Jewish pro-Trump convoy attacked repeatedly in New York

They’re coming for you next: A pro-Trump convoy of Jewish New Yorkers was attacked repeatedly by hostile anti-Trump protesters during its trip through the city today.

Multiple disturbing video clips of the convoy posted on @NYScanner show crowds not taking too kindly to rows of vehicles with hoisted Trump 2020 flags. In one video, a man can be seen appearing to throw eggs at the convoy in Brooklyn. In another video, pedestrians can be seen appearing to throw rocks at vehicles displaying a Trump flag.

The hostility evidently lingered throughout the day. In multiple clips, people can be heard yelling expletives at the “Jews For Trump” participants.

One man – on a bike, no less – appears so incensed that the “pro-Trump” vehicles have congested traffic on the Brooklyn that he resorts to punching a window. In Manhattan, a woman was arrested for allegedly using pepper spray on the convoy, according to police.

Later, a scuffle broke out between the pro- and anti-Trump crowd in the middle of a street. Masked protesters could be seen in one clip converging on a vehicle doused in red paint as “YMCA” is blasting in the background.

“Go home! We don’t you here!” somebody in the crowd shouts. “Go back to Long Island!” another person shouts.

A video posted on Twitter shows a pro-Trump caravan led by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani shows being pelted with eggs.

The worst story was the lead attack at the link. A family of seven, including four children, were pepper-sprayed when another car pulled up beside their Trump-festooned vehicle and sprayed them through the open windows.

This is supposed to be America, the land of free speech and free debate, where your right to express your political beliefs are defended by all. Sadly, for the left and those on the side of the Democratic Party, such tolerance is no longer acceptable. Instead, they celebrate storm-trooper tactics against all who disagree with them.

I hope everyone remembers this when they vote. Remember, they’re coming for you next.

Russia launches new GPS-type satellite

Russia today successfully launched another one of its GPS-type Glonass satillites, using its Soyuz-2 rocket lifting off from its Plesetsk spaceport.

This was the first launch of this type of satellite in more than five years due to an inability to get parts because of U.S. sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In response, the Russian government instituted an export-replacement program aimed at providing indigenously produced electronics for the nation’s industries. The effort was complicated by the need in some cases to build entire factories virtually from scratch.

Around 2016, ISS Reshetnev, the prime developer of GLONASS satellites, began re-designing the GLONASS-K variant for the Russian-built components. It is unclear to what extent the original GLONASS-K series relied on foreign components, but the new batch of spacecraft did not come out of assembly until the end of the 2010s.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

26 China
18 SpaceX
12 Russia
4 ULA
4 Europe

The U.S. continues to lead China 28 to 26 in the national rankings.

Rogozin shakes up Vostochny management, again

The head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, has reprimanded two and fired one high level managers running the construction of the new Vostochny spaceport in Russia’s far east.

Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin trekked out to the Amur Region in Russia’s Far East on Friday to check on how construction is proceeding at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. The answer was apparently, not real well. “Following the results of hearing reports at a production meeting at the Vostochny cosmodrome, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin reprimanded Andrei Okhlopkov, Director General of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities, and Vladimir Zhuk, TsENKI Chief Engineer,” Roscosmos said in a press release.

“Prior to that, by decision of Dmitry Rogozin, Evgeny Rogoza, General Director of the Vostochny Cosmodrome Directorate, was fired,” the document said.

The article then outlines the slow pace of development at Vostochny over the last few years.

This is not the first time Russia has shaken up the Vostochny management. Early shake-ups had included arrests and prosecutions due to corruption. None have apparently succeeded in speeding up development of this giant government-run project that in many ways reminds me of NASA’s SLS/Orion project. The delays are really a feature, not a bug, as the Russian government mostly wants to be able to claim it has created jobs, and really doesn’t care too much if they actually accomplish anything.

Eventually Vostochny will become operational. I have great doubts it will ever act to make Russia once again competitive in the international launch market.

Why Do Stupid People Not Realize They Are Stupid?

A bonus second evening pause: Considering some of the foolishness being imposed on free Americans by clearly stupid politicians, their minions in various government bureaucracies, and much of the mainstream media (as illustrated by tonight’s first satirical evening pause), I thought it worthwhile to post this short video, explaining the Dunning Kruger effect. I also thought it especially worthwhile to post, prior to the election.

The solution for everyone, no matter your intelligence, is to be humble, to always consider the possibility you could be wrong. Do that, and you will take the first step in recognizing when you do stupid things.

