December 6, 2023 Quick space links

Courtesy of BtB’s stringer Jay.



China launches Egyptian Earth observation satellite

China successfully launched an Egyptian Earth observation satellite on December 4, 2023, its Long March 2C rocket lifting off from its Jiquan spaceport in northwestern China.

The satellite was built in Egypt with Chinese assistence, and is designed to study water and land resources for Egypt.

No word on where the rocket’s lower stages, which use toxic hypergolic fuels, crashed within China.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

89 SpaceX
54 China
16 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

American private enterprise still leads China in successful launches, 101 to 54, and the entire world combined 101 to 86. SpaceX by itself now leads the entire world (excluding other American companies) 89 to 86.

Egypt to create a “space city” for space research and development

The new colonial movement: Mohamed al-Qousy, the head of Egypt’s space agency, announced yesterday that by the end of this year it will open a 123-acre site devoted to space research and commercial space business.

Qousy explained that the space city will contain 23 buildings to serve space activities, including a space academy, a research center, a center for the assembly of satellites, and a museum in the form of tourism in addition to the African Space Agency.

The agency aims to develop and transfer space science and technology into Egypt to build satellites and launch them from Egyptian territories.

It is not clear how much of this facility will be government-run, or privately owned. It appears most will be run by the government.

Physicists using cosmic rays find hidden void inside the Great Pyramid

Physicists using cosmic rays detectors have located what appears to be an empty space inside the Great Pyramid in Egypt that has never been entered.

To see through the Great Pyramid, the researchers used a technique developed in high-energy particle physics: they tracked particles called muons, which are produced when cosmic rays strike atoms in the upper atmosphere. Around 10,000 muons rain down on each square metre of Earth’s surface every minute. Sensitive muon detectors have been developed for use in particle accelerators, but they have also been used in the past decade or so to determine the inner structures of volcanoes and to study the damaged nuclear reactor at Fukushima, Japan.

In December 2015, physicist Kunihiro Morishima of Nagoya University, Japan, and his colleagues placed a series of detectors inside the Queen’s chamber, where they would detect muons passing through the pyramid from above. The particles are partially absorbed by stone, so any large holes in the pyramid would result in more muons than expected hitting the detectors.

After several months, “we had an unexpected line”, says Tayoubi. To check the result, two other teams of physicists, from the Japanese High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commision in Paris, then used different types of muon detector placed in other locations both inside and outside the pyramid. All three teams observed a large, unexpected void in the same location above the Grand Gallery. …The space is at least 30 metres long, with a similar cross section to the Grand Gallery. “It was a big surprise,” says Tayoubi. “We’re really excited.”

It is unclear how or even if they will access this void. Right now its purpose remains a mystery, including whether it contains any artifacts.

Ethiopia and India consider space partnership

The new colonial movement: Ethiopia and India are in discussions about forging a space partnership.

The article gives little details about this partnership, focusing mostly in describing Ethiopia’s space ambitions.

The Ethiopian government announced in early 2017 that it intends to build its own medium-sized space launch vehicle (SLV) and develop the capabilities to domestically build satellites. The Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said that it will develop a medium-sized SLV that should have its maiden launch within the next three years, according to MOST spokesperson Wondwosen Andualem.

Andualem also pointed out that Ethiopian capacity and capability to build its own satellites is increasing, thanks in part to the partnerships forged by Ethiopia with foreign governments and companies. The Ethiopian government has already stated that it seeks to develop and build satellites for the purposes of national security, disaster management and response, and land management.

…In November 2015, the Mekele Institute of Technology in Ethiopia launched a rocket called Alpha Meles to an altitude of 30 kilometres. The Alpha Meles rocket is believed to cost U.S.$2.3 million to develop, build, and launch, but there have been no reports of any subsequent launches of the rocket.

The question of whether Ethiopia really has a space program remains unclear. It could be that they are exploring this partnership with India because of internal problems getting their independent rockets off the ground.

