Musk: Starship orbital flight could happen as soon as next month

Capitalism in space: Elon Musk today announced that SpaceX will be ready to launch the first orbital flight of Starship as soon as one month from now.

“If all goes well, Starship will be ready for its first orbital launch attempt next month, pending regulatory approval,” Musk tweeted today [emphasis mine]

Musk’s tweet came one day after the FAA completed its public hearings on its environment reassessment of SpaceX’s operations in Boca Chica. Before the agency can approve that reassessment it has to digest the comments, then to hold an “industry workshop” on this reassessment.

Thus, while SpaceX is ready to go, our lumbering, oppressive government is not. As I’ve written before, I fully expect there to be pressure from the Biden administration and NASA to slow walk that government approval so that Starship does not launch before February 2021, when SLS is now scheduled for its first launch. Having SpaceX get its heavy lift rocket into orbit before NASA would be very embarrassing, considering that SpaceX has spent about a third the time and about a tenth the money getting it done.

I hope I am wrong, but this is what I expect from the corrupt federal government we now have.

NASA sets target launch date for SLS in February ’22

As expected, the first unmanned demo launch of NASA’s SLS rocket has now been scheduled for a February launch window.

The first launch window for NASA’s Artemis I mission opens on February 12 at 5:56 p.m. EDT – yes, we have dates and times for this long-awaited mission. The February window lasts two weeks, with the first half of that window allowing a six-week mission and a four-week mission on the back half.

If for some reason NASA cannot launch in that firs window, they have back up windows in March and April. These windows exist because the plan is to send the Orion capsule to orbit the Moon from four to six weeks, and then return to Earth.

The announcement came the day after NASA had finally stacked the Orion capsule on top of the SLS rocket, essentially completing the rocket’s assembly.

Next Ariane 5 launch postponed

Arianespace today announced that it has postponed its next Ariane 5 launch of two communications satellites, scheduled for October 22nd, because of issues with ground equipment.

Though there appear to be no issues with the rocket, this delay could effect the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in December on another Ariane 5 rocket. Arianespace has said that it wants to complete this launch first, to make sure the fixes it completed on the rocket’s fairing are truly working.

It was those problems that shut down all Ariane 5 launches for almost a full year.

No new launch date has been set. Normally, ground equipment issues cause short delays, so we should be hopeful all will be fixed quickly and this launch will be quickly rescheduled and take off without problems.

Today’s blacklisted American: Teacher suspended for criticizing students for being offended over nothing

1966 in communist China
Mao’s 1966 cultural revolution comes to Coastal Carolina University

The modern dark age: Today’s blacklist story might illustrate better than any I have posted the oppressive, mindless, and emotional madness that is sweeping our country. Let me first sum the story up in a simple way.

–A teacher invites a guest speaker to a class to help the students find friends with like interests.

–The guest writes some student names on the blackboard with this intent.

–The students enter the class, and some immediately assume that because some of those names are minorities, the list has a bigoted intent.

–These students leave the class and immediately begin organizing a protest and a boycott of the teacher.

–Even after it is shown, without doubt, that these protesting students are 100% wrong, that the goal was to help all the students, including the minorities, the school apologizes to the protesters, not to the teacher or the guest speaker. The guest speaker also apologized, even though that speaker did nothing wrong.

–The teacher however does not apologize. He defends his guest, and notes that people should not let their feelings get hurt so easily.

–The student protesters, most of whom it appears did not attend the class and did not even know the teacher, immediately renew their call for a boycott of his classes.

–The administration of Coastal Carolina University agrees, suspending the teacher and accusing him of being “racially insensitive.”

Do you see the madness? The wrong-doers are in charge and it is the innocent who are punished.

Now for the punchline:
» Read more

Pop-up clouds on Jupiter

Pop-up clouds on Jupiter
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo above was cropped and enhanced by citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt from a raw Juno image taken during that spacecraft’s 37th orbit. I have reduced it slightly to post here.

The photo shows what he calls “pop-up” clouds floating above a much larger cloud eddy. Unfortunately, Eichstädt provides no scale, but I suspect this image would easily cover the Earth, with those white clouds probably far larger than the biggest hurricane on Earth.

Ukraine and Nova Scotia to partner in spaceport deal

The new colonial movement: The Ukraine has agreed to be a partner in the building of a new spaceport in Nova Scotia.