US sets new record of COVID-19 cases in one day

O no! We’re all gonna die! The United States yesterday set a new record of 77,770 new COVID-19 cases detected in one day.

Thursday’s numbers — 77,640 new cases — eclipsed the previous record set on July 29, when 75,723 new cases were reported, according to a tally by NBC News.

A total of 921 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported on Thursday. [emphasis mine]

I highlight the number of deaths to make the same point I have made repeatedly. Less than a thousand deaths with so many cases demonstrates again how this virus is relatively harmless to practically everyone who gets it. I am quite sure that of those 921 deaths, almost all were over seventy, and all were saddled with other very serious chronic illnesses that even without COVID-19, were on the verge of killing them.

Also, 921 deaths out of 77,770 cases calculates as a death rate of 1.2%. While this is much higher than the flu’s normal death rate of 0.1%, it almost certainly includes almost all flu deaths this year, since the CDC records practically none, something that is just not creditable. Moreover, there is ample evidence that the number of deaths that have been assigned to the coronavirus has been inflated, at least as much as 25%, so that higher number is certainly an overstatement. Moreover, it includes the epidemic’s earlier period, when the virus was more lethal and doctors were struggling to learn how to treat it properly.

To sum up, COVID-19 is merely a variation of the flu. It is weakening in strength. And it never was the plague our fear-mongering political class was claiming it to be.

Sadly, the story above does the same as all mainstream stories about COVID-19. It fails to mention these basic facts, and instead focuses on the increase in cases, as if that increase means millions more will die. It is all a lie, and disgraceful for anyone in a civilized society to do it.

But then, there are a lot of journalists today who have no self-respect, and are quite willing to do many disgraceful things for partisan and emotional reasons, rather than do their jobs properly.

Sudan joins UAE and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel

The Trump administration’s successes in the Middle East continue: Sudan is apparently about to join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain as the first Arab countries in decades to normalize its relations with Israel.

Moreover, there are rumors than another five more Arab countries are about to join in. They are probably holding back to see what happens on November 3rd. Expect a swarm of new agreements should Trump win.

This deal, along with the one with the UAE and Bahrain, are the direct result of Trump’s hard-nosed policies against the terrorist organizations running the Palestinian territories adjacent to Israel. Unlike past presidents from both parties since the first Bush, Trump has made no effort to pander to either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Instead, he has cut off their funding. He has also recognized the real strategic landscape in the Middle East, divided between Iran and its terrorist surrogates in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and every other Arab nation, and used that divide to gain allies.

During the 2016 campaign, he promised to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, just as practically every presidential candidate had promised since the mid-1990s. Unlike all those other liars, Trump kept that promise. He however also reshaped U.S. Middle East policy in fundamental ways, as described above, and thus has achieved real progress. Voters must remember this when they vote.

Space officials, from in and out of NASA, meet to plan Biden administration space policy

A group of senior space officials from both inside and outside of NASA held a closed door “war game” on October 20th, designed to plan out what they thought should be the space policy of the Biden administration.

About a dozen officials participated. Attendees included two former astronauts, Charlie Bolden and Pam Melroy, who have worked in space policy since their retirements. Bolden was NASA administrator under President Obama. Also participating were two former senior NASA officials—Mike French, chief of staff under Bolden, and Doug Loverro, a chief of human spaceflight for the Trump administration. Loverro was forced to step down in February and is now under investigation for improper contact with Boeing. The meeting also had participation from industry, including entrepreneur Rick Tumlinson and Marc Berkowitz of Lockheed Martin.

They claim that this is not at the behest of the Biden campaign, but what I see is a group of high-level bureaucrats from Washington gathering together to plan space policy strategy for Biden, with the expectation that should he win they will be well placed to inaugurate his policy for him.

The article did not name all the participants, but if any are presently working in the Trump administration or in NASA their participation in this “war game” was highly inappropriate. It is not their place to set policy, only to implement the policy determined by the elected president now in office.

Should Trump win on November 3rd, the attendance list of participants will thus provide a good guide on who not to hire, as well as who to fire should Trump’s new looser policy on hiring and firing take effect. These individuals have now signaled their partisan loyalties, and it isn’t with Trump or the Republicans. If any are part of his administration now they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, likely acting against his interests when no one is looking.

