Today’s blacklisted American: A blogger about babies

They’re coming for you next: A neonatal nurse named Cara Dumaplin, who for years has run very successful website called Taking Care of Babies, is now considered a “racist” and “hater” because she and her husband committed the unforgivable act of donating to the campaign of Donald Trump.

MamaBirdLosAngeles drew attention to Dumaplin’s political donations on Instagram, setting off a flurry of denunciations.

MamaBird identified herself as “part of the #babypeople who are actively using our platforms to speak out about hate, and give you the information you need to not only raise your babies, but to raise them anti-racist. So with that, I recommend y’all consider unfollowing and stop giving your support and $$$ to @TakingCaraBabies, who along with her husband, has been actively donating to Trump and his campaign.”

“We need to out these people, especially because they are profiting off of photos of BIPOC [black, indigenous, people of color] families,” MamaBird added. “I encourage you to share this far and wide!”

This bigot, who automatically assumes, based on no evidence, that Trump is a racist and then slanders anyone with the same lie should they have supported him, is bad enough. She wants to boycott and blacklist anyone who dared back an opponent of the Democrats. You won’t get much freedom of expression under any society that she runs.

What is worse however are the knee-jerk responses from long time fans of Taking Care of Babies, moving quickly to ostracize and destroy this very non-political website. For some reason, crazy and ugly accusations like this must now be accepted with no skepticism or challenge.

Many Instagram accounts moved to blacklist Dumaplin for her political views, assuming that if she supported Trump she must be a hateful racist (even though millions of black and Hispanic Americans voted for Trump). “We as a brand do not stand by these donations and have unfollowed and sent a personal note” to Dumaplin, the Instagram account BigLittleFeelings, which has 1.2 million followers, announced. “If you see something in your feed that is misaligned with your values, create your feed with what you feel is best. For us that meant unfollowing.”

BigLittleFeelings went on to say that the brand dreams of “a world where our next generation, our kids and your kids no matter the color of their skin, their abilities or where they came from, are treated equally. … Empathy, inclusivity, always always.”

Heh. BigLittleFeelings doesn’t appear very empathetic to me, willing so quickly with no evidence to destroy someone. And they are also only one example of the new blacklist mob coming after the Dumaplins. The article at the link gives more.

Hopefully the Dumaplin’s will survive this hate campaign. I am not optimistic. Our modern leftist close-minded culture teaches that no one should be exposed to opinions which they find uncomfortable. Everyone must have a safe space! And if any ordinary American should dare challenge that bubble, they must be destroyed and silenced, now! Freedom of speech is now evil, and most always be squelched!

The strange moated mesas of the Kasai Valley on Mars

Overview map

In showing my readers today’s cool image, I want to present it as it is seen by scientists, first from a far distance that with time increasingly zooms in to reveal mysteries on a very human scale.

The overview map to the right essentially gives us the view of Mars as seen by scientists following the Mariner 9 orbiter mission that began mapping the Martian surface in late 1971 after the conclusion of a global dust storm that had hidden its surface initially. As the first high resolution map of Mars, the orbiter revealed numerous puzzling and surprising features, including the largest volcanoes and canyons in the solar system. The orbiter also found that the red planet’s surface was comprised of two very different regions, the northern lowland plains and the southern cratered highlands.

The overview map, covering from about 13 degrees south latitude to about 34 degrees north latitude, shows us all but the southern cratered highlands. The white box in Kasai Valles is where today’s cool image is located. Both Kasai and Valles Marineris represent those giant canyons, all invoking to Earth eyes the possibility of catastrophic floods of liquid water sometime in the past.

Ascraeus Mons is the northernmost of the three giant volcanoes east of the biggest volcano of all, Olympus Mons. All sit on what scientists now call the Tharsis Bulge.

Chryse Planitia, where Viking-1 landed in 1976, is part of those northern lowlands that some scientists believe might have been once had an intermittent ocean sometime in the past. Today’s image is about 600 miles from the outlet into Chryse Planitia.

The geological mystery of all these features demands a closer look, something that scientists have been pursuing now for more than a half century.
» Read more

Japan’s new H3 rocket is almost ready for launch in ’21

The H3 rocket, jointly made by Mitsubishi and Japan’s space agency JAXA, is almost ready for launch and will be shipped to is launch site shortly for a launch later this year.

