Category Archives: Points of Information

China reveals its space station launch schedule

The new colonial movement: According to its chief designer, China will complete the assembly of its first multi-module space station over a two year period beginning in early 2021.

The first module for the Chinese space station will launch next year, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s human spaceflight program, on the sidelines of a political conference in Beijing Tuesday. Launch of the Tianhe core module on a Long March 5B could take place at Wenchang in early 2021. This will be followed by a crewed Shenzhou flight, from Jiuquan, and a Tianzhou cargo mission. The first of two experiment modules will then launch for docking with Tianhe.

In total 11 launches will be conducted to complete the construction of the space station by around 2023, Zhou said (Chinese). These will be the launch of the core and two experiment modules, as well as four crewed spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft. The intensive launch plan was revealed following the successful test flight of the Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket May 5. The missions will be conducted using Long March 5B, Long March 2F and Long March 7 launch vehicles.

They will first launch in 2020 their Mars Tianwen-1 orbiter/lander/rover and their Chang’e-5 lunar sample mission, both using the Long March 5B rocket.

Unless they experience a launch failure along the way, I expect this schedule to occur, as outlined.

Let’s fantasize: If SpaceX can get Starship/Super Heavy operational by 2023 (the company’s present somewhat unrealistic goal), they could send it up to swallow the station whole and bring it back to Earth, just like a James Bond movie.

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New Starship engine test; launch license issued

Capitalism in space: Yesterday SpaceX completed a new static fire engine test of its fourth Starship prototype while also obtaining a two-year launch license from the FAA for a future short up-and-down test hops

SpaceX briefly fired up the single Raptor engine of Starship SN4, the latest prototype of the company’s Mars-colonizing spaceship. The Raptor blazed for a few seconds while the SN4 remained tethered to the ground at SpaceX’s facilities near the South Texas village of Boca Chica. It was the fourth “static fire” test for the SN4, and the second with this particular Raptor engine. The previous static fire blazed a little hot, scorching the base of the spacecraft, but the flames seemed to behave themselves this time around.

Musk has said he wants to take the SN4 out for a spin soon, on an uncrewed test flight to a target altitude of about 500 feet (150 meters). With four static fires now in the books, SN4 seems poised to take that leap. But the prototype won’t get off the ground before Demo-2 does. “I have redirected SpaceX’s priorities to be very focused on the crew launch,” Musk told Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Irene Klotz recently. “As a rough guess, I think we’re a few weeks away from a hop.”

SpaceX has its paperwork in order to take Starship prototypes pretty high up, by the way. Today [now yesterday], the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation issued the company a two-year license to launch suborbital flights from the Boca Chica site.

Note that whatever caused the fire that occurred in the previous static fire test has apparently been identified and quickly resolved.

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Rocket Lab to resume launches in June

Capitalism in space: With the New Zealand government finally lifting some of the Wuhan panic restrictions it imposed on its population, Rocket Lab has announced that it will resume launches in June.

The company announced May 28 it has rescheduled an Electron launch for June 11 local time from its launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. That launch was previously scheduled for March 30 but postponed because of a lockdown imposed by the New Zealand government in response to the pandemic.

The launch, called “Don’t Stop Me Now” by the company, has the same set of payloads as what the company originally announced in March. That includes three unidentified payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office, the ANDESITE (Ad-hoc Network Demonstration for Extended Satellite-based Inquiry and other Team Endeavors) cubesat built by students at Boston University and whose launch was arranged by NASA, and M2 Pathfinder built by the University of New South Wales Canberra.

I suspect that, because the launch business is normally filled with delays that can extend to two months, Rocket Lab has weathered this situation better than many others.

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Weather for Saturday’s SpaceX launch is presently poor

The weather for Saturday’s SpaceX launch presently gives only a 40% chance of launch.

Forecasters from the 45th Weather Squadron have issued a slightly more pessimistic outlook for the next two Crew Dragon launch opportunities Saturday and Sunday.

