Curiosity’s coming mountainous target

Curiosity's upcoming mountainous target
Click for full image.

Overview map


Click for interactive map.

Cool image time! The photo above, taken on August 22, 2021 by Curiosity’s left navigation camera and reduced to post here, looks ahead at the rover’s upcoming mountainous goals. The overview map to the right shows the area covered by this image by the yellow lines. The dotted red line indicates the rover’s original planned route, with the white dotted line its actual path of travel.

The cliff ahead is about 400-500 feet away. The top of this cliff is the Greenheugh Pediment, its blocky top geological layer visible as the dark cap at the top of the cliff face. Back in March 2020 Curiosity had climbed up to view across this pediment, from a point to the northwest and off the overview map to the left. (Go to this link to see what the view was like from there.) Since then the science team has had the rover travel quite a distance, to circle around to now approach the pediment from the east.

The white box marks the area covered by a close-up high resolution mast camera image, shown below.
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The knives aimed at SpaceX are getting sharpened

Starship must be banned!
Banning Starship: The new goal of our leftist masters.

Two stories today mark what appears to be a growing political campaign focused on squelching by any means possible the continued unparalleled success of the company SpaceX. And the simultaneous publication of both stories on the same day also suggests that this campaign is deliberately timed to force the FAA to shut down SpaceX at Boca Chica.

First we have a story at Space.com aimed at SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, making it the big villain in the growing threat of satellite collisions.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites alone are involved in about 1,600 close encounters between two spacecraft every week, that’s about 50 % of all such incidents, according to Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, U.K. These encounters include situations when two spacecraft pass within a distance of 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) from each other.

Lewis, Europe’s leading expert on space debris, makes regular estimates of the situation in orbit based on data from the Socrates (Satellite Orbital Conjunction Reports Assessing Threatening Encounters in Space ) database. This tool, managed by Celestrack, provides information about satellite orbits and models their trajectories into the future to assess collision risk.

Though his data appears accurate and the growing risk of collisions is real, it appears from the story that Lewis, one of only two experts interviewed, has a strong hostility to SpaceX. He doesn’t like the fact that SpaceX is so successful in such a short time, and appears to want something done to control it.

The article also nonchalantly sloughs off one very significant fact: Very few satellite collisions have actually occurred. While the risk is certainly going to increase, that increase is not going to be fueled just by SpaceX. At least four large constellations are presently in the works, all comparable to Starlink in some manner. To focus on SpaceX in particular makes this article appear like a hatchet job.

Then we have a news story from CBS and its very partisan and leftist news show, Sixty Minutes+, providing a loud soapbox for the very small number of anti-development environmentalists fighting to block SpaceX’s operations in Boca Chica, Texas.
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Today’s blacklisted American: For too many, it ain’t my problem

Rick, stating the truth in Casablanca
Still asleep, and tragically, they refuse to wake up.

Last week I took a break from publishing my daily “Today’s blacklisted American” column. It is without doubt a depressing chore to detail day after day examples where power-hungry thugs smash their jackboots on the faces of innocent people, merely because those innocent people committed the horrible crime of disagreeing with thugs.

I found I needed that break. I also had sensed — from the overall decreasing interest by news aggregate sites in my column — that the news business, even the conservative news business, was becoming bored with these stories.

Worse, I sensed that many readers found these stories distasteful and wished to avoid them. Though I don’t give a rat’s ass that these ostriches (with their heads in the sand) were bothered, it was nonetheless depressing to sense such people existed, and nothing I did could ever penetrate their close-minded brains.

My post announcing this break sadly confirmed my worse fears.
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As thousands of teachers endorse critical race theory, home schooling surges

What apparently Critical Race Theory sees as for education for elementary school kids.
What apparently Critical Race Theory sees as for education
for elementary school kids.

In the past few months state legislatures across the country have passed resolutions that ban schools from teaching the Marxist and bigoted program dubbed Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Not surprisingly, the leftists who dominate our school systems have fought back. The very leftist Zinn Education Project immediately created a petition calling for teachers to defy such laws and to continue to teach CRT, which teaches children to hate whites and to give minorities privileged status.

In the two months this petition has been on line almost 6,000 teachers have signed it, with many adding comments of defiance. This one is typical:
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The annual July fund-raising campaign: Thank you!

