Interesting Items 03/18

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  Starship
2.  Fani
3.  FDNY
4.  Air Drop
5.  Boeing
6.  Health
7.  DoE
8.  Forest

1.  Starship.  SpaceX conducted their third test of the Starship stack last Thursday.  This was much more successful than the first two test flights, though both vehicles were ultimately lost.  The launch went normally, as did hot staging.  The Superheavy Booster (Booster) completed its boostback burn and all went well until it was a couple kilometers above the Gulf of Mexico.  13 engines were supposed to relight to slow it to a soft, zero speed landing on the water.  Three lit.  Two of them quickly went out and Booster impacted the water at about 1,100 kph with a single engine lit.  The Starship upper stage (Ship) continued along its suborbital flight path to reenter over the Indian Ocean.  While in space, it did a variety of tests, though an attempted relight of the engines was cancelled.  Video of Ship during reentry showed the plasma around the vehicle and its fins during the first part of reentry.  Video also showed loss of what appeared to be thermal protection tiles before the plasma was visible. 

SpaceX asked the FAA for an extended testing license for the rest of the year that will allow them to fly up to 9 more times.  Musk is hoping for at least 6 additional tests over the course of the year, which would work out to be one every couple of months.  There are at least 4 more complete stacks manufactured, nearly ready for future tests.  Given their progress and increasing cadence, (7 months between first and second test, 4 months between second and third test), it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they will figure out how to launch and recover Booster sooner rather than later

  • SpaceX is reportedly confident that they can solve whatever is going on with Booster, as they have extensive experience (270+ landings) with the Falcon 9 first stage.  As Booster approached the water, the grid fins appeared to be overcontrolling (moving faster than whatever input they did made a change to the actual flight path).  The fact that only 3 of 13 engines relit after a perfect launch may indicate fuel sloshing or simple fuel starvation.  Expect at least a couple soft water landings before they attempt to bring it back to the launch site.
  • Once Booster is solved and predictably recoverable, do not be surprised if it isn’t used like the Falcon 9 stack for a time, a reusable first stage and expendable second stage, until they figure out how to recover and reuse Starship.  This isn’t a devastating economic blow, as the stack is capable of putting 100 – 150 tons into low earth orbit every single launch and do so cheaply.  Saturn V was a 125-ton booster.  Shuttle stack was good to 150 tons.  Neither was reusable. 
  • Starship may take a while to figure out.  It appeared to be rolling or tumbling during reentry and the leadup to reentry.  Pieces of what appeared to be thermal protection tile separating during reentry are likely a problem as is near continuous leakage of gas from the vehicle while it was in space on its coast phase.  Leak enough fuel and LOX and there isn’t anything available to control reentry.  Final thought is that it might take a while to figure out what an aerodynamically stable orientation for reentry ends up being.  Starship is both similar and dissimilar to the Shuttle orbiter.  While similar in size, like Shuttle, it is huge, really, really big.  Unlike Shuttle, it is very light, fluffy is the term used, and not particularly aerodynamic.  Think of a long balloon falling through the air.  Figuring out how to control its reentry and high-speed descent may be more interesting than originally thought. 

2.  Fani.  The presiding judge over Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis RICO trial of Donald Trump and his people ruled that she could continue prosecuting the case.  He gave her a choice to either fire her paramour or resign herself.  Willis’ boyfriend resigned immediately.  Meanwhile, Willis made her way into yet another local black church, speaking about the indignity heaped on her simply because she was a black woman in a position of power.  The irony of her being the most powerful black woman in Fulton County, all but untouchable by the state judiciary, hiding behind both her sex and race to escape discipline for gaming the system and lying to the court about it seemed to escape her.  The judge is an elected judge, and up for reelection.  Willis is playing to her political base of aggrieved black women.  The judge doesn’t have one, so he weaseled the opinion.  Still, it was an incredibly damaging opinion, giving the Trump legal team more than a few new openings to oppose her ongoing show trial. 

3.  FDNY.  An interesting thing happened on the way to what should have been a low threat photo op for NY Attorney General Letitia James a week ago.  She was invited to give remarks at a FDNY ceremony 10 days ago.  The ceremony was to honor swearing in of FDNY’s first African American female chaplain, a PC ceremony if I ever saw one.  Somehow, they missed the full Monty as the woman was not described as being a trans lesbian.  Maybe next time.  Either way, the firefighters likely were told to attend, which they did, though apparently not happily.  When James was introduced, there was some applause which turned into loud, sustained booing that continued well into James’ remarks when it was replaced by a chant of Trump, Trump, Trump.  James handled it reasonably well, tossing her head and smirking at the crowd.  FDNY leadership fell all over themselves apologizing afterwards.  Here’s where it got funny, as they demanded everyone who booed or otherwise showed their displeasure turn themselves into leadership or Bad Things would happen to them.  They went on to promise a full investigation, identification and official punishment of the miscreants.  A week later, they backtracked and publicly renounced the search and punishment following withering criticism.  The FDNY Commissioner is a woke woman who got her position the old-fashioned way, by being a woman who never fought fires, but filled all the wokester squares at the time of her appointment.  She apparently also has something of a nasty streak, particularly against white men.  What could possibly go wrong?  Protests by FDNY and NYPD rank and file are not uncommon, with former NYC Mayor Bill Diblasio being the target of several during his time as mayor.  To the best of my knowledge, there was no internal discipline threatened after these protests, though it is entirely possible that they did take place and I missed them.    

