Kate Smith – God Bless America

The modern hate-mongers have attempted to cancel Kate Smith, not because she did anything wrong but because her breath-taking performance of this song, done repeatedly in all venues during her lifetime, infuriates them.

What isn’t often played, but is included in this version, is the opening verse:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

I will always swear allegiance to freedom. May my country always consider itself among the ranks of free nations.

This short film appears to blend the song’s first performance in 1940, when the U.S. was not yet in World War II, with footage showing Americans of all stripes, listening. The scenes are staged, using Hollywood actors (including future president Ronald Reagan), but the feelings and thoughts expressed are all sincere and real.

Kate Smith – God Bless America from Visual Turn on Vimeo.

The Declaration of Independence

On this day, when we celebrate the founding of the United States — a nation that for more than two centuries has been a beacon of liberty to the entire world — it is the obligation of every American to reflect again on the opening words of the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This is what our Founding Fathers gave to us, the right to pursue our own personal happiness, in freedom.

What do the rioters and protesters during the past month offer? What do they propose for future generations, as they out of blind hatred tear down statues of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and numerous war heroes who fought for this ideal?

I think too few Americans are asking these questions. I ask them, and demand that everyone else do as well. I think just asking them will help clarify the situation for all.

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

How Beautiful We Were

For Independence Day, I think this poem is worth reading to remind us what kind of country was bequeathed to us, and created, by the Founding Fathers two hundred and forty-four years ago.

It begins like so:

A short list. In no particular order.

We told our children that any child could grow up to be President. And then we made it come true.

We had car shows, boat shows, beauty shows and dog shows.

We ran robots on the surface of Mars by remote control.

Our women came from all over the world in all shapes and sizes and hues and scents.

We actually believed that all men are created equal and tried to make it come true.

Everybody liked our movies and loved our television shows.

We tried to educate everybody, whether they wanted it or not. Sometimes we succeeded.

We did Levis.

We held the torch high and hundreds of millions came. No matter what the cost.

We saved Europe twice and liberated it once.

We believed so deeply and so abidingly in free speech that we protected and honored and, in some cases, even elected traitors.

We let you be as freaky as you wanted to be.

Read it all, to remind yourself of the refreshing possibilities that freedom bestows. It truly allows everyone, as it says at the base of the Statue of Liberty, to breathe free.

Midnight repost: The Fantasy of Extreme Weather

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: The science described in this essay, posted originally on April 11, 2013 remains even today entirely accurate. Worse, the story illustrates the exact same kind of obtuse refusal to deal with reality that has put us today in the midst of a panic over a relatively minor seasonal virus.

Unfortunately, the links to the first two articles that I reference no longer work.

—————————–
The Fantasy of Extreme Weather

This week there were three stories describing new research proving that global warming is going to cause an increase in the number and violence of extreme weather events. Each was published in one of the world’s three most important scientific journals.

Sounds gloomy, doesn’t it? Not only will extreme heatwaves, cold waves, and droughts tear apart the very fabric of society, you will not be able to drink your soda in peace on your next airplane ride!

However, one little detail, buried in one of these stories as a single sentence, literally makes hogwash out of everything else said in these three articles.
» Read more

Leaving Earth cover

In March I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I quickly sold 10, and with only 20 left in stock I am raising the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to
 

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652
 

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!


  Also available as an inexpensive ebook!
 

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, is now available as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 


Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

Thomas Jefferson — The meaning of the Declaration of Independence

An evening pause: Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, in which lovers of freedom and individual rights celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, where by this nation committed itself forever to providing its citizens “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Those words were written by Thomas Jefferson. In tonight’s evening pause, Steve Edenbo as Thomas Jefferson recites Jefferson’s thoughts on the meaning of his own words, taken from a letter he wrote just prior to the 50th anniversary of that signing in 1826, and mere weeks from his death.

May true Americans never stop honoring these words, and that man.

Are health agencies changing criteria to fake higher COVID-19 infection numbers?

This link provides evidence that Texas health officials have changed how they determine the number of people infected with the Wuhan flu by loosening that definition to include anyone who has had any contact with a proven infected person, without bothering with any tests.

