PIXELS 
Three amigos: Bullet, DC and Jake



 2023 ACCOMPLISHMENTS 
Dear Neighbor, 2023 began with California emerging from unprecedented and  converging crises relating to its continuing pandemic recovery, a growing housing affordability crisis, inaccessible health as well as mental health care, worsening climate change. The Legislature took strong action ... made possible by the tireless work of advocates, labor groups, and support from constituents, [is] incredibly proud to serve diverse communities of California.
budget

San Francisco's 30 Stockton bus, the busiest line west of St Louis
$1.1B to avert "big service cuts ... largely in cap-&-trade funds ... for public transportation oper­a­tions," until mid-2025.
senate bill 770: Sets “a concrete timeline” for California to achieve “a unified healthcare financing system.”
senate bill 43: Harm done by individuals going through “life-threatening psychoses” is a potent reason to “expand conservatorship laws,” and allow the county to intervene.
assembly bill 665: Allows youth ages 12+, following “standards of mental health care consent,” into “equal mental-health care accessibility regardless of insurance type.”
2017 Embarcadero pedestrial walkway, with Piers 30-32 near right, and the Bay Bridge with lights turned on
senate bill 273: Rehabilitates San Fran­cis­co Piers 30-32 to become “a mixed-use public space, infra­struc­ture, and housing project.”
senate bill 423: Shaves housing permit wait-times, “from years to six months or less, in areas that underperform their housing targets.”
senate bill 593: Greenlights replacement of 5,800+ housing units demolished in San Francisco, from the 1950s to the ’70s.
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senate bill 4: “Allows faith institutions and non­profit colleges to build affordable housing on their property by right.”
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budget
$5M “to help those impacted by violence,” find a safe space and future museum, activate the future.
budget
$2.5M for "a new facility ... to serve the AAPI com­mu­nity in the Tender­loin and surround­ing neighbor­hoods."
budget
$1M to expand drug-check­ing on-site stations, tasked with i.d.-ing unsafe street drugs, in an on-going inter­vention “to prevent fentanyl over­dose deaths.”
senate bill 253: “Requires all large corporations that do business in California to publicly disclose their greenhoue gas emissions.” During the day, the Sun warms the Air and heats the Earth.
	At night, Earth releases this heat back into the atmosphere, where it dissipates.
	Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, traps heat; build-up of these gases is poisoning Earth.
senate bill 365: Corporate defendants appealing a trial judge ruling can no longer bring proceedings to a crawl. SB365 “allows a lawsuit from a worker, a consumer or a govern­ment to move forward.”
cheeseboard with breads, cheeses, and scissor-cut paper
senate bill 407: LGBTQ foster youth have assurance for placement into foster homes “that affirm their sexuality and gender identities.”
budget
unfolding ceremony of panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, SF Golden Gate Park, January 2024
$1.5M to find a “permanent home for the AIDS Memorial Quilt.”
attendees at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con: a female Firefly and the Black Knight from a paintbox dimension
senate bill 76: “During festivals,” neighborhood businesses can serve alcoholic beverages to-go. The entertainment zones act is a temporary tavern without walls.


 RED MIRAGE  The nine members of the January 6 Committee sit for a group portrait

Donald Trump never said he’d abide by the outcome of the election. In May of 2020, fearing that Biden might win in November, he tweeted, “It will be the greatest Rigged Elec­tion in history!” He under­stood that he would likely lose but that, owing to an effect known as the Red Mirage, it would look, for a while, as if he had won: more Democrats than Republicans would vote by mail and since mail-in ballots are often the last to be counted, early counting would favor Republicans. “When that happens,” Roger Stone advised him, “the key thing to do is to claim victory. ... No, we won. Fuck you, Sorry. Over.” That was Plan A.
In September, The Atlantic published a bombshell article by Barton Gellman report­ing that the Trump campaign had a scheme “

to bypass election results and appoint loyal elec­tors in battle­ground states where Repub­li­cans hold the legis­la­tive majority.
” That was Plan B.
Plan A (‘Fuck you’) was more Trump’s style. “He’s gon­na declare victory,” Steve Ban­non said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s the win­ner. He’s just gonna say he’s a win­ner. On Election Night, Novem­ber 3rd, Trump wanted to do just that, but his campaign team persuaded him not to. His patience didn’t last long. “This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said on November 4th. “We were getting ready to win this elec­tion. Frankly, we did win this election.” The next day he tweeted, “Stop The Count!” On November 7th, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, the Associated Press, and Fox News all declared that Joseph Biden had won. The election was not close. Counting the votes just took a while.
After Biden won, Trump continued to insist that widespread fraud had been com­mit­ted. Bill Stepien, Trump’s cam­paign man­ager, told the January 6 Committee that the cam­paign became a “truth telling squad,” chas­ing allega­tions, discovering them to be unfounded, and telling the President, “Yeah, that wasn’t true.” The Depart­ment of Home­land Security looked into allegations, most of which popped up online, and announced, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” The Justice Department, too, investigated charges of fraud, but, as Barr informed the committee, he was left telling the President, repeatedly, “They’re not panning out.
For Plan C, the Presi­dent turned to Rudy Giuliani and a group of lawyers that included Sidney Powell. They filed 62 lawsuits challenging election results, and lost all but one of these suits (and that one involved neither allegations of fraud nor any significant number of votes).

Twenty-two of the judges who decided these cases had been appointed by Repub­li­cans, and ten had been appointed by Trump.
On December 11th, the Supreme Court reject­ed a suit that had challenged the results in Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Trump had had every right to challenge the results of state elections, but at this point he had exhausted his legal options. He decided to fall back on Plan B, the fake-electors plan, which required hundreds of legislators across the country to set aside the popular vote in states won by Biden, claiming that the results were fraudulent and appoint­ing their own slate of electors, who would cast their Elec­tor­al College votes for Trump on December 14th. Accord­ing to Cassidy Hutchi­son, an aide to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the White House counsel deter­mined that, since none of the fraud alle­ga­tions had been upheld by any court, the fake-electors plan was illegal. But one deputy assistant to the President told Trump that it didn’t matter whether there had been fraud or not, because “state legis­la­tors ‘have the con­sti­tu­tion­al right to substitute their judg­ment for a certified majority of their con­sti­tu­ents’ if that prevents socaialism.
Plan B required Trump to put pressure on a lot of people. The com­mit­tee counted at least 200 attempts he made to influence state or local officials by phone, text, posts, or public remarks. Instruct­ing Trump sup­port­ers to join in, Giuliani said, “Some­times it even requires being threat­ened.

A Trump-campaign spread­sheet documents efforts to contact more than 190 Republican state legis­la­tors in Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan alone.
Barr resigned. “I didn’t want to be part of it,” he told the committee. Plenty of other people were happy to be part of it, though. Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chair, par­tic­i­pat­ed and provided Trump with the assis­tance of RNC staffers. On December 14th, certified electors met in every state. In seven states that Biden had won – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – fake electors also met and produced counterfeit Electoral College cer­tif­i­cates for Trump. Five of these cer­tif­i­cates were sent to Washington but were rejected because they lacked the required state seal; two arrived after the deadline. None were accepted.
Trump then launched Plan D, which was not so much a plan as a pig’s breakfast of a con­spir­a­cy, a coup, and a putsch. Every­thing turned on January 6th, the day a joint ses­sion of Congress was to certify the results of the Elec­toral College vote. To stop that from hap­pen­ing, Trump recruit­ed members of Congress into a con­spir­a­cy to overturn the election by rejecting the certified votes and accepting the counter­feits; he asked the Vice-President to participate in a coup by simply declaring him the win­ner; and he incited his supporters to take over the Capitol by force, in a poorly planned putsch, which he intend­ed to lead. On December 17th, Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News, “There has been an alter­nate slate of elec­tors voted upon that Congress will decide in January.” Two days later, Trump tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild.” The legal architect of the Pence part of the pig’s break­fast – “a coup in search of a legal theory,” as one federal judge called it – was a lawyer named John East­man. The Trump lawyer Eric Hersch­mann recalled a conversation he had with Eastman: “You’re saying you believe the Vice President, acting as Pres­i­dent of the Senate, can be the sole decision­maker as to, under your theory, who becomes the next President of the United States? And he said, yes. And I said, are you out of your Fing mind?
Trump pressed the act­ing Attor­ney Gen­eral, Jeffrey Rosen, and other mem­bers of the Depart­ment of Justice to aid the conspiracy by declaring some of the voting to have been fraudulent.

