Posts tagged with "CBS News"

Rep. Dean Phillips will challenge Biden in 2024: “This is an election about the future”

October 30, 2023

Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota has decided to challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination—and will launch his 2024 campaign on Friday, October 27, in New Hampshire, where he will file to appear on the state’s primary ballot, reports CBS News.

“I am. I have to,” Phillips told CBS News Chief Election & Campaign Correspondent Robert Costa in an exclusive interview for CBS Mornings that will air on Friday, when asked whether he is making a late entry into the Democratic race.

In the interview, Phillips, 54, said he admires Biden, 80, but believes it is time for a new generation of Democrats to lead the party—especially with former President Donald Trump poised to potentially be the Republican presidential nominee.

Phillips said he has studied polling data and is alarmed about the prospect of Trump beating Biden, should the 2024 election end up becoming rematch of the 2020 race.

“I think President Biden has done a spectacular job for our country,” Phillips said. “But it’s not about the past. This is an election about the future.

“I will not sit still and not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying that we’re going to be facing an emergency next November,” Phillips said, describing a possible second Trump term as crisis moment for American democracy.

Phillips acknowledged that he faces an uphill climb since many Democrats are fervently backing Biden and are convinced that the president remains well-positioned to once again beat Trump.

But he believes some Democratic voters are craving an alternative who provides a generational contrast and has a centrist message, which Phillips has honed since he was first elected to the House in 2018.

Phillips added that he is encouraging other Democrats to enter the race, with the hope that additional competition will provide the party with a tested and strong nominee.

Phillips spoke with Costa on Thursday at a home he owns in rural Middleburg, Virginia, and is scheduled to be in New Hampshire on Friday, which is the filing deadline for candidates to appear on the primary ballot. He also will kick off a bus tour.

Earlier this week, Biden’s reelection campaign informed New Hampshire Democrats, in a letter obtained by CBS News that the president will not appear on the state’s primary ballot, citing party guidelines.

Biden “is obligated as a Democratic candidate for President to comply with the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2024 Democratic National Convention” set in motion earlier this year, the letter said.

According to a primary calendar first proposed by Biden, South Carolina will be the first state to hold a primary that awards delegates for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago next year.

New Hampshire was pushed back further in the party’s calendar, but state law requires New Hampshire to host the nation’s first primaries. State Democrats couldn’t convince state legislators to reverse the Granite State statute; but they also didn’t try terribly hard, since they disagreed with the DNC’s decision. Anyone who runs in the state’s Democratic primary will not be awarded New Hampshire delegates by the DNC.

Research contact: @CBSNews

The FDA says Ozempic might block your intestines

October 12, 2023

Ozempic, the über-popular injectable diabetes drug, has had to update its potential side-effect warnings to include intestinal blockage, reports Futurism.

As CBS News first disclosed, the Ozempic label change reflects updates posted last week by the Food and Drug Administration—which acknowledged that some users experienced a condition known as “ileus,” which involves a blocking of the intestines.

The FDA stopped short, however, of saying that semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic—as well as Wegovy, its counterpart prescribed for weight loss—was the cause of the condition.

“Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size,” the FDA pointed out in its update published last week, “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.”

Of the two semaglutide injections and Mounjaro, which affects the body in a similar way but uses the drug tirzepatide as its active ingredient, Ozempic is the last to reflect on its label that ileus has occurred in some of the drug’s users, CBS notes.

This latest label update follows an early August lawsuit from a Louisiana woman, who claims that the drugmakers behind the popular diabetes shots didn’t do enough to warn consumers about its “severe” gastrointestinal side effects.

In the suit, the woman alleges that Ozempic and Moujnaro both caused her to vomit so much that she lost teeth.”As a result of using… Ozempic and Mounjaro,” the suit reads, “Plaintiff was caused to suffer from severe gastrointestinal events, which resulted in, for example, severe vomiting, stomach pain, gastrointestinal burning, being hospitalized for stomach issues on several occasions including visits to the emergency room, teeth falling out due to excessive vomiting, requiring additional medications to alleviate her excessive vomiting, and throwing up whole food hours after eating.”

