Tag Archives: policy

Europe considering delaying ExoMars2020 two years

The Europe Space Agency (ESA) is considering delaying the launch of its ExoMars2020 Mars rover two years because of continuing problems with its parachutes.

According to a spokesperson for the European Space Agency (ESA), a “working-level review” for the project was held among ESA and Roscosmos officials in late January, and a preliminary assessment was forwarded to the respective heads of the space agencies, Jan Wörner of ESA and Dmitry Rogozin of Roscosmos, on February 3. “They instructed the respective inspectors general and program chiefs to submit an updated plan and schedule covering all the remaining activities necessary for an authorization to launch,” the ESA spokesperson said. “This plan will be examined by the two agency heads who will meet on 12 March to jointly agree the next steps.”

It appears that the European and Russian officials will make a public announcement about ExoMars next month. Their options include pressing ahead with a launch this year or delaying two years until the next favorable window for a launch to Mars opens. Given multiple issues with the mission, a source said a delay is the most likely option.

The parachutes are not the only problem. They have just discovered during thermal testing that the glue used in the the hinges of the rover’s solar panels comes unstuck.

In August 2019, when the parachute issues were first revealed (after much hemming and hawing by ESA officials), I predicted a 50-50 chance they’d delay. When in September 2019 the problems were found to be more serious than first admitted, I lowered the chances of meeting the 2020 launch date to less than 25%.

Right now I predict that the launch of ExoMars2020 will not occur this summer, but will be delayed until the next Martian launch window in 2022. You heard it here first.

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College apologizes because teacher accurately quotes historical document

The coming dark age: The head of the University of Oklahoma has publicly apologized for a journalism professor because that professor had, after warning the class, accurately read aloud an historical document that included the word “nigger.”

The heart of the apology says it all:

The professor, a faculty member in History, read from a historical document that used the “N-word” repeatedly. While she could have made the point without reciting the actual word, she chose otherwise. Her issuance of a “trigger warning” before her recitation does not lessen the pain caused by the use of the word. For students in the class, as well as members of our community, this was another painful experience. It is common sense to avoid uttering the most offensive word in the English language, especially in an environment where the speaker holds the power.

This apology is downright hostile to the pursuit of knowledge, and coming from the head of a university is especially appalling.

My regular readers know that I forbid the use of obscenities by commenters, as I oppose the recent cultural trend to make their use ubiquitous and casual. I think it debases everyone, and prevents thoughtful debate. However, if you want to get an accurate sense of history you must have the open-mindedness to tolerate hearing such things in order to understand that history.

Moreover, this administrator assumes that his students are so pathetically weak and delicate that hearing this word would destroy them. Poppy-cock! What is really happening is that he is bowing to the race-mongers and political bullies who have been using their demands on what language to speak to force everyone to endorse their political rule.

The future is grim if it will become impossible to learn anything that might offend you. In fact, in that culture you really will not be able to learn anything at all.

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NASA leaning towards long-duration flight for 1st Dragon mission

Capitalism in space: According to one former astronaut as well as a review of photos of the training being given to the astronauts who will fly on SpaceX’s first manned Dragon flight, this Space News article thinks that NASA will make that first flight a long-duration mission.

This Dragon demo mission is officially still planned as a short mission, no more than two weeks. To extend it requires additional training, which the photos appear to show, and would thus delay its launch by as yet an unspecified time period.

The article also cites a third reason NASA is now favoring the long-duration option: The issues with Boeing’s manned Starliner capsule:

Another factor in any decision to extend Demo-2 is the status of the other commercial crew vehicle, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. That vehicle flew an uncrewed test flight in December, but software problems during the flight, including one which shortened the mission and prevented a docking with the ISS, have raised questions about whether a second uncrewed test flight will be needed. An investigation into those problems is expected by the end of this month.

Even if NASA decides a second uncrewed test flight of Starliner is not needed, a review of all of the spacecraft’s one million lines of code, and other reviews, is likely to delay a crewed test flight of the spacecraft. NASA and Boeing had previously agreed to make that test flight a long-duration mission, with NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson performing space station training in addition to that for the Starliner itself.

