China completes two launches today

China today continued its normal fast pace of winter launches, launching twice from two different spaceports.

First, a Long March 2C rocket launched a communications satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest Sichuan Province. Then, a Long March 2D rocket launched three classified technology test satellites from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

As I noted in yesterday’s quick space links, the drop zones for both were in China. No word as yet on whether anything fell near habitable area.

At present the 2023 launch race consists entirely of China with four launches, and SpaceX with two.

The modern American blacklist culture is wide and deep, and will require a lot of dredging to clear

What some conservatives are going to have to face to bring liberty back to America
What some conservatives are going to have to face
to bring liberty back to America

A wise man once said that to beat your enemy you need to know him better than he knows himself. It is to this purpose I write this essay.

Even now, with blacklisting, censorship, and intolerance against dissent the normal standard held by our leftist elitist intellectual class, conservatives still assume naturally that anyone they meet anywhere, whether on the street, at their job, or among their family, are old-fashioned freedom-loving Americans who — whether they are Republicans or Democrats — will stand together for liberty wherever tyrants strike.

This assumption is 100% wrong, and it is why conservatives have been so steadily losing ground in the battle for freedom for decades. Blacklisting is now acceptable to a large percentage of Americans on the left. Censorship and violence against their opponents is okay, and is actually considered the right thing to do for many ordinary Democrats.

Just yesterday the Democrats themselves in Congress proved this point. When faced with a bill that simply condemned the more than hundred violent attacks against “pro-life facilities, groups, and churches” since the May 2, 2022 leak of the Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v Wade, 208 out of 211 Democrats voted against it.

The bill did not support the banning of abortion. All it demanded that Congress:
» Read more

German rocket startup signs deal with UK spaceport

Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), a German rocket startup, has signed a deal with the SaxaVord spaceport in the Shetland Islands of Scotland to fly its first launch from there later this year.

Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) has signed a multi-year deal with the SaxaVord spaceport, being built in Unst, for the first launch of its satellite-carrying rockets. After testing at the site in mid-2023, it hopes to launch to a 500km orbit by the end of the year.

Because of the failure of the Virgin Orbit launch from Cornwall earlier this week, the honor of being the first orbital launch from within the United Kingdom remains ungrabbed. Both SaxaVord and Spaceport Sutherland, also in Scotland but at a different location, are now competing for that honor. Both now have planned launches this year, assuming the Civil Aviation Authority of the UK can issue a permit in less than fifteen months.

Meanwhile, Rocket Factory is competing with two other German startups for the honor of being the first commercial private European rocket company to reach orbit.

China is planning 60-plus launches in 2023

According to an article today in China’s state-run press, China is planning 60-plus launches in 2023, matching approximately its launch rate in 2022.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is expected to have more than 50 launches, and other Chinese space enterprises will have more than 10 launches.

If this number is accurate, it suggests a slowdown in activity by the many pseudo-companies that the Chinese government has allowed to form to compete for government and commercial business. Two years ago it appeared that these companies were launching at a faster rate, even many of those launches were failures.

Russia and Europe negotiating return of rockets and satellites

Russia and Europe have begun negotiations concerning the return of the various rockets and satellites that were left stranded in both countries when Russia invaded the Ukraine and all cooperative international agreements between the two entities broke off.

[I]n January 2023, an industry source told that Arianespace representatives were exploring a potential deal with Roskosmos on the exchange of Soyuz rocket components stranded in French Guiana for a group of 36 OneWeb satellites stuck in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after the aborted 14th launch for the Internet constellation. The satellites were held at the Russian-controlled facility in Kazakhstan per the order by Rogozin, but the newly appointed head of the Roskosmos State Corporation Yuri Borisov was reportedly opened to negotiations on their fate.

There are many obstacles blocking this deal, the biggest being the on going war itself. It will be necessary to engineers to both places to facilitate the return, and the war right now makes that difficult if not impossible.

Ironically, Russia is likely in more need of this deal than Europe. OneWeb of course wants its satellites back, but it can replace them. Russia it appears is having trouble building complex things like rockets, and needs these rockets and components to replace components it no longer can get in the west.

Saudi Arabia withdraws from Moon Treaty

On January 5, 2023, Saudi Arabia submitted its official withdrawal [pdf] from Moon Treaty, to be effective one year later.

