China Space Station: What scientific experiments will be done there?

Science

CGTN 01 May, 2021 - 11:24pm 6 views

Did China launch a rocket into space?

The country became the third country with a successful crewed space program by sending an astronaut into space aboard Shenzhou 5 on October 15, 2003, for more than 21 hours. China has since turned its focus to extraterrestrial exploration starting with the Moon. wikipedia.orgChinese space program

The interior of China's space station Tianhe displayed at China Science and Technology Museum in Beijing, China, March 19, 2021. /CFP

China aims to construct a national-level space laboratory by 2022, as the country successfully launched its Long March-5B rocket carrying the core module of China's space station Tianhe on Thursday, indicating that China is on track for its space ambitions.

China Media Group (CMG) talked on Friday with Zhong Hongen, deputy chief engineer of space application system at China's Manned Space Flight Project, to find out the exact scientific experiments and available facilities there in the outer space, as well as the related effects on our daily lives. 

It's the first time China is operating scientific experiment facilities as heavy as 500 kilograms, close to the mass of a medium-sized satellite, according to Zhong. 

As for the experiments to be conducted in the core module, they are mainly categorized into two kinds, namely containerless material science experiments, and high-quality microgravity scientific experiments.

Both experiments require intensive participation of the astronauts. For instance, after the completion of the experiment on one batch of samples in a rack for containerless material science experiments, the astronauts need to put new samples on the rack. 

Carrying out the tasks of the core module means China will take a fundamental and critical step in space science application of the space station. Chinese scientists will verify the general key technologies for the space station, conduct experiments on space material science and research into microgravity fundamental physics.

Mastering the key technologies of large-scale space experiment facilities, Chinese scientists will also build a space-ground integrated system, which will bring long-term results, added Zhong. 

China's national-level space laboratory will include three modules: the core module, the first and the second experimental modules. The scientific research facilities of the space station mainly include 13 experiment racks, one outdoor experiment platform and a Chinese Space Station Telescope (CSST) which has a field of view 300 times greater than Hubble Space Telescope while retaining a similar resolution. 

In addition, the core module is also equipped with a facility which could monitor space environment elements such as solar X-ray and high-energy cosmic particles.

For example, one of such containerless materials science experiments will study a special glass material with a high refractive index of 2.4, and such substance could replace expensive diamonds in the field of optoelectronics.

If combined with rare earth, such substance could be used to produce highly luminous materials expected to have broad applications for laser lighting in cars and other vehicles. In addition, this kind of highly reflective glass can also be used to raise cameras' resolution and slim their sizes.

Copyright © 2020 CGTN. Beijing ICP prepared NO.16065310-3

Copyright © 2020 CGTN. Beijing ICP prepared NO.16065310-3

Copyright © 2020 CGTN. Beijing ICP prepared NO.16065310-3

Read full article at CGTN

China Moves Toward a Permanent Space Presence

The Diplomat 02 May, 2021 - 08:01pm

On April 29, China launched the first piece of its space station’s core module, Tianhe (heavenly harmony), on its Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province. This is the first of 11 such launches planned, to complete construction of China’s permanent space station by end of 2022.

This year, there will be four more launches for construction of China’s space station. The next one is scheduled for May with the launch of the Tianzhou 2 cargo space craft once the Tianhe core module is in place, followed by the launch of three astronauts to study life support systems during a stay of three months in low Earth orbit (LEO). This will be followed by the launch of the Tianzhou 3 cargo spacecraft and the Shenzou 13 spacecraft later this year, with three astronauts who will stay six months in LEO – by far the longest stay in space by Chinese astronauts. Space station construction will be complete by the end of 2022 with six other launches scheduled that year.

Bai Linhou, the deputy chief designer of the planned Tiangong space station at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), explains:

Some of those deeper space probes include the construction of a research base on the moon by 2036 in collaboration with Russia and other international partnerships (in direct competition with the United States’ Artemis lunar program), the construction of Space Based Solar Power Satellites (SBSP) in orbit that will help power China’s space activities, and missions to Mars, including sample return and a survey of the red planet. China entered Mars’ orbit successfully for the very first time in February this year and will attempt its first landing on Mars’ surface, sending out a rover next month.

China’s establishment of a permanent space station has been in planning for decades. It was in 1992 that Project 921 was approved to develop China’s human spaceflight program. While one of the rationales that influenced China’s decision to establish its own space station was that it was denied participation in the U.S. led International Space Station (ISS), that is not the only core reason. For China, acquiring space command and control that leads to better access to space has been its goal since 1992. For space access to be achieved, establishing a permanent presence in LEO and above, to include cislunar space, has been identified as a core objective.

Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific.

With its space station in place, China will be able to conduct experiments and test technologies like 3D printing, the effect of long-term human presence in space, shielding against radiation, and human adaptability to the space environment.

A permanent space station has several geopolitical, astropolitical, and technical advantages for China. First, a permanent space station increases China’s global legitimacy, giving it the ability to host astronauts and experiments from the global community, where it hopes to assume leadership.

