Tag Archives: policy

Update on planned Russian additions to ISS

Link here. The article describes present status of Russia’s new modules to ISS, along with their tentative launch dates in the early 2020s.

We should not take these dates too seriously. Russia is literally decades behind schedule in launching this stuff. Whether they can finally get them in orbit now, with their present shortage in cash, remains unknown.

Share

Want to get off gmail? Behind the Black might provide an option

I am exploring the possibility of offering email services through my server for those who want to get off of gmail and google. However, before such a service can be offered, we need to know the amount of interest there might be. The demand will effect the cost, which means I can’t even give you an idea of what we might charge.

Regardless, if you are interested in having “your.name@behindtheblack.com” as your email address, please say so in the comments. There will be no obligations, by you or me or my server, but the response however will help us decide if we can do it.

And if we can do it, and many people sign on, we will then be taking the proper free enterprise approach for combating the corrupt business practices of giants like Google. Our federal government might still act to break Google up, but I think it would be far better if the free market did the job instead.

Share

Roscosmos creates new design bureau to build reusable rocket

The Russian bureaucracy marches on! Roscosmos has formed a new design bureau, dubbed Bartini after Italian-born Soviet-era aircraft designer Robert Bartini, to build a new reusable rocket

The article says this rocket will be “based on the preliminary design of the Krylo-SV (Wing) project.” I cannot find any references anywhere for such a project, though this webpage notes that a test pilot for the Soviet Buran shuttle worked in 1999 for a “Krylo Company.” I suspect this was one of the many failed attempts to form a private space company after the fall of the Soviet Union, and it had produced designs for a reusable winged spacecraft, which is why that test pilot had worked for them. (It likely failed because the big already existing organizations in Russia teamed up with the government to squelch this new competition.)

Regardless, it appears that Russia is going to dust off those plans. Note that this new organization is a top-down creation, not a new independent company. I expect therefore that its biggest goal is to provide jobs. Whether it gets much built is another story.

Share

Democratic congresswoman wants to prosecute anyone who ridicules a member of Congress

They’re coming for you next: Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) said today that she wants to “shut down” and “prosecute” those online who have been ridiculing members of Congress.

“Those people who are online making fun of members of Congress are a disgrace and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable,” Wilson said during a press conference. “We are going to shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted.”

The Democratic Party today is a party of fascists. If you are registered Democrat you better start reconsidering who you are supporting, or else you will be complicit in some very oppressive abuses of power.

Share

Strike on July 4-5 against censorship on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc

A strike protesting the censorship of conservatives on social media giants Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc, is being organized for July 4 and 5.

According to organizer Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia (who has since split with the project), “This means we will not use social media on those days, except to post notices that we are on strike. We’re going to make a lot of noise. Nobody will be able to ignore what’s happening. We’re going to flex our collective muscles and demand that giant, manipulative corporations give us back control over our data, privacy, and user experience.”

More details at the link.

I would love to join them, but since I do not use any of these corrupt social media, essentially striking against them continuously, there isn’t much I can do. However, if you use Facebook for example you might be able to have an impact.

Share

India hires Russia to train its astronauts

The new colonial movement: India’s space agency ISRO has hired the Russians to train its astronauts for its first home-built manned mission, Gaganyaan, presently scheduled to fly in 2022.

This decision makes a lot of sense. First, the space programs of Russia and India have cooperated a lot in the past, with Russia launch India’s first astronaut on a Soyuz in 1984. Second, Russia has a great deal of experience training new astronauts from other countries, including tourists. Third, neither of the other countries with manned programs, the U.S. and China, have established systems for this kind of training. China has never training any outsiders, and NASA’s systems for this are not designed for efficiency. Moreover, it has been eight years since the U.S. put anyone in space. If I was India I would prefer using someone with recent experience.

Share

Fascist mob sends journalist to emergency room in Portland

They’re coming for you next: A fascist mob today attacked a journalist so violently today that they sent him to the emergency room.

Andy Ngo, a photojournalist and editor at Quillette, landed in the emergency room after a mob of antifa activists attacked him on the streets of Portland during a Saturday afternoon demonstration.

The assailants wore black clothing and masks, and were engaged in a counter-protest against several right-wing groups, including the Proud Boys. Ngo is a well-known chronicler of antifa activity, and has criticized their illiberal tactics on Fox News. He attended the protest in this capacity—as a journalist, covering a notable public event.