According to the link, it will cut the cost of launch by half when compared with Japan’s H2A rocket. They hope this cost reduction will garner them international customers, though I wonder as the rocket is not reusable. To get those international customers they have done something interesting. Rather than putting “Nippon” on the side of the rocket, which is what the Japanese call their country, they have put “Japan” on it instead.

Falcon 9 successfully places 143 satellites into orbit

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this morning successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a record 143 smallsats into orbit.

As I write this they are in the process of deploying the satellites, which will take time as the upper stage circles the Earth. This launch of 143 satellites beats the former record of the most satellites deployed on a single launch, 104, set by India in 2017.

The first stage landed successfully, completing its fifth flight. They also recovered both fairing halves.

The standings in the 2021 launch race:

3 SpaceX
1 Rocket Lab
1 Virgin Orbit
1 China

The U.S. now leads China 5 to 1 in the national rankings.

SpaceX enters business of drilling for natural gas

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has decided to enter the natural gas energy business to help fuel its rockets, and is presently in a legal dispute with another natural gas drilling company over rights to drill on a piece of property near its Boca Chica Starship facility.

SpaceX intends to drill wells close to the company’s Boca Chica launchpad, it was revealed during a Friday hearing before the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s energy regulator.

Production has yet to start because of a legal dispute between the SpaceX subsidiary Lone Star Mineral Development and another energy company. Tim George, an attorney representing Lone Star, said at the hearing that SpaceX plans to use the methane it extracts from the ground “in connection with their rocket facility operations.”

While it’s unclear what exactly the gas would be used for, SpaceX plans to utilize super-chilled liquid methane and liquid oxygen as fuel for its Raptor engines.

Since methane is the main component of natural gas, I suspect SpaceX hopes to utilize the gas it pumps out to fuel its Starship & Super Heavy rockets. By obtaining the gas from its own wells, SpaceX cuts out any middle men, and has the opportunity to reduce its costs as well.

New leak located in Zvezda on ISS

Russian astronauts have located the suspected new leak location in the Zvezda module on ISS, and also think there might be another, as yet unlocated.

The specialists have discovered one more crack at the International Space Station and suspect that yet another one exists, ISS Russian Segment head Vladimir Solovyov told Rossiya-24. “So far, we have found one place and suspect another, where as some kind of leak exists. We must bring a powerful microscope on a cargo spacecraft and use to examine this place. We are not totally certain so far,” Solovyov said.

These two leaks are in addition to the one inch crack that caused last year’s leak and has been sealed.

All are pointing strongly to stress fractures in this section of Zvezda, one of the station’s oldest modules at twenty-plus years. The leaks are apparently located in the aft section where ships dock to Zvezda, with over a 100 dockings there since launch.

If the cracks and leaks are caused by stress fractures, the life span of Zvezda is now quite limited. It might be possible to seal the cracks and protect the module from further breaks by ending dockings at its port, but I suspect that will not work. Moreover, if I remember correctly Zvezda has the engines that are used to periodically raise ISS’s orbits. If the stress of firing those engines is too risky than another way must be found to maintain the station’s orbit.

In a few years the private company Axiom will be launching its own modules to ISS, designed in the long run to separate from the station and function independently. If NASA and Axiom are smart, they will make sure this new module matches Zvezda’s capabilities, thus making the Russian module redundant and actually superfluous.

“The solar system is open for business”

Link here. The article gives an independent look at the surging capitalism that appears to be driving the resurgent rocket and space industry in the U.S. and elsewhere.

As the author notes in his conclusion:

There was a time when space enthusiasts waited on taxpayer-funded space programs to realize their dreams of routine spaceflight and humanity’s expansion into the cosmos. It’s been a very long wait. Now, privatized launch services are opening up access to space. A new wave of exploration missions is widening human knowledge of the solar system. It’s only a matter of time before entrepreneurs, particularly those with deep pockets, figure out how to make money out there.

I plug this article not because he quotes me extensively, but because he came to these conclusions independent of me, and only called me for comments because he thought I might add depth to his conclusions. That the ideas I have been pushing since the late 1990s are now percolating into the larger culture is a very very good sign.

While in those early days the reporters I spoke to were routinely horrified by the idea of a privately financed space mission and wondered if the government should even allow it (they really would say this), today the idea is now considered the right way to go.

This is progress, even in this time of blacklists and a government focused on crushing its citizens.