Second, it could drive partnership with Russia, which is already expressing discontent with the ISS. Russian officials have warned that ISS technologies are dated and that Russia may decide by 2025 not to participate in the initiative. Similar to the China-Russia Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the lunar research base, China and Russia could partner in China’s space station. Critically, Russia and India just established a 2+2 ministerial dialogue between their foreign and defense ministries with space cooperation as one key area. The implications of that for China-India-Russia future space cooperation will be an interesting area of strategic focus. Meanwhile, both Russia and India have expressed plans for their own space stations.

Third, China’s permanent space station signals to the world that China is openly contesting the United States for space leadership across the board, and that it is a capable partner for international cooperation in space. Once China completes its permanent space station, the prestige of being viewed as an equal to the U.S. and the ISS partners, as a capable spacepower, has strategic implications to its current and potential partners for the Belt and Road Initiative Space Information Corridor. It will also help establishing China’s overall geopolitical power and influence in instituting global norms on space behavior.

Fourth, space capacity is a surrogate indicator of military power: The ability to do something technically difficult in space signals clearly that China could do other technically challenging things. Given space’s contribution to military capacity, China’s space prowess has important implications for military fields such as space situational awareness (SSA), reconnaissance, navigation and intelligence, as well as space warfare capacities. This sends a signal to others to look out for Chinese technical might and could serve to deter challenges to China’s interests.

Fifth, from a technological perspective, a permanent space station also equips China with practical spacefaring benefits, enabling China to develop technology for long-term habitation required for crewed moon and Mars missions, toward their eventual goals of permanent settlement. Moreover, the Chinese space station’s lower inclination than the ISS (41-43 degrees vs. 51.6 degrees) makes it better positioned for logistical support for its planned 2036 lunar base.

China aims to become the lead space nation by 2045 and is following a long-term strategy of space capacity development and technology demonstration to that end. The launch of the core module for China’s permanent space station is the first step toward permanent space presence and it ticks off one of its requirements for comprehensive space power and global legitimacy.

Dr. Namrata Goswami is an independent scholar on space policy, great power politics, and ethnic conflicts.

A huge rocket from China's space-station launch could fall back to Earth totally uncontrolled

Yahoo News 01 May, 2021 - 01:04pm

The rocket, a Long March 5b, just launched the first piece of a new space station China is building.

Uncontrolled deorbits like this can rain heavy chunks of rocket on populated areas.

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An enormous rocket body is shooting around the planet out of control, and it could fall back to Earth within the next few days.

The roughly 21-ton object is the core stage of China's Long March 5b rocket. On Wednesday, China launched the first module of a new space station the country is building. Instead of falling into a pre-designated spot in the ocean, as is common for discarded rockets, the Long March 5b's core stage started circling the planet, uncontrolled.

The rocket body is likely to fall back to Earth sometime in the next few days, journalist Andrew Jones, who covers China's space program, reported for SpaceNews.

"I think by current standards it's unacceptable to let it reenter uncontrolled," Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer who tracks objects orbiting Earth, told Jones. "Since 1990 nothing over 10 tons has been deliberately left in orbit to reenter uncontrolled."

The rocket stage measures about 100 feet long and 16 feet wide, according to Jones. When it falls out of orbit, it may burn up in Earth's atmosphere, but large chunks of debris could survive the fall. Most of the planet is ocean, so that's where falling rocket bits are most likely to land. But they could still threaten inhabited areas.

"It is always difficult to assess the amount of surviving mass and number of fragments without knowing the design of the object, but a reasonable 'rule-of-thumb' is about 20-40% of the original dry mass," Holger Krag, head of the Space Safety Programme Office for the European Space Agency, told Jones.

The rocket body's path around Earth takes it "a little farther north than New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand," according to Jones. It could fall back to Earth anywhere within this range.

China has launched the Long March 5b once before, in May 2020, to test it by putting a spaceship prototype into orbit. That rocket's core stage also fell back to Earth uncontrolled, six days after launch. It reentered Earth's atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean, according to the US Space Force's 18th Space Control Squadron, but local reports indicated that bits of the rocket fell on Côte d'Ivoire.

Jim Bridenstine, who was NASA Administrator at the time, chastised China for the incident, calling it "really dangerous." The rocket stage's path had taken it over Los Angeles and New York City just before it succumbed to Earth's gravity.

The Long March 5b is specifically designed for launching space-station modules, according to Jones. China plans to build its new space station with 11 launches by the end of 2022. It's not yet clear how Chinese space authorities plan to dispose of the rocket bodies from the next 10 launches.

"The Long March 5B core stage is seven times more massive than the Falcon 9 second stage that caused a lot of press attention a few weeks ago when it reentered above Seattle and dumped a couple of pressure tanks on Washington state," McDowell told Jones.

A pressure tank from that SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket landed on a Washington farm and left a 4-inch dent in the ground. Nobody was hurt in that incident, according to local authorities.

An early prototype of the space station China is building also fell back to Earth uncontrolled in 2018. It fell over the uninhabited South Pacific Ocean.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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China’s space station launch might cost lives on the ground

Yahoo Entertainment 01 May, 2021 - 09:33am

As SpaceNews reports, the core stage of the Long March 5B that sent the “Heavenly Harmony” space station module into orbit is now tumbling around our planet. The uncontrolled rocket component is absolutely huge and it won’t be long before the pull of gravity becomes too much and it falls through the atmosphere back toward us. Where will the pieces land? Nobody has any idea.

