Tag Archives: government

Europe’s Galileo GPS-type constellation back up and running

Europe’s Galileo GPS-type constellation was back up and running on July 18, though it remains unclear exactly what caused the failure in both of its ground facilities.

Officials have only provided this tantalizing hint:

“The technical incident originated by an equipment malfunction in the Galileo control centers that calculate time and orbit predictions, and which are used to compute the navigation message,” the GSA wrote on Thursday in its most specific statement yet. “The malfunction affected different elements on both centers.”

That generally confirms what researchers who use the Galileo system had noticed independently. Satellites transmit packages of data to Earth that convey a set of astronomical positioning and timing data, used to compute satellite orbits and positions. But some combination of errors in the Galileo processing system led it to base these calculations on the wrong date, for example, using July 11 time stamps—the day the outage began—throughout the week. Eventually, the system even interpreted this data as referring to July 18, instead of the previous Thursday. The frozen time stamp seemed to be a symptom of problems with the ground-based processing system, rather than the satellites themselves.

This sure sounds like a computer hack that took down the systems at both facilities, suggesting that the security of Europe’s Galileo system has some very big holes.

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China deorbits Tiangong-2

China yesterday successfully deorbited its second space station test module, Tiangong-2, landing it harmlessly over the south Pacific.

Meanwhile the date of next launch of Launch March 5, the rocket that China must have operational in order to launch its full space station, remains unknown. It had been expected in July, but it appears this will not happen, and there is no indication when it will fly.

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NASA admits that 1st SLS launch likely to be delayed to 2021

In testimony yesterday at a House hearing NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine twice hinted that SLS’s first launch will not occur as scheduled in 2020, but will be delayed until 2021.

Twice during testimony before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Bridenstine referenced 2021 as the expected launch date for Artemis-1. “I think 2021 is definitely achievable for the Artemis-1 launch vehicle,” Bridenstine said in response to a question from Sen. Roger Wicker, the Mississippi Republican who chairs the committee.

However, Bridenstine said he would not set a new date for the mission yet.

Meanwhile, internal NASA sources say the launch can’t happen earlier than late 2021, and then only if the agency gets a lot more money, over and above the more than $25 billion that Congress has alocated.

Falcon Heavy was developed for $500 million. It took seven years, and is now operational, having flown three times. If the first launch of SLS does not occur until 2021 it will have taken NASA seventeen years to make that flight, for fifty times the money.

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Protesters continue to block telescope construction in Hawaii

The number of protesters daily blocking access to Mauna Kea in Hawaii and thus prevent the start of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) grew to more than 2,000 yesterday.

The police arrested 33 people, but did nothing else to clear the road. Meanwhile, Democratic governor David Ige finally took some action, albeit mild.

After a day of growing crowds and arrests of elderly demonstrators, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation giving law enforcement more options to end the blockade. The state hadn’t decided whether to remove protesters from the mountain, but the proclamation makes that an option, Ige said. “We are certainly committed to ensuring the project has access to the construction site,” Ige said. “We’ve been patient in trying to allow the protesters to express their feelings about the project.”

If Ige had moved firmly at the beginning of the week, the situation would likely not have escalated, as it has. Removing the protesters now will be far more difficult.

As is usual for modern reporting, the article spends most of its time promoting the perspective of the protesters. However, it does get one quote from a native Hawaiian who supports the telescope’s construction, and that quote reveals how little this protest has to do with religion:

Some Native Hawaiians say they don’t believe the project will desecrate Mauna Kea. Most of the cultural practices on the mountain take place away from the summit, said Annette Reyes, a Native Hawaiian from the Big Island. “It’s going to be out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

During the legal battle the court took testimony from many native Hawaiians who confirmed this position. Moreover, the public negotiations that produced the agreement to build the telescope (while removing five other telescopes on the mountaintop) included the most important religious leaders among the native population.

This is a power game being played here by the protest leaders. They are vying for power and influence both within their community as well as across Hawaii. Moreover, they want a level of power that will make them immune from any legal or democratic process. If they win they will have obtained the dictatorial right to unilaterally rule, on any issue.

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House kills Trump impeachment articles, despite large Democratic approval

The House today defeated articles of impeachment against President Trump by a vote of 332-95, with all 95 votes for coming from Democrats.