This post will remain at the top of the page for the next few days. Scroll down for news updates and commentaries.

My July fund-raising campaign for 2021 has now ended. Thank you all for your donations and subscriptions. While this year’s campaign was not as spectacular as last year’s, it was the second best July campaign since I began this website. My gratitude cannot be expressed adequately.

As already mentioned, a handful of people have donated enough for a free ebook, but have not responded to my requests for which book they wish and in what format. I can’t give you this gift if you don’t tell me what you want. Will those individuals please email me the book and the format (epup or pdf) they desire?

I once again must express my gratitude to everyone for their support. No one is obliged to pay anything to read my website. That so many people are willing to give freely warms my heart, and gives me hope that I am not the only person left who believes in fearless exploration and freedom.

Apollo: When Americans last did some real exploring

The journey of Apollo 15 on the Moon
Click for full image.

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the landing of Apollo 15 on the Moon. To commemorate that event the science team for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) today published some orbital images that capture the astronauts’ travels while on the Moon. The picture to the right, reduced to post here, outlines in oblique view their various excusions to the edge of Hadley Rille and the foot of a mountain dubbed Hadley Delta. As they note,

While Apollo 15 was the fourth mission to land a crew successfully on the lunar surface, it still pioneered many new technologies and had many firsts.

Some of the technologies developed for Apollo 15 included new suits, which were more flexible and had longer life support capabilities, as well as the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), a rover capable of speeds up to 15 km / hour. With these advancements, astronauts Commander David (Dave) Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James (Jim) Irwin were able to travel more than eight times the distance traveled during the previous mission, for a total of over 25 km.

All told, astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin spent more than 18 hours exploring the lunar surface on three scouting trips, covering 15.5 miles. During all those excursions their only protection from the harsh lunar environment was that thin spacesuit. In addition, if their rover broke down a walk back to the lunar module would become a race against suffocation.

And even then, they still had to get that lunar module off the ground, rendezvous and dock with the Apollo 15 command module, and then get that module back to Earth safely.
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New studies show that the biggest risk to kids from COVID are the policies of governments

New studies about COVID-19 and its effect on children continue to show that the strigent health policies being demanded by government agencies like the CDC and WHO and many Democrats are actually the biggest health threat for children than the virus itself.

First, a major survey of 48,000 children who had become infected with COVID-19 has found that absolutely no healthy children died from the disease.

Dr. Marty Makary is a medical expert and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Carey Business School. His research team “worked with the nonprofit FAIR Health to analyze approximately 48,000 children under 18 diagnosed with Covid in health-insurance data from April to August 2020.”

After studying comprehensive data on thousands of children, the team “found a mortality rate of zero among children without a pre-existing medical condition such as leukemia.”

Let me repeat that. They looked at tens of thousands of kids under the age of 18 and could not find one case where a healthy child died. All recovered. None needed a vaccine, as their young and very strong immune systems did what those immune systems have always done, fought off a sickness to give them an immunity for the rest of their lives.

So kids are safe from COVID, even if they are not vaccined and actually catch the virus and get sick.

At the same time, other studies have found that both masks and the vaccines are actually a greater health threat to children than the virus itself.
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Blue Origin completes first commercial suborbital flight

New Shepard just prior to landing
New Shepard just prior to landing.

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin this morning successfully flew its first commercial suborbital flight using its New Shepard spacecraft, taking Jeff Bezos and four other passengers, one paying, to an altitude of 66.5 miles.

The flight lasted just over ten minutes.

I have embedded the video of the flight, cued to just before launch, below the fold. Try to ignore the blather of Blue Origin’s announcer, which fortunately mostly stops once the spacecraft passes 62 miles and enters space. At that point microphones from inside the capsule take over, and you get to hear the reaction of the passengers themselves.

A grand success for Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos. And another grand success for freedom and private enterprise.

Next up, the beginning of regular commercial orbital manned tourist flights, starting in September. Here is the present flight manifest:

  • September 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 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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FAA threatens shutdown of SpaceX’s Starship program at Boca Chica

Banned by the FAA?
Starship banned by the FAA?

They’re coming for you next: An FAA official revealed yesterday that the agency has not approved the launch tower that SpaceX is building for its Starship/Superheavy rocket in Boca Chica, Texas, and threatened that if disapproved the government would force the company to tear it down.