In the example the health department itself gives to describe how the definition changes things, the number of infected goes from only one person to seventeen. There have been other stories suggesting the same kind of manipulation in the causes of death is occurring in other states, in New York and New Jersey, as well as Colorado, to name just three.

Covid daily U.S. deaths through July 3, 2020

The press and many politicians are now using the new higher infection rates to warn that a second wave of deaths is about to descend upon us. Since the actual number of daily deaths from the Wuhan flu is actually not rising significantly, as shown in the graph to the right, and has not been rising even though the increase in cases started several weeks ago, these cries by them that the sky is falling are obviously not true. (Note that the sudden spikes of deaths on May 7 and June 25 are because New York and New Jersey suddenly added a whole slew of new deaths, under suspicious circumstances.)

I myself am glad they are widening the definition so that it includes so many more people. I say, widen that definition even more, so that it will quickly include practically everyone in the nation. At that point we shall finally realize maybe that this epidemic is not the threat these dishonest health officials, the lying leftist press, and our corrupt politicians have been making it.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 
The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

A hanging crater on Mars

Hanging crater
Click for full image.

Overview

Cool image time! The image to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on May 1, 2020, and shows a truly intriguing crater that they dub a “Crater Hanging on Mesa Wall.”

Located in Deuteronilus Mensae, a chaos region of mesas and cross-crossing canyons in the transition zone between the northern lowland plains and the southern cratered highlands, the crater literally overhangs the edge of this canyon’s cliff. The overview map to the right, with this location indicated by the red box, illustrates what this region’s geology is like.

The most likely explanation is that the impact occurred prior to the creation of the canyon, and when the canyon eroded, the material in and of this crater was more resistant, probably because the impact had packed it together to increase its density.

At the same time, the features inside both craters in the photo, as well as below them on the floor of the canyon, suggest the presence of buried glaciers, something not unlikely at the 45 degree north latitude where this crater sits.

So, here’s a guess at the geological history. First we had the impact, then during the eons of glacial ebb and flow on Mars due to wide swings in the planet’s obliquity (its rotational tilt), the canyon was cut, with that erosion leaving the crater sitting high above the canyon floor below it.

One more curious detail: The material in the canyon seems asymmetric, suggesting that the crater actually dips down toward the canyon, as if it as a unit has tilted to the east as the canyon was worn out below it.

NPR: “Coronavirus is more common and less deadly”

From that paranoid rightwing news outlet National Public Radio (NPR): “Mounting evidence suggests the coronavirus is more common and less deadly than it first appeared.”

The tests are finding large numbers of people in the U.S. who were infected but never became seriously ill. And when these mild infections are included in coronavirus statistics, the virus appears less dangerous.

“The current best estimates for the infection fatality risk are between 0.5% and 1%,” says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

That’s in contrast with death rates of 5% or more based on calculations that included only people who got sick enough to be diagnosed with tests that detect the presence of virus in a person’s body.

It must be noted that the early data (from March 17) did not show a death rate of 5% as NPR claims, but one exactly in the range that NPR is now touting, about 1%, and even that number was thought to be a high estimate at the time.

Of course, you would not have known that if you depended on your news from NPR, or most other mainstream leftist news sources. Once they realized they could use this virus to gin up a panic that could be used politically, suddenly the Wuhan flu was the next plague, with death tolls expected in the millions.

The death rate number of 0.5% to 1% is still about five to ten times higher than the annual flu, but since there is substantial evidence that the number of COVID-19 deaths has been inflated by 25 to 50 percent, we should not be surprised if this new death rate number drops even more with the accumulation of more data.

New storm outbreak on Jupiter

Clyde's Spot
Click for full image.

A new storm, dubbed Clyde’s spot after its discoverer, developed suddenly in late May on Jupiter, and has been imaged by Juno during its most recent close fly-by of the gas giant planet.

The image to the right, cropped to post here, focuses in on this spot. It is the feature in the center of the full image, with the Great Red Spot to the upper left.