It appears a Canadian company, Maritime Launch Services (MLS) has raised $10.5 million in investment capital to develop both the spaceport and a rocket it dubs Cyclone-4M. That company has also been negotiating with the Ukraine to buy engines from its two rocket engine manufacturers, Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash, for that rocket. As part of the negotiations, the Ukrainian government has agreed to provide funding to these two companies.

Both sides will hold further meetings in Canada on this partnership in November, including top Ukrainian government officials, Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Uruskyi, State Space Agency of Ukraine Administrator Vladimir Taftai, and Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

China resumes communications with Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter

With the Sun no longer between the Earth and Mars, China has re-established communications with its Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter.

According to the CNSA [China National Space Administration], the orbiter will enter the remote-sensing orbit of Mars in early November to carry out global detection and obtain scientific data such as morphology and geological structure, surface material composition and soil type distribution, atmospheric ionosphere, and space environment of Mars.

The orbiter will also relay the communication between the rover and Earth for the rover’s extended mission, the CNSA added.

Based on this information, full communications with the rover Zhurong will not resume until November because the orbiter needs to re-adjust its orbit.

Nanoracks and Lockheed Martin to partner in building commercial space station

Capitalism in space: The companies Nanoracks and Lockheed Martin have announced that they have formed a partnership to build their own private commercial space station, dubbed Starlab.

Nanoracks, its majority owner Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin, will collaborate on the development of a commercial space station as others in industry warn of a potential space station gap.

Nanoracks said Oct. 21 that it was partnering with Lockheed Martin and Voyager Space on a commercial space station called Starlab. Nanoracks will be the prime contractor with Voyager handling strategy and investment and Lockheed serving as the manufacturer and technical integrator.

Starlab would consist of a docking node with an inflatable module attached to one side and a spacecraft bus, providing power and propulsion, attached to the other side. Starlab will have a volume of 340 cubic meters, about three-eighths that of the International Space Station, and generate 60 kilowatts of power. Starlab will be equipped with a robotic arm and “state-of-the-art” lab, and be able to host four astronauts at a time.

They are aiming for a 2027 launch.

Nebraska AG report blasts FDA and NIH positions on COVID treatment

In a ruling [pdf] making it clear that doctors are doing nothing wrong if they prescribe ivermectin or hydroxycholoroquine as part of their treatment for patients with COVID-19, the Nebraska attorney general not only provided detailed documentation demonstrating the reasonableness of prescribing those drugs — based on extensive peer-review research by scientists — he blasted the FDA, the NIH, and WHO for their somewhat ignorant hostility to those drugs.

The document is long, but everyone should read it, mostly to get a clear idea whether they or their doctor should consider using these two drugs should they come down with COVID. The answer appears to be an unqualified yes. Both drugs have different purposes, but both appear, if used properly, to be beneficial and reduce the severity of the virus.

The report also makes it clear that the hostility to these drugs by these American health agencies is irrational and somewhat alarming. See for example the one excerpt describing the FDA’s absurd statements in connection with ivermectin, a drug that doctors have been safely prescribing since the 1970s:

From Nebraska report

The report details at length the numerous research that makes these FDA statement so anti-science as to be quite horrifying, especially as this is the federal agency that is supposed to regulate food and drugs.

Once again, download this pdf and read it for yourself. You will find yourself significantly educated, based on actual peer-reviewed science.

Curiosity’s new mountain views

Curiosity's future route
Click for full image.

With the resumption of communications with Mars, following the two week hiatus because the Sun was in the way, Curiosity is about to begin its travels again. The view above, taken by the right navigation camera and reduced and annotated to post here, looks forward, with the red dotted line indicating the planned route.

The distinct white outcrop on the right top is the same spectacular outcrop I have highlighted previously.

At the moment however the rover is not going anywhere. Just before the hiatus the scientists had Curiosity move a short distance to crush some nearby nodules so that they could see their interior. At their update they post an image of one crushed nodule, and write the following:

[L]ook closely for very straight imprinted lines in the middle of flattened areas that appear slightly more grey. You can also see cracks, especially clearly on the right of the nodule in the image, but if you look around, you’ll find there are more of them. Some of the scratched areas are looking white, too. All those features will allow us an insight into the nodules and an interpretation beyond what we can otherwise see on the surface.

The image below, also taken by the right navigation camera and reduced to post here, looks back at Curiosity’s earlier travels, across the floor of Gale Crater about 1,500 feet below. The rim, about 25 miles away, can be seen through the atmospheric haze as the distant mountain chain.

See the orbital map at this post in September to get the context of what the two images are viewing. The top image looks south along the cliff line, the bottom looks almost due north.
Looking across Gale Crater
Click for full image.