In a statement to Fierce Pharma, a spokesperson for Ozempic and Wegovy maker Novo Nordisk said that these kinds of GI issues “are well-known side effects” of taking GLP-1 agonists, the class of drugs to which semaglutide belongs.

“For semaglutide,” the Danish company continued, “the majority of GI side effects are mild to moderate in severity and of short duration.”

Although ileus or intestinal blockages weren’t mentioned in that suit, these label updates could serve to protect Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, the maker of Moujnaro, from legal action—and, hopefully, will be taken into account by patients when weighing whether to take the increasingly-popular injections.

Research contact: @futurism

Senate Judiciary Committee advances Supreme Court ethics bill

July 24, 2023

On Thursday, July 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that would require the Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code, with Democrats following through on their pledge for legislative action after a series of reports about Justice Clarence Thomas’ relationship with a Republican real estate magnate, reports CBS News.

Called the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act, the bill from lead sponsor Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse cleared the committee along party lines, 11-10.

During the committee’s consideration of the measure, Republicans introduced several amendments touching on the protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes, the leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court expansion, and imposing new rules on reporters who cover the high court.

All of the GOP senators’ proposed changes failed, with the exception of one: An amendment from Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana that, after it was modified, condemns racist attacks and comments against current or former justices, including Thomas, which passed unanimously.

GOP lawmakers have said Whitehouse’s bill is dead on arrival in the full Senate and Republican-controlled House.

The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023 would:

  • Require Supreme Court Justices to adopt a code of conduct;
  • Create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws;
  • Improve disclosure and transparency when a Justice has a connection to a party or amicus before the Court; and
  • Require Justices to explain their recusal decisions to the public.

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, released the following statement on the vote:

“We’ve been working for 11 years to encourage the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of conduct for all its Justices, whether appointed by Democratic or Republican Presidents. Chief Justice Roberts had his chance to act, and he refused. Now, we will—and it’s well within our constitutional authority to act. These reforms would apply in equal force to all Justices and—importantly—reinforce the Court’s legitimacy, contrary to the unfounded assertions by Senate Judiciary Republicans. It’s time for the nine Supreme Court Justices to abide by a code of conduct just like every other federal official. We look forward to working with our colleagues on its consideration before the full Senate.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said the legislation would bring Supreme Court justices in line with other federal officials and is a “crucial first step in restoring confidence” in the high court.

“Unlike every other federal official, Supreme Court justices are not bound by a code of ethical conduct. They are the most powerful judges in America and yet they are not required to follow even the most basic ethical standards,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he supports the committee’s work and looks forward to working with his Democratic colleagues “to make progress” on the bill.

“It’s time for the highest court in the land to be held to the highest ethical standards,” he said in a statement. “Today’s markup reaffirms Senate Democrats’ commitment to rebuild our country’s faith in our judiciary and reestablish legitimacy in our courts. We must ensure that the Supreme Court is not in the pocket of the ultra-wealthy and MAGA extremists.”

The proposal, though, is highly unlikely to become law due to the opposition from Republicans in the Senate and House. GOP senators have painted the revelations about Thomas as part of a broader attempt by Democrats to delegitimize the high court’s conservative majority.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, put the bill’s prospects in stark terms, saying, “This ill-conceived effort in the name of reforming the court will go nowhere in the United States Senate.

“This is a bill to destroy a conservative court. It’s a bill to create a situation where conservative judges can be disqualified by statute. It’s a bill to rearrange the makeup of how the court governs itself, and it’s an assault on the court itself,” he said during the Judiciary Committee meeting.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Grand jury to be chosen ahead of potential indictment of Trump in Georgia

July 12, 2023

A group of Georgians selected on Tuesday, July 11, to be grand jurors may soon consider charges against former President Donald Trump and allies who sought to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results, which he lost, reports CBS News.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has indicated in letters to county officials that potential indictments in the case could come between July 31 and August 18.

There will be two concurrent 23-person grand juries. One group will meet on Mondays and Tuesdays. The other will meet Thursdays and Fridays. Of the 23 Fulton County residents chosen for the grand jury, a majority, 12, would need to vote in favor of an indictment.

The investigation began shortly after a recorded January 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was made public. In the call, Trump told Raffensperger, “I just want to find 11,780 votes”—the number he would have needed to overtake Joe Biden.