Hamas agrees to hand Gaza to Palestinian Authority

Don’t count those chickens just yet: Hamas today agreed to a deal with the Palestinian Authority to hand over control of Gaza to their West Bank rivals.

Nothing is really agreed to yet. They now will form committees to determine exactly how control will be transferred.

A major sticking point has been the Hamas military wing and its arsenal. Abbas has said he would only return to Gaza if Hamas hands over power, while Hamas has said the military wing is not up for discussion. Hamas officials have assured the Fatah negotiators that the military wing would maintain a low profile as part of any deal.

I can’t imagine any deal here. The leaders of both groups come from terrorist organizations. The Hamas leadership would consider it literal suicide to give up control over its military force. Similarly, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority would consider it literal suicide to allow an independent military force to operate within it.

The link notes two key aspects to this deal. First, it was partly prompted by the Arab boycott of Qatar, which had been supporting Hamas. Second, it has been brokered by the Egyptian government led by al-Sisi.

Egypt announces creation of space agency

The new colonial movement: The Egyptian government today voted to create an Egyptian space agency with the goal of encouraging the development of a home-based satellite industry.

The ruling by the Council of Ministers will now pass on to the Egyptian parliament for final agreement and made into law. Minister Abdel Ghaffar also said that Egypt intends create a satellite manufacturing centre in 2019, and then launch Egypt’s first indigenously made satellite in 2020.

This satellite is now dubbed Misr Sat 2, previously known as EgyptSat-2, and will be designed and manufactured at Space City, located in New Cairo. Space City is a one hundred acre plot of land where satellite manufacturing and other space facilities are being built. Misr Sat-2 is to be partly funded by China to the tune of U.S.$45 million after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit held in Xiamen, China, earlier in September 2017.

This project is linked to larger aid from China, and appears to be prompted by this Chinese aid.

Egyptian leader demands Palestinians accept Israel in UN speech

While the main buzz in the American press has been President Trump’s UN speech this week, no one has noticed that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in his own UN speech called for the Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel and to co-exist with it.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Tuesday urged Palestinian Arabs to overcome their differences and be ready to co-exist with each other and with Israelis in safety and security. “I tell the Palestinian people it’s extremely important … to overcome the differences and not to lose opportunities and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis in safety and security,” Sisi said in a speech before the UN General Assembly, as quoted by Reuters.

Sisi also had his first pubic meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week. Furthermore, earlier in the week the king of Bahrain endorsed an event at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles by sending his prince as a representative, while simultaneously calling for an end to the Arab boycott of Israel.

[Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center,] told The Times of Israel in a phone interview Monday that he was in Dubai on a mission for his organization when the king personally invited him to visit his palace. While the meeting took place in February, Hier said that he was ready now to discuss its contents after receiving “a clear signal” from the king that the royal meant business. In this case, the signal was that Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa attended a large event for the Weisenthal Center on Thursday, and also visited the unabashedly pro-Israeli Museum of Tolerance, also located in Los Angeles.

There have been other indications recently that the covert cooperation that has existed in recent years between Israel and some Arab nations against Iran and Islamic terrorism is about to become more public. If so, we might be on the cusp of some real positive change in the Middle East. (I realize I am being absurdly optimistic with this statement, but one can always hope.)

Egypt considers creating space agency

The Egyptian government is considering creating an Egyptian Space Agency.

The Egyptian government believes that the establishment of a space agency is necessary to invigorate and administer space programmes in Egypt, that in turn – it is hoped – will revitalize Egypt’s economy and entrepreneurship. While this approach is not without merit, it has been the cause of significant political controversy in Egypt as many of its citizens have voiced harsh criticism of the country’s space plans as the economy continues to deteriorate.

The proposed space agency will also administer Egyptian ambitions to build and even launch its own satellites.

Essentially, the government needs certain space capabilities (military and communications satellites), and a space agency would serve as its corporate arm for obtaining and managing those capabilities. It would also serve as a place where lots of foreign aid cash could be deposited into the government to be distributed to various friends. Along the way it might also help the economy and help shift Egypt in a more western and commercial direction.

