Sunday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    Here’s a thought: What if SpaceX is pulling a Theranos?

    I’m not saying the rockets, launches, and starlink satellites are fake, nor that they are not actually recovering or re-flying used boosters.

    What I mean is the reductions on launch costs are not what SpaceX claims they are.

    Does it matter? I think it does. Right now there’s buzz building up among planetary scientists about the Starship launch system. There’s talk of launching multi-ton probes to Europa, sample returns from Mars, and even fleets of probes to any planet.

    Starship is supposed to be fully reusable, at least for launches in Earth orbit (I don’t see a Starship upper stage returning from Jupiter or Venus to be used again). The upper stage will be nearly dry after making orbit. The idea is to refuel them for further travel, be it to the Moon, Mars, Saturn or elsewhere. The lower stage would be the most powerful rocket ever launched, surpassing the Saturn V.

    Well and good. And it’s still in development, so the launch costs quoted are aspirational rather than real. But one way to gauge how realistic these are, is to look at the actual costs of SpaceX existing systems, the Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy.

    I’ve no basis for doubting SpaceX’s claims, but I also don’t know if they’ve been independently verified, nor if their accounts have been audited by a third party. For all I know, SpaceX is burning investor money in the hope that Starship will be as cheap as expected.

    At least we know Musk is not selling Falcon 9 launches and using old Russian ICBMs modified so they land back just for show.

    4
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Don’t try this at home folks:

    A homeowner in Maryland tried to fight a snake infestation with coal, only to burn their own house down, causing more than $1m in damage. Nobody was injured.

    Montgomery county fire and rescue officials notified the public about the blaze right after it happened on 23 November, describing a conflagration that left a “large two-three-story single family house with heavy fire throughout structure and roof collapse”. About 75 firefighters responded. Conditions were “dark and cold” – around -4C (25F) – as they battled the flames.

    More than a week later, the department’s public information officer revealed more details. The cause was “accidental”, they said, specifically the “homeowner using smoke to manage snake infestation”. Authorities believe the chosen heat source for the attempted serpent eradication was coals, which were located “too close to combustibles”. The fire’s area of origin was described as “basement, walls/floor”.

    I keep Miss Kitty around for snakes myself. She complains a lot but I don’t have to worry about the house. I think.

  3. CSK says:

    According to Mark Meadows, Trump had his meals catered by McDonald’s whilst he was hospitalized with Covid. (Apparently he feared the hospital staff might try to poison him, his stated reason for his preference for Mickey D’s cuisine.) His typical repast consisted of two Big Macs, two Filets o’ Fish, fries, and a chocolate shake. Calorie count: 2500. For one meal, even though he is said to eschew the buns.

    2
  4. Michael Cain says:

    @Kathy:

    I still think a more interesting question right now is, “Can the ULA continue as a going concern?” From memory, they have announced that the less than five Delta IV Heavy launches scheduled over the next three years are the end of the Delta family. They have enough engines for 25 or so Atlas V rockets, all of those are booked, and they have announced that will be the end of the Atlas family. The Vulcan Centaur is the future of their launch business, they are dependent on the BE-4 engine, and Bezos has not delivered a single flight-qualified engine to them.

    The Space Launch System, at something north of $2B per launch, looks to be a once-a-year thing. Telling that NASA has now booked a Falcon Heavy for the Europa Clipper mission because (a) SLS is simply not going to be available for launches outside the Artemis project; (b) $2B decrease in launch costs; and (c) $1B savings from not having to adapt the Clipper payload to tolerate the much higher vibration level caused by SLS’s solid fuel strap-on boosters.

    1
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Textbook case of malpractice by the hospital.

    1
  6. JohnMcC says:

    I try to keep up with the Brexit news which is mostly Irish news these days. And Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein has been in DC this week and gave a talk to the Nat’l Press Club. She said her party expects Irish unification with in 10 years. Thought some here would like to express thoughts

    https://youtu.be/zJ6jTKbhC-Q

  7. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Quite. Trump must ingest some heavy-duty statins to overcome that cholesterol overload.

  8. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    No institutional cook would poison a meal. That would be unprofessional.

    Spitting on the meal is a different matter. That’s a time-honored tradition.

