SpaceX ready to launch Starship prototype #24 into orbit

According to a statement yesterday by one SpaceX official, the company is now ready to launch its Superheavy #7 booster, stacked with its Starship prototype #24, on an orbital test flight, with the only remaining obstacle to launch the launch license, not yet approved by the FAA.

Speaking on a panel at the Space Mobility conference here about “rocket cargo” delivery, Gary Henry, senior advisor for national security space solutions at SpaceX, said both the Super Heavy booster and its launch pad were in good shape after the Feb. 9 test, clearing the way for an orbital launch that is still pending a Federal Aviation Administration launch license. “We had a successful hot fire, and that was really the last box to check,” he said. “The vehicle is in good shape. The pad is in good shape.”

…“Pretty much all of the prerequisites to supporting an orbital demonstration attempt here in the next month or so look good,” he said.

Henry also outlined SpaceX’s overall plans for Starship in the next year or two, beginning with a series of test/operational launches that will iron out the kinks of the rocket while simultaneously placing Starlink satellites into orbit. At the same time, development will shift to creating a Moon lander version of Starship for NASA’S Artemis program, including doing refueling tests of Starship in orbit. These test flights will also lead quickly to the three private manned flights that SpaceX already has contracts for, including two around the Moon and one in Earth orbit.

NASA signs deal to launch Israel’s first space telescope mission

NASA today announced that it has agreed to provide the launch opportunity for Israel’s first space telescope, dubbed the Ultraviolet Transient Astronomy Satellite (ULTRASAT), designed to make wide-field ultraviolet observations from geosynchronous orbit.

Led by the Israel Space Agency and Weizmann Institute of Science, ULTRASAT is planned for launch into geostationary orbit around Earth in early 2026. In addition to providing the launch service, NASA will also participate in the mission’s science program.

The press release, both from NASA and from Weizmann, was remarkably vague about how NASA will provide that launch capability. The only orbital rocket NASA has is SLS. Will ULTRASAT launch as a secondary payload on a future Artemis launch? Or will NASA buy launch services from another rocket company? The press releases did not say.

Regardless, this deal means that American taxpayers have agreed to foot the launch cost of this Israeli space telescope, in exchange for obtaining telescope time for American astronomers. Interestingly, the press releases also provided no information about how much that launch cost would be.

There has long been a need for a dedicated new ultraviolet space telescope, so this deal could be a good one for American astronomers and a worthwhile use of some of NASA’s budget. It just seems inappropriate for NASA to keep the details so secret.

Despite a complete lack of any customers, Spaceport America in New Mexico now plans to build a “reception center.”

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority has decided it needs to build another building at Spaceport America, even though that spaceport has seen no significant business in its almost two decades of operation, and has little indication of any future business to come.

The Spaceport Technology and Reception Center’s mission “will be to become the welcoming face to staff, visitors, and prospective customers visiting or working at Spaceport America. The proposed 30,000 square foot STARC building will be a multi-use facility; it will house the Spaceport’s core IT server center, staff offices and conference rooms, an Auditorium, food preparation and dining area, virtual experience center, and 2nd and 3rd floor lounge and viewing areas,” according to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA). “The new building will provide modern, comfortable work and meeting spaces for NMSA staff and a means to receive, entertain and educate groups of visitors and/or potential customers,” the document added.

The article goes on to detail how NMSA has spent millions of tax dollars for years, with the promise of billions of revenue from space launches and thousands of local jobs, all of which have turned out to be pie in the sky. Other than Virgin Galactic, which remains a very questionable customer, no major rocket companies have shown any interest in launching from this spaceport.

To propose spending more on another building that will likely sit empty most of the time is absurd. As the article notes, New Mexico has many much more compelling issues to spend its taxpayer money. This boondoggle should be shut down.

Pushback: Home appraiser sues professors who called him racist without evidence

Mott (l) and Connolly, eager to defame whites
Mott (l) and Connolly, eager to use race to
defame an innocent white man

Bring a gun to a knife fight: A home appraiser, Shane Lanham, who was publicly accused by two Johns Hopkins professors, Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott, of being a bigot and racist by valuing their home less because they are black, has now filed a countersuit, noting that the accusation was based on data so faulty “a first-year undergraduate” would immediately reject it.

