Inspiration4 passengers scheduled for return to Earth tonight

The first entirely private manned orbital mission to space is now scheduled to return to Earth tonight, with splashdown set for 7:06 pm (eastern).

The SpaceX live stream of the landing will begin approximately 4:30 pm (eastern).

Yesterday the passengers released some videos, including a conversation with children who are cancer patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They also provided a video update to the general public.

As I noted yesterday, the primary goal of this flight is to raise money for St. Jude. If you wish to send a donation to St. Jude as part of the Inspiration4 spaceflight, you can do so here. You can donate cash directly, or you can bid to win one or more of a variety of items that are on the flight now.

Badlands on the floor of a Martian crater

Badlands on the floor of a Martian crater
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, shows one small section of a 30-mile-wide unnamed crater in the cratered equatorial regions of Mars northeast of Hellas Basin. Taken on July 21, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the science team labeled merely as “Rocky crater fill.”

Being at 17 degrees south latitude, there shouldn’t be any ice features in this crater, and the high resolution image to the right seems to confirm this. All we see is an endless plain made up of innumerable small sharp rock ridges interspersed with small low areas filled with sand dunes. This is bed rock, and if its strange stucco-like appearance was caused by a past glacial era, that era is long gone.

Below is a mosaic showing the entire crater, created from two MRO context camera images.
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Today’s blacklisted American: Conservative teacher fired for being conservative and colorblind

Beth Reams horrible post

They’re coming for you next: Beth Reams, a math teacher at a Missouri prep school was fired when first some school alumni complained about her conservative politics that she posted on her private Facebook page and then the school administration discovered that she treated all her students equally and made no effort to find out their religion or race so as to promote the bigoted concepts of modern critical race theory.

The article at the link above tells her sad story in great detail, how the most progressive teachers and alumni from Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City, Missouri, started a campaign against her, with some accusing her of being anti-Semitic because in one Facebook post in August 2020 she published a meme — posted to the right — that made the entirely rational analogy between the Nazi death camps and the increasingly harsh COVID mandates being imposed by the state and federal governments.

It is absurd to accuse Reams of anti-Semitism for this meme. I am Jewish and lost relatives in the Nazi concentration camps, and I applaud Reams for posting it, because it expresses the very same ideas I myself have repeatedly expressed throughout 2020, that the harsh lockdowns and restrictions being imposed by governments were morally wrong, and could only lead to exactly the same kind of genocide as committed by the Nazis.

Reams’ firing however appears to have finally been prompted from something even more absurd and horrifying, revealed by the transcript of a Zoom meeting between Reams and Pembroke’s principal, Mike Hill, and its Director of Human Resources Vanessa Alpert. It appears the principal was upset because Reams made no effort to identify her students’ ethnicity or religion and make it their number one defining attribute. Instead, she focused entirely on teaching them all equally so they could learn math from her. The key portion of the transcript:
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FAA now taking public comments on the licensing of SpaceX to launch Starship/Superheavy from Boca Chica

Capitalism in space: The FAA today announced by email that it is now taking public comments on the “Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA)” it requires from SpaceX before it can issue a launch license at Boca Chica, Texas for Starship/Superheavy orbital launches.

From the email:

The FAA invites interested agencies, organizations, Native American tribes, and members of the public to submit comments on all aspects of the Draft PEA. Public comments are due on Monday, October 18, 2021. Comments or questions on the Draft PEA can be addressed to Ms. Stacey Zee, SpaceX PEA, c/o ICF, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031. Comments may also be submitted by email to SpaceXBocaChica@icf.com. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

The FAA will also hold two public hearings on October 6th and 7th, though it provided no information yet on where those hearings will be held.

This announcement means that the Starship/Superheavy orbital test flight cannot occur any earlier than October 18, 2021, and will actually occur at least several weeks or months later, based on the schedule outlined on slide 32 of this FAA presentation [pdf]. Once the 30-day public comment period ends the FAA must then hold “an industry workshop” reviewing the comments and then issue an update of the PEA, or a rejection of it.

Though the chances of the FAA rejecting SpaceX’s permit are practically nil, I fully expect this process to be slow-walked by the FAA under orders of the Biden administration in order to do whatever it can to prevent this orbital flight occurring before SLS’s first launch, now expected in early ’22.

