Today’s blacklisted American: Previously blacklisted Oregon professor sues university for being further blacklisted because he tweeted “all men are created equal.”

Bruce Gilley
Bruce Gilley of Portland State University

They’re coming for you next: Professor Bruce Gilley of Portland State University in Oregon, who previously had a peer-reviewed paper on colonialism withdrawn from publication because of death threats, has now sued the university because the former communication manager for its Division of Equity and Inclusion blocked him from an internal college Twitter discussion group because he had the nerve to tweet “all men are created equal.”

You can read his lawsuit complaint here [pdf]. Gilley not only sued the university’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, he also sued directly Tova Stabin, the communications manager who blocked him.

What makes the case interesting is that the day after he filed his lawsuit, the university unblocked him and its lawyer sent him an apologetic letter. Here is part of that letter, as quoted in the lawsuit complaint:
» Read more

Virgin Orbit narrows cause of launch failure to $100 component

Though its investigation is not completed, Virgin Orbit has narrowed the cause of its January 9th launch failure from Cornwall to a $100 component in the second stage engine of its LaunchOne rocket.

Speaking on a panel at the SmallSat Symposium in Mountain View, California, Dan Hart said it was still premature to formally declare the root cause of the failed Jan. 9 flight of the company’s LauncherOne rocket on the “Start Me Up” mission from Spaceport Cornwall in England. However, he said while that investigation continues, evidence was pointing to a component in the rocket’s second stage engine.

“Everything points to, right now, a filter that was clearly there when we assembled the rocket but was not there as the second stage engine started, meaning it was dislodged and caused mischief downstream,” he said. He didn’t go into details about that component, other than to say that it was not an expensive item. “This is like a $100 part that took us out.”

Hart said the company would no longer use that filter and was “looking broadly” at other potential fixes.

No timeline as to when the company will complete the investigation or resume launches has been released. Since both the FAA and the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch are involved, we should expect it to take longer than necessary.

Today’s blacklisted American: Leftist professor fired by university for questioning its racist agenda

Ryan Hall
Ryan Hall

They’re coming for you next: English instructor Ryan Hall, a self-described leftist “who has never voted for a conservative in my life,” was fired by Western Kentucky University when he questioned its leftist and racist Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) agenda that was also leaving students fearful to speak their minds out of fear of being punished.

From the second link:

“While I may not categorize myself as a conservative, the assaults on free speech, self-reliance, meritocracy, the family, science, and truth should alarm everyone,” Hall said in an email interview this month with The College Fix. “Many have pointed out that our institutions of higher education increasingly look like the temples for a state religion attempting to create hierarchies based on byzantine and bogus ideas; such systems have never worked out well historically, no matter how many newly minted sinecures suggest otherwise,” he said.

Hall told The Fix he had canceled all of his classes, five of them, for a week while he confronted his university about its bias in February 2022. “They fired me that same month after a few days of discussion. … They fired me because I would not return until we reached an agreeable solution, not because of the classes I had canceled, according to the email I received,” Hall said.

The first link above goes to an op-ed Hall wrote for an organization called the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, which appears to be a loose coalition of Substack writers opposed to the bigoted policies of most universities. In that op-ed Hall added these facts as to why he challenged his superiors at Western Kentucky:
» Read more

Space Force to do major cleanup of diesel fuel spill on Hawaiian mountaintop

Space Force officials yesterday announced that it will to do major cleanup of the diesel fuel spill that occurred on the top of the mountain Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui last week.

The plan is to remove about 200 cubic yards of fuel-tainted soil, test the base of the dig, and then determine if more soil has to be removed.

The official making this announcement apologized repeatedly for the spill, so much so it was almost as if he was on his face on the ground, kow-towing. It of course made no difference. The leftist race-baiters in Hawaii made it clear where they stood on the matter.

On Friday, the Hawaiian rights group Kākoʻo Haleakalā called for the removal of all telescopes from the peak of Haleakala. The military “showcased their incompetence and lack of human decency when they allowed more than 700 gallons of diesel fuel to be spilled atop Haleakalā,” the group said in a statement.