According to Ngo, his attacker stole his camera equipment. But video footage recorded by another journalist, The Oregonian’s Jim Ryan, clearly shows an antifa activist punching Ngo in the face. Others throw milkshakes at him:

It increasingly appears that Portland is now controlled by the modern version of the KKK, fascist hooded thugs who act to physically attack anyone who might be opposing them in any way at all. And like the KKK, these modern fascist thugs have deep links with the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, the police and government in Portland does nothing.

Share

Seminar at Cornell will question use of “reason” and “rationality”

The coming dark age: A six-week seminar this summer at Ivy League Cornell University will question the use of either “reason” and “rationality.”

The goal of the entire seminar is to demonstrate that knowledge, and truth, is always tied to power, which means that all knowledge, and truth, is entirely subjective, and if discovered by some ethnic groups in power (whites or Christians or Jews), other ethnic groups out of power have the right, the obligation, to reject that knowledge, and truth, in order to establish their own power base.

So, if an leftist Antifa fascist thug hits me, a white Jew, over the head with a rock and kills me, I can declare I am still alive because my interpretation of knowledge and truth is different than that leftist Antifa fascist thug.

Even more important, that leftist Antifa fascist thug will be justified in claiming he or she did nothing wrong, because from his or her perspective of knowledge and truth they did not kill me, but merely stopped me from oppressing them unjustly.

That dark age is coming on very fast. Be warned.

Hat tip Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas.

Share

Court reduces Oberlin total judgment by smallest amount

The court in Ohio has reduced the total jury award in the Oberlin slander case against Gibson’s Bakery to $25 million total, but by what looks like the smallest amount possible based on its interpretation of the law.

The jury originally returned a total compensatory verdict of $11 million and punitive verdict of $33 million. In these posts we detailed the arguments of the parties as to how to Ohio’s tort reform caps applied to the calculation:

The key disputes as to how to apply Ohio tort reform caps on noneconomic compensatory damages centered on whether each claim for each plaintiff was separately subject to the cap, or did the cap apply to all claims of each plaintiff. The court appears to have ruled, as plaintiffs argued, that the cap was per claim.

More significantly, the tort reform law limits punitive damages to 2X compensatory, but the issue was whether that applied to pre-cap compensatory damages or post-cap compensatory damages. That was about a $10 million swing. The court appears to have agreed with the plaintiffs argument that under the plain reading of the statute, the 2X cap applied to pre-cap compensatory damages.

Another way to put it is the court has awarded Gibson’s the maximum award possible based on its legal interpretation. To me, this suggests that the court is as offended as everyone else by Oberlin’s refusal to accept the decision while spreading falsehoods about the case and maligning the jury.

They will have a hearing on how much Oberlin will have to pay for Gibson’s attorney’s fees on July 10.

Share

The travels of China’s Yutu-2 rover on the Moon

Yutu-2 and Chang'e-4
Click for full image.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team today released images that track the travels of China’s lunar rover Yutu-2 from its landing on January 30, 2019 through June 3, covering the rover’s first six lunar days on the Moon.

The image to the right, cropped, reduced, and annotated to post here, shows the relative positions of both spacecraft as of June 3, 2019. In the release they also included a gif movie showing the progression of Yutu-2’s movements since landing.

Once a month, LRO passes over the Chang’e 4 landing site, allowing LROC to capture a new image. LROC has now imaged the site five times (since the landing) and observed Yutu-2 to have traveled a total of 186 meters (distance measured using the rover tracks). If you squint, portions of the rover tracks are visible as a dark path in the images from April, May, and possibly June.

table of Yutu-2's movements through June 2019

The LRO release also included a table showing the distance Yutu-2 has traveled with each lunar day, shown on the right. The table does not include the 23 meters (75 feet) the rover traveled on its sixth lunar day. My estimate yesterday that Yutu-2 was traveling an average of about a 100 feet per day, with the distances per day shrinking with time, seems largely correct. During the rover’s fourth and fifth lunar days it moved very little, either because they had found something very interesting they wanted to inspect more closely, or they were moving more cautiously as the rover’s life extended past its planned lifespan of three lunar days.

On the sixth day however they increased their travels again, suggesting that either they had finished the observations at the previous location, or they had gained more confidence in the rover’s staying power.

Share

Supreme Court rules federal judges have no right to overturn gerrymandering

A victory for democracy: Supreme Court has ruled that federal judges have no authority to overturn congressional districts created by state legislatures.