While the Democrats voted 137 to 95 to defeat the articles, this vote demonstrates that a very large minority of that party, 40%, are now on record in favor of overturning a legal election, merely because they disagree with the choice of the electorate.

For any ordinary citizen who happens to be a registered Democrat, these events today should cause significant pause. This is no longer a party that believes in elections. Instead, it believes in power and maintaining it, by any means necessary, with a large contingent in that party hostile to the United States. Some are downright anti-American.

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CNN panel of Republican women back Trump unequivocally

Pushback: A CNN panel of Republican women, when asked about Trump’s tweets attacking the Democratic congresswomen who have been pushing for communist policies, backed Trump unequivocally.

Furthermore, when the CNN reporter kept trying to slander Trump by claiming his tweets were “racist”, these women quickly challenged that false and slanderous description.

“Isn’t that what the president does with some of his own comments? His own racist comments?” the CNN reporter wondered.

“He didn’t say anything about color,” O’Briant responded.

“We know the president is not racist, he loves people from Hispanics, and black people, all across the board,” said Cami Dean, another of the eight women.

Video of this panel is below the fold. Watch it all. The panelists take the CNN reporter to task for claiming what Trump said was racist, quickly pointing out both the reporter’s bias and ignorance.

And just in case you have been living in a cave and missed it, this is what Trump tweeted:

So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.

Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. [emphasis mine]

There is nothing in this statement that has anything to do with race. What Trump is criticizing is the anti-American, bigoted, and communist agendas of congresswomen Omar (D-Minnesota), Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Pressley (D-Massachusetts), and Tlaib (D-Michigan).

Granted, Trump is crude. He also is wrong to suggest all of these women came from elsewhere (only one did). Nonetheless, he is bluntly noting that these congresswomen have expressed nothing but hate and hostility to America, and should be called out on it (something that the Democratic Party seems unwilling to do).

The CNN panel shows that, for at least these women, the effort by the Democrats and their agents in the mainstream press to slander Trump is not working. They can read what both Trump and these Democrats have said, and recognize who the real racists in this battle are.
» Read more

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Protesters continue to block construction of TMT

For the second day in a row protesters have blocked construction vehicles from accessing Mauna Kea to begin construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

As I expected, the Hawaiian government (entirely Democratically controlled) is reluctant to enforce the law against these protesters. David Ige, the governor, is trying to have it both ways. He mouths support for the law and the telescope, which has the support of the public, but then lets the protesters control the situation and block construction.

Unless something changes, which I doubt, do not expect TMT to ever be built in Hawaii.

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Update on Europe’s Galileo GPS-type constellation failure

Link here. Key quote:

A new source has told Inside GNSS that the ongoing Galileo outage “…has to do with the Precise Time Facility (PTF), a redundant facility present in both Italian and German control centers.” This is the second source close to the program who has identified the PTF as the focus of the incident. Our source adds, “Incidentally, the redundancy apparently did not work.” So, the suggestion is that both PTFs, at two separate European locations, have failed. And, our source adds, “Take into account that the two major outages in the last two years were also caused by problems in the PTF. There are major architectural problems within the GMS [Galileo Mission Segment] under Thales Alenia Space…responsibility.” [emphasis mine]

The article does not go into any details how it is possible for two redundant facilities to fail at the same time. It does note however that while the U.S.’s GPS, Russia’s Glonass, and China’s Beidou systems all are operated by the military, which takes very seriously security, Europe’s Galileo is not.

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Chandrayaan-2 launch scrub caused by leak in helium bottle

Engineers today announced that the July 14 scrub of India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar orbiter/lander/rover was caused by a leak in a helium bottle in the GSLV rocket.

“The good news is that we can fix the leak without dismantling the rocket, since there is an access door to the gas bottle which is atop the oxygen tank,” a senior scientist told TOI. “The bad news is that unless we ascertain the reason for the leak, there is a probability of the problem recurring.” Not having to dismantle means Chandrayaan-2 may be able to fly before the end of the July launch window, but a final failure analysis will be available only in a day or two.

Sources told TOI that the leak wasn’t serious enough to impair the flight, but Isro decided to apply “abundant caution,” given the importance of the Rs 978-crore project that would make India only the fourth country – after the US, Russia and China – to land a craft on the lunar surface.