Rocket stages that send satellites or other spacecraft into orbit around Earth regularly end up falling back toward Earth. In the vast majority of cases, the rocket stages fall into predictable areas, usually in the ocean. Some launches result in rocket stages reaching speeds that would allow them to orbit Earth, but those are often controlled using burns that force them to slow down and, again, tumble harmlessly into the ocean or burn up in the atmosphere. In many cases, the hardware can’t withstand the intense friction of reentry and is essentially vaporized.

In the case of China’s Long March 5B, the rocket reached orbital velocity but will have a limited amount of time before it is dragged back down. China does not seem to have employed a controlled burn feature, making the rocket very unpredictable. Its size will make it the single largest uncontrolled spacecraft to reenter the atmosphere, and it’s possible that enough of the rocket stage will survive reentry and impact the ground below.

So, there’s a big rocket flying around above our heads and at some point over the next week or so it’s going to come down… somewhere. It’s moving extremely fast, completing an orbit of Earth every 90 minutes or so, and that makes predicting its reentry location close to impossible. Should we be freaking out? Eh, probably not.

The rocket will indeed burn up in the atmosphere and the majority of it should be completely destroyed in the process. It’s possible that no debris even survives reentry, but if it does, it’s likely going to come down in the ocean. Earth has more ocean than anything else and the odds of the debris coming down on land is relatively small. Smaller still are the odds of it impacting a populated area, and if we want to get really technical, the odds of it actually hitting someone or causing an injury is very, very, very small. It’s not zero, but it’s pretty close.

