Chinese pseudo company Ispace experiences another launch failure

The Chinese pseudo company Ispace today had another launch failure of its Hyperbola rocket, the third in four launch attempts.

It appears the cause was a failure of the rocket’s second stage to ignite after stage separation.

Ispace’s first launch of Hyperbola 2019 successfully reached orbit, making it the first and still only Chinese pseudo-company to reach orbit. Since then however the rocket has failed three consecutive times, each for what appears to be different reasons.

The rocket itself has four-stages, all using solid fuel motors, which means the rocket is derived from military missile technology. This also illustrates why Ispace is a pseudo company. It might be financed by private capital, and be attempting to make profits on commercial and government contracts, but everything about it only exists because it has government permission and supervision.

Furthermore, while it is entirely possible for a startup to survive such a string of failures, the possibility is small. In most cases a purely private company would lose customers and investment capital. Ispace’s survival up to now suggests the Chinese government wants it to succeed, and in that sense is acting as its owner.

Scientists grow plants in lunar soil brought by from Apollo missions

In their first attempt, scientists have successfully grown plants in a small lunar soil sample brought by astronauts during the Apollo missions.

Researchers at the University of Florida had spent 11 years requesting permission from Nasa to borrow some of the lunar dust brought back by astronauts on the first manned Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions in 1969 and the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Armstrong and Aldrin brought back 21.6kg of material including 50 rocks, samples of dust and two cores of rock after boring 13cm down into the Moon’s surface. They contained no water and no signs of life.

…The lunar samples are deemed to be of “incalculable historical and scientific significance”, so the scientists were given only 12 grams, just a few teaspoons’ full, to work with and had to design a miniature experiment.

The researchers used thimble-sized wells in a dish usually used for growing cells as miniature plant pots and filled each with about one gram of lunar soil. They moistened the soil with water and a solution of nutrients and added a small number of seeds from the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, a common flowering weed also known as mouse-ear or thale cress. [emphasis mine]

The plants grew, but were smaller and took longer to grow then plants on even the most extreme environments on Earth. The scientists also found that plants did better in buried lunar soil then the material on the surface that had been exposed to the harsh radiation of space, suggesting that plowing the soil before planting will enhance growth.

The highlighted words in the quote above illustrate the madness of NASA’s bureaucracy. These lunar samples were brought back so that scientists could study it, not so that it could be locked away in a vault forever never to be touched. To make this very intelligence experiment wait 11 years before getting permission is absurd.

SpaceX CEO: Starship could launch as early as June

Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s CEO and president Gwynne Shotwell revealed today that Starship could be ready for its orbital test flight from Boca Chica as early as June, though government regulatory obstacles make that launch more likely three to six months from now.

It appears that the delays in getting FAA approval for launch have not been the only issues that have delayed that first launch attempt. Though SpaceX would have likely tried a launch months ago with earlier prototypes had the approval arrived as originally promised, that launch would have likely failed based on ground tests the company has been doing during the delay.

When Musk tweeted his “hopefully May” estimate, SpaceX was nowhere close to finishing the Starship – Ship 24 – that is believed to have been assigned to the orbital launch debut. However, SpaceX finally accelerated Ship 24 assembly within the last few weeks and ultimately finished stacking the upgraded Starship on May 8th. A great deal of work remains to truly complete Ship 24, but SpaceX should be ready to send it to a test stand within a week or two. Even though the testing Ship 24 will need to complete has been done before by Ship 20, making its path forward less risky than Booster 7’s, Ship 24 will debut a number of major design changes and likely needs at least two months of testing to reach a basic level of flight readiness.

A more likely launch date is probably late July at the earliest, though of course that will also depend on the government’s approval, something that presently appears difficult to get.

Zhurong data suggests a more watery Martian environment more recently that previously thought

The Martian obliquity over the past 80 million years
The graph comes from this paper [pdf], and shows the shift of Mars’
rotational tilt, or obliquity, for the past 80 million years.