I am willing to bet that if their investigation does not pinpoint the cause of the leak in the next few days, they will stand down from the July launch window. This mission, as well as proving the reliability of their GSLV rocket, are both too important to risk on an unknown and unsolved engineering issue.

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SpaceX pinpoints cause of Dragon explosion during test

SpaceX today revealed that it has pinpointed the cause of the explosion that destroyed a Dragon manned capsule during an engine test in April.

The company believes that the problem originated with the Crew Dragon’s emergency abort system, which consists of a series of small thrusters embedded within the capsule. If all goes well during a mission, these tiny thrusters are never really meant to be used. But if there is some kind of failure during a future launch, the thrusters can ignite and carry the Crew Dragon safely away from a disintegrating rocket.

SpaceX says that a leaky valve caused the propellant needed for these thrusters to cross into another system — one of really high pressure. When this contamination occurred, the high forces slammed the liquid around, causing valuable components to fail and leading to the ultimate loss of the capsule.

Koenigsman said that this contamination definitely was not anticipated, though the kind of valve that leaked has been known to have some internal leakage problem. Ultimately, he acknowledged that, to some extent, this was a design issue. “It’s something that the components should not have done,” Koenigsman said. “But at the same time, we learned a very valuable lesson on something going forward, one that makes the Crew Dragon a safer vehicle.”
““it was a huge gift for us.” ”

SpaceX will replace all of these types of valves with another component known as a burst disk, which is supposed to be much more reliable, according to Koenigsman.

The company is still hoping to fly before the end of the year, but admits that this may not be possible. Right now they have a tentative launch date in November.

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Modern Democratic Party McCarthyism

Are you a registered Democrat? Do you want to find out who you are really supporting? Then I think you need to watch Congressman Jesus Garcia (D-Illinois) two days ago during House hearing on the southern border crisis while questioning former ICE Director Tom Homan. He encapsulates perfectly the bigoted, hateful, and oppressive attitudes of the modern Democratic Party.

Most news sources have focused on Homan’s immediate visceral response, calling Garcia’s comments “disgusting.”

I think it more important to listen again to Garcia and his ugly slanderous and uncalled-for ad hominen attack on Homan’s character. My focus here is on the politicians now running the Democratic Party, not the ordinary citizens who are still registered Democrats and are unaware of the cruel, mean-spirited, and bigoted nature of those who now lead their party. If you still vote Democrat you need to know what you are voting for. It is not pretty, and it should make you ill.

I have therefore embedded the video of the exchange below, along with a transcript of Garcia’s words. Though my focus is on Garcia, it is worthwhile to watch the whole clip.

» Read more

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500 protesters block access road on Mauna Kea

About 500 protesters this morning blocked the access road on Mauna Kea that construction vehicles were going to use to begin construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

More than 500 protestors blocked Mauna Kea Access Road and chanted at the sun rose this morning, including seven who chained themselves to a cattle guard near the base of the road.

A convoy of state Department of Transportation vehicles carrying traffic control signage passed the intersection but made no effort to turn onto the access road.

More than a dozen elders with the protest movement sat on folding chairs and were joined by two protestors in wheelchairs at the bottom to the road as the crowd chanted and sang.

Police made no effort to disturb the protest. Gov. David Ige announced last week that the access road would be closed at 7 a.m. today to clear the way for heavy equipment for the controversial $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.

Based on this report it sounds like the protesters have successfully prevented construction from beginning.

Several points: First, these protesters are breaking the law.

Second, these protesters had their day in court, and lost. In a civilized society, you accept such decisions. No civilization can function if some people think they will always get their way, even if the law and the majority rule against them.

Third, at this moment it appears that David Ige, the Democratic governor, is doing exactly what I expected. He is mouthing platitudes about supporting the law and the construction, while allowing the protesters to block it. Unless he takes action in the next day or so to remove the protesters and clear the road, the protests will grow and become unmanageable. At that point Ige will say that construction must be stopped to avoid bloodshed, and to honor the wishes of what must be a large percentage of the population.

That last part however is a lie. Polls have all indicated that the public wants TMT. And the law is on the public’s side here. It is Ige’s job to support both, not a small minority of unruly spoiled agitators.