Rosen refused. “The DOJ can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election,” he told Trump. Trump replied, “I don’t expect you to do that. Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Con­gress­men.” Trump tried to replace Rosen with a lackey named Jeffrey Clark, but, in a tense meeting at the White House on January 3rd, Rosen and others made clear to him that, if he did so, much of the department would resign. Trump and East­man met repeatedly with Pence in the Oval Office and tried to recruit him into the conspiracy. Pence refused. At 11:20 am on January 6th, Trump called Pence and again asked him, and again Pence refused, after which, according to Ivanka, the President called the Vice-President a pussy.
Trump was slated to speak at his be-wild rally at the Ellipse at noon, but when he arrived he was un­happy about the size of the crowd. The Secret Service had set up magnetometers, known as mags, to screen for weapons. Twenty-eight thousand people went through the mags, from whom the Secret Service collected, among other banned items, “269 knives or bades, 242 cannisters of pepper spray, 18 brass knuc­kles, 18 tasers, 6 pieces of body armor, 3 gas masks, 30 batons or blunt instruments.” Some people had ditched their bags, and pre­sum­ably their weapons, in trees or cars. In a crowd that included members of white-supremacist and far-right, anti-gov­ern­ment extremist groups – including the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, America First, and QAnon – another 25,000 people simply refused to go through the mags. “I don’t fuck­ing care that they have weapons,” Trump shouted. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking mags away.” The mags stayed. Trump took to the podium and fired up his followers for the march to the Capitol until 1:10 pm, and then he walked to his motor­cade, climbed into the Presi­den­tial S.U.V., which is known as the Beast, and demanded to be driven to the Capitol. Secret Service agents persuaded him to return to the White House.
Just before the Joint Session was to begin, at one o’clock, Pence released a written statement: “I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice Pres­i­dent with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress. The voting began.

By 1:21, Trump had been informed that the Capitol was under attack. He spent the rest of the day watching it on tele­vision. For hours, his staff and his advisers begged him to order the mob to dis­perse or to call for mili­tary assis­tance; he refused. At 1:46 Representative Paul Gosar objected to the count from Arizona, after which Senator Ted Cruz endorsed that objection. Pence was evacuated at 2:12. Seconds later, Proud Boys achieved the first breach of the Capitol, smashing a window in the Senate wing. Eleven minutes later, the mob broke through the doors to the East Rotunda, and Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” The mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.” Meadows told a colleague, “He thinks Mike deserves it.” Kevin McCarthy called the President. “They literally just came through my office windows,” he said. “You need to call them off.” Trump said, “Well, Kevin, I guess they’re just more upset about the election theft than you are.” At 4:17 pm, the President released a video message in which he asked the insur­rec­tion­ists to go home, and told them that he loved them.
And that, in brief, is the executive sum­ma­ry of the Jan­uary 6 Com­mis­sion Report, which concludes that “the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump.






-¦  March 2024  ¦-





  SPACE RACE 2.0 


     To travel to outer space, a spaceship is hitched to a rocket, filled with enough pro­pel­lant to shoot up, and free itself from the gravity field. When the fuel is used up the spaceship separates and keeps going. The art of rocketry has antecedents: throwing a spear, slinging a rock, releasing an arrow from a bow – it too was once a self-taught endeavor.      Enthu­si­asm was further stoked by views presented by tele­scopes, and since the 19th century, a science to conquer gravity has set its sights on the Moon, the nearest frontier. Allowing for gravity before taking aim and firing means that now­a­days satellites, space stations, space telescopes, etc. have wiggle room to go above the Karman line (the official beginning of outer space), and to make sense of the Universe.
     Take William Shat­ner,who was 90 years old when he went to space with Blue Origin: “I hope I never recover from this.”      Take KIC 8462852, “the most mysterious star in the universe,’ flickering con­stant­ly. Assistant pro­fes­sor of astronomy and physics Tabetha Boyajian explains: “Dust is most likely the reason why the star’s light appears to dim and brighten.”      Take the Milky Way, which the 2022 Gaia mission visited, sitting still for a composite portrait, while clad in interstellar dust, and later stitched together by the European Space Agency.      Take Saturn, in 2015 it had 62 moons (the first discovered was in 1655). The 2017 Cassini mission found 20 more, and noticed instead of one there are eight main rings. plus countless ringlets. The rings and ringlets are all made up of millions and millions of shattered misshapen moon bits.
     For that matter take the Earth, which also has rings, aka space debris, something sinister no international treaty has yet addressed. This makes space safety and space law a modern concern.
     With over 75 national space agencies, Earth is extra crowded. There are six in the Middle East, five in Africa. Eight or so in Central Europe, maybe ten in the Americas. Asia has ten too, if India, Pakistan, and Russia are excluded.













w e b b       NASA’s latest space telescope waved goodbye on Christmas morning 2021, travel­ing to its orbital destination, some one million miles (1,609,344-km) from Earth. Upon arriving, the spaceship unpacked itself to become an observatory. The process began with the unfurling of the sun­shield, when 107 pins popped “open in the proper sequence,” as designed. The mirror panels took 24 hours to deploy, with each rotating into position, one at a time, from an “intricate reverse origami” fold. The JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE (2021) then opened its primary eye, and began a new era for astronomy.
     The first year is booked solid. An insight into one hundred asteroids so as to “derive the amount of water present” in the Main belt. Weather on Pluto and its giant moon Charon, the original binary system. All 27 moons of Uranus. A look back in Time, some 13.7 billion Earth years, when the Big Bang was one a million years old, in hopes of glimpsing firstgen stars in their cosmic cradles.      Webb has a shelf-life. It has no bckups, so failure in any one of 344 parts of the primary mirror can be catastrophic. In the first six months, Webb has been hit by six micro­meteoroids, including on on a C3 mirror, which survived. Webb also runs on fuel, with enough in the tank to last from ten to even 20 years. The fuel is for a motor that, periodicaly, turns on to reposition the telescope to look elsewhere. After the fact, a plan for remote servicing missions is now in the works.      The images Webb captures is a spectrum setting, in spectroscopy, that makes space dust disappear: welcome to infrared astronomy. As Dr Rebecca Allen explained: “Both near and far, where planets and stars are formed, there’s heaps of dust. Dust is annoying because it loves to absorb the bright light coming from stars, shrouding our view of these important regions and even making distant galaxies harder to see. But this light is re-emitted at longer wavelengths that Webb will be able to see.”      Author Paola Santini finds the words:
This is a whole new chapter in astronomy. It’s like an archeological dig, and suddenly you find a lost city or something you didn’t know about.” Santini might be referring to the Phantom Galaxy, and a suppose-to-be black hole in the center; instead, what Webb saw was a spinning wormhole.