On this topic, I just bought this book “The Memo: 20 Years Inside the Deep State Fighting for America First,” based on this review, which states:

Higgins’ new book, “The Memo: 20 Years Inside the Deep State Fighting for America First,” is an eye-opening and unique book for a political memoir. It is not heavy on political wonkiness, policymaking stratagems, and personal vendettas typical of Washington, DC tell-alls. It is a refreshingly direct tale of a talented young man’s rise from the enlisted ranks of the military into politics and then policy-making, only to discover the realities of a brutal and seditious opposition fighting to preserve a decrepit, America-destroying agenda that culminated in an outrageous coup attempt against a U.S. president.

And while Higgins does “name names” in his book, when describing the subversion of the Trump agenda by those inimical to it, he does so only to drive home his larger point about the incredible obstacles President Trump has faced in orienting U.S. policies toward advancing his America-first agenda.

Seems very apropos at this moment in time.

New Trump executive order suggests major house-cleaning should he win

The Trump administration has just released a new executive order that would shift many federal managers from civil service positions, where they cannot easily be removed, into a new category that will allow the President to remove them “at-will.”

The order would create a new Schedule F within the excepted service of the federal government, to be composed of “employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions,” and instructs agency heads to determine which current employees fit this definition and move them—whether they are members of the competitive service or other schedules within the excepted service—into this new classification.

…Positions in the new Schedule F would effectively constitute at-will employment, without any of the protections against adverse personnel actions that most federal workers currently enjoy, although individual agencies are tasked with establishing “rules to prohibit the same personnel practices prohibited” by Title 5 of the U.S. Code. The order also instructs the Federal Labor Relations Authority to examine whether Schedule F employees should be removed from their bargaining units, a move that would bar them from being represented by federal employee unions.

The timing of this order is most revealing. If approved it will go into effect on January 19, 2021, the day before the presidential inauguration. This suggests that if Trump wins, he does not want a repeat of his first term, when many civil service employees worked to sabotage his administration and its goals. He wants the power to fire people in large numbers, especially those who are in a position of setting policy, sometimes policy that Trump, legally elected by the American people, opposed strongly.

Be sure that this change will be fought hard by the administrative state in Washington, as well as by their backers in the Democratic and Republican parties. And though it would also give increased power to Biden should he win, it would still be an appropriate change, as the elected president should be the person in charge, not some unelected bureaucrats buried in the DC civil service.

Why Barrett’s confirmation went fast: Senate Republicans finally grew a spine

Link here. The author outlines all the ways the Democrats tried to duplicate their slander campaign against Brett Kavanaugh, then notes this:

The biggest difference is that Republicans simply weren’t playing with these attacks. Each and every one of these stories — and dozens of similar ones — was met with swift condemnation or yawns. Every single one.

It took a few decades of the left playing the exact same games with most confirmation battles, but finally, the right figured out how to render those attacks worthless. It’s not just conservative Americans, but the senators themselves who are playing this differently.

Rather than the Senate Judiciary Committee immediately responding to the Washington Post’s anti-Kavanaugh attack by bending to the will of the Democrats, this time they just didn’t care. As Democrats openly said on national television that they would do anything to stop Barrett’s confirmation, rather than act scared, the Republicans were not moved. They haven’t responded with outrage or drama, but just a steely resolve to get the nomination done. [emphasis mine]

Why it took Senate Republicans decades to figure out this basic premise, that the best way to deal with bullies and temper tantrums is to ignore them, is another question. It suggests that for decades those Republicans really liked bowing to those tantrums, because they really didn’t want to achieve any of the conservative goals their voters wanted and that they always campaigned on.

However, fake conservative senators like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are gone, replaced with senators who are either more legitimately conservative (Marsha Blackburn) or faced with a tough reelection fight that forces toughness (Martha McSally). The result is that no Republican in the Senate is willing to play the Democrat’s game anymore. They can scream and kick and hold their breath, but on Monday Amy Barrett will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SpaceX wins partial approval to provide Starlink service in Canada

Capitalism in space: Though SpaceX has obtained permission to provide its Starlink internet service from Canada’s Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, similar to the U.S.’s FCC, it still has not gotten full government approval to begin offering its service to customers.

It appears a different Canadian regulatory body, dubbed Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), has still not given its okay of the “satellite spectrum” SpaceX requires. From the second link:

SpaceQ had previously contacted ISED in June about SpaceX. ISED wouldn’t comment directly on any application, but did tell SpaceQ that the applications and approved website pages were up to date at that time. The website had last been updated in May. Since then, the website was updated in July. And yet there’s still no mention of SpaceX. It’s my understanding that the specific pages with applications and approvals is updated pretty quickly when there is new information to post. Though it took 3 weeks for changes to appear after Kepler submitted their application in June of this year.

