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[Markets] NASA Satellites Spot Dust-pocalypse Headed To Americas  NASA Satellites Spot Dust-pocalypse Headed To Americas 

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite attached to NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite spotted what appears to be a dust storm blowing off the Sahara Desert and into the waters of the Atlantic Basin, where it could eventually end up in the Americas. 

NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite took the image on June 4. A more recent update shows the dust is well over the central Atlantic Ocean by Tuesday. 

Weather modeling via meteorologist John Gerard suggests this is "the beginning of the Saharan Dust season soon, satellite indicates the first large plume of the summer has emerged off the coast of Africa now and should arrive in Florida by next week."

Texas Division of Emergency Management's meteorologist John Honoré says, "It's that time of year again. Saharan dust is working its way across the Atlantic this week." 

"The African easterly jet [stream] exports the dust from Africa towards the Atlantic region," Bing Pu, a geologist and atmospheric scientist at the University of Kansas, said in a NASA press release. "Then the North Atlantic subtropical high, which is a high-pressure system sitting over the subtropical North Atlantic, can further transport it towards the Caribbean region. The Caribbean low-level jet, along with the subtropical high, can further transport the dust from the Caribbean region towards the [U.S.]."

The storm comes about one year after a massive dust storm from the Sahara blanketed the Caribbean region and the Gulf of Mexico. 

So it appears the Sahara dust is back, and it's already approaching parts of the Caribbean Sea. Next stop the U.S.? 

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/08/2021 - 19:05
Published:6/8/2021 6:26:02 PM
[Markets] Goldman's Clients Are Asking How Various Inflation Regimes Affect Stocks: Here Is The Answer Goldman's Clients Are Asking How Various Inflation Regimes Affect Stocks: Here Is The Answer

Picking up on a joke we made earlier this week when we called Joe Biden the Six Trillion Dollar Man (in homage to a very deflationary Lee Majors) in response to the 12 zeroes contained in his budget, in his latest Weekly Kickstart note Goldman's David Kostin writes that...

by at least one measure, inflation has been rampant during the past 50 years, noting that in 1973, Steve Austin was the most powerful man in the world, with super strength in his right arm, a bionic eye, and artificial legs that could run 60 mph. It cost the federal government $6 million to re-build the NASA astronaut into the bionic man, played by Lee Majors in the hit TV series, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

Fast forward to today, often sporting his trademark 1970s-style aviator sunglasses, President Joe Biden is the most powerful man in the world.Biden is the $6 trillion man when his three 2021 fiscal spending plans are combined: the $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan that was passed in March, the $2.0 trillion American infrastructure plan proposed in April, and the $1.8 trillion American families plan proposed in May. If all three proposals are passed by Congress, it would represent an unprecedented level of peacetime spending in relation to the size of the underlying economy. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the latter two plans pass Congress.

And while it increasingly looks like Biden's original $6 trillion proposal will be substantially reduced - and may even collapse should it not gather the required support from centrist democrats - Goldman's economists did not wait to find out what happens and recently raised their near-term inflation forecasts even as they maintained their expectation that inflation will begin to abate later in the year. In April, both core PCE (+3.1% y/y) and core CPI (+3.0% y/y) exceeded expectations and notched highs not seen in more than two decades. In turn, Goldman's economists expect that core PCE will register 2.5% at the end of 2021 and decline to 2.1% during 2022.

To be sure, after initially freaking out about a deluge of inflation, the growing likelihood that Biden's stimulus package will be materially diluted is why equity market performance has already shown a recent unwinding of inflation concerns. As Goldman notes, In March, amidst fears about rising inflation, stocks with high pricing power

... began to outperform those with low pricing power, reversing 5 months of low pricing power outperformance as the economy recovered. However, during the past few weeks, low pricing power stocks have outperformed again (7% vs. 3%). At the same time, the interest rate 10-year inflation breakevens has declined by 14 bps to 2.4%, suggesting inflation fears priced by both equity and debt markets are easing.

Not surprisingly, this whiplash has prompted most of Goldman's recent client discussions to focus on inflation and its implications for equities.And, as Kostin explains, investors ask just one thing: “how does inflation affect corporate earnings and stock valuations?”

Answering this recurring question, Goldman's Kostin notes that while inflation has mixed implications for earnings, it is generally a positive (as long as it is not hyperinflation in which case all bets are off of course). Kostin then reveals that in the bank's top-down sector-level earnings models, inflation consistently has positive coefficients for sales and negative coefficients for margins. On net, however, Goldman argues that "the boost to nominal sales growth through rising prices typically more than offsets inflation-driven margin compression." While one can debate this, it is certainly the case that companies with revenues tied to commodities, like Energy, or interest rates, such as Financials, are the largest beneficiaries from strong inflation regimes.

That said, inflation becomes a headwind to valuations if it leads to expectations of Fed tightening and thus higher real interest rates. And as Morgan Stanley has argued as part of its mid-cycle transition thesis, S&P 500 returns have been consistently positively correlated with breakeven inflation but valuations have typically contracted alongside sharp increases in real interest rates (as a reminder, MS expects PE multiples to shrink 15% in the next 6 months).

On the other hand, and adding to the complexity, the Fed has indicated it will not tighten the funds rate before seeing prolonged labor market improvement resulting in broad wage gains, particularly at the lower end of the income spectrum. In the past, the S&P 500 P/E multiple has typically expanded during periods of falling inflation and interest rates.

For the record, Goldman's economists forecast the yield curve will steepen in 2021 and 2022, with the funds rate unchanged while the 10-year yield rises from 1.6% today to 1.9% and 2.1% at year-end 2021 and 2022.

Here Kostin makes another valiant attempt to ease worries about runaway inflation, claiming that although inflation is generally a negative impulse for valuation multiples, "recent popular investor focus on earnings yield less the inflation rate is misplaced" and here's why:

Investors concerned by this metric note that it has fallen to its lowest point since the peak of the Tech Bubble in 2000 and suggests the return from owning equities is erased by inflation. We disagree with this interpretation. First, equity earnings and the prices tied to them are nominal and typically rise with inflation. Second, even inflation hawks agree that the most recent prints are biased by base effects and reopening dynamics. In contrast to the gap between the earnings yield and inflation, the EPS yield gap versus the 10-year US Treasury yield, which is commonly used as a proxy for equity risk premium, actually remains above its long-term average. See Exhibit 1.

Kostin's spin aside, it is undisputable that overall, stocks perform better during periods of low inflation than when inflation is high. Goldman categorizes periods since 1962 into those of high and low inflation by comparing year/year core CPI to the Fed’s estimate of consensus long-term inflation expectations. Exhibit 2 clearly shows two inflationary regimes during the past 60 years: The first 20 years (1962-1980) and the past 40 years.

During the first period - which culminated with Volcker hiking rates to 20% - core CPI averaged 5.3% and registered above the long-term estimate 69% of the time.

Since 1962, both pre-and post-1980, the median monthly US equity market real return during high inflation environments has been an annualized 9% vs. 15% during periods of low inflation. As shown in the chart below, periods of high inflation have corresponded with the outperformance of Health Care, Energy, Real Estate, and Consumer Staples sectors, while Materials and Technology stocks have fared the worst in high inflation environments. Surprisingly, Value and Size factors have not performed very differently in periods of high versus low inflation.

Finally, drilling down a little deeper, equity performance has differed greatly in periods where inflation was high and rising versus high and falling.The median monthly market real return has been 2% annualized in phases where inflation was high and rising vs. 15% when inflation was high and falling. At the factor level, Value has generally fared better when inflation was high and rising than when it was high and falling. Among sectors, although Energy and Health Care have outperformed in periods of high inflation, they have performed much better when inflation was rising than falling.

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/06/2021 - 19:00
Published:6/6/2021 6:11:32 PM
[Markets] NASA's Mars Helicopter Prepares For 7th Flight On Sunday NASA's Mars Helicopter Prepares For 7th Flight On Sunday

Liftoff of NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity will occur no later than today if all goes to plan, according to a NASA press release. 

Ingenuity, a small robotic helicopter weighing no more than 4 pounds, is preparing for its seventh flight today. The mission is to fly Ingenuity 350 feet south from its current location on the floor of Jezero Crater. 

"This will mark the second time the helicopter will land at an airfield that it did not survey from the air during a previous flight," NASA wrote. "Instead, the Ingenuity team is relying on imagery collected by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that suggests this new base of operations is relatively flat and has few surface obstructions."

On May 22, Ingenuity flew its sixth mission that did not go so well. The solar-powered helicopter experienced glitches that interrupted internal systems. There was no mention of what caused the glitches; the craft was able to land safely. 

Ingenuity has marvelously performed five flights and beamed incredible images from Mars back to Earth. 

NASA also has the Perseverance rover conducting land-based missions in the search for life. 

In the last couple of months, the Red Planet has become a hotspot for the US and China, with China landing a rover of its own on the planet.

Sudden interest in Mars between both countries is because the planet allegedly has an abundance of rare metals that will power tomorrow's economy. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/06/2021 - 16:30
Published:6/6/2021 3:43:00 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA Plans to Launch First American Mission to Venus Since 1989

DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions will launch to Venus in the late 2020s.

The post NASA Plans to Launch First American Mission to Venus Since 1989 first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:6/4/2021 12:28:01 PM
[] NASA plans two future visits to Venus Published:6/2/2021 9:42:16 PM
[Markets] Space Junk Damages Part Of International Space Station Space Junk Damages Part Of International Space Station

Amid fears of increasing space junk in low Earth orbit, a robotic arm attached to the International Space Station (ISS) has been damaged by space junk. 

In a blog post, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) said a routine inspection on May 12 uncovered a small, untrackable piece of space junk that struck Canadarm2, which is a Canadian robotic arm on ISS used to conduct station maintenance. 

"Canadarm2 is continuing to conduct its planned operations," said the CSA. "The damage is limited to a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket." 

The statement also explained that NASA and CSA would work together to find out more about the impact. CSA said near-term robotic operations will continue as plan. 

Over decades, debris from satellites, rockets, and other space devices has been locked in orbit. A lot of the junk is building up and could cause significant damage to the ISS and functioning satellites.

According to the CSA, "over 23,000 objects the size of a softball or larger are tracked 24/7 to detect potential collisions with satellites and the ISS." Yet as these items deteriorate and break apart, they produce smaller debris that can't be tracked, posing additional risk to space-based operations. 

The European Space Agency (ESA) said many of these objects are accumulating rocket boosters, defunct satellites, and spaceborne shrapnel. It estimates up to 160 million objects measuring upwards of a millimeter are clogging up low Earth orbit. 

In its annual 2020 report, ESA showed that the number of "fragmentation events" has soared over the last three decades. 

Though these fragments may be small, they travel at thousands of miles per hour and can easily pierce satellites and other spacecraft, resulting in ESA and NASA calling for action against space debris. 

Planned for 2025, the ESA recently awarded the Swiss startup company Clearpace, a $117 million contract, to remove space debris from orbit. 

If readers are curious about just how much space junk is floating above, ESA's animation shows an incredible view of all the debris:  

Meanwhile, Elon Musk is expected to launch thousands of Starlink satellites into space which could cause further traffic jams in orbit. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/31/2021 - 23:30
Published:5/31/2021 10:56:58 PM
[Markets] Why China Could Vanquish The US In New Space Race Why China Could Vanquish The US In New Space Race

Authored by Brandon Weichert via RealClearPolitics.com,

There are now only two nations in the history of humanity that have successfully landed rovers on the surface of the Red Planet: The United States and the People’s Republic of China. You can expect this to be the dominant headline in all matters related to space for many years to come. After all, humanity is due for another round of great state competition and it seems that the two major contenders in this strategic competition will be the United States and China.

For too long Western observers have downplayed China’s rapidly growing space technology industry. The Chinese Martian rover, Zhurong, is nowhere near as advanced as NASA’s Perseverance, which recently made headlines. Yet, it took NASA almost 30 years to reach the level of complexity in its rover operations that the storied American space agency now enjoys. Certainly, China can expect to stay trailing the Yanks for many years to come — or so argue the naysayers who downplay the threat that China’s ambitious, though less advanced, space program poses to the United States.

Suppose it doesn’t take several decades for Beijing to catch up to the Americans in space. After all, there are no greater teachers than experience and competition. For the former, China learns by doing — and Beijing embraces a leap-without-looking mentality that once defined America’s storied program.

As for competition, China truly believes it is in a new space race with the Americans whereas most American leaders do not. The new space race between these nations will determine not only who gets human beings to Mars first, but also will decide which one dominates the strategic high ground of space (and whoever controls the high ground rules the territory below).

Right now, the Americans hold this position — but barely.

China’s competitive and nationalistic view of space means that, unless the Americans fundamentally change the way they operate, the United States will be knocked from its perch in space — in much the same way the British denied the French access to North America in the 19th century.

How do the Americans view space?

Some — the naysayers — have a pessimistic outlook. They (wrongly) believe it is a vast wasteland that will do nothing other than drain our country of vital resources. Others, the utopians, believe space can be maintained as a sanctuary and that the Americans can cooperate with China to share space.

Fat chance.

If Washington viewed space as China’s rulers do, they’d be authorizing the $1 trillion, decade-long investment into the program and other high-technology pursuits that I’ve been advocating. American leaders from both parties would be cutting through the bureaucratic red tape to ensure that the best elements of our budding private space sector were married to nationalistic goals for dominance. We’d have astronauts on Mars by now, too.

Look at it this way: China’s space program did not take serious flight until 2003. By that time, America had been dominating the stars for decades. In 2003, China first placed a taikonaut into orbit. During the intervening 18 years, Beijing has not only repeatedly placed its people into Earth orbit, but has successfully developed counterspace capabilities (weapons intended to deny others access to space in the event of a war). Beijing has landed the first rover on the dark side of the moon in history. Red China has also successfully placed the first of three components necessary to complete their modular space station which is meant to rival the American-built International Space Station. Now, China has its first (of many) rovers on the Martian surface.

Where will China’s space program be in another 18 years?

Beijing leaders have already outlined their plans for the next decade: by 2024, to have an automated base built on the south pole of the moon. In 2028, Chinese (and possibly Russian) personnel will be permanently stationed at that lunar base.

China seeks to have taikonauts on the Martian surface by 2030.

The same naysayers in the West who’ve laughed off China’s space ambitions for the last two decades now scoff at its achievements made in that time. These naysayers continue to belittle China’s chances of achieving its space dreams. Meanwhile, the utopians pine for joint missions -- which would only serve as tech transfers from America to China. So long as American policymakers listen to these voices, China will catch up and ultimately beat America in this new competition.

Unlike the American government, China’s regime has identified dominating space as a key tenet for their “China Dream 2049” program. By the 100-year anniversary of the rise of Communist Party in China, 2049, Beijing’s leaders envision their nation displacing the United States as the world’s hegemon. Raising the Chinese flag on Mars first is a major goal in that regard.

In the meantime, Washington is still holding up America’s manned space program until a female-friendly space suit can be made.

This is what losing looks like, America.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/30/2021 - 22:50
Published:5/30/2021 9:57:35 PM
[Markets] Space Plane Startup Promises Los Angeles To Tokyo In One Hour  Space Plane Startup Promises Los Angeles To Tokyo In One Hour 

Modern transportation is experiencing significant upgrades thanks to transformative technologies. A startup space plane company is promising hypersonic flight worldwide and travel times to anywhere in about an hour. 

Venus Aerospace is building a passenger aircraft that will revolutionize the world's transportation sector with hypersonic flight. The company raised $3 million in a March funding round. It plans to build a Mach 12 hypersonic aircraft designed to travel at the edge of space, allowing passengers to go from Los Angeles to Tokyo in one hour.

Traveling in a space plane is sort of like traveling in a regular plane, except for when the pilot initiates rocket boosters mid-flight that propels it to the edge of space. The aircraft then glides back into the atmosphere and can land at any conventional airport. 

Two former Virgin Orbit employees started Venus: Sarah Duggleby, a launch engineer, and her husband, Andrew, who manages launch, payload, and propulsion operations.

"Every few decades humans attempt this," Andrew Duggleby told Bloomberg, as for now, the dream of high-speed global travel is in reach because of new rocket engine and hypersonic technologies. "This time, it will work."

The Dugglebys say their space plan has more efficient engines, wings, landing gear, and jet engines that allow it to take off like a commercial airliner. 

Jack Fisher, a former NASA astronaut who analyzed Venus' plans, said the initial blast of acceleration "throws you back in your seat" but soon dissipates because "you get going so fast that you don't even feel it anymore."

Three scale models of the space plane will be tested this summer. The project is expected to take at least a decade of testing before commercialization. 

If the technology works, Venus will have to decide if the plane is for commercial or military use first. Already, the husband and wife team, with a dozen employees, have secured a research grant from the U.S. Air Force.

Sassie Duggleby suggests the superfast space plane is for "regular people."  

Before hypersonic space planes, we suspect supersonic ones would be commercialized first, at the end of this decade.  

The Federal Aviation Administration is already issuing new regulations around supersonic travel as multiple startups are working on developing supersonic aircraft.  

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/29/2021 - 23:00
Published:5/29/2021 10:12:18 PM
[Markets] NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures Stunning Martian Clouds NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures Stunning Martian Clouds

NASA's Curiosity rover captured a stunning snapshot of what appears to be a cloudy day in the Arizona desert, but this picture is actually a cloudy day on Mars. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) released multiple images documenting cloudy days in the thin, dry atmosphere of the Red Planet. 

"Clouds are typically found at the planet's equator in the coldest time of year, when Mars is the farthest from the Sun in its oval-shaped orbit. But one full Martian year ago – two Earth years – scientists noticed clouds forming over NASA's Curiosity rover earlier than expected," NASA JPL's press release read. 

Curiosity has taken about 21 photographs of the strange Martian clouds over Gale Crater. 

This year, they were ready to start documenting these "early" clouds from the moment they first appeared in late January. What resulted are images of wispy puffs filled with ice crystals that scattered light from the setting Sun, some of them shimmering with color. More than just spectacular displays, such images help scientists understand how clouds form on Mars and why these recent ones are different. 

In fact, Curiosity's team has already made one new discovery: The early-arrival clouds are actually at higher altitudes than is typical. Most Martian clouds hover no more than about 37 miles (60 kilometers) in the sky and are composed of water ice. But the clouds Curiosity has imaged are at a higher altitude, where it's very cold, indicating that they are likely made of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice. Scientists look for subtle clues to establish a cloud's altitude, and it will take more analysis to say for sure which of Curiosity's recent images show water-ice clouds and which show dry-ice ones. - NASA JPL

This GIF shows clouds floating over Mount Sharp on Mars. The rover took these photos in mid-March. 

In late March, the rover took more photos of clouds just after sunset. 

Another GIF of Martian clouds after sunset about 37 miles in the sky and are primarily composed of water ice and sometimes offer a colorful display. 

"If you see a cloud with a shimmery pastel set of colors in it, that's because the cloud particles are all nearly identical in size," said Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "That's usually happening just after the clouds have formed and have all grown at the same rate."

"I always marvel at the colors that show up: reds and greens and blues and purples," Lemmon said. "It's really cool to see something shining with lots of color on Mars."

Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in August 2012 and is still operating. The rover was designed to explore the Gale crater as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. What's been grabbing all the headlines this year has been NASA's Perseverance rover and the tiny robotic, coaxial helicopter Ingenuity, which landed on the planet in mid-February. Also, China landed its rover on the plant weeks ago. 

Mars is becoming a highly focused planet because it contains many valuable resources, including rare metals, that have ignited a new rush by global superpowers to conduct future space mining missions. Before Mars is mined, the Moon will likely experience mining operations first. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/29/2021 - 11:35
Published:5/29/2021 10:46:30 AM
[Markets] Lockheed, GM Team-Up To Develop Next-Gen Lunar Rover For Astronauts  Lockheed, GM Team-Up To Develop Next-Gen Lunar Rover For Astronauts 

Lockheed Martin and General Motors are teaming to develop the next-generation lunar vehicle for NASA's upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon. 

The Artemis program aims to land astronauts on the lunar surface by the midpoint of the decade. For exploration purposes, astronauts will need "surface mobility that is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts," a Lockheed press release read

The new lunar vehicle "may allow astronauts to explore the lunar surface in unprecedented fashion and support discovery in places where humans have never gone before," the defense contract continued. 

"This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles," said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. "Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity's understanding of our place in the solar system."

NASA's request for a next-generation lunar vehicle comes as GM, more than half a century ago, helped Boeing to create the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) for the Apollo mission to the Moon in 1969. 

"General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon," said Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors. "Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again."

GM will leverage its battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems to allow the rover to have a much greater range than the electric Apollo LRV. It will also incorporate autonomous, self-driving systems that will enable the rover to prepare for human landings, provide payload services, and allow astronauts to explore farther distances. 

Lockheed Martin said the lunar rover is "being designed to traverse significantly farther distances to support the first excursions of the moon's south pole, where it is cold and dark with more rugged terrain."

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/27/2021 - 20:20
Published:5/27/2021 7:26:33 PM
[Markets] "What The Hell Is Going On - 2020 Edition" - Chamath's Annual Letter Warns That "People Have Stopped Thinking For Themselves" "What The Hell Is Going On - 2020 Edition" - Chamath's Annual Letter Warns That "People Have Stopped Thinking For Themselves"

While many of the SPACs he has sponsored have seen less than stellar returns, Chamath Palihapitiya and his VC firm, Social Capital, are doing just fine.  Palihapitiya has been a player in Silicon Valley for years, but thanks to the SPAC boom, 2020 was a breakout year for the former Facebook employee. Not only did he rake in profits for his firm and his investors, but SPACs have changed the nature of the IPO process

Somewhat lost in all the excitement of the SPAC boom is the fact that Social Capital is a VC firm that has invested in more than 70 companies during the past decade, which has been a lucrative one for Silicon Valley. Social Capital has backed many a winner, including Slack, SurveyMonkey, Wave (acquired by H&R Block) and Yammer (which was acquired by Microsoft). Its entire portfolio is listed here.

Between 2011 and 2020, Social Capital has achieved a Gross Internal Rate of Return equivalent to 1,441%, compared with just 248% for the S&P 500. But as Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon and Jeff Bezos have shown, annual investor letters aren't so much about sharing returns, but are about allowing the CEO to pontificate about issues near and dear to their hearts.

And Palihapitiya, whose interviews and tweets draw a large audience, didn't disappoint. In a section entitled "What the hell is going on - 2020 edition", Palihapitiya opened with one of the most quoted lines penned by Charles Dickens - "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." before progressing to other topics from BLM, to obesity to the fact that "people have stopped thinking for themselves."

We have reproduced the entire section below (emphasis ours):

What the hell is going on - 2020 edition

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

Most of us recognize this as the famous beginning of Charles Dickens’ 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens wrote about the years leading up to the French Revolution and is about two men who are, in some ways the same, but in others completely different. In hindsight, 2020 can be described in equivalent terms.

On the one hand, 2020 was a witness to the ongoing compounding of prosperity, health, life expectancy and wealth that has symbolized the post World War II 20th and 21st centuries thus far. But at the same time, through the lens of COVID-19, 2020 introduced us to the fragility of our lungs, our borders, our institutions and our compassion with many lives lost and many mistakes made.

In no world was the coronavirus pandemic a blessing but it was instructive. What was laid bare in the cloud of 2020 was, if taken positively, a roadmap for us to follow if we want to rebuild that “shining city upon a hill” again.

Globalization as we know it is over

This, in our opinion, is the largest macro force at play coming out of the pandemic, but it is still poorly understood. First, some history. When historians describe the period from 1980 to 2020, they may initially focus on Paul Volcker’s fight to rein in runaway inflation but it will quickly move to 1994. In 1994, Deng Xiaoping’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics” faced a reckoning with the devaluation of the RMB to the US Dollar. While a currency devaluation may not mean much to most people, the implications of this one were immense. Overnight, China’s currency became almost 40% more competitive and the West was flooded with an amazing production surplus. We were able to buy things made in China at a huge discount, so we bought more and more, building an insatiable demand of retail consumption.

This currency devaluation also had several advantages for China. With a large demographic bulge of young people, the government was able to put these hard working and ambitious people to work in all manner of factories. In turn, these factories were increasingly running 24 hours per day feeding the West’s insatiable appetite for consumption - and a virtuous cycle was born. China was then able to take the proceeds of this activity and invest heavily in its own infrastructure, running massive yearly GDP gains and eventually becoming the 2nd most important economy in the world.

Other Asian countries, not willing to stand on the sidelines, joined the devaluation fun and by the turn of the century, we had seen an entire block of countries devalue their currency relative to the US Dollar further exacerbating the trade deficit/surplus between the West and Asia.

Then in 2001, the other shoe fell.

With President Bush increasingly pushing for a war in Iraq, he also advocated for China to become a member of the World Trade Organization. By December of 2001 China was admitted to the WTO and in November of 2002, China supported the UN Security Council resolution that created the pretext for the US invasion of Iraq. Within the course of a few months, the US became distracted by fighting a protracted and oddball war in the Middle East while China was able to focus on scaling their economy and building wealth. The US was spending money needlessly while China was saving and investing.

Then, because of China’s admission to the WTO and the normalized trade relations that came with it, globalization was supercharged. Companies in the West were not just incentivized to buy cheap Chinese goods, they also had a mechanism to export jobs to, and invest heavily in, China. All of this, as we know now, ultimately hollowed out the American middle class, created the Rust Belt, lit the fuse on the opioid crisis and enabled a resurgence of both left and right populism. The kill shot to globalization came in 2016 with the election of President Trump - it was the disenchanted protest vote heard around the world.

“Just in time” was a feature and is now a bug

We should note that despite all of the issues with globalization noted above, we were not allowed to be anything but positive about globalization until the pandemic.

During the pandemic, facing critical shortages of goods like PPE, it became clear that globalization had created a fragile ecosystem which was optimized for “just in time” instead of “under all circumstances”. The former is cheaper and faster while the latter manages corner cases and reliability despite being inefficient and costly.