The delay in Boeing’s long duration mission leaves a gap in the schedule for maintaining crews on ISS. Flying Dragon long-duration would help solve that.

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Watch a liberal lynch mob form and riot, in real time

Since the 2016 election campaign, the number of examples of physical attacks by leftists against conservatives, journalists, Trump supporters at campaign events, on college campuses, in restaurants, or simply on the street, has grown so much that they now seem to occur almost every day, and have become ubiquitous. In fact, they have grown so frequent that there are no longer unique and — in that sense — no longer newsworthy.

Just last week for example a couple was arrested for trying to run down two teenage boys with their car because the boys were riding bicycles with Trump flags.

According to an affidavit from Lake County, Indiana, Cailyn Smith, 18, and Kyren Jones, 23, were each charged on Thursday with two felony counts of intimidation and criminal recklessness over the incident involving the teens, who are brothers.

The brothers told police that they were riding their bikes at around 8:30 p.m. when a blue Chevy Malibu “swerved as if the driver wanted to hit them” and they had to ride their bikes into the grass, the affidavit stated.

A woman later identified as Smith then yelled “y’all scared just like your president” and “America is not great [expletive].” The couple reportedly sped off after the boys threatened to call the police.

As I say, this behavior has becoming horribly typical. The American left has become the most intolerant, close-minded, and vicious community I have ever seen in the U.S. in my entire life.

And with each passing day it is becoming even more violent and intolerant, its behavior rising to such levels of blind emotional hatred that we can almost guarantee it will soon lead to murder.

Don’t believe me? Then watch the video below.
» Read more

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Space Force lobbies for $1 billion extra

The Space Force has put forth an extra wish list of missions/projects that require an $1 billion more above the $15 billion the agency has already requested in the next federal budget for 2021.

While about 10 percent of the request is for classified programs, the remaining funding runs the gamut, from bolstering space situational awareness to accelerating the development of navigational satellites to establishing new commercial satellite communication capabilities in low earth orbit.

Overall this wish list appears properly focused, aimed at upgrading or improving existing space military assets rather than growing the Space Force’s bureaucracy. We shall see over time if this proves true. I can’t help having doubts.

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First SLS launch pushed back again to April 2021

NASA on February 20, 2020 finally admitted that the first SLS launch cannot happen in 2020, and set a new target date no earlier than April 18, 2021.

The previous target launch date in November 2020 was always a pure fantasy. NASA just held off admitting it in order to defuse any political consequences for having a program, building SLS, that will end up taking them almost two decades to complete.

This new launch date is likely the most realistic so far, since the hardware for SLS is actually finally coming together. Nonetheless, if anything at all should go wrong along the way, especially with the full static test firing of the core booster of the first stage scheduled for no earlier than August, then expect more delays, possibly lasting years.

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Yutu-2 finds rocks that appear young

Yutu-2 has found a cluster of small rocks that appear relatively young, with little erosion.

The rocks also also appear as if they came from another place on the Moon.

Closer inspection of the rocks by the rover team revealed little erosion, which on the moon is caused by micrometeorites and the huge changes in temperature across long lunar days and nights. That anomaly suggests that the fragments are relatively young. Over time, rocks tend to erode into soils.

The relative brightness of the rocks also indicated they may have originated in an area very different to the one Yutu-2 is exploring.

Youth in this case is very relative. The rocks might be young when compared to the surface on which they sit, but they still could be more than a billion years olf.

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NOAA’s aging fleet of sun-observation satellites

In testimony during a Senate hearing on February 12, the head of NOAA’s space weather division admitted that the agency’s ability to monitor the Sun is threatened by its aging fleet of solar satellites, combined with the agency’s slow progress on a large single replacement satellite, presently scheduled for launch in 2024.

NOAA currently uses the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) and NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft to collect solar wind data, and uses the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft to observe the solar corona, using those data to forecast solar storms that can affect satellites and terrestrial infrastructure such as power grids.

