Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander passes launch tests

Astrobotic’s first demonstration lunar lander, dubbed Peregrine, has passed its vibration and acoustic tests, demonstrating it can survive launch on ULA’s Vulcan rocket, presently scheduled for the first quarter of ’23.

The lander is now undergoing electromagnetic interference testing, which will be followed by thermal vacuum tests. Once those tests are complete, the company said, it will ship the lander to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to be integrated with the Vulcan Centaur for a launch currently scheduled in the first quarter of 2023. That launch will be the inaugural flight of the Vulcan Centaur.

A great deal will be riding on that first Vulcan launch, both for Astrobotic and ULA.

China completes two launches successfully

China today successfully completed two launches:

First, China’s government used its Long March 2D rocket to launch a classified Earth observation satellite into orbit. The rocket launched from an interior spaceport, dropping its expendable first stages within China.

Next, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) successfully completed the inaugural launch of its Smart Dragon-3 solid-fueled rocket, putting 14 smallsats into orbit. The rocket launched from a platform at sea, so its expendable stages fell in the ocean. Though the rocket is aimed at launching commercial payloads, it is still a Chinese government project using military missile technology.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

57 China
55 SpaceX
21 Russia
9 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 79 to 57 in the national rankings, but trails the entire world combined 87 to 79.

Pushback: Professor wins big against Auburn for punishing him for his opinions

No free speech at Auburn University
Freedom of speech considered bad at Auburn University!

Bring a gun to a knife fight: After his superiors fired him as chair of the economics department at Auburn University because he had criticized the university’s policy of passing scholarship athletes for doing no work, professor Michael Stern sued, and has now won a $645K court case.

You can read his complaint here [pdf], and the jury verdict here [pdf]. The case hinged on the decision of Joseph Aistrup, the former dean at the College of the Liberal Arts, to fire him as department chair in May 2018 because Stern had publicly raised questions about the high numbers of athletics majoring in “Public Administration,” a program that seemed designed to give them a free ride. This conflict began on February 4, 2014:

Auburn University’s Faculty Athletics Representative (“FAR”), Dr. Mary Boudreaux, put on a presentation in the University Senate wherein she claimed that there was no clustering of athletes by any major at Auburn. Plaintiff [Stern] questioned her in relation to the Public Administration program and football, given the contrasting information Plaintiff was told by a colleague. (During the 2013 Iron Bowl, Dr. Randy Beard (Economics professor and Plaintiffs colleague) noticed that almost all of the star players on the football team had Public Administration as a major).

Dr. Joseph Aistrup (new College of Liberal Arts Dean at the time) ran up to Plaintiff on the way out of the Faculty Senate. He looked green and like he was going to cry. He said, “Oh my God, Mike, I can’t believe you mentioned our program. I’m going to hear about this.”

» Read more

China’s possible plans for expanding Tiangong-3

Though the plans have apparently not been approved, the designers of China’s Tiangong-3 space station are now considering expanding the station with additional large modules.

“Following our current design, we can continue to launch an extension module to dock with the forward section of the space station, and the extension module can carry a new hub for docking with the subsequent space vehicles,” [Wang Xiang, commander of the space station system at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST)] told CCTV following the return to Earth of the Shenzhou-14 crew Dec. 4.

With a new docking hub, the Chinese would actually have the potential of doubling the station’s size by duplicating its present configuration with one central module (with the hub) and two side modules.

The station’s design, an upgrade of the Soviet Union’s Mir station, also allows for relatively easy replacement of modules as they age. Though the station only has a planned ten-year life, do not be surprised if it remains operational for many decades beyond that.

Sweden upgrading suborbital launchsite for orbital business

A Swedish launchsite that the European Space Agency (ESA) has used on and off for decades for suborbital test launches is now being upgraded to make it attractive to smallsat rocket companies.

Founded by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1966 to study the atmosphere and Northern Lights phenomenon, the Esrange space center has invested heavily in its facilities in recent years to be able to send satellites into space.

At a huge new hangar big enough to house two 30-meter rockets currently under assembly elsewhere, Philip Pahlsson, head of the “New Esrange” project, pulls up a heavy blue door. Under the rosy twilight of this early afternoon, construction machines nearby can be seen busily completing work on three new launch pads. “Satellite launches will start to take place from here next year,” Pahlsson says.