Being a modern Democrat however, I expect Ige to favor the lawbreakers.

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Europe’s GPS-type constellation Galileo down

For as yet unexplained reasons, Europe’s entire Galileo constellation of GPS-type satellites has been out-of-operation for the past four days.

The European GNSS Agency (GSA), the organization in charge of Galileo, has not published any information in regards to the root of the outage, which began four days ago, on Thursday, July 11. On that day, the GSA published an advisory on its website alerting companies and government agencies employing the Galileo system that satellite signals have degraded and they “may not be available nor meet the minimum performance levels.” The agency warned that the Galileo system “should be employed at users’ own risk.”

The GSA published a more dire warning on Saturday, July 13, when it said that Galileo was experiencing a full-service outage and that “signals are not to be used.”

I cannot imagine any technical problem on the satellites themselves that would cause them all to fail at the same time. Instead, this appears to be some form of sabotage, a variation of the recent Russian tactic of disrupting GPS in areas they consider sensitive.

It also may explain the announcement yesterday by French president Macron that France is going to create its own space command.

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France to set up military space command within its Air Force

Copycat! French President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday that he is proceeding with the creation of a space corp within this country’s air force.

Addressing military personnel a day before the Bastille Day parade, Macron said the new military doctrine setting up a space command would strengthen protection of French satellites. He said the investment involved had yet to determined. “To give substance to this doctrine and ensure the development and reinforcement of our space capabilities, a space command will be created next September in the air force,” Macron said, adding that it would later become the Space and Air Force.

Remember the ridicule heaped on Trump when he first proposed the need for reorganizing the U.S.’s military space operations into a single bureaucracy? He first pushed for a new military branch, but I think that was a negotiating tactic to force Congress and the Pentagon to act. As a result, it looks like the U.S. is almost certainly going to get a space corps as part of the Air Force, with all military space operations unified, as many in the military have been begging Washington to do for probably a decade. (This second link describes a bill by the Democratically-controlled House that includes authorization of the space corps, that has now been approved by the entire House.)

Now Macron recognizes the need to reorganize his military space operations as well. Surprise, surprise! Maybe those who kneejerk criticize Trump on everything should learn to think a bit before doing so. You might not agree with everything he does, but he is no fool, and there is almost always logic behind his actions.

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Two new science papers strongly question theory of man-made global warming

The uncertainty of science: Two new science papers, from researchers in Finland and Japan respectively, both strongly question the theory that human activity and the increase of carbon dioxide are causing global warming.

From the Finnish paper’s [pdf] conclusion:

We have proven that the [climate]-models used in IPCC report AR5 cannot compute correctly the natural component included in the observed global temperature. The reason is that the models fail to derive the influences of low cloud cover fraction on the global temperature. A too small natural component results in a too large portion for the contribution of the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. That is why 6 J. KAUPPINEN AND P. MALMI IPCC represents the climate sensitivity more than one order of magnitude larger than our sensitivity 0.24°C. Because the anthropogenic portion in the increased CO2 is less than 10 %, we have practically no anthropogenic climate change. The low clouds control mainly the global temperature. [emphasis mine]

From the Japanese paper:

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has discussed the impact of cloud cover on climate in their evaluations, but this phenomenon has never been considered in climate predictions due to the insufficient physical understanding of it,” comments Professor Hyodo. “This study provides an opportunity to rethink the impact of clouds on climate. When galactic cosmic rays increase, so do low clouds, and when cosmic rays decrease clouds do as well, so climate warming may be caused by an opposite-umbrella effect. The umbrella effect caused by galactic cosmic rays is important when thinking about current global warming as well as the warm period of the medieval era.”

Essentially, both criticize the climate models for not considering changes in cloud cover and how those effect the global climate. The first paper looks back at the known climate data and compares it with known changes in cloud cover, and finds that cloud cover is a major factor in temperature changes.

The second paper looks at the causes for some of the changes in cloud cover, noting how the increase in galactic cosmic rays during the solar minimum can be tied to an increase in cloud cover, and thus colder temperatures.