However, SOHO, launched in December 1995, is well past its design life. In addition, DSCOVR has been offline since June 2019 because of technical problems, forcing NOAA to depend solely on ACE, which launched in 1997. [emphasis mine]

NOAA has been trying, and failing, to build a replacement for ACE for more than a decade. Worse, the agency’s inability to deal with these issues was further revealed by this quote:

Congress has pushed to speed up work on that [replacement] mission, despite NOAA’s assurances about the availability of data from other spacecraft. NOAA sought about $25 million for the mission in its fiscal year 2020 budget request, but Congress appropriated $64 million. NOAA has yet to release its fiscal year 2021 budget request, more than a week after the White House published the overall federal government budget proposal.

Something has been wrong in the management at NOAA now for at least a decade. They can’t seem to get new satellites built, and when they try they can’t seem to do it on schedule and for a reasonable cost. Their weather satellite program has been rife with problems, including cost overruns, schedule delays, and failing satellites.

But why should we be surprised? This kind of mismanagement at the federal government has been par for the course for the past half century.

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Harvard professor arrested for his work with China

Charles Lieber, the chairman of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, has been arrested by the federal government for lying about the work he has been doing for China.

An affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint in Boston further accuses Lieber of making false statements to the National Institutes of Health—a major funder of his research into nanoscale biological interfaces, such as transistors that can interact with intracellular biological machinery—as well as to Harvard itself, about his connections to [China’s] Thousand Talents program and the Wuhan University of Technology.

The arrest occurred very shortly after a Chinese medical student from Harvard was arrested for trying to smuggle cancer research material from a Harvard-affiliated medical center.

More information here. It appears that Lieber did not tell the truth about how much China was paying him for this work, which by the way was a lot of money, $50K per month plus $150K stipend for living in Wuhan while he helped build them a medical lab.

Hat tip Phill Oltmann.

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Maiden flight of China’s Long March 5B rocket targeted for April

The new colonial movement: China is now targeting mid-April for the maiden launch of its Long March 5B rocket, which will place in orbit China’s new manned capsule on its first unmanned demo flight.

The article at the link, from China’s normally reticent state-run press, actually provides a great deal of information. First, it outlines the launch schedule for their space station, using the Long March 5B rocket:

China aims to complete construction of the space station around 2022. According to the CMSA, more than 10 missions are planned in the next three years to complete the construction and master technologies for in-orbit assembly and construction of large complex spacecraft, long-term manned spaceflight in near-Earth space and large-scale space science experiments.

…The space station will be a T shape with the Tianhe core module at the center and a lab capsule on each side. The core module — at 16.6 meters long and 4.2 meters in diameter, with a takeoff weight of 22.5 tonnes — will be the management and control center.

Second, the article confirms that the Long March 5B rocket will be used to launch all of China’s manned missions. This means they are dependent on their biggest and possibly most expensive rocket to make things happen, suggesting that either they will have to go slow or they have made a very big commitment to space. The quote above suggests the latter.

Third, the article reveals that their new manned capsule, which will weigh almost as much as a single station module on either their station or ISS, will be capable of carrying six astronauts, and that the descent module is designed to be reusable.

Finally, they confirm once again that they will also be launching “a large optical telescope” that will fly in formation with their space station. An earlier news article indicated that this telescope would have a mirror 12 meters in diameter, which would be five times bigger than the mirror on the Hubble Space Telescope. That same article however also noted major design issues.

Overall, it appears China is about to step out as a major space power, with capabilities that in many ways will exceed anything from either the U.S. or Russia.

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Russia and China launch satellites

Today both China and Russia successfully placed satellites into orbit. China’s Long March 2D rocket placed four “technology test” satellites into orbit, while Russia used its Soyuz-2 rocket to launch a military communications satellite.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

4 China
3 SpaceX
2 Arianespace (Europe)
2 Russia

The U.S. continues to lead China 6 to 4 in the national rankings.

