Auld Land Syne – Freedom mix

An evening pause: This mix was apparently put together just after 9/11, and includes many of the most iconic sound-bites from the 20th century. One of the last lines however must speak to the new 21st century, as it appears many Americans have forgotten what it means to be an American.

“We’re not gonna be stopped! We’re not gonna be deterred! We’re not gonna stay at home! We’re not gonna be afraid!

“We’re gonna live our lives as Americans!”

God bless. Let us work to return freedom to America in 2021.

Auld Lang Syne – (Freedom mix) from Don Krasley on Vimeo.

The state of the global rocket industry in the 21st century

With the year of 2020 coming to an end, it is time to look back to see how the world’s rocket industry fared in what was a truly difficult year for most. And with the 21st century now one fifth over, it is also time to take a wider view, to see what the trends have been for space exploration during this new century, and to see where those trends might lead.

Below is my annual updated table showing all successful orbital launches by every nation and company, beginning in 2000. While the table in my 2019 report last year had gone back to 1990, I decided to shorten the graph to just the 21st Century, in order to better focus on that century in particular.

» Read more

Musk: Super Heavy will land on launchpad, caught by launch tower

Capitalism in space: In a series of tweets yesterday SpaceX founder Elon Musk revealed that the company is considering landing Starship’s first stage, Super Heavy, on its launchpad but rather than use landing legs it will be caught by the launch tower.

Instead, Musk says that SpaceX might be able to quite literally catch Super Heavy in mid-air, grabbing the booster before it can touch the ground by somehow slotting an elaborate “launch tower arm” underneath its steel grid fins. Although such a solution sounds about as complex and risky as it gets, it would technically preclude the need for any and all booster recovery infrastructure – even including the legs Super Heavy would otherwise need.

While true, catching Super Heavy by its grid fins would likely demand that control surfaces and the structures they attach to be substantially overbuilt – especially if Musk means that the crane arm mechanism would be able to catch anywhere along the deployed fins’ 7m (23 ft) length. Even more importantly, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that such a complex and unproven recovery method could be made to work reliably on the first one or several tries, implying that early boosters will still need some kind of rudimentary landing legs.

The idea is to save weight on the booster. It also would speed its reuse, as there would no longer be a need to transport it from a landing pad back to the launchpad.

Whether this will work will depend on the accuracy of SpaceX’s vertical landing software. That the company has repeatedly proven, from almost the first time it tried it, that it can bring its rockets down exactly where it intends suggests they will be able to be as accurate as necessary.

Nonetheless, expect more than a few launchpad crashes as they work out the kinks on another audacious engineering concept.

The seasonal cloud over Arsia Mons on Mars

Water-ice cloud over Arsia Mons
The cloud as seen in 2018.

Scientists have now documented the seasonal nature of the strangely elongated cloud that was first spotted in 2018 above the giant volcano Arsia Mons (the southernmost volcano of the three volcanoes east of Olympus Mons).

From their abstract:

We find that the AMEC [Arsia Mons Elongated Cloud] repeated regularly each morning for a number of months, and that it is an annually‐repeating phenomenon that takes place every Martian Year around the southern hemisphere spring and summer. The AMEC follows a rapid daily cycle: it starts to expand from Arsia Mons at dawn at an altitude of about ∼45 km, and for ∼2.5 hours it expands westward as fast as 170 m/s (around 600 km/h). The cloud then detaches from Arsia Mons and evaporates before noon. In previous Martian Years, few observations of this phenomenon are available because most cameras orbiting Mars are placed in orbits where they can only observe during the afternoon, whereas this cloud takes place in the early morning, when observational coverage is much lower.

They also state that they will outline their theories as to the cause of the cloud in a follow-up paper.

I can’t help wondering if it is related to other evidence that suggested past glacial activity on the western flanks of Arsia Mons. There are many pits surrounding this volcano, and many might contain residue ice. One wonders if, during the warm spring and summer months at dawn the arrival of the sun might cause this cloud to form, and then vanish as the day passes, just like the dew does on Earth.

That is my uneducated guess, and likely wrong. We shall have to wait for their theoretical paper for a more educated guess.

