SpaceX launches another 52 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this afternoon successfully completed its second Falcon 9 launch of the day, placing 52 Starlink satellites into orbit from Vandenberg..

The seven hour gap between launches was a record for the shortest time between two SpaceX launches. The first stage landed successfully on a drone ship in the Pacific, completing its fifth flight.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

45 SpaceX
41 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 64 to 41 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 64 to 61. The U.S. total, 64, ties the total from 1965, the second most active year in American rocketry. The record of 70 successful launches, set in 1966, will almost certainly be broken sometime in the next month.

Another “What the heck?” formation on Mars

Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped, reduced, and enhanced to post here, was taken on May 28, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and shows what the scientists label “unique terrain.”

I have increased the contrast to bring out the details. It appears that we have a flat plain of criss-crossing ridges that in large areas have somehow gotten flattened across their top. Imagine someone laying plaster on a wall and using a scraper tool to smooth the surface, but only partially. In this case on Mars, our imaginary worker only smoothed the surface a little, and only in some areas. To try to come up with a geological process however to explain this seems daunting.

And what created the criss-crossing ridges? The overview map provides only a little help in answering these questions.
» Read more

October 5, 2022 Quick space links

Courtesy of BtB’s stringer Jay, who reads Twitter so I don’t have to.






Pushback: Cornell’s library lifts its blackballing of Abraham Lincoln

Banned by Cornell

Our modern dark age: Faced with a storm of criticism from donors, alumni, and the public, the removal of a bust of Abraham Lincoln from the library at Cornell University, has been cancelled, and Lincoln will once again be given an honored place at the university.

The bust’s removal, along with a plaque celebrating Lincoln’s Gettysburg address (to the right), were removed in 2021 because some unnamed individual had filed a complaint. As I noted in June:
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Firefly wins Space Force launch contract

Capitalism in space: Shortly after Firefly completed the first successful orbital launch of its Alpha rocket, the U.S. Space Force awarded the company its first military launch contract.

The VICTUS NOX mission will demonstrate an end-to-end Tactically Responsive Space capability, including the launch segment, space segment, ground segment, and on-orbit operations. VICTUS NOX will perform a Space Domain Awareness (SDA) mission from Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).

The next Alpha mission, a demonstration launch of a climate smallsat for NASA, presently hopes to launch before the end of the year, though more likely early next year.

Virgin Orbit ready to launch from Cornwall, United Kingdom

Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit announced today that it has completed its preparations for its first launch from Cornwall, United Kingdom, which would also be the first launch ever from British soil.

An actual launch date has not yet been set, due to the “launch permitting regulatory process” in the UK. At the moment Cornwall is vying with two new spaceports in Scotland for the honor of that first launch.

SpaceX successfully launches astronauts to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this morning successfully launched two NASA astronauts, one Japanese astronaut, and one Russian astronaut into orbit for a mission to ISS, with the docking scheduled for tomorrow.

The capsule, Endurance, is making its second flight. This was SpaceX’s eighth manned launch. The first stage, making its first fight, landed successfully on the drone ship in the Atlantic. This was the first new first stage launched since May 2022, and only the second this year. All other launches in 2022 were completed using SpaceX’s existing fleet of boosters. The company also continues to hold to the pattern of last year for maintaining that fleet, by adding two new boosters each year.

That this achievement is now becoming as routine as SpaceX’s unmanned launches proves the company’s success. And SpaceX did it in less than a decade, something NASA with its government-built shuttle was never able to accomplish.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

44 SpaceX
41 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 63 to 41 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 63 to 61.

Mitch & Mickey – When You’re Next to Me

An evening pause: This movie scene was created for the Christopher Guest pseudo-documentary film A Mighty Wind (2003), recreating with marvelous and loving accuracy a look back at the folk song era of the 1960s, but doing it about a bunch of completely mythical folk groups. The song is by the actor Eugene Levy, who plays Mitch. Catherine O’Hara plays Mickey.

