Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Short Takes – 3-5-24

Is the FAA Ready for More Space Travelers? GAO.gov blog post. Love it, a GAO blog post about a GAO report. Pull quote: “But up until now, FAA has only been reviewing commercial space operations to ensure they don’t damage innocent bystanders or nearby property—not to ensure the safety of people onboard. Congress temporarily prohibited FAA from issuing regulations to protect the safety of people onboard space launches in 2004 to not overburden an emerging industry. This prohibition is currently scheduled to expire next month.”

The US has lost a critical tool for handling chemical emergencies — let’s get it back. TheHill.com commentary. Pull quote: “Yet despite broad bipartisan support in Congress and from chemical companies, first responders, and others, the program remains unauthorized. The reauthorization bill overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, 409 to 1, but the bill remains stalled in the Senate.”

House Republicans often vote no on spending, but love to add pet projects. WashingtonPost.com article. Pull quote: “Burchett (R,TN) has warned Americans will “lose our country” over the national debt, but he still submitted roughly two dozen earmark requests worth more than $50 million, ranging from $2.5 million for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to $5.4 million to refurbish a Knoxville concert amphitheater to $100,000 to boost genetic testing for state law enforcement.”

Earmark battle emerges as late threat to spending bill. TheHill.com article. Pull quote: ““John Cornyn and John Thune are going to be watched very closely how they handle this package. If one votes against it and one votes for it, that’s going to show a big difference and that could move enough votes to make a difference in the race to become Republican leader,” said Brian Darling, a Republican strategist and former Senate aide.”

Why It’s So Challenging to Land Upright on the Moon. NYTimes.com article (free). Pull quote: “Starship, as tall as a 16-story building, will have to come down perfectly vertically and avoid significant slopes. But those should be solvable engineering challenges, Dr. Metzger said.”

A North Korean satellite starts showing signs of life. SpaceReview.com article. Pull quote: “This is the first time that a North Korean satellite has shown the ability to do orbital maneuvers, and to many analysts (including me) this ability comes as a bit of a surprise. It serves as a warning and wakeup call. There is a tendency among certain western pundits to routinely underestimate the technological level of North Korea’s ballistic missile and satellite programs. It seems counterintuitive that a country, impoverished to the point where its citizens go without electricity and lack food, can build and launch functioning satellites, but clearly North Korea can. To North Korea’s leadership, the missile and space program is vital for regime survival and hence gets a strong priority in funding.”

Chronic UTI Pain Could Be Caused by Overgrown Nerves. ScientificAmerican.com article. Pull quote: “Scientists have long puzzled over why UTI pain lingers in some people, but new research has just identified a likely cause: a study published Friday in Science Immunology describes how recurrent UTIs can lead to an overgrowth of pelvic nerve cells, which prolong the pain of an infection. The finding could have implications for future treatments and could help doctors avoid overprescribing antibiotics for seemingly stubborn UTIs.”

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