The new feature was discovered by amateur astronomer Clyde Foster of Centurion, South Africa. Early on the morning of May 31, 2020, while imaging Jupiter with his telescope, Foster noticed a new spot, which appeared bright as seen through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of light where methane gas in Jupiter’s atmosphere has strong absorption. The spot was not visible in images captured just hours earlier by astronomers in Australia.

On June 2, 2020, just two days after Clyde Foster’s observations, Juno performed its 27th close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft can only image a relatively thin slice of Jupiter’s cloud tops during each pass. Although Juno would not be travelling directly over the outbreak, the track was close enough that the mission team determined the spacecraft would obtain a detailed view of the new feature, which has been informally dubbed “Clyde’s Spot.”

The feature is a plume of cloud material erupting above the upper cloud layers of the Jovian atmosphere. These powerful convective “outbreaks” occasionally erupt in this latitude band, known as the South Temperate Belt

The coolest thing about this is that the storm was spotted by an amateur, using a ground-based telescope, within hours of its inception.

LightSail-2 extends mission

Capitalism in space: The Planetary Society’s satellite designed to test the use of a light sail in orbit, LightSail-2, has now begun an extended mission one year after launch.

It appears that they have successfully used the light sail to delay the decay of the satellite’s orbit, as well as change that orbit slightly. The extension will thus allow them to get a better and more exact understanding of the sail’s capabilities, information NASA will use in its own solar sail demonstration mission, NEA Scout, a cubesat that will use a solar sail to fly to an asteroid.

United Kingdom partnership buys bankrupt OneWeb

Capitalism in space? A partnership between the UK government and an Indian company operating in the UK has purchased the bankrupt satellite company OneWeb for $1 billion.

The decision for the U.K. government to purchase OneWeb came with few details about when satellite launches will resume and exactly what the OneWeb satellites will now be used for and even who will have access to them once launched.

The overall deal is worth $1 billion USD, with the U.K. government and Bharti Enterprises Ltd. (an Indian-based company with an operational arm in the U.K.) each committing $500 million USD to the acquisition deal.

The buy-out is expected to close by the end of the year and will represent a 90% overall stake in OneWeb, with the organization’s original investors maintaining a 10% share according to reports from Bloomberg News.

The Johnson government has indicated it wishes to use the OneWeb constellation, still incomplete, as some sort of navigational tool, like GPS. The problem is that the satellites were not designed for this, but for providing internet service.

The article provides a good overview of the questions raised by this government decision. It is hard to figure how this purchase makes sense for the UK government. The impact however on one of OneWeb’s launch providers, Russia, could be very negative. OneWeb was going use a lot of Soyuz rockets to get its satellites off the ground, and had become practically the only commercial customer Russia still has. It is unclear what will happen now with that contract deal.

Midnight repost: “What ever you do, don’t ‘shut up.'”

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Tonight’s midnight repost is actually something not by me, but a video commentary by Andrew Klavan that he broadcast in 2011 and I embedded as a post in January of that year.

Sadly, his words have not become dated in the slightest. If anything, they has become more topical. And as then, I abide by his final words, “Whatever you do, don’t ‘shut up.””

Courts twice today rule against COVID-19 over reach

Two positive court decisions today, both throwing out attempts by Democrats to use the panic over the Wuhan flu to nullify the U.S. legal system.

The first story outlines the court’s blunt ruling that the Democratic governor of Illinois abused his power when he extended both in restrictions and time the statewide lock downs he had imposed because of the Wuhan flu.

Illinois Circuit Court Judge Mike McHaney ruled on Thursday that Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois had no lawful authority to declare endless disasters past the initial thirty days. Ruling on a lawsuit filed by State House Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Ill.), Judge McHaney wrote, “The court declares that Defendant had no constitutional authority as Governor to restrict a citizen’s movement or activities and/or forcibly close business premises in EO 32.”

The ruling however included this loophole: “The judge also clarified that the lawful authority belongs to the Health Department in a time of health crisis and not the governor.” In other words, the elected official’s power is limited, but the power of unelected health department officials is not. This means that in the end, the ruling will become worthless.

In the second story, the Supreme Court rejected a lower court ruling that exempted some voters in Alabama from presenting voter identification when they voted.