The Federal Aviation Administration warned Elon Musk’s SpaceX in a letter two months ago that the company’s work on a launch tower for future Starship rocket launches is yet unapproved, and will be included in the agency’s ongoing environmental review of the facility in Boca Chica, Texas. “The company is building the tower at its own risk,” an FAA spokesperson told CNBC on Wednesday, noting that the environmental review could recommend taking down the launch tower.

The FAA last year began an environmental review of SpaceX’s Starship development facility, as Musk’s company said it planned to apply for licenses to launch the next-generation rocket prototypes from Boca Chica. While the FAA completed an environmental assessment of the area in 2014, that review was specific to SpaceX’s much-smaller Falcon series of rockets.

This revelation from FAA officials is most interestingly timed, coming on the same day as this garbage article about the terrible environmental damages some activists imagine SpaceX’s launch facility might someday cause. As is usual for a mainstream news source, the article makes no reference to the wildlife preserve that surrounds the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where we have empirical proof for more than a half century that a spaceport does no harm to the environment and actually acts to protect it from development.

Nor was this the only such attack article in the past two days. Here is just a sampling:
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The bell of freedom rings in space

The Liberty Bell
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and the
inhabitants thereof.” Photo credit: William Zhang

Not surprisingly the mainstream press today was agog with hundreds of stories about Richard Branson’s suborbital space flight yesterday on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane.

The excitement and joy over this success is certainly warranted. Back in 2004 Branson set himself the task of creating a reusable suborbital space plane he dubbed SpaceShipTwo, modeled after the suborbital plane that had won the Ansari X-Prize and intended to sell tickets so that private citizens would have the ability to go into space.

His flight yesterday completed that journey. The company he founded and is slowly selling off so that he is only a minority owner now has a vehicle that for a fee can take anyone up to heights ranging from 50 to 60 miles, well within the U.S. definition of space.

Nonetheless, if you rely on the media frenzy about this particular flight to inform you about the state of commercial space you end up having a very distorted picture of this new blossoming industry. Branson’s achievement, as great as it is, has come far too late. Had he done it a decade ago, as he had promised, he would have achieved something historic, proving what was then considered impossible, that private enterprise, using no government resources, could make space travel easy and common.

Now, however, he merely joins the many other private enterprises that are about to fly into space, with most doing it more frequently and with far greater skill and at a much grander scale than Virgin Galactic. His flight is no longer historic. It is merely one of many that is about to reshape space exploration forever.

Consider the upcoming schedule of already paid for commercial manned flights:
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Today’s blacklisted American: What the last six months has revealed

Today's modern witch hunt
Reporting daily the modern witch hunt against freedom and
independent thought.

It is just about six months since I decided to do a daily column entitled “Today’s Blacklisted American.” In that time I have documented more than 120 examples where one group of Americans thought it okay and proper to destroy the livelihood and freedom of other Americans, all because the latter said something the former did not like.

The link will take you to the full list of columns since mid-January. After six months I think it is time to assess what these columns have revealed. And that revelation is quite ugly.
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Curiosity’s mountainous view

Curiosity's view uphill on June 23, 2021
Click for full resolution panorama. Note: Navarro Mt is about 450 feet high.

The travels of Curiosity at the base of Mount Sharp continue. In the past week, since my last update on June 16th, the rover has moved west past the entrance to Gediz Vallis to now sit at the base of Raphael Navarro Mountain, as shown by the panorama above. To get a sense of how far the rover has traveled in the past week, compare this panorama with the one posted then. It is also clear now that they are slowly returning to their planned route, and will not push up into Gediz Vallis as I speculated in that post.

The panorama is created from three photos taken by Curiosity’s navigation camera, found here, here, and here.

The map below the fold gives the context.
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New studies: Plexiglass does nothing; masks carry diseases; lockdowns destroyed 40% of all small businesses

Modern science!
How modern politicians apply science!

Three new studies have once again confirmed what common sense and a hundred-plus years of medical research has consistently shown, that the measures mandated by foolish governments and health officials last year to supposedly “stop” or “slow” the spread of COVID-19 did nothing of the sort, and instead likely accomplished the exact opposite.

The studies specifically looked at three of the most popular and imposing actions mandated by either governments or corporations, the installation of plexiglass everywhere, the mandating of mask use, and the draconian lockdowns that shut down whole states for almost a year. In all three cases, the studies found them worse than useless.