Today’s blacklisted American: Connecticut HS teacher of the year to be terminated because of vaccine mandate

They’re coming for you next: Kahseim Outlaw, a 2020 high school teacher of the year in Connecticut, is faced with termination from his job as gym teacher in Wallingford, Connecticut, because he chooses not to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Outlaw argued taking the shot should be a personal choice and has therefore chosen not to receive it. “I’m a personal advocate, a big advocate, for personal health and the choices that we make with our medicine and with our medical procedures and therefore I believe it’s my own choice on how to maintain that and how to manage it,” he explained:

Outlaw also noted he is not opposed to the vaccine.

In regard to testing, he said, “Going to test for something that I may or may not have on a consistent basis is deemed for me, on a personal level, an unnecessary medical procedure.”

Outlaw said he was diagnosed with the coronavirus last year and believes he could have antibodies but has not taken a test.

In other words, Outlaw is saying, “My body, my choice.” Too bad the Democrats and the left no longer believe in that mantra, which they have screamed at us for almost a half century. Now they believe in “Your body, OUR choice!”

The school board has not yet decided whether it will fire him. If you are interested in emailing them your thoughts, you can find their contact information here.

The COVID lies of governments and scientists

Liar Fauci
The man has been lying from day one.

Two stories this morning illustrate once again the utter dishonesty and untrustworthyness of the governments and scientists who have been promoting strict lockdowns and mask and vaccine mandates as a response to COVID-19.

First, the NIH yesterday admitted in a letter to Congress that it had funded the gain-of-function research at China’s Wuhan lab, despite repeated blunt denials by it and former NIH Director Francis Collins and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci.

In a letter addressed to Rep. James Comer (R-KY), NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak cites a “limited experiment” to determine whether “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.” According to the letter, humanized mice infected with the modified bat virus “became sicker” than those exposed to an unmodified version of the same bat coronavirus.

[Lead scientists Peter] Daszak failed to report this finding, and has been given five days to submit “any and all unpublished data from the experiments and world conducted” under the NIH grant.

When Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) had accused Fauci of funding this research, Fauci had not only denied it, he accused Paul of being a liar. In truth, it was Fauci who was lying in his testimony to Congress. Fauci and the NIH provided a foreign government funding to do secret biological weapons research that, in the end, was used to attack our country.

Fauci should be fired forthwith. Collins had stepped down on October 5th, probably because he knew this information was about to be released, proving he had been lying.

The second story is as egregious. It appears that the mask study that the Australian government has touted to impose mask mandates throughout their country is filled with so many basic errors and faulty research procedures that it should never have been published in the first place.
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South Korea’s new Nuri rocket fails during first launch

The new colonial movement: South Korea’s new Nuri rocket, that country’s first homegrown rocket, failed during launch early today when the payload did not reach its proper orbit.

It appears that the third stage shut down prematurely.

They plan to try again in May ’22.

For a first launch attempt this was actually a large success. Getting the first and second stages to work properly is generally the hardest part of any rocket launch.

FDA hearing and comment period for giving COVID vaccines to children 5 to 11

The FDA is going to hold a hearing on October 26, 2021 to discuss whether to allow the experimental vaccines to be given to children ages 5 to 11. From its webpage:

The meeting presentations will be heard, viewed, captioned, and recorded through an online teleconferencing platform. On October 26, 2021, the committee will meet in open session to discuss a request to amend Pfizer-BioNTech’s EUA for administration of their COVID-19 mRNA vaccine to children 5 through 11 years of age. [emphasis mine]

Prior to this meeting the FDA has a public comment period, allowing anyone to comment on this agenda. That five day comment period began today. If you want to comment you can do so here.

This meeting is clearly linked closely to the Biden administration’s announcement today that it is preparing to roll out a campaign to get every child in the country vaccinated, once the FDA approves.

The Biden administration has secured enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the 28 million children ages 5 to 11 who would become eligible for vaccination if the vaccine is authorized for that age group and will help equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of community health centers and rural health clinics as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots, according to the White House.

“We know millions of parents have been waiting for Covid-19 vaccine for kids in this age group. And should the FDA and (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) authorize the vaccine, we will be ready to get shots in arms,” White House Covid-19 response director Jeff Zients told reporters at a White House Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday. Zients continued: “Kids have different needs than adults and our operational planning is geared to meet those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations in settings that parents and kids are familiar with and trust.”

The administration is also launching a partnership with the Children’s Hospital Association “to work with over 100 children’s hospital systems across the country to set up vaccination sites in November and through the end of the calendar year,” the White House announced.