I hope I am wrong, and that the FAA surprises me. We can only wait and see.

Update: If you think I am crazy thinking that the politics of the Biden administration will cause a slowdown in the FAA’s process, just read this story about the FAA suddenly imposing flight restrictions at the southern border to block drone flights by media outlets that show the illegal immigrant crisis there.

“We’ve learned that the FAA just implemented a two week TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) over the international bridge in Del Rio, TX, meaning we can no longer fly our FOX drone over it to show images of the thousands of migrants,” Fox News reporter Bill Melugin tweeted. “FAA says ‘special security reason.’”

Fox’s report resulted in a quick lifting of this flight restriction on their drone, but the action by the Biden administration shows that it is quite willing to interfere with normal aviation regulations for its own political reasons.

India signs deal with private rocket startup

Capitalism in space: India’s new Department of Space, dedicated to encouraging the growth of a private commercial and independent Indian space industry, has signed a deal with the private rocket startup, Agnikul Cosmos, to give it access to government space facilities as it develops its own smallsat rocket.

Indian startup Agnikul Cosmos signed a framework memorandum of understanding (MOU) with India’s Department of Space on Friday for access to ISRO facilities and expertise for the development of its two-stage small-satellite Agnibaan launch vehicle.

“The Framework MoU…will enable the company for undertaking multiple tests and access facilities at various ISRO centers for testing and qualification of their single piece 3D printed Semi Cryo engine and other systems. The MoU also enable Agnikul to avail technical expertise of ISRO for testing and qualifying their space launch vehicle systems and subsystems,” ISRO said in a press release.

The company has raised more than $14.1 million in investment capital, and hopes to complete the first launch of its Agnibaan rocket by ’22.

Inspiration4 has raised $130 million so far for St. Jude out of $200 million goal

Capitalism in space: Inspiration4, the first privately launched manned orbital mission has so far raised about $130 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, still short of the $200 million goal that Jared Isaacman had set when he bought the flight from SpaceX.

A portion of the money came from 72,000 entrants in a sweepstakes that offered the chance to win a seat on the flight. Entrants were encouraged, but not required, to donate to St. Jude, according to the contest rules, which estimated the retail value of the space flight at $2.21 million.

Crew member Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old data engineer and U.S. Air Force veteran from Everett, Wash., entered the lottery by donating. He didn’t win, but a friend did and gave him the slot, according to the Associated Press.

If you wish to send a donation to St. Jude as part of the Inspiration4 spaceflight, you can do so here. You can donate cash directly, or you can bid to win one or more of a variety of items that are on the flight now.

China’s three astronauts land safely

The new colonial movement: China’s three astronauts safely returned to Earth today after spending 91 days in space and 90 days on China’s new space station.

During their stay they did two spacewalks preparing the station for additional modules and later missions.

China is expected to send the robotic Tianzhou 3 cargo spacecraft toward Tianhe around Sept. 20. And the next crewed mission to the module, the six-month-long Shenzhou 13, is apparently scheduled to launch in mid-October. (Exact target dates are hard to come by with Chinese missions, because the nation tends not to announce many details of its spaceflight plans in advance.)

China will also in the next year launch two more large modules to attach to the station, using its Long March 5B rocket. Assuming they have not redesigned that rocket, expect the very large upper stage on both launches to once again crash out-of-control somewhere on the Earth, possibly in habitable areas.

Today’s blacklisted Americans: Any tenant not vaccinated in Florida apartment complex

Coming to your town in America soon!
Rounding up the unclean unvaccinated: What the left nationwide wants.

They’re coming for you next: A Florida landlord is now demanding that any future tenant show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or they will be turned away, and any present unvaccinated tenant move when their lease expires.

If you’re not vaccinated for COVID-19, you can forget about moving into any of eight apartment complexes in Broward and Miami-Dade counties owned by Santiago A. Alvarez and his family.

And if you’re still unvaccinated when it comes time to renew your lease, you’ll have to find someplace else to live.

