A little good news

Another SpaceX Launch – Most Complicated Satellite Deploy Evah!


Tonight at 11:30 Eastern, the launch window opens for yet another Falcon Heavy launch from SpaceX, reusing side boosters from the April 2019 Arabsat 6a Falcon Heavy launch. The turnaround time – 73 days from that April 11 launch – is impressive, to put it mildly. They’re on their game.

After the launch, the boosters should land (in unison!) and the center rocket will hopefully touch down on the offshore drone ship. Watching the boosters begin to descend, burn, drift, turn, burn, drift, etc. is just amazing.  It never gets old watching it happen for each new launch. And of course the final landings – solo or couple, land or sea – are just a nailbiter every time.

This will be an ambitious, complicated launch of a number of classified satellites and is a “demo tape” to gain a bunch more US military contracts. I expect their experience with the recent Starlink launch to deploy a host of satellites will inform their approach, but as Elon Musk has called this the most risky launch they’ve done, there’s a not-inconsiderable chance of spectacular failure.

Should be fun. I’ll be asleep hopefully but will watch the recording tomorrow morning and be able to FFWD through much of the slow time. I wish I was a Mountain Time/West Coaster or the night owl I was in my 20’s for such events.



Enjoy, night shift, and open thread!

Late Night Clown Shoes Open Thread: To the… MARS, Alice!

They could have blamed it on jet lag (or TBH on having to behave like some approximation of a grown-up for a whole three days in a row), but that would’ve implied their Dear Leader was susceptible to the weaknesses of mere mortals…

At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council last week, William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said that it was unlikely that appropriators in Congress would agree to provide all the money needed for a 2024 moon landing, and that the agency would likely have to cut the budgets for other areas of the space agency.

Hours after the tweet was sent, a White House official attempted to clarify Mr. Trump’s meaning, saying that the administration’s space goals were unchanged. The official added that by seeking additional resources for a journey to the moon within the next five years, the Trump administration intended to accelerate a crewed American visit to Mars…

A Rare Victory Against Corporate Power in West Virginia

This is nice:

Natural gas producers in West Virginia no longer can drill on one person’s property to reach gas reserves under adjoining or neighboring tracts, the state Supreme Court said Wednesday in a much-anticipated ruling that gives additional leverage to residents struggling with the effects from the booming industry.

In a 5-0 ruling, the justices upheld a lower court ruling and jury verdict against EQT Corp., siding with two Doddridge County residents who had sued the state’s second-largest gas company.

Justice John Hutchison wrote that gas and other mineral companies must obtain permission from surface owners to use their land to reach reserves under other properties.

“The court will not imply a right to use a surface estate to conduct drilling or mining operations under neighboring lands,” Hutchison wrote. “The right must be expressly obtained, addressed, or reserved in the parties’ deeds, leases, or other writings.”

In the case, two people who live on a 300-acre farm in Doddridge County said EQT came onto their land to extract gas from underneath adjacent properties. The two people, Beth Crowder and David Wentz, warned EQT that the company would be trespassing. EQT entered the property anyway. Crowder and Wentz sued, and a local circuit judge ruled in their favor, and a jury two years ago awarded them nearly $200,000 in damages.

It’s insane that a company would be so brazen as to even take this to court, but, you know, West Virginia.

Elon Musk Just Grabbed Your Night Sky

Elon Musk’s SpaceX just launched 60 satellites, part of an eventual 12,000 intended to make the internet available to everyone.

You can see them, and many people did last night.

I’ll let astronomers tweet their concerns.

Update: Here’s a NASA video about space junk before Musk’s latest brainstorm.