Prep of first SLS rocket continues to suggest no launch in ’21

Though NASA and Boeing crews and management have been striving very hard to get the SLS rocket on the launchpad for a liftoff before the end of this year, the schedule has as expected continued to slip, with the chances of a launch by December now increasingly unlikely.

NASA engineers have not discovered any major problems during the SLS testing, but key milestones leading up to the Artemis 1 launch have been steadily sliding to the right in NASA’s processing schedule.

Before NASA raised the Boeing-made SLS core stage onto its mobile launch platform inside High Bay 3 of the VAB in June, managers hoped to connect he Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 mission on top of the rocket in August. That’s now expected this fall.

The first rollout of the 322-foot-tall (98-meter) rocket from the VAB to launch pad 39B was scheduled no earlier than September. That’s now expected in late November, at the soonest, according to [Cliff Lanham, senior vehicle operations manager for NASA’s exploration ground systems program].

The schedule slips, while not significant amid the history of SLS program delays, have put a major crunch on NASA’s ambition to launch the Artemis 1 mission this year. The agency is evaluating Artemis 1 launch opportunities in the second half of December, multiple sources said, but that would require NASA to cut in half the time it originally allotted between the SLS fueling test and the actual launch date.

None of this is really a surprise. NASA had always said it would take about six to ten months to get the rocket ready for launch once it arrived in Florida, and it only got there in May. That meant a late November launch could only occur if everything went perfectly. As this is the first time this rocket has ever been assembled, it is not reasonable to expect such perfection.

Based on all factors, the launch will likely occur no earlier than January, but more likely in February, at the earliest. On that schedule it is very likely SpaceX’s Starship will reach orbit first.

Stucco on Mars!

Stucco on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped to post here, was taken on June 8, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a strangely flat plain with a complex stucco-type surface of ridges and depressions. The sunlight is coming from the west, which makes the smoother flat areas depressions.

What are we looking at? What causes this strange surface? Make sure you look at the full image, because the section I cropped out doesn’t give a true sense of the terrain’s vastness.

The MRO science team labeled the photo “volcanic terrain,” but that tells only part of the story, since this volcanic terrain is actually part of Mars’ most interesting lava plains, as the overview map below shows.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: Mother of slain soldier censored by Instagram and Facebook

Screenshot of Instagram censoring

The new dark age of silencing: Apparently because her posts on Instagram and Facebook were highly critical of Democrat President Joe Biden, both social media companies immediately either shut down or restricted the accounts of Shana Chappell, the mother of one of the soldiers killed in the Kabul Airport suicide bombing.

The mother of a Marine killed in the suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, last week had her account removed from Instagram and “incorrectly deleted” from Facebook following her fierce criticism of President Biden in the wake of her son’s death.

Shana Chappell, the mother of Kareem Nikoui, 20, took to Facebook on Monday to slam Instagram for removing her account after she started posting about what happened to her son and her belief that Biden is to blame. Chappell claimed the social media platform started to flag several of her “posts from months ago,” and began to send her warnings that she could have her account disabled.

“It seems Instagram took it upon themselves to delete my account because i am assuming it was because i gained so many followers over my sons death due to Biden’s negligence, ignorance and him being a traitor,” she wrote on Facebook. “I’m gonna assume that Facebook is gonna delete me next! Funny how these leftist one sided pieces of crap don’t want the truth to come out!

It appears both Instagram and Facebook have since restored her accounts and apologized, with both saying that her account was “accidentally deleted.” Hogwash. These actions are never an accident. They are almost always against people criticizing the left or the Democratic Party (I repeat myself), with many such bannings never explained or corrected.
» Read more

South Korea to launch its own rocket in October

The new colonial movement: South Korea is now targeting October 21, 2021 for the first test launch of its home-built Nuri rocket.

The October flight will be South Korea’s first domestic orbital launch attempt in more than eight years. On Jan. 30, 2013, a Naro-1 rocket placed the STSAT-2C technology demonstration satellite into low Earth orbit.