See the original version of this article on BGR.com

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The devil is in the details, and while, when it comes to the Biden tax plan, Old Nick is not just lurking in the small print, one particular technical-sounding change proposed by the president is rightly attracting some attention: that is the plan to scrap the long-standing principle that if someone inherits an asset, his or her basis cost in that asset for capital-gains-tax purposes is not the price that the deceased may have paid for it (or its value when it came into the deceased’s ownership) but its market value at the time of the deceased’s death, a “break” that can be justified on grounds of basic fairness. That’s the case for various reasons, but one of the most obvious is that estate tax may well, in the case of the wealthiest, also be payable on what is left after the capital-gains tax has been paid. Under the administration’s proposed new rule, the death of the owner of an asset would, for capital-gains purposes, be treated as the sale of that asset, meaning that the deceased’s unrealized capital gains would be taxable (less a $1 million per-person exemption). The Tax Foundation gives an example of how this could work here: In addition to taxing unrealized capital gains at death at ordinary income tax rates, large estates would also be subject to the current estate tax of 40 percent above an exemption of $11.7 million per person. Click on the link to see a table that sets out what happens next, but for those already so demotivated by the prospect of tax rises to come to bother, here is what it shows: For an asset worth $100 million (all of which is a capital gain for the sake of simplicity), the two changes would mean an immediate capital gains tax liability of $42.9 million at the time of death. Upon paying the capital gains tax at death, the value of the $100 million asset falls to $57 million for the purposes of the estate tax. After subtracting the $11.7 million exemption, the 40 percent estate tax rate is levied on the remaining $45.3 million in assets to produce an estate tax bill of about $18.1 million. That gives a combined tax rate of 61.1 percent. And this is before any account is taken of state taxes. The Tax Foundation: By historical standards, Biden’s plan to tax unrealized gains at death and levy the estate tax at the same time is quite unique. Traditionally, estate tax law has allowed for a “step-up” in the basis of transferred assets so that they were not hit by the capital gains tax and the estate tax at the same time. Combining both taxes results in a total tax liability of $61.1 million on the original $100 million asset, for an effective tax rate of 61 percent. The tax rate under Biden’s proposal is nearly twice the effective tax rate that the same asset would face today under existing tax rules. When the estate tax was repealed for one year in 2010, the step-up was also repealed, which meant that heirs did face tax liability on any gains when they sold inherited assets. However, the impact of the step-up’s repeal was mitigated somewhat for smaller estates by a provision that exempted “$1.3 million of an estate’s increased value from the capital gains tax and $3 million for transfers to a spouse.” Even though some heirs did pay higher capital gains taxes on the assets they inherited in 2010, Congress has historically understood that it was bad policy to levy a capital gains tax and estate tax on the same assets. Congress is not always wrong. Perhaps at this point it is worth peering across the Atlantic and seeing what the estate-tax rate is in Europe. The Tax Foundation comes up with the goods here. I’m not certain which of these countries also provide for a capital gains step-up on death (although it does in the U.K., which may be an indicator of practice elsewhere in Europe), but typically estate-tax rates are well below the America’s (federal) 40 percent, although the tax will kick in at lower levels. On the other hand, Estonia imposes no estate tax at all. That is unsurprising. That country, which, incidentally, is far from being a tax haven in the conventional sense of that term, has, some reckon, and not unreasonably, the most competitive tax system in the OECD. Then again, Sweden, that shining example for so many progressives (perhaps because they may be unaware of how the country’s approach to the economy has changed over the past three decades) has no estate tax either. If Biden’s combination of increasing the capital-gains rate and scaling back the step-up relief goes through, the very wealthy, especially if they are old, infirm, hypochondriacal, or just cautious, will have yet another reason to quit the high-tax blue states, some of which have finances that depend, to a dangerous extent, on their contributions. Of course, even the healthy and relatively youthful wealthy may decide that paying a state and (if they live, say, in de Blasio’s New York) city tax on top of a new capital-gains-tax rate that, at its top rate, would already be, depending on how you look at it (it’s not straightforward) the highest for a century, is something better avoided by moving elsewhere. Scaling back the step-up (which has been around since 1921) will also effectively extend the reach of a de facto estate tax far below the level at which the regular death tax kicks in. For now, that is $11.7 million (although after 2025 that is currently set to fall back, probably to around $5.5 million). While even that surviving $1 million step-up will reassure many, I will be surprised if it keeps pace with inflation. For example, as I noted recently: The federal capital-gains-tax exemption (per person) on the sale of a primary residence is $250,000. This was fixed in (checks notes) 1997, and it has not been changed since. $250,000 in 1997 is worth around $412,000 today. And that was an era of relatively low inflation. Compounding counts. Now consider the case in which an estate includes an asset that the deceased might have bought in 1970. The estate’s nominal unrealized gain in that asset may be over $1 million, thus triggering the tax, but the “real” gain may be a fraction of that, or even, in real terms, a loss. But the tax will still be due. And we don’t have to look backwards to see how unfair this could be. If inflation starts to heat up again (something that is far from impossible in the current circumstances), the real unrealized gains on assets that the deceased had bought even relatively recently could be far less than the nominal gain, but it is the nominal gain that, for tax purposes, will count. As we are beginning to learn, one of the characteristics of this administration’s way of doing business is a fondness for coercion. The massive increase in the capital-gains-tax rates for those with incomes above $1 million works together with the scaling back of the step-up rules, as the Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin and Rachel Louise Ensign explain: Without the change to the basis rules, the [maximum] 43.4 percent tax rate would lose money for the government because it would encourage people to hold assets that they would otherwise sell. The new rules go even further in the opposite direction: They are likely to mean plenty of forced asset sales. Rubin and Ensign: Vera Dunn lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., with her 102-year-old mother in a house bought for about $100,000 in 1965. Ms. Dunn estimates the house would be worth $10 million to a buyer who would tear it down. She said she has borrowed $4 million against the house to pay for her mother’s care and is already concerned about California tax changes on inherited property. If her mother lives past the effective date of the Biden plan, Ms. Dunn said, it would be impossible to pay the taxes and keep the house. “It happens to be a beautiful house in a beautiful location. It happens to be all I have,” she said. “Nobody’s going to cry over my situation. I’m not passing a handkerchief around, but everyone I think can relate to [it] Whether you can relate to Dunn’s plight or not, it is worth noting that the house was bought in 1965 for $100,000. One