[T]heir claims would fail to pass basic academic muster if treated as scholarship, Lanham argued in his counterclaim, which includes a suit for defamation. The racism claims achieved national coverage such as in ABC News. The resulting allegations have harmed Lanham’s business and reputation, according to the lawsuit.

“Dr. Connolly and Dr. Mott’s ill-conceived ‘experiment’ involving different appraisers, a seven-month gap, and intervening changes in market conditions would not withstand even basic scrutiny in the serious academic environment in which they work,” Lanham’s counterclaim stated. The lawsuit noted that the professors “failed to disclose the sale of the similar house next door to their home that sold only a month after Mr. Lanham and 20/20 Valuations’ appraisal for $7,000 less than the amount of the appraisal.”

You can read Lanham’s countersuit here [pdf]. He is requesting, at a minimum, $250K in compensatory damages and $250K in punitive damages.

This story began when Connolly and Mott asked Lanham (who is white) and his company, 20/20 Valuations, to appraise their house. When they were unhappy with his appraisal, they decided to get another appraisal, but this time do what they themselves called a ““whitewashing experiment.” For the second appraisal they removed all evidence that a black family owned the house, to the extent of having a white friend present himself as the owner instead. The second appraisal, done months later, came up with a higher price.
» Read more

China’s continued silence about Zhurong suggests Mars rover is dead

Zhurong's ground-penetrating radar data
The data from Zhurong’s ground-penetrating radar instrument.

Overview map
Zhurong’s final location is somewhere in the blue circle.

China’s continued silence about Zhurong — which should have come out of hibernation sometime in late December-early January — suggests the Mars rover did not survive the Martian winter, which this year was also lengthened near the end by some additional dust storms.

Zhurong went into hibernation in May 2022, at the start of winter, with plans to awaken in December. Like the helicopter Ingenuity and the lander InSight, it depends on solar power, and had to contend with a very relatively severe winter dust season this Martian year.

Even though the Chinese press has loudly touted Tianwen-1’s first two years in Mars orbit, it has made little or no mention of Zhurong, a silence that is deafening.

The silence is also foolish, because China has nothing to be ashamed of concerning Zhurong. The mission was only supposed to operate for 90 days. Instead it lasted more than a year, traveling much farther than planned. Most important, the data from its radar instrument (shown above) showed that, at this location at 25 degrees north latitude, there is no underground ice to a depth of 260 feet. That data confirmed that the Martian equatorial regions below 30 degrees latitude are very dry, with any underground ice existing rarely if at all. The icy regions above 30 degrees latitude do not appear to extend much farther south than that latitude.

Today’s blacklisted American: Georgetown Law School tried to destroy a student simply because he asked questions about its COVID jab and mask policies

Georgetown Law School's Dean Bill Treanor
Dean Bill Treanor: He uses 1984 as
his instruction manual

They’re coming for you next: When student William Spruance gave a speech challenging the COVID jab and mask policies at Georgetown Law School, which required for example masks on students but not on teachers, university officials attempted to not only cancel him from the college, they tried to destroy him entirely.

They not only suspended him from the campus (thus preventing him from attending classes), they demanded he undergo a psychiatric evaluation while also waiving his right to medical confidentiality. On top of this, they threatened to report him to state bar associations if he did not cooperate fully.

The story at the link, written by Spruance, has a lot more horrifying nuance. Rather rehash it completely, I strongly advise my readers to go there and read it all. This quote though justifies fully Spruance’s reasonable skepticism of Georgetown’s irrational Wuhan flu policies:
» Read more

India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander/rover passes radiation testing

Click for interactive map.

According to India’s space agency ISRO, its next lunar lander/rover, Chandrayaan-3, has successfully passed testing to make sure it can function without issues in the harsh electromagnetic environment of space.

Magnetic Interference/ Electro – Magnetic Compatibility) test is conducted for satellite missions to ensure the functionality of the satellite subsystems in the space environment and their compatibility with the expected electromagnetic levels.

The spacecraft, which will carry a rover to the Moon’s south pole regions (the red dot on the map to the right), is tentatively scheduled for launch anywhere from June to the end of ’23, depending on the news story you read.

Inspection of leaking Progress after undocking detects no obvious damage

After undocking the Progress freighter from ISS yesterday, Russian astronauts on the station rolled it so that all sides of its service module could be photographed and inspected in the hope of spotting the leak in its coolant system that sprung on February 11th.