Alvarez, who controls 1,200 units in the two counties, is the first large-scale landlord known to national housing experts to impose a vaccine requirement not only for employees, but also for tenants. They’ll be required to produce documentation that they’ve received at least an initial vaccine dose.

The policy, which took effect Aug. 15, could set Alvarez’s company on a collision course with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban, which prohibits businesses from requiring that customers be vaccinated.

The story reports that already two tenants have contacted attorneys with plans to challenge this discriminatory policy in court. Note too that since the largest percentage of unvaccinated individuals comes from the black community, Alvarez is essentially discriminating against blacks with this policy. It seems that, for the left, the mantra “Housing is a right!” now only applies to those who agree with them. All others should be homeless.
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Curiosity: Into the mountains!

Curiosity's path into the mountains
Click for full image.

Overview map
Click for interactive map.

Time for another cool image from Curiosity. The photo above was taken by one of the rover’s navigation cameras today, and looks south in the direction of Curiosity’s future travels. The red dotted line shows that planned route, along the cliff face to then turn west into what the science team has dubbed Maria Gordon Notch, in honor of a Scottish scientist from the early 20th century.

The map to the right gives the context as seen from above, as well as the planned travels beyond the notch. The white dotted route marks Curiosity’s actual travel route. The red dotted line marks the planned route. The yellow lines the area seen in the above picture.

At present Curiosity is paused as it performs a new drilling campaign about 200 feet from the base of that cliff face, drilling the rover’s 33rd hole on Mars.

The outcrop resembling a ship’s prow on the image’s right, which I still consider the most spectacular rock outcrop seen yet on any planetary mission anywhere, is about 100 feet high.

Chinese astronauts undock from space station in return to Earth

The new colonial movement: Three Chinese astronauts, having completed their 90 day mission on China’s new space station, early today boarded their Shenzhou capsule and undocked from the station, with the expectation that they will return to Earth sometime tomorrow.

The astronauts have already set China’s record for the most time spent in space. After launching on June 17, mission commander Nie and astronauts Liu and Tang went on two spacewalks, deployed a 10-meter (33-foot) mechanical arm, and had a video call with Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

Following their safe return, China will launch another unmanned cargo freighter to the station, followed by the launch of three more astronauts for another 90 day mission, continuing the station’s assembly construction. In addition to several more manned flights, in the next two years two more large modules will added.

NOTE: The New York Times actually did some good [and increasingly rare] journalism today to point out that the number of people presently in space, 14, is a record, beating the 13 that were on ISS in 2009. The difference now is that those spacefarers are on three different and very independent projects, ISS, the Chinese space program, and the first entirely private space mission launched by SpaceX.

NASA awards small design lunar lander contracts to five companies

In what appears to be an effort by NASA to placate the losers in the bidding for the manned lunar lander contract, won by SpaceX’s Starship, the agency this week awarded small design contracts related to future lunar lander construction to five different companies, totaling $ 146 million and with the large bulk of the cash going to those losers.

The contracts were as follows:

  • Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, $40.8 million.
  • Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, $35.2 million.
  • Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia, $34.8 million.
  • Blue Origin Federation of Kent, Washington, $25.6 million.
  • SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, $9.4 million.

From the press release:

The selected companies will develop lander design concepts, evaluating their performance, design, construction standards, mission assurance requirements, interfaces, safety, crew health accommodations, and medical capabilities. The companies will also mitigate lunar lander risks by conducting critical component tests and advancing the maturity of key technologies.

While the distribution of the money suggests NASA wishes to provide the most support to the companies that lost the bid, it also gives us a hint of what the agency presently thinks of those losers. Of the losers, Blue Origin received the least, suggesting that NASA remains skeptical of that company’s effort. It also might be NASA’s signal to Blue Origin that endless lawsuits and protests — rather than actual construction — is not a good way to make friends and influence people. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that Dynetics received the most cash, even though like Blue Origin it has yet to launch anything into orbit.

This distribution of money is also part of the typical pattern of DC crony capitalism, designed almost like pay offs to capture these companies and make them partners in the Washington swamp.

One big space company, Boeing, however received nothing. The company might not have submitted a proposal, but I suspect that if it did, NASA dismissed it outright based on the agency’s decision last year to eliminate Boeing from such contract considerations because of the incredible weakness of its recent bids. I think that Boeing will remain on the outs until it finally gets Starliner flying and operational.