The 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s other conservatives said partisan election maps drawn by North Carolina Republicans and Maryland Democrats are constitutional despite their one-sided nature.

It was a dramatic withdrawal by the nation’s highest court from the political battles that have consumed states for decades, and it was loudly denounced by the court’s liberal justices.

“How do you decide where the line is between acceptable partisanship and too much partisanship?” Roberts said from the bench in announcing his ruling on the last day of the term. “At some point, it should occur to you that what you’ve been asked to do is not judging at all.” The chief justice said the challengers from North Carolina and Maryland asked for “an unprecedented expansion of judicial power” that would have broad consequences. “There will be no end to the litigation,” he said.

While this decision ends the use of the federal courts to override the decisions of elected state legislatures, the court has let stand state court actions that overrode gerrymandering. In the end, however, the essence here will shift political power back to the states and their legislatures.

Share

Vostochny contractor charged with embezzlement avoids jail

The new colonial movement: The contractor who embezzled almost $6.5 million from the Vostochny spaceport project in Russia has avoided jail time, getting merely a suspended sentence and and a $3,000 fine.

Viktor Grebnev, who headed the TMK contractor until it was declared bankrupt 2015, was accused of knowingly signing loss-making contracts and using company money to buy yachts and a mansion.

A district court in Far East Russia handed Grebnev a five-year suspended sentence and fined him 200,000 rubles ($3,000) for large-scale embezzlement, Interfax cited the court as saying.

It appears from this story that the corruption in Russia remains as strong as ever, which bodes poorly for its future in space. Space engineering is hard. If you allow any dishonesty to linger around it you are guaranteed to have something go wrong.

Share

Europe finally admits it must build reusable rockets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 awake for 7th lunar day

The new colonial movement: Chinese engineers have awakened both the Chang’e-4 lander and the Yutu-2 rover to begin work on their seventh lunar day on the Moon’s far side.

The text of this Chinese news report is almost identical to the text in the news report a month ago, when both spacecraft were awakened for the sixth lunar day. And as before, it tells us little.

What today’s story reveals is that Yutu-2 traveled only about 75 feet during the sixth lunar day. With an overall odometer reading of 695 feet, it appears it is averaging about 100 feet per lunar day, with the per day number dropping with time. Either the science team is becoming cautious, or they have had unstated issues that have slowed them down.

Still, the rover’s nominal mission was only three lunar days, so it is survived more than twice as long as designed.

Share

Leftist backed by socialist Ocasio-Cortez wins in Queens

They’re coming for you next: A leftist candidate, Tiffany Cabán, backed by socialists Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), has won an election for Queens District Attorney in New York.

Cabán, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s preferred pick for the office, garnered 39.5% of the vote compared to Democratic rival Melinda Katz’s 38.3% with 98% of precincts reporting.

…Cabán is a 31-year-old public defender who wants to decriminalize sex work, close Rikers Island and end cash bail. The young lawyer was joined on stage with city Comptroller Scott Stringer and state Sen. Jessica Ramos.

The election was close enough that they will do a recount, but I don’t think that will change the result, which clearly shows that New Yorkers have not been put off in the slightest by Ocasio-Cortez’s extreme leftist positions, as many conservative pundits have assumed. If anything, her upfront willingness to push her beliefs, no matter our senseless or impractical or ignorant, have garnered her side more support.

I am reminded again of this quote from Walter Miller’s great end-of-the-world science fiction novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz:

Listen, are we helpless? Are we doomed to do it again and again and again? Have we no choice but to play the Phoenix in an unending sequence of rise and fall? Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Carthage, Rome, the Empires of Charlemagne and the Turk. Ground to dust and plowed with salt. Spain, France, Britain, America–burned into the oblivion of the centuries. And again and again and again.

Are we doomed to it, Lord, chained to the pendulum of our own mad clockwork, helpless to halt its swing?

It doesn’t seem to matter that communism, socialism, fascism, Nazism, all top-down authoritarian systems no matter what their name or design, have consistently failed, and failed horribly, causing the deaths of millions and millions. Worse, these failures have not been in the distant past, but within the lifetimes of almost everyone living today. Several (Venezuela and North Korea) are occurring right this minute.

Yet, Americans want to try it for themselves. Sadly, they (and we) will reap the whirlwind, for it will fail again, as horribly as it has every other time.

Share

Hacker steals JPL data

A hacker last year was successfully able to hack into the computer system at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California and steal 500MB of data.