No visual damage has been detected at the Progress MS-21 spacecraft after it undocked from the International Space Station. “After the Progress MS-21 cargo spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Poisk mini-research module, footage was made of its exterior surface and no visual damage was detected,” the statement [from Roscosmos] reads.

Initially the Russians postponed its de-orbit as they considered the idea of redocking the freighter to another port on the Russian half of ISS in order to inspect it more closely, but eventually they decided to fore-go that plan and de-orbit it on February 19th, one day later.

In watching the live stream of the undocking and the roll maneuver, I thought I saw a partial reddish-orange stain, similar to the stain around the hole that occurred in the Soyuz capsule in December, but it was mostly hidden behind other equipment and the Russians seemed to not consider this significant.

Today’s blacklisted American: Professor sues University of Texas for threatening his job because he criticized it publicly

University of Texas at Austin to Professor Richard Lowery:
University of Texas at Austin to Professor Richard Lowery:
“Nice job you got here. Shame if something happened to it.”

They’re coming for you next: Professor Richard Lowery is now suing the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) for its attempts to silence him, including threatening his job, cutting his pay, and monitoring his speech, actions instigated against Lowery because he was publicly critical of the university’s racist “diversity, equity, and inclusion” policies as well as the university’s efforts, led by its president Jay Hartzell, to insert political propaganda into its courses.

Lowery is being represented by the Institute for Free Speech, which filed his lawsuit [pdf] on February 8, 2023.

The campaign [against Lowery and his allies at the university] started by pressuring Carlos Carvalho, another professor of business at the UT McCombs School who is also the Executive Director of the Salem Center for Public Policy, an academic institute that is part of the McCombs School. Lowery is an Associate Director and a Senior Scholar at the Salem Center and reports to Carvalho.
» Read more

China releases data sets from Chang’e-4 lander

China today released another set of data from the instruments on the Chang’e-4 lander, which landed on the far side of the Moon on January 3, 2019, bringing with it China’s Yutu-2 rover.

The datasets include 3,991.1 MB of 803 data files obtained by the four scientific payloads on the Chang’e-4 lander and rover between December 26, 2021 and January 10, 2022.

The data was posted on the official website of the Lunar and Planetary Data Release System, though none of the press reports from multiple China’s state-run press sources include it. All are simply the same three paragraph story, word for word. That site however is here, though it is entirely in Chinese and the English pages fail to load.

First launch of Japan’s H3 rocket aborts at T-0

In its first attempt to launch its new H3 rocket today the rocket’s main liquid-fueled engines ignited, but then the two strap-on solid rockets failed to ignite at T-0, causing that main engine to shut down to protect the rocket and payload.

I have embedded the live stream below, cued to about T-39. At the end of the broadcast the rocket appeared in good condition, though it was still unclear what the caused the problem.

At the moment there is no word when JAXA, Japan’s space agency, will attempt another launch. The H3 is years behind schedule, and was developed in the hope it would be more efficient and cost less to launch than the H2A rocket Japan presently uses.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: Rhode Island still pushing racist hiring practices despite civil rights complaint

Providence's racist hiring practices
The flyer for Providence’s most recent hiring event. Click for
original flyer.

They’re coming for you next: Despite a civil rights complaint filed back in November 2022 against Rhode Island’s Providence Public School District for offering only “educators of color” a $25,000 loan forgiveness, that school district has continued to offer this discriminatory and racist benefit to only certain races, including a hiring event that occurred just yesterday.

The flyer for yesterday’s event is to the right. Note the circled text.

You can read the complaint here [pdf], filed by the Legal Insurrection Foundation. According to this news report a week ago, the federal Office of Civil Rights “…was making a formal referral of the Complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for investigation. EEOC already has assigned an investigator to the case.”

Yet, despite its clear bigoted illegality and the existence of a legal action against it, the Providence Public School District doesn’t care. » Read more

NASA outlines its expected needs as a space station customer

NASA has now published an updated detailed specification of what it will want to do on the four private space stations being built to replace ISS.

NASA published two white papers Feb. 13 as part of a request for information (RFI) for its Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations effort to support development of commercial stations. The documents provide new details about how NASA expects to work with companies operating those stations and the agency’s needs to conduct research there.

