Thank you to all my readers and supporters and a Happy New Year!

As a truly miserable 2021 comes to an end, I want to send a very big and hearty thank you to all my readers and the many people who support my work here. I could not do this daily if I did not know that others were interested in what I did.

I also wish that 2022 be a great year for everyone. May we all see joy and happiness in our personal lives, and a renewal of freedom and the pursuit of happiness for everyone else in the coming year. The two go together.

A small victory in Nevada against COVID mandates illustrates the ongoing corrupt politicizing of all of American culture

Might still exist in Nevada
Might still exist in Nevada.

First the good news: An elected Nevada legislative commission last week overturned an extension proposed by the state’s board of health of its mandate that all college students in the state get COVID shots or be banned from school.

Initially approved in August by the Nevada State Board of Health, the emergency provision was set to last only 120-days, according to The Nevada Independent. When the mandate expired last week and was sent to the Legislative Commission for review, the Commission chose not to make it permanent, with all six Republican lawmakers voting against the mandate and all six Democrats for it.

The tie means the mandate is not renewed.

This small victory for freedom and against irrational discrimination and blacklists illustrates some fundamental points about the entire COVID madness as well as America’s evolving culture.
» Read more

Wall Street financial firm condemns Astra as bad investment

Capitalism in space: In a blunt critique announcing its decision to short sell Astra stocks, the Wall Street financial firm Kerrisdale Capital condemned the startup rocket company as a poor investment.

Kerrisdale’s analysis focuses on two issues, Astra’s under-powered rocket and the company’s prediction that it will launch as many as 300 rockets a year by 2025.

Astra’s rocket launch projections are nonsense. No market analysis supports Astra’s planned 300+ launches by 2025. Excluding satellites from SpaceX and China from industry-wide forecasts, there is insufficient demand to support even a fraction of Astra’s aggressive forecast.

Large launch vehicles are a more efficient and cost-effective solution to deploying whole orbital planes versus piecemealing coverage through a series of small launches and will dominate the market for mega-constellations (which are widely expected to comprise the bulk of all satellites deployed over the next decade). Only scraps will remain for Astra and all the other smaller launchers—far less than Astra needs to turn a profit.

Astra is falling behind its competitors. Multiple industry executives we interviewed, who routinely secure launch services for small satellite manufacturers on a global basis, agree that Astra’s rocket dimensions and payload capacity are well below the “sweet spot” of customer needs.

The publication of this report caused an immediate 10% drop in Astra’s stock, though it then recovered somewhat.

The report has some validity, though it assumes that the market for rocket launches will remain the same as it has for decades, an assumption that is simply false. Things always change. What happened before is no guarantee it will happen that way in the future.

Moreover Astra’s strategy is to built a small rocket that is very very cheap. It hopes that low price will bring it cubesat customers who want a launch on schedule and sent to their chosen orbit, something they do not get when they are secondary payloads on larger rockets. There is a strong possibility that this strategy will work, based on the fast growth in the satellite industry in the past decade when SpaceX and Rocket Lab forced launch costs to drop from $100 to $500 million to $6 to $60 million.

Kerrisdale’s report however is a valid wake-up call, and suggests that Wall Street’s recent passion to pour money into many new startup rocket companies (estimated by some to exceed a hundred) might finally be easing.

SpaceX raises another $337 million in investment capital

Capitalism in space: In an SEC filing yesterday SpaceX revealed that it has raised another $337 million in investment capital.

The company raised in 2021 a total of $1.85 billion, and over the last six years has raised close to $7 billion total. While some of that capital is being used to finance its Starlink internet constellation of satellites, most is being funneled into the development of its totally reusable heavy lift Starship/Superheavy rocket.

The eagerness of investors to put money behind SpaceX is a strong vote of confidence in the company, coming from totally independent sources.

Adding in the $2.9 billion dollar contract from NASA for building a lunar lander version of Starship, SpaceX has raised about $10 billion total for building this rocket.

Whether that will be enough of course is not yet known. Based on SpaceX’s past work it should be. That however assumes the federal government’s bureaucracy doesn’t throw a serious wrench in the process, something it right now appears to be doing by stalling the orbital test flight of Starship/Superheavy.

