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Mar 30, 2020

Why a business case for Mars settlement is not required

Posted by in categories: business, economics, Elon Musk, government, space travel

Some people have claimed that a “business case” for profitable interplanetary trade with a Mars settlement, or at least the identification a saleable product for trade, is required before such a settlement can be established or supported by business or government. But there is no reasonable prospect for trade in any significant mass of physical material from a Mars settlement back to Earth in the near future due to the high transport costs. In his recent article in the National Review, “Elon Musk’s Plan to Settle Mars,” Robert Zubrin makes exactly the same point: a business case based on physical trade is not necessary and makes little sense. Later trade and commerce via non-physical goods such as software is probable once a settlement is fully operational. More significant and interesting economic situations will occur on Mars.

A good model for the expenditures needed to found colonies is the Greek and Phoenician expansion all across the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas in the period early in Greek history (before about 600 BC), leading to the founding of one of the greatest trading cities in history, Carthage. The cities who founded each colony did not expect immediate profit, but wanted good places for an expanding population and knew that, once the new cities were established, trade would also become established. Most of the cost was probably in building more ships. When European colonies were first established in the New World by Spain and Portugal, the emphasis was initially on a search for treasure, not production of products. English and Dutch colonies later led the way to commerce across the Atlantic, with tobacco, sugar, and cotton suddenly becoming a major part of world trade.

A look at some of the steps required to create a Mars settlement will help us understand at least a little about Mars settlement economics. For a Mars settlement, motivation and economics are interwoven. It is possible for at least a partial business case to be made for the transport of settlers and the materials they will need to initiate some phase of Mars settlement. This includes the current effort to create a large number of reliable, low cost, and reusable super-heavy boosters and spacecraft, able to take payloads of 100 tons or more of cargo and passengers to Mars and land them at the right location. Part of this development and construction cost will be defrayed by commercial and government uses of the same vehicles, such as placing very heavy payloads in LEO and taking equipment and passengers to and around the Moon.

Mar 30, 2020

The Next Pandemic Will Be Arriving Shortly

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health, security

Circa 2018: In January 2017, while one of us was serving as a homeland security advisor to outgoing President Barack Obama, a deadly pandemic was among the scenarios that the outgoing and incoming U.S. Cabinet officials discussed in a daylong exercise that focused on honing interagency coordination and rapid federal response to potential crises. The exercise is an important element of the preparations during transitions between administrations, and it seemed things were off to a good start with a commitment to continuity and a focus on biodefense, preparedness, and the Global Health Security Agenda—an initiative begun by the Obama administration to help build health security capacity in the most critically at-risk countries around the world and to prevent the spread of infectious disease. But that commitment was short-lived.


Deadly diseases like Ebola and the avian flu are only one flight away. The U.S. government must start taking preparedness seriously.

Continue reading “The Next Pandemic Will Be Arriving Shortly” »

Mar 28, 2020

Could areas of high Fluoride ingestion be more susceptible to Coronavirus outbreaks?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, government

An interesting opinion:

The US Government Comparative Toxicogenomics database shows that Fluoride can inhibit Human immunity to viruses and pneumonia. Angiotensin I-Converting Enzyme (ACE), 2’-5’-Oligoadenylate Synthetase 1 (OAS1) and Intercellular Adhesion Molecule 1 (ICAM1) are included as susceptible epigenetic targets of the poison.


Read 3 answers by scientists with 1 recommendation from their colleagues to the question asked by Geoff Pain on Feb 4, 2020.

Continue reading “Could areas of high Fluoride ingestion be more susceptible to Coronavirus outbreaks?” »

Mar 26, 2020

More than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week

Posted by in categories: business, economics, employment, government

The rescue package contains specific measures to address the spike in unemployment claims.

“It is reasonable to expect that some, perhaps many, but not all, of these jobs will come back once we venture back into public,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, said. “One of the goals of the legislation now moving through Congress is to help many businesses survive and retain workers.”

“It’s beyond anything we have ever seen. It’s the speed that is so painful,” Swonk said.

Continue reading “More than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week” »

Mar 26, 2020

Jeremy Hunt proposes that the government track everyone’s phones in the UK

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, mobile phones

Jeremy Hunt proposes that the government track people’s phones in the UK during coronavirus meeting.

Mar 26, 2020

UK Plans to Roll Out 15-Minute Home Coronavirus Test Kits This Week

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health

Healthcare professionals and infectious disease experts around the world agree that extensive testing is the best way to combat coronavirus. However, the extreme shortage of COVID-19 testing kits has made that impossible. The Public Health England (PHE) just announced it was planning to begin rolling out at-home COVID-19 testing kits in the coming days. These tests could tell people if they’ve been infected with COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes.

Current coronavirus testing is time-consuming and expensive because it requires healthcare practitioners to collect samples from the patient and have them processed in a laboratory. The test promised by the UK government would look like a pregnancy test and needs just a drop of blood to diagnose the individual.

