Jewish pro-Trump convoy attacked repeatedly in New York

They’re coming for you next: A pro-Trump convoy of Jewish New Yorkers was attacked repeatedly by hostile anti-Trump protesters during its trip through the city today.

Multiple disturbing video clips of the convoy posted on @NYScanner show crowds not taking too kindly to rows of vehicles with hoisted Trump 2020 flags. In one video, a man can be seen appearing to throw eggs at the convoy in Brooklyn. In another video, pedestrians can be seen appearing to throw rocks at vehicles displaying a Trump flag.

The hostility evidently lingered throughout the day. In multiple clips, people can be heard yelling expletives at the “Jews For Trump” participants.

One man – on a bike, no less – appears so incensed that the “pro-Trump” vehicles have congested traffic on the Brooklyn that he resorts to punching a window. In Manhattan, a woman was arrested for allegedly using pepper spray on the convoy, according to police.

Later, a scuffle broke out between the pro- and anti-Trump crowd in the middle of a street. Masked protesters could be seen in one clip converging on a vehicle doused in red paint as “YMCA” is blasting in the background.

“Go home! We don’t you here!” somebody in the crowd shouts. “Go back to Long Island!” another person shouts.

A video posted on Twitter shows a pro-Trump caravan led by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani shows being pelted with eggs.

The worst story was the lead attack at the link. A family of seven, including four children, were pepper-sprayed when another car pulled up beside their Trump-festooned vehicle and sprayed them through the open windows.

This is supposed to be America, the land of free speech and free debate, where your right to express your political beliefs are defended by all. Sadly, for the left and those on the side of the Democratic Party, such tolerance is no longer acceptable. Instead, they celebrate storm-trooper tactics against all who disagree with them.

I hope everyone remembers this when they vote. Remember, they’re coming for you next.

Reviewing the development of Starship/Super Heavy

Link here. This five-part article is a detailed review of SpaceX’s development of its new completely reusable heavy-lift rocket, with Super Heavy being the first stage booster and Starship being the orbital upper stage capable of returning to Earth, landing vertically, and being reused.

From the article’s conclusion:

The Starship program is unique and one of the most ambitious in the history of rocketry. The design has now gone through at least twelve known versions and four different names!

Its first version was a single or triple-core rocket back in 2013, which has evolved into the single-core stainless steel Starship design under construction today. Even as the design’s size has fluctuated dramatically, its repertoire of missions and roles has expanded.

It started out as a rocket meant to colonize Mars but now is envisioned as an all-purpose carrier rocket to replace the Falcon 9 rocket family. It is expected to launch satellites into Earth orbit, fly people point-to-point on Earth, ferry cargo and crew to and from the Moon, in addition to its original role as a Mars colonization vehicle.

Two significant points: First, SpaceX as a company has shown itself remarkably capable of shifting design and development tracks, on a dime, if it realized there was a better way to do things. Second, the company has also smartly rethought this big rocket’s reason for existing. In the beginning they focused on Musk’s goal of getting to Mars. That concept however had few if no customers, and therefore have little chance of producing profits. Overtime the company adjusted their design goals to expand the rocket’s purposes so that its capabilities would serve as many customers as possible.

The result is a useful product that still could take people to Mars.

SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched another sixty Starlink satellites, bringing the total in orbit to over 800.

The company also recovered the first stage, completing its third flight. The fairings were to be picked up in the ocean, rather than caught in a ship’s net, as the last launch one fairing broke the net. SpaceX engineers might have determined ocean recovery is now safer and sufficient for reuse.

This was also the company’s 100th successful launch and its 63rd successful first stage recovery.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

26 China
18 SpaceX
11 Russia
4 ULA
4 Europe (Arianespace)

The U.S. now leads China 28 to 26 in the national rankings.

Sudan joins UAE and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel

The Trump administration’s successes in the Middle East continue: Sudan is apparently about to join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain as the first Arab countries in decades to normalize its relations with Israel.

Moreover, there are rumors than another five more Arab countries are about to join in. They are probably holding back to see what happens on November 3rd. Expect a swarm of new agreements should Trump win.