We are sitting on a knife edge. The courts might rule in favor of the rule of law, but many will instead go with the wishes of the partisan Democrats, who clearly want to impose these restrictions to stamp their boot on the population, while loosening voter rules so that they can more easily submit many more fake ballots.

Arianespace delays Vega launch seven more weeks

Arianespace announced yesterday that it has pushed back its first Vega rocket launch since the spring of 2019 (when the rocket failed) for seven more weeks, until August 17, 2020.

They had been trying to get the rocket off the ground this past week, but had been forced to scub several times because of high winds. They claim this long new delay is to wait until the weather improves, which really doesn’t make sense. Eric Berger at Ars Technica did some digging to find that other scheduling issues, including the odious lock down rules because of the Wuhan panic, were the really reason for the additional seven week delay. They have to recharge the batteries on the rocket, but don’t have time to do it before another launch is set to occur.

This process appears to involve customer representatives flying into French Guiana to perform this task, and there is a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the non-European part of France that borders Brazil.

Finally, Arianespace also has a commercial satellite launch mission upcoming on its larger Ariane 5 rocket, and this VA253 flight has been scheduled for July 28. Because there is a minimum of a two-week turnaround time between launches at the spaceport in French Guiana, there was not time to reset the Vega rocket and its payloads before this mission.

With these rules and launch limitations, Arianespace is going to have increasing problems competing with the newer launch companies, all of whom are aiming, like SpaceX, to have almost instantaneous launch turn-arounds.

Defense Department cancels small rocket contract awards

The Department of Defense yesterday withdrew the small contracts it had given to six small rocket companies on June 16 using funds allocated to help companies impacted by the Wuhan flu panic lock downs.

According to multiple industry sources, the selection of the six companies drew widespread criticism because it was unclear how these suppliers were selected over others. When contracts are awarded without an open competition, DoD by law has to file a “Justification & Approval” document explaining why an award was sole-sourced. No J&A documents were filed in this case.

This certainly appears fishy, as there are far more than six startups trying to capture market share in the smallsat launch market. Defense could now allow companies to competitively bid on this money, estimated to be about $115 million total, but it is unclear whether it will.

China announces target launch date for its Tianwen-1 Mars rover

The new colonial movement: According to a new report out of Singapore, China has set July 20-25 as the launch window for its Mars orbiter/lander/rover mission, dubbed Tianwen-1.

Should they meet this date, it means they will launch before Perseverance, arriving at Mars about the same time, in February 2021. And like Perseverance, this launch window closes this summer, and if they can’t meet it they will have to wait two years.

Blue Origin delivers its first BE-4 rocket engine

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin this week delivered its first BE-4 rocket engine to ULA, for use in ULA’s new Vulcan rocket.

This engine is still a test article and is not yet flight-worthy.

“The engine delivered is the first pathfinder engine to be mated with the Vulcan Centaur and will support ULA’s testing,” a Blue Origin spokesperson told SpaceNews. “We are planning on delivering the second engine in July.” A pathfinder is a development engine. Blue Origin has not said when a flight-qualified engine will be delivered.

…ULA set a 2021 target to fly its first Vulcan Centaur mission and needs two production-quality engines to build the launch vehicle for that mission. Flying Vulcan Centaur in 2021 is an imperative for ULA as it tries to win one of two contracts that the U.S. Space Force will award this summer to launch dozens of national security satellites between 2022 and 2027.

According to sources, frustration has been mounting at ULA as the company’s future is tied to the success of Vulcan Centaur and there is no room for error when it comes to the main engine.

I empathize with ULA’s frustration. The pace of development at Blue Origin has seemed incredibly slow in the past two years. They had begun static fire tests in 2018, and then — beginning with ULA’s decision to buy the BE-4 for Vulcan in May 2018 — for more than a year there was no news. It wasn’t until August 2019 that they announced completion of the first full power test. Even then, it took another whole year before they got to this point now, where they were willing to deliver a first test engine to ULA.

