Firefly signs deal to launch its Alpha rocket from Esrange spaceport in Sweden

Proposed spaceports surrounding Norwegian Sea
Proposed spaceports surrounding Norwegian Sea

Firefly has now signed a deal to launch its Alpha rocket in 2026 from the Esrange spaceport in Sweden, becoming that spaceport’s second orbital customer.

Esrange is not really a new spaceport. It was originally built in the 1960s and was used for decades for suborbital test launches, much like Wallops Island in the U.S. In January 2023 it upgraded one launchpad to allow commercial orbital launches, and in May 2024, signed a launch deal with a new rocket startup from South Korea named Perigee.

This new contract with Firefly is a bigger deal, because Firefly has already launched several times, and is more established.

These developments indicate as well the cost of red tape in the United Kingdom. The map to the right shows the spaceports competing for business in Europe. The two UK spaceports (Saxaford and Sutherland) began construction years before Esrange decided to upgrade, but both are now losing business to Sweden because regulatory delays at the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK has delayed all launches there for years.

UK government to invest £10 million in Saxavord spaceport

Proposed spaceports surrounding Norwegian Sea
Proposed spaceports surrounding Norwegian Sea.

The government of the United Kingdom announced yesterday that it will directly invest £10 million in the Saxavord spaceport being built on one of the Shetland Islands, as shown on the map to the right.

Coming in addition to around £40 million of private investment, the government funding will allow SaxaVord to accelerate its capital works programme to ensure it is ready to support the first orbital launch.

That capital works program was forced to shut down last year when red tape at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) delayed the licensing of Saxavord. It could be this grant has been issued partly to repay the losses the spaceport company experienced due to those bureaucratic delays. The timing kind of reinforces this speculation, as only yesterday Saxavord got its spaceport license approved, though other approvals remain pending.

All this news suggests strongly that the first test flight at Saxavord by the German rocket startup Rocket Factory Augsburg will occur later this year, as promised.

Meanwhile, the other spaceport in Sutherland must be wondering if it can get similar government aid, or if the government is now playing favorites.

Is the Saxavord spaceport in the UK about to finally get approved for launches?

Proposed spaceports surrounding Norwegian Sea
Proposed spaceports surrounding Norwegian Sea.

According to the head of the Saxavord spaceport in the UK, it is finally poised to get all the necessary approvals from the government of the United Kingdom that will allow the first launches before the end of this year.

Following on from the CAA licence being granted just before Christmas, management at SaxaVord Spaceport is confident it will receive its ‘range licence’ later this month to finally become a “fully-fledged spaceport”. This second licence, also issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), allows rockets launched from SaxaVord to use the airspace.

Sounds great, eh? Except that the spaceport is still waiting approval from a local commission of its plan for allowing spectators to watch launches. In addition, no launch license has yet been issued to any rocket company. The German company Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) is planning to take over one specific launchpad at Saxavord where it hopes to do as many as ten launches per year, with the first test launch later this year. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has not yet issued that license.

Another rocket startup, ABL, is also waiting CAA approvals. Its first test launch (which failed in January 2023) was conducted in Alaska, with a second launch planned there in the next month or so. If successful the company hopes to launch regularly from Saxavord, assuming the CAA gives it approval.

Saxavord submitted its license applications to the CAA in November 2022, with the hope launches could begin in 2023. It took the CAA however more than a year to issue the spaceport license, and it still has not issued the range license, nor has it issued RFA any launch licenses yet. For these companies to prosper the government approval process has got to be streamlined.

German rocket startup signs deal with Norwegian spaceport

Map of northern European spaceports

The German rocket startup Isar Aerospace has signed a deal to provide the Andoya spaceport in the north of Norway with a new flight tracking and safety system, to be used by all launches including Isar’s own Spectrum rocket.

The purpose of the autonomous flight tracking system is to precisely and reliably keeping track of the Spectrum launch vehicle’s position, speed and direction of travel as it ascends to orbit, which is important to guarantee Andøya Spaceport’s flight safety requirements. The objective is to further evaluate the use of the system in enabling automated flight termination functionality for launches by Andøya Spaceport’s ground system, autonomously triggering an abort of the mission if ever operational parameters of the launch vehicle are out of bounds.