The administration also plans to help make vaccination available at school and other “community-based sites” with help from Federal Emergency Management Agency funding. The Department of Health and Human Services will also carry out a national public education campaign “to reach parents and guardians with accurate and culturally responsive information about the vaccine and the risks that COVID-19 poses to children.”

Though they are of course not saying so, I guarantee that once vaccines are approved for children, the Biden administration’s next step will be to mandate them for any child who wants to attend public school or be treated any of these hospitals. Expect such mandates to also come down from the various states controlled by the Democratic Party. Your children will no longer be yours at that point.

As I said, you can comment here. I have already done so. A quick look though the 645 comments so far submitted shows them largely against any vaccines for children.

I urge everyone to add their own comments. Let them know what you think. Don’t stand idly by as they not only rob you of your freedom, but your children’s freedom as well.

A collapsing north wall in Valles Marineris

Mass wasting in Valles Marineris
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken on July 17, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows what the scientists label as an alluvial fan.

I have also seen them label this kind of avalanche as mass wasting, where the material moves down slope suddenly in a single mass.

The image shows the aftermath of such an event, after a large blob of material broke free from the mountainside and slid almost as a unit downhill to settle more than two miles away on the floor of the canyon. The distance traveled and the blobby nature of the flow both reveal how the lower Martian gravity changes the nature of such events, compared to what you might see on Earth. The flows can travel farther, and can hold together as a unit easier.

The overview map below not only provides the context, but it tells us that such events are remarkably common in this place.
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Today’s blacklisted American: Teacher suspended and transferred for opposing racial segregation and bigotry

segregation returns to schools!
Providence’s policy of segregating teachers by race.

The modern dark age: Ramona Bessinger, a middle school teacher who had taught at her school in Providence, Rhode Island, for 22 years, was suspended without pay, then transferred to another school, because she had publicly criticized her school district’s effort to segregate teachers by race while changing its history curriculum to label white America as the source of all race hatred and black oppression.

When Bessinger showed up for work today [October 18], she was told to spend the day in the staff room. It was very cold in the room, and a local woman hearing of Bessinger’s plight, delivered a blanket for her: Late this afternoon Bessinger received word from her union rep on the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. Bessinger would receive a 5-day unpaid suspension, and Bessinger also would be transferred to another school.

The school claimed she was being punished because, during a school lockdown caused by a fight between a teacher and student, she allowed some students to leave her class anyway when the lunch bell sounded.

Bessinger denied the charges, noting that she had faced increasing hatred by administrators, teachers, and students because of her public criticism of the school’s new teaching syllabus, which encouraged hatred between the races and falsely painted America as a land of white supremacy. As she had written in July:
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Russian filmmakers describe their experience of filming a movie in space

Capitalism in space: The Russian actress Yulia Peresild and her director Klim Shipenko — who spent twelve days on ISS filming scenes for a science fiction movie — gave a press conference yesterday, describing their experience and what they accomplished.

They shot more than 30 hours worth of footage which will later be edited down to about 30 minutes. “We’ve shot everything we planned,” Shipenko said from the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow.

The 38-year-old US-educated film director said cinema was ready to conquer space. “Cinema is looking for new forms. The cosmos is also ready to welcome various experimentalists,” said Shipenko.

He said his stint on the ISS was full of professional discoveries and added that he would never have been able to shoot on Earth what he had shot in space.

Both regretted that their work scheduled on ISS was so busy that they did not have enough time to look at the views out the station’s windows.

When this movie is finished I wonder if it will get a distribution deal in the west. I certainly would like to see it, and I am certain many other Americans will feel the same.

Rocket Lab to attempt another recovery of 1st stage on next launch

Capitalism in space: In its next launch in mid-November, Rocket Lab will attempt another recovery of the first stage of its Electron rocket.

Rocket Lab USA, Inc (“Rocket Lab” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: RKLB) has today revealed it will attempt a controlled ocean splashdown and recovery of the first stage of an Electron rocket during the company’s next launch in November. The mission will be Rocket Lab’s third ocean recovery of an Electron stage; however, it will be the first time a helicopter will be stationed in the recovery zone around 200 nautical miles offshore to track and visually observe a descending stage in preparation for future aerial capture attempts. The helicopter will not attempt a mid-air capture for this mission but will test communications and tracking to refine the concept of operations (CONOPS) for future Electron aerial capture.