    4
  9. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC: It seems to me that England would be more than happy to be shut of Northern Ireland but they can’t say so out loud.

    1
  10. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    ULA is essentially old NASA designs and practices, dating back to the very first Vanguard and Jupiter rockets. SpaceX is new built from the ground up. Still, a large part of ULA’s future is the real SpaceX cost structure.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Donald Trump’s new social media company and its special purpose acquisition company partner said on Saturday the partner had agreements for $1bn in capital from institutional investors. The former president launched Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) in October. He unveiled plans for a new messaging app called Truth Social, meant to rival Twitter and the other social media platforms that banned him following the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.
    ……………………..
    TMTG’s plan is to become a publicly listed company through a merger with the publicly traded Digital World Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company formed with the sole purpose of acquiring a private company and taking it public.

    The institutional investors were not identified in a press release issued on Saturday by TMTG and Digital World. The money would come from “a diverse group” of investors after the two companies are combined, it said.
    ……………………………….
    Trump is listed as chair of TMTG. He will get tens of millions in special bonus shares if the combined company performs well, handing the former president possibly billions of dollars in paper wealth.

    Going for the long con. Obviously it will be bankrupt within 3 years.

    2
  12. MarkedMan says:

    Some statistics from Kevin Drum and a few other places is making me wonder if the “missing” labor force in the US is due primarily to COVID deaths and long COVID.

    There are something like 4M more open jobs than normal, yet our unemployment rate is the lowest ever. This raises the question of where those missing workers are. Interestingly, it appears that they are clustered in the over 55 segment. More than 700K people 55 and older have died, and it is estimated there are 11M cases of long COVID, again, more represented in older populations.

    The Republicans may have helped create a nation of cripples.

    5
  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnMcC:

    In the aftermath of the Brixet vote, I saw an article that posited that the Irish Republic was cooling on the concept of reunification. In part from observing Germany’s experience and since the Good Friday Agreement, they’ve taken a more dispassionate view and are willing to acknowledge that Northern Ireland is an economic and social mess.

    While I don’t doubt that if the north took a vote to join an united Ireland, that the Republic wouldn’t welcome them, but the Republic could do so enthusiastically.

    1
  14. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: There’s also this:

    More than 3 million Americans retired early because of the Covid-19 crisis, new research found. That equals to more than half of the workers still missing in the labor force from pre-pandemic levels.

    The estimate, calculated by St. Louis Federal Reserve economist Miguel Faria-e-Castro, suggests that the boom in early retirements shows no sign of abating. Back in April, government surveys suggested that 2.7 million Americans age 55 or older were contemplating retiring sooner than they’d imagined.

    The surge in stocks and housing values during the pandemic has made it possible for young baby boomers with a nest egg to stop working.


    Covid Early Retirees Top 3 Million in U.S., Fed Research Shows

    Anecdotally, we’ve seen a lot of the older school bus drivers in my area just quit during the pandemic, which is a factor in the current driver shortage.

    1
  15. Mikey says:

    WaPo’s “Plum Line” says what we already knew.

    It’s time to say it: The conservatives on the Supreme Court lied to us all

    They lied.

    Yes, I’m talking about the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, and the abortion rights those justices have now made clear they will eviscerate.

    They weren’t just evasive, or vague, or deceptive. They lied. They lied to Congress and to the country, claiming they either had no opinions at all about abortion, or that their beliefs were simply irrelevant to how they would rule. They would be wise and pure, unsullied by crass policy preferences, offering impeccably objective readings of the Constitution.

    It. Was. A. Lie.

    4
  16. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:
    @Mikey:

    You cannot possibly be right, because it’s well over a year past Nov. 4th 2020, and no one talks about COVID anymore. Didn’t you notice they re-branded it as Delta and now Omicron? It was all a hoax anyway, no worse than the flu, if the flu were real, which COVID is not because it’s just a hoax to make El Cheeto look bad lots of people say that.

    1
  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The weakness with Drum’s analysis is that ~485,000 covid deaths were individuals over 65 and significant portions were already retired and out of the workforce. The interesting stat would be how many people over 55 were working before covid who are currently not working and add that to the covid deaths. I looked, but couldn’t find a quick answer to that question.