Now it’s easy to be anti-globalization and advocate a hyper balkanized world view. But the problem is that if each country was forced to be self-sufficient, it is akin to advocating for the Dark Ages. Instead, a more reasonable middle ground is a world where we value a handful of trading partners for critical resources, metals and supply chains versus just one. While no one country will get rich quickly under this model, and while it will likely be more inefficient and cause prices to rise, it will also allow many countries to create lots of middle class jobs for their populations (ie the circa 2000 China playbook but for everyone).

Based on this, we see many new investment opportunities in all things “resiliency”. In rebuilding supply chains for rare earths, battery metals, semiconductors, additive manufacturing and many other end markets, we believe we will see a resurgence of the American middle class and our manufacturing prowess. This will also have a secular, positive impact on commodity prices, as well as creating a new generation of technology companies who view “under all circumstances” as a feature and “just in time” as a historical artifact.

Basically, by the end of 2020, we essentially learned that the original manifestation of globalization was like sugar. In the right quantities, it’s hard to beat, but if there is too much of it, it will lead to cavities and disease.

We have an epidemic of obesity

Speaking of disease, simply put, the pandemic told us an ugly truth: we are a nation of overweight and obese people and it's getting worse. At the end of 2020, 42.4% of all Americans were obese. If being obese wasn’t psychologically and physiologically hard enough, the pandemic made clear that it was also an acute killer. Of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19, 78% were overweight or obese. Further, the mortality rate for this cohort was 20%. Chained probabilities mean that if you are overweight/obese and you are hospitalized with the next variant of covid you have a (78% * 20%) = 15.6% chance of dying. And each new year, and with every new variant, you have a new 15.6% chance of dying. At some point, it's impossible to outrun these odds.

We have a responsibility to recognize this as the epidemic that it is and start to address it in scaleable ways. The most difficult thing to fix, but where tremendous value will come from, is improvements to our domestic food supply. American’s have become addicted to cheap food high in sugar, preservatives and other additives. It’s not clear that there is a sustainable food supply that can be created at the same price point but this is where we need to invest engineering, science and government resources. It is possible to imagine a domestic food supply that is rich in nutrients, free of pesticides and engineered to taste good that can satiate the American palate. If we don’t, and the next pandemic doesn’t kill us, then over the next few decades, the chronic care of America’s obese population will.

People have stopped thinking for themselves

Part of what led to our obesity epidemic were lies about fats versus sugars. The issue of truth has only become more exacerbated. In fact, the most pernicious issue with the pandemic was how rife it was with a lack of information, disinformation and misinformation. The often conflicting and inconclusive statements from our institutions: CDC, WHO, POTUS, FDA disappointed many. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Clean surfaces regularly. Surfaces don’t pass COVID-19. Ingest bleach. Don’t ingest bleach. Don’t take this vaccine because it causes clots. Actually, that’s not true, take it.

As all of this conflicting information was put into the world on the same level playing field, average people were left to scratch their heads in confusion, paralyzed with fear or invent their own conspiracy theories to explain it to themselves.

In fact, all of this mis/disinformation had a very sinister result. Instead of making the issue simpler to understand, we started a dangerous new trend of making science about interpretation vs facts. Every day of the pandemic, we saw various ways of interpreting data, facts, cohorts and theories to maximize clicks and confusion and minimize rational decision making. Even worse, we stopped iterating, we stopped changing our minds through data and instead we allowed bad decisions to fester because saving face became more important than good decisions. This is a dangerous trend which will undoubtedly spill into many other organizations we rely on unless we do something.

In a world of social media where everyone has a megaphone, we need to increasingly rely on institutions for the truth, not the opposite. But the pandemic has further eroded this expectation and has drawn opinion lines around science. The implications of this for future pandemics, natural disasters or broad public agreement on big issues is concerning - especially as we leave the pandemic, survey the damage and try to return to normal.

Inequality and climate change are getting worse

If we entered 2020 precariously trying to manage the growing inequality we have in America, we left with even fewer answers and new levels of anger and discontent. The trillions of dollars printed by the Federal Reserve in 2020 were critical to ensuring well functioning capital markets, but it also exacerbated the asset inflation that separates average Americans from the wealthiest ones. Despite a raging pandemic, large unemployment and negative GDP, the S&P 500 returned 17.88% in 2020 (with dividends reinvested). It’s likely that most Americans didn’t feel 17.88% richer or more secure by the end of 2020 but financial assets seemed to not listen.

At the same time, despite an entire world in a lockdown, the effects of climate change continued unchallenged. In fact, per NASA, despite much less economic activity, 2020 was not only the warmest year on record, it added to a trend where now the last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record. At this rate, the impacts to the Earth’s biodiversity and resource scarcity (food, water) are unavoidable.

BLM

Finally, as we look back on 2020, we need to talk about Black Lives Matter. While we all want to live in a world where stating the obvious isn’t necessary, this is what millions of people were forced to do throughout America in 2020. The overwhelming majority of BLM protests were just that - peaceful statements of disapproval about the status quo. The reason is that over decades, we have allowed systemic racism and unconscious bias to affect how an entire class of people are treated - by the justice system, by the penal system, by the social welfare system, by the education system and the list goes on - because of the color of their skin. In no reasonable, moral worldview is this acceptable. Even in the most reductionist worldview, if it could happen to them, then why not to you? The point is that equality is a pillar of the US democracy...not an expendable feature that can come and go.

To wit, we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge and we need to acknowledge that this has happened and begin the hard work of finding solutions. Again, as in other areas, the immediate reflexive reaction is to swing the pendulum wildly to the other side which is what politicizes the issue and stops progress. Is the solution to BLM and improving policing of black and brown lives to wildly decarcerate? No. It’s a more nuanced middle ground where you can logically support BLM, training and accountability for police and law and order all at the same time. I think we will find that this kind of nuance has broad support across America for the politician willing to take this middle ground.

Insiders vs Outsiders

In all of these issues - inequality, climate change and BLM among many others, lies an important emerging truth about how, in 2021, solutions can be found and coalitions built. In order to truly address the root causes of inequality, climate change or systemic racism we need to acknowledge what brought us here.

Again, some history. The modern media landscape before social media was about a few, trusted outlets that became the tastemakers for the broad majority of people. If you didn’t like the opinion of CBS News, you could always switch to ABC or NBC. Through the social media lens of 2020, having a choice between ABC News, NBC News and CBS News is akin to the famous Henry Ford quote that:

“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”

The implications of this monocultural interpretation of facts and truth were vast and, in hindsight, somewhat predictable. There were a few outlets (NBC, CBS, ABC) that catalyzed opinions and views - and as long as they stayed relatively centered, not much could go wrong. At the same time, it also turned out that systemic injustices would continue to compound with no obvious way to shine a light on and fix them unless these three outlets decided to do so.

This hasn’t just been a problem of broadcast TV. In fact, many of the most important issues of our time were the byproduct of business model decisions within the media landscape that were poorly thought through, if at all.

Take for example, the rampant inflation in the price of US private universities.

What does this have to do with the media? The prices of US private universities were relatively stable until they exploded in 1983. As it turns out, 1983 was also the year that US News & World Report started their Best Colleges Ranking issue. In it, they amplified artificial markers of admissions exclusivity including selection rate and cost. This fed the university administrators and parents with a new kind of insecurity that was masterfully, and perhaps inadvertently, exploited to create the higher education system we now have. As they sold more ads and sold more copies, entire admissions criteria were changed in order to rank highly. Heretofore normal parents became “helicopter parents” all fed by keeping up with the Jones’ who sent their kid to Stanford. Perhaps the team at US News & World Report were simply trying to sell ads in their magazine and deserve no blame, but the result is still the same.

The point is that many of our institutions, our biases and status quos have been shaped by a select group of media insiders who tell us what to know or think. While this isn’t inherently wrong, in and of itself, it's a system that is under attack. Social media now allows outsiders to sit on the same level playing field as insiders with insiders scrambling to find new solutions. If you aren’t convinced, just see what your kids browse on YouTube.

You can now find your own news, your own tribe, your own calling and feel validated in a way that wasn’t possible before. We have all become multi-faceted and diverse in our opinions with room and opportunity to explore the edge cases and think in nuanced ways. This has also meant that centralized tastemaking and narrative control are the least valuable it has ever been.

For most people, the solution is in getting the facts, finding the middle ground, de-escalating the rhetoric, being open minded and listening to one another. The implications of all of this are vast and we are focused on how all of this may play out, particularly in the financial markets.

On Markets

If 1980-2020 was about rampant globalization, then 2020-2060 will be a moderation of this dynamic. In part because of demographics. As we start 2021, there has been a meaningful shift in the demographics of the West vs Asia. Every two years, the median age in China increases by ~1 year. In America, we are roughly staying the same. As this has played out over time, the median ages of China and America have now become equal. But China will continue to age while America remains relatively young over the next few decades. The scale of this demographic shift means fewer young workers in China, increased domestic consumption by older Chinese citizens and the attendant infrastructure needs to deal with an aging population. As China lowers growth to deal with this trend, the impact on prices should see a reverse of the 1990s and 2000s. In other words, prices, in general, are more likely to go up than down for traditional commodities and goods.

Now as we face rising prices, the existential risk in the market is related to inflation. As inflation goes up so will interest rates which has negative implications to future cash flows (this disproportionately negatively affects tech companies). That said, an eternal truth about interest rates, inflation and the like, is that the only way to be immune is to grow really fast. While it's true that there are cyclical companies to own at certain times over others during a rising inflationary period, the surest way to survive is to keep growing faster than the rate of rising costs. To that end, while we are cautious believers in the case for moderate inflation we remain ardent believers in the case for technology and growth stocks.

The no man’s land, however, is the slow growing company - whose leadership has eroded. These are the new quicksands of the public markets and while tantalizingly offering cheap cash flows, unless that cash can create a new arc of growth for that company or be invested by that CEO at superior rates of return, it is literally the last puff of a used cigar that one is best advised to avoid.

On Performance

We had a very strong 2020.

Palihapitiya compared Social Capital's returns to both the S&P 500...

...while also comparing the firm to Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Readers can find the full letter below:

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/26/2021 - 18:40
Published:5/26/2021 5:52:48 PM
[Aerospace] General Motors, Lockheed Martin to develop new lunar rover for NASA Artemis missions to the moon The last time humans visited the moon in 1972, they got around on a relatively simple battery-powered vehicle. As NASA prepares for the next crewed mission to the moon, it’s looking to give the lunar rover an upgrade. Lockheed Martin and General Motors said Wednesday they’re working together to develop a next-generation lunar vehicle designed […] Published:5/26/2021 11:47:54 AM
[TC] TC: Sessions Space is returning in December Last year, we held our first dedicated space startup event, TC Sessions: Space, featuring some of the industry’s top founders and leaders, including Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, Lockheed Martin’s Lisa Callahan, Amazon’s Dave Limp, NASA’s Kathy Leuders and many more. This year, we’re excited to announce we’re doing it again with TC Sessions: Space 2021, […] Published:5/24/2021 11:33:31 AM
[Markets] China's Mars Rover Rolls Off Lander, Begins Probing Mission  China's Mars Rover Rolls Off Lander, Begins Probing Mission 

Around 10:40 a.m. Saturday Beijing time, China's first Mars rover officially drove down its landing platform ramp and began roaming the Red Planet, China National Space Administration (CNSA) said. 

CNSA release another photograph (here's the first) of the rover, called Zhurong, which touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a large plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars, last Saturday. 

Landing on the Red Planet is dangerous - CNSA said last week it was "nine minutes of terror" as the lander descended toward the planet's surface at a high rate of speed, and the thin atmosphere didn't have enough friction to slow the descent. 

Only NASA has reached the surface of Mars intact on multiple occasions. According to the diagram below, the lander (with Zhurong encased inside) relied on parachutes and rocket engines to slow the descent. This method is similar to NASA's, who has landed Curiosity and Perseverance rovers on Mars.

Space is no longer limited to the original Cold War superpowers (US & Russia). China has to been thrown into the mix after being the second country to land a rover on Mars. 

China is becoming more active in space, especially on the Red Planet, alongside the US, which already has NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance probing for life. The US rover recently launched a helicopter, called Ingenuity, already performing five successful flights. 

Zhurong will spend three Martian months, about 92 Earth days, probing the surface of Mars for evidence of life. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/22/2021 - 17:00
Published:5/22/2021 4:20:22 PM
[Markets] Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, And Why It Matters Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, And Why It Matters

Authored by Rupert Darwall via RealClearEnergy.com,

On January 8, 2014, at New York University in Brooklyn, there occurred a unique event in the annals of global warming: nearly eight hours of structured debate between three climate scientists supporting the consensus on manmade global warming and three climate scientists who dispute it, moderated by a team of six leading physicists from the American Physical Society (APS) led by Dr. Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist at New York University. The debate, hosted by the APS, revealed consensus-supporting climate scientists harboring doubts and uncertainties and admitting to holes in climate science – in marked contrast to the emphatic messaging of bodies such as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

At one point, Koonin read an extract from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report released the previous year. Computer model-simulated responses to forcings – the term used by climate scientists for changes of energy flows into and out of the climate system, such as changes in solar radiation, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – “can be scaled up or down.” This scaling included greenhouse gas forcings.

Some forcings in some computer models had to be scaled down to match computer simulations to actual climate observations. But when it came to making centennial projections on which governments rely and drive climate policy, the scaling factors were removed, probably resulting in a 25 to 30 percent over-prediction of the 2100 warming.

The ensuing dialogue between Koonin and Dr. William Collins of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – a lead author of the climate model evaluation chapter in the Fifth Assessment Report – revealed something more troubling and deliberate than holes in scientific knowledge:

  • Dr. Koonin: But if the model tells you that you got the response to the forcing wrong by 30 percent, you should use that same 30 percent factor when you project out a century.

  • Dr. Collins: Yes. And one of the reasons we are not doing that is we are not using the models as [a] statistical projection tool.

  • Dr. Koonin: What are you using them as?

  • Dr. Collins: Well, we took exactly the same models that got the forcing wrong and which got sort of the projections wrong up to 2100.

  • Dr. Koonin: So, why do we even show centennial-scale projections?

  • Dr. Collins: Well, I mean, it is part of the [IPCC] assessment process.

Koonin was uncommonly well-suited to lead the APS climate workshop. He has a deep understanding of computer models, which have become the workhorses of climate science. As a young man, Koonin wrote a paper on computer modeling of nuclear reaction in stars and taught a course on computational physics at Caltech. In the early 1990s, he was involved in a program using satellites to measure the Earth’s albedo – that is, the reflection of incoming solar radiation back into space. As a student at Caltech in the late 1960s, he was taught by Nobel physicist Richard Feynman and absorbed what Koonin calls Feynman’s “absolute intellectual honesty.”

On becoming BP’s chief scientist in 2004, Koonin became part of the wider climate change milieu. Assignments included explaining the physics of man-made global warming to Prince Philip at a dinner in Buckingham Palace. In 2009, Koonin was appointed an under-secretary at the Department of Energy in the Obama administration.

The APS climate debate was the turning point in Koonin’s thinking about climate change and consensus climate science (“The Science”).

“I began by believing that we were in a race to save the planet from climate catastrophe,” Koonin writes in his new book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, And Why It Matters.”

“I came away from the APS workshop not only surprised, but shaken by the realization that climate science was far less mature than I had supposed.”

“Unsettled” is an authoritative primer on the science of climate change that lifts the lid on The Science and finds plenty that isn’t as it should be.

“As a scientist,” writes Koonin, “I felt the scientific community was letting the public down by not telling the whole truth plainly.”

Koonin’s aim is to right that wrong.

Koonin’s indictment of The Science starts with its reliance on unreliable computer models. Usefully describing the earth’s climate, writes Koonin, is “one of the most challenging scientific simulation problems.” Models divide the atmosphere into pancake-shaped boxes of around 100km wide and one kilometer deep. But the upward flow of energy from tropical thunder clouds, which is more than thirty times larger than that from human influences, occurs over smaller scales than the programmed boxes. This forces climate modellers to make assumptions about what happens inside those boxes. As one modeller confesses, “it’s a real challenge to model what we don’t understand.”

Inevitably, this leaves considerable scope for modelers’ subjective views and preferences. A key question climate models are meant to solve is estimating the equilibrium climate sensitivity of carbon dioxide (ECS), which aims to tell us by how much temperatures rise from a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Yet in 2020, climate modelers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute admitted to tuning their model by targeting an ECS of about 3° Centigrade. “Talk about cooking the books,” Koonin comments.

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. Self-evidently, computer projections can’t be tested against a future that’s yet to happen, but they can be tested against climates present and past. Climate models can’t even agree on what the current global average temperature is. “One particularly jarring feature is that the simulated average global surface temperature,” Koonin notes, “varies among models by about 3°C, three times greater than the observed value of the twentieth century warming they’re purporting to describe and explain.”

Another embarrassing feature of climate models concerns the earlier of the two twentieth-century warmings from 1910 to 1940, when human influences were much smaller. On average, models give a warming rate of about half of what was actually observed. The failure of the latest models to warm fast enough in those decades suggest that it’s possible, even likely, that internal climate variability is a significant contributor to the warming of recent decades, Koonin suggests. “That the models can’t reproduce the past is a big red flag – it erodes confidence in their projections of future climates.” Neither is it reassuring that for the years after 1960, the latest generation of climate models show a larger spread and greater uncertainty than earlier ones – implying that, far from advancing, The Science has been going backwards. That is not how science is meant to work.

The second part of Koonin’s indictment concerns the distortion, misrepresentation, and mischaracterization of climate data to support a narrative of climate catastrophism based on increasing frequency of extreme weather events. As an example, Koonin takes a “shockingly misleading” claim and associated graph in the United States government’s 2017 Climate Science Special Report that the number of high-temperature records set in the past two decades far exceeds the number of low-temperature records across the 48 contiguous states. Koonin demonstrates that the sharp uptick in highs over the last two decades is an artifact of a methodology chosen to mislead. After re-running the data, record highs show a clear peak in the 1930s, but there is no significant trend over the 120 years of observations starting in 1895, or even since 1980, when human influences on the climate grew strongly. In contrast, the number of record cold temperatures has declined over more than a century, with the trend accelerating after 1985.

Notes Koonin, “temperature extremes in the contiguous U.S. have become less common and somewhat milder since the late nineteenth century.” Similarly, a key message in the 2014 National Climate Assessment of an upward trend in hurricane frequency and intensity, repeated in the 2017 assessment, is contradicted 728 pages later by a statement buried in an appendix stating that there has been no significant trend in the global number of tropical cyclones “nor has any trend been identified in the number of U.S. land-falling hurricanes.”

That might surprise many politicians.

“Over the past thirty years, the incidence of natural disasters has dramatically increased,” Treasury secretary Janet Yellen falsely asserted last month in a pitch supporting the Biden administration’s infrastructure package. “We are now in a situation where climate change is an existential risk to our future economy and way of life,” she claimed.

The sacrifice of scientific truth in the form of objective empirical data for the sake of a catastrophist climate narrative is plain to see. As Koonin summarizes the case:

“Even as human influences have increased fivefold since 1950 and the globe has warmed modestly, most severe weather phenomena remain within past variability. Projections of future climate and weather events rely on models demonstrably unfit for the purpose.”

Koonin also has sharp words for the policy side of the climate change consensus, which asserts that although climate change is an existential threat, solving it by totally decarbonizing society is straightforward and relatively painless.

“Two decades ago, when I was in the private sector,” Koonin writes, “I learned to say that the goal of stabilizing human influences on the climate was ‘a challenge,’ while in government it was talked about as ‘an opportunity.’ Now back in academia, I can forthrightly call it ‘a practical impossibility.’”

Unlike many scientists and most politicians, Koonin displays a sure grasp of the split between developed and developing nations, for whom decarbonization is a luxury good that they can’t afford. The fissure dates back to the earliest days of the U.N. climate process at the end of the 1980s. Indeed, it’s why developing nations insisted on the U.N. route as opposed to an intergovernmental one that produced the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances.

“The economic betterment of most of humanity in the coming decades will drive energy demand even more strongly than population growth,” Koonin says.

“Who will pay the developing world not to emit? I have been posing that simple question to many people for more than fifteen years and have yet to hear a convincing answer.”

The most unsettling part of “Unsettled” concerns science and the role of scientists.

“Science is one of the very few human activities – perhaps the only one – in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected,” Karl Popper wrote nearly six decades ago.

That condition does not pertain in climate science, where errors are embedded in a political narrative and criticism is suppressed. In a recent essay, the philosopher Matthew B. Crawford observes that the pride of science as a way of generating knowledge – unlike religion – is to be falsifiable. That changes when science is pressed into duty as authority in order to absolve politicians of responsibility for justifying their policy choices (“the science says,” we’re repeatedly told). “Yet what sort of authority would it be that insists its own grasp of reality is merely provisional?” asks Crawford. “For authority to be really authoritative, it must claim an epistemic monopoly of some kind, whether of priestly or scientific knowledge.”

At the outset of “Unsettled,” Feynman’s axiom of absolute intellectual honesty is contrasted with climate scientist Stephen Schneider’s “double ethical bind.” On the one hand, scientists are ethically bound by the scientific method to tell the truth. On the other, they are human beings who want to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change.

“Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest,” Schneider said.

“Being effective” helps explain the pressure on climate scientists to conform to The Science and the emergence of a climate science knowledge monopoly. Its function is, as Crawford puts it, the manufacture of a product – political legitimacy – which, in turn, requires that competing views be delegitimized and driven out of public discourse through enforcement of a “moratorium on the asking of questions.” This sees climate scientist gatekeepers deciding who can and cannot opine on climate science. “Please, save us from retired physicists who think they’re smarter and wiser than everyone in climate science,” tweeted Gavin Schmidt, NASA acting senior climate advisor, about Koonin and his book. “I agree with pretty much everything you wrote,” a chair of a university earth sciences department tells Koonin, “but I don’t dare say that in public.” Another scientist criticizes Koonin for giving ammunition to “the deniers,” and a third writes an op-ed urging New York University to reconsider Koonin’s position there. It goes wider than scientists. Facebook has suppressed a “Wall Street Journal” review of “Unsettled.” Likewise, “Unsettled” remains unreviewed by the “New York Times,” the “Washington Post” (though it carried an op-ed by Marc Thiessen based on an interview with Koonin) and other dailies, which would prefer to treat Koonin’s reasoned climate dissent as though it doesn’t exist.

The moratorium on the asking of questions represents the death of science as understood and described by Popper, a victim of the conflicting requirements of political utility and scientific integrity. Many scientists take this lying down. Koonin won’t. For his forensic skill and making his findings accessible to non-specialists, Koonin has written the most important book on climate science in decades.

*  *  *

Rupert Darwall is a senior fellow of the RealClear Foundation and author of  Green Tyranny and Capitalism, Socialism and ESG

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/21/2021 - 22:40
Published:5/21/2021 9:45:22 PM
[Markets] First Images Of China Rover On Mars Released  First Images Of China Rover On Mars Released 

The next battleground between the US and China is Mars. While space has always been a domain for superpower rivalry, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) successfully landed a rover, called Zhu Rong, on the Red Planet. Now two images have been sent back to Earth to show the success. 

CNSA released a couple of pictures on its website of the rover, which touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a large plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars. Here are the first images from the rover since it landed on the Red Planet last Saturday. 

"The first photograph, a black and white image, was taken by an obstacle avoidance camera installed in front of the Mars rover. The image shows that a ramp on the lander has been extended to the surface of Mars. The terrain of the rover's forward direction is clearly visible in the image, and the horizon of Mars appears curved due to the wide-angle lens," CNSA said. 

"The second image, a color photo, was taken by the navigation camera fitted to the rear of the rover. The rover's solar panels and antenna are seen unfolded, and the red soil and rocks on the Martian surface are clearly visible in the image," CNSA said. 

Space is no longer limited to the original Cold War superpowers (US & Russia). China has to been thrown into the mix after being the second country to land a rover on Mars. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated China for successfully landing a rover on Mars and warned Congress of China's competitive threat to US leadership in space.

China is becoming more active in space, especially on the Red Planet, alongside the US who already has NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance probing for life. The US rover recently launched a helicopter, called Ingenuity, already performing five successful flights. 

Mars will become the next domain for superpower rivalry because the planet has an abundance of rare metals that will power tomorrow's economy. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/20/2021 - 23:00
Published:5/20/2021 10:07:17 PM
[Markets] Everything Is Crashing: Stocks, Bonds, Crypto, Commodities All Tumble Everything Is Crashing: Stocks, Bonds, Crypto, Commodities All Tumble

Everything is tumbling!

Global stocks and US index futures fell for the third straight session, led by the Nasdaq 100, bonds and commodities dropped and crypto crashed ahead of today's release of the April Fed minutes after the ECB warned the euro-area faces elevated risks to financial stability as it emerges from the pandemic with high debt burdens and “remarkable exuberance” coupled with resurgent worries over inflation and coronavirus flareups.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes touched a one-week high of 1.67%, driving down shares of Apple, Microsoft and Facebook by about 1% premarket. Dow e-minis were down 252 points, or 0.65%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 42.25 points, or 1.0%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 170.75 points, or 1.24%.

On Tuesday, Wall Street stocks slid late in the session to end lower, unable to sustain gains made after bumper earnings from Walmart and Home Depot. The S&P 500 lost 0.85%, with telecom shares leading the decline, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.56%.

"Now that investors are pre-occupied with inflation, they are probably reluctant to make big decisions until they see a clearer picture," said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities. "Inflation worries will keep markets uncertain for now, even though I don't expect stock prices to collapse given economic re-openings."

Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks plunge after Bitcoin sank below $40,000 and other cryptocurrencies followed suit in part after the People’s Bank of China reiterated that digital tokens can’t be used as a form of payment. Among other notable premarket movers were:

  • LightPath Technologies soars 16% after saying that optical elements manufactured by its ISP Optics unit are being used in NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover
  • Salesforce.com gains 1% as Morgan Stanley upgrades to overweight from equal-weight.
  • Tesla drops 2.4% in U.S. premarket trading on data showing a slowdown in sales of the company’s electric cars in China last month
  • Wells Fargo slips 1.3% as UBS downgrades the bank to neutral from buy as its risk- reward profile is no longer attractive following the stock’s outperformance this year
  • Take-Two Interactive Software Inc rose 2.0% after reporting a quarterly profit and sales that beat analysts’ estimates.
  • Target Corp gained 2.1% after it beat estimates for quarterly same-store sales as a strong vaccination drive and stimulus checks encouraged shoppers to return to stores.

Looking at today's main event, investors will also focus on minutes from the Fed’s April policy meeting, where it stood pat on interest rates.

  • “We will scan the minutes for more details on policymakers’ view, but bearing in mind that we got to hear from some of them after the more-than-expected surge in inflation last week, we will treat the minutes as outdated,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.
  •  “Today’s FOMC minutes could give a sigh of relief to globally worried investors,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote. "Any tightening on the Fed end would be a punch in the market’s face. But we know that the Fed will do its best to prevent that from happening."

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell the most in a week, with commodity and leisure shares sliding the most. The Stoxx Europe 600 Basic Resources Index (SXPP) fell for a second day, down as much as 3%, as iron ore futures halt a two-day rebound, with Chinese steel prices extending declines on the back of more government curbs. Diversified miners fell: Rio Tinto -2.5%, BHP -3.4%, Glencore - -2.1%, Anglo American -3.1%. Steelmakers also drop as China’s steelmaking hub of Tangshan tightens steel output curbs on pollution: ArcelorMittal -2.9%, Evraz -2.4%, Salzgitter -1.5%

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.3%, ending a three-day win streak, as commodities-heavy Australia paced losses. Mainland China's CSI300 slipped 0.6% while Japan's Nikkei lost 1.1%. The Australian benchmark dropped almost 2%, the most since February and leading declines across the region. Materials and energy shares paced the selloff, as oil dropped on a rise in U.S. stockpiles and hopes for progress on an Iran nuclear deal. Mining giant BHP and Commonwealth Bank of Australia were the biggest drags on Australia’s key gauge. They also contributed most to losses in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, after tech titan Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. U.S. index futures slipped in Asian trading hours, extending the two-day slide in the cash market amid concerns over inflationary pressure from recent rises in commodity prices. Benchmarks in Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia also posted drops of about 1% or more. Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for holidays.

China’s equities fell for the first time in four days, driven by declines in energy shares as crude price headed for a back-to-back loss amid climbing U.S. stockpile and Iranian nuclear talks. The CSI 300 Index closed 0.3% lower. China Oilfield Services sank 4.9% to be one of the worst performers, while PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp were some of the biggest drags on the gauge. Financial stocks were also a key driver for Wednesday’s loss, with China Merchants Bank sliding 2.1% after a three-day gain. Information technology was one of the rare bright spots in the market, as shares of Apple suppliers rallied after the U.S. company was reported to be preparing to release several new Mac laptops and desktops. Chinese authorities fired a warning shot about a recent surge in speculation on virtual currency, with a notice posted on the central bank’s official Wechat account banning financial and payment institutions from pricing products or services with the asset.

While investors are concerned about rising inflation, the Fed has stuck to the narrative that a recent rise in inflation would be transient and that it therefore should keep its easy monetary policy settings. The minutes from the Fed's April meeting, to be published late on Wednesday, are expected to repeat that message.

"Inflation remains the biggest theme, whether it is real and whether the Fed may need to change its policy because of that," said Kazushige Kaida, head of forex sales at State Street Bank's Tokyo branch. "At the moment, markets are putting faith, after a fashion, in the Fed's narrative."

In rates, as stocks sold off so did bonds, with Treasury futures near lows of the day into early U.S. session, leaving yields cheaper by almost 3bp across belly of the curve despite weakness in equity index futures. Supply is a factor with $27b 20-year new-issue auction at 1pm ET.  Treasury 10-year yields cheaper by ~2.6bp at 1.663%, wider by ~1bp vs bunds, 0.5bp vs gilts; 2s10s spread steeper by ~2.7bp with front-end yields relatively anchored. In Europe, Italian bonds fell as traders unwound long positions and as bets mounted the ECB will taper its pandemic bond-buying program in the summer. Germany’s 2-year yield rose to the highest since August and the 10-year yield climbed to peaks last seen in May 2019. Another soft German auction weighed on bunds during European morning.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rebounded after approaching a three-year low on Tuesday, and the dollar rose against all of its Group-of-10 peers. The euro erased gains after earlier climbing to $1.2245, the highest level since January. The pound was a tad lower, with data showing Britain’s inflation rate doubled in April, in line with expectations. Risk-sensitive Scandinavian and Antipodean currencies fell, led by Norway’s krone which traded on the back-foot as oil headed for a back-to- back loss after an industry report showed a rise in U.S. crude stockpiles and traders tracked talks between world powers on a revival of the Iran nuclear deal

In cryptos, Bitcoin dropped as much as 15% to hit its lowest level since early February and last stood at $38,250 , having lost almost half of its value from a peak of $64,895 hit just over a month ago. Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, changed hands at $2,677, down more than 25% from its record peak hit last Wednesday.

While cryptocurrencies were bruised by China's fresh ban on their transactions, they were not alone in facing pressure. Some commodities that have benefited from reflation trade have also lost steam, with U.S. lumber futures losing almost 25% in the last three sessions.

Oil prices pulled back also after media reports the United States and Iran have made progress on reviving a deal restricting the OPEC country's nuclear weapons development, a development that could lead to increased supply from Iran. U.S. crude futures dropped 0.9% to $64.9 per barrel while Brent futures lost 0.9% to $68.12 per barrel.

To the day ahead now, and the highlights include the release of the FOMC minutes from the April meeting, along with the ECB publishing their Financial Stability Review. Central bank speakers include the ECB’s Panetta, Rehn, Lane and Hernandez de Cos, along with the Fed’s Bullard and Bostic. Data highlights include the UK and Canadian CPI readings for April, along with EU new car registrations for April. Finally, earnings releases include Cisco Systems, Lowe’s, Target and TJX.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.69% to 4,094.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 1.12% to 438.06
  • MXAP down 0.6% to 203.38
  • MXAPJ down 0.6% to 681.68
  • Nikkei down 1.3% to 28,044.45
  • Topix down 0.7% to 1,895.24
  • Hang Seng Index up 1.4% to 28,593.81
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,510.97
  • Sensex down 0.4% to 49,994.19
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.9% to 6,931.66
  • Kospi up 1.2% to 3,173.05
  • Brent Futures down 1.21% to $67.88/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.35% to $1,862.92
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.16% to 89.894
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.5 bps to -0.088%
  • Euro little changed at $1.2216

Top Overnight News

  • The euro-area faces elevated risks to financial stability as it emerges from the pandemic with high debt burdens and “remarkable exuberance” in markets as bond yields rose, according to the European Central Bank
  • European Union lawmakers will vote to formally halt an investment agreement with China in response to sanctions against members of the bloc, Politico reported, adding to growing tensions between Brussels and BeijingBitcoin has erased all the gains it notched following Tesla Inc.’s Feb. 8 announcement that it would use corporate cash to buy the digital asset and accept it as a form of payment for its vehicles

A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equity markets were mostly negative and US equity futures also extended on the losses seen during the prior session where energy led the declines as oil prices wobbled on reports of progress being made in the Iranian nuclear deal talks and housing names suffered following disappointing Housing Starts and Building Permits data. ASX 200 (-1.9%) underperformed after softer Consumer Confidence data and amid weakness in the commodity-related sectors with notable losses in the energy names after expectations of returning Iranian supply were stoked by comments from the Russian envoy to JCPOA talks who suggested important news is likely to be released this Wednesday and that negotiations have had major progress. However, it was then speculated that the announcement could be an extension of the temporary IAEA nuclear activity monitoring deal which is set to expire on Friday rather than a full return to the JCPOA, while the envoy also clarified that he didn’t say there was a breakthrough at the Vienna talks and noted that significant progress has been achieved but unresolved issues still remain with negotiators needing more time to finalise an agreement. Nikkei 225 (-1.3%) was also subdued and retreated beneath the 28k level with exporter sentiment in Tokyo not helped by a choppy currency and the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency, while news of Japan boosting its support for domestic production of advanced semiconductors and batteries did little to spur risk appetite. Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%) conformed to the downbeat tone amid the absence of Hong Kong participants as the city, along with South Korea, observed the Buddha’s Birthday holiday. Nonetheless, the losses in the mainland were moderate compared with regional peers after US President Biden’s administration delayed the revamp of former US President Trump's blacklist for China investments which gave investors an additional 2 weeks to buy or sell securities in companies tied to the Chinese military with the deadline to complete transactions pushed backed to June 11th. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat with prices kept afloat by the weakness in stocks but with upside also capped after the recent choppy performance in T-notes and following lacklustre results at the 5yr JGB auction which showed a slump in the b/c from previous despite relatively inline accepted prices.

Top Asian News

  • Thailand Said to Plan $22 Billion Borrowing for Covid Relief
  • Bank Employees Among New Covid-19 Cases Found in Singapore
  • Adani Green to Buy SoftBank’s $3.5 Billion Renewables Unit
  • QIA Is Said to Mull Injecting HSBC Headquarters Into REIT

Stocks in Europe have continued drifting lower since the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.5%) in what has thus far been a continuation of the price action seen across equity futures overnight, and as APAC also traded with losses. The soured risk tone comes amid elevated yields, with the German 10yr topping -10bps for the first time in two years and its US counterpart steady above 1.65% ahead of FOMC Minutes. This sentiment has also reverberated into the US, with equity futures lower across the board and the NQ underperforming its peers, alluding to focus on the yield narrative. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the majors, but the periphery fares slightly better as the FTSE MIB (-1.0%) and the IBEX 35 (-0.5%) are somewhat cushioned by their significant exposure to the banking sector against the backdrop of higher yields. As such, banks reside as a top performer among European sectors that are in the red across the board. Meanwhile, some of the more defensive sectors have also made their way to the top of the pile since the cash open - with Food & Beverages, Health Care, Telecoms and Personal Household goods among the better performers. The other end of the spectrum is largely comprised of cyclical sectors, with Basic Resources, Travel, Oil & Gas, Autos and Tech among the straddlers. Individual movers are relatively scarce today, given the overarching macro theme and the simmering down of earnings. In terms of commentary on European equities, analysts at Barclays believe that the rally has faltered, although EPS upgrades and robust Q1 results point to equities having cheapened. The bank acknowledges that rising inflation expectations and policy jitters are taking their told on valuations, but “So long as EPS momentum is positive, equities can withstand higher rates, although future risk-adjusted returns may be lower”, the bank says as it forecasts above-trend GDP and EPS growth to persist in 2022.

Top European News

  • EU Lawmakers to Freeze China Investment Deal, Politico Says
  • Deutsche Taps Barclays’s Ross to Run U.K. Investment Banking
  • Inflation Rekindles Niche Market for Duration-Proof Credit (1)
  • London Tops Hong Kong For World’s Priciest Warehouse Space

In FX, the Greenback appears to have repelled the latest bout of selling pressure and clawed back some losses vs most major and EM rivals with the aid of a firmer rebound in US Treasury yields and curve re-steepening ahead of Usd 27 bn 20 year note supply. However, the concession for issuance has been more pronounced in EGBs, and the DXY has fallen into a lower range having edged a smidge closer to nearest support ahead of 89.500, at 89.686 before regaining composure to register an 89.959 recovery high thus far. Hence, the Dollar could well require more impetus and incentive to mount a meaningful rebound, like strong data in the ilk of last Wednesday’s inflation metrics, or severe risk aversion amidst the debt rout as today’s agenda is bare aside from further Fed commentary and the official account of April’s FOMC policy meeting.

  • AUD/NZD - No surprise to see the high beta, activity and commodity based currencies bear the brunt of the Buck revival, while the Aussie also has a downturn in Westpac consumer sentiment to consider before the spotlight shifts to jobs on Thursday. Aud/Usd is now testing support around 0.7750 after fading just shy of 0.7800 and topping the round number yesterday, with Nzd/Usd hovering around 0.7200 compared to almost 0.7250 and a fraction over 0.7270 on Tuesday ahead of NZ budget balance and net debt forecasts.
  • CHF/CAD/JPY - All unwinding recent gains vs their US counterpart, as the Franc retreats through 0.9000 and Loonie backtracks towards 1.2100 following a test of the big figure below against the backdrop of recoiling crude prices and awaiting Canadian CPI to see whether expectations for a pronounced acceleration in headline y/y inflation pans out. Elsewhere, the Yen is back under 109.00, though contained within a narrow range and still in an upward trend while holding well off recent lows.
  • GBP/EUR - Relative G10 outperformers, or rather displaying a decent resilient streak in the face of the Dollar comeback, and yield differentials are playing a key role as noted above given the heavy declines in Eurozone bonds and Gilts before, but not necessarily for German and UK auctions. Sterling may have gleaned some traction from firmer than forecast inflation prints, on balance, but Cable is looking toppy circa 1.4200 in contrast to Eur/Usd and Eur/Gbp appearing more underpinned above 1.2200 and 0.8600 respectively.

In commodities, WTI and Brent July contracts remain suppressed amid the positive omens emanating from JCPOA talks and against the backdrop of a firmer Dollar and soured market sentiment. Elaborating on the former, there has been no breakthrough on core sanction issues and nuclear issues – which are the key pillars for this deal. Negotiations will be taking a short break after today. However, according to WSJ's Norman, this is not a negative sign, and the “next stop likely IAEA-Iran extension", speculated to be announced today (timing TBC). ING maintains its view that the market should be able to absorb both Iranian oil and OPEC+ supply. The Dutch bank expects the return of 3mln BPD of Iranian supply by Q4 2021, whilst the National Iranian Oil Co.’s most optimistic scenario points to pre-sanction production of almost 4mln BPD in as little as three months. The morning also saw commentary from Russian Deputy PM Novak, who suggested that global oil prices being broadly stable remarked that the market is balanced, and demand is slightly exceeding supply. Over in the West, the smaller-than-expected build in the Private inventory report last night was largely overlooked ahead of today's EIA numbers (crude forecast +1.62mln bbls) which are expected to be distorted by the Colonial Pipeline outage. As a reminder, a significant draw is expected in East Coast product stocks alongside builds in crude and products from US Gulf Coast and a decline in refining activity. WTI resides near USD 64.00/bbl (vs high 65.35/bbl) while its counterpart has dipped below USD 67.50/bbl (vs high 67.46/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold and silver have been on a downward path as the earlier countering yield/Dollar dynamics shifted as the Buck saw a rebound, thus providing a bearish environment for precious metals in terms of higher yields and a firmer Dollar. Precious metals are also on the backfoot, with LME copper pulling back after topping USD 10,500/t yesterday, with some also attributing Glencore’s plans for a new copper mine next year as a near-term headwind.

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: May MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 2.1%
  • 10am: Fed’s Bullard Discusses Economic Outlook
  • 10am: Fed’s Quarles Testifies Before House Financial Services Panel
  • 11:35am: Fed’s Bostic Interviewed at Businessweek/Bloomberg Event
  • 2pm: April FOMC Meeting Minutes

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

After a quiet day a late session US sell-off was the main theme yesterday. The S&P 500 fell back in the last couple of hours of trading, most of it in the last 15 minutes, and closed -0.85% lower. The S&P earlier traded in a tight 16pt range (0.4%) for much of the day before the move lower. The catalyst seemed to be partly due to news filtering through that the Biden administration have delayed updating the Trump-era ban on China investments. This at the same time as headlines came through that Speaker Pelosi has proposed a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympic games, citing human rights concerns.

Tech stocks “outperformed”, with the NASDAQ (-0.56%) and the FANG+ (-0.55%) both beating the S&P, though that’s in the context of a relatively poor month for them on the back of fears over higher interest rates. Europe’s STOXX 600 (+0.17%) earlier experienced modest gains and missed the late sell-off.

On the earnings side, Walmart rose +2.11% after the company announced another strong performance in Q1, with comparable sales ex fuel up +6.0% year-on-year, whilst they raised their Q2 and full-year outlook. Staying with corporates Bank of America became the latest company to raise its minimum wage (from $20 to $25/hr). It seems this is partly to attract talent and partly for social reasons. ESG has been a part of minimum wage increases in recent times and maybe we’re seeing a perfect storm of this plus labour supply shortages. The thing is once you raise your minimum wage you are not going to then reduce it.

For sovereign bonds there weren’t too many headlines either, though 10yr bund yields were up +1.2bps to -0.10%, marking their highest level in almost 2 years. Elsewhere however, yields ended the day lower, with those on 10yr Treasuries (-1.2bps), gilts (-0.3bps) and BTPs (-0.3bps) all falling back. A reminder that my CoTD looked at the AA government bond that has lost 40% of its value since December and would take nearly half a century to make up those loses from coupons alone. See here for the full details.

Asian markets have largely taken Wall Street’s lead this morning with the Nikkei (-1.42%), Shanghai Comp (-0.41%) and Asx (-2.05%) all down. Markets in Hong Kong and South Korea are closed for a holiday. Futures on the S&P 500 are down -0.33% at this point while the Stoxx 50 is down a larger -0.97% as they try to play catch up with yesterday’s late US equities move. Elsewhere, Bitcoin is down -c.9% this morning (c.-3% yesterday) to under $40,000 after the PBoC reiterated that digital tokens can’t be used as a form of payment. It’s down around -30% over the last 10 days now. Other cryptocurrencies are also under pressure.

In other overnight news, Politico reported that the EU law makers will mostly vote yes on the motion to freeze the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China tomorrow. They will demand that China lift sanctions before any progress is made on the deal, which took seven years to negotiate.

In terms of the latest on the Pandemic, India’s Serum Institute has said that it will prioritise making vaccines for India and would delay deliveries to other nations and the WHO backed Covax initiative until the end of the year. Meanwhile, Singapore has decided to increase the time between two vaccine doses in an effort to administer first shots to more adults as it races to stem transmissions. The Country recorded 27 new cases in the past 24 hours of which 11 cases have not been traceable in the community.

Elsewhere in markets yesterday, there were some notable moves in FX, as the dollar index weakened a further -0.46% to its lowest level in over 4 months. The greenback now sits less than 0.4% away from its 3 year lows. Simultaneously, that saw the Euro move back above $1.22 in trading for the first time since February.

Speaking of currencies, our FX Research colleagues released their latest blueprint yesterday, which you can read here. They started the year cautious on selling the dollar ahead of American vaccine and fiscal leadership, but now see catchup as the main theme. Their view is that we’re past the peak of repricing US exceptionalism, global growth should broaden and the vaccine and growth laggards should bounce back. In turn, this should be conducive to a return of broader USD weakness and they see European currencies as the prime beneficiaries.

In the commodities sphere, Brent crude oil had been trading above $70/bbl at one point for the first time in a couple of months, though it gave up its gains later in the session to close -1.08% lower at $68.71, while WTI was also down -1.18%. This slight pullback was in line with that elsewhere in commodity market, with the Bloomberg Commodity Spot index losing -0.11%. WTI and Brent are also down a further c. -1% overnight as a report from the American Petroleum Institute showed that the US oil stockpiles increased by 620,000 barrels last week. Oil prices have also been weighed down by the likelihood of a return to the 2015 Iranian agreement which could pave the way for the removal of US sanctions and raise their crude oil exports.

From central banks, BoE Governor Bailey testified before the House of Lords yesterday. He hit on a refrain that we have mostly heard from the other side of the Atlantic in recent weeks when he said that while he and his colleagues see inflation rising in the next month or so, these effects will be “temporary.” Deputy Governor Ramsden sees inflation expectations “well anchored” but the MPC “remains vigilant”.

Running through yesterday’s data, US housing releases saw a slight miss relative to expectations, with housing starts down to an annualised rate of 1.569m in April (vs. 1.704m expected), while building permits came in at 1.760m (vs. 1.770m expected). Construction may have been held back in recent weeks due to higher material costs, especially lumber. There was also possibly some weather effects as the previous housing starts in March was much larger than expected after bad weather in February caused fewer starts. Elsewhere there was a decent labour market report from the UK, with the unemployment rate unexpectedly falling back to 4.8% in the three months through March (vs. 4.9% expected), while the number of payrolled employees in April was up +97k on the previous month according to HMRC estimates.

To the day ahead now, and the highlights include the release of the FOMC minutes from the April meeting, along with the ECB publishing their Financial Stability Review. Central bank speakers include the ECB’s Panetta, Rehn, Lane and Hernandez de Cos, along with the Fed’s Bullard and Bostic. Data highlights include the UK and Canadian CPI readings for April, along with EU new car registrations for April. Finally, earnings releases include Cisco Systems, Lowe’s, Target and TJX.

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/19/2021 - 07:49
Published:5/19/2021 6:56:42 AM
[Markets] Incoming Geomagnetic Storm Expected To Hit Earth Tuesday  Incoming Geomagnetic Storm Expected To Hit Earth Tuesday 

This week's solar activity report shows a geomagnetic storm watch is in effect between May 18-19. Two Earth-facing sunspots have been identified by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) satellite and could produce storms as early as Tuesday. 

NASA designated the sunspots as AR2822 and AR2823 and are Earth-facing. 

Space Weather's Tony Phillips wrote:

"Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on May 18-19 when a pair of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field.

"The two CMEs left the sun on consecutive days: One from sunspot AR2822 on May 13th, the next from sunspot AR2823 on May 14th.

"Individually, the CMEs appear to be weak and insubstantial; however, they could add up to a geomagnetic storm when they arrive in quick succession this Tuesday."

Sunspots are mostly harmless, but the resulting solar flares that bombard Earth's magnetosphere could produce a stunning light show in the sky as the atmosphere deflects the solar particles. If a geomagnetic disturbance is strong enough, it could disrupt satellite communication, GPS signal, land-based communication equipment, and power grids. 

So far, the Planetary K-index (real-time solar activity provided by SolarHam) that measures the intensity of a geomagnetic storm shows lower solar activity on Monday morning but is expected to surge on Tuesday. 

SolarHam's Planetary K-index is estimated to jump to 5 on Tuesday. 

Expect geomagnetic disturbances at higher latitudes. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/17/2021 - 19:10
Published:5/17/2021 6:15:47 PM
[Markets] Megadrought Nightmare: No Water For Crops, Horrific Wildfires, Colossal Dust Storms And Draconian Water Restrictions Megadrought Nightmare: No Water For Crops, Horrific Wildfires, Colossal Dust Storms And Draconian Water Restrictions

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

The megadrought that has almost the entire western half of the country in a death grip is starting to become extremely painful.  In some areas, irrigation water is being totally cut off for farmers, and that is going to result in a totally lost year for many of them.  Without water, you simply cannot grow crops, and irrigation water is the difference between success and failure for multitudes of western farmers.  Scientists are also warning that this upcoming wildfire season could be even worse than last year due to the bone dry conditions.  For me, it is difficult to imagine a wildfire season that is any worse than what we experienced in 2021.  But this is what they are telling us.  This megadrought has already been going on for many years, and experts are giving us very little hope that things will improve any time in the foreseeable future.  In fact, CBS News is reporting that this current drought is in danger of evolving into a “permanent drought”…

Extreme drought across the Western U.S. has become as reliable as a summer afternoon thunderstorm in Florida. And news headlines about drought in the West can seem a bit like a broken record, with some scientists saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought.

Even during the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s, there was always hope that the drought would end and normal conditions would return.

But now we are being told that this is the new normal.

The western half of the country desperately needed a healthy level of precipitation during last winter’s “wet season”, but instead conditions were much drier than usual

Consequently, this past winter’s wet season was not very wet at all. In fact, it just added insult to injury, with only 25 to 50% of normal rainfall falling across much of the Southwest and California. This followed one of the driest and hottest summers in modern times, with two historic heat waves, a summer monsoon cycle that simply did not even show up and the worst fire season in modern times.

Now we are moving into “the dry season”, and there simply is not enough water for everyone.

Along the California-Oregon border, things just went from bad to worse.  Farmers in the region already knew that they would be getting much less water this year, but now federal officials have decided to completely shut the water off for most farmers…

The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year.

In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. The agency announced last month that hundreds of irrigators would get dramatically less water than usual, but a worsening drought picture means water will be completely shut off instead.

Needless to say, for many of them no water will mean no crops.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has already declared a drought emergency.

So has California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The state of California grows more of our vegetables than anyone else does, and this growing water crisis is forcing many farmers in the state to make some heartbreaking decisions

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves.

In many instances, farmers are destroying some of their crops in order to give other crops half a chance of making it.

For example, farmer Joe Del Bosque just destroyed all of the asparagus he was growing in order to use water elsewhere…

“There’s been a blade that’s cut underneath and these here, they are green still but they are going to die,” explained Del Bosque.

The loss of asparagus means 50-60 farmworkers are out of a job next year.

If more crops are lost, jobs will follow.

This is already a major national crisis, and it is getting worse with each passing month.

According to the NOAA, the soil moisture content in our southwestern states is now the lowest it has been “in at least 120 years”

Kelsey Satalino, the Digital Communications Coordinator from NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System, says that during the past few months, several states including Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah experienced their most intense period of drought since the Drought Monitor began back in 2000. As a result, soil moisture content is at its lowest levels in at least 120 years.

That means that things weren’t even this bad during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

As I have discussed in previous articles, colossal dust storms are now regularly happening in the western half of the country.

In fact, some of them are so large you can see them from space.

In addition to being extremely unpleasant, these dust storms can also spread fungal spores that cause Valley fever.  The following comes from NASA

Valley fever is a dangerous threat to human health – and cases are on the rise in the arid southwestern United States, as wind from increasing dust storms can transport the fungal spores that cause the disease. Valley fever is caused by the Coccidioides fungus, which grows in dirt and fields and can cause fever, rash and coughing. Using NASA research and satellite data, the World Meteorological Organization is refining its Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System to help forecast where dust risk is greatest.