The 1979 Moon Treaty is not the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which almost all space-faring nations have signed. The Moon Treaty has been signed by almost no one because its language literally forbids private ownership.

In a sense, the Artemis Accords, which Saudi Arabia recently signed, is in direct conflict with the Moon Treaty, and no nation can really honor both. The Artemis Accords were designed by the Trump administration to get around the less stringent restrictions on private enterprise imposed by the Outer Space Treaty. That it has encouraged the Saudis to leave the Moon Treaty, however, suggests that the Artemis Accords might eventually cause a major abandonment of the Outer Space Treaty as well. To withdraw from such treaties up until now has been considered taboo. Saudi Arabia might have broken that spell.

If so, this action by the Saudis could be the best news for the future exploration and settlement of the solar system that has occurred in years, even more significant than that first vertical landing of a Falcon 9 rocket. It might finally force a major revision in the Outer Space Treaty so that each nation’s laws can be applied to its own colonies.

World View gets new lease from Pima County

Because the original lease was ruled unconstitutional under the Arizona state constitution, Pima County yesterday approved a new lease for the high altitude balloon company World View.

The original deal had the county build the building. World View would lease it for 20 years, guarantee employment of 400 people, and then buy the facility for $10 at the end of the lease. This was ruled unconstitutional.

Lesher said [the new lease] will give the county more flexibility and a safeguard when it comes to those terms and they’ll be able to base the appraisal price on a percentage of the fair market value. Another big change – the employee benchmark has been significantly lowered. In the original contract, World View was required to hire 400 workers, now that’s down to 125.

Until more details are provided, it is unclear what has changed to make the new deal acceptable to the courts. I suspect the big change is that World View will not have an option to buy for $10.

Leaking Soyuz to return empty; Unmanned Soyuz to be launched to replace it

The Russians announced today the plan to deal with the leaking Soyuz capsule on ISS as well as provide transportation back to Earth for its three astronauts.

First, the damaged Soyuz will return empty to Earth. Second, the next Soyuz will be launched in February unmanned so that it can bring back all three astronauts. Their mission however will likely be extended. Instead of returning in March as planned, they will stay in orbit until September, when that capsule was originally going to return to Earth. If this happens, it means their flight will end up being about a full year long. For the American in that crew, Frank Rubio, this could mean he will set a new American record for the longest spaceflight.

The Russians also added these details about the puncture in the Soyuz, which is believed to have been caused by a meteor:

According to calculations, a hole in the instrument compartment of the spacecraft, observed with a camera of the American ISS Segment, could be caused by a one-millimeter particle striking the vehicle with a speed of around 7,000 meters per second. Borisov also said that a possibility of a manufacturing defect in the radiator system of Soyuz MS-22 had also been evaluated but had not been confirmed.

Virgin Orbit launch a failure today from Cornwall, Great Britain

Five minutes after I posted the information below, Virgin Orbit’s announcer came on to announce that LauncherOne had suffered “an anomaly” and would not successfully place the satellites in orbit.

The failure must have occurred during a later stage after the rocket was released and was preparing for the second engine burn of its upper stage. They have ended the live stream without providing a further update, which is not surprising considering the data that needs to be analyzed.

Original post:
Virgin Orbit today successfully completed the first orbital launch ever the United Kingdom, taking off from a runway in Cornwall, Great Britain, and then releasing its LaunchOne rocket from the bottom of a 747.

All in all 9 satellites were launched. This was Virgin Orbit’s fifth successful commercial launch, and hopefully will open a 2023 whereby the company will makeup for six months of bureaucratic red tape that essentially blocked about six launches last year. As of this writing the satellites have not yet deployed.

The 2023 launch race:

2 China
1 SpaceX

Two SpaceX launches coming later this evening.

Steady decline for decades in the publication of “disruptive science”

The steady decline in the publication of disruptive science

Though their definition of what makes a science paper disruptive is open to debate, a review of millions of peer-reviewed papers published since the end of World War II has shown a steady decline in such papers, as if scientists are increasingly unwilling or unable to think outside the box.

The graph to the right comes from this research.