It was the final of three launches for now retired Naro-1, which consisted of a Russian Angara first stage with a downgraded engine and a South Korean developed solid-fuel upper stage. Two previous Naro-1 launches failed in 2009 and 2010.

They have also scheduled a follow-up test launch in May ’22, assuming all goes well on this first test launch.

Zhurong completes 100 days on Mars

Zhurong's loaction, August 31, 2021

The new colonial movement: In announcing today that its Mars rover Zhurong has completed 100 days on the Martian surface, the state-run Chinese press released one very low-resolution panorama taken at the rover’s new position, and a map showing its full route since landing.

The map to the right, created by placing that route on a high resolution Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image, shows us where Zhurong presently sits as well as where it might travel next. It still appears that they are attempting to reach the heat shield used during landing, which also suggests that they are giving high priority to the engineering aspects of this mission, possibly ranking that component higher than any science they get.

If high resolution versions of that panorama are available, they are probably only available on the Chinese language sites, which makes it very difficult for a non-Chinese-speaker to find.

According to the release, the rover has now traveled just under 3,500 feet, which means it is maintaining a pace greater than 1,000 feet per month. The release also noted this fact about the rover’s upcoming travels, as well as the Tianwen-1 orbiter being used as a communications relay satellite:

The probes will experience a sun outage in mid-to-late September when the Sun is aligned with Earth and Mars, with the solar radiation interfering with the communication between the probes and ground stations. The orbiter and rover will stop working until the sun outage comes to an end.

This conjunction occurs every two years. It means there will also be a pause in data from the American rovers and orbiters. When the last conjunction occurred in September 2019, the communications shutdown lasted about two weeks.

New cracks discovered on a different Russian ISS module

Russian officials revealed today that their astronauts have discovered new cracks on a different Russian ISS module, dubbed Zarya.

“Superficial fissures have been found in some places on the Zarya module,” Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer of rocket and space corporation Energia, told RIA news agency, according to Reuters. “This is bad and suggests that the fissures will begin to spread over time.” The Zarya module, also called the Functional Cargo Block, was the first component of the ISS ever launched, having blasted into orbit on Nov. 20, 1998, according to NASA.

Russians have now found what appear to be age stress fractures on both Zarya and Zvezda, the two oldest modules of ISS. More important, the Russians are finally admitting that the cracks are stress fractures, something they had earlier denied.

The need to launch new commercial American modules to ISS as quickly as possible has now become even more urgent. Axiom plans to do so, but its first module is not scheduled to arrive before ’24. It now looks increasingly that the Russian modules might not make it till then.

German rocket company successfully tests first stage to failure

Capitalism in space: The German startup rocket company Rocket Factory Augsburg has successfully completed a tank pressure test of its rocket’s core first stage, testing that stage to failure.

The German startup Rocket Factory Augsburg, or RFA, has concluded another test of their RFA One rocket. In the test, the company performed a destructive cryogenic pressure test of their first stage prototype. The company has shown a video in which the prototype stage broke apart after it was fueled with cryogenic nitrogen to test the quality of the welds and determine the pressure at which the structure fails.

The milestone is the latest for the company which is aiming to develop a reusable launch vehicle for small payloads. The first flight of RFA One is currently slated for late 2022, following more testing and development.

The video of the test, with a dramatic soundtrack (as has sadly become the practice today since all life always has its own soundtrack) can be seen at the link.

This company is one of three German private rocket startups vying to enter the smallsat launch market — Isar, RFA, and HyImpulse — with two hoping to make their first launch next year.

Report: 43K of 61K absentee ballots in Georgia county were counted despite being illegal

According to a newspaper in Georgia, 72% of the absentee ballots (43K out of 61K) obtained from drop boxes in DeKalb County, which covers part of Atlanta, violated the legal chain-of-custody requirements, and thus should have been deemed invalid.

The problem was actually worse than that:

All told, 43,907 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in DeKalb County … were counted in the certified results of the November 3, 2020 election despite being delivered to the registrar’s office in clear violation of the chain of custody documentation of the Georgia State Election Board’s July 2020 rule.