The irony is that though this is actually the best song by far in the movie, the scene was deleted. The only time you hear this song is over the end credits. However, as Levy is quoted on the youtube page:

“At the end of this movie, when we do the concert, it was all filmed basically live. We’re not pre-recording the music and lip-synching to it. We’re actually filming it live. It put a little added pressure on what you thought was a relatively good singing voice. It took a little work and I think I can speak for Catherine, too, as two of the relatively non-musician people. It was exciting and scary.”

A touching and surprisingly effective film, expressing the magic that can happen to us all, but sometimes only in a short burst that is soon lost and cannot be truly recaptured.

ULA successfully launches two communications satellites

Capitalism in space: ULA today successfully used its Atlas-5 rocket to place two SES communications satellites into orbit.

Satellite deployment will occur in about five hours, after the rocket gets them to their proper geosynchronous orbit.

43 SpaceX
41 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 62 to 41, and the entire globe combined 62 to 61. This lead will grow before the week is out. SpaceX has scheduled two launches on October 5th, first a manned mission to ISS followed a few hours later by an unmanned launch of 52 Starlink satellites. Rocket Lab follows on October 6 with another Electron launch.

October 4, 2022 Quick space links




  • Iran completes suborbital rocket test launch
  • According to the state-run press, the rocket, dubbed Saman, tested an “orbital transmission system and … its capability to change the orbit of satellites in near-space conditions.”





Today’s blacklisted Americans: UC-Berkeley law school clubs ban Jewish speakers

The coming genocide
Becoming Judenfrei at UC-Berkeley

Persecution is now cool! Nine different law school clubs at the University of California-Berkeley have now made it their official policy to ban all “pro-Zionist” speakers, and are doing so with the full support of the college administration.

And these are not groups that represent only a small percentage of the student population. They include Women of Berkeley Law, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association, Law Students of African Descent and the Queer Caucus. Berkeley Law’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a progressive Zionist, has observed that he himself would be banned under this standard, as would 90% of his Jewish students.

Zionism has always been used by leftist hate-monger groups as a euphemism for Jew. Its meaning is generally unclear and vague, and in the end usually ends up covering anyone who is support of Israel’s existence. Since this opinion fits the description almost every Jew, banning Zionism essentially bans Jews.

The university’s support and backing of this anti-Semitic ban has come from Dean Chemerinsky himself, who admits he would be banned under these rules but in a rebuttal posted at the link above, expresses full support for the anti-Semitic policy of these clubs.
» Read more

Chandra takes an X-ray look at early Webb infrared observations

Chandra's X-ray vision of the Cartwheel Galaxy
Chandra’s X-ray view of the Cartwheel Galaxy

Webb's view of the Cartwheel Galaxy
Webb’s infrared view of the Cartwheel Galaxy
Click for full image.

Hubble's optical view of the Cartwheel Galaxy
Hubble’s optical view of the Cartwheel Galaxy. Click for original image.

Astronomers have now taken X-ray images using the orbital Chandra X-ray Observatory of four of the first Webb Space Telescope observations. The four targets were the Cartwheel Galaxy, Stephan’s Quintet, galaxy cluster SMACS 0723.3–7327, and the Carina Nebula.

The three images to the right illustrate the importance of studying astronomy across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Each shows the Cartwheel Galaxy as seen by three of the world’s most important space-based telescopes, each looking at the galaxy in a different wavelength.

The top picture is Chandra’s new X-ray observations. As the press release notes,

Chandra data generally show higher-energy phenomena (like superheated gas and the remnants of exploded stars) than Webb’s infrared view. … X-rays seen by Chandra (blue and purple) come from superheated gas, individual exploded stars, and neutron stars and black holes pulling material from companion stars.

The middle picture was produced by Webb, shortly after the start of its science operations. It looks at the galaxy in the infrared.

In this near- and mid-infrared composite image, MIRI data are colored red while NIRCam data are colored blue, orange, and yellow. Amidst the red swirls of dust, there are many individual blue dots, which represent individual stars or pockets of star formation. NIRCam also defines the difference between the older star populations and dense dust in the core and the younger star populations outside of it.

The bottom picture was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. I have rotated the image to match the others. It looks at the galaxy in optical wavelengths, the wavelengths that our eyes perceive.

