Tag Archives: government

Space Force restructures/reduces former Air Force command structure

The new Space Force has restructured and reduced the former Air Force command structure as it begins to take over military space operations from the latter agency.

The USSF field organization will consist of three echelons of command, where the Air Force currently is organized into five echelons. USSF’s organizational structure will initially consolidate and align all organize, train and equip mission execution from former Air Force space-related units.

…In order of hierarchy, the USSF field echelons are named field commands, deltas and squadrons. There will be three field commands aligned with specific mission focuses: Space Operations Command, Space Systems Command, and Space Training and Readiness Command. SpOC and SSC will be led by three-star general officers, and STARCOM will be led by a two-star general.

Deltas will be O-6 led and will be organized around a specific function – operations, installation support, training, etc. Within the deltas will be squadrons focused on specific tactics. When the field command structure is fully implemented, it will eliminate one general officer echelon and one O-6 echelon of command. Functions formerly performed at the eliminated echelons will be realigned where appropriate within the USSF.

This sounds good, but we shall see. New government agencies proposed by our federal government to streamline bureaucracies somehow always end up bloating those bureaucracies instead. The Space Force was created with this laudable goal. This press release at least suggests they are trying to achieve it.

Russia to consider building reusable stages for Angara

Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency that controls that nation’s entire aerospace industry, is “considering” the idea of developing reusable rocket stages for future iterations of its new Angara rocket.

“On June 30, changes were made to the state contract on the ‘Amur’ experimental design work that envisaged upgrading and further developing this series,” the statement says. In particular, the changes envisage developing the Angara-A5M as the upgraded version of the Angara-A5 rocket and the conceptual design of the Angara-A5V increased lifting capacity vehicle (with the oxygen-hydrogen third stage).

“Also, an option will be considered to develop the Angara-A5VM carrier rocket with reusable stages,” Roscosmos specified.

I’ll believe it when I see it. For now almost twenty years the Russians have been very good at issuing bold press releases promising wonderful new rockets, spaceships, and projects, only to have none of these rockets, spaceships, or projects ever actually happen.

That they are even considering reusable first stages however does show the power of competition and freedom. They never would have if SpaceX hadn’t come along and cut costs with this idea and thus take their entire market share from them. Now they have to find a way to compete in order to get some of that business back..

Perseverance launch delayed to July 30, 2020

Not good: Because of an issue with the Atlas 5 rocket, NASA and ULA have decided to delay again the launch of the next Mars rover Perseverance from July 22nd to July 30th.

“Due to launch vehicle processing delays in preparation for spacecraft mate operations, NASA and United Launch Alliance have moved the first launch attempt of the Mars 2020 mission to no earlier than July 30,” NASA said. “A liquid oxygen sensor line presented off-nominal data during the Wet Dress Rehearsal, and additional time is needed for the team to inspect and evaluate.”

ULA performed the Wet Dress Rehearsal on June 22. The exercise involved rolling the Perseverance rover’s Atlas 5 launcher out of its vertical integration hangar to Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad, then loading the rocket with kerosene, liquid hydrogen, and liquid oxygen propellants. The launch team practiced countdown procedures, testing the Atlas 5’s systems before halting the pre-launch sequence seconds before ignition of the rocket’s RD-180 main engine.

Their official launch window extends to August 11th, though they could still launch as late as August 15th and get to their landing site in Jezero Crater on Mars.

This is the third delay. The first involved a faulty crane and the second contamination issues in the rover’s clean room. Now an issue with an oxygen sensor. Let us hope their are no more, and that the weather then cooperates. It they don’t launch by August 15th the launch will then be postponed for two whole years.

With Americans under attack where are Trump and the Republicans?

For me, the most distressing part of the panic over COVID-19 has not been the rules, the mandates, the nullification of the Bill of Rights, and the shut down of normal life, all of which have been terrible, wrong-headed, and a disaster for our country.

What has distressed me the most is the gutless response by the nation’s so-called conservative Republican politicians. All of the panic and harsh rules and economic damage has been designed by the Democrats to hurt the reelection chances of Trump. Little of it has anything to do with stopping the virus, and in fact most are nothing more than symbolic gestures that can accomplish nothing.

Despite this, Republican elected leaders have acquiesced to the Democrats demands, almost across the board.