Building a new rocket engine is not simple, so these delays could be entirely reasonable. At the same time, the company’s overall pace in accomplishing anything has been glacial. For example, in the past three years it has repeatedly not delivered on its promises to start flying humans on its New Shepard suborbital capsule. Four months ago, in their most recent promise, they said they would need three more unmanned test flights of New Shepard before they’d put humans on it, and that all those flights (including the manned one) would occur this year. Yet nothing has happened since.

While I truly want Blue Origin to succeed, one must cast a cold eye on what is really happening. If they wish to really compete with SpaceX they have got to pick up their pace.

Midnight repost: Behind the Black

In celebration of the tenth anniversary the Behind the Black, I will each evening at midnight this month repost an earlier essay or article posted on the website sometime during the past ten years. Since I have posted more than 22,000 times since I started this website in July of 2010, I have plenty of good stuff to choose from. The thirty reposts over the next month will highlight some of the best.

We begin with what is really the only Easter Egg on Behind the Black, as it has sat as a unheralded link dubbed only Behind the Black on the main page since the website’s beginning. That link takes you to the following essay, excerpted and adapted from the final afterword in the paperback edition of my book about the Hubble Space Telescope, The Universe in a Mirror.

It explains much about my goals in all that I write.
————————————
Behind the Black

At the end of the last spacewalk during this last servicing mission to Hubble, astronaut John Grunsfeld took a few moments to reflect on Hubble’s importance. This was Grunsfeld’s third spaceflight and eighth spacewalk to Hubble, and no one had been more passionate or dedicated in his effort to get all of Hubble’s repairs and upgrades completed.

“As Arthur C. Clarke says,” Grunsfeld said, “the only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.”

For most of human history, the range of each person’s experience was of a distant and unreachable horizon. This untouchable horizon defined “the limits of the possible.” No matter how far an individual traveled, there was always a forever receding horizon line of unknown territory tantalizingly out of reach before him.
» Read more

Two wedding cakes on Mars

Tall wedding cake on Mars
Click for full image.

It it time for two cool Martian images from the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Though both show features that are similar and likely had some comparable geological origins, they are located in two very different places on Mars and thus also had very different histories.

What makes them fun is how much both resemble classic tall wedding cakes, though the second has unfortunately fallen down and is no longer eatable.

The first, cropped on the right to post here, was taken on May 18, 2020, and is described by the science team as a “Tall Layered Mesa in Crater in Deuteronilus Mensae.” Deuteronilus Mensae is in the transition zone between the northern lowland plains and the southern cratered highlands, and being in the high mid-latitudes (42 degrees north) shows a lot of evidence of buried and eroded glaciers. Many of these glaciers are found inside craters.

What caused this layered mesa however to form is beyond me. It is taller than the crater in which it sits, as well as the surrounding terrain. A glacier would settle into the lowest regions, and would not last if exposed above the rim like this is. Its height suggests that the surrounding terrain was once much higher, and has been eroded away. Yet if so, why does this mesa also sit inside a depression?

The second “wedding cake” is even more intriguing, though less baffling.
» Read more

Visa blacklists business for having incorrect opinions

Capitalism in space: It appears that Visa is blacklisting Gab because it encourages free speech rather than toe the new corporate line that censors any speech the left does not like.

It also appears that Visa is also blacklisting the owner personally, as well as his family. We can’t have wrong thought in this new American nation of rules, regulations, and controlled and policed speech. Remember, persecution is now cool!

Firefly honors the man who saved it from bankruptcy

Capitalism in space: Firefly Aerospace yesterday found a very unusual and entertaining way to celebrate the 43rth birthday of Max Polykov, the investor who purchased the company during bankruptcy proceedings and then rehired everyone so that the company could come back from the dead.

They decided to use one of their rocket engines to light the candles on his birthday cake. I have embedded the video of this effort below the fold. It is very clear that everyone at Firefly is immensely and sincerely grateful to Polykov for saving their company, which right now is among the leaders in the race to be one of the new rocket companies to meet the needs of the burgeoning new satellite industry.
» Read more

Boeing’s Starliner aces parachute test

Capitalism in space: Boeing last week successfully completed a Starliner parachute test designed to simulate the return of a capsule after a launch abort.