Note how bright the central galactic region is in the infrared and optical, but is invisible in X-rays. Chandra is telling us that all the most active regions in the Cartwheel are located in that outer ring, not in its center.

Spinlaunch completes 10th test launch, this time for outside customers

Spinlaunch prototype launcher

Capitalism in space: Spinlaunch on September 27, 2022 successfully completed the 10th test launch of its radical spin launch centrifuge, this time accelerating test components to approximately 35k feet for other potential customers, including NASA.

Flight Test 10, which had a similar flight trajectory as previous campaigns, was witnessed by more than 150 partners, government officials, and industry advocates. It was SpinLaunch’s tenth flight test in just under eleven months since the Suborbital Mass Accelerator came online in late 2021.

…Four partner payloads, as well as two instrumentation payloads, were flown on the Suborbital Accelerator Flight Test Vehicle. For partners, the flight test provided critical data on the launch environment and payload integration process.

As part of the pre-flight qualification process, SpinLaunch accelerated payloads up to 10,000G in SpinLaunch’s 12-meter Lab Accelerator at its Long Beach headquarters. Payloads were inspected post-spin and subsequently integrated into the Flight Test Vehicle in preparation for Flight Test 10.

It remains to be seen whether this technology will work for launches to orbit. Even if it does, because of the stress produced during spin up this launch technique will really only work for bulk payloads to orbit, such as water and oxygen. If it works however it could reduce launch costs for these items tremendously.

October 3, 2022 Quick space links

All but the first provided by stringer Jay, who trolls Twitter so I don’t have to. A lot of launches by the U.S. in the next four days.




  • Rocket Lab targeting October 6, 2022 for its next launch
  • It will place a NOAA satellite into orbit. The company will not attempt a recovery of the rocket’s first stage. That same day SpaceX also has a launch planned, the third for the company in a little more than three days.



Based on numerous sources, including at least one owner of a payload, this is not true. The second stage under performed. Instead of a 300 kilometer orbit, the second stage deployed at a lower orbit, either 223×283 kilometers, or 210×270 kilometers, depending on source. (The latter is likely more accurate, as it is more recent.)

Not a good look for new CEO Weber, or Firefly. The under performance is something that can be fixed. To make believe it didn’t happen only makes you look disingenuous and unable to face reality.

Two days after DART’s impact of Dimorphus, ejected dust extends like a comet tail out more than 6,000 miles

Dust tail from Dimorphus two days after DART impact
Click for full image.

Using a telescope in Chile, astronomers photographed the ejecta two days after the impact of DART into the 525-foot-wide asteroid Dimorphus, and detected a tail of dust extending out more than 6,000 miles.

The picture to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, shows that tail.

In this new image, the dust trail — the ejecta that has been pushed away by the Sun’s radiation pressure, not unlike the tail of a comet — can be seen stretching from the center to the right-hand edge of the field of view. … At Didymos’s distance from Earth at the time of the observation, that would equate to at least 10,000 kilometers (6000 miles) from the point of impact.

Didymos is the larger parent asteroid that Dimorphus orbits.

It is still too soon to get the numbers on how Dimorphus’s path in space was changed by that impact. In fact, we still really don’t have a clear idea what is left of Dimophus itself. The ejecta cloud needs to clear somewhat to see what’s hidden inside it.

Today’s blacklisted Americans: All normal girls banned from locker room because one cross-dressing boy demanded it

Blake Allen, punished for being a normal high school girl
Blake Allen, punished for being a normal high school girl

They’re coming for you next: This story, which broke on September 28, 2022, is so absurd that at first glance it is hard to believe: Officials running Randolph High School in Vermont have banned from the girls locker room all girls from the school’s volley ball team because one cross-dressing boy was using it and the girls had the unmitigated nerve to express strong discomfort changing clothes in the presence of a male.

The quote below tells the tale, but in order to make it more precisely describe reality, I have replaced the meaningless words (“trans”, “transgender” “they”) that our queer dictators have imposed on mainstream news sources with words that actually describe the facts.