“This is just the most recent example of how U.S. imperialism and military hegemony is protected in the Pacific while Hawaiians are ignored and our ʻāina is violated,” the statement said, using the Hawaiian term for land.

Let me translate: “We hate whites and America, and we want you out of Hawaii, now. And if you don’t go, we want you to cede all control to us, so that we treat you as the inferior beings we consider you to be.”

Note too that this group’s agenda is identical to the agenda of the race-baiters on the Big Island who are blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope and are forcing the removal of telescopes there.

Japan’s H3 rocket’s first launch delayed due to problem in “flight system”

Japan’s space agency JAXA announced today that it will delay the first launch of its new H3 rocket for two days, to February 15, 2023, in order to fix an unidentified problem in the rocket’s “flight system.”

The H3 rocket’s first launch is already three years behind schedule. In 2022 the launch was delayed for a full year due to the discovery of defects in its main engines.

This government-controlled rocket was supposed to allow Japan to compete in the international launch market. It does not appear at this point that it will be able to do a very good job at that task. Though Mitsubishi is the main contractor, it appears JAXA is in charge and owns it. Such arrangements rarely produce a cheap, efficient, and reliable product for the commercial market.

Russian engineers recommend staying with ISS through 2028

Russian engineers yesterday concluded that ISS is technically capable of being operated through 2028.

However, Russia’s committee system for making any decisions is not done. This first analysis was done by Roscosmos’ top managers and its lower level engineers.

The proposed decision will now be considered at a meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of Roscosmos. Based on its results, the state corporation will draft a message the Russian government.

At that point the Putin government will have to decide on an exit date from ISS. According to the article by Russia’s state-run press, “the minimum configuration of Russia’s own orbital outpost” will be in orbit by 2028, thus giving the government the option to leave ISS. We shall see.

ULA closing facility in Texas that makes parts for the retiring Atlas-5 rocket

ULA has announced that it is shutting down its facility in Harlingen, Texas, that makes parts for the company’s soon-to-be retired Atlas-5 rocket.

The facility will shut down at the end of this year, with a loss of about 100 jobs.

This closure is actually a very positive sign for ULA. It indicates that it is streamlining its operations. For example, construction of the Vulcan rocket that replaces the Atlas-5 is all done in Alabama. One of the reasons Atlas-5 cost so much was the widespread distribution of its ULA facilities, probably done to satisfy congressional demands.

With Vulcan, ULA has instead been much more focused on making it less expensive so it can compete with SpaceX. Thus, it simplified its construction, putting everything in Alabama. (Choosing Alabama was likely to satisfy the most powerful senator at the time, porkmeister Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), who has now retired.)

Today’s blacklisted American: CVS fires nurse for refusing to violate her religious beliefs

Robyn Strader
Robyn Strader

They’re coming for you next: Despite accommodating nurse practitioner Robyn Strader’s religious beliefs for more than six years, CVS fired her on October 31, 2021 after suddenly deciding that the Christian religion was no longer valid and no employees could cite it when it came time to prescribe drugs.

Robyn worked at a CVS MinuteClinic in Keller, Texas since 2015. Robyn sought a religious accommodation because prescribing any medications that could intentionally end the development or life of an unborn child would force her to violate her beliefs. For six-and-a-half years, the company accommodated her without a problem. When someone requested such a medication, usually only a few times per year, Robyn referred them to another practitioner at her location or to another MinuteClinic located just a couple miles away.

But CVS reversed course, joining the ranks of the “woke” corporations rendering religious employees second class citizens. In 2021, the company stated it would no longer honor religious accommodations related to such medications. Soon after this policy was put in place, CVS terminated Robyn.

Strader is now suing, with the non-profit legal firm First Liberty representing here. You can read her lawsuit here [pdf].
» Read more

Space station builder Voyager raises $80 million in private investment capital

Capitalism in space: Voyager Space, one of three companies that NASA has provided funds to build a private space station, has now raised $80 million in private investment capital.

