Today’s blacklisted American: Doctor jailed for entering Capitol on Jan 6 and expressing opinions

Simone Gold, in prison for having wrong opinions

Blacklists are back and the Democrats have got ’em: Simone Gold, one of the thousands of doctors who strongly objected to the federal government’s COVID policies during the Wuhan panic, has begun a six month jail sentence for “trespassing” during the January 6th 2021 protests at the Capitol.

While US officials tried to smear and marginalize Gold and her group, her actual jail sentence was linked to her participation in the January 6, 2021 Trump rally in the US Capitol. According to Gold, she proceeded to the Capitol building on that date, where police let her into the building with a group that did not use force; and she spoke to the crowd inside about medical freedom.

As a result, she was charged with trespassing, and sentenced to jail time. [emphasis mine]

» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: January 6th rally attendee commits suicide

Mark Aungst, murdered by the Biden Administration
Mark Aungst, murdered by the Biden Administration

Blacklists are back and the Democrats have got ’em: Mark Aungst, a Pennsylvania man who attended the January 6th 2021 election rally in Washington DC and had been prosecuted by the Biden administration for “demonstrating or parading in a restricted building,” committed suicide on July 20, 2022, shortly before his sentencing.

And what was Angst’s horrible crime of insurrection on January 6th for which he was forced to plead guilty and which he was to be sentenced in September to as much as six months in prison and as much as $5,000?

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Furst said the prosecution had evidence showing Aungst and Bronsburg entering the Capitol through the Senate fire door by the parliamentarian’s office approximately 2:45 p.m. and leaving 30 seconds later. Twenty minutes later they re-entered the building through the Senate wing door, and took photos and videos on their cell phones as they walked through the Capitol and into Senate Room 145.

Bronsburg later posted a video she took in the Capitol on Facebook and when Aungst returned to the bus he showed others his pictures, said Furst.

Neither assaulted a police officer nor stole or damaged government property, the prosecutor had said at a previous court proceeding.

My god, what horrors! This guy walked into the Capitol (the doors being opened by security), took some pictures, and had the temerity to show those pictures to others! Clearly he was part of a coup. That he could only be sentenced to six months in jail was certainly insufficient. Democrats nationwide can now celebrate that this evil insurrectionist is now dead.

Moreover, Democrats must be further heartened because this is the second January 6th protester to commit suicide because of their persecution.

I found these paragraphs from his obituary especially heart-breaking:
» Read more

NASA sets tentative launch date for SLS

NASA yesterday announced that it is targeting August 29, 2022 for the first unmanned launch of its SLS rocket.

NASA is tentatively targeting Aug. 29 for the long-awaited maiden flight of the agency’s huge Space Launch System moon rocket, officials said Wednesday. But they cautioned major challenges remain for the oft-delayed rocket and an official date will not be set until later.

As it stands, the launch processing schedule is extremely tight and depends on successful checkout of a repaired hydrogen line fitting, good results from end-to-end pre-flight checks of the rocket’s myriad other systems and getting everything done in time to haul it back out to the launch pad by around Aug. 18.

If any delays occur, this launch window extends until September 6th. If they can’t make that date, the next launch window opens on September 19th.

The mission, to send the Orion capsule around the Moon and back, would last 42 days and if launched as planned would return October 10th.

The announcement also slipped in this tidbit:

If the initial test flight goes well, NASA plans to launch four astronauts atop the second SLS rocket for an around-the-moon shakedown flight in 2024 — Artemis 2 — before sending the first woman and the first person of color to a landing near the moon’s south pole in 2025 or 2026 as part of the Artemis 3 mission. [emphasis mine]

This I think is the first time NASA officials have hinted that the launch might be delayed to ’26. It is no surprise, but as they have always done with SLS, they give these hints softly, prepping the press so that it doesn’t make news.

As for the disgraceful unseemly focus on race and sex, it appears that NASA is now an apartheid state. The make-up of missions will no longer be determined by skill and experience, but by ethnic considerations, with favoritism always given to minorities or women.

Pushback: Blacklisted small businessman sues Biden administration for its racist contracting policies

Democrats as always dedicated to segregation!
Democrats: dedicated to the new segregation!

“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Christian Bruckner, a Romanian immigrant who runs a small business that competes for government contracts, is suing the Biden administration for its race and gender quotas outlined in the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law passed late last year by Congress.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November 2021, appropriated $1.2 trillion for new infrastructure projects. As part of this law, Congress authorized $370 billion in spending for roads, bridges, and other transportation projects. But the law contains a quota, requiring that at least 10% of all funding ($37 billion) go to small businesses owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”

Federal regulations define “socially disadvantaged” as the following racial or ethnic groups: Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, or Subcontinent Asian Americans. And women are deemed “socially and economically disadvantaged.” Small businesses owned by males who are not in these preferred racial groups cannot compete for this money. This would include not only businesses owned by white males, but also males whose ancestors are from many countries in Central and South America, North Africa, the Middle East, and North and West Asia.

» Read more

Saudi Arabia signs Artemis Accords

According to an announcement yesterday by NASA administrator Bill Nelson, Saudi Arabia has now become the twenty-first nation to sign the Artemis Accords, joining the growing American alliance to explore the solar system.