With respect to how long it takes to get approval, ISED said the “service standard for the processing of satellite applications, including for those for foreign satellites, is 130 calendar days.” It’s quite possible that it could take longer.

This description carries all the hallmarks of a typical government bureaucracy whose only purpose is to block new companies and new technology. The political swamp of Canada might also be using it as a means of extortion for campaign funds from SpaceX. “Nice business you got there. Sure would be a shame if it didn’t get that license approval.”

I don’t think SpaceX needs to bow to these games. In the end ISED will back down and give approval, especially when the company begins offering its services just over the border in the U.S. The competitive and political pressure to give its okay will then be too great.

Lockheed Martin to move its smallsat rocket launch project to the UK

Capitalism in space: Lockheed Martin announced today that it is moving its Pathfnder smallsat rocket operation to a new spaceport in Shetland in the United Kingdom, with the first launch targeted for ’24.

This Shetland site is a different UK spaceport than the Sutherland site, also in Scotland, where both Lockheed Martin and the British company Orbex also hope to launch.

The dying COVID-19 epidemic

Daily mortality from COVID-19 in the United States

Daily mortality and number of cases of COVID-19 in California

The time has come for another update on the state of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, mostly because the evidence, as shown in the updated graphs to the right, continues to tell us that the epidemic is dying off, both in its deadliness and in its spread, despite what some ignorant and power-hungry politicians from both political parties might be saying.

There is also no evidence yet of a second wave of the virus, something that these same fear-mongering politicians have been touting. Both the national graph to the right as well as the graph showing California’s numbers below show this.

There is, however, ample evidence that the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been corrupted in order to inflate the totals. CDC data shows almost no flu deaths in 2020, something that is simply not credible. More likely the totals of COVID-19 deaths are a combination of COVID-19 and flu deaths, with all the deaths assigned to the coronavirus because hospitals get more government money by doing so.

This combination suggests that all told this epidemic is essentially comparable to a normal flu season. The 2020 winter season was simply one in which we were hit with two respiratory diseases, one old and one new, and the two combined to make that season worse than normal.

To confirm what I have just written however I will let my new GP doctor speak for me. Dr. Robert Lending is certified in both internal medicine and clinical lipidology. Two years ago he became disgusted with the way his practice was evolving due to Obamacare and insurance requirements, both of which were forcing him to see an endless string of patients quickly, with no time to spend with each in order to make sure their needs were covered properly. As noted at his webpage,

In 2018, Dr. Lending decided to return to his roots of delivering personalized, one-on-one health care in a more intimate professional setting. He has partnered with Cypress Concierge Medicine and is now one of a limited number of physicians in the region offering membership-based concierge medicine to patients. This provides more time, attention, and VIP service than patients would experience at your average Internal Medicine provider.

As a result, when I called his office to find out if he would consider my own legitimate medical issues that strongly preclude mask use, he very quickly was willing to listen and work with me. For such concierge service you need to pay an annual retainer, which is not cheap, but based on my experience in the past month, it is well worth every penny. For the first time in more than a decade I actually feel I have a real doctor again, who will spend the time to oversee my medical issues and make sure they are taken care of. For example, I can call him anytime, and he answers the phone. With most modern doctors you never get to talk to them directly, except in your short visits. Instead you have to go through go-betweens, who act to protect the doctor rather than treat the patient.

One of Lending’s services is a periodic email he personally writes and sends to his patients, in which he reviews the most recent medical news of the day. Obviously, for the past six months these updates have been focused mostly on the coronavirus, from the perspective of a doctor in the field. I think what he wrote in yesterday’s email about COVID-19 is most pertinent:
» Read more

China outlines its updated space ambitions for the 2020s

The new colonial movement: China this week outlined some of its space ambitions for the 2020s, updating its planned lunar unmanned program as well as developments in its rocket industry.

For the Moon they plan the following:

Chang’e 6, a backup mission for this year’s sample-return launch, is scheduled to head to the moon in 2023 or 2024; Chang’e 7 is planned to launch around 2024 with the dual aims of landing on the south pole of the moon and closely studying the region from orbit. An eighth mission is also in the works for later this decade.

As for their rocket industry, CASIC, the government entity that supervises China’s commercial space activities (including a number of private companies operating independently but supervised closely by it) announced plans for a reusable two-stage reusable spaceplane, a new constellation of satellites, and a number of new quick-launch solid rockets aimed at doubling their launch rate.