Who did the hacking is not revealed in the inspector general report [pdf], but the report lists six different hacks of JPL’s computers going back to 2009, two of which were linked to China. It is therefore reasonable to assume that China, which routinely steals new ground-breaking technology rather than develop it itself, was the likely culprit. In addition, the timing of these hacks, from 2009 to 2017, fits well with the steady growth of China’s lunar program. If you wanted to find out how to build an unmanned probe to go to the Moon, JPL would be the ideal facility to steal the technology from.

Share

Soyuz has problem during return to Earth

In returning three astronauts safely to Earth yesterday from ISS the Soyuz spacecraft experienced a technical problem immediately after its engines had fired, causing it to go to a backup system.

Moments after the completion of the braking maneuver, the emergency signal was heard inside the Descent Module and the communications between the crew and mission control discussed a failure of the first manifold in the integrated propulsion system of the Soyuz spacecraft and the switch to the second manifold. Kononenko first reported K1B (Manifold DPO-B) emergency at 05:02:54 Moscow Time and subsequently confirmed a switch to the second manifold. NASA later confirmed the problem, but did not provide any details.

There is no explanation what the “first manifold” is, though I suspect it is a direct translation from Russian for their term for a primary system. That the system automatically switched to its back-up is a good thing. That there was a failure of the primary system is not.

Once again, this raises more questions about the quality control throughout Russia’s aerospace industry. While so far none of the recent Soyuz problems, which have also included a launch abort and a still-unexplained drilled hole, have caused a loss of life. I fear that soon or later they will.

Share

China successfully launches GPS-type satellite

Using its Long March 3B rocket, China yesterday successfully placed into orbit another satellite for its GPS-type constellation.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

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

China has now narrowed the U.S. lead in the national rankings, 13 to 9.

Share

What the resurgence in animal life at Chernobyl can teach us

Link here. From the lead paragraph:

Three decades after the Chernobyl disaster—the world’s worst nuclear accident—signs of life are returning to the exclusion zone. Wild animals in Chernobyl are flourishing within the contaminated region; puppies roaming the area are capturing the hearts of thousands. Tourists who have watched the critically acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl are taking selfies with the ruins. Once thought to be forever uninhabitable, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has become a haven for flora and fauna that prove that life, as they say in Jurassic Park, finds a way.

Read it all. What the story really reveals is that the fear-mongering of the anti-nuclear movement (second cousin to the global warming movement) was at a minimum over-wrought and over-stated, and at its worst mostly a lie. The worst nuclear accident ever, that made a 1000-square-mile area forbidden territory due to radiation, has produced no truly terrible long term damage. Things are different, the radiation release had consequences, but the overall situation today appears generally positive, only three decades later.

Share

Google censors Project Veritas expose on Google censorship

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

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

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

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

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

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Opposition candidate wins redo election in Istanbul

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

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

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

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

Share

More delays for Long March 5?

It appears that there might be more delays in the next launch of China’s largest rocket, the Long March 5, which in turn will cause delays to the Moon, Mars, and space station projects.

The Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket is China’s most powerful launch vehicle and was designed to launch large spacecraft to geosynchronous orbits and planetary bodies. It was being prepared for a third flight in July, Yang Baohua, vice president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China’s main space contractor and developer of the Long March 5, announced in a Jan. 29 news conference in Beijing.

The mission would come two years after the failure of the second launch. However that schedule appears to have slipped as the launch vehicle has yet to be delivered to the launch site, with knock-on effects possible for China’s major space plans. [emphasis mine]

The Chinese have said nothing to explain the situation.

Without this rocket they cannot launch their next lunar mission, Chang’e-5 sample return mission, their next Mars mission, set for the launch window 2020, and their space station, set for construction beginning in 2021.

Share

Anarchists threaten to dox any new student for joining conservative groups at Texas university

They’re coming for you next: An anarchist organization with many ties within the University of Texas at Austin has now publicly threatened to reveal the personal contact information of any new student who dares join several different conservative organizations.

“Do you wanna be famous? If you join YCT or Turning Point USA, you just might be. Your name and more could end up on an article like one of these,” the tweet said, linking to previous doxxing posts of conservative students at the school. “So be sure to make smart choices at #UTOrientation.”

Last year the network released extensive personal information of pro-Brett Kavanaugh demonstrators at UT Austin, including their names, photos and contact information. It went so far as to post some of the phone numbers of the employers of students and encouraged its adherents to call them to get them fired.