Surprisingly low number of observation proposals from astronomers for Webb telescope

In preparation for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in ’21, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) that will operate it has begun accepting observation proposals from astronomers, and has apparently discovered that the number of proposals, dubbed the subscription rate, is surprisingly low.

The stats of the James Webb space telescope cycle 1 proposal round came in the other day. In summary: an over subscription rate of 1:4. A little less even.

There was immediate spin how the stats were a good thing. Enthusiasm from around the globe! So many investigators! But that does not change that the 1:4 oversubscription is a disappointment. If I were part of the project, this would and should worry me.

If they got exactly the right number of proposals to precisely use all of the telescope’s observation time, the subscription rate would be 1. An oversubscription rate of 1.4 seems good, but in truth it is tiny compared to Hubble and other space telescopes, and horrible considering the cost of Webb (almost $10 billion, 20x what it was originally budgeted).

The author at the link provides some technical reasons for the low interest, some of which are the fault of the Webb management team (such as a very complicated proposal process) and some that are beyond their control (the Wuhan panic). He also provides suggestions that might help.

Either way, the relatively low interest I think is rooted in Webb’s initial genesis. It was pushed by the cosmological community and its design thus optimized for studying the early universe. Other astronomical fields were pushed aside or given a lower priority so that the telescope does not serve them as well.

The result is that a lot of astronomers have been finding other more appropriate and already functioning telescopes to do their work, bypassing Webb entirely. They are probably also bypassing Webb because it seems foolish to spend the inordinate amount of time putting together a proposal for a telescope a decade behind schedule that carries an enormous risk of failure once it is launched.

Witness announces his team has hacked Georgia election runoff polling machines

During testimony today in Georgia investigating the possibility of election fraud on November 3rd, a witness announced that his team at that very moment had hacked into the voting machines being used for the Georgia senate runoff races and was communicating with the machines.

During a Senate hearing in Georgia over fraud in the 2020 presidential election, Jovan Pulitzer told the senate members, “At this very moment at a polling location in the county, not only do we now have access to the devices through the poll pad — the system — but we are in.”

Pulitzer told the senators this should not be able to happen, but his team was has able to hack into the voting system and has documented evidence to prove it. Pulitzer said the machines are connected to the internet and two-way communication is occurring in real-time. “It’s receiving data and sending data,” he said.

When questioned, Pulitzer said the polling place his team hacked into is a physical location, not a mobile station. Pulitzer said his team has access to the data from the Georgia Senate runoff race from the polling station.

The article provides a link to his testimony. This proves that the owners of Dominion have been lying when they say their machines are not connected to the internet. It also shows how easy it would be to falsify the results. As the witness noted, if you can download the data from the machines you can change it and then upload it again, and if no one suspected you were doing it (or was willfully blind to your tampering) no one would ever find out.

All election results in Georgia are thus suspect. If nothing is done, that I would be astonished if either Republican candidates won their run-offs.

In fact, I think this comedy movie clip provides a perfect description of our modern American culture:

Air leak in Russian section of ISS continues

Dmitri Rogozon, the head of Roscosmos, yesterday announced that they will be sending to ISS special equipment for investigating a new air leak in the Russia section of ISS.

This apparently is not the 1-2 inch long crack in the Zvezda module that leaked previously and was found and sealed. Moreover, the article at the link admits that their astronauts found no sign of damage on the outside of Zvezda when they did a space walk in November, suggesting that this first leak was not caused by a micrometeorite hit.

All the known facts so far strongly suggest that the leaks are because of Zvezda’s 20-year-old age, and might be stress fractures caused by the three dozen or so dockings and undockings that have occurred there since its launch.

That the Russians are being so vague about the entire matter reinforces that conclusion. They have never released an image of the first leak, and provided no details about the equipment being sent to the station.

And if Zvezda is beginning to crack due to age, I am not sure what repairs they can do to stop it.

Puerto Rican government commits $8 million to rebuild Arecibo

The government of Puerto Rico earlier this week announced that it has allocated $8 million to rebuild the Arecibo Observatory.

Via an executive order, Gov. Wanda Vazquez made reconstruction of the observatory public policy. In a ceremony at La Fortaleza, the seat of the island’s government, Vazquez said that the Puerto Rican government believes that the telescope’s collapse provides a great opportunity to redesign it, taking into account the lessons learned and recommendations from the scientific community so that it remains relevant for decades to come.