The authors reasoned that if a study was highly disruptive, subsequent research would be less likely to cite the study’s references, and instead cite the study itself. Using the citation data from 45 million manuscripts and 3.9 million patents, the researchers calculated a measure of disruptiveness, called the ‘CD index’, in which values ranged from –1 for the least disruptive work to 1 for the most disruptive.

The average CD index declined by more than 90% between 1945 and 2010 for research manuscripts, and by more than 78% from 1980 to 2010 for patents. Disruptiveness declined in all of the analysed research fields and patent types, even when factoring in potential differences in factors such as citation practices.

The authors also analysed the most common verbs used in manuscripts and found that whereas research in the 1950s was more likely to use words evoking creation or discovery such as ‘produce’ or ‘determine’, that done in the 2010s was more likely to refer to incremental progress, using terms such as ‘improve’ or ‘enhance’.

The article that I link to above is from Nature, so of course it can’t see the elephant in the room, citing as a possible explanation “changes in the scientific enterprise” where most scientists today work as teams rather than alone.

I say, when you increasingly have big government money involved in research, following World War II, it becomes more and more difficult to buck the popular trends. Tie that to the growing blacklist culture that now destroys the career of any scientist who dares to say something even slightly different, and no one should be surprised originality is declining in scientific research. The culture will no longer tolerate it. You will tow the line, or you will be gone. Scientists are thus towing the line.

To my readers: I had intended to include this paper as part of a larger essay about the general blacklist culture that now dominates American society, but my continuing health issues make it difficult to sit at my desk for long periods. I hope to have things under control in the next few days, but until then my posting is going to continue to be limited.

Decision on leaking Soyuz and its replacement to be made by Russia on January 11th

According to Russian space reporter Anthony Zak, Russia now says it will make its final decision on replacing the leaking manned Soyuz capsule on ISS January 11. Zak added this:

According to unofficial reports, the damaged spacecraft would return to Earth without crew, while the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft would be launched in February 2023 piloted by a single cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. His crew mates Nikolai Chub and Andrei Fedyaev would remain on the ground to free return seats for the two Russian members of the stranded Soyuz MS-22 crew. NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who also traveled to the ISS on Soyuz MS-22, would return to Earth aboard a US Dragon vehicle, according to that scenario. On Jan. 9, 2023, Roskosmos denied that such a plan had been approved.

I have strong doubts about these “unofficial reports.” First, there would be no reason to fly the Soyuz manned, as it can do everything automatically, just like a Progress freighter. Second, there are serious safety issues about flying Rubio home as an extra passenger on Dragon. More likely someone in Russia wants to tweak some noses by suggesting Russia considers its own astronauts more valuable than the American.

Expect Russia to announce that the new Soyuz will arrive unmanned in February, and bring all three men home.

China launches twice today to start its 2023 year

China today launched twice with two different rockets from two different spaceports.

First, a Long March 7 rocket took off from its coast Wenchang spaceport, placing three satellites into orbit. Few details were released about the satellites, other than they were being used for various tests of new technology.

Second, the Chinese pseudo-company Galactic Energy used its military-derived solid fueled Ceres-1 rocket to place five smallsats into orbit from China’s interior Jiuquan spaceport. Once again, little information was released about the satellites.

At this moment China leads SpaceX 2 to 1 in the 2023 launch race. However, there are three more U.S. launches planned for today. First Virgin Orbit hopes to finally launch from Cornwall. You can watch the broadcast here.

Then SpaceX has two launches from opposite coasts within an hour, first launching a batch of Starlink satellites from Vandenberg at 9:15 pm (Pacific), then following with a launch from Kennedy of a batch of OneWeb satellites.

General Atomics wins Air Force contract to build technology test lunar satellite

General Atomics yesterday announced that it has been awarded an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contract to build a satellite to test a variety of technologies in near lunar space.

The AFRL Oracle spacecraft program is intended to demonstrate advanced techniques to detect and track objects in the region near the Moon that cannot be viewed optically from the Earth or from satellites in traditional orbits such as geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO). The anticipated launch date for the Oracle spacecraft is late 2025.

While this is good business for General Atomics, the company is not selling its product to the Air Force, but building what the Air Force wants, making the spacecraft government owned. This is how the space industry functioned in the United States for almost a half century after Apollo, generally accomplishing little for great cost. Much better in the long run if the military bought this kind of product from private companies, who developed it for profit and for sale not just to the military.