This announcement today illustrates the rising competition between German rocket startups and European spaceports. Yesterday the Saxavord spaceport in Scotland and another German rocket startup, HyImpulse, announced their own launch deal. Today’s announcement is the response from Andoya and Isar.

Today’s announcement also increases the pressure in the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to get its regulatory act together. Andoya is positioning itself as a good alternative to the two new British spaceports in Scotland, as shown by the red dots on the map above, should red tape in the UK slow launches there.

Saxavord spaceport gets launch deal from German rocket startup

The Saxavord spaceport, one of two being built in Scotland, has signed a launch deal from the German rocket startup Hy-Impulse, with two suborbital test launches scheduled for next year and an orbital launch targeting 2025.

HyImpulse, a launch services provider and DLR spinoff based in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is currently gearing up for its inaugural suborbital launch early next year from Australia. It will however look to conduct two suborbital launches from SaxaVord Spaceport, located in Scotland’s Shetland Islands, from August 2024 onwards. HyImpulse has already secured an Air Navigation Order (ANO) license from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority for one launch.

These will be followed by first orbital launches from late 2025 onwards. The plan envisions rising to full commercial operations by 2030.

All this assumes that the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can issue the launch licenses in time. After all it only six to ten months to approve those suborbital launches, and almost two years to approve the orbital launch. So far the CAA has proven unable to approve anything within even those long time frames.

Axiom signs deal with the United Kingdom to fly all British mission

The space agency of the United Kingdom today announced that it has signed a deal with Axiom to fly an manned mission in space, with four astronauts spending up to two weeks in space (likely in a SpaceX Dragon capsule).

The flight, estimated to cost around £200 million, is being organized in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), though all the astronauts will be British. The announced commander, Tim Peake, spent six months on ISS in 2015, and has come out of retirement to do the flight.

It is also unclear at this moment whether it will fly to ISS, or simply remain in orbit. In fact, few specific details have yet been released.

The bottom line however is that the new American space industry is going to make money from Britain’s desire to be a space power. Seems like a good deal to me.

Proposed exclusion zone restrictions revealed for new Sutherland spaceport in Scotland

A map of the proposed 50-square-kilometer exclusion zone that will be required for launches at the new Sutherland spaceport in Scotland has now been obtained by the Northern Times, which appears to be a local newspaper.

The zone would cover much of Melness Crofters’ Estate, and ironically it would also include a significant part of the neighbouring Eriboll Estate, owned by Danish entrepreneur Anders Holch Polvsen, who launched a failed legal challenge against the spaceport. Highland Council is in the process of finalising the details of the proposed restrictions which will then be put out for a 12-week public consultation and go before Highland councillors for final approval.

Ramblers Scotland, which promotes access to the outdoors, has said it will “carefully study” the final proposals.

Only during the launches does it appear the zone would be this large. Between launches the zone would be limited to a radius of 1.8 kilometers around the launchpads.

With twelve launches planned per year, this zone could seriously impact local activities, though how much is not clear. Not many people live in the area, and the land inside the zone is mostly used as grazing land or for recreational activities, many apparently organized by Ramblers Scotland. We should therefore expect some opposition to this plan when this zone is discussed during that 12-week public consultation time period.

Viking cemetery found at new Saxavord spaceport in Scotland

Archeologists have discovered a Viking “ritual cremation cemetery” about 4,000 years old near the launch site at the new Saxavord spaceport in Scotland.

The burnt bones were found inside an arc of large granite boulders set into pits in the ground. A small platform of white quartz pebbles was also discovered which may have once been linked to a burial. Quartz is often associated with burial tombs in the prehistoric, and covered the entire outside wall of Newgrange in Ireland.

Test launches at Saxavord are expected to begin in the fall, with the first orbital launch next year. This schedule of course assumes launch licenses can be obtained from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

UK government reluctantly admits its space regulatory framework is a problem

According to a report issued by a committee formed by a number of members of the United Kingdom’s parliament, the regulatory licensing framework for its space launch industry is a problem that needs fixing, and in a hurry.

The report also expressed concern about the licensing delays that led to the Virgin Orbit launch being postponed. Virgin Orbit and some of its satellite customers were critical of the UK regulatory process, which was led by the Civil Aviation Authority.