First, the plexiglass barriers: Not only has there never been any research documenting the usefulness of the plexiglass barriers that restaurants, convenience stores, and almost all businesses have installed to isolate their workers and customers from each other and thus supposedly prevent the spread of COVID-19, a new study from Boston found that the plexiglass barriers likely increased the risk of infection, because it hampered the flow of air circulation.
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The Mountains of Mars

The mountains of Mars
Click for full resolution. The highest mountain on the right is about 450 feet high.

Even as the rover Perseverance is beginning its first science campaign on the floor of Jezero Crater, the rover Curiosity about 3,000 miles to the east has begun its climb into the mountains of Mars that surround the central peak of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp.

The mosaic above, made from two images taken by the rover’s right navigation camera (here and here), shows what Curiosity sees ahead. Since my last update on June 4th describing Curiosity’s future travels, the rover’s science team has pushed forward directly uphill towards the entrance to the canyon Gediz Vallis, visible as the gap between the mountains to the right and left in the above mosaic.

The overview map below shows the rover’s approximate present position, with the yellow lines indicating what the above photo is looking at.
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More evidence the COVID-19 panic was just that: an unwarranted panic

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch, the absolute wrong response
to any emergency, and sadly the very response Americans adopted
against COVID-19.

Three more stories in the past few weeks have proven once again what I and many others saw unequivocally more than a year ago: The panicky response to COVID was unwarranted and not based on the actual facts on the ground but on manipulated and unproven assumptions.

Those assumptions were touted for purely political reasons. Worse, too many Americans meekly accepted those assumptions without any of the kind of mature skepticism that is required of adult citizens in a democratic republic. The result: Our rights were violated and false and corrupt politicians gained power, power they eagerly abused.

First, officials in Alameda County in California revealed on June 4th that they have reduced the number of COVID deaths in that county for the past year by about 25%, from 1,634 to 1,223.

“There are definitely people who died from reasons that were clearly not caused by COVID,”said Neetu Balram, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Public Health Department. Balram couldn’t give specifics about the true cause of death for the 411 people removed from the COVID-19 data, but she said the cases were identified after reviewing codes entered by county coroners into CalREDIE, the state’s database for disease reporting and surveillance.

None of this is a surprise to anyone who was open-minded enough to pay attention. The federal government provided hospitals and doctors a bonus for claiming as many deaths as possible as caused by COVID. They thus inflated the numbers grossly. Moreover, encouraging a panic in 2020 over the Wuhan flu served the political ends of the Democratic Party (to which almost all health officials belong) because it then justified the illegal easing of election laws so that Democrats could commit election fraud in November with ease.

Thus, doctors had both financial and political incentives to inflate the COVID numbers, which apparently they did with glee.

Two research papers published in mid-May added further weight to these conclusions:
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Today’s blacklisted American: Doctors fired and blackballed for calling for race-neutral policies in medicine

Lysenko with Stalin
Trofim Lysenko preaching to Stalin. His policies destroyed
Soviet plant research, persecuted anyone who disagreed
with him, and caused famines that killed millions. And they are
all policies now being adopted by the American medical field.

Persecution is now cool! Last year, the University of Pittsburgh fired cardiologist Norman Wang because he wrote and published a peer-reviewed paper calling for race-neutral policies in medicine.

In addition, he was publicly denounced by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the journal retracted his paper, even though no one could cite any errors in his work.

As the criticism mounted, Wang was removed from his position as the director of a fellowship program in clinical cardiac electrophysiology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and was prohibited from making any contact with students. His boss reportedly told him that his classroom was “inherently unsafe” due to the views he expressed.

Unsafe, eh? Can’t have those students hear any opinions or facts that might contradict the modern “woke” narrative!

Wang is suing both the AHA and the University of Pittsburgh for defamation and violating his first amendment rights. Whether he wins or not remains quite unknown, especially considering the increasingly intolerant nature of today’s society.

The article at the link however goes far beyond simply telling Wang’s story. First, it describes the cases of two other doctors who were forced to resign for similar reasons: they questioned the modern obsession with race and suggested that things would be far better if “race was taken out of the conversation.” The mob immediately rose up against both, and their medical organization, the American Medical Association (AMA), then moved to get them fired or removed.