How successful this becomes will depend on whether the Egyptian government lets the crony component dominate the process.

Egyptian leader demands an Islamic reassessment

Pigs fly? Speaking at a religious conference on January 1, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for a major reassessment by Islam’s religious leaders.

I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world! Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now. All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

Sisi was bluntly telling the religious leaders of Islam that their radical and violent interpretation of Islam is making the religion an object of hate and contempt and disgust by everyone else in the world, and they had better rethink that interpretation before it destroys the religion.

If only more Islamic leaders were willing to make this kind of demand.

Identification of unknown airstrikes in Libya revealed

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have admitted they launched combined air strikes in Libya this past week.

There are two aspects of this story that are significant. First:

Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said. It is almost as if the theme of ignoring and/or mocking US superpower status exhibited most recently by both China and Russia, is gradually spreading to even the more “banana” republics around the world. Because, while one can debate the pros and cons of any previous administration, it is very much improbable that any regime, especially ones as close to the US as the UAE, and to a lesser extent Egypt, would have conducted such military missions without preclearing with the Pentagon first.

Desperate to stop radical Islamists from taking over Libya, Egypt and UAE made the decision to act without U.S. involvement, on their own. They no longer felt obliged to get our advice, or even tell us what they intended to do.

Second, the air strikes illustrate how the Middle East is becoming increasingly destabilized. The U.S. is seen as weak and unwilling to act. Thus, the radicals move to grab power, and the status quo elites feel compelled to respond.

As long as Barack Obama is in power, expect this unstable situation to become even more unstable. When we occupied Iraq we brought stability and the promise of civilized rule of law. Until recently that stability was held together by either our presence or the belief that we would return if things got out of hand. Now everyone in the Middle East knows the U.S. will do nothing, no matter what happens. They are on their own. And the crazies are moving to take advantage of our absence to bring chaos to the region.

What’s next in Gaza if Hamas rejects peace

If Hamas continues to reject a proposed peace plan negotiated by Egypt, Israel is likely to return to Gaza with a much broader offensive.

A broader ground offensive can take multiple forms, and its scope can vary as well. On one end of the spectrum is a smaller operation that can last a few weeks, in which ground forces seize Gaza, deliver a powerful blow to Hamas’s military assets, and withdraw.

On the other end of the spectrum is an operation that would last at least about a year, in which ground units would spread out and go after all of Hamas’s guerrilla cells. Several intermediate options exist, too. Targets would include the remainder of Hamas’s weapons storage facilities, command and control sites, regional battalions, and its junior and senior leaders from its armed wing.

I hope Israel goes for the broadest most aggressive plan. The most humanitarian thing that could be done for the people in Gaza would be to remove Hamas and free them from its tyrannical, insane, and vicious rule.

Scientists in Egypt have found what they think is evidence of a comet impact from 28 million years ago.

Scientists in Egypt have found what they think is evidence of a comet impact from 28 million years ago.

The best part however is this:

At the centre of the attention of this team was a mysterious black pebble found years earlier by an Egyptian geologist in the area of the silica glass. After conducting highly sophisticated chemical analyses on this pebble, the authors came to the inescapable conclusion that it represented the very first known hand specimen of a comet nucleus, rather than simply an unusual type of meteorite.

Assuming this claim is confirmed it is a very significant discovery. As far as I know, no other specimens from a comet nucleus have been identified previously.

The Israeli spring.

The Israeli spring.

In comparison to the ruined economies of the Arab Spring — tourism shattered, exports nonexistent, and billions of dollars in infrastructure lost through unending violence — Israel is an atoll of prosperity and stability. Factor in its recent huge gas and oil finds in the eastern Mediterranean, and it may soon become another Kuwait or Qatar, but with a real economy beyond its booming petroleum exports.

