Russian Soyuz-2 rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites

Capitalism in space: A Russian Soyuz-2 rocket today launched another 36 OneWeb satellites into orbit, lifting off from Russia’s Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan.

This year, a total of five OneWeb missions were launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia, and another two launched from Baikonur. Vostochny is the newest cosmodrome for Russia, while Baikonur is the oldest and originated from the Soviet era.

There was also one launch from French Guiana.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

50 China
31 SpaceX
23 Russia
7 Europe (Arianespace)

This was the 132nd successful launch this year, which now ties 2021 with 1975 as the most active year in rocketry since Sputnik. With a possible launches from China (Long March 3B) and Russia (a tentatively scheduled test launch of its Angara rocket today), there is a good chance 2021 will become the most active year ever.

Most important, this activity is only a precursor. Next year should see even more activity.

China’s Long March 4C rocket launches Earth observation satellite

China today completed its 50th launch in 2021, successfully launching an Earth observation satellite into orbit using its Long March 4C rocket.

It also launched a cubesat built by students.

Not only does 50 launches smash its previous yearly launch record, set last year at 35, but it exceeds by 20% the 40 launches China had predicted at the start of the year it would complete in 2021.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

50 China
31 SpaceX
22 Russia
7 Europe (Arianespace)

China leads the U.S. 50 to 48 in the national rankings. This was the 131st launch in 2021, the second highest total in a single year since the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

Webb successfully launched

Early this morning an Ariane 5 rocket successfully launched the James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana.

The key moment that indicated the launch was success was, after Webb was deployed from the rocket’s upper stage, its solar panels deployed and the telescope began receiving power from them.

The launch itself was something that has been done by the Ariane 5 rocket many many times, without failure. Now comes the part of this operation that has never been done before.

Now “30 days of terror” begin, as JWST starts its career in space. First, it will take the space telescope 30 days to reach the start of its halo orbit at L2. On its way, the telescope must unfurl its 18 gold-plated beryllium mirror segments using 132 actuators. It will also have to deploy its five-layer, origami sunshield and cool down to below 50K (-223°C or -370°F) to begin the start of science operations in 2022.

NASA has a webpage that shows the step-by-step deployment, and allows you to see the status at any time during the next 30 days.

After almost twenty years of development and a budget that went 20x over its original estimate, let’s us all hope that Webb deploys properly and begins collecting data as intended. If it does, it will allow astronomers to make ground-breaking discoveries, and we shall gain a better idea of what lies hidden behind that black sky that surrounds us.

As for the 2021 launch race, this is the updated leader board:

49 China
31 SpaceX
22 Russia
7 Europe (Arianespace)

China will likely be the winner in the national rankings, 49 to 48 over the U.S. This was the 130th successful launch in 2021, only the second time in the history of space exploration that the world reached that number of launches in a single year.

Webb telescope reaches launchpad on Ariane 5 + how to watch launch

The James Webb Space Telescope, stacked on top of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket, has finally reached its launchpad in French Guiana after twenty years of development costing 20 times its original budget.

The launch itself is now scheduled for December 25, 2021 at 7:20 am (Eastern). It will be live streamed by both NASA (in English) and Arianespace (with options in English, French, or Spanish).

I have embedded below NASA’s feed. As always, expect NASA to pump you with lots of propaganda during its live stream.

When all is said and done, Webb has the chance to show us things about the universe we’ve never seen before. Optimized for deep space cosmology, it will provide us a window into the earliest moments of the universe’s existence. And is infrared capabilities will allow it to peer into many nearer places obscured by dust with a resolution unmatched by previous telescopes.

Keep your fingers crossed all goes as planned.
» Read more

China launches two military satellites with its Long March 7A

China today successfully launched two military satellites from its coastal Wenchang spaceport, using its new Long March 7A rocket.