i n d i a       When India’s 2023 Moon mission landed in the lunar south pole, people had been praying, and partying, for its success going on for days. When the lander reached the surface, it released Pragyan (sanskrit for ‘wisdom’), a six-wheeled mini-rover, which went sightseeing and reported back the detection of sulfur. The previous mission in 2019 was just about to land when it was hit by a cyberattack and crashed; this might explain the giddiness five years later on the successful Mars landing. Giddiness can be contagious, and in 2023 the INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANISATION, DEPARTMENT OF SPACE (1969) announced a crewed mission for the future, and its own space station by 2035.








u a e       Soon after the president of the United Arab Emirates created a space industry by decree, it became a signatory to the Artemis Accords. Soon afterwards, on the 50th anniversary of its creation, UAE successfully launched a 2022 spaceship to Mars, for a years-long mission to take fotos and to make a comprehensive map. The UNITED ARAB EMIRATES SPACE AGENCY (2014) has also bought a passenger ticket for a mini-rover to go the Moon, and has plans on traveling to the Main belt, doing seven asteroid flybys before landing on the eighth.



c h i n a       Using methane as a propellant, China did a successful test launch, in July 2023, of a 164-foot rocket, beating out Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, Relativity Space , SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance, in the quest for a viable nextgen spaceship. Five months later, a satellite was launched using the same fuel.
     China’s second (the first had failed) lunar mission arrived in 2019 and landed, grew a plant. A year later, a third mission landed and looked around, planted a flag, flew home.      A 2020 rocket took off for a roundtrip to Mars; after dropping off an orbiter, lander and rover (to look for water), the rocket came home.
     China joined the space age in 1970 by launching a satellite. From there they became the CHINA NATIONAL SPACE ADMIN­IS­TRA­TION (1970), which oversees the China Manned Space Agency, a subsidiary division.      The ISS partner­ship in 1998 might have included China if the 112th U.S. Congress had not banned NASA from engaging with China, where the space program is a military exercise.      So China went ahead and built its own space station, Tiangong-1, which had a shelf-life of just five years, and shut down. The death plunge took 24 more months, spinning and twitching, out of control. The crash when it happened killed no humans. Astrophysicist Brad Tucker was nearby: “It could have been better obviously, if it wasn’t tumbling, but it landed in the south­ern Pacific Ocean and that’s kind of where you hope it would land. It’s been tum­bling and spinning for a while, which means that when it really starts to come down it’s less predictable about what happens to it.
     Beginning in 2016, China sent a string of missions to build the second space station. Construction crew rotated on six-month tours, and by mid-2021 the station was partially functional. Weighing in at 66 tons, Tiangong-2 is a twig compared to the 465-ton ISS. The capacity for six, divided between three-person teams on six-month assignments.



e u r o p e     e   s   a     When the Second World War ended, in 1945, dispersed remnants of European aeronautical societies kept in contact, and found enough momentum by 1975 that they partnered for a “cohesive approach to space”, as a multi-national space entity.      In February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY (1968) immediately abandoned plans with Russia on a mission to Mars. ESA director general Joseph Aschbacher explained: “I think the war in Ukraine has made politicians realize that we are a bit vulnerable and we have to make sure that we have our own secured access to space and our space infrastructure.” Eight days before war broke out, French president Emmanuel Macron had cautioned: “There is no full power or autonomy without managing space. Without (it) you can’t conquer new frontiers or even control your own.
     Hera is a follow-up mission to find out what happened when NASA went to the Main belt in 2021 and fired a shot at asteroid moon Dimorphos, to test an asteroid-defense system.






j a p a n        By the end of the 1960s, there were three space research laboratories in Japan: aviation; rocket and satellite development; and planetary exploration. Realizing they were complementary disciplines, all three came together under one roof and in 2003 became the JAPAN AEROSPACE EXPLORATION AGENCY (2013). Today, JAXA is a daring space agency employing innovative methods.
     Like hooking up the Japanese Experiment Module (Jem) to the ISS in 2007, an ‘exposed facility’ dedicated to conducting experiments in zero gravity: scien­tific, medical, edu­ca­tion­al, to see how they behave in space; as well as the consequences of exposure to cosmic and other rays.
     Like shooting an asteroid to find out what happens (can it change coure). In 2004, Haya­busa-2 reached the asteroid Ryugu and fired a ballistic missle, creating a new crater and exposing underlying stuff. A lander was released to gather up 0.19-oz (5-gr) of soil into an envelope, and flung the mail back down to Earth, where it landed nd was found (“looks like charcoal”) in December 2020.      JAXA has plans for a 2024 flight to the martian moon Phobos, for a five-year mission to gather data and soil, then fly home. JAXA scientists believe about 0.1% of the surface soil on Phobos came from Mars.      In 2010, a seven-year mission to go to the Main belt and return with samples from an asteroid took off. The asteroid that Hayabusa-1 found was given the name Itokawa, a salute to Hideo Itokawa (b.1935), a graduate in aeronautics who launched a small rocket over Kokubunji, a suburb of Tokyo, in 1955, to inaugurate space-age Japan.



i s s      Russia’s war on Ukraine in 2022 put an end to the culture that had existed in the INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION. Forty days into the war, Russia gave notice it was severing coop­eration with the ISS, sooner than later. Bbut before the year was over, the new head of Roscosmos, Yury Borisov, released a timeline for ending their partnership with the ISS, after 23 years.      In April 2023, NASA announced that Russia will in fact stay on with the ISS, through 2028. The original partnership was to have lasted until the station was retired, in 2030.      Russia’s contribution to the ISS is enormous. It’s module Zvezda provides the primary source of power. It sends up rocketships to push the station back up, because gravity, to its ideal orbital des­ti­nation. Resupply runs, a regular feature of life in the ISS, had been possible only because of Russian rocket know-how; United Launch Alliance, meanwhile, is working on achieving a similar heft using their own thruster, while SpaceX already has.      Fully assembled, the station has become a maze of sixteen interconnected modules. The station is serviced, since 2015, by three robots on the outside, capable of independent or con­joined assignments. The ISS is a 1998 partnership of fifteen found­ing nations, covering legal, finan­cial and political implications in how the station is utilized. There is also a five-nation team to coor­di­nate day-to-day, direct traffic routes, assign crew time.      The station is old and it shows, 25+ years of being out in the cold has led to “torsional strains, temper­ature impacts, micrometeoroid wounds,air leaks. When the time comes, NASA will show up and guide the retired space station back into the atmosphere, where it will burn up and disintegrate – a process that will take up to three years. As the ISS begins to lose orbit and gravity reasserts, a final mission will be sent to pick up remaining crew and payloads.
Another spaceship will ‘lasso’ the giant and begin to steer it towards a watery grave, the site chosen is Point Nemo, the ‘spacecraft cemetery’ in the South Pacific.      The ISS will be replaced by the 2.0 edition, with better bathrooms, better everything. Modules will come in models: ones capable of uncoupling and becoming autonomous; ones ‘for private visits.’      Going forward, waste manage­ment systems will feature ‘a common plat­form’ for all conditions of outer space, aiming ‘to reduce crew time, improve cleanliness, arrive at a reduction in volume and weight of waste.’
Astronaut 2.0 Jack D. Fischer recalls what it was like in 2017, on the ISS: “Unlike most things, you just can’t train for that on the ground. So I approach my space-toilet activities with respect, preparation and a healthy dose of sheer terror.” Nonetheless, succumbing to temptation, a pizza kit for seven was delivered to the space station in 2022.      ZARYA: The era of surrendering to comfort while in zero gravity took place un­ob­tru­sive­ ly in 1988, as the first module of the future International Space Station arrived at its orbital destination, 250-mi (400-km) above the Earth. The Russian-built Zarya was designed to be self-contained and act as “an autonomous space habitat for eight months,” because the second module wouldn’t show up until then. This mini space station was powered by six nickel-cadium batteries, two solar arrays, and had three docking ports. Oxygen circulated from a pressurized valve unit with air ducts, funnel containment filters, dust collectors. There are portable fans, a gas analyzer, a smoke dector, gas masks. The cabin comes with a pole, handrails, hooks, instrument containers. Waste were channeled through container connections to facilitate contingency transfer of water; with wipes, container bags, and ‘filters.’