In Europe, Esrange is competing with a new Norway spaceport for the first orbital rocket launch. It is also competing with two spaceports in Scotland. And the one that makes launches easy for the new smallsat rocket companies is going to garner the most business.

UK regulators block Virgin Orbit launch

We’re here to help you: Bureaucrats at the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have refused to issue Virgin Orbit a launch permit in time for its proposed December 14, 2022 launch date, and have thus forced the company to stand down.

Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit chief executive, said the Civil Aviation Authority’s refusal to give the company an operating licence meant the launch would be delayed again. Britain’s first ever space mission was scheduled to take place on the night of December 14, Virgin Orbit announced yesterday.

But Virgin Orbit was forced to row back on its plans within hours. The company will now “retarget launch for the coming weeks”.

The refusal does not mean that the launch will never happen, only that the CAA is not going to hurry its approval for Richard Branson. This delay is thus crushing this company, as it has been unable to launch other customers while this launch is pending, and therefore has been unable to earn any additional revenue.

That the CAA has been working on this permit for more than half a year and still cannot issue, however, does not bode well for future UK rocket launches. Virgin Orbit launches from a runway, using a 747, and has done so successfully four times already. If the CAA cannot figure out how to okay it to launch after doing six months of paperwork, how is it going to okay launches for regular rockets from the two Scotland launchpads now under construction? Based on this situation, it will take forever to get launches off, and thus the CAA is likely going to force satellite customers top migrate to other spaceports outside the UK.

Why We Fight: The Nazis Strike

An evening pause: For tonight, the anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, I think this documentary created by Frank Capra for the U.S. government in 1943 is most appropriate.

Though created to rally Americans to the war effort, the film is not propaganda. It is a remarkably accurate telling of the history leading up to Pearl Harbor in detailing how Hitler was able to gain control of almost all of Europe, through lies, force, and the weak-kneed opposition of his opponents. Only with Soviet Russia and its secret pact with Germany to divide up Poland does the film fail to tell the facts thoroughly, but here it fails by omission, not lies. In the end, however, it is accurate, because the Soviet Union’s pact, intended to bring it security from German invasion, failed. Hitler had lied once again, and the U.S.S.R. became only another victim of his greed for power.

It is worthwhile for Americans to watch it now, because the same lies and greed for power is eating away at our own country from within. Any honest open-minded viewing of this mid-20th century history cannot help but see the parallels.

I should add that Capra knew how to make movies, and he made sure this history was told in a riveting and compelling manner. You will not be bored.

Pushback: Judge rules flight attendant must be rehired by Southwest, but reduces her award significantly

Southwest Airlines: Enemy to free speech

Blacklists are back and the business community loves ’em: Though Charlene Carter, the Southwest flight attendant who was fired because she expressed opinions the company and her union did not like, had won her lawsuit against the company, federal district Judge Brantley Starr has reduced the jury award to her from $5.1 million to $810,000 in order “to comply with federal limits on punitive damages.”

The judge this week reduced that award to $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Southwest and $300,000 from the union, $150,000 in back pay and about $60,000 in interest.

In ordering Southwest to reinstate Carter this week, the judge made a reference to a line in Southwest advertising campaigns. “Bags fly free with Southwest. But free speech didn’t fly at all with Southwest in this case,” Starr wrote.

This story is an update on two previous blacklist columns, the second of which described the ugly email correspondence between company and union officials prior to Carter’s firing. Brian Talburt, an official with the Transit Workers Union (TWU), had written to both his boss, union head Audrey Stone, as well as one Southwest manager as follows about Carter:
» Read more

Blue Origin-led team bids for NASA manned lunar lander contract

Capitalism in space: Though few details have been released, Blue Origin has teamed up with Boeing and Lockheed Martin to bid for a NASA contract to build a second manned lunar lander, after SpaceX’s Starship.

Blue Origin revealed its team’s submission to that second NASA program in a brief statement posted on its website on Tuesday, saying “in partnership with NASA, this team will achieve sustained presence on the Moon.”

The deadline for proposals was Tuesday. NASA is expected to make an award decision in June 2023.