The article then however goes even farther, outlining how this evil oppressive blacklisting culture is beginning to have a much wider and very negative impact on the practice of medicine and the treatment of patients.
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Curiosity’s dramatic path forward

Curiosity's future travels
Click for full image.

Cool image time! In the coming weeks and months the view from Curiosity is going to give us the most spectacular views of another world since the Apollo astronauts walked on the Moon.

In today’s download of new images from the Mars rover Curiosity was the photo above, reduced to post here. Taken by rover’s right navigation camera, it looks west directly in line with Curiosity’s future travels, and shows that it is now finally entering mountain country.

The overview map below provides the context.
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New investment capital pours into commercial space

Launcher's E2 engine
Launcher’s 3D printed E2 engine, claimed by the company
to be the highest performance engine for small rockets.

Capitalism in space: Three stories today underlined superbly the robust and steadily growing state of the commercial space industry. Moreover, these stories suggest that this growth will be permanent with almost no limit to its possibilities.

To begin, we have the public appearance of another startup smallsat rocket company, dubbed Launcher.

Small launch vehicle developer Launcher has raised $11.7 million in a Series A funding round, which the company says puts it on a path to reaching orbit with a fraction of the total investment of other launch startups. Launcher said June 2 that the Series A round was co-led by Boost.VC and the company’s founder, Max Haot, both of whom earlier provided seed funding to the startup. Haot invested $5 million using proceeds of a camera company, Mevo.com, that he sold earlier this year to Logitech. Other existing and new investors also participated in the round, which Haot told SpaceNews was oversubscribed.

…Launcher is working on a small launch vehicle called Launcher Light, intended to be similar in performance to Rocket Lab’s Electron, which can place up to 300 kilograms into low Earth orbit. Launcher Light is a smaller version of Rocket-1, the company’s original vehicle, which Haot said in March should speed up development since it will require fewer engines.

The company hopes to launch by ’24, and is also planning another fund-raising round next year to raise an additional $40 million.

Considering the large number of new rocket companies raising capital, who knows if this company will make it. Certainly some will grab market share and survive, but more likely in the coming decade there will be a shake-out where many will either consolidate or disappear, similar to what happened in the early days of the automobile industry.

That so many similar new rocket companies are attracting so many investors however shows that people with money are now convinced that space is the place, and the future there is very bright for profit. And what lends weight to this sentiment are the other two stories today, both of which involve new space startups that are not rocket companies but the kind of ground facilities required by the satellites those rockets launch.
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SpaceX barrelling like a juggernaut toward first Starship/Superheavy orbital flight this year

Starship #15 about to land
Starship prototype #15 about to land, May 5, 2021

A series of articles at Teslarati in the past two days suggest strongly that the next Starship flight will be on top of a Superheavy first stage, and will likely be the first near orbital flight from Texas around the globe to splashdown softly in the Pacific Ocean northeast of Hawaii.

And it will likely happen this year!

First there was the report from locals in the McGregor, Texas, area indicating that SpaceX has completed a full duration launch burn of a Raptor engine.

A local resident and unofficial SpaceX observer has reported hearing a test of one of Starship’s Raptor engines that lasted more than five minutes at the company’s McGregor, Texas development facilities.

If accurate, it could be the longest static fire of a Starship engine that SpaceX has ever completed in the two years since full-scale Raptor testing first began. Whether it was successful or not, a five or six-minute static fire would also confirm that SpaceX is well into the process of qualifying Raptor for Starship’s first orbital launch attempts.

This burn is somewhat longer than the engine burns during the Starship test hops, and approaches the burn time required for Superheavy during a launch.

Next there was the report describing the newest known engine configurations SpaceX is planning for Superheavy itself, with the first version possibly having 29 engines and a future more powerful version sporting 32.
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Flash! SpaceX to use a NEW Falcon 9 1st stage!

Both side boosters landing during the 1st Falcon Heavy launch
Both side boosters landing during
the 1st Falcon Heavy launch

Capitalism in space: For the first time in since September 2020, SpaceX has delivered a new Falcon 9 1st stage to its Florida launch site in preparation for launch.

This new stage will be used on the June 3rd launch of a cargo Dragon freighter to ISS.

What is remarkable about this story is that it is news that SpaceX is using a new first stage. Not only have all of their fifteen launches in 2021 lifted off with used boosters, since November 2020 they have completed nineteen launches using only used boosters.