But the committee concluded there was no evidence that the regulatory system contributed to the failure of the Virgin Orbit. The report did state, however, that there is “insufficient co-ordination between the large number of regulatory bodies involved in licensing launches, and this continues to place unnecessary burdens of complexity and administration on companies”.

The MPs [members of parliament] are calling on the Government to take steps to improve the licensing system of UK satellite launch.

It is amusing how these politicians speak from both sides of their mouths. First they say the regulatory system did not contribute to Virgin Orbit’s failure, but then admit the regulatory system is so complex and messy that anyone can see that it certainly did contribute to that failure. It took that system fifteen months to approve the launch, even though Virgin Orbit expected that approval to come in half that time.

Whether this MP report will force action remains unclear. As I noted earlier this week, Orbex applied for a launch license seventeen months ago for a launch it hopes to complete at the Sutherland Spaceport before the end of this year, and it is as yet unclear if any license has been issued. The UK’s two spaceports cannot compete if it is going to take one to two years for each launch license to be approved

Bankrupt Virgin Orbit is dead, its assets purchased by a variety of different companies

After failing to find a single buyer for the whole company, Virgin Orbit is now officially dead as a company, its assets broken up during bankruptcy proceedings and purchased by several different companies.

Rocket Lab paid $16.1 million for Virgin Orbit’s main manufacturing facility in California, which it intends to use for developing its larger Neutron rocket. Stratolaunch paid $17 million for the company’s 747 airplane and related equipment. Launcher, a former rocket startup that is now owned by the space station startup Vast, paid $2.7 for the company’s test site in Mojave, California, which it plans to use for static fire engine tests of a rocket engine it is developing for sale to others. A liquidation company purchased other assets, while the various LauncherOne rockets under construction remain unsold.

It is essential the reasons for this failure are made very clear. The destruction of this company occurred because regulators in the United Kingdom prevented it from launching from within the UK for almost half a year, during which it could not perform other launches elsewhere and therefore earn revenue. It then ran very low on cash, and when the UK launch failed in January, the company no longer had the resources to weather to time necessary to complete the investigation, fix the problem that caused the failure, and resume launches.

For other rocket startups, it is very important to consider this story before committing to launching in the UK. where you will face major bureaucratic obstacles from its government. Until there is evidence that something has changed, it might be better to consider other launch sites.

UK regulators give okay on Viasat’s purchase of Inmarsat

After months of delay, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regulators has finally admitted that Viasat’s purchase of Inmarsat would not reduce competition in the communication satellite industry, and has approved the purchase unconditionally.

The evidence analysed by the panel shows that, while Viasat and Inmarsat compete closely– specifically in the supply of satellite connectivity for wifi on flights – the deal does not substantially reduce competition for services provided on flights used by UK customers.

The evidence also shows that the satellite sector is expanding rapidly – a trend that is set to continue for the foreseeable future. This is due to increased demand for satellite connectivity, driven largely by the ever-growing use of the internet by business and consumers.

The CMA press release is a classic of bureaucracy blather. Essentially, it tries to make it sound like this agency did lots of difficult hard work to discover what is patently obvious, that without this merger these two companies will almost certainly not be able to compete with the emerging new satellite communications companies coming on line.

The best thing that the UK could do to encourage competition and new industries in the UK would be to defund this agency, now. Its existence accomplishes nothing other than to stand in the way.

Shetland Spaceport now faces same regulatory hurdles that destroyed Virgin Orbit

The new Shetland spaceport, Saxavord, is right now attempting to get launch approvals from United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the same agency that dithered for six months approving a Virgin Orbit launch, thus causing the bankruptcy of that company.

According to Saxavord’s CEO, the spaceport has two launches aiming to launch before the end of this year, assuming the CAA can get its act together and give its approval. This quote however is worrisom:

The Saxavord spaceport says it is “still on track” to receive its necessary licences from the sector’s regulator before the summer. This relates to applications to the Civil Aviation Authority for range and spaceport licences.

Meanwhile SaxaVord CEO Frank Strang said the company is also on track for two rocket launches this year – “albeit they have moved slightly to the right”. [emphasis mine]

The delays could be coming from the rocket companies themselves. One of those companies is the German startup, Rocket Factory Augsburg, which has leased exclusive use of one launchsite. The other is the American startup ABL, which has had one launch attempt from the U.S. that failed.