Leak on ISS still leaking even after being temporarily sealed with tape

Even though Russian astronauts have now patched with Kapton tape the 1-inch crack where they thought the leak in the Zvezda module on ISS was located, the loss of air has continued, and even increased.

The pressure in the Zvezda module of the International Space Station (ISS) keeps lowering, although the fissure was patched with Kapton tape, and even faster than before the fix, the crew told the ground control on Tuesday, as broadcast by NASA.

They are going to add more tape to the patch and see if this seals the leak.

Meanwhile, there has been little discussion about the nature of this 1-inch crack. Was it caused by a micrometeorite, or is it a stress fracture? And where exactly is it, and does that location help explain it?

Inquiring minds need to know!

The big lie of “systematic racism” in America

In June, shortly after George Floyd met his tragic death while in the hands of arresting police officers, former vice president and Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden was asked by a television reporter, “Do you believe there is systemic racism in law enforcement?” Biden responded as follows:

“Absolutely,” Biden responded. “But it’s not just in law enforcement, it’s across the board. It’s in housing, it’s in education, and it’s in everything we do. It’s real. It’s genuine. It’s serious.”

The absurdity of Biden’s response is immeasurable. What he says here is a lie, a lie so absurd it is both astonishing and horrifying that anyone believes it. There has been no systematic racism in America for generations, and anyone who thinks so is either lying to themselves, or trying to spread lies to others.

The biggest irony is that those who apparently believe this lie the most, our younger college-aged generation, have grown up in a society where for decades blacks with talent and determination have had no problem achieving success in all sorts of business and fields, with some even becoming the dominate figure in their field. (Think of Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey as only two examples.) They can also marry anyone they want, can go anywhere they want, and achieve anything they want. Nothing stops them but their own limitations.
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Russian astronauts repair oxygen regeneration unit

Russian astronauts on ISS have successfully repaired the oxygen regeneration unit on the Zvezda module.

From the TASS article was this additional information:

The Elektron-VM oxygen supply system developed by Russia’s Research and Design Institute of Chemical Machine-Building (NIIChimMash) has been operational aboard the space station since its creation. The system can generate from 25 to 160 liters of oxygen per hour and additionally from 50 to 320 liters of hydrogen per hour. In April 2010, it took the ISS crew several days to fix the broken system.

No word yet on any new information on the “fracture” that is causing the slow leak.

Spaceport America in New Mexico fires its head

The board of Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic’s launchsite for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital manned spacecraft, yesterday fired its long time Executive Directory Dan Hicks, at the same time governor of New Mexico removed one board member.

Hicks, the spaceport’s CEO since 2016, has been on administrative leave since June while allegations of mismanagement and abuse of authority have been under investigation by the New Mexico State Auditor and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, the public body governing the spaceport.

The McHard Accounting Consulting firm, a forensic accounting firm based in Albuquerque, conducted an investigation which was then referred to the state auditor. Keyes informed a state legislative committee this summer the allegations included potential criminal activity.

Spaceport American had been made gigantic promises by Richard Branson back in the mid-2000s, including hundreds of tourist flights per year on SpaceShipTwo, all of which would bring lots of cash to the spaceport and to New Mexico. All came to naught. I suspect those failed promises are somehow connected to the accusations here.

Modern science: Celebrating a “high priestess” instead of data

The corruption of modern science and our intellectual class was well illustrated today by the following headline and article in the peer review journal Science:

Act now, wait for perfect evidence later, says ‘high priestess’ of U.K. COVID-19 masking campaign

From the article’s lead:

In May, when several prominent U.K. scientists pushed back against a Royal Society report recommending face masks to help control the spread of COVID-19, Trisha Greenhalgh was furious. The scientists argued there was insufficient support in the scientific literature for the efficacy of masks, and the U.K. government, following their lead, declined to mandate masks for the general public.

“The search for perfect evidence may be the enemy of good policy,” Greenhalgh, a physician and expert in health care delivery at the University of Oxford, fumed in the Boston Review. “As with parachutes for jumping out of airplanes, it is time to act without waiting for randomized controlled trial evidence.” [emphasis mine]

The highlighted words have been the typical argument of the global warming crowd for decades. “We can’t wait for evidence! We need to act now before it’s too late!”