…Vazquez said that she and her administration want the scope to once again become a world class center and the $8 million being allocated for reconstruction includes funds to repair the environmental damage caused by the collapse, something that has already begun under the supervision of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

We shall see what happens. $8 million is not really enough to rebuild Arecibo. And the NSF has been trying to unload it from its budgetary responsibility for almost a decade. I would be shocked if that agency now suddenly decided to fund its reconstruction.

Only if Congress gets involved will this likely change, and that wouldn’t surprise me, considering how nonchalant our present Congress is about spending money that doesn’t exist.

Summer at the Martian south pole

Overview of the Martian south pole

Today we have two cool images, both giving us a tiny glimpse at what it is like in the middle of summer on the fringes of Mars’ south pole ice cap. Their location is indicated by the blue crosses on the overview map on the right.

To review, the south pole on Mars is, like its north pole, mostly made up of a permanent icecap of water. In the south, this icecap is mostly mixed with dust and debris in the area outlined in black and dubbed the layered deposits. On top of this is a smaller thick water ice cap, indicated by light blue, which is in turn topped by a thin cap of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, indicated by white. During the winter the entire pole, down to 60 degrees latitude also gets covered by a temporary mantle of dry ice, that sublimates away each spring.

Now for our cool images!
» Read more

The seas of Titan, deep and alien

Radar track through the estuaries of Titan's large sea, Kraken Mare

The uncertainty of science: In a new paper scientists have taken the radar data from the more than 120 fly-bys by Cassini of Titan to map out the estimated depths for several of Titan’s seas, using that data to also better constrain the make-up of those seas. From their abstract:

Our analysis reveals that the seafloor at the center of Moray Sinus—an estuary located at the northern end of Kraken Mare, is up to 85 m deep. The radar waves are absorbed to an extent such that the liquid composition is compatible with 70% methane, 16% nitrogen, and 14% ethane (assuming ideal mixing). The analysis of the altimetry data in the main body of Kraken Mare showed no evidence for signal returns from the sea floor, suggesting the liquid is either too deep or too absorptive for Cassini’s radio waves to penetrate. However, if the liquid in the main body of Kraken Mare is similar in composition to Moray Sinus, as one would expect, then its depth exceeds 100 m.

The image above, cropped and reduced to post here, is figure two from the paper. » Read more

Arianespace uses Soyuz rocket to launch French military satellite from French Guiana

Arianespace today successfully launched a French military reconnaissance satellite from French Guiana using a Russian Soyuz rocket.

This is the last launch for Europe in 2020, their sixth total. It is also the last publicly scheduled launch for the year. My annual worldwide launch report will follow in a day or so.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

35 China
25 SpaceX
15 Russia
6 ULA
6 Rocket Lab
6 Europe (Arianespace)

The U.S.’s lead over China in the national rankings remains 40 to 35.

Published results from Curiosity as it traversed Vera Rubin Ridge

The science results from American Mars rover Curiosity during its traverse of Vera Rubin Ridge at the base of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater have now been released to the public.

This link takes you to the overview paper, available online for free. The abstract notes the key finding, which confirms previously released research:

We conclude Vera Rubin ridge formed because groundwater recrystallized and hardened the rocks that now make up the ridge. Wind subsequently sculpted and eroded Mount Sharp, leaving the harder ridge rocks standing because they resisted erosion compared with surrounding rocks. The implication of these results is that liquid water was present at Mount Sharp for a very long time, not only when the crater held a lake but also much later, likely as groundwater.

The fundamental geological mystery of Mars remains. The evidence strongly says that liquid water must have existed for long periods on the surface of Mars. At the same time, other evidence strongly says that the climate and atmosphere of Mars has never been warm enough or thick enough to allow for liquid water on the planet’s surface.

So far, no global model proposed by any theorist that allows liquid water in the past on Mars has been accepted with any enthusiasm by the planetary community. While possible, the models carry too many assumptions and are based on what is presently far too limited data. We simply do not yet know enough about Mars and its past history to explain this conundrum.

The paper also outlines a number of models for allowing liquid water in the localized area of Gale Crater alone. As with the global models, none fits all the facts, or is entirely satisfactory for explaining the data.