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

The accords were introduced by the Trump administration and are bi-lateral agreements between each nation and the United States. Their language is designed to protect property rights in space, and thus get around the limitations of the Outer Space Treaty. By signing up as many nations as possible, the accords are also creating this new American space alliance, which will be competing against the Chinese-Russian axis that opposes the accords.

Right now Germany and India remain the only major players in space who have not aligned themselves with either side. I expect Germany to eventually sign. India however appears to want to remain non-aligned.

First science image released from Webb

Webb's first deep field image
Click for original image.

The first science image from the James Webb Space Telescope has now been unveiled.

That image is to the right, reduced to post here. From the press release:

Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.

This deep field, taken by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), is a composite made from images at different wavelengths, totaling 12.5 hours – achieving depths at infrared wavelengths beyond the Hubble Space Telescope’s deepest fields, which took weeks.

The image shows the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. The combined mass of this galaxy cluster acts as a gravitational lens, magnifying much more distant galaxies behind it. Webb’s NIRCam has brought those distant galaxies into sharp focus – they have tiny, faint structures that have never been seen before, including star clusters and diffuse features.

The smeared concentric arrangement of many reddish objects surrounding the picture’s center strongly suggests we are seeing distortion by the gravity of this galaxy cluster.

While nothing in this image appears at first glance to be different than many earlier Hubble images, it looks at objects in the infrared that are much farther away than anything ever seen before, farther than Hubble in the optical could see. To understand the new discoveries hidden in such an image will likely take several years of further research. For example, before astronomers can understand what this image shows they need to determine the red shift of each galaxy, thus roughly determining its distance and the overall 3D structure of the objects visible. Moreover, the consequences of the gravitational lensing must be unpacked.

The White House briefing itself was somewhat embarrassing to watch, as Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, and NASA administrator Bill Nelson all struggled to explain what this image shows, and failed miserably. Moreover, the briefing had technical problems, started very late, and it appeared that Bill Nelson especially had no idea what he was looking at. The briefing also ended very abruptly when it shifted to reporters’ questions.

NASA blocks Starship/Superheavy launches at SpaceX’s new Florida launchpad

Capitalism in space: NASA officials revealed yesterday that it will not allow any Starship/Superheavy launches at SpaceX’s new Florida launchpad, at least for the moment, because of the threat a launchpad failure might have on the launchpad SpaceX uses to launch manned Falcon 9 missions to ISS.

The NASA statement said the agency “is responsible for ensuring SpaceX remains compliant with the requirements of the property agreement for the use of Launch Complex 39A.”

“These requirements include those related to construction, safety and environmental conditions,” the statement said. “At this time, NASA has only provided approval to build. Additional review for hazards, operational impacts and supportability will be required prior to a launch.”

The new Starship launchpad is 1,000 feet away from pad 39A, which is SpaceX’s manned Dragon launchpad. NASA management thinks this is too close. However, the managers have also not ruled out future launches, only that they wish to do a thorough review of the issue with SpaceX.

Because NASA and the federal government is also relying on Starship to land its astronauts on the Moon, it can’t block Starship flights outright. It could be however that this issue might shift Starship operations back to Boca Chica, after federal government opposition there forced SpaceX to shift more operations to Florida.

In other words, the government wants its cake and eat it to. Some factions within the Biden administration and the Washington bureaucracy want to block Starship, others want it to fly. The result is a tug-of war, with SpaceX in the middle.

Today’s blacklisted American: Biden administration increases closures of gun stores by 500%

The goal of Democrats: Banning the 2nd amendment
The goal of Democrats: Banning the 2nd amendment

They’re coming for you next: The Biden administration has increased its forced closures of legal gun stores by more than 500%, often revoking licenses for minor reasons such as typos.

In the years before the Biden-Harris administration took over the White House, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives usually revoked an average of 40 Federal Firearm Licenses (FFLs) per year. But, in the 11 months since Joe Biden declared war on “rogue gun dealers,” the ATF has revoked 273 FFLs — an increase of more than 500%. However, rather than targeting the true rogues, Biden’s ATF is revoking FFLs for the most minor of paperwork errors, which were never a concern for the ATF until Biden weaponized the agency.

“This has nothing to do with the ATF and everything to do with the DOJ,” said John Clark of FFL Consultants. Clark is a firearm industry expert who said the ATF announced the number of revocations at a recent Firearm Industry Conference. “The vast majority of the ATF don’t like this any more than the industry does,” he said. “It’s Biden.” [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, the investigative journalism project of the the Second Amendment Foundation has been stonewalled by the ATF, having filed freedom of information requests with it on this issue almost a year ago, with no response.

The consequences of this harsh Biden policy has of course not reduced the number of gun crimes, in the slightest. What it has done however is to discourage gun dealers from working with the ATF, out of fear of being shut down for the slightest infraction:
» Read more

Fish & Wildlife documents now reveal its objections to SpaceX Boca Chica facility

We’re here to help you! Documents obtained by CNBC under a Freedom of Information request have revealed the specific objections of Fish & Wildlife that has helped delay the approval of the FAA’s environment reassessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility for Starship launches.