Moreover, she — along with the writer of this Science article — also copies another global warming dishonest tactic, posing a false argument by claiming that the opposing scientists requried a “randomized controlled trial” to demonstrate the usefulness of masks. This is an absurd misstatement, as it ignores decades of research that already exists and was referenced by those opposing scientists, that showed that mandating widespread mask use was generally a bad idea, and would accomplish nothing good.
» Read more

Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 awake for 23rd lunar day on far side of the Moon

The new colonial movement: China’s Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover have both been reactivated for their 23rd lunar day on far side of the Moon.

Yutu 2 is set to continue its journey northwest from the landing site and will target a roughly 12-inch (30 centimeters) rock on the rim of a nearby crater for analysis with a spectrometer. The rover has used that instrument to analyze a range of specimens in Von Kármán crater, notably causing a stir when it discovered an impact melt breccia initially described as “gel-like.”

It is the hope of the Chinese scientists that this rock will be ejected material from that crater and will have come from the lunar interior.

Also, though you need to read Chinese to understand how to access it, the project has released to the public another batch of data from both spacecraft.

ArianeGroup completes testing of all three Ariane 6 rocket engines

Capitalism in space: ArianeGroup, the joint private partnership that is building Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket, has successfully completed all testing of the three different engines the rocket will use.

The first stage has a core engine with side strap-on solid rocket motors, while the upper stage has a different engine entirely. All three have now passed qualification tests, allowing full design and construction of the rocket itself.

Leak on ISS traced to “fracture”

Not good news: According the Russian news source TASS, Russian astronauts have pinpointed the location of the slow leak on ISS to ” a fracture in the intersection compartment of the Russian Zvezda module.”

The astronaut also called it a “scratch,” which means the fracture is not yet confirmed. They will do more testing to find out if this is the leak source in the coming days.

If it is a fracture, the ramifications could be very serious. It appears the “intersection compartment” is the area where the aft docking port is located, which is also the area where many Progress freighters have docked in the twenty years since Zvezda was launched. Thus, this could be a stress fracture that can only get bigger with time. Its location might also preclude further dockings at this port, limiting arrivals of future Progress cargo ships.

Fun fact: They pinpointed this location using a floating tea bag.

The tea bag’s sway in zero gravity conditions towards the air leak overboard the space station was registered by cameras, the cosmonaut said. “We believe that we have really identified the probable leakage area. We have distributed a tea bag [in the Zvezda module] before closing the transfer chamber,” Ivanishin said.

The tea bag’s movement was recorded, the Russian cosmonaut said.

Study: Almost impossible to contract COVID-19 on an airplane

New research into the air filtration systems on commercial passenger jets has found that it is almost impossible to contract COVID-19 while on an airplane.

A new military-led study unveiled Thursday shows there is a low risk for passengers traveling aboard large commercial aircraft to contract an airborne virus such as COVID-19 — and it doesn’t matter where they sit on the airplane.

Researchers concluded that because of sophisticated air particle filtration and ventilation systems on board the Boeing 767-300 and 777-200 aircraft — the planes tested for the study — airborne particles within the cabin have a very short lifespan, according to defense officials with U.S. Transportation Command, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Air Mobility Command, which spearheaded the study.

You can read the report [pdf] here. I especially like this quote from their conclusions:

For the 777 and 767, at 100% seating capacity transmission model calculations with a 4,000 viruses/hour shedding rate and 1,000 virus infectious dose show a minimum 54 flight hours required to produce inflight infection from aerosol transmission.

In other words, you can fly around the world more than twice on the same plane, without stopping, without any real risk of getting infected.

Need I add that the use of a mask will likely make no difference either, while probably increasing your chances of catching some disease simply because the long term use of any single mask is unsanitary and almost guarantees it will be carrying pathogens on your face where you breathe?

The real reason most polls in this election are not trustworthy

Trump at a press conference

An event happened yesterday in our home that I think illustrates forcefully why no one can trust any poll being conducted during this election season.

The phone rings. As I now do on all calls, I pick it up, say “Hello?” and wait to see if it is a live person on the other end. If it is a recording of any kind, spam, political, poll, whatever, I immediately hang up. My life is too short to waste on robots or crooks. (I should add that if Diane picks up she does the same, though she doesn’t even offer them a “Hello.” She also often screens calls with caller ID, and thus often does not even bother to pick up.)

Sadly, a large majority of all in-coming phone calls now are from these robots, with the political and pollster robocalls coming more and more frequently, sometimes ten to twenty times a day.

If it is a live person, I listen to find out what they are calling about. If the call is for a commercial product or a scam, I tell them to stop calling us and hang up.

If it is a from a political campaign office or a survey I also say I am not interested in talking, and say good-bye. If the call is from a survey but specifically asks for my wife, I tell her about the call so she can decide what to do.