That’s 19 launches in only six months, all with previously flown boosters!

During that time the company’s Falcon rocket division has apparently dedicated its time in upgrading and building new Falcon Heavy 1st stage boosters, in preparation for the first Falcon Heavy launches since June 2019, set for July and October later this year. I suspect the focus has been an effort to upgrade the core booster so that it will be successfully recovered this time, something that did not occur on two of the first three Falcon Heavy launches in 2018 and 2019..
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Today’s blacklisted American: You are supporting the blacklisting of someone, no matter what you do

Rick, stating the truth in Casablanca
Click for video.

Today’s column on blacklisting won’t point out any particular person or group being blacklisted. Instead, I want to make it clear to my readers how completely dominate the intolerant culture of blackballing and censorship has become in America.

This intolerance has been well documented for years in the political, academic, and artistic communities. If you dare to be an outspoken conservative or Republican you will quickly find yourself an outcast, your job threatened and your future squashed. I know. I have been both a filmmaker and a film teacher, and am now a journalist writing often about political matters, and have had to face blacklisting myself more than a few times.

It is only in the last year that it has become evident that the the business community wishes to join in.

To fight this, many open-minded and tolerant Americans try to avoid companies that oppress people for their political views or ethnicity, in the hope that the loss of income will force these companies to change their behavior. In fact, there is now even a webpage, Cancel This Company, that tries to provide a complete list of the worst and most oppressive companies, while also carefully documenting that bad behavior so you know your decision is based on fact.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well it ain’t that easy.
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Starship #15 launches AND lands successfully

Starship #15 about to land

Starship #15 after landing

Capitalism in space: On the 60th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight, making him the first American to fly in space, SpaceX has successfully launched and landed its fifteenth Starship prototype.

The flight appeared remarkably smooth, except for the cameras on board which dropped out for much of the flight. The first image shows the rocket coming down just before touch down. At this moment it was dropping very smoothly, and landed very gently on the landing pad.

The second image was taken about thirty seconds after landing. There was a fire at the rocket’s base being extinguished by the water fire control system. Other than that, the rocket appears whole and undamaged.

As I write this, it is about ten minutes after landing, the fires at the rocket’s base have been put out, and all seems under control. I expect that SpaceX engineers will finally have a fully intact prototype that they can inspect for future design revisions. For example, the skin of this prototype has many thermal tiles attached. They can now see if their attachment system works.

I have embedded the 16 minute live stream of the flight below the fold. Enjoy!
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Today’s blacklisted American: Any conservative on Twitter

Twitter's idea of debate
Show trials: Debate as Twitter sees it.

Blacklists are back and Twitter’s got ’em: Rather than write today about a single specific individual being blacklisted and destroyed by today’s intolerant left, let’s take a look at one of that left’s most intolerant and oppressive blacklister, Twitter.

Like all the big tech social media companies such as Google and Facebook, Twitter is essentially run like a leftwing fiefdom. Though it allows conservative writers to post there, it makes it very clear that they are always under a probation that can be withdrawn immediately if someone in company’s workforce finds itself offended or disagreeing with something that conservative posted.

For example, in January religious radio host Michael Brown got banned from Twitter for twelve hours for simply posting a tweet where he asked this simple question: “Will I get punished by Twitter for saying that, in God’s sight, ‘Rachel’ Levine (nominated by Biden to be his assistant secretary for HHS) is a man?”
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The devastating epidemic that simply wasn’t devastating

It is now more than a year since the arrival of the coronavirus in the United States and the panicky wave of fear it brought to our governments and many of our citizens, shutting down whole states, bankrupting millions of businesses, and shuttering schools for practically a whole year. In the process our governments have demanded we change how we live in fundamental ways, from no longer gathering together in any social setting to wearing masks wherever we go, inside or out.

Was that reaction correct? Readers of my website know that I never believed it rational, and that it was an entirely out-of-proportion response to what was really nothing more than a new variation of the flu.