Scientists analyzing data obtained by China’s Zhurong rover during its first four months on Mars have concluded that the Martian atmosphere in the northern lowland plains of Utopia Planitia has been more active hydrologically much more recently than previously believed.

You can read the paper here. From its conclusions:

Unlike the weak and friable thin veneer or crusty clods at previous landing sites for Mars Exploration Rovers and InSight lander, these rocks are more akin to the fractured duricrust observed at the Viking Lander 1 site. The thin and brittle layer of duricrust has been proposed to form by salt cementation via water vapor diffusion from the atmosphere. In contrast, duricrusts at Zhurong landing site appear to be more resistant to erosion, forming cliffs perched through loose soils in the surroundings, which require a substantial amount of liquid water rather than water vapor.

…The morphology and spatial extent of platy and bright-toned rocks investigated by the Zhurong rover argue for in situ formation and degradation of these rocks in the Amazonian-aged geological unit in southern Utopia Planitia. These observations suggest that aqueous activities may have persisted much longer than previously thought. Periodical climate cycles on Mars driven by obliquity oscillations are expected to result in a latitude-dependent distribution of ground ice over geologic history. Higher obliquities (>45°) could mobilize polar ice and form glaciers and water ice sheets at midlatitudes and stabilize ground ice at Zhurong landing site for extended periods of tens of thousand years when the obliquity exceeded 29° to 33°. The hydrated minerals and widespread salt cementations imply the presence of briny liquid water in the subsurface, which may have been generated by melting the ground ice during temporary climate perturbations (e.g., volcanism and impacts).

Obliquity refers to the planet’s rotational tilt, which fluctuates from 11 to 65 degrees, and is presently tilted at 25 degrees, only slightly different than Earth’s 23 degree tilt. Since Mars’ obliquity has exceed 29 degrees numerous times in the past 80 million years, as shown by the graph above, that means it was possible that this now dry equatorial region on Mars had seen plenty of surface water or ice as recently as a few million years ago, far more recently than the three billion years previously estimated.

For liquid water to have existed on the surface is still difficult, because Mars’ atmosphere would have been too thin and cold. However, if ice sheets had existed here, there is the possibility that the ice would have become liquid at the sheet’s base, and interacted with the ground in some manner to produce the duricrust now observed.

First radio image of event horizon of Milky Way’s central black hole

Sagittarius A*
Click for full image.

Using an array of eight radio telescopes worldwide, dubbed the Event Horizon Telescope because its purpose is to study black holes, scientists have obtained the first radio image of the event horizon of Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star”), the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

The image to the right, reduced to post here, is that photo.

The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very centre of our galaxy. Scientists had previously seen stars orbiting around something invisible, compact, and very massive at the centre of the Milky Way. This strongly suggested that this object — known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*, pronounced “sadge-ay-star”) — is a black hole, and today’s image provides the first direct visual evidence of it.

Although we cannot see the black hole itself, because it is completely dark, glowing gas around it reveals a telltale signature: a dark central region (called a “shadow”) surrounded by a bright ring-like structure. The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole, which is four million times more massive than our Sun.

This is the second supermassive black hole that the Event Horizon array has imaged. In 2019 it captured the central black hole of the galaxy M87, 55 million light years away. Like that first image, much of what we see here is created by computer, since the data from the eight radio telescopes needs to be massaged to create something as smooth and as complete as this.

Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne fight over cause of Starliner valve problem

In a Reuters story today, it was revealed that Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne are in a fight over the cause of Starliner valve problem, where thirteen valves failed to work and caused the scrub of a launch attempt last summer, delaying almost a year to next week.

A team of Boeing and NASA engineers is in general agreement that the cause of the stuck valves involves a chemical reaction between propellant, aluminum materials and the intrusion of moisture from Starliner’s humid Florida launch site.

Aerojet engineers and lawyers see it differently, blaming a cleaning chemical that Boeing has used in ground tests, two of the sources said.

It appears that Aerojet is attempting to put the blame on Boeing because it might be liable for the cost of redesigning the valves, as well as other costs associated with the delays since last year.