a r t e m i s      NASA aims for long-term space exploration with other nations, starting with the nearest frontier. Viewing the Moon with rainbow eyes, “principles for a safe, peaceful and prosperous future” is baked into the Artemis Accords (2017), a forum on sensible safeguards for space exploration going forward: transparency; space mining claims; at-large assistance when in need; inventory of launched hardware; comprehensive space-debris plan; mediation in disputes; guidance by space law.      Space researcher Lev Zeleny confuses crash with cash: “The moon is the seventh continent of the Earth so we are simply “condemned,” as it were, to tame it.”      Astronomer Ed Bloomer softens the blow: “The Moon is largely untouched and the whole history is written on its face, pristine and like nothing you get on Earth. It is its own laboratory.”      NASA is is working ideas for staying on the Moon, where the exosphere is at ground level: a habitation and logistics outpost, with docking ports, to be ready sometime in 2027 or 2028.
     Signatory nations to the Artemis Accords, an initiative by the United States, as of July 2023, are: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.














a s t r o n a u t      The life of an astronaut has gone from spending a few hours in space to spending months on the International Space Station, living life in zero gravity, while traveling 250-mi (400-km) above Earth, in low-Earth orbit, at 5-mi (8-km) per second.
Those coming after them will need to go further, men and women with different skill sets that can make a team to fit the mission, like a background in geology, or ability to operate different crafts. Nonetheless, life without gravity, in an oxygen-free environment, has consequences. Among others, there is bone loss, motion sickness, vitamin deficiency (A, E, C, folic acid, thiamine); regular exposure to unfiltered solar radiation and unknown cosmic rays.      ASTRONAUT 3.0: These nextgen astronauts will also be wearing nextgen spacesuits. NASA, for one, is requiring redundancy in the design, whether used for spacewalks, or for terrain on the Moon. Because oxygen, to give one example. They cannot impede ease of movement, because “different gravitational fields, natural space environments, and tasks like floating in microgravity or walking in partial gravity.
The new wardrobe will be sleeker, lighter, more flexible, and offer protection from elevated radiation exposure. There are built-in tools: navigation aids; in-suit cameras; digital checklist. For spacewalks, a suit might sport blue and red arms. Most importantly, they will come in different sizes and body types. Bodywear is trending to more comfort.
A tighter fit, “to counteract the lack of gravity by squeez­ing the body from the shoulders to the feet with a similar force to that felt on Earth.” Cooler underwear made with breathable fabrics.      ASTRONAUT 1.0: Designed to handle crewed lunar missions, these suits had photogenic appeal, yet wardrobe failures happened can happen, leading to leaks, smells and worse while in zero gravity.






n a s a       In April 2021, Senator Bill Nelson, ex-astronaut, was sworn in as the 14th administrator of NASA, replacing acting-head Steve Jurczyk, who held the post for ten weeks, when Jim Briden­stine – a pick of Donald Trump who had no formal back­ground in space or science – departed, when Joe Biden won the presidency.       Then NASA went ahead and experimented with a viable approach to shielding Earth from a foreseeable future asteroid impact. The Dart mission then left for the Main belt hover over a binary-asteroid system, and conduct a ‘double-asteroid redirection test.’. With the target in its sights, the spaceship then took a potshot smaller rock, Dimorphos, a moon to its primary, asteroid Didymos. The impact had enough force, according to ground control, to have altered the tiny moon’s trajectory, “reducing an ordinarily 12-hour orbit by slightly more than 30 minutes.” A follow-up by ESA is planned (mission Hera), to return to the impact zone and perform forensics, take measurements.
      Another mission, which took off in 2022, wants to explore a few trojan asteroids, a rock posse that orbit before, and behind, Jupiter. The Lucy mission carries a long-range reconnaissance imager, which will have a chance to interview participants in the Trojan War, beginning with herald for the Greek army Eurybates (Aug.2027); and daughter of Troy Polymele (Sep.2027). The mission will end in 2033 with a flyby of binary-trojan warriors Menoetius (father to Polymele) and his satellite-son Patroclus.
      Back in 1969, NASA had become the first space agency to land men on the Moon, then looked at other frontiers. In 1976, a pair of rockets took off for a one-way journey, and landed on Mars. In 1997 it was a lander with a rover, and Sojourner sent back fotos from the ‘red planet.’ Opportunity did the same when it came in 2004, performing tasks for 14 years until a dust storm choked the rover to death.
In 2011, Curiosity landed and found rare quartz. Insight went in 2018 to gather data on martian earthquakes and tremors, and drilled deep into the soil to test for heat signatures. In 2020, Perseverance was sent to obtain samples, with the understanding that a follow-up mission will bring them back – something unlikely to happen in today’s world.       When the Second World War ended in 1945, the United States set in motion a plan to retrieve rocket technology in Europe. Poring over promising plans with red, white & blue eyes, these newly-minted rocketeers went on to create the NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (1958), but nobody calls them by that name.




c a n a d a       RCAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force (1924), fought for the Allies in the Second World War, where 17,000 gave their lives flying bombers, fighters, reconnaissance missions, and transport missions around the world.       In 1942, Geraldine M. Lascotte wanted to join in winning the war. Cadet ID card for the 1942 Ottawa Air Training Conference: The authorized holder (#431), whose photograph and signature appear hereon, is required to produce this card on entering (signed) commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (signature of holder) Geraldine M Lascotte.
      When the war ended, Canada had the fourth-largest air force in the world, so continued flying the skies with azure eyes, and in the early 1960s joined the space age by launching a satellite. Today the CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY (1962) is an inclusive cultural entity, and among many incentives for participation, has a school for stem pupils.       CSA had built a robot-arm in the 1980s for space-shuttle missions. In 1995, a firstgen Canadarm was unveiled, attached to the Mir space station, and came with two modes: manual and program. It was controlled from inside the station, using direct line-of-sight views plus cameras, or else program­mable on-the-fly for a specific task. The secondgen robot-arm was instrumental in turning the ISS into a structure larger than a football field. A thirdgen is in the works, for Moon-based operations.



s o u t h  a f r i c a       Early evidence gave credence that Earth behaves like a magnet, and this magnetism plays an “important role in making the planet habitable.” Starting in the core, where molten iron churn, bits flung out cool, and before falling back into the vat, briefly emit “rule-driven electro-magnetic arcs.” Visualized as waves rippling outwards, a shimmering bowtie to greet the Sun.       One of the earliest laboratory, set up in 1841 to study Earth’s magnetic field, was on the tip of South Africa.
      In 1932, this outpost became part of an international network of magnetic observatories. Then a new electric rail system nearby interfered with measure
ments, and the station was relocated. Today the Her­manus Magnetic Obser­vatory is a part of the University of Cape­town’s department of physics, and continues to participate in South Africa’s space activities.       The SOUTH AFRICAN SPACE AGENCY (1978) conducts a fleet of satellites, capable of moni­tor­ing weather activities for all of Africa, providing feedback and forecasts on fires, flooding, droughts, flora, fauna.