1st stage of Webb sun shield deployment completed

The deployment of the forward and aft pallets required to support the sun shield for the James Webb Space Telescope has apparently been successfully completed.

The link takes you to the website that outlines each step in Webb’s entire 30-day deployment sequence, and is updated to show you the next required step as the process continues. Though I have yet to see any official announcement, this page now shows that both pallets have successfully unfolded and that the next step is removal of the covers that have protected the sun shield membrene during assembly and launch.

Firefly forced to postpone next launch because of security issues

Capitalism in space: Firefly has been forced to postpone its next launch of its Alpha rocket, tentative scheduled for late January, because the federal government wants the Ukranian investor — who essentially saved the company when it went bankrupt — to completely divest himself of any ownership.

Noosphere Venture Partners, a fund run by Ukrainian-born investor Max Polyakov, said Dec. 29 that it will retain an investment banking firm to sell its interest in Firefly. That sale comes at the request of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the company said.

Polyakov invested $200 million to bring the company from the ashes when it was about to be liquidated in bankruptcy proceedings. He left its board of directors last year and reduced his share in the company last year in an effort to ease these same concerns. Apparently that wasn’t good enough, even though his ownership was not a problem when the company obtained a lease for a launch site at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Though there might be a real security issue, we must not dismiss the possibility that this is a corrupt power play by people in Washington to use Polyakov’s foreign roots to push him out so that they can replace him, now that the company is healthy and moving forward after Polyakov saved it.

I know this is a cynical suspicion, but based on the behavior of our Washington bureaucracy and legislators in the past decade, it is far from an unreasonable one.

Iran launches orbital Simorph rocket, does not reach orbit

According to Iran’s state run press, it successfully launched its orbital Simorgh rocket on a test suborbital flight today, carrying three payloads to an altitude of 292 miles.

Ahmad Hosseini, an Iranian defense ministry spokesman, said the satellite-bearing rocket named Simorgh, or “Phoenix,” had launched the three cargoes at an altitude of 292 miles (470 km) and at a speed of 7,350 meters (4,5 miles) per second. “The intended research objectives of this launch were achieved,” Hosseini said, in comments broadcast on state television.

“This was done as a preliminary launch … we will have an operational launch soon,” the spokesman added, without further clarifying whether the devices had successfully entered Earth’s orbit.

In 2020 Iran completed an orbital launch using a mobile launcher, which probably used a different solid rocket instead of Simorgh.

However, since Simorgh is intended as an orbital rocket and it did did not reach orbit this time strongly suggests the rocket failed. Since the Iranian press provided images of the rocket in flight soon after launch, the failure possibly occurred at first stage separation followed by ignition of the second stage, a critical moment in a launch where failures often occur.

No matter. Whether it failed or functioned exactly as planned, this launch will provide Iranian engineers valuable information for that inevitable successful orbital flight.

As an orbital rocket designed to launch satellites, Simorgh actually poses less of a threat than that mobile launcher from 2020. Simorgh isn’t really a missile designed to launch bombs. It takes too long to fuel, and its launch site is vulnerable. The mobile launcher used in 2020, likely using solid rockets, is far more dangerous.

December 30, 2021 Zimmerman/Pratt on Texas podcast

Last week I recorded a long interview with Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas discussing some of the recent blacklist and pushback stories I have posted on Behind the Black. That interview is now available in two parts here.

The most interesting part of the interview for me was when Robert and I discussed the mental strain and stress we both felt writing or discussing these stories every day. Both of us are optimists, and these stories of oppression are depressing, to put it mildly. After awhile you just want to ignore them and deal with something more uplifting.

We don’t however, because we both know that if we ignore this stuff it will only make it more difficult in the coming years to find anything uplifting to write or talk about. Freedom and human creativity is under aggressive attack, and as civilized human beings it is our obligation to report that story, so that all civilized humans will have the knowledge to successful fight back.

Give it a listen and comment below. We face a real civil war in the coming years, and the thoughts of my readers would be appreciated.