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Ariane 5 successfully launches two satellites

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket today successfully launched a Japanese communications satellite and a South Korean landsat satellite.

The standings in the 2020 launch race:

3 China
3 SpaceX
2 Arianespace (Europe)
1 Rocket Lab
1 Russia
1 Japan
1 ULA
1 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. continues to lead China 6 to 3 in the national rankings.

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China’s candidate landing site on Mars

One candidate landing site for China's first Mars lander/rover
Click for full image.

The image to the right, reduced to post here, was taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and provides a close-up of the relative smooth terrain found in the region on Mars that the Chinese have said is one of their prime landing sites for their 2020 Mars rover and lander. According to planetary scientist Alfred McEwen of the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory in Arizona,

There was a presentation at the European planetary & science conference in Geneva last fall, and a Chinese scientist gave an update on their plans and showed this area with the lat-long coordinates. That’s what I’m going on.

McEwen also admits that “there might have been a change since then. I’m not in the loop.” No one outside China really is, as that government remains quite opaque on these matters. They will likely only reveal their final landing site choice as we get closer to launch.

Overview

This location, on the northern lowlands plains of Utopia Planitia, makes great sense however for a first attempt by anyone to soft land on Mars. In fact, in 1976 these plains were the same location that NASA chose for Viking 2, for the same reasons. (The Viking 2 landing site was to the northeast of the Chinese site, just beyond the right edge of the overview map) While there are plenty of craters and rough features, compared to most of Mars’s surface, Utopia could be considered as smooth as a bowling ball.

Even so, a look at the full image shows that there are numerous features nearby that would be a threat for any robotic lander. McEwen notes,
» Read more

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Chicago demonstrates the abject failure of Democratic Party policies

Two stories in the past week illustrate the routine failure of the urban political policies in cities nationwide that have been traditionally controlled by Democrats:

The first story proves the absurdity of gun control laws. Chicago, like most cities and states controlled by Democrats, has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. And Chicago, like most cities and states controlled by Democrats, is also home to one of the highest crime rates, using guns, in the nation. Routinely there are more people shot per week with in Chicago then in any hot spot in the Middle East.

This particular story further demonstrates how pointless those laws are in keeping guns from both criminals and even ordinary citizens. It not only describes the premeditated use of guns by young adults against each other, it documents two examples where children accidently shot a playmate because they were playing with guns that happened to be in their homes.

If those gun control laws had done what the Democrats had promised, those children would not have had those guns available to them. But they did, because first, criminals did not obey the laws and are thus very well armed in Chicago, and second, to defend themselves against these armed criminals Chicago citizens are forced to get guns illegally themselves. Instead of reducing access to guns, the gun control laws appear to have increased it. Worse, because those guns are illegal, proper training in gun use and safety is inaccessible. The result are stories like this.

The second story describes the consequences of these bad Democratic Party policies. Chicago’s population has now shrunk four years in a row, with many of those fleeing coming from the very black community that the Democrats supposedly care so much about. The reasons?

They have been driven out of the city by segregation, gun violence, discriminatory policing, racial disparities in employment, the uneven quality of public schools and frustration at life in neighborhoods whose once-humming commercial districts have gone quiet, as well as more universal urban complaints like rising rents and taxes.

Note that the blame for most of these failures (gun control, corrupt police, bad schools, rising taxes) can be traced directly to the polices of the Democratic Party that has run Chicago unopposed for almost a century, the same party that for decades these same blacks have voted for repeatedly.

As they say, you get the government you deserve. I just hope the blacks remaining in Chicago as well as the blacks who have fled will reconsider their blind loyalty to the Democratic Party. As Donald Trump told them directly during the 2016 campaign, “What have you got to lose?”.

So far, less than nothing, based on the disasters that the Democrats have brought upon them. I pray they will finally realize this.

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Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 awake for their 15th lunar day

The new colonial movement: Engineers have reactivated China’s Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover for their 15th lunar day on the far side of the Moon.

As usual, the story in China’s state-run press reveals little. This time however it does mention that Yutu-2 will continue traveling to the west, first to the northwest and then to the southwest.

