Tag Archives: freedom

SpaceX to build resort near Boca Chica

Capitalism in space: SpaceX is seeking to hire a manager to lead the design and construction of a resort near Boca Chica for future spaceport customers.

The job posting seeks a manger to “oversee the development of SpaceX’s first resort from inception to completion,” with the ultimate aim of turning Boca Chica into a “21st century Spaceport.” That would include overseeing the entire design and construction process, as well as getting all necessary work permits and regulatory approvals, and completing the ultimate build of the facility.

Makes perfect financial sense, assuming Starship does eventually fly. Customers will need and expect a nice place to stay before and after their flights, and SpaceX has the land and is best positioned for providing it. And even if Starship doesn’t fly, during the rocket’s development there is money to be made providing tourists the best viewpoint for watching test flights, while also creating a source of profit independent of actual flight.

Air Force terminates development contracts to ULA, Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman

In awarding ULA and SpaceX exclusive launch rights for all launches through 2026, the Air Force also decided to end prematurely the development contracts to ULA, Blue Origin, and Northrop Grumman aimed at helping these companies develop new rockets.

An issue at hand is the termination of the Launch Service Agreement contracts that the Air Force awarded in October 2018 to Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman, as well as to ULA. The purpose of the agreements was to help Phase 2 competitors pay for launch vehicle development and infrastructure. Blue Origin received $500 million; Northrop Grumman $792 million and ULA $967 million. The funds were to be spread out through 2024, and the Air Force from the beginning said the LSAs would be terminated with those companies that did not win a Phase 2 procurement contract.

Despite political pressure to not end the LSAs, the agreements will be terminated, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Will Roper said Aug. 7 during a video conference with reporters. “We will work with those two companies to determine the right point to tie off their work under the LSA agreements,” Roper said. The intent of the LSAs “was to create a more competitive environment leading into Phase 2,” he said. “The point is not to carry them indefinitely.”

LSA funds supported the development of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket and Northrop Grumman’s OmegA launch vehicle. ULA will continue to receive funds for its Vulcan Centaur vehicle.

Almost immediately after the award of these contracts was announced in 2018, ULA and Blue Origin announced one year delays in the development of Vulcan and New Glenn. Apparently, meeting the additional requirements of military’s bureaucracy in exchange for getting the cash slowed development.

Now they won’t be getting a large part of that cash, making the decision to take it a deal with the devil. The delay in development has definitely hurt both companies in their competition with SpaceX. First, it likely has raised the cost and complexity of their new rockets, making it harder to compete in price. Second, the delay has given SpaceX more time to grab more customers while improving its own rockets.

SpaceX initially protested not getting a share of this development money, but has subsequently chosen to no longer pursue such government money for Starship because it doesn’t want itself hampered by obtuse government officials and their mindless requirements.

Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman’s Omega rocket is almost certainly dead. That company took the old big space company approach, structuring development around government cash. Without it there is no R&D money at Northrop Grumman to continue work. Furthermore, Omega was designed to serve only once customer, the military. Without any launch contracts there are no customers for Omega, especially because it likely has too high a launch price.

European health officials: Masks are useless, maybe a health problem

They must be white supremacists! Leading health officials in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden continue to state that there is no scientific evidence masks can prevent transmission of COVID-19, while there is ample evidence that their improper use can lead to many other heath issues.

Others, echoing statements similar to the US Surgeon General from early March, said masks could make individuals sicker and exacerbate the spread of the virus.

“Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,” said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment [Holland]. “There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.”

The point here is that research into the ability of masks to block transmission of a virus like COVID-19 is presently very unsettled and unclear. However, the evidence that masks, when used improperly (as almost everyone does) can be unsanitary and actual transmission points for disease is well documented.

Under such conditions it is unconscionable for governments to mandate their use.

SpaceX launches more Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight successfully put two commercial satellites for another customer plus another 57 of its own Starlink satellites into orbit, using a Falcon 9 rocket that was reusing a first stage flying for the fifth time.

This brings the total number of Starlink satellites now in orbit to 595. They also successfully landed the first stage, making it now available for a sixth flight.