The Long March 7 family of rockets will eventually replace the Long March 2 and 3 families. It can launch from the coast, thus eliminating the need to drop boosters in China’s interior. It has greater capacity. It also uses kerosene and oxygen, not hypergolic fuels that ignite on contact and are very toxic.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

49 China
31 SpaceX
22 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

As there no more American launches planned this year, with this launch China wins the 2021 launch race, moving ahead of the U.S. 49 to 48.

This was the 129th launch in 2021. As there are three launches still scheduled — a Russian Angara test launch, a Ariane 5 launch placing Webb in orbit, and a Russian OneWeb launch — the year is likely end up tying or beating 1975 as the most active year in rocketry ever. The Chinese could also launch, as it has in the past done a lot of launches in December.

Pushback against blacklists: Employee resistance force hospitals nationwide to abandon COVID shot mandates

Patrick Henry
We should all emulate Patrick Henry, putting liberty and our freedom
above false security, even at the cost of our jobs or even our lives

Don’t comply: Numerous major hospital systems across the nation are abandoning the mandates that require employees to get the COVID shots or be fired because they have discovered that almost one third of their workforce are willing to walk away rather than get the shot.

The resulting staff shortages would then make operations in these hospitals impossible.

Facing serious staffing shortages, some of the largest and most prominent hospital systems in the United States, including HCA Healthcare Inc., Tenet Healthcare Corp., AdventHealth, and Cleveland Clinic have been forced to backpedal on their COVID-19 jab mandates in hopes of retaining crucial employees, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday

Townhall reported that University Hospitals in the Cleveland, Ohio area also recently announced the reversal of its jab mandate for hospital workers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the major hospital systems have been forced to reevaluate their coercive COVID-19 jab policies after needed healthcare industry employees, especially nurses, chose to quit rather than get the experimental injections.

» Read more

A detailed review of SLS’s present launch status

Link here. The article provides a detailed look at the engine controllers in the former shuttle engines that SLS is using on its core first stage, including some details about the failed unit and the issues involved in replacing it.

I found this historical data in the article most interesting:

The first attempt to launch Orbiter Atlantis and the STS-43 Shuttle vehicle was scrubbed before dawn on July 24, 1991, when the primary computer, DCU A, failed while propellants were being used loaded into the External Tank. … As a result, the launch was scrubbed to allow replacement of the controller, and the launch was rescheduled for August 1, 1991. The failure analysis of the controller revealed a broken blind lap solder joint connection of the bit jumper to the half stack, which is not a generic design problem.”

According to contemporaneous Shuttle Status Reports issued by NASA Public Affairs at KSC in late July, 1991, after the launch was scrubbed and the External Tank was drained and inerted, access to the engine area for maintenance was established on July 26. The broken engine controller was removed, and a new one was installed on July 27, followed by testing to verify the new controller on July 28; the three-day countdown was started over from the top on July 29 for the next launch attempt on the morning of August 1.

It took NASA less than a week to replace an engine controller in 1991. Now, it appears it might take NASA several months, including testing, to do the same thing on SLS. Moreover, the article suggests that there are other subcontractors and organizations (such as the range safety) that are also having trouble being ready for the presently scheduled mid-February launch.

All in all, this report suggests that SLS will not launch in February, will be delayed until April, with a strong chance that even that April date might not be met.

The report also illustrates the sluggish manner in which NASA operates today. Nothing is done with any speed. No task is done in one day if it can take a week. This is bad management, and also a very dangerous way to operate, as it actually encourages sloppiness because no one is under any pressure to work hard. The result has been endless niggling failures, each of which delays things interminably.

Local judge blocks Camden spacesport

Capitalism in space? Almost immediately after the FAA last week issued a launch license for the proposed commercial spaceport in Camden, Georgia, a judge in the state courts issued an injunction blocking it.

The order and request for an interlocutory injunction was filed last week by Camden residents James Goodman and Paul Harris. Camden County Superior Court Judge Stephen G. Scarlett granted the restraining order on Tuesday and scheduled a hearing on the injunction for Jan. 5.