In my most recent book, I warned that “record drought” was coming, and now it is here.

Sadly, extremely dry conditions create an ideal environment for wildfires.

Last year’s wildfire season was a complete and utter nightmare, but now officials are warning that 2021 could be even worse.

Could that be possible?

It is hard to imagine anything worse than what we witnessed in California last year, but it appears that things are off to an even earlier start this year.

At this moment, an absolutely massive fire is burning out of control in Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County authorities looked Sunday for a potential arsonist who might have set off a brush fire that forced the mandatory evacuation of about 1,000 people in the exclusive Pacific Palisades area near Topanga Canyon.

Cool and wet conditions overnight helped prevent the Palisades Fire from spreading beyond the 750 acres it had reached Saturday, but the LA Fire Department said in an update Sunday morning that warming weather and afternoon winds may push the blaze northwest – threatening homes – as it rips through dense mountain vegetation that “is very dry and has not burned in 50+ years.’’

It almost seems like the west coast is under some sort of a curse.

Whenever it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, somehow they do.

Scientists tell us that another very dry summer is looming, and that is extremely bad news for the entire region.

Dust Bowl conditions have returned, and it appears that they will be with us for a long time to come.

*  *  *

Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/17/2021 - 15:35
Published:5/17/2021 2:45:34 PM
[Markets] NASA Rocket Launch Could Dazzle Saturday Night Sky In Eastern US NASA Rocket Launch Could Dazzle Saturday Night Sky In Eastern US

Tens of millions of Americans could be in for a dazzling optical treat Saturday evening as NASA gears up to launch its Black Brant XII sounding rocket carrying the KiNET-X payload from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. 

A four-stage Black Brant XII rocket carrying the KiNET-X payload will be launched around 2010 ET Saturday. There is a 40-minute launch window. 

The rocket "will be used for the mission that includes the release of barium vapor that will form two green-violet clouds that may be visible for about 30 seconds," NASA said. 

The mission is called KiNETic-scale energy and momentum transport eXperiment, or KiNet-X. Researchers want to study a fundamental problem in space plasmas: how are energy and momentum transported between different regions of space magnetically connected? 

What makes this launch so different from Central Florida ones is that barium vapor tracers will be visible for much of the eastern US from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River.

Here's an example of what millions of Americans might see on Saturday night, weather permitting, of course...

Live coverage of the launch will be made available on the Wallops IBM video site around 1940 ET on launch day. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 05/15/2021 - 19:00
Published:5/15/2021 6:03:34 PM
[Markets] China May Attempt To Land Mars Rover Today China May Attempt To Land Mars Rover Today

From currency war, to trade war, to tech war, to climate war, and now to space war, the superpower rivalry between the US and China continues to flare up with Beijing expected to land its rover on the red planet today. 

CNET reports that the China National Space Administration's (CNSA) spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars since February, is expected to enter the Martian atmosphere at 7:11 p.m. ET. CNET cites multiple Twitter accounts that monitor China's space programs, though we must point out CNSA has yet to confirm the timing. 

The spacecraft is expected to descend into the atmosphere for approximately seven minutes. Then deploy a parachute with a lander and rover. 

The rover, called Zhurong, will be China's first attempt to probe the surface of the Red Planet in an ambitious mission called "Tianwen-1" which was first launched in July 2020. 

If all goes well this evening, the lander will smoothly touch down and will later deploy a 530-pound, solar-powered rover ready to explore the surface for water ice. The mission will allow China to map out the surface of Mars and prepare for future flights where it can send a spacecraft to the planet and return rocks or dirt to Earth. 

Zhurong is set to explore Utopia Planitia for 90 Martian days, according to the Tianwen-1 team.

Meanwhile, NASA landed the Mars Perseverance rover in February, searched for signs of ancient life, and collected rock samples for a possible return to Earth. The rover also launched a helicopter called Ingenuity, which has flown five flights, taking off vertically, hovering, and landing.

The US and China have taken an interest in Mars because it is packed with rare metals, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, niobium, molybdenum, lanthanum, europium, tungsten, and gold, essential minerals that will power the economy of tomorrow. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/14/2021 - 15:39
Published:5/14/2021 2:53:13 PM
[Right Column] ‘Maybe the Pipeline Terrorists Are Just Environmentalists’ – Flashback: ‘We will dismantle the Pipeline…by any means necessary’

Kyle Smith: "Joe should ask his close pal Jimmy Carter how spending four years in perpetual scrambling mode worked out...If Biden himself were not on record as being himself a fan of shutting down fuel pipelines — Keystone XL not only was a menace to our American way of life by bringing us energy, Biden thought it had to be cut off before his first afternoon nap — this brewing crisis wouldn’t be so potentially damaging to him. Biden is an ardently pro-fuel-limits guy in a moment when fuel is limited. As one of his other first acts in office — “Let’s own Trump by endangering our energy future” — he also banned new fracking leases on federal land. Maybe it would be nice to have more energy supply rather than less given what’s happened since? Prices are already ticking up at the pump. The media can hide Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling and downplay Joe Biden’s lying, but they can’t hide gas prices."

#

Flashback 2013: Watch Video: Eco-Terror Threats Issued at Rally: Climate Depot attended: ‘We will dismantle the Pipeline’ sign prominently displayed at rally — ‘By any means necessary’

NASA’s James Hansen, a muse to Eco-Terrorists?! Morano on Fox News: ‘NASA’s resident ex-con James Hansen is inspiring these people to potential acts of eco-terrorism’ — Eco-activists at DC Climate Rally: ‘Dismantle’ Keystone pipeline by ‘any means necessary’ – Cite Hansen as their inspiration

2010: NASA scientist James Hansen endorses book which calls for ‘ridding the world of Industrial Civilization’ – Hansen declares author ‘has it right…the system is the problem’ — Book proposes ‘razing cities to the ground, blowing up dams and switching off the greenhouse gas emissions machine’

Watch Now: Morano on TV on NASA’s retired ex-con James Hansen: ‘Hansen saying the Keystone pipeline means ‘game over’ for climate, is a fancy way of saying it’s ‘game over’ for what little credibility Hansen had left when it came to climate science’.

NASA’s James Hansen, a muse to Eco-Terrorists?! Morano on Fox News: ‘NASA’s resident ex-con James Hansen is inspiring these people to potential acts of eco-terrorism’ — Eco-activists at DC Climate Rally: ‘Dismantle’ Keystone pipeline by ‘any means necessary’ – Cite Hansen as their inspiration

Published:5/12/2021 11:38:21 AM
[Uncategorized] NASA Slams China as Out-of-Control Rocket Splashes Into Indian Ocean

Rocket was used to launch a module headed to Chinese Space Station, which is slated to be fully operational in 2022.

The post NASA Slams China as Out-of-Control Rocket Splashes Into Indian Ocean first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:5/10/2021 2:25:31 PM
[Markets] The Mystery Of Dark Energy The Mystery Of Dark Energy

Authored by Alex Kimani via OilPrice.com,

"Dark energy is not only terribly important for astronomy, it's the central problem for physics. It's been the bone in our throat for a long time."

- Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate, University of Texas at Austin.

More than three years into its quest to solve the nature of dark energy and illuminate the origin, evolution, and fate of our universe, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) project remains on track to complete the largest map of the cosmos ever.

HEDTEX, a project by Penn State University scientists, aims to create a three-dimensional map of 2.5 million galaxies that will yield valuable insights into the byzantine puzzle of why the expansion of the universe is speeding up over time, a property attributed to the so-called dark energy.

But first things first, what exactly is dark energy?

Dark energy in an expanding universe

Source: NASA.org

The observable universe consists of three known components: normal matter, dark matter, and dark energy. Dark energy is the most abundant at 68%, with dark energy making up another 27% of the universe while ordinary matter constitutes just 5%.

Today, there is consensus among astronomers that the universe we inhabit is expanding despite the presence of gravity, and that its expansion is accelerating, giving rise to the notion of a repulsive force that astronomers have dubbed 'dark energy,' though the concept has only been around for a little more than 20 years. Generally, astronomers and astrophysicists assign the prefix 'dark' to concepts they have little or no clue about.

Dark energy is the name given to the mysterious force that's causing the rate of expansion of our universe to accelerate, rather than to slow down and go out in a Big Crunch as it ages. That's contrary to what one might expect from a universe that was birthed by an event like the Big Bang

Back in 1917 when Albert Einstein came up with the general theory of relativity that laid the foundations of the Big Bang and the universe as a whole, he and most leading scientists were convinced that the cosmos was static and non-expanding. Einstein introduced the Cosmological Constant to help explain why the universe was not collapsing under the attractive force of gravity.

It wasn't until 12 years later when Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is in fact expanding, with galaxies farther away from our planet moving away faster than those that are closer. The model of a static universe was finally abandoned, forcing Einstein to quickly modify his theories and come up with two new distinct models of the expanding universe, both of them without the cosmological constant, just a year later.

However, it would be decades later--1998 to be precise--before astronomers discovered that the universe was dominated by dark energy and not normal matter as earlier thought.

Solving dark energy

More than two decades after the discovery of dark energy, astronomers remain in the dark regarding what it's all about.

However, several theories have been advanced to attempt to explain dark energy.

Ironically, Einstein's previously abandoned cosmological constant is one of the frontrunners, which modern-day physicists describe as vacuum energy.

"The vacuum in physics is not a state of nothing. It's a place where particles and antiparticles are continuously created and destroyed. The energy produced in this perpetual cycle could exert an outward-pushing force on space itself, causing its expansion, initiated in the big bang, to accelerate," says Penn State University Associate Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Donghui Jeong.

But here's the rub with the concept of vacuum energy: The theoretical calculations of vacuum energy diverge from actual observations by a factor of as much as 10120.

Clearly this is a massive discrepancy that could necessitate a reworking of the current theory. 

Another possibility: Einstein's theory of gravity is wrong from the get-go hence leading to erroneous conclusions.

Nonetheless, the cosmological constant in the form of vacuum energy remains the leading candidate that explains dark energy.

HETDEX ambition

Obviously, mapping 2.5 million galaxies is no mean undertaking and requires quite a bit of elbow grease. This is not made any easier by the fact that whereas other comparable studies measure the universe's expansion using distant supernovae or a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, HETDEX is focused on sound waves from the big bang, called baryonic acoustic oscillations. 

Luckily, HETDEX has secured more than $40 million in funding and a set of more than 150 spectrographs called VIRUS (Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs), that gathers light from far-away galaxies into an array of some 35,000 optical fibers where it is split into its component wavelengths.

Another perk: HETDEX is the first probe to try to do a whole lot of spectroscopy and then figure out what they will see by observing broad swaths of sky instead of specific, predetermined objects, meaning they will end up collecting an insane amount of data. Who knows, that treasure trove might yield unexpected insights that might help mankind in its quest to eventually colonize the universe.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/09/2021 - 19:05
Published:5/9/2021 6:21:46 PM
[Markets] "Off To New Places" - Mars Helicopter Prepares For Fifth Flight, A One-Way Trip On Friday "Off To New Places" - Mars Helicopter Prepares For Fifth Flight, A One-Way Trip On Friday

NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter is preparing to explore a new region of the Red Planet today on its fifth scheduled flight (3:26 p.m. EDT, or 12:26 p.m. PDT), with flight data coming in around 7:31 p.m. EDT (4:31 p.m. PDT). 

If all goes well, the 4-pound helicopter will climb 16 feet, then retrace flight four, heading south 423 feet. But instead of heading back to home base, the aircraft will soar to an altitude, a new height record, of 33 feet, where it will take color (as well as black-and-white) photos of the Red Planet. This flight is expected to last about 110 seconds and will be a one-way trip. 

"But instead of turning around and heading back, we'll actually climb to a new height record of 33 feet (10 meters), where we can take some color (as well as black-and-white) images of the area," Josh Ravich, Ingenuity mechanical engineering lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, wrote in a blog post Thursday. 

"After a total flight time of about 110 seconds, Ingenuity will land, completing its first one-way trip," Ravich added. "When it touches down at its new location, we will embark on a new demonstration phase — one where we exhibit what this new technology can do to assist other missions down the road."

Ingenuity landed with NASA's Perseverance rover on Feb. 18 and deployed two months later from the belly of the land-based robot. The helicopter has already completed four flights in three weeks and plans more daring flights as an aerial exploration scout. 

More developments will come this evening when NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory will announce how the flight went on its Twitter account. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 05/07/2021 - 14:59
Published:5/7/2021 2:02:48 PM
[International] No, NASA Should Not Get in Bed With China’s Space Program

The International Space Station is getting a new neighbor. The People’s Republic of China launched the “Tianhe” (Heavenly Harmony ) module of its new space... Read More

The post No, NASA Should Not Get in Bed With China’s Space Program appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:5/6/2021 4:26:30 PM
[Science, Technology, and Social Media] Bid for the very first seat on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

By Duncan Idaho -

On July 20th, New Shepard will fly its first astronaut crew to space. We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of Blue Origin’s online auction. Starting today, anyone can place an opening bid by going to BlueOrigin.com. Here are the three phases of the auction: …

Bid for the very first seat on Blue Origin’s New Shepard is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:5/5/2021 3:18:10 PM
[Markets] Earth Helpless Against Giant Asteroids As NASA Simulation Ends In Doom Earth Helpless Against Giant Asteroids As NASA Simulation Ends In Doom

According to simulations conducted by leading space agencies, Earth lacks the technology to stop a massive asteroid from wiping out Europe, according to the Independent.

The week-long exercise led by Nasa concluded that catastrophe would be unavoidable, even given six months to prepare.

The hypothetical impact scenario, which took place during a planetary defence conference hosted by the United Nations, proved that governments are woefully unprepared for this kind of disaster. -Independent

"If confronted with the scenario in real life, we would not be able to launch any spacecraft on such short notice with current capabilities," said the participants.

According to the report, the only thing humanity could do in such an event is to evacuate the area before the asteroid hit - though the scenario's impact zone was across a large swath of North Africa and Europe.

"Each time we participate in exercises of this nature, we learn more about who the key players are in a disaster event, and who needs to know what information and when," said NASA Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson.

"These exercises ultimately help the planetary defence community communicate with each other and with our governments to ensure we are all coordinated should a potential impact threat be identified in the future."

Responding to the news of the failure, SpaceX boss Elon Musk said the lack of solution was “one of many reasons why we need larger and more advanced rockets”.

 

SpaceX recently secured a $2.89 billion contract with Nasa to develop its next-generation Starship spacecraft, which is being built to transport people and cargo around the Solar System.

According to SpaceX, Starship combined with its Super Heavy rocket booster will be "the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed," and could theoretically alter the trajectory of an Earth-bound asteroid.

Meanwhile, NASA is already working on technology to deflect asteroids - and will launch a test mission of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) system later this year before reaching the asteroid Dimorphos next autumn. The test aims to change the orbit of the asteroid in the hopes of proving that such a system would be a viable defense against near-Earth objects (NEO) in the future.

"DART will be the first test for planetary defence, and the data returned after it impacts Dimorphos will help scientists better understand one way we might mitigate a potentially hazardous NEO discovered in the future," said DART program executive, Andrea Riley. "While the asteroid DART impacts poses no threat to Earth, it is in a perfect location for us to perform this test of the technology before it may actually be needed."

At present, NASA is discovering around 30 new NEOs per week, on top of the roughly 25,000 the agency is currently tracking.

Or, they could just call Bruce Willis...

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/03/2021 - 23:40
Published:5/3/2021 10:40:40 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA Tells Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Stop Work on Lunar Landing After Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins Protested Contract

Meanwhile, SpaceX successfully completes company's first full-fledged crewed mission to the International Space Station.

The post NASA Tells Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Stop Work on Lunar Landing After Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins Protested Contract first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:5/3/2021 2:04:16 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA Extends Ingenuity Helicopter Missions After Four Successful Flights on Mars

Perseverance rover's MOXIE oxygen-generator successfully created 5 grams of life-essential gas.

The post NASA Extends Ingenuity Helicopter Missions After Four Successful Flights on Mars first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:5/3/2021 10:03:06 AM
[Markets] SpaceX Capsule Successfully Returns 4 Astronauts From ISS In First Nighttime Splashdown Since 1968 SpaceX Capsule Successfully Returns 4 Astronauts From ISS In First Nighttime Splashdown Since 1968

Four astronauts have successfully returned to Earth from the International Space Station early Sunday morning in a "splashdown" that took place in the Gulf of Mexico.

Returning in a SpaceX capsule, the astronauts marked the first nighttime return to earth for NASA "in decades", according to the Wall Street Journal

The Crew Dragon Resilience made its "soft splashdown" at 2:57am on Sunday and was then hoisted into a recovery vessel near Panama City, Florida. The astronauts had been in space for 168 days, completing SpaceX's first "operational round trip mission".

The crew, consisting of National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was brought into orbit last year, before docking with the ISS.

Photo: WSJ

NASA and SpaceX are reportedly falling into an operational "cadence" with one another, with the return of the four astronauts marking the latest in a series of milestones for the two agencies. The two agencies "have regularly scheduled human shuttles to and from space using the company’s commercially built rockets and capsules," according to the Journal. 

Another crew of four is also at the International Space Station, beginning their mission, after being launched into orbit last month on a SpaceX rocket. 

SpaceX intends on launching 7 capsules for NASA, including three cargo variants, over the next 15 months, the report said.

Apollo 8 was the last nighttime splashdown, which occurred after the mission orbited the moon in 1968.

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/02/2021 - 12:25
Published:5/2/2021 11:26:31 AM
[Markets] NASA's Mars Helicopter To Push Limits On Fourth Flight  NASA's Mars Helicopter To Push Limits On Fourth Flight 

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity is ready for the boldest flight yet in the skies of Mars, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 

The 4-pound helicopter will attempt its fourth flight today on the Red Planet. The flight will begin at 1012 ET, and streaming data won't be received by NASA's JPL until 1321 ET. We would assume shortly after, Twitter handle NASA JPL will release images and or videos of the flight. 

According to the fourth flight plan, Ingenuity is expected to autonomously fly south for 276 feet at an altitude of 16 feet and pass over rocks, impact craters, and sand ripples. "As it flies, the rotorcraft will use its downward-looking navigation camera to collect images of the surface every 4 feet (1.2 meters) from that point until it travels a total of 436 feet (133 meters) downrange. Then, Ingenuity will go into a hover and take images with its color camera before heading back to Wright Brothers Field," NASA's JPL said. 

"To achieve the distance necessary for this scouting flight, we're going to break our own Mars records set during flight three," said Mars Helicopter backup pilot Johnny Lam. "We're upping the time airborne from 80 seconds to 117, increasing our max airspeed from 2 meters per second to 3.5 (4.5 mph to 8), and more than doubling our total range."

The Perseverance rover also capture images and video of Ingenuity's flight.

It's no surprise that Ingenuity has garnered so much attention because it's the first aircraft to operate on a different planet. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/29/2021 - 12:40
Published:4/29/2021 11:45:03 AM
[Found] How one founder partnered with NASA to make tires puncture-proof and more sustainable This week’s episode of Found features The SMART Tire Company co-founder and CEO Earl Cole, a one-time Survivor champion whose startup is working with NASA to commercialize some of its space-age tech. Cole won a NASA startup competition seeking entrepreneurs to work with its scientists and researchers on applications of innovations it created for space […] Published:4/24/2021 11:17:57 AM
[Markets] Playing Fast And Loose With Numbers Playing Fast And Loose With Numbers

Authored by Joakim Book via The American Institute for Economic Research,

Journalism is hard. To portray the world accurately to a layman audience without delving into the complexities and nuances of the universe we inhabit, writers must always simplify, explain, and make difficult content relatable for their readers. You can do this well and comprehensively, and you can do it poorly. 

Often, writers simplify and give concrete examples with the best of intentions, even though I don’t put it past some of the activist writers out there to fudge what they portray and fidget with the details. But what really strikes a nerve with me is when writers end up misleading so grossly that their readers walk away with a completely twisted view of the world. The late Hans Rosling was a master at pricking the bubbles that these mistakes had created in our heads.  

I have summarized his perhaps most valuable advice to Always Be Comparing Thy Number; never let numbers stand alone; always have readily available comparisons that let you answer the crucial questions: is that a lot? What was it last year? Ten years ago? Do informed researchers think it’s a lot?

Most of us don’t walk around with easily comparable frameworks for what’s a large and small number in areas we know nothing about – how many people normally die in car accidents or from medical errors, how long the Amazon River is or how much ice there is in the world. Implicitly or explicitly, we rely on fact-checking journalists to tell us in the process of covering the crucial topic they’re writing about. 

Too often, they don’t. And not only do they neglect their professional role, they tend to make our misunderstandings worse when they actually engage in contrived comparisons. In any story that includes climate change this tendency seems to have gone completely haywire (maybe the covidocracy can give it a run for its money). 

Far from being settled, climate science is tricky: we don’t know well what happens to global temperatures when atmospheric CO2 doubles (“climate sensitivity”); we can’t properly model clouds and cloud formation, crucial for how much of the sun’s incoming heat will be reflected away; the range for best-guesses as to what the global temperature rise over the coming century will be is vast (maybe 1° Celsius – maybe 5° Celsius) – so vast, in fact, that it hardly warrants a quantification. 

Yet, the science is “settled,” we hear, and we must “listen to the scientists.” 

The Sea Level Rise, the Olympic Swimming Pools, and the Football Fields

But the worst crime are the subtle throwaway lines that journalists tuck onto their coverage of impending doom that give a completely mistaken impression about the future of the world.

Let’s start with the Amazon. 

The Amazon forest is huge. So huge, in fact, that few of us can even fathom how mind-bogglingly huge it is: numbers just won’t do it justice – does anyone have a reference point for what 5.5 million square meters look like? The main Amazon River, not considering its countless tributaries, is some 6,400 km long: traveling at a comfortable 20 km/h (12.5 mph), it would take you a good two weeks of traveling day and night – probably more because of weather, currents, and debris. The area of the forest itself is the size of all U.S. states west of the Mississippi (minus Alaska): from the Gulf to the Canadian border, the Pacific to the Mississippi, all covered in forest. 

In addition to that, we have the Cerrado, an area south and east of the Amazon the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi, that’s technically tropical savannah but few of us would hesitate calling it forested. 

When the scientific journal Nature has a headline that reads “deforestation rate in 2020 is the greatest of the decade,” they’re not lying. The BBC even trumped them a little by slapping “deforestation ‘surges to 12-year high’” on unsuspecting readers. So, we get the impression that Brazilian deforestation is really bad:

Source: INPE, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research

Here I overlaid a simple trendline and a ten-year moving average for illustration. The 11,000 km2 deforested last year was indeed the highest since 2008, but is dwarfed by what routinely came before it. More importantly, we must ask: is it a lot? If your target rate of deforestation – in the poorest areas of a relatively poor country, mind you – is zero (which it shouldn’t be), it looks like things are not just terrible but going the wrong way. A longer, and wider, perspective tells you otherwise. 

It didn’t take long before BBC’s science editor, David Shukman, brought up the familiar “football field-per minute” metric. The area deforested last year was around 1,552,320 standard British football fields, or over 4,000 of them each day, for just under 3 football fields a minute. While Shukman and countless others have tried to make the topic visually understandable for a layperson – we can imagine the size of three adjacent football fields – our imagination is quickly swamped by a “massively large area that I can’t even grapple with.” Quickly, when we scale those minutes to hours and days, we get the impression that huge areas of this important forest is melting away faster than ice cream on a hot summer’s day. 

But we already know that the Amazon forest alone is some 5,500,000 m2 large, the portion within Brazil’s borders some 4,000,000 m2. What was deforested last year, then, was less than 0.3% of the Brazilian forest left standing. Now, does it still sound like an incredibly vast amount? If we estimate that farmers and loggers deforest a similar amount in the next few years, and we ignore potential runaway feedback processes for a minute, Brazilians have enough forest for 360 years. We know enough about economic development and Kuznets curves to know that Brazilians won’t mindlessly deforest the Amazon for that long.

Yet, the picture the reader carries with them is one of runaway deforestation rather than a mild return to longer-term trend.  

The world of ice isn’t much better.

Here we don’t employ the unhelpful and unscientific metric of football fields per minute, but Olympic swimming pools to gauge the amount of meltwater – or sea meter equivalents to compare amounts of ice (mostly in Antarctica and the Greenland Ice Sheet, or ‘GIS’). 

The Guardian, always ready to deliver alarmism, reported that the GIS lost a record 530 billion metric tons of ice in 2019. Again, we’re faced with a number we can’t relate to. Is that a lot? The journalist kindly calculated that it’s about 1 million tons of ice per minute, but that still doesn’t quite cut it – where can I store a million tons of ice? Enter the swimming pools. Think seven of them, in some gigantic swimming facility, filled to the brim with Greenland ice. OK, I can somewhat picture that amount of ice. But then we add seven more pools the next second; and seven more, the next. Quickly we run into the same problem we did with the football fields: this is just a massive amount of ice that’s melting. The images flash before our eyes: an ice-free world, the extra water in the oceans sweeping over our cities and drowning us all, Day After Tomorrow-style.  

For some unfathomable reason, the journalists forgot to report how incredibly large the GIS is – not to mention Antarctica at something like 10x its volume. The ice sheet that covers 80% of Greenland is a dome of permanent ice, 1.7 million m2 and some 2-3 km thick at its peak. Comparing it in size to U.S. states, it’s something like the area of Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Montana combined, covered in kilometers of ice. Estimates put it at 2.85 million cubic kilometers of ice, from which we last year lost about 530 km3. That’s 0.02% of the ice sheet. Unless I displaced a few zeros somewhere – which wouldn’t even change my argument – the GIS has enough ice left to fill more Olympic swimming pools than the dollar values of all the assets in the world (where each dollar’s value represents one Olympic swimming pool of ice). It’s, um, a lot. 