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America’s modern rocket industry illustrates the power of freedom

SpaceX's first Starship prototype
SpaceX’s first Starship prototype

Capitalism in space: Today’s launch by SpaceX of another sixty Starlink satellites in its planned constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide worldwide internet access, was significant in a way that is actually not obvious at first glance. To understand its significance, it is necessary to look at the launch in a wider context.

Below is the list of launches that have so far occurred in 2020. I keep track of this, and post an update here on Behind the Black after each new launch:

3 China
3 SpaceX
1 Arianespace (Europe)
1 Rocket Lab
1 Russia
1 Japan
1 ULA
1 Northrop Grumman

Notice anything? While the launches of every other nation in the world are centralized under one rocket company or agency, the United States has many different and independent companies competing for this business. Right now the U.S. has four different companies on this list, with one (SpaceX) now tied after today’s launch with China for the overall lead, and three (Rocket Lab, ULA, and Northrop Grumman) tied with Europe, Russia, and Japan for second place.

Only in America can you have individual private rocket companies competing head-to-head with whole nations, and beating them. (Some might argue that China’s rocket industry is also made up of competing companies, but that is a lie. While those companies might function somewhat independently, they are all under the strict supervision of the central communist government. They are not functioning as free and privately-owned companies.)

Nor is this pattern seen only in the launch market. Among airline companies it has been the norm since the beginnings of cheap passenger flight after World War II. While most other nations have a single national airline (British Airways, Aeroflot, El Al, Air Canada, Korean Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines, to name a few), the U.S. has a plethora of competing independent companies, with many flying many more passengers than these national airlines, sometimes even to their own countries.

How is this possible? Why does the U.S. so often dominate so many industries in this way?
» Read more

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Coronavirus update

This article about the coronavirus epidemic (the virus is now officially dubbed Covid-19) focuses initially on how the Chinese are even quarantining bank notes in their effort to stem the disease’s spread.

I instead found this quote farther down the page much more significant:

More than 1,380 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 64,400 have been infected in at least 28 countries and regions.

The death rate of the disease, even as it has grown, remains about 2%. While tragic, this number suggests this hardly has the makings so far of a worldwide catastrophe. If anything, it appears to be about as deadly as the flu, which isn’t something to take lightly but also does not warrant any need for panic or desperation. The flu in the 2017-2018 season in the U.S. infected an estimated 45 million, killing about 61,000, a far lower death rate but impacting far more people. Like the flu, Covid-19 appears to be more deadly to older patients.

This epidemic needs to be taken seriously, but it so far does not justify any panic.

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Justice Dept decides to allow McCabe to skip charges

The law is for only the little people, and Republicans: Our corrupt Justice Department decided today not to prosecute former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe for lying about his leaks to the media.

And what exactly did McCabe do?

As for the case against McCabe, the 2018 inspector general’s report faulted the former deputy director for leaking information to then-Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett for an Oct. 30, 2016 story titled “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe.” The story, written just days before the presidential election, focused on the FBI announcing the reopening of the Clinton investigation after finding thousands of her emails on a laptop belonging to former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was then married to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

The Journal’s account of the call said a senior Justice Department official expressed displeasure to McCabe that FBI agents were still looking into the Clinton Foundation, and that McCabe had defended the agent’s authority to pursue the issue. That leak confirmed the existence of the probe, the report said, which then-FBI director James Comey had up to that point refused to do.

The report said that McCabe “lacked candor” in a conversation with Comey when he said he had not authorized the disclosure and didn’t know who had done so. The IG also found that he lacked candor when questioned by FBI agents on multiple occasions since that conversation.

Or to put it another way, when questioned he lied.

McCabe was also central to the entire effort at Justice and the FBI to use false FISA authorizations to spy on the Trump campaign — for the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign — and to also create the Russian collusion hoax and put in prison a number of Trump associates, for actions in some cases far less egregious than what McCabe did.

