Tag Archives: freedom

Europe finally admits it must build reusable rockets

The new colonial movement: Europe has finally admitted that its refusal with Ariane 6 to make it reusable was a mistake, and has begun a major engineering research project to design and fly two different types of reusable rockets.

This month, the European Commission revealed a new three-year project to develop technologies needed for two proposed reusable launch vehicles. The commission provided €3 million to the German space agency, DLR, and five companies to, in the words of a news release about the project, “tackle the shortcoming of know-how in reusable rockets in Europe.”

This new RETALT project’s goals are pretty explicit about copying the retro-propulsive engine firing technique used by SpaceX to land its Falcon 9 rocket first stages back on land and on autonomous drone ships. The Falcon 9 rocket’s ability to land and fly again is “currently dominating the global market,” the European project states. “We are convinced that it is absolutely necessary to investigate Retro Propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies to make re-usability state-of-the-art in Europe.”

What is interesting to me is what appears to be some internal politics within Europe surrounding this effort. France is generally the most dominate member of the European Space Agency. Yet, according to the press release for this announcement, France is not involved in these new reusable rocket projects. Instead, Germany dominates, with companies from Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain participating.

It could be that the failure of Ariane 6 to garner customers, due to its higher costs, has forced these ESA partners to push for their own reusable rocket projects.

Either way, the competition in rocket technology is heating up, more evidence that the 2020s will be the most exciting decade in space since the 1960s.

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SpaceX catches a fairing

Capitalism in space: During last night’s Falcon Heavy launch SpaceX was for the first time able to catch one of the rocket’s fairings using its ship, GO Ms. Tree (formerly called Mr. Steven).

As noted at the link, SpaceX now has in its hands a fairing untouched by salt water that it can analyze for future reuse, something no other rocket company has been able to do. Moreover, that the ship was able to make the net catch at night bodes well for future fairing recoveries.

Hat tip commenter geoffc.

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Falcon Heavy launches successfully

Capitalism in space: The Falcon Heavy successfully launched tonight, and is presently deploying the 24 satellites on board.

They successfully landed the two first stage side boosters, but the core stage apparently just missed hitting the drone ship in the Atlantic. You could see it come down, but not on the pad. While SpaceX has now successfully recovered all six side boosters on all three Falcon Heavy launches, they have not yet succeeded in recovering the core stage.

The mission’s full success will not be known for several hours, as the satellite deployments unfold. So far the first two satellites have been deployed successfully.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

8 China
8 SpaceX
5 Russia
5 Europe (Arianespace)
3 India

The U.S. has now widened its lead over China in the national rankings, 13 to 8.

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Falcon Heavy launch a go for 2:30 am (Eastern) tonight

Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s third Falcon Heavy launch is now a go for launch at 2:30 am (Eastern) tonight.

You can watch it live at SpaceX’s website here or at the embedded video below the fold.

This launch should be especially spectacular, as it will be at night, and the sky is clear. Moreover, they will once again be trying to land all three first stage boosters, with the side boosters flying for the second time only two months after their first flight on the last Falcon Heavy launch.
» Read more

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Google censors Project Veritas expose on Google censorship

Leftist fascism: While I have noted this in my earlier post about Google’s effort to block both Trump’s election and many conservative sites, it is necessary to highlight: Google, the owner of youtube, has removed Project Veritas’s video expose from youtube.

The only reason they could have to do this is to block people from knowing about Google’s partisan and fascist behavior. You can still watch the video at the Project Veritas site.

As I said, people have to stop using Google. Both DuckDuckGo and StartPage are viable search engine alternatives, though the former is preferred because the latter depends on Google’s search engine.

If you have gmail, find an alternative. There are many.

And as I have said numerous times in the past, I would love it if those suggesting evening pauses for this website could find alternative sources other than youtube for those videos.

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Google’s hidden agenda: Stop Trump’s re-election

Project Veritas strikes again! A whistle-blower at Google has revealed that the internet company that dominates all search engines has a conscious policy to oppose the re-election of Donald Trump while simultaneously suppressing conservative websites.