r o m a n i a       Romania has a storied past of visiting the sky. Traian Vuia (b.1872) startled the Moon with a flyby in 1906, in his “auton­o­mous take-off aeroplane.” Henri Coanda (b.1886) wooed her four years later, in his “jet aeroplane.
When Fritz Lang (b.1890) was making Woman on the Moon (1929), he brought in Roman­ian rocketeer Her­mann J Oberth (b.1904), to make sure that the look and feel of sequences involving spaceflight in the silent b-&-w scifi space adventure was “authentic.” Today, the storied ROMANIAN SPACE AGENCY (1991) is a signatory to the Artemis Accords, and hosts the annual Yuri’s Night.












r u s s i a       When Russia went to war in Ukraine in February 2022, the head of its space program offered to bargain with the International Space Station: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe? There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure on India or China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” Then walked back the proposal.       Dimitry Rogozin also had a message for Elon Musk (who had sent user terminals to Ukraine, which can tap into Starlink satellites’ internet system), and said : “Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment. And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult – no matter how much you’ll play the fool.
      R0SC0SMOS, the Russian Federal Space Agency (1993), was not yet finished. On the same day they cancelled a contract to launch British-owned satellites, March 2 2022, a rumor spread that hackers had taken down Roscosmos’s control center, and had boasted about it online: “The Russian Space Agency sure does love their satellite imaging. Better yet, they sure do love their Vehicle Monitoring System.
      Then, in August 2023, Roscosmos sent a spaceship to the Moon’s south pole, with the intention of landing and taking home samples. Instead, with minutes to go before touchdown, Lunar-25 crashed, due to a faulty on/off command, and added a new crater on the Moon. The head of Roscosmos pinpointed the reason: “The negative experience of interrupting the lunar program for almost 50 years is the main reason for the failures.”       In 1967, Russia set up a program, Interkosmos, to share their space technology with socialist-friendly countries allied to the Warsaw Pact, and later on to similar comrades.



g e r m a n y     D L    In 1907, when mechanic Ludwig Prandtl (b.1875) set up a rudimentary aerodynamic lab and began conducting experiments, Germany’s semi-fictions of space began to turn into fact. This line of inquiry caused interest from a society, an association, an institution, and a consortium. Together they studied the science of flight, in hopes of building the perfect airship. These efforts were repurposed during the Second World War.      When the war ended, aviators, generals, researchers, coders, scientists, others, resumed research for a propulsive physics, as a newly-minted space society. Today its name is GERMAN AEROSPACE CENTER (1969), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR), a state campus for energy, transport, and aerospace research.
     In 1945, in the final days of fighting, astronomer Gerard Kuiper (b.1905) drove an Allied jeep into Göttingen, Germany, and brought back to safety theoretical physicist Max Planck (b.1858), who was 87 years old at that time, researching into how atoms (matter) and sub-atoms (light) are governed, and many were paying attention.






i t a l y       In the 17th century, Galileo Galilei (b.1564) started the practise of looking at the night sky with telescopic eyes; he polished lenses and built his telescopes. Looking at the 1609 Moon, Galileo was to first to notice that the unexplained varied lighting bathing it”s surface was being caused by mountains and craters. Today, his notes are a part of the ITALIAN SPACE AGENCY (1988), which opened next door to the Vatican, and delves into habitable space infractures and all things gamma-ray related. Gamma rays come from radioactive decay happening at the sub-atomic level, it is the most potent form of photon energy, can penetrate matter, and terrestrial thunderstorms can produce it.



r o m a n       NASA has a follow-up to Webb. When ready, their latest space telescope will travel some one million miles (1.609,344-km) up, to its orbital destination. The NANCY GRACE ROMAN SPACE TELESCOPE is a super-sized descendant to Hubble, able to look for exoplanets, and to inter­ro­gate dark matter, a previously unknown substance in the Universe.
     The new space telescope is named for Nancy Grace Roman (b.1925), NASA’s first chief of astronomy. Growing up on the outskirts of town, under the night sky, she learned: “In Reno, Nev., of course, the skies were very clear, a beautiful place to observe the sky, and we lived on the edge of the city at the time. We learned the constellations, read astronomy. I just never lost my interest in it.” Roman later earned a degree in astronomy, and joined NASA a year after it was founded, in 1946. Upon retiring, she taught astronomy to fifth graders. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is set to launch in 2027.
     The existence of dark matter is implied by gravitational effects, which cannot be explained using general relativity alone - unless there is more matter present than can be seen. Dark matter is thought to permeate all of space, each smaller than a subatomic particle, each an axion, which treats the Earth as a porous object, and billions per square inch per second course through the planet. If true, the Universe contains six times more axions than it does atoms, and cosmologist Andrew Pontzen says: “You can imagine a scenario where dark matter particles turn out to be so incredibly weak at interacting with normal matter that our detectors will never see anything.”      Roman is a descendant to the Hubble space telescope, the first large optical telescope in orbit, and named for astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble (b.1889), who had studied the work of Henrietta Leavitt and in 1925 produced a clas­si­fi­ca­tion system for galaxies. In 1924, using a 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory (1904), Hubble and colleague George Ellery Hale observed individual stars some 800,000 light-years away; then billions of light-years away. Henrietta Swan Leavitt (b.1868), trained in mathematics, began working in the Harvard Observator as a human computer in 1893, and was given the task of measuring distances in space; she would end up creating a standard ruler used to measure the Universe.



  PIXELS 
The three amigos: Bullet, DC and Jake






 2023 ACCOMPLISHMENTS 
budget

San Francisco's 30 Stockton bus, the busiest line west of St Louis
$1.1B to avert "big service cuts ... largely in cap-&-trade funds ... for public transportation oper­a­tions," until mid-2025.
senate bill 770: Sets “a concrete timeline” for California to achieve “a unified healthcare financing system.”
senate bill 43: Harm done by individuals going through “life-threatening psychoses” is a potent reason to “expand conservatorship laws,” and allow the county to intervene.
assembly bill 665: Allows youth ages 12+, following “standards of mental health care consent,” into “equal mental-health care accessibility regardless of insurance type.”
2017 Embarcadero pedestrial walkway, with Piers 30-32 near right, and the Bay Bridge with lights turned on
senate bill 273: Rehabilitates San Fran­cis­co Piers 30-32 to become “a mixed-use public space, infra­struc­ture, and housing project.”
senate bill 423: Shaves housing permit wait-times, “from years to six months or less, in areas that underperform their housing targets.”
senate bill 593: Greenlights replacement of 5,800+ housing units demolished in San Francisco, from the 1950s to the ’70s.
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senate bill 4: “Allows faith institutions and non­profit colleges to build affordable housing on their property by right.”
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budget
$5M “to help those impacted by violence,” find a safe space and future museum, activate the future.
budget
$2.5M for "a new facility ... to serve the AAPI com­mu­nity in the Tender­loin and surround­ing neighbor­hoods."
budget
$1M to expand drug-check­ing on-site stations, tasked with i.d.-ing unsafe street drugs, in an on-going inter­vention “to prevent fentanyl over­dose deaths.”
senate bill 253: “Requires all large corporations that do business in California to publicly disclose their greenhoue gas emissions.” During the day, the Sun warms the Air and heats the Earth.
	At night, Earth releases this heat back into the atmosphere, where it dissipates.
	Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, traps heat; build-up of these gases is poisoning Earth.
senate bill 365: Corporate defendants appealing a trial judge ruling can no longer bring proceedings to a crawl. SB365 “allows a lawsuit from a worker, a consumer or a govern­ment to move forward.”
cheeseboard with breads, cheeses, and scissor-cut paper
senate bill 407: LGBTQ foster youth have assurance for placement into foster homes “that affirm their sexuality and gender identities.”
budget
unfolding ceremony of panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, SF Golden Gate Park, January 2024
$1.5M to find a “permanent home for the AIDS Memorial Quilt.”
attendees at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con: a female Firefly and the Black Knight from a paintbox dimension
senate bill 76: “During festivals,” neighborhood businesses can serve alcoholic beverages to-go. The entertainment zones act is a temporary tavern without walls.