Several companies are working on at-home COVID-19 tests, but PHE didn’t say which test it planned to deploy. According to PHE, the unnamed test takes 15 minutes to work, and it will be available at pharmacies and online via retailers like Amazon. The test will detect antibodies in the user’s blood that indicate they have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It works with both Immunoglobulin M and Immunoglobulin G (IgM and IGG) type antibodies. IgM peaks early in an infection and IgG remains even after the infection has subsided.

Continue reading “UK Plans to Roll Out 15-Minute Home Coronavirus Test Kits This Week” »

Mar 24, 2020

The U.S. wants smartphone location data to fight coronavirus. Privacy advocates are worried

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health, mobile phones, surveillance

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking Facebook, Google and other tech giants to give them greater access to Americans’ smartphone location data in order to help them combat the spread of the coronavirus, according to four people at companies involved in the discussions who are not authorized to speak about them publicly.

Federal health officials say they could use anonymous, aggregated user data collected by the tech companies to map the spread of the virus — a practice known as “syndromic surveillance” — and prevent further infections. They could also use the data to see whether people were practicing “social distancing.”

Some sources stressed that the effort would be anonymized and that government would not have access to specific individuals’ locations. They noted that users would be required to opt-in to the effort.

Continue reading “The U.S. wants smartphone location data to fight coronavirus. Privacy advocates are worried” »

Mar 24, 2020

CDC says coronavirus RNA found in Princess Cruise ship cabins up to 17 days after passengers left

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, government

Coronavirus RNA survived for up to 17 days aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, living far longer on surfaces than previous research has shown, according to new data published Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study examined the Japanese and U.S. government efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks on the Carnival-owned Diamond Princess ship in Japan and the Grand Princess ship in California. Passengers and crew on both ships were quarantined on board after previous guests, who didn’t have any symptoms while aboard each of the ships, tested positive for COVID-19 after landing ashore.

The RNA, the genetic material of the virus that causes COVID-19, “was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted,” the researchers wrote, adding that the finding doesn’t necessarily mean the virus spread by surface.

Continue reading “CDC says coronavirus RNA found in Princess Cruise ship cabins up to 17 days after passengers left” »

Mar 23, 2020

‘Favilavir’: First Approved Drug to Possibly Treat Coronavirus

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health

As the COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally, the National Medical Products Administration of China has approved the first-ever antiviral medicine called Favilavir. This medicine is said to possibly treat the now-declared pandemic illness.

Over the weekend, Taizhou’s city government announced that Favilavir, which was initially formulated by a Chinese-owned pharmaceutical firm, is the first medicine authorized to stop the widespread of this fatal illness. At present, this drug is being promoted with the label, Avigan.

Continue reading “‘Favilavir’: First Approved Drug to Possibly Treat Coronavirus” »

Mar 23, 2020

Final NASA Seats on Soyuz in 2020

Posted by in categories: government, space, space travel

By Bill D’Zio

Chart prepared by WestEastSpace.com of Seat cost over time for Soyuz purchased seats.
*Notes *1 In February 2017, NASA purchased from Boeing two Soyuz seats and then later three additional seats for $373.5 million or $74.7 million per seat. Boeing had the rights to sell the seats as a result of a settlement with RSC Energia—the Russian company that builds the Soyuz for Roscosmos—due to a failed partnership to develop the capability to launch rockets from an off-shore platform in the ocean.
2 2017 NASA contract for 12 additional seats
3 Due to slippage in the commercial crew schedule, in March 2018 NASA purchased two additional Soyuz seats for $86 million each, one for the September 2019 Soyuz flight and another on the upcoming April 2020 mission.
4 One Soyuz launch failed during launch requiring an abort prior to reaching orbit. Data Source: NASA Office of Inspector General analysis of Soyuz cost data provided by NASA

Soyuz creeping up in cost

NASA has been dependent on Russia for transport to and from the ISS. Over time the cost of seats on the Soyuz crew vehicle have risen.

The Roscosmos’s Soyuz vehicle has been ferrying crew to the International Space Station since November 2000. Originally Soyuz was designed to carry cosmonauts to the Moon, however was repurposed to be the main transport vehicle for Russia over the years. The Soyuz spacecraft is capable of carrying three crewmembers at a time and is certified to remain docked with the ISS for a maximum of 200 days and is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site.

Until the NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is completed, Roscosmos remains the sole option for transporting astronauts to and from the ISS. At all times, at least one of the Soyuz spacecraft is docked at the International Space Station serving as an emergency lifeboat or escape pot should evacuation be needed. Typically two Soyuz capsules are docked at the ISS which allows up to six astronauts to remain on the International Space Station. The limit of six astronauts is established by the number of seats available for evacuation.

Read the rest of the article.

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