Consider my own state of Arizona. My governor, Doug Ducey, is Republican. Republicans also have majorities in both houses of my state legislature. Yet, they have either let the Democrats run the show, or have acted in ways that are indistinguishable from the worst dictators in New York and New Jersey. First Governor Ducey imposed and then extended a lockdown that has bankrupted many businesses in the state. Then, as he began to loosen that lockdown he ceded his power to the generally Democratically-controlled local governments, letting them impose their own odious rules in place of his. The result is that in most big cities in the state, the lock down did not really end, but got tightened with new rules mandating masks.

Yesterday he reinstated part of his lock down for another thirty days. And like Democratic governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey, the new rules he imposed [pdf] were arbitrary and capricious, and will thus have little if any effect. Bars, gyms, indoor movie theaters, and water parks have to close until July 27th. Government and community pools however can stay open. So can restaurants, shopping centers, clothing stores, and many other venues that previously were considered “non-essential.” He also banned any gathering of more than fifty people, but exempted political demonstrations and religious services.

And why did he do this? It appears there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks! That means (oh no!) the number of people either hospitalized or dying might skyrocket, and overwhelm the hospitals!
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Russia to lower launch price of new Angara rocket

Capitalism in space: According to its 2019 financial report, the Russian manufacturer of that country’s new Angara rocket intends by 2024 to lower launch price from about $100 million to about $57 million.

The high cost price of the latest Angara carrier rocket before the start of its serial production is due to the need for the Khrunichev Space Center to work at two sites, the press office of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos told TASS on Monday. “Before the production process is fully moved to the site of the Polyot company in Omsk, the Khrunichev Space Center has to work at two production sites, which creates additional overhead costs,” a Roscosmos spokesman said.

As part of its trials, the Angara rocket is being produced singly instead of serially, he said. “After the serial full-cycle production is launched, the item’s cost price will decrease,” the spokesman said.

Essentially they are claiming that the cost will drop once they start full production.

Masks = virtue signaling

This essay by Robert Pratt about the uselessness of masks to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 has this very clarifying quote:

“When a person is infectious with a virus it is estimated that they may shed one hundred billion virus particles a day – that works out to 10 million per breath,” [Dr. John Lee, a former professor of pathology at a UK medical school] pointed out.

Given that the most common cloth masks in use by people have thousands of pores, holes between the fabric threads, several times larger than the width of a human hair and that a full thousand virus particles can fit through a space the size of a human hair side-by-side even laboratory controlled fit and use of a mask, conditions not present in actual life usage, does little to stop the spread of virus particles.

…If just a breath contains 10 million virus particles, the pressurized large release associated with a sneeze or cough is reasonably likely to be much greater and will put millions of virus particles straight through a mask as well as much more out the side perimeters of such.

So let’s summarize: The mask, worn for long periods, forces you to rebreath your carbon dioxide at higher levels than normal, lowers the oxygen content to levels that are considered unhealthy, and in the end can do little to block the virus. On top of this, if you unconsciously touch the front of your mask (such as to pull it down to talk to someone), and your hand had not been sanitized just beforehand, you have just taken the risk of placing the virus on the mask, at exactly the place you breath.

Sounds like a plan to me, eh?

Politicians continue to lie about COVID-19 to generate fear

Total U.S. daily deaths from the Wuhan flu

They just won’t stop lying: On June 26 there was a strange and unbelievable jump in the number of deaths from COVID-19. The graph to the right (source here), up-to-date through June 28, illustrates this. Compare it to the graph I posted on June 25 (in an essay that makes a nice bookmark with this essay). All of a sudden there were 2,500 deaths from the Wuhan flu the very next day, when we had seen no numbers like that since early May and the totals had been steadily and very consistently declining for weeks. In fact, the decline continued along the same exact trend, following this strange uptick in deaths.

Was it a sign of the coming second wave that so many Chicken Littles have been predicting with the partial reopening of the economy, allowing people to leave house arrest? Or was it a sign of some shenanigans by some government officials to manipulate the numbers because they didn’t like how consistently the death totals were dropping, thus giving Americans some hope and the ability to put aside their fears of a coming plague and go back to normal.

Which would you pick?
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Yutu-2 travels 62 feet during 19th lunar day

According to the official Chinese press, Yutu-2 traveled another 62 feet during its 19th lunar day on the far side of the Moon.