This order prevents the spaceport, being developed by the county itself, from purchasing any additional land for the project.

Meanwhile, a petition to force a referendum for or against the land purchase has obtained enough signatures. They needed 3,400 signatures — 10% of the registered voters of Camden county — and obtained 3,800. Those signatures are presently being verified by the county probate court, which has until mid-February to complete its work. If a special election is then called, it likely won’t occur before the middle of 2022.

It is perfectly legitimate for the citizens of the county to express their opposition to such a project. And if in a special election a majority disapprove, then it is perfectly correct for the county’s effort to be shut down.

This opposition however gives us a peek into the modern culture of America, hostile to innovation and new businesses, and willing to use the government aggressively to prevent it. Whether that hostility is felt by the majority in Camden County is at present unknown, though the success of the petition suggests it is. The special election will tell us.

I predict however that if the special election comes down in favor of the spaceport, the opposition will not accept that result, and will then move to find other legalities that they can enlist the government to use to block the project.

This project is beginning to remind me of Hawaii and the Thirty Meter Telescope, which has been effectively blocked from construction by what appears to be a very small number of radical protesters.

Identity of $28 million bidder for New Shepard flight revealed

Capitalism in space: The person who bid $28 million to win a seat on the first suborbital flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft has now revealed himself.

Justin Sun, the founder and CEO of the blockchain platform Tron, announced today (Dec. 22) that he’s the person who paid $28 million for a seat aboard Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight. That mission launched on July 20, carrying Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and three other people to suborbital space on the company’s New Shepard spacecraft. The then-unnamed auction winner was not among them, however, remaining groundbound due to scheduling conflicts, Blue Origin representatives said at the time.

But it turns out that Sun’s spaceflight dreams were just deferred, not dashed. The 31-year-old entrepreneur said today that he plans to fly on a New Shepard mission next year, along with five other “space warriors” that he will nominate.

Sun outlined what he’s looking for in a Twitter thread today. One crewmate nominee will be “a prominent figure in the crypto[currency] world,” he said. Another will be a Tron community member “with a strong passion for space,” and another will be a tech entrepreneur. The fourth and fifth nominees will be an artist and a celebrity, respectively.

It is unclear if Blue Origin is giving him six seats for his $28 million, or if Sun is paying additional money. At this time Bezos’ company has not revealed anywhere what it is actually charging for tickets.

FAA’s approval of SpaceX’s Starship operations delayed at least a month

The FAA has now had to delay the final approval of its environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Starship facility and operations at Boca Chica for at least one month because NOAA has refused to approve the plan.

That puts NOAA’s generic review of Rocket Landing and Launches back to at least the end of January, with the much more complex and contentious USFWS [Fish and Wildlife] review also pending (this one is habitat and species review of impacts to bird and wildlife populations specific to Boca Chica).

The earliest approval by the FAA (which again, is far from a sure thing) should be projected into February. And the actual launch license process can’t be started until then. March is absolutely the earliest even the giddiest optimist could expect for Starship’s Maiden Orbital Flight.

It appears that the bureaucrats in NOAA are hostile to the launch site, and are looking for reasons, mostly environmental, to either block it or slow it down.

It also appears that a second Department of the Interior agency must sign off, and it is also hostile.

Based on this story, it looks like Starship’s first orbital flight will not happen until the latter half of ’22, if then. Nor can we expect any help from the Biden administration. Unlike Trump, the Democrats now running the executive branch of government do not like private enterprise and business, and generally look for excuses to regulate and even block it, especially if they think there is the slightest chance it might harm some formerly unknown species somewhere.

This is America today, no longer free. Rather than you making the decision freely, as an American citizen, un-elected federal government officials now decide whether you can do anything, or not.