Blue Origin’s team also includes spacecraft software firm Draper, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Astrobotic and Honeybee Robotics, a manufacturer of military and civil robotic systems that was acquired by Blue Origin in January.

It will be interesting to see if this proposed lander is significantly different than the previous proposal, which NASA considered overpriced and not as capable as Starship.

Virgin Orbit schedules launch from the UK, despite no permit

Virgin Orbit has now scheduled its first launch from a Cornwall airport for December 14, 2022, even though the company has not been issued its launch permit from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the United Kingdom, even after almost six months of delays.

Spaceport Cornwall was awarded an operators licence by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) last month, meaning the site is licensed for launch operations.

However, Virgin Orbit as the operator needs both launch and range licences from the CAA before the historic launch can happen. Spaceport Cornwall told MailOnline that December 14 is when the window opens for the first launch attempt – although this is ‘by no means a guaranteed flight date’.

According to a BBC report, that license has still not been issued. I suspect Virgin Orbit has set this date to pressure the CAA to finally get its act together and issue the permit.

China’s Kuaizhou-11 rocket launches test satellite

China today successfully launched what it labeled as a communications test satellite using its smallsat mobile Kuaizhou-11 rocket.

China’s state run press gave little details, other than saying, “The satellite will be mainly used for communications test and key technologies verification of the VDES and the automatic identification system (AIS),” whatever that means.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

55 China
54 SpaceX
21 Russia
9 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 78 to 55 in the national rankings, though it trails the entire world combined 86 to 78.

Computer modelers predict millions will die if China relaxes its zero COVID lockdowns policy

Chicken Little rules again! Scientists, using the same kind of faulty computer models that falsely predicted millions would die in 2020 if we didn’t social distance, wear masks, and shut down all of society (while canceling the Bill of Rights), now predict millions will die in China if that country’s totalitarian communist government relaxes its zero COVID lockdowns policy.

A study based on vaccination rates in March, published in Nature Medicine in May, found that lifting zero-COVID restrictions at that point could “generate a tsunami of COVID-19 cases” over a 6-month period, with 112 million symptomatic cases, 2.7 million intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and 1.6 million deaths. Peak demand for ICU beds would hit 1 million, more than 15 times the current capacity.

The unvaccinated would account for 77% of the fatalities, according to the authors, primarily at Fudan University. Boosting vaccination rates could slash the toll, but China’s elderly population has remained wary of vaccination. Even today, only 66% of those ages 80 and older have received two doses—versus 90% of the population as a whole—and just 40% have taken boosters.

We of course should trust these scientists without question. How could they possibly be wrong? Bless their hearts. They would never produce junk models simply to promote government overreach and abuse of power.

Today’s blacklisted American: Richmond restaurant to the Family Foundation: “No Christians served here!”

Metzger's: in favor of discrimination

They’re coming for you next: The restaurant, Metzger’s Bar and Butchery in Richmond, Virginia, has now decided that it will no longer serve Christian-affiliated organizations.

Last week The Family Foundation, which is affiliated with the Christian ministry Focus on the Family, had scheduled a gathering at Metzger’s. However, ninety minutes before the event was to take place, Metzger’s told the foundation that it would not serve them, and the event was cancelled. In the restaurant’s own words:

“We refused service to a group that had booked an event with us after the owners of Metzger found out it was a group of donors to a political organization that seeks to deprive women and LGBTQ+ person of their basic human rights in Virginia,” they wrote. “We have always refused service to anyone for making our staff uncomfortable or unsafe and this was the driving force behind our decision.

“Many of our staff are women and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community,” the community wrote. ‘All of our staff are people with rights who deserve dignity and a safe work environment.” [emphasis mine]

So in other words, Metzger’s has now posted a sign on its door, stating bluntly “No religious individuals served here!”
» Read more

NOAA gives Maxar permission to photograph things in space

We’re here to help you! According to a Maxar press release today, it has obtained permission from the federal agency NOAA (initially created to study the weather) to use the company’s satellites to not only photograph things on Earth but things in space as well.

Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), provider of comprehensive space solutions and secure, precise, geospatial intelligence, today announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has modified Maxar’s remote sensing license to enable the non-Earth imaging (NEI) capability for its current constellation on orbit as well as its next-generation WorldView Legion satellites.