And if you are in Texas and can support Robert Pratt’s advertisers, please due so. He was blacklisted himself in January, and this podcast is his way of fighting back.

The badlands on the floor of Valles Marineris

The badlands on the floor of Valles Marineris
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The recent discovery that there might be a near surface reservoir of ice on the floor the canyon Valles Marineris, near the Martian equator, immediately brought this location to the forefront as a possible site for establishing colonies. The weather will be less harsh than higher latitudes, the low elevation means a thicker atmosphere, and the terrain will be more appealing than the boring flat northern lowlands.

The picture to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, illustrates however the likely difficulties of landing and living on the floor of Valles Marineris. Taken on July 26, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the photo shows just one small area of the floor of Ius Chasm, the western part of Valles Marineris and about 300 miles to the east of that water reserve.

In this one picture we can see trapped sand dunes in hollows, eroded depressions, mottled terrain resembling stucco, and innumerable cliffs and sinks and plateaus. For the first manned spacecraft to land on Mars, this is not a good first choice. Even later, when the first bases have been built, this terrain would still be forbidding for the early colonists to land in and traverse.

The overview map below shows exactly where this picture is relative to the rest of the Valles Marineris.
» Read more

Pushback: Citizens create open Christmas soup kitchen when official food drive bans unjabbed

Spokane: Where some charities think some of the poor should starve during Christmas
Spokane: Where some charities think some of the poor should starve
during Christmas, while others step up to provide charity for all.

Pushback against blacklists: When the official annual Christmas soup kitchen in Spokane announced that the homeless and poor would be banned if they didn’t get COVID shots or tested first, a group of local citizens quickly organized an open soup kitchen where no jabs or testing would be required.

The image to the right illustrates the rules for the two competing soup kitchens.

A week before Christmas, in Spokane, WA, the Christmas Bureau food assistance program turned away needy people who could not show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours old.

The Christmas Bureau is an annual holiday assistance program coordinated by Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, Volunteers of America, and the Spokesman-Review. The program is made possible by generous monetary funds and volunteer hours donated by community members and organizations.

In response to the Christmas Bureau’s actions, a group of Christian patriots launched a “No Vaccine Canteen” to feed everyone — regardless of their medical history. [emphasis mine]

I purposely highlight the entities who decided that it was all right to deny charity to some of the poor and homeless during the Christmas season, merely because they hadn’t gotten the government jab. To paraphrase the words of Scrooge, “Maybe these unvaccinated should simply die and decrease the surplus population.”

For those in Spokane with the Christmas season in their hearts, this information should provide guidance next year when these particular organizations come begging for money. It is clear they really don’t have charity in mind, but power and enforcing their will, even onto the most vulnerable.

Instead, Spokane citizens should contact the people who ran the “No-Vaccine Canteen,” who teamed up with an organization called Blessings Under The Bridge, and give them their donations. When they heard about the Christmas Bureau’s decision to turn people away, these people were quickly able to raise $3500 and organize multiple free meal events for the poor.

Below is a video interview with Dan Bell, who helped organize the “No-Vaccine Canteen.” As he says,
» Read more

Finalists announced in the ’21 Illusion of the Year contest

The top ten finalists, including the first place winner, in the 2021 best optical illusion of the year contest have now been announced.

The annual illusion contest is run by the Neural Correlate Society, an organization devoted to promoting awareness of the science behind perception and cognition. For 17 years the annual contest has consistently delivered an assortment of compelling illusions, frequently underpinned by fascinating scientific principles.

This year’s winner, from UK scientist and magician Matt Pritchard, is a unique example of an anamorphic illusion. These are illusions that present a viewer with an image that appears distorted until it is looked at from a specific perspective.

I have embedded below a video showing Pritchard’s illusion, dubbed the Phantom Queen. If you go to the contest’s website you can see videos of all ten finalists, all of which are fun and quite remarkable in their ability to fool the eye.
» Read more

U.S. military adds Blue Origin to its point-to-point space cargo development program

Capitalism in space: The U.S. military on December 17th signed an agreement with Blue Origin to add it to its point-to-point space cargo development program.