The funding includes participation from NewSpace Capital, Midway Venture Partners and Industrious Ventures, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings and other documents viewed by TechCrunch. Seraphim Space also participated, TechCrunch has confirmed. The funding was filed with the SEC on January 27.

The company is building Starlab in partnership with Nanoracks (which is the majority owner of Voyager) and Lockheed Martin, which has already received $160 million from NASA.

Sunspot update: Sunspots in January went through the roof!

NOAA this week updated its monthly graph that tracks the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere. Below is that updated graph, with January’s numbers added to the timeline. As I have done monthly for the past dozen years here on Behind the Black, I have added some additional details to that graph to provide context.

Just as in December, the number of sunspots in January 2023 shot up to the highest amount since September 2014, which was during the previous solar maximum. Unlike December, however, January’s numbers came only a hairs-breath from topping that 2014 number. In fact, except for that one 2014 month, January 2023 saw the most sunspots on the Sun since November 2002, twenty years ago. In 2002 the Sun was ramping down from what had been a relatively strong double-peaked solar maximum, and was about to begin an extremely long period of little or no activity, followed by a very weak double-peaked solar maximum in 2013.

That period of little activity also corresponded with a long twenty-year period in which the Earth’s climate appeared to stop warming.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: Comic book writer slandered and then canceled because of the slanders

Mike Baron's Private American, banned

They’re coming for you next: Long established comic book writer Mike Baron and his projects have now been blacklisted from a variety of sites, including having his most recent Kickstarter starter campaign shutdown, because of slanderous social media comments as well as a defamatory article on Daily Kos.

After a scathing article from a Daily Kos mouthpiece, Baron’s colleagues and fans realized they could not find his campaign on Kickstarter. The post smeared “Thin Blue Line” – a story about two police officers riding out a long night of rioting – along with “Private American.” The author, a person named Starr Mignon, called the comic a “diatribe of racist propaganda” and “stochastic terrorism disguised as a funny book.”

Prior to Kickstarter shutting his campaign down, it had also been banned from Twitter, as well as shadow-banned on Indiegogo.

A detailed blow-by-blow description of the slanderous attacks, based on no knowledge of these works, as well as the cowardly blackballing by others in response to those attacks, can be found here. This writer, who was helping Baron’s campaign, notes the following:
» Read more

Yuma funds and applies for spaceport

The city of Yuma in Arizona has provided $250 million to fund the cost for applying for an FAA license for a building a spaceport there.

The city hopes to build the spaceport just east of San Luis on a plot of land it owns, which is near the border, and right next to the Arizona State Prison complex. The spaceport itself would be a concrete slab, with aerospace companies bringing their own launching equipment.

Something however is fishy about this story. It doesn’t cost $250 million to put together such a license, unless Yuma also expects serious opposition that it will need to fight in court. And it should, as any launches from Yuma will have to cross parts of Mexico, and without that country’s permission such a spaceport will likely be blocked.

China to build space ground stations in Antarctica

According to a report on China’s state-run press that has now been deleted, China plans to build satellite ground stations in Antarctica for use by its ocean-observation satellites.

Official space industry newspaper China Space News reported Feb. 2 that a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), a giant state-owned defense and space contractor, won a bid to construct a ocean observation satellite ground system. The project is being overseen by the National Satellite Ocean Application Service (NSOAS) and is stated to be part of a long-term marine economic development plan.

Renders of the 43.95 million yuan ($6.52 million) project show four radome-covered antennas at Zhongshan in East Antarctica. It is unknown if these are new and additional to antennas already established at the base. The antennas will assist data acquisition from Chinese satellites that orbit in polar and near-polar orbits. Satellites in these orbits are visible near the poles multiple times a day, allowing more frequent opportunities for downlink than with stations at lower latitudes.

Such ground stations could of course do many other things, including aiding military satellite surveillance.

Today’s blacklisted Americans: Catholic students kicked out of Air & Space museum for wearing pro-life hats

The evil hat that Air & Space banned
The evil hat that Air & Space officials banned

They’re coming for you next: A dozen Catholic students, having just attended the March for Life event on January 20, 2023 in Washington, found themselves being chased from the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum because they were all wearing hats with a pro-life message.