Through this new license authority, Maxar can collect and distribute images of space objects across the Low Earth Orbit (LEO)—the area ranging from 200 kilometers up to 1,000 kilometers in altitude—to both government and commercial customers. Maxar’s constellation is capable of imaging objects at less than 6 inch resolution at these altitudes, and it can also support tracking of objects across a much wider volume of space.

This new permit apparently will allow Maxar’s satellites to not only look down at the Earth, but look around and image other orbiting objects, for both the military and commercial customers.

My question however is this: By what legal authority does NOAA claim the right to regulate such activity? I can see none at all, yet like other regulatory agencies (such as the FCC) during this Biden administration, NOAA is grasping this illegal power, and companies like Maxar have decided it is better to go along to get along.

During the Trump administration NOAA tried to claim, without any legal authority, that it had the right to regulate all photography in space, and thus actually forced SpaceX during one Falcon 9 launch to cease public release of the imagery from its rocket.

Within three weeks Trump’s Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, stepped in bluntly to block NOAA’s power grab. As he said publicly, “This is silly and it will stop,”

Trump is gone however and the Biden administration is all in with letting government agencies expand their power. Though NOAA might have a some regulatory responsibility related to remote sensing in space, under no conditions can I see that responsibility giving it the right to tell any private American citizen or company what they can or cannot photograph.

I am of course assuming the first amendment to the Constitution is still in force. In today’s America it might not be.

The Middle East in Space

A space conference taking place this week in the United Arab Emirates has produced a number of somewhat intriguing stories, some indicating the growing the new colonial movement in space, and some marking the significant changes produced by the Abraham Accords, peace treaties negotiated and signed during the Trump administration between Israel and a number of Arab nations.

For example, Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, was invited to the conference to give a keynote speech, and he did so as part of a tour of several Arab countries, all of whom were Israel’s sworn enemies prior to the Abraham Accords.

In his address, Herzog touted Israel’s warming ties with Bahrain and the Emirates since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, and predicted a leap forward in space exploration. “I am very happy to be here and take part in this timely debate, under the auspices of my dear friend, President Mohammed bin Zayed. I have just arrived from Bahrain with my wife, Michal, where we conducted the first State Visit of an Israeli president in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and I am extremely grateful to His Majesty the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.”

It appears that, even though the Biden administration has done little to promote further Abraham Accord agreements, many powerful Arab nations of the Middle East are embracing these deals regardless, and thus the tensions in that war-torn region have been largely reduced as a result. Israel still has enemies there, but it now appears to have, at a minimum, neutral partners willing to peacefully work with it.

The conference has also produced additional space news from other Middle East countries.
» Read more

Ukrainian rocket startup targets ’23 for first launch

The new colonial movement: A Ukrainian rocket startup, Promin Aerospace, now expects to complete the first suborbital launch of a test rocket in 2023, despite the Russian invasion and its regular bombing the city of Dnipro, where the company is based.

On Feb. 22, two days before the Russian invasion, Rudominski sent the first batch of emails seeking seed investment. When the war started, Promin executives realized their investment plans would need to be put on hold while their focus shifted to the safety of employees, families and friends, plus support for Ukrainian defense and humanitarian relief efforts.

By early April, most employees were back working full time.

The company does not reveal its location out of fear of further Russian bombing.

As for its planned rocket launch, though it wishes to do the test from the Ukraine, it also has a deal with one of the new spaceports in Scotland and could launch from there if necessary.

Orion completes burn to send spacecraft back to Earth

NASA’s Orion capsule yesterday successfully fired its engines as it zipped past the Moon to send it on a trajectory back to Earth, with splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California scheduled for December 11, 2022.

Not all was hunky-dory, however. Prior to the burn a power unit shut down unexpectedly.

A power unit on board the Orion spacecraft turned off four devices “responsible for downstream power” that connect to the Artemis 1 vehicle’s propulsion and heating subsystems, NASA officials wrote in a statement. But mission personnel swiftly put a fix in place and the mission is carrying on, the statement emphasized. “Teams confirmed the system was healthy and successfully repowered the downstream components,” agency officials wrote in the statement, released late on Sunday. “There was no interruption of power to any critical systems, and there were no adverse effects to Orion’s navigation or communication.”