hundred thousand dollars then is the equivalent of $835,000 today, but the basis will still be $100,000. It may also be that the house has had the benefit of capital improvements over the years (which would normally increase the basis), but how many people keep records of work they may have had done, say, half a century ago? Rubin and Ensign: It could be challenging for asset owners to figure out their tax basis, which is what they paid for the property and invested in it. That complexity is part of what doomed a similar proposal in the late 1970s, which Congress passed, then delayed, then repealed. Somehow, I cannot see that happening this time round. The administration’s use of taxation to attack aspiration, investment, savings, and, indeed, the very idea of a society where people want to pass on what they have created or preserved to the next generation, is currently under way on many fronts, but the threat to the step-up break shows how a rule change can be just as much of a menace as a simple rate hike. The Journal’s story includes this quote: Meanwhile, wealthy people and their advisers are rethinking strategies and investments. Financial adviser Ken Van Leeuwen said he has received more fearful calls from clients about the tax-law changes in the past week than ever. Even those who voted for Mr. Biden are worried. “Are we becoming socialists?” he said one asked him. I couldn’t possibly comment. The Capital Record We released the latest of a series of podcasts, the Capital Record. Follow the link to see how to subscribe (it’s free!). The Capital Record, which appears weekly, is designed to make use of another medium to deliver Capital Matters’ defense of free markets. Financier and NRI trustee David L. Bahnsen hosts discussions on economics and finance in this National Review Capital Matters podcast, sponsored by National Review Institute. Episodes feature interviews with the nation’s top business leaders, entrepreneurs, investment professionals, and financial commentators. In the 15th episode David Bahnsen talked to one of his favorite economists, Louis Gave of Gavekal Research, who offers up a, shall we say, contrarian view of how to think about investing in the CCP (and Asian periphery). It is an invigorating conversation. And the Capital Matters week that was . . . The week began on a truly downbeat note with John Cochrane and Kevin Hassett discussing the prospects for inflation (spoiler: real). It ended like this: Unlike in the 1970s, the Fed now knows how important inflation expectations are. But the Fed seems to think expectations are an external force, unrelated to its actions. Expectations are “anchored,” Fed officials say. Anchored by what? By speeches saying expectations are anchored? The Fed has “tools” to fight inflation, it says. What tools? There is only one tool, but will the Fed use it? Will our Fed, and the government overall, have the stomach to repeat 20 percent interest rates, 10 percent unemployment, disproportionately hitting the vulnerable, just to squelch inflation? Or will our government follow the left-wing advice of 1980, that it’s better to live with inflation than undergo the pain of eliminating it? Moreover, stopping inflation will be harder this time, in the shadow of debt. Federal debt held by the public hovered around 25 percent of GDP throughout the 1970s. It is four times that large, 100 percent of GDP today, and growing. The CBO forecasts unrelenting deficits, and that’s before accounting for the Biden administration’s ambitious spending agenda. If the Federal Reserve were to raise interest rates, that would explode the deficit even more. Five percent interest rates mean an additional 5 percent of GDP or $1 trillion deficit. The Fed will be under enormous pressure not to raise rates. More starkly, any effort to combat inflation will have to involve a swift fiscal adjustment. Inflation comes when people don’t want to hold government bonds, or Fed reserves backed by government bonds, because they don’t trust the government to repay its debts. Stopping inflation now will mean a sharp reduction and reform of entitlement spending programs, a far-reaching pro-growth tax reform, and no more bailouts and stimulus checks. And all this may have to be implemented in a recession. Almost all historic inflation stabilizations required far-reaching fiscal and pro-growth reforms. But the Fed dares not even dare say what its “tool” is, let alone promise any such painful action. Fiscal policy is busy throwing money out the door and incentives out the window. Once people ask the question, how long will they believe that inflation will provoke such a sharp retrenchment? When demand soars and supply is constrained, inflation will rise. When people question policy and find it feckless, they expect more inflation, and inflation grows more and becomes entrenched. Persistent inflation grows suddenly, unexpectedly and intractably, just as it did in the 1970s. Some worry that a burst of inflation will lead the Fed to raise rates and thereby stymie the recovery. It is a far greater worry that the Fed will not react promptly, thereby letting inflation and inflation expectations spiral upwards. Moving on hastily, we turned to, oh no, property taxes, but Jonathan Williams and Dave Trabert had some good news: Property taxes are generally the most hated of all taxes, and with good reason. As they pay their property-tax bills each year, owners are forced to cut a check and realize the cost of government. From the small-business owner who is struggling to make payroll to the millennial attempting to make his first home purchase, high property-tax burdens affect everyone. In some cases, retirees on fixed incomes can tragically be taxed out of their homes as property-tax bills steadily increase. Addressing the issue of excessive property-tax burdens can be an extremely challenging endeavor at the state level since most real property taxes are levied at the local levels of government and are thus based on the spending levels set by those local governments. However, in our view, state lawmakers in Topeka, Kan., have just perfected the recipe for states across America to address this problem. After passing in the Kansas House and Senate by overwhelming, bipartisan margins, Democratic governor Laura Kelly recently signed the “Truth in Taxation” property-tax reform into law. While Governor Kelly vetoed a similar bill last year during the COVID-shortened session, she likely saw the writing on the wall, with massive margins in support of the reform again this year . . . The New York Times won strange new respect from Charles Cooke: Asking sincerely why the Democratic Party is “pushing a tax cut for the wealthy,” the New York Times’s editorial board yesterday came out in favor of abolishing the SALT deduction completely: “The SALT deduction cap is unfair. The deduction is often described as a federal subsidy for state and local governments because the federal government effectively is paying for a portion of each dollar in state and local taxes. Capping the deduction has the effect of providing a smaller subsidy, per dollar, to jurisdictions that collect more money in taxes. New Yorkers, who pay higher taxes than most Americans, get more extensive and higher quality public services. Residents of other states choose lower taxes and less government. Federal tax policy should provide consistent support for either choice. This board historically has opposed the elimination of the federal subsidy. But the rise of economic inequality has increased our focus on the distribution of taxation and led us to a different conclusion: Instead of eliminating the SALT deduction cap, Congress should eliminate the deduction.” Naturally, the board also wants to increase both taxation and spending at the federal level, whereas I would like to lower both. If, as the Times suggests, we should want federal tax policy to facilitate meaningful political choices, then limiting the size of the federal government is much to be desired. There is a big difference between living in Florida and living in California, but that difference is not remotely as big as it would be if the top federal tax rate