One white paper lists NASA’s anticipated resource needs for those stations, including crew time, power and volume, broken out for each of the major agency programs anticipated to use commercial stations. Companies had been seeking more details about NASA requirements to assist in the planning of their stations.

,,,The second white paper outlines the concept of operations NASA envisions for its use of commercial space stations. The 40-page document described in detail what it expects from such stations in terms of capabilities, resources and operations, as well as what oversight the agency anticipates having.

At the moment NASA has contracts with four different space station companies or partnerships, Axiom, Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman, each of which is building its own station. Because NASA will initially be the biggest customer for these stations its requirements will help shape those stations significantly, which is why this information is of critical importance for the private companies.

At the same time, NASA is not dictating specific designs. The agency remains the customer, buying time on private facilities that will be owned privately and be free to sell their product to others. Thus, the designs of these stations might not match exactly what NASA desires, since even now there are other customers interested in buying space station time and space.

Roscosmos will launch unmanned Soyuz to ISS on February 21

Roscosmos today announced that it will launch the unmanned Soyuz to ISS on February 21st, only a two-day delay after doing a quick inspection of its outer surface for possible damage following the coolant leak of a Progress freighter on February 11th.

BtB’s stringer Jay provided me this translation of the announcement at the link:

The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft has been checked and is beginning to be prepared for launch. The preparations suspended the day before at Baikonur will resume tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
The launch is scheduled for the 20th of February.

The ship was inspected. No maliciously drilled holes were found. We decided not to wait any longer. In any case, a refueled ship must either be launched or sent to a museum.

Update: removal of the launch vehicle to the launch pad on February 18, launch on February 21″ [emphasis mine]

The highlighted words are truly intriguing. It appears Roscosmos is desperately trying to convince the world that the repeated recent leaks to Soyuz and Progress spacecraft are not related to sabotage on the ground. At the same, Roscosmos has never told us the results of its investigation into the 2018 hole in a Soyuz capsule that someone drilled and then patched before launch. It seems incredibly unlikely that the two recent leaks in the exterior coolant systems of two different spacecrafts were both caused by impact from a micrometeorite or tiny piece of space junk. Two such impacts could of course occur this frequently, but for both to happen to such similar locations on only Russian spacecraft seems beyond improbable.

Either way, the decision makes some sense. The available lifeboats on ISS right now are really insufficient. Better to get this launched. More important, they had already begun fueling it, and once that is done the clock was running. They have to launch by a certain time.

Meanwhile it would be wise for NASA to begin arranging new emergency lifeboat arrangements with SpaceX as well as Boeing (once it finally gets Starliner operational). Depending on the Russians for even part of this responsibility seems ill advised. If preplanned properly, SpaceX could certainly launch one of its Dragon manned capsules quickly in an emergency.

Stop participating in the delusions of the insane

“Lily” Mestemacher

In a perfect example of the modern madness of our time, when a bearded heavy-set man using the name “Lily” Mestemacher was arrested in Arkansas for making bomb threats against a location in Mississippi, the local news organization reporting the story in Mississippi used female pronouns to describe him because he claimed he was a woman. To quote that February 13, 2023 news report:

On February 10th, Mestemacher was transported to Oxford where she was booked on the aforementioned warrant. She was taken before a Lafayette County Justice Court judge for her initial bond hearing and issued a $50,000 bond. [emphasis mine]

His arrest mugshot is to the right. This is a man. Just because he is somewhat deranged and wants to make believe he is a woman does not require that local news organization, called The Local Voice, to participate in that derangement.
» Read more

India’s government plans to sell tourist tickets on its future manned flights

The new colonial movement: It appears that once it completes its first manned mission in space, dubbed Gaganyaan, India’s government space agency ISRO intends to sell tourist tickets on future manned flights.

[Union Minister Jitendra] Singh, who also holds the portfolios of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, informed the House that the objective of India’s maiden human spaceflight programme, ‘Gaganyaan’, is demonstration of human spaceflight capability to low earth orbit (LEO), which is a precursor to the future space tourism programme. “The ISRO has carried out a few feasibility studies for a sub-orbital space tourism mission,” the Union Minister revealed while announcing that after the accomplishment of the ‘Gaganyaan’ mission, activities towards space tourism would be firmed up.