But then, he’s an ally of the Democrats, so obviously he is immune from any law or prosecution. The law only applies to Republicans and ordinary citizens who oppose Democrats. Support Democrats, and you will automatically earn a “Get-out-of-Jail” card that will never expire.

Soon, those ordinary citizens are going to get very sick and tied of this double standard, especially when these Democrats start to use their unearned power to impose overbearing restrictions on their freedoms. At some point, that citizenry is going to say, “If the law doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t apply to me!”

At that point society collapses, and we have chaos and anarchy.

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Dragon capsule for first manned mission shipped to Florida

Capitalism in space: SpaceX yesterday shipped to Florida the Dragon capsule it will use for its first manned mission, now set for sometime between April and June.

No official word yet on any specific launch date, though there are reports that they are targeting May 7.

In that same story at the second link a NASA official admitted that one of the big issues is filling out the paperwork.

“Even though it sounds mundane, there is a load of paper that has to be verified, and signed off, and checked to make sure we’ve got everything closed out,” [said chief of human spaceflight Doug Loverro.] “It is probably one of the longest things in the tent to go ahead and do. It’s underappreciated but critically important. You’ve got to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do along the way.”

Properly documenting what you are doing is always essential, but if you over do it you raise costs unnecessarily while simultaneously delaying things. And isn’t it interesting that both of these issues — budget overruns and scheduling delays — have been systemic on all of NASA’s projects for decades?

Furthermore, while good documentation can help prevent problems and help you figure out what went wrong, when things go wrong, doing more of it will not further reduce problems or failures. If anything, too much paperwork will likely increase mistakes by focusing workers on the wrong things. This seems to be one of NASA’s problems in recent years.

Regardless, it does look like that first privately built launch will happen in mere months. The one decision remaining that could legitimately delay it would be if NASA decides to make it a longer mission, requiring more training for its astronauts.

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Democrats in VA and AZ issue a warning: “We will oppress you if you elect us!”

They’re coming for you next: Much has been made of the onerousness gun control laws passed by the Democrats in the Virginia state legislature this past week.

When it became clear that the Democrats were going to pass such laws, having gained control of both the legislature and the governorship, 95 counties and cities in the state made it publicly clear they would not enforce these laws, announcing that they were now second amendment sanctuary counties. Then, more than 22,000 Virginians gathered in protest at the statehouse, peacefully but forcefully declaring their opposition to these proposed laws.

None of that mattered to the modern Democrats now in charge in Virginia. They passed the laws, one of which gives the state “the authority to confiscate certain types of magazines that are considered ‘high capacity.'” I don’t know how they think they will enforce that confiscation right, but since they think it appropriate and just, don’t be surprised if they impose new laws to strengthen their ability to do so, including the right to do house-to-house searches.

Most of the the discussion about this story has been focused on the opposition to the laws themselves. I want to focus on what it tells us about the modern Democratic Party. You see, these fascist actions — which do nothing to reduce violence or crime while making law-abiding citizens criminals — are being planned by practically every local Democratic Party operation across the nation. All they require to make them law is to obtain power, as they have in Virginia.

My proof? Consider the comparable gun control law proposed yesterday by the Democrats in the Arizona state legislature:
» Read more

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SpaceX hires Bill Gerstenmaier as consultant

SpaceX has hired NASA’s former manager of its human exploration program, Bill Gerstenmaier, as a consultant working with their “reliability team.”.

It appears that SpaceX wants to take advantage of Gerstenmaier’s expertise on human spaceflight as it is about to begin manned Dragon flights. It also appears that Musk wants to return a favor as well, as Gerstenmaier was likely the main person behind the decision to award SpaceX its initial Dragon cargo contract in December 2008. Musk has said repeatedly that this decision in many ways saved his company.

Overall, a wise decision by SpaceX. In his later years at NASA, Gerstenmaier lost sight of the importance of budget and schedule in his management of SLS and Orion, leading to his ouster. However, his knowledge of human spaceflight and the political mechanics needed to do it with NASA is unsurpassed. SpaceX will definitely benefit from this hire.

