep’s clothing. Sadly, it appears that most of the Republican Party has thrown in the towel and has decided it isn’t worth the effort any longer fixing Obamacare. Instead, we shall see the entire collapse of the health insurance industry.

Too bad no one predicted this collapse, except for every single reasonable conservative in the entire country.

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