According to their lawyer,

Once in the museum, they were accosted several times and told they would be forced to leave unless they removed their pro-life hats. The group all wore the same blue hat that simply said, “Rosary PRO-LIFE.” Other individuals in the museum were wearing hats of all kinds without issue.

The museum staff mocked the students, called them expletives, and made comments that the museum was a “neutral zone” where they could not express such statements. The employee who ultimately forced the students to leave the museum was rubbing his hands together in glee as they exited the building.

According to the students and their parents, the kids were all wearing the same hats in order to find each other in the crowds.

When asked by the press about this incident, the museum responded as follows:
» Read more

Fire in South Korean rocket facility

South Korea today reported that a fire had broken out in its Naro Space Center during work on a turbopump for a next generation rocket.

The fire started at 3:25 p.m. Tuesday at the Naro Space Center in the country’s southern coastal village of Goheung and was extinguished about an hour later, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. The ministry said some experimental equipment was affected by the fire but reported no injuries.

The fire broke out while researchers were conducting an experiment to develop a 10-ton turbopump that injects fuel into an engine for a new space rocket, codenamed KSLV-III.

The KSLV-III will be an upgrade of the KSLV-II, also called Nuri, which has a launch scheduled right now in May. The KSLV-III is part of a $1.6 billion government project to develop this new rocket by 2032.

Diesel fuel spill at Air Force surveillance facility on Hawaiian mountaintop

The Air Force reported today that about 700 gallons of diesel fuel spilled out on January 29, 2023 at Air Force’s surveillance telescope facility on top of Haleakala on the island of Maui.

The spill occurred at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, which tracks satellites and space debris using several telescopes atop Haleakala, a dormant volcano. “Due to a mechanical issue, a diesel fuel pump for an on-site backup generator failed to shut off” Sunday night, the Air Force said in a news release.

At about 8 a.m. Monday, maintenance personnel discovered the failure and shut off the transfer pump, the Air Force said.

Since 2021 the military has had two other accidents at different Hawaiian facilities. Considering the hostile political atmosphere there for any facility not run by “native Hawaiians”, this new fuel spill could not have come at a worse time. Expect pressure to mount to remove this facility.

South Korea officially cancels Russian launch contract, signs Vega-C instead

South Korea yesterday officially announced that it has canceled a Russian contract that was supposed to use an Angara rocket to launch a multi-purpose satellite last year and signed a deal with Arianespace to use the Vega-C rocket instead.

The cancellation appears directly because of the sanctions against Russia due to its invasion of the Ukraine. Picking the Vega-C as a replacement at this moment however seems a strange choice, considering its last launch was a failure and it has failed three times in the last eight launches. I suspect Arianespace gave South Korea an extremely good price.

Meanwhile, South Korean officials still seem willing to continue another Russian launch contract, using a Soyuz-2 rocket launching from Kazakhstan. According to the article, officials are right now merely negotiating a launch date.

Pushback: Student appeals conviction for distributing Constitution on public campus

Tizon's evil table at ASU
Tim Tizon (r) discussing free speech with another student on
March 3, 2022 at that banned YAL table on the ASU campus.

They’re coming for you next: Tim Tizon, a former Arizona State University (ASU) student, has now appealed his conviction for trespass, filed against him by the university because he had had the nerve to distribute copies of the Constitution to others, without obtaining the school’s permission.

He is being represented by the Liberty Justice Center (LJC). You can read his appeal here [pdf].

The facts of the case however are simple, and mirror numerous other similar incidents on many American campuses in the past decade, all designed to silence conservatives. On March 3, 2022, when he was still a student of ASU, he had set up a table on campus as a member of the ASU chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) to help educate others on the Constitution. As noted in his appeal:
» Read more

The next chapter in my own personal blacklisting story

The ARA: An organization run by bullies
The ARA: An organization run by bullies

This past Saturday, January 28, 2023, another chapter in my own personal blacklisting saga took place. On that day the Arizona Regional Association (ARA), a division of the National Speleological Society, the country’s national organization for cavers, held its annual winter technical meeting at Kartchner Caverns in Arizona.