Today’s blacklisted American: Laura Loomer

They’re coming for you next: First, before I tell the sad situation that journalist and former candidate of Congress Laura Loomer faces, I want to note that this now daily feature has been renamed. For the past week I have called it “Today’s blacklisted conservative.” I have decided this is not accurate, as the people being repressed, squelched, destroyed, and silenced are routinely people whose opinions fall very much in the center of traditional American philosophy, in favor of freedom, the rule of law and the Constitution, and the equal treatment of all regardless of race, color, or creed.

I thought it more appropriate to note this fact, by pointing out that it is Americans who are being oppressed, not simply conservatives. And the people doing the oppression are so un-American it boggles the mind.

Today’s blacklisted American is Laura Loomer, who for many years was an aggressive investigative journalist willing to challenge corrupt politicians to their face. She ran for Congress in 2020, but unfortunately lost.

Earlier this week she announced on her website that she has discovered she has been placed on a “do-not-buy” list that now prevents her from buying a fire-arm anywhere. As she notes,

While I have NEVER been convicted of a felony, domestic violence, and I’ve never been adjudicated mentally unfit by a judge, my name was placed in the Federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and I have been prohibited from ever owning or even touching a firearm.

She also notes in this same post that she has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Paypal, Venmo, GoFundMe, Uber, and Lyft. Chase bank once attempted to shut down her bank accounts.

And during her campaign for Congress, she added that “Comcast blocked my congressional campaign from sending texts and emails to voters while they donated to my opponent.”

On top of this, she found herself hassled by the government thugs of the TSA when she returned to this country last week after spending the last month or so in El Salvador.

I was singled out with no explanation and subjected to a thorough search, I was not allowed to grab my own suitcases from baggage claim, and I was detained for several hours while different federal officials from Department of Homeland Security interrogated me about my Wikipedia page, which states that I am a right-wing extremist and was an official Republican nominee for Congress, endorsed by President Trump. DHS officers also asked me about the events that occurred on January 6th in Washington DC. Needless to say, I was not in the country at the time, and know nothing about the protest at the US capitol.

Welcome Laura Loomer to the new America, ruled by a Democratic Party and helped by quisling establishment Republicans, all of whom apparently hate and fear ordinary Americans — especially those ordinary Americans unafraid to express their dissent publicly — and are willing to abuse their power to oppress such Americans.

Chinese government gives wrist slap to powerful scientist on fraud and plagiarism charges

In a decision clearing a powerful scientist of charges of fraud and plagiarism in more than sixty papers, several of which have already been retracted, the Chinese government has also allowed that scientist to keep his post as head of one China’s universities.

The Chinese communists did punish him, but in a way that in the long run is mostly meaningless.

Cao [Xuetao, president of Nankai University and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering] will be barred from applying for national science and technology projects, lose his qualification as a scientific expert, and be forbidden from recruiting graduate students, all for 1 year. The notification also ordered him to investigate and correct the papers. It appears he will keep his job as president of Nankai University, one of China’s most prestigious universities. (On Nankai’s English-language website, Cao is also listed as one of the university’s two chancellors.) Cao did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

In other words, he keeps his powerful post. To get off so lightly you would almost think he worked for the American FBI and had tried to overthrow a legal election. But then, no, it isn’t the same. The FBI officials who managed the Trump coup have actually seen less punishment. China, as corrupt as its communist government might be, in this case actually managed to administer a tiny bit of justice.

This is the future, as the world’s culture no longer honors law and the truth, but power and authority. And those in power will never be brought to justice, because they are above all those little people who serve them.

This also tells you how little you should trust any results coming from a government scientist. Those results might be real, but before you accept them you better go over them with a fine-tooth comb.

Parker completes 7th solar fly-by, sets new records

The Parker Solar Probe this week successfully completed its seventh close fly-by of the Sun, coming within 8.4 million miles and traveling at almost 300,000 miles per hour.

Nor is that all for 2021:

The spacecraft will make three more progressively close passes to the Sun in 2021 alone, as well as two gravity-assist flybys at Venus in February and October to adjust the trajectory of its orbit. After zipping past Venus on Feb. 20, Parker Solar Probe will again make close approaches to the Sun on April 29 and Aug. 9. Following another Venus gravity assist on Oct. 16, the spacecraft will make an even closer solar pass on Nov. 21, with perihelion just 5.3 million miles from the Sun’s surface.