SpaceX must take steps to track and mitigate its impact on endangered species and their habitat in order to gain approvals for testing and commercial launches of its Starship Super Heavy lift-launch vehicle in Boca Chica, Texas, according to documents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service obtained by CNBC.

The documents, released by the federal agency in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, show that recent declines in an endangered bird species, the piping plover, have already been correlated with SpaceX activity at the South Texas facility.

The documents also reveal that SpaceX is, for now at least, reducing the amount of energy it plans to generate at a utility-sized natural gas power plant on the 47.4-acre launch site there.

According to a lawyer from the radical environmentalist organization the Center for Biological Diversity who was interviewed for the article, Fish & Wildlife’s demands are not tremendously restrictive, and might actually allow the project to go forward, since they appear to only require SpaceX to “monitor affected animal populations carefully, limit construction and launch activity to specific seasons or times of day and night, and use shuttles to reduce vehicle traffic of workers on location.”

I see it differently. I think Fish & Wildlife bureaucrats are struggling to come up with reasons to block SpaceX. They know that decades of data in Florida prove that rocket launches have no negative impact on wildlife. To claim such a thing in Texas is thus not justified. They are trying to do it anyway.

Biden’s NASA administrator slams the cost-plus contracts he endorsed when he was a senator

Bill Nelson, Biden’s NASA administrator and a former Democratic Party senator from Florida, made it clear during his testimony before a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations committee today that he condemns cost-plus contracts and no longer wants to use them for any NASA project, even though he demanded NASA use such contracts when he was a senator.

Nelson was asked what, in his opinion, was the biggest threat to NASA’s goal of landing humans on the Moon by 2025. Nelson responded that the agency needed competition in its program to develop a Human Landing System. In other words, he wanted Congress to support NASA’s request for funding to develop a second lander alongside SpaceX’s Starship vehicle.

But Nelson didn’t stop there. He said Congress needs to fund this lander contract with a fixed-price award, which only pays companies when they reach milestones. This contracting mechanism is relatively new for the space agency, which traditionally has used “cost-plus” contracts for large development programs. Such awards pay contractors their expenses, plus a fee. “I believe that that is the plan that can bring us all the value of competition,” Nelson said of fixed-price contracts. “You get it done with that competitive spirit. You get it done cheaper, and that allows us to move away from what has been a plague on us in the past, which is a cost-plus contract, and move to an existing contractual price.”

The significance of Nelson’s remarks is that it bluntly signals that the Biden administration has now wholly bought into the ideas I put forth in Capitalism in Space. Nelson wants NASA to be a customer that buys what it needs from the private sector, and to do it as inexpensively as possible. He also wants to encourage competition by allowing that private sector to own and control what it builds.

In the past, a new administration would have abandoned the policies of the past administration. Instead, the Biden administration is accelerating the Trump administration’s policy of encouraging private enterprise and eliminating cost-plus contracts.

The future of the American space industry appears bright indeed.

This statement by Nelson also indicates that the future of SLS is now very precarious, especially because it is being built almost entirely on cost-plus contracts. Any serious failure could kill it. And even if its next launch succeeds, further launches hang now by a very thin political thread. And the more success private space has, the thinner that thread will become.

Viasat once again demands government block its competitor Starlink

In a letter to the FCC submitted on May 2, 2022, Viasat once again demanded the government block the deployment of SpaceX’s full 30,000 Starlink satellite constellation.

SpaceX shouldn’t be allowed to greatly expand its Starlink network while light pollution issues surrounding its deployed satellites remain unresolved, Jarrett Taubman, Viasat vice president and deputy chief of government affairs, said in a letter to the regulator.

While calls for a thorough environmental review that Viasat made for Starlink’s current generation of satellites in December 2020 were largely rejected, Taubman said SpaceX’s plan to grow the constellation by seven times “would have significant aesthetic, scientific, social and cultural, and health effects on the human environment on Earth.”

In other words, rather than try to compete with SpaceX, Viasat wants the government to squelch that competition. Though Viasat’s previous complaints have been rejected entirely, there is no guarantee that the Biden administration will continue to reject them. Recent evidence suggests instead that it will instead use this complaint as another opportunity to limit SpaceX’s operations, for political reasons.

Meanwhile, the only possible harm to Earth the full Starlink constellation might do is cause a limited interference in ground-based astronomy. Since astronomers have made so little effort to get their telescopes into orbit, above such interference, few should sympathize with them. If anything, Starlink should be the spur to get all of its telescopes off the ground and into space. Astronomers will not only avoid light interference from Starlink, they will get far better data without the atmosphere smearing their vision.

Surprise! FAA delays SpaceX approval at Boca Chica another month

As I have been predicting now for months, the FAA today announced that it is once again delaying approval of its environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility one more month, to May 31, 2022.

This is the fifth time since December that the FAA has delayed the release of the environmental assessment. When the first delay was announced in December 2021, I predicted that this stone-walling by the government will likely continue for many months, and delay the first orbital launch of Starship “until the latter half of ’22, if then.”