Another 24 percent – 14,925 absentee ballots collected from drop boxes – were documented as received by the elections official more than an hour after being collected by a two-person collection team, but on the same calendar day. Arguably, these additional 14,925 absentee ballots could also be considered in violation of the election code rule that requires absentee ballots placed in drop boxes “shall be immediately transported to the county registrar.”

Less than 5 percent of the absentee ballots collected from drop boxes during the November 2020 election were recorded as being received by the elections official in an hour or less. [emphasis in original]

That a chain of custody for the drop-box absentee ballots was not maintained means that during the time gap someone could have gone through the ballots and eliminated votes they do not like, or replaced those votes with “corrected” votes.

The newspaper also reports similar issues with drop box absentee ballots in other counties.

While these problems do not necessarily suggest fraud or vote tampering in this county, it certainly stinks to high heaven, especially since the drop boxes themselves were a very bad idea that made election fraud easy.

Biden won Georgia by only 11,779 votes. Who knows what the real count was? We shall probably never know.

Today’s blacklisted American: Chase Bank closes Lt. General Mike Flynn’s credit card accounts because they don’t like his opinions

Chase Bank blackballs Mike Flynn

They’re coming for you next: Chase Bank has unilaterally closed the credit card accounts held by President Trump’s first National Security Advisor Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, either because they don’t like his political opinions or are terrified of the left’s wrath if they don’t blackball him.

The language from Chase’s terse cancellation letter to Flynn, also shown to the right, is most revealing:
» Read more

An ancient curving channel on Mars

Context image of curving channels
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken by the wide angle context camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in April 2019. It shows an area on Mars where a number of meandering curving channels flow downhill from the west to the east.

Earlier MRO images had already spotted these channels, so when this context image was taken the scientists also took a high resolution image of the same channels, with the white box indicating the area covered by the rotated, cropped, and reduced image below.

Both images are today’s MRO image of the day, where the MRO team notes that “The objective of this observation is to examine a complex network of channels. Some parts of the channels are quite curved.”
» Read more

Astra launch failure caused by one of five 1st stage engines shutting down at liftoff

Capitalism in space: According to an Astra press release, its launch failure on August 28th was caused when one of the rocket’s five 1st stage engines shut down one second after liftoff.

One of the five main engines shut down less than one second after liftoff, causing the vehicle to slowly lift off the pad before resuming its trajectory. After approximately two minutes and thirty seconds of flight, the range issued an all engine-shutdown command, ending the flight.

The lack of one engine explains the rocket’s strange take-off, where it initially tilted slightly, shifted sideways, and then straightened up and began rising upward. From that point onward the ground controllers knew the mission would not reach orbit, and were only waiting until it reached a safe altitude to cut off the engines and have the rocket fall into the ocean safely.

While the launch failed, Astra’s engineers should be very satisfied by how the software on the rocket functioned. Rather than shut everything down and crashing into the launchpad fully fueled where it could do a lot of damage, the rocket immediately compensated for the loss of one engine and resumed a stable flight, allowing it to get clear.

This success does not negate the failure however. Astra needs to find out why one engine shut down.

SpaceX successfully launches cargo Dragon to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to launch cargo Dragon to ISS.

The first stage completed its fourth flight, landing successfully on the drone ship in the Atlantic. The cargo Dragon is making its second cargo mission for NASA. It will dock tomorrow.

This was SpaceX’s first launch since June 30th, a gap of almost two months as they initiated operations of a new drone ship in the Atlantic and shifted an older drone ship to the Pacific. In the next few weeks expect their fast launch pace for ’21 to resume, with at least one Starlink launch and the September 15th Inspiration4 commercial manned orbital flight.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

29 China
21 SpaceX
13 Russia
4 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. now leads China 32 to 29 in the national rankings.

Astra third launch attempt fails just before 1st stage engine cutoff

Astra launch, August 28, 2021

Capitalism in space: The third orbital launch attempt of the smallsat rocket company Astra failed about two and a half minutes into flight, just about twenty seconds before the the first stage engine cutoff and stage separation.