Because the fly-bys of Venus are shrinking Parker’s solar orbit, the time between solar fly-bys is also shrinking.

Northrop Grumman successfully test solid rocket booster for ULA’s Vulcan

Capitalism in space: Northrop Grumman today announced that it has successfully test fired the strap-on solid rocket booster, qualifying it for flight, for use on ULA’s new Vulcan rocket.

In the Jan. 21 static test, the motor fired for approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of thrust to validate the performance capability of the motor, the company said. The firing also verified the motor’s internal insulation, propellant grain ballistics and nozzle in high temperatures.

If all goes right Vulcan will make its inaugural flight later this year.

Today’s blacklisted conservative: Professor at Florida University to be fired for wrongthink

They’re coming for you next: A professor at the University of Central Florida, having taught there for 22-years with exemplary ratings, has now been under a seven-month-long investigation by the university, trying to drum up evidence that he created a “hostile” classroom environment so he can be fired, an investigation sparked by Black Lives Matter protests against him because he tweeted things that fascist movement doesn’t like.

The University of Central Florida is set to fire embattled Professor Charles Negy, accusing him of creating a “hostile” classroom environment, the Orlando Sentinel reported this week.

Negy became a target of intense Black Lives Matter protests over the summer after he tweeted: “Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege. But as a group, they’re missing out on much needed feedback.”

He has since deleted the tweet and a few others that caused controversy at the time, but a petition demanding he be fired had garnered nearly 35,000 signatures and protesters even targeted his home.

The university launched an investigation amid the turmoil and recently concluded Negy is guilty of classroom “misconduct,” the Sentinel reported, adding his termination will take effect Jan. 25.

I especially like the truly despicable manner in which the university gathered evidence against Negy:

A June 4th message posted to UCF’s website from the president, provost, and chief diversity officer addressed the content of Negy’s tweets directly and then stated: “If any student, current or former, believes they may have experienced abusive or discriminatory behavior by any faculty or staff member, we want to know about it. UCF takes every report seriously. Concerns can be reported to UCF’s IntegrityLine, which also takes anonymous complaints.” [Emphasis in original]

Read the whole thing. It is very clear that nothing Negy did in the past was considered misconduct, and in fact his work was rated excellent until this witch hunt, much of it inspired by anonymous slanders against him.

Moreover, reread his quoted tweet above. Nothing he says there is untrue. Nor is anything in it racist. It merely notes that affirmative action and being protected from criticism, as too many blacks today are merely because of their skin color, is not healthy for developing a critical mind. Such policies hurt minorities, not help them.

But then, having such opinions outside the norm of our leftist culture today is verboten, and will not be tolerated. And if you dare defy our political masters they will immediately gather to destroy you, no questions asked.

Negy is about to join the modern leftist blacklist, forbidden to speak and forbidden to work. I also think that if they could make him forbidden to even exist, they would. In fact, I fully expect this mob to go in that direction, given time.

The slowly disappearing dry ice cap at Mars’ south pole

The Happy Face crater near Mars' south pole
Click for the 2020 full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right of two images taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) was posted as a captioned image by the orbiter’s science team today.

This crater, dubbed the Happy Face Crater because of the shape of the blobby features within it, is located on the south pole ice cap of Mars, about 200 miles from the south pole itself.

Today’s caption noted how these pictures, taken nine years apart, illustrate the change going on at the Martian south pole.

The “blobby” features in the polar cap are due to the sun sublimating away the carbon dioxide into these round patterns. You can see how nine years of this thermal erosion have made the “mouth” of the face larger. The “nose” consisted of a two circular depressions in 2011, and in 2020, those two depressions have grown larger and merged.

While this caption noted the importance of studying these long term changes in order to understand the evolution of Mars’ climate and geology, it did not give the very specific discovery these changes suggest for Mars globally, a discovery that is actually very significant.

The two ice caps of Mars have some fundamental differences, all presently unexplained. The similarities are obvious. Both have permanent caps of water ice that are presently believed to be in a steady state, not shrinking or growing. Both each winter get covered by a thin mantle of dry ice that sublimates away completely with the coming of spring.