I did not get that number from the article, which was written to imply falsely that the rover’s total travel distance since landing (463 meters) was what it did during this single lunar day. To get the real travel distance I took the total from the previously reported total travel distance and figured the difference.

If you want to be educated to the absolutely useless nature of a state-run press, put both links above in separate tabs and compare. You will discover that other than some very minor changes, the new news story is essentially a cut-and-paste of the previous. Which by the way is a cut-and-paste of the last few reports. They don’t even bother to make believe (like the leftist American mainstream media) that they are giving us some information. They simply don’t.

NASA tests SLS backup tank to failure

In preparation for the only planned full scale static fire engine test of the core first stage of the SLS rocket, NASA engineers have successfully completed a tank test to failure on a back-up oxygen tank.

The tank was filled with water to simulate the oxygen, and cracked as expected at the predicted pressure and at the predicted weld. A short 11-second video of the moment of failure test is embedded below the fold.

This test illustrates the methods by which NASA works. Unlike SpaceX, which is doing similar tests at the very beginning of its Starship design stage to best improve their design, NASA does this testing at the very end of construction, to prove that what they have built will work. The former method in the long run is less risky and faster, as SpaceX quickly finds out what works and doesn’t and builds accordingly.

The latter method is more risky because it depends on complex computer models, which can always be wrong. It also is more expensive in that it requires NASA to build its rockets with large margins of error, just in case those models are wrong. Finally, it appears to take longer to build, because of those required large margins of error. Your rocket or spaceship needs almost to be “gold-plated” to make sure it will work, when completed, since you really can’t test it in the design phase and build it more efficiently based on those tests.
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California Democrats vote to allow all forms of discrimination

Fascist California; The Democrats controlling all levels of the government in California this week voted to repeal their constitutional statutes that forbid discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

This quote makes clear the goal of the bigoted Democrats:

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who is carrying ACA5 [the bill’s official designation], said mass uprisings in recent weeks against police brutality and systemic racism have shown that new solutions are needed to address the discrimination that remains in many communities.

“As we look around the world, we see there is an urgent cry — an urgent cry for change,” Weber said on the Assembly floor. “After 25 years of quantitative and qualitative data, we see that race-neutral solutions cannot fix problems steeped in race.” [emphasis mine]

So if race neutral polices won’t work, it appears she is suggesting they put into law race-biased policies, kind of like the Nazis did. In this case they will aim to specifically favor the Democrats’ rainbow coalition of minorities — specifically blacks, homosexuals, and illegal immigrants — to the detriment and oppression of everyone else.

Of course, these benefits will not apply to any blacks or homosexuals or immigrants who happen to be conservative. In that case their minority status is now null and void, as it can do nothing to help Democrats maintain power.

None of this should surprise us. After fifty years the Democratic Party is finally returning to its roots as the party of segregation, discrimination, and race hatred. They are simply rephrasing it slightly to fool people.

The law will have to still be approved by the voters in November, but since these Democrats are also forcing through California mail-only voting, they will have no problem fixing the results to their satisfaction.

Biden would use presidential power to force everyone to wear masks

They’re coming for you next: Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden said today that he would would use his power as president to require everyone to wear masks.

“I would go back to making sure that everybody had masks,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, told KDKA. “The one thing we do know is that these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask. … I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public,” he added later. [emphasis mine]

Put aside the fact that the benefits of mask use remain highly uncertain, and also include some very likely negative medical consequences. Also put aside Biden’s incorrect assumption that somehow there once had been a national mandate to wear masks.

What I find horrifying is the assumption that a president has the right to require such a thing. Not only does Biden assume he can issue such an edict, it appears that everyone now assumes they must obey it.

Nowhere under law is such a draconian dictate by a president allowed. Nowhere. In fact, if anything, the Bill of Rights expressly forbids it.

And yet, we have come to a place where a presidential candidate thinks he will have that right, and I guarantee he will be supported in that belief by his entire party.

Make no mistake. They’re coming for you next.

Extensive fraud found in New Jersey mailed ballots

The end of valid elections: Officials in New Jersey have discovered extensive fraud in a local election involving one out of every five mail-in ballots, putting into question the election results and resulting in the indictment of four men, including one candidate.