Well, we now have some data that reveals the actual scale of the COVID-19 epidemic, as shown by the CDC graph below:
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NASA’s choice of Starship proves government now fully embraces capitalism in space

Five years ago, before Donald Trump had even announced he was running for president, before Elon Musk had proposed his Starship/Superheavy rocket, and even before SpaceX had successfully begun to dominate the launch market, Jerry Hendricks at the Center for for New American Security (CNAS) asked me to write a policy paper on the state of the American launch industry, providing some background and more importantly, some recommendations that policy makers in Washington, dependent on that launch industry, could use as guidance in the coming years.

CNAS is a Washington, D.C., think tank that was founded in the middle-2000s by two political Washington insiders, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, with a focus on foreign policy and defense issues and the central goal of encouraging bi-partisan discussion. Hendricks’ area of focus was defense and aerospace matters, and at the time he thought the changes being wrought by SpaceX’s with its partly reusable Falcon 9 rocket required in-depth analysis. He had heard my many reports on this subject on the John Batchelor Show, and thought I could provide him that analysis.

The result was my 2017 policy paper, Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry. In it I reviewed and compared what NASA had been getting from its parallel rocket programs, the government-designed and owned Space Launch System (SLS) rocket versus the privately-designed commercial rockets of SpaceX and Orbital ATK (now part of Northrop Grumman). That review produced this very simple but starkly revealing table:

SLS vs Commercial space

From this data, combined with my extensive knowledge as a historian of American history and culture, resulted in the following fundamental recommendations:
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Mask madness even as scientists confirm once again their uselessness

Even as a just published new study has shown once again the utter uselessness of masks to limit the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19, the control freaks of our now largely oppressive society are clamping down with new totalitarian rules requiring masks to be worn at all times, no matter what.

First let ‘s look at the study, which was published by the National Center for Biotechnological Information government website, a branch of the National Institute for Health. From the paper:

The physical properties of medical and non-medical facemasks suggest that facemasks are ineffective to block viral particles due to their difference in scales. According to the current knowledge, the virus SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter of 60 nm to 140 nm [nanometers (billionth of a meter)], while medical and non-medical facemasks’ thread diameter ranges from 55 µm to 440 µm [micrometers (one millionth of a meter), which is more than 1000 times larger. Due to the difference in sizes between SARS-CoV-2 diameter and facemasks thread diameter (the virus is 1000 times smaller), SARS-CoV-2 can easily pass through any facemask. In addition, the efficiency filtration rate of facemasks is poor, ranging from 0.7% in non-surgical, cotton-gauze woven mask to 26% in cotton sweeter material. With respect to surgical and N95 medical facemasks, the efficiency filtration rate falls to 15% and 58%, respectively when even small gap between the mask and the face exists.

Clinical scientific evidence challenges further the efficacy of facemasks to block human-to-human transmission or infectivity. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 246 participants [123 (50%) symptomatic)] who were allocated to either wearing or not wearing surgical facemask, assessing viruses transmission including coronavirus. The results of this study showed that among symptomatic individuals (those with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose etc…) there was no difference between wearing and not wearing facemask for coronavirus droplets transmission of particles of >5 µm. Among asymptomatic individuals, there was no droplets or aerosols coronavirus detected from any participant with or without the mask, suggesting that asymptomatic individuals do not transmit or infect other people. This was further supported by a study on infectivity where 445 asymptomatic individuals were exposed to asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carrier (been positive for SARS-CoV-2) using close contact (shared quarantine space) for a median of 4 to 5 days. The study found that none of the 445 individuals was infected with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase.

There is a lot more in the study. Read it all. It shows, based on extensive research, that even when worn properly masks are relatively useless in stopping viral diseases. And since as mandated no one ever uses them properly, they end up becoming likely collectors of pathogens instead, at the very spot where people breath, thus contributing to the spread of infection.

The study also documented the numerous physiological and psychological costs caused by the forced continuous use of masks, from restricting oxygen to causing people to become socially isolated.

The paper’s conclusion:
» Read more

SpaceX wins competition to build Artemis manned lunar lander, using Starship

Starship prototype #8 on first flight test
Starship prototype #8 on its first flight test,
December 2020

Capitalism in space: NASA has just announced that it has chosen SpaceX to build the Artemis manned lunar lander, using Starship.

The award, a $2.9 billion fixed price contract, also requires SpaceX to complete an unmanned demo lunar landing with Starship that also returns to Earth, before it lands NASA astronauts on the Moon. The contract also still retains the goal to get this to happen by 2024, though NASA official emphasized that they will only launch when ready.