Since then it has become very clear that the other federal bureaucracies at NOAA and Fish & Wildlife which must sign off on the approval are hostile to Elon Musk, SpaceX, and Starship, and are acting to block this approval, with this stone-walling having the unstated support of the Biden administration. When the third delay was announced at the end of February, I predicted no approval would ever occur, that the Biden administration wants to reject the reassessment and force the issuance of a new environmental impact statement, a process that could take years. To do this before the November election however will cost votes, so the administration would instead delay the approval month by month until November.

This prediction has been dead on right, unfortunately. Expect more month-by-month delays until November, when the Biden administration will then announce — conveniently just after the election — the need for a new impact statement requiring years of study.

The one hope to stop this government intransigence will be a complete wipe-out of the Democratic Party in Congress in those November elections. A strong Republican Congress with large majorities in both houses could quickly force the Biden administration to back down on many issues, including this effort to shut SpaceX down in Texas.

Biden administration vows to cease anti-satellite tests

The Biden administration yesterday announced that it is prohibiting the military from conducting any further anti-satellite tests that would result in the destruction of an orbiting target satellite.

The ban is focused entirely on preventing further space junk produced by such tests.

It … is extremely limited in scope to testing of direct ascent destructive ASAT missiles — a formulation that leaves open the possibility of using such ASATs in conflict, not to mention testing and use of a host of other types of both destructive (think directed energy) weapons and those such as jammers that create temporary disruptions to functionality.

The goal appears to be to encourage other nations, such as China and Russia, to agree to their own bans. Considering the present state of world tensions, I think that is a pie-in-the-sky expectation. Both Russia and China have made it clear they are pursuing this space military capability aggressively. Neither has indicated the slightest interest in backing off.

The result? The U.S. under our bankrupt establishment leadership has once again unilaterally weakened its capabilities to protect itself, even as other hostile powers work to become stronger. And I say “once again” because this has been the pattern from Washington and Europe now for five decades. Except for outsider Trump, all western leaders have repeatedly acted as if they lived in a fantasy world of unicorns and rainbows. Consider for example Europe’s decision in the past decade to rely on Russia energy. They now find themselves at Russia’s aggressive mercy.

This decision is another example of this pie-in-the-sky approach. Since every previous American anti-satellite test had aimed at satellites already about to burn up in the atmosphere, those tests produced no space junk. Thus, banning the military’s ability to conduct such tests has done nothing to reduce future junk. All it has done is tied the U.S.’s hands, under a fantasy that acting nice will somehow get the Russians and Chinese to do the same.

SpaceX goes full speed ahead on construction of Starship launchpad in Florida

Capitalism in space: Faced with regulatory delays caused by the Biden administration that are preventing further Starship launches from Boca Chica, SpaceX has accelerated construction of a new Starship launchpad at its facility in Florida.

Compared to SpaceX’s Starbase tower assembly [in Boca Chica], Florida Starship work appears to be proceeding at a similar pace. SpaceX began assembling the fourth Florida tower section about 30 days after starting the first, while Starbase took about 25 days to reach the same point. However, SpaceX does appear to be taking a slightly different approach for Pad 39A. On top of tower section assembly, SpaceX is constructing an extra four sets of the small concrete foundations and steel frames each tower section is assembled on, implying that Starship’s Florida launch tower could be almost entirely prefabricated before SpaceX begins to combine those sections.

Meanwhile, Boca Chica remains blocked. While the FAA says it will issue approval of its environment reassessment by the end of this month, SpaceX would be foolish to believe this. It has become very clear that the Biden administration has so far allowed the federal bureaucracy free rein to obstruct SpaceX. For the company to think things will suddenly change now is to be living a fantasy. It must move forward to satisfy its investors.

Worsening the situation in Texas was the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to suspend the permit process on a request by SpaceX to expand its Boca Chica facility. It appears SpaceX failed to provide the Corps some required information, possibility because the company sees no reason now to complete this expansion if the Biden administration is going to ban Starship launches from Texas.

Faced with this political situation, Texas governor Greg Abbott yesterday claimed he is fighting the stonewalling by the Biden administration, but provide no specifics:

“What I am going to do if Biden interferes with the ability of SpaceX to launch from Boca Chica; I am going to be working every step of the way to make sure that they are going to be able to launch from Boca Chica. We heard the vision from Mr. Patel himself about what they are working on and our job is to make sure they are able to achieve their vision. And I have worked with Elon Musk very closely with regard to Tesla and the Giga factory in Austin, Texas. And we will be working with him very closely, every step of the way in Boca Chica for the future of SpaceX. We want that future and that vision to come from Boca Chica, from Brownsville, Texas.”

Allow me to translate this political blather into plain English: “I can’t or won’t do anything, but I am now going to make a superficial claim of action so my Texas constituents won’t get angry at me.”

It appears more and more that the first orbital test flight of Starship will take place in Florida, not Texas. And if so, it will be delayed for at least another six months because of this government interference.

Breaking: Army Corp of Engineers suspends SpaceX’s Boca Chica permit process

We’re here to help you! According to this very short Bloomberg news report today, the Army Corp of Engineers has entirely suspended SpaceX’s Boca Chica permit process for expanding the facility.

The reason given is that SpaceX “failed to provide requested information.”

Though not yet confirmed, this permit appears to be separate from the environmental reassessment process being led by the FAA to approve Starship launches from Boca Chica. Instead, this appears to have an application to add an additional launchpad and other facilities to the site.