In the City Council election, 16,747 vote-by-mail ballots were received, but only 13,557 votes were counted. More than 3,190 votes, 19% of the total ballots cast, were disqualified by the board of elections. Due to the pandemic, Paterson’s election was done through vote-by-mail. Community organizations, such as the city’s NAACP chapter, are calling for the entire election to be invalidated.

The article is a horror-show, showing starkly how going to mail-in ballots will guarantee that all future elections will be rigged. This quote especially illustrates this fact:

[D]ozens of lawsuits have been filed across the country contesting state requirements used to certify mail-in ballots. “Among the main targets are witness and signature requirements for absentee ballots — such as signing the envelope, or getting a witness or notary to sign it, or making sure the voter’s signature is legible,” notes an NPR report earlier this month.

Those lawsuits seeking to expand vote-by-mail include one brought in Nevada earlier year, which aims to do away with signature verification on mail-in ballots altogether – even though ballot signatures not matching voter records was the reason Paterson disqualified over 2,300 ballots.

Since voting is controlled by local authorities, and since very few Republicans at the local level seem willing or able to fight these measures, I honestly do not expect the November election to reflect an accurate count. Instead, I think it will be heavily rigged in favor of the Democrats.

The only hope for overcoming this rigging will be that the many voters who have never voted before come out in huge numbers and vote against their incumbent governments. Unfortunately, I see little sign that this will happen.

UK to bid for purchase of bankrupt OneWeb

Capitalism in space? The United Kingdom appears about to bid $500 million to purchase the bankrupt satellite communications company OneWeb, apparently in an effort to use its satellites as a quick form of GPS-type satellites.

Among the uses being claimed for OneWeb’s technology is that it could be an alternative Galileo, the GPS satellite constellation built by the EU. Britain was kicked out of the project as a result of Brexit. Some have speculated OneWeb might be used as a cheaper alternative.

However, while acquiring such a satellite network would be a coup, industry sources are divided on whether the satellites could be easily retrofitted to perform a role as GPS. GPS technology is also owned by the US, and Washington has been against its allies building rival systems. “The system was built as a communications network,” says one source, questioning how easily it could be changed to GPS.

The article also notes that three Chinese companies are also considering bidding. All these foreign bids (especially the Chinese ones) however face U.S. government review, which will I expect almost certainly reject the Chinese bids.

The deadline for bids is tonight, so we shall find out soon.

The press continues to lie about COVID-19 to generate fear

Daily U.S. Wuhan flu deaths as of June 24, 2020

They just won’t stop lying: If you have been reading the mainstream leftist press, you are probably now under the impression that the COVID-19 epidemic is once again raging across the land, destroying whole communities while spreading out-of-control everywhere because some Republican governors thought it was now okay to come out of hiding.

The CNN article at the link above is typical, reporting in lurid detail how multiple states across the country are now experiencing record levels of new coronavirus cases.

Oh my! We are all gonna die!

Not. What the CNN article completely failed to mention is the number of deaths from COVID-19 taking place during this rise in new cases. Are you curious why? Could it be because, though the number of people now infected with the virus has skyrocketed, the number of deaths has remained largely flat, as shown by the graph above (data source here). The past two days has seen a slight uptick, but that is entirely within the range of the weekly ups and downs caused apparently by low numbers recorded over the weekends.

I am not the only one to notice this strange dishonest reporting, Nor is CNN the only culprit. This article at Just News noticed the same thing in a Washington Post report.
» Read more

Obama took lead from beginning on Flynn frame-up

Newly released FBI notes from former FBI head James Comey now reveal that as of January 5, 2017 not only did Comey and Obama consider all of the phone calls by former national security advisor Mike Flynn to Russian officials to be entirely “legit”, Obama was involved and likely instigated from the beginning the framing of Flynn.

Comey’s notes describe the discussion at that January 3rd meeting, attended by Obama, Biden, Comey, then-deputy attorney general Sally Yates, and then-national security adviser Susan Rice, about Flynn and his calls. The notes describe this unfolding conversation:

Obama: “Make sure you look at things and have the right people on it.”

Obama again: “Is there anything I shouldn’t be telling transition team?”

Comey, in response: “Flynn[‘s calls to] Kislyak … appear legit.”