  18. CSK says:

    The Gateway Pundit and its owner Jim Hoft (The Stupidest Man on the Internet) and his twin brother Joe Hoft are being sued for defamation by two Georgia election workers.

    9
  19. Slugger says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Who would put up good money for anything involving Trump? His record of multiple strategic bankruptcies is well known. He never puts his money in, and you never get yours out. This is not a secret.

    1
  20. Kathy says:

    @Slugger:

    true. but if the early stages of the con involve stock (not stock options), you may make a killing if you sell at or before the IPO, if there is one.

    This is not to say any “investors” believe this latest trumpy venture has any merit, future, or is anything other than grift.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Not to mention early retirements.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: There’s a sucker born every minute? Either that or some rich folks are in need of a tax write off.

  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    Bob Dole has died.

    A politician that you could vehemently argue with and still enjoy a beer with later.

    RIP

    6
  24. OzarkHillbilly says:
  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Webb Space Telescope Will Rewrite Cosmic History. If It Works.

    To look back in time at the cosmos’s infancy and witness the first stars flicker on, you must first grind a mirror as big as a house. Its surface must be so smooth that, if the mirror were the scale of a continent, it would feature no hill or valley greater than ankle height. Only a mirror so huge and smooth can collect and focus the faint light coming from the farthest galaxies in the sky — light that left its source long ago and therefore shows the galaxies as they appeared in the ancient past, when the universe was young. The very faintest, farthest galaxies we would see still in the process of being born, when mysterious forces conspired in the dark and the first crops of stars started to shine.

    But to read that early chapter in the universe’s history — to learn the nature of those first, probably gargantuan stars, to learn about the invisible matter whose gravity coaxed them into being, and about the roles of magnetism and turbulence, and how enormous black holes grew and worked their way into galaxies’ centers — an exceptional mirror is not nearly enough.

    The reason no one has seen the epoch of galaxy formation is that the ancient starlight, after traveling to us through the expanding fabric of space for so many billions of years, has become stretched. Ultraviolet and visible light spewed by the farthest stars in the sky stretched to around 20-times-longer wavelengths during the journey here, becoming infrared radiation. But infrared light is the kind of atom-jiggling light we refer to as heat, the same heat that radiates from our bodies and the atmosphere and the ground beneath our feet. Alas, these local heat sources swamp the pitiful flames of primeval stars. To perceive those stars, the telescope with its big perfect mirror has to be very cold. It must be launched into space.

    The catch is that a house-size mirror is too large to fit in any rocket fairing. The mirror, then, must be able to fold up. A mirror can only fold if it’s segmented — if, instead of a single, uninterrupted surface, it’s a honeycomb array of mirror segments. But in order to collectively create sharp images, the mirror segments, after autonomously unfolding in space, must be in virtually perfect alignment. Spectacularly precise motors are needed to achieve a good focus — motors that can nudge each mirror segment by increments of half the width of a virus until they’re all in place.

    The ability to see faint infrared sources doesn’t just grant you access to the universe’s formative chapter — roughly the period from 50 million to 500 million years after the Big Bang — it would reveal other, arguably just as significant aspects of the cosmos as well, from properties of Earth-size planets orbiting other stars to the much-contested rate at which space is expanding. But for the telescope to work, one more element is required, beyond a flawless mirror that autonomously unfolds and focuses after being shot into the sky.

    Even in outer space, the Earth, moon and sun all still heat the telescope too much for it to perceive the dim twinkle of the most distant structures in the cosmos. Unless, that is, the telescope heads for a particular spot four times farther away from Earth than the moon called Lagrange point 2. There, the moon, Earth and sun all lie in the same direction, letting the telescope block out all three bodies at once by erecting a tennis court-size sunshield. Shaded in this way, the telescope can finally enter a deep chill and at long last detect the feeble heat of the cosmic dawn.

    The sunshield is both an infrared telescope’s only hope and its Achilles heel.

    In order to unfurl to large enough proportions without weighing down a rocket, the sunshield must consist of thin fabric. (The whole observatory, for that matter, including its mirrors, cameras and other instruments, its transmitters and its power sources, must have only about 2% of the typical mass of a large ground-based telescope.) Nothing about building a giant yet lightweight infrared-sensing spacecraft is easy, but the unavoidable use of fabric makes it an inherently risky affair. Fabric is, engineers say, “nondeterministic,” its movements impossible to perfectly control or predict. If the sunshield snags as it unfurls, the whole telescope will turn into space junk.