It is this same organization had blacklisted me and two other individuals in November 2021 because they did not like our opinions about COVID. Its leadership therefore assumed that it also the right to eject us from the public event on Saturday. It was our intention to show them they were wrong.

The goal of the winter technical, which has been occurring annually for about a half century, is to allow southwest cavers to present papers highlighting their research and projects during the past year. While intended mostly for Arizona cavers, it has not been unusual for others from other parts of the country to present, especially if their work has some connection with Arizona. Consider it a very informal kind of scientific conference.

Thus, this event has always been open to the public, and in fact has always been designed as a form of outreach.

The Wuhan panic had unfortunately caused the winter technical to be canceled in 2021 and 2022. Thus, the January 2023 event was to be the first in-person winter technical since 2020.

It was also going to be the first in-person winter technical since this organization had blacklisted myself and two others. » Read more

Today’s blacklisted American found innocent of federal trumped up charges

The Houck Family: Targets of FBI harassment and arrest
The Houck Family: Targets of FBI harassment and arrest.

Back in September 2022 I wrote an essay entitled “The rising federal Gestapo” in which I described the numerous recent stories of the Biden administration using the FBI and the Department of Justice as weapons to harass its political opponents, either by conducting armed raids on their homes and persons, or by trumping up false charges against them.

Mark Houck, the father in the picture the right, was one of those under attack. Not only was his home raided by an FBI SWAT team, terrifying his children, but Houck was arrested on a trumped up charge of physically attacking a worker at an abortion clinic, a charge that had other courts had already dismissed as spurious.

The good news yesterday is that Houck has been found innocent of that trumped up charge.

At first it appeared the jury was deadlocked, but that changed instantly when one juror was replaced with an alternate. Within an hour the not-guilty verdict was in, strongly suggesting that juror had had a political ax to grind and was refusing to follow the facts of the case or the judge’s instructions.

As I wrote in that September essay,

In the past two years the effort by Democrats to portray Republicans criminals and traitors, merely because they disagree with Democratic Party policy, has become normalized. To Democrats today, if you are a Republican you are a fascist, an insurrectionist, a traitor, a criminal, and evil. Your rights are voided and they have the right to arrest you, at any time.

The Biden administration tried to void Mark Houck’s rights. It failed in court. Was this vicious effort however a failure? I say no, because 1) the Biden administration remains free to continue this abuse of power and 2) conservatives have now been put on notice that, at any moment, their lives could be torn apart by these thugs.

In fact, this short post is only posted to give an update on a previous column. It is not today’s daily blacklist column, which will follow shortly and will give perfect example of how the abusive power-hungry in our culture now routinely abuse their power against any who oppose them.

Today’s blacklisted American: Professor quits because of the leftist takeover of his college

Matthew Wielicki
Matthew Wielicki

Matthew Wielicki, a professor at the University of Alabama, has quit his job because of what he calls the “rise of illiberalism” as well as the takeover of the college by the leftist diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) crowd.

While Matthew Wielicki said his main reason for leaving Tuscaloosa was to be closer to family in Colorado, the “rise of illiberalism” made his decision easier. “The rise of illiberalism in the name of DEI is the antithesis of the principles that universities were founded on,” Wielicki tweeted Monday. “These are no longer places that embrace the freedom of exchanging ideas and will punish those that go against the narrative.”

You can read his full statement in this thread on Twitter.
» Read more

Pushback: Two reporters sue ESPN for terminating them for not getting jabbed

ESPN-opposed to religious freedom

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Two former ESPN employees, sports reporter Allison Williams and producer Beth Faber, have now sued the network and its owner Disney for religious discrimination when it refused to recognize their religious reasons for refusing the COVID shots and thus terminated them.

You can read their complaint here [pdf]. The thuggish, unreasonable, and irrational attitude of the company to both employees — typical of all pro-jab organizations during the Wuhan panic — is well illustrated by this quote:

Despite offering to test regularly and wear a mask, work remotely or in-studio, and claiming she had already had COVID-19 and “had natural immunity,” ESPN denied her exemption request and terminated her contract a week later, according to the suit.