December 22, 2021 Zimmerman/Pratt on Texas podcast

Robert Pratt has now made available a 20 minute podcast I did with him this week. You can listen or download it here. From the podcast announcement:

New Texan Elon Musk has the ear of many of the younger techies and he is giving them good lessons on government policy. Also, Robert Zimmerman of joins us for a space industry updated including comment on the James Webb Telescope set for launch on Friday; Blue Origin’s orbital engine delays, and; much on Elon Musk’s SpaceX including developments at the firm’s Texas launch facility in Cameron County.

Japan’s H-2A rocket launches communications satellite

Japan today successfully launched a commercial communications satellite using its Mitsubishi-built H-2A rocket.

This was Japan’s third and likely last launch in 2021. Since 2018 its numbers have been low, ranging from 2 to 4, so this total matches that pace. It is an embarrassment for Japan, however, when compared to China and SpaceX.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race remain unchanged:

48 China
31 SpaceX
22 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

The U.S. and China remain tied at 48 in the national rankings. This was the 128th successful launch in 2021, making it the second most active year in the history of rocketry, exceeded only by 1975, when there were 132 successful launches, 98 of which were by the Soviet Union, with the bulk of these being short term low orbit spy satellites.

Today’s blacklisted American: College football coach fired for putting up hand-written sign saying “All lives matter.”

Opinions that are banned at Illinois State University
Opinions banned by Illinois State University’s football team.

They’re coming for you next: Kurt Beathard, an offensive coordinator coach for the Illinois State University football team, was fired because he replaced an official school poster that had been pinned to his office door that specifically endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement with a hand-written sign that said, “All lives matter to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

[Head coach Brock Spack] asked Beathard to remove the poster, which the offensive coordinator did. “Meanwhile, another coach who wanted to replace Beathard as offensive coordinator had taken a picture of Beathard’s poster and shared it with the football players,” the lawsuit alleges. Apparently, the picture upset some of the football players.”

“On 9/1/20, some of the football players boycotted practice,” the lawsuit said. “Spack came to Beathard’s office and informed him that it looked like Lyons [another coach he had gotten in trouble for making fun of Black Lives Matters] was going to keep his job but that Beathard was in trouble over the poster.”

The next day, he lost his job because Spack did not “like the direction of the offense.”

Beathard, who had worked for 25 years as a football coach, has filed a lawsuit [pdf] against both Spack and Lyons in the federal courts, claiming that they fired him “for one reason and one reason only: He did not toe the party line regarding the Black Lives Matter organization.” The lawsuit also notes that his firing violated the school’s own policy, which states:.
» Read more

Astronomers detect 70 to 170 free floating exoplanets

The uncertainty of science: Astronomers today announced that they think they have detected from 70 to 170 exoplanets in a nearby star-forming region that are apparently free-floating, unattached to any star or solar system.

The astronomers also combined the vast number of images available in public astronomical archives with the new deep wide-field observations obtained with the best infrared and optical telescopes on the ground and in space. Using over 80,000 wide-field images adding up to around 100 terabytes and spanning 20 years, they identified at least 70, and up to as many as 170 of these Jupiter-sized planets, as members of the Upper Scorpius association among the background stars and galaxies.

If confirmed, this discovery more than doubles the number of free-floating planets known.

The discovery was made by first using the motion of the stars to pinpoint which ones belonged to the Upper Scorpius star-forming region. The astronomers then compared this data with past archival telescopic images.

Though intriguing, a great deal of skepticism of this discovery is required. The press release is very vague about some points. For example, no explanation is given on how they measured the mass of these objects to determine they were Jupiter-sized.

The barren rocky terrain in the mountains of Gale Crater

Curiosity's view looking south towards Mt Sharp, Sol 3333, December 21, 2021
Click for full resolution image. Original photos can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

Overview map
Click for interactive map.

Cool image time! Curiosity yesterday used its navigation cameras to take a panorama of the view inside Maria Gordon Notch. The mosaic above, created from five images taken by the right navigation camera, shows the view looking south and uphill towards Mount Sharp. The heights of the nearest four hills are likely ranging from 30 to 100 feet.