The article also reveals that the valves being used in the Starliner capsule to be launched next week have only a temporary fix for the problem, and that Boeing intends to redesign them to prevent the problem in the future.

All in all, this whole fiasco does not speak well for either Boeing or Aerojet. It remains completely inexplicable for any spacecraft to be built with this kind of valve problem, now, after six decades of launches from wet and humid Florida. The problem reeks of bad design or poor quality control procedures by both companies.

The article further confirms these quality control problems by this tidbit in its last paragraph:

In 2017, Starliner had an accident during a ground test that forced the president of a different subcontractor to have his leg medically amputated. The subcontractor sued, and Boeing subsequently settled the case.

That this accident has been kept out of the news is somewhat shocking. For it to happen at all reveals a lot about the sloppy way Boeing operates these days.

Mountains, Mesas, and Box Canyons on the floor of Valles Marineris

Mountains, Mesas, and Box Canyons
Click for full image.

Overview map

Cool image time! The photo above, cropped, reduced, and rotated to post here, was taken on March 12, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a small section of the floor of the giant 2,550-mile-long and 400-mile-wide Valles Marineris canyon on Mars. In fact, this section, as indicated by the black rectangle in the overview map below, is practically in the center of the canyon, at its widest point.

The geology here hints at several Martian processes. The mesas and closed canyons in the north are typical of chaos terrain, where it erosion appears to form along fault lines to create the random intersecting canyons. In other places on Mars, in the mid-latitudes, that erosion appears mostly formed by glacial activity. Here, in Valles Marineris at only 7 degrees north latitude, little ice had been expected.

However, this spot is also in the dead center of a region where orbital data from Europe’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) suggests there is a surprisingly large underground reservoir of hydrogen, which is assumed could only exist if it was locked in water molecules.

In fact, at this spot the data suggests up to 40% of the near-surface material might be composed of water (by weight). If so, that underground reservoir of ice could be causing the erosion that is creating this massive chaos terrain.

Meanwhile, the light-colored mountain in the south is the westernmost nose of a 50-mile-long ridgeline coming down from the canyon’s rim, about 30,000 feet higher. Its dendritic nature, like the hollows that form in the mountains of wet regions on Earth, suggest rainfall and water flowing downhill, wearing away these hollows over eons.

Rain however is almost certainly not the cause. Instead, we could be seeing erosion from wind, or maybe dry ice snow that fell long ago when this region was at a higher latitude when Mars’ rotational tilt was different.

Either way, the massive geology here illustrates the monumental nature of this largest canyon in the solar system, as well as the difficulties of exploring it.

The evidence keeps pouring in showing the utter failure of all COVID mandates

Since March 2020 I have repeatedly written that the response to the Wuhan flu was an utter mindless panic that had little to do with the facts. Right off the bat, the facts, not the models, suggested the virus would resemble the flu most of all, a possible mortal threat to the sick and elderly but generally nothing more than a short sickness to the general population, with it being almost utterly harmless to the young.

Nothing that has happened since has really changed these early conclusions. I have compiled below a collection of recent studies and reports that illustrate what we have learned following the epidemic and the panic that accompanied it. Sadly, that panic did little to stop the virus, but it left us with destroyed businesses, a crushed economy, many uneducated and damaged children, and a broken Bill of Rights.

The COVID jab

The failure of the jab in the United Kingdom
Study from November 2021showing the overall uselessness of the jab
in the United Kingdom last year.

The first set of stories show some recent studies analyzing the effectiveness and safety of the COVID shots, which are not vaccines because they simply do not prevent you from getting the virus. At best — though not yet proven — they might reduce the severity of the disease should you get it. The data however now suggests that though the overall risks are not large, the jab carries enough risk that in many cases, it makes no sense to get it. To require it, as many governments and businesses have done, is downright stupid and immoral. To fire nurses and doctors for refusing the shots is beyond stupid or immoral. It is evil.

Worse, these facts were known right from the initial tests, as the last story below shows. In the company’s initial trials they found that 1,223 people died within the first 28 days after taking the Pfizer shot. Such a result in past drug trials would have made impossible the approval of that drug.
» Read more

Pushback: Arizona parents sue over school board’s attempt to silence and intimidate them

Owned by government
What the Scottsdale school board apparently thinks of your kids.

