2nd space junk scare for ISS this week


NASA

The International Space Station (ISS) changed course Friday to avoid a possible collision with a piece of an old Pegasus rocket.

A chunk of that old rocket, which broke apart two years after the United States launched it into Earth’s orbit in 1994, was on track to pass close to the ISS Friday morning. NASA and Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, monitored the chunk throughout Monday, eventually deciding they needed to move the space station.

About two hours before the debris was set to pass the ISS, at 2:58 a.m. ET, Roscosmos fired the engines of its Progress cargo spacecraft, which was docked to the ISS, pushing the orbiting laboratory closer to Earth. The two-and-a-half-minute engine burn lowered the space station’s altitude by 310 meters — about 1,000 feet — setting it on a new path, safely out of reach of the rocket chunk.

Because predicting the path of debris in Earth’s orbit isn’t exact, mission controllers routinely move the ISS when objects are expected to pass close by. Friday marked the second time the ISS had to change course in order to avoid debris this year, including once last month, when Russia swerved the station away from a piece of junk. In 2020, the orbiting laboratory had to dodge debris on three occasions.

During its two decades orbiting Earth, the ISS has moved to avoid space junk at least 30 times.

RTFA for details, ongoing problems, the importance of keeping space tidy.

The fragile legitimacy of the Supreme Court


Bennett

The legal landscape of the past weeks and months has prompted questions of which people and entities are legitimate interpreters and enforcers of the law and what happens when you take the law into your own hands. Mississippi and other states took the recent changes in personnel on the Supreme Court as an invitation to defy the Court’s constitutional rulings on abortion, and those states now seem likely to prevail.

…The newest conservative Justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, signalled no qualms about overruling Roe as wrongly decided, which would make a majority of at least five. At a time when the Court’s legitimacy appears extremely fragile, it is telling that the majority’s response to having the supremacy of the Court’s decisions defied seems to be acquiescence and approval…

Any vigilante revivalism today goes hand in hand with private citizens’ increased ability to carry guns in public. The Supreme Court is currently considering the most important gun-rights case since it held, more than a decade ago, that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to keep handguns in the home for self-defense. On November 3rd, it heard arguments challenging a New York law that allows a license for the concealed carry of handguns outside the home, but only upon a demonstration of “proper cause.” The perverse, self-fulfilling truth is that, as gun ownership has proliferated, an individual’s claim to need a gun for protection has become more plausible…

During last week’s arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor lamented, “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”…But the point of a fundamental constitutional right is that it shouldn’t be at the people’s mercy, particularly when the composition of the Court itself has been shifted through political means for this purpose.

Over decades, though both Right and Left have made comparatively minor shifts in composition of the Supreme Court, there has never before been an effort which in broad strokes is convened to remove precedence. In this instance, the Roe vs Wade decision which is held by the general assemblies of Left and Right in the GOUSA as expanding freedom for women to make decisions qualitatively affecting their lives. Yet another quality of life hated by what passes for the 21st Century Republican Party.