Selling commercial tickets on its spacecraft would be completely in line with ISRO’s decades-long policy of trying to make money from its space capabilities. Whether this action however will help or hinder India’s independent space industry remains unclear. Like NASA a decade ago, there is a turf war in ISRO over whether to cede power to private enterprise, or hold it entirely in ISRO’s grip. If ISRO sells manned spaceflight tickets it will make it harder for private tourism companies to gain investment capital.

Imaging satellite builder Maxar signs contract with Umbra to use its radar satellites

Maxar, which operates a constellation of high resolution optical imaging satellites for commercial and military use, has now signed a contract with Umbra, which operates a constellation of high resolution radar satellites for commercial and military use.

The partnership will allow Maxar to directly task Umbra’s satellites and integrate synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data into its portfolio of Earth intelligence products and services, Tony Frazier, head of Maxar’s public sector Earth intelligence, told SpaceNews.

SAR is a specialized form of remote sensing that has been in growing demand since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. SAR satellites can capture images at night, through cloud cover, smoke and rain — conditions that impair traditional optical satellites like those operated by Maxar.

The contract will give Maxar “assured access” to the soon-to-be launched six and seven satellites in Umbra’s constellation.

Essentially, this deal enhances Maxar’s value. Its main customer is the U.S. military, and it can now offer that military a more enhanced observation capability. Umbra meanwhile gets a major customer quickly, rather than having to pitch its product to multiple potential buyers. Its radar product is also enhanced, because it will now come automatically partnered with optical imagery.

Today’s blacklisted Americans: Religious pro-lifers prevented from viewing Bill of Rights because National Archives forbids free speech

The evil hat that Air & Space banned
An example of the evil pro-life clothing
banned by the National Archives

They’re coming for you next: Students and parents and others who had just attended the January 20, 2023 March for Life event in Washington were told by numerous National Archives security officials that day that they must remove or cover any pro-life shirts, jackets, hats, or buttons or they would be ejected from the museum.

From the lawsuit [pdf] filed by three of those pro-life individuals:

Plaintiff L.R., her mother, and her fellow classmates [about 35 people] were ushered through security and into the first group of visitors to enter the Rotunda where the Constitution and Bill of Rights are on exhibit.

…Approximately five minutes later, Plaintiff L.R. and her fellow classmates were suddenly approached by Defendant John Doe 1 who instructed Plaintiff L.R. and her classmates to remove all pro-life attire. John Doe 1 specifically instructed Plaintiff L.R. that she could not be wearing anything pro-life and that she must cover her shirt and not unzip it until she had left the National Archives. John Doe 1 also instructed Plaintiff L.R. and her other classmates to remove their pro-life buttons. John Doe 1 made other classmates standing near Plaintiff L.R. remove their pro-life hats. One such hat contained the inscription, “LIFE always WINS.” Another hat contained the inscription, “ProLife.” Plaintiff L.R. witnessed another guard participate in these instructions to her classmates and at no time did any of the other guards in the Rotunda intercede and provide contrary instruction.
» Read more

Canadian rocket startup dies because of opposition to noise produced by its engine tests

Though there were likely other issues, according the CEO of the now defunct rocket startup SpaceRyde the company died when the local government blocked engine tests on a piece of rural land it had purchased because of local protests.

The Trent Hills municipality of Ontario asked SpaceRyde to stop engine tests from a lot in the region Oct. 7 after their noise brought attention to how an industrial application was operating on rurally zoned land. When SpaceRyde bought the land, “the understanding at the time was it would be a temporary operation that focused on supporting the business of testing balloon technology to deliver satellites into orbit,” Trent Hills mayor Bob Crate said during a Sept. 13 council meeting.

A petition started last year to stop SpaceRyde rocket engine tests it says can be “heard for many miles” has received more than 800 signatures.

We are clearly entering a dark age when the general public cannot tolerate the noise produced during short static fire engine tests lasting generally no more than one or two minutes.

China aiming to complete 80 launches in 2023

According to this article, China’s many pseudo-company rocket startups are hoping to complete a total of approximately 19 to 21 launches in 2023, which when combined with the 60-plus launches the government hopes to complete, will give China a total of approximately 80 launches in 2023, a new record.