This deal, along with the one with the UAE and Bahrain, are the direct result of Trump’s hard-nosed policies against the terrorist organizations running the Palestinian territories adjacent to Israel. Unlike past presidents from both parties since the first Bush, Trump has made no effort to pander to either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Instead, he has cut off their funding. He has also recognized the real strategic landscape in the Middle East, divided between Iran and its terrorist surrogates in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and every other Arab nation, and used that divide to gain allies.

During the 2016 campaign, he promised to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, just as practically every presidential candidate had promised since the mid-1990s. Unlike all those other liars, Trump kept that promise. He however also reshaped U.S. Middle East policy in fundamental ways, as described above, and thus has achieved real progress. Voters must remember this when they vote.

Starship prototype #8 gets its nosecone

Starship prototype #8, with nosecone
Screen capture from LabPadre live stream.

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has now installed the nosecone on Starship prototype #8 in advance of its first vertical hop to 50,000 feet, or more than ten miles, expected sometime in November.

Curiously, hours prior to nose installation, SpaceX apparently removed one of Starship SN8’s three Raptor engines while also revealing that a spare fourth engine was already in Boca Chica. In other words, the prototype likely has only two Raptor engines installed at the moment, meaning that SpaceX will need to install another before the company can prepare for SN8’s next major test campaign.

According to CEO Elon Musk, the plan was to static fire Starship SN8’s three Raptor engines, perform final inspections and checkouts, perform another static fire, and finally attempt the first high-attitude Starship flight test. As of October 22nd, SpaceX has seemingly completed the two steps. Nosecone freshly installed, it’s likely that SpaceX will use the second triple-Raptor static fire opportunity to test the engines while feeding propellant solely from Starship’s liquid oxygen and methane header tanks – the latter of which is located in the nose.

The removal of one engine suggests they found something in that engine they didn’t like during last week’s static fire test, though that is mere speculation on my part.

The addition of the nosecone, with its own fins, clearly changes the appearance of prototype #8, making it look truly like a rocket ship. In fact, it looks more like the rocket ship imagined by science fiction writers for decades prior to the advent of spaceflight in the 1960s. The irony is that this is the first real rocket since the V2 in World War II to have this look.

Why Barrett’s confirmation went fast: Senate Republicans finally grew a spine

Link here. The author outlines all the ways the Democrats tried to duplicate their slander campaign against Brett Kavanaugh, then notes this:

The biggest difference is that Republicans simply weren’t playing with these attacks. Each and every one of these stories — and dozens of similar ones — was met with swift condemnation or yawns. Every single one.

It took a few decades of the left playing the exact same games with most confirmation battles, but finally, the right figured out how to render those attacks worthless. It’s not just conservative Americans, but the senators themselves who are playing this differently.

Rather than the Senate Judiciary Committee immediately responding to the Washington Post’s anti-Kavanaugh attack by bending to the will of the Democrats, this time they just didn’t care. As Democrats openly said on national television that they would do anything to stop Barrett’s confirmation, rather than act scared, the Republicans were not moved. They haven’t responded with outrage or drama, but just a steely resolve to get the nomination done. [emphasis mine]

Why it took Senate Republicans decades to figure out this basic premise, that the best way to deal with bullies and temper tantrums is to ignore them, is another question. It suggests that for decades those Republicans really liked bowing to those tantrums, because they really didn’t want to achieve any of the conservative goals their voters wanted and that they always campaigned on.

However, fake conservative senators like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are gone, replaced with senators who are either more legitimately conservative (Marsha Blackburn) or faced with a tough reelection fight that forces toughness (Martha McSally). The result is that no Republican in the Senate is willing to play the Democrat’s game anymore. They can scream and kick and hold their breath, but on Monday Amy Barrett will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SpaceX wins partial approval to provide Starlink service in Canada

Capitalism in space: Though SpaceX has obtained permission to provide its Starlink internet service from Canada’s Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, similar to the U.S.’s FCC, it still has not gotten full government approval to begin offering its service to customers.

It appears a different Canadian regulatory body, dubbed Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), has still not given its okay of the “satellite spectrum” SpaceX requires. From the second link:

SpaceQ had previously contacted ISED in June about SpaceX. ISED wouldn’t comment directly on any application, but did tell SpaceQ that the applications and approved website pages were up to date at that time. The website had last been updated in May. Since then, the website was updated in July. And yet there’s still no mention of SpaceX. It’s my understanding that the specific pages with applications and approvals is updated pretty quickly when there is new information to post. Though it took 3 weeks for changes to appear after Kepler submitted their application in June of this year.