were 5 percent and spending were set at a fraction of its current rate. Then, we could really see what rules people set when given a harsh choice. Still, the Times should be applauded for taking the first step . . . I’m saying nothing. Brian Riedl put forward four principles for a conservative infrastructure alternative: President Biden’s $2.6 trillion American Jobs Plan has been savaged by conservatives as too expensive, tax heavy, and stuffed with items from the progressive wish list entirely unrelated to infrastructure. But congressional Republicans have also been pressured to propose a counteroffer. The wrong answer for Republicans is to return to the old “Democrat lite” approach of simply supporting half of whatever big government expansion the Left seeks. Rather than let the Left set the terms of the debate, conservatives should ask themselves how they would approach infrastructure if they were setting the agenda. After all, any compromise discussions require first determining one’s own goals and approach. Here are four principles for a conservative infrastructure proposal. Principle #1: No New Taxes or Deficits If the Democrats target an area of government for a substantial expansion, Republicans have no obligation to march in the same direction. After all, the federal-budget outlook was unsustainable even before Washington spent $5.4 trillion (a large portion of which was necessary) fighting the pandemic over the past year. Following the latest pandemic-relief law, the national debt held by the public is projected to double from $17 trillion to $35 trillion between the end of 2019 and 2030. If President Biden’s entire campaign agenda were enacted, it would bring the national debt from $17 trillion to $42 trillion over that period. That would be 130 percent of GDP, or one-quarter higher than at the end of World War II . . . Speaking of which, Philip Klein described Joe Biden as the $6 trillion man: There will be plenty of time in the months ahead to debate the substance of the proposals. However, it’s worth keeping in mind how extraordinary this spending is. It is not coming at a time of huge surpluses, but at a time when debt exceeds the annual gross domestic product for the only time in the nation’s history other than World War II. It’s coming as a flood of Baby Boomers are retiring and as health-care costs rise. This is not a moderate agenda by Biden. It is a radical and reckless agenda . . . Robert VerBruggen returned to the subject of that $6 trillion: Last year was supposed to be the year of huge federal spending. With the pandemic and lockdowns disrupting much of the economy, we had to make up the difference with borrowed money. We chewed through $6.5 trillion, about $20,000 for every person in the country. The previous year we’d spent “only” $4.4 trillion, or $13,000 per person. In the final week of the year, then-president Trump signed one last bill to spend yet another $2.3 trillion. Shortly thereafter, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that, with this spending in place, 2021 would give us our second-highest deficit in history as a percentage of our GDP — beaten only by last year — and that we’d burn $5.7 trillion before things settled back down in 2022 and 2023. We could afford to go big in an emergency because we are a very rich country. But even before the pandemic we faced a crisis of exploding entitlement spending and debt. And rather than get spending back down and prepare for the future, Biden has spent his first 100 days dreaming up ways to blow more money. Some of his ideas are financed with debt, others by hiking taxes to fund new projects rather than to fix existing problems . . . And Veronique de Rugy was . . . unconvinced by the promise of the infrastructure program: President Biden’s speech last night was quite something. For one thing, he spent the entire time speaking as if the federal government isn’t already massively invested in infrastructure, health care, families, veterans, education, and so on and so forth. If it is not, I would like to know where the $5.8 trillion the federal government will spend in FY2021 — up from $4.4 trillion in March 2020 — is. I guess it is convenient to ignore that fact, because otherwise someone with a mildly critical mindset might ask why so much spending hasn’t worked yet, and may conclude that it is because the promise that the federal government can really transform people’s lives with a massive amount of spending is misleading. That would be correct. When you actually read the research of economists on many of these issues, you see a different picture emerge. One that explains why, after trillions of dollars spent annually on these projects, politicians still stand in front of the American people to say that things will be different this time around. They won’t . . . Dan Pearson took aim at the idea of industrial policy: When President Joe Biden addresses a joint meeting of Congress tonight, he is likely to call for increased government expenditures to support favored industries in hopes of maintaining a competitive edge over China. Whether or not he uses the term, he will be endorsing “industrial policy,” the use of central planning to reorient the economy in ways desired by government officials. Unfortunately, past efforts to improve the economy by choosing “winners” have often led to the overall economy being the “loser.” Expect the same outcome once again. Proponents of industrial policy have great faith in the government’s ability to achieve useful results when intervening in the economy. Their goals generally fall into one of two categories: maintaining employment in old-line companies or building cutting-edge industries to aid in America’s future success. The sad story of the U.S. steel industry demonstrates the huge downside of the former approach and ought to raise serious doubts as to the feasibility of achieving the latter . . . Erica York found that Biden’s proposed corporate-tax increases rested on “three politically expedient, but misleading claims”: (1) The share of income enjoyed by American workers has been steadily declining; (2) the tax burden on U.S. businesses has been too low, casting us out of step with global norms; and (3) the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made it more profitable for companies to flee overseas. Let’s consider each argument in turn . . . There wasn’t much left of those assumptions by the end. The editors weighed in on the proposed capital-gains-tax increase: That the Biden administration has enormous confidence in the government’s ability to invest wisely is no secret, however ill-founded that confidence may turn out to be. So there is a certain perverse logic to its proposal to fund, at least in part, the newest proposed spending spree with a dramatic increase in the capital-gains tax rates paid by — a bit of class warfare always helps — “the rich.” To believe that this will not discourage investment is to believe that those investors who are subject to the tax disregard post-tax returns. That’s not likely. They will either demand a higher price for their capital, or put an increased premium on safety, or search for investments that offer less in the way of growth, but more in the way of tax shelter. Others may choose to consume more and invest less. Some would-be entrepreneurs, meanwhile, will decide not to give up their day jobs. None of these developments would be good for the economy and those who would benefit from its flourishing. Turning to the grim details, if this proposal is approved, those earning more than $1 million a year will face a top tax rate on long-term capital gains of 43.4 percent (once the Obamacare surtax on net investment income is thrown in), compared with 23.8 percent today. That would be a top rate higher — generally much higher — than anywhere in Europe, and that’s before considering what state and local taxes can do to the math. Those living in high-tax states such as California and New York will be looking at a top rate in excess of 54 percent, and for those lucky enough to be resident in de Blasio’s New York City, over 58 percent. Those who have been making plans to leave will get