Jen Gennai is the head of “Responsible Innovation” for Google, a sector that monitors and evaluates the responsible implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. In the video, Gennai says Google has been working diligently to “prevent” the results of the 2016 election from repeating in 2020: “We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again.

“We’re also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?”

There’s more at the link. For example, Google is also working to adjust its search algorithms to automatically suppress conservative websites from those searches. The goal, to use Google’s own words, is to make the company “the single point of truth” for news, with a perspective that is decidedly leftist and partisan.

The public has got to stop using Google. There are plenty of viable search engine options, such as DuckDuckGo and Startpage. I’ve been using both for almost a decade.

Regardless, it appears that this information will likely fuel the political movement to have the government break this company, as well as Facebook, apart. Though I’d rather the market did the job, these companies are very clearly violating the law that treats them not as news sources but as objective utilities, and thus protects them in certain ways. They need to find out that breaking the law will have negative consequences.

I have embedded the Project Veritas video below the fold. Watch it. It will horrify you. Not surprisingly, the fascists at Google/Youtube have censored the video. If you wish to see it, you need to go the Project Veritas link above.
» Read more

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Opposition candidate wins redo election in Istanbul

The opposition candidate to the party of President Erdogan in Turkey today handily won the redo election in Istanbul.

Turkish opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won the redo of the Istanbul mayor’s race by a landslide on Sunday, in a stinging indictment of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic policies and his refusal to accept an earlier defeat.

Imamoglu, backed by opposition parties including CHP, won 54% of the vote, and the ruling AK Party’s candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim captured 45%, according to state media. The political upstart broadened his margin of victory to nearly 800,000 votes from 14,000 in the March 31 balloting, in a clear sign voters are concerned about the crumbling of Turkey’s democratic foundations and an economy reeling from a spike in consumer prices and unemployment. [emphasis mine]

What this victory suggests is that there still remains in Turkey a semblance of democracy, despite the effort of Erdogan to eliminate it. What will happen next will tell us whether that country will reinforce that democracy, or end it entirely.

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Schedule for Dragon/Starliner manned flights revised

Capitalism in space: NASA has released a new updated planning schedule for the manned flights of both SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner manned capsules.

Boeing’s first unmanned demo flight of Starliner is now set for September 17, 2019. This will be followed by SpaceX’s first manned Dragon flight, scheduled for November 15, 2019. Boeing will then follow with its first manned Starliner flight on November 30, 2019.

These are considered target dates. I have great doubts that the Starliner schedule will proceed as described, while SpaceX’s schedule is more likely.

The article also had this interesting tidbit about the upcoming launch schedule of Sierra Nevada’s unmanned reusable cargo ship Dream Chaser:

According to the document, the first flight of Dream Chaser will take place in a planned September 2021 timeframe and will see the vehicle remain berthed to the International Space Station for up to 75 days before returning to Earth to land on a runway for reuse.

There are clearly issues with all these commercial projects. For example, the GAO today released a new report citing the numerous delays in this commercial manned program and calling for NASA to come up with a more complete back-up plan.

Nonetheless, the 2020s have the potential to be the most exciting decade in space exploration since the 1960s. If all goes even close to these plans, the U.S. will have three operating manned spacecraft (Dragon, Starliner, Orion), two reusable cargo spacecraft (Dragon, Dream Chaser), one non-reusable (Cygnus), and a plethora of launch companies putting up payloads of all kinds, from planetary missions to basic commercial satellites numbering in the thousands.

Much could happen to prevent all this. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing will.

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Battery screw-up delays Russian X-Ray telescope launch

The Russians this morning postponed today’s launch of the Spectr-RG X-Ray space telescope until July when it was discovered that one of the payload’s batteries had been drained prematurely.

[T]he Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid reported from Baikonur that the problem had been discovered at least a day earlier, but the entire project team at the launch site was kept in the dark until the launch date, not to interfere with Vladimir Putin’s annual press-conference.