    Currently, the telescope — which has, incredibly, been built — is folded up and ready to be placed atop an Ariane 5 rocket. The rocket is scheduled for liftoff from Kourou, French Guiana, on December 22, more than 30 years after its payload, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), was first envisioned and sketched. The telescope is 14 years behind schedule and 20 times over budget. “We’ve worked as hard as we could to catch all of our mistakes and test and rehearse,” said John Mather, the Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who has been chief scientist of the NASA-led project for 25 years. Now, he said, “we’re going to put our zillion-dollar telescope on top of a stack of explosive material” and turn things over to fate.

    ………………………………….

    The launch will begin what the astronomer Natalie Batalha called “six months of pins and needles,” as the staggeringly complex telescope will attempt to unfold and focus itself in hundreds of steps. The observatory will spend a month floating 1 million miles to Lagrange point 2. On the way, it will transform into a celestial water lily, positioning its giant blossom of gold-plated mirror segments atop an even bigger silver leaf.

    “It will be our own ‘dare mighty things’ moment,” said Grant Tremblay, an astrophysicist at Harvard University who served on the telescope’s time allocation committee. “It’s going to do amazing things. We’ll be in The New York Times talking about how this is witnessing the birth of stars at the edge of time, this is one of the earliest galaxies, this is the story of other Earths.”

    “Please work,” Tremblay added, his eyes fluttering upward.

    Much more of what they hope to learn at the link.

    3
  26. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @OzarkHillbilly:
    Reaction fro a friend of mine to this news: “I hope Trump keeps his stupid fucking mouth shut.”

    RIP, Senator.

    6
  27. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: Add to that the extended family of those who have died who could well be taking time off from work to deal with all of the paperwork that goes along with dying. I’ve suggested before that covid deaths, plus long-haul health, plus those who are either dealing with grief or paperwork or had to move to help surviving family members all has likely had more impact on the labor market than we even realize.

    3
  28. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    He won’t. Attention and praise will be heaped on Dole and TFG won’t be able to stand it. Probably will call him a loser.

  29. Monala says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’ve received my local public health authority’s email newsletter since early in the pandemic. They report daily COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Deaths are reported like this: 3 deaths, including a man in his 60s from XX town -[etc].

    Typically, we have between 2 and 7 deaths s day in my county. Last year, virtually all were elderly people. This year, however, a growing number—about two-fifths— are in their 40s and 50s, with the occasional death among someone younger.

    1
  30. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Why limit it to people already dead or crippled? Since covid affects older people more, it would make sense if older people said “eh, I’m going to wait this out until there are vaccine mandates and covid is under control”

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Dole was the only former Presidential candidate at Trumps convention. I think he’ll get the “good man, smart man, big supporter of me” treatment.

  32. Michael Cain says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I spent part of my technical career worrying about “How can this thing fail?” on a variety of designs. I read a piece the other day that said the mission engineers have a list of 344 single-point-of-failure items for the Webb launch and deployment.

  33. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    Yes, but Dole commented last summer that Trump had lost the 2020 election, and that there had been no evidence of fraud committed by the Democrats. He also admitted to being “Trumped out.”

    If you’re Trump, or a Trumpkin, that’s the rankest heresy.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: The classic argument that I recall from the past for the link between NI and the UK was the shipyard in Belfast contrasted against the determination (at the time, not sure of the present) of the Irish Free State to remain pacifistic. A shipyard committed by national dictate to not building warships was claimed as unworkable.

    My understanding was that the same conditions contributed to the rejection of the suggested “sure fire” solution to “The Troubles”–burning the island to ground level and sowing the soil with salt. It’s a relief that we’ve collectively progressed away from the need to consider the issues there as intractable.