Assuming this distinction is true, then launches from Boca Chica of Starship might still be approved. The action however once again indicates the growing hostility to SpaceX within the federal bureaucracy, apparently aided and abetted by the Biden administration.

Surprise! NASA’s ’23 budget request asks for more money!

In releasing its budget request this week to Congress for the 2023 fiscal year, NASA did what it routinely does each year, ask for more money, this time asking for an 8% increase from what Congress appropriated last year.

NASA’s FY2023 budget request is $25.974 billion versus the FY2022 appropriation of $24.041 billion. NASA had requested $24.802 billion in large part to pay for the Artemis program to return astronauts to the lunar surface, but Congress wasn’t willing to allocate that much. While supportive of Artemis and NASA’s many other science, aeronautics and technology programs, there is a limit as to how much Congress is willing to invest.

NASA is requesting not just another boost in FY2023, but in the “out years” thereafter, rising to $28 billion in FY2027, though much of that purchasing power likely will be lost to inflation.

…In essence, the agency wants more money for everything it is doing.

The budget request also asks again for Congress to terminate the SOFIA airborne telescope, which NASA contends is not producing enough science to justify its $80 million annual cost. Congress has repeatedly refused to do so in past years. As should be expected, Congress will likely not cancel SOFIA again, as it likes to spend money we don’t have.

The goal of the increased funding for Artemis is also to continue the SLS program for many years to come. Expect Congress to also fund this in the coming few years, though the long term future of SLS remains in doubt, especially if SpaceX’s Starship begins flying. Artemis won’t be cancelled by our spendthrift Congress, but Congress will likely decide to shift that spending to Starship and other private rockets rather than SLS as those private rockets come on line.

All in all, expect Congress to give NASA more cash, but not as much as the agency requests.

FAA again delays decision on environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility

Surprise, surprise! According to an FAA email sent out today, the agency has once again, for the fifth time, delayed its decision on the environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica Starship launch site.

From the email:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is updating the release date for the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) on the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard (Permitting Dashboard) and project website. The FAA plans to issue the Final PEA on April 29th. The planned April 29, 2022 release date will allow the FAA to review the Final PEA, including responses to comments, and complete consultation and coordination with agencies at the local, State, and Federal level. All consultations must be complete before the FAA can issue the Final PEA.

This date is now listed on the FAA’s SpaceX-Starship webpage. Nor is the decision a surprise. Expect the FAA to continue this charade month-to-month until after the November election, when the Biden administration will then feel free to block SpaceX’s effort in Boca Chica completely.

SpaceX raises launch prices

Capitalism in space: Though most of the press has focused on the Starlink announcement on March 22nd that it was raising its subscriber rates, that same day SpaceX announced that it too was raising its prices, increasing its launch fees by 8% to 10%.

The starting prices for a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket will each increase by about 8%. A Falcon 9 launch will cost $67 million, up from $62 million, and a Falcon Heavy launch will now run $97 million, up from $90 million. A footnote on SpaceX’s pricing page notes that “missions purchased in 2022 but flown beyond 2023 may be subject to additional adjustments due to inflation.”

..The company also adjusted its prices for its small satellite rideshare program. Those flights will now start at $1.1 million to fly a payload weighing 200 kilograms to a sun-synchronous orbit, up from a base price of $1 million. SpaceX increased the cost of additional payload mass by 10% as well and will now charge $5,500 per extra kilogram, up from a previous $5,000 per kilogram.

As with the Starlink announcement, SpaceX officials stated that the price increase was due entirely by inflation.

The irony here is that SpaceX could easily raise its rocket prices by 20%, and still be undercutting its entire competition. Even with these increases it is still by far the cheapest game in town.

Nonetheless, when it comes to inflation we have only just begun. The consequences of the Ukraine war, the sanctions against Russia, the Biden administration’s restrictions on domestic oil production, and the various COVID regulations restricting commerce are all still in effect, and are all putting pressure on supply. Prices will continue to rise.

Biden administration demands that all NASA grantees hire minorities/women

“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” The Biden administration has proposed a new rule for anyone receiving financial grants from NASA, requiring those grantees to solicit bids for any subcontracting work from minorities and/or women.

The Grants Policy and Compliance Branch (GPC) in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Office of the Chief Financial Officer is soliciting public comment on the Agency’s proposed implementation of a new term and condition that requires recipients of NASA financial assistance to obtain a quotation from small and/or minority businesses, women’s business enterprises or labor surplus area firms when the acquisition of goods or services exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold.

…NASA’s expectation is that this action will result in an increase in contracting opportunities for small and/or minority businesses, women’s business enterprises and labor surplus area firms that contract with NASA financial assistance recipients.

The rule is not yet in effect. NASA is simply seeking public comment. However, the intent of this “equity” regulation is the same as all critical race theory implementations, to favor minorities and women and discriminate against whites and men. And if you don’t believe me, read this further explanation for this new rule at the link:

On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued E.O. 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” outlining a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. Given that advancing equity requires a systematic approach to embedding fairness in the decision-making process, the E.O. instructs agencies to recognize and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.