The differences are more puzzling, as shown by the maps of the two poles below.
» Read more

Three aborted static fire tests yesterday for Starship prototype #9

Capitalism in space: After switching out three Raptor engines following successful static fire tests last week, SpaceX attempted three times to complete a new static fire test of Starship prototype #9 yesterday, only to have all three attempts abort just before ignition.

No word on the cause of the aborts, or what SpaceX’s next step will be. The article at the link speculates that SpaceX is merely being cautious, which doesn’t sound right to me. It could be there are specific issues with prototype #9 that are causing the problems. Remember, this is the prototype that tipped over in the assembly building and needed repairs.

Curiosity checks out its wheels

One wheel on Curiosity, as seen in July 2020 and January 2021
For full resolution images, go here and here for the
top image, and here and here for the bottom image.

Having finished a two week look at a sea of sand, Curiosity’ science team has resumed its journey east towards the higher slopes of Mount Sharp.

Before they started out however, they decided to aim the rover’s high resolution mast camera at Curiosity’s wheels to see how they are faring and whether any of the damage that occurred in the early days of the mission has worsened. The photo on the right compares what was seen this week with the damage on the same wheel as seen in July 2020. This is also the same wheel I have posted images of since September 2017.

Not only does there appear to be no appreciable new damage to this wheel in the six months since July, remarkably, a comparison between today’s image and the photo from September 2017, shows little change as well.

In the more than three years since that 2017 photo, Curiosity has crossed Vera Rubin Ridge, crossed the clay unit, climbed up the next ridge to take a look at the incredibly rough terrain of the Greenheugh Pedimont, and then continued across the clay unit on its way to higher and possibly more challenging terrain.

In all those travels it appears this particular wheel has fared rather nicely, accumulating in at least this part little new damage. This bodes well for the rover’s future, as the wheels have been a concern since Curiosity’s first two years on Mars, when engineers found they were experiencing more damage than expected. The travel techniques they have adopted since to protect the wheels appear to be working.

Today’s new blacklist member: Senator Josh Hawley

They’re coming for you next: Merely because conservative Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) was disturbed by the many allegations of voter fraud and election tampering during the November 3rd election and wanted these allegations investigated before agreeing to the certification of a Joe Biden victory, he has become a marked man, with one publisher canceling a contract to publish his book, and the hotel chain Loews canceling a planned fundraising event for the senator.

Somehow, to the Loews corporate management, simply raising questions about voter fraud is now an act of violence and insurrection. From the Loews company:

We are horrified and opposed to the events at the Capitol and all who supported and incited the actions. In light of those events and for the safety of our guests and team members, we have informed the host of the Feb. fundraiser [for Hawley] that it will no longer be held at Loews Hotels.

Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster canceled Hawley’s book for similar absurd reasons.

As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: At the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat.

That Hawley has for months consistently condemned all violence and rioting, this statement by Simon & Schuster reeks of crocodile tears, hypocrisy, and blatant partisanship. Trust me, as a modern publisher whose staff is dominated by young minds indoctrinated by leftist academia, Simon & Schuster has no interest in “amplifying a variety of voices and viewpoints.” Say something that criticizes the dominant leftist culture and they will squash you like a bug, instantly.

Welcome Senator Hawley to hallowed ground. You have now been blacklisted, merely because you have a different opinion than these liberal thugs. Hold your head high.

Hints that NASA will redo the SLS static fire test

While NASA has not yet announced any decision on whether it will redo the full static fire test of its SLS core stage — following the January 16th abort — there are hints coming from industry sources that the agency is leaning to doing another test.

According to sources at the agency, program managers are in fact leaning toward conducting a second hot-fire test in Mississippi. Due to the need to obtain more propellant at the test site, conduct minor refurbishment to the vehicle, and possibly change the erratic sensor on Engine 4, the agency estimates it will require about three to four weeks before conducting another test.

Based on that schedule, the actual Artemis 1 unmanned flight, now set for November, will likely have to be delayed one month to December, since after the static fire test it will take several months to disassembly and prep the core stage for shipment to Florida and then reassembly it and prepare it for launch. That November launch date was predicated on a successful completion of the static fire test by January.

NASA and Boeing (the lead contractor building SLS) do not have much schedule margin however. They have begun stacking the solid rocket boosters that strap-on to the core stage. Once this is done the boosters supposedly have a life span of approximately one year, which means the launch must occur by about January ’22 though I would not be surprised if NASA waives that use-by-date if it needs to.