 RED MIRAGE  The nine members of the January 6 Committee sit for a group portrait

Donald Trump never said he’d abide by the outcome of the election. In May of 2020, fearing that Biden might win in November, he tweeted, “It will be the greatest Rigged Elec­tion in history!” He under­stood that he would likely lose but that, owing to an effect known as the Red Mirage, it would look, for a while, as if he had won: more Democrats than Republicans would vote by mail and since mail-in ballots are often the last to be counted, early counting would favor Republicans. “When that happens,” Roger Stone advised him, “the key thing to do is to claim victory. ... No, we won. Fuck you, Sorry. Over.” That was Plan A.
In September, The Atlantic published a bombshell article by Barton Gellman report­ing that the Trump campaign had a scheme “

to bypass election results and appoint loyal elec­tors in battle­ground states where Repub­li­cans hold the legis­la­tive majority.
” That was Plan B.
Plan A (‘Fuck you’) was more Trump’s style. “He’s gon­na declare victory,” Steve Ban­non said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s the win­ner. He’s just gonna say he’s a win­ner. On Election Night, Novem­ber 3rd, Trump wanted to do just that, but his campaign team persuaded him not to. His patience didn’t last long. “This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said on November 4th. “We were getting ready to win this elec­tion. Frankly, we did win this election.” The next day he tweeted, “Stop The Count!” On November 7th, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, the Associated Press, and Fox News all declared that Joseph Biden had won. The election was not close. Counting the votes just took a while.
After Biden won, Trump continued to insist that widespread fraud had been com­mit­ted. Bill Stepien, Trump’s cam­paign man­ager, told the January 6 Committee that the cam­paign became a “truth telling squad,” chas­ing allega­tions, discovering them to be unfounded, and telling the President, “Yeah, that wasn’t true.” The Depart­ment of Home­land Security looked into allegations, most of which popped up online, and announced, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” The Justice Department, too, investigated charges of fraud, but, as Barr informed the committee, he was left telling the President, repeatedly, “They’re not panning out.
For Plan C, the Presi­dent turned to Rudy Giuliani and a group of lawyers that included Sidney Powell. They filed 62 lawsuits challenging election results, and lost all but one of these suits (and that one involved neither allegations of fraud nor any significant number of votes).

Twenty-two of the judges who decided these cases had been appointed by Repub­li­cans, and ten had been appointed by Trump.
On December 11th, the Supreme Court reject­ed a suit that had challenged the results in Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Trump had had every right to challenge the results of state elections, but at this point he had exhausted his legal options. He decided to fall back on Plan B, the fake-electors plan, which required hundreds of legislators across the country to set aside the popular vote in states won by Biden, claiming that the results were fraudulent and appoint­ing their own slate of electors, who would cast their Elec­tor­al College votes for Trump on December 14th. Accord­ing to Cassidy Hutchi­son, an aide to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the White House counsel deter­mined that, since none of the fraud alle­ga­tions had been upheld by any court, the fake-electors plan was illegal. But one deputy assistant to the President told Trump that it didn’t matter whether there had been fraud or not, because “state legis­la­tors ‘have the con­sti­tu­tion­al right to substitute their judg­ment for a certified majority of their con­sti­tu­ents’ if that prevents socaialism.
Plan B required Trump to put pressure on a lot of people. The com­mit­tee counted at least 200 attempts he made to influence state or local officials by phone, text, posts, or public remarks. Instruct­ing Trump sup­port­ers to join in, Giuliani said, “Some­times it even requires being threat­ened.

A Trump-campaign spread­sheet documents efforts to contact more than 190 Republican state legis­la­tors in Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan alone.
Barr resigned. “I didn’t want to be part of it,” he told the committee. Plenty of other people were happy to be part of it, though. Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chair, par­tic­i­pat­ed and provided Trump with the assis­tance of RNC staffers. On December 14th, certified electors met in every state. In seven states that Biden had won – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – fake electors also met and produced counterfeit Electoral College cer­tif­i­cates for Trump. Five of these cer­tif­i­cates were sent to Washington but were rejected because they lacked the required state seal; two arrived after the deadline. None were accepted.
Trump then launched Plan D, which was not so much a plan as a pig’s breakfast of a con­spir­a­cy, a coup, and a putsch. Every­thing turned on January 6th, the day a joint ses­sion of Congress was to certify the results of the Elec­toral College vote. To stop that from hap­pen­ing, Trump recruit­ed members of Congress into a con­spir­a­cy to overturn the election by rejecting the certified votes and accepting the counter­feits; he asked the Vice-President to participate in a coup by simply declaring him the win­ner; and he incited his supporters to take over the Capitol by force, in a poorly planned putsch, which he intend­ed to lead. On December 17th, Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News, “There has been an alter­nate slate of elec­tors voted upon that Congress will decide in January.” Two days later, Trump tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild.” The legal architect of the Pence part of the pig’s break­fast – “a coup in search of a legal theory,” as one federal judge called it – was a lawyer named John East­man. The Trump lawyer Eric Hersch­mann recalled a conversation he had with Eastman: “You’re saying you believe the Vice President, acting as Pres­i­dent of the Senate, can be the sole decision­maker as to, under your theory, who becomes the next President of the United States? And he said, yes. And I said, are you out of your Fing mind?
Trump pressed the act­ing Attor­ney Gen­eral, Jeffrey Rosen, and other mem­bers of the Depart­ment of Justice to aid the conspiracy by declaring some of the voting to have been fraudulent.

Rosen refused. “The DOJ can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election,” he told Trump. Trump replied, “I don’t expect you to do that. Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Con­gress­men.” Trump tried to replace Rosen with a lackey named Jeffrey Clark, but, in a tense meeting at the White House on January 3rd, Rosen and others made clear to him that, if he did so, much of the department would resign. Trump and East­man met repeatedly with Pence in the Oval Office and tried to recruit him into the conspiracy. Pence refused. At 11:20 am on January 6th, Trump called Pence and again asked him, and again Pence refused, after which, according to Ivanka, the President called the Vice-President a pussy.
Trump was slated to speak at his be-wild rally at the Ellipse at noon, but when he arrived he was un­happy about the size of the crowd. The Secret Service had set up magnetometers, known as mags, to screen for weapons. Twenty-eight thousand people went through the mags, from whom the Secret Service collected, among other banned items, “269 knives or bades, 242 cannisters of pepper spray, 18 brass knuc­kles, 18 tasers, 6 pieces of body armor, 3 gas masks, 30 batons or blunt instruments.” Some people had ditched their bags, and pre­sum­ably their weapons, in trees or cars. In a crowd that included members of white-supremacist and far-right, anti-gov­ern­ment extremist groups – including the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, America First, and QAnon – another 25,000 people simply refused to go through the mags. “I don’t fuck­ing care that they have weapons,” Trump shouted. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking mags away.” The mags stayed. Trump took to the podium and fired up his followers for the march to the Capitol until 1:10 pm, and then he walked to his motor­cade, climbed into the Presi­den­tial S.U.V., which is known as the Beast, and demanded to be driven to the Capitol. Secret Service agents persuaded him to return to the White House.
Just before the Joint Session was to begin, at one o’clock, Pence released a written statement: “I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice Pres­i­dent with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress. The voting began.