Composed mostly of students at UT Austin, the group also actively encourages the harassment of conservative students, having praised the destruction of signs and tactics of physical intimidation during the pro-Kavanaugh demonstrations.

The article notes that though the university claims it is acting to punish such doxing behavior by its students, it does not appear that anything has really been done. This group did it last year, and seems unafraid to do it again now.

Share

Schedule for Dragon/Starliner manned flights revised

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Battery screw-up delays Russian X-Ray telescope launch

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

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

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

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

Share

Hawaii fully okays construction of TMT, removes protest structures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Arianespace successfully launches two commercial satellites

Capitalism in space: Arianespace today successfully used its Ariane 5 rocket to launch two commercial satellites.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

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

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

Share

Glaciers growing on Greenland

Greenland's growing Jakobshavn Glacier
Click for full image.

Despite what the fake mainstream media and leftist Democratic Party politicians insist on telling us daily, the Greenland icecap remains largely stable, and shows no sign of disappearing anytime in the near future.

The image on the right, reduced to post here, is a series of images produced by radar instruments flown by a NASA airplane over Jakobshavn Glacier during the past three years and released this week by its project scientists. As noted in the release,

These images show the mass Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier has gained from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. Areas with the most growth are shown in dark blue. Red areas represent thinning. The images were produced using GLISTIN-A radar data as part of NASA’s Ocean’s Melting Greenland (OMG) mission.

While this research is absolutely worthwhile, the mission has clearly been shaped by the global warming activism in NASA and the climate science community. Thus, the scientists for this mission are forced to say this on their website:

Humans are changing the climate by burning fossil fuels for energy. These add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which trap extra heat from the sun and warm the air and oceans.

I would bet however that the scientists for this project remain very skeptical about this NASA political statement. That they highlighted here a glacier that is growing, in contradiction to the routine media and activist claims that Greenland’s ice sheet is disappearing, indicates this.

Tony Heller at his climate blog today posted a very good summary of the very stable state of Greenland’s icecap, while also pointing out the dishonest and incompetent reporting about it from mainstream media sources like the Washington Post and Fox News. Check it out. As he concludes:

There has been no trend Arctic sea ice since the start of MASIE records thirteen years ago.

Greenland glaciers are growing. The last two years had near record surface mass gain. The current journalistic standard of cherry picking a day here and there, and then misrepresenting the meaning of it, is journalism at its worst.

The data shows a decline in that icecap in the early part of this century, followed by a significant recovery in the past three years. As he says, there has been no trend.

Be aware of this when ignorant politicians like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) try to tell you we are all going to die of global warming in mere years. These fear-mongers know nothing, and should be laughed from the stage.

Share

Russian cosmonauts refuse to donate sperm for space research

According to one Russian scientist, Russian cosmonauts have been refusing to donate their sperm for a space research project to be launched on that country’s next Bion-M satellite in 2023, making that research impossible.

“We have been unsuccessful in getting the Coordinating Scientific & Technical Council responsible for approving experiments on the Russian segment of the ISS to approve such a routine procedure as the handover of seminograms by cosmonauts,” [Dr. Irina Ogneva, lab chief at the Institute of Cell Biophysics outside Moscow] explained. “We are consistently impeded by objections of a moral, psychological and ethical nature, and can’t find any volunteers among the cosmonauts,” she added.

According to the scientist, the mere mention of the idea of getting the male biomaterial in conditions of space merely “causes everyone to smile” and reject it.

Ogneva also is quoted as proposing that Russia also consider a project for giving birth to the first child in space.

“We are mindful of the fact that we were always first in space and in many areas remain the leaders. Therefore, it would be nice if the first human being born in space were a Russian citizen. But we should place care for the individual, not patriotic populism, at the forefront of our efforts,” Ogneva stressed.

According to the scientist, while it remains too early to formally set the mission of having a child in space, formulating the goal is already possible. Along with technical questions, there are moral and ethical issues which remain to be resolved, since a live birth would essentially constitute an experiment involving a human embryo.

The difficulties, both moral and ethical, for that first space childbirth, are so daunting that I expect it will only happen in one of two ways. Either it will occur in an unplanned manner, with a female astronaut getting pregnant and giving birth while on a mission where a retreat to Earth will be impossible, or it will occur because some totalitarian government, such as China or Russia, will force it on a woman.

It will happen eventually, however, and when it does, we will find out the limits of our ability to populate space. We might find that only in a gravity well can humans reproduce. Or not.

The unknowns are quite striking.

Share
1 2 3 4 150