There’s now a 60 percent probability of weather conditions at the launch site violating one of the criteria for liftoff for launch opportunities at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT) Saturday and at 3:00 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) Sunday, according to the weather team.

The worst part is that the weather doesn’t look good for either day.

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Doctors admit: Masks are nothing more than “symbols”, do little

Researchers admit masks are nothing more than “symbols”, and may in the end increase the risk of catching the coronavirus, or other diseases.

From the original New England Journal of Medicine paper:

A mask will not protect providers caring for a patient with active Covid-19 if it’s not accompanied by meticulous hand hygiene, eye protection, gloves, and a gown. A mask alone will not prevent health care workers with early Covid-19 from contaminating their hands and spreading the virus to patients and colleagues. Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from implementing more fundamental infection-control measures. [emphasis mine]

The paper than bluntly concludes that masks are really no more than a “talisman” and a symbol for influencing others to do what the mask-wearer wants.

Masks are visible reminders of an otherwise invisible yet widely prevalent pathogen and may remind people of the importance of social distancing and other infection-control measures.

It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals. Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask, particularly in light of the worldwide mask shortage, but it is difficult to get clinicians to hear this message in the heat of the current crisis. Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety, over and above whatever role they may play in reducing transmission of Covid-19.

I am sick and tired of being forced to do empty, feel-good gestures that actually increase my risk, and do nothing except advance the political agendas of fools who are guided only by emotion and irrationality.

I will not wear a mask under these conditions, and I will tell anyone that tries to force to do it to go jump in a lake.

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Poll: Hawaiians favor construction of TMT by wide margins

A new poll suggests that Hawaii’s general population supports the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) by a 2 to 1 margins, 61% in favor, 32% opposed.

The poll also found wide opposition to the goals and tactics of the protesters, as well as the failure of the state government under Democratic Governor David Ige to stop those protesters from illegally blocking construction.

  • 92 percent of Hawaii residents agree there should be a way for science and Hawaiian culture both to exist on Maunakea
  • 80 percent of Hawaii residents agree that peaceful protests are fine but have no tolerance for protests that result in laws being broken
  • 79 percent of Hawaii residents agree that the government is responsible for providing safe construction access to the TMT site

None of this really matters. Ige and the Democrats who run Hawaii support the bigoted beliefs of the protesters, who want all non-native residents and their projects removed from Hawaii, while imposing a rule controlled solely by these so-called native Hawaiians.

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A Martian crater with a straight edge

A mis-shapened crater on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The image to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was released today by the science team of the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a small Martian crater whose northern rim for some reason is flattened into a straight line. Such a crater is rare, since almost all craters rims are round, even in the case of a low angle impact. The cause is unknown, though there are theories. From the caption, written by Ingrid Daubar of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Arizona:

One possibility is that there was a zone of joints or faults in the crust that existed before the impact. When the impact happened, the crater formed along the straight line of these faults. Something similar happened to Meteor Crater in Arizona. Our image doesn’t show any faults, but they could be beneath the surface.

Perhaps some sort of uneven collapse changed the shape of the crater. There are piles of material on the crater’s floor, especially in the northwest and northeast corners. If those piles fell down from the rim, why did it happen there and not in other places? This crater is near the size where larger craters start to show wall slumping and terraces, so this type of collapse could be occurring unevenly.

The crater is located in the southern cratered highlands of Mars, at about 32 degrees latitude. At that latitude, it is also possible that some past glacial activity could have misshapen this crater, though I have no idea how. The crater itself does not appear to have any glacial material in it.

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New observations confirm Earth-like planet orbiting nearest star

Worlds without end: New observations have confirmed the existence of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri, only 4.2 light years away..

The planet, Proxima b, is estimated to have a mass 1.17 of Earth’s, and orbit the star every 11.2 days. Based on that orbit, the planet is also in the star’s habitable zone. Whether there is life there however remains unknown.

Although Proxima b is about 20 times closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun, it receives comparable energy, so that its surface temperature could mean that water (if there is any) is in liquid form in places and might, therefore, harbour life.