SpaceX leases several large facilities in Brownsville, Texas

Capitalism in space: In a clear sign that SpaceX plans to expand its Starship/Superheavy operations in Boca Chica, Texas, it has now leased several large facilities in nearby Brownsville.

Earlier this month, the company signed leases with the Brownsville South Padre Island Airport (BRO) for 46,000 square feet of warehouse space and a neighboring private industrial park owned by PacVentures for 60,000 square feet of warehouse space. Francisco Partida, the airport’s special projects manager, said talks with SpaceX about leasing the former Taylorcraft building at 2100 Les Mauldin Road began in mid-July.

The company was looking for 100,000 square feet of warehouse, which the airport couldn’t supply, though SpaceX found the additional square footage it needed in the privately owned industrial park at 1900 Billy Mitchell Blvd., he said.

SpaceX has also committed about a half million dollars to repairing and refurbishing the airport warehouse.

Astronaut’s mission on ISS will be extended to almost a year

As expected because the Russian’s have taken his return seat in October to bring home two commercial passengers (a film director and his star actress), the mission of astronaut Mark Vande Hei has been extended to March for a total of 353 days in space, just short of a year.

This time will exceed the previous American record for the longest spaceflight, set by Scott Kelly during his 340 day mission in 2015. It remains below about four Russian flights that lasted a full year or more, including the longest flight so far by Valeri Polyakov of 438 days in 1993 and 1994.

Meanwhile, there is no word on the state of the pinched nerve that forced NASA to replace Vande Hei on an upcoming spacewalk. It is likely that weightlessness is probably helping it heal, but NASA and Vande Hei are presently keeping this personal medical information private.

The real human exploration of the solar system began on September 15, 2021

Falcon 9 at T+13 seconds

Capitalism in space: First the news: On September 15, 2021 SpaceX successfully placed four civilians into orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule.

Thus began the first private manned orbital mission in space, planned to last three days and reach an altitude of 595 kilometers or 370 miles, the highest any person has flown in space in decades.

The first stage, on its third flight, successfully landed for reuse. The Dragon capsule, Resilience, was on its second manned flight. The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

31 China
23 SpaceX
15 Russia
4 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. now leads China 34 to 31 in the national rankings.

Now the significance: There was one moment about five minutes after lift off that revealed the fundamental difference between this real flight into space and the short suborbital hops that Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic did in July.

The three most critical moments of any launch had just been completed. The first stage engines had cut off, the first stage had separated successfully, and the single upper stage engine had ignited. It was now lifting the capsule towards orbit, with the only major technical task left were its engine cut off and the separation of the Dragon capsule.

At that moment John Insprucker, principal integretion engineer for SpaceX and frequent host during its launch live streams, made a quick comment that was clearly meant to illustrate the vast difference in achievement between this flight and those two July suborbital flights. He said,
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Lozenge-shaped hole in Martian crater

Hole in crater floor
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, reduced, and enhanced to post here, was taken on June 7, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The left image shows what the scientists have dubbed a “lozenge-shaped depression” in the middle of an unnamed 60-mile-wide crater in the southern cratered highlands of Mars. The right image shows the same exact depression, but I have brightened the photo in order to see the details in the shadowed depression.

Though the image is inconclusive, the bottom of the darkest spot in that depression cannot be seen, suggesting it could be an entrance into a larger void below.

Even if there is no voids below, why is this depression here? What caused it? The wider view of MRO’s context camera below might give us a hint.
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Today’s blacklisted American: Father whose 16-year-old healthy son died right after getting COVID vaccine banned from social media

The new dark age of silencing: A father has been banned by GoFundMe and Twitter when he tried to raise money to make the public aware that the COVID vaccine carried its own risks, and might even have killed his healthy 16-year-old son, who died from an enlarged heart only days after getting the shot.

GoFundMe banned Ernest Ramirez for sharing “prohibited conduct” on the crowdfunding platform. His so-called unacceptable behavior was fundraising for his late son, Ernesto Jr., who died from the Pfizer vaccine on April 25.