Private lunar rover to fly on private lunar lander

Yaoki deployed from Nova-C
Yaoki deployed from Nova-C

The Japanese based robot company Dymon has now purchased payload space on Intuitive Machines second lunar lander, Nova-C, in order to fly its own lunar rover, dubbed Yaoki, to the Moon.

Yaoki is expected to be flown to the lunar south pole on board Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander in the second half of 2023. After landing, Yaoki is expected to deploy from Nova-C to demonstrate Dymon’s lunar mobility technology designed by its Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Shin-ichiro Nakajima.

The agreement with Dymon leverages Intuitive Machines’ Lunar Access Services and Lunar Data Services business segments to land the Yaoki rover on the Moon and control it via secure lunar communications.

The main passenger on this mission is NASA, but Inituitive Machines is free to make money by selling payload space to others. The graphic, from the press release, is intriguing, as it does not show how the rover will be deployed.

Virgin Orbit’s launch from Cornwall finally scheduled for January 9th

The first orbital launch from the United Kingdom has finally been scheduled, with Virgin Orbit’s 747 taking off from an airport in Cornwall on January 9, 2023 and carrying its LauncherOne rocket with 9 satellites.

Monday’s mission opportunity has been purchased by the US National Reconnaissance Office and is being used to advance a number of satellite technologies of security and defence interest to both the American and British governments. But there are also civil applications being taken up on the flight – and a number of firsts, such as the first satellite built in Wales and the first satellite for the Sultanate of Oman.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority [CAA], which regulates commercial spaceflight in the UK, said on Thursday that all nine spacecraft on the manifest had now been licensed. Virgin and Spaceport Cornwall received their launch licences before Christmas.

The launch was originally planned for sometime in the summer, but delays in obtaining the launch permits from the CAA pushed it back a half year. That unexpected and unnecessary delay now threatens the very existence of Virgin Orbit, as the company could do no other launches as it waited and thus earned nothing.

Virgin Orbit completes $37 million stock sale

It appears that Virgin Orbit has just completed a $37 million sale of new common stock, valued at $0.0001 per share, and equal to about 10% of the company.

Hat tip to stringer Jay, who writes, “To me, it is like V.O. is printing money. They have already lost most of the value of the original stock, they are losing about $20 million a quarter, and they just raised $37M.”

Virgin Orbit had planned in 2022 about eight launches. It completed two, and then got blocked by the UK bureaucracy, completing no more launches for the rest of year while it waited months for permits to launch from Cornwall. During that time it could not launch its other customers because it only had one 747 in its fleet to launch its rocket.

No launches means no income. To keep the company afloat Branson has had his larger company Virgin Group transfer first $25 million and then another $20 million to Virgin Orbit. This stock sale appears to be another effort to keep Virgin Orbit above water.

The endless and unexpected delays getting permits to launch from Cornwall now suggests that some people in the UK government might not like Branson, and took this opportunity to sabotage him. Pure speculation I know, but not beyond the realm of possibility.

Cornell confirms its plan to punish students for disrupting Coulter speech

The modern dark age: Only days after a speech by Ann Coulter on November 9, 2022 at Cornell University was disrupted by protesters, the president of Cornell University, Martha Pollack, apparently confirmed the university’s stated public intention to punish the students involved.

Pollack confirmed during a Nov. 15 assembly meeting that the students, who were warned and escorted from the event for preventing Coulter from speaking, would be referred to the Office of Student Conduct” who would then assign “punishments.”

“I will just be honest, I think this was a really stupid move,” Pollack said of the protest in an audio recording obtained by The Cornell Review. “Ann Coulter’s basically irrelevant at this point… and this is exactly what she wanted.”

If you click on the link to the audio recording and go to 18:22, you can hear the question and Pollack’s answer. It is very clear that both she and the questioner want to support free speech and wish to prevent future such disruptions from silencing speakers at Cornell. As Pollack states:
» Read more

Voyager signs deal with Airbus to build its private space station

Voyager Space, the division of Nanoracks that has a contract with NASA for building one of four private space stations, has now signed a deal with Airbus, which will provide Voyager additional technical support.

It appears this deal is going to give Europe access to at least one of those American stations, once ISS is gone.