Do these papers disprove man-made global warming caused by the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Of course not. They just demonstrate again that the science here is very unsettled, that there are many large gaps in our knowledge, and that it would be foolish now to abandon western civilization and replace it with socialist totalitarian rule in order to prevent a disaster that either might not be happening, or if it is we may have no power to control.

I want to also point out that this post talks about scientists challenging the theory of man-made global warming. Attention must be paid to their conclusions. As for the ignorant opinions of politicians on this subject, who cares?

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Major management shake-up at NASA’s manned program

NASA today did a major shake-up in its manned program, most specifically relating to the management of its SLS/Orion program.

In a major shakeup at NASA Headquarters, agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday that Bill Gerstenmaier, the widely respected director of human spaceflight, has been replaced in the midst of an ambitious push to meet the Trump administration’s directive to send astronauts back to the moon within five years.

Effective immediately, Bridenstine wrote in a letter to agency employees, Ken Bowersox, a five-flight shuttle veteran, space station astronaut and Gerstenmaier’s deputy, will take over on an acting basis while Gerstenmaier serves as “special advisor” to NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard.

…Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development within HEO also has been replaced. A long-time NASA veteran, Hill helped manage development of the agency’s new heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System, or SLS, needed to carry astronauts back to the moon.

While the long delays and cost overruns at both SLS and Orion can partly be blamed on micromanagement by Congress and a lack of interest by the previous Obama administration, the internal management by Gersternmaier and Hill during this time is also at fault. They have allowed these programs to drag on, and were in charge when numerous major screw ups occurred, from badly built test stands that went overbudget to dishonest budget manipulations to cracks in the first Orion capsule to contamination in SLS’s rocket engines to the dropping of an SLS oxygen tank to brittle and weak welds in those tanks to establishing an overall slow motion pace for construction of the entire project.

I suspect that this shake-up is linked to the story earlier this week where NASA hinted it was going to have to delay the first SLS launch for another year.

I wrote then that the Trump administration would not take kindly to such a new delay, even if it was justified so the agency could do a required full stack static fire test of SLS’s core stage. I am willing to bet that this shake-up occurred because Gertenmaier and Hill had finally revealed the need for this delay, and the shake-up was the Trump administration’s response.

This doesn’t mean that SLS won’t be delayed. It just means the Trump administration has decided it was time to put new people in charge.

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Arianespace Vega launch fails

The launch of a United Arab Emirates military satellite on an Arianespace Vega rocket failed tonight two minutes after liftoff.

Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s executive vice president of missions, operations and purchasing, said the failure occurred around the time of ignition of the Vega rocket’s solid-fueled Zefiro 23 second stage.

“As you have seen, about two minutes after liftoff, around the Z23 (second stage) ignition, a major anomaly occurred, resulting in the loss of the mission,” Fabreguettes said. “On behalf of Arianespace, I wish to express our deepest apologies to our customers for the loss of their payload.”

Prior to this failure the Vega had flown fourteen times successfully since its inauguration in 2012.

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TMT construction begins July 15

According to a press announcement today from the governor’s office in Hawaii, construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope will finally begin during the week of July 15 following several years of delays due to protests.

The State Department of Transportation announced that Mauna Kea Access Road will be closed and there could be lane and other road closures associated with large equipment movement beginning July 15. In addition, hunting units A, K, and G in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve area will be temporarily closed to hunting effective July 15. Both measures are being taken to ensure the safety and security of the public and personnel involved in moving equipment for the TMT project up the Mauna Kea Access Road.

Expect more protests. The real question is whether the Democratic governor David Ige can stand up to them, especially because these protesters have been using the kind of identity politics that the Democratic Party relies on. Ige would have to defy that, and I haven’t seen a Democrat do that in decades.

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Trump drops plan to establish independent climate review panel

The Trump administration has abandoned a plan to create a more balanced climate science review panel to review the climate change claims within government research.

It appears that while the idea to put government-paid research under a wider range of scientific review was laudable, the White House could not figure out how to do it, even as factions within the administration fought the proposal.

The idea to create the panel has caused strife within the White House. Among its critics are deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell; Kevin Hassett, the outgoing chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council; and Kelvin Droegemeier, the president’s science adviser. Those supporting the plan include Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Brooke Rollins, assistant to Trump in the Office of American Innovation.