Regardless, the results from Vera Rubin Ridge confirm once again that enough liquid water once did exist on Mars to have allowed it to be habitable for life, even if we have so far found no evidence of any past life.

PA: Number of votes exceeds the number of voters by more than 200K

How convenient: A comparison of the number of actual voters logged in Pennsylvania versus the number of votes counted has discovered a 200k discrepancy, with the number of votes exceeding the number of voters by that amount.

A comparison of official county election results to the total number of voters who voted on November 3, 2020 as recorded by the Department of State shows that 6,962,607 total ballots were reported as being cast, while DoS/SURE system records indicate that only 6,760,230 total voters actually voted. Among the 6,962,607 total ballots cast, 6,931,060 total votes were counted in the presidential race, including all three candidates on the ballot and write-in candidates.

The difference of 202,377 more votes cast than voters voting, together with the 31,547 over- and under-votes in the presidential race, adds up to an alarming discrepancy of 170,830 votes, which is more than twice the reported statewide difference between the two major candidates for President of the United States.

In other words, the count somehow found about 200K extra votes that do not belong to any known voters. We don’t know to whom these extra votes went, but who cares? They make the final tally very suspect.

The analysis was done by a group of Republican state lawmakers, who then said this:

“We were already concerned with the actions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Executive branch, and election officials in certain counties contravening and undermining the Pennsylvania Election Code by eliminating signature verification, postmarks, and due dates while allowing the proliferation of drop boxes with questionable security measures and the unauthorized curing of ballots, as well as the questionable treatment of poll watchers, all of which created wholesale opportunities for irregularities in the 2020 presidential election.”

“However, we are now seeing discrepancies on the retail level which raise even more troubling questions regarding irregularities in the election returns. These findings call into question the accuracy of the SURE system, consistency in the application of the Pennsylvania Election Code from county to county, and the competency of those charged with oversight of elections in our Commonwealth.

“These numbers just don’t add up, and the alleged certification of Pennsylvania’s presidential election results was absolutely premature, unconfirmed, and in error.”

That’s nice, but what is the state legislature going to do about it? It is their responsibility, and just whining about voter fraud allegations accomplishes nothing. They need to actually vote to decertify the election if they are convinced it “was absolutely premature, unconfirmed, and in error.”

The problem of course is their Republican leadership, which doesn’t want to do that, because it might hurt the feelings of the Democrats. God forbid! It is all right to disenfranchise millions of Republicans and allow for election fraud, but allowing Democrat feelings to be bruised cannot stand!

California, home of masks and harsh lockdowns, has highest COVID-19 infection rate in nation

Chicken Little report: New data reveals that California, the home of insane mask mandates and irrational and harsh lockdowns, also has the worst COVID-19 infection rate in nation, with the most daily new cases per capita.

In fact, the infection rate in California appears to be between two to three times the rate in Florida, where the restrictions have been few in the last six months.

Gee, I wonder if there might be a connection between these insane lockdown rules and mask mandates and the increase in cases. Could it be that because the lockdowns force people indoors, where the virus can thrive, rather than being out in the open air and sunlight, where such viruses easily die, they are increasing the disease’s spread? Could it be that forcing everyone to wear unsanitary masks indiscriminately might actually be exposing them more to infection?

Could it? If you have an open mind you ask such questions. If you don’t, you huddle in your basement with a mask on in terror and fear, even as the virus explodes around you.

Striped dunes in crater on Mars

Striped dunes in crater on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo on the right, rotated, cropped, and color-enhanced to post here, was taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on October 1, 2020. It shows some large dunes with what appear to be black or dark features across their surface, reminiscent of tiger stripes.

The dunes are located on the floor of 42-mile-wide Kunowsky Crater, located in the northern lowland plains of Mars at the high mid-latitude of 57 degrees north.

What are the tiger stripes? The second image below, provided at the image link, zooms in at full resolution at the area in the white box, and shows that the stripes appear to actually be made up of spots strung together.
» Read more

Fauci admits to lying in his public statements about COVID-19

Our corrupt and dishonest government experts: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, has now admitted that he changed his estimates of the required level of herd immunity needed to stop the epidemic based not on any science but on poll numbers and on “his gut feelings.”