A listener to British statistician and economist Tim Harford’s show More or Less wondered about a figure he had heard in the media of 70 meters of sea level rise if all of Antarctica melted. Bethan Davies at University of London helps explain that if all the ice in the West Antarctica, East Antarctica, and Antarctic Peninsula ice sheets were to melt, we’d be looking at something like 58 meters rise in global sea levels. In her defense, Davies quickly dispelled any notions of that happening: zero, nada, zilch. Antarctica’s vast ice sheets probably will contribute to sea level rises over the next century, but nothing like the 50+ meters that scary hypothetical calculations like those conjure up – with walls of ocean water suddenly battering down our coastal lands. 

Still, journalists keep talking about a future without ice, about ice-free summers in the Arctic, and casually throwing in “sea level rise if x were to melt completely” as if x was in any danger of melting away entirely over anything but geological time frames. This places the completely wrong ideas in their readers’ heads and gravely misinforms the public about the world. 

Doctors abide by the “First, do no harm” promise. Maybe journalists should too.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/23/2021 - 19:00
Published:4/23/2021 6:13:52 PM
[Markets] Wokeness Reaches The Final Frontier: NASA Shifts Focus To Space 'Diversity' Wokeness Reaches The Final Frontier: NASA Shifts Focus To Space 'Diversity'

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity?

Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, risks to your prosperity… and on occasion, inspiring poetic justice.

Drug overdose deaths surged during lockdowns

The rate of US drug overdose deaths surged during the pandemic lockdowns, accounting for up to nearly 20,000 additional deaths.

The CDC measures the number of US drug overdose deaths over the previous year. In September of 2019, 68,757 people had died of a drug overdose in the previous year.

By September 2020, the number of deaths in the previous year rose to 87,203.

The biggest leap in deaths (+3,643) occurred between April and May 2020— just after lockdowns began in most of the US.

The CDC also notes that these numbers may be “Underreported due to incomplete data.” In other words, it’s likely that thousands more drug overdose deaths were ‘erroneously’ counted as COVID-19 deaths…

Click here to read the data from the CDC.

NASA shifts goal from space exploration to space diversity

NASA has been a driving force of scientific innovation and advancement ever since its creation in the 1950s.

After more than six decades of space exploration, you’d think NASA would be an organization free of petty politics and idiotic logic.

As an agency dedicated to the future, for example, one might imagine that NASA’s top priority would be hiring the brightest, most talented people they can find, irrespective of irrelevant characteristics like skin color, gender, or sexual orientation.

Sadly this is not the case.

Science is once again taking a back seat with the agency’s “Artemis Project,” whose goal is “to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.”

Again, it seems like NASA wouldn’t notice or care what’s swinging (or not swinging) between someone’s legs.

If the entire crew of the next voyage happens to consist exclusively of people who identify as seedless watermelons, because those are the most qualified individuals for the mission, then it shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t even make the news.

But instead they’re going to spend $86 billion of taxpayer money to show the world how woke they are.

Click here to read the full story.

China creates “Rumor Refutation Platform”

A new app and hotline allow Chinese citizens to more easily report their neighbors to the government for having “mistaken opinions.”

The “Rumor Refutation Platform” allows users to report rumors and false information which go contradict the Chinese Communist Party. The party will determine what is truth in categories such as science, history, and of course, current political affairs.

China believes this will, “improve the ability of readers to identify rumors and false information.”

Officials “hope that most internet users will play an active role in supervising society…and enthusiastically report harmful information.”

Harmful information includes “distorting, slandering and denying Party, national, and military history. . . in an attempt to confuse people’s thinking.”

In other words, it’s anything that goes against the official narrative.

How jealous the US twitter mob must be.

Click here to read China’s official press release.

Covid Hypocrites: Michigan Governor and two officials caught traveling

The Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, has been one of the strictest governors in enforcing lockdowns.

She still tells residents to only travel out of absolute necessity.

But she decided it was fine for her to travel to Florida before she was vaccinated to see her father.

She has a great excuse— he’s ill. Too bad that was no excuse for the peasants.

Even worse, two of Whitmer’s top administration officials traveled recently for vacations.

One was the director of the Department of Health and Human Services— the very department issuing the warnings not to travel!

Another took a spring trip to the state of Florida, while Whitmer specifically encouraged people NOT to go to Florida for spring break.

I guess those rules don’t apply to important bureaucrats.

Click here to read the full story.

Cheese is racist

At a local council meeting in the UK discussing food choices in schools, a member of Extinction Rebellion environmental group said:

“Arguably, there is a racist element to serving dairy too much because 65 per cent of the world’s population are lactose intolerant, many from the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) community.”

She has started a petition to offer only plant based meals at council run events, and introduce at least two meat-free school lunch days per week in all public schools.

That will apparently be better for the planet, and less racist.

But it’s also about the pandemic: “intensive animal farming poses a significant threat for the development of new pandemics.”

So clearly a ban on meat in the name of Covid-19 is appropriate.

Click here to read the full story.

Teacher who raised money for charity facing $16,000 tax bill

No good deed goes unpunished when it comes to the government.

A Connecticut teacher used Facebook to raise over $40,000 for things like rental assistance and groceries for needy families in his community affected by Covid-19.

Then in January, he received a 1099 form from Facebook stating that he could owe as much as $16,000 in taxes for collecting the charity money.

Facebook tells users that they report to the government when over $20,000 is raised. And without being a registered tax-exempt charity, the government will want a cut.

The teacher has been forced to hire a local tax attorney, and says he expects to pay some amount of taxes on the money, but hopefully not the full $16,000.

Let’s make sure poor people are dependent on the government, and punish good Samaritans who take matters into their own hands.

Click here to read the full story.

Nextdoor launches anti-racism notification to prevent discriminatory language

The website Nextdoor.com is used by community members to share information about their neighborhood.

Now the app is launching tools to help people sensor themselves if they accidentally try to post something racist, like, “All lives matter.”

The company’s announcement explains:

“The new anti-racism notification detects certain phrases such as “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter,” and prompts the author to consider editing their post or comment before it goes live.”

“All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter content is explicitly prohibited on Nextdoor when used to undermine racial equality or the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Click here to read the full blog post.

*  *  *

On another note… We think gold could DOUBLE and silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES in the next few years. That's why we published a new, 50-page long Ultimate Guide on Gold & Silver that you can download here.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/23/2021 - 15:01
Published:4/23/2021 2:12:16 PM
[Markets] SpaceX Rocket Launches Astronauts To International Space Station   SpaceX Rocket Launches Astronauts To International Space Station  

SpaceX launched its third crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) early Friday morning under darkness. 

A SpaceX Crew Dragon aboard a Falcon 9 rocket carrying four astronauts blasted towards low Earth orbit around 0549 ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Dragon capsule should dock at the ISS around 0510 ET Saturday. 

Here's the liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon.

"Main engine cutoff and stage separation confirmed. Second stage engine burn underway," SpaceX tweeted. 

Dragon capsule has separated from the Falcon 9 rocket and is on the way to ISS. 

The astronauts are two Americans, one Japanese and one French. They will continue efforts aboard the 21-year-old ISS, which orbits about 250 miles above the ground. This week, we noted that Russia would withdraw from the aging ISS by 2025 to build a space station of its own. 

Once the astronauts arrive at the ISS early Saturday morning, they will join seven other astronauts and cosmonauts. According to Axios, four crewmembers of the ISS will fly back to Earth next week. 

The latest SpaceX mission comes one week after NASA awarded SpaceX $2.9 billion to develop a lunar landing system to shuttle astronauts to the moon and back. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/23/2021 - 07:01
Published:4/23/2021 6:10:37 AM
[Space] SpaceX successfully launches astronauts with a re-used Dragon spacecraft for the first time SpaceX has another successful human space launch to its credit, after a good takeoff and orbital delivery of its Crew Dragon spacecraft on Friday morning. The Dragon took off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 5:49 AM EDT (2:49 AM EDT). On board were four astronauts, including NASA’s Megan McArthur […] Published:4/23/2021 5:15:47 AM
[Aerospace] Watch SpaceX launch its second crew of Space Station astronauts on a flight-proven Falcon 9 live SpaceX is set to launch its second operational commercial crew mission to the International Space Station for NASA, with a liftoff time of 5:49 AM EDT (2:49 AM PDT) on Friday morning. The flight will carry four astronauts, including two from NASA, one from JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and one from the ESA […] Published:4/23/2021 2:09:12 AM
[Markets] "Go Big Or Go Home!" - Mars Helicopter Flies Higher And Longer In Second Flight  "Go Big Or Go Home!" - Mars Helicopter Flies Higher And Longer In Second Flight 

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter completed a second flight on Mars Thursday morning, just three days (April 19) after making history with the first helicopter to liftoff on another planet. 

Ingenuity autonomously flew for approximately 1 minute and climbed to an altitude of 16 feet. It briefly hovered and moved sideways 7 feet. This flight was more complex than the first. 

"Go big or go home! The Mars Helicopter successfully completed its 2nd flight, capturing this image with its black-and-white navigation camera," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) tweeted. "It also reached new milestones of a higher altitude, a longer hover and lateral flying."

NASA's rover Perseverance tweeted a short GIF of Ingenuity's second flight. 

Mars's super-thin atmosphere is just 1% the density of Earth's, making it more challenging for the helicopters' blades to spin around and need about 2,500 revolutions per minute to generate lift. For comparison, on Earth, most helicopters operate at about 450-500 revolutions per minute.

"So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate," said Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement.

Balaram continued: "We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity."

The team is prepared for three more flights next week. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/22/2021 - 18:45
Published:4/22/2021 6:08:01 PM
[Aerospace] NASA makes history by flying a helicopter on Mars for the first time NASA has marked a major milestone in its extraterrestrial exploration program, with the first powered flight of an aircraft on Mars. The flight occurred very early this morning, and NASA received telemetry confirming that the ‘Ingenuity’ helicopter it sent to Mars with its Perseverance rover. This is a major achievement, in no small part because […] Published:4/19/2021 6:18:23 AM
[Aerospace] SpaceX wins NASA contract to develop human landing system for returning to the Moon The winner of NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) contract award is SpaceX, which bid $2.9 billion for the privilege of developing the means by which NASA astronauts will return to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo program. SpaceX was in the running alongside Blue Origin and Dynetics, but reportedly undercut both […] Published:4/16/2021 3:53:34 PM
[Markets] Elon Musk's SpaceX wins $2.9 billion NASA contract for crewed lunar lander Elon Musk's SpaceX wins $2.9 billion NASA contract for crewed lunar lander Published:4/16/2021 3:53:34 PM
[Markets] SpaceX Wins $2.9 Billion Contract To Return To Moon On Same Day Musk's Favorite Crypto Also "Moons" SpaceX Wins $2.9 Billion Contract To Return To Moon On Same Day Musk's Favorite Crypto Also "Moons"

On the very same day that dogecoin has decided to "moon", Elon Musk's SpaceX has won a major $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft that will put astronauts on the moon. 

Musk's SpaceX beat out Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc for the contract, according to Reuters. Bezos had partnered with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp.for his bid. 

The mission marks the first for NASA targeting the moon since the Apollo mission. 

SpaceX raised $1.16 billion earlier in the week in an equity financing, Reuters noted.

Hopefully SpaceX's spacecraft targeting the moon has better luck than SpaceX's Starship SN11, which "failed" during its flight descent in late March. The SN11 flight is similar to prior ones (SN8, SN9, and SN10) in the past four months - all have launched successfully and completed multiple development objectives but usually end in disaster. 

Regardless, it's been quite the end of the week for Elon Musk. In addition to SpaceX winning this contract, Musk's favorite crypto, dogecoin, has also "mooned" and is up more than 500% over the past week.

We noted this morning that there is now a dogecoin holder (Elon, is that you?) residing at address "DH5yaieqoZN36fDVciNyRueRGvGLR3mr7L" who owns 36,711,935,369.11 dogecoins or whatever the plural is, and whose holdings - which started accumulating back in February 2019 - after the latest surge in dogecoin which has sent the joke crypto up 150% in the past 24 hours and 5x in the past week, has made them a billionaire. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/16/2021 - 16:40
Published:4/16/2021 3:53:34 PM
[Entertainment] Jimmy Kimmel Set to Host Star-Studded Livestream-a-Thon for Great Cause Jimmy KimmelOnce again, Jimmy Kimmel is using his platform for good. On Friday, April 16, the comedian announced he will be joining forces with NASA engineer and YouTube creator Mark Rober for a...
Published:4/16/2021 2:23:28 PM
[Aerospace] SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to deliver an Astrobotic lander and NASA water-hunting rover to the Moon in 2023 SpaceX is set to send a payload to the Moon in 2023, using its larger (and infrequently used) Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. The mission will fly a lander built by space startup Astrobotic, which itself will be carrying NASA’s VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (this is the agency that loves torturing language to […] Published:4/13/2021 11:01:19 AM
[Biden Administration] Obama NASA Deputy Slams Biden for Picking Man To Lead Agency

Lori Garver, the former NASA deputy administrator under President Obama, on Monday ripped former senator Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), the Biden administration’s pick to lead the agency, saying his appointment would extend NASA’s "male-dominated" legacy.

The post Obama NASA Deputy Slams Biden for Picking Man To Lead Agency appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/12/2021 2:23:38 PM
[Markets] NASA's Marscopter Prepares For Imminent Flight On Red Planet  NASA's Marscopter Prepares For Imminent Flight On Red Planet 

On Saturday evening, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted its Mars helicopter "Ingenuity" officially touched down on the Red Planet after being released from the belly of the Perseverance rover. The first helicopter flight on Mars is expected in about a week. 

"#MarsHelicopter touchdown confirmed! Its 293 million mile (471 million km) journey aboard @NASAPersevere ended with the final drop of 4 inches (10 cm) from the rover's belly to the surface of Mars today. Next milestone? Survive the night," NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted

The helicopter weighs about 4 pounds and is solar-powered. Much of the battery usage is to keep the internal system warm from the harsh Martian night. 

"This heater keeps the interior at about 45 degrees F through the bitter cold of the Martian night, where temperatures can drop to as low as -130 F (minus 90 degrees Celsius)," NASA's Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Mars Helicopter project, wrote Friday. "That comfortably protects key components such as the battery and some of the sensitive electronics from harm at very cold temperatures."

The $85 million marscopter will be the first helicopter to fly on the Red Planet. Data from Ingenuity's first flight, expected to be on Apr. 11, will be received by NASA on Apr. 12. Ingenuity is embedded with multiple cameras that will soon allow it to observe Jezero Crater (where the Perseverance rover landed on Feb. 18). Each flight will be conducted over a 300-foot-long flight range at a maximum altitude of 16.5 feet. 

Balaram said after the first flight, "the Ingenuity team will be anxiously waiting to hear from the helicopter the next day." 

While Ingenuity is an exploratory technology demonstration, a successful test flight would confirm the helicopter technology could be scaled up, with larger models that may assist astronauts on the Red Planet with transportation one day. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 04/04/2021 - 16:00
Published:4/4/2021 3:28:56 PM
[Biden Administration] Former Obama NASA Chief Slams Biden for Tapping a Man to Lead Space Agency

The NASA administrator under former president Barack Obama criticized President Joe Biden for failing to nominate a woman to lead the space agency.

The post Former Obama NASA Chief Slams Biden for Tapping a Man to Lead Space Agency appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:3/26/2021 1:57:29 PM
[World] Is the Truth Out There? On Elon Musk, Aliens, and Those Weird Navy UFO Videos - And Cats Published:3/24/2021 11:13:01 AM
[Right Column] The Federalist: Marc Morano Talks His New Book ‘Green Fraud: Why The Green New Deal is Even Worse Than You Think’

'Essentially, they're talking about how we're going to go from the COVID lockdowns to the climate lockdowns,' Marc Morano said. ... 

“There is going to be a formal Green New Deal resurrection, and I think they’re holding off to make sure Biden gets his footing and deals with COVID,” Morano said. “But the flip side of this is that Biden has announced, besides, all these executive orders, that every vacancy is now a climate agency. And what they’re going to be doing is making climate forefront efforts. The Defense Department is claiming climate change is going to cause more wars. You have NASA scientists from leading divisions basically saying that America’s white supremacy has caused climate change.”

Published:3/23/2021 10:07:18 AM
[Markets] Previously Unknown Bacteria Strains Discovered On ISS Could Help Grow Space Crops  Previously Unknown Bacteria Strains Discovered On ISS Could Help Grow Space Crops 

A recent discovery of three new strains of bacteria by researchers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) could fuel future development of growing crops in space or on other planets, according to a study published on Monday.

"Four strains belonging to the family of Methylobacteriaceae were isolated from different locations on the International Space Station (ISS) across two consecutive flights," the findings read, published in the journal frontiers in Microbiology

Titled "Methylobacterium ajmalii sp. nov., Isolated From the International Space Station," researchers in the US and India working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory discovered four bacteria strains living in various places on the ISS, three of them were unknown. 

"While 1 strain was identified as Methylorubrum rhodesianum, the other 3 were previously undiscovered and belong to a novel species novel. The rod-shaped, motile bacteria were given the designations IF7SW-B2T, IIF1SW-B5, and IIF4SW-B5 with genetic analysis showing them to be closely related to Methylobacterium indicium," Kasthuri Venkateswaran and Nitin Kumar Singh, two of the paper's authors from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained a press release.

"To grow plants in extreme places where resources are minimal, isolation of novel microbes that help to promote plant growth under stressful conditions is essential," the two said.

The discovery of new bacteria to support growing crops in space could lead to breakthroughs in sustainable space farming. 

President Biden will continue the Artemis program to land humans on the moon by the end of his first term. The US has various plans for the moon, such as mining the lunar surface and setting up a base station, which involves astronauts and sustainable living accommodations. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/19/2021 - 05:45
Published:3/19/2021 5:08:35 AM
[Aerospace] NASA and SpaceX sign a special info sharing agreement to help avoid Starlink collisions NASA doesn’t just let anyone launch whatever they want to space without checking in with the agency about potential impacts to its own assets on orbit, including the International Space Station (ISS). The agency has a standard set of guidelines around so-called “Conjunction Assessment,” which is basically determine the risk that a close approach between […] Published:3/18/2021 3:33:50 PM
[Biden Administration] Biden Taps Controversial Ex-Senator to Be NASA Administrator

President Joe Biden will nominate former Democratic senator Bill Nelson to be NASA administrator, a choice that is likely to face pushback from many in the space industry who view him as a dinosaur committed to old-school rockets in an era of increasingly cheap, modern launch vehicles.

The post Biden Taps Controversial Ex-Senator to Be NASA Administrator appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:3/18/2021 11:02:33 AM
[Markets] Russia-China Joint Lunar Base Sparks Fears Of Space Arms Race Russia-China Joint Lunar Base Sparks Fears Of Space Arms Race

Conventional wisdom states the world is in a bipolar era. Though we tend to disagree with that as a multipolar international system is in the works. Multiple superpowers align forces that are the US and other Western nations, and, of course, Russia and China. 

Russia and China joined forces this week to build a lunar space station. China's National Space Administration (CNSA) and Russia's space agency Roscosmos signed a memorandum of understanding to construct a lunar base station for a "complex of experimental research facilities created on the surface and/or in the orbit of the Moon".

Bank of America's Haim Israel told clients last month that a space race is underway. He said the US has already been forced to create the United States Space Force in a "direct response to the growing militarization of space" by other superpowers. 

BofA's Israel shows which countries in 1966 versus 2016 have satellites and launch capabilities. The conclusion here is much of the world except large swaths of Africa can launch rockets into space with satellites. 

A multipolar international order is developing, and each side is racing to cement its moon base on the lunar surface. Each side wants a slice of the lunar surface, and for a good reason, because, as we've mentioned before, there could be an abundance of rare metals underneath. 

Not too long ago, we event suggested the idea that a "brewing war to set a mining base in space is likely to see China and Russia joining forces to keep the US increasing attempts to dominate extra-terrestrial commerce at bay." 

Bruce Jones, an expert on Russia and defense, told Daily Mirror that "Russia and China combining their resources, their finances and expertise could lead to all kinds of security threats." 

"But most importantly, it means that the west will be forced to react with their supposed plans to form a moon-base.

"The agreement between the two countries will act as a force multiplier in that it will increase the capabilities of both.

"Security for the west in space is enormously important because of our satellite technology which could come under threat.

"It is important to most aspects of our lives and needs to be protected against any threat from outside," Jones said. 

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: "Any co-operation of this kind between Russia and China is always of concern."

"Security in space has long been critical, and I expect this new announcement will mean it will become increasingly so to the UK military.

"Anything that has an impact on our cyber and space security has to be watched very carefully, and Britain will have to make sure its capability in this area can compete," Kemp said. 

Trillions of dollars of iron ore, nickel, and precious metals at much higher concentrations than those found on Earth, are likely under the moon's surface. The next wild west is in space. Countries are already aligning forces. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/12/2021 - 22:40
Published:3/12/2021 9:56:59 PM
[Markets] Scientists Propose "Lunar Ark" To Store 6.7 Million Sperm Samples As Global Insurance Policy Scientists Propose "Lunar Ark" To Store 6.7 Million Sperm Samples As Global Insurance Policy

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago appears to be losing its appeal as scientists propose a "lunar ark" to house millions of species of seeds, sperm, eggs, and DNA. 

A team of researchers from the University of Arizona, led by Jekan Thanga, proposed building a massive "ark" on the moon as a "modern global insurance policy" against natural disasters, socio-economic chaos, asteroids, and the threat of nuclear war. 

"Earth is naturally a volatile environment," Thanga said in the study titled "Lunar Pits and Lava Tubes for a Modern Ark." The team debuted the study at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Aerospace Conference last Saturday. 

"An ark, just like Noah's in the Bible, could store endangered species more cost-effectively than protecting them on earth or creating an artificial ecosystem," Thanga said.

The researcher proposed building the ark in a lunar pit and or lava tubes, holding upwards of 6.7 million species of seeds, sperm, eggs, and DNA.

Thanga said due to instability, Earth-based repositories, such as Svalbard, could leave specimens vulnerable. 

Thanga's presentation explained that various species would be cryogenically preserved. "We can still save them until the tech advances to then reintroduce these species — in other words, save them for another day," he added. 

To transport upwards of 6.7 million samples, it would take 250 rocket launches. By comparison, the International Space Station took only 40 rocket launches to build. 

The scientist suggested solar panels would power the facility. However, future moon bases will likely be powered with miniature nuclear reactors, as we've explained before. 

Here's the full presentation: 

"We propose development of a modern day ark to be housed inside lunar lava tubes. The ark would house eggs, sperms, seeds and other DNA matter from all of the endangered species on Earth. It would serve as a global insurance policy. Earth faces probability of peril from various natural disasters and human threats such as global nuclear war that could wipe out a large number of species in a short time. Lunar lava tubes were discovered in 2013 and are likely to have remained pristine for 3-4 billion years. They are only 4-5 days from Earth. They are an excellent shelter against lunar surface temperature swings, cosmic radiation and micro-meteorites. The ark would house these endangered species in cryo-conditions of -180 C and colder. Our research shows that new technologies are need to make this initiative possible. It will require substantial investments and advances in robotics to operate under cryo-conditions," he said.

Outside of the academic world, global superpowers have proposed building moon bases and mining the lunar surface to harvest rare metals. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/12/2021 - 20:40
Published:3/12/2021 7:54:58 PM
[Markets] Hedge Fund CIO: The 1929 Crash Sparked A Chain Reaction That Led To WWII In 1939 Hedge Fund CIO: The 1929 Crash Sparked A Chain Reaction That Led To WWII In 1939

By Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management

Lost Arks

"Illiquidity is creeping into credit markets," said Indiana, the industry’s leading archaeologist, explorer. “Credit risks of the type Minsky identified have migrated from the banking system into capital markets.”

Corporate borrowings through bond issuance, in turn captured in exchange traded funds, are an important part of that risk migration. “Even with the stability of credit spreads, this rate rise battered credit funds.” LQD is -6% YTD. “Fund outflows are $6.8bln YTD – the pandemic outflow from mid-Feb to mid-Mar 2020 was just $4.5bln.”

“This week saw the return of credit ETFs trading at a discount to net asset values,” continued Indiana. “Small for now, averaging less than 20 basis points in the past three days.” As liquidity in underlying assets lessens, so too does the ability of participants to provide that liquidity through ETFs. “The discounts are capturing a marginal fray in liquidity conditions, an early warning,” said Indy.

“And the crown jewels of global financial markets - Treasuries - saw a surge in the cost of borrowing securities this week. Illiquidity in Treasuries rose sharply.”



Rapid Unplanned Disassembly (RUD)

The 1929 market crash sparked a chain reaction that lasted a decade, a rapid unplanned disassembly, leading humanity to WWII in 1939. US unemployment averaged 18.2% in the 1930s, CPI averaged -2.0%. The S&P 500 lost 42% in the decade (real return was -29%). The 1970s RUD produced two brutal recessions, US unemployment averaged 6.4% and CPI averaged +7.25%. The S&P 500 gave the illusion of health with a 17% gain. The real return was worse than the 1930s, with a 42% decline.
 