Nor is this lawsuit the only one against ESPN by a sports reporter. » Read more

NASA and Russian engineers meeting to discuss status of leaks on ISS’s Zvezda module

According to Russia’s state-run press, NASA and Russian engineers have been reviewing the status of the repairs on the cracks in the Zvezda module on ISS.

Repairs to the various cracks in Zvezda’s hull, done by Russian astronauts in ’20 and ’21, have reduced the leakage from 1,140 grams per day to 300 grams per day. Normally ISS is expected to lose 325 grams per day, across the entire station, so the Zvezda leak doubled this loss, even after the repair. Thus, the hatch to Zvezda is kept closed in order to maintain the atmosphere of ISS at its normal levels, and opened only when there is need to enter it. In addition, its port is no longer used for dockings.

The engineering review is also looking into the cause of the cracks, which are believed to be stress fractures caused by the age of Zvezda (ISS’s second oldest module) combined with the many dockings that had occurred at its port. The review is also discussing ways to reduce the problem, until ISS’s retirement in 2030.

Japan’s H2A rocket successfully launches radar surveillance satellite

Japan’s space agency JAXA today successfully launched a radar surveillance satellite using its H2A rocket, built by Mitsubishi.

This was Japan’s first launch since December 2021, a gap of more than a year, with no launches in 2022. JAXA hopes to finally launch its unimaginatively named H3 rocket, the replacement for the H2A, on February 12, 2023, after a two year delay because of cracks found in the engines.

The 2023 launch race:

5 China
5 SpaceX
1 Rocket Lab
1 Japan

Today’s blacklisted American: Thin blue line banned on flags in Los Angeles and suburban Philadelphia

They’re coming for you next: Today’s blacklist story illustrates most starkly the intolerant and insane culture that is now taking over many Democratic Party-controlled regions of the United States. Government officials in both Los Angeles and the town of Springfield, a suburb of Philadelphia, have banned use of the American flag with a thin blue line that for years has been used to symbolized support of the police and those who have fallen in duty.

In both cases, the banning occurred because some leftists made unsubstantiated accusations that the line really represented “white supremacy” and thus is racist. No evidence of course was ever presented to prove those allegations, but who cares about evidence in this day and age? All that matters is that the accusation is made, and all must immediately kow-tow to it, even if it destroys the first amendment and the lives of many innocent people.

LA police chief Michael Moore
LA police chief Michael Moore

Now for the specifics. In Los Angeles the chief of the LA police department on January 13, 2023 banned the use of the flag after receiving one complaint.

The “Thin Blue Line” flag has been banned from Los Angeles Police Department lobbies along with all other public areas on police property following a complaint from one person who thought it signified support for “extremist” ideologies such as “those espoused by the Proud Boys,” according to the chief.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore sent an email to department personnel on Friday making the announcement to remove the flags, blaming “extremist groups” who have “hijacked the use” of the Thin Blue Line.

Moore was desperate to protect the sensitive feelings of that one person, even though no evidence at all was presented to prove the allegations, and the police union and its nearly 10,000 members were utterly opposed to his decision.
» Read more

ISRO about to test land a prototype of India’s own version of the X-37B

ISRO's own X-37B copy

According to S. Somanth, the head of India’s space agency ISRO, it will attempt the first flight on January 28, 2023 of a prototype reusable launch vehicle, similar to the Space Force’s X-37B.

According to ISRO’s website, Saturday’s landing demonstration will involve a “landing experiment (LEX)” in which the RLV will be carried using a helicopter to an altitude of 3-5 km and released at approximately 4-5 km from the runway with a horizontal velocity.

After the release, the RLV glides and navigates toward the runway, and carries out a conventional autonomous landing. This is planned in a defence airfield near Chitradurga in Karnataka.

The graphic to the right shows the flight profile of earlier tests that landed in the ocean. If this runway test is successful, it appears ISRO will next attempt an orbital flight and return.