According to the paper, the battery was accidentally activated on the launch pad instead of the planned moment after the separation of the spacecraft from the Block DM-03 upper stage. The error was blamed on the erroneous wiring setup by RKK Energia specialists (Block DM-03 prime contractor) between the upper stage and the spacecraft, which caused a complete drainage of the battery designed to be re-charged from solar panels. After the return of the rocket to the vehicle assembly building, the battery would have to be re-charged and the power-supply system re-wired, Moskovsky Komsomolets said. [emphasis mine]

If this report is true, it appears that the Russian government has done nothing to fix the quality control programs in its aerospace industry, and in fact is helping to contribute to them by playing games with launch procedures for the sake of its own public relations.

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Hawaii fully okays construction of TMT, removes protest structures

The Hawaiian state government today finally gave the go-ahead for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), sending close to 100 police officers to the mountain to remove four structures built by protesters to block construction.

[Democratic government David] Ige said he believes the state now has sufficient legal basis for construction to go more smoothly than it did following the telescope’s 2014 groundbreaking. After significant protests in 2014 and 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that a 2011 permit from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources was invalid after finding the Land Board violated due process rights of project opponents by voting before the first contested case was held.

However, the Supreme Court approved an amended permit late last year, allowing the project to seek a notice to proceed. The conditions of the amended permit state that the TMT will be the last telescope to be built on Maunakea and that five other telescopes at the summit will be decommissioned and removed.

Despite Ige’s confidence in the process, opponents are preparing for further protests. Kanuha said he intends to “try and stop it the same way we did the first time.”

“This is about more than the mountain, this is about how we treat land and natural resources in Hawaii,” Kanuha said. “If we allow this to happen, we can kiss goodbye all we hold precious in Hawaii. It’s just a matter of time.”

Another protester, Lakea Trask, warned of an inevitable conflict. “The state is declaring war on Hawaiians,” said Trask, who was arrested and charged with trespassing during the 2015 protests. “The state is now using TMT to declare war, an all-out war on Hawaiians.”

First, this is the second time the state has approved this project, which followed the law both the first time and now. Second, the protests that stopped construction in 2014 and 2015 were not “significant” but were led by a very small number of people. Third, those same protesters, as quoted above, probably intend to repeat their actions once construction resumes this summer. If so, expect violence. These people know they will not be seriously punished for breaking the law, and will take advantage of this.

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SpinLaunch gets first launch contract, from Defense Department

Capitalism in space: The smallsat launch company SpinLaunch has gotten its first launch contract from a division of the Defense Department.

In a statement today (June 19), SpinLaunch announced that it has received a “launch prototype contract” from the U.S. Department of Defense under a deal arranged by the Defense Innovation Unit. The Long Beach, California-based company aims to launch its first test flights in early 2020 from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

SpinLaunch is developing a “kinetic energy-based launch system” that accelerates a small payload-carrying booster to hypersonic speeds with a spinning system on the ground. A chemical rocket would kick in once the payload has been launched from the ground system.

The image provided by SpinLaunch at the link appears to show a 3D-printed lifting-body type spacecraft attached to the arm of a large centrifuge. This suggests that after this spacecraft reaches orbit and deploys its payload, it would then return to Earth to be reused.

SpinLaunch has raised $40 million in investment capital, so they are real. Whether they can make this happen by 2020 remains to be seen.

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Ireland’s government releases its space strategy goals through 2025

The new colonial movement: Ireland today released a national space strategy designed to encourage the growth of a commercial space sector by 2025.

You can download the actual report here [pdf].

They want to increase both public and private investment by 50% by 2025. Whether that means investment in private companies or simply a growth in a government bureaucracy is uncertain, based on my reading of the report. It appears their goal is to grow the private sector, but they will be using European Space Agency approaches for doing so, which tend to favor government growth and control rather than developing an independent commercial industry.