  • In 1930, the US CPI was -2.7%, the S&P 500 inflation-adjusted return was -23% (the inflation adjusted 10yr Treasury note return was +7.4%). In 1931, CPI was -8.9%, S&P 500 real return -38%, 10yr note real return 7.0%. In 1932 (CPI -10.3%, S&P 2%, 10yr 21.3%). 1933 (CPI -5.2%, S&P 58%, 10yr 7.4%). 1934 (CPI 3.5%, S&P -5%, 10yr 4.3%). 1935 (CPI 2.6%, S&P 43%, 10yr 1.9%). 1936 (CPI 1.0%, S&P 31%, 10yr 3.9%). 1937 (CPI 3.7%, S&P -38%, 10yr -2.3). 1938 (CPI -2.0%, S&P 32%, 10yr 6.4%). 1939 (CPI -1.3%, S&P flat, 10yr 5.8%).
  •  In 1970, the US CPI was +5.8%, the S&P 500 inflation-adjusted return was -2% (the inflation adjusted 10yr Treasury note return was +10.3%). In 1971, CPI was 4.3%, S&P 500 real return 10%, 10yr note real return 5.3%. In 1972 (CPI 3.3%, S&P 15%, 10yr -0.4%). 1973 (CPI 6.8%, S&P -19%, 10y -2.4%). 1974 (CPI 11.1%, S&P -33%, 10yr -8.2%). 1975 (CPI 9.1%, S&P 25%, 10yr -5.0%). 1976 (CPI 5.7%, S&P 17%, 10yr 9.7%). 1977 (CPI 6.5%, S&P -13%, 10yr -4.9). 1978 (CPI 7.6%, S&P -1%, 10yr -7.8%). 1979 (CPI 11.3%, S&P +6.5, 10yr -9.5%).

In both the 1940s and 1980s, investors who had emerged from the preceding decade with their capital intact made vast fortunes, equity markets boomed.

Anecdote

“The 19th century was defined by the formation of nation states. The US had just emerged from its UK ties, the treaty of Vienna created countries such as the Netherlands, France just had its revolution and rid itself of Napoleon, Germany unified and Italy became a nation state,” said the Dutchman, a private investor, his fortune built in the markets, trade, finance.

“The 20th century was the era of the establishment of institutions, alliances, internal, global, the US Federal Reserve, the United Nations, many others in between.” International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Health Organization, NATO, the list goes on. Programs too: Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, state pensions. Countless agencies: CIA, FBI, NSA, NASA, EPA, FDA and so on.

“A number of those institutions have come under siege in recent times and the level of trust embedded in them has eroded,” said the Dutchman, images of America’s horned Shaman seared in the global consciousness.

History moves slowly, then fast, all at once. We read books, watch movies, and they compress years, even decades, into tight chapters, creating the illusion that periods of great change are apparent as they unfold, obvious to those living through them. And this then allows us to ignore today’s seismic shifts even as the ground beneath our feet trembles.

“This erosion of trust can also be said about the Fed at a time when the need for credibility is perhaps greater than it has ever been, which makes the trajectory for financial markets going forward particularly difficult and potentially very volatile,” he said.

“And it appears that forces are now in motion that will redistribute wealth, shifting it from capitalists to the workers,” said the Dutchman, taking a moment to consider it all.

“There tend to be couple decades each century when it is a victory to have preserved your real wealth. This looks to be one of them.”

Tyler Durden Sun, 03/07/2021 - 20:00
Published:3/7/2021 7:22:28 PM
[Biden Administration] Rumored Biden Nom for NASA Administrator Out of Touch, Experts Say

The rumored nomination of former senator Bill Nelson for the top job at NASA is drawing criticism from space industry insiders who view the Florida Democrat as a dinosaur and question his commitment to moving the agency forward.

The post Rumored Biden Nom for NASA Administrator Out of Touch, Experts Say appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:3/2/2021 6:06:42 PM
[Markets] The Danger Of The Administrative State The Danger Of The Administrative State

Authored by Ethan Yang via The American Institute for Economic Research,

Lockdowns should have shown every American just how tyrannical and unreasonable our leaders can be. There are elected leaders like Governor Cuomo who have acted as outright tyrants, alienating everyone, even those in his own party. Then there are the unelected bureaucrats who wave away our liberties with the stroke of a pen from the secrecy of their massive offices with technocratic efficiency. This is all of course a sudden and dramatic curtailing of our freedoms. I would not be surprised that with this much public attention, some sort of effort will be made to roll back much of what has been done. Although lockdowns are certainly an existential threat to our long-term freedoms and system of liberal democracy, there has been another specter out there that many experts have been sounding the alarm on for decades. The growth of the administrative state. 

The chilling narrative about the growth of the administrative state, which is essentially the regulatory apparatus of the executive branch, is usually confined to specialist professions. The ever-present danger of a slowly expanding and unaccountable apparatus of bureaucrats that threatens to sap the life out of American society and drown it in a sea of paperwork is typically a concern that only keeps policy wonks and lawyers up at night. Although many lawyers probably celebrate this dystopian vision because they benefit from the compliance fees. The regulatory state not only threatens to make society that much slower and dreary with its excessive onslaught of regulation but it also makes us poorer. Robert Samuelson writes for the Washington Post that

“No one really knows by how much, but “there is ample evidence that regulation has expanded and that this expansion has limited economic growth,” as Ted Gayer and Philip Wallach of the Brookings Institution recently wrote. One study estimates that regulation has shaved 0.8 percent off the U.S. annual growth rate, which — if confirmed by other studies — would be huge.”

The regulatory state refers to organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and all the other three-letter agencies in Washington, DC. If you would like to see how long the list of agencies is, take a look at the Federal Register, to which there are 455. That number is absolutely mind-boggling and you don’t need a fancy degree in political science like I have to say that society can function without their oversight. A paper by Peter Strauss at Columbia Law School notes that there are currently over 2 million civilians employed in the federal government alone. He notes that for context,

“The first Congress to meet once the Constitution was ratified created a Post Office and Departments of War, Navy, Foreign Affairs, and Treasury, each in unique ways suited to its responsibilities; this new government employed few civil servants to manage all its affairs. The first serious count of federal civilian employees, in 1816, reported that they numbered 4,837.” 

The drastic expansion of the administrative state has come at a cost to not only our liberty, which is slowly being eroded by a sea of paperwork and regulations, but it also undermines our democracy. According to Article 1 of the Constitution, the legislative branch or Congress is supposed to be the primary law-making body of our government. That is because if there are bad laws or laws society doesn’t like, we can hold people accountable. However, more and more power has been shifted to the executive branch because of the growth of the administrative state. Even the judicial system is losing power to the administrative state after the establishment of a legal doctrine known as Chevron Deference, which binds the court system to defer to the administrative agency’s interpretation of a rule, not the Constitutional interpretation of a sitting judge. It shouldn’t be too hard to assume that the interpretation will probably favor the ambitions of the agency, not the integrity of the Constitution. These issues and more form the basis of legal scholar Richard Epstein’s assertion that the administrative state is not congruent with rule of law in this country.

The worst part about all of this is that society continues to tell itself that those in the administrative state are simply humble public servants. Although I’m sure many of them are, the hard reality is that at the end of the day it’s a source of income and advancement for bureaucrats just like jobs in the private sector are for everyone else. This is the basic insight of Public Choice Theory, which is the common-sense realization that government agents are not angels, they are humans and follow human nature. That means that although many government agents may think they are serving the country, they are also limited by their own capabilities as humans as well as their desires. This is demonstrated by a phenomenon known as the Washington Monument Syndrome, which refers to how when a government agency is threatened with a budget cut or hiring freeze, they shun fiscal restraint in order to protect their own self-interests. The Washington Monument Syndrome gets its name because when the National Park Service was faced with budget cuts, instead of streamlining its finances like a normal private company they protested by shutting down the Washington Monument rather than taking sensible steps to cut costs. In the private sector there is a natural check on how much workers can demand, such as the threat of going out of business. In the public sector there are no such restraints. This is part of the reason why the bureaucracy simply grows and grows and grows, taking our freedom as well as our treasure as it does. 

Finally, there is the dark fact that there are ambitious people in the administrative state who want to make a name for themselves at the expense of their fellow countryman. If there aren’t any problems to solve, hotshot regulators are trying to move up the food chain by creating problems to solve by either targeting innocent private actors or trying to pump up their resumes with unnecessary sanctions. This problem is well known when it comes to the criminal justice system, as prosecutors leverage plea bargains to increase their incarceration statistics regardless of the guilt of the defendant and without ever having to take a case to trial, which is a constitutional right. However, this system of perverse incentives to simply rack up wins at the expense of society is present in the regulatory state as well as agencies bringing the government’s boot down on businesses just trying to provide a good service. 

I had a personal experience with this dynamic when I interned at a law firm providing pro bono services to private entities that were being pursued by trigger-happy regulators. The case I worked on was FTC vs D-Link Systems, which was settled finding no liability for any violations. The FTC in this case levied a claim that D-Link Systems was engaging in deceptive practices. However, upon investigation there were no rules that they violated, nor were there any widespread complaints from consumers to be found. The FTC was essentially going out of its way and leveraging vague rules to pursue a responsible corporation likely in the name of career advancement. That is because there are no rewards for doing nothing, even though that’s what the government should be doing when its citizens are being responsible. Sadly, not every private business has the resources to fight back against overzealous government regulators. Even worse, there is little being done to check the powers of the administrative state. In fact, many elected politicians simply see it as a way to shift blame away from themselves.

Key Takeaway

If lockdowns were a sudden and brutal assault on our liberties, the rise of the administrative state would be the silent killer. It keeps itself away from the public spotlight, only raising alarms for the communities it directly affects and policy wonks who enjoy ranting about taxes and federal codes all day. To the average person, the administrative state is not a problem until it is. Every year it grows and grows with little incentive to care for the trouble it has caused for the rest of American society. It is the true embodiment of the leviathan illustrated by Hobbes. Although there is certainly a time and place for regulatory agencies, today they have so greatly outgrown their bounds to the point they are becoming an unelected judge, jury, and executioner. What was a handful of executive agencies at the beginning of the republic has now become an expansive list of alphabet soup abbreviations, some with their own SWAT teams and court systems. The administrative state not only saps our treasure and stifles our creativity but it drains our spirit. If left unchecked it will surely turn this country of ambitious innovators and entrepreneurs into one of paper pushers and clerks.

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/27/2021 - 21:30
Published:2/27/2021 8:46:15 PM
[Markets] The Coming Space-Race The Coming Space-Race

Authored by Brian Berletic via 21stCenturyWire.com,

Introduction

The domain of space has become an increasingly important playing field economically and militarily amid the wider great power game here on Earth.

While mostly out of sight, the satellites circling overhead provide us with precise positioning information for navigation, communication, weather data, intelligence, and imaging for maps so readily available online – we have begun to take this all for granted.

The impact of this technology in orbit on our ability to engage in commerce and maintain military preparedness has become so vital over the past several decades that nations have begun dedicating not only more resources into developing spaceborne capabilities, but also creating the ability to monitor threats in space and develop methods to defend against them.

This has led to several nations creating “space forces,” with the United States creating the US Space Force in 2019. Russia and China also have equivalent military forces dedicated solely to the domain of space – though how they will be used will most certainly differ from how the US will likely (and is already beginning to) use theirs.

What we see unfolding now is geopolitical cooperation and conflict here on Earth being extended into Earth orbit and beyond.

China has begun launching as many, if not more rockets per year than the United States. Its capabilities range from placing entire satellite constellations into orbit, to launching its own astronauts and even space station segments, as well as commercial missions for clients from around the globe.

Russia continues to develop its space launch capabilities and currently still has these most reliable manned space launch systems on Earth – the Soyuz. Their plans to develop reusable rockets to remain competitive with American aerospace company SpaceX means that Russia too remains a significant partner/competitor in the space domain.

And of course, private companies – from the US to China and everywhere in between – are creating capabilities and pursuing objectives beyond existing state-dominated space programs – with US-based SpaceX creating everything from reusable launch vehicles, to satellite internet, to a fleet of stainless steel starships designed to colonize Mars.

And just beyond reach of current technology are resources in space in the form of minerals and ore on the Moon and trapped in near-Earth objects like asteroids that could open the door to a multi-trillion dollar space economy that could sustain a population within our solar system many times larger than the 7.6 billion people on Earth today.

Through this now quickly shifting and rapidly developing space industry we can see the stage being set for a new, and much more wide-ranging “space race” for the 21st century.

While the first space race was bipolar – between the United States and the Soviet Union – today’s new space race includes old adversaries – the US and Russia – as well as China, India, and even Iran. There are also a growing number of private space companies from US-based firms like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, to Japan’s iSpace, and Galactic Energy in China.

The Space Economy 

There is a very real space-based economy already.

It consists of constellations of satellites providing everything from communication to navigational services – services that are playing an increasingly important role in the global economy.

Industries like delivery services heavily depend on satellite navigation to connect drivers with their destinations, aiding them in navigating to customers and allowing customers to track their progress in real-time. Food delivery alone is an industry of over $100 billion worldwide.

There are also taxi services that increasingly rely on satellite navigation to find and deliver passengers.

The growing importance of satellite navigation for the economy is only set to grow as companies around the globe explore the possibility of drone delivery services and modes of land transportation that are increasingly autonomous.

Communication satellites have long served an important role in advancing and connecting modern information technology. Satellite phones and now satellite internet are services already available around the world. These services depend on satellites in higher orbits over the Earth meaning that latency is higher – and internet speeds slower.

Geostationary orbits, while higher and providing slower communication speeds, require fewer satellites to cover any particular area – with specific satellites assigned to and stationed permanently over a single region of the planet.

Communication satellites in low earth orbit cannot remain over a single region of the planet permanently. They are constantly moving, and thus to create worldwide coverage, shells of constantly moving satellites with protocols meant to relay signals not only from the ground to orbit, but between satellites in orbit are required – and in large numbers.

The lowering costs of both satellite manufacturing and space launches to place them into orbit makes this possible today.

With SpaceX’s Starlink service, consisting of thousands of satellites in low earth orbit (and eventually tens of thousands of satellites), low latency satellite internet will be available worldwide with a partial network already being tested.

Other companies are attempting to create their own low earth orbit constellations including OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.

Russia’s Roscosmos is planning to create a similar constellation and China via its Hongyun project is already launching satellites in a bid to create its own low earth orbit broadband internet constellation.

These would constitute global internet service providers – though satellites would still depend on ground stations that connected to the physical backbone of the Internet in order to receive and transmit data – and companies involved in proposing and building these constellations are designing custom tailored solutions on a state-by-state basis to address security concerns in an age where information warfare is as serious a threat as actual warfare.

There are also clear military implications regarding satellite navigation and communication.

Its use on the battlefield includes collecting intelligence, coordinating the locations of and communication between troops in the field, guiding warships at sea as well as warplanes overhead, guiding munitions accurately to their targets and for managing the growing fleet of unmanned military vehicles on land, in the air, and both on and under the sea.

The obvious importance of satellite navigation and communication for both a nation’s economy and its defense is why nations like the United States, Russia, China, and the EU have developed their own networks that they control and that they cannot be excluded from. These are networks that they can offer access to for allies and customers, to enhance their alliances and to open up streams of revenue.

The United States maintains the Global Positioning System (GPS) with a constellation of 31 satellites. The maintenance and protection of America’s GPS satellites was transferred to its newly christened Space Force.

Russia maintains the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) with 24 satellites in orbit. The EU’s Galileo network also consists of 24 satellites.

China recently completed its BeiDou network with 35 satellites in orbit – the largest network of its kind and one of several key indicators illustrating not only how serious China takes this new space race, but the competence it is able to bring to it.

The BeiDou network has already become a key component of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. It is space infrastructure China is using to help stitch together the economies of Eurasia and to help augment the military capabilities of its allies – including nations like Pakistan who now have access to BeiDou’s higher military-grade positioning resolution.

Since China is building continent-spanning transportation infrastructure – creating and maintaining its own network of navigation satellites with global coverage prevents nations like the US from cutting it off from the GPS network at junctures of geopolitical tensions and potentially stranding logistical operations across entire continents.

CISLunar Economy 

United Launch Alliance (ULA) – a space lift company created by Boeing and Lockheed – has proposed what it calls a “cislunar economy.” Cislunar describes the space between the Earth and the Moon.

ULA’s proposal imagines a cislunar economy reaching $3 trillion by 2050. According to SpaceNews in an article titled, “ULA’s Tory Bruno argues for U.S. investments in the production of fuel in space,” that economy would include mining, transportation, manufacturing and space tourism.

Space.com in an article titled, “Inside ULA’s Plan to Have 1,000 People Working in Space by 2045,” would note just how many people would make up that economy

CISLunar economy (Image Source: ULA/NASA)

Mining and in-situ manufacturing in space alone would be transformative for human civilization – akin to moving from the bronze age to the iron age. The resources trapped in near earth objects dwarf the total amount of resources here on Earth. It is just a matter of accessing it and possessing the tools to use it in manufacturing processes in space.

The science fiction future imagined in books and movies for decades could become a reality, complete with orbital habitats not unlike that featured in the 2013 film, “Elysium,” hopefully without the accompanying dystopian class divide.

While ULA’s own expendable launch vehicles are unlikely capable now or anytime in the near future of actually realizing their cislunar economy, other US-based companies and even those abroad might – and sooner than we imagine.

Jeff Bezos – Amazon founder and owner of US-based aerospace company Blue Origin – has proposed a roadmap (video) for the mining of resources and the construction of such habitats. Blue Origin is currently working on its New Glenn rocket – the closest launch vehicle in terms of capability and reusability to SpaceX’s Starship currently under testing. New Glenn, Starship, and similar launch vehicles would be needed to create the foundation of these proposed manned economies in space.

Getting to Space

Space was once the sole domain of a handful of government space programs.

Today, governments, corporations, and a mix of both are now widening the space launch capabilities of countries with space programs, as well as opening increasingly attractive options for nations without their own space launch capabilities.

To date, Russia, the USJapanChina, the EUIndiaIsraelUkraineIran, and North Korea have all demonstrated the ability to launch payloads into orbit.

Currently, China, Russia, and the US lead the world in total launches per year – placing public, military, and commercial payloads into orbit not just for their respective countries but for a wide range of customers from around the world.

China currently leads, or closely follows the US in total launches per year – depending on the year – with US-based SpaceX accounting for America’s ability to continue competing.

The US currently holds the edge in overall competitiveness – again because of SpaceX – and owed in particular to SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Some of its Falcon 9 boosters have flown and landed up to 8 times (at the time of writing). The boosters are designed to fly up to 10 times before major overhauls.

The merit of reusability has not been lost on America’s main competitors. China has been nurturing its own private space industry and several companies are pursuing Falcon-style reusability including Galactic Energy with its planned Pallas 1 rocket targeting a 2021 test launch. Companies like iSpace are also pursuing similarly reusable launch vehicles. Both companies have already reached orbit with expendable rocket designs.

Russia’s Roscosmos is developing its Amur rocket, following SpaceX’s strategy for reusability using a first stage that launches and lands under the power of its own rocket engines.

SpaceX itself – while continuing to launch its Falcon 9 on a regular basis (26 launches in 2020 alone) – is working on the next generation of reusable launch vehicles – Starship.

It will be the largest, most powerful rocket ever built and feature fully reusable first and second stages. It is designed ultimately not only to send people to Mars, but to be able to lift enough material, equipment, and people into orbit frequently enough to build a city on the red planet.

While this goal remains on a more distant horizon, the cargo lift capabilities of Starship – lifting 150 tons into low earth orbit – and its rapid reusability will make access to space cheaper than ever before. It will open up a variety of possibilities both economically and militarily for the United States and its allies, as well as for commercial partners around the world – while leaving other nations playing catch-up.

Nothing like Starship is even under development elsewhere around the globe. While China and Russia are developing heavy-lift rockets nearing Starship’s lift capabilities, none of them will be even partially reusable.

There is also the ability to reach other places in the solar system – other than Earth orbit. The US, China, Russia, and Japan all possess the capability to reach the Moon, Mars, and even near earth objects like asteroids.

In 2020 when the most recent launch window opened to send missions to Mars, the US and China both sent major missions.

NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully touched down on Mars’ surface earlier this month. The rover contains experiments to retrieve and eventually send back samples of the Martian surface to Earth as part of future missions to Mars, as well as an experiment for in-situ oxygen production which will be vital for human habitation and the production of fuel on Mars in the future.

China’s mission – Tianwen-1 – has also reached the red planet, featuring an orbiter, a lander, and a rover.

If China successfully lands on the surface of Mars it will signify a major milestone for the nation and its spaceborne capabilities. Having already reached Mars orbit and having sent back incredible pictures of the Martian surface – Tianwen-1 has already made a major geopolitical statement.

While critics say China has not done the many things the US has done in space and has a long way to go to catch up – China does not need to replicate America’s past achievements – it merely needs to match or surpass America’s current achievements and is working to do exactly this.

Mission accomplished: Japanese Hayabusa2 carrying asteroid samples in December 2020 (Image: JAXA)

NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have both sent missions to asteroids – a major first step toward eventually exploiting the vast amount of resources trapped in them.

JAXA’s Hayabusa missions both retrieved samples from targeted asteroids and returned them to Earth. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission has successfully collected a sample from asteroid Bennu and is slated to return it to Earth by 2023.

Getting into space and being able to reach a wide variety of destinations there – and being able to carry out a wide variety of activities will be key to expanding Earth’s economy into space. Government agencies and private companies are developing these capabilities at an increasingly faster pace each year with large implications regarding cooperation and conflict in space in the near future.

Conflict in Space

The networks being placed into orbit will enhance the economic and military capabilities of the respective nations on the ground launching them. The importance of creating and defending these networks is obvious.

Satellite navigation’s use in conducting warfare and in particularly accurately guiding unmanned aircraft and even munitions across the battlefield makes it an obvious target for electronic jamming.

F-35 Fighter (Image Source: Darin Russell/Lockheed Martin)

Here we can see the clearest example of how geopolitical competition on Earth is extending into the domain of space.

The National Interest in a 2019 article titled, “GPS Jammed: Russia Is Messing with America’s F-35s,” would claim:

Russian forces have been jamming GPS systems in the Middle East. The electronic-warfare campaign could affect U.S. forces gathering in the region in advance of potential strikes on Iran.

“Since last spring, pilots flying through the Middle East, specifically around Syria, have noted that their GPS systems have displayed the wrong location or stopped working entirely,” The Times of Israel reported in late June 2019.

GPS is essential for US military operations – and for pilots of warplanes like the F-35 in particular – both regarding navigation and guiding munitions to target. Jamming GPS signals in theater means partially blinding US warplanes and severely inhibiting their ability to carry out military operations.

While the US has claimed this jamming is a serious provocation, Syria is a nation the US has illegally occupied for years. This is in addition to its military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and, as the article points out, its planned military aggression against Iran, all nations thousands of miles from America’s shores, and all nations that pose no direct threat to the US itself.

The use of America’s GPS in the Middle East is explicitly for enabling military aggression abroad – not the defense of the United States itself.

With the founding of the US Space Force in late 2019, and with the new armed forces branch overseeing America’s GPS capabilities, it is certain that stopping Russia or any other nation from disrupting these capabilities overseas will become part of its mission.

It is clear that the US Space Force will be used – not to defend the United States itself – but to prevent others from defending themselves from US aggression and its spaceborne capabilities used to enable it.

Russia’s use of electronic jamming has complicated American aggression in the Middle East. But there are other threats to America’s spaceborne capabilities – and theoretically, to those of all other nations as well.

This includes anti-satellite missiles.

In 2007, when China tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile which destroyed one of its aging Fengyun series weather satellites, the West vocally protested – so much so – that many might believe China was the first ever to carry out such a test.

In reality, the US conducted a very similar test as early as 1985 using an ASM-135 ASAT missile mounted on an F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft. The missile was used to destroy the Solwind P78-1 satellite – a scientific platform nearing the end of its lifespan.

The early US test – like the Chinese one in 2007 – created debris that posed a hazard to other satellites and spacecraft in orbit. The US test even delayed the construction of what is now the International Space Station (ISS).

After the Chinese test in 2007 – and despite the US already demonstrating its ability to destroy satellites in orbit – the US carried out an additional ASAT mission a year later using a modified SM-3 missile to destroy the USA-193 reconnaissance satellite operated by the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

While the mission was justified by claiming there were fears that the malfunctioning satellite could enter the atmosphere and cause contamination with its highly toxic fuel – the timing following the Chinese missile test made it clear this story was just cover for what was a tit-for-tat demonstration vis-a-vis China and a test of US missile defense systems as provocative as the US claimed China’s test was.

Russia began testing modern ASAT missiles in 2015, conducting several tests but none of them directed at actually destroying a satellite in orbit.

India – a nation with an increasingly capable space program – tested an ASAT missile in 2019 successfully destroying a test satellite in low earth orbit (LEO).

In other words, several nations now possess the ability to not only jam satellites but also destroy them.

For nations like the US who depend heavily on its GPS network when fighting wars of aggression abroad – the destruction of even parts of its GPS network would immediately impact its fighting capacity and require a time consuming and expensive process to replace lost satellites.

The advent of ASAT systems has increased the cost of US military aggression abroad should red lines be crossed and either Russia or China decide to begin targeting this crucial component of American military might.

On the other hand, US-based SpaceX – should its Starship launch vehicle begin placing payloads into orbit, it would be capable of replacing entire constellations faster than they could be shot down.

Here, we can see the potential ingredients for a space-based arms race.

Should ULA’s cislunar economy – or a version of it – begin to take shape, it will be difficult to imagine how economics in orbit and on Earth, as well as the conflict that will inevitably arise will take full shape.

It may resemble in many ways the process of exploring for and exploiting hydrocarbons here on Earth with a process of staking and exploiting claims clearly defined and competitors moving on to other objects in search for resources.

If current studies of near earth objects are accurate, there would be more resources in space than human civilization has the ability to fully exploit – although real estate on the Moon or Mars, or specific asteroids in closer proximity to Earth would be likely candidates for races, competition, and possible conflict.

Conflict might be fought out on Earth between respective nations over what is happening in space or a new class of weapons and tactics might be developed for use in space-to-space combat.

Here on Earth we can already see attempts by the US to pressure nations like Iran and hinder the development of Iran’s space program – which has already successfully placed payloads into orbit and is developing more capable launch vehicles as well as its own satellites to place in orbit.

Denial to space, and denial to regions in space may become common themes in near-future warfare.