The father used the page to explain how his only 16 year-old son was in good health, and regularly played baseball since he was 7 years-old. Advertising claimed the vaccine is safe for adolescents, and convinced him to book-in Ernesto Jr. for the jab on April 19. Five days later the teenager died from a dilated heart. “My son received the vaccine and he died a few days later, and the only explanation that was given to me was an enlarged heart,” Ramirez said according to Life Site News. “I love the hell out of my country but I do not trust my government anymore.”

Many people started donating to the grieving Texan. However, the father became outraged to learn GoFundMe had shut down the page and returned all proceeds back to donors. [emphasis mine]

The point is not that the various vaccines might be dangerous (that is not yet proved, though the evidence is beginning to strongly suggest they carry risks especially for young men). The point is that this poor man was blacklisted merely because he was saying things GoFundMe and Twitter did not like. Who gave them the final say on what we discuss about these vaccines? Where was it written that only their opinions are allowed?

If anything, the more discussion on this subject, the better. If the anecdotal evidence that suggests there are risks gets seen by enough people, the outcry might force some real research that will tell us for certain if those risks are real or not. Silencing the discussion only causes more distrust (as illustrated by the highlighted words above), and might even permit the use of unsafe drugs for longer than necessary.

Yet, silencing now is our leftist elitist class’s standard operating procedure, to the point of not allowing a grieving father to raise some important questions about the medicine that might have killed his son.

Our bankrupt “betters” cannot allow such questions. They are not interested in open debate. They only want everyone to kow-tow to their dictatorial demands, and will do whatever is necessary to silence dissent.

I say, do not shut up. Do not comply. Make them sweat. Make them scream. The left’s inability to debate rationally and with intelligence only leaves them open for defeat, if only people are willing to challenge them. And now is the time to challenge them. Later will be too late.

Watching the first all-private commercial manned orbital spaceflight

Liberty and freedom enlightening the world
Liberty and freedom enlightening not only the world,
but the entire solar system.

Bumped: I will be out on a cave trip for most of today, September 15, 2021, so I’ve moved this post to the top of the page, as it clearly will be the most important space news today. I should be back before launch, but if not, enjoy!

Original post:
————————
Capitalism in space: Let’s begin by underlining one fundamental fact about the Inspiration4 manned Dragon orbital space mission, targeted for a September 15th launch tomorrow evening, that makes it different from every other orbital space mission ever flown since Yuri Gagarin completed the first manned mission in 1961:

The government has nothing to do with it.

The launch facilities, the rocket, the capsule, the drone ship where the rocket’s first stage will land, and the entire recovery operation in the ocean are all controlled and owned by SpaceX. The passengers are private citizens, one of whom purchased the flight directly from SpaceX.

It is was organized by 38-year-old billionaire and entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who is also a highly-capable jet warbird aircraft pilot. When he found out from SpaceX he could be the first to fly an all-commercial mission in Crew Dragon, he fronted $100 million to $200 million required and partnered with St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in a campaign to give away two of the missions seats and raise $200 Million for children’s cancer research.

Every person you will see in mission control, at the launchpad, and on the recovery ships are also private citizens, working for a private company that just happens to be in the business of flying rockets, spaceships, and humans into space. None are government employees, and I would suspect that most don’t want to be.

Not only is this mission privately run, its goals are completely different. While all past space launches were flown for purposes decided by the government, this mission’s goals have been determined by the free participants themselves. SpaceX is making money on the flight, Isaacman and his passengers are getting the chance to fulfill their long-held personal dream of going into space, and Isaacman is also using this flight to raise money for cancer research, a personal passion of his.

The flight itself will be unusual. It will be the first manned mission in more than a decade, since the last shuttle repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, to not go to an orbiting space station. Instead, the capsule will spend three days free-flying in orbit around the Earth. To enhance the flight for the passengers, SpaceX removed the docking port on Resilience (the capsule) and replaced it with a viewing port with large windows.

The orbit itself will in a sense push the envelope, as SpaceX plans to loft the capsule to an altitude of about 370 miles, considerably higher than ISS’s orbit of about 260 miles and about 35 miles higher than the mission to Hubble. In fact, the Inspiration4 crew will be the farthest from the Earth’s surface than any human in decades, possibly going back as far as the Apollo era.