In other words, Obama instigated the frame-up, even though he and these other high government officials knew Flynn had done nothing wrong.

As noted at the link,

The [January 5th] meeting to strategize against the Trump administration included just a few key law enforcement principals. Their testimony about what transpired is sometimes in conflict. Yates claimed Comey brought up the Logan Act while Comey claims Biden cited it. Rice claimed Obama directed that the anti-Trump operation be run “by the book,” but Comey claimed Obama even directed which personnel to use.

All parties agree, however, on the main substance of the meeting, which was a discussion of how to target Flynn for his “legit” phone calls and withhold vital national security information from the newly elected presidential administration. [emphasis mine]

In other words, President Obama led an effort to frame an innocent man in order to lay the groundwork for overthrowing the legally elected Trump administration. Or to be blunt, Obama was leading a coup attempt, aided by major players in his administration, many of whom remained in place as enemy agents once Trump took over.

Such behavior is not merely illegal and despicable, it is outright treasonous.

Appeals court orders hack judge to dismiss Flynn case

The DC Court of Appeals has ordered Democratic Party hack judge Emmet Sullivan to grant the Justice Department’s request to dismiss its case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a 2-1 ruling, said the department’s decision to abandon the case against Flynn settles the matter, despite Flynn having reached a deal with prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to plead guilty to making false statements in connection with a now-discredited FBI probe into whether the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Having lost his prosecutor, Sullivan had tried as judge to take on that role himself to keep the case going. Such actions by a judge are beyond the pale, since judges are supposed to be the neutral arbiter in any legal proceeding. By taking sides in this unprecedented manner Sullivan should be impeached and removed from office. Don’t count on it however.

Note too that Sullivan was also the judge who managed the whitewash in the Awan case, allowing that guy to skate free despite clear evidence Awan acted as a spy for Pakistan while working as the IT expert in a number of Democratic congressional offices.

Michael Mann finally loses in DC court

It took almost a decade, but the DC Superior Court has finally ruled against Michael Mann in his lawsuit against Rand Simberg and Mark Steyn.

Mann had sued them for libel because they criticized his incompetent and fraudulent global warming research. They demanded evidence of damages, the court agreed and ordered Mann to produce that evidence. He has refused (for almost a decade) and the court has now finally decided that because of his refusal he must pay all the court courts, including Simberg’s and Steyn’s.

Will he pay? Steyn notes what happened when Mann lost in a Canadian court:

I speculated back in October whether Mann, a loser and a liar, would also prove a scofflaw and a deadbeat. Yes, he is. It is ten months since he lost at the BC Supreme Court and, despite Mr Justice Giaschi’s order, Doctor Fraudpants has yet to pay Tim Ball a penny. So he’s a fraudulent plaintiff in every respect. This scumbag has financially ruined Dr Ball, lost at trial, and refuses to pay up. Mann’s conduct is appalling: it’s no wonder so few climate scientists are willing to defend him.

It will be instructive whether Mann defies a U.S. Court as well. I suspect if he does Simberg and Steyn will use the law to put liens on Mann’s assets. In normal times I would have no doubt this would work. Nowadays I sadly have concerns.

Ocasio-Cortez wins primary with 70% of vote

They’re coming for you next: Proudly communist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) today won her Democratic primary in New York, garnering 70% of the vote.

I know that many conservatives believe that the madness of the past four months will finally convince voters that it is time to reject the Democratic Party. I have seen no evidence of this. Instead, what I see is a Democratic voting block that remains set in concrete, immune to any facts or ideas that challenge its position. And it has remained so my entire life.

This victory by Ocasio-Cortez illustrates this. Despite her campaign to kick Amazon out of New York (costing her district tens of thousands of jobs), despite her clear lack of coherent knowledge of history or science, despite her Marxist agenda (as very well illustrated by her Green New Deal), and despite her generally hateful and racist rhetoric towards those who disagree with her, the voters in her district want her, and voted overwhelmingly for her.

In New York there is no viable Republican Party. Ocasio-Cortez has essentially won another two years in office tonight, as well as an endorsement of her race-based policies.

Do high water and design flaws threaten China’s Three Gorges Dam?

Heavy rain has caused flooding and a major overload to China’s massive Three Gorges Dam, and a Chinese hydrologist is now warning the dam, which he claims has design flaws, could fail at any time.