The article provides a good review of all of the pseudo-companies hoping to launch in the next few years. This list includes the following:

  • Galactic Energy: 8 to 10 launches in ’23 with its Ceres-1 solid fueled rocket
  • Space Pioneer: The first launch of its liquid-fueled Tainlong-2 rocket
  • Exspace: 7 launches with its Kuaizhou-1A and larger Kuaizhou-11, both solid-fueled
  • Landspace: A second launch attempt of its liquid-fueled Zhuque-2 rocket after a launch failure in ’22
  • Orienspace: The first launch of its Gravity-1 solid fueled rocket
  • Rocket Pi: The first launch of its Darwin-1 liquid fueled rocket
  • Ispace: Unknown after three consecutive launch failures of its Hyperbola-1 solid-fueled rocket

The article also adds launches from two government “private” spinoffs, CAS Space, planning 3 launches of its PR-1solid fueled rocket, and China Rocket, planning at least one launch of its Jielong-3 solid fueled rocket. Though both are touted as private, they are both really separate divisions created by China’s space agency CASC, with their launch counts likely included in the government’s hope-for 60 launches.

The pseudo private companies are somewhat more independent as they were founded by private individuals. All appear to have obtained private Chinese capital — in addition to government funding — to fund their development. All however are also entirely supervised in all actions by the government. None could build anything without government approval, and all are depending on government rocket technology that can be withdrawn at any time. These pseudo companies don’t really own their rockets. Furthermore, while they are able to sell their products to other private entities, their market appears almost entirely confined to China.

First picture of hole that occurred on Soyuz in December

Hole in First picture of hole that occurred on Soyuz in December

Russia has now released an image taken using the robot arm on ISS of the leak that occurred on its Soyuz capsule docked to ISS in December.

The picture to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, is that image. This is not the coolant leak hole on the Progress freighter on February 11th, this past weekend. As of now no image of that hole has ever been released.

No interpretation of this hole and the stain around it has as yet been released. However, Russia has now postponed the launch of the next Soyuz capsule from February 19th until early March in order “to give investigators time to rule out similar issues in the upcoming mission.” This Soyuz was to launch unmanned to replace the Soyuz that leaked in December and provide the astronauts that launched on that leaking Soyuz a safe lifeboat that they could come home on.

Meanwhile, all communications with ISS have now been shifted to the private channels, so the public cannot hear them.

All these actions strongly suggest that both the Russians and Americans are now seriously considering the possibility of sabotage or damage to the coolant systems on all Russian spacecraft, before they leave the factory and are launched.

ISS as of February 11, 2023

To clarify the situation, the image to the right shows all the spacecraft presently docked to ISS. Progress 82 is the spacecraft that experienced a leak in its coolant system on February 11th. Soyuz-MS22 experienced a leak in its coolant system in December. At the moment the only safe vehicle for returning the seven astronauts on ISS is Crew-5 Dragon, SpaceX’s Endurance spacecraft. Should a major catastrophe occur requiring an immediate evacuation of the station, the plan right now is for five astronauts to come home on Endurance, and two Russians to come home on the damaged Soyuz. (The thinking is that having only two men on board will prevent too much of a temperature rise during the return to Earth because of the lack of its coolant system.)

With the delay in the launch of the replacement Soyuz lifeboat, this emergency plan will be in place for at least three weeks longer.

A real blacklist designed to choke ad profits from conservative and legitimate news organizations

Blacklisted conservative news outlets
Conservative news outlets blacklisted by Microsoft’s Xandr,
based on advice from GDI

They’re coming for you next: Using American federal funds, a British “disinformation” group called the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) has created a real blacklist of valid and longstanding conservative news organizations and fed that list to internet ad companies to encourage them to cut ad revenue from those news organizations.

A sampling of the blacklisted news companies that have actually been punished financially by this effort is shown to the right

Of the ad companies, a Microsoft company named Xander appears to be the most enthusiastic about using GDI’s blacklist to choke ad sales to conservatives sites.

GDI’s “dynamic exclusion list” includes at least 2,000 domains, many of which are “foreign state-sponsored news and opinion sites, forums that traffic in disinformation, and explicitly sanctioned websites,” according to a second source close to Microsoft. Each month, GDI sends Xandr a list of websites on this blacklist, said the source.