It appeared that the first stage engines shut down about twenty seconds early, and then the rocket began tumbling.

I have embedded the live stream below the fold, cued to just before launch. The image to the right is a screen capture about seven seconds after liftoff. Astra’s rocket did a maneuver at launch I’ve never seen before, where it immediately tilted slightly to transition to the side, and then righted itself to begin gaining altitude. In this image the top of the strongback can be seen on the left, with the now upright rocket beginning its flight.

Whether Astra can figure out what went wrong and attempt another flight before the end of this year remains unclear. This was the third launch in their announced three launch test program, with the goal of reaching orbit on the third launch (today’s). They did not meet that goal, though their second test launch in December came extremely close to orbit with no major technical failures.
» Read more

Successful orbital engineering test of magnetic space junk removal technology

Capitalism in space: The Japanese-based company Astroscale has successful completed its first test in orbit of a magnetic capture device designed to someday remove for space junk.

Launched on March 22, ELSA-d (short for “End-of-Life Services by Astroscale demonstration”) brought with it to orbit a 37-pound (17 kilograms) cubesat fitted with a magnetic docking plate. During the experiment on Wednesday (Aug. 25), ground controllers first remotely released a mechanical locking mechanism attaching the cubesat to the main 386-pound (175 kg) removal craft, Astroscale said in a statement. The two satellites were still held together by the magnetic system, which is responsible for capturing the debris.

The cubesat was then released completely and recaptured before floating too far away from the main spacecraft. Astroscale said on Twitter that this maneuver was repeated several times. This short demonstration enabled Astroscale to test and calibrate rendezvous sensors, which enable safe approach and capture of floating objects.

Engineers in the coming weeks plan to do even more challenging tests of ELSA, including a capture attempt where the target is made to tumble like an out-of-control satellite.

Eventually the company hopes to sell its target technology to satellite makers so that its satellites will be able to capture them. It already has a deal with OneWeb to develop this technology for its satellites, whereby one of its clean-up satellites could capture a bunch of defunct OneWeb satellites on one flight and deorbit them safely.

Whether this magnetic capture technique could be used on satellites with metal but no specifically designed target is unclear. If so it would place Astroscale a strong position to gain a large portion of the space junk removal business.

George C. Scott’s Patton speech

An evening pause: The opening speech from the 1970 movie Patton that captured the character of one of America’s most unique and successful generals.

Patton was a difficult man with little diplomacy, but then, soldiers are not hired to be diplomats. (At least we didn’t when America was the sane country of courageous fighters, as described in this speech.) Yet, as difficult as he was, his philosophy of war was a direct descendant of the war strategy and tactics of Ulysses S. Grant. As Patton is believed to have actually said,

“Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose!”

This was how Grant won the Civil War. It was how Americans fought every war that followed through World War II. Sadly, that philosophy was lost by the bureaucratic military that developed during the Cold War.

If only we had generals and political leaders today who understand this utterly essential approach for winning wars.

One note: The speech’s language at times violates my rules about obscenities. In the context of war and death however I think the use of such language wholly appropriate.

Hat tip Daniel Morris.

Sweden — land of no lockdowns or mandates — is doing best of all European nations against COVID

Present European statistics on COVID
Click for full image.

Sweden has been slammed repeatedly by our panic-stricken mob of elitist leaders in politics, academia, and journalism for refusing to impose lockdowns or mask mandates. Instead, they essentially followed the recommendations of the Great Barrington Declaration and focused on protecting the vulnerable (the old and sick) while allowing everyone else (the young and healthy) to live normal lives. (This approach is what western civilization had done for the last two centuries when faced with a new flu epidemic, and only abandoned it in 2020 when our new leftist masters decided they knew better.)

The result was that the COVID virus quickly spread through Sweden’s strong and healthy population, did little harm, but left behind a nation of people who all have a natural immunity to the Wuhan flu and its later strains. Thus, while the rest of Europe — home of totalitarian and mindless governmental restrictions, lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates — is now dealing with new outbreaks of the Wuhan flu and new deaths, Sweden is not.