Engineers think the shut down was related to a test performed in connection with an earlier incident.

Regardless, all now appears well for that December 11nd splashdown.

Today’s blacklisted American: Pernicious anti-white bigotry controls the government in Seattle

Seattle: dedicated to segregation!
Seattle, controlled by Democrats and dedicated to the new segregation!

“Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Because of the continuous and never-ending racial bigotry that is now normal in Seattle and which eventually forced him from his city job, Joshua Diemert has sued for $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

You can read the lawsuit here [pdf].

The list of abuses against Diemert is beyond horrible. Simply because he is white he was forced to resign a supervisor position so that two unqualified minorities could replace him, was then denied later promotions, then investigated for no reason, and was later accused of being a genocidal Nazi while being forced to attend critical race theory classes that routinely labeled all whites as bigots. As only one small example, consider these details from his complaint:
» Read more

The uncertainties surrounding India’s proposed first manned mission

Link here. The article does a nice job of outlining the program, dubbed Gaganyaan, as well as the many issues that has caused the first launch to be delayed more than three years.

The key quote however is this:

Despite the government claiming that there would be no delays due to Covid, the first uncrewed flight was rescheduled from 2020 to 2021 and then again to 2022. The dates were once again revised to late 2023 or early 2024, announced Union minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh in September this year. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted claim is quite amusing, considering how India’s government space agency ISRO shut down entirely because of the Wuhan panic for more than two years, and remains somewhat dormant even now. As a result of that panic, ISRO lost almost its entire commercial market to American companies.

Read the entire article. It summarizes the state of Gaganyaan in good detail, which also implies that a first launch in ’24 remains questionable.

Pushback: Kroger must pay $180K to two Arkansas workers, fired for refusing to support the queer agenda

Kroger's rainbow heart apron

Bring a gun to a knife fight: To settle a lawsuit Kroeger has agreed to pay $180K to two Arkansas workers whom the company had fired when both asked to be excused from wearing company aprons that included a rainbow heart that they believed endorsed the queer agenda.

Workers at the store got the new uniforms in April 2019 that included a rainbow heart embroidered on the top left portion of the bib, according to court documents. Both of the workers believe the “literal interpretation of the Bible,” held “religious belief that homosexuality is a sin” and “sincerely believed the apron violated (their) religious beliefs,” according to the lawsuit.

One employee asked to wear their nametag over the logo. Another asked for a different apron. Both employees were fired within two months.

The image to the right shows an apron with this rainbow heart. While some suggest this heart has nothing to do with promoting homosexual rights, the company’s strong advocacy of the queer agenda says otherwise. From Kroger’s own website:
» Read more

FCC puts the squeeze on SpaceX’s Starlink

More than two years after SpaceX had first requested regulatory permission to launch its full 30,000 Starlink satellite constellation, FCC (under the Biden administration) has finally made a decision, and in doing so it has arbitrarily reduced the number of satellites SpaceX can launch to 7,500.

On November 29th, 2022, the FCC completed that review and granted SpaceX permission to launch just 7,500 of the ~30,000 Starlink Gen2 satellites it had requested permission for more than 30 months prior. The FCC offered no explanation of how it arrived at its arbitrary 75% reduction, nor why the resulting number is slightly lower than a different 7,518-satellite Starlink Gen1 constellation SpaceX had already received a license to deploy in late 2018. Adding insult to injury, the FCC repeatedly acknowledges that “the total number of satellites SpaceX is authorized to deploy is not increased by our action today, and in fact is slightly reduced.”

That claimed reduction is thanks to the fact that shortly before this decision, SpaceX told the FCC in good faith that it would voluntarily avoid launching the dedicated V-band Starlink constellation it already received a license for in order “to significantly reduce the total number of satellites ultimately on orbit.” Instead, once Starlink Gen2 was approved, it would request permission to add V-band payloads to a subset of the 29,988 planned Gen2 satellites, achieving a similar result without the need for another 7,518 satellites.