The command last year signed similar agreements with SpaceX and with Exploration Architecture Corp. (XArc). Blue Origin is the third company to ink a CRADA [as these development contracts are called] for the rocket cargo program.

Under CRADAs, companies agree to share information about their products and capabilities but the government does not commit to buying anything. U.S. TRANSCOM’s analysis of industry data will inform the newly created “rocket cargo” program led by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the U.S. Space Force. The Air Force in its budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 is seeking $47.9 million to conduct studies and rocket cargo demonstrations. [emphasis mine]

I highlight the total budget of this program to show that this is a very small government program. The cash it provides these three companies is nice, but it is chicken feed when compared with the total cost of development. It certainly will not result in a faster pace at Blue Origin in developing its New Glenn rocket, which is presently two years behind schedule with further delays almost certain because its BE-4 rocket engine is not yet ready for mass production.

Whether the program itself is a good thing, or merely another example of government crony capitalism, is open to question. The practicality of using either Starship or New Glenn for cargo transport remains very unproven, especially for New Glenn, which was not designed with such a purpose in mind and cannot land its upper stage on Earth as Starship can.

Starship prototype #20 completes another static fire launchpad test

Capitalism in space: Despite being blocked by the federal government bureauceacy from launching its Starship/Superheavy rocket on its first orbital flight, SpaceX yesterday successfully completed another static fire launchpad test of the 20th prototype of Starship.

It appears that this was the second static fire test that used all six of prototypes’s Raptor engines.

Meanwhile, Superheavy prototype #4 sits on the orbital launchpad, where similar static fire tests were expected but have not yet occurred. Either SpaceX engineers found they needed to additional revisions of the prototype before attempted such a test, which could fire as many as 29 Raptor engines at once, or the company has decided to hold back its testing because the FAA has not yet approved the environmental reassessment for the Boca Chica launch site. Firing the engines on Superheavy before that approval could be used by SpaceX’s environmental enemies as a public relations weapon to help kill the approval entirely.

Personally I think the answer is the former. It is not Elon Musk’s way to cower in fear of others. In fact, he is more likely to push forward, knowing that the publicity from a successful Superheavy static fire test will almost certainly be mostly positive and enthusiastic, thus helping to force politicians to force the bureaucracy to sign off its approval.

Virgin Orbit merger produces only half the investment capital expected

Capitalism in space: It appears that the merger of Virgin Orbit with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) NextGen Acquisition II has produced only half the investment capital that had been expected.

The merger had expected to produce $483 million in investment capital for the rocket company. Instead it has produced only $228 million because many shareholders of NextGen cashed out before the merger occurred. Apparently, these shareholders did not have confidence in the Virgin Orbit, and feared their stock value would drop once the merger was completed.

It appears that Virgin Orbit has been stained by the failure of another Richard Branson space company, Virgin Galactic, to deliver on its promises. Virgin Orbit has successfully completed two orbital flights, and is expected to complete a third shortly. Unlike Virgin Galactic, it has done what it said it would, though it took longer than predicted (delays that were not unreasonable considering it was a startup rocket company). Investors have looked at the collapse of Virgin Galactic stocks, and have decided they do not wish to gamble their money on another Branson space company, no matter how successful.

China completes two launches to make 2021 the most active year in rocketry ever

China yesterday completed two different launches from two different spaceports using two different rockets.

First it used its Long March 2D rocket to launch an Earth observation satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northern China.

Then, a few hours later, a Long March 3B rocket launched a classified military satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China.

Both launches dropped first stage boosters in the interior of China. No word on whether either used parachutes or grid fins to better control the stages so that they avoid habitable areas.

These two launches bring China’s total number of successful launches in 2021 to 52, a record for that country and the most any single country has achieved since Russia successfully launched 54 times in 1992 as its high launch rate slowly shut down following the fall of the Soviet Union.

The two launches also bring the total number of successful launches in 2021 to 134, the most in any single year in the entire history of space exploration. The last time global launches reached such numbers was in the 1970s and 1980s, numbers that were produced mostly by the launch of a lot of short term low orbit surveillance satellites by the Soviets, using technology that the U.S. had abandoned in the 1960s as inefficient. It took the collapse of the communist state for Russia to finally cease such launches itself.