Today’s pushback story is another follow-up of an earlier blacklist story that I posted in November 2021. At that time several parents with students in the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) had discovered that the then school board president Jann-Michael Greenburg had, with the aid of his parents, compiled a secret Google drive containing personal information of 47 parents, including social security numbers, financial information, pictures of themselves and their children.

The discovery occurred because Greenburg had begun using this information to intimidate the parents — who had been protesting the school board’s mask mandates and the introduction of the racist critical race theory into the curriculum.

Three of those parents are now suing Greenburg, his parents Mark Alan and Dagmar Greenburg, and the Scottsdale school district.
» Read more

Virgin Orbit to expand its fleet of 747s used with its LauncherOne rocket

Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit has signed a deal with L3 Harris Technologies to buy two more 747s airplanes to airlift its LauncherOne rocket during launches.

L3Harris will modify one of the newly acquired aircrafts to serve as an additional airborne launch pad for Virgin Orbit’s small satellite launch service, with delivery expected in 2023. L3Harris will also overhaul the platform with a new cargo configuration, which is expected to allow Virgin Orbit to deliver its rockets and ground support equipment in the same aircraft that will launch from foreign spaceports.

The companies previously collaborated to produce Virgin Orbit’s flagship aircraft “Cosmic Girl,” the first customized 747-400 aircraft to carry and deploy payloads to Low Earth Orbit under Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne program.

This deal once completed will give Virgin Orbit a fleet of three 747s for launching its rocket. The deal also suggests the company now has enough launch business to justify this expansion.

Orbex unveils a full-scale prototype of its Prime smallsat rocket

Prime rocket prototype on launchpad

Capitalism in space: Orbex today unveiled a full-scale prototype of its Prime smallsat rocket, positioned on its own launchpad at the Sutherland Space Hub spaceport in Scotland, now under construction.

The photo to the right shows that prototype, held vertical with its own strongback. From the press release:

With the first full integration of the Orbex rocket on a launch pad now complete, the company is able to enter a period of integrated testing, allowing dress rehearsals of rocket launches and the development and optimisation of launch procedures. Orbex recently revealed their first test launch platform at a new test facility in Kinloss, a few miles from the company’s headquarters at Forres in Moray, Scotland.

Note that Sutherland Space Hub is not the SaxaVord Shetland Island spaceport also being developed in Scotland. The two are competing with each other to successfully complete the first launch from the United Kingdom in history. Also competing for this honor is an airport in Cornwall, which has a deal with Virgin Orbit to do its own launch later this year. And regardless who wins this race, the three sites will likely give the UK the first European-based spaceports in history.

The United Kingdom’s decision in 2016 to shift from a single government-run spaceport to competition and capitalism appears to be now finally paying off.

The future factions in space become clearer

Based on two stories yesterday, it appears that the future alliances between nations in space are now beginning to sort themselves out.

First there was the signing ceremony announcement of Columbia becoming the nineteenth nation to sign the Artemis Accords with the U.S. and the third Latin American country to do so.

The Artemis Accords were created by the Trump administration as an international treaty to bypass the restrictions on private property imposed by the Outer Space Treaty. By signing bilateral agreements with as many nations as possible, the U.S. thus creates a strong alliance able to protect those rights in space.

The full list of signatories so far: Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the Ukraine, and the United States.

In the second story, France and India — both of whom have so far resisted signing the Artemis Accords — announced their own bilateral agreement intended to strengthen their partnership across many fronts, from security to economic development to the Ukraine war. The agreement also included this paragraph on the subject of space:
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: College in Illinois establishes black-men-only academy, no others need apply

Academia: dedicated to segregation!
Oakton Community College: dedicated to segregation!

“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Oakton Community College, a small college in the Chicago area, has now established a special academy for black men only, dubbed the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men.