With respect to how long it takes to get approval, ISED said the “service standard for the processing of satellite applications, including for those for foreign satellites, is 130 calendar days.” It’s quite possible that it could take longer.

This description carries all the hallmarks of a typical government bureaucracy whose only purpose is to block new companies and new technology. The political swamp of Canada might also be using it as a means of extortion for campaign funds from SpaceX. “Nice business you got there. Sure would be a shame if it didn’t get that license approval.”

I don’t think SpaceX needs to bow to these games. In the end ISED will back down and give approval, especially when the company begins offering its services just over the border in the U.S. The competitive and political pressure to give its okay will then be too great.

Lockheed Martin to move its smallsat rocket launch project to the UK

Capitalism in space: Lockheed Martin announced today that it is moving its Pathfnder smallsat rocket operation to a new spaceport in Shetland in the United Kingdom, with the first launch targeted for ’24.

This Shetland site is a different UK spaceport than the Sutherland site, also in Scotland, where both Lockheed Martin and the British company Orbex also hope to launch.

SpaceX completes static fire test on Starship prototype #8

Capitalism in space: SpaceX last night successfully completed the static fire test on its eighth Starship prototype, for the first time firing three Raptor engines simultanously.

Video of the test, cued to just before ignition, is embedded below the fold.

The company will now install the nosecone on the prototype, repeat this static fire test again in about a week, and then prepare it for its first flight, an expected 50,000 foot hop. I expect that hop to occur in early to mid-November, about the same time the next manned Dragon flight will occur.

» Read more

The big lie of “systematic racism” in America

In June, shortly after George Floyd met his tragic death while in the hands of arresting police officers, former vice president and Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden was asked by a television reporter, “Do you believe there is systemic racism in law enforcement?” Biden responded as follows:

“Absolutely,” Biden responded. “But it’s not just in law enforcement, it’s across the board. It’s in housing, it’s in education, and it’s in everything we do. It’s real. It’s genuine. It’s serious.”

The absurdity of Biden’s response is immeasurable. What he says here is a lie, a lie so absurd it is both astonishing and horrifying that anyone believes it. There has been no systematic racism in America for generations, and anyone who thinks so is either lying to themselves, or trying to spread lies to others.

The biggest irony is that those who apparently believe this lie the most, our younger college-aged generation, have grown up in a society where for decades blacks with talent and determination have had no problem achieving success in all sorts of business and fields, with some even becoming the dominate figure in their field. (Think of Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey as only two examples.) They can also marry anyone they want, can go anywhere they want, and achieve anything they want. Nothing stops them but their own limitations.
» Read more

SpaceX launches another 60 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched another 60 Starlink satellites, raising the constellation to more than 800 satellites.

The first stage successfully landed, for the sixth time, on a drone ship. The company also recovered both fairings, which were making their third flight. With one fairing’s recovery however the net broke on the ship, which might have damaged it this time.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

26 China
17 SpaceX
11 Russia
4 ULA
4 Europe (Arianespace)

The U.S. had regained the lead over China, 27 to 26, in the national rankings.

Another high altitude balloon company enters the space tourism market

Capitalism in space: Another high altitude balloon company, this time from Spain, is now vying for the space tourism market.

EOS-X Space, a Spanish startup, wants to take 10,000 people to the frontier of space within the next 10 years. With EOS-X Space, the journeys won’t be in rockets or ultrasonic planes. They’ll instead take place in a pressurized capsule propelled by a balloon that will rise to an altitude of up to 40 kilometers, or nearly 25 miles.

This means space tourists won’t have to wear a suit for the duration of the trip, nor will they have to do any physical preparation. Depending on the weather, each trip is set to last four or five hours.

They are targeting the same market as the American company Space Perspectives, which hopes to begin flying tourists on its stratospheric balloon, dubbed Neptune, by ’24.

Spaceport America in New Mexico fires its head

The board of Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic’s launchsite for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital manned spacecraft, yesterday fired its long time Executive Directory Dan Hicks, at the same time governor of New Mexico removed one board member.

Hicks, the spaceport’s CEO since 2016, has been on administrative leave since June while allegations of mismanagement and abuse of authority have been under investigation by the New Mexico State Auditor and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, the public body governing the spaceport.