19 China
12 SpaceX
9 Russia
4 ULA

The U.S. has retaken the lead from China in the national rankings, 20 to 19.

California & Space Force to encourage private launches at Vandenberg

Capitalism in space: The state government of California has signed an agreement with the U.S. Space Force to expand private launches facilities at Vandenberg Space Force Base

It appears that the Space Force is aggressively trying to encourage new private launch operations to take flight out of Vandenberg. The article however is very unclear about exactly what this new agreement accomplishes. I could not find its actual text, and from the story all we get is typical government blather:

[Chris Dombrowski, acting director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development] said the organizations under the [agreement] will develop a “master plan that identifies the required infrastructure, human capital development, governance and financing necessary to support the United States Space Force mission and position California as a leader in the future of the commercial space industry.”

“This MOU serves as a critical investment in California’s innovative economy as we work to safely recover from the COVID-19 induced recession,” he said.

If anything, it appears that California’s Democratic and very power-hungry government is using this agreement to take control of any new private operations, so that it can dictate how they operate, according to its whims. If so, don’t expect much private enterprise to prosper at Vandenberg.

SpaceX and ULA get launch contracts from SES

Capitalism in space: The satellite communications company SES yesterday announced the award of new launch contracts to both SpaceX and ULA.

It appears that the contract was for one launch from each company, each putting up two satellites. Previously SES’s satellites were generally too large for either the Atlas 5 or the Falcon 9 to launch two at one time. This suggests that the satellite company is slimming down the design of its satellites.

Jeff Bezos sells $3 billion more in Amazon stock

Jeff Bezos this week sold another $3 billion in his Amazon stock, bringing the sales this year along to more than $7 billion.

Amazon stock has soared since mid-March as millions of customers rely on the e-commerce giant amid the pandemic for online shopping, cloud computing, and more. Last week the company posted $88.9 billion in revenue, up 40% from the year-ago quarter, with profits far ahead of Wall Street expectations at $5.2 billion.

Bezos said in 2017 that he was selling $1 billion a year to fund his Blue Origin space venture, but he has been increasing the size and frequency of the stock sales. He sold $2.8 billion worth of Amazon stock a year ago, and around $4 billion earlier this year.

Since 2017 Bezos has now raised more than $11 billion from sales of his Amazon stock. Initially he had said such sales were to finance his space company Blue Origin, but more recently he has indicated he wants to use the bulk of this cash to fight climate change, with portions also devoted services for the homeless and early childhood education.

In fact, it appears that Blue Origin is likely getting only a very small portion of this money, though at several billion this isn’t chicken-feed. At a minimum it likely matches what SpaceX has raised through private investment capital for its Starship/Starlink projects, and more likely exceeds it.

Yet, SpaceX continues to outpace Blue Origin, several times over. If anything, as the cash from Bezos has rolled in Blue Origin’s pace of test flights with New Shepard as well as the development of its BE-4 rocket engine and New Glenn orbital rocket seemed have slowed. Initially New Glenn was going to make its first orbital launch this year. Now they say it will launch next year but we hear little about any development progress. And the company only delivered a test engine of the BE-4 (not flight worthy) to ULA only about a month ago, far later than first promised.

Though the lack of news could simply be Blue Origin’s more secretive way of doing things, compared to SpaceX, I have my doubts. Rockets are big things, and building and testing them is not something easily kept under wraps, especially by private companies. The lack of news from Blue Origin continues to suggest that simply having lots of money does not necessarily guarantee success.

Fifth Starship prototype flies!

Starship #5 in flight
Shortly after take-off.

Right after landing
Right after landing.

Shortly after landing
After the smoke has cleared.

Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s fifth Starship prototype today successfully completed a 150 meter hop at its Boca Chica facility in Texas, landing vertically.

I have embedded a video of the flight below the fold.

The screen capture to the right shows it in flight. It is canted slightly because its one Raptor engine was not centered at its base but offset.

The next image shows the prototype standing vertical on the ground to the left of Starhopper, which flew one year ago. All told the flight lasted only about a minute.

The final image shows a close-up of the prototype after the smoke has cleared. Why it is canted on the ground is not clear. Its legs are not visible (they apparently are relatively small), so it is hard to say whether one buckled or not.