Israel had nothing to do with either the Arab Spring or its failure. The irony is that surviving embarrassed Arab regimes now share the same concerns of the Israelis.

Read it all. It gives you a different but (I think) more accurate perspective on the chaos in the Middle East.

Tests have now shown that at least one bead from an Egyptian tomb was made from a meteorite.

Tests have now shown that at least one bead of jewelry from an Egyptian tomb was made from a meteorite.

The tube-shaped bead is one of nine found in 1911 in a cemetery at Gerzeh, around 70 kilometres south of Cairo. The cache dates from around 3,300 BC, making the beads the oldest known iron artefacts in Egypt.

An early study found that the iron in the beads had a high nickel content — a signature of iron meteorites — and led to the suggestion that it was of celestial origin2. But scholars argued in the 1980s that accidental early smelting efforts could have led to nickel-enriched iron3, while a more recent analysis of oxidised material on the surface of the beads showed low nickel content4.

To settle the argument, Diane Johnson, a meteorite scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and her colleagues used scanning electron microscopy and computed tomography to analyze one of the beads on loan from the Manchester Museum, UK. The researchers weren’t able to cut the precious artefact open, but they found areas where the weathered material on the surface of the bead had fallen away, providing what Johnson describes as “little windows” to the preserved metal beneath.

The nickel content of this original metal was high — 30% — suggesting that it did indeed come from a meteorite. To confirm the result, the team observed a distinctive crystallographic structure called a Widmanstätten pattern. It is only found in iron meteorites, which cooled extremely slowly inside their parent asteroids as the Solar System was forming.

Polio virus from Pakistan has been found in Egypt.

Bad news: Polio virus from Pakistan has been found in Egypt.

The importation of the virus into Egypt is another setback for the global program, which has finally been making significant progress in the past 2 years, with polio cornered in just three endemic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. (India has now gone 2 years without a single case of polio.) Of the three, Pakistan was doing especially well in knocking out the virus, but the program there has recently been disrupted by the targeted assassination of nine polio workers in December and early January. Those killings, widely condemned, have stoked fears the virus will regain strength in Pakistan and then reinfect polio-free countries. “This is proof positive of long-distance importation from Pakistan, and there may be more,” Aylward says.

But don’t worry: the Muslim Brotherhood have us covered! “Experts are worried, Bari says, because Egypt has scaled back its national polio vaccinations campaigns from twice to once a year during the turmoil of the revolution.” [emphasis mine]

The filmmaker who made the anti-Islamic movie falsely blamed by the Obama administration for the Libya attack has now been in jail for a month.

Freedom of speech is so 20th century: The filmmaker who made the anti-Islamic movie falsely blamed by the Obama administration for the Libya attack has now been in jail for a month.

The movie had nothing to do with the Libya attack. And even if it caused the riots in Egypt, who cares? I thought there was something called the First Amendment, a law to protect the speech rights of U.S. citizens. Yet, Barack Obama and his entire administration have done everything they can to blame the movie, not their own foreign policies, while going out of their way to squelch this man’s freedom.

But remember those binders!

“Those who produced the movie should be tried and killed.”

Islamic tolerance and justice: “Those who produced the movie should be tried and killed.”

Notice he didn’t simply say “Put them on trial,” which would have been bad enough, arresting someone for something he said. He wants them “tried and killed.” In other words, no trial in an Islamic nation is worth the electrons we use to read about it. They are merely kangaroo courts. If an Islamic preacher declares that you are guilty, you are guilty.

Which makes his other statements calling for peaceful demonstrations completely worthless and absolutely bullcrap. What is really going on is that they are now terrified that all that good U.S. money is going to be cut off, and want to placate the naive idiots in the U.S. To quote Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky):

“My position is not one penny more for Libya or Egypt or Pakistan until they act like our allies,” Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Some say we’ve got to keep sending it. Fine. Let’s send it when they act like our allies. Let’s send it when they start behaving like civilized nations and come to their senses.”