The eventual goal is for the helicopter to snatch the stage by its parachutes as it descends, and then bring it back to deposit it gently on land. This next launch will likely provide the company the data it needs to make that maneuver more safely and with a greater chance of success on a future launch.

The November splashdown recovery will follow two previous successful such recoveries. In addition, the company has also done a test whereby one helicopter dropped a dummy first stage, its parachutes opened, and a second helicopter successfully grabbed it. With the addition of the helicopter on this launch it will likely be poised to attempt a full recovery out of the air.

Israel & UAE sign deal to work together on space projects

The new colonial movement: This week Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed an agreement calling for them to work together on a variety of space projects.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a historic deal regarding space missions, Ynet reported on Tuesday, which will include collaborating on the Israeli rocket ship “Beresheet 2” space project bound for the Moon.

As part of the agreement, the two nations will work together on data-based development and research from the Israeli-French satellite Venus, while students from the UAE will work with Israeli students on a new satellite tracking the Moon.

The lack of general excitement over this agreement is truly astonishing. Remember, just a few years ago no Arab nation could dare reveal any partnership or even direct communication with Israel, out of fear of the violent reaction throughout the Islamic world. Now, the UAE can sign a deal where its citizens will work side-by-side with Israelis on several different projects, and the world barely notices.

More than anything, this disinterest signals the importance of the Abraham Accords engineered by the Trump administration. Those agreements, disavowed by the Biden administration, made this partnership possible.

Senate committee: NASA must choose two companies to build manned lunar lander

We’re here to help you! Despite offering NASA only $100 million more for the program, the Senate Appropriations committee has directed the agency to award a second manned lunar lander contract, in addition to the one it gave SpaceX in April.

On Tuesday (Oct. 18), the Senate Appropriations Committee — the largest U.S. Senate committee that oversees all discretionary spending legislation in the Senate — released a draft report of nine appropriations bills for the fiscal year 2022 which included funding for NASA, according to SpaceNews.

The appropriators, in the report, state that NASA’s HLS program is not underfunded, despite the agency’s previous claims to the contrary. As shown in the report, the bill includes $24.83 billion for NASA, which is just slightly more than the $24.8 billion that NASA requested, and a $100 million increase in funding for HLS.

“NASA’s rhetoric of blaming Congress and this Committee for the lack of resources needed to support two HLS teams rings hollow,” the report states. The committee added that “having at least two teams providing services using the Gateway should be the end goal of the current development program,” referencing NASA’s Gateway, a planned lunar space station.

It might be possible for the increase in funding to cover a second contract, if that contract was awarded to Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos has made it clear that he would be willing to waive as much as $2 billion of the price for the contract, using his own ample funds to make up the difference. Whether that is enough to build it, with the $100 million the Senate appropriated, is unclear.

This bill of course has to pass the Senate, be approved as written by the House, and then signed by the President. These directives and budget changes thus might not end up in the final appropriations bill.

Boeing to take Starliner apart, remove two valves

Boeing has decided to take apart the Starliner capsule intended for its second unmanned demo flight to ISS to do a close inspection of two of the troublesome valves that caused the launch in August to be scrubbed.

The current guess at what caused the valve issue involves moisture that accumulated near some of the valves’ Teflon seal. But without any clear culprit, the company now plans to ship two of the valves to a NASA center in Huntsville, Ala., for a forensic CT scan, using machines similar the ones used on humans to detect diseases.

This action now means that the next launch attempt will likely be delayed until the middle of ’22.

The delay is costing Boeing money, not NASA, as the contract is fixed price and Boeing will not get paid additional money until it meets its next milestone, which is a successful demo flight to ISS.

Today’s blacklisted American: The massacred Alamo defenders were a myth, because they were white!

The Alamo, censored

Today’s blacklist story really begins with with 70-year-old Phil Collins from the rock band Genesis. Though born and raised in England, Collins has been for most of his life a passionate aficionado of all things related to the battle of the Alamo in Texas in 1836. That passion caused him to accumulate in his life a gigantic collection of Alamo memorabilia worth 10 million pounds, including the rifle that belonged to Davy Crockett and the sword that belonged to Mexican general Santa Anna.

In 2014 Collins, who is in poor health, donated that entire 430-piece collection to the state of Texas, on the condition the state build a museum at the Alamo to exhibit it. That museum is scheduled to open next summer, and is expected to attract millions to the site.

So, who is being blacklisted? Well, it appears it is the Alamo itself, or at least the true history of that battle, where a Mexican army of 6,000 overwhelmed a small outpost manned by only 200 Texan volunteers. No prisoners were taken, all were killed. That butchery became the rallying cry for Texas independence from Mexico.