The launch platform might have sustained damage but they have another ready to go. It is even conceivable that they could fly this prototype again, though they already have prototype #8 waiting in the wings.

Regardless, expect SpaceX to keep its fast development pace going. I would not be surprised if they attempt another test flight in less than two weeks.

Screen captures courtesy of the LabPadre live stream.
» Read more

Virgin Galactic again delays first commercial flight

Capitalism in space: Virgin Galactic, which has been repeatedly delaying its first commercial flight for more than a decade, has done so again, stating that it will not occur until 2021.

The company, in its fiscal second quarter financial results released Aug. 3, said it expected to perform two more test flights of SpaceShipTwo from Spaceport America in New Mexico, both of which will be powered flights. The vehicle has made two glide flights since moving to the spaceport early this year.

The first of those powered flights, scheduled for the fall, will have two pilots on board. It will also carry payloads for NASA’s Flight Opportunities program that arranges flights of experiments on suborbital vehicles, said George Whitesides, chief space officer and former chief executive of Virgin Galactic, in a company earnings call.

If that flight goes as expected, Virgin Galactic will then perform a second flight, this time with four mission specialists on board along with the two pilots. Those mission specialists “will evaluate the performance of our full customer cabin and associated hardware,” he said. The company unveiled the design of the cabin July 28, although Whitesides said they were still completing the installation of the cabin on the company’s current SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity.

“Presuming things go as expected on this fully-crewed flight, we would then plan to fly Sir Richard Branson on the third powered flight from New Mexico,” he said. That flight would take place in the first quarter of 2021 and mark the beginning of commercial service, although Whitesides said it will also be a test flight of sorts. “Sir Richard is in a unique position to provide the ultimate cabin and spaceflight experience evaluation, as a visionary of the Virgin customer experience.”

The company also announced that it intends to sell stock shares to raise more capital. Right now the stock is selling for about $20.

I am no expert on the stock market, but to my mind this company’s chances of making big profits from suborbital flights is slim to none. They might make some money, but hardly enough ever to repay their investors. Virgin Galactic’s window for making big money in suborbital tourism closed forever with the success of SpaceX’s manned Dragon flight to ISS. The space tourism market is shifting to orbital space, something Virgin Galactic cannot provide. Worse, the cost for getting to orbit continues to drop, while this company can’t reduce its prices much.

Virgin Galactic provides a weak product in the present market, one that can only become weaker when compared to its competitors.

Starship hop today?

UPDATE: They are close to trying again. If you refresh your screen, you will now have two iterations of the live stream. This will allow you to have two cameras visible at the same time, You can show the main “nerdie” camera on one, with their commentary, and show the wider “sapphire” camera on the second. You pick cameras by clicking on the camera icon in the menu bar at the bottom of the screen.

UPDATE: First attempt apparently aborted. No word yet if they will attempt again today.

UPDATE: Scrubbed on August 3rd, attempting again on August 4th.

Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s Starship team has scheduled the first 500 foot hop of the fifth Starship prototype today, after canceling yesterday’s attempt.

The window for Starship SN5’s 150m hop debut now stretches from 8am to 8pm CDT (13:00-01:00 UTC) on Monday, August 3rd. It’s currently unknown if SpaceX will offer its own live coverage of the test flight but several unofficial streams will likely be available from NASASpaceflight.com, LabPadre, SPadre, and more. Stay tuned for updates!

I have embedded LabPadre’s live stream below the fold, if you wish to run it in the background. They will have commentary when they note a “pad clear” signal.
» Read more

Private Japanese lunar lander redesigned, flight delayed one year

Capitalism in space: The privately financed Japanese lunar landing company Ispace has redesigned its lander and delayed the first flight by one year, to 2022.

Since a preliminary design review in 2018, ispace has reduced the size of Hakuto-R. Previously 3.5 meters high and 4.4 meters wide with its landing legs deployed, the lander is now 2.3 meters high and 2.6 meters wide. The spacecraft’s mass has decreased from 1,400 to 1,050 kilograms, primarily by reducing the amount of propellant on board.