Now the high number of launches is increasingly being fueled by commercial competition and profits, though China’s record this year is partly due to the same top down communist set-up similar to the Soviet Union. Even so, the number of competing private rocket companies worldwide is on the rise, and in most places (even China in a few cases), it is those companies that are providing the launch services to the government. Profit and private ownership are the watchwords, and so there is aggressive competition that is lowering the launch cost.

I will have more to say about this in my annual report, which I will publish on Monday, January 3rd.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

52 China
31 SpaceX
23 Russia
7 Europe (Arianespace)

Slope streaks in frozen lava flows on Mars

Slope streaks on frozen lava
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on June 5, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a ridgeline at the base of the giant volcano Pavonis Mons, with slope streaks on ridge’s north and south sides.

Slope streaks are a mysterious phenomenon unique to Mars. While they resemble an avalanche, they do not change the topography of the surface at all. They appear to occur randomly year round, fading slowly with time. Also, while most are dark, scientists have also spotted bright slope streaks as well.

Slope streaks also only appear on surfaces covered with a layer of fine dust, something that is obviously the case in the cool image to the right. There is so much dust on the surface here that bedrock only appears at the top of the ridge, peeking out in only a few places.

The location of this image, as shown in the overview map below, adds some additional details.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: NY elementary school bans singing “Jingle Bells”

Banned by Brighton Central School District, NY
Banned by Brighton Central School District, NY.

The administrators at an upstate New York elementary school, Council Rock Primary, have decided to ban the song “Jingle Bells” because it might be “controversial or offensive.”

“Jingle Bells,” explained Council Rock principal Matt Tappon in an email, has been replaced with other songs that don’t have “the potential to be controversial or offensive.”

…Allison Rioux, Brighton Central School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, offered a different reason for removing “Jingle Bells.” She wrote, “Some suggest that the use of collars on slaves with bells to send an alert that they were running away is connected to the origin of the song Jingle Bells. While we are not taking a stance to whether that is true or not, we do feel strongly that this line of thinking is not in agreement with our district beliefs to value all cultures and experiences of our students.

“For this reason,” Rioux concluded, “along with the idea that there are hundreds of other 5 note songs, we made the decision to not teach the song directly to all students.” [emphasis mine]

Rioux use of the weasel words “Some suggest” as her source for this ridiculous justification is of course another way of her saying “I’m making this up.” According to Kyna Hamill of Boston University, the foremost expert on the history of the song (and whose work the school cites as their justification for the banning),
» Read more

Deployment of Webb’s critical sunshield has begun

The deployment of the complex sunshield for the James Webb Space Telescope has successfully begun, and if all continues as planned, will continue for the next five days.

Early this afternoon the Webb mission operations team concluded the deployment of the first of two structures that hold within them Webb’s most unpredictable and in many ways complicated component: the sunshield.

The structures – called the Forward and Aft Unitized Pallet Structures – contain the five carefully folded sunshield membranes, plus the cables, pulleys, and release mechanisms that make up Webb’s sunshield. The team completed the deployment of the forward pallet at approximately 1:21 p.m. EST, after beginning the entire process about four hours earlier. The team will now move on to the aft pallet deployment.

Over the next five days the aft pallet must be deployed, along with a tower assembly that will raise the telescope itself away from the sunshield to better keep Webb cold. After this the deployment of the many additional parts of the shield will take place, a process that is probably the most complex in-space spacecraft deployment ever.

It is good news that so far all is proceeding as planned, and gives hope that all will continue to do so.

FAA delays final approval of Starship environmental reassessment till Feb 28th

The FAA has now made it official and announced that the final approval of Starship environmental reassessment will not occur before the end of February, thus preventing any Starship orbital test flights until the spring, at the earliest.

As previously announced, the FAA had planned to release the Final PEA in on December 31, 2021. However, due to the high volume of comments submitted on the Draft PEA, discussions and consultation efforts with consulting parties, the FAA is announcing an update to the schedule. The FAA now plans to release the Final PEA on February 28, 2022.