I am in a betting mood this morning. Want to bet SpaceX’s Starship completes its first orbital flight before SLS, even though it has been in development for one tenth the time (2 years vs 20) and for one thirtieth the cost ($2 billion vs $60)? I think the odds right now are very very likely. One way or the other, the race will definitely be neck-and-neck.

SpaceX buys two floating oil rigs for Starship/Super Heavy

Capitalism in space: As has been expected now since June, SpaceX has now officially purchased two floating oil rigs to be used for the launch and landing of its Starship/Super Heavy reusable heavy-lift rocket.

Named Phobos and Deimos, after the two moons of Mars, they are currently undergoing modifications to support Starship launch operations.

SpaceX has long been hinting at future floating launch and landing sites for their Starship launch system. The super heavy lift launch vehicle will have a large blast danger area and pose noise concerns if launched frequently near populated areas. Therefore, sea launch platforms will play a key role in the launch cadence SpaceX plans to reach with Starship, including on-orbit refueling flights for deep space missions and transportation from one place to another on Earth.

Job postings by SpaceX have indicated that work on offshore launch platforms has begun in Brownsville, Texas, near their Starship manufacturing and launch facilities in Boca Chica. Positions included crane operators, electricians, and offshore operations engineers, and several of the job listings specified that the position was part of the company’s Starship program. Job descriptions for these positions included responsibilities like “designing and building an operational offshore rocket launch facility” and required the “ability to work on an offshore platform in Brownsville, Texas.”

Out of work because you live in a fascist Democratic Party-controlled state and have had your job destroyed by their tyrannical policies? Move to Texas and go to work for SpaceX! At the moment at least the United States remains a collection of 50 sovereign states, with the ability of citizens to move from one to the other freely to improve their lives. Some states, such as Texas and Florida, are moving forward under the American concepts of freedom and private enterprise. Others, such as California and New York, are not.

Want to bet which ones will prosper in the coming decade? I pick Texas and Florida. Anyone willing to bet me?

Update on China’s pseudo-private commercial launch industry

Link here. Unlike past Space News articles which generally made believe these privately funded Chinese companies were truly private, the article at the link today is very clear about the close supervision maintained by the Chinese communist government over these companies. They might get funding through private investment capital, but everything they do is approved by their government.

A 2014 central government policy shift opened the Chinese launch and small satellite sectors to private capital. Since then around 20 launch vehicle-related firms have been established in China.

These commercial launch companies are being supported by a national strategy of civil-military fusion. This includes facilitating the transfer of restricted technologies to approved firms in order to promote innovation in dual-use technology. The State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) oversees activities.

Provincial and local governments are also providing support for space companies as they look to attract high-end and emerging technology firms.

The initial focus of the article is on iSpace, also called Interstellar Glory Space, which is planning another fund-raising round. This company, whose Hyperbola-1 solid rocket reached orbit for the first time in 2019, is now designing a liquid-fueled rocket whose first stage will be reusable.

The article also gives a quick review of some of the other Chinese companies.

It is all part of the new colonial movement, the international race to gain dominance in space. The competition is presently fierce, and should only become fiercer based on China’s decision to encourage internal competition.

SpaceX and Rocket Lab complete launches

Capitalism in space: Two successfully launches this morning.

First Rocket Lab used its Electron rocket to launch a German cubesat thought to be a prototype for a Chinese communications constellation, though no information has been publicly released. No recovery attempts were made on the rocket’s first stage.

Then SpaceX successfully completed its 17th Starlink launch and second launch in 2021. This puts about 950 Starlink satellites in orbit. The booster for this flight landed on the drone ship, completing its record eighth flight.

The 2021 launch race:

2 SpaceX
1 Virgin Orbit
1 China
1 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 4 to 1 in the national rankings.

SLS static fire abort not caused by malfunction but too-tight parameters

According to NASA today the reason the SLS static fire test cut off after only one minute was because of too conservative margins set in the computer software.

In an update today, however, NASA said it was engine 2 that caused the abort. At that moment, the engines were underdoing a gimble test where they are rotated in different directions just as they must do during ascent to steer the rocket. Actuators in the Thrust Vector Control system that generate the force to gimble an engine are powered by hydraulic Core Stage Auxiliary Power Units (CAPUs). The CAPUs for engine 2 exceeded pre-set test limits and the computer system automatically shut down the test as it was designed to do, but NASA said it would not have been a problem during a launch.