The investigation ultimately developed into a sprawling probe of efforts to sway the election for Trump in the months after Biden’s win.

Over the course of six months in 2022, a special purpose grand jury—which had the power to issue subpoenas and produce a final report with indictment recommendations—interviewed 75 witnesses. In media interviews after the report was delivered to Willis’ office, the special purpose grand jury’s foreperson indicated multiple indictments were recommended.

The special purpose grand jury did not call Trump, but it did interview his allies, including his former attorney Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carlina), former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; and political critics such as Raffensperger and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

In an interview with CBS News on February 26, attorneys for Trump criticized the investigation.”We absolutely do not believe that our client did anything wrong, and if any indictments were to come down, those are faulty indictments. We will absolutely fight anything tooth and nail,” said attorney Jennifer Little.

Trump, a Republican who is running again for president, denies wrongdoing and has defended the Raffensperger call as “perfect.” He has accused Willis—a Democrat who is the first Black woman to serve as Fulton County district attorney—of pursuing the investigation out of political animus and racism. 

It’s a pair of accusations he also levied against Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, Democrat Alvin Bragg. In April, Trump entered a not guilty plea to 34 counts of felony falsification of business records brought by Bragg’s office in connection with a “hush money” payment made to an adult film star days before the 2016 presidential election, which Trump won.

That case made Trump the first former president in U.S. history to be charged with crimes.

Trump also entered a not guilty plea last month to 37 federal felony counts related to alleged “willful retention” of top secret documents. He has accused the lead prosecutor in that case, Special Counsel Jack Smith, of political bias.

That case is currently scheduled for trial on August 14, but on Monday evening, July 10, Trump’s attorneys filed a motion for an indeterminate delay. They indicated they believe the trial should be held after the 2024 election. They also cited Trump’s busy legal schedule.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Harvard professor Avi Loeb believes he has found fragments of alien technology

July 10, 2023

Harvard University Professor of Astronomy Avi Loeb believes he may have found fragments of alien technology from a meteor that landed in the waters off of Papua New Guinea in 2014, reports CBS News.

Loeb and his team just brought the materials back to Harvard for analysis. The U.S. Space Command can confirm with almost near certainty, 99.999%, that the fragments came from another solar system. The government gave Loeb a 10 km (6.2 mile) radius of where it may have landed on Earth.

“That is where the fireball took place, and the government detected it from the Department of Defense. It’s a very big area the size of Boston, so we wanted to pin it down,” said Loeb, “We figured the distance of the fireball based off the time delay between the arrival of blast wave, the boom of explosion, and the light that arrived quickly.”

Their calculations allowed them to chart a potential path of the meteor. Those calculations happened to carve a path right through the projected 10 km range that came from the US government. Loeb and his crew took a boat out there called the Silver Star. The ship took numerous passes along and around the projected path. The researchers combed the ocean floor by attaching a sled full of magnets to their boat.

“We found ten spherules. These are almost perfect spheres, or metallic marbles. When you look at them through a microscope, they look very distinct from the background,” explained Loeb, “They have colors of gold, blue, brown—and some of them resemble a miniature of the Earth.”

Their composition analysis showed that the spherules are made of 84% iron, 8% silicon, 4% magnesium and 2% titanium, plus trace elements. They are sub-millimeter in size. The crew found 50 of them in total.

“It has material strength that is tougher than all space rock that were seen before, and catalogued by NASA,” added Loeb, “We calculated its speed outside the solar system. It was 60 km per second—which is faster than 95% of all stars in the vicinity of the Sun. The fact that it was made of materials tougher than even iron meteorites—and moving faster than 95% of all stars in the vicinity of the Sun—suggested potentially it could be a spacecraft from another civilization, or some technological gadget.”

He likens the situation to any of the Voyager spacecrafts launched by NASA.

“They will exit the solar system in 10,000 years. Just imagine them colliding with another planet far away a billion years from now. They would appear as a meteor of a composition moving faster than usual,” explained Loeb.

The research and analysis is just beginning at Harvard. Loeb is trying to understand if the spherules are artificial or natural.  If they are natural, it will give the researchers insight into what materials may exist outside of our solar system. If it is artificial, the questions really begin.