moving, and others are likely to join them, something that would come as a major blow to their governments’ already-shaky finances . . . Phil Klein noticed an interesting definition of “tax cut”: It should not come as a huge surprise that President Biden, in his latest massive spending proposal, wants to expand Obamacare by $200 billion. But what takes real chutzpah is his decision to classify that spending as a tax cut. In the White House fact sheet on Biden’s latest $1.8 trillion spending proposal, there’s a section headlined “Tax Cuts for America’s Families and Workers.” The first item is, “Extend expanded ACA premiums tax credits in the American Rescue Plan.” The translation of this is that the “COVID relief” package passed earlier this year included money to increase the subsidies that Obamacare offers to individuals to purchase insurance on a government-run exchange. Now, Biden wants to use this proposal as a vehicle to make them permanent. The document refers to this as a “$200 billion” investment . . . But there is nobody who would receive a tax cut as a result of this $200 billion. It would merely help subsidize health-insurance premiums for those who qualified . . . Veronique de Rugy expects major troubles ahead with the student-loan program: When asked what she thought of the student-loan program she helped create 50 years ago, Alice Rivlin, who in the late 1960s headed a task force that decided whether to finance students directly or to finance the schools — before she became the head of Congressional Budget Office and the vice chair of the Federal Reserve — responded, “We unleashed a monster.” Well, that monster could very well rear its ugly head sooner or later, and when it does, it will cost us . . . Dan McLaughlin saw signs that Coke might be rethinking woke: On April 10, dozens of corporate chieftains met to consider sanctions against Georgia. Instead, they ended up issuing a vaguely worded statement about voting rights that did not even mention the state. And Coca-Cola, along with fellow Georgian behemoth Delta Air Lines, was conspicuously absent from the list of signatories. Instead, on April 14, the company issued a decidedly conciliatory statement: “We believe the best way to make progress now is for everyone to come together to listen, respectfully share concerns and collaborate on a path forward. We remain open to productive conversations with advocacy groups and lawmakers who may have differing views. It’s time to find common ground. In the end, we all want the same thing — free and fair elections, the cornerstone of our democracy.” Then, on April 21, the next shoe dropped: Gayton, the general counsel, abruptly left after just eight months on the job, taking “a $4 million sign-on payment and a monthly consulting fee of $666,666” to transition into a “strategic consultant role.” That’s a rather expensive way to rid yourself of a senior corporate officer who has spent less than a year with the company. On April 27, Law.com’s Corporate Counsel reported that Monica Howard Douglas, Gayton’s replacement and a 17-year veteran of Coca-Cola’s legal department, refused to discuss Gayton’s resignation, but told the company’s legal department that Gayton’s departure meant a “pause” on the company’s controversial diversity initiatives: “Douglas reportedly offered a few hints about the fate of Gayton’s diversity plan, though concrete details remain elusive. . . . When asked about Gayton’s diversity initiative, Douglas indicated that Coca-Cola was “taking a pause for now” but would likely salvage some parts of the plan, the source said. Douglas didn’t provide any additional details about what would remain and what would be scrapped, according to the source. “She said she . . . plans to use some of it, but everything is being evaluated. They plan to adopt some of his strategies and passions. Everything was, ‘More to come,’” the source added.” Neither Douglas, nor Gayton, nor Coca-Cola is talking to the media about any of this right now, but read the tea leaves: Within a span of three weeks, the company came under public fire from prominent Republicans, swiftly de-escalated its rhetoric on the Georgia law, saw its general counsel hastily resign, and saw his replacement declare a “pause” on his most heavily criticized efforts. It certainly looks as if Coca-Cola has reached a corporate decision to pull back from a partisan and ideological posture that actively antagonized half the country, including the state government of where Coca-Cola is headquartered . . . Benjamin Zycher told the story of a ban that is not (officially) a ban: During the presidential campaign Joe Biden offered the utterly incoherent promise to ban “new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters.” Soon after assuming the presidency, however, he stated clearly that “we’re not going to ban fracking” and, presumably, other forms of fossil-fuel production on federal lands. So, which is it? Answer: The “ban” will not be formal, but very real nonetheless. A news report from January: “President Joe Biden continues to reshape the US oil and gas industry during his early days in office, moving to introduce a temporary ban on new lease sales across federal lands and waters as part of a wider-ranging sweep of climate actions.” A news report from April 21: “The U.S. Interior Department is cancelling oil and gas lease sales from public lands through June amid an ongoing review of how the program contributes to climate change, officials said Wednesday.” First, there is no need to “review” how the federal leasing program contributes to (anthropogenic) climate change. If implemented immediately, the entire Biden “net-zero” proposal would reduce global temperatures by 0.173 degrees C by 2100 — an analytic result using the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate model under assumptions that exaggerate the effects of reduced greenhouse-gas emissions. (An immediate greenhouse-gas-emissions cut by China of 50 percent: 0.184 degrees C.) The climate effects of a ban on new leases on federal lands would be undetectable given the standard deviation of the surface-temperature record. But that is not the central issue attendant upon the Biden federal leasing policy. The “temporary ban on new lease sales” now has been extended until July at the earliest, and no informal statement or formal policy proposal published in the Federal Register proscribes an endless series of such extensions of the “temporary” ban . . . Dan Kim saw mission creep by the SEC: Biden’s Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to move away from its traditional role as an independent financial regulator toward becoming an activist agency that seeks to regulate disclosures of companies’ climate policies and environmental and social governance issues. Essentially, the financial regulator will determine which environmental metrics are materially important for public companies to disclose to investors. Mandated disclosure runs counter to the democratic process of shareholder voting and would invalidate the wishes of shareholders who have consistently opposed similar shareholder proposals. Although ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) is still a somewhat poorly defined term, it has become a catchall for boardrooms and federal regulators who emphasize “conscious” or “stakeholder” capitalism. The “social responsibilities of business” are nothing new, but businesses are moving away from Milton Friedman’s view that management teams should put the interests of shareholders first to a model that they should run for the benefit of various “stakeholders” including communities, employees, customers, and, oh yes, shareholders. Allison Herren Lee, the former acting chair at the SEC until Gensler, was confirmed by the Senate and remains an SEC commissioner. Lee recently gave a speech at the Center of American Progress outlining ideas that were designed to advance a progressive agenda through future SEC rulemaking. These included expanding the current disclosure framework, forcing companies to disclose their political donations, and providing racial-diversity metrics within a larger ESG structure . . .