The Washington Examiner revealed on Thursday that it is on GDI’s list and spoke to an ad-buying source who said Breitbart News is also. Separately, GDI has said that the 10 “riskiest” news outlets for purported disinformation are the American Spectator, Newsmax, the Federalist, the American Conservative, One America News Network, the Blaze, the Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Reason, and the New York Post.

All those news outlets are legitimate, well established, and reasonable and reliable sources of information. No one should rely solely on them for their news, but to call their reporting “false,” “misleading,” “hate speech,” “reprehensible,” or “offensive” merely because they publish news from a conservative perspective is fundamentally dishonest. To then blacklist them because they have a different perspective is pure censorship by the left against its political opponents.

That the blacklist is definitely partisan is proven by the news outlets GDI has determined are acceptable.
» Read more

One of Saudi Arabia’s two Axiom passengers later this year will be a woman

In announcing the two astronauts who will fly as passengers on Axiom’s commercial Ax-2 flight to ISS in the second quarter of 2023, Saudi Arabia also revealed that one will be the first female Arabian to fly in space.

Saudi nationals Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali al-Qarni will join the crew of the AX-2 space mission in an accomplishment that comes in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The spaceflight is set to launch from the United States to the ISS.

There is an aggressive space race now in the Middle East between Arab nations. The UAE started it by making space exploration a major goal for diversifying its economy. Saudi Arabia has now followed with its own program. Turkey, Bahrain, and Oman have also joined in.

Shortly after new Progress freighter docks with ISS, older Progress loses internal pressure

ISS as of February 11, 2023

Shortly after a new Progress freighter docked with ISS early today (shown as Progress 83 in the graphic to the right), the older Progress 82 lost internal pressure, possibly in its coolant system.

On February 11, Roskosmos, citing data from mission control, said that the Progress MS-21 cargo ship docked at the station lost pressure. According to the State Corporation, the hatch connecting the ship’s pressurized compartment with the rest of the station was closed and the vehicle was fully isolated from the ISS’ habitable volume.

…According to unofficial sources, the spacecraft lost all its cooling fluid from its Thermal Control System, SOTR. Several hours after the incident, NASA confirmed that the breach had been limited to the cooling system. At the same time, the US space agency said that the hatches between the cargo ship and the station had remained open, while temperatures and pressures aboard the outpost had remained normal. The subsequent publicly available exchange between the NASA mission control in Houston and a US astronaut Frank Rubio, aboard the ISS, indicated that the coolant system of the Progress MS-21 spacecraft had been completely emptied before the leak stopped.

The report is very unclear. In the first paragraph it suggests the freighter’s atmosphere had leaked out, while its hatches were closed and it was isolated from the station. The second paragraph suggests it only lost pressure and coolant from its coolant system, and the hatches had been open during the event.

Either way, this is the second Russian ferry spacecraft to experience such an event since mid-December, when the Soyuz capsule attached to ISS lost its coolant from what is believed to have been a small impact.

This particular Progress freighter is slated to be undocked from ISS on February 18th, when it will be de-orbited, burning up in the atmosphere over the Pacific. Thus, this leak appears to pose a relatively small risk to the station, as it probably has already been filled with station garbage and was likely ready for disposal anyway.

This incident however raises larger concerns. If it was caused by an impact from an external object, either micrometeorite or space junk, it suggests that the station might face a new increased risk of such events, quite possibly from debris from the Russian anti-satellite test in November 2021. As of November 2022 it was estimated that there were 444 objects still in orbit, with all but 18 expected to fall back to earth by 2025. It could be that one of those tracked objects hit ISS, or a different object that has not been tracked.

Or possibly we are seeing evidence of some quality control problem in the construction of these spacecraft, in Russia. Russia and NASA have still not revealed the results of the investigation into the hole that was drilled into the hull of a Soyuz capsule in 2018. Could there be some sabotage going on the ground in Russia that has not been identified that is designed to cause such leaks sometime after launch?

Some clarity on this issue is now becoming essential.

India successfully launches its SSLV rocket on 2nd attempt

On its second launch attempt tonight, India’s SSLV rocket (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) successfully reached orbit and deployed all three of its smallsat payloads.

On the first launch attempt in August 2022, the engine on the fourth stage, used to put the satellites in their preferred orbits, shut down prematurely due to a failure of its guidance system. Today, all worked as planned.