Cooperation in space or exclusion of certain nations from specific projects has already become a geopolitical tool. Russia’s monopoly over manned space launches – only recently broken by SpaceX’s crewed Dragon 2 spacecraft – was a useful tool for Moscow to remind America of the limits of its omnipotence.

America’s plans for a Lunar Gateway station now exclude Russia – a politically-motivated decision that will cost America in terms of technical expertise can capabilities Russia could offer the project.

America’s exclusion of China from virtually all cooperation with NASA including on the International Space Station would at first serve to hinder China’s space program – but now appears to be spurring it.

China now plans to launch its own space station and will use it to cooperate with any  and all nations in space – including those thus far excluded by US-dominated projects.

These are possibilities that are no longer the domain of science fiction writers but the serious topics of policymakers and the aerospace branches of national armed forces around the globe.

Satellite-killing missiles, moon bases, Mars rovers, space stations, rockets taking off and landing under the power of their own engines – are fast becoming a reality or in some cases, are already here.

The new space race has begun and it is a race a growing number of nations and companies are joining on a nearly monthly basis.

Rockets are taking off from traditional launch sites in Florida and Kazakhstan – but also now from places like New Zealand and Amur Oblast in eastern Russia. SpaceX is building a spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, near America’s border with Mexico. And China is constructing new launch facilities on land and at sea.

The scale and importance of activity in space is expanding rapidly, with ever-expanding rewards of the wealth, power and influence for its participants. Wherever there are people and resources – there will be competition, and in this new space race we will likely see this competition move beyond flag-planting and toward something that resembles actual conflict.

***
VIDEO: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos presents his and others’ plans for the future of outer space. Watch:

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/26/2021 - 21:00
Published:2/26/2021 8:08:49 PM
[Aerospace] Astra awarded NASA launch contract for storm observation satellites Astra, the Alameda-based space launch startup that recently announced its intent to go public via a SPAC merger, has secured a contract to deliver six cube satellites to space on behalf of NASA. Astra stands to be paid $7.95 million by the agency for fulfilment of the contract. This will be a key test of […] Published:2/26/2021 5:17:57 PM
[Markets] Beyond Oil: How UAE's HOPE Mars Mission Is Breaking The Arab World Out Of Its 'Crisis Of Scarcity' Beyond Oil: How UAE's HOPE Mars Mission Is Breaking The Arab World Out Of Its 'Crisis Of Scarcity'

Authored by Cynthia Chung via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Emiratis understand that their economy, primarily based in oil revenue, though presently lucrative, is a short-term prosperity. A future that is dependent on oil is unstable and unkind, it is not a reliable resource for an advancing economy.

Something truly remarkable happened on Feb. 9th, 2021, which I fear has not been fully comprehended by most of the Western hemisphere in terms of its massive implications as a game-changer in geopolitics for the Middle East.

Here in the West, we have become accustomed to our jaded denigration of space exploration. It appears to many, that space exploration is just a charade or if of real consequence, is understood as an extension of geopolitics, the imperialistic conquest and militarisation of space.

It is for this very reason that the UAE’s story for why they decided to create their Hope (or Amal in Arabic) mission to Mars is so very striking against this politically cynical foreground.

The reason for this is because the Emirates government itself has made it clear that the space-science goals come second for their Hope Mission. What comes first? “A lot of you might ask us, ‘Why space?’” Omran Sharaf, the Hope project manager, said during a news conference.

It’s not about reaching Mars,” like major ports and road ventures before it, the Mars mission is a mega-project designed to cause “a big shift in the mindset [of the Emirati people]…[the driver] is not space, it’s economic.”

The Emiratis understand that their economy, which is primarily based in oil revenue, though presently lucrative, is a short-term prosperity. A future that is dependent on oil is unstable and unkind, it is not a reliable resource for an advancing economy. It is also understood that the environmental challenges (the country is built on a desert), issues of water and food availability, are very real and pressing concerns.

It is from this recognition that the UAE government tasked a group to be formed, pretty much from scratch, with the goal to send an orbiter spacecraft into the Mars orbit with a 6 year deadline (the usual course is ten years for established experts in the field), so that the Emiratis orbiter could arrive on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

On Feb. 9th, 2021, after a seven month journey, Hope successfully executed a perilous 27 minute thruster burn to slip into orbit around Mars, making the UAE the fifth nation to visit the Red Planet (the other four are: the U.S., Russia, the European Union, and India).

China’s Tianwen-1 (translated as Questions to Heaven) joined Hope a day after into Mars’ orbit and became the sixth nation to visit Mars. China is the first nation to have sent both an orbiter and rover in one shot, the rover is scheduled to land on Mars May 2021, if successful, China will be the second nation to operate a rover on Mars. The U.S.’ Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars on Feb. 18th.

The reason why all three countries are entering Mars in the same month is because the orbital dynamics of Earth and Mars line up properly for interplanetary missions for just a few weeks once every 26 months.

The Hope mission success promises to pull the UAE into an economic transformation, through further science driver programs whose aim will be to address future water and food shortages and create an alternative energy sector that is not oil dependent (1), which would be a much greater prize than just getting data from Mars. Getting to Mars is important, says Sarah Al Amiri (who is the Deputy Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission), but “how we get there is even more important”.

As the first Arab nation to perform an interplanetary venture, the UAE has been quick to make clear to the international community that they perceive this success as something to be shared with their Arab neighbours and to encourage the development of science driver programs in fellow Arab countries to solve the issues of scarcity in the Middle East.

It is for this reason that as early as March 2019, the UAE helped organise a Global Space Congress meeting and the formation of the first regional team, consisting of eleven Arab states, to cooperate on a space program. The idea behind this is for the UAE to help train scientists from these eleven Arab countries at centers such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center located in Dubai, so that these scientists can return to their countries with the knowledge and training to build their own space programs.

The UAE has also announced that the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) will release its data to the international scientific community without an embargo, recognising that the progress of a neighbour is beneficial for all.

What Does Going to Space Have to Do With Solving Scarcity on Earth?

The UAE has come a long way from its beginnings in 1971, when a group of impoverished communities from distinct tribes joined forces in the wake of independence from the United Kingdom. Today, much of the UAE is so new it feels like the future, oil wealth and bold infrastructure projects have helped to turn the nation into one of the richest countries in the world per capita.

But these very business sectors proved vulnerable to a series of economic crashes and the Arab Spring. With the decreasing oil reserves, it was understood by the Emirates government that a population of businessmen was not going to be the solution to this problem. The Emiratis needed a new energy sector and they needed a population of scientists to develop it.

However, Emirati undergraduates tend to study engineering or business, fewer than 5% pursue degrees in basic sciences. Therefore, the Emirates government understood that they would need to create a science driver program, an ambitious program that would inspire its youth and its universities to become leaders in the frontiers of science, which in turn would create the science boom that the UAE required to solve its issues of scarcity and oil dependence.

It is at this point that we come to the story of the maestro behind the Mars project Hope, and how she found herself in the position, at the age of 34 years old today, leading not only the first Arab nation’s interplanetary venture as Deputy Project Manager but also chair of the UAE Space Agency, Chair of the UAE Council of Scientists and Minister of State for Advanced Sciences.

Her story shares in the remarkability of her country’s mission of Hope, and achieving what anyone would have thought was an impossibility.

Sarah Al Amiri describes how as early as the age of twelve she had a passion for learning more about space, however, at the time, not only did the UAE not have a space sector but it also didn’t have programs such as planetary science offered in their universities.

So, she entered computer engineering- her second passion. In 2006, the UAE started developing a space sector but Al Amiri only became aware of job opportunities in this sector in 2009. When she applied, it was still in its start-up phase.

She was put on a team that was developing a second satellite; the team of engineers was comprised of individuals in their early and mid-twenties, who had just graduated from their university programs.

As Al Amiri describes it:

The job I came into was created for me…[a] job that should have been there but didn’t exist before…So, I had nobody to learn from…The only thing that they had provided to anyone joining there was a goal that they needed to achieve…it was the responsibility of myself and each of every single person within that team to develop that entire area within the organisation and eventually grow people within the organisation in that area…

Five years later, Nov 21st, 2013 was the day that Al Amiri was invited to join a feasibility study for a Mars planetary exploration project. However, at the time the UAE did not have a space agency and it did not have planetary scientists, and had only recently launched its first satellite. “The UAE, you see, wanted to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a contribution to humanity, and a contribution to science,” said Al Amiri. “They needed a spacecraft to be developed to go to Mars, because Mars is of interest to humanity today, to gather data that scientists don’t have access to today, and to answer noble questions that have been posed about Mars but we currently don’t have the necessary information to start answering.

The Emirati engineering team was able to defy all odds with the support of three American universities, but namely the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Sharaf was told by his superiors to “build it, not buy it”, in order to create skills within the UAE itself.

One of the factors that allowed the UAE to cut ten years down to six years was the converting of some of the space center’s engineers into planetary scientists by offering apprentice-like training with researchers in the United States, this was often done on top of a full-work schedule and from long distance teleconferencing, as in the case for Al Amiri.

For those of you who might be thinking that this outside support reduces the accomplishment of the Emirati people, the reader should be aware that over 50% of all Mars missions have failed. You can check out the details of the success rate here.

Because the U.A.E. does not yet have its own rocket industry, Hope was launched aboard an H-IIA rocket from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on July 19th, 2020 on schedule, despite the coronavirus outbreak.

For its science goals, the UAE went to the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, a NASA-led international forum that agrees on gaps in knowledge to tackle in future Mars missions.

It was very important for us to fit into an area of science that was relevant not only to the UAE but the global science community,says Al Amiri.

The Hope Mars mission is to provide scientists with the first holistic view of the Martian atmosphere; providing for the first time a global map of the entire climate of Mars over the course of one Martian year (which is two Earth years). Most importantly, this mission is to try to fill in a missing piece of the puzzle in understanding what happened and what is currently happening to hydrogen and oxygen atoms in Mars, the building blocks of water.

However, as Al Amiri stresses:

It is called Hope for a reason above and beyond the science that it’s contributing. Today our region, the Middle East, is filled with turmoil, it is the reason it is going through a few of its darkest hours, and what we are doing at the Hope Emirates Mars mission is providing a message, the Middle East is made up of over 50% youth. This project Hope is being run by a team that is under thirty-five [years old], a team that is made up of 34% women [and the Mars mission’s scientists are made up of 80% women], the average age is twenty-seven. An entire nation is putting its Hope in a team of youth and presenting a message to the region. This mission is also called Hope because we are contributing to the global understanding of a planet. We are going above and beyond the turmoil that is now defining our region and becoming positive contributors to science. Science to me, is the most international form of collaboration, it is limitless, it is borderless, and it’s run by passions of individuals for the benefit of human understanding.”

Just as the building of the dome to the Santa Maria del Fiore was the science driver program of 15th century Florence, Italy, which succeeded in building the largest masonry dome ever to this date, the Hope mission shows equal promise for the future of the Middle East.

At the time, the Florentines were thought mad. Why set their ambitions on building the largest dome ever (beating the Roman Pantheon) during a time of war between its cities (Italy was not a formed country yet) in the midst of the Dark Age and during the pestilence of the plague, which had wiped out 70% of the population in many cities?

Included in the Florentine public records was an official statement describing the aspiration of Florence in setting out to accomplish this incredible endeavour, “as something of the most exalted and prodigal of magnificence, so that the industry and power of man are unable to invent or ever attempt to gain anything that is larger or more beautiful.” It was this project that would come to inspire a Renaissance (for more on this story refer to my paper).

It is only by striving for the impossible that we challenge the boundaries of what is possible.

The solutions are out there but we must become focused on achieving them. The Hope mission is an example of what a country can do, if it sets a goal and strives its hardest at achieving it. It is not a question of money, but a question of will. Every problem is approached with the understanding that there is a solution to that problem, such that, even if the goal is not achieved, the process of working towards that goal, the knowledge and skills that are developed in the process and the inspiration it instills in its people are the true reward, the true treasure. And this return is exponential when multiple countries agree to work towards such a goal. The UAE understands that this is the only solution to the turmoil in the Middle East, the sharing of a common goal for prosperity.

Today, I would like you all to do something with me, I want everybody to lift up their finger and cover a region of the sky. Look up at your fingertip that is blocking a region of the sky, the Hubble Space Telescope was pointed at a region that small and it came up with this image [see picture]. This image, the dots of light that you see are not stars, they are galaxies. There are hundreds of billions of stars in each one of those dots, in that small region of sky that we look at. Each galaxy contains billions of stars. Each star, imagine how many goldilocks zones exist around them, how many possible planets could exist around those and how many possibilities of life could there possibly exist in this small portion of the sky. And today I would like you to imagine, what is the positive contribution you are doing right here on this unremarkable planet, in this unremarkable solar system , in this unremarkable galaxy that justifies how infinite the possibilities are in this small image and how positive and infinite your contribution is on this infinitesimal planet.

– Sarah Al Amiri

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/26/2021 - 02:00
Published:2/26/2021 1:04:51 AM
[] Touchdown: Watch NASA's Perseverance rover land on Mars Published:2/22/2021 3:10:29 PM
[Science, Technology, and Social Media] NASA Releases Perseverance Rover’s First Photos Of Mars

By Thomas Catenacci -

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration released the first photos taken by its Perseverance rover on Mars after it became just the fifth rover to ever successfully complete the landing. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) photos released Saturday showed Mars’s vast landscape and rocky terrain. On Thursday, Perseverance successfully completed its landing on …

NASA Releases Perseverance Rover’s First Photos Of Mars is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/21/2021 11:10:41 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA’s Perseverance Rover Successfully Lands on Mars

MOXIE project to convert CO2 to oxygen & Ingenuity will be deployed as 1st extraterrestrial helicopter.

The post NASA’s Perseverance Rover Successfully Lands on Mars first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:2/19/2021 2:47:36 PM
[Aerospace] Dizzying view of Perseverance mid-descent makes its ‘7 minutes of terror’ feel very real The Perseverance Mars rover landed safely yesterday, but only after a series of complex maneuvers as it descended at high speed through the atmosphere, known by the team as the “seven minutes of terror.” NASA has just shared a hair-raising image of the rover as it dangled from its jetpack above the Martian landscape, making […] Published:2/19/2021 1:47:45 PM
[World] SUCCESS! Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars and Transmits First Images Published:2/19/2021 8:46:14 AM
[Aerospace] Axiom Space raises $130 million for its commercial space station ambitions One of the new space startups with the loftiest near-term goals has raised $130 million in a Series B round that demonstrates investor confidence in the scope of its ambitions: Axiom Space, which has been tapped by NASA to add privately-developed space station modules to the ISS, announced the new funding led by C5 Capital […] Published:2/16/2021 9:27:02 AM
[Markets] "Powerful Enough To Be Spotted From Space": Fuel Tanker Convoy Explodes At Afghan-Iran Border "Powerful Enough To Be Spotted From Space": Fuel Tanker Convoy Explodes At Afghan-Iran Border

A fuel tanker truck explosion on the Iran-Afghanistan border on Saturday caused a chain reaction of blasts so large it could be observed from space. 

According to the Associated Press, "Two explosions at the border crossing were powerful enough to be spotted from space by NASA satellites. One blast erupted around 1:10 p.m. Afghan time (0840 GMT), the next around a half hour later at 1:42 p.m. local (0912 GMT)."

Iranian state TV is reporting that over 500 trucks transporting natural gas and fuel caught fire as the explosions intensified. 

The blaze continued through the day at the Islam Qala border crossing, which is among the busiest border and commercial transit routes connecting Iran and Afghanistan. 

While multiple injured have been rushed to the hospital, emergency workers have struggled to assess casualties given the blaze's intensity made the whole area difficult to access. 

Saturday's huge blast on the border, via IRNA

It's as yet unclear whether the fuel convoy was subject to attack, or if the fire ignited accidentally. 

The AP notes, however, that "The road between the city of Herat and Islam Qala is a dangerous stretch of highway that Afghans rarely travel at night for fear of attacks by criminal gangs. Taliban insurgents also travel freely in the area."

And further, AP explained, "The United States allows Afghanistan to import fuel and oil from Iran as part of a special concession that exempts Kabul from sanctions against Iran. Satellite photos taken Saturday showed dozens of tankers parked at the border crossing before the explosion."

Currently, the Iranian Army has been called upon to join emergency crews attempting to put out the blaze, which reportedly also destroyed buildings at the border crossing 

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/13/2021 - 12:25
Published:2/13/2021 11:43:16 AM
[Markets] New NORAD Warfare Strategies And Canada's Role In The Great Game Revisited New NORAD Warfare Strategies And Canada's Role In The Great Game Revisited

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

As relations between the USA and Russia continue to fall ever deeper into the abyss, and as China’s Belt and Road Initiative continues to evolve deep into the Eurasian Arctic via the Polar Silk Road, a new era of potential for cooperation as well as nuclear war awaits humanity. The decisions made over the coming months will determine which of those two opposing destinies are selected.

For the time being, things are looking bad.

On February 5, 2021 the Canadian press was lit abuzz with the headline NORAD Modernization to Dominate Agenda of Canada-U.S. Defence Relations citing various military think tanks and ivory tower game theorists who should be kept as far from any actual policy making circles if the world is going to survive beyond the coming decade.

Citing the recent Biden-Trudeau meeting which featured a long discussion about Russian-Chinese aggression and Arctic defense, Andrea Charron (head of Manitoba’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies) states:

“Where as before the primary threat during the Cold War was one peer competitor, who wasn’t using greyzone tactics, or at least not to the same extent as now, we now have two peer competitors to the U.S. – China and Russia – and they are using greyzone tactics, and they’re developing more sophisticated weapons like hypersonic glide vehicle weapons,”

The idea being conveyed here is that Russian hypersonic air launched Kinzhal ballistic missiles will soon be stationed in Russia’s north which should cause NORAD to be completely revamped.

Of course, these academics are quick to ignore all evidence of NATO encirclement of Russia and China under the insane “full spectrum dominance” game plan which certain geopoliticians believe will make nuclear war somehow winnable with 21st century technology.

In the face of this supposed Russian and Chinese aggression, NATO-philes are screeching for Canada’s speedy entry into the NORAD Ballistic Missile shield which it abandoned over 15 years ago.

Citing the 2020 Wilson Center report co-written by former NORAD chief Terrance O’Shaughnessy, and published by the Canada Institute, artificial intelligence programs (“SHIELD” and “Pathfinder”) are introduced as the key to the total overhaul of Canada-USA arctic strategy. O’Shaughnessy wrote of SHIELD that “It pools this data and fuses it into a common operational picture. Then, using the latest advances in machine learning and data analysis, it scans the data for patterns that are not visible to human eyes, helping decision-makers understand adversary potential courses of action before they are executed.”

Anyone who has read Cynthia Chung’s Dr. Strangelove’s Spoonbenders will quickly realize why using AI to pick up algorithms that would normally be missed by human analysts, and generate hair-trigger decisions to counter threats from Eurasia creates a mountain of trouble for humanity, as glitches and mis-readings of Russian/Chinese intentions can easily escalate unstoppably into a nuclear retaliation by deductive/inductive machine thinking.

Now at this point, many onlookers might make the mistake of brushing off these obvious plans for a revamped NORAD-NATO Arctic doctrine since Canada’s military is negligible, and it is merely a “middle power” that couldn’t possible do great damage anywhere.

It is to the person asking this question that this report was written.

The British Great Game Past and Present

The first factor which such a person must recognize is the nature of the British Empire as an efficient power structure dominating the world even today.

Anyone confused about this still-existing power structure need only read Eric Zuess’ new report ‘Further Proof that the U.S. and UK are One Empire’ where the author astutely writes:

“Although the “Special Relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom was first announced by Winston Churchill at Fulton Missouri on 5 March 1946, in the company of an approving U.S. President Harry S. Truman, it was actually started by Cecil Rhodes in 1877 when he drew up his plan for England secretly to retake America and use it so as to preserve and expand Britain’s empire throughout the world, via the Rhodes Trust. Rhodes was the first person to think up a “U.S. empire,” but it was actually only as a tool for the preservation and extension of England’s existing empire. And Winston Churchill, as a young man at the start of the 20th Century, was an acolyte and friend of Rhodes, and was viewed by Rhodes as being one of his most promising young followers.”

The Post-WWII Order and the Rhodes Trust Origins of NATO

In the Post-WWII order, the important tendency for U.S.-Russian partnership which shaped the 1780 League of Armed Neutrality, Russia’s support for the union in 1863 and the U.S.-Russia friendship that made WWII a success was overthrown.

This historic friendship was directly targeted by forces loyal to the British Empire’s grand strategy for global Anglo-Saxon Dominance exemplified by Sir Winston Churchill’s unveiling of the Cold War during his March 5, 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton Missouri and the follow-up creation of NATO in 1949 as a military bloc which would operate independently of the UN Security Council.

An under-appreciated role in the formation of NATO and international dis-order more generally during these Cold War years is the British Deep State of Canada and due to the neglect of this fact, a few words should be said about this problem here and now.

While official narratives have tried to spin NATO’s origins as the effect of an agreement amongst all western powers, the fact is that British intelligence operations are the true source, with British-trained Rhodes Scholar Escott Reid laying out the thesis for a supranational military body outside of the influence of the UN Security Council as early as August 1947. It was another two years before the design would materialize as an anti-Soviet military coalition based on the binding agreement that if one member enters a conflict, then all members must so enter.

At a Round Table-directed Conference on August 13, 1947, Reid, an ardent globalist and co-founder of the Canadian branch of the London Fabian Society “recommended that the countries of the North Atlantic band together, under the leadership of the United States, to form ‘a new regional security organization’ to deter Soviet expansion.” He went on to state “In such an organization each member state could accept a binding obligation to pool the whole of its economic and military resources with those of the other members if any power should be found to have committed aggression against any one of the members.”

The name of the British Imperial game has always been “balance of power”. Manipulate society as a single closed system by monopolizing resources, and then manage the diminishing rates of return by creating conflict between potential allies. This process can be seen clearly today behind the conflicts manipulated in the South China Sea between China and Philippines, the Diaoyu-Senkaku Islands between China and Japan, wars for oil in the Middle East and the new tension being created in the Arctic. The opposing, typically “American System of Political Economy” has always disobeyed this game of “balancing a fixed system” by introducing creative change.

The American System on the other hand, has traditionally located its point of emphasis primarily upon creating new resources, through inventions and discoveries, rather than simply looting, consuming, and distributing what already exists. This system formulated by Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt proved that more energy could always be produced than was consumed IF discoveries and inventions were cultivated in a creatively developing society, shaped by concrete national intentions and bold visionary goals to increase the powers of production of society. The American System is thus understood as an open-system founded upon win-win cooperation while the British System is based on a closed-system worldview under a win-lose operating system where the elite managing nations from above dictate the wars, and diminishing rates of returns to a depopulated society.

Since the British system implies that the world resources are limited, then the stronger will necessarily have to loot the weaker… Hence, the system is also “zero-sum”.

Throughout the Cold War, Canada’s role as a “middle power” was defined most succinctly by Fabian Society asset Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who, when asked what his foreign policy was, explained simply: “to create counterweights”. That is, when the “geopolitical center of gravity” moves towards “capitalist America”, then Canada must move towards befriending “socialist” Russia and its allies. When the center of gravity moves towards a Russian edge within the Great Game, then do the opposite. Although the Cold War “officially” ended in 1991, the imperial Great Game never did, and Canada’s role as a British chess piece continues unabated to the present.

The future battleground which Canada is being prepared to set up is to be found in the Arctic.

The Strategy of the Arctic in History

The struggle for Arctic dominance is currently being defined by the rules of British geopolitics. The above map features the layout of the arctic with dotted lines defining areas still not under the control of any particular nation.

Today, the northern Arctic is among the last unexplored and undeveloped frontiers on the earth. With an area over 14 million square kilometers, this area is rich in a variety of mineral and gas deposits containing approximately 90 billion barrels of oil and 1670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This abundance is complicated by the fact that its borders are highly undefined, overlapping eight major nations with Canada and Russia as the dominant claimants.

In recent history, American System methods were attempted in the opening up of the Arctic for mutual development and cooperation beginning with the sale of Alaska to America in 1867 by the “American system Czar” Alexander II to the allies of Abraham Lincoln. These same forces orchestrated the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway and heavily promoted the Bering Strait Rail tunnel connecting the two great continents which arose by the turn of the century. Early designs for the Russian-American rail connection were published in 1893 by Governor William Gilpin of Colorado which gained renewed support by the soon-to-be-deposed Czar Nicholas II in 1905. Russia again revived this project in 2011.

Throughout the 20th Century, Russia has developed a far greater aptitude at creating corridors of permanent habitation in the Arctic relative to their North American counterparts which are expanding at a fast pace under Putin’s Eastern vision and China’s Polar Silk Road. Due to the post WWII Cold War dynamic of tension, much that could have been accomplished, had resources not been so badly drained by Cold War militarization, was not.

The beacon of light during this Cold Dark process was to be found in Canada’s 13th Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, whose Northern Vision, unveiled in 1958, hinged upon his $78 million allocation for funds to construct a permanent domed nuclear-powered city in Frobisher Bay (now named Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut), as a test case for a greater nation building program in the Arctic. When Diefenbaker was run out of office in 1963 through a British-steered operation, his vision was scrapped, and a new Arctic doctrine was artificially imposed upon Canada.

False Polarizations Imposed onto Arctic Grand Strategy

This new imperial Arctic doctrine was modeled around the two (anti-nation building) measures of “conservation” of fixed ecosystems and indigenous cultures on the one side, and rapacious mineral exploitation for the increasingly deregulated “global markets” on the other. Canadian examples of this operation can be seen in the Munk School of Global Affairs, the World Wildlife Fund of Canada (whose 2nd president was the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell), and their powerful affiliate, the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, presided over by Pierre Trudeau’s former Principal Secretary Thomas Axworthy. Barack Gold Founder and CEO Peter Munk was one of hundreds of oil barons who acted as founding members of the 1001 Club which was created by Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands and Prince Philip of England in order to fund the WWF in its early years. Other Canadian Deep State founding members of the 1001 Club included WWF Vice Presidents Maurice Strong and Louis Mortimer Bloomfield.