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SpaceX reschedules manned Dragon demo flight to November

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has now apparently rescheduled its first manned Dragon demo flight to ISS to no earlier than November 1, 2019.

The information comes from a SpaceX application with the FCC, listing the launch window as sometime between November 1, 2019 and April 30, 2020.

This now gives us the time frame when both NASA and SpaceX expect to complete their investigation into the Dragon test explosion in March as well as institute changes as a result. It also suggests they now have a much better idea what happened and what they need to do, thus allowing them to create this time frame.

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NASA releases draft commercial Gateway resupply plan

Capitalism in space? NASA today released a draft document outlining its plan for having commercial companies provide cargo to its Lunar Gateway station.

NASA is creating the Gateway Logistics Services (GLS) arena that will oversee supply delivery efforts to the lunar outpost. The draft Request For Proposals document, released by NASA last Friday, will form the basis for the formal Request For Proposals that companies will use later this summer to submit their bids for selection as part of the GLS program.

The draft document will be reviewed by commercial industry providers who will then submit feedback for NASA to consider as the agency formalizes the document.

While not official in its entirety, large portions of the document will remain unchanged or only undergo minor tweaks/clarifications at this point. Thus, the draft provides excellent insight into services, pricing, and timelines that commercial companies will have to meet if selected to participate in the GLS offerings. Of note, any company selected to fly GLS missions would receive a guarantee of two missions, minimum, and each awarded contract would not exceed $7 billion (USD). The total number of contracts NASA can award is not constrained via the language in the draft GLS solicitation document.

The reason I question above whether this will be capitalism in space is because of one new rule NASA wants to impose on its commercial vendors:

Unlike the [ISS cargo] contracts which did not carry a “one successful flight” requirement if changes to the launch vehicle were made after initial certification (both the Falcon 9 and the Antares underwent significant design changes after their [cargo] flights began – with some of those changes debuting on [later cargo] flights), the draft GLS language seems to indicate that NASA would seek to prohibit launch vehicle design changes debuting on GLS contract flights.

If the draft language becomes formal, the GLS contracts would require a launch vehicle that undergoes a design change to complete one successful flight of those changes before its next GLS mission is allowed to proceed.

I can see no reason for this rule other than to prevent private companies from making NASA’s own slow development process look bad. Or to put it another way, NASA wants to prevent the U.S. from getting things done fast in space, because that will prevent the agency from stretching out development endlessly, as it routinely does.

The GLS plan does propose one very good change in NASA policy. It proposes to break the SLS monopoly on launching Gateway components. For years NASA has said that only SLS could launch Gateway components, something that is patently absurd. The Trump administration has been pushing against that shortsighted position, and this plan accelerates that push. It will instead allow commercial companies to compete for those launches, which puts more pressure on SLS to deliver or die.

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The culture of theft at Oberlin College

The coming dark age: It appears that the initial shoplifting incident that triggered the Oberlin College lawsuit by Gibson’s Bakery was only part of an overall culture of theft by students at the college, ignored or possibly even condoned by the college administration.

[T]his theft culture influenced the decision making at the college with regard to Gibson’s, as related in the trial. College officials were concerned that backing Gibson’s over shoplifting could “trigger” a negative reaction from students, since the college was “trying to get students to realize that shoplifting was harmful.”

It’s truly astounding that a college would be afraid to support a local store that was the victim of shoplifting. It is deeply depressing that students did not already know that “shoplifting was harmful.”

Remember, the students at Oberlin were paying almost $28,000 in tuition per semester, with additional costs raising this figure to almost $40,000. They might have had to take loans out to pay these costs, but they certainly weren’t poor or starving. In fact, they were required to buy a meal plan by the college.

Thus, this thievery was entirely by choice, and voluntary. It speaks to a complete collapse of morality by the student body, supported by a similar complete moral collapse by the college administration. Worse, Oberlin really is not unique. This same kind of collapse can be seen at most American colleges. If we wish to revive our culture, it seems to me we need to shut these cesspools of immorality down, entirely, and start over.