For watching this flight I have embedded SpaceX’s live stream below, which you can also find here. You will also be able to find that stream at SpaceX’s YouTube page, where the company is also airing preflight videos.

This mission illustrates the fundamentals that built the United States of America. Give humans freedom, don’t try to tell them what to do, and they will do astonishing and magnificent things, on their own.
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Russia launches another set of OneWeb satellites

Using its Soyuz-2 rocket Russia today successfully launched another 34 OneWeb satellites, launching from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

At the time of publication about half the satellites have successfully deployed. The rest should be released within the next hour or so.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

31 China
22 SpaceX
15 Russia
4 Northrop Grumman

With this launch Russia has now matched its total launches from last year, with three months still to go and a number of launches in ’21 on its manifest. For Russia’s launch industry, 2021 looks like it will be a good year.

The U.S. continues to lead China 33 to 31 in the national rankings.

The layered history of Mars as revealed in Valles Marineris

Layered cliff in Valles Marineris
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced, shows just one tiny cliff face in the gigantic canyon on Mars dubbed Valles Marineris. The photo was taken on June 13, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Like many other similar cliff faces that MRO has photographed and that I have previously highlighted, there are many many layers visible here. In fact, it appears that almost every cliff in this part of Valles Marineris is many layered, suggesting that like the Grand Canyon on Earth, the canyon as it was carved exposed in great detail the long geological history of Mars.

In this part of Mars, each layer probably represents the placementof a new layer of volcanic material, pouring out from the giant volcanoes in the Tharsis Bulge to the west. In addition, overlain on this volcanic record are probably deposits lain down by the atmosphere as Mars underwent its many climate cycles due to the regular shifts in its orbit and rotational tilt.
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Today’s blacklisted American: Professor who uncovered academic incompetence has been forced to resign from Portland State University

Liberty and freedom banned
No liberty at Portland State University. Photo credit: William Zhang

The new dark age of silencing: Peter Boghossian, one of three professors who revealed the incompetence and bad scholarship that now permeates academic culture by writing and getting published a fake paper in 2017 that claimed the penis was merely a “social construct,” has finally been forced to resign from his position at Portland State University in Oregon because of the never-ending harassment and slanders that he has been subjected to by both faculty and staff there.

“Administrators and faculty were so angered by the papers that they published an anonymous piece in the student paper and Portland State filed formal charges against me,” Boghossian wrote in his statement. ”Their accusation? ‘Research misconduct’ based on the absurd premise that the journal editors who accepted our intentionally deranged articles were ‘human subjects.’ I was found guilty of not receiving approval to experiment on human subjects.”

The school subsequently barred Boghossian from conducting research.

But according to Boghossian, he suffered far more abuse on campus than merely being sanctioned for his prank. “I’d find flyers around campus of me with a Pinocchio nose. I was spit on and threatened by passersby while walking to class,” he wrote. “I was informed by students that my colleagues were telling them to avoid my classes. And, of course, I was subjected to more investigation.”

…He also noted he was once the subject of a baseless investigation that tarred him as someone who commits violence against women. “My accuser, a white male, made a slew of baseless accusations against me, which university confidentiality rules unfortunately prohibit me from discussing further,” Boghossian wrote. “What I can share is that students of mine who were interviewed during the process told me the Title IX investigator asked them if they knew anything about me beating my wife and children. This horrifying accusation soon became a widespread rumor.”

Boghossian apparently had had enough. However, he is not running away, but instead leaving to form a new organization to specifically fight the close-minded and oppressive culture that now dominates most universities like Portland State.
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Make concrete on Mars using human blood?

What could possibly go wrong? Scientists at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom have developed a new formulation that can use material known to exist on Mars, combined with the addition of astronaut blood, to produce useful concrete.

Working with simulated lunar and Martian soils, the team experimented with using human blood and waste products as binding material, and turned up some interesting results.

The work showed that a common protein in the blood called serum albumin could be used as a binder to produce a concrete-like material with compressive strength comparable to ordinary concrete. In investigating the mechanisms at play, the team found the blood proteins “curdle” to form “beta sheets” that extend outward to hold the material together.