“It will take us tens of thousands of years to exit our solar system with our current spacecraft to another star. This material spent that time arriving to us, but it’s already here,” smiled Loeb, “We just need to check our backyard to see if we have packages from an interstellar Amazon that takes billions of years for the travel.”

He still has more debris to research, and hours of unwatched footage from the camera attached to their sled. He believes there is a chance the spherules could be small breadcrumbs to a bigger find.

“They also help us pinpoint any big piece of the meteor we could find in a future expedition,” details Loeb, “We hope to find a big piece of this object that survived the impact because then we can tell if it’s a rock or technological gadget.”

Research contact: @CBSNews

Bombshell lawsuit accuses Rudy Giuliani of sexual harassment, wage theft, and more

May 17, 2023

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani—who, more recently, served as personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump—has been named in a bombshell sexual harassment suit, charging him with demanding sexual favors, and engaging in alcohol-fueled rages, and wage theft, reports CBS News.

The suit is being brought by a woman Giuliani hired to handle business development for his firm. It is filled with multiple allegations about his sexual demands.

“He was constantly pressuring her, making sexual comments, sexual remarks, to her, about her, about himself. When they were supposed to be working he would, as our client alleges, then grope her and try to initiate sexual contact,” attorney Justin Kelton said.

Kelton was talking about his client, Noelle Dunphy, and the complaint she filed in Manhattan Supreme Court charging Giuliani with sexual abuse, harassment, and wage theft. He reportedly refused to pay her the $1 million salary he promised.

It is a complaint filled with shocking details, including that Giuliani allegedly:

The suit says Giuliani “often demanded that Dunphy work naked, or in short-shorts with an American flag on them that he bought for her.”

The suit also claims Giuliani “demanded oral sex while he took phone calls,” including with then-President Donald Trump, and told her he enjoyed it “because it made him feel like Bill Clinton.”

“She alleges that on several occasions she objected, clearly, that he did not respect those objections,” Kelton said.

When Dunphy asked him if his firm had a human resources department where she could file a complaint, he reportedly laughed it off. Giuliani said that he did not have a human resources department, the suit charges, and bragged that no one would ever sue him because he was connected to then-President Trump, and he had private investigators who would punish anyone who complained, according to the lawsuit.

There was also the matter of his reportedly inappropriate comments when he had been drinking—comments recorded by Dunphy.

“Making all kinds of extremely vulgar, sexual remarks, racist remarks. Comments about the genitalia of Jewish men, for example. Comments about different ethnic groups. Comments about the bodies of prominent women like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, imagining them in sexual scenarios,” Kelton said.

In published reports, Giuliani’s attorney had said he “categorically denies all of the allegations of this frivolous complaint.” However, the attorney did not comment on whether his client and Dunphy were romantically entangled.

Ted Goodman, a political and communications advisor to Giuliani, claimed “she’s taken part in ‘prior schemes to defraud high net-worth men,” according to a 2016 New York Post story. He also claimed she, “bragged about extorting $5 million” from the son of a successful Wall Street investor, with a fake rape claim in 2011.

“Mayor Giuliani’s lifetime of public service speaks for itself and he will pursue all available remedies and counterclaims,” Goodman said.

The suit also claims Giuliani gave Dunphy access to more than 23,000 of his emails—some allegedly containing classified and privileged exchanges with then-President Trump, his family, secretaries of state, and former attorneys general.

Dunphy is seeking $10 million.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Pope prank: Fake photos of the pontiff in a puffer jacket go viral, conveying the power and peril of AI

March 29, 2023

It was a cold wind that blew through St. Peters Square at the Vatican over the weekend; but that didn’t deter Pope Francis from taking a stroll outside to greet the faithful, as he often does. When images appeared online showing the 86-year-old pontiff dressed to fight the elements in a stylish white puffer jacket and silver bejewelled crucifix, they soon went viral—racking up millions of views on social media platforms, reports CBS News.

The picture, first published Friday, March 24, on Reddit along with several others, was, in fact, a fake. It was an artificial intelligence rendering generated using the AI software Midjourney.

While there are some inconsistencies in the final rendered images—for example, the pope’s left hand, which is holding a water bottle, looks distorted and his skin has an overly sharp appearance—many people online were fooled into thinking they were real pictures.