Having said that, although Proxima b is an ideal candidate for biomarker research, there is still a long way to go before we can suggest that life has been able to develop on its surface. In fact, the Proxima star is an active red dwarf that bombards its planet with X rays, receiving about 400 times more than the Earth. “Is there an atmosphere that protects the planet from these deadly rays?” asks Christophe Lovis, a researcher in UNIGE’s Astronomy Department and responsible for ESPRESSO’s scientific performance and data processing. “And if this atmosphere exists, does it contain the chemical elements that promote the development of life (oxygen, for example)? How long have these favourable conditions existed? We’re going to tackle all these questions.

The research data also suggests there might be another planet in orbit around Proxima Centauri, though this conclusion is very preliminary.

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OSIRIS-REx completes close fly-over of backup sample grab site

The OSIRIS-REx science team has completed its closest fly-over of its backup sample grab location on the asteroid Bennu, getting to within about 820 feet.

The goal was to get better imagery and science data of the site, both for research and also should the planned October 20th sample-grab-and-go touchdown at the primary site, Nightingale, should fail.

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SpaceX raises $346 million more in investment capital

Capitalism in space: According to Elon Musk, SpaceX has raised an additional $346 million more in investment capital.

According to the very short article at the link, this brings the total raised during this latest fund-raising round to $567 million. This is puzzling, as in March SpaceX announced that it had raised $500 million in this round. If the company has raised an additional $346, the total should be higher.

Either way, this brings the total raised by the company to close to $2 billion, almost all of which is being dedicated to building Starship & Super Heavy. Compared to what NASA spends on SLS/Orion — about $3 billion per year with a total about $50 billion when its first manned mission occurs finally in 2024 — this is chicken feed. However, for a private company fueled by competition and good management (unlike NASA), it is likely more than enough to get the job done.

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Weird central peak in Martian crater

Textured central peak in Martian crater
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped to post here, was taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on March 18, 2020. It shows a very strange central peak in a crater on Mars. Not only does this peak stick out like a sore thumb in a relatively flat crater floor, its surface is strangely textured, patterned with what look like scallops.

The overview map below shows the area covered in the crater by the full image.

My guess is that the peak is the final impact melt from the original impact. Think of a pebble thrown into a pond. You get ripples (the crater rim) as well as an upward drop of water (the central peak). Unlike pond water, the material in a crater freezes quickly, leaving both the ripple and the upward drop frozen in place.

Close overview of crater

This peak however also reminds me of volcanic cones found in the American southwest, the remnant cone of a much larger volcano that has long ago eroded away.

The textures might be evidence of that erosion process, as they resemble scallops that wind and water erosion can cause on rock faces.

We also could be seeing dunes on the slopes themselves, though I think this is unlikely. This crater is on the edge of the vast Medusae Fossae Formation, the largest volcanic ash deposit field on Mars, as shown by the white cross on the overview map below. Thus, being on the edge of this ash field there is a lot of available dust and sand that can pile up on these slopes.

Wide Overview map

Still, the sunlight side of the ridge suggests the scallops are in bedrock, not sand dunes. And to assign their origin to either wind or water or ice erosion I think is a stretch.

So while the peak is probably the frozen melt remains of the original impact, the scallops are a geological mystery that needs unraveling.

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SpaceX’s first manned Dragon launch scrubbed due to weather

UPDATE: They were forced to scrub at T-16:54 because of weather. They will try again in three days on May 30th, at 3:22 pm (Eastern). I will post the live stream here on Behind the Black late Friday night.

Original post:
—————————-
I have embedded below SpaceX’s live stream of the first manned Dragon mission, set to launch at 4:33 pm (Eastern). The stream begins at about 12:15 pm (Eastern). Feel free to watch as the day unfolds. Sadly, it is being managed by NASA, not SpaceX, and thus is filled with a lot of the agency’s fake hype.

I have also set it to remain at the top of the page until after the launch, or if it is scrubbed.

On a side note, NASA is now aiming for an August 30 launch of SpaceX’s next manned Dragon mission, the first official operational flight.