The McHard Accounting Consulting firm, a forensic accounting firm based in Albuquerque, conducted an investigation which was then referred to the state auditor. Keyes informed a state legislative committee this summer the allegations included potential criminal activity.

Spaceport American had been made gigantic promises by Richard Branson back in the mid-2000s, including hundreds of tourist flights per year on SpaceShipTwo, all of which would bring lots of cash to the spaceport and to New Mexico. All came to naught. I suspect those failed promises are somehow connected to the accusations here.

Delta 4 Heavy launch now delayed indefinitely due to launchpad issues

ULA has now delayed indefinitely the launch of a military reconnaissance satellite using its Delta 4 Heavy rocket because of ongoing issues in the swing arms on the launch tower.

According to ULA’s CEO, Tory Bruno:

..ULA was “working through an issue with pad hydraulics” associated with the swing arm retraction system at the Delta 4 launch pad. Three swing arms feeding propellants and conditioned air to the rocket and its satellite payload are designed to retract as the Delta 4-Heavy lifts off.

“Fixing is always easy,” Bruno tweeted. “Making sure something stays fixed takes more work and lots of discipline.”

This launch has been delayed numerous times in the past two months, almost always because of a variety of different problems, most related to the launchpad, with two scrubs occurring as launch aborts at launch. As the article at the link correctly notes,

The repeated problems with different parts of the Delta 4-Heavy’s launch pad have raised questions about aging infrastructure at pad 37B, which was originally built to support Saturn rocket launches in the 1960s, then mothballed until Boeing took over the facility in the 1990s for the Delta 4 program.

Boeing built the towering mobile gantry for the Delta 4 rocket, along with a then-new fixed umbilical tower with huge swing arms designed to pull away from the launcher as it climbs away from the pad.

The age of the launchpad, combined with the expensive complexity of the Delta 4 Heavy that results in very few launches spread over many years, cannot result in reliable operations.

Modern science: Celebrating a “high priestess” instead of data

The corruption of modern science and our intellectual class was well illustrated today by the following headline and article in the peer review journal Science:

Act now, wait for perfect evidence later, says ‘high priestess’ of U.K. COVID-19 masking campaign

From the article’s lead:

In May, when several prominent U.K. scientists pushed back against a Royal Society report recommending face masks to help control the spread of COVID-19, Trisha Greenhalgh was furious. The scientists argued there was insufficient support in the scientific literature for the efficacy of masks, and the U.K. government, following their lead, declined to mandate masks for the general public.

“The search for perfect evidence may be the enemy of good policy,” Greenhalgh, a physician and expert in health care delivery at the University of Oxford, fumed in the Boston Review. “As with parachutes for jumping out of airplanes, it is time to act without waiting for randomized controlled trial evidence.” [emphasis mine]

The highlighted words have been the typical argument of the global warming crowd for decades. “We can’t wait for evidence! We need to act now before it’s too late!”

Moreover, she — along with the writer of this Science article — also copies another global warming dishonest tactic, posing a false argument by claiming that the opposing scientists requried a “randomized controlled trial” to demonstrate the usefulness of masks. This is an absurd misstatement, as it ignores decades of research that already exists and was referenced by those opposing scientists, that showed that mandating widespread mask use was generally a bad idea, and would accomplish nothing good.
» Read more

ArianeGroup completes testing of all three Ariane 6 rocket engines

Capitalism in space: ArianeGroup, the joint private partnership that is building Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket, has successfully completed all testing of the three different engines the rocket will use.

The first stage has a core engine with side strap-on solid rocket motors, while the upper stage has a different engine entirely. All three have now passed qualification tests, allowing full design and construction of the rocket itself.

Old launch tower burns down at Firefliy launchpad at Vandenberg

Capitalism in space: Apparently workers dismantling the old launch tower at Firefliy’s new launchpad at Vandenberg started a fire that burned the tower down.

A photo showing the former Delta II rocket’s Space Launch Complex-2 facility with flames and a huge column of black smoke rising from the distinctive blue tower began circulating on social media sites on Thursday night.

The launch site, most recently used for liftoffs of United Launch Alliance’s Delta II rockets, has been handed over to Texas-based Firefly Aerospace, which is developing a new family of rockets as an economical way to carry small- to medium-sized satellites into space.