By 1:21, Trump had been informed that the Capitol was under attack. He spent the rest of the day watching it on tele­vision. For hours, his staff and his advisers begged him to order the mob to dis­perse or to call for mili­tary assis­tance; he refused. At 1:46 Representative Paul Gosar objected to the count from Arizona, after which Senator Ted Cruz endorsed that objection. Pence was evacuated at 2:12. Seconds later, Proud Boys achieved the first breach of the Capitol, smashing a window in the Senate wing. Eleven minutes later, the mob broke through the doors to the East Rotunda, and Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” The mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.” Meadows told a colleague, “He thinks Mike deserves it.” Kevin McCarthy called the President. “They literally just came through my office windows,” he said. “You need to call them off.” Trump said, “Well, Kevin, I guess they’re just more upset about the election theft than you are.” At 4:17 pm, the President released a video message in which he asked the insur­rec­tion­ists to go home, and told them that he loved them.
And that, in brief, is the executive sum­ma­ry of the Jan­uary 6 Com­mis­sion Report, which concludes that “the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump.



-|  March 2024  |-





  ROCKETEER  


a n a l y s t      On April 15, 1726, while taking tea in the garden with his friend, Issac Newton (b.1642) pondered on an apple which had just fallen to the ground. William Stuckeley records how Newton mused:

      “Why should that apple always descend perpen­dic­ularly to the ground? Why should it not go sideways, or up­wards? but constantly to the earth’s centre? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in, and the sum of the draw­ing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earth’s centre, not in any side of the earth. There­fore does this apple fall perpen­dic­ularly, or toward the center. If matter thus draws, it must be in propor­tion of its quantity. There­fore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.”


a n g e l      The ancients, unconcerned of this “drawing power” that Newton was to articulate, mocked the gravity throne and continued sending prayers to heaven. En­treaties written in temple script on paper were then folded into a pouch. A lit candle attached to the pouch sends smoke inside, causing its ascent.       Humankind then followed the lanterns, yet the earliest ones didn’t know to carry oxygen, and returned spouting the wildest tales of beings living in the upper air. The four winds, curious, would approach with whistles and roars and yells, asking questions, including that confounded new con­tri­vance, a wind tunnel.       Sensing fear in their visitors’ eyes, the thunderous voices abated. Zephros drew closer and whis­pered: “We are wind gods of the four cardinal points, heralds of seasons, sons to Typhöeus, fifth and final monster born to mother Earth. We too seek a rea­son for exis­tence, and wheth­er or not it be­comes us to be suit­ed up in turbines, pumps, and such fetters.”       Notos spread icicles while parting his lips: “Can these regulation systems really help with my rest­less­ness? and what’s up with welded insulation?” Euros brought up the sorest point: “Can gravity weigh me down and curb my mood.” Boreas’ grum­ble rumbled: “Magnetosphere con­strains our empire but why? And who are these rocket­men and their reckless aerial turns in guidance and control?”
      Sensing fear in the visitors’ eyes, their thun­derous voices abated. Then Zephros drew even closer and whis­pered: “We are wind gods of the four cardinal points, heralds of seasons, sons to Typhöeus, fifth and final monster born to mother Earth. We too seek a rea­son for exis­tence, and wheth­er or not it be­comes us to be suit­ed up in turbines, pumps, and such fetters.”       Notos spread icicles while parting his lips: “Can these regulation systems really help w/ my rest­less­ness? and what’s up w/ welded insulation?” Euros brought up the sorest point: “Can gravity weigh me down and curb my mood.” Boreas’ grum­ble rumbled: “Mag­ne­to­sphere con­strains our empire but why? And who are these rocket­men and their aerial ad­ven­tures in guidance and control?”

a i r m a n      The four winds invariably took their gasping guests on the grand tour. Earth’s atmosphere is spherical and contains a precise mixture of gases such that oxygen becomes its miraculous chemical product. It has the same shape as mother Earth due to her gravitational grit, which she bestows also to water and all living things. The sea and mountains are deemed to be sentient by the ancients, and so too is Aether considered a being, having undergone “bio­chem­i­cal mod­i­fi­ca­tions by living organisms” ever since its aboriginal form coa­lesced into a paleo-atmosphere. Material enough for Earth to lassoo the grandson to Chaos with a girdle tight enough to separate the deity into distinct layers, and is the main cause of clouds.       This primeval sky god can only be discerned when he digs into his bag of optical tricks and throws mirages, or scatters light. Aether is patron to Earth, whose existence depends on a narrow band of the bottom layer, beginning at sea level.

a v a t a r      Innovative proto-aviators watched how birds populate the air and go where they will. Wings got built and tied to men. Jumps happened. Leonardo da Vinci (b.1452) had his own solution; yet his own design, wings that can flap, never left the sketchbook.      

   Bird wings are folding fans, able to expand and collapse. Each wing is a web of arm bones, having joints which, by evolutionary decree, have quills on the knuckles; each quill grasps one feather.

a e r i a l i s t      Divinities of the air were entranced to receive paper prayers heaven-bound using paper, glue and heated air. They also found out that hydrogen, when it is un­adulterated, possesses levitational abilities also. But being a gas, it would simply dissipate when in contact with one or more gasses.       Rare and difficult to distill, hydrogen requires a chamber, white-hot iron, run­ning water; and had to wait until a non-porous material to con­tain the new gas, was was dis­cov­ered around 1780, had not yet been de­vel­oped.       A ginormous pillow, with a small opening, tied to a large basket and fed a healthy gulp of heated air, took to rising into the atmosphere. Then, as the trapped air cools, this “hot-air balloon” will descend. The first companions chosen to carry out this maid­en flight were a french sheep, duck and rooster.

a c r o b a t      Smoke from large fires first showed the way during wartime: to send a signal, or initiate a maneuver. Kites were another way to harness wind behavior to send sturdier signals. It can also be used as a measure­ment of distance, or just to “test the wind.” Kites can also fight each other.       Dog-earred generals carried mint editions of “The Myth of Icarus” into battle and tasked military engineers to accessorize kites so as to become fit for carrying a passenger. Even­tual­ly squadrons of pas­seng­ers paid visits to the sky, and giving notice that the empire of the four winds was coming to an end.       Kites were invented for children when they first became aware how they might have, as playpals: the four winds.       Not for war’s sake, Benjamin Franklin (b.1706) is prob­ably the first to use wind power to send a laboratory into space: kite + key + lightning storm.

a l c h e m i s t      Through trial and error someone came up with gunpowder. That a right mixture of carbon, sulfur and saltpeter (an efflorescence mineral found on the surface of stones) will produce a flash accompanied by fire that burns off – an explosion. A wrong mixture produces instead just “smoke and flames.”
      Soldiers saw the promise and quickly adopt­ed the recipe. Dream­ers invented fireworks. Paper tubes filled with confetti and a spoonful of gun­powder then sealed with a fuse sticking out. The tube is tied to a long stick that will act as a tail, then aimed towards the sky. Flame is introduced to the fuse and the detonation produces a propulsive force inside the tube, which ascends before spilling out its contents.       Al­though it was John Bate (b.1600s) figured out how to make compound-rockets, which boosted the appeal of his brand of “fyer workes,” it took until Hermann Oberth (b.1894) to sheath it in metal, for the first time, to insure a sturdier flight.       Fireworks are propelled missiles guided during a brief initial phase of powered flight. Then a subsequent trajectory that obeys the laws of gravity, and codified as classical mechanics.

a r c h e t y p e       When World War 2 was over, pilots and other aero­nauticals returned to civilian roles.       Back to working for a paycheck, these airmen flexed their know-how and birthed an aerospace industry that now­adays has gone global. By 1960 the skies were al­ready beginning to get mighty crowded.
      Governments were wont to fund space ex­plor­a­tions, get bragging rights, so they practised by dividing up North Pole, a melting continent.       Long­i­tudes and latitudes led to pre­ci­sion map­ping of the world, and in the co-mingling of new dis­ci­plines rock­et science took off to map a hypothetical heaven.