It appears that this story must no longer be told, even though true, because it celebrates the unwavering courage of the settlers from the United States who created Texas, while illustrating the cruel dictatorship of Mexico at that time.
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Did China test a hypersonic weapon in August?

Long March 2C rocket
China’s Long March 2C rocket

On October 17th The Financial Times published a story claiming, based on anonymous sources, that one of China’s five launches in August tested a hypersonic weapon, which supposedly circled the globe to impact the Earth only 24 miles from its target.

The Financial Times story is behind a paywall, but not surprisingly it was picked up by much of the mainstream press, with the conservative press — as illustrated by this Daily Wire story — accepting the weapon as fact, while the leftist press — as illustrated by this CNN story — giving China the opportunity to deny the claim.

Did it actually happen? I have no idea. I would add however that I would not trust any story dependent wholly on anonymous sources, considering the unreliability of today’s press and the repeated evidence that numerous federal agencies in the military and intelligence communities routinely feed it disinformation for their own political purposes. These agencies, including the Space Force, want to encourage Congress to fund them, and creating a bogey man threat that the press can tout has for decades been the standard way to do it.

To get a better idea whether this hypersonic flight happened, let’s review the actual Chinese launches in August to see if any might be a likely candidate. For a launch to fit the description, there would have to be almost no information about its payload, and that payload would have to have not reached orbit, since the hypersonic test circled the globe once and then impacted the Earth.
» Read more

Scientists resume communications with U.S. Martian rovers

Example of first rover images downloaded following communications break
Click for full image.

Both U.S. Mars rovers Curiosity and Perseverance have resumed communications with Earth, each downloading a bunch of images that they had been programmed to take during the two week communications hiatus from October 3 to October 17, caused by the Sun being between the Earth and Mars.

Most of the images are a variation of the one to the right, reduced to post here, taken by Curiosity’s left hazard avoidance camera. As neither rover moved during the communications break, the scientists limited most photography to only a handful of cameras, with the photographs mostly confirming day to day that the rover and its instruments were functioning.

You can see all of Curiosity’s new images here. Perseverance’s new images can be viewed here. (To see the new Perseverance images click on “latest images.”)

A Curiosity team update today notes the work they plan to do in the coming days as they gear up for future travels. The Perseverance update today focused more on the paper published during the break that confirmed, using data from the rover, that Jezero Crater once contained a lake.

First FAA hearing on Starship environmental assessment dominated by supporters

Capitalism in space: The FAA yesterday conducted its first of two virtual public hearings to allow public comment on its proposed environmental assessment that would allow SpaceX to launch orbital Starship missions from Boca Chica, Texas>

According to the story at the link, the comments were dominated by supporters, interspersed with the typical small number of anti-development environmental activists.

Over the course of more than three hours on Monday, members of the public who had registered in advance were given three minutes each to deliver their oral public comments on Starship and the draft. Most were in favor of SpaceX, though many positive comments appeared to originate from outside of Texas. A smaller number of people also voiced concerns about impacts on local ecosystems and species near Boca Chica.

The second hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Parker probe completes fifth Venus flyby

The Parker Solar Probe on October 16th successfully completed its fifth flyby of Venus, designed to lower its solar orbit around the Sun.

At just after 5:30 a.m. EDT, moving about 15 miles (24 kilometers) per second, the spacecraft swooped 2,370 miles (3,814 kilometers) above Venus’ surface. Such gravity assists are essential to the mission to bring Parker Solar Probe progressively closer to the Sun; the spacecraft counts on the planet to reduce its orbital energy, which in turn allows it to travel closer to the Sun and measure the properties of the solar wind near its source.

This was the fifth of seven planned Venus gravity assists. The flyby reduced Parker Solar Probe’s orbital speed by about 6,040 miles per hour (9,720 kilometers per hour), and set it up for its 10th close pass (or perihelion) by the Sun, on Nov. 21.

Parker Solar Probe will break its own distance and speed records on that closest approach, when it comes approximately 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers) from the Sun’s surface — some 1.2 million miles (1.9 million kilometers) closer than the previous perihelion on Aug. 13 – while reaching 101 miles (163 kilometers) per second, or 364,621 miles per hour. Assisted by two more Venus flybys, in August 2023 and November 2024, Parker Solar Probe will eventually come within 4 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) of the solar surface in December 2024.

That speed record, 364,621 miles per hour, is the fastest any human built object as ever traveled.

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