The firm has a long-term lease to use the site with hopes of saving money by using some of the existing facilities. Firefly has plans to dismantle the historic tower, and a contractor armed with welding equipment reportedly sparked the blaze Thursday.

No word yet on whether this fire will delay Firefly’s planned first launch in the spring.

The real reason most polls in this election are not trustworthy

Trump at a press conference

An event happened yesterday in our home that I think illustrates forcefully why no one can trust any poll being conducted during this election season.

The phone rings. As I now do on all calls, I pick it up, say “Hello?” and wait to see if it is a live person on the other end. If it is a recording of any kind, spam, political, poll, whatever, I immediately hang up. My life is too short to waste on robots or crooks. (I should add that if Diane picks up she does the same, though she doesn’t even offer them a “Hello.” She also often screens calls with caller ID, and thus often does not even bother to pick up.)

Sadly, a large majority of all in-coming phone calls now are from these robots, with the political and pollster robocalls coming more and more frequently, sometimes ten to twenty times a day.

If it is a live person, I listen to find out what they are calling about. If the call is for a commercial product or a scam, I tell them to stop calling us and hang up.

If it is a from a political campaign office or a survey I also say I am not interested in talking, and say good-bye. If the call is from a survey but specifically asks for my wife, I tell her about the call so she can decide what to do.

This happened yesterday. Her answer: “Please tell them to go away.” I then told the guy on the line her exact words, adding that I agree entirely with her. He laughed, and said good-bye, ending the call.

A lot of political experts have wondered whether the refusal of shy Trump voters to answer poll questions might be skewing the poll totals in favor of Biden and the Democrats. This may be so, but I think something more fundamental is happening that makes all poll results untrustworthy.
» Read more

Biden-Harris campaign staffers test positive for COVID-19

Two campaign staffers in the Biden-Harris presidential organization have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Kamala Harris has suspended in-person events until Monday after two campaign staffers tested positive for COVID, reports the Associated Press. Harris was supposed to travel to the battleground state of North Carolina on Thursday.

The campaign insists that Joe Biden was not exposed to the virus, but he and Senator Harris spent several hours together last week while campaigning in Arizona. According to the report, Kamala’s communications director and a traveling staff member tested positive after that trip.

My purpose in reporting this really very non-news story is to make two points:

One: Despite so-called strict regimens to protect its campaign people from getting infected, including masks, social distancing, and any number of other procedures now popular in our fear-crazed society, none worked. The infection still arrived, as such infections are guaranteed to do.

Two: No one will die from this outbreak. In fact, it is not even clear anyone will get sick. The Wuhan virus does not kill healthy people. Like the flu, the worst it does is make a healthy person sick for a week or so, after which they recover completely and return to normal life.

We need to stop being so afraid of this virus. It is not the boogie-man it is made out to be, no matter what some people say. It is a variation of the flu, worse for the old who are already very sick, but more harmless for the young and the healthy. With that knowledge in mind we should focus on protecting that very narrow threatened population, while letting everyone else return to a normal life that involves no masks, no social distancing, and above all, no fear.

FAA releases new commercial space licensing rules

The FAA today released its new streamlined commercial space licensing rules, aimed at simplifying the process for launch companies. According to the press release,

The new rule consolidates four regulatory parts and applies a single set of licensing and safety regulations for all types of vehicle operations. It also provides flexibility for operators to meet safety requirements. The rule improves efficiency by encouraging launch and reentry operators to suggest and implement design and operational solutions to meet the regulatory standards.

You can read the rule here [pdf].

Though it appears the FAA and the Trump administration truly wish to streamline this licensing process, it is not clear yet that these new rules do it. Some aspects, such as the rule that allows a single license to cover multiple launches, appear effective. The effect of others however remains murky. I would love to get feedback from anyone in commercial space directly impacted by these new rules. Are they as good as the FAA claims?

NASA awards $370 million to 14 companies to develop new space capabilities

Capitalism in space: NASA yesterday issued fifteen development contracts to fourteen private space companies, totaling $370 million, to help them develop a variety of new space capabilities.

The funding is spread across 15 contracts to 14 different companies, including SpaceX, Astrobotic, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance and Intuitive Machines.