From the academy’s website:

As a member of the Academy, you will join a community designed for Black male-identifying students who are on a journey to advance their education and achieve their goals. Whether you want to earn your associate degree and transfer to a four-year school or kick-start a career with training, the Academy will meet you where you are and help you thrive.

The Academy is led by dedicated Black faculty and staff. You’ll be supported every day by a group of committed professors and student-success coaches—and your fellow scholars. [emphasis mine]

That website also describes its values like so:
» Read more

Scientists propose new theory to explain mysterious slope streaks on Mars

Slope streaks on Mars
Click for full image.

In a paper published earlier this month, scientists have proposed a new theory to explain the the origin of slope streaks on Mars, a unique Martian geological feature that at first glance look like a stainlike avalanches which also appear to do nothing to change the surface topography. (See earlier posts here and here for a description of this strange Martian phenomenon.)

Essentially, data from the orbiters suggests that carbon dioxide frost develops just under the surface during the night. In equatorial regions this frost mixes with dust (allowing it to exist even in these warmer climates). When the morning light hits the frost it causes it to sublimate away, which in turn causes the appearance of slope streaks as the dust is released from the frost.

From the paper’s abstract:

At sunrise, sublimation-driven winds within the regolith are occasionally strong enough to displace individual dust grains, initiating and sustaining dust avalanches on steep slopes, forming ground features known as slope streaks. This model suggests that the CO2 frost cycle is an active geomorphological agent at all latitudes and not just at high or polar latitudes, and possibly a key factor maintaining mobile dust reservoirs at the surface.

The cool image above, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on October 28, 2020 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and shows an excellent example of two very spectacular large slope streaks, one long and narrow and another short and wide. Located at 23 degrees, this is an area where no ice has yet been found near the surface.

This new theory joins two other popular theories attempting to explain slope streaks. The others postulate that the streaks are either dust avalanches of a different type or the percolation of a brine of chloride and/or perchlorate in a thin layer several inches thick close to the surface.

None have been proven. None likely fit all the known data at this point.

CAPSTONE Moon satellite shipped to New Zealand by Terran Orbital

Capitalism in space: Terran Orbital has completed construction of the CAPSTONE Moon smallsat and has now had it shipped to New Zealand for its launch on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket no earlier than May 27th.

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a Terran Orbital Corporation, built the spacecraft for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, otherwise known as CAPSTONE. The 12U CubeSat includes a radio tower on top that extends its size from a traditional 12U form factor.

CAPSTONE will not go directly to the Moon but instead, follow a “ballistic lunar transfer” that will take it out as far as 1.5 million kilometers before returning into lunar orbit. That transfer, which will take about four months to complete, is designed to save propellant, making the mission feasible for such a small spacecraft. The CAPSTONE payload and its software are owned and operated by Advanced Space for NASA.

CAPSTONE will use Rocket Lab’s Proton upper stage to get it to the Moon. It will then test maneuvering as well as communicating in the lunar halo orbit that NASA wants to use with its Lunar Gateway space station. It will also be proving out the use of this kind of smallsat for future interplanetary missions.

Blue Origin announces passengers on next suborbital New Shepard flight

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin yesterday announced the six people who will fly on its next suborbital New Shepard flight.

The company did not reveal the flight date. Nor did it say who is paying for their ticket and how much. In fact, Blue Origin has still not revealed what it is charging per ticket. It is appears however that at least one or more passengers are not paying, and were chosen instead for their PR value, including the apparent “woke” desire of Jeff Bezos to achieve as many ethnic “firsts” as possible.

It is nice that Blue Origin appears to be making money from its suborbital division. It would be much much better however if the company was be making orbital launches with its New Glenn rocket, which were originally supposed to begin in ’20 and now likely won’t start happening until ’23, at the very earliest.

InSight detects 5 magnitude Martian quake, the largest detected so far

The seismometer deployed by the Martian lander InSight has now detected its largest quake yet on Mars, with an estimated magnitude of 5.

NASA’s InSight Mars lander has detected the largest quake ever observed on another planet: an estimated magnitude 5 temblor that occurred on May 4, 2022, the 1,222nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This adds to the catalog of more than 1,313 quakes InSight has detected since landing on Mars in November 2018. The largest previously recorded quake was an estimated magnitude 4.2 detected Aug. 25, 2021.