The chart above, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and annotated by Doug Ross, illustrates this starkly. He also notes this disgusting fact about the bankrupt journalists of today:

It took me well more than 12 seconds to find the website of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, where weekly Covid updates from each country are tabulated. That level of effort finding the numbers apparently is too difficult for Pro Journalists at the HDNY Times*, CCNN, NBS, Politishmo, Yapoo and the rest.

Natural immunity is the best way to protect against the arrival of new flu strains. The drugs that have been developed might do okay, but against respiratory diseases like the coronavirus they have never been a real solution, only a bandaid that is best reserved for that old and sick population who really needs it. This is why we have always advised older people to get flu shots, but not the young.

Today’s blacklisted American: Conservative student disqualified from student government because he’s conservative

No free speech at Auburn University
No freedom of speech allowed at Auburn University!

The new dark age of silencing: A conservative student at Auburn University was voted down for government office essentially because it was revealed that he was conservative and Christian, and had expressed entirely reasonable views on Twitter criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and its racist and Marxist agenda.

A junior nominated for a position on Auburn University’s student government was successfully shot down because he expressed Christian and conservative beliefs on social media.

Stephen Morris was nominated for the position of chief justice of Auburn University’s Student Government Association. To his surprise, at the session where his nomination was to be taken up, held remotely over video, several members of the student senate strongly opposed his nomination.

Morris’s critics accused him of racism over tweets they found offensive, and declared him unfit for service in student government.

The story at the link provides three examples of Morris’s tweets. None show the slightest indication of racism, merely a strong opposition to the agenda of Black Lives Matter, which despite its name seems entirely disinterested in the terrible crime rate in black communities, where innocent blacks are daily killed and robbed by the black criminals in their midst. Instead, all BLM cares about is eliminating any police protection for those innocent blacks, and for gaining as power and money for itself.
» Read more

Another mountain view from Curiosity

Low resolution panorama
Click for full resolution panorama. The original images can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I hope my readers won’t get tired of seeing these mountain views from Curiosity, but I can’t get enough of them.

The image above is a panorama I’ve created from six photos taken by Curiosity’s right navigation camera yesterday. The box marks the location of that spectacular outcrop I highlighted in the previous mountain view five days ago. The red dotted line shows the rover’s upcoming planned route. The white cross indicates the pavement bedrock where the science team hopes to next drill.

For scale, Navarro Mountain is rises about 400 feet from where the rover presently sits. The peak of Mount Sharp is actually not visible, blocked by its near white flank on the panorama’s left edge. That peak is still 13,000 feet higher up from where the rover presently sits.

The rise of rocks next to the words “entering Gediz Vallis” is actually only probably five to ten feet high, as it is very close to the rover.

Curiosity’s travels continue to get more and more exciting to follow.

FAA’s space bureaucracy chief touts desire to limit his agency’s regulatory fist

Wayne Monteith, the man in charge of the FAA’s office of commercial space — which is tasked with regulating commercial space — revealed in a speech on August 25, 2021 that his goal is to speed that industry’s growth, not hinder it with odious regulations.

Wayne R. Monteith, a retired Air Force general who served for years in space billets in Colorado Springs is now the FAA’s associate administrator for commercial space transportation. He told a Space Symposium crowd at The Broadmoor Wednesday that to a large extent, he’s trying to keep his agency out of the way of the rush to space. “A regulatory agency can either be an accelerator or an inhibitor of industry,” he said. “We choose to be an accelerator.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Don’t be so sure. While right now Monteith noted that the agency is taking a laissez-faire approach to anyone who wants to fly in space, acting only to make sure space accidents will not harm “the uninvolved public,” he also said this in his speech:

Monteith warned, though, that mishaps for manned space flight that escalate to what he called “catastrophe,” have consequences. “The worst case is a catastrophic failure,” he said. “Then, we will regulate.”

In other words, he recognizes that if he tried now to impose his bureaucratic will on commercial space, it would not fly politically. What he really needs to expand his power is some space accident, a crisis you might say, that he can then use to convince others that he should be controlling things more.