Rather than commenting on the validity of the images showing the dam’s warping a year ago, Wang said a more serious concern is the cracks and substandard concrete discovered during its construction. He said a failure of the dam would have catastrophic consequences for individuals residing in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and that they should prepare for evacuation as soon as possible, reported CT Want.

In his interview with Radio France Internationale, the Chinese water expert also criticized the Chinese government and state media for refusing to acknowledge the potential danger of the reservoir. He said that scientists who have spoken the truth have been criminalized by Beijing, resulting in a society with no communication.

According to Chinese stated-owned CNTV, water inside the Three Gorges Dam continues to accumulate and has risen two meters above its flood-prevention level. Although the dam has been hailed by Beijing as one of the greatest engineering achievements in human history, its structural integrity continues to be questioned.

The dam was only completed in 2009, after decades of planning and construction. If it fails it will be a disaster for China and its communist government, much worse that the Wuhan flu has been.

Local authorities in Scotland have approved spaceport concept

Capitalism in space: Local authorities in northern Scotland have recommended that planning of a private spaceport in Sutherland should move forward.

Will this happen? I wonder, based on this detail from the article:

Councillors on Highland Council’s north planning applications committee will consider the proposals for Space Hub Sutherland on Friday.

The local authority has received 457 objections to the plans and 118 representations in support of them. Impact on the environment and risk to human health are among the reasons for the objections.

Local community councils have supported the project because it is expected to create new jobs.

The article implies that the local communities support the project, but I’m not sure. Either way, in our fear-driven society today getting that many objections would be is a major hurdle for any project to leap.

Trump official skeptical of point-to-point suborbital transportation

During the FAA’s annual commercial space conference, the executive secretary for Trump’s National Space Council, Scott Pace, expressed strong skepticism about plans by some companies to develop point-to-point transportation using suborbital spacecraft.

“I still see that as somewhat speculative and somewhat over the horizon,” he said. “I see us working right now on trying to get the suborbital market up, running and sort of stabilized. I think people look forward to the possibility of point-to-point passenger and cargo travel, but right now just getting routine suborbital access to space and pushing hard on the unmanned hypersonic and military applications is where the action is.”

“Maybe it’s not too soon to think about,” he added, “but I still think that’s a bit farther out until I see how the initial market settles out.”

In this context Pace noted his primary focus was in helping Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin get their space tourism businesses off the ground. Virgin Galactic has been making noises that it wants to do point-to-point transportation as well. His skepticism of this is actually quite realistic, since Virgin Galactic has not even completed its first commercial tourism flight and its rocket and spacecraft are underpowered as well.

If Pace’s skepticism is however aimed at SpaceX’s Starship plans to do point-to-point transportation, he is exhibiting a typical Washington bureaucrat’s timidity about new technology.

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic has gotten a contract from NASA to train private astronauts. To my mind this is NASA’s attempt to keep this company above water, as it certainly isn’t the most qualified to do this kind of training. If I wanted training for going on a private space mission, SpaceX and Boeing would be better places to get that preparation.

The deal however has done wonders for Virgin Galactic’s stock, causing it to rise almost 16% yesterday following the announcement of this contract. Great timing for Richard Branson, who by coincidence just happens to be trying to sell some of his stock at this moment.

China’s Long March 3B launches GPS-type satellite

The new colonial movement: China today used its Long March 3B rocket to launch the last satellite needed to complete its GPS-type constellation.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

13 China
9 SpaceX
7 Russia
3 ULA

The U.S. still leads China 15 to 13 in the national rankings.

The blind continuing panic over COVID-19

U.S. daily Wuhan flu deaths

With totalitarian Democratically-controlled cities and states across the nation now imposing odious rules requiring the wearing of masks at all times, based entirely on emotion and symbolism with absolutely no reliance on the actual science that says masks are not only useless against a virus like COVID-19, they could be medically harmful to the user, I think it is time to do a little science journalism and illustrate again the absurdity of this situation.

First, the Wuhan flu epidemic is clearly ending, as shown by the graph above. This graph, based on numbers from this site, shows that the disease reached its peak sometime near the start of May. Since then its threat has been declining steadily, until it reached today the lowest number of deaths since March, only 285.

Right now the chances of you catching COVID-19 and dying from it are practically nil, even if you live in densely populated states like New York, where only 14 people died yesterday from the virus.