An official at NSC disputed the characterization that the panel was dead, even while confirming that it had been indefinitely delayed. The plan has suffered several downgrades over the months. It was initially proposed as a rapid response team of climate science critics who would challenge government publications on human-caused warming. Recent discussions have centered on the idea of forcing government climate scientists to participate in a debate with critics of their work who deny that humans are causing widespread changes on Earth (Climatewire, June 6). Most recently, the plan was diminished to creating dueling white papers that would elevate climate denialism to the level of consensus science.

The bottom line remains that a lot of climate research being done on the government dime today is, at a minimum, very suspect, and at the worst, demonstrably corrupt. A house-cleaning is necessary, even though it will likely be accompanied by a lot of squealing from those who get cleaned out.

It seems that the Trump administration is not prepared to deal with that squealing, especially because it appears that Trump himself is not passionate about this subject. He went after EPA aggressively, cutting the size of the agency and changing how it did business, but these actions were because he saw EPA as an out-of-control government agency imposing inappropriate regulations on American citizens. Corruption and data tampering and the politicization of the climate research field does not concern him so much. It appears he does not see this as directly affecting the American citizen.

For now.

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Battle over ownership of dinosaur fossils could upend paleontology research

A dispute over the land rights on a property where several significant and valuable dinosaur fossils have been discovered could completely change how future fossil digs are run.

The fight is between the ranchers who own the surface rights to the property in question, and the owners who possess the mineral rights. The latter are claiming, and have won in federal court, that fossils are minerals and thus belong to them.

That court decision however upturned more than a century of practice, where fossils were always considered part of the surface rights only.

The ruling sent shock waves through the paleontology world, threatening to upend the way fossil hunters have operated for decades.

It would make searching for fossils extremely complicated, said David Polly, a former president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, based in Bethesda, Maryland, because paleontologists would need to navigate both surface ownership—to get to the dig location—and mineral ownership of a parcel. Often, mineral rights are hard to find and frequently change hands between large corporations.

The article says this decision could threaten previous finds, but I think that is hyperbole. On issues like this the statue of limitations would apply, and would make almost all challenges on earlier fossil finds moot.

Nonetheless, the issue is still before the courts. The federal court has decided to vacate its decision and has instead let the case shift to the state supreme court in Montana, which is expected to take up the case later this year.

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White House objects to House language on military space

The White House today released a detailed statement listing its objections to the House language on the upcoming military space authorization bill and threatening a veto if the Senate version is not passed.

Their objection seem to center on two issues. First, while the administration has accepted the idea of a space corp within the Air Force rather than a separate new military branch, they appear prefer the Senate language for this change. This disagreement appears relatively minor in the entire scheme of things.

Second, and more significantly, the White House has objections to the planned launch contract set up the Air Force has been pushing that would have them pick two launch providers now for all their launches through 2024, rather than allow all comers to bid on those launches as they came up.

On the National Security Space Launch program, the administration “strongly objects” to HASC [House Armed Services Committee] Chairman Adam Smith’s Section 1601 language “as it would increase mission risk for the nation’s national security satellites.”

Section 1601 would mandate that the Air Force compete contracts for any launches beyond 29 launches during the period from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2024. This section would also mandate that the Air Force provide up to $500 million to launch companies that either win a Phase 2 contract after fiscal year 2022 or win a Phase 2 contract but are not part of a Launch Service Agreement, in order to meet national security-unique infrastructure and certification requirements for a Phase 2 contract. This section also require a notification of the selection in fiscal year 2020 of the two providers for Phase 2 launches.

The administration opposes these provisions. “After careful and considered study, DoD determined that a contract for national security space launch requirements over the course of five years would optimize warfighter flexibility, minimizes mission risk, and provides exceptional value to the taxpayer,” says the White House statement. “Confining Phase 2 to fewer missions would increase per-launch cost while simultaneously introducing risk and costs for some intelligence payloads. Finally, notifying Congress prior to a contract would be a departure from long-standing tradition and might put DoD at a greater risk of a protest.”

To put this in simple terms, the House language was an attempt to open up the bidding, while also offering $500 million development money to any company who missed out initially. The White House, and the Air Force, wish to restrict the bidding process, and don’t want to pay that extra $500 million.