In response, the FCC slashed the total number of Starlink Gen2 satellites permitted to less than the number of satellites approved by the FCC’s November 2018 Starlink V-band authorization; limited those satellites to middle-ground orbits, entirely precluding Gen2 launches to higher or lower orbits; and didn’t even structure its compromise in a way that would at least allow SpaceX to fully complete three Starlink Gen2 ‘shells.’ Worse, the FCC’s partial grant barely mentioned SpaceX’s detailed plans to use new E-band antennas on Starlink Gen2 satellites and next-generation ground stations, simply stating that it will “defer acting on” the request until “further review and coordination with Federal users.”

Apparently, the FCC’s decision here was essentially a rubber-stamp of recommendations by Amazon, whose Kuiper constellation (so far entirely unlaunched) would be SpaceX’s direct competitor. In other words, the FCC is now taking sides against Starlink to favor its competitors.

Read the entire article. In every way this FCC decision smacks of politics, partly to help a Democratic ally (Jeff Bezos) and partly to hurt someone the Democrats now see as an enemy (Elon Musk).

Delays threaten Europa Clipper mission

A variety of issues delaying completion of the science instruments on the Europa Clipper mission are now threatening to prevent the spacecraft from meeting its 2024 launch date.

[W]ith less than two years to go before launch, only three of those instruments have been installed on the main spacecraft body, and five haven’t yet arrived at JPL.

Some context: Europa Clipper has been under development since 1997, though actual design work did not begin until 2013, nine years ago. It presently has a budget of $4.25 billion (more than double its first proposed budget of $2 billion). Yet now, less than years from launch, seven of ten instruments are behind schedule?

What is really disgusting about this story is that it is par for the course for NASA, which almost never finishes anything on time or on budget.

Orion fires engine, leaves lunar orbit

After firing its engines yesterday, NASA’s Orion spacecraft has left lunar orbit and begun a long looping route that will zip past the Moon and then head back to Earth.

The burn changed Orion’s velocity by about 454 feet per second and was performed using the Orion main engine on the European Service Module. The engine is an orbital maneuvering system engine modified for use on Orion and built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. The engine has the ability to provide 6,000 pounds of thrust. The proven engine flying on Artemis I flew on 19 space shuttle flights, beginning with STS-41G in October 1984 and ending with STS-112 in October 2002.

The burn is one of two maneuvers required ahead of Orion’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 11. The second will occur on Monday, Dec. 5, when the spacecraft will fly 79.2 miles above the lunar surface and perform the return powered flyby burn, which will commit Orion on its course toward Earth.

The spacecraft will splashdown on December 11, 2022, if all goes right.

Today’s blacklisted American: Princeton considering blacklisting John Witherspoon, Founding Father and signer of the Declaration of Independence

John Witherspoon: Target for cancellation
John Witherspoon: a target for cancellation

The modern dark age: Princeton University is now considering removing from its campus a statue of John Witherspoon, Founding Father, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the college’s sixth president, because some students have whined about the fact that in his life he also at one time owned two slaves.

A petition, started by three graduate students in the Philosophy Department, states that the “prominent place on campus of the John Witherspoon statue is inappropriate” and calls on the university to “remove it from its pedestal in Firestone Plaza.”

The petition asks that officials replace the statue with an informational plaque that reflects both the “positive and negative aspects of Witherspoon’s legacy.”

» Read more

Rogozin returns, playing a soldier in the Ukraine!

Dmitry Rogozin, about to go into battle!
Dmitry Rogozin, about to go into battle!

Fired from his job as head of Roscosmos and exiled to the Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozin has returned to the news! He was recently interviewed on Russian television, during which the broadcast showed clips of Rogozin getting a tour from Russian troops.

The screen capture to the left show Rogozin during that tour, dressed in military gear, though most of that gear is apparently Western in make, not Russian. Go Dmitry!

According to Antoly Zak, Rogozin during the interview promised that Russia will soon occupy Kiev, Vienna, Berlin and Budapest. As I say, go Dmitry!

Since Rogozin was sent to the Ukraine in July his work there has mirrored his “successes” at Roscosmos. At Roscosmos he was instrumental in ending Russia’s deal with OneWeb, costing Putin several billion dollars in launch income while destroying any chance for years of Russia getting any international rocket business. In the four-plus months since he arrived in the Ukraine, Russia has been on a steady retreat, losing vast areas it had previously conquered.