  35. JohnSF says:

    @MarkedMan:
    @JohnMcC:
    Most “non-political” English are neutral (whether disinterested or uninterested is a moot point) on the matter of Irish unification: whatever the people of Northern Ireland decide upon is fine.
    (Which is my personal view of the matter; I’m mildly sentimentally inclined to unionism, but it’s more their business than mine)

    IIRC a recent opinion poll had around 60% either “neutral” or “don’t know”; around 30% in favour; 10% against.
    The interesting thing is the politics of the Conservative Party members/active supporters.
    Or to give the party its full, official, name: The Conservative and Unionist Party.

    They are increasingly divided between the Brexiter/English Nationalist types, the Unionists (of various degrees) and the neutrals. A lot of the AngloNats would certainly prefer to jettison Northern Ireland (and Scotland) rather than compromise on Brexit.
    Ironically, they are at present in a paradoxical alliance with ultra-Unionist pro-Brexit types, both GB Conservatives and NI DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) over the Northern Ireland Protocol: the ultra-Unionists abhor it as a differentiating between Northern Ireland and Britain; the AngloNat Leavers dislike it as a compromise with the EU, and therefore definitionally a “bad thing”.

    In this context always remember: in a well-ordered universe the proper pronunciation of D.U.P. really should be dupe

    1
  36. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy:

    Musk seems to be having a big problem with the Raptor engines though…

    https://www.space.com/starship-engine-crisis-spacex-elon-musk

    Pushing the engineers to meet a production schedule in space travel sounds vaguely familiar…

  37. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    IMO to realise his dreams of becoming God-Emperor of Dune Mars, Musk needs an ultra-low relative cost-to-orbit, a functioning orbital industrial infrastucture, and the riches of Croesus. *
    That’s why I think he’s going to go for the powersat option.

    Also why Vladimir Putin is probably not on Muskies SpaceXmas card list at the mo’: anti-sat test follies are not helpful to the cause.
    Or is it folly?
    Maybe Vlad will want a price for peacefully accepting the wreckage of the current Russian extractive economy model?

    * Also needs a giant sandworm interested in cross-species hi-jinks.
    Details, details.

    1
  38. dazedandconfused says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Something has always troubled me about the method they use to detect planets around other stars. They seem to “see” something on most of the stars they look at, but it seems unlikely that the orbital plane of planets around this many stars would be aligned so they would be passing passing between that star and earth. It should be the case, even if all stars had planets, that we would only be able to see a small percentage of them with this method.

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/17-percent-of-stars-have-earth-size-planets.html

  39. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    The actual lack of enthusiasm of the governmental levels of the Republic for reunification has been an ill-kept secret for some fifty years.

  40. JohnSF says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    IIRC the argument is we do only see a very small proportion due to alignment.
    And that’s why, if the aligned proportion is random, the number that we see implies a very high proportion of all stars have planetary systems.

  41. Jax says:

    @Monala: Our tiny county has lost one person a week to Covid since the middle of September, I believe, and the age range is all over the place, the youngest being 21 so far. We’ve had a couple days with 0 new cases this last week, but I suspect they’re not catching 3/4 of the cases, anyways, most people are refusing to get tested. They just go about their business.

    1
  42. Gustopher says:

    @dazedandconfused: I thought the plane of the planetary systems are generally aligned with the plane of the galaxy.

    I would look it up, but I expect Kathy to just know. 🙂

  43. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    IIRC that article correctly, the lack of enthusiasm was seeping down to the Irish street.

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @dazedandconfused: It should be the case, even if all stars had planets, that we would only be able to see a small percentage of them with this method.

    It is the case and it was always expected to be. The Kepler telescope was/is looking at (i just read the article and already can’t remember for sure) something along the lines of 100,000-150,000 stars, and at this point have seen (same caveat as above applies) approximately 5,000 stars with planets.

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Looking at the night sky above my house, ours is not aligned with the Milky Way.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @dazedandconfused: from the European Space Agency:

    The vast majority of planetary detections so far has been achieved using the radial-velocity technique from ground-based telescopes. The method requires the light from a star to be passed through a prism and split into a spectrum, rather like water droplets in the atmosphere splitting sunlight into a rainbow.

    When the spectrum is magnified, straight black lines can be seen superimposed on the colours. These spectral lines correspond to the wavelengths of light that have been absorbed by chemicals on the surface of the star from which the light originated. Every element and molecule generates its own chemical fingerprint through unique ‘spectral lines’ at different wavelengths. These provide an indication of the amount of that element present in the object and under what conditions (like temperature and pressure).