Based on the response of the press, public, and American culture in the past half century, his thinking is quite sound. Routinely since World War II, as soon as something goes wrong in any field of endeavor the American public and political class has repeatedly wanted the government to move in and take greater control, under the false premise that somehow the government can prevent further failures.

Instead, we have accomplished less, and fueled the rise of an all-powerful bureaucracy capable and quite willing to squelch achievement. This is the pattern that Monteith is relying on, and based on recent history, he is entirely justified in believing so.

China studying the construction of large-scale structures in space

The new colonial movement: China has now indicated that it has established a project to study methods for building very large structures in orbit, with uses ranging from generating beamed solar power to providing mega-sized manned spaceships and space stations.

Though vague, the project would have practical applications for potential megaprojects including colossal space-based solar power stations. Such facilities would be based in geostationary orbit and span kilometers. These stations would collect solar energy and transmitting power to Earth through microwaves.

Kilometer-scale, ultra-large spacecraft are described as “major strategic aerospace equipment for the future use of space resources, exploration of the mysteries of the universe, and long-term habitation in orbit,” according to the project outline within the mathematical and physical sciences attachment to the released document.

The project would focus on minimizing the weight of the spacecraft to reduce the number of launches and construction, according to an initial report by the South China Morning Post.

It appears that this project is only in its preliminary design phase, with a budget of $3.2 million. Its existence however reinforces the overall rational and long term approach China’s government is taking to space exploration. At this moment they mean business, and are focused on getting the cutting edge technology designed and built rather then maintaining a bureaucratic infrastructure and the jobs that go with it — as NASA and Russia have been doing for the past forty-plus years.

Rocket Lab becomes third rocket company to go public

Capitalism in space: On August 25, 2021 Rocket Lab became the third rocket company to go public, following Virgin Galactic and Astra to sign a merger deal with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Nasdaq celebrated the milestone, inviting Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck to ring the market’s opening bell Wednesday morning.

The SPAC merger, with a San Francisco-based company called Vector Acquisition Corporation, provides Rocket Lab with about $777 million. The funds will aid the development of multiple projects, including Rocket Lab’s big, next-generation Neutron rocket, company representatives said.

Nor is this all. Virgin Orbit has also signed a similar deal this wee, and will begin trading stock soon.

All these deals indicate that the investment community is very confident in making big profits in space, and is now willing to commit a lot of cash to that prospect.

ULA to no longer sell Atlas-5 launches

Capitalism in space: In an interview ULA’s CEO Tory Bruno has announced that they have contracts on all of the company’s remaining Atlas-5 rockets, and will no longer be offering that rocket for new sales.

“We’re done. They’re all sold,” CEO Tory Bruno said of ULA’s Atlas V rockets in an interview. ULA, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, has 29 Atlas V missions left before it retires sometime in the mid-2020s and transitions to its upcoming Vulcan rocket, Bruno said. The remaining Atlas V missions include a mix of undisclosed commercial customers and some for the Space Force, NASA, and Amazon’s budding broadband satellite constellation, Project Kuiper.

This means that the company is now firmly committed to its Vulcan rocket, which also means it is entirely committed to the repeatedly delayed BE-4 engine that Blue Origin is building for that rocket. This announcement suggests that Bruno is confident that the BE-4’s problems have been overcome, and that Blue Origin is about to begin regular assembly of the many flightworthy engines ULA will need.

If so, this is really good news. It not only means that Vulcan launches will finally begin, but that Blue Origin might also begin flying its New Glenn rocket. Both will give the U.S. some competitive options for getting big payloads into space. Right now the only real choice at a reasonable price is SpaceX, and having one choice is never a good thing.

Amazon protests SpaceX’s Starlink plan to FCC

Amazon on August 25, 2021 filed a protest with the FCC against SpaceX’s proposed expansion of its Starlink constellation that would allow almost 30,000 satellites to be launched.