Above all, parents and children should be thinking very hard about the schools they wish to attend. All past assumptions about which schools are best must be thrown out the window.

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Bridenstine: Artemis to cost $4-$6 billion per year

According to several reports this past weekend, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is now estimating the cost for the Trump administration’s Artemis lunar program at $20 to $30 billion, or $4 to $6 billion per year.

This has not been officially confirmed. Either way, I am not sure how Bridenstine will get this approved in the House, where the Democrats now have a policy to oppose any Trump proposal 100%. And if it doesn’t get approved, SLS will die after its second launch, as the bulk of this budget is to pay for its future flights to the Moon.

If a lower figure gets approved, that might force NASA to buy private rockets almost exclusively to get back to the Moon, rather than the mix of private and SLS as now proposed.

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China announces international experiments to fly on its space station

The new colonial movement: China and the UN today jointly announced the nine international experiments that China will fly on its own space station, set to be completed by 2022.

The nine projects involve 23 entities from 17 countries in the fields of aerospace medicine, space life sciences and biotechnology, microgravity physics and combustion science, astronomy and other emerging technologies.

It seems to me that the competition in space is definitely heating up. Both China and Indian now plan their own space stations. And the Trump administration’s announcement that it will allow private commercial and competitive operations on ISS, is certainly going to lead eventually to more than one private station in orbit, plus ISS.

The result is going to be many different stations, all offering different capabilities and all in competition to lower the cost to get there and to do research or to sightsee. All are also going to be contributing aggressively in learning how to build vessels that humans can live on for long periods, which in turn will teach us how to build interplanetary spaceships. In fact, every one of these stations will be prototypes for those interplanetary spaceships.

Isn’t competition wonderful? After almost thirty years of boring international cooperation on ISS, with little new achievement or innovation, the space station competition coming in the next decade will revitalize space exploration in ways we as yet cannot imagine.

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Bigelow announces four tourist bookings to ISS using Dragon

Capitalism in space: The private space station company Bigelow Aerospace announced yesterday that it has booked four tourists to spend from one to two months on ISS.

The bookings will fly to ISS using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule. Though the company did not say how much these tourists have agreed to pay, it said that it intends to charge $52 million per ticket.

This announcement follows directly from NASA’s announcement last week that it will allow commercial tourist flights to ISS. Previously Bigelow had said it would fly tourists to its own space station using Boeing’s Starliner capsule. Now it is going to take advantage of NASA’s new policy to send the tourists to ISS, and it will use Dragon, probably because Dragon is closer to becoming operational.

I also suspect that Bigelow’s long term plans are to add its own hotel modules to ISS for these flights, and then later follow-up by building its own independent space station.

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India sides with Israel in UN for the first time

On June 6 the Indian government for the first time voted in support of Israel and its motion against a Palestinian non-governmental organization linked to jihadi terrorist groups.

The vote took place on June 6, just weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his allies won a two-thirds majority in the Indian general elections. Since Modi took office in May 2014, India has mostly abstained from voting on UN resolutions targeting the Jewish state but has shied away from siding with Israel at the international body.

…By backing Israel at the UN, Prime Minister Modi has finally broken away from the country’s historical voting pattern of siding with the Arab and Muslim countries.

Modi’s landslide election victory probably helped bring about this change of position. I also suspect that Trump’s decision to cut off funds from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations, while moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, also made it easier for Modi to make this change. Trump has essentially said that the Palestinian emperor has no clothes (ie they are not interested in peace, only killing Jews), and this has allowed many others to chime in as well.

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SpaceX successfully launches three Canadian radar satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today has successfully launched three Canadian radar satellites.

The first stage, already flown once before, successfully landed at a very fog-shrouded Vandenberg.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

8 China
7 SpaceX
5 Russia
4 Europe (Arianespace)
3 India

The U.S. leads China in the national rankings 12 to 8.