This happened yesterday. Her answer: “Please tell them to go away.” I then told the guy on the line her exact words, adding that I agree entirely with her. He laughed, and said good-bye, ending the call.

A lot of political experts have wondered whether the refusal of shy Trump voters to answer poll questions might be skewing the poll totals in favor of Biden and the Democrats. This may be so, but I think something more fundamental is happening that makes all poll results untrustworthy.
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Biden-Harris campaign staffers test positive for COVID-19

Two campaign staffers in the Biden-Harris presidential organization have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Kamala Harris has suspended in-person events until Monday after two campaign staffers tested positive for COVID, reports the Associated Press. Harris was supposed to travel to the battleground state of North Carolina on Thursday.

The campaign insists that Joe Biden was not exposed to the virus, but he and Senator Harris spent several hours together last week while campaigning in Arizona. According to the report, Kamala’s communications director and a traveling staff member tested positive after that trip.

My purpose in reporting this really very non-news story is to make two points:

One: Despite so-called strict regimens to protect its campaign people from getting infected, including masks, social distancing, and any number of other procedures now popular in our fear-crazed society, none worked. The infection still arrived, as such infections are guaranteed to do.

Two: No one will die from this outbreak. In fact, it is not even clear anyone will get sick. The Wuhan virus does not kill healthy people. Like the flu, the worst it does is make a healthy person sick for a week or so, after which they recover completely and return to normal life.

We need to stop being so afraid of this virus. It is not the boogie-man it is made out to be, no matter what some people say. It is a variation of the flu, worse for the old who are already very sick, but more harmless for the young and the healthy. With that knowledge in mind we should focus on protecting that very narrow threatened population, while letting everyone else return to a normal life that involves no masks, no social distancing, and above all, no fear.

FAA releases new commercial space licensing rules

The FAA today released its new streamlined commercial space licensing rules, aimed at simplifying the process for launch companies. According to the press release,

The new rule consolidates four regulatory parts and applies a single set of licensing and safety regulations for all types of vehicle operations. It also provides flexibility for operators to meet safety requirements. The rule improves efficiency by encouraging launch and reentry operators to suggest and implement design and operational solutions to meet the regulatory standards.

You can read the rule here [pdf].

Though it appears the FAA and the Trump administration truly wish to streamline this licensing process, it is not clear yet that these new rules do it. Some aspects, such as the rule that allows a single license to cover multiple launches, appear effective. The effect of others however remains murky. I would love to get feedback from anyone in commercial space directly impacted by these new rules. Are they as good as the FAA claims?

First full static fire test of SLS’s core stage scheduled for November 14

NASA has now scheduled the first full static fire test of the core stage of its SLS rockt for no earlier than November 14th.

Currently installed in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the massive 212-foot-tall core stage has completed six of eight planned green run tests before it can be shipped to KSC by barge as the final piece of the first mission of the Artemis program, slated for launch in November 2021.

Officials with NASA as well as contractors Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne gave an update on the core stage progress on Tuesday, stating the tentative date for the hot fire test is Nov. 14, and the target for it to be loaded onto the Pegasus barge for the trip to Florida is Jan. 14.

“So far the design has held together extremely well. We’ve not really had any surprises,” said John Shannon, Boeing’s vice president and program manager for the Space Launch System.

Unlike SpaceX, which uses tests like this to figure out how to build its rockets, NASA uses these tests to confirm its designs and construction at the very end of development. This difference in approach, now so clearly illustrated by simultaneous tests going on from both, I think shows the advantages of SpaceX’s approach. By testing during development, SpaceX can quickly fix any problems it finds, and move forward fast with better designs. This approach also results in a less expensive final result.

NASA instead must make sure its designs are perfect on the drafting board, which therefore requires their engineers to include gigantic design margins, resulting in long construction schedules and an expensive final product. Worst of all, should SLS fail during this final test, NASA will face some very difficult and expensive choices, none good.

NASA awards $370 million to 14 companies to develop new space capabilities

Capitalism in space: NASA yesterday issued fifteen development contracts to fourteen private space companies, totaling $370 million, to help them develop a variety of new space capabilities.

The funding is spread across 15 contracts to 14 different companies, including SpaceX, Astrobotic, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance and Intuitive Machines.

Nearly 70% of the money is earmarked for the management of cryogenic fluids such as liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. SpaceX, for example, will get $53 million for an in-space demonstration that will transfer 11 tons (10 metric tons) of liquid oxygen between tanks on one of its next-gen Starship vehicles.