According to NASA’s update,

The specific logic that stopped the test is unique to the ground test when the core stage is mounted in the B-2 test stand at Stennis. If this scenario occurred during a flight, the rocket would have continued to fly using the remaining CAPUs to power the thrust vector control systems for the engines.

Note too that another issue during the test needs resolution:

Initial data indicate the sensor reading for a major component failure, or MCF, that occurred about 1.5 seconds after engine start was not related to the hot fire shutdown. It involved the loss of one leg of redundancy prior to T-0 in the instrumentation for Engine 4, also known as engine number E2060. Engine ignition begins 6 seconds prior to T-0, and they fire in sequence about 120 milliseconds apart. Test constraints for hot fire were set up to allow the test to proceed with this condition, because the engine control system still has sufficient redundancy to ensure safe engine operation during the test. The team plans to investigate and resolve the Engine 4 instrumentation issue before the next use of the core stage.

No decision has been made yet whether they will do another static fire test before shipping the core stage to Florida for launch. They are under a time limit, as they have begun stacking the SLS rocket’s strap-on solid rocket side boosters, and those only have a life expectancy of one year once stacking has begun.

As far as I am concerned, nothing about the development of this rocket makes sense. I would never fly on it no matter how much money was offered to me, and anyone who does must know the terrible risk they take.

New daily record for search engine DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo, the search engine that respects the privacy of its users, has set a new record for use with more than a 100 million daily search requests for the first time.

Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo reached a major milestone in its 12-year-old history this week when it recorded on Monday its first-ever day with more than 100 million user search queries.

The achievement comes after a period of sustained growth the company has been seeing for the past two years, and especially since August 2020, when the search engine began seeing more than 2 billion search queries a month on a regular basis. The numbers are small in comparison to Google’s 5 billion daily search queries but it’s a positive sign that users are looking for alternatives.

The numbers are still too small. Why is anyone who reads this still using Google? It is incredibly trivial to switch. More important, you will find that you are getting better information in your searches, as DuckDuckGo does not play favorites nor does it squelch results from some websites because it disagrees with their politics.

And best of all, your privacy will be better protected.

Today’s blacklisted conservative: Lawyer who represented Trump fired by university

They’re coming for you next: A lawyer who both represented Trump in his legal challenges to the November 3rd vote count as well as gave a public speech in support of Trump has been fired by his university.

Chapman University President Daniele Struppa promptly denounced Eastman for engaging in constitutionally protected free speech. Struppa accused Eastman in a Jan. 8 statement of playing “a role in the tragic events in Washington, D.C., that jeopardized our democracy. … Eastman’s actions are in direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution. He has now put Chapman in the position of being publicly disparaged for the actions of a single faculty member, and for what many call my failure to punish and fire him,” Struppa wrote.

Struppa also said, “This week has also demonstrated that this country has a great deal of work to do for social justice and equity.”

Lisa Leitz, a professor of peace studies at Chapman, was one of 169 faculty members who signed an open letter addressed to the university demanding Eastman be fired. She told a local media outlet that Eastman’s appearance at the rally and his Trump campaign activities have damaged the university. “It associates us with a racist insurrection against the U.S. democracy, and it undermines the credibility of every faculty member,” she said.

On Jan. 13, Struppa announced that a settlement had been reached with Eastman and that he would be leaving his post “effective immediately.”

And what exactly did this man do? Nothing illegal, that’s for sure. All he did was express his opinion, in public, and then take action as a lawyer to represent his client.

I plan on posting one of these “newly blacklisted” stories daily for as long as they keep happening. Sadly, I already have a backlog. I could be reporting these stories of oppression and blacklisting I think for the next four years, daily, without any trouble at all. That is assuming of course they don’t come after me and get this website shut down, something I fully expect is a possibility in the next four years.

And remember, these attacks against outspoken conservatives are only a precursor for when these thugs come after you, no matter who you are. You might not be speaking out publicly, but you have had the temerity to read this material, something that the cultural dictators who now rule us cannot allow.

More evidence Mars’s glaciers formed across many ice ages

The uncertainty of science: New research using the boulders found on the top of Martian glaciers has now strengthened the evidence that Mars must have undergone many previous ice age cycles going back as much as 800 million years, with those glaciers waxing and waning during each cycle.