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Relativity leases manufacturing space from NASA

Capitalism in space: The smallsat company Relativity has leased a large manufacturing space at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi where it plans to build its Terran 1 rocket, set for first launch in 2020.

The Stennis center will eventually employ 200 engineers, nearly double the company’s current workforce of 90. The state of Mississippi offered a “significant” incentive package, the company said in a statement. “We’re reducing the human labor component significantly,” said Ellis, a veteran from Jeff Bezos’ space firm Blue Origin, referring to Relativity’s two-story-tall 3D printer arms named Stargate.

Stargate will enable the production of an entire rocket in under 60 days, said Ellis, who is looking to launch nearly two dozen a year in the next five years to prove the company’s production method.

Terran 1’s debut launch is expected in 2020, costing satellite makers $10 million per flight and carrying around 2,755 pounds (1,250 KG) to low earth orbit. That lands the company between U.S.-New Zealand competitor Rocket Lab, whose Electron rocket aims to send nearly 500 pounds to space for $5.7 million, and Cedar Park, Texas-based Firefly Aerospace Inc’s Alpha rocket, which is expected to loft 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit at a cost of $15 million per flight.

The company has three launch contracts, but they won’t be real until they start launching. If their 3D printing approach works it will cut their costs significantly. Whether it will work or not remains an open question. The 3D printing work I’ve seen with other rockets raises questions about exactly how much of a rocket engine you can make in such a way.

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Leftist college loses big in court for slandering local bakery

Lawfare: A jury has awarded a local bakery $11 million against Oberlin College, a haven for modern leftist fascist thinking, for labeling the bakery racist because they called the police on three shoplifters.

In this case, a wholly innocent 5th-generation bakery was falsely accused of being racist and having a history racial profiling after stopping three black Oberlin College students from shoplifting. The students eventually pleaded guilty, but not before large protests and boycotts intended to destroy the bakery and defame the owners. The jury appears to have accepted that Oberlin College facilitated the wrongful conduct against the bakery.

I should have reported this when it happened last week but better late than never.

The trial is not over. The jury is now considering punitive damages, which could triple the total award.

Meanwhile, enrollment at Oberlin College has plummeted, likely due to its devotion to leftist bigoted agendas rather than educating its students. I hope the college goes out of business.

This legal case is similar to the defamation suits brought by Kentucky teenager Nick Sandman against the Washington Post, CNN, and NBC/MSNBC totaling more than 3/4 of a billion dollars. As in the Oberlin case, the left decided it had the right to slander Sandman, calling him a racist based on no evidence and in fact contrary to the obvious evidence available, merely for the sake of advancing its leftist agenda.

And like this case, I am hopeful the Post, CNN, and NBC/MSNBC will pay heavily. Someone has to make it clear to these people that such behavior is unacceptable in a civilized society, and if it will take lawsuits to do it, so be it.

Update: Oberlin College has asked for a mistrial so that the judgement of the jury would be dismissed.

Why would anyone send their kids to this school?

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Rules for commenting now posted permanently

My very simple rules for commenting on Behind the Black have now been added to the right column (seen at the bottom of the page on mobile devices), placed just above the box listing the last ten comments. The rules are hardly odious:

I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

I have stated these rules in posts in the past. Now they are permanently displayed at a place where I think all commenters will see them. There will therefore be no excuse for violating them in the future.

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House proposes streamlined Space Corps within Air Force

The House Armed Services Committee has proposed a streamlined Space Corps operating within the Air Force.

The bipartisan agreement calls for a single four-star general in charge of Space Force, compared with the three four-star generals the administration envisioned. It would also have fewer personnel transferred from other services into the Space Force, Smith said. “The main difference from the administration’s approach is less bureaucracy,” Smith said.

This is largely the same plan the committee endorsed in the House’s version of the 2018 NDAA, he said. The Senate Armed Services Committee, which has endorsed Trump’s plan, rejected Space Corps and the language did not make it into the final bill.