Below the fold I am also posting images captured, with some commentary.


» Read more

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Justice Dept recommends Trump veto of FISA bill

The Justice Department yesterday recommended that President Trump veto of the new reauthorization bill of the FISA court presently working its way through Congress.

Sadly, Justice’s reasons for this recommendations is that they reject House amendments to the bill by Democrats that would weaken its ability to spy on Americans.

The bill reauthorizes three surveillance programs and makes some changes to the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But the Senate, when it took up the bill earlier this month, added language to create new legal protections for some FISA warrant applications, a change that garnered pushback from the Justice Department.

[Assistant Attorney General Stephen] Boyd said on Wednesday that the Justice Department had offered “specific fixes to the most significant problems” stemming from the changes made by the Senate but signaled that they had been ignored by House lawmakers.

Instead, the House will vote on an additional amendment to the legislation as part of its debate on Wednesday that would tighten the limits on the FBI’s ability to access Americans’ web browsing history.

Boyd warned that the Justice Department believes the proposed change from the House would “weaken national security tools while doing nothing to address the abuses identified by the DOJ Inspector General.”

The good news here is that this recommendation, as odious as its goals are, will give Trump ammunition for vetoing the bill, which in the end will end this corrupt court. And that goal should be the goal of every freedom-loving American.

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SpaceX’s first Starship tourist customer accused of tax evasion

Capitalism in space: Yusaku Maezawa, the first person to buy a ticket to fly on SpaceX’s Starship around the Moon, has now been accused in the Japanese press to have evaded $4.6 million in taxes.

The reports, which first appeared in the Yomiuri newspaper, suggested that Mr Maezawa had failed to fully declare the personal use of a corporate jet owned by his asset management firm over a three-year period.

Japan’s national tax agency declined to comment.

Maezawa has vigorously denied the allegations on Twitter.

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Virgin Orbit provides update on LauncherOne failure

Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit has posted a detailed update on the failure of its LauncherOne rocket on its first launch on May 25.

About 9 seconds after drop, something malfunctioned, causing the booster stage engine to extinguish, which in turn ended the mission. We cannot yet say conclusively what the malfunction was or what caused it, but we feel confident we have sufficient data to determine that as we continue through the rigorous investigation we’ve already begun. With the engine extinguished, the vehicle was no longer able to maintain controlled flight — but the rocket did not explode. It stayed within the predicted downrange corridors of our projections and our Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch license as the vehicle fell to the ocean, posing no risk to public safety, no danger our aircrew or aircraft, and no significant environmental impact.

They note that the rocket’s release and engine ignition went as planned, which is for them positive news. They say they their next rocket is being prepared for launch, but do not say when.

I have embedded their video report of the flight below the fold. It does include video of the rocket’s release, ignition, and shut down, but cuts off at that point.
» Read more

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OneWeb requests FCC approval for 48,000 satellite constellation

Capitalism in space: Despite declaring bankruptcy in March, the satellite communications company OneWeb has applied for an FCC license to launch as many as 48,000 satellites in its planned constellation to provide global internet access.

This suggests the company fully expects to continue operations after exiting bankruptcy procedures.

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Amazing layers

Bedrock layering in Holden Crater
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The science team for the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) today released a cool captioned image entitled “Exquisite Layering”, showing a place on the floor of Holden Crater where the dust and sand that normally covers most of the Martian surface has been wiped away, cleared off because these layers are on higher sloping terrain.

The image to the right, cropped to post here, focuses in on that exposed layering, believed to be sedimentary and must have therefore happened in the eons following the impact that caused the crater.

Overview map

The overview map to the right shows with the red box the location of this layering inside Holden Crater. The map also illustrates why this crater was considered a candidate landing site for Curiosity. Like Gale Crater, it has evidence — the large meandering canyon system flowing into the crater — that suggests it had once been filled with a water lake. These sedimentary layers support that hypothesis, suggesting that this lake was intermittent. Each time it refilled and then dried up, it laid down a new deposit of those sedimentary layers.