Since everyone has the same equal opportunity to compete for bids, this new Biden rule, which is designed to tilt the scale and discriminate in favor of “people of color and others who have been historically underserved”, it is actually creating barriers to equal opportunity. It is also a bald-faced violation of every civil rights law passed since 1964, which required that no one should be discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or sex, be they white, black, red, yellow, green, or orange.

But then, this is our Democratic Party, led by Joe Biden. It has eagerly returned to its slave/segregation roots, where it sees race as a person’s only important attribute, with some races deserving favored treatment and other races to be oppressed. Until the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s Democrats favored whites and oppressed minorities. Now the party favors minorities and oppresses whites.

Nothing has really changed however. The Democratic Party, led by Joe Biden, remains the party of racism and bigotry.

SpaceX switches to newer Starship and Superheavy for orbital test

Capitalism in space: According to Elon Musk, SpaceX has decided that the company will no longer use Starship prototype #20 and Superheavy prototype #4 for the rocket’s first orbital test flight.

Instead, the company will fly two more recently built and upgraded prototypes, rumored to be numbers #24 for Starship and #7 for Superheavy. The company has also decided to switch from the first generation Raptor engines to Raptor-2s.

All these changes likely explain Musk’s announcement that the first orbital launch will not happen sooner than May. The changes also further suggest that SpaceX has realized federal permission to launch from Boca Chica will be further delayed, and thus it might has well push forward in other ways as it waits for the right to launch.

I suspect that if the federal government hadn’t moved in to block operations, it would have flown prototypes 20 and 4 two months ago, just to get some data. Now such a flight seems pointless, as more advanced prototypes are now almost ready to fly.

This decision also reinforces my prediction that no orbital flights will occur out of Boca Chica before summer, and are more likely blocked through November. It also increases my expectation that the first orbital flight might not occur at all in Texas. The longer the Biden administration delays SpaceX’s operations there, the greater the chance the entire Starship/Superheavy launch program will shift to Florida.

Musk says Starship will be ready for first orbital launch in May

Capitalism in space: In a tweet yesterday Elon Musk said that Starship will be ready for first orbital launch in May, a delay of two months from his previous announcements.

“We’ll have 39 flightworthy engines built by next month, then another month to integrate, so hopefully May for orbital flight test,” Musk tweeted in response to CNBC.

While the delay could certainly be because the company needed to prepare enough Superheavy engines, I also suspect it is also because Musk now expects the FAA to not approve the environmental reassessment of Starship’s Boca Chica launch site by the end of March, as has been promised. I predict that sometime in the next few days the FAA will announce another one-month delay in that process, the fourth such delay by that federal agency.

In late-December, when the FAA announced the first delay, I predicted that the first orbital launch of Starship would not happen until the latter half of ’22. I now think that prediction was optimistic. I firmly believe the federal government, controlled by Democrats, will delay that launch until after the mid-term elections in November. It appears to me that the Biden administration wants to reject the environmental reassessment, which would block Starship flights from Boca Chica for years. It just doesn’t want to do it before November, because of the negative election consequences.

I truly hope my cynical and pessimistic analysis is utterly wrong. So far, however, my prediction has proven to be more right than wrong.

Elon Musk targets 2029 for first Starship manned mission to Mars

Capitalism in space: In a tweet today Elon Musk announced 2029 as his present target date for the first Starship manned mission to Mars.

This target date should not be considered firm, though it must be taken seriously. Musk’s past predictions tended to be optimistic, but also not unrealistic. If Starship development proceeds at the pace SpaceX is presently maintaining, this date is wholly doable.

The article at the link also said that the first Starship orbital test flight “is expected to take place within the next month.” That certainly matches with Musk’s previous statements, but ignores the bureaucratic delays from the FAA that at the moment prevent it from happening.

Pushback: Pilots sue CDC over Biden mask requirement on planes

How the CDC determines its mask policies
How the CDC determines its mask policies

Don’t comply: Ten pilots from three different American airlines — American, Southwest, and JetBlue — have now sued the CDC over the Biden administrations mask mandate requiring everyone to wear masks on airplanes.

A group of commercial airline pilots filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an attempt to lift the federal transportation mask mandate.

In court paperwork, the 10 commercial airline pilots – who work for American JetBlue and Southwest – argued that the CDC issued an order “Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Conveyances & at Transportation Hubs” on Feb. 1, 2020 “without providing public notice or soliciting comment.”

The pilots are asking the court to “vacate worldwide the FTMM (federal transportation mask mandate)” calling the move an “illegal and unconstitutional exercise of executive authority.”

Biden’s edict was first imposed on February 1, 2021, shortly after he took power. It has been extended several times since, the most recent extension keeping it in force through April 18, 2022. At no time, however, has any data been put forth by the CDC demonstrating that the required masks accomplish anything, while we already have decades of data showing that the masks are useless against viruses like the Wuhan flu.

This new lawsuit is the eighteenth filed against the mandate, though it is the first filed by those who work on the planes.