[Blake] Allen [one of the girls] says that the dispute started when the [boy who likes to wear woman’s clothing] made an inappropriate comment while members of the volleyball team were getting changed. She says her issue is not with having the [cross-dresser] student on the team or at school, but specifically in the locker room. “There are biological boys that go into the girl’s bathroom but never a locker room,” Allen said.
» Read more

Europa in true color

Europa in true color
Click for full image.

The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on September 29, 2022 by the Jupiter orbiter Juno during its close fly-by of Europa. Citizen scientist Bjorn Jonsson has processed it to bring out the details. From his caption:

This is an approximately true color/contrast, reprocessed version of Europa image PJ45_1. It is more carefully processed than the version I posted very shortly after the raw image data was released. The color should be fairly close to Europa’s real color and probably slightly more accurate than the color of the earlier version I posted. North is up.

The Sun is coming from the right, so those are craters in the upper left, close to the shadowed limb of the planet. The red color has been known for decades, and appears in many cases to be seepage coming up from the many meandering ridges that criss-cross the planet’s surface. Their chemistry/make-up is not fully known at this time.

Juno came within 219 miles of Europa, the closest any spacecraft has come since the Galileo orbiter circled Jupiter in the 1990s. I was expecting close-up images of the surface, from that close distance, but have not yet seen any. Instead, most of the images released and processed by citizen scientists have been global images from farther away. Thus, at this moment it does not appear Juno took pictures at this closest distance.

Tiny cobbles on Mars

Tiny cobbles on Mars

Our second cool image takes us from grand galaxies, one of the universe’s largest coherent objects, to tiny cobbles on Mars. The picture to the right, taken by one of Perseverance’s close-up cameras on September 29, 2022, covers an area less than an inch across, making the largest rounded pebbles in this image only a few millimeters in size.

The rover presently sits on the floor of Jezero Crater, at the base of the delta that flowed into that crater eons ago. The data suggests that delta was created by flowing water entering a lake that filled the crater.

Did flowing water create these cobbles? These pebbles all have the look of the rounded cobble one finds either in river beds, or in glacial moraines. In both cases, the flow of the water or ice rolls the rocks along until they become rounded.

Interacting galaxies

Interacting galaxies
Click for full image.

The news is light this morning, so this cool image will be the first of three. The picture to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released today. From the caption:

The two interacting galaxies making up the pair known as Arp-Madore 608-333 seem to float side by side in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Though they appear serene and unperturbed, the two are subtly warping one another through a mutual gravitational interaction that is disrupting and distorting both galaxies.

I did a search for any research of this galaxy pair, and found that its identification was only part of a larger survey, with only a little research done on its spectroscopy. Thus, I can’t tell you the size or distance, or how far apart from each other these galaxies lie.

Sunspot update: Activity again exceeds prediction but ramp up pauses

NOAA this weekend published, as it does at the start of every month, its October update of its monthly graph that tracks the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere. As I have done since I started this website in 2011, I have published that graph below, with some additional details added to provide context.

An increase in sunspot activity in September wiped out the decline seen in August, so that the sunspot number in September once again matched or exceeded the numbers seen during the middle of the previous solar maximum from 2012 to 2014, a low period of activity between that maximum’s two peaks. Activity also continued to exceed the predictions of the panel of government solar scientists put together by NOAA.

At the same time, since May the ramp up to maximum has stalled, something I noted last month and has now become more evident.
» Read more

India’s Mars orbiter mission ends after eight years

After eight years in orbit around Mars, India’s Mars orbiter mission, Mangalyaan, has run out of fuel for controlling its orientation, ending its mission.

The Rs 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission was launched onboard PSLV-C25 on November five, 2013, and the MOM spacecraft was successfully inserted into Martian orbit on September 24, 2014 in its first attempt. “Right now, there is no fuel left. The satellite battery has drained,” sources in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told PTI. “The link has been lost”.

There was, however, no official word from the country’s national space agency, headquartered here.

During its mission it produced more than a thousand images, though the mission’s primary objective was technological, proving that India itself could design, build, launch, and manage a planetary mission to another world. For India, Mangalyaan was thus an unqualified success.