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Democratic election fraud documented in Texas

Link here. Multiple mail-in ballots, all filled out by the same person with the same handwriting, all from a nursing home, and all mailed at once, and all voting for the same Democratic candidates.

Nah, no election fraud to see here. Let’s go to 100% mail-in ballots so that we can protect the practically zero number of people who will die from the Wuhan flu.

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Almost all COVID-19 deaths occur in long-term nursing homes

Not only has the death rate for the Wuhan flu inflated falsely by government officials, they have obscured the fact that almost all the deaths have occurred not in the general population but within long term medical health facilities for the elderly.

Fact #1: 1.7% of the population in the US resides in long-term medical care facilities (LTMCFs) and total 5.7 million.

Fact #2: The residents of LTMCFs accounted for 38,800 or 53% of all COVID-19 deaths (based on recent data). The rest of the country, the 98.3%, have experienced approximately 34,600 deaths, or 47% of the nation’s total COVID-19 deaths.

That means the death rate, deaths expressed as a percent of those living in medical care institutions, is 0.682%, more than 50 times the death rate of the rest of the population at 0.012%. The death rate for the overall populations is 0.022%.

That should leave you speechless.

In other words, the death rate for the Wuhan flu is pretty much the same as the flu, and is really only a threat to the elderly sick. Protect that population, as Florida did, and you reduce the risk to everyone to practically nil.

Which means the demands upon us all — the lock downs, the social distancing, the requirement to wear masks — are all fake theater and are pointless in all ways but one: They give power to the thugs now running our government.

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COVID-19 deaths likely inflated by a minimum of 25%

The number of people listed daily by state governments throughout the United States are likely inflated by 25%, based on the policies from numerous different health departments.

The policy has been to count any death with even the slightest hint of the Wuhan flu, even without any tests, to be caused by it. This was discovered in Colorado when they listed a death as caused by coronavirus, when in reality it was a drunk who died from alcohol poisoning. The state was forced to change its counting system, slightly.

Colorado has switched to a dual recording system. It still keeps a broader category of “deaths among cases,” and the smaller category of “deaths due to.” But you have to go directly to its web site to see that. The number still reported to the CDC and thence to data aggregation sites like Worldometers or the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center to count Colorado deaths and U.S. deaths remains “deaths among.”

The dual system essentially amounts to an asterisk. Nevertheless, the difference is marked. The “due to” category is about a fourth smaller than the “caused by” one. And there’s no reason to think it’s different in other states. So when the nation hits the 100,000 Covid-19 death mark soon, if you subtract 25%, it would still be proportionately far less than half the 1968-1969 “Hong Kong Flu” (H3N2) which killed an estimated 100,000 Americans at the time — or 170,000 when adjusted for U.S. population increase.

And no, the economy wasn’t destroyed and constitutionally protected civil liberties suspended for the Hong Kong Flu.

Democratic Party states like Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, and others have all been found to fudge their numbers in the same way, and don’t yet make it obvious that they are doing so.

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Weather improves for tomorrow’s manned Dragon launch

Capitalism in space: The weather outlook has brightened tomorrow, increasing the chances that the SpaceX’s manned Dragon capsule will launch as scheduled.

No major technical issues of any significance were under discussion Monday, but the weather could be a factor. Forecasters initially predicted a 60% chance of a weather-related launch rule violation, but Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer with the 45th Weather Squadron, said conditions appeared to be improving somewhat. “If I was to issue the forecast today, right now we would probably be down to 40% chance of violation,” he said. “We have a bit more rain to go here and maybe another round of afternoon thunderstorms tomorrow, but … it looks like much less (cloud) coverage. So we have some hope for launch day.”

But McAleenan’s forecast does not include downrange conditions in the Atlantic Ocean along the Crew Dragon’s trajectory where Hurley and Behnken could be forced to ditch in the unlikely event of a catastrophic booster failure during the climb to space.