This is good news for the capsule and Boeing, but I am a bit puzzled why this test, to be followed by a second similar test, was done. These parachutes were supposedly tested thoroughly already, proven, and ready for use for manned missions. Part of that proof was an earlier launch abort test as well as Boeing’s unmanned orbital demo flight that failed to dock with ISS. Both returned to Earth safely using these parachutes. I wonder if during those latter flights they found issues with the parachutes that needed smoothing out by even more tests.

Either way, this success improves the chances that Starliner will finally fly manned early next year, giving the U.S. two different operational manned capsules for getting humans into space.

SpaceX’s reusable first stages and their dramatic impact on the bottom line

This article by Eric Berger at Ars Technica outlining the status of SpaceX’s fleet of reusable first stages contained this incredible fact:

On May 11, 2018, the company launched the first of its new “Block 5” version of its Falcon 9 rocket. This new version of the first stage incorporated all of the company’s previous performance upgrades to the Falcon 9 rocket while also maximizing its reuse. It worked—SpaceX has now flown two different Falcon 9 cores five times, and it may fly a first stage for the sixth time later this summer.

The success of the Block 5 rocket means that SpaceX has had to devote less time and resources to building Falcon 9 first stages. Since May 2018, it has launched 31 times on a Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket—while using just 10 cores. Put another way, reuse has saved SpaceX the cost of 189 Merlin rocket engines, dozens of fuel tanks, and many complex avionics systems. [emphasis mine]

That is a lot of cost savings, which the company is not only using to cut its prices but also to reduce the cost of its Starlink launches. It appears SpaceX wants those launches, as much as possible, to use reused boosters in order to lower the overall cost of getting that internet constellation into orbit. This in turn will make it possible for them to charge less for the service, once they begin offering it.

Space Force restructures/reduces former Air Force command structure

The new Space Force has restructured and reduced the former Air Force command structure as it begins to take over military space operations from the latter agency.

The USSF field organization will consist of three echelons of command, where the Air Force currently is organized into five echelons. USSF’s organizational structure will initially consolidate and align all organize, train and equip mission execution from former Air Force space-related units.

…In order of hierarchy, the USSF field echelons are named field commands, deltas and squadrons. There will be three field commands aligned with specific mission focuses: Space Operations Command, Space Systems Command, and Space Training and Readiness Command. SpOC and SSC will be led by three-star general officers, and STARCOM will be led by a two-star general.

Deltas will be O-6 led and will be organized around a specific function – operations, installation support, training, etc. Within the deltas will be squadrons focused on specific tactics. When the field command structure is fully implemented, it will eliminate one general officer echelon and one O-6 echelon of command. Functions formerly performed at the eliminated echelons will be realigned where appropriate within the USSF.

This sounds good, but we shall see. New government agencies proposed by our federal government to streamline bureaucracies somehow always end up bloating those bureaucracies instead. The Space Force was created with this laudable goal. This press release at least suggests they are trying to achieve it.

Russia to consider building reusable stages for Angara

Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency that controls that nation’s entire aerospace industry, is “considering” the idea of developing reusable rocket stages for future iterations of its new Angara rocket.

“On June 30, changes were made to the state contract on the ‘Amur’ experimental design work that envisaged upgrading and further developing this series,” the statement says. In particular, the changes envisage developing the Angara-A5M as the upgraded version of the Angara-A5 rocket and the conceptual design of the Angara-A5V increased lifting capacity vehicle (with the oxygen-hydrogen third stage).

“Also, an option will be considered to develop the Angara-A5VM carrier rocket with reusable stages,” Roscosmos specified.

I’ll believe it when I see it. For now almost twenty years the Russians have been very good at issuing bold press releases promising wonderful new rockets, spaceships, and projects, only to have none of these rockets, spaceships, or projects ever actually happen.

That they are even considering reusable first stages however does show the power of competition and freedom. They never would have if SpaceX hadn’t come along and cut costs with this idea and thus take their entire market share from them. Now they have to find a way to compete in order to get some of that business back..

1 2 3 4 738