Based on the CAA’s track record however the delays are just as likely coming from it. The CAA began this licensing process in November 2022, and is not done yet six months later.

Virgin Orbit shuts down

Unable to secure new funding, the managers of Virgin Orbit have shuttered the company, possibly forever.

Virgin Orbit is ceasing operations “for the foreseeable future” after failing to secure a funding lifeline, CEO Dan Hart told employees during an all-hands meeting Thursday afternoon. The company will lay off nearly all of its workforce. “Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company,” Hart said, according to audio of the 5 p.m. ET meeting obtained by CNBC.

The layoffs include all but 100 positions, about 85% of its workforce.

The company was killed because the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took an extra six months approving a launch license, during which the company could launch nothing and thus make no money. Lacking revenue, it ran out of cash. If the company goes into bankruptcy, this detail is most intriguing:

Branson has first priority over Virgin Orbit’s assets, as the company raised $60 million in debt from the investment arm of Virgin Group.

In other words, Branson will be able to walk off with everything, and even resurrect the company as his own, for pennies on the dollar. If he does, I guarantee our bankrupt mainstream press will shower him with praise, calling him a hero.

Virgin Orbit resumes limited operations

In anticipation of a possibly deal to save the company, Virgin Orbit officials have resumed limited operations, bringing back a small number of employees to work on crucial issues required for its next launch.

“Our first step will begin Thursday of this week, when we plan to return a subset of our team to focus on critical areas for our next mission,” Virgin Orbit said in a statement. “We are looking forward to getting back to our mission and returning to orbit.”

…Reuters reported that Virgin Orbit is working on a $200 million infusion from Texas-based venture capital investor Matthew Brown via a private share placement, citing a term sheet. Following a meeting by Virgin Orbit’s board on Tuesday, the two sides plan to close the deal on Friday, according to the non-binding term sheet, Reuters said.

Should the company resume full operations and launch again, I am certain it will not launch from the United Kingdom, at least not until the UK has fixed its launch licensing bureau, the Civil Aviation Authority, which took so long to approve Virgin Orbit’s launch from Cornwall it practically bankrupted the company.

Virgin Orbit pauses operations; seeks funding

Virgin Orbit today paused all operations for at least a week, putting almost its entire staff on furlough as it seeks new financing.

Chief Executive Dan Hart told staff that the furlough would buy Virgin Orbit time to finalise a new investment plan, a source who attended the event told Reuters news agency. It was not clear how long the furlough would last, but Mr Hart said employees would be given more information by the middle of next week.

If Virgin Orbit dies, its death will be because a British government agency killed it. The company had planned on launching from Cornwall in the early fall of 2022, at the latest, and then do several other launches in 2022, all of which would have earned it revenue. Instead, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) delayed issuing the launch license until January 2023, about a half a year later, preventing Virgin Orbit from launching for that time and literally cutting it off from any ability to make money. The result was that it ran out of funds.

Obviously the launch failure that followed the CAA’s approval did not help. Nor did the company’s decision to rely on only one 747 to launch its satellites. Nonetheless, the fault of this company’s death can mostly be attributed to a government bureaucracy that failed in its job so badly that it destroyed a private company.

UK’s bureaucracy blasted for delaying Virgin Orbit launch

At parliamentary hearings yesterday, the United Kingdom’s Cival Aviation Authority (CAA) was heavily criticized by commercial satellite companies for delaying the launch Cornwall launch by Virgin Orbit by six months.

The harshest words came from a manager at Space Forge, that lost a satellite on that launch when Virgin Orbit’s rocket failed to reach orbit.

Patrick McCall, non-executive director at Space Forge, told MPs on the Science and Technology Select Committee, that if the company sought to launch again in the UK it would be given “short shrift” by investors. “I think unless there is a seismic change in that approach the UK is not going to be competitive from a launch perspective,” he said. “There is no chance that Josh Western [the Space Forge CEO] would win the argument to do the next launch in the UK. Even if the UK came and said you can do it for free, I would say don’t do that.

“I don’t think it’s deliberate, I think people at the CAA want to make it happen, but it’s not working, and either we change that with a seismic shift or we save the money and spend it on other things which are achievable.”