Second, as predicted by some scientists, the lockdowns, social distancing, and silly symbolic mask use did nothing to stretch out the epidemic or flatten the curve. These scientists, ignored by politicians and the mainstream press, had predicted it would be a seasonal flu, dying out come summer, and that it would last from six to eight weeks, as it has done in every country where it has arrived, regardless of any government action.

That is exactly what the Wuhan flu has done. After eight weeks it is now fading away, like all such seasonal diseases.

Third, the numbers on this graph are certainly inflated. The total deaths in the U.S. assigned to the Wuhan flu as of today is just over 114,000. Based on numerous reports (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), we can estimate that this number is inflated from 25% o 50%.

The untrustworthiness of these numbers is further illustrated by graph below, outlining the number of Wuhan flu deaths in New York alone.
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Oklahoma Supreme Court gives Trump permission to hold political rally

O thank you my Lords! The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Friday that it will allow Trump to hold a political rally in that state today.

[T]he state’s Supreme Court ruled against the request to force everyone attending to wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart from one another — a policy that would have complicated the massive event with thousands of people. The court ruled that the two local residents among those filing the suit couldn’t establish that they have a clear legal right to the relief they sought. In a concurring opinion, two justices wrote that the state’s reopening plan is “permissive, suggestive and discretionary.”

“Therefore, for lack of any mandatory language in the (plan), we are compelled to deny the relief requested,” that opinion said.

The legalities aside, can you imagine any time in our past history where a sitting president and presidential candidate had to get a court’s approval to hold a political rally? I can’t. The idea would have been inconceivable to past American generations. But the precedent is now clearly set. The courts apparently do have the power to allow or block political rallies. All Trump’s opponents need do to shut down future events is to go to court. Sooner or later a court will go along and forbid the event from occurring, and based on Trump’s behavior up to now, he will bow to that court’s will.

DOJ attorney refuses to resign as announced by Attorney General Barr

The swamp continues to win: Today attorney general William Barr announced that U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman, who has overseen a number of investigations and witch hunts against Trump associates (including his lawyer Michael Cohen), was resigning.

This evening Berman denied he was resigning, stating that he had no intention of leaving his post until the Senate approves his successor.

I have no idea what is going on here, but if Barr is supposed to be in charge, it sure doesn’t look like it. Instead, it looks like this member of the anti-Trump swamp, recognizing Trump’s weakness during the Wuhan panic and the recent anti-American riots, has decided he can defy his superiors and get away with it. And even if Trump does fire him, he will benefit financially because he knows the leftist Democratic press will pour money into his pockets for being a Trump opponent.

UPDATE and more proof the swamp is winning: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has now blocked Trump’s nominee (which is for the NY office of the Justice Department), claiming that it must first be approved by New York’s senators.

The article also makes the incredible claim that Trump, the sitting president of the United States and with whom Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly states holds that executive power, cannot fire Berman.

Can Trump fire Berman? Uh … probably. It would be strange and likely a violation of separation of powers if the head of the executive branch couldn’t fire an employee at the Department of Justice. (We went through this with Mueller, remember.) The fact that Berman was appointed by a federal court, not the president, adds a wrinkle, though. And federal law adds another wrinkle about how, exactly, a court-appointed U.S. Attorney is to be replaced:

“To recap: 1) Berman was appointed under 28 U.S.C. § 546(d). 2) That statute contemplates that he keeps his job until a permanent successor is confirmed by the Senate. 3) 28 U.S.C. § 541(c) says U.S. Attorneys are subject to removal by the President. So the statutes conflict,” — Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) June 20, 2020

This Vladeck then adds

Of course, the Trump DOJ may argue that § 546(d) is unconstitutional insofar as it prevents the President from removing Berman, but that’s complicated here by Berman being an *Acting* U,S. Attorney—over whose appointment and removal Congress can arguably exercise *more* control.

If we have reached the insane situation where a Republican President can no longer fire those under him, then our Constitutional government is truly dead.

UPDATE: Trump has now fired Berman. We shall see whether the courts and the swamp will let that action stand.

U.S. & U.K. sign space agreement

Anticipating the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the Trump administration has signed an new space agreement with the U.K. in order to facilitate the ability of U.S. companies export British technology as well as launch from its spaceports.