Some Twitter users were shocked and confused. “I thought the pope’s puffer jacket was real and didn’t give it a second thought,” tweeted model and author Chrissy Teigen. “No way am I surviving the future of technology.”

The “pope in the puffer jacket” was just the latest in a series of “deepfake” images created with AI software. Another recent example: pictures of former President Donald Trump that appeared to show him in police custody. Although the creator made it clear that they were produced as an exercise in the use of AI, the images, combined with rumors of Trump’s imminent arrest, went viral and created and entirely fraudulent but potentially dangerous narrative.

Midjourney, DALL E2, OpenAI, and Dream Studio are among the software options available to anyone wishing to produce photo-realistic images using nothing more than text prompts—no specialist training required.

As this type of software becomes more widespread, AI developers are working on better ways to inform viewers of the authenticity, or otherwise, of images.

CBS News’ Sunday Morning  reported earlier this year that Microsoft’s Chief Scientific Officer Eric Horvitz, the co-creator of the spam email filter, was among those trying to crack the conundrum—predicting that, if technology isn’t developed to enable people to easily detect fakes within a decade or so, “most of what people will be seeing, or quite a lot of it, will be synthetic. We won’t be able to tell the difference.”

In the meantime, Henry Ajder, who presents a BBC radio series entitled The Future Will be Synthesised, cautioned in a newspaper interview that it was “already very, very hard to determine whether” some of the images being created were real.

“It gives us a sense of how bad actors, agents spreading disinformation, could weaponize these tools,” Ajder told the British newspaper, i.

There’s clear evidence that this is happening already. Last March, video emerged appearing to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telling his troops to lay down their arms and surrender. It was bad quality and quickly outed as a fake, but it may have been merely an opening salvo in a new information war.

So, while a picture may speak a thousand words, it may be worth asking who’s actually doing the talking.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Trump pledges to get revenge on Ron DeSantis’s backers

March 3, 2023

Several former supporters of ex-President Donald Trump attended a donor retreat hosted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the last weekend in February and—after learning who was in attendance—Trump has promised retribution, reports Newsweek.

The former president launched his third run for the White House last November; and many 2024 polls suggest his main rival for the Republican nomination is DeSantis, who has yet to reveal his plans. In most polls, Trump ranks above potential opponents—including DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence; and Nikki Haley, who announced her bid in February.

The DeSantis donor event took place in Palm Beach, just a few miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort where the former president held his own gathering on Thursday, February 23, according to CBS News.

The guests at the DeSantis gathering included Roy Bailey, who was national co-chair of Trump’s fundraising effort with the Republican National Committee in 2020,; and Mick Mulvaney, who served as Trump’s White House chief of staff for 14 months.

However, the name on the guest list that most seemed to perturb Trump was David McIntosh. The former U.S. representative is now the president of the Club for Growth, a conservative nonprofit that advocates for tax cuts. The organization opposed Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination in 2016.

Trump singled out McIntosh in a post on Truth Social late on Tuesday night, February 28, aiming jabs at the former lawmaker and his advocacy group.

“Failed former Congressman David McIntosh and his Globalist friends at Club for No Growth, who fought me all the way in 2016, and LOST, and then fought me again in 2020 Senate Races in Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina, New Hampshire, plus more, and LOST AGAIN, are now threatening to spend money against me early because their new boy, Ron DeSanctus, the man who wants to cut Social Security and MediCare, has dropped so drastically in the Polls to me,” he wrote. “No Growth Members know there will be RETRIBUTION!!!”

Some Republican  have voiced concern over Trump becoming the GOP nominee in 2024—suggesting that the former president is a distraction and more divisive than other primary candidates.

Lori Davis, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign in New Hampshire, said his critical and judgmental approach had turned some supporters against him. “I like Donald Trump. But he has gone too far polarizing. It’s going to be an uphill battle for him in this primary because of his divisiveness. People are tired of the drama,” Davis said.

“I’m seeing that people want DeSantis. He has a lot of the Trump philosophy, but is not as bombastic,; he’s not attacking people 24/7. People are tired of that. It gives them headaches.”