The pilots claim above that the CDC did not follow federal law when it imposed the mandate is almost certainly correct. » Read more

Russia suggests sanctions will force to end ISS partnership in ’24, rather than ’30

Because of the sanctions imposed by the Biden government due to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, officials at Roscosmos today suggested that they are considering ending their participation on ISS in 2024, rather than 2030 when NASA wants to de-orbit it.

“Roscosmos currently has a government permission for operating the ISS only until 2024. The issue of extending the agreement in the current conditions causes our skepticism,” the Roscosmos press office said.

The Russian space agency said it hoped that the US Department of State would soon stop its pressure on NASA and allow it to begin a dialogue with Russia. “If we do not come to an agreement, this will have its effect on the international piloted space program,” the press office said.

This really isn’t news. Even before the invasion, Russia had been uncertain on whether it would continue on ISS after ’24. It really needs ISS, as its own effort to build a Russian station has numerous problems. The Russians however also recognize that at least one of its modules on ISS, Zvezda, is failing. The station’s life is limited regardless.

Moreover, the U.S. is shifting away from government-owned assets in space. ISS’s replacement will be privately built and owned, and it is very very unlikely those private companies will partner with Russia.

The Russian partnership at ISS is ending no matter what. The Ukraine war is merely accelerating it.

As for maintaining ISS after ’24 should the Russians leave, NASA has some of the main Russian responsibilities well covered, due to private enterprise. It will test raising the station’s orbit shortly using the Northrop Grumman Cygnus freighter presently docked with the station, thus replacing Russia’s Progress freighter boosts. And the availability of Dragon and Starliner capsules will provide lifeboats for station crews.

The big question is that some of the life support equipment is provided by Russian modules. If the Russians detach the portion of the station, ISS will lose some of those capabilities. Hopefully Axiom’s first ISS module, due to launch by ’24, will replace those Russian assets.

Today’s blacklisted American: Jan 6th demonstrator apparently commits suicide due to Biden administration persecution

Matthew Perna, dead because he expressed his opinion
Matthew Perna, now dead because he simply expressed an opinion

Blacklists are back and the Democrats have got ’em: Matthew Perna, one of the vast majority of demonstrators who came to the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to peacefully protest the installation of Joe Biden as president, has now apparently committed suicide at the age of 37 because of the Biden administration’s endless persecution, slander, and legal attacks against him.

From his obituary:

He attended the rally on January 6, 2021 to peacefully stand up for his beliefs. After learning that the FBI was looking for him, he immediately turned himself in. He entered the Capitol through a previously opened door (he did not break in as was reported) where he was ushered in by police. He didn’t break, touch, or steal anything. He did not harm anyone, as he stayed within the velvet ropes taking pictures.

For this act he has been persecuted by many members of his community, friends, relatives, and people who had never met him. Many people were quietly supportive, and Matt was truly grateful for them. The constant delays in hearings, and postponements dragged out for over a year. Because of this, Matt’s heart broke and his spirit died, and many people are responsible for the pain he endured. Matt did not have a hateful bone in his body. He embraced people of all races, income brackets, and beliefs, never once berating anyone for having different views.

» Read more

Space spat between Biden and Rogozin over Russian invasion of Ukraine

Yesterday saw harsh words expressed by both President Biden and the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, concerning the partnership of the two countries at ISS, with Biden imposing sanctions and noting these will specifically harm Russia’s space industry, and Rogozin responding by threatening to dump ISS on either a U.S. or European city.

In Biden’s statement, he said, “We estimate that we will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, and it will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernize their military. It will degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program,”

Rogozin’s response came in a series of tweets on Twitter, with his most bellicose statements as follows:

Do you want to destroy our cooperation on the ISS?

This is how you already do it by limiting exchanges between our cosmonaut and astronaut training centers. Or do you want to manage the ISS yourself? Maybe President Biden is off topic, so explain to him that the correction of the station’s orbit, its avoidance of dangerous rendezvous with space garbage, with which your talented businessmen have polluted the near-Earth orbit, is produced exclusively by the engines of the Russian Progress MS cargo ships. If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe? There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?

Meanwhile, it isn’t Russia’s space industry that will suffer the most from this invasion, but Ukraine’s. For example, the American company Launcher, which has had a software team in the Ukraine, has moved most of that team to Bulgaria for their safety.

As a precaution given the escalating political situation, during the last few weeks, we successfully relocated our Ukraine staff to Sofia, Bulgaria, where we opened a new Launcher Europe office. We also invited their immediate family to join them in this move and funded their relocation expenses. We continue to encourage and support five of the support staff and one engineer who decided to remain in Ukraine.

The company’s press release makes it clear that it is no longer dependent in any way with facilities in the Ukraine.

Launcher’s actions will not be the last. Expect all Western commercial efforts linked to the Ukraine to break off ties in order to protect their investments. Moreover, if Russia should recapture the Ukraine entirely, it will likely not give much support to its space industry, as Roscosmos has developed its own Russian resources in the past two decades and will likely want to support those instead.

Thus, the expected destruction of that country’s aerospace industry by Russia’s invasion proceeds.

Firefly savior Max Polyakov gives away his stock

Capitalism in space: Forced by the Biden administration to leave the smallsat rocket company Firefly Aerospace because he is not a U.S. citizen, the billionaire Max Polyakov — who brought the company back from bankruptcy — has now sold his 58% share to the company’s founder, Tom Markusic for one dollar.