As always in Washington, the battle is between those who want to increase the size, power, and wealth of government, and those who wish to shrink it, while making it more effective (something it has not been for decades). The Democratic House plan appears to be taking the latter approach, while the Republican Senate wants the former.

Note how the partisan politics here are reversed. The Democrats in the House are pushing for smaller and more efficient government, and the Republican Senate is opposed, preferring a big unwieldy and unneeded Space Force instead.

In other words, politicians from both parties are not to be trusted. We need to make them all understand that we are watching, and that they will lose at the polls if they choose to expand this bankrupt government.

As for this House proposal, I am encouraged that the House is still pushing it. Hopefully the Senate will finally get on board.

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Ginsberg extols Kavanaugh for hiring female law clerks

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg yesterday extolled fellow justice Brett Kavanaugh for hiring the most female law clerks of any previous justice.

Ginsburg, in prepared remarks to a conference for judges in New York, noted that while women have made progress towards equal representation among the court’s clerks there are areas where improvements are still needed. “Justice Kavanaugh made history by bringing on board an all-female law clerk crew. Thanks to his selections, the Court has this Term, for the first time ever, more women than men serving as law clerks,” she said, according to remarks released by the court.

During Kavanaugh’s nomination hearing he promised to do this, and has followed through, putting the lie to all the evil slanders the Democrats accused him of during those hearings.

As I wrote on American Greatness in October,

Now is the time to look these bullies in the eyes, and tell them that we will not be intimidated, that we will stand for what we believe, and we will not bow to their smears and slanders and screaming protesters who know nothing of us, care nothing for us, and are increasingly willing to harm us and our children because we reject their oppressive and overbearing demands.

Kavanaugh has done this. And so has Ginsburg now. She is considered a hero by the same leftists that slandered Kavanaugh, and she is now telling those slanderers they were full of bunk. Good for her!

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White House to allow ISS commercialization, including tourists

Capitalism in space: The White House today released an interim proposal [pdf] that would allow private enterprise on ISS, including allowing American private companies to fly tourists to the station.

A new interim directive from NASA allows private companies to buy time and space on the ISS for producing, marketing, or testing their products. It also allows those companies to use resources on the ISS for commercial purposes, even making use of NASA astronauts’ time and expertise (but not their likeness). If companies want, they can even send their own astronauts to the ISS, starting as early as 2020, but all of these activities come with a hefty price tag.

This fits with the Trump administration’s overall push to shift the American space effort from a NASA “program” to an independent and profitable American space industry.

Will this work? I cannot see how it can’t. At a minimum, it will tell us if there really is a viable market for space tourism and industry on the space station.

For the Russians this is another disaster. They had planned to sell the available seats on their Soyuz, no longer used by NASA astronauts, to tourists. It is very likely that business will shift to the U.S. manned capsules being built by SpaceX and Boeing.

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Virgin Orbit sues OneWeb over canceled launches

Capitalism in space: Virgin Orbit this week filed a lawsuit against the satellite company OneWeb for its cancellation of 35 of 39 launches.

According to a complaint Virgin Orbit filed June 4 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, OneWeb quietly canceled 35 of a planned 39 launches last June, triggering a $70 million termination fee spelled out in the contract. Virgin Orbit says OneWeb still owes $46.32 million. The lawsuit was first reported by Law360.com.

The real significance of this story is the decision of OneWeb to back out of its deal with Virgin Orbit. Richard Branson is an investor in both, which is why I think Virgin Orbit got the contract originally, when they were nowhere close to flying.

The timing of OneWeb’s cancellation in June 2018 is interesting. In July 2018 Virgin Orbit announced that it had received a launch license from the FAA for a flight it hoped to do before the end of the summer. That flight never happened.

So, did OneWeb’s cancellation cause the Virgin Orbit flight schedule to stall, or did OneWeb realize in June 2018 that the schedule was unrealistic, and that it was time to get out?

Either way, the lose of this income is a serious blow for this Branson company, and probably does explain the lack of flights in the past year.