A smaller lander is less expensive to develop, said Ryo Ujiie, manager of the lander system engineering group at ispace, during a call with reporters July 30. It also reduces the size and complexity of the landing legs. The spacecraft will use a different trajectory to go to the moon, employing a low-energy transfer orbit that requires less propellant but takes roughly twice as long as previously planned. “We had to pick a more propellant-efficient orbit” given the reduction in propellant, said Chit Hong Yam, manager of the mission design and operations group. “We’re confident that, with enough checking, we should be able to execute this orbit.”

While the overall lander is smaller, it still maintains a payload capacity of 30 kilograms. Once on the surface, likely at one of several mid-latitude sites on the moon under consideration by ispace, it will operate for 12 days.

That first flight will launch on a Falcon 9. The company raised $95 million in private capital in 2017, and still plans a second lander launch in 2023.

Endeavour safely splashes down

Splashdown of Endeavour

Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s Endeavour Dragon capsule has successfully splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, returning two humans back to Earth safely after completing the first two month long manned commercial space mission.

If you go to the live stream to watch recovery operations, note that the boats and ships and persons involved are all property and employees of SpaceX. This is entirely an operation of the private company. The government is not involved, other than NASA’s justified monitoring as SpaceX’s customer.

One cool tidbit for the future. Endeavour is scheduled to fly again, in the spring of 2021. On that flight will be Megan McArthur, the wife of astronaut Bob Behnken, and she will likely sit in the same place he did on his flight.

Russians sign deal to fly two tourists to ISS

Capitalism in space: Now that their Soyuz capsule is no longer required to fly NASA astronauts to ISS, the Russians have spare seats, and have now signed a deal with Space Adventures to fly two tourists to ISS in late 2021.

They will announce the tourist’s names later this year.

Space Adventures also has a deal with SpaceX to fly two tourists on a Dragon capsule on a week-plus long orbital mission (not docking with ISS). SpaceX also has a deal with the space station company Axiom to fly tourists to ISS. Next year could thus see two or three tourist flights to space.

Isn’t competition wonderful?

Live stream of Dragon undocking and splashdown

SpaceX is providing full coverage of the undocking of Dragon from ISS through splashdown tomorrow. I have embedded this below the fold if my readers wish to watch.

The undocking window opens at 7:34 pm (Eastern), with spashdown set for 2:41 pm (Eastern) tomorrow.

If the video is not of the live stream for the splashdown, refresh your browser.
» Read more

Midnight repost: The real meaning of the Apollo 8 Earthrise image

Tonight’s midnight repost essay, written to celebrate the 50th anniversary in December 2018 of the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon, I think is a fitting finale to my month-long retrospective of past essays from Behind the Black. Unlike many others, which document the culture decline of our once great country, this essay looks hopefully to the grand future of the human race, once we have escaped this prison of Earth and begin to explore and settle the wider universe.

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The real meaning of the Apollo 8 Earthrise image

Earthrise, as seen by a space-farer

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the moment when the three astronauts on Apollo 8 witnessed their first Earthrise while in orbit around the Moon, and Bill Anders snapped the picture of that Earthrise that has been been called “the most influential environmental picture ever taken.”

The last few days have seen numerous articles celebrating this iconic image. While all have captured in varying degrees the significance and influence of that picture on human society on Earth, all have failed to depict this image as Bill Anders, the photographer, took it. He did not frame the shot, in his mind, with the horizon on the bottom of the frame, as it has been depicted repeatedly in practically every article about this image, since the day it was published back in 1968.

Instead, Anders saw himself as an spaceman in a capsule orbiting the waist of the Moon. He also saw the Earth as merely another space object, now appearing from behind the waist of that Moon. As a result, he framed the shot with the horizon to the right, with the Earth moving from right to left as it moved out from behind the Moon, as shown on the right.

His perspective was that of a spacefarer, an explorer of the universe that sees the planets around him as objects within that universe in which he floats.
» Read more

Electrical disconnect caused Rocket Lab’s July 4th launch failure

Capitalism in space: According to Rocket Lab’s investigation into the July 4th launch failure, an electric connection detached and cut off power to the upper stage, causing it to cease firing prematurely.