SpaceX managers will assess a complicated mix of weather models, high-altitude balloon data and actual wind, rain and wave data from multiple buoys along the ground track to determine whether conditions, on average, are acceptable for launch.

The launch is set for 4:33 pm. I will embed SpaceX’s live stream here on Behind the Black tomorrow earlier in the day, when things begin..

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LauncherOne flight terminates early

Capitalism in space: The first demo flight of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket ended almost immediately after the rocket made a clean separation from its 747 first stage.

Cosmic Girl took off just before 12 PM PT (3 PM ET) from Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. The aircraft was piloted by Chief Test Pilot Kelly Latimer, along with her co-pilot Todd Ericson. The aircraft then flew to its target release point, where LauncherOne did manage a “clean release” from the carrier craft as planned at around 12:50 PM PT (3:50 PM ET), but Virgin noted just a few minutes later that the mission was subsequently “terminated.”

No one was hurt in the failure, but no word yet on what happened.

They had warned that this first test flight might not reach orbit. Nor should anyone be surprised, as first flights of rockets often fail. Nonetheless, this failure will hurt the company effort to gain launch contracts.

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Launch date for UAE’s Hope Mars orbiter set

The new colonial movement: Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have set the launch date for UAE’s Hope Mars orbiter, now scheduled for July 15 with a launch window that closes on August 13.

If all goes well it will enter Mars orbit in February 2021.

The probe is a UAE project in name only. Much of it was built in the U.S. by U.S. companies, working with UAE engineers and scientists. It is also being launched by Japan.

Regardless, the training and knowledge obtained by those UAE engineers and scientists is the real point of the mission. The UAE wants to diversify its economy away from oil, and it is trying to use the excitement of space exploration to do it. It hopes these engineers and scientists will use what they learned to come up with new projects that in the future will be built entirely in the UAE.

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Russia says it will oppose Artemis Accords

My heart be still: Roscosmos head Dmitri Rogozin declared today that Russia “will not, in any case, accept any attempts to privatize the Moon.”

“It is illegal, it runs counter to international law,” Rogozin pointed out.

The Roscosmos CEO emphasized that Russia would begin the implementation of a lunar program in 2021 by launching the Luna-25 spacecraft to the Moon. Roscosmos intends to launch the Luna-26 spacecraft in 2024. After that, the Luna-27 lander will be sent to the Moon to dig up regolith and carry out research on the lunar surface.

Rogozin is doing the equivalent of a 2-year-old’s temper tantrum. Being a top-down authoritarian culture that likes to centralize power with those in charge, Russia doesn’t like Trump’s effort to regularize private enterprise and private property in space, including the administration’s new requirement that any international partner in its Artemis Moon program must agree to that effort.

Russia would rather we maintain the status quo as defined by the Outer Space Treaty, with no private property in space and everything controlled by UN bureaucrats and regulations, who are in turn controlled by the leaders from authoritarian places like Russia.

If Russia wants into Artemis, however, it looks like they will have to bend to the Trump accords. Or they will have to build their own independent space effort, competing with ours. Their problem is that their own program has been incredibly lame for the past twenty years, unable to get any new spacecraft or interplanetary mission off the ground.

Maybe the competition will help Russia, as it did in space in the 1960s. Or maybe they will simply help Biden get elected, and then all will be well! That brainless puppet will be glad to do the bidding of Russia and China, and will almost certainly dismantle Trump’s policies in favor of private enterprise.

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More good news on the Wuhan flu front

Two stories today suggest again that there is no reason to fear COVID-19, especially if you are healthy and young.

The first story suggests that social distancing, masks, and the incessant cleaning of surfaces are ridiculous over-reactions and likely unnecessary. Nor am I surprised. We have always had similar expectations from all other flu-like illnesses, and have never required these paranoid requirements in the past. It is time for them to stop.

The second story provides more evidence that the epidemic is dying, as predicted and like all similar flu-like epidemics.