If I was to rank the American smallsat orbital rocket companies at this point, Rocket Lab leads, with Vector and Firefly tied for a distance second. I would also consider EXOS Aerospace up there among the leaders, even though they are not yet building an orbital rocket. Instead, they are flying their reusable SARGE suborbital rocket on commercial flights (the next is scheduled for June 30), and using it as a guide for developing the orbital rocket to follow. Virgin Orbit should be among these leaders, but the lose of this contract and their failure to fly as scheduled makes me want to lower them in the rankings.

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Trump considers delaying tariffs as Mexico increases action on illegals

It appears that Trump’s threat to impose escalating tariffs on Mexico if it does not start enforcing its own laws against illegal immigrants is having an effect.

First, Mexico today blocked hundreds of illegals as they attempted to cross from Guatemala into Mexico.

Second, Trump has signaled that if this is true he is now willing to consider delaying the first round of 5% tariffs, set to go into effect on June 10.

Mexico’s action might simply be a Potemkin Village, not be be taken seriously. For anyone, including Trump, to take it seriously will require a lot more enforcement. Regardless, it does appears that the tariff threat might be forcing Mexico to give Trump what he wants.

Update: Mexico today also froze the banking accounts of 26 individuals and organizations its says an investigation has found provided funding for the illegal migrant caravans.

The operation tracked financial movements from October 2018 through current dates in an attempt to determine the sources of funding for the migrant caravans. According to their statement, the UIF identified a group of individuals that made several questionable international financial transactions from the cities of Chiapas and Queretaro during the times that the migrant caravans were moving through those places.

Mexican authorities followed the path of the caravans and the financial operations from Queretaro to the border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Ciudad Acuna, Piedras Negras, and Reynosa. Based on that information, Mexican authorities were able to trace the source of the funds to the U.S., England, Cameroon, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the statement revealed.

Based on the result of the investigation, the UIF moved to freeze the accounts in Mexico of the 26 individuals and entities that are believed to have helped fund the migrant caravans or contributed to human smuggling organizations, the SHCP statement revealed. While authorities did not name the individuals or the entities whose assets they froze, they revealed that they would be filing complaints with Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.

Once again, this is positive news, but until we see some actual prosecutions I suspect that Trump will remain skeptical.

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Google fires conservative for complaining about company’s leftwing bias

Reason 1,323,563 why I don’t use Google: Google has apparently fired a conservative employee, Mike Wacker, for complaining publicly about company’s leftwing bias, including what that employee called “outrage mobs and witch hunts.”

[Wacker] goes on to explain how leftists at Google weaponize HR complaints in order to shut down opposing viewpoints, chronicling a number of right-leaning statements or comments that were formally reported, prompting action. This included one employee’s defense of author Jordan Peterson’s opposition to government enforcement of pronoun-related language, and another’s criticism of the Women’s March over its anti-Semitism problem and lack of inclusivity toward pro-life women.

Meanwhile, Wacker writes, left-wing employees routinely engage in hateful, incendiary and bullying language with impunity (click through for several examples). Google’s Human Resources department has “completely abandoned any pretense of enforcing any sort of objective and impartial standard,” he warns. Wacker says that as a high-profile Republican at the company, he was a frequent target of HR harassment via frivolous complaints, resulting in formal admonitions, and even an offer of a severance package as an incentive to leave Google.

And now he has been fired.

This follows Youtube’s action, a subsidiary of Google, to block conservative Steven Crowder from making any money on his youtube videos.

As I’ve said before, they’re coming for you next, and that time is not far away.

I should note again that it looks like they are already coming for me, based on the strange ebb and flow of hits my website gets from Facebook. Every time my Facebook traffic starts to grow significantly, indicating increasing interest in my site among Facebook users, the hits suddenly drop to zero, as if someone had noticed and decided to block that interest. This has happened several times, and never in conjunction with any specific post. And the only reason I can come up with is that someone at Facebook did not like the conservative-leaning posts I sometimes put up here, and decided to prevent others from reading them.

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