In a Christmas Eve interview with the New York Times, Fauci acknowledged he had offered a lower estimate of the level of herd immunity necessary to stop the COVID-19 pandemic because he thought Americans would be discouraged by hearing his true thoughts on the issue.

He recently raised his estimate on the herd immunity threshold “partly based on new science,” the newspaper reported, “and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.”

Fauci himself told the paper that he had withheld the higher estimates because polling results made him think such estimates would be viewed unfavorably. “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” he told reporter Donald McNeil. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”

Fauci admitted that scientists “really don’t know what the real number is,” though he himself estimated that the “real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent.”

“But, I’m not going to say 90 percent,” he added, because “doing so might be discouraging to Americans,” according to the Times. [emphasis min]

The highlighted words tell us everything we really need to know about this fraud. He is not only a liar, he is an ignorant liar who cloaks that ignorance by loud declarations based not on knowledge but his own political goals.

Why are we still listening to this idiot? More important, why does he still have a job? Such dishonesty and two-timing should have gotten him fired instantly.

That he is still employed in such a powerful post and is still relied on by others in the media and government for guidance tells us much about the corruption and dishonesty of both those institutions. They support his lying, because it has also served their corrupt political purposes.

Indian private company test fires its own solid rocket motor

Capitalism in space: Skyroot Aerospace, an Indian private company, has successfully test fired its own privately-built solid rocket motor, as part of an effort to develop its own private rocket dubbed Vikram, with its first launch set for December ’21.

The solid rocket motor is for either the rocket’s second stage or for strap-on boosters. The company has already successfully tested the first stage engines.

The most interesting quote from the story however is this:

Founded by former scientists of the Indian Space Research organization (ISRO), Skyroot has raised $4.3 million till now and is in process of raising another $15 mn in 2021. In the past the company has raised investments from: Mukesh Bansal (Founder Myntra, CureFit), Solar Industries (India’s largest explosives manufacturer and renowned Space & Defence Contactor), Vedanshu investments and a few other Angel investors.

The Modi government has been making a strong effort to mimic the transition that NASA has gone through in the past decade whereby it shifts from having all its spacecraft and rockets designed, built, and owned by the government to having the government act merely as the customer buying those products from privately-run and independent companies. Like NASA, there has been strong resistance to this change within India’s government bureaucracy. Skyroot’s success, including its foundation by former ISRO engineers, is a very good sign that they are overcoming that resistance.

Starship #9 update: 1st flight targeted for shortly after the new year

Capitalism in space: According to this nasaspaceflight update, the first 10-mile-plus flight of the ninth Starship prototype is now targeted for shortly after January 1st.

Starship SN9 has been undergoing integration ops on the launch mount over the Christmas holiday, setting the stage for what will be a streamlined pre-launch test series when compared to that undertaken by SN8.

The first test will involve filling the vehicle with nitrogen, usually in a two-step fashion. Initially, the vehicle will be filled with gaseous nitrogen – called the ambient test, ahead of being loaded with super-cold liquid nitrogen (LN2) for the cryo test. This test sequence is expected early in the coming week, with preparations for testing already ongoing on Monday morning.

Providing all goes to plan with the proofing test, SN9 will be prepared for what is currently expected to be one Static Fire test involving all three Raptors. This is an expedited test schedule compared to SN8, which underwent several Static Fire tests ahead of launch. Two of SN9’s Raptors were installed on the vehicle inside the High Bay. Once the vehicle had made it to the pad, a third engine – SN49 – was installed, completing the trio.

Only after these tests have been completed will a launch date become known, likely via a notice to local air and sea traffic. This, in turn, will be pending acceptable weather conditions and vehicle preparedness going into prop loading tasks. Based on the best-case scenario test flow, the launch could realistically occur within January’s first two weeks.

The goal on this flight likely be will be twofold. First, to reaffirm the engineering and software for controlling the stage during its return to Earth. Second, to complete a successful landing, to prove they have corrected the pressure issue that caused the landing failure during Starship prototype #8’s flight.

The article also gives an update on the many additional Starship prototypes being readied for flight, along with the first Super Heavy prototype. It is expected that Super Heavy will make its first short 500 foot hop sometime in ’21.