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A 30-meter Chinese space rocket threatens to crash out of control on Earth - Market Research Telecast

Market Research Telecast 30 April, 2021 - 10:00pm

On April 29, Beijing successfully launched the central module of its space station into space. The capsule, named after Tianhe, was launched into orbit by the Long March-5B Y2 rocket. At 16.6 meters long and 4.2 meters in diameter, it is the largest spacecraft that China has ever developed.

Shortly after launch, however, the rocket’s core stage experienced difficulties and inadvertently entered low-Earth orbit. The thruster, spinning out of control, nearly made an uncontrolled reentry from orbit, potentially threatening inhabited areas.

As reported SpaceNews, that stage or core body is likely to fall from low Earth orbit sometime in the next few days. If this happens, it would be one of the largest human-made objects to rush uncontrollably against the planet.

Predictably, the bulky center stage of the rocket, which measures 30 meters long and 5 meters wide, it will burn when it enters the atmosphere, but its debris could reach the earth’s surface. Most likely parts of the thruster will fall into the ocean or uninhabited areas, but there is always the possibility that it threatens human life and property.

This is the second time that parts of that Chinese booster rocket pose a threat to Earth. In May of last year, after another successful launch, remnants of the Long March-5B fell out of control and fortunately crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, but they were about to hit New York City.

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Going up and coming down this week | EarthSky.org

EarthSky 30 April, 2021 - 10:12am

Within hours of each other, one rocket left the Earth on April 28, 2021, and one cargo space ship returned on April 29 – via a planned destruction during re-entry – after having been attached to the International Space Station for a year.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | John Merriam in St. Augustine, Florida, captured this photo of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch on April 28, 2021. He wrote: “I was skeptical I’d get much with a long exposure and the moon still near 94% but it turned out kind of fun. SpaceX appeared to head right at the moon during tonight’s launch.” Thank you, John! It was the 7th launch of this particular Falcon 9 rocket, whose mission on April 28 was to carry 60 Starlink internet satellites to Earth orbit. Nine minutes after launch, the rocket’s 1st stage returned to Earth, for a successful landing at sea on SpaceX’s drone ship Just Read the Instructions.

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket – mission Starlink 24 – on the evening of April 28, 2021, aiming for an orbit 180 miles (291 km) up, where it successfully offloaded its cargo of another 60 Starlink satellites. Meanwhile, the Russian cargo ship Progress MS-14 successfully undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) after it had spent a year docked to its Zvezda module. The cargo ship was launched on April 25, 2020, from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On April 29, 2021, it was intentionally destroyed in the atmosphere upon re-entry. EarthSky readers submitted photographs of both space vessels, taken from Florida and Russia.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Greg Diesel Walck in Ormond Beach, Florida, captured this photo of SpaceX’s Starlink 24 launch, appearing to fly over the moon in Earth’s sky, on April 28, 2021. He wrote: “The moon was so big and bright (just 2 days past full moon phase) that the typical long-exposure rocket trail images were very washed out. Fortunately I knew the Falcon 9 would pass somewhere near the moon in the sky so I was also shooting with a long lens and fast shutter capturing this moment.” Thank you, Greg!

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Filipp Romanov in Yuzhno-Morskoy (near Nakhodka), Russia, captured this photo of the International Space Station and Progress MS-14 on April 29, 2021. He wrote: “I observed the ISS and Progress MS-14 (5 hours before planned destructive re-entry) from 19:18 to 19:20 UT in the dawn sky. The spacecraft looked like a +2 magnitude star and was visible at a distance of several degrees from the ISS.” He also has a time-lapse of the 2 space vessels here. Thank you, Filipp!

Bottom line: Just hours apart, one space vessel left the Earth to drop off satellites into orbit and another came down, after having been attached to the International Space Station for just over a year. Wow! It feels as if we’re living in a Space Age now, doesn’t it? Photos here.

Theresa Wiegert is a Swedish-Canadian astronomer with a Ph.D. in astrophysics and a master's in physics. She has loved the sky and everything in it and beyond ever since she was four years old and asked her father about the very bright star she saw one early Christmas morning. Learning it wasn’t a star but the planet Venus, she started reading anything astronomy-related she could find. Eventually she ended up as a radio astronomer, researching gas in spiral galaxies. She loves science outreach and teaching, especially showing the night sky to groups of kids (and adults!).

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