The red dotted line indicates the planned route out of Gordon Notch and up onto the Greenheugh Pediment. If you click on the panorama to look at the full resolution version, you will see that the exit route looks extemely rough, possibly too rough for Curiosity to handle. How the science team handles this issue will be fascinating to watch in the coming weeks.

The map to the right gives us an overview. The white line is Curiosity’s actual travels. The red dotted line marks the planned route. The yellow lines indicate the area covered by the panorama above.

The most striking feature of this Martian terrain is its stark barrenness. All one can see in all directions are rocks and inanimate geology. There is no life, none at all. On Earth it is practically impossible to find any mountainous spot as barren as this, even in the most extreme and hostile environments.

As I’ve said before, Mars is strange, Mars is wonderful, and above all, Mars is alien.

SpaceX begins testing of launch procedures for Superheavy prototype #4

Capitalism in space: SpaceX began this week the testing of the fueling and launch procedures it will follow for launching the first orbital Superheavy, prototype #4, presently mounted on the orbital launchpad at Boca Chica.

On December 17th, SpaceX subjected Super Heavy B4 to a cryogenic proof test about twice as ambitious as B3’s, filling the booster maybe a sixth of the way with a few hundred tons of liquid nitrogen (LN2). What isn’t clear is if that test also raised the booster’s propellant tanks to flight pressures (6-8 bar or 90-115 psi). If Booster 4 did reach those pressures, the test is even more significant – partially proving that the rocket is ready for flight. On December 21st, SpaceX performed a similar series of cryogenic tests, again partially filling Booster 4 with about the same amount of liquid nitrogen but doing so two or three times in a row. Again, the Super Heavy survived the several-hour ordeal without any obvious issues. Still, a number of additional tests – some even more important – are still in front of SpaceX and Super Heavy B4.

The most obvious is simple enough: SpaceX needs to fully fill a Super Heavy booster for the first time. Depending on the storage situation, that process will likely begin by filling Booster 4 with about 2500 tons (5.5M lb) of liquid nitrogen (LN2) – about two-thirds full. If SpaceX also temporarily fills one of the orbital tank farm’s liquid oxygen (LOx) or methane (LCH4) tanks with nitrogen, it could fully load Booster 4 with around 3500 tons (7.7M lb) of nitrogen. At least according to SpaceX’s own website, that’s about the same weight as the propellant (3400t/7.5M lb) Super Heavy is designed to lift off with. If that full cryoproof goes well, SpaceX will then likely perform one or several wet dress rehearsals, ultimately filling Booster 4 with approximately 2900 tons (6.4M lb) of cryogenic oxygen and 500 tons (1.1M lb) of cryogenic methane.

At some point the company will need to not only fill the booster, it will need to do at least one static fire test of its 29 engines. If all goes well, SpaceX will then mount Starship on top, with the first orbital flight to follow. Musk has said they are aiming for a January launch, but no one should be surprised if it slips to February.

ESA delays Webb launch one day due to weather

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced late yesterday that, due to “adverse weather conditions” in French Guiana, it has delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on an Ariane 5 rocket one day to December 25th.

The announcement also stated that the final launch readiness review also approved the launch, though no update has yet been issued on the ground control communications problem that had caused a two day delay last week.

Meanwhile, this story and its headline encapsulates the terror I think many astronomers presently feel about this telescope:

Why Astronomers Are “Crying and Throwing Up Everywhere” Over the Upcoming Telescope Launch

The sense is one of helpless panic among astronomers who want to use Webb. They know it will do really cutting edge science, but they also know that many things can go wrong, and the history of the telescope (ten years late and 20x overbudget) will likely make replacing it impossible.