The team has recruited 10,000 people to test the vaccine, some of whom will be given the vaccine and others a placebo. But as it is unethical to purposely infect people in the trial with COVID-19, participants will be asked to go about their normal routine in the expectation that some will be exposed to it naturally. However, that is unlikely to happen if the virus is not spreading, meaning that no conclusions can be drawn one way or the other about the vaccine’s efficacy.

Hill expects that fewer than 50 people in the test population will catch the virus, but if less than 20 test positive the results may be useless “It is a race, yes. But it’s not a race against the other guys,” he said. “It’s a race against the virus disappearing – and against time. We said earlier in the year that there was an 80% chance of developing an effective vaccine by September. But at the moment, there’s a 50% chance that we get no result at all.

Let me repeat this: They have 10,000 volunteers, and expect fewer than 50 of those to get infected with the Wuhan flu. In other words, this seasonal epidemic is going away, as such things do. It might return in the fall, but expect that return to be smaller, and hopefully if some government officials get their brains out of their behinds and focus on protecting the sick elderly, it will have little impact.

In any case, the evidence continues to point to the end of the epidemic, and in the process the discovery that the virus is relatively harmless to almost everyone. People have got to relax and stop being so afraid. It is not the bogey-man the press and the politicians have claimed it to be.

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Court rules fossils belong to landowners

The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that any fossils found on private land belong to exclusively to the landowners, and that no rights accrue to any owners of the land’s mineral rights.

The Montana Supreme Court this week ruled that fossils are not legally the same as minerals such as gold or copper. Therefore, Montana fossils, including a dramatic specimen of two dinosaurs buried together, belong to people who own the land where they are found, rather than to the owners of the minerals underneath that land.

The 4-3 decision upholds the way U.S. scientists have long approached questions of fossil ownership. It appears to defuse a potentially explosive 2018 ruling by the federal 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that fossils went to the owners of mineral rights.

The outcome is a win for scientists who had warned that tying fossils to mineral rights could make it harder to get permission to excavate and could throw into doubt who owns fossils already on display, says David Polly, an Indiana University paleontologist and past president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Because the earlier 2018 federal court decision was later appealed and the court then referred the case to Montana’s Supreme Court, this decision settles the dispute nationally as well.

That absurd 2018 9th Court of Appeals decision illustrates how insane that specific federal court had become, packed with many radical leftist and partisan Democratic judges. In the past three years however the balance of that court has been significantly changed, so expect fewer such crazy rulings.

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Florida’s successful response to COVID-19, based on the DATA

This review of the success of Florida’s government, led by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, in containing the Wuhan flu epidemic while not shutting down his state unnecessarily, can be summed up with this one quote from the article:

So how did DeSantis go about responding to the epidemic? It began with the data.

At the outset, DeSantis looked at South Korea’s experience, Then there was Italy: “I think the median age of fatality was something like 82 in some of those areas in Northern Italy … That really helped inform the strategy to focus most of our efforts on the at-risk groups.”

The DeSantis team also didn’t put much stock in dire projections. Instead, “we started really focusing on just what we saw.” [emphasis mine]

What the DeSantis team did was focus on protecting the elderly population, as shown by the data, while allowing the rest of the younger population to pretty much go about their business.

At the same time, Florida was giving its counties latitude in how they reacted to the crisis. “I said from the beginning,” DeSantis explains, “we’re a big, diverse state. Even at this point, 60 percent of our cases have come from just three counties.”

DeSantis issued his own statewide order, but he argues that it was more flexible and less prescriptive than those of other states. “We basically had businesses operating. We had the day cares open, we had recreation open, and my order never actually closed any businesses. We allowed them to operate within the context of just limiting contact between people outside the household.” [emphasis mine]

If only more governors had taken this common sense, rational approach, based on the available data, not on models that were nothing more than panicked opinions of doom. Had more done this, there would have been less panic, fewer businesses nationwide destroyed, fewer old people in nursing homes dead in New York, Michigan, and other Democratically-controlled states (where their idiotic governors forced infected patients into nursing homes), and millions still employed in viable prosperous businesses.

Instead we are now faced with a possible depression, imposed on us by incompetent governors nationwide.

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