However, poll tracker FiveThirtyEight still shows Trump leading DeSantis in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination. In a compilation that includes research by YouGov, Emerson College, Morning Consult, and Echelon Insights, Trump is in front of DeSantis in every head-to-head, sometimes by as many as 30 percentage points.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Pence to fight subpoena from special counsel

February 15, 2023

Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to resist a subpoena for testimony as part of a Justice Department special counsel’s investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a source familiar with Pence’s plans has confirmed to The Hill.

Pence is preparing to fight a subpoena from Jack Smith, the special counsel assigned by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee investigations into Trump—including one focused on the events of January 6, 2021, and Trump’s efforts to remain in power.

It was reported last week that Smith’s office had moved to subpoena Pence in one of its most aggressive moves to date, as its inquiries into Trump accelerate. Smith’s office also is handling an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents.

Indeed, Pence’s testimony could be critical in the probe into Trump’s bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.

Pence, as he detailed in his memoir, was part of numerous conversations during which the president and his legal advisers pushed baseless claims about widespread fraud—or floated novel and untested legal theories that could be used to keep Trump in the White House.

Pence and his team say that serving as the former president of the Senate essentially makes him a member of the legislative branch—and he would, therefore be shielded from the subpoena under the “speech and debate” clause of the Constitution.

According to The Hill, the former vice president’s resistance is likely to result in a legal battle that could end up at the Supreme Court and determine the extent of the powers and independence of the vice presidency.

Politico first reported Pence’s plans to fight the subpoena.

Pence would be a valuable witness for Smith because the former vice president ultimately refused Trump’s repeated requests to reject the Electoral College results on January 6, 2021—and certified the results of the election hours after rioters had been cleared from the Capitol that day. Pence at the time said there was no constitutional basis for him to reject the election results.

The former vice president has since spoken about his decision that day, but he has also signaled that he would be hostile to attempts from Congress to get his testimony about the events before and during January 6.

“We have a separation of powers under the Constitution of the United States,” Pence told CBS News in November. “And I believe it would establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”

Pence is weighing a possible 2024 presidential campaign, with a decision expected in the next few months. The former vice president, who would have to run against Trump to win the nomination, is scheduled to travel to Iowa and Minnesota this week.

Research contact: @thehill

Left out in the rain: NASA says Hurricane Nicole peeled patch of insulation off Artemis

November 16, 2022

NASA’s uber-expensive Space Launch System (SLS) Moon rocket— each successful launch of Artemis will cost about $4.1 billion, according to the U.S. space agency—is still out on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, having survived hurricane-level wind gusts last week, reports Futurism.

The question is, why was the rocket left out in a tropical storm? Predictions for Hurricane Nicole were that it could bring 75 mph winds during its expected landfall as a Category 1 hurricane along Florida’s east coast. Forecasters said that the upper part of the rocket could see higher wind gusts, possibly above 85 mph.

Now, that its engineers have inspected the spacecraft for damage, Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin says that a ten-foot-long piece of insulation peeled away from the rocket while Hurricane Nicole stormed by, and it’s too late to go in and fix it on the launch pad.

The piece of insulation is designed to minimize aerodynamic heating during ascent where the fairing of the rocket attaches to NASA’s Orion capsule. The strip, a caulk-like material called RTV, peeled off the base of the crew capsule’s protective nose cone.

In short, it’s news that nobody wanted to hear.

“It was an area that was about ten feet in length [on the] windward side where the storm blew through,” said Sarafin, as quoted by CBS News. “It is a very, very thin layer of RTV; it’s about .2 inches or less… in thickness.”

Additionally, according to  ABC News, one of the umbilicals, which attach to the rocket boosters, was exhibiting “erratic signals” and the team may switch to a backup harness.

NASA was forced to again postpone the launch date—this time, from Monday, November 14, to Wednesday, November 16.

NASA’s SLS rocket is currently scheduled to launch at around 1 a.m. (EST) early Wednesday morning, ferrying the capsule into orbit, and allowing it to journey on to the Moon and back.

Where the latest incident leaves that upcoming launch window remains to be seen. NASA’s teams are meeting today to discuss if the rocket is ready for launch.

The weather for a Wednesday launch, at least, is looking good.

“I feel good headed into this attempt on the 16th,” Sarafin told reporters. “The team is moving forward as one unit,” he added. “We’ve just got some work to do.”

Research contact: @futurism