And many things can go wrong. Below is NASA’s video showing the telescope’s complex unfolding, step-by-step, after launch.
» Read more

Pushback against blacklists: Boeing cancels mandate to fire workers who don’t get COVID shot

When Boeing was a great company
The 747: built when Boeing was a great company.

Do not comply: Boeing announced late last week that it is canceling its requirement that its workers get the COVID shots or be faced with termination.

The aircraft manufacturer said in an internal memo that it made the decision after a federal appeals court last month upheld its stay on President Biden’s vaccine mandate for companies with at least 100 employees.

It also appears that the decision was not solely for legal reasons. According to Boeing’s statement, “over 92% of the company’s U.S.-based workforce having registered as being fully vaccinated or having received a religious or medical accommodation.” That sounds nice, but based on the number of employees Boeing has, it means the company would have lost more than 10,000 employees if it had gone through with the mandate. Losing that many workers in one blow is likely something Boeing management did not want to deal with, especially considering the company’s numerous quality control problems.
» Read more

Oh no! 132 SpaceX employees in California come down with colds!

Chicken Little update: The California press today is in a panic of doom because 132 SpaceX employees in its Hawthorne facility have been diagnosed with some form of COVID.

From the KABC news division, a typical example:

In the largest recent Los Angeles County workplace outbreak, at least 132 workers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne have been infected with COVID-19, according to new county data. The county’s latest compilation of outbreaks at workplaces that don’t include residential facilities puts the rocket company at the top of the list, far ahead of the 85 cases at the FedEx facility near Los Angeles International Airport. The list includes 37 workplaces with a total of 452 cases.

…The outbreak comes as COVID-19 cases are once again rising in California and throughout the country, amid increased holiday travel and gatherings, and the spread of the omicron variant. Los Angeles County recently reported its highest number of daily cases since August.

California this week is marking 75,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

And health officials are concerned as omicron has now become the dominant strain of the coronavirus. Hospitals are reporting once again being strained to the limit of their resources as the holiday season gets underway, with increased transmission linked to family gatherings and air travel.

O no! We’re all gonna die!

NOT! As is usual for the mainstream press, working as operatives of the Democratic Party, they fail to mention that this new “outbreak” of COVID-19 appears to be mostly from the new omicron strain, which to this date has killed only about fourteen people worldwide, most of whom were in the UK and sick with other illnesses.

All the evidence shows that more than 99.9% of everyone else experiences very mild symptoms from Omicron, comparable to an ordinary cold, and is better in a few days. Since most of SpaceX’s employees are young and healthy, I predict they will all be back at work with the coming of the new year.

None of these facts matter however to the fear-driven and ignorant press and the political leadership in states controlled by the power-hungry Democratic Party. Instilling fear is their goal, and instill it they will.

Meanwhile, most ordinary people nationwide are increasingly realizing that COVID-19 was never the plague it has been touted as, and are going back to normal life. More important, they are finally realizing that the politicians, health officials, and the mainstream press are simply idiots crying wolf endlessly, and should be ignored.

SpaceX for example during this entire fake “pandemic” has not slowed its operations down in the slightest. It has not required vaccines, it hasn’t even asked its employees what their status is. The result is the company has experienced no harm at all, while it forged ahead of all of its competition.

The same will happen now. In two weeks these employees will be back at work, and SpaceX will continue operations as normal. And if the various state and local California governments try to force restrictions on it, Elon Musk will tell them to go to hell, and move even more of his company’s operations out of California.

FAA approves license for launchpad in Camden, Georgia

Capitalism in space: After years of review, FAA yesterday finally approved a license for building a space launchpad in Camden, Georgia.

The approval however does not mean rockets will begin launching, even in the near future. First, there is the opposition to the spaceport, an opposition based on the simple fact that the rockets have to fly over seven miles over land before reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

About 3,800 people have signed a petition calling for a referendum that would let voters decide whether the county can buy the property. “Virtually from the start, the FAA’s review of Spaceport Camden has been fraught with factual mistakes and legal errors,” Brian Gist, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in a statement Monday. “We will carefully review the FAA’s decision to ensure that it fully complies with all applicable laws.”