When the rumors of a delay were first noted last week, I predicted that “Starship’s first orbital flight will not happen until the latter half of ’22, if then.” That prediction is now almost certainly confirmed.

Nor I am not confident the FAA’s environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s launch facility in Boca Chica will be ready even in February. The problem appears to be that the FAA needs to also get the approval of both NOAA and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife agencies, and both appear to be very hostile to SpaceX’s efforts.

In fact, this is beginning to look like the situation in Hawaii with the Thirty Meter Telescope. There protesters blocked the start of construction, and the government, controlled by Democrats, worked with those protesters to step by step keep that obstruction active and working. If so, SpaceX faces a very dangerous situation, as it appears the Biden administration is about to do the same thing to it.

Pushback against blacklists: Man sues Trader Joe’s for firing him for not getting COVID shot

The religious are 2nd class citizens at Trader Joe's
The religious are 2nd class citizens at Trader Joe’s

Don’t comply: When Trader Joe’s instituted a rule requiring all managers to get the COVID shots, Greg Crawford , a manager there for 26 years, instead got the company to grant him a religious exemption.

The company’s upper management however then banned him from all management meetings, essentially crippling his ability to do his job.

[T]he grocery store’s regional manager informed Crawford that only vaccinated employees would be permitted to attend a required Leader’s Meeting in August; failure to attend the meeting would negatively affect Crawford’s performance review.

The manager also told Crawford that this was a decision by company President and that “There was nothing further to discuss.” The company was essentially penalizing Crawford for his religious beliefs. Under this arrangement, he had no future with the company and would soon either be forced to resign or be fired.

Crawford did not back down, however. » Read more

China attacks SpaceX, claiming Starlink satellites threaten its space station

China earlier this month submitted a complaint against SpaceX to the UN, claiming that the company’s Starlink satellites have twice forced it to adjust the orbit of its space station to avoid a collusion.

The note said the incidents “constituted dangers to the life or health of astronauts aboard the China Space Station”.

“The U.S. … ignores its obligations under international treaties, posing a serious threat to the lives and safety of astronauts,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a routine briefing on Tuesday.

The story became news today because there was suddenly a flurry of outrage against SpaceX on Chinese social media, responding to Lijian’s statement, with much of it very likely astroturf posts prompted by the Chinese government itself.

This announcement likely signals that China is getting ready to launch the next module to that station. During that launch the large core stage of the Long March 5B rocket will reach orbit, but only for a few days. It will then crash uncontrolled somewhere on Earth. The Chinese government knows it is going to get a lot of bad press because of this fact, and is likely making this complaint to try to excuse its own bad actions.

The two issues however are not the same. Satellite orbits are very predictable, and any maneuvers required by China to avoid Starlink satellites were very routine. Moreover, if necessary SpaceX can adjust its own satellite orbits to avoid a collusion.

The crash of the Long March 5B core stage however is due entirely to a bad design that does not allow for any controlled maneuvers. Once the stage’s engines shut down after delivering the station module into orbit, they cannot be restarted, as designed. The stage must fall to Earth in an unpredictable manner, threatening every spot it flies over during that orbital decay.

At this time the actual launch date for that Long March 5B launch, carrying the next station module, has not been announced. The astronauts on the station just completed their second spacewalk, doing work to prepare for the arrival of the next module. Its arrival can’t be too far in the future, and this complaint by China today suggests it will be sooner rather than later. When it happens China will face a flurry of justified criticism, and the Xi government likely plans to use this UN complaint then to deflect that criticism.

Upper stage fails during 3rd test launch of Russia’s Angara rocket

In the third test launch of Russia’s new Angara rocket, intended as a replacement of its Proton rocket, the upper stage failed during the launch, placing the dummy satellite in the incorrect orbit that will decay in only a few days.

Launch was a partial failure after the upper stage shut down 2 seconds into the second burn leaving the dummy satellite in an incorrect very low parking orbit of 201 x 179 at an inclination of 63.4 degrees. The dummy spacecraft is likely to re-enter within a few days. The original plan was to use three upper stage burns to take the dummy spacecraft all the way into a “graveyard orbit” a few hundred kilometers above the circa 36,000 km circular geostationary Earth orbit (GEO).