“Should the Commission depart from its rules and precedent and endorse the approach of applying for multiple, mutually exclusive configurations, the consequences will extend far beyond the SpaceX Amendment,” wrote Mariah Shuman, corporate counsel for Amazon’s broadband megaconstellation venture Project Kuiper, in an Aug. 25 letter to the FCC. “However inefficient this strategy might be for the Commission and parties responding to applications, other prospective licensees will surely see the benefit in maximizing their optionality by describing multiple configurations in their license applications.”

Shuman asked the FCC to “dismiss SpaceX’s Amendment, and invite SpaceX to resubmit its amendment after settling on a single configuration for its Gen2 System.”

It appears Amazon does not want the FCC to approve multiple proposed satellite configurations put forth by SpaceX in a single application. Instead, it wants the FCC to force SpaceX to pick one, and submit that alone. It also appears that doing what Amazon requests would be more in line with past FCC policy.

While Amazon might have a point, the optics once again make another Jeff Bezos’ company look ugly, more interested in using the courts to stymie its competitors than actually launching anything. Amazon’s Kuiper internet constellation was first proposed in early 2019. More than two years have passed and none of its more than 3200 satellites have launched — not even one test satellite — with no clear indication yet on when launches will finally begin.

SpaceX began testing its Starlink system in 2018, and already has about 1,700 operational satellites in orbit. The comparison between the two companies is stark, and not favorable to Amazon.

In fact, Elon Musk was not shy in taking advantage of these optics to note them quite sharply in a tweet yesterday, saying, “Turns out Besos [sic] retired in order to pursue a full-time job filing lawsuits against SpaceX.”

Amazon is not Blue Origin, but both companies were founded by Bezos, and it appears right now that both prefer court battles to rocket engineering.

Webb telescope finally completed, ready for shipment to launchpad

After more than two decades of construction (ten years behind schedule) and more than $10 billion (20 times the original cost), the infrared James Webb Space Telescope has finally completed its testing and is ready for shipment to its launch site in French Guiana to be mounted on an Ariane 5 rocket.

Now that observatory testing has concluded, shipment operations have begun. This includes all the necessary steps to prepare Webb for a safe journey through the Panama Canal to its launch location in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America. Since no more large-scale testing is required, Webb’s clean room technicians have shifted their focus from demonstrating it can survive the harsh conditions of launch and work in orbit, to making sure it will safely arrive at the launch pad. Webb’s contamination control technicians, transport engineers, and logistics task forces are all expertly prepared to handle the unique task of getting Webb to the launch site. Shipping preparations will be completed in September.

If all goes well, NASA and ESA hope to launch the telescope in late October. It will then take about six months for the telescope to unfold and reach its operating position a million miles from Earth in the Earth’s shadow.

Let us all pray that everything works. If it does not, there will be nothing that can be done to fix it for probably at least five years, if then, as it will be out of reach of any maintenance mission, manned or unmanned.

Today’s blacklisted American: World’s top vaccine expert censored by Twitter & LinkedIn and punished by the CDC

No real scientists allowed!
The opinions of real scientists banned!

They’re coming for you next: Even as Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard medical professor and one of the world’s foremost experts on vaccines, has been repeatedly censored by Twitter and LinkedIn, he has been banned and punished by the CDC for daring to publicly dissent from its government lockdown and mask and vaccine mandate policies.

First, I think it important to know who Martin Kulldorff is. This article provides a succinct resume of his qualifications:

Dr. Martin Kulldorff is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a biostatistician and epidemiologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He helped develop the CDC’s current system for monitoring potential vaccine risks.

Then there is this opinion by one of his collegues:

Kulldorff is a “world-class” vaccine safety “superstar,” said Jeffrey Brown, a Harvard Medical School colleague specializing in drug and vaccine safety research. “His qualifications are spectacular,” Brown said of Kulldorff. “He’s an international expert in vaccine safety. No one on earth would question whether he’s qualified. … He’s a pioneer.”

And yet, he has now become a pariah on social media as well as at the CDC, all of whom are apparently no longer interested in a robust and honest discussion about COVID.
» Read more

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