After these flights the agency says it will open bidding again to the entire industry, which means that others are now being challenged to come up with something that can beat SpaceX in the future.

Nonetheless, the contract award was a surprise, as NASA originally intended to pick two teams to provide redundancy and encourage competition. Instead, the agency completely bypassed lunar landers proposed by Dynetics and a team led by Blue Origin that included Lockheed Martin and Draper.

Even more significantly, though NASA explained in the telecon that they still plan to use SLS and Orion to bring astronauts to Gateway, who will then be picked up by Starship for the landing, this decision is a major rejection of the Space Launch System (SLS), since Starship will not use it to get to the Moon, while the other two landers required it.

In fact, this decision practically makes SLS unnecessary in the Artemis program, as NASA has also awarded SpaceX the contract for supplying cargo to the Lunar Gateway station as well as launching its first two modules, using Dragon capsules and Falcon Heavy. SLS is still slated to launch Orion to Gateway, but Starship can replace Orion as well, since Starship is being designed to carry people from Earth to the Moon. This makes SLS and Orion essentially unneeded, easily abandoned once Starship starts flying.

NASA’s decision also means the Biden administration is willing to use its clout to push for Starship over SLS in Congress, which has favored SLS for years because of the pork it brings to their states and congressional districts. They apparently think that Congress is now ready to risk the end of SLS if it comes with a new program that actually accomplishes something. These developments firmly confirm my sense from February that the political winds are bending away from SLS.

This decision is also a major blow to Blue Origin and the older big space companies that Jeff Bezos’ company partnered with. Their dependence on the very costly and cumbersome SLS rocket meant that their ability to launch on a schedule and cost desired by NASA was severely limited. NASA looked at the numbers, and decided the time was right to go with a more radical system. As was noted by one NASA official during the press teleconference, “NASA is now more open to innovation.”

Based on the details announced during the announcement, NASA was especially drawn to Starship’s payload capability to bring a large payload to the Moon, at the same time it brings humans there as well. It also appears SpaceX’s recent track record of success also added weight to their bid.

Today’s blacklisted American: Whites at Cornell University

The Civil Rights Act of 1964: repealed by Cornell
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: repealed by Cornell

Continuing my weeklong series documenting the modern bigotry of our culture, today’s bigot is Cornell University, who recently offered a segregated rock-climbing course that whites were forbidden to attend. From the course’s original description:

This class is for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color.

Moreover, that original course description made it very clear that the course was limited to such students only.

The original description gave no indication that BIPOC [Black, Indigenous People, Others of Color] students were the “special focus” of the course, instead of the only eligible category for enrollment. While [that original version] said students “will also talk about BIPOC individuals and groups in rock climbing,” that sentence was immediately followed by the restriction to “people who identify as” BIPOC.

Such a class would be illegal under both federal and New York state law.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted Americans: Coca-Cola’s racist policies that discriminate against whites

Coca-Cola's bigoted company policy
Examples of the bigoted educational material
being pushed by Coca-Cola

This week is going to be racism week for my daily posts on blacklisting in today’s fascist culture. Each day I will highlight another example of modern racism by companies and governments against innocent people simply because they were born with the wrong skin color. And that skin color will be white, which is now the one kind of racism that the left now honors and demands, from everyone.

Our first bigot this week is the multi-national soda company Coca-Cola. Most of the news this past week or so has been focused on this company’s mindless decision to condemn Georgia’s new election law, based on Democratic Party lies and a refusal to even read the law.

However, let’s take a closer look at Coke’s bigoted policies, which are expressly designed to create a hostile work environment for anyone who happens to be white, solely based not on their performance but their skin color. The image above shows screen captures of just four slides from a Coke-Cola critical race theory training class, provided by a whistle-blower but later confirmed by the company as accurate.
» Read more

Sunspot update: Higher than predicted activity continues

The uncertainty of science: Time for our monthly update of the Sun’s on-going sunspot cycle. Below is NOAA’s April 1, 2021 monthly graph, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity through the end of March 2021. I have annotated it as always to show the previous solar cycle predictions.

The higher than expected sunspot activity that has been occurring almost from the moment the ramp up to solar maximum began in 2020 continued in March. The numbers weren’t as high as they were in December and January, but they were still higher than the predicted sunspot number.

» Read more

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