“We are proud to partner with Airbus Defence and Space to bring Starlab to life. Our vision is to create the most accessible infrastructure in space to serve the scientific community,” said Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Voyager Space. “This partnership is unique in that it engages international partners in the Commercial Destinations Free-Flyer program. Working with Airbus we will expand Starlab’s ecosystem to serve the European Space Agency (ESA) and its member state space agencies to continue their microgravity research in LEO.”

Unlike ISS, where profit was not a motive, Voyager has to make money on its Starlab space station. If Europe wants in, it needs to provide Voyager something, and this deal is apparently part of that contribution. I also suspect that high level negotiations occurred within NASA, ESA, and Voyager to make this deal happen so that Europe would continue to have access to at least one of the American stations.

Updates on India’s space effort

It appears that India’s effort in space is evolving rapidly, based on several news stories today.

First, the Indian space agency ISRO signed a deal with Microsoft, whereby the software giant will provide support to private Indian space start-ups.

As part of a memorandum of understanding that Microsoft has signed with the Indian Space Research Organization, the firm will also provide space tech startups with go-to-market support and help them become enterprise ready, it said.

Startups handpicked by ISRO will be onboarded to Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub platform, where they will receive free access to several tools and resources. These tools include help with building and scaling on Azure, as well as GitHub Enterprise, Visual Studio Enterprise, Microsoft 365 and Power BI and Dynamics 365. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted phrase indicates once again that there is an aggressive turf war going on in India about who will control the aerospace industry. Similar to the battles that occurred at NASA in the 00s and 10s, there are people within ISRO who do not wish to cede their power to an independent private industry, and are doing whatever they can to block the Modi government’s effort to create such an independent industry.

In the end, as long as Modi government stands firm, this effort will fail. Private companies will increasingly succeed, and that success will feed the transition from a government-run industry to an independent and competitive one.

In other stories from India:
» Read more

Backlash against MIT’s blacklisting of teacher forces it to adopt Free Speech Resolution

MIT: unsure of its support of free speech

Today’s blacklist story is really a follow-up on an earlier story from November 2021. At that time MIT had cowardly bowed to the demands of the intolerant left and cancelled a lecture on planetary science by a planetary scientist, Dorian Abbott, merely because Abbott had also posted videos on line advocating the radical idea of free speech.

This action by MIT however did not go unnoticed, and in fact produced an aggressive backlash from both alumni and faculty members. The alumni withdrew their financial support to the school, while a group of 73 faculty members signed a letter demanding the school support free speech.

The faculty suggest[ed] the adoption of the Chicago Statement, which states, in part: “[T]he University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn,” and that “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

Out of this effort the MIT Free Speech Alliance was formed, aimed at forcing these changes at MIT.

Now, less than two months later, it appears that this effort has borne fruit. » Read more

January 3, 2023 Quick space links

Courtesy of BtB’s stringer, who trolls the web to make sure I don’t miss any important stories.

  • Astronaut Walt Cunningham has passed away
  • Cunningham only flew in space once, on Apollo 7, the first shakedown flight of the Apollo capsule in October 1968. The flight lasted ten days, had no technical problems at all, though all three astronauts caught colds. Its success paved the way for the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon two months later.



  • The trailer for the Russian sci-fi movie, The Challenge, that was partly filmed on ISS last year, has now been released
  • It is very clear that they got a lot of good footage when they were on ISS. It is a shame however that this trailer doesn’t have English subtitles, because I think it probably could make some money from American filmgoers.

Pushback: Court denies school principal immunity from lawsuit for squelching free speech

Caroline Garrett
Former school principal Caroline Garrett

Pushback: A federal appeals court last week ruled that Caroline Garrett, the former principal of Wy’east Middle School in Portland, Oregon, does not have immunity from a lawsuit by a teacher, Eric Dodge, whom she threatened to punish for bringing a MAGA hat to several training sessions.

At the first training session with 60 participants, “fewer than five people complained, including the first presenter who was not a District employee,” and all trainings were completed without incident, according to the court records. “Clinton, Reagan, and Trump appointees coming together to affirm the First Amendment,” lawyer Gregory Conley tweeted in response to the ruling, referring to the panel of judges.