    Studying these lines can show which stars have large planets around them. How? As the planet orbits the star, it pulls on it with its gravitational field, forcing the star into a small orbit, or wobble. It makes it look as if the star is pirouetting around a point in space. The star will sometimes be spinning towards Earth and at other times spinning away.

    When the star moves towards Earth, the wavelengths of the spectral lines in the light it emits move towards the blue end of the spectrum. When the star travels away from Earth, the opposite happens, and the wavelengths are moved towards the red part of the spectrum. Astronomers therefore look for stars where the spectral lines are moving back and forth, since these must be the ones with planets in orbit around them. By measuring the amount of movement with time, the mass of the planet and its orbit can be determined.

    This technique is limited, however, because it will never be able to detect small, Earth-sized worlds. With the best spectroscopes, astronomers can confidently detect motions of about 15 metres per second. However, Earth only forces the Sun to move at 0.1 metres per second. Even if a spectroscope could be made to detect this, the boiling of the star’s gaseous surface (the acoustical modes studied on the SUN by ESA’s SoHo and to be studied on stars with the COROT mission) would mask the effect of the planet.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: whoops, that link was more than 15 years old. Since then we have launched a satellite observatory dedicated to looking for transits.

  48. steve says:

    For those following omicron, a number of right wing sites were claiming that it was only infecting the vaccinated. This is from the Tshwane District Hospital.

    “Of 38 adults in the COVID wards on 2 December 2021, 6 were vaccinated, 24 were unvaccinated and 8 had unknown vaccination status. Of 9 patients with COVID pneumonia 8 are unvaccinated, 1 is a child. Only a single patient on oxygen was fully vaccinated but the reason for the oxygen was Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.”

    Steve

    1
  49. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Geometry is mostly math, therefore I suck at it.

    I do know planets in the Solar System are not lined up at 0 degrees to the Sun’s equator, and we can assume this is so for other stars as well. Therefore there must be a large number of planetary transits we can see around other stars.

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Got a carpenter’s eye view on the solar plane (Jupiter and Saturn) v the galactic plane (milky way is quite visible here most nights) and they are off by 20-25 degrees.

    For what it’s worth.

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: The Keppler telescope. It was retired in 2018.

    On October 30, 2018, after the spacecraft ran out of fuel, NASA announced that the telescope would be retired.[42] The telescope was shut down the same day, bringing an end to its nine-year service. Kepler observed 530,506 stars and discovered 2,662 exoplanets over its lifetime.[14] A newer NASA mission, TESS, launched in 2018, is continuing the search for exoplanets.[43]

  52. Kathy says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    It seems to be a manufacturing problem. That may delay the program, but not end it. Of course, delaying the program may end the company.

    @JohnSF:

    Well, he hasn’t said something really crazy like single stage to orbit yet.

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I just looked this up and it appears the orientation of planetary systems is independent of the plane of the milky way. For instance, we are almost perpendicular

  54. Kathy says:

    There were several aviation anniversaries this past week.

    December first marked 20 years since TWA’s last flight, after it was taken over by American Airlines.

    December second marks 82 years of the opening of LaGuardia Airoprt.

    And December 4th marks 30 years since the end of Pan Am.

    TWA is commemorated with the TWA Hotel at JFK, complete with a memorabilia museum and a cocktail lounge in a vintage Connie.

    There have been several attempts to name latter airlines Pan Am, but none have succeeded for more than a handful of years.

  55. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: @OzarkHillbilly: Clearly, one of you is lying. 😉

    (My Google search claims 60° to almost perpendicular, with different sources citing different things. If we take the 60° number, and if the tilt of the Earth’s axis is just right so it minimizes the difference, then I can see the observations of the Milky Way in the sky making sense… which matches my belief from somewhere that when you see the Milky Way it is mostly East-West, although I never leave areas where there is light)

    I am disappointed that solar systems are all Willy-nilly with tilt though, since I want angular momentum to make them either parallel or perpendicular (I don’t really care which, angular momentum should just pick one and be consistent)

    ETA; I was able to get a degree symbol AND an edit box? I’m sure there is some terrible typo that I am unable to see…