The delay also caused Virgin Orbit serious financial problems, as it prevented it from doing any other launches in 2022, resulting in a significant loss of income.

The committee chair, MP Greg Clark, underlined the testimony afterward:

“It’s a disaster isn’t it?” he said: “We attempted to show what we are capable of, and the result is it’s now toxic for a privately funded launch. We had the first attempted launch but the result is that you as an investor in space are saying there is no chance of investors supporting another launch from the UK with the current regulator conditions.”

During the hearings CAA officials justified their actions, and appeared unwilling to consider any changes.

There are two spaceports now being built in Scotland. If the CAA is not forced to change, it is very likely that commercial satellite companies will find other places in Europe to launch, such as the new Esrange spaceport being developed in Sweden.

Virgin Orbit finally receives launch license from British bureaucracy

We’re here to help you! The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has finally issued a license to Virgin Orbit to launch nine satellites from a Cornwall airport.

The launch date however has not yet been set, because it appears licenses for the nine satellites still need to be issued, though according to the article at the link, approval appears “imminent.”

The press release from the UK Space Agency brags about the speed in which this license was issued:

The UK Civil Aviation Authority granted the licences within 15 months, well within the expected timescales for these types of licences, putting the UK’s regulatory framework on a competitive footing with other international space regulators.

Hogwash. If the licensing process for every commercial launch in the UK is going to take this long, rocket companies are going to quickly find other places to launch from.

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.

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.

UK awards launch license to Cornwall airport

After several months delay, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the United Kingdom yesterday issued a license to a Cornwall airport, dubbed Spaceport Cornwall, allowing Virgin Orbit to begin final preparations for the first orbital launch from within the British Isles.

The red tape however is not done.

The licence means that Virgin Orbit, which is behind the launch (named Start Me Up after the Rolling Stones song), is clear to begin to carry out mission-readiness tasks. But further licences are needed relating to this specific mission before blast-off can happen.

Melissa Thorpe, the head of Spaceport Cornwall, said: “To be the first spaceport in the UK with a licence to operate is a historic moment. Cornwall is now ready to open up the use of space for good.” She added: “The CAA continues to work on several licence applications, including being in very advanced stages with Virgin Orbit on its applications for launch and range licences, as well as the satellite operators, ahead of a proposed first UK launch.

I am reminded of the meme showing a crowd of officials surrounding one ditch digger, with the only one doing any real work that digger. It appears right now that the bureaucrats in the CAA might outnumber the staffing at both Virgin Orbit and Cornwall, and all they have to do is issue a piece of paper.

UK regulators to investigate Viasat-Inmarsat merger

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) yesterday opened an investigation into the purchase of InMarsat by Viasat, announced in November ’21, to see it that merger would “result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”

This investigation will clearly delay the merger. It also appears somewhat counter-productive, considering that Inmarsat has been having trouble making money in recent years due to the market’s shift from its big geosynchronous satellites to constellations of smallsats in low Earth orbit, such as SpaceX’s Starlink. Viasat meanwhile has been desperately trying to block Starlink because of that very competitive threat.

By merging, these two satellite companies might survive and compete with the new orbital constellations. Otherwise, they might both go out of business, thus reducing competition. It seems the CMA will be shooting itself in the foot if it blocks this merger.

Elite journalist considers murder the appropriate response to Brexit vote

Fascist: A British journalist asked her readers today to consider whether they’d kill the leader of the UK’s movement to leave the European Union.

A journalist working for the Telegraph has asked her Twitter followers to consider if they would kill UKIP leader Nigel Farage, comparing him to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. “You know that time travel conundrum: would you kill baby Hitler? Same but Nigel Farage”, wrote Catherine Gee, who claims to have been “writing about culture for the Telegraph since 2007”, and has also written for the Guardian, Western Mail and Clash.

She has deleted the tweet, but only I think because it embarrassed her, not because she realized how barbaric it was. Worse, she is not alone.

Over the course of just a few hours, Breitbart London uncovered hundreds of tweets and Facebook updates dating back as far as 2010, with some as recent as last Thursday afternoon after Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered.

The revelations go some way to shattering the narrative that “hateful” or “aggressive” rhetoric emanates from only one side of UK politics. Most of the messages listed below are from younger people, and Breitbart found that most were either Liberal Democrat, Scottish National Party, or Labour Party supporters. Most of them also expressed pro-European Union sentiment and were overwhelmingly supportive of the ‘Remain’ campaign at the European Union referendum.