The timing was very fortunate. Only three days later the power being generated by InSight’s dust-covered solar panels dropped too low, and the lander went into safe mode. Though its mission has been extended through the end of this year, the inability of the solar panels to produce energy because of dust has been predicted to shut down operations sooner. While it might be possible to restart science operations, this most recent safe mode situation could very well be that moment.

Meanwhile, scientists will analyze the data of this most recent large quake to attempt to pinpoint its location. They will also study it to gain a better understanding of the interior structure of Mars.

Momentus gets final launch permits for its space tug

Capitalism in space: After a year delay due to government security concerns, Momentus has finally gotten all the launch permits required for a launch later this month on a Falcon 9 of its space tug, Vigoride, on its first orbital test flight.

In late April Momentus had gotten FCC approval. Now it has gotten clearance from the FAA. The FAA had blocked last year’s launch because of security concerns related to the foreign connections of several of the company’s founders/investors. Those individuals have now left the company, clearing the way for license approval.

The delay however caused Momentus to lose several customers while allowing another space tug competitor, Launcher, to catch up.

South Korea’s new president wants bigger space effort closely tied to U.S.

The new president of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol, has made it clear that when he takes office today his policy will be to expand that nation’s space effort while tying that effort more closely with NASA and the U.S. military.

[His goals] include establishing an independent aerospace agency offering integrated management of civil and military space programs in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, home to nearly 100 aerospace companies, and developing a high-power rocket for independent satellite launches in the near term and lunar and Mars exploration in the long-run.

…Yoon has also promised to facilitate the public-to-private transfer of space technologies, reform regulations and launch a space industry cluster to grow the country’s nascent domestic space industry. In line with this, the science ministry recently selected five universities that will be subsidized $4 million each over the next five years in return for running education programs designed to nurture skilled space engineers.

“Countries jockey for position in the space industry to secure a competitive edge in national security and future competitiveness,” Yoon wrote in his election manifesto, pledging to make South Korea “one of seven most advanced space powers in the world by 2035.”

However, the first space-related task of Yoon’s adminstration, which merely accelerates what the previous South Korean government had been doing, will likely be to replace the Russian rockets that South Korea presently has contracts with to launch several satellites.

Astra signs deal to launch from SaxaVord Spaceport in Shetland

Capitalism in space: Astra today announced an agreement with the SaxaVord Spaceport in the Shetland Islands to begin launches from that United Kingdom location, beginning in 2023.

These launches will be the first by Astra outside the U.S. It is the second American company to sign on with SaxaVord, with Lockheed Martin’s ABL rocket company smallsat startup planning its own first launch there later this year. SavaVord also has a launch deal with a French company, Venture Orbital Systems, which hopes to launch later this decade.

None of these however could be the first launch from the United Kingdom since the 1960s. Virgin Orbit has a deal to launch from a runway from a Cornwall airport later this year. Furthermore, the rocket company Orbex is planning to launch its Prime rocket from a differenct spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland.

Yawn: Rogozin tweets threats to Musk, Musk shrugs

In yesterday’s non-news Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos which runs Russia’s entire aerospace industry, issued a threat against Elon Musk for supplying the Ukraine Starlink service in its war against the Russian invasion, and Musk responded with an almost cheerful quip.

On Sunday (May 8), Musk posted on Twitter a note that he said Rogozin, the head of Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos, had sent out to Russian media. The note claimed that equipment for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-internet system had been delivered to Ukrainian marines and “militants of the Nazi Azov battalion” by the U.S. military. “Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment,” Rogozin wrote, according to an English translation that Musk posted. (He also tweeted out a Russian version.) “And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult — no matter how much you’ll play the fool.”

This sounds very much like a threat, as Musk acknowledged in a follow-up tweet on Sunday. “If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya,” he wrote. Musk’s mom, Maye, didn’t appreciate that glib response, tweeting, “That’s not funny” along with two angry-face emojis. The billionaire entrepreneur responded, “Sorry! I will do my best to stay alive.” (It was Mother’s Day, after all.)