According to the court’s official ruling [pdf], Garrett threatened to punish Dodge if he brought the hat into school again:
» Read more

Rocketry went BOOM! in 2022, but in a good way

In my 2021 annual report on the global launch industry, I noted that while 2021 was a banner year for the global launch industry:

Not all is sweetness and light of course. Competition and freedom always includes risk. Some of these new companies will certainly fail. The demand for launch services might not be enough to sustain them all. And factors outside the control of anyone, such as war and further panics like the Wuhan panic, could shut them all down.

In 2022 the launch industry not only topped 2021, setting a new record for successful launches in a single year, the industry was reshaped and changed by the very factors I warned about one year ago. The Russian invasion of the Ukraine resulted in Russia losing its one remaining satellite customer from the west, OneWeb, while the challenges of rocketry caused one already successful launch company, Astra, to suspend its launch services in order to develop a more competitive rocket.

Nonetheless, 2022 remained the most successful year ever in rocketry, smashing the record for successful launches in a single year, set the previous year, by more than 33%. The graph below illustrates well the unprecedented success of 2022.
» Read more

Hakuto-R successfully completes second mid-course correction

Lunar map showing Hakuto-R's landing spot
Hakuto-R’s planned landing site is in Atlas Crater.

According to Ispace, the private lunar lander company based in Japan, its Hakuto-R lander has now successfully completed second mid-course correction, and is functioning as expected on its way to the Moon.

The maneuver was carried out shortly after midnight on Jan. 2, 2023 (Japan Standard Time) and operations were managed from ispace’s mission control center located in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. This orbital control maneuver is the second maneuver to occur while the lander has been traveling to the moon. The first orbital control maneuver was completed on December 15, 2022. The second maneuver was carried out at a greater distance from Earth and lasted for a longer period than the first maneuver, verifying the company’s capability to carry out orbital maneuvers under various conditions.

As of Jan. 2, 2023, the lander has traveled approximately 1.24 million kilometers from the Earth and is scheduled to be at its farthest point of approximately 1.4 million km from the Earth by Jan. 20, 2023. Once the lander reaches its farthest point from Earth, a third orbital control maneuver may be performed, depending on its navigational status.

While Hakuto-R carries a number of commercial payloads — including Rashid, the first lunar rover built by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — its primary goal is engineering. Ispace is using this mission to demonstrate its ability as a company to do this, in anticipation of later commercial planetary missions.

Pushback: University eliminates “bias reporting” option that allowed any student to anonymously squelch dissent

An afterthought at Southern Utah University
An afterthought at Southern Utah University

Bring a gun to a knife fight: After receiving a threat of legal action [pdf] for violating the first amendment rights of its students, South Utah University (SUU) eliminated a “bias reporting” option on its website that allowed any student to anonymously squelch dissent, simply because he or she did not like what the other person said.

Southern Utah University (SUU) removed a tab from its campus safety website where students and officials could report alleged “bias” or “hate” incidents after the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF), a non-profit legal group, challenged that it violates students’ rights to free speech, SLF confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
» Read more

Philippines issues warning about Chinese rocket debris from launch

Flight path of Long March 3B
Click for full resolution image.

UPDATE: A tweet from China shows that the strap-on boosters of this rocket crashed near homes in China, though no one was hurt.

Original post:
The Philippine government issued a statement yesterday warning the public about possible debris from the December 29th launch by China of its Long March 3B rocket.

The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is recommending precautionary measures related to expected unburned debris from the Long March 3B rocket scheduled for launch today between 12:33 PM and 01:10 PM Philippine time from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Xichang, Sichuan Province, China. Upon confirmation of planned launch dates, PhilSA immediately issued an advisory to all relevant government agencies on the estimated drop zone area and proposed the issuance of appropriate warnings on air and marine access.

Based on the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), expected unburned debris, such as the rocket boosters and payload fairing, is projected to fall within a drop zone area located within the vicinity of Recto bank, approximately 137 kilometers from Ayungin Shoal and 200 kilometers from Quezon, Palawan. The unburned debris is designed to be discarded as the rocket enters outer space. While not projected to fall on land features or inhabited areas within the Philippine territory, falling debris poses danger and potential risk to ships, aircraft, fishing boats, and other vessels that will pass through the drop zone.