Once the electrical system disconnected in flight, it cut power from the rocket’s battery to the electric turbopumps on the Electron’s second stage Rutherford engine. That caused the engine to switch off prematurely around five-and-a-half minutes after the rocket took off from Rocket Lab’s launch base in New Zealand.

The early engine shutdown prevented the rocket from reaching the velocity necessary to enter a stable orbit around Earth, according to Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, a small satellite launch company headquartered in Long Beach, California.

But telemetry continued streaming from the launch vehicle back to Rocket Lab’s control center in Auckland, New Zealand, allowing engineers to analyze data and determine the cause of the failure. The kerosene-fueled second stage engine shut down in a controlled manner, and the rocket coasted to an altitude of around 121 miles (195 kilometers) before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up.

Now that the company understands what caused the detachment, it will institute testing to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The fix however will not require any redesign of the rocket, and so they are targeting late August for their next launch, followed in September with the first launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. They also still expect to complete one launch per month through the end of the year.

Starship fifth prototype set for first 500 foot hop

Capitalism in space: SpaceX fifth Starship prototype has passed all of its static fire tests and is now ready for its first flight, a 500 foot vertical hop.

That hop should occur within days.

I have embedded a nice video that summarizes well all of the work being done right now at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas, including the construction of large assembly buildings for both Starship and Super Heavy.
» Read more

Midnight repost: A scientist’s ten commandments

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: The post below, from September 27, 2010, reports on one of the simplest but most profound scientific papers I have ever read. Its advice is doubly needed today, especially commandment #3.

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A scientist’s ten commandments

Published today on the astro-ph website, this preprint by Ignacio Ferrín of the Center for Fundamental Physics at the University of the Andes, Merida, Venezuala, is probably the shortest paper I have ever seen. I think that Dr. Ferrin will forgive me if I reprint it here in its entirety:

1. Go to your laboratory or your instrument without any pre-conceived ideas. Just register what you saw faithfully.

2. Report promptly and scientifically. Check your numbers twice before submitting.

3. Forget about predictions. They are maybe wrong.

4. Do not try to conform or find agreement with others. You may be the first to be observing a new phenomenon and you may risk missing credit for the discovery.

5. Criticism must be scientific, respectful, constructive, positive, and unbiased. Otherwise it must be done privately.

6. If you want to be respected, respect others first. Do not use insulting or humiliating words when referring to others. It is not in accord with scientific ethics.

7. Do not cheat. Cheating in science is silly. When others repeat your experiment or observation, they will find that you were wrong.

8. If you do not know or have made a mistake, admit it immediately. You may say, “I do not know but I will find out.” or “I will correct it immediately.” No scientist knows the answer to everything. By admitting it you are being honest about your knowledge and your abilities.

9. Do not appropriate or ignore other people’s work or results. Always give credit to others, however small their contribution may have been. Do not do unto others what you would not like to be done unto you.

10. Do not stray from scientific ethics.

It seems that some scientists in the climate field (Phil Jones of East Anglia University and Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University are two that come to mind immediately) would benefit by reading and following these rules.

Manned Dragon return on August 2nd threatened by weather

Capitalism in space: The splashdown of SpaceX’s first manned Dragon capsule Endeavour on August 2nd is now threatened by weather.

Isaias officially became a named tropical storm on Wednesday night, when its wind speeds exceeded 39 mph. The storm could affect several landing areas just as Endeavour is supposed to reenter Earth’s atmosphere, deploy its parachutes, and splash into the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.

Three of the seven landing zones that SpaceX and NASA prescribed for the test mission, called Demo-2, lie within the “cone of probability” for the storm’s path. Those splashdown sites are located off the coasts of Cape Canaveral, Daytona, and Jacksonville, according to NASA. A July 30 map shows NASA and SpaceX’s landing zones for the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission amid the estimated path and conditions of Tropical Storm Isaias. The outer-edge green shows a 5-10% chance of sustained tropical storm-force winds. Google Earth; NOAA; NASA; Business Insider

Depending on how large the storm grows and how nasty weather conditions become, mission managers may scrub the undocking and landing attempt. Steep waves, rain, lightning, low clouds, poor visibility (for helicopters to fly the astronauts from a SpaceX recovery boat back to land), or even winds stronger than about 10 mph can trigger a “no-go” decision.