As they used to say in the 1960s, “Right on!”

An American professor of religious studies has called for the arrest of a filmmaker because his film insults Islam.

Words fail me: An American professor of religious studies has called for the arrest of an American filmmaker because his film insulted Islam.

The most revealing moment in this disgusting op-ed is when Butler explains that somehow this filmmaker’s free speech rights are less valuable than the filmmaker who made The Last Temptation of Christ.

Bacile’s movie is not the first to denigrate a religious figure, nor will it be the last. The Last Temptation of Christ was protested vigorously. The difference is that Bacile indirectly and inadvertently inflamed people half a world away, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Embassy personnel.

So in other words, free speech is only allowed when it offends Christians or Jews. Offend a Muslim, however, and you must go to prison.

As I said, words fail me. Though I might add that you can reach the head of Anthea Butler’s Department of Religious Studies here. It might be worthwhile to politely ask him what he thinks of his associate professor’s interpretation of freedom of speech.

Not only has Barack Obama not attended an intelligence briefing since Sept 5, he canceled the briefing yesterday, the day after the attacks on our embassies in Egypt and Libya.

Focused like a laser: Not only has Barack Obama not attended an intelligence briefing since Sept 5, he canceled the briefing yesterday, the day after the attacks on our embassies in Egypt and Libya.

And why did he not have a briefing yesterday? He had a campaign fundraiser he just had to attend in Las Vegas.

The White House has disavowed the apology to the Muslim protesters issued by its embassy in Egypt.

The White House has disavowed the apology to the Muslim protesters issued by its embassy in Egypt earlier today.

“The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” an administration official told POLITICO.

In other words, the Obama State Department isn’t cowardly, it’s simply incompetent. What a relief!

The U.S. Embassy in Egypt, response to the attack by Islamic protestors today, has apologized to them.

That’s telling ’em! The U.S. Embassy in Egypt, in response to the attack by Islamic protesters today, has apologized to the protesters because their feelings might have been hurt by a film critical of Mohammad.

The full embassy statement is beyond belief:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Freedom of speech means you have the right to offend others, with no apologizes. Considering the violence continually perpetrated by Islam, it is perfectly justified to criticize this hateful religion. In fact, to its face I say Islam is a stain on the Earth which oppresses millions while killing hundreds of innocents on a daily basis.

For the Obama State Department to apologize for our country’s belief in freedom of speech, on this day of all days, September 11, is unspeakable. What kind of cowards are these people?

Cairo protesters today scaled the U.S. Embassy wall in Egypt and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

Feel the love! Cairo protesters today scaled the U.S. Embassy wall in Egypt and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

In related news, a television station has canceled the airing of a documentary on Islam because of threats it and the filmmaker have received.

Several points:
» Read more

Using Google Earth, an archeologist in North Carolina thinks she has discovered two lost pyramid sites in Egypt.

Using Google Earth, a researcher in North Carolina thinks she has discovered two lost pyramid sites in Egypt.

The researcher’s website, Google Earth Anomalies, is intriguing. It focuses on identifying strange and unexplained features that are seen in Google Earth, such as circular and linear features where none should exist. Often these are artifacts of software processing. Sometimes, as in the Egyptian case above, they are not.

So how’s that old Arab Spring going?

“So how’s that old Arab Spring going?”

Not so good, based on the candidates running for president in Egypt.

Then there is this key paragraph which sums up the West’s entire response to the totalitarian Islamic threat since 9/11:

One of the basic defects of the Bush administration’s designation of a “war on terror” was that it emphasized symptoms (bombs and bombers) over causes (the underlying ideology). In the war of ideas, the West has chosen not to compete, under the erroneous assumption that the ever more refined delivery systems for its sensual distractions [the internet] are a Big Idea in and of themselves. They’re not.

We aren’t fighting an emotion (“terror”), we are fighting violent Islamic radicals who believe that God has given them the right to kill anyone who disagrees with them.

1 2