Fabric debris spotted on Ingenuity during 33rd flight

Tattered fabric debris on Ingenuity's leg during flight
Click to see full movie of flight.

In reviewing the images from Ingenuity’s 33rd flight on September 24, 2022, engineers have spotted what looks like a tattered piece of fabric fluttering on the end of one of the helicopter’s legs, and then disappearing.

The image to the right, cropped, enhanced, and labeled to post here, comes from an animation created from all images taken during the flight.

A small piece of foreign object debris (FOD) was seen in footage from the Mars helicopter’s navigation camera (Navcam) for a portion of its 33rd flight. This FOD was not visible in Navcam footage from the previous flight (32). The FOD is seen in Flight 33 Navcam imagery from the earliest frames to approximately halfway through the video, when it fell from the leg and drifted back to the Mars surface.

The engineers do not yet know what this was, but it apparently caused no harm to the helicopter. It also is likely not from either Ingenuity or Perseverance, as both are functioning perfectly. Most likely it is a piece of the parachute used during landing and then ejected.

Head of Commerce’s space office questions new FCC regulations on space junk

Turf war! At a conference yesterday Richard Dalbello, director of the Office of Space Commerce at the Commerce Department, strongly questioned the FCC’s legal authority for its just passed new regulation on the de-orbiting of space junk.

“I think the FCC, for their part, has pushed the boundaries of their authorities pretty aggressively,” he said when asked about what agency should have oversight for issues like that, as his office works to create a civil space traffic management capability. “Although I certainly congratulate them on the depth of their intellectual work,” he said of the FCC and its new order, “a lot of the things that they articulated are probably, arguably, outside their job jar.”

Dalbello’s comments only add to the many turf wars going on in the DC swamp over space regulation. Some in Congress want all space regulation to shift to his office. Others want it to be distributed across a number of agencies in both the military and civilian bureaucracies.

Regardless, Dalbello’s office is the agency that might actually have the legal authority for regulating space junk. And it is certain that the FCC does not have it.

NASA now aiming for SLS launch in November

In finding that Hurricane Ian caused little damage at its vehicle assembly building at Kennedy, NASA managers have decided to target the the November 12 to 27 launch window for the first launch of its SLS rocket.

According to this graph [pdf], November 27th is the only date that will provide NASA with the longest mission for Orion (38 to 42 days). Furthermore, the mission precludes launches on November 13, 20-21, and 26.

Expect them to aim for November 12th, even though that will result in an Orion mission only 26 to 28 days long.

Firefly successfully completes first orbital launch of its Alpha rocket

Alpha 1:48 into flight

Capitalism in space: Firefly, a company that just two years ago had gone into bankruptcy, tonight successfully launched their new Alpha rocket into orbit on its second test launch. The screen capture to the right shows the rocket 1:48 minutes into flight, its first stage still firing.

A final 2nd stage engine burn has completed, and we now have confirmation of deployment of the payload satellites. My sources tell me that the second stage under-performed, putting the satellites into a 223x283km orbit, rather than the planned 300km orbit, which will shorten the lifespan of the smallsats. As this was a test launch, not an operational one, this issue does not to my mind make the launch a failure.They reached orbit and the satellites were successfully deployed.

Thus, Firefly now joins SpaceX, Rocket Lab, ULA, Virgin Orbit, and Northrop Grumman as an operational American commercial rocket companies. Astra had been operational, but it has stepped down as it builds a new rocket.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

43 SpaceX
41 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 61 to 41 in the national rankings, and is tied with the entire world combined, 61 to 61.

Watching Firefly’s next attempt to launch tonight

Firefly will try again to complete the first successful launch of its Alpha rocket tonight from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Last night they attempted twice to launch, the first aborting about 4 minutes before launch, the second aborting at T-0, with the first stage engine’s actually igniting and then shutting down.

I have embedded the live stream below. The launch window opens at 12:01 am (Pacific) and lasts two hours, giving them time for at least two launch attempts, should an abort occur on the first attempt.

» Read more

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