All of this I think will become irrelevant the first time the Air Force issues a bid offer for a launch contract but restricts bidding to only two launch companies, even if a third or fourth is available and capable of fulfilling the contract. The excluded launch companies will sue for the right to bid, and they will win.

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NASA begins the slow leak process prior to announcing new SLS delays

As it has been doing for the past half decade, NASA has now begun the process of issuing hints about a future announcement of more SLS launch delays, in order to prepare the public and neuter any possible negative news coverage.

The linked article above outlines in great detail the present status of SLS and the assembly of its core stage. The main decision the agency now faces is whether it will do what it calls an “SLS Green Run,” where they assemble that core stage on a test stand at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and fire it for a full duration static test. Such a test is necessary to validate the engineering models that were used to build the rocket. Without it no one will know if they have modeled the design correctly, meaning that during the first real launch they might find the rocket does not perform as predicted and could even fail.

Doing this test however will guarantee that the first SLS launch, Artemis 1, will not occur in June 2020 as presently scheduled, and will likely be delayed for another year.

The Trump administration has already made it clear it will not take kindly to more SLS delays. It has also made it clear that it will consider already available commercial options, such as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, if NASA cannot deliver SLS as promised.

This puts NASA in a quandary.
» Read more

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The Greatest Scientific Fraud Of All Time — Part XXIII

Link here. The author continues a long running series outlining the data manipulation and tampering that has been going on at NOAA and NASA to distort the global temperature record so it will confirm the theories of global warming activists. As he notes,

Sure enough, there have been additional adjustments, as always in the same direction — older down, and newer up. But those adjustments between v.3 and v.4 have been relatively minor. More significantly, Kirye discovered a different maneuver which is even more incredible, and which he proves by direct links back to NASA’s own website: In the v.4 graphs that it provides, NASA has relabeled the hugely-adjusted v.3 data as “unadjusted.”

He pinpoints how NASA is now taking its adjusted data and labeling them unadjusted, so that it can justify even more adjustments, all always cooling the past and warming the present. As he adds,

Funny that once again, each one of the adjustments somehow enhances the warming trend. Is it really possible that never once does any new data, or adjustment to data, lead to a change in the other direction?

This is political hackwork disguised as science. Until the climate science community does something to stop this and clean up the mess in its global temperature data, they will find themselves unable to convince anyone of their scientific credibility. Which by the way is generally in the sewer.

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UCLA professor found guilty of stealing military technology for China

A UCLA professor has been found guilty of stealing military technology and sending it to China.

UCLA adjunct professor Yi-Chi Shih was convicted June 26 on 18 federal charges, Newsweek reported, and could now lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, while also facing up to 219 years behind bars for numerous violations of the law. These include conspiracy to break the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), committing mail and wire fraud, lying to a government agency, subscribing to a false tax return, and conspiring to gain unauthorized access to information on a protected computer, according to a Department of Justice news release.

Shih and co-defendant Kiet Ahn Mai tried to access illegally a protected computer owned by a U.S. company that manufactured semiconductor chips called monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). MMICs are used by the Air Force and Navy in fighter jets, missiles and missile guidance technology, and electronic military defense systems.

The chips were exported to Chengdu GaStone Technology Company (CGTC), a Chinese company, without a required Department of Commerce license. Shih previously served as the president of CGTC, which made the Commerce Department’s Entity List in 2014 “due to its involvement in activities contrary to the national security and foreign policy interest of the United States – specifically, that it had been involved in the illicit procurement of commodities and items for unauthorized military end use in China,” according to court documents cited by the DOJ.

The only surprise here is that the these guys got caught. Since the late 1990s China has been making aggressive effort to steal American know-how, and has largely been successful. The visible result of that effort has been their space program, almost all of which began with technology thefts.

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DSCOVR in safe mode

The solar wind monitoring satellite DSCOVR has gone into safe mode.

It is at present unclear what the problem is, or whether they can recover the spacecraft.

DSCOVR’s history is packed with political shenanigans. It was first proposed by Gore as Triana, with its only purpose to take global pictures of the Earth so Gore and the left could use these images for environmental propaganda. Bush canceled it, partly because it really had no legitimate scientific purpose and partly to prevent the left this propaganda tool. It was resurrected during the Obama administration but with a more useful purpose, providing early solar wind data so that Earth-based power grids could get prepared should a major solar storm be incoming. NASA’s other solar wind monitors ACE and SOHO, were already decades beyond their planned lifespan, and the space agency, the solar weather community, and especially the world’s electrical power industry, was desperate to get a new satellite in space.