Nearly 70% of the money is earmarked for the management of cryogenic fluids such as liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. SpaceX, for example, will get $53 million for an in-space demonstration that will transfer 11 tons (10 metric tons) of liquid oxygen between tanks on one of its next-gen Starship vehicles.

What makes these contracts different from past NASA development contracts is fundamental. First, the design work comes from the companies, not NASA. Therefore products will be designed with the company’s needs in mind, not the government’s, and will also likely be designed faster and more efficiently.

Second, the companies will own what they build, and will be able to sell or use it however they wish. SpaceX for example wants this capability to give Starship the ability to leave Earth orbit, for its own commercial flights.

First scientist chosen to fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

Planetary scientist Alan Stern, who is also the principal scientist on the New Horizons mission, has been chosen to be the first scientist to fly on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital SpaceShipTwo, should it ever begin commercial flights.

One SwRI experiment on the just announced flight will involve Stern operating a former space shuttle and NASA F-18 low light level camera to determine how well space astronomical observations can be conducted. In addition, Stern will be fitted with instrumentation that continuously monitors human vital signs from just before the two-hour flight until after its landing as a biomedical experiment. The results of both experiments will be published.

I hope it happens, but personally I have great doubts. We now have more than fifteen years of similar big announcements about what Virgin Galactic will do with its suborbital spaceship, with nothing to show for it. Right now I see these stories as mere fodder by people like Richard Branson to push up the stock’s price so he can make more money selling it as he eases his way out of the company.

Seven countries join the U.S. in signing the Artemis Accords

NASA announced yesterday that seven countries — the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and Italy — have now signed the Artemis Accords, the Trump administration’s effort to create a legal framework that will protect property rights in space and get around the legal limitations imposed by the Outer Space Treaty.

I suspect this announcement was in response to statements earlier this week by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency, that they will not partner with the U.S. in its Lunar Gateway space station project. Though Rogozin cited other issues for the decision, such at the fact that they would not be treated as an equal partner in Gateway, I suspect the decision was also made because Russia’s government opposes the Artemis Accords and does not wish to sign it. China has said the same.

Since those accords are designed to shift power and control from governments to private enterprise, it is not surprising that Russia and China oppose them. Both are authoritarian top-down societies whose government reflects their culture. To sign an agreement that would take power from the state and give it to their citizens is unacceptable.

So be it. Of the countries that have signed, I expect in future years they will all prosper in space, and eventually force others to accept the ideas of freedom, private property, and capitalism that inspire the accords. Luxombourg is committed to pushing private enterprise and investment in commercial space. The UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan all follow the same principles, and all have robust space industries that should only get stronger.

And the UAE, the new baby on the block, wants to make commercial space a big part of its future. Signing these accords — along with their peace deal with Israel — indicates strongly that they mean business, and that they are trying heartily to separate themselves from the radical Islamic movements that have been poisoning the Arab Middle East for decades.

Moreover, the U.S. is requiring any nation that wishes to participate in its effort to return to the Moon to sign these accords. These nations, and their citizens, will therefore have a chance to contribute to that effort, and likely make a lot of money in the process.

Posting is late today because Diane and I went on an 8-mile hike. My gym now idiotically requires masks while you work out, and I am certainly not going to do that. Therefore, to maintain our cardiovascular systems while strengthening our immune systems (the best defense against all flulike diseases, including the Wuhan virus), we have been doing 6 to 10 mile hikes now twice a week. It means one day a week I need to schedule some posts early, and catch up when I get home. I hope my readers understand.

HBO to create six-part “scripted” series on Musk and SpaceX

Where NOT to get your facts about SpaceX’s history: HBO today announced that it is going to create a six-part “scripted” drama series describing the history of Elon Musk and SpaceX.

In terms of story, the small-screen narrative will follow Musk as he develops the first SpaceX rocket and launches it into orbit with a handpicked team of engineers on a remote island in the Pacific. His dream of humanity colonizing the universe takes one step closer to reality with the first (and successful) manned Falcon 9/Crew Dragon mission on May 30, 2020. The participating NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, have since returned to Earth from the International Space Station.

From my experience writing non-fiction screenplays for cable television when I was still in the movie business, I can guarantee that this drama will have very little connection to reality, and is more likely to get numerous basic facts wrong. It will thus accomplish nothing but to misinform anyone who watches it.