Even more interestingly, the team found that urea, a waste product found in urine, sweat and tears, could be incorporated to increase this compressive strength by more than 300 percent. That is to say, the key to cosmic concrete stronger than what we have here on Earth might be found in our blood, sweat and tears (and urine).

This work was inspired by ancient building techniques, which often used pig blood in concrete for similar reasons.

Though a lot of this makes sense, especially the utilization of waste products like urine, the idea that future colonies will tap the blood of their citizens for construction purposes raises so many moral questions I can’t list them all here.

For example, let me throw out one possibility should no one think about this too much on Mars. Why not use this need for blood as a method of criminal punishment? Do something the ruling powers think is wrong and we will suck your blood from you to build the colony!

The moral consequences of our actions require long careful thought. Unfortunately, long careful thought simply no longer exists among today’s intellectual and political classes. Instead, they make almost all their decisions off the cuff, based on what “feels” right to them. You merely have to watch the many interviews of Dr. Anthony Fauci in the past year to see what I mean. Nothing he says about masks or mandates is really based on new research or data. He merely throws out an opinion that feels right, at the moment. Thus, he contradicts himself repeatedly, and most of his advice has been worse than useless, resulting in so many unexpected negative consequences they almost cannot be counted.

Try to imagine the horrors that could take place in a colony on Mars, where resources are in short supply, should construction require the use of human blood and the leadership there approaches its problems with the same cavalier attitude toward moral consequences? I can, and it chills my own blood to the core (no pun intended).

Utilizing a commercial lunar probe to reach geosynchronous orbit around the Earth

Capitalism in space: The commercial startup SpaceFlight Inc has purchased payload space on Intuitive Machines’ second lunar landing mission to the Moon late in ’22 in order to test its Sherpa Escape space tug’s ability to use that flight path to place a satellite into geosynchronous orbit around the Earth.

The tug will also carry the payload of another company, GeoJump, which will test in-space fueling technology developed by another company, Orbit Fab.

Sounds complicated, eh? It isn’t when you think about it. When NASA gave up ownership and design of its lunar landers and instead began buying such products from the private sector, it freed up that private sector to sell its spare payload capacity to anyone who wanted it. On this particular flight Intuitive Machines sold that spare capacity to SpaceFlight, which in turn provided GeoJump and Orbit Fab the space tug for getting their experimental payloads to geosynchronous orbit.

This is a win-win for everyone. Not only are two companies (Intuitive Machines and Spaceflight) making money by selling their capabilities to others, two other companies (GeoJump and Orbit Fab) are now able to test their own space innovations at a much lower cost, and much more quickly than had they depended on a government launch from NASA.

SpaceX successfully launches another 51 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to launch another 51 Starlink satellites into orbit.

At publication, the deployment of the satellites is still about 25 minutes away. [Update: deployment successful.] SpaceX now has about 1,500 working Starlink satellites in orbit.

The Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on its drone ship, the tenth flight of this stage, tying the record for the most reuses. Both fairings were also reused. This was also the first Starlink launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base. SpaceX intends to do monthly Starlink launches from Vandenberg for the rest of the year.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

31 China
22 SpaceX
14 Russia
4 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. now leads China 33 to 31 in the national rankings.

SpaceX will also launch in two days the first ever entirely private orbital mission to space, whereby it has been hired to carry four private astronauts for three days on the highest orbit since the 2009 last shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

That flight will inaugurate a schedule of almost monthly private manned commercial missions to orbit, extending into next year and possibly forever. The present schedule:

  • September 15, 2021: SpaceX’s Dragon capsule flies four private citizens on a three day orbital flight
  • October 2021: The Russians will fly two passengers to ISS for 10 days to shoot a movie
  • December 2021: The Russians will fly billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant to ISS for 12 days
  • cDecember 2021: Space Adventures, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four in orbit for five days
  • January 2022: Axiom, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four tourists to ISS
  • 2022-2024: Three more Axiom tourist flights on Dragon to ISS
  • 2024: Axiom begins launching its own modules to ISS, starting construction of its own private space station
  • c2024: SpaceX’s Starship takes Yusaku Maezawa and several others on a journey around the Moon.
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