Though the drop zone avoided inhabited areas, it included regions where fisherman worked, and the flight path still flew over inhabited areas. The risk was extremely low, but it appears China also made no effort prior to launch to coordinate this situation with other governments, such as the Philippines. Its warning apparently arrived just before launch. Thus, there was risk that Filipino fisherman were in the drop zone at launch.

South Korea test flies a solid-fueled missile

South Korea has successfully completed the second test flight of a solid-fueled missile.

The test came after North Korea claimed earlier this month to have staged a test of a “high-thrust, solid-fuel” rocket motor to develop a “new-type” strategic weapon system.

…In March, the state-run Agency for Defense Development carried out the first test of an indigenous solid-fuel space rocket at a testing site in Taean, 150 kilometers southwest of Seoul, to confirm its capabilities.

The rocket is designed to put a small satellite into a low Earth orbit for surveillance operations. Compared with liquid-fuel space vehicles, solid-fuel ones are known to be usually simpler and more cost-effective to launch.

South Korea might claim this rocket is intended for launching smallsats, but its main purpose almost certainly is as a military missile to counter the missile program of North Korea that has accelerated since Joe Biden became president.

Pushback: Catholics sue Michigan for imposing queers and the queer agenda in religious schools

Repealed in Michigan
Doesn’t exist any longer in Michigan

Bring a gun to a knife fight: A century-old Catholic parish based in Grand Rapids, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, is suing Michigan preemptively, anticipating that the state will soon require it to hire queers as well as teach the queer agenda in its school, based on the state’s very broad Civil Rights Act that forbids any discrimination based on sex.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently reinterpreted the prohibition on sex discrimination in Michigan’s Civil Rights Act and penal code to include sexual orientation and gender identity. That change requires Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and its school, Sacred Heart Academy, to hire faculty and staff who lead lives in direct opposition to the Catholic faith, speak messages that violate Church doctrine, and refrain from articulating Catholic beliefs in teaching its students and when advertising the school to prospective students or job applicants.

Additionally, by preventing Sacred Heart from operating its school consistent with its beliefs, state officials are violating the rights of parents—including the three families who have joined the lawsuit—who specifically chose to send their children to Sacred Heart Academy because the school aligns with their values and religious beliefs.

You can read the lawsuit here [pdf]. It notes in detail the hostility to the Catholic Church by the Attorney General of Michigan, Democrat Dana Nessel, who appears eager to use the law to deny all Catholics their first amendment rights.
» Read more

China to build giant ground-based optical telescope

China has announced its plan to build ground-based multi-segmented optical telescope, similar in design to the 10-meter Keck Telescope in Hawaii.

Peking University wants to build the largest optical telescope in Asia and close the gap in astronomy capabilities with the rest of the world.

The project aims to create an initial telescope with an aperture of 19.7 feet (6 meters) by 2024; the mirror will be expanded to 26.2 feet (8 m) by 2030. The project, which in English is called the Expanding Aperture Segmented Telescope (EAST), is being led by Peking University.

Like Keck, the primary mirror would be made of smaller segments, fitted together to create the larger mirror. While not as large as Keck, EAST would be among the largest in the world.

Royal Astronomical Society ends blacklisting of James Webb

That’s nice of them: The Royal Astronomical Society in Britain last week announced that it has ended its blacklisting of James Webb, the man who headed NASA during the 1960s space race, by once again permitting writers of science papers for its Monthly Notices journal to use the full name of the James Webb Space Telescope.

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) previously criticized NASA for not immediately addressing concerns that Webb persecuted queer employees; the NASA-led James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) that launched in December 2021 is named after him. But with new information to hand suggesting Webb played no direct role in these issues, Webb’s name can now reappear in scientific papers, the RAS stated Dec. 22.

“The RAS will now allow authors submitting scientific papers to its journals to use either ‘James Webb Space Telescope’ or the acronym ‘JWST’ to refer to the observatory,” RAS officials wrote. The major journals of the RAS include the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), one of the top astronomical journals worldwide.

The society backed off from its position after NASA published a long detailed report documenting the utter falsehood of the claim. Too bad this so-called science organization didn’t consider the evidence itself before issuing its blacklist order. One would think scientists above all would consider evidence, not undocumented slanders, as essential before condemning a person.

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