At the moment they are go for undocking on August 1st and splashdown the next day, but that could change depending on how the weather changes.

Midnight repost: American Kristallnacht

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Though this essay was only first posted less than two months ago, it bears repeating, over and over and over again, whenever power-hungry thugs use violence to achieve their ends.

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American Kristallnacht

It might have been an accident, or maybe it was because of the events of the past three months, but earlier this year I decided to finally read William Shirer’s masterpiece, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Previously I had only read the first few chapters in order to learn something about Hitler’s background. Now it was time to read the whole book.

I am only halfway through it but no matter. Every page has sent terror through my soul, as it appears to not be a history of the 1930s foolishness and madness that allowed a megalomaniac to become the leader of a powerful nation, intent on conquering the world while committing genocide against millions, but a news report of modern America.

What we have seen for the past three months — accelerated to madness with riots this week — has been nothing more than a return to the Nazi tactics of the 1930s, with the only difference being that the targets have not been just Jews, but all private businesses as well as anyone who dares to oppose their wanton destruction. In fact, the use of rocks to break windows and loot businesses and attack and even kill their owners this week was so reminiscent of Kristallnacht that I find it more than horrifying. From the link:
» Read more

Midnight repost: A society run by mob rule

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Why have the concepts of free speech and tolerance declined in the United States? Tonight’s midnight repost essay, from November 25, 2019, tries to answer that question.

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A society run by mob rule

In the past week several ugly events have illustrated forcefully how mob rule now dictates who can or cannot speak freely in America. Worse, these events show that we are no longer a civilized social order run by reason. Instead, we have become a culture where whoever can throw the loudest tantrum dictates policy.

First we have the horrible events last week at the State University of New York-Binghamton.

To understand how disgusting and despicable the first story above is, it is necessary for you to watch the video below. Pay special attention to the taller girl in the fur-lined parka who at about four minutes keeps looking at the camera-person (whom I think is also a girl) and aggressively and repeatedly asking, “Why are you shaking so? Why are you shaking so?” The reason is obvious. The girl filming is one the conservative students, and she is justifiably frightened. The taller girl, hostile and irrationally angry because a conservative dared to advocate opinions she doesn’t like, is clearly being physically threatening. As are all of her leftist compatriots.

The response of the college administration to this atrocious behavior was even more vile, essentially endorsing the actions of the mob:
» Read more

NASA announces third Dragon flight crew

NASA today announced four-person Dragon flight crew for that spacecraft’s third flight in the spring, the second official operational flight.

NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough will join JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet on that flight, which will follow Crew-1 currently scheduled for sometime in late September after Demo-2 concludes. This is a regular mission, meaning the crew will be staffing the International Space Station for an extended period – six months for this stretch, sharing the orbital research platform with three astronauts who will be using a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to make the trip.

Pesquet will be the first European to fly on Dragon. McArthur however is more interesting, in that this will be her first spaceflight in more than a decade. She had previously flown only once before, in 2009 on the last Hubble repair mission. She is also the wife of Bob Behnken, who is on ISS right now having flown on the first Dragon manned mission now preparing for its return to Earth on August 2nd.

The long gap in flights was certainly due to the shuttle’s retirement. Why she didn’t fly on a Soyuz is a question some reporter should ask her at some point.

Midnight repost: “They’re coming for you next.”

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Tonight’s midnight repost, written in July 2018, illustrates the danger to each and every one of us because of the rise and dominance of intolerance in the United States.

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“They’re coming for you next.”

This week we had a number of really ugly examples of the hate the left has for anyone who might dare express an opinion that might suggest even the slightest support for President Donald Trump.

But then, how is this week different from any other week since Trump was elected president in 2016?

The top example however is how Judge Jeanine Pirro was treated when she appeared on the The View. I have embedded the video below. You must force yourself to watch. It is painful and ugly, but the hate and very clear close-mindedness of those who disagreed with her, especially from Whoopie Goldberg, illustrates well the terrible state we are in.


» Read more

Midnight repost: “If you have wrongthink, you will not be allowed.”