China’s Long March 4C rocket launches military reconnaissance satellite

In what is likely China’s last launch in 2020, a Long March 4C rocket today successfully launched what is thought to be a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

35 China
25 SpaceX
15 Russia
6 ULA
6 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 40 to 35 in the national rankings. At the moment only one launch is publicly scheduled for the rest of the year, that by Europe’s Arianespace of a Soyuz rocket tomorrow from French Guiana.

My annual worldwide launch report will likely be posted on December 31st, as a New Year’s Eve gift to my readers.

Georgia election officials predict senate election count will take weeks

The fix is in: Georgia election officials are now predicting that a final count on the two senate runoff elections in early January will take weeks to complete.

What they are actually doing is preparing the public for a suspicious vote count that will give victories to both Democratic Party candidates, similar to the suspicious vote count that gave the state victory to Joe Biden in the presidential election. Expect more allegations of fake ballots, blocked poll watchers in Fulton County districts dominated by Democrats, and the misuse of Dominion machines whose trustworthiness is very suspect. Those allegations, the same as seen from the November 3rd vote, will result in legal battles because the election board and the quisling Republican governor Kemp will fight any effort to investigate the allegations.

If those allegations carried no weight, these crooks would not fight a full investigation. That they are resisting strongly suggests they are hiding something. And any Democrat victories, with polls showing both Republicans in the lead, will reinforce that suggestion.

Note too that these crooks have also done nothing to make sure these allegations do not get repeated. Nothing.

The fix is in. This is the Republicans last hill to fight on. If they don’t fight here, and win, there will be no more fights. They will never win another election ever. The Democrats will use their majority in the House and Senate, combined with the fake President Biden, to pass laws that will make political opposition impossible, as they have done in California and New York and Chicago and anywhere where they had the power to do so.

And since it appears the Republicans are not fighting, the war is over. Freedom and democracy in America is about to die.

James Doohan’s ashes have been on ISS for the past dozen years

Video game developer Richard Garriott admitted in an interview this week that when he flew to ISS as a space tourist in 2008 he smuggled some of the ashes of the late James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek, to hide there.

[Garriott] printed three cards with Doohan’s photo on them, sprinkling ashes inside and then laminating them. He then hid the cards within the flight data file, which was cleared for the flight (the cards were not). “Everything that officially goes on board is logged, inspected and bagged — there’s a process, but there was no time to put it through that process,” he said.

…According to Garriott, one of the cards is on display in Chris Doohan’s home, while another was sent floating in space, where it would have inevitably burned up when re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The third card, however, remains in the ISS, hidden beneath the cladding on the floor of the space station’s Columbus module, where Garriott hid it. “As far as I know, no one has ever seen it there and no one has moved it,” he said. “James Doohan got his resting place among the stars.” Since being hidden in the ISS, Doohan’s ashes have travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times.

I hope that now that Garriott has revealed the location of that third card, the petty dictators at NASA and Roscosmos won’t insist that it be removed. For ISS having the ashes of the world’s best space engineer on board can only be good luck.

And it might encourage the government workers at NASA and Roscomos to follow Scotty’s most sage advice, which to paraphrase is “Always under-predict and over-perform. It keeps their expectations low.”

Thailand government proposes space program

The new colonial movement: In an effort to stimulate and diversify their economy, the Thailand government has proposed a space program whose long term goal will be sending an unmanned spacecraft to the Moon.

[The Minister for Education, Science, Research and Innovation Anek Laothamatas] on Thursday outlined a plan to develop, first of all, advanced satellites in the 50 kg to 100 kg range which the kingdom will launch into orbit. This will take five years.

He then explained that Thailand will aim to build a spacecraft which can travel to the moon and enter into lunar orbit. This will take a further three years. ‘The new economy of space travel will be a way for Thailand to overcome the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and then to escape the middle-income trap, and the ministry will embrace creativity and innovation,’ Minister Anek disclosed.

The plan is expected to be based on the use of a xenon ion thruster rocket used by NASA and a 300 kg spacecraft which can be launched effectively out of the earth’s orbit. It would then travel to the moon at 11km per hour. Once there, it would slow to 2km per hour and enter the moon’s orbit.