The National Park Service and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, also have expressed concerns.

In a July 22 letter to the FAA, the Interior Department said a chance of rockets exploding — with fiery debris raining down on wilderness land on Cumberland Island — creates an “unacceptable risk.” Cumberland Island, with its wild horses and nesting sea turtles, is a popular tourist area off the Georgia coast.

The threat to wildlife by the rocket launches is certainly bogus, as we have more than a half century of evidence at Cape Canaveral that space launches not only do no harm to wildlife, they actually help because they stop development.

The environmental opposition however is actually being used as a weapon by many local residents who really fear the launches because the spaceport seems to them too close to residential areas. They also fear it will also likely interfere with tourism to the coastal beaches and parks that the rockets will fly over, causing them to be shut down during launches.

Because the fears about the nearness of residential areas and the harm to tourism are somewhat legitimate, they illustrate a second reason why this spaceport will likely fail. Why should any rocket company choose this launch site, so close to residential areas and so opposed by many locals, especially when there are now so many other less risky and controversial spaceports to choose from? I suspect very few will do so, and this project will eventually die, even if it finally gets full approval and is built.

SpaceX launches cargo Dragon to ISS using new 1st stage

Capitalism in space: In what will likely be its last launch in 2021, SpaceX early this morning successfully launched a reused Dragon cargo capsule to ISS.

This was the company’s 31st launch in 2021, extending its record for the most launches in a single year by a private company. The launch’s big news however was that the company used a new first stage booster, only the second time in 2021 that it needed to do so (the first was in May). The first stage successfully landed on the drone ship in the Atlantic, completing SpaceX’s 100th successful recovery.

The first such vertical landing had occurred in December 2015, and now six years later and after a hundred vertical landings, SpaceX remains the only orbital rocket entity in the world with such a capability. A very small handful of companies have performed tests with smaller scale prototypes, but that so much time has passed and no one has pushed forward to meet SpaceX’s challenge with even some full scale preliminary test flights does not reflect well on the innovative culture of the world’s rocket industry.

As for SpaceX’s yearly record, 31 launches actually exceeds the number of launches the entire U.S. rocket industry generally managed each year from 1970 through 2017. During much of that time the launch industry was run by NASA in a Soviet-style top-down system that stifled competition and innovation. Beginning in 2008, when SpaceX won its first contract with NASA, that system was abandoned by NASA, switching instead to capitalism and competition, whereby NASA was merely a customer buying its launches from the open market. The positive results from that change have been breath-taking, proving once again that freedom, competition, and private enterprise will win every single time over government programs and communist/socialist ideology.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

48 China
31 SpaceX
22 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

The U.S. and China are now tied 48 to 48 in the national rankings. This was the 127th launch in 2021, tying it with 1976 for the second most successful year in rocketry in the history of space exploration. With five more announced launches on the schedule, there is a chance that this year could tie the record year, 132 in 1975.

Today’s blacklisted American: Denver elementary school brings back segregation

Segregated playgrounds return in Colorado!
Segregated playgrounds return in Colorado!
Click for original image from Christopher Rufo.

“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Administrators at a Denver public elementary school eagerly and enthusiastically organized a monthly playground night in which whites were apparently banned. The photo to the right is of the school’s sign, announcing this public event.

The school administrators claimed the evening was organized at the request of the school’s black families so that they could get to know each other, but that families from all races were also welcome.

The sign says otherwise. It suggests that this playground event is intended only for “people of color”, which usually means everyone but whites. This conclusion is reinforced by looking at the “Equity” pages at the school’s website. On this webpage the school proudly announces that “many of our staff have participated in Creating Connections and a CRT and the Brain Study group.” Another Equity page touts their links to the Marxist and bigoted Black Lives Matter movement, and touted segregated programs for:
» Read more

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