I cannot find the actual text of the agreement so my description, based on news reports and the press release (linked above) might be wrong. It does appear however that the agreement is designed to smooth out the regulatory environment that might block commercial space development involving both countries.

It also seems required because of the UK’s exit from the EU. They need to sign bilateral agreements with other nations to replace the EU framework.

The coming final flight of the shuttle’s solid rocket booster segments

Link here. As NASA begins the assembly process for its first long-delayed SLS launch sometime in the next year. the article at the link outlines in detail the space shuttle history of the many reused segments used to build the rocket’s two solid rocket boosters.

All together, the Artemis I solid rocket booster segments previously helped launch 40 space shuttle missions dating back 30 years.

The oldest cylinder, which will fly as part of the booster mounted on the right side of the SLS core stage, first lifted off on the STS-31 mission with the Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990. It was then used for six more shuttle flights, including Endeavour’s debut on STS-49 in 1992 and STS-95 in 1998, which lifted off with Mercury astronaut and senator John Glenn as part of its crew.

Other notable missions that are part of the Artemis 1 boosters’ legacy include: STS-71, which marked the first shuttle docking with the Russian space station Mir in 1995; STS-93, which deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory and marked the first spaceflight commanded by a woman, Eileen Collins, in 1999; STS-114, the return to flight after the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2005; and STS-133, the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery in 2011.

The hardware also includes new components, including the two forward domes, two cylinders and four stiffeners.

This first SLS launch however will be the last time these segments will fly. Unlike the shuttle, NASA is making no effort to recover and reuse these boosters.

The shuttle effort to reuse these booster segments was never really very cost effective, so not reusing them on SLS might actually save money. Those savings however are chicken feed when compared to SLS’s overall cost. The problem really is with SLS’s fundamental design: cumbersome, slow, expensive, and difficult to use.

Dozens of scientists forced out because of foreign ties, mostly with China

An investigation by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has resulted in 54 scientists either resigning or being fired because they had illegally kept secret their financial ties to foreign governments, almost all of which were with China.

Some 54 scientists have resigned or been fired as a result of an ongoing investigation by the National Institutes of Health into the failure of NIH grantees to disclose financial ties to foreign governments. In 93% of those cases, the hidden funding came from a Chinese institution.

The new numbers come from Michael Lauer, NIH’s head of extramural research. Lauer had previously provided some information on the scope of NIH’s investigation, which had targeted 189 scientists at 87 institutions. But his presentation today to a senior advisory panel offered by far the most detailed breakout of an effort NIH launched in August 2018 that has roiled the U.S. biomedical community, and resulted in criminal charges against some prominent researchers, including Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard University’s department of chemistry and chemical biology.

“It’s not what we had hoped, and it’s not a fun task,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in characterizing the ongoing investigation. He called the data “sobering.”

The article, from the liberal journal Science, tries to imply that there is something bigoted about this investigation because the bulk of those forced out happened to be Asian, but that is junk journalism. China itself is bigoted, and targets those of Asian ancestry for its spying. If we are to defend our nation from them, we have to accept the fact that the ethnic statistics here will not be balanced.

The bottom line remains: If you want to get an American government research grant, you cannot have financial ties with hostile foreign governments. And if you lie about those ties, than we can safely assume you are an agent for those hostile governments, and are really a spy subject to arrest and prosecution.

Head of NASA’s commercial program picked as chief of manned space

NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine yesterday announced that he has chosen Kathy Lueders to be the new head of the agency’s human exploration program.

In her most recent positions at NASA Lueders has been in charge first of the ISS commercial cargo program, followed by the ISS commercial crew program. She now heads the entire manned program, including Artemis.

This appointment appears to be great news for the emerging new commercial space sector (led by SpaceX), as Lueders’ close contact with them for the past half decade or so means she has seen up front the advantages of both competition and private enterprise. I suspect she will not look kindly at the endless delays at SLS and Orion, even if she has to play the political game of publicly appearing to support those projects. Like her predecessor Doug Loverro, she will be open to awarding contracts to whoever can get the job done best, rather than favoring the traditional big space contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as Loverro’s predecessor Bill Gerstenmaier had often done.

NASA’s shift from being the builder of space systems to the buyer of space systems is going to accelerate.

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