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Trump proposes an increase in science spending in 2021

Read any analysis by any mainstream news or science publication of Trump’s 2021 proposed science budget, released this week, and you will come away thinking that the future of science research in the U.S. is doomed and that Donald Trump is a neanderthal who wishes to send us back to the dark ages.

Consider for example this article from the journal Science, Trump’s new budget cuts all but a favored few science programs, which begins like so:

For the fourth straight year, President Donald Trump has proposed sizable reductions in federal research spending. To be sure, it’s no longer news that the president wants deep cuts to the budgets of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and science programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA. And in past years, Congress has rejected similar proposals and provided increases. But Trump’s 2021 request brings into sharper focus what his administration values across the research landscape—and what it views as unimportant.

The article then outlines how Trump is slashing spending on science research across the board, even to the point of spinning the NASA budget to make a significant budget increase appear as a cut, by cherry-picking only some of that budget’s science programs.

This article is typical of the mainstream press. These articles never provide any context for the proposed budget numbers. They look at what was spent the year before, see what is being proposed for the next year, and if they see any reduction they scream. And if it is an evil Republican president proposing the cuts they scream far harder, implying that those cuts will guarantee the coming of a new dark age.

Trump's proposed science budget compared to Obama's last science budget

To the right however are the budget numbers (shown in thousands) for five of the biggest science agencies in the federal government, comparing Trump’s 2021 proposed budget numbers with the last science budget approved at the end of the Obama administration in 2016.

Notice anything? » Read more

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Scientists admit worst case global warming prediction won’t happen

The uncertainty of science: In a commentary published in the science journal Nature last week, a scientist admitted that the worse case global warming prediction, cited more the 2,500 times in the literature and a favorite of politicians and global warming activists, is not likely to happen and should no longer be referenced.

What is surprising here is not the discovery that this climate computer model doesn’t work, but that Nature was willing to publish the admission, and that this scientist, who still fears human-caused global warming, was willing to write it. The major science journals have in recent years taken sides in this scientific field, advocating the theory that increased carbon dioxide will cause the climate to warm, something no journal should ever do.

The article however has this quote that clearly illustrates the uncertainties of all climate predictions:

Scientists are still uncertain as to how sensitive global temperatures are to a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. The value, known as the Charney Sensitivity still isn’t known for certain, over 40 years after it was first introduced in 1979 by the United States National Academy of Sciences and chaired by Jule Charney. He estimated climate sensitivity to be 3 °C (5.4 °F), give or take 1.5 °C (2.7 °F).

Without knowing the true climate warming response to increased CO2, essentially all climate models become a crap-shoot. It is a glaring illustration of just how imprecise climate science actually is.

Note that this area of ignorance is only one of many. We don’t know the influence of pollution on the climate. We don’t know the influence of the Sun on the climate. And we don’t know the influence of clouds on the climate. And I could go on.

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NASA get boost in Trump proposed budget for 2021

The 2021 budget request by the Trump administration includes a big budget increase for NASA while also proposing major cuts to many of its science programs.

According to the analysis at the second link, the big gainer is Artemis. The losers in astronomy are the space telescope WFIRST and the airborne telescope SOFIA, both of which the administration wants terminated. Also on the chopping block are two climate satellites.

I plan to go through the budget in the next day or so and do my own analysis, which will also provide a longer term context that I guarantee no other news source will do. For example, routinely when most mainstream sources declare a cut in any program, it only means either a reduction in its growth rate, or a reduction to spending levels deemed entirely satisfactory only a few years before. To understand any new budget proposal, you need to look at the long term spending trends.

I will, as I have done in the past, also include more than just NASA in my analysis, reviewing the budget changes for all the science agencies.

I would do this today, but an eye doctor’s appointment this afternoon takes priority.

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The terrible consequences of NOAA’s data tampering

Link here.

In 2017 Tony Heller broke the story of how NOAA and NASA have been routinely adjusting their historic global temperature records to cool the past and warm the present in order to create the illusion that the climate is warming, far more than it is.