This new data helps map the cycles earlier than 20 million years ago, which have been difficult to map out based solely on the orbital data available from Earth and from Mars orbit. The results suggest that before then there were from six to twenty additional cycles during the last 300 to 800 million years.

These numbers are decidedly uncertain. It is likely that there were many more cycles, as suggested by the many layers seen at the edges of the north and south polar ice caps.

Be aware as well that if you read the press release you should know that it falsely implies that this research is the first to map out these ice age cycles. This is not true. All this research has done is provide more evidence for cycles prior to 20 million years ago, cycles that scientists have long believed must have happened based on other data.

In the end, for us to map out the full climate history of Mars will require numerous ice core samples at the planet’s poles, something that will not be possible until people are living and working on Mars routinely.

Mysterious colors on Mars, near the landing site of Europe’s rover

Mysterious colors on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! Today the science team for the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) released a new captioned image, which I have cropped and reduced to post here to the right.

The photo was taken October 12, 2020, and shows a small very colorful area on top of an isolated hill. To quote the caption, written by Sharon Wilson:

An isolated, elongated mound (about 1 mile wide and 3.75 miles long) rises above the smooth, surrounding plains. Horizontal layers are exposed at the northern end of the mound, and its surface is characterized by a very unusual quasi-circular pattern with varying colors that likely reflect diverse mineral compositions.

…The origin of this mound is unknown, but its formation may be related to the clay-bearing rocks in the nearby Oxia Planum region.

» Read more

Chang’e-5’s lunar samples less dense than expected

Because the lunar samples retrieved by China’s Chang’e-5 probe were less dense than expected, it ended up recovering only 3.8 pounds of material rather than the targeted 4.4 pounds.

The probe had estimated the lunar rocks to have a density of 1.6 grams per cubic millimetre, based on data from past missions by other countries, said Pei Zhaoyu, the mission spokesman. Going by that figure, the probe stopped taking samples after just 12 hours, apparently assessing that the target had been reached. “However, from tests, the actual density might not be that high,” Pei told reporters.

This is not a failure, but a discovery. In order to make sure the lander did not recover too much material, weighing too much, they needed to set limits based on the expected weight of the material recovered. That these samples taken from the Mons Rümker volcano complex are lighter than expected reveals something about them. It suggests the lava here was different than lava samples taken elsewhere.

Today’s new member of the blacklist: conservative radio host Robert Pratt

Without warning the marketing heads of the corporation that manages the radio stations that air the conservative Pratt on Texas radio show for the past fifteen years announced today they were cancelling the program, despite its profitable status and high ratings.

Robert Pratt’s comments on this decision:

Since I began the program, in April of 2006 taking the time slot of the syndicated Michael Reagan show, Pratt on Texas has more than paid the show’s way increasing TM’s take during the time slot significantly. It was setup that way with Clear Channel in 2006; if successful it was to be a complete win-win proposition and if not it would fold.

And thanks to each of you, I had it confirmed Friday night, that ratings for Pratt on Texas are as great as ever. We have consistently been not just the top talk or news program in our base KFYO market in “afternoon drive,” we have generally been the top, second, or third spot with our intended adult demographic, in all radio formats, in each ratings book for 14 years – almost unheard of. But those things are not valued in Cancel Culture because the goal is to have fewer hear differences of opinion, not more.

Despite what one TM employee has intimated this weekend to a former TM employ, there has been no contractual or other dispute between TM and Perstruo Texas, Inc. (Perstruo Texas, Inc. is the entity that owns and contracted with TM to provide Pratt on Texas and of which I am an employee and officer.)

So no, there is no money losing, no sagging ratings, nor business disputes (other than the cancellation executed Friday night of course.)

Understand that Cancel Culture doesn’t care about money. Cancel Culture is about advancing a political agenda and operates outside of the idea of making money and being successful financially. The goal is to marginalize, at minimum, and to de-platform and destroy the ability of opposing viewpoints from reaching an audience.

Post election certification, Cancel Culture has rapidly grown beyond its roots in social media to include all forms of media and political thought sharing. It will flourish without mass opposition.

I have no doubt this is the reason behind this decision as well, based on numerous discussions I’ve had with other conservative media people. They are scared, they have ample evidence that the fascist left is coming for them, and they don’t know what to do about it.

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