Hat tip to BtB’s stringer Jay, who says of Rogozin, “This guy is worse than Baghdad Bob!”

Soyuz-2 rocket launches Russian military satellite

Russia today successfully placed a military surveillance into orbit using its Soyuz-2 rocket, launching from its Plesetsk spaceport.

Like most launches from Plesetsk, the first stage and fairings landed in the interior of Russia, the drop zones in its far north.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

54 SpaceX
54 China
21 Russia
9 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 78 to 54 in the national rankings, but trails the entire world combined 85 to 78.

Musk’s success vs Trump’s failure

Elon Musk arrives at Twitter
Musk arrives at Twitter, ready to clean house

While the buzz about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has mostly focused on his effort to end censorship and the banning of conservatives, none of this constitutes his most important accomplishment there.

Yes, mandating freedom of speech at Twitter is a good thing. And yes, ending the banning of tens of thousands of conservative voices demonstrates Musk’s unwavering commitment to freedom and open debate.

However, it is his action to house-clean — to fearlessly remove from power the thugs and goons at Twitter who created these oppressive policies — that matters the most. By firing the Twitter apparatchiks who had installed that system of censorship and blacklisting, Musk has guaranteed that this censorship and blacklisting will not return easily to Twitter should his other business interests force him to pay less attention in the future.
» Read more

China completes construction of world’s largest solar radio telescope array

China has now completed the construction of world’s largest solar radio telescope array, dubbed the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT), made up of 313 separate radio dishes laid out in a giant two-mile wide circle.

DSRT is focused on observing solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which can interfere with or overload electronics and wreak havoc on and above Earth. CMEs are triggered by realignments in the star’s magnetic field that occur in sunspots, and when directed at Earth, can threaten power grids, telecommunications, orbiting satellites and even put the safety of astronauts aboard the International Space Station and China’s newly-completed Tiangong space station at risk.

Assuming China shares the data from this telescope with the rest of the world, it will function as a back-up to several very old NOAA satellites in orbit that NOAA has failed to replace. If China doesn’t share the data, however, the western world will become very vulnerable should its own satellites finally fail.

ESA’s commitment to launch Franklin rover to Mars by ’28 will require U.S. participation

The Europeans Space Agency’s decision to spend $725 million over the next six years to launch its Rosalind Franklin rover to Mars by 2028 will not only require the United Kingdom to develop a Mars lander, it will require U.S. participation that has not yet been secured, including the donation of a launch vehicle.

The mission’s launch this year was canceled when Russia invaded the Ukraine, thus ending all of its scientific partnerships with Europe.

The mission, now slated for launch in 2028, will primarily replace the Russian components with European ones, with several exceptions. “We have expectations that the U.S. will also contribute to this, with a launcher, a braking engine and the RHUs, the radioisotope heating units,” he said. “But the majority of the future ExoMars mission is European.”

The launch rocket will be the most expensive U.S. contribution, and to get NASA to pay for the launch will require something in return from ESA, most likely guaranteed research use of the Franklin rover by American planetary scientists. Such a deal is similar to what Europe has gotten with both Hubble and Webb, where ESA contributes something and its scientists get a percentage of guaranteed observation time.

With a rover such an arrangement is more complicated, however, which is probably why the deal is not yet settled.

China launches military satellites using Long March 2D rocket

China yesterday used its Long March 2D rocket to put, according to Space Force data, three military satellites into orbit, even though China’s state run press says only one satellite was launched.

The Chinese space industry (opens in new tab) and media reports (opens in new tab)suggest that the launch carried a single Yaogan 36 remote sensing satellite. However space tracking by the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron, which focuses on space domain awareness, registered three payloads in orbit in roughly 300-mile-altitude (500 km) orbits.

China’s previous two launches involving Yaogan 36 satellites also saw satellite triplets sent into orbit, meaning Sunday’s launch was a third group of three Yaogan 36 satellites.

China typically describes Yaogan satellites as being designed for uses including gathering scientific data, conducting land surveys and monitoring agriculture. However, the secrecy surrounding the satellites leads analysts outside of China to believe that the satellites also have military capabilities and stakeholders.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

54 SpaceX
54 China
20 Russia
9 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 78 to 54 in the national rankings, while trailing the entire world combined 84 to 78.

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