The hope of India’s space agency ISRO is that this rocket can garner some of the growing smallsat business. That it is three years delayed because of ISRO’s panic over Wuhan makes fulfilling that hope more difficult, because so much of that business has now been grabbed by other companies.

The 2023 launch race:

9 SpaceX
5 China
2 Russia
1 Rocket Lab
1 Japan
1 India

American private enterprise still leads China 10 to 5 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 10 to 9.

Pushback: Civil rights complaint filed against California school district for running segregated program

Government endorsed segregation in California
Government endorsed segregation in California

“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” A civil rights complaint has been filed by the organization Parents Defending Education against the Pajaro Valley Unified School District in Santa Cruz County, California, for offering a segregated teacher support program that specifically excluded some races from attending.

As the program’s leaflet to the right shows, the program for “people of color” would not only give only certain races beneficial training, it would also give those participants “a stipend” that was forbidden to some employees due to their race.

It also appears that the program is also discriminatory on who it hires, as the coaches shown on that flyer are all minorities. Apparently, whites (and especially white males) need not apply.

You can read the actual civil rights complaint here [pdf]. As it notes bluntly:
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ISRO successfully test fires a throttleable version of an engine used in two of its rockets

ISRO on January 30, 2023 successfully completed a static fire test of a throttleable version of its Vikas rocket engine, used in the upper stage of both its PSLV and GSLV rockets as well as in the GSLV’S first stage, running the engine at 67 percent power for a time period of 43 seconds.

The ability to adjust the power level of the engine during launch will give ISRO the ability to attempt the recovery of the first stages, as well as expand the ability of these rockets to place more satellites per launch in different orbits.

FCC approves the first 3,000+ satellites in Amazon’s Kuiper constellation

FCC has now given Amazon its license to launch the first 3,236 satellites in its Kuiper internet constellation, including with that license new de-orbiting requirements that exceed the FCC’s actual statutory authority.

The Federal Communications Commission approved Amazon’s plan Feb. 8 to deploy and operate 3,236 broadband satellites, subject to conditions that include measures for avoiding collisions in low Earth orbit (LEO).

Amazon got initial FCC clearance for its Ka-band Project Kuiper constellation in 2020 on the condition that it secured regulatory approval for an updated orbital debris mitigation plan. The FCC said its conditional approval of this mitigation plan allows “Kuiper to begin deployment of its constellation in order to bring high-speed broadband connectivity to customers around the world.” The conditions include semi-annual reports that Kuiper must give the FCC to detail the collision avoidance maneuvers its satellites have made, whether any have lost the ability to steer away from objects, and other debris risk indicators.

In the order, the FCC also requires Kuiper to ensure plans to de-orbit satellites after their seven-year mission keep inhabitable space stations in addition to the International Space Station in mind.

According to the license, Amazon must launch 1,600 of these satellites by 2026.

The de-orbit requirements are part of the FCC’s recent regulatory power grab, and has no legal basis. The FCC’s statutory authority involves regulating the frequency of signals satellites use, as well as acting as a traffic cop to make sure the orbits of different satellites do not interfere with other satellites. Nowhere has Congress given it the right to determine the lifespan of satellites, or the method in which they are de-orbited.

Right now however we no longer live in a republic run by elected officials. In Washington it is the bureaucracy that is in charge, Congress being too weak, divided, and corrupt to defend its legal power. Thus, the FCC can easily grab new powers that it has no right to have.

ESA successfully unfurls solar sail from cubesat

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully unfurled a solar sail from a cubesat in order to test using that sail to help de-orbit that cubesat more quickly.

The sail was deployed from a package measuring 3.93 by 3.93 by 3.93 inches (10 by 10 by 10 centimeters). The unfurling process was captured by an integrated camera onboard the Ion satellite carrier, which is operated by the Italian company D-Orbit.

The satellite will eventually burn up in the atmosphere, providing a quicker, residue-free method of disposal, according to ESA.

A short video of that unfurling can be viewed here.

This flight was intended as a proof of concept. Thus, ESA like many similar NASA test projects will now close the project down, which is dubbed ADEO, having no specific plans to do anything with what was learned. Private cubesat companies, however, might adopt this solar sail deployment technology, but I suspect less for de-orbit purposes but instead as a method of maneuvering their satellite in orbit.

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