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Tonight’s repost, from April 6, 2018, provides more cultural evidence that America’s culture no longer celebrates freedom of thought and tolerance.

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“If you have wrongthink, you will not be allowed.”

The fascist, intolerant, and oppressive nature of today’s leftist culture has now gotten so bad that The Atlantic, a liberal publication long considered a reasonable intellectual voice from the left, can no longer tolerate for more than two weeks the hiring of a conservative, even though that conservative, Kevin Williamson, was also a vehement opponent of Donald Trump.

The quote that forms the title of this essay however comes not from the above Williamson story, but from a cogent essay by Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist about that intolerant leftist culture. As he says,

This story [Williamson’s firing] is a predictable continuation of the left’s ownership not just of media but indeed of all institutions. It is depressing. It is predictable. And it is where we are as a country now. It is not confined to the realm of ideas. Eich, Damore, Williamson and others are subject to blacklists and HR reports and firing in every arena of industry and culture. If you have wrongthink, you will not be allowed for long to make your living within any space the left has determined they own – first the academy, then the media, then corporate America, and now the public square. You will bake the cake, you will use the proper pronoun, and you will never say that what Planned Parenthood does is murder for hire, and should be punished as such under the law.

As Domenech notes, Williamson’s firing is only one example of a legion of similar stories. There is the fascist intolerance of modern academia for example. Or we can talk about the hateful scapegoating of innocent NRA members, blaming them for a murderer’s violence merely because they wish to defend their Constitutional rights as specifically outlined in the Bill of Rights.

Or maybe we should mention the hate and violence committed against children and students, merely because they either wear a “Make America Great Again” t-shirt or carry signs supporting Trump.

I wish these were only isolated examples. They are not. For most of the second half of last year I was able to post weekly updates listing anywhere from six to several dozen new stories describing this hateful leftist culture. Here are just a few more that I gathered in mid-March but found too depressing to report at the time:
» Read more

Midnight repost: Buy dumb!

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: The failures of modern technology (shaped sadly by a lot of government regulation) often illustrates well the coming dark age. Tonight’s repost from September 15, 2019 gives one good example, and what you can do to counter this trend.

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Buy dumb!

The dumb washing machine we hunted for and got
The used “dumb” machine we
paid $285 for that actually
cleans our clothes.

The smart washing machine we threw out
The “smart” machine that we
paid $923 for and sold for $40.

Two years ago our old Kenmore Series 80 washing machine broke down. The repair guy said it would be so expensive to fix that he recommended it was time to buy something new.

So off we went to Sears, where we ended up buying one of today’s modern “smart” machines for a mere $923. As the LG website proudly exclaims,

A Smarter Way to Wash: 6Motion™ Technology uses up to 6 different wash motions to provide a smart cleaning experience that is gentle on clothes and maximizes washing performance.

The problem was the machine never got any of our clothes clean. It also refused to provide enough water. The way it worked was to sense the weight of the clothes you put inside, and determine the needed amount based on this. Routinely, it wasn’t enough, so Diane did web searches to discover numerous owners faking out the machine’s brains by pouring several buckets of water on top of the clothes before turning on the machine, making them weigh more.

The machine also did not have an agitator, the new in-thing among washing machine manufacturers two years ago, probably forced on them by new federal regulations. And though the tub itself did shake, it did it so gently that the clothes hardly moved.

There were also other issues with the machine’s smart technology that frustrated Diane. The machine was boss, and would not allow for any flexibility to its predetermined wash and rinse cycles, even when they made no sense.

Last week Diane had had enough. » Read more

Northrop Grumman about to launch second mission extension robot

Capitalism in space: The success of Northrop Grumman’s first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) to dock with a dead communications satellite and bring it back to life has set the stage for the second MEV, set for launch on an Ariane 5 before the end of the month.

For MEV-1’s mission, Intelsat decommissioned the 901 satellite and moved it up into the GEO graveyard for rendezvous and docking operations.