The state-run Russian press TASS has attempted to paint this test flight as a success because the first stage operated as planned, but since the primary purpose of the flight was to test the new upper stage, dubbed Persei, the launch must be considered a failure. As an engineering test, however, this failure simply means they must figure out what went wrong and fly again.

In fact, the only real failure here is the slow pace in which Russia conducts these Angara test flights. This was only the third Angara test launch since 2014, with second occurring six years later in December 2020. That the third test was a year later should be considered unacceptable, and illustrates how the development of this rocket by the Russian government is very comparable to SLS, NASA’s own government rocket: slow, cumbersome, and inefficient.

The failure however means that this launch will not add to the total of successful Russian launches in 2021. The leader board in the 2021 launch race remains the same, with the total launches remaining at 132, tied with 1975 for the most active year in rocketry ever.

50 China
31 SpaceX
23 Russia
7 Europe (Arianespace)

According to an announcement today by Glavcosmos, the government agency that manages Russia’s commercial launches, it expects to launch 10 times next year, with three of those launches managed by Arianespace from French Guiana. This count does not include any Russian military, manned, or government launches, so the overall total will be higher, though it is unlikely to exceed by much this year’s total, and will more likely not match it.

Webb: Course correction burn and main antenna deployment both a success

Over the weekend engineers for the James Webb Space Telescope successfully completed a course correction burn that put the telescope on route to is planned location a million miles from Earth.

They also successfully deployed the telescope’s main antenna.

Other steps completed on Webb’s first full day in space included the switch-on of temperature sensors and strain gauges on the telescope, used for monitoring Webb’s thermal and structural parameters, NASA said. The antenna release and first mid-course correction burn set the stage for the next step of Webb’s post-launch commissioning — the deployment and tensioning of the observatory’s tennis court-sized sunshield.

These next steps are likely the most risky part of the telescope’s deployment, as it involves the most moving parts and is the most complex. While similar such unfoldings have been done successfully many times before, they have also been the very prone to failure.

The sunshield must work however for Webb to operate. As an infrared telescope, it essentially detects heat, and if it is not well shielded from sunlight its images will be fogged.

The deployment is presently set to begin tomorrow.

Today’s blacklisted Americans: School board votes to pay whites less than non-whites

Whites to the back of the bus in Minnesota
Whites go to the back of the bus in Minnesota

“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” The Mankato School Board in Minnesota voted unanimously last week to pay its white teachers less than its non-white teachers, while also voting to place them in “work environments based on their race.”

Board members hotly defended the policy vote earlier this month claiming it wasn’t “segregation,” according to AlphaNews on Tuesday.

“When you’re one [minority] of a [white] majority it can be very isolating and lonely,” declared board member Erin Roberts. “To have a support system in place for them is not to segregate them, it is absolutely to support them … It’s not about trying to throw the few [BIPOC] individuals we have into one building. It’s about showing them they aren’t alone.”

“It creates global citizens at the end of the day,” Vice Chair Kenneth Reid ridiculously stated.

Yeah, and I say the sky is orange, and thus it must be so.

This is the same school board that demanded that any person wishing to make a statement to them during comment period must dox themselves, identify themselves and state their address. The result of course is that people stopped speaking up, out of fear that antifa mobs — the modern Democratic Party’s KKK division — might attack them or their homes.

The school board passed this law now because the Minnesota state legislature recently voted an amendment to state law that allows for such discrimination. Since federal law supersedes state law and the federal civil rights acts forbid such discrimination, any white teacher who sued in the federal courts should easily win, while also getting this law ruled illegal.

Of course, we no longer live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” but in a land ruled by people who are aggressively working to make it a bankrupt and starving Venezuela. Laws no longer matter and can be ignored. And to treat people equally is now considered evil. If you say “All lives matter” you must be destroyed.

And if you were born white, you are now a second class citizen in Minnesota. Get to the back the bus, boy!

1 2 3 6