What makes these contracts different from past NASA development contracts is fundamental. First, the design work comes from the companies, not NASA. Therefore products will be designed with the company’s needs in mind, not the government’s, and will also likely be designed faster and more efficiently.

Second, the companies will own what they build, and will be able to sell or use it however they wish. SpaceX for example wants this capability to give Starship the ability to leave Earth orbit, for its own commercial flights.

Russia oxygen regeneration system on ISS fails

Russian new sources today reported that their oxygen regeneration system on the ISS module Zvezda has failed.

A Russian cosmonaut told a specialist from the Mission Control Centre in the Moscow Region that the Electron-VM OGS installed in the Russian Zvezda module had failed.

Essentially this information was overheard by Russian sources during communications between mission control and the Russians on-board ISS.

Whether this failure is related to the rise in temperature this week in Zvezda is unknown. Also, the failed unit itself might be one that came with the station when it was launched 20 years ago, or it might be an upgraded unit launched later.

This unit is designed to recycle oxygen on board so as to reduce the need to haul up new supplies. Its failure poses no immediate threat to the station or its crew, since there is plenty of oxygen store on board and the U.S. has its own regeneration unit. However, if it isn’t repairable and can’t be replaced quickly it likely means future cargo manifests will require larger stocks of oxygen. It also might mean a reduction in total crew on ISS, which only now is returning to more than three for long periods because of the initiation of American private ferrying serves.

Meanwhile the location of the leak on Zvezda remains unknown. It needs to be pinpointed and hopefully solved, because if it is a more serious age issue ISS managers need to know.

First scientist chosen to fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

Planetary scientist Alan Stern, who is also the principal scientist on the New Horizons mission, has been chosen to be the first scientist to fly on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital SpaceShipTwo, should it ever begin commercial flights.

One SwRI experiment on the just announced flight will involve Stern operating a former space shuttle and NASA F-18 low light level camera to determine how well space astronomical observations can be conducted. In addition, Stern will be fitted with instrumentation that continuously monitors human vital signs from just before the two-hour flight until after its landing as a biomedical experiment. The results of both experiments will be published.

I hope it happens, but personally I have great doubts. We now have more than fifteen years of similar big announcements about what Virgin Galactic will do with its suborbital spaceship, with nothing to show for it. Right now I see these stories as mere fodder by people like Richard Branson to push up the stock’s price so he can make more money selling it as he eases his way out of the company.

Seven countries join the U.S. in signing the Artemis Accords

NASA announced yesterday that seven countries — the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and Italy — have now signed the Artemis Accords, the Trump administration’s effort to create a legal framework that will protect property rights in space and get around the legal limitations imposed by the Outer Space Treaty.

I suspect this announcement was in response to statements earlier this week by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency, that they will not partner with the U.S. in its Lunar Gateway space station project. Though Rogozin cited other issues for the decision, such at the fact that they would not be treated as an equal partner in Gateway, I suspect the decision was also made because Russia’s government opposes the Artemis Accords and does not wish to sign it. China has said the same.

Since those accords are designed to shift power and control from governments to private enterprise, it is not surprising that Russia and China oppose them. Both are authoritarian top-down societies whose government reflects their culture. To sign an agreement that would take power from the state and give it to their citizens is unacceptable.

So be it. Of the countries that have signed, I expect in future years they will all prosper in space, and eventually force others to accept the ideas of freedom, private property, and capitalism that inspire the accords. Luxombourg is committed to pushing private enterprise and investment in commercial space. The UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan all follow the same principles, and all have robust space industries that should only get stronger.

And the UAE, the new baby on the block, wants to make commercial space a big part of its future. Signing these accords — along with their peace deal with Israel — indicates strongly that they mean business, and that they are trying heartily to separate themselves from the radical Islamic movements that have been poisoning the Arab Middle East for decades.

Moreover, the U.S. is requiring any nation that wishes to participate in its effort to return to the Moon to sign these accords. These nations, and their citizens, will therefore have a chance to contribute to that effort, and likely make a lot of money in the process.

Posting is late today because Diane and I went on an 8-mile hike. My gym now idiotically requires masks while you work out, and I am certainly not going to do that. Therefore, to maintain our cardiovascular systems while strengthening our immune systems (the best defense against all flulike diseases, including the Wuhan virus), we have been doing 6 to 10 mile hikes now twice a week. It means one day a week I need to schedule some posts early, and catch up when I get home. I hope my readers understand.

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