Ironically, with DSCOVR’s shutdown we are still dependent on ACE and SOHO. Nor is there any replacement satellite anywhere close to launch.

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X-37B photographed in orbit

X-37B as seen by telescope
Click for full image.

An amateur astronomer this week was able to get a photograph of the X-37B presently in orbit about 200 miles high.

The [X-37B] is a small version of the classic Space Shuttle, it is really a small object, even at only 300 km altitude, so dont expect the detail level of ground based images of the real Space Shuttle. Considering this, the attached images succeeded beyond expectations. We can recognize a bit of the nose, Payload Bay and tail of this mini-shuttle with even a sign of some smaller detail.

The image on the right, reduced and cropped to post here, shows the image with a graphic of the spacecraft in comparison.

The graphic assumes the X-37B’s cargo door is open, but the actual image does not match this, to my eye. Instead, it appears partly open, with some kind of large object protruding from the cargo bay.

This X-37B spacecraft, one of two the Air Force flies, was launched by SpaceX in September 2017 and has now been in space more than 664 days, with no indication yet when it will return to Earth. The present record is 718 days for the longest X-37B flight, set by the Air Force’s other X-37B. It appears likely that this spacecraft will exceed that record.

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Russian Soyuz rocket successfully launches 33 satellites into orbit

In its first Vostochny launch in 2019, Russia today used its Soyuz rocket to successfully launch a variety of weather, engineering, and Earth observation satellites totaling 33 into orbit.

As I write this the satellites are in orbit but have not yet been deployed by the rocket’s Fregat upper stage, a process that will take several hours as it moves them into a variety of orbits.

Many of the smaller satellites on this rockets are commercial cubesats, and are Russia’s effort to regain some of its lost commercial business that had been captured by SpaceX. They are also a sign of the changing launch business. Previously Russia’s commercial flights were all on its larger Proton rocket because the satellites were larger. Now the business is shifting to the smaller and recently more reliable Soyuz, because smaller satellites are beginning to dominate the industry.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

9 China
8 SpaceX
6 Russia
5 Europe (Arianespace)
3 India
3 Rocket Lab

The U.S. continues to lead China 14 to 9 in the national rankings.

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Paper ballot count puts establishment Democrat ahead of socialist in NYC primary

The count of paper ballots submitted during last week’s Democratic Party primary for Queens district attorney has put the establishment candidate Queens Borough President Melinda Katz ahead–by 20 votes–of Tiffany Cabán, the socialist endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is now leading lefty insurgent Tiffany Cabán in the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney — a stunning reversal of fortunes after the race went into a paper ballot count with Cabán ahead by more than 1,000 votes last week.

About 6,000 paper ballots remained to be counted, and as the Board of Elections tallied the final votes Wednesday night, Katz was leading Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-backed Cabán by a razor-thin 20 votes, two sources told The Post.

Both sides acknowledged the narrow margin would trigger a recount — but that didn’t stop Katz from declaring victory Wednesday night.

I find this story most amusing, as it reminds me of Minnesota and the recount of paper ballots that gave Democrat Al Franken his victory over Republican Norm Coleman in 2008. Many fishy things seemed to occur during that recount that has always made it suspicious.

Either way, it appears the Democratic establishment, having realized what a political disaster Ocasio-Cortez has been, did not want another such socialist representing them in New York and appears to have moved to make sure it didn’t happen. For example, there’s this story: Queens DA frontrunner Tiffany Cabán dedicates ‘victory’ to Rikers inmates

Rikers Island inmates are first in Tiffany Cabán’s heart.

“Our victory belongs to folks who have been locked up on Rikers simply because they could not afford their bails,” she said Saturday, days after early results showed her the likely winner of the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney.

Though politically this position by her, allied more with criminals than ordinary honest citizens, isn’t really much different than the bulk of today’s Democratic Party, her willingness to state those positions openly is why the establishment Democrats in Queens are desperate to stop her.

Hat tip reader Cotour.

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