However, the main result of the excellent performance of MEV-1 and a full demonstration of the docking and capture process is that MEV-2 will not be required to rendezvous with its target in the GEO graveyard. Nor will the satellite be deactivated. Instead, MEV-2 will move directly to the main operational GEO belt and approach Intelsat 10-02 while the satellite is still actively relaying telecommunications. “Intelsat has confirmed their desire on the next MEV, MEV-2, to do the docking directly in GEO orbit. They will be maintaining customer traffic as we do the docking with MEV-2,” noted Mr. Anderson.

This new approach, which was always the goal for future MEV operations, was aided in large part by confirmation to a high degree of accuracy that all of MEV’s systems worked as planned during Intelsat 901 operations.

The article notes that this concept could even be extended to sending a robot to Hubble to provide it accurate pointing capability when its last gyroscopes finally fail, thus extending the life of that space telescope even farther beyond its original planned fifteen year lifespan that ended in 2005.

Watching the splashdown of the first manned Dragon capsule

Capitalism in space: NASA yesterday released its broadcast schedule for watching the undocking from ISS and the splashdown of SpaceX’s first manned Dragon capsule, carrying two American astronauts.

The schedule includes preliminary press conferences, the undocking, the splashdown, and the post-recovery press conference, all centered around the planned August 2nd return.

Midnight repost: Freedom dying

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Last night’s midnight repost tried to predict what would happen politically following the big Republican victories in the 2010 midterm election. I was not sure, but worried that the Republicans would not have the courage to do what they promised (cut the budget and repeal Obamacare) and would fold like a house of cards when pressured with government shutdowns by Obama and the Democrats.

They did fold, and the result was that the Democrats were further emboldened, and the Republicans weakened in the long run. Tonight’s repost, written on November 7, 2018, illustrates the consequences of this by taking a look at the just completed 2018 midterm elections. There, the American people had rewarded the Democrats for their endless slander campaigns and power grabs. Times had changed, but not for the better.

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Freedom dying

The results of yesterday’s election, when taken in the context of the stories below, confirm for me the sad belief that freedom in the United States is steadily dying. Freedom might return, but for the next few decades I think we are headed for oppressive times. Be prepared.

The stories are only a sampling, and are cited because of what they show: In every case they describe attacks against individuals defending freedom of speech and diversity of thought, and all the attacks come from the students, the future of our society.
» Read more

Today’s fake news in space

In the past day we have had two space-related stories that sadly illustrate the shallowness of our modern press. Modern mainstream reporters literally know nothing of the subject they are reporting on, and expend zero effort to improve their knowledge.

First we have the story making the rounds about a Russian anti-satellite test. This BBC story,
UK and US say Russia fired a satellite weapon in space“, is typical. It takes at face value the claims of the military bureaucracies in the United States and the United Kingdom, and makes it sound as if the Russians were doing something new and unique that no one has ever done before.
» Read more

Penn Republicans surrendering to mail-in voting

The stupid party: Republicans in Pennsylvania are joining Democrats to call for mail-in voting in the coming November election.

“Now is a time for all Americans to stand up and put their country over their party,” said former congressman Patrick Murphy, a Bucks County Democrat. “From the elderly grandmother to young people, everyone needs to understand that the process of mail-in voting is trustworthy, and if they want to vote in person they need to know how to do that safely.”

Murphy, who also once served as acting secretary of the U.S. Army, has joined forces with former Pennsylvania House Republican majority leader Dave Reed to chair VoteSafe Pennsylvania. The group launched its statewide information campaign on Tuesday. “With everything going on here in 2020 and it happening to be a presidential election year as well, I think it’s fair to say we have a really polarized nation right now politically,” Reed said in an interview. “This project is just focused on making sure people feel safe and secure in voting with the mail-in ballots. And for folks who want to go to an in-person ballot precinct, making sure those places are safe and that folks are comfortable in doing so.”

“The bottom line is just very simple,” Reed added. “We just want to make sure everybody has an opportunity to participate this year.” [emphasis mine]

The article then goes on to related the numerous problems experienced in Pennsylvania with tabulating its mail-in votes in the most recent primary. It took some counties weeks to count the vote, and there were innumerable problems.

The one bright light in this darkness is that both of these idiots are former state legislators, and have clearly teamed up to push elected officials to buy their scheme. We can only pray they don’t get what they really want, a way to rig elections easily for their own benefit.

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