  GROUND  CONTROL 


e n v o y      Today’s astronomers worry about micro-meterorites and cosmic rays bombarding the Inter­nation­al Space Station, close calls among satellites and spacecrafts, and especially wardrobe malfunctions in outer space.       Yester­day’s astronomers had fewer worries, more wonderment. Taking notes, they devised almanacs and calendars. Some built structures to greet celestial returns, Karnak’s temple turns orange with the rising of the midwinter Sun, and the standing stones at Stone­henge ‘has some align­ment on astro­nom­ical phenomena.’       The Babylonians divided the sky into twelve equal wedges, to facilitate the tracking of positions as well as move­ments. Then a map was passed around, show­ing longitudes and latitudes. The Vatican became intrigued, wanting to learn more of this new science, which arrived in Europe from Spain, in translations of Indian and Islamic texts, and a mechanism known as an astrolabe, that can show a map of heaven.
      Caroline Herschel (b.1850) started out as an assistant to her astronomer brother William Herschel (b.1738), polishing mirrors and mounting telescopes. When he then discovered Uranus, she too took a peek, and soon enough discoverd a satellite to the Andromeda galaxy: an elliptical dwarf galaxy.       Then a Harvard computer, while cataloging stars over several photographic glass plates by using a spectroscope, which charts ‘stellar brightness in proportion to luminosity-oscillation periods’ (i.e., the twinkle), devised a ‘standard candle for determining cosmic distances.’ Henrietta Leavitt (b.1868) had just invented a space tape measure to judge distances.

e y e w i t n e s s      The ancients were intrigued by natural glass found in nature, able to let light through, to enhance eyesight by magnification. These qualities were refined, when glass-making was invented, to help address loss of eyesight in the aged, among many other benefits. Polished with a concave or sometimes convex surface, fitted into a holder, this became a magnifying glass. Then someone fitted several lenses into a tube and invented the telescope.
      When the tube became much much larger, a glass plate treated on one side with a photo­sensitive agent was placed inside, and after a period of time, up to two years, yielded a photo­graph of stars.       Author Agnes Giberne (b.1845) wrote the first astronomy books for young minds, bringing them face to face with the Moon, the Sun, comets. “Among the Stars,” which came out in 1885, is 360 pages.

e x a m i n e r      Mary Palmer (b.1839) married a doctor, and amateur astron­o­mer, Henry Draper (b.1837), and became an astute student of the sky. His sudden death age 45 left her with money, paperwork and photographic evidence of their galaxy quest.       Mary Draper then bequeathed an annual sum, beginning in 1886, to Harvard College Observatory, to procure sufficient staff to finish her husband’s catalog of stars.
      The photographic evi­dence were captured on hun­dreds of glass plates, either 17x14 or 8x10 inches in size. Each plate is overlaid with numbered grids and placed, on an inclined plane, under a microscope. A light under the glass-plate illu­mi­nates the photograph.       The first computer, looking through the microscope, calls out each star’s name and grid position, while another computer enters the information into a ledger.       The glass plates are also studied using a spectro­scope, and requires an ap­ti­tude for mathematics to take readings ‘based on the bright­ness of stars.’ Descrip­tions can include normal, hazy, sharp, and inter-deter­m­inants (several kinds). Be­cause of the long exposure time, the pho­to­sen­si­tive agent was able to register ‘long inte­gra­tion times’ yielding data on color, temperature, chemical com­po­si­tion.       Wil­lia­mina Fleming (b.1857) was one of the first Harvard com­puters, a team of women scientists. She had no such background and trained on the job, which was to ‘compute mathematical clas­si­fi­ca­tions.’ It turned out she had a flair for the work: “From day to day my duties at the Observatory are so nearly alike that there will be little to describe outside ordi­nary routine work of measurement, exam­i­na­tion of photographs, and of work involved in the reduction of these observations.


e t y m o l o g i s t      NASA’s predecessor had hired female math­e­ma­ti­cians, as early as in 1935, as human com­puters in a segregated system. As­signed to dif­fer­ent de­part­ments, they would be tasked to take down notes, parse flight test scores, run cal­cu­la­tions, perform analytics.       Jeanette Scissum (b.1938) on her first day, in 1964, at NASA: “Math­e­ma­ti­cian, entry level. They didn’t have computers or a computer science pro­gram at A&M when I grad­u­at­ed, so I didn’t know how to do that. Once I did, everybody had me doing computer stuff for them.”       Math­e­ma­ti­cian Katherine Johnson (b.1918), work­ing in NASA’s flight mechanic division, was told that a space­craft would want to make a landing during prime-time television on a specific date. She then had to figure out when takeoff time must take place. Using analytic geom­etry, Johnson figured it out.       High-school whizkid Mary Winston (b.1921), with degrees in math­e­matics and physical science, worked in the com­puter pool, and was assigned to assist in wind tunnel tests at twice the speed of sound. Showing promise, she went back to school and got an engineer’s degree and became an aerospace engineer. Married to a sailor in the U.S. Navy, she became Mary W. Jackson. The National Aeronautics Space Administration’s D.C. headquarters is now named after her.      
Mathematician Dorothy Vaughan (b.1910), in a 28-year career at NASA’s Langley Research Center, became a specialist in calculating flight paths. Vaughan then had ac­cess to a new office machine, read the user’s manual, taught herself the machine’s lan­guage, Fortran (Formula Translating System), and learned how to program NASA’s first electronic com­puter.       Math­e­ma­ti­cian Grace Hop­per (b.1906) championed the use of English in com­pos­ing tasks fed into elec­tron­ic computers: “Man­ip­u­lat­ing symbols was fine for mathematicians but it was no good for data pro­ces­sors who were not symbol manip­u­la­tors. If they are they become pro­fes­sion­al math­e­ma­ti­cians, not data pro­ces­sors. It’s much easier for most people to write an Eng­lish statement than it is to use symbols. So I decided data processors ought to be able to write their programs in Eng­lish, and the com­puters would translate them into machine code. That was the beginning of COBOL (Com­mon Business Oriented Lan­guage), a computer language for data processors.”       Mathematician Evelyn Boyd (b.1924) joined IBM in 1956: “At a two-week training session I was introduced to the IBM 650 and the pro­gram­ing language SOAP. ... Creation of a computer program is an exercise in logical thinking. Afterwards I worked as a consultant in numeri­cal anal­ysis in an IBM subsidiary. When NASA awarded IBM a contract to plan, write, and maintain computer pro­grams I readily agreed ... to be a part of the team of IBM mathematicians and scientists who were re­spon­si­ble for the formulation of orbit computations and computer procedures, first for project Vanguard, and later for project Mercury.       Mathematician Melba Roy Mouton (b.1929) worked for the Army Map Service before working as a human com­puter for NASA, and fig­ur­ing out trajectory and orbit­al solu­tions for a metal­ized bal­loon in proj­ect Echo.       Writ­ing prop­o­si­tions and coming up with solutions by hand was routine for math­e­ma­ti­cian Annie Easley (b.1933). Then electronic computers came along and, although Easley learned Fortran and be­came a more-valued asset, she still can re­mem­ber the micro-ag­gres­sions: “My head is not in the sand. If I can’t work with you, I will work around you. I was not about to be [so] dis­cou­raged that I’d walk away. ... I’m out here to do a job and I knew I had the ability, and that’s where my focus was.”       Work­ing in the computer pool, Chris­tine Darden (b.1947) was given the task to come up with a computer program for sonic boom. Darden, who grew up taking apart and putting back together bicycles and other manu­fac­tured contraptions, is today an aero­space engi­neer: “I was able to stand on the shoulders of those women who came before me, and women who came after me were able to stand on mine.