Arianespace’s chief condemns the idea of independent private European rocket companies

Stéphane Israël, the head of Arianespace, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) commercial rocket division, yesterday strongly condemned the idea of allowing independent private European rocket companies to develop and compete with his government operation.

“It is not possible to copy-paste the US model,” he said. “It is not possible. The level of space spending in the United States is five times higher than in Europe, and the private capital is not the same. So if the answer is to say let’s do what the US has done, I think we will not manage to do it.”

Moreover, Israël said the European Space Agency must resist supporting microlaunchers to the point where these companies might compete with the existing capabilities.

“A huge mistake would be that this focus on microlaunchers destabilizes Ariane 6 and Vega C—it would be a historic mistake,” he said. “Microlaunchers can be of support to boost innovation. But we should not make any confusion. This launcher will never give autonomous access to space to Europe. They’re on a niche market representing maybe 10 percent of the market, and less than that when it comes to European needs.”

He said this in Brussels at the 15th European Space Conference, where it appears he was trying to convince the ESA to block any competition with Arianespace.

Israël might say this, but not only has his track record in predicting the success of commercial space in the U.S. been bad, other European governments are not taking his advice. Both Germany and the United Kingdom have several rocket startups gearing up for their first launches this year, with others in Spain and France not far behind. Moreover, Israël doesn’t have much to offer in competition. Arianespace’s Vega rocket, intended to be a low cost option, has failed on three of its last eight launches. The Ariane 6 rocket is years behind schedule, and has not yet launched. And both are overpriced and cannot compete, not only with the American rocket startups but with India’s government rockets.

Moreover, those European governments have in recent years been taking control and power away from Israël and Arianespace. Unlike earlier rockets, the Ariane 6 rocket is not controlled or owned by Arianespace. Instead, it belongs to ArianeGroup, the partnership of Airbus and Safran that is building it. Arianespace’s role in operating it will be greatly limited, once it begins flying.

Roscosmos predicts Russia’s new space station will launch by 2027

Wanna bet? Yuri Borisov, the head of Roscosmos, yesterday predicted that Russia’s new space station, dubbed the Russian Orbital Station, will launched and deployed by 2027.

“We will create sovereign infrastructure for human space flights to low near-Earth orbit. Its key element will be the Russian orbital station whose deployment we have scheduled for 2027,” he said.

The Russian space agency will carry out all the required feasibility studies by Cosmonautics Day celebrated in Russia on April 12, the Roscosmos chief said.

Based on Russia’s track record for the past three decades, this prediction will fail. Since the fall of the Soviet Union Russia’s space industry has consistently made many such predictions, none of which launched on time, with most never launching at all. Yet, that was during a time when Russia’s economy was booming, it was getting lots of revenue from the international markets, and wasn’t saddled with a draining war in the Ukraine. Now, international sanctions limit what it can get from that market, and its oil revenues have declined considerable due to the war. Moreover, the war prevents Russia from obtaining many cutting edge space components it needs for such a project. Replacing these with home-built components will take time.

If this station gets built, its launch will likely not happen before 2030.

Stacked Starship and Superheavy complete first full wet dress rehearsal countdown

SpaceX yesterday successfully completed a full wet dress rehearsal countdown of its stacked Starship prototype #24 and Superheavy prototype #7, fueling both completely and taking the countdown down to T-0.

On this rehearsal however the Superheavy engines were not fired. From two SpaceX tweets:

Starship completed its first full flight-like wet dress rehearsal at Starbase today. This was the first time an integrated Ship and Booster were fully loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant

Today’s test will help verify a full launch countdown sequence, as well as the performance of Starship and the orbital pad for flight-like operations

Next step: Another full wet dress rehearsal countdown that includes a short static fire test of all 33 Superheavy Raptor-2 engines. Once that is done successfully, the company will be ready for that first orbital launch.

Meanwhile, SpaceX awaits its launch license from the FAA. I remain pessimistic that it will be issued on a timely manner, as there are clear signs the Biden administration wants to use its power against Musk, whom it now sees as an enemy.

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