The article is essentially a propaganda puff piece for this minister and his proposal. Whether it actually flies is unknown, as it appears right now to mostly be a vehicle for this guy to build his own government empire rather than actually accomplish anything. I was especially amused by this quote from the article, based on this education minister’s goals:

So this is why Thailand is keen to develop its credentials in the race to space as well as other social reforms currently being introduced by the government such as greater rights for the LGBT community, welfare schemes, a move this week to liberalise the kingdom’s abortion laws and radical plans to update the education system with an emphasis on English. [emphasis mine]

Yeah, right, space technology falls right in line with LGBT rights. Forgive me if I am skeptical.

Kathy Mattea – Mary did you know

An evening pause: This song honoring Jesus I think really speaks of every child born on Earth, and how every parent should see them. As Wordsworth said, they come “trailing clouds of glory.”

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kissed you little baby then you kissed the face of god.

Hat tip Diane Zimmerman.

Nationwide analysis suggests masks increased the spread of COVID-19

WHO's do's and don't's for mask use
For the full images, go here and here.

A analysis of all fifty states suggests the mandate to wear masks might have actually increased the spread of COVID-19 rather than reduced it.

They studied the number of cases over a 229-day period from May 1 through Dec. 15 and divided the results of the two study groups by days with mask mandates and days without mask mandates. The non-mandate data group includes both states that never had a mandate and those that did at some point, but data set included only the days they did not have a mask mandate.

The results: When comparing states with mandates vs. those without, or periods of times within a state with a mandate vs. without, there is absolutely no evidence the mask mandate worked to slow the spread one iota. In total, in the states that had a mandate in effect, there were 9,605,256 confirmed COVID cases over 5,907 total days, an average of 27 cases per 100,000 per day. When states did not have a statewide order (which includes the states that never had them and the period of time masking states did not have the mandate in place) there were 5,781,716 cases over 5,772 total days, averaging 17 cases per 100,000 people per day.

The reverse correlation between periods of masking and non-masking is remarkable.

That’s right. With mandates in place states say 10 more cases per 100K population. [emphasis mine]

It is very important to make it clear that this result has many uncertainties. It also is probably telling us more about the widespread improper use of masks that the mandates encourage and in fact literally require than the usefulness of masks when used properly.

Under the mandates, everyone uses and reuses the same mask, wearing it continuously for hours, or if not, putting it on and off and storing it in an unsanitary manner in-between. People also touch the mask continuously, and allow it to get wet and dirty without a second thought.

As the above WHO graph (that I have repeatedly posted) bluntly notes, doing this actually makes the mask a pathogen bomb that you wear on your face. The data of the above report reinforces this fact. That this reality has also been documented by scientific research and common sense for more than a century should also carry some weight as well. Sadly, in today’s society it does not.

I have repeatedly agreed that it is likely true that if everyone wore the right kind of masks, and wore them properly, for short periods and only when exposed to a symptomatic individual or when symptomatic themselves and in the presence of others, than maybe, maybe, masks would have a benefit. (Note that the data now confirms that only symptomatic individuals can infect others, and that if you have no symptoms you are almost certainly not going to spread the disease to others.)

Right now, mask mandates are likely causing more harm than good, and are really nothing more than feel-good nonsense that are being imposed by the petty dictators and control freaks of our society not to reduce the spread of disease but to increase the spread of their totalitarian power. If you go along, than you deserve the oppression you are certainly going to experience in the coming years.

As well as the increased likelihood that you will also get sick.

First look at Ryugu samples

Japanese scientists have taken their first look at the Ryugu sample material brought back by Hayabusa-2 and found they resemble charcoal.

The samples Japanese space officials described Thursday are as big as 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) and rock hard, not breaking when picked up or poured into another container. Smaller black, sandy granules the spacecraft collected and returned separately were described last week.

…The sandy granules the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency described last week were from the spacecraft’s first touchdown in April 2019.

The larger fragments were from the compartment allocated for the second touchdown on Ryugu, said Tomohiro Usui, space materials scientist. To get the second set of samples in July last year, Hayabusa2 dropped an impactor to blast below the asteroid’s surface, collecting material from the crafter so it would be unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors.

Usui said the size differences suggest different hardness of the bedrock on the asteroid. “One possibility is that the place of the second touchdown was a hard bedrock and larger particles broke and entered the compartment.”

The analysis of these samples has only just begun. Dating them is likely next, and that will probably reveal some startling results.

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