His announcement of this decision did not speak well of the federal government:

I am giving up for 1 usd consideration all my 58% stake in Firefly to my co-founder and partner Tom. Dear CFIUS, Air Force and 23 agencies of USA who betrayed me and judge me in all your actions for past 15 months . I hope now you are happy . History will judge all of you guys. Max love Ukraine and yes I have Ukrainian passport and I am Founder of Firefly !!! Bye my “bird” and at the end of the days I proud what I done for my Land soul and heritage !!!

While it is generally not a good idea to have a non-U.S. citizen controlling a rocket company, Polyakov’s record here was outstandingly positive, for the U.S. Moreover, the Ukraine is a strong ally of the U.S., or used to be. To force him out for no reason seems irrational. A more rational approach would have been for the government to insist on monitoring his actions closely, so that only if he appeared to be acting against our interests would it act.

Polyakov’s decision to give Markusic the company further proves his good will. Too bad we have now lost him.

FAA administrator, a Trump holdover, announces resignation

FAA administrator Steve Dickson yesterday announced that he will officially resign from the agency on March 31, 2022.

Dickson was appointed by President Trump in 2019 to a five year term, so his resignation now cuts his term short by two years.

Dickson gave as his reason for resigning a desire to spend more time with his family, the go-to explanation for every Washington official’s resignation. While this may be true, I can’t help wondering if friction and pressure from the Biden administration contributed to his decision.

For example, though Dickson’s record with private enterprise has been mixed, his record in connection with commercial space was mostly good, working to help the new launch industry prosper by keeping out its way as much as possible. This record was especially obvious with SpaceX’s operations in Boca Chica, where there was little regulatory effort to slow that work until Biden became president, and even then relatively little. It could be the Biden administration was unhappy with this approach, and was trying to force Dickson to regulate SpaceX more.

A new administrator, appointed by Biden, will certainly be less friendly. Based on most Biden appointees in the past year, the administration will likely want to put someone in place who is hostile to capitalism, favors a communist agenda, and wants to impose strong government control. Thus, this resignation almost certainly puts another nail in the coffin of SpaceX’s desire to launch Starship test flights from Boca Chica.

Then again, that new administrator would have to be approved by the Senate, and right now, based on the Senate’s 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, it will be difficult for the Biden administration to get a radical leftist approved. This difficulty will be further magnified by Biden’s horrible poll numbers as well as similar polls suggesting a bloodbath for Democrats in the mid-term November elections. For them to force through an extremist in this position now will not help those poll numbers.

I therefore predict the nominee put forth by Biden will likely mouth empty support for private enterprise during the confirmation hearings. If the Senate Republicans are fooled by this disingenuousness (something that has happened frequently), when confirmed that person will immediately act to impose the government’s will on most commercial operations, especially those by SpaceX.

FAA delays Starship approval again

Death by a thousand cuts: The FAA today announced that it is once again delaying the release of the final version of its environmental reassessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility, the PEA, that will allow Starship orbital launches to occur there.

The FAA intended to release the Final PEA on February 28, 2022. The FAA now plans to release the Final PEA on March 28, 2022 to account for further comment review and ongoing interagency consultations.

Though the draft PEA had approved SpaceX future Starship operations at Boca Chica, all signs continue to point to heavy resistance to making that approval official both within the Biden administration as well as those other “interagency consultations.”

I predict that the FAA will delay again, and it will delay repeatedly month by month as agencies like Fish & Wildlife and NOAA refuse to go along. The only one who could break this deadlock would be President Biden, and the only chance he or any of the people running his administration will do so is if they decide to reject the FAA’s reassessment to instead demand a new and full environmental impact statement, which would likely take years to complete.

Texas politicians might want to wake up. If SpaceX fails to get this approval it will shift its Starship operations almost entirely to Florida. I must also add that politicians across the nation should wake up as well, because if the Biden administration blocks SpaceX, the many year delay for the launch of Starship will likely impact many many businesses nationwide. It will also negatively impact NASA’s effort to land humans on the Moon this decade.

Lockheed Martin cancels merger with Aerojet Rocketdyne

Capitalism in space: Faced with a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opposing the merger, Lockheed Martin yesterday announced that it is terminating its effort to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Aerojet released a press release at the same time, insisting that the company remains viable and healthy, but there are doubts. While its rocket engines (its main business) remain technically reliable and well-built, they are relatively expensive. Moreover, the shift by rocket companies to build their own engines in the last decade has reduced its customer base significantly.

This loss of market is now compounded by a battle between two factions on the company’s board of directors.

While monopolies do not encourage competition, the merger with Lockheed Martin would have been mostly good for the rocket industry. It would have quickly given Lockheed Martin the skills to make rockets, and kept Aerojet Rocketdyne alive, albeit as part of another company. Now the latter faces extinction, and the former will need more time to develop the capabilities required in its recently-won NASA contract to launch a rocket from Mars to return samples.

And once again, the FTC lawsuit indicates that the Biden administration has decided to take a heavy-regulatory hand when it comes to business. The result however of this approach in this case has not produced more competition, but the likely bankruptcy of at least one company.

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