The post by Heller at the link above focuses in on how that tampering, which erased from the temperature data the record-hot year of 1934, is then used by both NOAA and NASA to claim each year for the past decade was the hottest ever.

The raw data however tells a far different story. The raw data from 1934, as reported amply at the time, recorded big heat waves and murderous droughts and extensive dust storms, all far more extreme than anything we have experienced in the past decade. Moreover, that raw data matches well with public news stories, and also matches well with all the published science prior to the 2000s.

Since then, however, intellectual honesty and the real scientific method has been replaced by an agenda-driven political manipulations. Having 1934 be the hottest year ever cannot stand, especially if present temperatures do not exceed that year’s records. Global warming demands a correction!

The nicest interpretation we can give to these adjustments is that the scientists are innocently engaged in confirmation bias. They believe the Earth is warming due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and thus they must find evidence of that warming, even if it requires data adjustments to past record-hot years like 1934, adjustments that they then rationalize as necessary and scientifically justified.

More likely, they have decided that their political agenda to prove human-caused global warming requires them to be intellectually dishonest and the falsify the global temperature record. If so, this is a tragedy beyond words, as it signals that the revolution in human thought that began with the Renaissance and Galileo and was reinforced and cemented by the Enlightenment and Francis Bacon, has now ended.

That revolution made possible a burst of human creativity and civilization that lasted more than five hundred years. The consequences for future generations should that revolution be rejected now cannot be good.

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The impact of coronavirus on China’s space industry

Link here. The focus when discussing the epidemic, which continues to grow, should certainly not be on how it is slowing China’s space industry. At the same time, any slow down in their space effort will give us a good indicator on how the virus is effecting their entire economy.

Anyway, it appears, at least as this moment, that the biggest effect in space is the halt of operations for the Kuaizhou smallsat rocket.

Expace, a launch service provider for solid-propellant Kuaizhou rockets, has temporarily halted work due to its proximity to the epicenter of the outbreak. A new Kuaizhou-11 rocket, larger than the Kuaizhou-1A currently in service, was reportedly scheduled for a test flight late February.

Expace is situated in the Wuhan National Space Industry Base, a hub designed to facilitate commercial space activities. The firm is a spinoff from defense contractor CASIC and its subsidiary, China Sanjiang Space Group. The Kuaizhou launch vehicle series are understood to be derived from missile technology.

Other impacts probably won’t become obvious for months, when we can gauge whether there has been a slow down in Chinese launches below the predicted 40 for 2020.

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NASA confirms seriousness of 2nd Starliner software issue

At a press conference today, NASA and Boeing officials confirmed the rumors that there was a second software error during Starliner’s unmanned demo mission in December that might have caused a serious failure had it not been caught on time.

[After the first software error], engineers began reviewing other critical software sequences as a precaution and discovered yet another problem. Software used to control thruster firings needed to safely jettison the Starliner’s service module just before re-entry was mis-configured, set for the wrong phase of flight.

Had the problem not been found and corrected, the cylindrical service module’s thrusters could have fired in the wrong sequence, driving it back into the crew module and possibly triggering a tumble or even damaging the ship’s protective heat shield.

While a detailed analysis was not carried out at the time, “nothing good can come from those two spacecraft bumping back into one another,” said Jim Chilton, a senior vice president for Boeing Space and Launch.

That two different software errors were not caught prior to flight has NASA demanding a complete review of Boeing’s quality control systems. And NASA here is correct. Boeing as a company appears to have fundamental quality control issues up and down the line, in all its projects. A complete review appears warranted.

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NASA delays commercial bidding process for its unmanned lunar landers

Capitalsm in space: NASA has postponed the bidding process for both the commercially-built lander that will bring its its VIPER lunar rover as well as the smaller landers that will bring simpler science packages to the Moon.

In the first case, it appears that the commercial companies wanted more time because VIPER is a heavier and bigger payload than their landers are currently designed for. In the second case, the reasons for the postponement are less clear, leaving the companies involved somewhat puzzled and in the dark.

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