Blue Origin successfully completes another unmanned suborbital test flight of New Shepard

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin today successfully completed the seventh unmanned suborbital test flight for this particular New Shepard spacecraft/booster, landing both with no issues.

After a ten-month lull in flights following the previous test of Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard launch system, the company conducted a launch and landing of the fully reusable booster and capsule duo. Following weather-related and technical issues during a window late in September, the flight took place from the company’s West Texas facility — near Van Horn, Texas — on Tuesday morning at just after 8:35 AM CDT / 13:35 UTC.

This mission, also known as NS-13, saw 12 commercial payloads launched to the edge of space and back, including a NASA-developed sensor suite that could enable future lunar landing craft to perform safe and precise touchdowns on the surface of the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis exploration program. As in the name, the NS-13 mission was the 13th test flight of the New Shepard launch system, and the first such flight of 2020.

What happens next with New Shepard remains unclear. Blue Origin officials had previously said they would do three test flights this year, with the last manned. Now it appears that manned flight will slip into ’21, but will use a new spacecraft/booster, the fourth built during New Shepard’s development.

I have embedded the video of the flight below the fold, cued to begin just before launch.
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Bill Hammack – The Aluminum Beverage Can

An evening pause: I usually like to spread out pauses from the same artist, but this video by Bill Hammack, the engineerguy, is worth seeing, even though I posted another by Hammack only a week ago.

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

By the way, I am in great need of suggestions for the evening pause. Those that have suggested before know what to do. If you haven’t made a suggestion previously and have something you want to suggest, mention this fact in the comments below (without providing the suggestion) and I will contact you with the guidelines for making suggestions.

NASA charging Estee Lauder $17,500 per hour for filming its perfume on ISS

Capitalism in space: It now appears that NASA is charging Estee Lauder $17,500 per hour for filming the perfume that was just brought to ISS on the most recent Cygnus freighter.

The cosmetics giant will pay $17,500 per hour for the astronauts to take photos of their serum in space. Coincidentally — or not — the Space Station orbits the earth at 17,500 miles per hour.

The International Space Station is an orbiting laboratory for scientific research, but it’s the photo ops and viral videos that capture the public’s imagination.

Estée Lauder will get video and photos of their out-of-this-world product in the most photographed spot on the space station — the Cupola. The photos are not to be used in print or television advertising, but instead on social media, according to NASA. The astronauts won’t be using the product or be featured in the pictures.

The article also notes that NASA is dedicating 5% of astronaut time to commercial activities. Sooner or later I think NASA is also going to have to start paying their astronauts for this work. They deserve their share of the proceeds.

SpaceX begins installing Raptor engines on Starship prototype #8

Capitalism in space: With Starship prototype having successfully passed its tank tests SpaceX has begun installing three Raptor engines in preparation for static fire tests followed by a 50,000 foot high hop.

Once the Raptors are installed, Starship SN8 is expected to undergo an extensive test program, opening with fueling tests, a spin prime test, and preburner tests, before the first Static Fire test.

That opening Static Fire test will be the first time three Raptors have been fired up simultaneously.

Once that opening Static Fire test has been completed, a data review will be conducted on engine performance and related systems – such as the Ground Support Equipment (GSE) – which will allow the nosecone to be installed on to SN8 at the launch site.

At that point the prototype will be ready for its hop. Based on the pace SpaceX is setting (and assuming all goes well), this flight should occur sometime in the next month, possibly at almost the same time as the next manned Dragon flight to ISS.

Next manned Dragon launch delayed

Because of an engine issue that caused Falcon 9 launch of a military GPS satellite to abort at T-2 seconds on October 2nd, SpaceX and NASA have decided to delay the next manned Dragon launch from October 31st “to early-to-mid November.”

The one to two week delay will give the company time to analyze the issue involving an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator” that are used to drive the rocket’s Merlin engine turbopumps.

It seems unlikely that this problem is systemic to all Merlin engines, considering the number of rocket launches SpaceX has successfully completed in the last four years. Each launch has used ten engines, with no evidence of this problem appearing previously.

At the same time, no one wants a problem on a manned flight. Better to completely understand why it happened on the GPS launch first before launching four astronauts on the rocket.

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