Musk’s light-hearted response only stands to reason, considering Rogozin’s loud-mouthed track record. Nothing he says really matters, so why should Musk care that much. Musk probably posted Rogozin’s comments out of amusement more than anything else..

China launches Tianzhou freighter to space station

The new colonial movement: China today successfully used its Long March 7 rocket to launch a new Tianzhou unmanned cargo freighter to its Tiangong space station.

The cargo is for the station’s next crew, scheduled to launch in June for a six month mission, during which two new large modules will be added to the station.

The launch took place at China’s sea coast Wenchang spaceport, so its expendable lower stages all fell harmlessly in the ocean.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

18 SpaceX
15 China
6 Russia
3 Rocket Lab
2 ULA

U.S. private enterprise still leads China 26 to 15 in the national rankings, as well as the entire world combined 26 to 24.

Pushback: Lawsuit forces Rhode Island to let oral surgeon to reopen his practice

Oral surgeon Stephen Skoly, blackballed by Rhode Island
Oral surgeon Stephen Skoly, blackballed by Rhode Island

Today’s blacklist story is an update from a story in February, where I outlined how the Rhode Island health department had irrationally shut down the practice of oral surgeon Stephen Skoly — denying 800 patients dental treatment and putting ten employees out of work — simply because Skoly had refused to get the COVID jab for valid medical reasons, including the fact that he had already gotten the Wuhan flu, had anti-bodies, and had other health issues that made getting the shot ill-advised.

Skoly had sued Rhode Island’s governor, Democrat Daniel McKee, as well as the head of the state’s health department, James McDonald. It now appears the lawsuit had some positive impact:

In March 2022, after over five months of suspension, and three days before a court hearing where medical experts were to testify to the irrationality of Rhode Island’s conduct, Rhode Island finally relented. It agreed to treat the N95 masked Dr. Skoly the same as other unvaccinated N95 masked workers. Dr. Skoly was permitted to re-assemble his ten-person dental team and return to practice.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Skolly by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, has not been abandoned, and instead has been expanded because of the state’s decision to deny Skoly unemployment benefits.
» Read more

Curiosity climbing out of Gordon Notch hollow

Panorama showing the upcoming steep climb
Click for full image. For original images go here, here, here, here, and here.

Overview map
Click for interactive map.

Cool image time! The panorama above was created from five photos taken by Curiosity’s right navigation camera on May 4, 2022 as the rover worked its way upward out of Gordon Notch Hollow, the small valley it had left when it attempted to cross the Greenheugh Pediment to the west and was forced to retreat back into when engineers found the rough terrain on the pediment too much for the rover’s wheels.

The overview map to the right provides context. The blue dot marks Curiosity’s present position on Mars, on its 3,465 Sol since landing. The yellow lines mark the area viewed in the panorama, taken two Sols earlier. The red dotted line marks the original planned route, now abandoned. The white arrows indicate one of the more interesting upcoming geological features, dubbed by scientists the “marker horizon,” a distinct layer found in many places on the flanks of Mount Sharp.

On the panorama above the red dotted line is my guess as to the planned route out of Gordon Notch Hollow.
According to the science team’s most recent update on May 4th:
» Read more

The payload’s view during a Spinlaunch test

Spinlaunch prototype suborbital launcher
Spinlaunch’s prototype launcher

Capitalism in space: Spinlaunch has released a video showing what a Spinlaunch test launch looked like from the payload’s perspective.

I have embedded that video below. This was the company’s eighth test launch, all of which appear to have only gotten to about 30,000 feet or so. The payload camera does not turn on until the payload has been released and is ascending upward. Try to ignore the dramatic music, which of course is nothing but fake PR.

Three things are revealed. One, the acceleration at launch quickly drops as the payload ascends. Second, the payload’s wild spin appears intended, to help stabilize its flight. Third, its descent is slow, suggesting the release of parachutes.
» Read more

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