Axworthy is a major player in the Canada 2020 machine associated with the current Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau. The overlap of major banking institutions like the Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank with the mineral cartels, holding companies and environmental organizations in this structure produces a very real picture that the left and the right are merely two sides of the same imperial beast.

The role of the above interests in creating the Arctic Council in 1996 (and the later Circumpolar Business Forum) was designed to trap nations into an intellectual cage of resource exploitation under free market doctrines of zero national planning on the one side, with eco-systems management and zero national planning on the other. Now that the post-1971 world financial order is on the verge of collapse, these technocrats believe that a new replacement system will allow for national planning, but only on condition that it be directed by Malthusian technocrats and aimed at the goal of lowering the population potential of the planet. This agenda has come to be known as the Green New Deal in 2018 and since evolved into the Great Reset Agenda.

To re-emphasize: When observed from a top-down perspective, both the “left” eco-green movement and the “right” monetarist institutions are one single thing. It is only by foolishly looking at this process from the “bottom up” that apparent differences are perceived. This is just an illusion for the credulous victims of an imperial education system who have been taught to believe their sense perceptions more than their powers of reason. The reality is that this is nothing more than British Malthusian geopolitics.

Breaking Out of the Great Game

The fact is that while the Atlantic economies have currently submitted to the City of London- Wall Street and Troika demands for policies of depopulation, austerity and hyperinflation, Russia and China are committed to true development. Both countries are intent on creating a unified block of win-win cooperation based upon the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS and that intention is based on anti-Malthusian scientific and technological progress. The Belt and Road Initiative which now involves over 135 countries exemplifies this spirit.

The financial system of the trans-Atlantic is collapsing and it will be reset. The only question is, will it be reset by the open system agenda advocated by Russia and China or will it be the closed system unipolar agenda promoted by sociopathic Davos creatures?

If western societies should wish to have any claim to being morally fit to survive, then this is an optimistic power that we must re-awaken in ourselves fast. For it is only by acting on principles of scientific discovery and progress that a proper perspective can be discovered to overcome the current obstacles to our survival. That is, the discovery of what the future can and must become IF a creative change is introduced into the system.

The only pathway to avoiding the collapse of the financial system and a thermonuclear war is to be found in imposing Natural Law vigorously upon the claimed “debts” which Wall Street, and the City of London wishes to have bailed out. The expression of this Natural Law takes the form of the restoration of Glass-Steagall laws across the trans-Atlantic economies, eliminating the $1.5 quadrillion debt bomb before it explodes and returning to the principles of national banking for all countries. Under such a reform and by joining in common interest with other nations in the Eurasian zone, a commitment to progress and security can be realized, and such poisonous agendas as the Great Reset can be avoided.

Escaping the British two-sided trap of monetarism and ecologism means going to fusion energy, space exploration, and mining the moon for Helium-3 as China is already preparing to do. It means closing the fuel cycle, and scrapping low quality “green” energy boondoggles.

The applications of a forward-looking space age society using fusion power, involves not only rendering imperial wars for oil and water obsolete (as energy and water will be made both incommensurably cheap and abundant relative to the fossil fuel based system now defining society’s limits), but gives mankind the tools to green deserts, build great projects, create a system of Asteroid Defense and construct the long-overdue Bering Strait Tunnel, a key link in the World Land Bridge. These are the sorts of long term projects which not only remind us of our common self interests, but as JFK described the space program in 1962, create goals which “will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills”.

Without this sort of “outside the box” thinking, it is safe to say that the current rules of the game now in place are set for total self-destruction.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/11/2021 - 00:00
Published:2/10/2021 11:20:40 PM
[Middle Column] Meet Biden’s New ‘Climate Advisor’ Gavin Schmidt of NASA – Schmidt refuses to debate & claims ‘climate deniers are sociopaths’ & supports carbon taxes

Dr-Gavin-Schmidt-Climatologist-Director-NASA-Goddard-Institute

Flashback: NASA’s Lead ‘Global Warming’ scientist goes political: Calls for a carbon tax

Flashback: NASA’s lead global warming scientist Gavin Schmidt: ‘Most climate deniers are sociopaths’ – Says Morano is an ‘awful person’

Flasbhack: Meet NASA’s New ‘James Hansen’ – Gavin Schmidt – the man who hates debate & loses when he does debate – He has been criticized by prominent scientists for ‘erroneously communicating the reality of the how climate system is actually behaving’

Published:2/3/2021 10:27:39 AM
[Markets] SpaceX Announces First All-Civilian Mission To Space SpaceX Announces First All-Civilian Mission To Space

In trying to keep up with competitor Virgin Galactic in what is becoming the burgeoning space tourism industry, SpaceX has now announced its first all-civilian mission to space. 

The mission is going to be held on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft and will feature a 4 person crew that will be headed up by founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, Jared Isaacman. Isaacman is a trained pilot who has flown both commercial and military aircraft. 

The flight will launch in Q4 of this year, according to NBC

Isaacman's mission will mark the first time a crew made up of only civilians and private citizens will venture into space. SpaceX is going to be responsible for their training, mission simulations and emergency preparedness.

The mission is called "Inspiration 4" and Isaacman calls it “the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars.”

The report notes that Isaacman did not disclose how much he paid for the flight, but did say that it was for a good cause:

The expedition is part of a charity initiative to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition to giving $100 million to St. Jude, Isaacman said he is donating the three other seats in the Dragon spacecraft to crewmembers who will be specially selected for the humanitarian flight.

...

One spot on the flight is reserved for a St. Jude ambassador, while a second seat will be offered to a member of the public as part of a charity drive during the month of February.

“I appreciate this tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to end childhood cancer here on Earth,” Isaacman commented.

The plan is for the Inspiration4 mission to travel into orbit on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where SpaceX has launched since 2017. 

The capsule will then circle Earth once every 90 minutes along a custom flight path. After the expedition, the flight will return to Earth and land off the coast of Florida. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/01/2021 - 17:02
Published:2/1/2021 4:18:27 PM
[Markets] Quinn: The Fourth Turning Detonation, Part 2 Quinn: The Fourth Turning Detonation, Part 2

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

In Part One of this article, I discussed the dramatic events that shaped 2020 and will continue to have a major influence on the direction of this Fourth Turning moving forward. The immense power of Mordor on the Potomac seems to be unassailable, but the little people still have a chance if they utilize their skills and intelligence to the utmost.

Now that Trump has been defeated and cast into oblivion by the forces of Mordor on the Potomac, those who have some knowledge about generational theory and the course of previous Fourth Turnings have lamented Trump is not the Grey Champion and they were misled by believing he was their hero. How could he be the Grey Champion if he lost? I do not profess to be an expert, as I am just trying to understand the underlying forces driving this Fourth Turning towards its climax, but losing a battle in a long war does not disqualify Trump as a Grey Champion. The Grey Champion character was born from the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

“Who is this gray patriarch? His hour is one of darkness, and adversity, and peril. That stately form, combining the leader and the saint…could only belong to some old champion of the righteous cause, whom the oppressor’s drum had summoned from his grave.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

There is not just one Grey Champion during a Fourth Turning, and their participation is generally as a lightening rod for change or the inspiration for younger generations to mobilize and fight the battles which ultimately decide the fate of nations and empires.  Samuel Adams and Ben Franklin were Grey Champions during the American Revolution Fourth Turning. Their fiery rhetoric and ability to guide the younger firebrands were their contributions to the cause.

Both Abe Lincoln and Jeff Davis were Grey Champions during the Civil War. One was assassinated before the conclusion of the war and the other was on the losing side, spending a couple years in a Federal prison after the war. FDR, Churchill, and Stalin were all Grey Champions during the World War II Fourth Turning. FDR died before the conclusion of the war and Congress implemented a two-term limit because he had become too powerful. Churchill was on the winning side, but the British empire disintegrated during his reign. Stalin, who had already murdered millions of his own people, presided over a despotic regime and immediately became the enemy of his former allies.

Anyone with a true grasp of history would acknowledge all these men had significant personality faults, huge egos, a determination to win by any means necessary (including breaking the law and flaunting the Constitution), and ability to mobilize forces to accomplish their goals. As we are in the thirteenth year of this Fourth Turning and Grey Champions always arise in the earlier stages, there is no doubt Trump was and still is one of the Grey Champions driving this ongoing Crisis towards its bloody climax.

He still has 75 million or so followers, with many of them motivated to go wherever he leads. Does this mean a new party which would destroy the Uni-party Republican/Democrat control over our government? Does it mean taking to the streets and confronting the BLM and ANTIFA domestic terrorists in armed combat? Or will he be convicted by the Senate, thrown in jail, and financially ruined by his failed attempt to defeat the Deep State – possibly spurring his followers to become radicalized – matching the narrative being pushed by the authoritarian leftist regime now in office?

Those who put their faith in Trump are currently in disarray. Some feel betrayed. Others are depressed. Some are just disappointed he was unable to drain the swamp. They believe he just was not up to the task. Some think he was installed by the Deep State to lure a segment of the country into revealing their allegiances so they can be de-programmed and/or forced to grovel for forgiveness by pledging allegiance to the permanent party run by authoritarian billionaire oligarchs.

The accusations and recriminations within the Republican party will surely tear it apart, especially if GOP Senators join Schumer and McConnell in convicting Trump of creating an insurrection. Of course, there are still diehard believers this is just part of the plan and Trump will emerge victorious over senile Joe and his Deep State handlers. Others hope he will run again in 2024, vanquishing his foes and once again making America great again again. It is unlikely that someone with Trump’s ego and desire for attention will just fade into the sunset. He will continue to be a lightning rod, impacting the future course of this Fourth Turning, as one of the Grey Champions.

As I survey the landscape there are a few other major players who also fit the Grey Champion prophet archetype and will certainly play a key role in the forthcoming climactic scenes of this Fourth Turning. On the domestic front Bill Gates has emerged from the shadows during this scamdemic, using his immense wealth and power to push for global vaccinations with experimental DNA altering formulas never used on human beings before. His agenda coincides with Klaus Schwab’s Great Reset new world order.

The Clintons are both Boomers who have functioned as the Jeff Davis to Trump over the last four years, participating and leading the Deep State coup by pushing the Russiagate fabrications to distract from their traitorous criminal acts. Crooked Hillary is ecstatic over deposing Trump and now is leading the effort to bury him. At this stage of the Fourth Turning, it appears Gates and the Clintons are winning, as they have the complete backing of the Deep State, Silicon Valley billionaire tyrants, and the globalist billionaires like Soros.

The two Grey Champions who will most certainly play a part in the second half of this Fourth Turning, when blood is likely to be shed in vast quantities, are Vlad Putin and Xi Jinping. These ruthless dictators have no fear of losing an election or having to deal with a hostile media. The Deep State has been pushing conflict with Russia for Trump’s entire term and continue to push a nuclear power through NATO and vassals in the Middle East.

The intensifying engagements between China and Taiwan, with the U.S. sailing an aircraft carrier force into the South China Sea, and ongoing tensions over trade and spying, have ratcheted up the chances of armed conflict between these nuclear super-powers. Fourth Turnings always plunge into total war, with an inescapable conclusion as to who won and who lost. Defeat means total surrender. The only question is what Pearl Harbor or Fort Sumter moment kicks off the festivities in the foreseeable future.

Based on the first three weeks of this year and what appears to be on the short-term horizon, I am confident the term “detonation” will apply to this fateful year. The intensity level has already reached 10 but is headed up to 11.

As Fourth Turnings go the 80-year cycle would certainly argue for substantial conflict to erupt in 2021.

In 1781, the Battle of Yorktown concluded with Cornwallis surrendering to General Washington and concluding the armed struggle of the American Revolution, insuring the birth of a new nation.

Exactly 80 years later in 1861, Southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. Lincoln needed to sneak into Washington DC to avoid an assassination attempt in Baltimore. Fort Sumter was attacked and surrendered to Confederate forces. The First Battle of Bull Run resulted in a resounding Confederate victory and led Lincoln to institute a draft and an income tax. Over 600,000 men died in the next four years.

Exactly 80 years later in 1941, while Hitler was riding roughshod across Europe and turning his attention towards Russia, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor after FDR cut off their oil supply to provoke an attack. Tens of millions died over the next four years. It is now exactly 80 years later. One must ponder what potential tragedy awaits our nation and the world?

With the elevation of a vacuous disorientated Trojan horse to the presidency, controlled by dark forces pulling the strings of their puppet, we are already experiencing many of the things Strauss and Howe warned about in their 1997 prophecy.

“Institutions will be increasingly bossy, limiting personal freedoms, chastising bad manners, and cleansing the culture. Powerful new civic organizations will make judgments about which individual rights deserve respect and which do not. Criminal justice will become swift and rough, trampling on some innocents to protect an endangered and desperate society from those feared to be guilty. Expect a loss of personal privacy. Fourth Turnings can be dark times for the free spirit: Just as one kind of official may have new authority to do something for you, another kind—some hastily deputized magistrate—may have new authority to do something to you.”

They were not predicting specifics but could decipher an outline of our future through the fog, by observing previous Fourth Turnings. The limitations of personal freedoms are being implemented by totalitarian politicians, with the Big-Tech surveillance censorship overlords used to enforce the directives of those running the show, while trampling on the 1st Amendment and the right of citizens to voice dissenting opinions. Those who have seized power are now criminalizing any view not fitting their approved narrative and painting all Trump supporters as white supremacists.

These threats of retribution, while concurrently peddling nonsense about national unity, have the potential to backfire and blow up in their faces. Instead of unity, the impeachment of a president no longer in office and attempts to provoke violence by Trump supporters in order to usher in the pre-written 20,000 page Domestic Terror Patriot Act 2.0 is pushing the country towards civil war. The misuse of justice and criminalizing the acts of those exercising their right to live their lives will ignite a firestorm threatening to spread across the nation, with unknown long-term consequences.

I will not pretend to know what comes next, but I am sure the three key factors driving this crisis since 2008: debt, civic decay, and global disorder will continue to coalesce into a lethal concoction, destined to sweep away the underpinnings of the American Empire, ushering in a new social order. I think the repressive measures being implemented by Pelosi, Schumer, despot Democrat governors, and government apparatchiks are a sign of weakness and fear. Their bluster, threats, fear mongering and denunciation of half the voters in the country, portray a precarious fragility, with a dangerous agenda built on a foundation of deception and delusion.

A madness is gripping the nation, a dismal realization nothing is right. Everything has a chaotic feel, as financial markets surpass bubble territory into uncharted waters; politicians threaten and accuse each other of treasonous acts; government overreach and dysfunction is laid bare for all to see; the Deep State has been exposed as their coup to take down Trump required them to step out of the shadows; a manufactured race war led by BLM and ANTIFA useful idiots at the behest of Soros and his ilk continues to fester;  Russia and China continue to undermine U.S. hegemony; and the global debt Ponzi scheme has entered its blow-off road to ruin phase.

The only thing keeping these financial markets at these outrageously elevated levels is an irrational level of misplaced trust in their puppet Powell and his feckless Fed cronies. When, not if, these markets begin to cascade downward and greed turns to fear, an implosion of institutional and societal trust will remove the final underpinnings of this unsustainable financial paradigm.

The Wall Street QE addicts and their captured central banker drug dealers were able to exploit the concocted “Covid Crisis” as cover for an already imploding financial system with the injection of $4 trillion of heroin into their veins and the assurance of trillions more. Anyone using reason and rational thought knows this debt solvency fantasy is destined for a disastrous denouement. If it happens in 2021, this year will surely go down in history.

This combustible amalgamation of unpayable debt, civic anarchy, and global chaos are poised to detonate in 2021, initiating a period of maximum darkness, death, destruction, and momentous choices. We are being propelled towards a climax which will mark the death of the old order and the birth of a new. The question is whether the new order will be better or worse for average Americans.

With the newly installed totalitarian regime in Washington DC, it appears they plan to implement full government control over every aspect of our lives, with the final eradication of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments as the stick and unlimited government checks as the carrot. Their classification and treatment of 75 million Americans as the enemy will accomplish the task of converting them into a real enemy.

There will be lone wolves who use violent means to fight back. Others will go Galt and starve the beast. Others may organize into like minded communities and dare the authorities to trample on their freedoms and liberties. It will be difficult to control 75 million angry, heavily armed, dis-enfranchised deplorables. The new regime is led by arrogant, hubristic, mediocre minded bureaucrats who are incapable of using anything but brutality to get there way.

Their grasp on power is fragile and a determined strategic minded resistance will hit them where they are weakest, sabotaging commerce, communications, the power grid, and their social media propaganda arm. At this point in 2021 it looks bleak for lovers of liberty, but the fight has just begun.

The coming deadly reckoning of this Fourth Turning will require tremendous courage, guile, personal sacrifice, dreadful alternatives, survival skills, intelligence, strategic thinking, and an audacity to win at all costs. Those still caught in the mindset of voting in good guys to change the outcome are delusional, as the outcome of this past election confirmed voting does not matter.

There are wealthy, powerful, sociopath, globalist oligarchs who constitute the real power in this world and unless they are confronted and defeated, the outcome of this Fourth Turning will result in a dark future for humanity and the final obliteration of our Constitution. There is no way to avoid the coming conflict. Sides must be chosen. You will not be able to sit this one out. They will come for you, whether you like it or not.

“If civic virtue is so frequently lost, it must be just as frequently regained. This is what happens in a Fourth Turning. While a Crisis mood renders societies newly desperate, it also renders them newly capable, which is why a saecular winter is to be welcomed as much as feared. As today’s Americans look ahead, the challenge is to marshal the coming season’s new public energies to achieve positive, not destructive ends. The better we ready ourselves collectively the more likely we will be not just to survive the Crisis but to apply its fury for good and humane purposes.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Based upon history, the ultimate resolution will not be based on compromise, civility, persuasion, or nonviolent means. Our world will be shaken to its very foundation and transformed in unknowable ways over the next decade. Winter has arrived with a ferocity born of the deceptions of powerful men, and we will need to marshal all our strength and fortitude to survive the coming tempests. The fury of the Crisis will eventually exhaust itself and result in a positive or destructive aftermath. History offers no guidance or assurances as to the outcome. That will be entirely up to us. Godspeed and good luck.

*  *  *

The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/28/2021 - 22:10
Published:1/28/2021 9:28:36 PM
[Middle Column] New York Times touts book titled: ‘How to Blow Up A Pipeline’ as a ‘new way to think’ – Book argues that ‘strategic acceptance of property destruction & violence has been the only route for revolutionary change’

NYT's Tatiana Schlossberg (the daughter of Caroline Kennedy): How to Blow Up a Pipeline author Andreas Malm "argues that there should be room for tactics other than strict nonviolence and peaceful demonstrations — indeed, he is a bit contemptuous of those who offer strategic pacifism as a solution — and notes that fetishizing nonviolence in past protest movements sanitizes history, removing agency from the people who fought, sometimes violently, for justice, freedom and equality. Sure. But the problem with violence, even if it’s meant only to destroy “fossil capital,” is that ultimately it’s impossible to control."

#

Climate Depot note: The website of the publisher of the book, Verso books, asks, "why haven’t we moved beyond peaceful protest?" The publisher website explains: "[How to Blow Up a Pipeline author Andreas] Malm argues that the strategic acceptance of property destruction and violence has been the only route for revolutionary change."

"Andreas Malm makes an impassioned call for the climate movement to escalate its tactics in the face of ecological collapse. We need, he argues, to force fossil fuel extraction to stop—with our actions, with our bodies, and by defusing and destroying its tools. We need, in short, to start blowing up some oil pipelines."

New York Magazine climate reporter David Wallace-Wells, also provided a featured review of Malm's book: “If a livable world requires an all-over transformation, where and when and how do we start? Perhaps with this book, a provocative manifesto from the pioneering theorist of the climate age.” – David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth

In 2010, NASA's former lead climate scientist also endorsed a similar sounding book. See: James Hansen declared author 'has it right...the system is the problem' -- Book proposes 'razing cities to the ground, blowing up dams and switching off the greenhouse gas emissions machine'

2013: Video: Eco-Terror Threats Issued at Rally: Climate Depot attended: ‘We will dismantle the Pipeline’ sign prominently displayed at rally — ‘By any means necessary’

Published:1/25/2021 3:58:03 PM
[Aerospace] Watch Virgin Orbit launch a rocket to space from a modified 747 for the first time Virgin Orbit scored a major success on Sunday, with a test flight that not only achieved its goals of reaching space and orbit, but also of delivering payloads on board for NASA, marking its first commercial mission, too. The launch was a success in every possible regard, which puts Virgin Orbit on track to becoming […] Published:1/18/2021 7:09:12 AM
[Aerospace] Virgin Orbit reaches orbit for the first time Virgin Orbit launched its LauncherOne rocket to orbit for the first time today, with a successful demonstration mission that carried a handful of satellites and will attempt to deliver them to low Earth orbit on behalf of NASA. It’s a crucial milestone for the small satellite launch company, and the first time the company has […] Published:1/17/2021 2:05:14 PM
[Markets] UFO In Cape Hatteras? Viral Video Sparks Debate Of Mysterious Flying Object UFO In Cape Hatteras? Viral Video Sparks Debate Of Mysterious Flying Object

Days before the CIA released a large cache of files involving unidentified flying objects (UFOs), following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by podcaster John Greenwald Jr., social media was a buzz about a UFO last week over North Carolina's Outer Banks area. 

According to the regional newspaper The News & Observer, photographer Wes Snyder captures what appears to be a mysterious object in the night sky. 

"The object was visible for just under 3 minutes total, so I doubt it's a meteor, (or) shooting star as those typically only last a few seconds," Snyder posted on YouTube.

Judging by the video, the object appears to have corners. Here's the video in full. 

"I spent a night at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse shooting time-lapse photos to create an upcoming video. While I was looking through my footage, I realized there was something in the video that I could not explain," he wrote on Facebook. "It's much larger than your typical plane appears, and it's moving way faster than clouds."

Snyder said the best explanation is that it may be "space junk or a satellite burning up in the atmosphere."

Comments on Snyder's Facebook post agreed that it certainly wasn't a meteor. 

"It's not a meteor,unless somebody reported one crashing somewhere within the surrounding towns or counties, cuz it was way to close. Anybody with common sense knows that it cannot a shooting star. WavyTv 10 did a special a while back about the pilots at Norfolk Air Force Base and the unidentifiable things they have witnessed over the years. So I'm gonna say it's Extraterrestrial. I bet that the airport on Hatteras Island would have some sort of record of it. So would NASA and the Air Force Base," wrote Regan Wynne.

Someone else wrote, "I'd say the best bet would be a stage of the space x rocket." 

Another said, "Space station or a satellite fly by." 

Authorities have yet to identify what exactly flew by the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. 

But with the recent CIA dump of UFO files, it certainly makes you wonder if life beyond Earth actually does exist. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/16/2021 - 19:30
Published:1/16/2021 6:34:38 PM
[Markets] Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin To Fly First Space Tourists As Early As April Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin To Fly First Space Tourists As Early As April

Now that the sky's (barely) the limit for stocks, it's only logical that a select handful of billionaires will soon be able to toast to their newfound wealth in space.

According to CNBC, Jeff Bezos’ private space company aims to fly its first passengers on a ride to the edge of space in a few months. Blue Origin completed the fourteenth test flight of its New Shepard rocket booster and capsule on Thursday . Called NS-14, the successful test flight featured the debut of a new booster and an upgraded capsule.

The flight was the first of two “stable configuration” test flights, people familiar with Blue Origin’s plans told CNBC. Stable configuration means that the company plans to avoid making major changes between this flight and the next.

And, as CNBC reports, beyond the upgrades, NS-14 also marked one of the last remaining steps before Blue Origin flies its first crew to space. Blue Origin’s next flight, NS-15, will also include a test of loading and unloading the crew, and will take place in late February. 

After that, Bezos - who recently lost the title of world's richest man to Elon Musk - plans to launch the first crewed flight of the giant penis-shaped rocket six weeks after that, or by early April.

To be sure, it is possible that anyone who purchased the first tickets may have to wait some more:

The New Shepard schedule is ambitious, one of the people cautioned, with the goal of flying every six weeks coming from the company’s top leadership. Blue Origin’s prior mission NS-13 flew in October, after being delayed from September due to a power supply issue – and it also came after a nine-month hiatus between flights

New Shepard is designed to carry people on rides past the edge of space, reaching an altitude of more than 340,000 feet, or more than 100 kilometers. The capsule spends several minutes in zero gravity before returning to Earth, with massive windows to give passengers a view. Both the rockets and the capsules are reusable, with the boosters returning to land vertically and the capsules landing on control of a set of parachutes.

To date, Blue Origin - which was founded in 2000 by Bezos, and now has more than 3,500 employees with its headquarters in Kent, Washington - has launched New Shepard 14 times successfully, and landed the rocket’s booster 13 consecutive times. The company has built four New Shepard boosters in total, the fourth of which launched on Thursday for the first time. Its third booster has flown seven times consecutively and will be used to fly microgravity research payloads for NASA and other customers. New Shepard is a fully autonomous system, with no pilots on board.

Similar to the Elon Musk-owned SpaceX, Bezos personally funds Blue Origin’s development by selling part of his stock in Amazon. As CNBC reminds us, while Bezos has previously said that he sells about $1 billion of Amazon shares annually to fund the space company, Bezos has recently increased his sales of Amazon stock, cashing out more than $10 billion worth in 2020.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/14/2021 - 17:40
Published:1/14/2021 4:45:20 PM
[National Security] Senior NASA Scientist Pleads Guilty to Lying About Connection to Chinese Spy Program

A senior NASA scientist pleaded guilty to falsely denying his connection to a Chinese program used to steal American intellectual property and technology.

The post Senior NASA Scientist Pleads Guilty to Lying About Connection to Chinese Spy Program appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:1/14/2021 12:13:23 PM
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