4.   Airdrop.  In one of the more hilarious stories last week, a US airdrop of humanitarian aid into Gaza last week went poorly, killed five and injured ten more.  The accident happened near a refugee camp when a parachute on a pallet failed to deploy properly and it landed on a group of men, teenagers and children (think Hamas waiting to steal the packages for resale).  The drop was aiming for the beach.  The wayward pallet managed to hit a neighboring house. Even the Gazans are blasting the drop, calling it useless and flashy propaganda, which in Hamas-speak means they weren’t able to steal enough of it for resale.  The story reminds me of the (in)famous WKRP Turkey Drop where the station head thought that turkeys could fly.  The on-scene reporter reported it like the Hindenburg crash in NJ. 

Solution to this buffoonery?  You got it, more buffoonery, with whatever O’Bamaoids are pulling Dementia Hitler’s strings ordering the US military into Gaza to build a temporary floating dock for “humanitarian aid” deliveries.  The new infrastructure will quickly be swung to take deliveries of Iranian weapons and ammunition Hamas will quickly swing to use against Israel.  To its credit, Lloyd Austin’s DoD apparently thinks this is a bad idea, but saluted smartly and are following orders.  No estimates yet how many military will needlessly die while virtue signaling for Dementia Hitler.  My guess is that is a non-zero number. 

5.  Boeing.  John Barnett, who worked for Boeing for 32 years before retiring in 2017 was found dead in a hotel parking lot in South Carolina.  Cause of death was a gunshot, initially called a suicide.  He was concerned about cratering quality control as the company smartly pivoted from building flying machines that could actually fly to a more diversity-oriented workforce and became a whistleblower who manufactured some powerful enemies.  He was quality manager for the 787 production line and raised multiple concerns to management, most of which were ignored.  He was engaged in legal action against Boeing at the time of his death.  Very few watching the spike in incidents with Boeing jets believe this was a suicide. 

6.  Health.  Anyone else remember the days when kids needed parent’s permission for a school to give them an aspirin?  Those days are long gone as Planned Parenthood and the trans craze are busily installing what they call Health Centers in K-12 public schools.  These new centers will be manned with doctors, nurses, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists in order to provide what the advocated call “wrap around services” to help students with their mental health needs.  The new centers are closely associated with all the Usual Suspects among the leftist NGOs, Planned Parenthood and the teacher’s unions, all of which are using the new centers to undermine parents all without either parental knowledge or permission.  The highly politicized CDC claims that the centers, especially those in low-income communities, will improve academics and behavior, nicely demonstrating that nothing at the CDC has changed for the better since the departure of Fauci and the rest of his fellow COVID travelers.  The centers are handing out prescriptions for birth control without parental consent or knowledge.  As of today, there are at least 1,044 school districts in the US that have policies in place to keep student transition information from parents. 

7.  DoE.  Jennifer Granholm’s Department of (No) Energy’s (DoNoE) war on energy in the US continued on its merry way January with an announcement of new efficiency standards for electrical distribution transformers.  Everything that generates electricity has to put it through multiple transformers on its way from generation to the customer.  The more generation sources you have, the more transformers you need.  Renewables like wind and solar need 10 – 100 times the number of transformers that concentrated generation like coal / natural gas / nuclear / big hydro need.  Due to the renewables push, there are shortages and price spikes for transformers.  Granholm’s DoNoE proposed efficiency standards as usual makes the problem worse, all in the name of energy efficiency.  The new regs change the type of steel used in the cores to something more difficult to manufacture.  Voila, instant shortage that will grow exponentially the more solar and wind that is mandated to be hooked up to the grid.  Comments on the new regs have been universally critical, pointing out that forcing a transformer redesign in a time of shortage is somewhere between insane to full blown lunatic.  Senate Republicans got involved a couple weeks after the new regs were proposed with legislation to shut down the new regs.  The Legal Insurrection piece on the proposal ends pointing out that given the complete incompetence in setting up charging stations for their mandated new EV fleet, maybe it is time to rein in DoNoE regulators before they manage to move all of us into a dark, cold future. 

8.  Forest.  Not being content with simply trashing the entire German economy, German greens are about to lawnmow large swaths of the Reinhardswald, the Black Forest featured in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.  The 200 km2 forest is located in a mountainous region in the SW part of Germany next to the French border.  Ownership of the forest is the key to the destruction, as none of the local governments in the region want the wind farm.  Sadly, the forest is national property and greens infesting the German national government are insisting on this “contribution” to the cause of renewable, green energy, not unlike what they are demanding of the whale population off the mid-Atlantic to New England coastline, where over 69 whales have washed up on beaches following seismic surveys for planned offshore wind farms.  Greens are claiming that lawnmowing the forest is the only way to preserve it and its “important ecosystems.”  These are the same greens who went apoplectic at felling a 3 km stretch of the Dannenroder forest in 2019 to make room for a highway. 

More later –

  • AG

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