Basic level searches under the search terms “shoot Nigel Farage”, “stab Nigel Farage” or “kill Nigel Farage” reveal hundreds of messages, some of those in fact with further messages of support for the notions in the replies.

Freedom and democracy cannot stand if it is considered acceptable to call for the murder of your opponents.

The howl against democracy

Link here. Key quote:

In all the years I’ve been writing about political stuff, I cannot remember a time when anti-democratic sentiment has been as strong as it is right now. No sooner had an awe-inspiring 17.5m people rebelled against the advice of virtually every wing of the establishment and said screw-you to the EU than politicos were calling into question the legitimacy of their democratic cry. Apparently the people were ill-informed, manipulated, in thrall to populist demagoguery, and the thing they want, this unravelling of the EU, is simply too mad and disruptive a course of action to contemplate. So let’s overturn the wishes of this dumb demos.

The author then outlines the numerous calls by EU supporters in the UK to do anything possible to void the will of the people in a legitimate vote. Why would I not be surprised if these same people also align themselves politically with today’s American Democratic Party, which increasingly sees the Bill of Rights and freedom as an obstacle and an evil that must be destroyed.

The elite speak!

The coming dark age: The journal Science published on Friday a nice collection of tweets from a lot of scientists expressing their contempt and disgust at the vote by the citizens of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Two tweets say it all:

Dear Europe – for the record, I didn’t want this to happen. Please don’t judge all Brits by the poisonous rhetoric of the Leave campaign. — Dr Heather Williams (@alrightPET) June 24, 2016

Today is a sad day for science and sanity. #Brexit — Hannah Wakeford (@StellarPlanet) June 24, 2016

In the first the scientist accuses the Leave campaign of expressing “poisonous rhetoric”, while the second (one of many quite similar) declares anyone who disagreed with the Remain campaign to be insane. Does anyone but me see the blind stupidity here?

Not one of these tweeters, all supposedly highly educated scientists, consider for an instant the quite valid and reasonable intellectual arguments of the Leave campaign. Leave is wrong, and don’t you dare think otherwise! Some also suggest that the vote should be ignored, or invalidated, because they don’t like the result. So much for open-mindedness and a respect for democracy.

Science elites move to block UK exit from EU

A statement today from the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, reacting to yesterday’s vote to leave the European Union, calls for the government to do whatever it can to nullify that exit.

Professor John Zarnecki, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, commented: “We must remember that whatever happens, science has no boundaries. It is vital that we do not give the message, particularly to our younger colleagues, in the UK and beyond that our country is not a good place in which to do scientific research, however uncertain the economic and political environment is.

“I have been privileged during my career to have worked in a research environment in Europe which has had few borders for either people or ideas. We must strive to make sure that these rights are not taken away – this would be enormously to the detriment of UK society.”

The statement includes a laundry list of benefits that membership in the EU brings scientists, including lots of funding to pay the salaries of these scientists. The statement also insists that all these benefits must be maintained, despite the will of the electorate.

While many of these benefits (easy travel between nations) are beneficial and a reason to have a European Union, the electorate understood that the benefits have been increasingly outweighed by the heavy regulatory burden imposed by the EU, with no democratic recourse allowed.

Articles in the science journals Science and Nature, here, here, and here, also note the distress and opposition by scientists to yesterday’s vote.

This unwillingness of the elite community to accept the will of the public is part and parcel to the same bubble I found in Washington when I attended the CNAS conference. Unfortunately, I see no evidence of a willingness in the elite community to bend at all to the will of the general public, meaning that we can only expect the conflict between the top and the bottom to intensify in the coming years. The question will be whether our institutions of democracy will be able to withstand that battle, especially when those in power continue to find their power being attacked from below.

UK eliminates all but two climate-change projects to balance books.

The United Kingdom’s British Council is eliminating all but of its two climate-change projects in order to balance its books. Unfortunately, some taxpayer-funded propaganda will still continue:

The council says that two flagship global projects will continue: the ‘Climate Generation’ initiative, which engages young climate activists and the ‘Climate4Classrooms’ project, which provides resources for schoolchildren.